The Knit Knack's Blog

Better living through fibre


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Racing Rest, Tour de Fleece 2015

Over the past month, I have been helping as captain & riding along with Team Spindlers 2015 in the Tour de Fleece.  It’s been amazing & a big honour – I started with this team as a rookie in 2010!

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We are 165 members strong.  The spinning projects are a fabulous mix from returning spindle spinners, and those who are new to the craft.

California Variegated Mutant wool fleece for Tour de Fleece 2015

My main focus is keeping the ‘fleece’ in Tour de Fleece!  This California Variegated Mutant wool (link takes you to my last update post) was being hand-carded & spun on 4 low-whorl drop spindles when it started to go on breaks for long stretches.

California Variegated Mutant wool spindle project starting Tour de Fleece 2015

This was the status at the start of the Tour: 4 plying balls of 4-singles each, and more on the spindles themselves.  The front spindles are Andean turned pushkas from the CTTC, and the others are Andinas by R. Leach.

Handcarded rolags of California Variegated Mutant wool for Spindlers Tour de Fleece 2015

Plan of Action

For most stages of this Tour, I have carded 2 (or 3) rolags per spindle, and then rotated through until each is all spun-up.

Melvin cat occupies California Variegated Mutant wool for Spindlers Tour de Fleece 2015

Never one to obey rules that he can’t completely understand, Melvin has found his way into some of my update posts.  This incursion happened for Stage 6 after I left the room to get a glass of water.  He’s quick.

Focus has paid-off, and I have broken into other spinning projects when much too tired to lift the hand-cards.

Low whorl drop spindles with California Variegated Mutant wool Team Spindlers Tour de Fleece 2015

Stage 4, Tour de Fleece 2015

Team Spindlers Tour de Fleece 2015 California Variegated Mutant wool spinning and plying ball

A 5th plying ball at Stage 6!

Handspinning Egyptian cotton top on takhli supported spindle with calabash bowl

Egyptian Cotton for Stage 9 in-couch spinning

Team Spindlers 2015 Tour de Fleece low whorl drop spindles with California Variegated Mutant wool

As at Stage 10

Spinning yak/merino/silk on Tabachek mini drop spindle by irieknit Tour de Fleece 2015

Stage 11 with yak/merino/silk blend on Tabachek mini spindle

California Variegated wool fleece and spinning Spindlers 2015 Tour de Fleece

Less fleece at Stage 13!

Spinning California Variegated Mutant wool Spindlers 2015 Tour de Fleece by irieknit

Stage 15 and forward

Sharing has also been with spinners in the Guild, and another unofficial wildcard, the Canadian Yarn & Fibre Market group on Ravelry.

It’s been a wild Tour, and I am looking forward to the last half of this week into Paris.  For all who love spinning while they spin as much as I do, a big, “Allez!” from me to you for after our gap day!


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Made in Ontario baby knit sweater

Finished in no time flat back in February was this first of the knits for my baby nephew.

Telemark knitted baby pullover in Sheepspot Clun Forest Sport by irieknit

The design is Telemark Pullover 2.0 by Erika Flory in natural wool.  I substituted this lighter Sheepspot’s Clun Forest sport-weight yarn with glee.  As Sasha’s newsletter told us she sourced the fleeces from a single flock, Ferme Luciole, in Alfred, Ontario last June.

stitch definition Clun Forest sport handdyed yarn by Sheepspot handknit for Telemark baby  Pullover

Stitch definition!

The wool is springy but has such a crisp look in the Paprika colour and this simple sweater.  I was 2 stitches under the recommended pattern gauge.  At the 20 stitches per 4″ in stockinette stitch using 3.25 mm needles, I cast-on for the 1 year size, and fell between a 3 – 6 months size.

Machine washed knit swatch in Clun Forest Sport dyed by Sheepspot

Swatch through the wash

Sheepspot has processed their wool with a lighter chemical touch – none used to dissolve vegetable matter or to treat the fibre.

