The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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In the thick of it

Life this year has continued to come at us fast.  The past quarter alone has included loss, grief, so many appointments, learning & back in school teamwork.  There are new welcome supports & progress but it’s been a lot.

Early fall trees with heart-shaped patch of blue morning sky

Relieving the strain

One plus of fall is that I am taking my walks again after morning drop-off on school days.  We are now facing a strike that will close the doors as of tomorrow morning.

The work-to-rule this past week was fairly brutal, and I hope that the parties negotiate a settlement very soon.

Bee pollinating Goldenrod in morning walk

Goldenrod blooms and good morning, Bee

The busy times included trips home to Jamaica – one very short for a funeral.  My Mom just spent her first birthday after retirement with us last month.  The biggest summer project was to weave her a throw as a retirement gift.

Best Planning is Asking First

There was a very specific idea wrapped up in Mom’s mind when she said the word, “throw.”

Weaving yarn in Made in America white Rayon Chain, Harrisville Shetland poppy and one ball of Cushendale mohair

Yarn choice with lots of consultation

Here is how we got to a 34.5″ wide warp of Harrisville Shetland in Poppy #65 plain weave with a cone of white Rayon chain from Made in America:

  1. Q:  Handspun shawl-shape because I love you!  Mom’s A: That sounds too narrow.  Can you make it wider?
  2. Q:  Wider cool, I can do your first initials in twill!  A:  Hmm, that is not exactly a cushy throw but flat right?
  3. Q:  Wow, I found the cushiest!  It’s mohair bouclé and the online classes told me how to weave with it!  A:  Mohair sounds very hot, Lara.

At each stage, N got the brunt of my But I Did a Weave Plan frustrations.  He’s a champ.

Handweaving wool and rayon chain throw on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit

Weaving is a happy place

Not shown here is the LeClerc temple that I used during weaving.  The weft chain yarn is 8 ppi.  The warp is threaded straight draw on 4 shafts.

Handwoven throw in wool and rayon chain yarns by irieknit

Hand-delivered to Mom with love, the finished throw!

The loom still has our home throw warped, and ready for weaving.  The luxury of Orlando mohair bouclé came home to me from a weaver’s destash, and I then did a thing.

Orlando boucle weaving yarn

Undyed Orlando boucle yarn

A very first indigo dye day at our house!  The socks were a flourish for Ty who was not fully on board until he saw this happening.

Natural dye with indigo vat mohair boucle yarn and cotton socks

Indigo you exceeded my expectations

Packs some insight

It’s still a season of wrapping our heads around a new paradigm, research and oh my word the appointments.  None of my knitting has led to sweet finishes… in a good little while.  I seem to be frogging more often, and casting-off far less.  That’s okay.

Kid sock knitting in progress by irieknit and Stitched by JessaLu bucket bag

To be Reknitted curse

Nobody is walking around with cold feet just because I made this first sock too tight.  It will just have to be re-done.

Ball of handspun Shetland wool yarn by irieknit

Wound and now on the needles

The idea of a light Aestlight shawl in this Shetland wool handspun was my September pause from serious things.  It hit a snag in the Bird’s Eye lace border that has me carefully using a lifeline now.  I am short on yardage, and a second yarn will help finish.

A sock for me & a sock for N are on the back burner with handspun sweater ambitions.  All in the fullness of time, I suppose.

Seven year old's first weaving cotton multi-coloured potholder

Ty’s first potholder! Can you see the H?

Now is a time of reflection not speaking out or even following trends.  When I post it may be focused on the finished projects, and how they fit with the new lessons.

Ty’s potholder is a bright spot.  He loved choosing the loops.

Learning to weave is a bit like learning to ride a bike or play an instrument:  the more you practice the easier it becomes. Sarah Swett, p. 5, Kids Weaving, 2005

This wasn’t our path to a potholder or other learning.  I am starting to go beyond the typical, “This is seven!” thinking that I hear so frequently in the craft spaces.  The consistent practice advice works well for typical learning & behaviours but cannot work for everyone.

What I am doing is different:  a support for exploration.  We got to stuck points, stepped back & I took out the expectation that Ty was going to do the tighter steps at all.  Now there is a bright spot all arranged by his colour choices.

Homebaked star biscuits

Starry and yum

Another great small loom weaving was this set of 5 mug rugs on the Louet Erica.  Ty’s favourite is the stripey version with Peace Fleece alternating with my aqua handspun Corriedale as weft yarns.

