The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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August chase

It was a simple enough idea that came while pressing the handwoven blankets… what if I brought T out for a trip to Kingston?  Calls were made, very strong yeses were heard, and here we are!

My cousin had us over on our first day in the island, and we were thrilled to meet her 8-month old boys.  The great news is that the hem colours made them easy to assign – one has always been wearing/using greens, and the other blues.

Morning light in Kingston Jamaica by irieknit

Beautiful morning light

It is a short trip and we will head straight into T’s school year when we get back.

Jamaican sugar cane and guineps

Kindness and yum!

Arriving in guinep season is a decidedly good idea.  T now calls them, “You mean the juicy fruit that you can’t get the juice on you because it stains?”  He is a fan of both these guineps and the sugar cane in the plastic bag!

In lieu of a beach day, I opted in for the Jah-3s Hash exploring a beautiful old estate in East St. Andrew, Dallas Castle, on Sunday.

Cane River in Dallas Castle St Andrew Jamaica

Hiking down the Cane River, Dallas Castle

It was the best kind of challenge day, and T made it with the help of his walking stick!  “Mom, I am going in the river again!”  We got through the paper chase with no major slips or slides.

He was really brave!  As for me this was so much fun I could burst.  It was also T’s first trip into the Blue Mountain Range.

Estate ruins at Dallas Castle St Andrew Jamaica

Waterworks ruins at Dallas Castle, St Andrew, Jamaica

The property that became Dallas Castle was purchased in 1758 as a working estate by a Dr. Dallas.  After what sounds like a run through sugar cane, coffee plantation profit to high debts it was sold eventually to the father of George William Gordon, National Hero in the early 19th century.  This planning site for the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865 is now privately owned.

After hike cool-down

This first ever hike is being followed by more visits with family & friends.  We miss N but have been enjoying ourselves thoroughly.  Yesterday, T answered, “How are you liking Jamaica?” cheerfully:

It’s hot.

True but not as hot as August can get here, kiddo!  I am loving sleeping with just a fan on.

Travel sock

Another sock is already on needles but I cast this on for T when our tickets were booked.  The chief reason is that his foot has grown since the first pair.

Knitting a child sized sock in Sheepytime Knits yarn by irieknit

For the sockworthy T!

Seeing him struggle with a slipping heel convinced me to pause my own.  The yarn is from the Sheepytime Knits Middle Earth Yarn Club, November 2017.  Mandie dyed “The Great Sea” and it is a superwash merino/cashmere/nylon blend.  The pattern is a modified basic sock from “Tiny Treads” by Joeli Caparco.

Progress on handknit child sized sock by irieknit in Sheepytime Knits handdyed yarn

Good choices make for good knitting

For spinning, I am excited to visit my birthday gift, a Tyrolean spinning wheel right here in Jamaica!  I have my cotton project on the African clay bead whorl spindle (look up – it’s the one in the TKK header) as well.  It’s the best for downtime.

This is my first ever post from Jamaica!  The new light machine is making a huge difference – I am so glad that we were able to get it for many reasons but this is particularly sweet.

 


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St. Andrew Tribute – twin handwoven blankets

These blankets are for my cousin’s twin boys – a tribute to her, and an extension of The Earl of St. Andrews district tartan to the parish of our birth in Jamaica.

The 1930 design is by A. A. Bottomley.  Having been created for the use of Prince George, it is a ‘royal’ district tartan.  The idea was not just what I thought Cat would like but also to weave a sett from “District Tartans” by Gordon Teall of Teallach & Philip D. Smith Jr.

mercerized cotton weaving yarn for plaid baby blankets by irieknit

Plaid in cone form

In January the Valley Yarns 5/2 mercerized cotton had arrived.  This is not an exact reproduction but I knew the shades would be key for the pattern to work.  The real work took several attempts – I needed to find a way to pivot the pattern, and fit my 36″ wide Schacht Mighty Wolf loom with the 3 lbs of cotton.

The sett that I chose is 18 epi, and I decided (wisely as it happens) to trust my colours without pre-sampling them.  In his “Handwoven Baby Blankets“, Tom Knisely gives a closer sett with this same yarn, so there was a clear choice.

