Progress and postponement

The good news is that my neck has healed enough for me to knit. I do need to be careful and I can’t knit as much as I’d like in a day but I’m knitting!  Or I was.  I finished the second blue-purple octagon today but I won’t start the third and last one until Monday.  I overdid it a bit today and can use the rest.

I’ve also been spinning a little.  I had some Cormo combed before this rash of neck strains/back injuries and I think it’s enough for a skein.  So that’s what I’m spinning.  It’s coming along nicely, even if my old wheel is being a bit finicky. I think she needs a spa day this summer.

I’m considering just flicking locks for the next skein and spinning straight from the locks, skipping combing.  I have to flick them anyway before combing.  Spinning from the lock would save time and work.

The fleece farm visit was postponed again.  This time they had something come up at the last minute (literally, the email was sent just before 5 am last Sunday).  We’ll try again this Sunday.


A bit of an update

Neck strains are the worst.  I’m past the stage of it hurting constantly but it still hurts if I move in certain ways.  I’ve been doing back stretches every evening and neck stretches whenever I catch the heat being on.  I sit in front of a heat vent and let my back and neck get nice and warm before stretching.  I’ve noticed that my neck hurts less if it’s warm.

I’m still unable to do much of anything but I’m beginning to wonder if some of this pain is psychological.  Yesterday afternoon, after not really hurting all day, I thought about doing some seam ripping on some clothes I need to alter.  I picked up something to inspect a seam, thought that if I was careful and only picked at it for a minute of two at a time, then I should be able to do it.  My neck immediately started hurting.

I’m also being very careful about how I sit.  I have a bad habit of slouching and hunching my shoulders so now as soon as I realize I’m doing either (or both) I correct my posture.  I wonder if in my efforts not to do “bad things” that I’m doing different “bad things”.

This Sunday is the trip to the Shetland farm.  I had to postpone it for a week because of a nasty snow storm last weekend.  I’m starting to get excited.  I’m making mental lists of what to bring and going over possible problems and what I should be looking for.  This is the first time I’m buying from what I suspect is not a spinner and therefore not a spinner’s flock.  Before, I could trust the shepherd to point out flaws and give me info about the breed, etc.  This time, I’m the one with the knowledge and I need to do all the tests and judgments.  I’m nervous and excited and all sorts of things.

I plan to bring my scale, in case she doesn’t have one, as I don’t trust my ability to guess weights.  I’m bringing my box of old pillowcases.  I know the fleeces have been vacuum sealed but don’t know much more.  They’ll go in the pillow cases once I get them home in any case.  It’s not warm enough to wash (although the forecast is promising to start warming – 50’s next week!) so the fleeces will live in the garage until I can wash them (unwashed fleeces are not allowed in the house – husband’s rule).  I want to suspend them from the ceiling via rope over a rafter to deter possible rodents.  Pillowcases will be easier to tie to the rope to plus will avoid condensation in the changing temps.  Plus it’s more pleasant to walk face first into cloth rather than plastic (in case of someone not paying attention while in the garage.)

Today I think I’m going to try spinning.  I’ve done a bit and it doesn’t seem to bother my neck.  I have some Cormo combed.  I’m not sure it’s enough to fill the bobbin but maybe by the time I’ve spun it, I’ll be able to comb more.


Random Ramblings

I went and messed up my shoulder/neck again.  Note to self:  DO NOT spend all day hunched over something.  This time it was the patchwork.  I tried to work through it.  Nope, not any better.  I rested for a few days and tried gingerly knitting.  Oh such a bad idea.  Rested another day and then finally remembered the stretches I did the last time this happened.  I’m on day 3 of twice a day stretches and I’ve seen such improvement.  Still not good enough to really do anything but much less pain/stiffness.

I can’t wait for Spring to finally get here.  I suspect that these back issues will go away with the warm weather.  They didn’t start until the weather got cold last year.  I just need to remember to avoid triggering them next winter.

About the only thing I’ve been able to do is trim locks.  Which is such a tease at times.  Touching all that wool and knowing I can’t do anything with it.  Especially the cormo.  It’s so soft and luscious.  On the plus side, when my body is ready, I’ve got a lot of fiber ready for combing or flicking or both.  It depends on how dirty the fiber is.  The Corriedale will need to be flicked before combing as it’s got tons of vm.  The Cormo can go straight onto the combs with just minimal tip flicking or possibly just finger teasing.

