The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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August of hitting a stride

This is not typically a fabulous month but the past 4 or so weeks have exceeded all August expectations.

Central park reservoir panoramic view New York skyline

Attribution & laurels: N

We celebrated Emancipation Day, August 1st with family.  There were a lot of new nephew cuddles, and good times with his parents.  We stayed with wonderful friends.  Their windowsill shows all of my travel spinning of Wensleydale.

The people of New York were rather taken-in by my carob Turkish Delight spindle by Jenkins Woodworking.

Spinning dyed Wensleydale top on Jenkins Delight Turkish spindle carob wood

Sweetening the travel pot

There was also quality time aka aeroplane knitting with a baby gift for our this-week born new cousin in Toronto.

Handknit baby gift Gidday Baby Cardigan and beanie in Sirdar Baby Bamboo

Gidday cardigan set for baby G!

This cardigan is Gidday Baby pattern by Georgie Hallam.  Can I just whisper, “Gidday pattern!”  This was a July 29 – August 9th pleasure of knitting with stashed Sirdar Baby Bamboo yarn.

Yoke and buttons on handknit Gidday Baby cardigan by irieknit

This is an awfully sweet yoke.  My main colour is #122 with the contrast in cream.  The hat was just as fun to knit and is Louisa Harding’s striped beanie hat. My copy of her Natural Knits for Babies and Moms is much loved & heavily used.

But I digress.

Lox on a bagel with cream cheese

Attribution: N

We were well-fed, and soon got over for baby’s first museum visit.  The crowds!  It’s hard meeting an infant’s needs in those crowds but our new parents did a fine job, and he was pretty cheerful.

American Museum of Natural History Pleistocene Colossochelys prehistoric turtle

At my special request, attribution: N

Search engine diving shows this dinosaur as Colossochelys the Pleistocene turtle but I am not sure in retrospect.  We were at the American Museum of Natural History.

Sunset at Riverside Park Manhattan NY

Riverside Park, Manhattan Attribution: N

It was such a short but packed trip.  I came home with craft books from the Strand Bookstore, a new-to-me set of Meck Russian paddle combs, and wheels that are now on my Mighty Wolf loom.  The best part was having such a blast welcoming nephew, F.  I think he likes me.

The Learning Curve – bead embellishment

Before & after our trip, I participated in a 4-part guild workshop on bead embroidery with William Hodge of Armure Studios.

Bead embroidery workshop samplers by irieknit

Carried away? Bead embroidery

It felt like jumping back into the childhood sandbox of embroidery with crazy bling.  Fun but also greedy for time to do even these small amounts.  I will never begrudge a handmade bead embroidery work its price again.  It’s joyous but where does the time go?

Detail of bead embroidery sampler by irieknit

Well, I did hear, “Start simply,” but couldn’t stop.

Each participant had her own approach.  Mine was to follow the instruction about total bead cover and the ’80s patterned fabric.

The faux pearl bead to the right has special comedic value.  It, ahem, moves of its own volition.

William shared many pieces in his personal collection from different cultures as well as his own work.  It was fabulous, and I was glad for the breaks between workshop parts.

It was just perfect having the Naked Craft exhibition on at the AGB while taking this workshop.  The bead embroidery pieces by contemporary artists are astonishingly beautiful but I also saw the raw commitment – eye-strain, materials, design, time.

Finishing my thoughts

With thanks to PAKnitWit who ran the aptly named ‘Shawl for All’ knitalong, I used all 756 yards of my superwash merino dyed by Southern Cross Fibres.

Handknit Diminishing Returns shawl in handspun superwash merino yarn by irieknit

Diminishing Returns Shawl in my handspun yarn

This was 8 of 9 designed sections in Sarah’s Diminishing Returns triangle shawl.  I used 3.5 mm needles, and loved each second of this relaxed me-knit.

