Sunday, February 04, 2007

Just How Big Are My Arms?????

Since starting this blog I've suffered something of a "Sweater Curse." Prior to my blogging life, I knit a few. It was never an overwhelming obsession since they take a while and I lack the patience. But, seeing that I was all up on them internets, it seemed like the thing to do. And they all failed miserably. Each and every one became the bane of my very existence and drove me to bore what was, at the time, my 3 loyal readers with an endless series of garter stitch scarves.

I didn't cast on another for almost a year. OK...that's a lie. I did actually start a few. But I learned to do it under cover of darkness and with all the secrecy of an covert agent. Good thing, since they were also doomed to failure. I had some pretty good luck with a couple of vests, though. I figured that ought to count for something...

But, the lure of the handknit sweater is a seductive one for even the most dedicated of small project knitters and I am well into my most recent attempt to get a full-on upper body covering in the FO column. And, if you must know, it is going swimmingly. I chose a pretty straightforward pattern that avoids those things that give me the fits (like evenly spaced button holes) and am knitting it out of my own handspun. Thus, I can blame any and all inconsistencies on the one-of-a-kind specialness of homemade yarn. I can even toss a little of the guilt at the sheep that donated the fiber if need be. Life is pretty sweet here in sweater land.

Flush with optimism, I made a detour on the way home Friday to secure a few buttons. I was, after all, in the home stretch. In the event of a world-wide button shortage or the zombie attack that I know is coming at some point, I wanted to make sure I was ready to finish this masterpiece without incident. I am nothing if not a forward-thinking Sheep. One minor issue, though...

I forgot about sleeves. Sleeves are deceptive. Once you've knit a sweater back, you tend to believe that the worst is over. The shaping of the front parts might require a little of the brain activity, but it is short-lived. And it's not like I have cartoon arms or anything. They are just average arms. How long could a sleeve take, really?

Sleeves are tricky that way.

I'm about half-way through sleeve #1 and have actually made good progress thanks to lots of "marathon" style TV today. (it seems like every channel is running some sort of marathon in order that those of us who are not football fans might be somewhat entertained) But sleeves take a long time. Even in plain stockinette. That or I have seriously underestimated the girth of my biceps.

One can only sit and knit stockinette for so long. A Sheep needs distractions. I decided to see if I couldn't do a little something to pump up my spinning mojo which has been sadly lacking of late. A few months ago, I was gifted with a rather large amount of very pretty, very soft roving by the nurse at my school. She purchased it to use with her Sunday School class and had somewhat overestimated the amount she would need for her project. Not being a spinner herself, she gave it to me gratis in the hopes that I might be able to use it. It has been sitting on a table in my living room ever since and I have spent many an hour staring at it and wondering what it wanted to be. Being one of The Pale People, I don't wear white. It needed to be dyed.

I opted to use a rainbow dyeing technique (because I am really just the laziest Sheep you'll ever stumble across) with acid dyes. I applied four colors in varying amounts and completed the process in two batches. The first round involved a bit more blending of the color than I'd planned and the effect, rather than being muddy, was a very deep blue. The second batch gave a bit more of the color play. If I blend carefully while spinning, I think they will actually work together quite nicely. I'm also pleased to say that I managed to avoid the slight felting that I always seem to get when dyeing.

A successful experiment!

Not bad for a freebie! I have absolutely no idea what this fiber is, but I'm leaning towards a blend. It is certainly soft and reminds me of merino. It held up extremely well in the dye pot and I don't think I will need to recard any of it at all. I'm looking forward to this drying fully and being able to get it on the wheel. I'm also thinking I need to ask where this fiber came I recall Mrs. School Nurse said she got it directly from the folks who processed it. That may mean a little side trip to New Hampshire, but could be worth the gas!

In kitty news, The Big, Fluffy Kitty has recovered from her bout of the sniffles and has been snot free all day. She was feeling so much better last night that she decided to make her sense of overall well-being known by playing aggressively well into the wee hours. Mommy was awakened several times throughout her much-needed beauty rest by surprise attacks and the sudden landing of four double-pawed feetsies on her stomach. Nice to have the baby back to normal...

But if she could have used that extra energy to work on a sleeve or two that would have been helpful.



trek said...

I like knitting the two sleeves at the same time just so I don't get stranded on Sleeve Island.

I am way proud of you, Sheepie!

Nice that the Big Fluffy Kitty is back to her old self too.

Knittymama said...

Those blues are just gorgeous. Can't wait to see it spun!!!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear Big Fluffy Kitty is feeling better. You would think, though, that she'd have got right on that sleeve knitting in appreciation for all the head scratches she got yesterday!

Love the dye job.

Teri S. said...

I typically knit the sleeves first, as my gauge "swatch." So for me, the backs take forever. However, I can't say for sure how long it takes me to complete a sweater, since I have at least three in my UFO basket.

I'm glad that both you and TBFK are back to normal. Upchuck and kitty not are not fun.

B. said...

Nice dye-job! What colour is your handspun sweater wool? I'm getting excited to see it.

I'm glad your kitty is feeling well again. It's hard when your babies are sick!

Have a great week...hope you're on the mend.

mehitabel said...

I too always do both sleeves at once, even when it means that I have over 200 stitches on the needle. Ugh. That might be a lot for BFK to handle, even though she's feeling better. If you figure out how to stop the middle of the night shenanigans, please let me know--GiGi has been spending her nights talking to me and her early mornings trying to get me out of bed!

Sheila said...

Very pretty''s making me want to spin.
The sweater sounds exciting!!

Emma said...

I'm planning a sweater for my husband (my first sweater--and husband too!), and I have to say, you have scared me a little bit about the sleeves!

catsmum said...

yup I'm another that does two sleeves at once. At least that way the shapings will be on the same row.
Anything that has two-of and isn't on dpns gets the twofer treatment. One of these days I'm gonna HAVE to learn how to do that 2 socks on 2 circs thing.
The dye job looks great [ but then I'm the queen of blue so I would like it, wouldn't I? }

Anonymous said...

Your fiber is beautiful!
I'm glad to hear that BF Kitty is feeling perky.
I can't wait to see your sweater. Will we get a preview before you sew it up?

Bobbi said...

ooooh so pretty! I can't wait to see it spun!

My current sweater is on hold as I'm waiting for longer circular needles to come in the mail. Lack of planning on my part. *sigh*

Lorraine said...

Purdy roving. Wish I had a spinning wheel. Spindling takes forever. I'm with you on sleeves being freakishly huge. You don't realize how wide they really are unless they're spread out flat. Ugggh.od

debsnm said...

Ah, Sheepie! You're the only one who can make me appreciate my own, tiny fluffy kitty. She's decided the ONLY place to sleep at night is on my hip - which is ok, until I turn over, which I have a tendancy to do.
I have a suggestion for the sleeves - knit them both at once. It shortens the agony, and greatly reduces the chances that your sleeve will be of different lengths.

Debby said...

So glad to hear BFK is feeling much better. Once Charlie decided to eat again, he began talking and nudging me off the pillow in the early morning hours for his breakfast. "Now you'll appreciate it when I ask you to eat!"

Your roving looks really pretty and I can't wait to see what you make of it. I, too, recommend the two sleeves at once rule, so that the increases are even.

Hope you are feeling better too!