Cotton baby blanket St Andrews Tartan warp on back beam by irieknit

Beaming at last! 

A summer day camp for T made this all possible but not easy.  I happily started winding the warp on Emancipation Day, August 1.  Hemming was completed last night, August 17.

Handweaving St Andrew District Tartan on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit cotton baby blankets

Good weaving

The initial impulse was frankly hard to live up to on this project.  It’s not for a lack of feeling but the opposite.

Weaving a wide project that is also exacting stretched me.  This is only my second wider warp, and was 31.75″ under tension (I used a temple/stretcher).  As you may have heard me at nights on Twitter that straight plaid line was only after a re-start.

Rosewood backstrap loom sticks separating warp beam cotton layers Schacht Mighty Wolf loom

Backstrap sticks to the rescue

The warp needed some help on the beam by around the half-way mark.  I added tension in spots, fine-tuning all the while.  The darker sticks are from an Indonesian backstrap loom.  They were long & smooth enough to prevent further trouble.

Cutting handwoven baby blanket pieces by irieknit

Cutting to hem the baby blankets

As I have said before, finishing the weaving often (heh, always until now) gets pushed-back.  This time I paced the weaving better & kept going although T was with me at home this week.

Matching but not quite

The blue-on-blue blocks are my favourite.  The half-tones coming together this well had me practically leaping to give them a hard press right out of the machine.

Tags and hems for handwoven cotton baby blankets by irieknit

More differences!

The twins are fraternal, and so are their blankets.  The 2nd woven on the right has a green hem instead of the pattern blue of the 1st woven.  It is also slightly longer.

Ready for delivery by hand

Dearest Cat,

You have been very patient, and I am happy to be coming to meet your bambinos with our gift.  It all came together.  August has always been your month after all!

Love, Me

Making gifts to celebrate new lives is something I have stuck with through ups & downs.  The blog stopped hearing of them for the most part but this one feels extra-special.  Plus, I learned a lot in the planning and execution.  It wasn’t just booties and a cardigan!


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August Challenge Spin with Spindlers

The August challenge theme in Spindlers group on Ravelry is “fantasy,” and I took the plunge!

Alpaca/merino/silk handdyed combed top with irieknit's Spanish Peacock top whorl drop spindle flame box elder

Not going with Outlander, read ahead!

This 5 oz braid of combed top from Corgi Hill Farm is in my favourite blend, alpaca/merino/silk.  The spindle choice is my 22 g Spanish Peacock spindle, Flame Box Elder.

The group challenge is to spin at least 1 or more oz (or ½ oz lace) during the month on spindles (of course!), posting a skein in the thread by EST end of August.

Inspiration hits!

Alan Lee illustration of Lord of the Eagles from Hobbit inspiration picture by irieknit

The Lord of the Eagles, Tolkien

The fibre brought to mind a single thought – Gandalf’s Eagle!  I went for our illustrated (Alan Lee) copy of “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien, found page 108, and headed for the passage that took my breath away so many years ago.

Eagles are not kindly birds. Some are cowardly and cruel. But the ancient race of the northern mountains were the greatest of all birds; they were proud and strong and noble-hearted…

Letting the curious Lord of the Eagles of the Misty Mountains take me out of my tree perch sounds like a good way to crack through that oh-so-pragmatic decision to miss the Tour de Fleece this year.

So far, I am the only fantasy Eagle Lord entrant but the past 2 days have brought some wonderful interpretations into this month’s theme.  Join us or just lurk for the fun, will you?

Asiatic Lily July blooming irieknit garden

Rocking late blooming Lily!

This past camp week for T was also a treat for my fibre projects.  Wrinkles aside (I answered their survey this morning…), I used the daytime hours to have the coveted dye day, spin for the fun of it, share online, and best of all open the floor loom!

Yesterday brought a new tool into the kit – first pair of eye-glasses.  Slight correction later, and I am far more comfortable on-screen.  The 5/2 cotton threads on the loom are much easier to work with now, phew!

Another week of camp will start after our civic holiday weekend.  I am looking forward to sharing the pictures/project stories with you!