In other news the fleece hunt is nearly over.  I’ve got an appointment to go see the Shetland fleeces in just over a week.  If all goes well I should come home with at least 10 lbs of fleece.  She’s got the whole range of Shetland colors.  I’m hoping for a bit of black and then mostly shades of gray.  Maybe a Moorit if she’s got any that’s mostly cream/light brown.  The way the weather is going, I won’t be able to wash until late May or early June.  Temps need to be at least 60 degrees or my water cools too fast.  And no risk of overnight freezes so the hose can be hooked up.

So that’s the update on what little has been going on around here.  I’m so tired of straining one thing or the other.  And tired of being cold.  And the snow. We got 4 inches the other day.  It’s April….enough already, Mother Nature.

Sweater (re)designing

In the last post I showed two sweaters I had just bought and unraveled.  The black is washed and dry (I’m not going to bother showing it.)  The hot pink has been dyed and it turned out beautifully.

I found a colorwork pattern in a magazine that I love but I don’t love the sweater design.  So I decided to adapt the colorwork to fit my favorite raglan sweater pattern.

And so began two days of so much math and melted brain.  I swatched first.


The yarn turned out to be around worsted weight. Once I had the stitches per inch and rows per inch I used the pattern generator and got my pattern.  The I started trying to adjust the colorwork pattern.  I quickly realized that it wasn’t going to work if I wanted the pattern to match up at the increases.  So I researched circular yoke sweaters and figured out how many increases in a row and how many increase rows.  The I started trying to figure out how many repeats and here’s where it all went wrong.  If I had just remembered that I’d changed to circular yoke rather than raglan, I’d have been done with this in hours.  Instead I kept trying to figure out how to make the raglan increase line fit with the repeat count and find a total stitch count that was neither too large or two small.   The problem was that 9 repeats was the perfect fit around the body and I could not get an odd number of repeats to work.

Finally, on day 2, I remembered the circular yoke and then getting 9 repeats to work was easy.  I wrote out my notes for the sweater and went back to the colorwork chart.  A couple hours of rearranging and finalizing where the increase rows would go and a bit of complete redesign of some motifs and I finally got it. Printed everything out and it’s all ready to go.  On the plus side, 2 days of (re)design gave the yarn time to dry so I have that all caked up and ready to go as well.  I have yet to figure out the sleeve decreases but I just can’t face more math right now.  I have time to figure that out.

On breaks from the math, I knit on the French Quilt Shawl hexagon.  I’m just a few rows from finishing the first one.  And today I finally knit more on my second sweater, the one from handspun Corriedale.  I hadn’t touched it in over a month because of back pain issues.  I got 4 rows done during one of today’s Nascar races.

Books, Glorious Books

So I went on a little book buying spree.  All but one have arrived and I have to say I’m thrilled with them all.

  1. Up Down All Around Stitch Dictionary – Another stitch dictionary.  What can I say?  I collect them.
  2. Knitting Counterpanes – To me, this is another stitch dictionary because, let’s be honest, I’m never going to knit a whole counterpane.  But elements of them might be interesting in other items.  Or maybe a square or several (depending on size) as pillow covers.  Or shawls.  Lots of uses.
  3. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 1
  4. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 2
  5. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 3
  6. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 6
  7. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 7
  8. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 11

I got the whole 12 volume set of Weldon’s Practical Needlework from the library last year and I’ve wanted my own copies ever since.  While it would have been nice to get them in order, I bought the cheapest ones so as to get as many as I could.

I love these books.  While many of the patterns aren’t very useful these days, it is fascinating to see what the knitting fashions were in the 1890’s to early 1900’s.  It does take some translating as the knitting terms were different and there often aren’t pictures or if they are, they aren’t very accurate.

There are other crafts in the books as well.  Nearly as much crochet as there is knitting and much of it crocheted clothing.  Some of it really makes me wish I could crochet better.  There’s a few sections on patchwork and embroidery that answered a few questions I had about Victorian crazy quilting.  I’m going to have to give it a try soon.  Oh and a few macrame sections that are really interesting.  This is not your 1970’s macrame.  It’s really beautiful stuff.

