The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


Words with thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!  We spent the Canadian holiday hosting a young cousin from the States.  Irony of ironies his visit happened at the same time as another procedure for me.

We managed to keep that which is personal private, and be hospitable.  What got lost in the crisis was a formal Thanksgiving.

An awesome friend hand-stitched this for me.  She makes bookmarks while watching her daughter play soccer.  In our last conversation she listened, and said:

It’s okay to complain.  What you are going through is difficult.

Her gentle words said in kindness pushed out all the “I shoulds” with the bravery.

It’s been a beautiful fall, rich for creativity and walks with Sir Toby.  These are my favourites.  You know, as opposed to What I Should be Telling You.

I finished my 1st handspun sweater.  This is the Redhook Tunic by Jared Flood, started during the Summer Olympics.

Clearly, I am a little pleased!  It was finished in time for my classes with Deb Robson at the end of September, and gets its fair share of wear.

The shawl collar is double-width.  It still feels a shade short, so I don’t use the top button.  My favourite part is the colour sequencing through the upper body & collar.  It took some juggling & weighing but was so sweet to work.

That’s an Also-Ran for a 1st hand-spun top…  The yarn is my Icelandic dyed with red lac powder.

One fitting proved the waist was not working.  It had no definition, and the shaping was all wrong.  Also, the tog & thel Icelandic?  I could feel it through the under-garments, and not in a good way.

Hard to frog but easy to know what it really wanted to be – a warm Icelandic shawl.  Or in other words, I went back to Plan A.

It is Evelyn A. Clark’s Sigridur Shawl pattern with a modified border.  It’s one Dayflower repeat for the border – I charted the instructions from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury.

It was finished in time, and went up for our Guild’s summer display at the Queen Elizabeth Park Community Center.

What I now have back home is my warmest shawl for its weight.  The 60″ wingspan is perfect for cool mornings, and dashes outside.

Yet again, socks have been my go-to project for the stress.  Mandie’s Iron Man colourway kept my interest, and I finished them in just over 2 months.

In mid-September, I started to ply my Bronzed Chai spindle project.

Awful lighting but I have approx. 980 yds with an extra singles ball to spare!

It’s a goal met:  I am also worthy of my spindle-spun laceweight yarn in this quantity.  From 4 ounces.

It’s what I am looking forward to for this season – a cove on the coast of Negril, Jamaica… and All the People/Places/Things.

Right now we still have time left for talking, spinning, knitting and Thanksgiving.


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Pitfalls happen

I had a change of heart on the sock front.  Last time I posted, there was a cuff+ of the Sandalwood Socks by Caitlin Stevens.  Well, that idea got scrapped when I realized how much chart-squinting was involved.

Then I went from the proverbial frying pan into the fire.  By deciding to knit from the toe up.  It’s a new-to-me knit knack.  From its good angle here’s the partial sock:

I followed Cat Bordhi’s instructions from her New Pathways for Insouciant Sock Knitters book for the toe.  The  rest is/will be Wendy Johnson’s Lacy Ribs Socks design in her Socks from the Toe Up.  So what’s dicey about that?  I give you the heel:

Bad heel!  Resulting from me trying to fudge a toe-up short row heel for my yarn’s gauge.  Toe = win!  Heel = fail 😦  Story of my life, I tell you…

And do you know what the bad part is?  I’m not sure how to fix it.  A search for online tutorials is in my future.  For now, the sock waits while I go for long walks with the Tobster.

It is spring, after all.

There are also highs & lows in the spinning department.  The narrative, chronologically:

  1. On Sunday, I drove out to Jordan Village for the Fibre Garden’s spin-in.  Bad weather cleared for an easy drive with Miss Peggy on my backseat.  It was great to see John, Alan & Rusty (super-friendly dog) again, partake of their cookies & coffee, and meet new spinners.  BTW – Joy, I saw your old Louet IRL!  Good day of spinning on the Peggy & also getting brave enough to try out the store’s Majacraft Rose.  All with the same Coopworth roving.  After spinning, I also got some cream Polwarth roving.
  2. Monday was even better because that’s when I spoke with Miss Peggy’s owner, and we agreed that I could buy her wheel.
  3. Naturally, what with the mishapen sock heel & the “new” wheel, I had to spin.  About 15 mins into this happy state, I pulled a piece of the Coopworth fibre & saw the pest – a clothes moth.  Just chilling.  Cripes!
  4. I won’t get into the freak-out phase.  Wool is in my freezer.  I am seriously worried because I’ve had it for a whole month.  Result = an up-tick in the house-cleaning, and emails sent to all relevant parties – Fiber Garden, the wool’s retailer, and today the big-name distributor. John at FG immediately gave me tons of advice how to handle this & the distributor was responsive.  The retailer?  Silence.  (wow, right?)
  5. My BFL spindling is affected but I am spinning the new Polwarth.  Polwarth, mmmmm.