Loving the more natural process is one thing but why choose this for a baby garment?  Well, I had a hunch that a 100% Clun Forest yarn would have some of the Down breed family’s superwash quality.  In her History of the Clun Forest Breed, Rosemary Ruddell writes:

Early in the 19th century, Southdown rams were introduced into the region that includes both the Clun Forest area and the heathlands to the east, and by 1840 there had emerged a distinctive new type of sheep that was general to the region, and is ancestral to both the Clun Forest and the Shropshire.

As you will see in a later post, the word “Southdown” rings a bell for me!

A little knowledge being a dangerous thing, I have experimented on the swatch.  Before going through the front-load washer & dryer cycle it was 6.5″w x 5.75″ h.  It’s now all nice round numbers.  The approximate change is 8% less width & 13% less height.  It is ‘fulled’ & has a softer hand after washing.

Not bad!  Not bad at all.  50% is reported for a Corriedale sample in the Winter 2015 Spin-Off magazine by Cindy Craft, p. 46.  I wish more numbers were given from her 6-breed experiment in the article.

If you would like to see the project notes on Ravelry it is called “That Seventies Telemark.”  Whatever its laundering future, this is a hardy sweater made in Ontario for baby F’s first cold weather days.


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Celebrating with knits

Whichever stars have aligned, we are in the midst of much change.  A lot, actually.  Only one fell to be met with knitting, and it is the happiest of them all!

Welcome to the Flock baby cardigan

He is now just over 6 weeks old, and oh, joy I am an Aunt!  The design is Welcome to the Flock by Julia Farwell-Clay.  All variations of this sheep cardigan are adorable.  It was so much fun scrolling through that I did it twice!

My version is knit heavier than the pattern suggests.  The yarn is Diamond’s Luxury Collection fine dk-weight yarn in superwash merino.  With 3.5 mm needles, I got 21 stitches & 26 rows per 4″.

Welcome to the Flock baby knitted cardigan yoke detail

The substitution made for yoke changes. The single row of sheep ends with a 7-row open heart in black.  I added a 3-row peerie from Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting (page 49) into a 1-row peerie pattern.

Handspun-worthy boy

It wasn’t all blue but nearly so!  How could I not spin for this? Seriously.

Targhee handdyed wool on Watson Martha spinning wheel

This Targhee wool top is from Corgi Hill Farm, and was spun in just a few days at the end of March.  It was 5 oz/ 140 g in her “Frozen Fjord” colourway.  Spinning was on the Watson Martha in double drive on the larger whorl for a 2-ply yarn of 382 yards.

Knitted Mario the Artistic Rabbit stuffed toy in handspun yarn by irieknitSome gifts are just a joy to make.  A first Mario the Artistic Rabbit by Jenna Krupar in Noro Silk Garden yarn went to my cousin’s 2 year-old this Christmas.  This second version used approximately 130 yards of the handspun Targhee wool.

Knit Mario the Artistic Rabbit stuffed toy in handspun yarn with mohair locks in tail

Needle-felting for a tail with kid mohair locks was my favourite part.  The new parents agree, and are keeping the toy well out of their dog’s reach!

Knit Mario the Artistic Rabbit in handspun Targhee wool by irieknit face detailIndefensibly perhaps, I knowingly went with these mis-matched button eyes.  Let’s chalk that up to character.

Give the baby a vest!

Maybe you are starting to see how my hands were a little full with the baby knitting?

Stripey knit boy vest by irieknit in Sirdar Baby Bamboo

Shopping the stash resulted in a lot of ends to sew in!  This is a pattern from Sirdar’s baby bamboo knits pamphlet 323B.  After some other tries, I decided on this as the best colour sequence:

A =  Neutral:  col. 141

B = Dark blue:  col. 150

C = Kelly green:  col. 122

D = Light blue:  col. 138

It was all going fairly swimmingly (literally – four colours to juggle) when I realized about the square armholes.  They ought to have been shaped… With a shortage of yarn & patience that mistake took it to a very preppy level.

Summer blooming clematis

We are planning our trip to meet this little one & celebrate his birth in person.  It means a second short trip in 2 months but will be more than worth it!

The clematis is in full bloom now but you see, I was thinking of posting in June but just got swept away by all the things.