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Pallashanin – Barbara Reid textiles collection auction

Pallashanin:  I am gathering; I am picking up, making or creating the design

Textile Traditions of Chinchero:  A Living Heritage, Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez/ CTTC, 2012:   Textile Terms Glossary, p. 165; p. 89

On Monday night, the Burlington Handweavers & Spinners Guild auctioned textiles from the private collection of Barbara Reid (1925 – 2012).  My spinning friend & inveterate enabler, Nancy, sent me the auction information months ago.  She had a hunch that I might be interested.

Um, yes!  The guild preview screamed Above-Average-for-the-‘burbs…  We are talking a weaver’s collection of objects on travels to Asia, Eastern Europe & South America.

Nancy had me at Turkish distaff.  Let alone the Andean weaving both large and small.  A girl can hope, can’t she?

Books by Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez

A girl can also read.  Just about everything I know about Andean weaving is from these Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez books, and conversations with Abby Franquemont.

My first jakima khipu – a bunch of cotton bands

In just 2 months, I will take Abby’s full-day backstrap weaving class at the Spring String Thing.

It’s simple.  I want to learn pallay: harvest, pick up, collect.  This post explains why one would.  And as I understand things, I really do not want to be called waylaka.

Cutting to the Chase

This beautiful puka (red) poncho now lives with us.  It was my last bid of the night.

Andean puka poncho

It hit me that the bidding was low enough for me to enter.  A single thought drove me:

This poncho is not going for a song.  Not tonight.  The market value is what the market pays tonight.

Dealers stayed out but a BHSG weaver was in big time.  We looked evenly at each other, and my bids came without blinking.  Another guild member marveled, “She really wants it.”  Yes, I did.

Andean poncho: front left pallay

What is the provenance?  The auction catalogue says the poncho was woven in “Chincero, Peru.”  It goes on to state:

Red wool man’s poncho woven on backstrap loom by Quechua Indian, Lake Titicaca area of Peru, purchased 1988. 46cm x 46cm

That raises a conflict.  Lake Titicaca is in Puno province.  Chinchero is a district in the province of Urubamba, Peru.

Poncho detail: front, lower left, 2nd pallay and sewn-on ley edge finish

The designs or pallayninkuna will speak for themselves.  I think that they were woven using the pata pallay technique, also called pebble weave.  It would be complementary warp – the back is reverse colours.

The above design is based on facing puma claws motif.  The centre green & gold motif looks like tanka ch’oro – shells side-by-side.  The weaver also incorporated birds into the puma claws pallayshin.

Andean poncho, centre

In “Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands“, 2007 Nilda says that pata pallay has typically been found in Pitumarca & the Urubamba cordillera.  The animal pata pallay dominate the design.  Does this point away from Puno & Lake Titicaca?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Using both of Nilda’s books, I have identified these pictoral motifs with variations (in no grand order):

  • horse
  • pigeon
  • birds facing with cow eyes
  • puma
  • owl
  • llama
  • viscacha (chinchilla-like rodent), Chinchero
  • pato – duck
  • dismembered Tupac Amaru
  • arana – spider

Andean poncho: back, left

In “Textile Traditions of Chinchero“, Nilda classes many of these animal pallay as using the supplementary warp technique.  Although it comes from the Urubamba mountain communities, Chinchero region weavers have also incorporated them (see, p. 127, 130).  After receiving a weaving with the horse pallay from her father in the 1970s, Nilda introduced the technique to her area.

Andean poncho: back left, detail

I love this textile.  The sheer accomplishment of having spun, dyed and woven this for the man who wore this humbles me.  As Nilda quotes Lucio Ylla in “Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands,”:

Through their clothes and weavings, we can tell where the people come from who travel to our community.  We can identify them immediately, and many times we even know the purpose of their visit.

What I do know is that in 1988 when Peruvian weavers feared the loss of their traditional textiles, Barbara Reid brought this wool-not-synthetic, red poncho to Canada.  It may be a bridge from an older striped puka poncho or from an area that used a riot of animal designs.  Either way, it is woven with care and skill.

It’s a piece that brings not only warmth or beauty.  As I look hard, and re-read, I can feel myself lifted on those woven wings, and inspired to strive by the puma claws.

What were the first bids of the night, you ask?

To my early amazement, the guild auctioned both Turkish distaves as one lot.

Turkish distaves – small, flax (l); waist forked distaff (r)

Mine was the 1st & only bid!  They will aid & abet my flax spinning goal.  Just last weekend, I spun this dyed tow flax on the small antique wheel.

