Last night in knitting

I tried to count to 130.

I was casting on for the second piece of Norah Gaughan’s “Flow” tank top, because it seemed like I should finish that before the snow flies. I always feel stupid when I start a tank top at the beginning of the summer, imagining it a useful thing, and then finish it in just enough time for it to be a ridiculous garment. Not this time. I’ve got the front done (or maybe it’s the back, they are both the same) and that means it should be a really quick dash to the finish. I sat down to cast on 130 stitches, and 10 hours later I had what I believe is the right number.


Ten hours. That’s about 9 hours and 59 minutes longer than it should have taken, and I have no explanation beyond the fact that as much as I love summer, my brain may actually have been poached last night. Toronto continues to be a scorching place to be, and last night it didn’t even help that the burning day star had gone away. It was sultry and hot and steamy, and as romantic as the unrelenting heat is (and it does hold its charms, especially to a city that has as much winter as we do- don’t let my complaining steer you wrong.) It does influence ones intelligence. There is nothing to do in this heat but lie about drinking things like ice water with fresh mint leaves in it… and here I hauled off and tried to count to 130.

I cast on as I counted, got 130. Recounted to be sure, got 118. Added enough to come up to 130, got 140. Took away 10, got 123. Counted again. Got 125. Counted again and got 126, and at that point I went upstairs and sat in cold water in the bathtub (that’s why it’s sitting there) until I could remember my middle name, then came downstairs and counted again. 125. Excellent. Added five, got back in the bath and then went to bed. This morning I counted and I had 129, added one and got 130 twice in a row – which was good enough. 10 hours. Seriously. I can’t believe it.

This morning, after yet another cool bath and a little sleep, I can think of at least 3 good ways that I could have done that. I could have slipped a marker onto the needle every 10 stitches… could have marked of sections with the tail of the yarn, could have… Ok. I can only think of two, but my point is that 10 hours for a grade 3 counting job? Should I really be in charge of this family? (Wait.. yeah, that’s it. I’m incompetent and should be immediately relieved of duty. Lets start with dinner. I’m probably not bright enough to be trusted with the stove. Should order in. Also, that washing machine looks complex…)

In any event, Now that I’ve done the hard part, the back of this should whip along. I’ve got something to do today that isn’t spinning wheel compatible, should make good time on it. The heat hasn’t effected my ability to spin much… except for at the height of the days heat, and I actually think that my inability to think might have helped me on this last skein. I started with 120g of combed top from Mind’s Eye Yarns, though I don’t remember the name or brand. (Better notes, must take better notes. Hey Lucy? Do you remember what this is?)


I fall for top like this all the time, mostly because I forget that it drives me mental to spin it. I always end up with something muddy with all the colours mixed too much, when really what I want is yarn that resembles the roving. Usually what I do is spin the top exactly as it comes. Actually, I spin the top exactly as it comes while cursing profusely because I am essentially a woollen style spinner, with a preference for long draw. This style of spinning is (I think… although I’m only going on my experience here) a really bad match for top. Top is combed rather than carded like roving, and that means that it’s very straight and slippery. My personal spinning style (which I appear helpless to change despite all efforts) just leaves the wheel grabbing this sort of fibre out of my hands no matter how lightly I set my tension. This time though, I broke all the rules because I was just too hot to care.

I steamed the top first – using moisture to restore the crimp to the wool and give it a little more of the resistance of roving. Then I pulled it into strips and started spinning. I didn’t worry about the colours, I just ripped off pieces lengthwise so I could spin “down” the colours instead of spinning across them. The bobbin didn’t look as promising as I had hoped it would be,


Though there was definitely more colour separation than I usually get in this sort of top. When I had it all spun up.. no thinking, no worrying, no trying to arrange things… I Navajo plied the lot, and wow. Did I get a surprise.



I couldn’t have planned it better. After years of trying to make this sort of top turn into the sort of yarn that I wanted, it took a heat wave that robbed me of the ability to overthink to give me results I love.


150m of worsted weight 3ply, 120g, wool.

I adore this yarn to the point of distraction. Distraction. It’s beautiful and fluffy and squishy and If I spin nothing else during the Tour de Fleece, this will make it worth it. It’s on my desk and I just keep squeezing it and touching it and marvelling at how interesting each little strand is. See?


Sigh. My precious.

PS. I keep forgetting to mention that I’ll be at the Bathurst Clark library (900 Clark Ave West) in Vaughan on Tuesday July 22nd at 7pm. It’s free, but you do need to register (so they can get you a chair) by phoning the library at (905) 653-READ. It’s going to be a smaller event than I’ve been doing, and I’m thrilled by that. I’m going to read a little from the latest book, and then I’m hoping the rest of the time will be filled with a really fun Q&A. Please think up a question for me, and come on down. (It’s air-conditioned.)

PPS. No baby yet.

181 thoughts on “Last night in knitting

  1. That yarn makes me want to learn to spin…no, I must knit…no time to learn to spin (and then actually do it!)

  2. I’m so with you on the counting thing. Somehow I always think it will be easier to keep trying to get the right number than to get up and find the markers to mark off groups of 10.
    And the spinning is stunning. You are not doing a good job in keeping me from taking it up!

  3. The heat does that to me, too. At least you get a real winter to counteract it. Here in California, no such luck.
    My son loves the yarn! Beautiful!

  4. The yarn you spun is fabulous! I am sooo afraid to start spinning – I’d get no knitting done! On another note – how can I arrange for you to come to my shop for a signing? The knitters up here would love it! Thanks!