Anyway, in Vol 7 I found what’s called a French pattern for a quilt.  It’s a counterpane but I think it would look awesome as a shawl/stole.  I’ve translated/transcribed the pattern and just need to decide on yarn and needles.  I don’t even know how to translate the suggested yarn and needles into modern terms but I’m pretty sure both are small and I want to make it with larger yarn and needles anyway.  I’m thinking fingering weight yarn and size 4 or 5 needles.  Depends on what I have available in circular needles.

I haven’t been this excited about a project in ages.  But I’ve sworn that I’ll finish the current swatch in progress before I start.  But I’m just over half way on the swatch and like an idiot, I pushed a bit too hard this morning while knitting it.  My back is considerably better but I still need to be careful.  I’ll probably do a few more rows today but it might take til Friday before I finish it.

An Amusing Thing

An amusing thing just happened.

My husband is an avid YouTube watcher.  He likes videos on woodworking, electronics, gardening and so much more.  I was just in his room and as per normal he tried to play a video I might be interested in (or at least not too annoyed by.)

He started a video from a lady that he follows for her gardening videos but this one was about washing fleece. Less than a minute in and I’m already arguing with her.  By two minutes in he turned the video off.  He said that the last thing he wanted was to listen to me argue with a video, especially when he agrees with me.

What set me off was her saying that you can’t get good yarn from a crappy fleece.  That is such bullshit (which is what I yelled at the screen.)  I’ve had plenty of vm filled, filthy fleeces and while it takes more work, I’ve made beautiful yarn from them.  It’s more to do with the process than the original fleece.

Take my Hampshire, for example.  It was from a pet sheep, not raised for it’s wool.  It was filthy and vm filled.  It was also free as in I paid nothing for it (other than gas for the trip to go get it).  Now Hampshire is a coarse wool and nothing will make it soft but I’m not expecting to make next to the skin items with it.  I’ve made wonderful yarn with it and I will be weaving beautiful items with it.

My first CVM was a filthy, vm filled mess.  While the yarn from it is rather slubby and odd, that was the user, not the wool.  I really learned to spin using that fleece. I absolutely cherish the shawl I made from that yarn and you can see the improvements I made in spinning from the top to the bottom of the shawl.

The Corriedale I’m still working on was also filthy and vm filled but it also makes gorgeous, soft yarn that I’m currently using to knit myself a sweater.

It all depends on the work you put into the fleece, the methods you use to process it (combing, carding), the skill of the user and what your expectations are.  Don’t expect perfectly even, smooth yarn.  By it’s nature, handspun is uneven and sometimes lumpy.  Most of those imperfections are hidden by the knitting.  If you want perfect yarn, buy commercial yarn (and that still doesn’t mean you’ll get perfect yarn.)

Ok maybe amusing isn’t the right word.  I was amused when I sat down to write this post but it seems to have turned into a rant.

Olympic Plans

I had wanted to spend February, and in particular the Olympics, spinning or doing fiber prep.  This back injury has ruined those plans, or so I thought.

I just realized that while wheel spinning makes my back hurt, spindle spinning does not (or not as much).  I’ve been neglecting my spindles terribly so dedicating the Olympics to them is not a bad thing.  Fiber prep is still off limits.  I tried combing last week and oh did I regret it.  I thought I’d set back my healing for weeks if not months.  But a few days of rest and I’m back to where I was before the combing experiment.

I can also knit, sort of.  Sweater knitting is out, much to my disappointment.  The rows are too long and put too much stress on my back.  I have been having success with swatches.  The much shorter rows (currently 42 stitches) have me resting more often.  But I can’t knit swatches and watch the Olympics.  The swatches require too much concentration.

So here is the plan:

I will spindle spin whenever I’m watching the Olympics.  I have many spindle projects in progress so I shouldn’t run out.  If I’m not watching, then I can knit.

There is one bit of fiber prep I can do.  I have two fleeces (Cormo from 2017 and Corriedale from 2015) that need trimming.  For some reason the butt ends got cotted or felted a bit during washing.  Both are very fine fleeces.  Combing or flicking these ends is just more effort than it’s worth so I’ve been cutting the last 1/4 inch or so off of each lock.  So if I’m not feeling up to spinning or knitting I can trim these locks.

Of course I do need to be careful not to over do any of these activities but I feel better having a plan.  And maybe, near the end, I’ll give wheel spinning a shot. Or perhaps I’ll try combing some Hampshire.  It requires almost no effort.  I could spin from the lock but I prefer having combed nests

It’s amazing how many of my activities rely heavily on my back muscles.  You never really think about it until it’s injured.