An insane amount of flax strick is also making its way to our house… maybe.

A kilim bag from Turkey’s Euphrates Basin area.  Not my best purchase ever but what’s a little guard hair to a spinner like me?

Bolivian chumpi (belt)

Such an interesting piece!  The weaver of this band varied the condor motif for both open and closed beaks.  I am not sure what the alternating design represents but the centre eye varies.

See the poor llama?  She lost her herd!

The last two were also a paired lot.

Forgive the pose, please.  Winter picture-taking was wearing thin with me…  This thin Andean chumpi or belt is as light as a ribbon.

An Andean design sampler!

My shadow box now sports an Andean hair comb, woven with reeds.  The catalogue listed it as being from the “jungle area east of Andes.”

Each of these textiles, and the many I saw but dared not bid on has lifted my spirits.  The Burlington guild put on a great auction.  It was a real tribute to their friend, Barbara Reid.

The long-suffering Toby

Someone please tell Toby that it’s in an effort to save the eye from the ravages of his own paw, and we love him.  Thank you.

[edit to resize pictures]


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Winter Wears On

… also the title of Chapter 2 in “The Country Kitchen“, 1935 by Della T. Lutes.  Here on Day 3 of an Arctic Air Mass, I have to agree with Della:

“As the days begin to lengthen, then the cold begins to strengthen.”  That was in the almanac.  We stay closely housed.  There is little to be done outside except chores…

‘Closely housed’ in this context is not a bad thing.  For there are knits & spins to speak of!

A Lace-weight Mountain Climbed

The Laar cardigan pattern by Gudrun Johnston was love at first sight.  It’s beautiful, and like any of Gudrun’s other designs is very, very well written.

 Knit in Fantastic Knitting Zephyr, I used US #0/ 2.0 mm needles to get gauge.  I tackled this project on & off for just over a year.

This was a tough knit in that it tested both skill and my personal endurance.  The lower body’s miles of stockinette worked flat & fine nearly undid me.

What drew me on was knowing how much I would love wearing this.  And I do!  The side benefit?  It’s charmed the commercial socks off each non-knitter that has seen me flaunting it.

A Sock-weight Mountain Climbed

… or how a good book can avert a knitting crisis.

The pattern is Wendy D. Johnson’s Bavarian Cable Socks.  I cast on in June last year with really nice Indigodragonfly SW merino yarn.  Using an improvised cable needle (i.e. broken DPN) for each twisted-stitch row was not fun.

By September, I was flat-out frustrated.  “Twisted Stitch Knitting:  Traditional Patterns & Garments from the Styrian Enns Valley” by Maria Erlbacher is what rescued me.

I gladly ditched the extra needle, and found a version of the motif charted & named the “Small Chain, #1” Kleines Ketterl.

Thanks to plane knitting (plus), I have a great new pair of textured socks.

Sweaters in Progress

Sleeves!  They are giving problems!  This is my Beach House Pullover by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark.  I love knitting it.  Just not the sleeves.

In early December when I had no business casting on for a sweater, I did.

Sweet Georgia SW Worsted, Botanical

The yarn made me do it!  Can you blame me?

It’s Amy Swenson’s “Mr. Bluejeans Cardigan” for Knitty’s Deep Fall, 2012.  And yes, I bought the yarn on impulse.  From the beautiful new Toronto yarn store, Ewe Knit.

Remember Toby?  He likes my CVM wool sweater project.

A super-springy swatch tells me that this is not as crazy-pants as you think right now…  Tools of the trade = 2 Andean, and 2 Tabachek drop spindles.

Hey, there’s no rush – next year will have winter too, right?!?


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New knits with handspun

Last year’s push to work with my handspun yarns has really started to bear fruit.  I’m excited because there’s now plenty more to share as brand new knits in my life.

Fall Colours, my way

Back in September, I told you about my Seriously Fun Spin.  Weeks later the dyer, Brooke of The Painted Tiger, announced her Fractal Fiber spin-along/ knit-along in the Ravelry group.

This is Susan Ashcroft’s “very easy but effective” No-Fuss Shade-Loving Shawl.

As I quipped on my project page – it’s a fractal-loving shawl!

Avatar-worthy!

The form (i.e. modifications) followed function.  The solid colour bands were on the verge of shifting when I was making the seed stitch lower edge.  I sped up the increases (every row), and made Meg Swansen’s edge.  It’s charted on page 114 of Knitting Around.

