Signs of Spring and an Experimental Sock

Hints of Spring

As you can see there are still no leaves on the trees, but there are buds. And yesterday the forsythia started blooming.

Today, I noticed a lone daffodil, so spring must finally be on its way.

Last year a late frost hit after the forsythia and bulbs began to bloom, so we'll have to see if we're in for any more cold weather or not. But in the meantime, I've seen a smattering of barn swallows and the bats have begun their evening forays in and out of the barn. So far, so good.

How to Eke Out a Sock

As I mentioned, I think all my old store-bought socks heard I learned to knit and decided to wear out all at once. Hence, my sock-knitting binge of late. I've had this lovely, incredibly soft 100% Bamboo Yarn for awhile, but just two balls, and they're only 112 yds (102 m) each. But I had some KPPPM left from another pair of socks I made, and decided to try an experiment.

I used the leftover KPPPM for the cuff, heel and toe, and had just enough of the bamboo to knit the rest of the sock. The merino and the bamboo weren't quite the same gauge, but it kind of worked out.

The 6-stitch pattern is from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks (yes, again!) and is called Cloverleaf Eyelet Cable. Very easy, and worked nicely with the bamboo. (This pic is much closer to the actual colour.)

The only really tricky thing about the bamboo is that it has a lot of plies and got a little splitty at times. It's really silky though, and should be nice for spring/summer.


Red and Black and Black and Red

I've been spinning some of Louet's Northern Lights (the color is called Field Berries) and combining one ply of that with one ply of dark Llannie-llama/shetland.

I'm hoping to spin enough to actually make a garment--I'm thinking of a skirt I want to design.

This is merino-tencel in a graphite color that I love.

I finished my Fahrenheit 451 socks. I knit the second sock (at right) just a bit more tightly and the color distributed more evenly. It almost makes me want to go back and re-knit the first sock--but I'm too lazy for that. I love the colors, and I really don't mind that the two socks are a little different.


Obsidian Kitten Shop Update

Soft Sculpture Braided Fiber Basket from llama (Graty) and merino-rambouillet roving.

At long last I've updated my etsy shop.

There you will find:
~ handknits from my own handspun yarns, with some fibers from our own animals and from my own improvised patterns
~ weird cards with monsters on them; not-so-weird cards with our Icelandic sheep and chickens on them
~ my paintings of naughty words
~ Mr. O'Kitten's paintings of naughty bits (although not quite in the way you might expect)
~ other general strangeness (like A Very Hairy Box)
~ some vintage buttons

Long Fingerless Gauntlets in Black Alpaca Wool

New monster cards, like this one

Handspun Fine Llama and Shetland Wool Yarn, from Lacey and Switzer's fiber

Switzer (at left), Pepper, and Lacey (in foreground).

Okay, enough for the shameless self-promotion. Tomorrow we will return to our regularly scheduled programming, I promise.


Cats on Tuesday: Winter Sports

In a rare moment of alertness, Isis was birdwatching.

But before long, Isis joined Emma in her favorite sport--the napathon.

This is not a relay, but a true team sport which requires both team members to participate in perfect synchronicity.

Although Morgan is also an able napper, she prefers to Power Watch.

Although it is never quite clear what she is Power Watching for, she does a lot of it, always remaining alert. You know, just in case.

And finally, if you enjoyed Hugo, Cat of 1,000 Faces, the eagerly awaited Episode 3, The Star Wars Special has arrived! Epic, truly epic.


April Showers Bring Rainy Day Socks

It's raining, but you can see the grass is already getting greener. Of course, tonight the rain has turned to snow. Ah well, they say you can't have everything.

But one does have time to knit in this weather, when one isn't staring listlessly out the window. Here's the first Rainy Day sock. See previous post for bellamoden yarn pic. I forgot to mention that this lovely yarn is sportweight in a beautiful colourway she calls Fahrenheit 451. Too cool.

Second sock, in progress. I'm using Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks 6-stitch chart again, with the Rainy Day Sock Lace pattern. It's from MagKnits, which I guess is gone. Cute pattern, though.

Will someone just wake us up when winter is finally over?


A Hint of Green, with Socks

Look! Do you see it? Yep, the grass is actually beginning to turn that colour that I believe is commonly referred to as green. If you look closely (or make the pic bigger) you can just see Graty and Llannie back there in the pasture finding some of it to eat.

Lacey, Pepper, and Switzer are out grazing, too, so there must be more of it on this side of the barn. So it's 40 degrees F/5 C (and raining now, too), but still. It's a start.

Indoor cats don't seem to care what the temperature is outside. Precipitation doesn't affect them either. Lucky them. Here Emma and Morgan loll indifferently by the patio door. "Bah, weather! What weather?"

In response to my incessant complaints about the conditions outside, Isis makes this expression. "Weather? What weather?"

Before long, Emma returns to her default position--the Nap Curl.

These are the socks I just finished. The yarn is Mountain Colors Bearfoot (60% superwash wool, 25% mohair, 15% nylon) in the colorway Wilderness. Very nice.

I used Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks book for the first time. It's a simple slipped-stitch rib pattern and it worked great except for the toe, and only because I can't do kitchener stitch. So I just used a different toe (the one I know how to do) and that worked fine.

I got this loverly hand-dyed superwash merino yarn from Bellamoden. I'm making it up into another pair of socks and it is an absolute delight to work with. And what colors! Incidentally, she blogs here--lots of knitting and cat pics. *grin*


Cats on Tuesday: Girls Make Nice

Emma tends to be a bit standoffish with the younger girls, so I'm always surprised to see this happen. Cute, huh? I took the opportunity to photograph a sock I had just finished knitting. (I actually completed the sock's mate a few moments ago.)

Isis loves to give baths. Usually she only bathes Morgan, although lately I've caught her trying to steal a few licks on Emma's head. Emma doesn't tolerate her attentions for long, but I have actually seen it happen.

During the day, Isis' vigorous bathing rituals will turn into cat spats with Morgan, but in the late evenings Morgan allows longer baths and the two curl up asleep together. And last night, Isis gave me a head bath. It was very special.

Emma used to give Mr. O'Kitten head baths all the time. I was very jealous.

For all you knitters, this is the sock.

By the way, Emma will deny that she ever allowed Isis' tongue to touch her.


The Sun Comes Out, with Spinning

Finally -- two days in a row with the sun peeking out. It even hit 60 degrees (15 C).

Honestly, I can't take another Michigan winter. If I weren't homesick enough for NYC already, this winter just put me over the top. Winter here lasts far too long and is way too lonely.

But this week there's been the sound of a few birds and a smattering of green grass blades pushing their way through the brown. I even saw a bat. No barn swallows yet, and I imagine we may get a bit more snow (there's usually one last burst in April), but at least it's showing signs of drawing to an end.

Wool Shop Sleepover

So last week the inimitable Abby Franquemont came to teach at the Spinning Loft, and there was a sleepover on Friday night. What fun!

Her workshop on Saturday was on spinning sock yarn, and since the shop wasn't too busy, I got to sit in on nearly the entire class. It was fantastic. Here's the yarn I spun in class from two lovely colors of Blue Faced Leicester:

I think it actually looks like sock yarn.

Abby had beautiful samples for us to spin. This is Karaoke soy silk in a colorway called Mermaid. Mmm.

More Karaoke. Not so beautifully spun; I need more practice with the soysilk.

More samples from Abby. She showed us how to prepare roving to get consistent colorways for two separate socks. Cool, eh?

An Abby batt. Fiery! Only place you can get them is at the Loft. They are luscious; you could eat them with a spoon.