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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Winners on the blog...

Thanks to everyone who entered to win a prize through the rafflecopter giveaway. The contest has closed, and winners have been selected and notified. In other exciting news, I do have a new pattern release coming out very soon, so please watch for that to be announced in the next week or so. Thanks for following World On A String Designs.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Oh, that's right....I have a blog!

Well, here I am posting after quite an absence. I apologize, and I'll try to be better about that.

So, moving along. Back in May, I released a new design, the Masquerade Shawl.



The shawl was designed to show off variegated yarn by breaking up the pattern in different ways. However, when knit in a semisolid color, it makes the texture of the pattern pop instead of the color of the yarn,

As far as spinning projects go, I have been busy there also. I recently was lucky enough to have my friend Heather, also known as the fiberista from The Fiberista Files, and owner at Highland Handmades, invite me to spend the day with her at Highland Handmade Headquarters. She knew that I had some fiber I wanted to dye, so I brought it along, and MAN did we have a great time. Heather has also recently started offering puni-style rolags in her shop. She showed me around the blending board and how to use it. Then, she encouraged me to make some. This is what I came up with....


I'd never tried spinning rolags before, so once I got home, I couldn't wait to get started. Here's a pic of the singles.


I used merino wool on the blending board when I put these little lovelies together. This type of rolag is meant to be drafted out into a woolen-spun yarn, meaning that the fibers are not lined up side by side as in a worsted preparation. The woolen spun fibers result in a lighter, loftier yarn that contains more air and is a better insulator. 

The rolags made for delightful spinning. Here's my finished skein...


It is wonderfully squishy and smooshable. I definitely recommend trying some out. Now, keep in mind that this is one I prepared, and I have to admit that Heather has a much better eye than I do for color. Now, I know you all want to try rolags, too, and you're in luck, because Heather just so happens to have a bunch up in her shop right now.

One more cool thing I've worked on recently is the Wild Thing pattern by Susan Claudino.



The yarn I used is Highland Handmades Green Ash Worsted, which is what the pattern lists. The pattern was wonderfully written. This is the first pattern that I've knit from Susan Claudino, and I loved it. It was very clear, and I enjoyed the unique way the pattern calls for joining the parts and pieces. It's very easy, and no sewing required. I think the only drawback to knitting these adorable monsters was that my own little monsters got a little pushy about how much they thought I should be knitting. It's interesting how they rarely let me sit and knit....unless I am knitting toys for them.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Little Spring, Despite the Weather

Technically speaking, it is spring here in Maine. For the most part, though, you would never have guessed. It's been bitterly cold, and we've been ruthlessly pounded with snowstorm after snowstorm. Everyone here is....well, READY for spring to actually arrive (in the form of milder weather).

While I have continued working on my two new designs that I can't show here yet, I have also managed to squeeze in some other spinning and knitting as well.

I made some rainbow socks for my daughter, using basic sock math. No pattern to link. She loves them, and plus they are bright and cheery during this 2nd winter we are having. There is enough yarn leftover that I will try to make another pair for myself, perhaps a toe-up version so that I don't run out of yarn before I get to the toe. This way, as long as I get past the heel, I can just stop when I run out of yarn.


Around December, right before my surgery, I realized that I had lost one of the convertible mitts I made last year.

The convertible mitts are great for feeding the rabbits in the winter. I then had my surgery right before Christmas and inexplicably with all that knitting time on my hands did not give a thought to my missing mitten or perhaps replacing it. By mid to late January, I was reasonably healed and found myself having to venture out into the frozen tundra with no mittens...or at least, no mittens that matched. It was about this time that I was feverishly trying to finish my husband's Captain America sweater for his birthday, which was clearly no time to be selfish and knit something for myself to keep my hands warm (despite hubby telling me there really was no rush).

I finished his sweater on February 21st, and honestly I was concerned that it was going to get warm before I could get a replacement mitt. My options were:
1) Pay $27 for yarn and shipping to get the same yarn and knit one mitt to replace the one I had lost.
2) Knit a mitt out of a different yarn and live with mismatched mitts.
3) Knit a new set of mitts in a different color and have a new set.

I was convinced that all the cold weather would be gone by the time I could get the first mitt done, let alone a set. I did end up going with option 3, and I finished the set on March 10th. Let's just say that I have gotten PLENTY of use out of them so far.

I used a combination of the patterns for Broad Street Mittens and Podster Gloves. I really liked the pair I'd had before, but I decided I wanted the thumbs to flip open also. The yarn is Mountain Maple Sock, which is 100% superwash BFL from Highland Handmades. The colorway is called Immutable, and it was the January feature of the Snapshots of Maine yarn club. I've already received the February and March shipments as well, and I've been thrilled with each one. I would definitely recommend checking out the website. I've loved everything I've gotten from there.

