The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home

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Made me laugh…

I promise – no pics of me posing with this hunky hank ‘o yarn…  I couldn’t stop laughing when I pulled this out of the surprise package that my brother sent:

Not seen on shelves in these parts that’s for sure!  It’s a hank of 100% wool, handspun & hand-dyed in Spain.  Love it!  As for the yardage, it has to be a lot.  I’m sticking with “a lot” for now.  Seriously, would you pull this apart just to measure yardage?  Not me!

The back-story is that my brother & SIL were roaming the streets of Barcelona on their honeymoon when K spotted the yarn store.  They both speak Spanish & so the owner quickly understood that there is a sister in Canada who knits like crazy & spins.  So, now I have this new prize for the stash.  Micro-spun, European 2 ply wool.  Woo hoo!  The idea is this will be great for a Jamaican-themed ital project that I have in mind.  In the meantime, it will be making me laugh over there in the den.

Also priceless was gift no. 2.  A vintage photo of a random boy all dolled-up for his First Communion.  Normal right?  Well, the photographer has an awesome name & it’s gilt stamped on the front of the pic.  There it was just sitting on the top of a pile of photos in a flea market in Barcelona as the happy couple strolled by.

All of this good karma comes as I start the Christmas knitting.  As per MIL’s request, a green cowl is now on the needles:

It’s the Noble Cowl by Emily Kausalik.  A free pattern from her site over there.  This gift was fast becoming a leetle problem – I needed a push.  Ravellers have come to the rescue.  A group, Ontario Knitters Unite inspired me with a good list of free patterns in their Christmas knit-a-long.  As Martha would say, “A good thing.”  So, I have joined my first knit-a-long & now am happy to say that a direct request for a knitted object will not go ignored.  The yarn is Fleece Artist Sea Wool.  It’s thinner than the pattern yarn, so I hope the pattern will show well.  If not, well, I’ll cross that bridge later.

Speaking of bridges to cross… Fall at our house.  And this is after 2 bags have already been raked.

Weekend work

There’s more to come off that tree & another yard to rake as well.  Funnn.

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Bespoke Pink Sock

It’s just 1 of (hopefully) 2 but this sock deserves a post!  Bespoke = an item custom-made to the [knitter’s] specification.  In this case, to fit a rather school m’armsish leg.

So, being 4″s short of your actual calf circumference calls for some customization.  I’ve done that before but never stopped mid-sock to dial back the excess stitches.  You see, I have a thick calf with standard ankles.  It’s not a total trunk of a leg. I also get carried away once a sock gets going.

I was def. heading towards another pair of fitted-then-baggy socks until Megster got a look-see at Knit Night.  Of course the sheer width of a very pink sock is what caught her eye.  Once it had her attention, she pointed out the clear baggy ankle danger.  Thanks, Meg.  I was being lazy it’s true.

Here’s what I did to get there — Cookie A’s pattern calls for 2.5 repeats of the leg pattern.  I decided that decreases should happen over the heel but at the end of the 2nd pattern rounds.  I had to chart the decreases out but basically they go both ends of the heel on alternate rounds.  Taking out 8 stitches each side did the trick & by doing the next 13 rounds with that amount of stitches, it looks & feels right.  The result is knit panels either side of 2 full pattern repeats that end at the heel.  I also rejigged back down to 32 sts for the top of the foot.

Other lesson learned along the way:  You will break a thin bamboo needle if you try on a top-down sock for fit.  You will be lucky that it was just one.

I’ve been a little distracted since Thursday.  Not only am I fighting ‘flu-like symptoms’ but Toby had his 2nd dental surgery in as many years that day.  He’s doing fine in recovery here at home & thankfully is taking his meds (masked in cheese) like a pro.  It’s hard not to feel sorry for the little guy.  With just the 4 canines left not even DH is joking about him being ‘toothless’.  They say it is a small breed problem.  I don’t know.  I’ve had dogs my whole life.  Large & small breeds alike.  Not one ever needed tooth-brushing, cleaning or extractions.  Is it because of a smaller gene pool?  One eroded by a hyper-zealous spay/neuter policy?  We adopted Toby.  He has no other sign of possible in-breeding.  There’s no good answers.  There are, however, vet bills.