I have been busy with weekday spinning meet-ups as well.  It’s amazing how generous each spinner is with me.  They give of their time, offer their equipment, and are helping to connect me with others.  Coming from teaching myself into the community has been a great experience.  Lots of encouragement & feedback.  Yesterday, I not only got to try a Lendrum DT & a Majacraft Little Gem but I left with tips, and even a copy of Fibre Focus.  Just seeing other, more advanced spinning styles is eye-opening.

The thought of fighting a moth infestation is scaring me silly.  How do I deal?  Well, the Polwarth is helping.  Just started on Tuesday & now I have this much:

First Polwarth single, Wee Peggy

Reminds me of the Jamaican place name for a mineral spring – Milk River Bath.  Here’s a newspaper article if you want to know more:  (newspaper linky).

Currently spinning 2nd Polwarth single

Which, in turn reminds me that I want to go there someday soon!

Tomorrow, is the Spinning/ Weaving Guild meeting, so the inspiration won’t stop!  I am willing the moth & its kin to die.  The frozen Coopworth roving will go out in the garbage.  It’s not worth the risk.

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Reality bites – I’ll spin to that

Honest truth – I nearly made my baby gift deadline.  As my Mother loves to say, “Close but no cigar.”  Friends, this is how the saga unfolded…  By Friday night, I was almost finished knitting on a garter border.  It was a beast of a job but I’d have more than enough time on Saturday to finish her up.  I went to my bed, and had sweet dreams.

At some point of some sweet dream my thoughts got real with me.  I woke up just knowing that the border was a spoiler.  It had to go.  Why?  Three reasons:

  • The garter stitch was boxing in the rest of the blanket, in a bad way;
  • My short colour changes were way too busy for the vision in white main body; and
  • I had botched the upper left corner with misplaced colour changes.

So, I ran downstairs, put the coffee on, and had at it.  Furious, furious knitting.  Does border no. 2 look better?  Sure does!   Did I have a prayer for finishing?  Nope.

At around say 1:30 p.m., I knew this would be wrapped on the needles.   It was seriously humbling.  She is quite possibly the most urban non-knitter friend that I have.  There was enough time to unfurl half the stitches onto waste yarn but it probably looked v. strange to her.  Especially since she was looking at the wrong side.  Good grief!

On the bright side, my friends at the Wool Bin have all assured me the design is a win.  The knitters hath spake!  Also on the bright side, the baby should be en ventre sa mere until early May 🙂

Leaving the sad story with bright sides, I have my 1st wheel-spun yarn to show you!  It is 4-ply Coopworth that is in a DK-weight range before finishing:

It is springy, and very yarn-like!  And I have another full bobbin here:

There’s yet more waiting for room to be plied as well!

On Monday, I found this tiny nest while walking Toby.  It was up-side down by my neighbour’s tree:

The white fluff is from fine, silky seeds.  It forms the base of the nest:

How I think us humans caught onto the idea of spinning in the first place:  nature.

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Love in the air

Cupid came early this year to Cuz!  Congrats on her engagement!  My girl was packing for a weekend trip down to Jamaica when she stumbled upon a box in with her jewelry.  So in the space of 2 sleeps she gets the ring, hops on a plane, soaks up some rays & family loving, and is back by her fiancé’s side… sweet!

Lately my knitting feels like it’s headed for a bunch of UFOs.  The new baby gift has jumped the line & is giving trouble.  I’m getting a little posh with the design & the shower is in 3 weeks….  Please send me your good vibez!  I wanted a change from baby clothes, so am going with a classic blankie.  It’s white with green accents in superwash wool.  I will admit to buying some hand-wash at first but realized the error of my ways v. quickly.  White + baby!

Since cables & twisted stitches are involved, I have a worry about blocking.  Which is to say that my conscience is vocal.  I should stop knitting & swatch this yarn.  Since I’m almost through the first ball, now would be the time!

Did I mention that the shower is in 3 weeks? It’s not the worst deadline ever but blankets are not small things.  Plus DK-weight blankets with cables just gobble-up those stitches.

While I sweat the small stuff, 2 projects are on hold (not UFOs yet!).  First there’s the teal sweater.  The one I was rather hopefully referring to as the January Lady Sweater.  Yeah – that needs a name change.  It’s almost done… just ignore my heavy sighs, okay?

Second is DH’s merino Baktus-style scarf.  I never did match my (woefully short) stash yarn.  What I did find was this solid red sister up at Main Street Yarns.  I know the line’s been discontinued, so I went for it.  You should have seen Carolyn & me tearing through her bin hunting down those reds!  Carolyn is the v. friendly LYSO of Main Street Yarns fame.