  5. The yarn is beautious!!! I love your description of how letting go of the over-thinking habit gets such wonderful results – that’s a major issue for me too, and it’s really good to read about someone else’s process…
    About the counting – I’m a big fan for placing markers – usually every twenty stitches. That way, even if I find that I miscounted in a section and placed it at 19 sts, for example, I can adjust accordingly when I’m finishing the cast-on…anyway, hope the tank goes smoothly from here on and that you get to enjoy wearing it in this season!

  6. Beautiful spinning. The colors are just right for the weather we’re sharing…hot…humid…yucky!
    Thanks for the baby update.

  7. As much as I hate the heat, at this point in my life I will do nearly *anything* to avoid the overthinking.
    That is beautiful yarn. Beautiful. And a great artifact of uncomplicated thinking.

  8. I count out loud. It help deter the tendency to skip numbers and reduces interruptions (theoretically). If someone asks me something midcount, I count louder. I hope thats not too rude.

  9. The spinning came out beautifully! As a very novice spinner (I’ve so far produced maybe a hundred yards on a drop spindle), I’m both in awe and motivated to learn more. πŸ™‚
    And I sympathize on the heat. Summers in Virginia are pretty miserable, too. I sort of melt on the short walks from the public transportation to my office.
    Still sending Megan’s baby encouraging thoughts on entering the world!

  10. Despite the heat down here in Virginia (its pretty steamy and sultry here too) I get to spend my days in library where it is air conditioned such that I can complete my studying for the bar exam without frying my brain (from the heat at least).
    The big countdown is not that I am finally finished with 4 years of law school (at night), or that I can finally be married to my husband without being in school — the real motivator is that as soon as its over, I can get my spinning wheel!!! I have even already saved up for it, I just couldn’t afford the distraction yet…
    Also – your simple handspun scarf pattern saved my sanity with mindless knitting this summer, thanks so much for that!!

  11. I also suffer with heat. But from the results of your spinning, I seem to be a lot more affected, as I could never ever reach a point where I could make something look half as beautiful as this yarn.
    (maybe not even in Winter…)

  12. Here in Houston, where we have more than our fair share of heat and humidity it’s the cold that drives me to distraction. Granted, knitting sort of keeps you warm, but at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit I shiver so badly that I have a hard time knitting…and forget how dry my hands get! If it ices we don’t bother leaving the house – even if it melts before 9am. So good knitting time if that happens. Anyway, your spinning turned out beautifully, I can’t imagine taking that one and can’t wait to see the NG tank finished up for the end of summer!

  13. The moment the cast-on number goes over fifty I start putting in markers. Sometimes I take them out the first row I knit, sometimes, if keeping count is going to be crucial during the knitting process, I leave them in. They’ve saved my projects time and time again.

  14. That came out absolutely gorgeous. I really must learn that Navajo Plying! I think you should give that skein a name and keep it as a pet for awhile!

  15. I hate the heat. Hate it. But hey, at least you’re not super-pregnant like some people. That’s gotta be uncomfortable! Beautiful spinning.
    Any chance we’ll see baby sweater patterns availalbe soon? I’ve been notified there is a new baby coming that will need a sweater this winter. I like to plan ahead!

  16. Why is casting on so difficult anyway? I can loop yarn, I can put the loops on the needle, I can count. So, what’s up? I never get the right number of stitches without laborious looping-counting-dropping over & over! At least you have gorgeous yarn that you spun yourself to show off, I have…loopsonneedle 1.2.3…

  17. I LOVE that yarn! It’s enough to make me take up spinning. Do you think when you knit it up it will still look that gorgeous? Is there a good way to make it stay looking so good? Other that keeping the happy skein on your desk, of course…
    Gosh, your Tuesday appearance clashes with my knit night, what tragedy. I think I shall have to sacrifice the knit night and try and think of an intelligent question to ask.

  18. Hey–Your latest project is a tank top in the summertime, and it’s a camisole to wear under
    blazers/jackets/cardigans in the cooler weather.
    It is an all weather knitted thing.
    So love it!!
    Marlyce in Windsor, Ontario

  19. Gorgeous yarn. Thanks for the reminder about letting go. I think I may just try that on my latest knitting project … letting go, that is. Very hard to do.
    Three bows, Cynthia

  20. i love the colors in your roving and then finished product. it reminded me of brightly colored candy. luscious.
    now i’m hungry. thanks!

  21. I sure hundreds of knitters have asked, but it is way too hot here [southern Indiana] for me to even want to read all the comments, could you would you please show a picture of the finished Baby Mine Baby Yours sweaters. Thank you ever so…diana

  22. Great spinning! My Tour de Fleece challenge was to learn Navajo plying and use it on a hand-dyed top dyed by me. In my case it’s to keep each color pure in its own part of the yarn, but I find your idea very inspirational. I have some roving that I’ve been putting off spinning until I knew more because of exactly what you describe: I wanted the yarn to look like the roving, with the colors running beside each other instead of muddled up together. I’m glad I waited! I’ll have to try your technique.

  23. I hear you in the stitch count thingie… I usually do kindofmoreorless the number of stitches I need… and the do an extra increase or decrease along the way. I’m sloppy, I know… and can’t even spin, so there you have it.
    Your yarn though: delicious!

  24. I want to see your sweater when it’s finished. I saw this completed on another blog – I love it. I’m new to knitting and think, can I do this? Thanks for sharing the counting story. I have those days and assume it’s a sign to skip the project entirely! I think to much – it’s not good to be too analytical when knitting.

