The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Wednesday finishing and nearly so!

Life and writing have not connected in a long time.  For many reasons but the best one is how many projects I have been successfully getting out of inertia.  This post is about giving the finished ones a warm Wednesday welcome!

At the top of last month, I had a lovely time over lunch with my friend, Sasha.  Her first Skein-a-Day April Sheepspot event was here on my needles. 

Knit shawl in progress with Sheepspot sustainable merino fingering yarn

I love this yarn!

The short dye repeats worked beautifully for Susan Santos’ Magical Side to Side Scarf design.  There was no flashing either in the fancy stitch bands or as the scarf sections changed dimension.

Handknit Magical Side to Side Scarf in Sheepspot sustainable Merino fingering yarn blocking

Pattern stripes in nice relief, blocking

Blocking really helped to shape the scarf, and organise the drop-stitch fringe.  It is 69″ x 9″ in this yarn.  I knit with 3.5mm needles.

Finished handknit Magical Side to Side Scarf in sustainable Merino yarn by Sheepspot

Not the intended recipient…

This one is going to a good friend, so I let the stuffed polar bear model it for you.

Detail of stitch pattern in knit Magical Side to Side Scarf using Sheepspot sustainable merino yarn

Love the yarn tones for this pattern!

The pattern stitch was simple to work, and easy to remember. This project took me longer because I ran out of yarn, frogged and needed to come back to reknit the end section.

Tabachek cedar drop spindle with Sheepspot organic dyed Polwarth fibre

A spindle deserves organic Polwarth wool!

Last month, Sasha introduced her dyed organic wool top.  It was such a nice surprise, and I wasted no time in starting a spin.  This is my Tabachek cedar compact deluxe spindle (22.5g).  Couldn’t be happier about this material + tool combination!

State of the socks

Finished handknit socks adapted from Cadence pattern in String Theory yarn

New pair as of this weekend

It’s a real sock début!  I gave these zero air time but they were started at the end of February this year.  The yarn is gorgeous String Theory Caper Sock in vert.

They are knit with 2.5 mm needles and using the Cadence Socks (part) pattern. It’s a good pattern –  I just needed to go mindless this winter, and changed to the 6 x 2 ribbing.

Handknit sock in Hummingbird pattern by Sandi Rosner and Araucania Ranco yarn

After months of neglect, a first sock

This next start date goes back an entire year to February 2013. The disgraceful pace is simply because I pushed through with 2.0 mm needles to get gauge with my Araucania yarn of choice.

Handknit Hummingbird sock leg in Araucania Ranco fingering yarn

Perfect pattern for variegated yarn

The pattern is Hummingbird by Sandi Rosner, and I am hoping to make a second sock soon.  Wanting a pair of socks in this colour has not exactly left the building.

handknit RPM socks by Irieknit in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn

Loved but largely untold: the Revving socks

The first post for these RPM socks was last November, shortly before I finished the first sock.

Handknit RPM socks by Irieknit in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock

Twisted stitch on the soles of these socks

Sometimes work just falls through the cracks.  There is nothing like a tough winter to precipitate the gaps as it were.

Finishing these helped me get my sock knitting mojo back in order.  The old pairs are wearing out, and I promised N that I will work on a new pair of stranded socks for him!

Kettle dyed Colinette Iona yarn skein in stash

New fodder for the needles: a baby gift in yarn form

This year has brought more babies to knit for than I have been able to share.  The youngest cousin (that we know of) is due in January.  WIP clearance has let me cast-on for this now (yay!).

It’s been ages since I have seen any Colinette yarns locally but this is luxury for me.  I also have accent yarn from another Iona colourway, and loved the first night’s work this week.

Saving the weaving news for a later post, and wishing everyone well!


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Spinning in public: a waiting room story

My hands have given me a bad scare this winter.  The flashpoint came after weaving on my class towels one day back in mid-December.  My left wrist just ached that night, and I was not close to being done the weaving.

Rest, bracing and conscious thought (prayer, inclusive) helped but the pain was nagging each time I worked even a little – okay, for me a little is still quite a bit.  It started to dawn on me that my laptop computer work was also problematic.  As in, neither comfortable nor reducing my risk of hand injury.

Once we got past the fact that I do this much but do not in fact have an Etsy shop my family Doctor examined the hands.  She was soon intoning, “carpal tunnel,” and “both hands.”  In the 6 weeks that it has taken for me to get in for an E.M.G. test, I have been quietly having kittens.  After all, the scheduling letter with its HOW IT IS DONE (emphasis, theirs) rubric was loud & clear.

The scheduling letter also closes with this half-truth:

*** Be prepared to stay at least 60 minutes for this test.

Naturally, I wanted a project for this ordeal and its waiting room.