Heart Warmers

Around the same time, I was spinning grey Jacob wool top.  This project was all geared towards making purple & grey stranded mittens for this winter.

This spin on my Wee Peggy helped me weather more of the medical stuff.  Soon, I was wondering why not try to design these mittens myself?

The cuff is based on the Estonian Peacock’s Tail pattern set out in the Knitter’s Book of Wool Risti Mittens by Nancy Bush.  I threw caution to the wind adding sundries:

  • Red:  fibre came with my Jenkins delight from a B.C. Raveler.  Traditionally, red cuffs are for good luck;
  • Avocado:  natural dye sample of woolen-spun PolwarthxPort fibre; and
  • Purple:  leftover SW Corriedale from my Redhook sweater.

My gauge on 2.5mm needles was 15 stitches = 2″.

This book taught me both the elements of mitten knitting & the stitch repeats (Swedish & Faorese):

Sheila McGregor, “Traditional Scandinavian Knitting.”

Not many knitting books sit by my beside.  “Traditional Scandinavian Knitting” did for ages.  It’s full of useful information that doesn’t leap off the page on a 1st reading.

Sure, DH was within his rights to declare the cuffs “ghetto” but I am super-proud of this project.  One simple idea that grew into its own:  I have a pair of warm Jacob mitts!

Out of Hiding – Shetland 

As far back as 2010 this spin shot Shetland to the top of my personal wool list.

Moral:  spinning triumphs sometimes become an end in themselves.  Keep creating.

The spark for taking the skeins out of the box was another spin-along/ knit-along on Ravelry.  It’s in A Spinner’s Study, and I joined Team Lace – cowl knitting.

Aah, my friend, Logwood!  This time, I threw some copper liquor into the dye pot.  Made from this humble copper scrubbie.

Copper teaching me electrolysis in action

I am showing you the cowl first before the group.  I gave it diamond lace to match my new mittens.

There’s a lot out here about the ‘hows’ and ‘wherefores’ of spinning.  What I wanted to show today is why I really spin.  Handspun is yarn that gives back to you.  Large.


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Socks on my mind

We’re having some spectacular weather & it sure helped to neutralize the springing forward into sleep deprivation that also happened this week!  Apart from DST, spring’s really my favourite season.

 Back in early February, I finished the second sock for DH.  It’s the Pinked Socks, Judy Alexander design:

He loves them dearly but kindly refuses to model (anytime soon at least).  I gave project details here in January, and have little else to ad except that the inside-out view is also nice.

 I really give props to this project.  It was pretty enough & simple enough for me to push through the all-thumbs feeling of knitting with both hands on the 2.25mm-size double pointed needles.

In a lovely circle for later sock knitting, DH aka Mystery Man heeded my Pretty Please email last year.  It was another brilliant Christmas gift, the Knitter’s Book of Socks.

It really is as Clara’s subtitle pronounces an ultimate guide to creating socks that suit.  Unlike this one…

The Sweetpea Sock that Was.  Started with great gusto back for the Yarn Harlot’s book launch.  I really liked the cast-on double then instantly decrease start.  The cuff was stretchy.

But not stretchy enough… Yes, past tense.  Life is too short for narrow socks, and I have come to terms with that.

The sock is frogged.  Long live the sock.

Nature hates a sock knitting vacuum, and so I cast-on for another Seduction Sock by Ann Budd this week.  I made a pair back in 2009, and am still wearing them all the time.

This is a first – alpaca blend sock yarn!  It’s Arequipa yarn by Estelle: 65% superwash wool/ 20%alpaca/ 15% nylon.  The needles are 2.25mm, Dyakcraft.  The yarn is lovely and soft but still elastic from the wool.  The needle-tips will split stitches if I am not careful but it’s not that big a deal.

As proof that socks beget sock yarn, I got this skein of Araucanía Ranco from Romni Wools, yesterday.  I resisted about 3 sale yarns, and left with all promises-to-self intact!

The wish for solid sock yarns can be blamed on the KBOS patterns, and the red was just too yummy to leave on the shelf.  It was a lovely (if not entirely warm) day in the city.

Man, have I have missed the energy and sheer artsiness of Queen Street West!  It was a fun afternoon, and then we also had a great dinner with Cuz & WW.

Toby hasn’t noticed yet… that’s his nemesis, Robin Redbreast on the fence this morning.  The cat misses nothing, and he’s been glued to the window all day.


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A gathering of knits

Wherein I try to bridge the yawning gap between the knitting and the blogging of the knitting.  You could call this a retrospective with some currents to start with.