  25. I hear ya on the heat, Harlot (I’m in TO too)…at least we’re not wearing a winter coat, like, f’rinstance, my Siberian Husky Tug! He just about melted into a furry puddle during our morning (5am! Not by my choice, darned shiftwork!) walkies–when it was STILL about 23C (about 80F) + humidity…but at least neither of us are preggers! Hope not-your-daughter Megan is coping with everything.
    Oh yeah, I LOVE the yarn colours…and I too, have had days where apparently I’m not even smarter than a 1st grader–and can’t count to 10! I find that the bread bag closers (not the twist ties) are extremely useful for any number over 25 (15 on hot days) and you can snap them on and off at will.
    Happy knitting, y’all!

  26. I go completely brain dead when it comes to counting. So, finally I decided to take the easy way out. Place a marker every 20 sts. No matter what. It’s way easier to count to 20 six and half times than to count to 130 even once.
    And the yarn, to DIE for! It’s results like these that make we want to learn how to do it!

  27. Hey, wow, I think maybe all this spinning is getting to me. I wonder how long I can hold off before I buy a wheel of my own. Now, how hard is it to spin really good sock yarn?
    Just wanted to say thanks, also, for letting us interview you! It was totally nerve-wracking and fun at the same time. BTW, you had a couple more hours, according to our time zone.

  28. Don’t give up on Sir Washie! I bet nobody understands you like he does…
    Beautiful spinning! The final yarn almost looks cabled.

  29. LOL. I generally cast on when NOT in the presence of my boyfriend who thinks it’s amusing to randomly shout out numbers when I count aloud. Of course he was made to count actual stitches on the needle the last time he did this so maybe I cured him.

  30. Beautiful yarn! Despite having an actual bonafide degree in Mathematics, I still suck at counting stitches. If I have to cast on more than ~30 stitches, I resort to stitch markers every 20 stitches, otherwise it’s hopeless. So don’t beat yourself up too much! =)

  31. Augh! The poor girl….I was pregnant during July…it’s a miserable time to be at the end stage of waiting for a baby to arrive. My sympathies to Meghan…..

  32. I so badly wish to be your neighbor. I can brng over baked goods and glass jewelry and hand crafted cards. I can look at your spun yarn, and possibly learn how to do it someday. My kids can grow up in peace loving Canada, I can live in a big city.
    I love to read your blog. Maybe someday someone will knit something for me. I loved Megan’s little party. I am envious. I am praying for a quick and safe delivery of a happy baby.

  33. Sounds like someone needs stitch markers! Then you only need to count as high as 10 (or 20, or 5, or whatever # you think your brain can handle).

  34. I never, never would have thought to steam the top! Brilliant! I just spun some Ashland Bay top and couldn’t keep the colors separated, next time I’ll follow your lead. Because you’re right, the colors are fabulous. Good job!

  35. Thanks for the baby update. If you hadn’t told, I would have asked. And I’ve never met LettuceKnitMegan.
    I love that yarn. Please, auction it for charity. If not, bring it to LA, so I can touch it. I won’t steal it, honest.

  36. That’s it! Now you’ve done it. My parents will never forgive you. I already spend every cent of my allowance on yarn. Now I’m gonna have to go the Thursday evening spinning groups at my LYS. I have to. Now all I have to do is tell Daddy. Wish me luck. (he’s not really into the whole yarn thing) lol. Thank you though. I’ve wanted to learn to spin for a while now, but I needed some outside pushing to convince me to actually do it. Thanks!
    -Harmony the almost spinner! πŸ™‚

  37. Love the yarn. My wheel is sitting about 15 feet from me right now very angry with me that I haven’t played with it in a while. I must remedy that later. Altho in this muggy mess we have going on I must admit that I have little to no desire to spin.

  38. Ah well math and hot weather don’t go hand in hand, and even if it took you 10 hours at least you had something more to write about on the blog πŸ˜‰
    Love the yarn… hope the knowledge stays even though the summer disappears eventually.
    And good luck to Harmony above on learning how to spin (careful, it’s addictive)

  39. Lovely spinning. I never learned that there were different ways of spinning, but then I never learned anything else than spinning grey, white og blackish wool, ‘wound’ in big cirkles. Great Grandma taught me – this is like 25-30 years ago, and she knitted socks and mittens for the missionairing in Asia.
    Your spinning is so much more colorful than hers ever was. I gather your view of life might be too. πŸ˜‰

  40. Oooo-very pretty! But, you know, when the weather cools and restores your inability to spin top as well as this-you could just send all the top to me. I wouldn’t mind, really. In fact, you might get a package in return with all the lovely carded rovings that I couldn’t resist. Well, maybe not all of them…

  41. COME ON LETTUCE KNIT BABY!!!The world is waiting to meet you!
    Now on to the spinning! I have a spindle and roving and still havent quite got the whole hands soindle and roving thing down yet. Guess that means I need more practice πŸ™‚

  42. I was reading thinking but I’ll like it even if you don’t, coming from that top. And then the finished picture–gobsmackingly gorgeous. Wow! Congratulations!
    As for the counting thing, I frogged my new pattern five times the last two days because of things like 180 doesn’t divide into eights after all, so you have my utter and complete sympathy.

  43. There must be some sort of relativity warp (related to improbability drive) that is activated whenever I sit down to cast on anything greater than 25 stitches across–I have exactly the same problems with counting and simple maths. Oh, Einstein! I call on you in my hour of need!

  44. Your mistake was drinking water and mint…. 130 stitches and hot, humid weather requires beer! Silly….

  45. It’s not you. It’s definitely the heat. It took me most of an evening to cast on the 2nd half of my Flow the other night and get the right count. This is the 4th or 5th day of 90-plus temps here in Chicago and my brain is melting.