Stockinette and garter stitch knitting with gradient handspun yarn

It’s an elegant & simple concept.  You move through stockinette & garter stitch blocks that reverse roles.  Just right for a strong gradient like my Sugar & Spice 2-ply yarn but the design is very versatile.  I hope that others will use handspun yarn to make this pattern too.

The knitter gets to keep a lid on the purl stitches as the triangle grows, which I appreciate.  The top-down triangle adds 4 stitches every other row, and that grows quickly!

Wearing Diminishing Returns triangle shawl in handspun yarn by irieknit

Treating myself to the handspun goodness

Also appreciated? The length on my arm as the shawl crosses.  It’s just how I like a shawl.

Hug of handspun Diminishing Returns triangle shawl by irieknit

Squooshy is also good

The home for this knit along is the Knit Wit group on Ravelry.  We had a good lead time for blocking & also taking these pics.  As I told the group, this one will see lots of wear in the cooler weather.

Sock knitting by irieknit and Turtlepurl Live Long and Prosper yarn

Spock sock!

New socks of unusual size (9″ circumference) are off the needles!  As soon as I saw Turtlepurl’s post for her Live Long & Prosper in this self-striping pattern, I had to get it for N.  It is a 75% superwash merino/ 25% nylon blend, and I used 2.25 mm double-pointed needles.

Handknit men's socks by irieknit in Turtlepurl Live Long and Prosper yarn

Spock socks in the wild

He is smiling in this picture, and approves of the finished socks.

Back view of handknit men's socks with Turtlepurl Live Long & Prosper yarn

The columns of stitches are just paired slip stitches passed over knit front & backs.  Easy to work, and perfect for other plane trips this spring.

Knitted baby gift Telemark pullover in Sirdar Baby Bamboo

Belated baby gift!

The last finished thought is this version of a Telemark 2.0 pullover that I made for our baby cousin in Montreal.  It was a nail-biting use of more from my Sirdar Baby Bamboo yarn stash.

Handknit baby Telemark pullover by irieknit

Is the placket reading as weird to you as it is to me?  It might be a comprehension problem on my part but I did try to follow the instructions as written there.  It has been on its way this week, and I hope they like it.

Lark Turkish-style spindle by Jenkins Woodworking spinning by irieknit

A Jenkins Lark!

Spindles are on the front burner again.  Next month I will lead a guild workshop, and I am preparing the materials.  It’s a full 4-part introductory workshop, and we will go from first steps to plied yarn.  It’s my first formal teaching, and I am so excited.

In my down-time, I can play with this tulipwood Lark spindle by Jenkins Woodworking.  Luckily, I missed 2 others for sale last week because this was offered in Ontario.  Quick flight, no foreign exchange issues, and I love the tulipwood!

The Delight in the travel collage above is 5g heavier at 28 g.  Its arms sit low on the shaft (the Lark is mid-shaft), and are approximately 2 cm wide x 8.75 cm long.  The Lark’s arms are a slim 1.25 cm wide x 9.5 cm long.  The slighter profile is great for winding-on, and will hold that much more of a cop is my guess.


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Making progress

A few weeks ago, I gave a spinner that I respect & have much love for a few words.  I told her that being perfect isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.  We can feel the right path and keep going.  Slips and all.

Spring was listening. (Finally!)

My own advice is what I am taking for the current projects.

All as I start getting ready for Spring String Thing in Lebanon, Ohio.  I can’t believe that it’s next week!

The Boxing Day Order

Wonderful & terrifying at the same time – on Boxing Day, I got a firm order for a lace stole.  The splendid terms include:  a) in amethyst; and (b) blank slate.

Sneaking you a peak!

What I will be delivering is an approximately 950-yard Victorian-inspired stole with a lightly beaded edge.  It’s a custom design knit in 17 days for a deserving client!

Japanese seed beads for custom-design stole

Materials:  Helen’s Lace (silk/wool) in berry by Lorna’s Laces.  Ewe Knit had enough colours of this & other indie lace yarns that I had great choices locally.  The beads are Tojo 8/0 from Beaddazzled in Burlington.