If you move in my circles you may have seen this fall’s triumph – the lovely stranded Pinked Socks designed by Judy Alexander.  My feet have often looked like this:

They certainly did for the Yarn Harlot’s book launch.  I kind of skip when I wear these socks.  Apart from my pride in knitting sock-weight yarn in both hands all the way to the end, I adore the garter tab on the slip stitch heel.  Adore is not too strong a word.  Obviously because I am now knitting another pair.  That are by necessity larger.  For the current pair is being made to fit not just any man but my man.

To wit:  an 11 ½” circumference leg.

The yarns are both Cascade Heritage (solid & quatro).  The MC is the navy held in my right hand.  My gauge on 2.25 (Dyakcraft!) needles let me make the 80 stitch cast-on size.  The only modification is that I ditched the CC strip in the cuff again.  Honestly, cutting sock yarns just for show is not so cool in my books.

It’s a simple but captivating 5 stitch stranded pattern.  I’ve sped up in knitting it again.  The first was finished January 15th, and the second is here now:

DH also received a longer-than-me mosaic scarf this Christmas.  It was not supposed to curl by design (mine) but makes up for that in the aforementioned length.  If I get him to agree to pics you guys will be the first to know.  My argument is that it was that long.  

Speaking of winter wearables, I also have a new hat.  This friends is a hat by twined knitting, and I love it.

It’s warm but elastic and fits loosely enough for a person with my hair issues.

The design is the Traditional Textured Hat in Laura Farson’s New Twists on Twined Knitting.  After some wrong yarn turns, I ran out and bought 2 skeins of Ultra Alpaca Tonal.  The fuzziness at the top is a bit of Sublime Angora Merino that I dug out of the stash.  I used just 9 g from the ball.

The technique needs the right yarn.  For example, this Akapana by Mirasol Yarns was in the direction of madness.  All stabs at texture were lost.

Casting on in the twined way is not full-on fun, so I thought I would share the what not to do pic.  As much as it pains me.

The upside of relatively mild weather is that the fall knits have stayed in rotation.  In order of their knitting…  The FO pics of my Monday Morning Cardigan by Laura Chau:

I am royally ashamed to say that was completed in May 2011.  It was shy about the wonkiness in the collar area but has grown in confidence over time.

About that collar:  knitting in a car while chatting with Sandi Wiseheart is dangerous.  That is all.

Next up is my Tappan Zee by Amy King.  Yes, a blue phase was happening.

  The pictures do the project little justice.  I used my Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (4 skeins) for the 36″ chest size.  The mistakes are my own – it’s a great design!

 

My 5 ridges of garter at the lower edge were started 15″ below the armhole.  I also added 15 rows of stockinette after picking up at the arm and sewed all the bind-offs.  The yarn knitted very well, and is wearing beautifully.  It was so lackluster in the skein!

Another Knitty.com score was Leaflet Cardigan by Celcily Glowik MacDonald.  Knit in 4 days flat.

Business on the front.  Party on the back.

My yarn is Rowan’s Felted Tweed Aran, and I knit on 5 mm needles with 6mm for the binding off.  I had to make adjustments due to the gauge differences for a medium size.  My main modification was to use the rick rack rib from Barbara Walker’s Treasury.

This was my choice for the Woodstock fair in October, and many times since.

Garments – both knitting and designing – have been a goal for me of late.  I was able to stash sweater quantities from Main St. Yarns’ closing out sale, and am spinning away as well.  After speaking with Sandi, I’d also like to incorporate her Wise Sweater project into the learning curve.  I have also been adding to my library with books like Maggie Righetti’s Sweater Design in Plain English.

My big WIP that hasn’t been photographed is a Laar Cardigan by Gudrun Johnston.  It is giving me a run for my sanity with the miles of lace-weight knitting.  I love the result but am probably not wired for this sort of project…  Unlike some people that I know.

Lace is also a part of my knitting life.  For I keep stashing more!  I’d like to make the Prairie Rose Shawl by Evelyn Clarke with this new cone of Habu Tsumugi 100% silk:

We’re on the same page now!  How’s that for some progress?!?


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To Good Starts

The year is young but it’s been a good one so far (knock on wood).  Of course, I rate as good any winter that gives me this vista so deep into January:

But I digress.