  46. That’s barking brilliant, steaming top to put the crimp back in. Bee-yoo-tee-ful yarn!!

  47. That is gorgeous gorgeous GORGEOUS yarn!! Sigh… I keep waiting for the day that all these magical spinning terms will just sink in and make sense to me by osmosis. I’m sure taking a few more classes will help, but until I have a few babies who are willing to take naps a the same time, I think I’ll be sticking to my spindle and wondering how folks can manage to spin yarn in anything less than a month. πŸ™‚
    Casting on is one of my _least_ favorite parts of knitting. The counting is just way to stressful, and unfortunately, I never seem to have a reasonable excuse such as “my brain was poached”. Nope, I’m just miserable at counting, plain and simple. I have given up on any attempt to master my mathematical insufficiency and have embraced my, err, uniqueness and learned to live with the fact that I will always, _always_, need to place a marker every ten stitches, turn off any blinking, noise making distraction box, lock myself in a lit closet (otherwise known as the downstairs powder room) and count out loud.
    There, now my secret is out. Mis-counters Unite!! But, uh, please don’t tell my husband…

  48. I can’t count either, apparently. Yesterday I cast on five separate and distinct times for the back of my husband’s vest, having knit anywhere from one to four inches each time before I discovered the error. Then right before bedtime I realized why–it was a full moon last night. You can’t count straight on the night of a full moon, everyone knows that! (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
    I love love love the yarn! Someday I must learn to Navajo ply if that’s the result it gives…

  49. Apparently most of us do that ‘counting thing’ over and over… and mercy it IS hot.
    Your yarn is just SO beautiful. Congrats.

  50. That yarn is so gorgeous!!!
    I use markers every 25 stitches. It’s the only way I can do it. lol

  51. Oh. My. GAWD!!!!!!!!!!! Total lustage on the handspun.
    And I feel for ya on the coundting. There’re days when I can’t count worth schiesse either. And it doesn’t always hafta be when it’s all hot’n’humid’s’heck either. *sigh* Never fear, Stephanie, you’re far from alone!!!

  52. Oooooooooh. That’s just lovely handspun, I hope I’ll be able to do that one day.
    I was going to say that if Megan’s baby holds out a bit longer she/he can then join me in the Leo side of July (which is naturally the awesomest part of July), except I looked it up and that would mean no earlier than the 23rd and I would hate to impose 5 more days of waiting on her, so hurry up, kid!

  53. I too am counting, working on a garter stitch jacket inspired by EZ. I know its big enough, but thought I should count stitches just to do the math. EVERY time I counted I got a different number so I quit. (Don’t even ask me about the shawl i am doing…)
    You make me want to learn how to spin…

  54. The counting curse has definitely happened to everyone and their mother. It happens ever now and again, it’ll pass, I’m sure.

  55. Reminds me of the casting on and first 2 rows of the Midnight Circle Sweater. It brought me to tears-real tears. I was just aghast at the thought that I could not accomplish these first few rows. I felt I needed to go back to knitting 101. Threw it in the basket-but all week it kept haunting me. I tried again-then e-mailed the designer. She was so nice I cancelled the “hit” I had put out on her!! LOL Sometimes the hardest thing is the actual starting of a project. I finally got it-then had a glass of wine and some zen yoga breathing and asked the cat for forgiveness. Beautiful sweater-but that beginning is a beach.

  56. heatwave? heat? wave? here in the UK it is raining (again!!) not just a little rain, lots and lots of rain! how i envy your heat and humidity. i’m clearly on the wrong side of the atlantic!
    the yarn you spun is dreamy and like Harmony above it makes me want to learn to spin. Also love the baby mine & baby yours sweaters, what a lucky baby.
    i would gladly swap places (location not physical state) with Megan (lettuce knit) so that she can spend her last days of pregnancy in the cool,wet UK and i might sample some of the canadian sunshine! what do you think would she be up for a long haul flight to comfort? ok maybe not!!

  57. Wow! And here I thought I was the only one with occasional can’t-count-past-7 disorder. I feel better–thanks!

  58. Wait… it’s the HEAT that makes you stupid? Imagine, after all these years of living in Texas, and I thought it was just me.
    What a relief.

  59. “it’s the heat that makes you stupid?” Thanks Elizabeth, and I thought it was me too!
    Steph – the yarn is sooooooo beautiful. I’m getting closer and closer to the idea of spinning, you enabler you!!

  60. Absolutely yummy yarn you spin and the colours are what I love. As for counting, it’s mind boggling that we can’t count in this heat. Been there and done that as I’m sure most of us have but not for ten hours. Miss Harlot you are funny even in this heat. I am convinced that I should knit summer things in the winter and vice versa as it takes me so long to get a garment finished. NEW book and you are reading from it and I cannot be there–where do we get our mitts on this new treasure ? Meagan has all my good wishes for a sooner than later delivery.I can hardly wait to see this precious new little one.

  61. My plan for getting the cast-on right: Ask my six-year old to count the stitches, and when he’s done say, “Are you sure? You’d better check.” works every time. (Insert evil laugh here.)
    Your yarn is truly beautiful – can’t wait to see what your creative mind comes up with for that!

  62. I’m working on Flow too. It’s not the cast on but my gauge that keeps changing! The Seduce yarn is gorgeous but hard to knit.
    LOVE that handspun!

  63. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what you spun!!! Truly gorgeous! My daughter and I would love to see that you are coming to our area(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) sometime- any plans???

  64. I was just thinking that this is the nicest spinning you’ve ever done, and then you clued me in that you agree. Some yarn is just so squishy, fluffy, pet-able and precious…
    Congratulations on having a successful Tour de Fleece!

  65. Pretty yarn! I’ve never tried spinning but the sight of that yarn just might push me in that direction.
    And the counting thing is too funny. I am glad I’m not the only one that’s happened to.

