The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Words with thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!  We spent the Canadian holiday hosting a young cousin from the States.  Irony of ironies his visit happened at the same time as another procedure for me.

We managed to keep that which is personal private, and be hospitable.  What got lost in the crisis was a formal Thanksgiving.

An awesome friend hand-stitched this for me.  She makes bookmarks while watching her daughter play soccer.  In our last conversation she listened, and said:

It’s okay to complain.  What you are going through is difficult.

Her gentle words said in kindness pushed out all the “I shoulds” with the bravery.

It’s been a beautiful fall, rich for creativity and walks with Sir Toby.  These are my favourites.  You know, as opposed to What I Should be Telling You.

I finished my 1st handspun sweater.  This is the Redhook Tunic by Jared Flood, started during the Summer Olympics.

Clearly, I am a little pleased!  It was finished in time for my classes with Deb Robson at the end of September, and gets its fair share of wear.

The shawl collar is double-width.  It still feels a shade short, so I don’t use the top button.  My favourite part is the colour sequencing through the upper body & collar.  It took some juggling & weighing but was so sweet to work.

That’s an Also-Ran for a 1st hand-spun top…  The yarn is my Icelandic dyed with red lac powder.

One fitting proved the waist was not working.  It had no definition, and the shaping was all wrong.  Also, the tog & thel Icelandic?  I could feel it through the under-garments, and not in a good way.

Hard to frog but easy to know what it really wanted to be – a warm Icelandic shawl.  Or in other words, I went back to Plan A.

It is Evelyn A. Clark’s Sigridur Shawl pattern with a modified border.  It’s one Dayflower repeat for the border – I charted the instructions from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury.

It was finished in time, and went up for our Guild’s summer display at the Queen Elizabeth Park Community Center.

What I now have back home is my warmest shawl for its weight.  The 60″ wingspan is perfect for cool mornings, and dashes outside.

Yet again, socks have been my go-to project for the stress.  Mandie’s Iron Man colourway kept my interest, and I finished them in just over 2 months.

In mid-September, I started to ply my Bronzed Chai spindle project.

Awful lighting but I have approx. 980 yds with an extra singles ball to spare!

It’s a goal met:  I am also worthy of my spindle-spun laceweight yarn in this quantity.  From 4 ounces.

It’s what I am looking forward to for this season – a cove on the coast of Negril, Jamaica… and All the People/Places/Things.

Right now we still have time left for talking, spinning, knitting and Thanksgiving.

 


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Easter cheer

Happy Easter!

The long weekend got off on the right foot with these 2 deliveries from N’s Mum.  There I was spring cleaning in the basement Thursday afternoon when the doorbell rang.

The lilies were closed until this morning.  Perfect timing!  Also brightening the holiday,

It’s on the kitchen table until I plant it out with the other hydrangea from Easters past.  My contribution to the family dinner was this Smartie-festooned from-scratch cake.

It’s the Joy of Cooking Devil’s Food Cockaigne, and fit my uncle’s bill for 100% chocolate.  The dinner was wonderful – Jamaican baked ham, plantain, rice & pigeon peas all had their places at the table, and it was just plain good to be with family this time of year.

In between posts, I’ve been knitting and listening to the Hunger Games books.  This FO is going straight to England, tomorrow, and is for baby cuz, Murray.

It’s a stretchy twine-knit number for his new home, Montreal.  I was inspired by Tiny Geek Crafter‘s KAL for endometriosis awareness this month.

Love that twine knitting!  Sooo warm & stretchy.  The yarns are Rowan Pure Wool DK for the yellow, and the lighter Rowan Pure Wool 4-ply in black.

Using the twine technique evened out the yarns.  My idea was based on the Blind Melon bee girl music video from back in the day.  These are the artsy parents, so they should be fine with a quirky hat for Mur-man.

Right at the end of January, I started the Beach House Pullover pattern by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark.  After a couple of weeks, I stalled here.

I just needed the right mood for these all-over horseshoe cables.  What mood is that?  The kind that comes after a series of tests and a new diagnosis…   With audio books and podcasts, I am now mid-way through the front & the back is done.

In other words:  I rediscovered soothing repetition.  The calming effect of Cascade 220 yarn is not to be discounted either.

I do have a post to write for spinning exploits but want to share my first skein from the antique flax wheel with you.  Amazingly bouncy lace from a double-drive system!

It’s 369 yds of 2-ply yarn.  One ply is BFL, and the other is a BFL/silk blend.  Handspinning your own gives you these choices!


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Happy Holidays!

All odds were stacked against it but this is our happiest Christmas ever spent in Canada.  It snuck into what’s felt like a very tough year, including my day surgery 3 weeks ago.  As family rallied & recovery progressed, I slowly felt the pull of the season’s spirit.  Things have worked out.  In spite of the big worries.

It’s been a tough year for many of our friends, and probably many of you.  Kane, a friend from knit night pretty much summed it up on her gift tag:

Baaaaaa joins the flock at our house.

I am a sucker for all things sheepy.  Surprised?

There’s a whack of yarn, knitting and other fun stuff that hasn’t quite made it to publication as I navigated the past months.  Instead of being all mea culpa about it, here are my thoughts…

  • May your bobbins always be full.