The good start has a lot to do with an extremely fun knitting event in the province.  My friend, Sandi Wiseheart, invited me to travel with her to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters’ Guild meeting on January 10th.  She was their main speaker, and the Guild had graciously agreed to let her bring a friend.  I was psyched to hear Sandi’s talk on Finishing Techniques, and it was fabulous.  Complete with slides, which were in turn complete with pictures of her cat, Tim.  Sandi’s blogged this already.

There was yarn stashing before the event (and even before lunch).  It was a first visit to the lovely Shall We Knit for the both of us.  I could rave, and rave.  Karen gave us such a warm welcome.  Seeing Sandi in her element was worth every minute but I also managed to find time to browse.  String Theory!

A skein of Caper Sock in the Vert colourway with its new bestie, Shetland Lace Knitting from Charts by Hazel Carter.  Not to mention the purpleness of this Della Q bag.

Yes, that is a creative use of my Ott light, thank you.  Like I said, it’s rainy today!  I also bought a set of DPNs.  I suspect Sandi’s purchases are in the Cone of Silence.

We had a lovely dinner with Annie B., Johanna, Lianne and Angela, and headed over for the meeting.  Sandi showed her Lotus Leaf Mittens – those are sparkly nails in the grainy pic.

I had the presence of mind to take a pic while she was setting up.

And once more during the presentation.

After that point, I was all ears and knitting.  How good was this talk?  Sandi made zippered knits sound totally doable, that’s how good!  And what is this talk called? It’s  After the Bind-Off:  Finishing a Garment you can be Proud Of.  I am sure that she’ll be asked to give it again.  Soon!

Further evidence that 2012 is pretty chill…

Last year’s Masham wool singles grew up & became almost socks.

It’s a 4 oz braid dyed by Waterloo Wools spun by yours truly up to 135 yards of 3-ply goodness.  I gave it a ton of twist in the plying on my Watson Martha wheel.  It still has a halo, and feels strong but somehow supple.

My Abby Batt is all spun up.  I finished plying the skein on my Golding Tsunami drop spindle on January 6th.  This lace yarn is for keeps!

I don’t have any SIP pics but the batt was a 38g ‘Leaf Pile’ of 30% corriedale wool/ 30% huacaya alpaca/ 30% tussah silk/ 10% merino.  I spun it by alternating 2 spindles – a Spindlecraft bracken & a Spindlewood olive square whorl.  All over town.  That’s 274 yards.  I’ll spin another fibre for a lace project down the line.

There’s more in my spinning life but I’ll round this out by showing the 60% wool/ 40% flax blend that I raced away with last week.  100g spun on my Philias Cadorette CPW currently gracing toilet paper rolls.

An experiment in over-twist?  Perhaps!

I’ll save the knits for another post.  Which I want to write now lest that promise fall flat.


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All Wound Up, Toronto Launch

Last night, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee‘s All Wound Up book tour finally reached Toronto!  In a very uncharacteristic move I was Knitter No. 1 on the scene at the Chapters.  And I saw that their powers that be are still in the dark about how much of a crowd the one & only Yarn Harlot is going to draw in her hometown.  Yes, dudes – even on a cold Thursday night more than 40 chairs are required.

Teresa, Meg & the hugely popular Monkey (8 weeks old) soon arrived, and we nabbed front row seats.  No zoom required, see:


Meg took our picture – very much knitting & happy.

I do have another knitting friend also called Teresa.  This confused DH to no end, so I thought I should point out that the Teresa pictured here is not the same person who is getting my spindle-spun laceweight yarn.  This Teresa is knitting a gorgeous Helix Scarf.  I was knitting a new sock.

Monkey is a superbly happy baby!  Meg chalked up his good behaviour to the sheer cushyness of his blanket but I think he’s just a good little fella.

Mom and baby will be totally featured in the Harlot’s next blog post… she took a pic of them after signing!

I was thrilled that Stephanie read from her book!  It was hilarious to hear the stories in her own voice.  Thanks to her earlier tweet, I can also tell you that she was wearing sparkly handknit socks.

Proof of the lovely meeting that happened afterwards:

Now, I was way too shy to speak in entire sentences.  I tried gathering my thoughts but it was no use.  If I had my wits about me I would have told Stephanie a huge Thank You.  Her books and her blog got me out of my head knitting, and into the wild world of meeting other knitters.  I was brand-new to Canada back then.  Finding Knitting Rules changed everything, and then I had the good sense to get out to her Casts Off book launch to hear what she really thought.

Just for the record, Chapters:  this is what the turnout for a Yarn Harlot event in Toronto is going to look like.  Always.  Even if it rains.  Got it?