  66. Don’t feel bad about not being able to count to 130. I have a terrible time of it too in the heat. Except I usually think I have 130, count it again, get 130, start knitting and 15 rows later discover that I have 128. Then I have to frog it and start all over again. My obsessive compulsive nature just will not let 128 stitches work.
    The yarn is lovely. It looked like ribbon candy as roving and like jellybeans when it was spun and plied. Yummy in all sense of the word!

  67. Pretty. Very pretty. And I know what you mean about that counting. It can be a bear. I just decided to rip out the provisional cast-on and a couple rows of Waterlily Top because the ribbon yarn was a little frayed and didn’t look so nice. Started with 88 stitches. After tinking forward and backward, removing what seemed to be k2t’s, and cutting out a knot, I finally got to good yarn and smooth knitting. Counted stitches – 88. So I guess sometime between casting this on a couple months ago and now, the knitting fairies came and played a silly trick on me. Time for a beer.

  68. Oh, I am feeling much better! I recently had a tough time with some knitting because I apparently couldn’t count to 4! You’re a much more talented and skilled knitter than I, so it makes me feel good to know it sometimes happens to the best. Love, love, love your spinning. I’ve often wondered how before and after pictures look so different and you’ve succeeded very well in making the after look like the before..or something. I’m hot too.

  69. Heat…who woulda thunk that I hadn’t made the correlation before. My brain…numbers…and heat!
    Thank you for opening my eyes! I have seen the light, and I can now walk with a spring in my step having been freed from the burden I’ve carried for years…I am not a numbers idiot! It’s been the heat all along!
    Thank you, my friend (well, we’re sorta friends, I guess). You’ve made my day.
    ~Nathalie (from a state that stays hot nearly the entire year)

  70. Oops! Forgot to add, counting cast on stitches gets the best of me no matter how warm/cold it may be. I think the knitting fates just screw with you sometimes for thier own perverse pleasure…..kinda like the swatch thing, you know?

  71. That top is Ashland Bay Merino Top in colorway Hollyberry. I’ll order more the next time I order fiber (which will be within the week).
    I actually have a picture of you in the shop just after you bought it. I’ll put it up on my blog tonight.

  72. Steph that top and skein are gorgeous. I would love to rip them right out of the computer screen off your desk (I am not that magical, unfortunately)
    No baby yet…still hope for today since I was off by which day it was full…it is today!

  73. Major opposites today in blogland:
    Grumperina crunched who-knows-how-many numbers to determine that one pattern repeat of her sock uses precisely 2.8 grams of yarn.
    Yarn Harlot can’t count to 130.

  74. I LOVE this new theory: If one is feeling too muddle-headed to count knit stitches, this will translate into awesome spinning!

  75. I love that yarn! As well as the letting-go-and-see-what-happens experience; must try that one with my spinning…

  76. It’s horrible how the heat can turn our brains to mush. I’m impressed that you are spinning in the heat. My hands get sweaty and it makes spinning more difficult. Love the colors that you made. I think the most important thing I have learned about spinning is not to think too much. Thanks for the hint about steaming the top. I have a friend who hates to spin top because it’s too slippery. I’ll have to tell her your hint.
    Hope cooler weather is on its way to you. We had huge thunderstorms, but no relief from the humidity. I have an air conditioned house and pool if you want to come over. I live right across from Cornwall, Ontario, but I guess that is kind of far from Toronto.

  77. That is beautiful! I went to a yarn shop about 60 miles from my home today and signed up for spinning classes. She said she could have me spinning in 3 hours, with the basics. I’m not sure about that. So the first three hour class is on August 21st. You have inspired me to try it. I watched her today. It looked like so much fun! You have made it sound like so much fun. No Olympics or tournaments for me. Just want to learn one more thing! Thanks for the inspiration.

  78. Could you elaborate on the ‘steaming the top’ portion of your description? Did you do it in a vegetable steamer? Over the kettle? Leave it out in the hot sun?? Call it names and make it mad?
    Fabulous yarn!

  79. Just beautiful yarn! And I so understand the 10 hours to get to 130 cast on stitches. At least you did not THINK you had 130 stitches and knit an inch or two, then find out differently….uhm like maybe I’ve done once or twelve times. Sigh. Counting is SO hard.
    Now let us all take a moment and convince that beautiful baby that today, yes TODAY is a great day to be born!!

  80. Congratulations on a beautiful skein! I love hearing all these spinner’s comments–I have a drop spindle , but haven’t made the leap to an actual wheel. Soaking up all these bits of advice gives me hope that I won’t make a total wreck of my first foray on a wheel.

  81. Now you’ve gone too far. It’s alchemy, just magical. I’m learning to spin with wool, but know that my future lies with cotton or tencel or some other cool yarns, and I’ve never seen anything even a quarter as tempting in those fibers. What are those of us cursed with a warm climate to do?
    Not move, not even for wool.

  82. It was so hot today I think parts of my brain melted.
    That yarn is so beautiful–makes me hopeful that I can do that too…except I have not learned how to Navajo ply yet.

  83. Gorgeous yarn! If I spotted a skein like that in a store…
    Hope the heat breaks soon or that you get a venue up here. We haven’t hit above 25 yet this summer. Most nights are between 15 and 10. Door’s open, place might not be spotless, but I’d clear the couch of laundry for you.

  84. How do you spin so much without having your hand cramp into a claw? I can’t seem to manage it. Do you stretch your hands? Do you spin, take a break, spin, take a break? Is it the heat and humidity? Help!