Handweaving mug rug on Louet Erica table loom by irieknit in Peace Fleece and handspun yarn

Experiments in mug rugs = fun!

Here we have sage green 8/4 cotton sett at 8 epi in a 12 dent reed.  I can weave quietly with the family, and Ty really loves to sit in my lap for his turn.  It was 64 ends of cotton warp wound 65″ long.

Coffee cup on handspun weft mug rug woven by irieknit on side table with carved wood turtle and zinc planter

Handspun mug rug in morning action

Each oversize mug rug was woven around 8 ¼” long.  They really set our individual spaces apart at the large, round dining table.  We use them daily.  Why did I feel guilty about this loom?  It’s a very good time-in tool.

 

 


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Mohair & other Pitfalls

Where did the week go?  Just one big blur of frenzied knitting.  I’m not quite wedding ready but am getting there.  The Wisp wrap was painstakingly slow.  Working with 2 yarns is usually not a big deal but mohair?  Keeping it all straight meant stopping each row change.  And the dark colours did not help matters at all.  Take my word for it, overcast fall days are not the best time to use black Silk Haze mohair.  A few hours in & I was running upstairs in search of white clothes.  Contrast matters with this stuff.  It just does.  

Oh, and the dropped stitches!  Thanks to Macwinger, I managed to get those under control.  There I was with open stitches & no idea what to do about that when she suggested I thread in yarn instead of a needle.  Yes!  Yes! Yes!  A lifeline.  Smart knitters use lifelines in lace.  That was the turning point in this project.  Shocking pink Jitterbug yarn saved the day.    

Up close & personal - Wisp 'o Necessity

 And the full monty:

To set all of this off, I will have a custom necklace.  Just this summer I learned that my neighbour, Sonja makes jewelry.  She uses materials from Asia, and her pieces are exquisite.  I tried it on this morning & am very excited.  It’s black onyx with a drop of coral.  The dress is black, so the coral will stand out beautifully.  Sonja has final touches to make but I will definitely post pictures of the final piece!  

The continued knitting is because I would like to wear the Purple Cocoon Cardi.  It’s a U.F.O. from this summer that would be perfect for San Francisco in October.  Except, I really went & did it on this one.  Instead of just ripping back the wonky tops, I went & frogged both front sides down to nothing.  Yea.  Even I can see that finishing this is impossible if I hope to do important things like pack for the trip…  Perfectionism is a terrible thing.

On the brighter side… Here’s proof that I have company in the stubborn department:  one of our daylilies has said to hell with the fall & bloomed today!

Sight for sore eyes


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Sneak Peeks

I haven’t been able to post lately because my computer is on a rampage.  It’s slower than ever & crashes whenever it wants to.  It might just be hung up on a major MS update like DH says but we bought it 5 years ago to the month.  The 1st hard drive crashed months ago & this just seems like the last throwes of a tired Dell.

This weekend was all about organizing my many WIPs.  Then I put everything else away & had at my baby gift.  I love the border motif & hope (really hope) that it will even out on blocking.

Sweetie Pie to date

Sweetie Pie to date

Still very much in the development phase, and that’s all I have to say about that – for now!

After a long engagement, my brother’s wedding is really almost here.  This has official Wedding of the Year status.  I am even more excited because both DH & I are in the bridal party.  It’s all happening one October evening in San Francisco.  Do you see where I am going with this?  Sleeveless bridesmaid dress; night chill.

I kept ignoring the thought that I will need a cover-up for this wedding too.  The issue is that just this past May, I flaunted my silk Wedding Guest Shrug before a lot of the same people.  I know that a reprise might just make me that gimmicky knitter… Anyhow, I was being a dolt & am big enough to admit it.  Solution is the Wisp by Cheryl Niamath.  It’s a free Knitty pattern here.  The designer blogs as Fetching Knits.

The bridesmaid dress is all black & here’s what I am doing with the pattern:

Wisp of Necessity

Wisp of Necessity

I am using the recommended Rowan mohair & silk blend yarn in black on larger needles (size 10).  The blue yarn is not just an accent.  It’s 100 yards left of a skein of Alchemy mohair that the happy couple gave me for Christmas 2006.  Not enough for the full pattern.  I would love feedback on this one – DH’s nods are just not very convincing at this point…  Thanks!

By the way – mohair is a beast to work with.  The pattern is easy cheesy but the mohair is already giving trouble!

I have to run.  Toby has a vet appointment this morning & I am faaar from ready – happy knitting!