I will allow that Masham wool is majorly fun to spin.  This is top hand-dyed by Waterloo Wools, and spun this week on my Watson Martha wheel with double drive tension.

  • New spindles always help for the rough spots in life.  Even if you aren’t well enough to use them as much as you would like.

She’s a Hounddesign lace spindle from The Fibre Garden.  Their spin-ins are stash enhancing events.  It is 20 g of Pau Amarillo spinning magnificence wearing a little bombyx silk.  Since I was also put in charge of getting some of my Christmas presents, let’s just say a couple more are in transit!

  • When in doubt, learn a new way to knit.

It’s twined knitting, my new love.  It’s a traditional knitting technique from the Dalarna region in Sweden.  Strands of yarn held in the right hand are knit by ‘throwing’ (English) and twisting around to exchange for the next stitch.  This cozy is the Media Case pattern in Laura Farson’s “New Twists on Twined Knitting” book that I found in October.  I also have a new twined hat that is begging for her picture to be taken.

  • Sometimes (even in Canada) the weather eases up on you at exactly the right moment.

A single bloom from the fragrant viburnum that I planted this year.  It looks as happy as I am about the mild weather.

  • Giving to the Spin-worthy is a good thing.

I got to surprise my friend, Teresa with her lace-weight yarn that I spun on two Ethan Jacob spindles and plied on another Greensleeves, a Katherine’s Cup spindle.  It started life as an Alpaca/ Merino/ Silk blend hand-dyed by Corgi Hill Farm, and is now approx. 1,049 yards.

Teresa is a very talented lace knitter.  If you have seen beautiful shawls modeled gracefully and long, black hair is someplace in the photo, then that is my friend.  She prefers to knit and contribute quietly in our community, and I am very happy to call her my friend.  I really am excited to see what magic she will work with my spun-in-the-other-direction lace.  These are also her colours but not the comfort solids!

It also was a hoot to ring the girl’s doorbell early on Christmas Eve morning, and RUN!   DH and I laughed that only a Canadian wouldn’t look up the street before taking the gift bag inside.  A Jamaican’s first thought would be to catch the culprit!

Her thank you is both the best email ever, and confirmation in writing of her spin-worthiness.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and happy holidays for your own traditions.  With a full heart, and love.


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After Tour

Happy belated Emancipation Day!  We celebrated with a Sunday-worthy dinner of roast chicken, rice & peas & cauliflower au gratin.  Another touch of home is my bougainvillea.  It at least loves this heat.

Teresa may be doubtful about how much post-Tour spinning is happening for her lace yarn.  Still spinning and we are at the pretty bit with the purples.

The spindles are ready for winding off, and then I’ll have plying ball the 5th!  It’s just a stub of a braid now.

One of our LYSs, Main St. Yarns in Milton is closing.  Carolyn hopes to find a purchaser but is busy selling her inventory.  One thing has led to another, and I’m back knitting.  Another top-down cardigan is on my needles – Boogie’s Tappan Zee Cardigan.  This is in the Lavold Silky Wool that I bought for a vest last fall.

It’s been happy knitting but I will admit 2 Things that I do get:

  • Royally bad picture of it; and
  • The yarn won’t say “sophisticate” any time soon.

Sometimes blocking makes a huge difference.  It did for my Fern Gully Hap Shawl that’s been a FO since coughMaycough.  The last that you saw of it was in January, here.  My how it has grown!

And evened out:

The last of the day lilies from Susie made a grand entrance this week.


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Le Tour, day 2

Happy 4th!  Never fails that I remember my Grandmother on the 4th of July.  A New Yorker, born & bred, she married into and loved Jamaican life.  Every year the little American flags came out on this one day, and she was the very soul of celebration.

Day 2’s progress in the Tour de Fleece!  I am in Team Spindlers & Team Suck Less (Friends of Abby’s Yarns or FOAY).  Have been posting in the team threads, and the daily threads like a good weekend warrior.

I could have spun more for those cops but was (happily) getting into the golds in the fibre.  My friend, Teresa, would like roughly even blocks of colour for her lace knitting.  Off it came…

I was super-happy that the spindles had almost equal amounts of singles on them.  The first wind-off had left a good deal over on the spindle to the right.  I eye-balled for evenness, and was right!

So far, this should be in the range of Teresa’s requirements.  I’ll ply them all in one go for consistency in the ply twist.  I would typically just enjoy the spinning process but it’s not for me.

My shoulder is a bit upset with me.  I promised to obey the cardinal rule of spinning – Be Kind to your Body.  Always.


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Out of Jamaica, Part I

The island was lush & beautiful when we were home.  In the short week we stayed in Kingston, visited Port Royal for Gloria’s fried fish, and went to St. Ann for Cuz’s wedding.

In Kingston, we caught the tail-end of the rains:

These old friends in the backyard were a sight for sore eyes.  Mahogany in their own little canopy:

The Lignum Vitae (tree of life) was just coming out of bloom.

And underneath it all, some life.