Plays hard to get

As you can see, it wasn’t cheap but double the yardage = double the fun.  Re-imagined it’s a 9″ wide scarf with 2 row carries.  The first push after frogging:

A full week later it’s really not much longer.  Mind you, DH has another hand-knit scarf that works just fine.  The difference here shows how much I did  at Pub Night with a Corona last week:

Not much!

So, no extra knitting but I am still spinning.  The merino finger roving is all done!  The last bit was almost intact & yielded enough for another 3-ply skein.  Here it is sitting on the Tsunami:

Marcus Garvey J$20 coin shows scale

I’m also back to the Romney & the BFL commercial-prep combed top.  It’s a nice way to break up the careful knitting.

It may be in the air but I bet’cha Adam Giambrone isn’t feeling the love this Valentines Day…

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Progress 2 ways and Kindness

This might look like I’m at a standstill but really this is a spanking new January Lady Sweater:

Version 1.o was sadly deluded.  It was kidding itself into thinking that it could ever fit me.  So, to mix metaphors, I bit the bullet & frogged.

Not pointing fingers or calling names but sometimes garter stitch knitting can go to one’s head.  Version 2.0 is not only knit according to the yarn’s gauge but also up a size to the 37½ bust.  It also boasts a slip-stitch edge and neater buttonholes.  Now for the yards of EZ’s gull lace pattern…

I also made good on the promise to sample the fruits of my hand-spinning.  Thanks to Amelia Ask the Bellweather‘s post for Beginning Spinners like me, I found 2 free & easy spinner’s control cards:  from a guild; & on flicker.

Armed thusly, I backed out the grey Romney/ mystery wool 2-ply for a test drive.  A mere slip of a thing at 46′ & 20 wraps per inch (wpi).  Meaning that it is a scrap of fingering weight.  Perfect for sampling.  On my US 2/ 2.75mm needles it became something:

From that wee swatch I am relieved to see that my counter-clockwise hand-spun (z twist) didn’t want to split much on knitting & has no bias.  Of course, it’s a wee thing, so we shall see.  I’ll be paying closer attention to swatching from here on in.  Really.

Why do I have z-twist yarn?  Yah.  I spin sitting down like a market woman – inner left thigh rolling to be exact.  [Mother did shudder]

As for kindness… a week ago First Susan from the Wool Bin’s knitting group gave me her super-bulky alpaca scarf.  It’s fantasically warm:

Second Susan originally bought this Misty Alpaca yarn, hated the colourway & destashed it over to First Susan.  At the meet-up I was alone in loving the FO’s bright colours.  That very week, First Susan presented it to me!  Here I am that day in my coat, hat & new scarfy:

How did I ever go this many years without a long, thick scarf of my own?  Duh!

This scarf isn’t only warm though.  It’s a splash against dreary winter days like this:

Thanks again to the 2 Susans!

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No rants. It’s all good.

This turned out to be a wicked good week!

For starters, Dell wasn’t teasing – the new laptop did arrive Tuesday evening.  At long last, I’m out of the basement & back to my old digs.  As for the machine – its multi-directional touch pad is annoying the life out of me but I am otherwise a fan.

New pics. are temporarily a no-no, so here’s one from our San Fran trip in October.

Aestlight against the chill

Other good things in this week.  I had my jewelry-making friend, Sonja over for coffee.  Let’s just say that it was time for me to reciprocate… The house was clean, and I went all-out with the blueberry muffin baking:)  Adding orange zest is a good thing for that by the way.

Then yesterday afternoon, I went over to knit & hang out with my friend Megster of Knits & Kids fame.  We had a grand ol’ time – her daughter is just the sweetest thing – and as if that weren’t enough, we had more fun at Pub Night.

At last posting the Lacy Baktus scarf for MIL was looking mighty short.  Well, it was my bad.  I actually had another 106 ft of yarn to use before starting to decrease the triangle.  Yeah.  Maybe next time I’ll measure the half-way point before starting to knit.  Actually, maybe by next time Santa will have given me a digital scale….  So, my bad & I had to rip it.  Can you sense my mounting frustration with this gift?  It’s jinxed.

Now I’m off to read my first issue of Spin Off (so it begins) and the winter Knits magazines.  Nice!

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Knits without the knack?

Scratch the last Aestlight shawl post.  That border is an example of what not to do with the pattern.  Figured that out all on my own when the needle was getting crowded with all the border stitches.  Doh!  That’s what happens when you add more lace stitches than you ditch.  Silly mistake but an easy fix as these things go.

Sorry if I misled any knitters on that one… As my (mad as shad) conveyancing teacher loved to say, “There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.”  Promise to post a photo of a more tame border when one is in evidence.

Still on the shawl [neat bundle of “s” alliterations, eh?]… I’m calling it, “Bluefields Aestlight Shawl” for my Ravelry project page.  Bluefields is on Jamaica’s south coast.  Viewed from the old road it is the most beautiful stretch of coastline IMHO.  A pic:

Wikipedia public domain photo.  For copyrighted but viewable photos of Bluefields, Ja. check here.