As for spinning, I have finished my August 2013 Roving of the Month from Purple Fleece...4 oz  each of superwash BFL (what can I say, it's just been a SW BFL kinda month) in the colorways Mountain Laurel and The Grass is Always Greener.

I spun this up intending to knit socks with it, so it's got a generous amount of twist, and since I wanted to preserve the color changes in the Mountain Laurel fiber, they are chain plied. I am very pleased with how it came out...now to pick a pattern. Any suggestions?

In other (non-fiber) news, I have only 4 workouts left to become a Couch to 5K graduate. Hopefully I will be posting soon that I finally made it through the program...plus I am signed up for a 5K on April 13th.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Progress...

First things first. The Captain America Hoodie is finished. My husband decided he actually didn't want it to be a hoodie after all, so now it is just a Captain America sweater. I like the way it came out, and yes, I made him pose outside in February in Maine so I could get a good picture. At least it was above freezing today.


He also got his hair cut today after this picture was taken, and I admit I sort of want to drag him out for another photo shoot.

Now that this project is finished, I am free to knit other things! I do have 2 super-secret projects on the needles right now that I can't share....they are both new designs. I will also be picking back up with my Celestarium shawl. In case you aren't familiar, this is a circular pi shawl with yarn overs and beads. Each yarn over/bead combination represents a star, and the finished shawl is an accurate representation of the night sky as seen from the North Pole. This just tickles the science nerd in me to no end.

I am knitting mine with some handspun, and I promise a lengthier post with all the fibery details at some point in the future.

As for spinning, the Lannister batts are all spun, washed, dried and skeined. Here they are in all their crimson and gold glory:



The batts are from Camelot Dyeworks. They were carded with their very own farm-fresh alpaca fiber as well as merino, bamboo and angelina fiber. I have to say that this was absolutely delightful to spin. Since they were themed batts (House Lannister from the Game of Thrones series), I also went to the trouble to listen to the series on audiobook as I spun them. I hadn't ever put on an audiobook when spinning before, and it's sort of awesome. I would highly recommend it.

Next up for spinning is the superwash BFL from the Roving of the Month club at Purple Fleece.






I am planning to make socks out of the Mountain Laurel braid, and I am unsure what I will do with the Grass is Always Greener braid. If I do end up making sock weight with this one, too, then I will likely do a contrast heel and toe on the socks. It's nice and soft, though, so maybe it will be a next-to-skin project instead.

Finally, just an extra bonus...I have some amazing fiber from Highland Handmades.
 This one is the colorway Endpapers on Polwarth and is destined to become a gradient skein.
 This one is Heartstrings on a blend of merino, superwash merino and silk. The fibers all take dye differently, and this gives it that lovely streaky effect.

I do have some fiber in the queue ahead of these, but I wanted to mention this fiber, because Highland Handmades has a coupon code out currently. The code ATLORBUST will get you 20% off at her shop through February 28, 2014. Check it out...you won't be disappointed. You will also find her at Stitches South in April this year! I first discovered Highland Handmades at KnitEast 2013, and trust me when I say that being able to see the amazing dyed colorways and squish her fiber and yarn in person is a thrill. If you'll be at Stitches South this year, be sure to visit the Highland Handmades booth!

Oh, one more thing! I completed the Week 3, Day 2 workout from the Couch to 5K program today...still plugging away and no major issues on the horizon. That's all for now!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

I Think I Can; I Think I Can; I Think I Can...

Today's post has somewhat of a theme....I feel as though I am slogging through things that will never be finished. First up is knitting: The Captain America Hoodie. This is a birthday present (by request, no less) for my husband. His birthday was a week ago. He's a good sport and says that he is totally fine with having it finished after his actual birthday, but wowsa does it take a LONG time to knit a man-sized sweater...with a hood. Did I mention the hood? I am starting to wish my husband resembled Captain America before he took the super-soldier serum, also known as Steve. For those of you who aren't familiar, check out the beginning of this clip to see the difference between Skinny Steve and Captain America. I have made progress, though.




Since these pictures were taken, I have actually finished and attached one sleeve, and I am about 5 inches into the ribbing on the second sleeve. The sleeves on this pattern have really long cuffs that get folded up to look like Captain America's gloves...12 inches of ribbing. Hopefully I will finish this sweater soon, because I have an embarrassing number of projects lined up behind it.

Next up....spinning. I am a member of the Roving of the Month club at Purple Fleece. I get 4 oz of the club colorway and 4 oz of the solid complement each month. I have been a member since June 2013. I am seven months behind in actually spinning the fiber. My goal for February is to spin at least 4 oz of my club fiber and at least 4 oz of anything else from my stash. Currently, I have some Game of Thrones themed fiber on my wheel. It is a blend of alpaca, merino, bamboo and a bit of angelina, and the theme for this one is House Lannister.





