The Knit Knack's Blog

Better living through fibre


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The quiet campaign – Tour de Fleece 2013

In the days before this year’s Tour de France, I joined teams and prepared Hebridean – also called St. Kilda – locks.  The dark fleece, and story in the Summer 2013 Wild Fibers by Margaret B. Russell egged me on.

Taken today – the Hebridean rolags, intact

Other spinners on Ravelry were also interested to see how this rare breed’s wool would spin up.  I even had my sample card, and shared the problem with a break near the butt end of the locks, and dandruff.

Hebridean lock and sample card

However, raw enthusiasm was not enough.  The rolags from this “tiny black sheep” with its many horns still await my spinning pleasure, and the Tour ends today.  I say this without a stitch of self-reproach.  It was a conscious decision to follow the Tour in private and on my own terms.

On a very personal front we are ending a long journey ourselves.  Added pressures to perform got ditched.  It’s as simple as that.  To anyone also facing trial & tribulation of any sort or degree:

Be it chronic illness, returning to work, raising children, the economy, a disability

My Grandmother gave me her counted cross-stitch sampler to complete when I was a teenager.  Arthritis of the hands stopped her work after only part of the upper flowers.  It stretched me & took years, has a mistake in the fence posts, and the duck pond corner was fodder for a dog (hence the deep mat).  There was as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich would say, “ego enough to sign their work” (“The Age of Homespun“, Alfred A. Knoph, 2001, p. 247).

I love this piece but moreover, I love the words.  It hangs in my studio now, so I share this saying as we go through what we have to.

Even morning glories need support

Fruits of the Tour

Has the 100me Tour not been thrilling?!  Here is what I stopped to photograph – some but not all of my comfort work.

Not your average socks!

The strange & wonderful beast of opposing ply yarn is fast becoming a pair of socks.  A pair of very marled socks that is!

Wait a Bit sock, selfie

Due to the extended period of creation from braid to sock, I named this after the town in Trelawny, Jamaica – Wait a Bit.  See here for the iconic picture if you don’t believe me.

No elastic

The extra-springy opposing ply makes for a very elastic 2×2 ribbed cuff.  I also added my first sock-cuff gusset when it sunk in that I was getting a rather tall sock on the needles.  This was where having Erlbacher’s “Twisted Stitch Knitting” book came in handy.  I penetrated her chart on p. 119, and it worked!

Off the spindle!

Talk about happy-making fibre!  This doorprize braid of BFL from FOAY, Musewings has gone everywhere with me since mid-April on my purpleheart Bossie.

Finished Musewings skeins of citrus joy

Splitting the braid led to one obviously longer single, so I decided to chain-ply each on my Watson Martha.  The skeins are 180.44, and 228.02 yards, respectively.

[Aside: one major advantage of winding outer-pull balls with no core is you can see the longer single = larger ball]

So many thanks, Nicole!

I’ll be watching Nicole’s store in case she comes off her dyeing hiatus.  It was such a relaxing spin, and exactly what I needed to work with.  Also very happy that I didn’t overcook the chain ply on the wheel.

Quick pic was for twitter – Ent Batts

Enting is another talented FOAY whose fibre has been in heavy rotation here since April.  Naomi handcarded corriedale, merino & silk to create her Mixed Berries blend.  They are no more.

Ent batts converted

No need to be coy about that new spindle in the back, right?  A good 4 years on the Hatchtown Farm spindle list paid off with impeccable timing!  It’s a Kaari in Rosewood & Maple, and gives my kind of spin. LOVE.

The other spindle is a Spanish Peacock in Flame Box Elder.  It also spun the single in the plying ball, which I wound with a silk single.  With the batts decimated, I need to spin more silk now!

Teaser

The loom is dressed!  I have done some weaving this week but hit some snags (literally – looking at the reed…)

Warm heddles on 4 shafts!

I am flipping between Janet Dawson’s Craftsy class, and Peggy Osterkamp’s “Weaving for Beginners.”  It has been so good to fold myself to the task of learning, and problem solving at the loom.  Some days needed just that kind of absorption.  Some more will too, I imagine.


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The rock and read party

This weekend we did what couldn’t be done 2 years ago when she was squarely in the UK – we threw Sarah a baby shower.  Sarah is the 2nd of 3 “Canadian cousins,” and she now lives in Montreal with her husband and toddler.  I lobbied, and her sisters & Mom made it happen – on Canada Day weekend, no less.

Sarah we were told (and she affirmed) felt cute, and feared that no-one would come.  Well, 23 of us did.  Her family put on a lovely brunch in her sister’s home.  The sheer warmth was striking.  Her best friend, Lena, said it best, “I am so happy to be involved this time!”  It was a true celebration.

The invitation prescribed the gifts – ‘rock’ [rocking chair fund] & ‘read’ [books for the 2 year old].  I was bad, and decided to knit.

Not a rocking chair

Elizabeth Zimmerman called it the SURPRISE JACKET (caps, hers!).  It is a magnificent design.  In Elizabeth’s own words:

It was designed on vacation and puzzles me to this day.  ALL GARTER STITCH. All in ONE PIECE.

˜Knitting Workshop, p. 100

Before buttons

Julie of the Needle Emporium warned me off my first choice worsted yarn.  She was absolutely right that fingering would be spot on gauge for the pattern’s “Jumper Weight wool.”  The yarns are both Spud & Chloë Fine, 80% superwash wool; 20% silk.  The main colour is 7804, and the lime is 7801.

The first broken ridges in lime were simple to do – *sl1, k1 rows sandwich one continuous ridge.  A sock-knitter’s trick!  Although I had the book, I swallowed hard and paid for the “Adult, Baby & Child’s Surprise Jacket” instructions + shipping.  It was worth the expense, and time-to-arrive worry.

Buttonses!

It was easy to follow Elizabeth’s 1968 directions – up to a point.  When I hit the lower flap, the row-by-row helped.  The pictures were excellent for helping me see the stripe choices, and so were the variation tips. Wading through 20,012 Ravelry projects would have been a slog.

This project is called ‘Sweet Pea Surprise for Sarah’, and is up on Ravelry with additional details.  Sarah loves colour, so I had to make those buttons work!

Stash-built

What purer joy than matching new pattern to existing stash?  This is Rabbitty from the latest Knitty.com First Fall issue.  Made in a long-standing ball of Noro Silk Garden, colour 264 & sundry yarns.

Laid back rabbit

Clearly adorable but not without some finicky bits.  To wit:  woogly eyes, and appendages.  It’s all easy-grade knitting skills if you are used to using DPNs.  There is a lot (A Lot) of sewing in at the end.

A wooly-tailed Rabbitty

Here is a piece of my late night knitting mind – lock inclusions for the wee tail would be cool!  Plucked from the new-to-me Border Leicester fleece, and knitted in.  I needle felted each one for insurance against little boy hands.

One good Rabbitty may deserve another

The backward lean is part of his charm.  Next time, I will place the tail closer down the base & double the yarn.  He sits unaided.  I did cave to convention, and also got 2 books for the kiddo.