The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


2 Comments

Female Heroes, a club

The creative forces at Sheepy Time Knits have been keeping my spinning & knitting life very happy in one way or another since I first put together that Mandie is a dyer when we met at Stringtopia these many years ago.  You may have noticed that they come up a lot on TKK, and never in a bad way.

When sign-ups for their 2018 brand-new Female Heroes Club opened the happy experiences made it fairly easy to think through.  This time I swallowed the fear of over-stashing fibre and joined on that side of the club.

Turns out I made a swell decision there.  Not a single braid has come near the stash bin, and I have found inspiration for more than 4 ounces a couple of times already.  How it shakes out in features of a good fibre club in my humble opinion:

  • Highly reliable;
  • Colourways, oh the colourways!
  • Rocking the breed selection;
  • Generous braids; never underweight;
  • Reorders sing from the same songbook.

This can’t be easy to execute for an indie dye business but execute it they do.  This club round-up is my simple appreciation.

But wait, are there backroom happenings?  No.  I am sharing something that has been consistently good, period.

Minerva on Masham

One ply ball is 35 g, and I last wound-off the Jenkins Lark spindle on in mid-May, 2018.

Jenkins Lark turkish-style spindle and Masham wool Minerva dyed by Sheepy Time Knits spun by irieknit

A come-with-me project

The 2 Turkish-style spindles are grabbed alternately each time I head out the door.  It’s a slower but still steady way of spinning a project.

Bravest Girl in the World on Targhee

A quick 2-ply that I spun as a fractal on the Watson Martha spinning wheel over 10 days in April.

Handspun Targhee wool by irieknit dyed by Sheepy Time Knits

Seriously smooth spin

The yarn was spun and plied in double drive, and the second braid is a dead ringer for the first.

As a big fan of Targhee, I was impressed with this fibre in particular.  It was open, fluffy, and a joy to spin.  The 635 yards of 2-ply is lovely (2,540 yards per pound) and so soft.

Mother of Dragons on Blue Faced Leicester

Imagine my squeal when this came in the mail.

2018 Female Heroes Fiber Club yarns at irieknit

Good mail day this

One good BFL spin has deserved another.  Again this went on the Watson Martha in double drive but this time I wanted a 3-ply yarn.

Handspun 3-ply Blue Faced Leicester wool by irieknit dyed by Sheepy Time Knits

Stormborn as it were

They are in the DK-weight range, and with the re-order, I now have approximately 394 yards (787 yards per pound).  The second braid was my ah, we are home again 2-day blitz spin.

Furiosa on Shetland

It may have been a little Mad Max to start this while also plying the beautiful Mother of Dragons.

Spinning Shetland wool dyed by Sheepy Time Knits on Wee Peggy spinning wheel by irieknit

Lower ratio; light touch

This will be a conventional 3-ply yarn, and I am looking forward to seeing it off the wheels.  The Wee Peggy is in Scotch Tension spinning a light 5:1.  It’s been very, very relaxing with an audiobook after long days.

That happened quickly

Spinning is in-between other projects – I have finished T’s colourwork sweater & am spending other nights weaving a band in my backstrap loom.  There are loose ideas for how I will use the handspun but for now I make the yarn.

The trip was very good for my focus, and I am happy to be working again.


Leave a comment

Season’s greetings!

Best wishes for a happy & safe season to all!

Our Peace and Quiet plans got thrown last Friday when N woke-up with a bad rash.  It’s shingles, and this quickly became a painful week for him.  The treatment is working but his skin continues to be very tender.

Christmas arrangement on handspun woven runner by irieknit

While making do without a tree for Christmas time, the new woven runner & a special delivery are both giving much needed cheer at our place.

A beautiful potted Poinsettia has also been doing a very good job in the living room.  We have traditional ham, etc. looking forward to as well.

Handspun woven Christmas overshot table runner by irieknit

Festive colour splash, thanks to handspun

The winding of my handspun for weft created a regular break for showing the yarn’s colour gradient.  The repeat is enough to bring the break together, and I love seeing the bands as I walk through the hall.