Spindle spinning merino dyed fibre

Hospital exam? Bring your spindle

The waiting area was small, and shared with patients going in for Geriatric Assessment.  The spinning time was closely watched by all parties.  Finally, one gentleman in a wheelchair broke the ice.

We laughed; I explained.  A lady took up the thread.  She does other work with her hands, embroidery and crochet mostly.  Arthritis has been difficult but she can’t imagine sitting and watching TV without using her hands.

With each back & forth she opened-up more, asking questions and sharing.  Another lady was in between us, listening closely as was the first gentleman.  I reminded her of her childhood in Czechoslovakia.  They grew cotton, and flax.  She remembered her Mother preparing the fibres in the creek.

I slyly said, “And weaving?”

“Oh yes! My Mother wove on a big loom!”  The memories came quickly now because I understood.  She helped her Mother spin because she had a bad foot for the treadling.  They would spin in the mornings before school.  She remembered sending wool to a mill, and getting it back cleaned.  She dropped her voice, and said that the soldiers came.  They helped themselves to everything as they passed through an area, and they took it all.  The lady in between us said, “OH!  Why?”

Quietly now she answered, “It was the war.  That’s what happens in war.”  I told her about my friend whose family was burned out of their home in Slovenia.  A neighbour kept a length of handwoven linen that survived the fire, and my friend received it from her years later.  I told her how wonderful it was to be shown such a cloth, and she agreed.

She said, “Yes, Slovenia.  It is the same.”  Then she said even more quietly and with feeling looking me straight in the eye, “We are in Canada now.  We are safe now.”  I nodded yes as she repeated the words again.

The gentleman’s name was called, and she went with him.  We all parted the better for the talk, I think.

Folks have largely similar responses to my spindle spinning (“I don’t have the patience” ring a bell?).  I love when they ask, and always thank them.  The best times are when they share their stories; are transported back to their own spinning culture.  It’s a privilege to listen and to have sparked that fire.

My tendons are irritated

The Physiatrist determined that the damage is not at the nerve level – the readings were normal.  I do have De Quervain’s Tendinosis, and will do non-surgical treatment.   They said that I speak like spinning, knitting & weaving are sports!  Well, yes, Doctor.  The idea that I can use my hands with thumb splints is really not on.  We can all agree that opposable thumbs are needed for all of our material culture, right?

I left with good news, a spinning story, and the Czech-Canadian lady’s acknowledgement.  Her last words were that she could tell I was ‘the real thing’ and would do well.

 

 


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The fun part

Our first-ever giveaway is ready for her drum roll!  Winners are:

Chronicbooker3, Shelley! You win the woven project bag!

Cristaldiva, Rayna!  Tosh Sock in Logwood is yours!

Many thanks to each & every one of you who posted, and tweeted.  Your comments & wishes were lovely.  The support is from long-time readers, and means a lot to me.

Rayna, please contact me at irieknit at gmail dot com, and I will send your skein to you!  I know where to find Shelley.

Big thanks to Beth too

Southern Cross!

Beth very kindly gave me my first Southern Cross Fibre experience.  Two braids of superwash merino wool top  ‘Sugar and Spice’ from their August 2011 Fibre Club that popped out of her super-duper stash cupboard into my lap.

How it got spun — with glee; on my Watson Martha in scotch tension; each braid is a straight single spun right; plied left.  Worsted all the way. A gift of 756 yds.  For weaving?  Perhaps a VIP baby?

Thank you, Beth!  The colours are so gorgeous, and I loved every last bit of this spin.  I showed it off at our Guild meeting this week to some fanfare!

Ever looked down to see this?

Not a cat bed

Pin-drafted roving in a nicely lined basket.  That would be Sir Melvin’s “What?!” look.  Guess who won that argument?

Hot off the bobbin – Columbia 4-ply handspun yarn

I spun the singles long-draw in 2 sittings on May 4th and June 16th on my Cadorette CPW.  It was the best pairing of wool-to-Quebec wheel to date.  Each ply is 2 oz.  I took the drive band off the bobbin, moved the wheel to the far side of the room, and wound onto a cardboard roll with dowel cores.

A wheel with 1 bobbin is no impediment to serious use.  It took me 2 sittings, and no extra kit to spin 4 bobbins full.  That’s 247 yards of 4-ply yarn.  Winding-off by hand goes quickly, and lets the twist move around before it sets in the single.  It was spun DD, and with my zoned-out abandon, so redistributing extra twist is for the good of the end product.

The cardboard rolls + dowel go onto my Will Taylor lazy kate, and feed smoothly for plying.

Sproing, defined

The CPW is a wheel that I am growing into, and just love for what it can do.

As the yarn sat around, I slowly got a pretty good idea going about its future.  On Thursday this led me to bring January’s Logwood bath out for inspection.

