The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Easter report

Whad’ya know – my handspun has use!  I finished the Sweet Fern fingerless gloves over the weekend.  Ferns in the mini-roses:

The Polwarth is soft but firm at this gauge, and I even have a left-over skein.

The pattern was great as-is – no modifications this time!

I cleaned & decorated the house a bit for Easter because we threw a rather spontaneous BBQ for our Jamaican friends as they get ready to move out east.  These are the friends who had baby Eden last summer (I made her a kimono).  Her older brother, Zac, found the chocolate straight off the bat!

Opening right on cue:

Even though we were both v. tired from the efforts, we did make it out to St. Jacob’s Market on Saturday for the 1st time.  A cool day-trip.  First purchase of the day?  Sock yarn from Shall We Knit, upstairs:

Always wanted me some Crazy Zauberball!  Also in the marketplace:

We headed back downstairs for a bag of bagels, and clover honey here:

Hot-cross buns in production:

Farmers feed cities!

I have no idea how/ why but DH left without buying a single sausage, cut of meat or slab of cheese – huh?!?

We lunched at the Stone Crock restaurant in town.  It was a 20 min wait for the table – good enough to pull out the Bossie spindle & create a scene 🙂

Seriously?  75% is something to brag about?!

DH was fading fast but I did get to dip into an antiques store.  They had 2 spinning wheels that not even I was moved to acquire…   A better find?   This little ‘handbook,’ on natural dying, 8th edition 1972:

Very instructive but also covers dye recipes & traditions from around the world, including Canada & the Caribbean!

On both Sunday & yesterday we had perfect hand-combing weather.  It was sunny, warm & breezy.  I got through about a  bag of  my Romney… & have the scrapes on my hands to prove it.  It’s scary how easily the long tines on these little combs will graze you.  My hands are a little worse for the wear, today.


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Wool bounces back

Saturday’s mission was to ‘treat’ my handspun yarns, and fiber for moths.  ‘Treat’ is euphemistic – really, I was on a rampage.

Let me back-track a bit.  You see, on Saturday morning I just wanted to knit with my handspun.  I decided it would be the 3-ply pink merino.  One skein is not that hot but I had 2 good ones to play with.  Or so I thought…

I wind my yarn by hand, and I had it on the Rapala fishing line counter for good measure.  All very exciting until I see that long lengths are under-plied, i.e. loose.  Followed by a break in 1 ply.  And another break.  And so on… Odd.  But I soon got the picture.  The pride & joy merino fingering yarn is hurt –  not by my spinning but by a clothes moth.   I went on a heat-treatment rampage.

Many thanks go to John Valleau of The Fibre Garden for his instructions on heat-treating wool.  Whereas the retailer of this Coopworth roving + moth had nothing to say to me, John is giving tons of support & concrete advice.

Over the course of the day, I steamed some & had some sitting in almost-boiling water.  Steam + combed top =

Yes, steam + combed top = reconstituted wool.  The crimp is back.  Back again…  I knew it would happen but I was determined to kill any moth eggs there & then.  This is my BFL.  I have been spinning it laceweight & had big plans for a shawl.  All plans are now under review.  Perhaps the straight combed single & post-steaming single could get along magnificently.  I don’t know.  It could be a design feature, right?  TBD…

Setting aside the hurt merino yarn, and the stalled BFL lace for the moment, there is some good news.  I finished spinning the Polwarth roving!  It’s now a bouncy, soft & self-respecting 3-ply yarn:

This is what I was working on last week while planning a trip up to Milk River Bath in Jamaica.  As of today’s sit & knit, it’s now my 1st handspun knitting project!

The very beginnings of a pair of fingerless gloves.  The pattern is Clara Parkes’ Sweet Fern Mitts from The Knitter’s Book of Wool.  It is true that cream mitts will show dirt.  They might also be my first stab at dyeing.