In planning, I allowed 15% extra Harrisville Shetland warp each for shrinkage and take-up after weaving.  This weaving of 55″ with 3″ hems on the ends has washed as a 46″ long runner for our vintage Singer sewing machine.  The width is 13″ (i.e. down 2″ from the reed width after washing).

When not posing for pictures, the table sees good use holding keys, spare change & so much paper.

Reverse woven fabric overshot handspun table runner by irieknit

Reverse – festive bubbles!

The fulling process did wonders for the reverse of the fabric as well.  I love the handspun pops.  The plain weave hems are hand-sewn with some of my late Grandmother’s thread.

The hems’ weft is also handspun that I dyed this spring – the rejected ‘soft’ sand weft in my Colour of Water guild show scarves.  It is 50% silk/25% buffalo/ 25% white cashmere from Sericin Silkworks.  With under 200 yards, I am having fun with it.

Knitting stranded gloves Little Lithuania by irieknit in fingering weight wool

Little Lithuania gloves

Knitting for the sick one is going to be today’s big task.  The incredibly mild weather – hello, 16°C in our town on Christmas Eve – takes some of the pressure off but I would like to finish 3 fingers, and 2 thumbs.

detail of knitting in progress for stranded gloves Little Lithuania by irieknit

Stranded, and his choice of pattern

The design is Little Lithuania, and N chose the Rhichard Devrieze fingering weight yarns in Prato & Cold Pressed.  I have added rounds to the top of the pattern’s chart to get the length it calls for.

Needing to size for N, and correcting an unforced knitting error in the second glove (thumb placement matters!) have made this a race to the deadline but that’s okay.  It is not like he is headed outside or like outside is very cold.

Wishing joy, and kindness

Please be kind to yourself, and to others.  This season can be so full of expectations, loss, strife.  Via Irwin Elman on Twitter, If the holidays are hard for you, doing these 4 things really could help.

Whatever your observance or none, wishing you joy!


2 Comments

A happy handspun shawl

We are now at extreme cold weather alert the 10th of this winter.  It has been a full 29 days under -15C.  This week just added to the stats.  It is no mistake that I was working with my brightest, happiest handspun yarn.

handspun knit shawl blocking to shape and cat

Melvin observes House Rules about wet wool

The shawl pattern is by Susan Ashcroft, TGV (tricot grande vitesse – High Speed Knitting).  The projects on Ravelry are very close to 2,000 strong.  Of those, 68 projects record the use of handspun yarn.

closeup handspun knit shawl blocking

Sunshine in a knit. Seriously

I worked this shawl with 3.75 mm needles for the garter body, and 3.5mm needles for the long rows of ribbing.  This gave an open gauge with my chain-plied yarn, and it has tons of drape.

It is an easy design to knit-up.  The later rows are very long, and that slows progress a bit for me at least.

handspun yarn leftover from shawl knit project

Good to the last drop: yarn overage

That would be the yarn leftovers.  I used up the 408.46 yards of handspun.  It was planned too (I swear!)  How?  By casting-off, raveling, and weighing how much that took.  It was 4g just to cast-off that long, long edge. I wanted all the orange; as simple as that.

Such a joy in the wearing

wearing handspun TGV knit shawl

A crescent scarf is what it is

At the deepest point my TGV is just 11″ edge-to-edge.  It wraps best for me with the deep edge to the front.  Much more scarf-like than shawl-like in the wearing!

TGV handspun knitted shawl wearing closeup

The ribbing detail

In an effort to avoid the Rocks of Boredom for yonder ribbing section, I turned it into a Baby Cable Rib.  The recipe is in Barbara G. Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

The variation is subtle in the FO but it improved the knitting up for me.  I knit socks.  So I know that 2×2 ribbing is great just in moderation.

knit handspun shawl in citrus colours

Sure, this shawl is bringing the bright back.  It’s not just about Handspun! and Accent for the Drab! though.  It’s also keeping turtleneck shirts at bay.  And that dear readers, is a really good thing.

In sum:  easy to wear; bright; not a turtleneck shirt. Yay!

How long did that take?