  85. That is absolutely gorgeous!!! I love it πŸ™‚ Now I have to get out my spinning wheel again and get to work! Thank you πŸ™‚

  86. Stephanie, I do love reading your blog! (and books, got them all) You describe so well what we’ve all been through.
    What I’ve learned is to use the split ring, or plastic pins *after* I cast on. Adding a marker while casting on never works for me. I cast on a bunch, pause, count to 20, insert marker, recount, yep. Move on and count the next 20, etc. Since switching to that, I haven’t had any problems…with casting on!

  87. Wait, wait! Can you go through that spinning process again, but slower and with more pictures? Please?! That yarn is GORGEOUS! πŸ™‚ I was in Rosie’s Yarn Cellar in Philadelphia on Wednesday, and heard someone quoting you: “Yarn, what yarn? These are my kittens!” Maybe you can name that skein “Kitten.” You know, because naming our skeins of handspun would do so much to convince the rest of the world that we’re all sane.

  88. the yarn is wonderful..I second the comment that said it looks like a lollipop!

  89. That is lovely yarn you got there. Reading your spinning adventures make me want to learn how to spin but I need to finish the hat I am working on before I get a spindle and roving! Keep it up!

  90. Funny about that counting thing. I must have a little clicker in my head keeping track of things. When my brain says stop, I count. Usually I’m within 3 or 4 stitches of where I need to be no matter how many that is. 11 PM here in New Jersey and it’s 82F/26C, with no end in sight till Sunday. Time to knit lace.

  91. It took me about 3 hours to get 90 stitches cast on for one sock. Was ahead of myself because I was dividing the stitches by 4 for the needles, but ALSO trying to make sure the needles had #’s divisible by 6 which was the pattern repeat. And I wanted that number of stitches to be the same. Blub blub blub.
    Your spun yarn is gorgeous. Will you sell it for Log Cabins? ;-D

  92. Counting to 20 is a whole lot easier than to 130. Glad you finally got the count right. Can’t wait till we see more of the tank. Thinking good baby thoughts for Megan. Tell her to get a raunchy book and read it with her husband. Did the trick for me nearly 28 years ago! πŸ™‚

  93. I was reading along with interest, even though I am NOT going to learn to spin until I’m settled in this house (no new hobbies! no new equipment! shut up!) and even though Oregon Flock & Fiber is in a few weeks (shut up shut up shut up!) but fascinated nonetheless.
    And then I got to your “p.s.” and just… sagged. Come on out, sweet baby! You’ll like it out here, honest! And your mama will be so, SO glad to have some air between her breasts and her belly! Only you, sweetness, can make that happen so please move along!
    love, a knitting auntie-grandma

  94. See you in Vaughan! As wonderful as it is to be in a room with 300-odd knitters, it will be nice to see you speak in a somewhat smaller venue.

  95. I think my first comment was lost to the blogging abyss! Just wanted to say thanks for the interview. It was totally scary for me, but way fun at the same time.
    Your spinning is tempting me to take on a new stashing opportunity – we’ll see how long I can hold out against buying my very own wheel. So, am I crazy to want to spin sock yarn?

  96. Oh I am so glad it’s not just me. I’ve started the same basic sock eleventy eight times and I’m ready to flush the whole thing. Mabye I’ll set it aside instead.
    I’m a fairly new knitter so it is encouraging to hear that even the very experienced lose their minds sometimes! (not that I’m glad you did)

  97. absolutely love the yarn…
    and the idea of casting on 130 stitches in one minute if all goes right. That would never happen here – it’s never taken me 10 hours, either, but then again, it doesn’t really get very hot here…..

  98. “There is nothing to do in this heat but lie about drinking things like ice water with fresh mint leaves in it…”
    The first time through this phrase, I wondered why you would want to spend your time telling falsehoods, and about drinking ice water, of all things. It must be the heat.

  99. What’s your current total amount spun?! I’m not a spinner, but the “will she, won’t she” speculation about you getting your 1.5 kilos in is riviting! (and between you and the TsockTsarina’s spinning posts these days… I may well try spinning again) I’d add up your total amount spun, except that you haven’t posted (or maybe I just didn’t see?) the weights of everything you’ve spun! Good luck!

  100. What gorgeous yarn. Ooh, I got to get me some of that there roving! Lovely! No one would ever know that combed top isn’t your favorite fiber to spin because that yarn is stunning! I cracked up when I read about the counting thing. That’s my normal state of being. (I have a bad memory and absolutely the suckiest counting skills. At times I feel like I’m a three year old. I count like that all the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scorching 95 degrees outside or 20 below! It’s awful) I use Maggie Righetti’s method of counting cast on stitches. She said that science has shown that most people can count to 20 reliably, even me! So you cast on 20 stitches, put a marker and then repeat till you get the required number of stitches. It’s the only method that works for me reliably. If I have a ton of stitches, I’ll have someone else with a normal brain re-count them for me so I don’t have to visit the frog pond later. Being the World’s Slowest Knitter means you try and avoid the frog pond at all cost! Happy knitting and spinning. Man! I just love your yarn!!!

  101. Well, the heat may have impaired your ability to count, but it seems to have heightened your ability to write with a rapid fire wit. This is my favorite piece of your writing I have read so far … perhaps you have been stewing enough in Toronot’s heat to be “done” to just that perfect pitch of rightness.

  102. I know what you mean about spinning that sort of combed top. I had some success with spinning it from the fold, it keeps the colours more seperate. Still a different result from your final yarn though.

  103. Pretty pretty pretty!
    I cast on what I think looks like about the right number of stitches, then I go back and count and put a safety pin every 20 stitches, counting each 20 twice as I put the pin on. After putting all the pins on I know if I need to cast on more stitches or take some off, but usually I’m not that far off.

