The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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The why of my knitting

Last Tuesday, the man sitting across from me in a coffee shop struck up a line of questioning.  I was a little in love with swatching my Clun Forest wool yarn from Sheepspot it being for baby nephew and all.

Yarn and fibre from London Ontario indie dyer Sheepspot

He had asked if I knitted my sweater.  Nodding, I added that I made the yarn, and dyed it.  We talked just a little about cochineal, and he told me about knitting with his Grandmother as a boy.  Then he asked penetratingly,

You knit because it is relaxing, yes?

“No,” I answered laughing.  “I knit because I get to have the things that I make,” pointing meanwhile to the little swatch-in-progress.  He & the 2 friends were stumped.  He gave a, “Huh,” and asked again.

“Right. It is relaxing.  I like the process but I knit to make things.”  The conversation marched on.

That Tuesday’s sweater is a good example of what, “I get to have this” means.  A 100% Finn wool sweater that left the industrial complex at an early stage as combed fibre.  It ticks these boxes: soft, comfortable, fits, layering, warm, and brighter than anything an Ontario winter can throw at it.

Even if I could get this breed-specific wool as a durable, fitted sweater off the shelf (and I can’t), the single greatest attribute of my version is the expression of ideas.  It is what I chose for lunching with my spinning mentor/friends that day.  They last saw it on the needles.  It said, “Yeah, people spin yarn,” in a coffee shop, and that a red dye is from scale insects.  Right here on TKK it was all about the neck steeking, and the stress knitting in its day.  Later on, I had to shorten the long sleeves.  It is documented on Ravelry; could still be even more.

In special cases like the expected baby nephew, I knit, and even spin for deserving others.  Sometimes knitting is relaxing.  Sometimes it really isn’t relaxing at all.  Sticking to it gets you more than entertained, and that’s the point as I see it.

Here’s to hoping that all our FOs will be all that and then some in their own time!

Columbia wool story with Zoë the CPW

In the last post, I shared a new purple wool spin on the Canadian Production Wheel’s bobbin.  It was the Columbia wool roving at the bottom of the box there.

Handspun singles of Columbia wool spun on Canadian Production Wheel

Columbia wool singles

This roving was 119 g of Sasha’s ‘Orchid 1’ colourway.  I really enjoyed the darker spots.  The 1st bobbin was spun before our trip last year, and the 2nd bobbin followed on January 18th.

Handspun Columbia wool roving on Canadian Production Wheel

Skeined! Woolen-spun Columbia yarn

The 310 yards were plied on the same wheel after I reversed the twist in the drive band.  This Philias Cadorette CPW really does better spinning left if I reverse the band.  I also changed to the second ratio.

Spinning natural Columbia wool roving on Canadian Production Wheel

Stash-busting!

One good long-draw experience leads to another!  I have spun all 150 g of this Columbia roving from the Fibre Garden up now.  We are still climbing over the big girl because the 124 g batch has come out to play as well.  I may need to get more soon!

 


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Newly minted knits

This post is going to read like an Ode to the Colour Purple no matter how much or little I go into the details.  It is my happy place.

Irieknit Ampersand socks in Indigodragonfly handdyed merino yarn

Project Purple Toes

A few months ago, I shared about this nice act of aeroplane knitting.  This is the late-breaking progress picture!

irieknit Ampersand sock in progress Indigodragonfly handdyed yarn

My gauge with  2.25 mm Dyakcraft needles is a snug 36 stitches = 4″ in pattern.  The cast-on worked out at 72 cuff stitches.  I pared the stitch repeat down by 3 stitches, and it still plays so nicely with this hand-painted yarn.

Finished irieknit Ampersand socks in Indigodragonfly handdyed yarn

Very January appropriate

Last Saturday was the finish date for these socks, and I wore them immediately!  The extended ribs are not on centre but I like them lots.  The legs are 7″ long (3″ added), and I used 99g from the 115g skein.

The matchy-matchy new cardigan

Another new FO on the block this week is my Something Silver cardigan.  Naturally, I called the project ‘Something Purple.’

irieknit Something Silver cardigan in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool overdyed logwood

Pockets! Purple!

Not only does this cardigan offer the all-over half diamond single lines of lace that are easy to follow but the garter stitch band conceals pockets.

Rear view irieknit Something Silver cardigan in Silky Wool overdyed logwood

As I have been chatting with my friend Sarah, the garter stitch neckline is pretty deep.  If I had more yarn it would have gone towards an applied i-cord (or two) for that area.

This lived with me on & even briefly off the needles from August 20, 2014 – January 28, 2015.

Irieknit overdye Elsebeth Lavold yarn with natural logwood exhaust bath

Natural dye magic: logwood

 

This really is a good news story about over-dyeing a commercial yarn.  It came to me as colourway 12 ‘dusty rose’ on the left there.  Then it entered my exhaust bath of logwood chips in January 2013!  There are flicks of deep pink in the yarn, and I love how it gives my cardigan a heathered effect.

The ensemble is made

Speaking of logwood, I had another dye session that took my breath away back in June 2013.  This is my Harvey Columbia wool yarn spun on the CPW.  All-time favourite shade, Yes!

Handdyed Columbia wool handspun yarn with logwood

Logwood and her BFF Columbia wool handspun yarn

The 4-ply woolen-spun yarn weighed 210 g when dry.  I re-used an alum pot to pre-mordant, and let the yarn cool overnight in the prepared dyebath.   It was an old logwood pot, and I added 20g of  fresh chips.

Melvin occupies Columbia wool basket with Cadorette Canadian Production spinning wheel

Right under my nose!

Melvin decided to have a say in this yarn’s fibre content.  It was spun on my Philias Cadorette CPW, and plied on the Spinolution MachII at 5:1 for 247 yards of 4-ply yarn.

Handspun Columbia 4-ply wool yarn by irieknit

Yarn before her adventures with logwood

Scale is important for understanding the project this went into, so bear with me.

The handspun yarn measured 10 wraps per inch on my spinner’s control card or in the worsted-weight range.  It is 494 yards per pound.  This is much heavier than a millspun worsted-weight yarn, which is 800 yards per pound.  That difference showed in my project.

Irieknit Pinion Tam in handspun Columbia wool 4-ply yarn dyed with logwood

My baby Pinion Tam

The pattern is Pinion by Naomi Parkhurst, and it calls for 110 yards of worsted-weight yarn.  These are my 5.0 mm needles.  The swatch was honest- I needed 2 less stitches to knit 4″ in stockinette than the pattern called for.

Irieknit handspun Columbia wool knitted Pinion Tam blocking

Blocking my handspun Pinion

My tam has a sharper decrease section, and I decreased 8 extra stitches after doing the math for the brim.

Changing down a needle size to 4.5 mm helped to make the brim smaller, and I also modified the ribbing for more elasticity.  Mine is K, [P, K]* x 3, P3.

At its widest we are 3″ larger diameter than Naomi’s pattern or 13″.  Luckily, I had a big enough plate for the wet blocking!  It used 153 yards of the yarn.

We haven’t taken any final pictures yet but I love the pattern, and am wearing my chunky purple tam!

Spinning Columbia wool roving on Cadorette Canadian Production spinning wheel

Moar Columbia!

Yes, I am still on this purple kick!  Sheepspot‘s handdyed Columbia roving is now all spun up, and I now have 310 yards of 2-ply yarn from the 119 g.  It was both spun & plied on my CPW.

 


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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!