Let me walk you through the timeline.  We will wake the TKK archives up a bit too.  In April 2012, I won the awesome braid from Nicole at Stringtopia’s doorprize party.

Superwash BFL handdyed top wool fibre

Musewings’ Stringtopia 2012 doorprize

It sat on my fibre shelf until I wanted a new project for the 2013 Stringtopia event.  Thus, it snuck into that April’s Making Progress post like this.

Hand-dyed BFL fibre and Bosworth Purpleheart spindle

The seedling of the shawl: April 2013

As I reported, a lot did get spun at the Golden Lamb, 2013 String Thing.  That closely followed with a full spindle in May, 2013.

Bosworth Purpleheart mini spindle with BFL handdyed yarn

I was so stoked

The second ply was spun by early July 2013, and I had yarn to show for it during the Tour de Fleece.  It positively loves the camera.

Handspun spindle BFL yarn

Shawl-in-waiting: July 2013

The only stage of this journey that didn’t get blogged on was  when I whipped it out on January 9, 2014 and started to knit.  Here is how she looked on the needles!

knitting handspun shawl

TGV shawl when she was in progress.

The knitting time was on & off between January & last Sunday, February 23, 2014.

Nicole, you have my deepest thanks for such an epic doorprize.  I love it so much!


4 Comments

New look, and happy yarns

 

Welcome!  It’s been a long time in coming – I changed the blog’s theme.  Hope you enjoy the new look & also the better compatibility with your small-screen devices.

Also sporting a new look: purpleheart Bossie

I also updated the About page to better reflect what I do, and also give some co-ordinates.  Over the past 4+ years of writing this blog my interests have evolved but the TKK format/skin has stayed largely static.  Here’s to getting more function, and also to letting readers in on the secret that I do now take spin/ knit commissions.

 

This uber-bright handspun yarn is really & truly natural dyed.  The yarn was cream Finn top from Louet that I dubbed the Sweater-in-Waiting in this post.  I used 25g of ground, dried cochineal. This was my 1st (and only) cochineal experiment.  The mordants are alum & cream of tartar.

Here is how I got the surprising fuchsias.  With a dried weight of the whole 1,529 yards at 547g, I had under 5% dyestuff.  The label said as little as 3% would give medium shades.  Pro-tip, friends: medium shades of cochineal?  That would be your fuchias!  I decided to go for a tinted gradient.  This meant dyeing in thirds through the successive exhaust baths.

There’s a subtle tint.  If anything about this yarn can be called subtle?  I am gathering courage, and will let you know when casting-on happens.  EvilMichelle says that I really should.

 

Far less eventful yarns

Just so you know that it’s not all fluorescent all the time, here is a much calmer spin.

Caribbean clouds Polwarth

This 356 yds of Polwarth 4-ply handspun started out life as 8 0z of Miss Babs’ “Cloud #9”.  I broke each braid at the mid-point, and spun from the break out using Martha in DD.

Both the singles and the ply are high-twist.  It was one of those early March weeks when I needed that kind of a spinning workout.

Equally swift and satisfying is this Columbia pin-drafted roving spin on the CPW.  It’s spun long-draw, and I have 8 oz total from Morgaine who had Harvey’s fleece prepped by Morro Fleece Works.  The roving is a real pleasure – next to no VM, and light as a feather!

Bleeding heart in bloom

When I return, there will be big news of the loom variety.  I am still processing this & the wonderful Sarah Swett workshop weekend that I went to in Michigan.  They go hand-in-hand!


Leave a comment

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!


11 Comments

Not Child’s Play, it’s a Flax Wheel!

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a Kijiji ad:  Antique Child’s Spinning Wheel.  Just 2 pics but it looked doable in terms of price, and location.

After lots of searching, I decided that it is a flax saxony spinning wheel, probably brought here by an Eastern European family.  The Antique Spinning Wheels Ravelry group also helped calm my fears that she was going to turn out to be a sad little Frankenwheel.

Naturally, I was doing this all in secret.  DH’s first reaction?  He may have asked, “Where will you put it?” but he soon rallied.