No secret – I love the Logwood

In freshening the exhaust with new Logwood chips, I got this stunning blue.  It really is blue!

Sproing improvement

Fleece happens

My over-arching plan on this has to do with the Birthday Fibre.  What Birthday Fibre, you ask?

Border Leicester raw wool

This fleece is from a 2 year old Border Leicester sheep at Lambs Quarters Farm in Holstein, Ontario.  Finding new spinners’ flocks is one of the main draws for me at the Ontario Handspinning Seminar.

Cleaned locks in the sun

My plan for this fleece is to build on what I learned at Sarah Swett’s workshop last month – blending wool for value.  This is my first real attempt at dyeing locks – when the Logwood is clear, I will bring out the Black Walnut liquor.

The back office

This is my first post using Flickr to host my blog photos.  I am changing over from Google, and ask you to please give feedback if there are any problems on your end.

The changes in Google photo hosting are deal-breakers.  It comes down to unilateral withdrawal of capability with no explanation, and no ability to be heard as a customer.  It is ludicrous, even more so because we pay an annual fee for extra storage.

The irony is that my irieknit handle was refused under the former Google+ rules.  Under the new dispensation, I have no choice in the matter.  I will keep the email account but shifting my Google+ footprint feels onerous – I may do it for uniformity but am undecided at this point.

 


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In with the new – a floor loom!

The idea that I could weave came about quite simply but over a long dash of time.  Exposure to all of you weavers helped but it came down to an awareness that in changing my life has room for more.

Hemp and two flaxes – handspun yarns

Spinning flax, hemp and cotton helped the scales fall from my never-going-to-weave eyes.  Each yarn evokes a memory of cloth I grew up with, know and love.  Woven all.

Spinning cotton for khadi

The Great Wall of Never finally broke down last year.  I quietly wrote & saved 1 line:  my goal is to learn to weave before I am 40.  In what has been essentially uncertain times, I needed that space & focus.

Commission knitting and backstrap weaving both dovetailed in the past year.  Not only could weaving enhance any business purpose but I love the rhythm.  This work challenges me in entirely new ways.

A loom bench as it arrived!

In the days before the Sarah Swett Workshop my slow search for a floor loom crystallized.  Beth very kindly let me know that her Schacht Mighty Wolf was for sale – all 8 shafts of it.  We discussed all the terms ahead of the trip, and I did my best due diligence on what the local market had to offer.  So many (including Beth) helped us come to a decision.  Margaret, Nancy, Cheryl & Sasha in particular listened to all the options, and gave such solid advice.

Weaving studios don’t have midnight blue walls

Melvin was very much involved in the long-overdue paint job for this room.  It had to happen & it had to happen quickly!  Hence my silence last week.

All the better to see the world!

As you might have heard me say on Twitter, I was worried that a primer coat would not be enough!  Man, did I hate that wall colour!  It’s finally gone.

Same view, different day

After researching on-line, I chose Benjamin Moore’s HC-173 called “edgecomb gray.”  This room gets full sun in the morning & barely any after noon.  Some colour cuts the glare, and with the deep blue living underneath, I may just have achieved a neutral gray.

Mighty Wolf loom closed

The main contender in my deliberations was an 8-shaft cherry Norwood listed on the Toronto Craigslist.  It came with 30″ weaving width.  The sellers were absolutely wonderful about answering my questions, and were very flexible for a potential viewing.

Schacht Mighty Wolf open in my room

Last Friday, N & I went to pick the loom up, spend the afternoon with Beth & have dinner with friends on the way home.  So, biggest piece of equipment ever & still feeling completely right!  She’s a 1988 loom, originally owned by Jillian Moreno.  I am the 3rd in her life of going from one friend’s home to another.  No storage time for this baby – she has been woven on & loved.  Thanks to the workshop, we were all together when I told Beth YES, please!

Loom & some stash containment at home

The major pluses as I saw them were its folding x-frame, that the loom is still in production, and the extra 6″ of weaving width.  I would be lying if I didn’t also tell you that the loom’s history, and patina played a big role.  Schachts are desirable but not that common in our area (LeClerc country as I like to call it).  It really was sitting at her bench that Saturday night that let me know this was the best loom that I could afford.

Reorganized for stash

This is my combination 11th anniversary & birthday present.  More than all of that it’s a milestone – I did something big for myself and have my work cut out for me.  Family, you all made it possible.  As I told the agent at the border, “Crazy that a Jamaican would be getting a loom today!”  It is, and so many of you readers are to thank for helping me get there.

My first boat shuttle

Thank you, Beth – for extra time, my first boat shuttle being so pretty, and extra everything.  I will work hard at learning how to weave on this great loom.

Homework

One Must be Generous with Fibre

Also at Beth’s were these 2 mason jars of walnut dye liquor.  A wonderful gift from She Who Cannot be Named – Thank you, M!

