The Knit Knack's Blog

Better living through fibre


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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!


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Spinning Friday

Awhile ago, I stopped posting each stage of my spinning.  I wanted to wait and do a full spinning round-up for you.  Over the past 2 years, I have been exploring new styles… It is a sometimes slow; sometimes fast process that’s just not that easy to show on a timeline.

In addition to reaching critical mass, I’m also very excited to be going to Stringtopia 2012 in a few months!  It will be 3 days focused on spinning with top-notch teachers and all-round good peeps.

Christmas Corrie in progress

Last year, DH scooped 12 oz of superwash Corriedale wool up from Schafenfreude Fibers as one of his best Christmas gifts to me.  Diane shipped quickly and it got under the tree just in time!

I really cannot say enough about this fiber.  This spin was started on February 3rd.

An absolute joy  - I think the Wee Peggy wheel is pleased!  I steamed the combed top briefly to get crimp back, divided it in half and spun with S-twist.

The 4.2 oz gave an approx. 325 yds skein of , 2-ply.  I used my Spinolution Mach2 on the second ratio for plying.

The idea is to make a twine-knit garment with the 12 oz.  I highly recommend taking a look at Diane’s shop!

A Sweater-in-Waiting

Look what’s hanging out in my stash… a sweater’s worth of yarn!  It was a year-long project with Finnish Landrace combed top from Louet.

That’s approx. 1,529 yds of handspun!  The singles were spun on my Wee Peggy in my default style and mostly whenever I took my wheel out in public.  It is 3-plied on my Mach2.  I very much doubt the grist is consistent throughout but there are work-arounds for that.  Next step = the dye pot.

The Icelandic Rose project

Another long-term project was spinning 1 lb of Icelandic roving from Willow Farm.  Strangely, I don’t have any SIP pics but this is the 896 yards of 2 ply happily soaking.

The skeins all got alum & cream of tartar for mordant followed by a taste of Red Lac pure tinctora dye.  I used 0.03% dye for a less saturated colour.

To my horror, it seemed to release the dye.  After rushing online, I decided to add table salt and reheat.  Voilà!

The dark tog fibers give a heathered effect that I just love!

The yarn almost immediately jumped onto the needles.

It’s the Cap-Sleeved Eyelet Top from Closely Knit by Hannah Fettig.  Local friends:  It’s on sale for dirt cheap at a Chapters near you!

My driving thoughts are that the eyelets will pop in a 2-ply yarn & a cami/ shirt will save my skin from any scratch factor here.

While I am Bragging…

… this is my comfort spin.  We all need one.

A hand-dyed 56 g batt from Tabi at Sericin Silkworks.  It’s 50%silk/ 34% merino/ 8% cashmere/ 8% possum and I am making every fibre count!

My Ann Grout acorn spindle has seen me through this project.

It’s called Bellevue Blue in my Ravelry stash.

All plying for this is on my Golding Tsunami ring spindle.  I have more to spin, and approx 361 yards already.

Less is More

Last week these Peruvian low whorl spindles arrived from the Spinning Loft.  Beth provides them from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco.  They are rarely in stock & are highly sought-after!

For about a year now I’ve been fascinated by the Andean style of spinning.  What I didn’t expect is how great an angular shaft is for flicking!  So, fancy lathe-turning isn’t always wonderful after all…

Last Friday, I happily pulled these out at a LYS sit & knit for a test spin.  Before I could say much, a novice spinner intoned, “How many spindles do you have now?”  Word.  I answered 28 but it’s actually 29.  It is what it is.  The exchange has inspired me to show how I use my spindles but more importantly how they enhance my spinning life and skills.

As much as I love the craftsmanship the truth is these are tools just like any other.  It is for the spinner to rise to the challenge.  Which is precisely why I am so stoked to be taking Abby’s All Spindles All Day class at Stringtopia this year!  I am also signed-up for Beth’s all-day Spinning for Lace and her half-day Longwools classes and Silk Dyeing with Sara Lamb!