That Saturday we braved the snow & headed out to Uxbridge.  The seller was unconvinced that the wheel was used by grown women but she did like that I wanted to get her spinning again.  Even I was stunned by the tiny size when we walked in.  It’s just 2′ high at the maidens, and fits this place mat exactly:

Even Melvin fits!  The hinges are leather, and the treadle is practically made for my size 7 foot.  I worked on the wheel that first weekend, and gave her a Murphy’s Soap bath followed by plenty of tung oil, a new front leather, and pegs for everywhere.  The spa treatment went fairly quickly but I sought help on Ravelry to get her fully functional.

See the massive chip in the bobbin?  It unscrewed easily but the flyer shaft was very rusty.  WD-40 scoured and left overnight did help… a bit.

This flyer probably never had hooks or nails but the spinner would move an eyelet peg along the holes.  The back holes show much more wear.

The ‘Proof of Spin’ pic also shows my fix for the pegs.  Like the steam punk?  Reed Needles aka Wheelwright on Rav does too!

Woodworms made their mark in the mother-of-all housing.  I worried it would need shoring up but all has been well through spinning 1.5 bobbins of BFL wool.

The important thing is that the screw tension is totally undamaged and moves well.

Is it rude to look under a slanty’s skirts?

Don’t carve leather with a buck knife and expect to come away unscathed.  It took some shaving but now the flyer moves freely.  I kept the old leather… it was very badly worn wide.

The drive wheel crank is one of my favourite things about this wheel.  Small but perfectly formed.

Maybe the nail got hammered in after the top of the distaff went missing?

Melvin has been positively doting about the wheel.  It’s not just that he wants to get in on the action.

I named the wheel Chella because it reminds me so much of my Grandmother’s older sister who never married but loved crafts.  It took a few tries to get the right drive band – the purple Hempathy.  I absolutely love this wheel.  She’s a good spinner, and the low profile is ace for tv watching.  The paint on all sides is adorable & I am dying to try to spin line flax with her.


Leave a comment

A Handspun Juneberry Triangle

My only FO of the season made from my hand-spun yarn is Jared Flood’s beautiful Juneberry Triangle design.  I’ll sum up my post for you now:  I loved this project from start to finish!

It all started with 8 oz of Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) top dyed by Turtle Purl in Quebec.  I split the 2 braids of fibre to keep the colour progression through the 2-ply yarn, attenuated (i.e. pulled), and spun to my heart’s content on my Watson Martha spinning wheel.  At the end of this adventure I had 523.6 yards of hand-spun goodness.  As I put it in my spinning notebook the largest skein was “mostly DK-weight with fingering”.  The other 2?  “Mostly sport-weight.”

This was my 1st Jared Flood design.  I figured that going with a pattern sub-titled, “Textural lace shawl” by a star of the knitting world was the best I could do by this sweet teal yarn.  The pattern is totally clearly written.  His lack of spoon-feeding was a boost for my lace knitting self-esteem as I pieced it together in just 12 days.

I am calling it my Tealberry Triangle.  The centre triangle was lovely to work.  It doesn’t follow the convention coughfadcough of symmetry, and had some lace knitting on both sides of the work.  Not too much & not too little but just right.

I did a few repeats with the bobbles-as-written, and quit.  It seemed like an awful waste of hand-spun yarn.  With much shoving and hauling I managed to add beads for a bit.  It was a lost cause, so I knit the rest of the centre triangle plain.  The border has popcorns, which are bobbles-lite, and worked over 2 rows.

Any of my knitter friends can tell you I did have a big issue though – yardage.  I used a 5.0mm needle because that worked with the varying yarn grist, and dove in.  If there is a way to reliably gauge swatch for a non-standard yarn, I wouldn’t know.  My approach was to use the metrics of his suggested yarns & squeeze in between.  This resulted in an epic nail-biter with 2 border edge attempts frogged.  And wailing at knitting groups.

In spite of it all, I still love that edging pattern to bits.

The final stretch of border got knit on with double joins.  Which is far better than not getting finished if you ask me.  This is where I drew on my experience from the Spider Net shawl in Victorian Lace Today.  Sometimes we make things happen, cast-off and block out the difference with vigor.