  104. Love the new yarn. Your heat induced mind melt did the trick.
    We on Long Island are in the middle of our HHH heat wave. So why then am I flying to Las Vegas on Monday? Must be the mind melt.
    PS – tonight is the full moon. Lots of babies make their debut on the full moon.

  105. After the inability to count to 100 hit me a few times, I’ve become a place marker convert. I can totally count to 25(pretty)reliably. You usually lose me when you start talking about the techniques of spinning, even though I’m quite intrigued by the results. This time, Oh. My. God. That yarn you spun is just lovely. You spun lovely yarn. It’s frickin’ magic I tell you. I’m sure the baby will join us soon just to feel that yarn.

  106. I love my flow. I finished it yesterday, wore it to dinner last night. But I did it in the round. And I was mostly able to count. I was only off by 2 sts.

  107. The yarn is gorgeous! My OCD goes into overdrive whenever I cast on. I even use markers but still it’s count, recount, count, recount. It’s a cruel cosmic joke (like disappearing socks in dryers) that I can get different numbers each time.

  108. I hope you find more relief from the heat while you continue to enjoy your summer. Congratulations on creating the type of yarn you desire. I’m still plugging along with my piles of fluff, but do not have anything to show.

  109. Steph- You have a particularly clear way of explaining stuff and I think a lot of us might appreciate a spinning tutorial from you. You’re showing us all this spinning porn! And the Tour de Fleece seems an appropriate time for a tutorial. And if you didn’t want to do it then surely you know some wonderful spinner who could.
    Anyway, just an idea!

  110. I have an entry in my knitting journal that tells how long it took me to cast on for a pair of socks. I think that it was 4 days and 13 minutes. Sometimes I can’t count, and sometimes it is just procrastinating.
    Beautiful yarn!

  111. I . . . I just want to lick that yarn, or something. *wanders off to stare at handpainted roving that is already in the process of being beginner-butchered in my room*

  112. Because I am the mother of two small children (8 & 5), own a yarn store and try to keep my family together, whenever I cast on something more than 60 stitches, I place a marker or a piece of waste yarn every 20 stitches. This maintains my sanity and guarantees I only have to count to 20, which I can do even when we have had three days of 95+ degree (F) heat in Philadelphia and are not looking at a day in the 80s until Tuesday.
    I feel your pain. I cast on a shawl four times two weeks ago. Even using the markers.

  113. Thank you!!!
    I’ve always wondered why I end up with mostly-solid colors (and not very pretty ones) when I spin beautiful multi-colored tops. Now I understand! I can’t wait to try for something more colorful on my next go ’round.

  114. Gorgeous! Inspired by your Tour de Fleece, I hauled out my spindle, my new book by Maggie Casey and finally produced my very first handspun! Plied and everything. I’m a proud mama right now too. πŸ˜€

  115. I’m glad to see I am not the only one who has trouble counting! And when this happens to me, I keep remembering the definition of Insanity: making the same mistake over and over. Oboy. Funny farm, here we come!

  116. So, you steamed the to in that heat? Did you use a heat source, or did you just let it sit OUT in your normal heat?
    And if you used the stove, how could you stand it?

  117. But if it hadn’t taken you 10 hours to cast on that many stitches, what else would have been as entertaining to blog about?! Funny how that casting on/counting works (or, rather, doesn’t!). And I don’t even have heat to contend with!

  118. Thinking is overrated. And yes, stoves and washing machines are far too tricky to meddle with.

  119. i am in florida central west coast
    the heat and humid will not go away
    forever or ever
    the wool is lovely but if your head
    starts to feel as if waves are crashing
    you need water and cool off

  120. oh my god. i am in love with that handspun. this is the first skein i would ever actually rob someone for. don’t ever bring it to texas, i will sniff it out…..

  121. Spectacular!
    I had to do 178 chains today and thought about you. And counted out loud in the process. Good thing it was in the privacy of my own home.

  122. This is in no way to be considered advice, this is just how I count.
    130 – 10 = 120. 120/3 = 30. I can count three at a time and thirty is far less to count than 130. So once I get to thirty 3s, I have 120. Cast on 10 more stitches and I never have to worry about it again.
    But I also calculate percentages in my head for fun and can’t seem to get license plate numbers I see out of my mind sometimes when I drive.

  123. Just a note on a lovely Sunday morning in Cape Breton to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. I’m raising my cup of tea to the baby-to-be, to your spinning, all the knitted projects, and the 130 stitches.

  124. it cracks me up that because it was too hot to care, you broke the rules by STEAMING the wool . . .

  125. Your latest yarn creation – delicious. I can see a Yarn Harlot signature line coming out…
    I don’t mind the heat; it’s the humidity that can bugger off already. But I can relate to the “brain no longer functioning properly” thingie – I swear, I felt it leaking out of my ears in my sleep these past few weeks… ugh. I’m avoiding knitting anything until I can put a series of words together (written and vocally) without being looked at with pity.
    And I had a dream last night that the baby would be on the way today…

  126. I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one who lusts for roving like that and then muddies it up (normally)! I have also figured that I must strip into finer strips in order to preserve the colors just as you describe. Very nice, lovely yarn yee Harlot πŸ™‚

  127. Incidentally I have discovered the solution to high humidity keeping one from spinning- CHALK! Climbing chalk or just regular writing on the blackboard chalk dries out the skin on the hands letting the yarn slip thru.

