You would think I would get a lot of knitting done at a knitting retreat, right?

Good morning and happy Saturday! Other than the chirping of the birds outside, it’s pretty quiet here this morning. There are no four legged or two legged house guests this weekend, no fiber festivals to run off to, and a much shorter list of outside work to do. My dogs have had their breakfast and have gone back to bed and I am sitting down with my first cup of coffee. I’m looking forward to spending some time this morning on some of the projects I have recently started and thinking about some projects I’d like to start.

Prior to the Men’s Spring Knitting retreat, I had no major projects in the works on any of my wheels, spindles, or needles (there was a sock in progress, but I always have socks in progress so those really don’t count). I wanted to use the retreat as an opportunity to begin both a new knitting project and a new spinning project. While I did manage to start both projects on Saturday during the retreat, I didn’t make much progress on either before it was time to pack up and come home.
The knitting project is a cardigan using yarn that I bought in Seattle in 2014 when I attended the Men’s Fall Knitting Retreat. I think it’s fitting that I would finally begin a project with that yarn at another Men’s Knitting Retreat, and it only took me a year and a half to get to it. Seems like a long time to some people, but I have yarn that has been in my stash for much longer, and I’m sure many of you do also. That’s why it’s called a stash.

I did some gauge swatches with this yarn quite some time ago so that I could start looking for patterns, and I decided on the buttoned cardigan from “Knits Men Want” by Bruce Weinstein. This is a fairly basic cardigan pattern with stockinette and reverse stockinette panels, and an option for a zippered version. Because the pattern is written for multiple gauges, it was easy to match up pattern instructions to the swatch that I was most pleased with. My goal was to review all the numbers, make adjustments where necessary for fit, and cast on for this project at the retreat, which I did on Saturday morning and even managed to knit a few rows. Not long after breakfast though, we took our field trip to Foster Sheep Farm, then back to Easton Mountain for lunch, and during the afternoon I worked with some of my spinning students from the previous day on plying their bobbins of singles. My cast on sweater and the couple of rows I was able to complete before breakfast didn’t get picked up again until Sunday morning, and I was only able to finish a few more rows before it was time to come home.

Since I have been home I have gotten a fair amount of knitting done on the back piece, but this is a “longer term” project so I’m allowing myself breaks here and there to work on some smaller projects that I can complete quickly. I started one of those smaller projects just the other day, but I’ll save that for a future post.

The new spinning project I began at the retreat was with fiber that I have been looking forward to spinning for a while. I bought this Rambouillet from Gnomespun in the Holiday Yarns booth at Rhinebeck two years ago (once again, this is not the oldest thing in my stash which I’m sure many of you can relate to) because it’s my absolute favorite kind of green; the kind you rarely find in nature unless you live next to a toxic waste dump. Incidentally, and appropriately, this color is named “How to Make a Superhero.”

I began this spinning project on Saturday afternoon at the retreat shortly before dinner, but I quickly discovered that continuing this project would have to wait until I was home. The only wheel I brought with me (or rather, the only wheel I brought and intended to bring back home with me) was my Lendrum, and I instinctively went for the highest ratio on my fast flyer. This 17:1 ratio turned out to be just a little too ineffective for how fine I wanted to spin this fiber, and I wasn’t entirely pleased with the yarn that it was effective at spinning. This little bit was all I managed to spin during the retreat.

Once home, I began this project again on my Polonaise using the 20:1 ratio in double drive. This was only slightly more effective than the 17:1 ratio on my Lendrum, so I swapped out the flyer pulley for the “high speed” one with the 25:1 ratio. This turned out to be much more effective for producing the singles that I want, and I’m now well on my way with this project. My spinning time has been limited to about 15 to 20 minutes each morning before work, so even though there is only 4 ounces of this fiber, this project will probably take me a few weeks to complete. Depending on how I feel about it when it’s done, it might become an entry into one or more of the local fairs this summer.

That’s all for this morning. I’m just about finished with my second cup of coffee and I’m ready to do some spinning. Next week I’ll talk about the two between-retreat activities that I organized, and I’ll finally be able to show off the “scarf I’m not allowed to blog about.”

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