My own sweet fern made it through the winter!  The other one’s not looking so green…


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Delayed post

These pics were jailed in the camera all week, thanks to trouble in my USB drivers.  Trouble is resolved & here we have the Fetching hand-warmers.  I gave them to my friend Kay yesterday when we got together for lunch.

First there was a left FO.

Then a right one in progress.

And lastly, the pair.  I was trying to get the 1 minute of sunshine the morning had on offer.

I have to say the production knitting for Christmas gifts is getting old.  I may be pretty much done with that now.  Which makes our plan to go into Toronto for the One of A Kind Craft Show today, all the more necessary!

Our own gift exchange has lost the element of surprise.  DH’s heart was set on a Kindle as soon as Amazon expanded into Canada.  I tried to reason with him but you see not all readers are bibliophiles….  Rooms with books on shelves are what I need.  Actual clippable newspapers too.  DH won; I caved.  For 2 reasons.  1 – It was clear that hand-knit slippers wouldn’t cut it this year.  2 – Hmm for the cost of that there Kindle, I could get how much yarn, patterns, books, spindles, etc.?!

Then Mom also decided to ditch surprises.   Her fail-safe gifts?  A spindle & fibre.  Specifically, a Golding 3″ top whorl cherry Tsunami spindle & cream Shetland combed top.  It’s been a good week of on-line shopping 🙂

In DH’s corner, I bought a pair of used Paradise Fibres 2-row hand-combs in a Ravelry marketplace (for the Romney prep), a skein of Poems sock yarn, and this beauty.

Matches my rose quartz

It’s 100% new wool merino pencil roving by Schoppel Wolle.  A whole new spinning experience.  It’s a 180° change from my home-prepared Romney wool.  It practically drafts itself & the long strip means far less splicing on of new supply.  Kinda like stepping into an automatic car after learning on an old standard jalopy.  Of course, the hand combs should improve the Romney experience.  For now, I can just zone out spinning this loveliness.  I would call it hand candy but um, that has other connotations…

My kitchen orchids are going for more blooms!  Good for the grey skies.  Good for my mood.


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Hot off the needles

A mother-in-law gift I can be proud of.  Je vous présenté Le Cravat!

Pinned straight

The lacy Baktus edges were too raw, and even with the extra 200′ of yarn it still felt small for her neck.  The sides have a garter lace edging charted in EZ’s Knitting Around, page 114.  Meg Swansen adapted it from a book called Classic Knitted Cotton Edgings by Furze Hewitt.  It was quick & not fussy at all to knit on.  I just picked up a stitch each even row, and knitted it together with the edge stitches.

I loved getting back to EZ & am seriously scoping out the books she learned with.  Another up-side?  A new knit knack from starting the edge – invisible cast-on!

The top is edged with an applied i-cord with the outer stitch slipped.  The edges are from my 1st skein of Sea Wool (the cowl).  The colourways are different but blended together very nicely, I think!

With no time to waste, I’ve already started Fetching fingerless gloves.  It’s from stash – this plum Berroco Ultra Alpaca:

I’m thinking it will go to a younger cousin.


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Baby Gift Satisfaction

Sammy’s V-neck Vest is all ready for him!

I defied the pattern instructions, and did not join the left armhole edging at the button band.  Just took the rawness off the top few stitches with my take on crochet, and knitted straight for the armhole.  This means that the 3 buttons are the functional join for that shoulder & arm.  I also changed the shoulder join on the right side to a graft instead of the 3-needle bind-off.

Here is the prezzie all wrapped & ready for the parcel post:

Found some use for that gross-grain!  All-in-all, I’m happy with this one.  Thumbs-up for the pattern:  Louisa Harding’s Oz Vest from Natural Knits for Babies & Moms.  Interweave linky is here.

Riding this wave of gift-giving, I think that my next project will be a pair of fingerless gloves for my cousin.  She’s coming over on the weekend & I am a good 3 months late with her birthday present.  She likes to run, so they could be useful when the weather turns chilly.  It would also be a good project for Pub Night this Wednesday – minimal scope for screw-ups.

