The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


On Smelling up a House

Colour me happy!  For starters, I am happy that Joyja could not stand the sight of her ½ fleece of a champion Romney ram a second longer:)  We met up at LYS, Spun on Saturday morning.  Joyja was so excellent.  Right there in the parking lot, she gave me the 411 on ‘scouring’ wool.  That term is a total misnomer by the way.  Agitation of wool in hot water = felt.  There is no “scouring” per se.  Repeated dunking & soaking with patience & respect.  My crash course was even better because the lot has 1 big bag of it in the raw; a medium bag of it clean; and a small zip-lock of it carded.  She could show me what each step gets you.   The highlights are:  a)  the fleece smells well “high” – might want vicks to get you through, b) use blue Dawn as the soap, & c) scour first; spin later – fleece spoils.

Joyja was so excellent that she also showed me Spun’s wheel that rents for $20/hr, and offered hers for my spinning pleasure as well!  Thanks so much!  IMHO, knitters are at their best when helping other knitters:)

I have totally personified the fleece.  He has locks, hence his name is Peter Tosh:

One of many raw wool locks

Bunch of raw, very woolen locks

The geekiness knows no end… a lock from tip to cut-end is the staple.

Its a staple, folks - in the raw

It's a staple, folks - in the raw

Six pounds of staples is A LOT!  This is Joyja’s cleaned wool:

And the springy goodness of the carded stuff:

As soon as I walked the bags in, Toby set to sniffing at it.  Very businesslike & thorough & adorable!  DH?  Not so much!

There are no 2 ways about this… Peter Tosh The Fleece stinks to high heaven.  My approach?

Starfish Oil & Diffuser - Lemongrass & Rosemary over sheep

Starfish Oil & Diffuser - Rosemary & (better yet) Lemongrass over sheep

I also set up shop in the most ventilated room – our kitchen.  Close to the stove, a ceiling fan & a sliding door.  All of which only served to mask the Essence de Ram.  Yes, it smells.  But.  It smells like something I want to own:  a living, kicking sheep!  DH was not quite so sanguine.  By about batch 1 ½ he was crying mercy…

Although I am in the kitchen, I wasn’t about to use the sink directly.  Luckily, my pails fit in the sink.  I dump the lanolin/dirty water in the back garden.  The rinse water’s either for my compost bin or the drain.  Here’s a pail in action:

The stick is a skewer that I am using to tease out trash (with utmost respect) & plunge the wool.  I mix hot pipe water, blue Dawn & boiling water in the pail & then add the wool.  It’s taking 3 washes & 2 rinses.  The last rinse is with some vinegar.

Honestly, I have not had this much fun in years.  In between cleaning/ rinsing batches, I looked into the world of drop spindles.  You pull the wool into strands & the spindle twists it into yarn.  It spins like a top in mid-air.  Long have I coveted one.  Thanks again to Ravelry, I worked out that a Stephen Kundert spindle would be a good place to start.  I chose his red cedar over cherry whorl:

DH is quite possibly as excited to get this as I am.  It tickles his “How It’s Made” fancy you see.  May even give us a few laughs by trying it himself!  Believe you me, the knitting never got this much interest!

The results of yesterday’s work… 2 batches, smelling up the house:

Batch 1, drying

I’ve completed batch 3 & 4 is now rinsing.  Make wool cleaner while the sun shines… and DH is at work!  So far, batch 2 has the most varied colour.  There’s a shock of white in thar fleece!

I am on the last leg of the Hottie Hottie top & have more new stash to boast about – do that another time.  Walk good!

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Yardie Yarnie

This blogger might just be the world’s first yardie yarnie.  Just to be clear – I do not want this getting back to my Mother, Father or in-laws.  In this regard, TKK is counting on her dear brother to remember who kept all his tattoo news to herself.

It’s a long story the upshot of which is that in a few hours, I will acquire ½ a fleece.  Raw, untreated & probably rather unclean wool.  Shorn from a genuine Romney sheep here in Ontario this June.  The fleece of a champion grey sheep.  What possessed me?  Ahh well…