This project was a challenge and a real joy.  I will post more on the design after it is blocked, and off to Jamaica.

Hand-spun Progress Reports

While the commission was underway, I gave my Tibetan Clouds shawl a light wet blocking to show you the pattern.

Tibetan Chai Clouds shawl-in-progress

Please, ignore the blue blotch – it’s temporary.  Apart from that aren’t the colours wonderful?  It’s the effect of spinning within each band of the Yarn Hollow hand-dyed fibre.  I was able to create long runs where there were none!

Squint, it’s a sweater!

The first 4-ply ball of CVM wool sweetness.  It weighs 62g.  I may not in fact have enough fibre for the intended sweater.  That’s fine, I am just going to carry on under the sweater banner anyway.

Opposing ply yarn in the wild (almost)

Incredibly, both of those opposing ply skeins were made on the same niddy-noddy.  As Sarah Anderson says in ‘The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs‘:

These yarns are fascinating to experiment with, because it isn’t always clear what you’ll get or how the twist in the different plies will respond…

No kidding!  The more energized skein on the left there was 2-ends of the left-spun single plied with the right-spun [L-L-R; plied right].  That 62 yds will be split for the feet of my sock experiment.  The other skein is 276 yds of less excited yarn in the opposite track [R-R-L; plied left].

Explaining how the difference ends with a distinction is above my pay grade!  They are next in the sock queue.

Making my Day

Also amusing is what’s on my needles now – my Ampersand Happies.

First Turtle Toes sock

Keeping the foot in plain stockinette was a good move, I think.  Love, love, love this colourway as much as I did on the day that I bought the yarn.

I can just see them brightening up my shoes now.  It’s going to be great!  Seriously, go get some for yourself!

One bright project leads to another.  This is a braid of BFL top that was a door prize from Musewings last Stringtopia.  Thank you, Nicole!

I started this, yesterday.  The braid is split down the middle.  I am using my Bosworth Mini (21 g) purpleheart spindle.

My thoughts are with you Boston.  Each & every person affected by the Marathon bombing has my prayers.


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A Swallowtail Happy

The word Swallowtail means something to most knitters.  It’s an Evelyn Clark small triangle shawl design that has gone viral.  There are 9,543 projects on Ravelry, and now I understand why!  This cone of red Habu Tsumugi silk yarn never even hit the stash!

The heap of magenta is a project that only Melvin is enjoying very much – the Laar Cardigan by Gudrun Johnston.  More on that is to come in a future post.

Initially, I cast-on for another Evelyn Clark pattern, the Prairie Rose Lace Shawl from the Knitter’s Book of Wool.  That was more of an exercise in swatching the Habu, and I soon went for the Swallowtail.

All I could hear was Teresa’s voice saying, “You totally should make one!”  Which Teresa?  The one who made no less than 5 of those Ravelry projects.

I settled on using my 3.0 mm lace Addi turbo needles.  My system for working with the nubby Habu silk was:

  • Pants – smooth not grabby;
  • Lap cloth – lingerie, repurposed; and
  • Lazy kate – the Will Taylor tulip kate kept the cone & my sanity upright.

It went on the needles February 8th & came off on the 25th.  I really like the pattern, and the sweet challenge was working my first mirrored border.  With the yarn managed, I found it went very quickly.  All other projects were set aside!

For my Lily of the Valley border, I substituted orange Toho 8/0 seed beads for the Estonian nupps (think bobble).  I used a tiny 0.6mm crochet hook, and added them on the right side.  The edging is also beaded but on the wrong side of each double decrease.

The beads showed well even before blocking (but not so well on the flannel sheet).

As soon as he saw the beads on the tray table, N said, “Now you’re happy!”  He was right!  For all the extra manipulation, placing beads gives the shawl weight, dimension & highlights the pattern.

So, Ms. Teresa:  when we see each other again, I will be wearing a Silk Swallowtail!  Thinking of you this week & get well soon.  Lace knitting & pilates to follow, right?!