 

 

 


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Catching up

Life got out of hand.  Evidence of which is standing in our living room.  A tree.  Neckid as it grew in the ground.  The Christmas tree that wasn’t.  Honestly, I met every other holiday expectation – up to & including baking stints – and tried my very best.  Good thing Mom was too tired herself to really notice the lack of ornamentation.  Let’s just say we kept it simple & leave it at that…

Happy New Year!

Just because I fell off the face of the blog doesn’t mean that I was an idle working stiff.  Here’s a blast of what’s been keeping me sane this past little while.  In no particular order because it’s all in heavy rotation anyways…

Best surprise ever was finding this spinning angel on my doorstep on a cold Saturday morning.  A gift from my friend T, and she came in her own box:

T made the drop spindle with some sequins, and painted it with purple nail polish! She unwound the gold lace yarn, which apparently was a beast.  Love, love, love.  And yes, my new Ravatar.

T’s other gift has been to encourage me in the general direction of her special talent with lace knitting.  A large rectangle stole in spider net from Jane Sowerby’s Victorian Lace Today is quietly in progress.  Amazon linky.  If you don’t like empowering the likes of Amazon, here’s a pic of my copy:

This is not just a slightly ’80s looking pattern book.  No.  This book goes to great lengths to explain lace construction and knitting methods.  Helps if you weren’t born knowing 7 cast-ons suitable for lace.  Also helps if negotiating borders around corners isn’t yet another of your innate skills.

In other knitting we have a far less challenging Hap Shawl.  The pattern is Hansel by Gudrun Johnston a.k.a. the Shetland Trader.

The main yarn is my Philosopher’s Wool worsted 2-ply.  The body is acres upon acres of garter stitch.  I broke up the tedium by switching to Continental (left-handed) knitting.  Even so it was a pain & a ½ to get that diamond done.  Then it was the fun part – stash busting!

Again with the everlasting knitting.  And if I thought that taught me patience, well.  How about a garter edging?

That baby only kills 8 stitches every repeat.

More in keeping with instant gratification… a hat.  DH looks dashing in this quick knit, and loves it to boot.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed he’d pick Sublime Yarns Angora Merino for his hat!  Held double for Clara Parkes’ Hill Country Hat.  I have the book but here’s a free PDF version from Knitter’s Review.

One of my aims for 2010 was to knit hand-spun socks.  Cast on for these on December 30th!

The pattern is Lemon Leaves from Cat Bordhi’s (tortuously titled) Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters.  The yarn is a 3-ply super-wash BFL hand-dyed by Turtle Purl in Québec.  The colours are amazing, and although I don’t like spinning super-wash, it knits up beautifully.  However.  Am short on yardage!

My new spindles in order of acquisition:

She’s an antique French spindle that I got in a Ravelry de-stash.  See the tip?  It looks broken but still spins beautifully.

Easily the most portable spindle I own.  She likes my Blue Mountain coffee bag.  I spin suspended but have to pay attention to her spin-time lest there be droppage.  A surprising number of non-spinners love to watch me spin on her.  Happy to oblige!

The bottom of the French is too worn for good supported spindling, so what did I do?  Got a Russian!  My less-than-stellar attempts:

It’s a mahogany Tom Forrester.  Do you see how many fibres I broke out in trying to spin on this?!?  Here’s inspiration number one for sucking less:

Sweet, sweet vicuña.  Hand-processed by Tabi at Sericin Woolworks, and worth every cent!  Only the finest, rarest camelid fibre known to man…  Until then I am a mere grasshopper with the Russian spindle.

Latest addition is an Ethan Jacob lace spindle by Greensleeves.  Another de-stash win!  It’s 14g of sleek cochin & lacewood.

They weren’t kidding when they said this is a primo lace spindle.  Insanely good, man.  Helps me not to feel like a total ass on the Russian.

Yes, I make yarn with all the tools & enthusiasm.  Here’s a small sampling… On my Wee Peggy wheel is some Finnish Landrace (the sweater project):

Previously on my Canadian Production Wheel was this gift to its previous owner – Shetland top, 2-ply:

Now on the CPW is Corriedale hand-dyed by Ontario fibre artist KerrySpins:

There’s much more in production but this is a mighty long post already!

Walk good!

 

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