For my dyeing pleasure!

Other spinny elves have been equally generous to me as well.

Southern Cross sw Merino & Border Leicester x Corrie

Sasha averred on Twitter the other day that, “One must be generous with fiber.”  Both gifts are making me very happy.  On the one hand, I get to spin my first Southern Cross Fibres on Martha thanks to an elf.  On the other hand, I have 15 oz of the Border Leicester/ Corrie cross that is beautiful pin-drafted roving from Morrow Fleece Works thanks to another elf.  I started to spin it lightly with my Forrester Akha-style spindle.

Melvin’s former BFF – Cheviot roving

In exchange for the pin-drafted dream, I snuck out Melvin’s most favorite fibre ever – Cheviot roving that P. Hinton donated to our Guild.  A word on my sample findings for that Cheviot…

Cheviot on the CPW

… not only is it popular with the cat but it didn’t much like my high-twist hiding experiment on the CPW.  Just so you know, I forgot to mention that my dear!

(edit to fix picture)


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Looking forward

My week in a nutshell:  busy & adult-like.  How?  Well, it’s easier to live in the moment & get things done when you have a trip looking forward to…  Thank you Air Jamaica for the fire sale on  Toronto ↔ Kingston tickets.  DH will have to work but I was able to take advantage & cannot wait!  The up-shot is that I realized how much I should get done before leaving.

I put this down after the Spinolution Mach II stole my attention but this is my spindle-spun WIP… the 196 yards of Heaven shawlette:

Please excuse the safety pins… I was too tired to get up & hunt for my extra stitch markers.  This merino is a 3-ply laceweight.  Since 1 skein was wonky in the plying stage, I am going to use BFL lace wool (2 ply, I think) for the border.  My lace expert friend from the Wool Bin group is helping me work out a plan – thanks T!

While the lace waits for me to spin a border, I moved right on to knitting what was actually 192 yds of that California Red wool yarn.  It was great spinning but a pain to find a suitable pattern.  Small amount of quite frankly itchy 2-ply wool.  Last Saturday got sucked into a major project search… eventually, I came accross Julesy’s 2005 massively popular Anthropologie Capelet.  Great!  A shrug.  I could use a shrug!

I felt like the Yoda of yarn as I got the whole thing done with maybe 1″ to spare.  Yeah right.  Well, there is a FO shrug but it won’t be fitting me this side of age 12.  While I swallow that hard truth, I will show you a picture of a tulip from the back yard.  Beautiful bloom.

It would be wrong to give a child an itchy wool shrug, right?

In more successful news.  I’ve finished spinning & plying the Ashford Corriedale roving:

Like the purple-themed post today?  There’s also a bit more on another bobbin.  It’s 2-ply & spun on the loaner Spinolution Mach II wheel.  I’d like to knit it up into a cowl/ moebius scarf… in fairly short order.

To explain this sudden rush to knit my hand-spun yarn… I’d like to have some items for my guild’s display at the For the Love of the Arts Festival on May 16th.  The info for that event is buried on the web here.  After that it’s away for the trip, man!


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Can-do attitude

Bad hair days.  Deep sigh.  It’s not frizz but roots.  The infernal gray roots.  Growing like there’s no tomorrow & harder to ‘hide’.  I’m getting sick of colouring, and so yesterday, I took matters in hand.  Literally.  Because sometimes a grown woman just needs a headband.  May I recommend Molly’s Headband by Pam Allen.  Free with IK strings attached here.

Don’t need much in the way of skills or can-do attitude.  The Fix took next-to-zero Rowan Calmer yarn, and what – 3 hours tops?  In just 1 episode of The View, and a fair amount of Tiger Woods coverage with some Helena Geurgis toppling news, I had it done.  It was an otherwise busy day.

No mods to the pattern on this one but I did go down to 4.0 mm needles.  A tight gauge to counteract any stretch from my big ‘ead + a mostly cotton yarn.  And I chose the mostly cotton yarn because spring is sprung & I want to wear it nowww.

And so, with that off my chest, I have returned to knitting with my handspun.  This might end up being a micro shawlette but hey!  I couldn’t resist using my merino 3-ply for the 198 yards of Heaven pattern by Christy Verity.  It’s designed for a heavier yarn but I wanted to try with this anyhow.

I’m on this handspun → knitted kick right now in preparation for the Guild’s table at our town’s For the Love of Arts Festival on Sunday, May 16th.  Here’s a flyer for the event:

Mark your calendars!!!

Sunday will be another spin-in with the good people at The Fibre Garden in Jordan.  These spin-ins are (to quote Forrest’s Mum) like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.  Spinners reserve their spots with John & Alan privately.  I like that!


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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…