Port Royal charmed even the King of Snark, a 20-something cousin from the States who was with us.  Parking lot view at the Port Royal police station – left:

And swinging right is the Kingston harbour view:

Since people were getting along, and spirits were high we took King of Snark along to Fort Charles, which got mangled in the 1692 earthquake.  It totally delayed our trip down to the country but there was a rare pause on the snark.  Canons abound, it is a fort:

Well placed sea anchor.  Just as big as I remembered!

Up the ramp, and inside the Fort:

From which, you see:

School trip!  They arrived just as we were heading down to the Giddy House.

Spin around, the Giddy House is sea-ward.

The Giddy House is the old Artillery Store that partially sank in the 1692 earthquake.  Everyone feels giddy walking in there.  Everyone.

An entire Armory went under.

More remnants:

There was a lot of climbing and running on the gun.  Those pics look a little rude, and are being withheld.

And on our way back to Kingston, a Port Royal landmark:

Kingston may not be for everyone but it’s home for me.


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Catching up

Life got out of hand.  Evidence of which is standing in our living room.  A tree.  Neckid as it grew in the ground.  The Christmas tree that wasn’t.  Honestly, I met every other holiday expectation – up to & including baking stints – and tried my very best.  Good thing Mom was too tired herself to really notice the lack of ornamentation.  Let’s just say we kept it simple & leave it at that…

Happy New Year!

Just because I fell off the face of the blog doesn’t mean that I was an idle working stiff.  Here’s a blast of what’s been keeping me sane this past little while.  In no particular order because it’s all in heavy rotation anyways…

Best surprise ever was finding this spinning angel on my doorstep on a cold Saturday morning.  A gift from my friend T, and she came in her own box:

T made the drop spindle with some sequins, and painted it with purple nail polish! She unwound the gold lace yarn, which apparently was a beast.  Love, love, love.  And yes, my new Ravatar.

T’s other gift has been to encourage me in the general direction of her special talent with lace knitting.  A large rectangle stole in spider net from Jane Sowerby’s Victorian Lace Today is quietly in progress.  Amazon linky.  If you don’t like empowering the likes of Amazon, here’s a pic of my copy:

This is not just a slightly ’80s looking pattern book.  No.  This book goes to great lengths to explain lace construction and knitting methods.  Helps if you weren’t born knowing 7 cast-ons suitable for lace.  Also helps if negotiating borders around corners isn’t yet another of your innate skills.

In other knitting we have a far less challenging Hap Shawl.  The pattern is Hansel by Gudrun Johnston a.k.a. the Shetland Trader.

The main yarn is my Philosopher’s Wool worsted 2-ply.  The body is acres upon acres of garter stitch.  I broke up the tedium by switching to Continental (left-handed) knitting.  Even so it was a pain & a ½ to get that diamond done.  Then it was the fun part – stash busting!

Again with the everlasting knitting.  And if I thought that taught me patience, well.  How about a garter edging?

That baby only kills 8 stitches every repeat.

More in keeping with instant gratification… a hat.  DH looks dashing in this quick knit, and loves it to boot.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed he’d pick Sublime Yarns Angora Merino for his hat!  Held double for Clara Parkes’ Hill Country Hat.  I have the book but here’s a free PDF version from Knitter’s Review.

One of my aims for 2010 was to knit hand-spun socks.  Cast on for these on December 30th!

The pattern is Lemon Leaves from Cat Bordhi’s (tortuously titled) Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters.  The yarn is a 3-ply super-wash BFL hand-dyed by Turtle Purl in Québec.  The colours are amazing, and although I don’t like spinning super-wash, it knits up beautifully.  However.  Am short on yardage!

My new spindles in order of acquisition:

She’s an antique French spindle that I got in a Ravelry de-stash.  See the tip?  It looks broken but still spins beautifully.

Easily the most portable spindle I own.  She likes my Blue Mountain coffee bag.  I spin suspended but have to pay attention to her spin-time lest there be droppage.  A surprising number of non-spinners love to watch me spin on her.  Happy to oblige!

The bottom of the French is too worn for good supported spindling, so what did I do?  Got a Russian!  My less-than-stellar attempts:

It’s a mahogany Tom Forrester.  Do you see how many fibres I broke out in trying to spin on this?!?  Here’s inspiration number one for sucking less:

Sweet, sweet vicuña.  Hand-processed by Tabi at Sericin Woolworks, and worth every cent!  Only the finest, rarest camelid fibre known to man…  Until then I am a mere grasshopper with the Russian spindle.

Latest addition is an Ethan Jacob lace spindle by Greensleeves.  Another de-stash win!  It’s 14g of sleek cochin & lacewood.

They weren’t kidding when they said this is a primo lace spindle.  Insanely good, man.  Helps me not to feel like a total ass on the Russian.

Yes, I make yarn with all the tools & enthusiasm.  Here’s a small sampling… On my Wee Peggy wheel is some Finnish Landrace (the sweater project):

Previously on my Canadian Production Wheel was this gift to its previous owner – Shetland top, 2-ply:

Now on the CPW is Corriedale hand-dyed by Ontario fibre artist KerrySpins:

There’s much more in production but this is a mighty long post already!

Walk good!