These batts are from Camelot Dyeworks. The finished skein of the first 4 oz is pictured here on top of the other two 2-oz batts. I am working on the last batt now. I actually finished this first skein months ago. I decided that I wanted to knit a Sweet Dreams shawl with it, but I wasn't sure if I had enough yardage. I convinced Stephani at Camelot Dyeworks that I just had to have another 4 oz, and she was kind enough to card up another 4 oz for me. Here's a close up of that finished skein:





The other area where I am frustrated with my progress is running. I used to be a runner. I used to run a lot. I used to run fast. Then life and work and kids happened, and I woke up one day not being a runner. Last spring, I started the Couch to 5K program so that I could once again be a runner. Thursday, I started it again for the 5th time in less than a year. I would like to take a moment to let you know that I am not a quitter. Quitting things really bothers me, and I will actually continue to do things past the point of ridiculousness just to avoid "quitting." So how is it that a non-quitter has started the same running program 5 times in less than a year without once finishing it? I was embarrassed to fire up that app yet again. I wondered how a 5th attempt with no finishes was possible. So I went back and looked at my workout log.

I started my first attempt at the end of March 2013. I didn't find it to be very challenging in terms of cardiovascular fitness...meaning that I do exercise occasionally, and I have great lungs, and I just didn't feel like I had to stop to walk. I did about 2.5 weeks of workouts, then I actually just ran two 5Ks during April 2013. I was slow and didn't break any records, but I was running, and I was quickly improving. Then shin splints happened. I rested for a couple of weeks, and started back up in May. I persevered through May, then started a group fitness challenge/contest where I work, called Big Bears to Little Bears. Your group meets twice a week with a personal trainer and you have several goals by which you are measured. It was a 12-week program, and it was very intense. Running was an integral part of the program, so I decided the Couch to 5K plan on top of it might be too much for my shin splints. I finished the 12 weeks, improved a lot, lost 8 pounds, but still struggled with shin splints. This was the end of August.

It was about this time that I discovered that my ridiculously expensive shin-splint-preventing sneakers were actually causing my shin splints. I ran out and bought 2 pairs of non-shin-splint-preventing sneakers for half of what I had spent on the marketing-fail sneakers, and I started the old Couch to 5K again. About a week or so after starting, I climbed Mount Katahdin with my family. It is a very challenging climb. I was sore afterwards, but that was to be expected. My knees were hurting, but I continued my running/walking anyway. I made it through another 2 weeks before I went to see my doctor. I had tendonitis, an overuse injury, and it simply would not get better unless I rested. I was told to rest for at least 2 weeks, but not to resume activity until the pain had resolved. It took 2 months to stop hurting. At the beginning of November, I started Couch to 5K for the 4th time. I continued until about a week before I had scheduled surgery for an umbilical hernia repair a few days before Christmas.

Now here I am, recovered from surgery, with my doctor's blessing to engage in physical activity, still not a runner and starting the Couch to 5K for the 5th time in less than a year. I think I'll keep trying. I am signed up for the same 5K in April as the first one I did in 2013. My goal is to beat last year's time.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Severe Case of Startitis

I've been knitting a lot lately. Big shocker, I know. I had a hernia repair mid-December. In the weeks leading up to the procedure, I was quite concerned about whether or not I would feel okay enough to knit or not. I mean, this was quite a gamble...I would either lose out on precious Christmas knitting time, or I would have extra time (and perhaps even knit something for myself in December...gasp). It turns out that I was knitting within a day or two, and though Christmas was soon over, my recovery was not as swift as I had hoped, and let's just say I had lots of knitting time on my hands.



You might think with all my unanticipated knitting time, I would be blazing through projects and turning lots of works in progress into finished objects. Nope. For some inexplicable reason, I cast on for a bunch of new projects. New year startitis, I guess. So what am I working on currently? Well, my husband has asked me to knit him a Captain America Hoodie, I have a Celestarium on the needles that I am knitting with my own handspun (more on that later), and also a pair of socks using the Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes pattern. I also have some leftover sock yarn that I can't bear to go to waste, which has become my portable project - a pair of Textured Tootsies baby socks. Here is the first pair that I made:


 I also just finished some socks for a friend. It's a basic sock pattern, and I used some Three Irish Girls Adorn sock yarn in the Nora colorway. The leftover yarn from this project is what I am using to make the second pair of baby socks. I also recently finished a super-fun knit toy for the kids...more to come on that later.

I also recently finished a sweater for my son:



The pattern is the Abernathy Sweater by Terri Kruse. The pattern was very well written, and it was a great knit. The best part was my son's beaming face because mommy had knit a sweater just for him, and he happily exclaimed that he would wear it forever. Melted my heart.