Happy Friday, everyone!

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Cardigans will be Cardigans

I am fighting an urge to go back to knitting my sock.  Truthfully, I am fighting a couple of urges but let’s talk about the knitterly ones.  A sock is something I know I can make true-to-pattern or not.  It fits at the end of the day – either me or inanimate objects that could use bundling.  My sock-in-progress is at an easy round & round stage…

The sudden sock love was brought on by cardigan troubles.  The design is to taper down the front tops keeping the rows of ‘cocoons’ true.  And man do those cocoons stand out in the  sea of plain old stockinette.  Waves of sock urges came as I had to frog the left top front and have at it a 2nd time.  I got it only to realize that I over-tapered by a good 10 stitches.  Here’s what I have fudged up to solve that leetle problemo:

Up to the front left shoulder now - Purple Cocoon Cardi

Up to the front left shoulder now - Purple Cocoon Cardi

This photo came out remarkably purple!

Now for the right side, which has to match yonder left side.  Cardigans are a trip.  Even wrap cardigans it turns out.

My foot is getting better.  In a fit of cabin fever, I sneaked out into the back yard yesterday.  It’s a deep (and crooked) step down but I was fine.  The plants are thriving thanks to the week of rainy, cool weather.  I even have a sweet pea flower!  Will there be tomatoes?  The 3 baby plants are growing fast.  The Globe & Mail ran a story yesterday by Gayla Trail.  It was, “A word to the water-wise:  Irrigate well & often.”  Clipped and saved that beaut.

Just before the Wimbledon mens’ final… we have new neighbours.  I didn’t get to say goodbye to our old ones.  They were pretty cool.  The only problem I had was a pile of cigarette butts that came out in the spring thaw.  Right beside the fence.  A first in 3 years, so I’m guessing a daughter took up the habit this winter.  I was debating how to handle this when out came the For Sale sign.  Issue averted but they were friendly and cool.

My whispery footnote:  MIL seems to have postponed her trip a few days.  Quiet, private sigh of relief.  Needs more time to sort the house y’know.

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Sunny Sidekick

Cute, summery bop-about handbags are hard to come by.  In my old age, I walk past countless contenders in the stores.  This year, I have called the hunt off, and am making Amanda’s Squatty Sidekick by Amanda Burka.  It’s another Knitting Daily freebie.  The close-to 300 rave reviews, and FOs on Ravelry sealed the deal.

This Sunny Sidekick uses my dirt-cheap SWS from Mary Maxim.  It will felt like a dream, and isn’t too bright for me.  I hoped to be felting right now in fact.  Sadly, the strap has gots to go.  In the glory of knitting outdoors, I went a little blank.  The strap is way-off but will be an easy frog & fix.  Before frogging:

Slightly tipsy Sunny Sidekick

Slightly tipsy Sunny Sidekick

Here’s a totally gratuitous pic of her with flowers peeking through yonder fence:

For fun - Sunny Sidekick again

When felted, the bag will shrink a bit and become sturdy.  Right now it’s a flopsy mess.  My sewing skills are nothing to write home about but I may try making a lining for this.

Deep breaths – I found the strap a pain to knit…

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Shrug Saga and then some

I’m out of the hard-core lacy bit of my Shrug.  After all those ‘knots’ for the Lily of the Valley borderthe sleeve’s basic 4 stitch repeat for just 4 rows was sweet.  Too sweet.  The eyelets were decidedly leaned to the right.  As in not matching the left sleeve.  Grr.  I swallowed hard & ever-so carefully frogged it back down to:

Shrug Love

Shrug Love

Even without blocking, I like the panel’s effect.  I may be scheming to add an edging.  Then again I may not be.

I had a lovely, warm summery day.  A highlight was finally visiting Spun Fibre Arts in Burlington.  The space is well-organized and warm.  She has much of the same stock as my other LYSs but with some interesting additions on the luxury end.  For example, camel,baby camel and Araucania’s sugar cane yarn, Ruca.  I noticed hand-spun yarn as well as a selection of roving, and hand felting tools.  Maybe I’ll go to her Sit ‘n Knit sometime.

My fears about the Baby Cardigan are in full swing.  I’m worried about the dusty pink.  My friends aren’t too sure it’s a girl & she did ask for a non-girly colour.  So many Mothers are anti-pink…  She’s 3 weeks shy of her due date.  Here’s the substitute – I even have another friend in mind who it would be perfect for (in case) –

Baby Gift Take 2?

Baby Gift Take 2?

As for my earlier soapbox post – the trustworthy folks at Flora2000 obliged by taking my order.  At least MIL will be able to have some flowers this year.