  1. The price was right.  $25 for this much wool – hello?!  Sirdar’s 100% undyed virgin Eco Wool dk yarn sells for $6.99 around here.  That’s $6.99 for 1¾ oz.  How much does ½ a ram yield you ask?  This one is 7 lbs for $25.  I am not skipping the part where I’ll have to wash, dry, and then comb the locks into the actual raw wool.  Then turn my hand at spinning.  I know. I know.  But still.  Listen, if someone else does the dirty work the roving from Romney fleece starts at $25 per lb.  My seller says she paid double for the raw fleece.
  2. Even my clueless yardie self knew that Romney wool is, to quote Martha, a good thing.  It has an even crimp & is relatively low on the lanolin.  That was my intuition.  Boy was it a relief to then look it up & see many a yarnie recommend Romney as the starter wool for spinning!
  3. I liked the fact that it is natural grey wool.  For all of this madness, I draw the line at spinning.  Dyeing isn’t pulling at me.
  4. Yonder farm is inside of 100 miles by half.  I am meeting my seller in the next town over.
  5. Drop spindles captivate me.  In the same way knitting used to before I got the knack.
  6. Felting projects have been occurring to me over-night.  Baby Sierra’s room might do well with a grey felted bunny, and so on.
  7. DH okayed the madness.  He was shocked at the offer price – he’s caught on to what a sweater’s-worth of yarn costs.  He wanted to trade permissions – I get this wool & he gets his coveted video card.  Well that effort flopped – the video card is 10xs that wool!

All of which is very true.  However, this might be a tad more bitten off than is chewable.  Where/ how shall I store this baby?  Can you hide 7 lbs of wool from a visiting in-law?  FIL arrives in a week!

Baa Baa Black Sheep have you any wool?

No sir, no sir I’ve given it away

Three bags to a crazy yardie

Irieknit is her name

Back in the now… My Hottie Hottie tank top hit an equipment roadblock.  My longer 4.0mm circular needle went missing.  For all the searching, it was well & truly lost.  One thing led to another, and now I have an Addi Turbo 4.0mm circ.  Talk about getting the knit knack!  Light, bright & beautiful.

Addi Turbos give you wings!

Addi Turbos give you wings!

Of course, I found the old aluminum needle the very next day… outside, chilling on the patio.  How rude!

While I was in the LYS why not stash for my MK Carroll Tillie Cloche Hat?

Just as a parting pic – this here is a backyard butternut!

Aint she a beaut?

Ain't she a beaut?

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Per contra Hand Towel!!

Well, I promised a pattern & now am delivering!  It was made for DH on his (surreal age) birthday, August 14th.  Please do bear with me – this is my first written pattern.  The E & OE at the end may be familiar to some… it stands for Errors & Omissions Excepted.  You will always find it on a lawyer’s bill.  I’m happy to clarify/ make revisions – just let me know if you have any issues or challenges.

The FO looks like this:

What’s in the name?  Well, per contra means “on the other hand.”  The towel wants to be your substitute for select-a-size paper towels in the home.  It’s a quick knit from the bottom up with all-over cabling that gives the towel massive ‘sponge pockets.’  No more tearing sheets for simple things like drying-off fruits!

Hope you find this a fun knit.  Good luck changing habits! Talk to me about knitting these on commission for you – good for stocking stuffers!

Per contra Hand Towelv1.1090825

Edit:  To fix hyperlinks.  Notes:  This is a .pdf.  The pattern is copyrighted with a Creative Commons Canada Licence to users.  The licence terms are set out in the pattern.

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Surprise Skeins

Talk about reaching a personal goal:  two great ‘events’ chez moi in as many days?!  Dinner went really well.  Cuz loved her Silpada jewelry.  Shout-out to my friendly knitterly Silpada rep, Miss Megster – close call on this gift!  We exchanged these belated gifts.  Mine was so nice… Ta da!

Purple 100% silk tote - made in Cambodia

Purple 100% silk tote - made in Cambodia

Hung in a bush for the morning light & general cheesiness…  TKK now has a good mid-sized project bag!  The Lexie Barnes is much-loved but honestly too big for baby projects and such.  The second part of the gift really blew me away:

Yarn spun from recycled silk.  It comes without a ball band but they make this from old saris in southeast Asia.  Closer:

Fittingly, we had Indian from a local restaurant, The Painted Elephant.  Everyone loved the food & it was good times.  I can see how building from one event to another works wonders with set-up & cleaning.

Am still thinking about what it will be.   Cuz sure got my number.  In case anyone is wondering about Christmas gifts, my fridge magnet sums it up for ya:

More Yarn Please!

This was just an all-over good weekend.  Tomatoes are ripe for the picking!  At long last.  Bear with me on this one – we are city folk & this is simply magical.  Man, are they sweet!  We ate up/ whoopsed off the 2 ripest so fast!  I decided to spare the dear readers more tomato pics.  They look the same as when they were green.  They are now tomato red.

DH was showing off on the phone.  He’s telling the gaming buddy all about eating “the first tomato of the season from the estate.”  Said gaming buddy knows the house – estate, shmestate!  Since the squash is spread all over the lawn, I am pretty sure that New Neighbours think we are whack farmer-types… I have to run but will try to relate a New Neighbour story sometime soon!