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Spin Love

The entire time that we were in San Francisco, I wanted to spin.  Thanks to all of the self-imposed deadline knitting, I hadn’t touched my spindle for weeks.  It was chilling at home & I pretty much pounced as soon as we got back.

While we were still in San Fran, we stopped by the Union Square Borders.  DH wasn’t into the yarn crawl idea.  He was a pretty good sport about the unending family fun, so I caved.  The bookstore was a happy compromise.  Borders buried the crafts section way up on the top floor against the far wall.  It was mostly the usual suspects on the shelves, so I was happy to find a new title – Lisa Lloyd’s A Fine Fleece.  It’s amazing!  Not only does it have many great patterns for hand spun yarn but she gives commercial substitutes as well.  Perfect – sweaters take alot of yardage!  It’s also beautiful & is on our coffee table.

Most people in my life are mystified by me wanting to spin yarn.  Want to loose people in a conversation?  Talk about cleaning raw wool & spindles, etc.  Eyes glaze over in seconds!  I understand.  It’s kind of fun to see the reactions, actually.  There’s no convincing the pipsqueaks of this world.

My post-San Fran skein:

It is thinner than the first attempt for sure.  I have yet to measure wraps per inch or use it for knitting.  For now, I am concentrating on spinning a usable stash from Peter Tosh the fleece.  I have single plys sitting around but the spindle is busy with the bag that Joyja washed & I then flick-carded:

It’s darker, and has a longer staple length than the wool that I prepped from the same fleece.  Unlike me, Joy had spinning experience under her belt!  She knew what she was aiming for!

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Knits a lot

First off, I owe the blog an apology.  Sorry for the spotty posting.  It can’t be helped.  My ailing laptop decided that it absolutely cannot run.  It was crashing on every re-boot, and I finally had to let it go.  We have invested in a new laptop but folks, Dell is not given to instant gratification.  My ship date is on the 17th.  Last week all of this came to a head.  It took us some time (like all week) to negotiate the share & share alike terms re:  DH’s machine.  Let’s just say I didn’t get either weeknight or weekend access to this baby.

Turns out that without a dedicated computer, I have time to clean house & knit & spin.  Amazing.  The Purple Cocoon Cardi is finally all done.  It looks better worn over a tailored shirt but here it is over my new long-sleeved tee:

Note: Not pregnant. Bump due to belt.

See, the bottom edge is rolling.  That & the ribbon yarn tie give this a decidedly hand-knit look.  The tie was my improvisation for not ever doing the 5 stitch twisted rib pattern again.  Working the twisted rib for the neckband got on my last nerve.   This one was a trial.  So when someone tells me that it looks hand-knit, I say, “Why yes it is,” with some pride.  A cardigan that fits is not an easy thing.  The wrap view (tummy sucking for this one):

And close-up on the back pattern:

Now that’s off the needles, I am back to engineering an Angee sock to fit my leg.  Big for the big calf, and back to normal proportions for the normal ankle:

I am at the toe for this 1st sock & have yarn to spare.  It’s been a pleasure because Cookie A’s Sock Innovation book gave me enough insight to tinker.  It also helps that she uses my favourite sock structure.

Balancing out all of this selfish knitting, is my newest design – a baby dress for Sierra.  She’s due in just a few weeks now.  It’s still called Sierra’s Sweetie Pie.  I tackled the knit math & wholly new elements (buttonholes).  It’s ready for wet blocking & fingers crossed this will even out the 3-strand colourwork.  If it behaves, I will be writing the pattern out for download! In the meantime, here are her matching booties.

They are from Louisa Harding’s Natural Knits for Babies & Moms Linky.   Lime is the dress’s main counter-colour.

I’m not quite there yet but do neeeed to get started on the Christmas knitting!