I do have a last skein of Noro Silk Garden but the colourway might be too girly for this cousin.  Hmm.  May have to go to a LYS, which just so happens to be having a sale…  Inching closer to a very slippery slope!


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Harshing my mellow

Philip Street’s Fisher comic in today’s Globe & Mail is hilarious, and ends with, “Oh, Man.  You’re harshing my mellow.”  Yesterday, out of the blue, a friend harshed mine.  She called me an old woman.  As in, “You are such an old woman.  First knitting, and now orchids,” with maximum snarkiness.  Yea.  Who knows – maybe she plans on returning the handknit fingerless gloves?

Here’s where things stand in my knitting bag.  Massive new Lady B bag is edging me onto more projects.  Still under austerity measures, so no large projects in the works.

On the Needles – We have a 2nd sock that’s growing at the leg.  Pretty mundane, so moving along… We still have the baby cardigan (grits her teeth).  Thought I was blocked and ready to piece it all together.  Hit a snag with the sleeves.  Turns out, I made a dumb mistake, and must re-do said sleeves.  My LYSO figured it out – the sleeves don’t fit the armhole because only one side of each had the increases.  I managed to do this because I knit them both at the same time.  It looked fine with them side-by-side on the needles but they were lop-sided.  Good thing I started well before the baby is due…

In the Pipeline – A shrug for my cousin’s wedding next month.  After hours of searching, I settled on Pam Allen’s Reading in Bed Shrug.  This Hand Maiden lace silk will match the dress to a T (we hope):

Hand Maiden Lace Silk for Shrug

Hand Maiden Lace Silk for Shrug

The yarn is totally lace-weight.  I am going to double the yarn, and swatch like crazy…  I’m not generally a shrug girl, so fingers crossed.  Not sure how I’ll maintain the colourway with doubling – need to give that a think.

I am also experimenting with resizing.  The Sarah Tank Top by Christine Buhagiar (Knitting for Boozehags).  She only gave it in medium, so I am going down to my size – small.  I want to try to use my Estelle 100% silk (grey), and see if it makes for a good tank.  Means adjusting for this new gauge…  Gotta bust that stash!


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Bass Ackwards

It appears that my knit stitch is bass ackwards.  This is a biggie.  I probably had it semi-right at some point of the learning curve – until my mind went on its own tangent.  I looked back this morning to the ‘how to knit’ pages of my Knitting Directory, and sure enough it does say pretty clearly that you go through the front loop.  Pictures provided do show the same.  How I probably managed to knit from the back all along is by latching onto the idea that a purl is to the front but a knit is to the back.  It’s been a happy existence.  I mean they look like knit stitches, and act like knit stitches…

The real issue arose when I couldn’t crack the KF&B business.  Which interpreted means, Knit front & back.  What tripped me up here was the instruction of  “knit the usual way but do not slip the new stitch off, and knit into the back loop of the same stitch.”  My knit the ususal way is through the back.  What on earth would one do to knit in front?  All attempts were purls you see.  It bothered me but I fudged a twisty stitch that gave an increase & moved on.  True ugliness happened when I tried the vines pattern on the fingerless gloves in “Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Nation,” so I ripped back, and made it a simple cable pattern.  This became the perfect gift to Hubby, Mittens, VRik and me.  Here’s the Hubby wearing his:

Manly fingerless gloves with cable

Manly fingerless gloves with cable

The cable doesn’t show very well in this picture but they are simple 6 stitch affairs.

Anyhow, I was using the fudge method actively but Eunny Jang’s How To clip on Knitting Daily:  today’s video blew the plan to shreds.  I’ve had to process the fact that my knit was not quite conventional… yea.  I finally saw the light, and now see the simplicity of my mistake.  I think this may account for the tightness of my knitting too.  With this breakthrough, I may even get somewhat less awkward trying to left hand the yarn aka continental knitting.  That’s a knack I’ve not got yet:)  Oh, and when I grow up, I want to be like Eunny.