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We hear you, Usain!

Can I just say Happy Belated Birthday to Usain St. Leo Bolt?!  Keep sprinting my yout!

The Daily Gleaner’s on-line edition ran a Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) article today that quotes Usain on his main goal:

I keep telling you – my main (goal) is to become a legend. That’s the aim for me and that’s what I’m working on.

Alrighty then!  Seems that Usain doesn’t think he needs a new goal…  Friends & family tell us how absolutely electric the Championship has been for the island.  From strength to strength!

I have barely touched my knitting since Pub Night on Wednesday.  There’s just been no time.  I dropped everything (blog included) to put my house in order.  My ankle decided to make simple cleaning difficult, so everything took forever to get done.

It was a matter of killing 2 occasions with 1 stone.  I was getting ready for an old high school girlfriend’s visit but also for my cousin & her BF who are stopping by for dinner on Sunday.  In my world comprehensive housework gets done for concrete reasons & concrete reasons alone.  Barring that I keep it basic & other fun things like knitting precedence.  Anyhow, with some pacing things got clean & tidy in time for my early bird girlfriend!  We had a lovely day together & I’m very happy that I got out of the old tired lunch-in-the-city mentality.  You know:  sit, eat, chat, kiss kiss.

So nice to have a good friend around.  Toby was a brat for a long while but he eventually figured out that my friend loves dogs – even bratty ones!  Let’s hope he got that out of his system.  The cousins are not quite as dog tolerant as this friend.

Since the tank top is still a thin circle of red yarn, I’ll wait to post a progress pic.  Instead, I give you a page from my 2009 Slingshot organizer:

Top right:  In Knit we Trust

Top right: In Knit we Trust

After their welcome essay, the Slingshhot Collective adds:

Anti-Copyright.  Borrow whatever you want.  We did.

Gotta love that.  So, feel free to pay that one forward.  You can find the radicals over here.  The About page is worth a read.  Now if the radicals know that in Knit we Trust, they are definitely onto something!

All of which is to drop a heavy hint in Brother Man’s general direction… a 2010 Slingshot Organizer would be appreciated!

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Thinking it Over

Last I wrote there was to be furious fingerless glove knitting this week.  For my cousin’s (long over-due) birthday gift.  One, “Are you nuts?” glance from DH put paid to the idea.  Him noticing an unspoken vibe between women?  Woke up.  Smelled the coffee.  Yes, it is true that she is decidedly underwhelmed by the knitting thing.

So, I did the right thing & pulled the plug on that project.  Away to the mass market I go.  Chuh!

Bumped up the knit queue is a cotton tank top.  So, yet again, I am carrying a non-descript circle of yarn to Pub Night 🙂  This time it’s red.

Let us not speak of that stitch marker, okay?

Raided odds & bobs of jewelry for the stitch markers. No questions!

It will be a cotton tank top à la Kristen TenDyke’s Provence Broken Rib Tank.  A free pattern here.  It has rave reviews on Ravelry & looks like a winner.  Her model looks demure as demure can be.  I, on the other hand, am going in another direction.  Working title?  Hottie Hottie Toppie!

My little bougainvillea has smiled upon me.  Paradise in a pot, people!

Not as homesick with this baby to look at! Frankie Flowers of CityTv wasn’t kidding when he said August is a good time to fertilize.

What will I do when the growing season is over?

The next project in queue is there to stay.  It’s the Sushi Moss baby gift!  We now have a gender & a name.  As we hoped, it’s a girl!  To be named Sierra.  Although my cunning plan is underway, I can’t say too much…  Her Momma stops in here for a read every so often.  Must be a surprise!

So far, I have pattern ideas & the yarn is on order.  Back story on the yarn order.  So, I was all excited to drive the 20 mins to this LYS. They have an annual summer sale & I have ideas.  First I went when it was closed.  Yes, I have a history of doing that.  My bad.  I go back the next day (scenic 20 min. drive) only to be sorely disappointed.  Where are the mark-downs?  Live & learn my friends.   Apart from this small order, I left empty-handed.  Onwards to their competitors’ sales.

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Baby Gift Satisfaction

Sammy’s V-neck Vest is all ready for him!

I defied the pattern instructions, and did not join the left armhole edging at the button band.  Just took the rawness off the top few stitches with my take on crochet, and knitted straight for the armhole.  This means that the 3 buttons are the functional join for that shoulder & arm.  I also changed the shoulder join on the right side to a graft instead of the 3-needle bind-off.