  128. so, wow. I’m new(-ish) and so love reading here. I know how lame this is, but I first heard you on the stash and burn podcast recently. I’m so happy to see your spinning – it’s really, really lovely. Really. Thanks for taking the time to share…

  129. I’m a little behind with this comment. I’m referring to your statement about living in a world where all those everyday items we take for granted were all made by hand from scratch. I’ve read an absolutely amazing book on this very subject and I’m sure anyone else who loves the fibre arts would enjoy it. It’s called “WOMEN’S WORK: THE FIRST 20,000 YEARS; WOMEN,CLOTH,AND SOCIETY IN EARLY TIMES” by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. (1994-ISBN 0-393-31348-4 W.W.Norton &Co.)It’s a fascinating look by means of archeology at how much women were part of the economy but are historically ignored because of the perishable nature of fabrics and fibres. She likens the first production of a twisted fibre as a String Revolution that created changes in society that were like those of the Industrial Revolution.
    The author is a weaver herself and she has quite the passion for her subject. It was so interesting that I’m presently trying to get the nerve up to attempt spindle spinning myself! Allanna

  130. Oh, I hope the silence here means the arrival of the much expected baby of Megan (Lettuce knit, not daughter).
    I have been sending her many thoughts these last few days! I really hope that all is well!

  131. Today (July 21) is the full moon. Surely that babe has made his/her arrival? We all know how much babys (and werewolves…coincidence?) love the full moon.

  132. Now I don’t feel so badly. I was starting a sweater for my sister with 117 stitches, and it took me two days, full of swearing and questioning my ability to count, to establish the not-too-complicated pattern. The front went much better, thank you very much, but it was a little dispiriting to think that the tots down the street were more capable than me.

  133. Oooh, that yarn is gorgeous! I have counting issues like that too… I have finally made myself get in the habit of using stitch markers to help me count.

  134. Counting and sultry heat just don’t mix. The humidity steams our brains. Breathtaking, beautiful yarn. Spin on dear girl, spin on.

  135. Thanks for the Megan update. You know we’re all on tenterhooks waiting to hear what the healthy bundle will be (besides healthy, that is).
    The Flow tank top for you is too easy. A couple of increases, a couple of decreases, a breeze – right? WRONG! It might have been easier if they asked you to use a Norwegian cast on with two colors then strand for 10 rows, and finally to ‘sweeten the pot’ give yourself a deadline. Level of complication is key to inspiration!
    Lastly, the heat wave in NYC isn’t hampering my Tour de Fleece efforts. I kissed my last braid of roving good-bye (only because after spinning that roving won’t look anything like what I purchased – apologies to the seller at I’m still bad, but I’m getting better. This week I plied (yay!) and the yarn is about 3 stitches per inch on size broomstick handles. YIKES!!! I’m usually a size 3 needle kinda woman.

  136. Wow– what an inspiring story for a novice spinner like myself. And such a beautiful product! Keep writing and spinning and being crafty and wonderful!

  137. Tour de Fleece Distraction. Sounds like the perfect name! Beautiful!

  138. Every time I see a post like this, I get one step closer to learning to spin. That yarn is so beautiful it almost makes me weep. No, that’s not the heat and humidity talking. It’s really really beautiful yarn.
    Thanks for sharing!

  139. Very nice! I love the variety in the skein – so many colors!
    (As for counting, this is why I’m only really doing socks right now… I figure that is more than enough complexity for the season of heat.)

  140. I count aloud by two’s (ya know, 2, 4, 6, 8, etc.)and ‘walk’ my fingers over the stitches as I count. For some reason, this method words for me. Just thought I’d share. BTW – you’re spinning looks fabulous!

  141. hmm…those colors are sherbet-licious. Have a good time in the airconditioned libarary!

  142. Two words: Public Library. Ours has a cafe, comfy chairs, and AIR CONDITIONING – which my house lacks and seriously needs. I can bike over, hang as long as I want, avoid housework, and even check my email. What could be better?
    Disclosure: I’m a librarian.

  143. You can’t go wrong at the public library. I second everything said by Fibersong, including the part about being a librarian.
    And you’re keeping us in suspense. Baby????

  144. Any update on Megan?
    As for casting on, yes, counting is always a problem. I’m trying to do a bell-sleeved free-knit sweater out of alpaca. Somehow, I cast on the right amount of stitches for sleeve 1 — and one extra for sleeve 2. Fortunately, I caught it early, and considering the gauge, one stitch didn’t make a visible difference and I just knit two together to correct it. Hopefully, you’ve had the last problem and will soon have a beautifully finsihed top!

  145. *LOL* Whenever I cast on for a new project, that’s when everyone in the house (including the 4 cats) finds it very necessary to converse with me. Just yesterday, I looked at my younger daughter (who also knits) and said, holding up the needles, “What am I doing right now?” She says, “Casting on.” Me: “And what do you do when you cast on?” Her, smiling: “Count.” Then she walked away until I started working on the actual pattern.

  146. No, no, no, I will continue to resist learning to spin. Must not add a new hobby…
    But I love the stuff you’re spinning and I want to do it!
    And I think I’m going to love the tank top, too…

  147. You make me feel so normal. I thought I was the only one that couldn’t “count” to 130. I have done that so many times. Could be something to do with the heat wave, I’m sure. PS. Come to Vancouver- it is heavenly here and not too hot.

  148. Is this the same tank top you were working on at Nana’s in Illinois? If it is, I’m so relieved. You know that pi shawl I was going to make with the yarn I bought there? I’ve frogged three times.

  149. Good grief, thanks for admitting to that bit of math ..I’ve always loved knitting in the round EXCEPT for all that cast on counting: truly frightening. I end up doing pieces instead. But then the sewing up eats the time at the other end. Pay now or later as they say. Thanks for the laughs!

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