Here is the prezzie all wrapped & ready for the parcel post:

Found some use for that gross-grain!  All-in-all, I’m happy with this one.  Thumbs-up for the pattern:  Louisa Harding’s Oz Vest from Natural Knits for Babies & Moms.  Interweave linky is here.

Riding this wave of gift-giving, I think that my next project will be a pair of fingerless gloves for my cousin.  She’s coming over on the weekend & I am a good 3 months late with her birthday present.  She likes to run, so they could be useful when the weather turns chilly.  It would also be a good project for Pub Night this Wednesday – minimal scope for screw-ups.

I do have a last skein of Noro Silk Garden but the colourway might be too girly for this cousin.  Hmm.  May have to go to a LYS, which just so happens to be having a sale…  Inching closer to a very slippery slope!

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Promises a Pattern

I held back on posting over the past few days because really, I can’t keep a secret.  Today is DH’s birthday – Happy Birthday! – and this is what I made for him:

Hand Towel in the greenery

Per Contra Hand Towel

He did get other, store-bought gifts but this is the handmade.  DH loves using the select-a-size paper towels when eating just about any fruit.  I usually re-use what are basically clean sheets but it dawned on me that knitting a towel for him would save the paper.   Per contra means “on the other hand” – this towel will just sub. for the paper when it can.

How about them sponge pockets?!

That’s also DH’s initial “n” in the corner.  As you can see, I wasn’t taking myself too seriously:  it’s not blocked.  Why block a hand towel?

I have some birthday cooking to do this afternoon but y’all have my promise of this as a free pattern.  It’s simple.  Manly Man thinks that it’s just the bees knees too.

My enthusiasm for the tomatoes knows no bounds… Look!  Still there & growing:

The Tomato Forest

The Tomato Forest

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Attests, Yes it’s a Vest

Ah, the joy of knitting:  baby Sammy’s gift is starting to look more like a vest & less like a tube top.

A boy could wear that!

Pinning this one into submission was a breeze.  Looks like I may just be getting the knack for baby clothes.  I wet blocked it last night, so it’s still damp.  The next step is to knit up a bunch of stitches for a garter neckline & sleeves.  Then it’s off for wrapping & mailing.  Good, quick summer knit.

This is generally shaping up to be a cool week.  DH’s birthday is around the corner.  He’s getting his wish for a low-key celebration.  Path to his heart?  Gift and good food!  Also, one of my oldest girlfriends is in town.  It’s been months, so I’m looking forward to having her over for a good old lyme.

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Of True Stories

We caught Julie & Julia this afternoon.  I went assuming that Julie’s Little Blog that Could would be the dominant story line.  I have to be the exact demographic for that, right?  Well, hands down, the life & times of Julia Child half is what made this movie for me.  Meryl Streep & Stanley Tucci were head & shoulders above the other actors, and they both delivered wonderful performances.  DH agreed, and we laughed over the best lines at lunch.

I am not sure what made the Julie Powell half so underwhelming.  I did have a hard time taking her character seriously after she went to work with a little strawberry pin on her shirt.  She was an almost-30 year old New Yorker… riiight.  She also seemed way, way too  enmeshed in Julia Child.  What with wearing the pearls, etc., I was a little creeped out.  I also wondered if she really only blogged for the 1 year.  It may have been totally ” ingenious” – to quote Sony’s featured blogger – but was that really it?

Before I run downstairs to knit, I have my own true story to relate.

As you may know, our lawn was fairly well overgrown.  It went un-mowed for a good 5 weeks what with the constant weekend rain, my bum ankle, and our dear house-guest.  I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the lawn, and (less of a stretch) neither did DH.

That’s all behind us now, and DH has done his suburban duty.  The grass is neatly cut.  Only to reveal what looked like rabbit fur to me.  I knelt down, and saw it looked like fur used in an old bird’s nest or something.  I gently lifted the thatch of grass and fur.  There was an animal inside!  Curled up with brown fur… Yikes.  Now, I realize that it’s the same exact spot where the wild rabbit always seems to taunt Toby.  The next morning, I found:

It decamped.  I am very sorry for the disturbance…  Here’s the hole’s cover some ways off:

Not even tempted to fiber-gather now.  I went looking on the internet, and have figured out this must be a rabbit forme.  Which is to say his/ her summer lair.  Apparently the larger warren is only used during the winter.  It’s decamped but fine.  Just yesterday, he taunted Toby into a chase again.

Since Toby has a rather large cataract, & lost half of his teeth last year besides, that rabbit is safe.  And he/ she knows it.