The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Proof of fit, and other updates

Every now and again, I get a blog photo shoot.  Just to keep you on your toes.

The buttonholes may need reinforcing in time.  For now, I am good with checking up on them.

What you couldn’t see when it was flat on the table in the last post.

I was running too late to push my luck for pics of the now completed Laar Cardigan (yep, finally).

The Seriously fun spin

In the crunch that was my lead-up to the Tour de Fleece this year, I didn’t write about this super spin.  It’s The Painted Tiger‘s 40z braid of corriedale, Koi Pond.

We met Brooke at Stringtopia this year.  These colours inspired me to try my first fractal spinning.

I used my Watson Martha wheel in double drive.  Remarkable because just days before Martha was not in spinning condition:

When the bobbin/ flyer array of your dream wheel jumps off, hits the wheel frame and falls broken you might want to cry.  One frantic call later, Mrs. Watson assured me that her son Andrew would help.  Andrew did more than help, and I thank him.

Andrew said that it looked like an older partial break.  He took a week to repair the flyer, and make Miss 1988 like new.  Andrew also graciously showed me his personal wheels, and spoke with me about the business’ history as well as how to care for Martha.

Approx 392 yards all in!  If you are looking for a new indie-dyer then definitely give Brooke a try.  The fiber was not compacted at all, and the dye caught every last corner.

What Moms are For

My brother’s yeoman service did not end with delivering the backstrap loom to me.  He also brought this up from Mom.

It’s crunchy handspun from her trip to Scotland this summer.  Unique selling point for a card:  Real Sheep’s Wool!

She also got me 100g each of organic Hebridean & Shetland wool from Garthenor.  She might actually listen when I ramble on about “breed-specific” this and “breed-specific” that…

A weekend Happy

Finished my Jacob spin on Wee Peggy.  No breaks were taken for cooking or dishes.

Approx 197 yds of 3-ply.  I picked out kemp, spun it using scotch tension, and plied on my Martha.  Grey Jacob is already on the bobbin.  The idea is to make the Horatio & Oren mitts from this fall’s Twist Collective.

A little housekeeping

The blog’s “About” page was pretty dated, so I gave it a little edit over the weekend.  I love writing posts, and may be making some small changes to the blog in the next little while.

Where I’ll be:

  • The Spinning Loft, September 22, 23 for workshops with Deb Robson.  Beth promises that my Martha will meet her Martha!
  • The Woodstock Fleece Festival, October 13.

I’d love to know if you’ll be there too!


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There are no words

There are no words for the crazy awesome generosity of Fibergal.  Let me just show you.

It is all natural cotton that Fibergal has grown, and is gorgeous.

Remember my gushing over spinning cotton from the boll this Tour de Fleece?  Fibergal offered to send me, and this is important to quote her directly:

…a little colour sampler of bolls just to play with.

She was wonderful to correspond with, and closed simply with, “Enjoy.”  As Fibergal knows, I could not have hoped to acquire such beautiful cotton much less with such a variety of seeds.  I thank you, and am already enjoying the cotton adventure.

This green cotton has a long staple-length, and is so interesting to spin!  See the seeds?  They are being kept for what I hope can be future planting.

I am, Brace for it…

… as of Monday, also learning to weave.  After this summer of unhappy medical stuff, I just decided to look for a backstrap loom already and found this one.  Told N up front that it was a purchase of sticks.

I am using the only mercerized cotton yarn in the house, Estelle Young Touch Cotton dk.  That was made on Monday.  I thought a bit, and re-warped, yesterday.

This 14″ band looks well, like a band.  I used the heavier sword that came in the kit and got better with making & using a continuous string heddle.  It also helps to understand what you are supposed to be doing.

The best adjustment was to use contrast yarn for that heddle, and to tie it to a chopstick.  I might be loving this thing called weaving.

We saved the date!

My little cousin’s wedding was this past weekend.  I will skip the weekend-of-yarn-dyeing that I worked in (for now), and just show the knitting.

Knit with gratitude for another cousin, Cat.  It’s the Prairie Rose with beading and she loved it!  I owed her big-time for saving me from wardrobe failure at the last family wedding…

The reveal was like giving my relatives a proof of concept for, “Lara knits.”  Also helping that cause was a new, shrug adapted from Tappan Zee.

It’s made in Hempathy.  With no time to spare, I decided to live on the edge.  Why not give it shaping, I thought late at night.  That became a series of slightly stepped short row shaping inside the front garter bands.

Early on I had this bright idea that the diamond pattern should sparkle… with leftover 8/0 seed beads.  Not a huge deal because Hempathy is conveniently constructed for clean splitting for the bead placement with a crochet hook.

And now for some Mindless Knitting

Just as the Avengers movie released, Mandie of Sheepy Time Yarns offered a super cool series of yarns inspired by each super-hero.  I scored Iron Man in her Sheepy Feet base.

 It’s perfect for down-time knitting – a plain sock.  I am not even guilty that the Bavarian Cable socks are not getting any love right now.

These should make me Invincible for the cold weather.  Winter is coming, folks.  Winter is coming.


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Some wins, and a fail(ish)

July has been crazy.  Life got reshuffled once I said yes to the job (see: about page for that minor detail), and DH sprained that right ankle of his – twice.  It’s taken me a good 2 weeks to adjust to sitting behind a desk all day but as Kurt Vonnegut lets you know in Slaughterhouse 5:  so it goes.  Hamilton is as colourful as ever, and I know & respect the people that I work with.

How is Toby you ask?  Well.  Fine, actually.  In fact, he seems to think that all is well with his world again.  Routine it seems, trumps company.  The wretch!

The one thing I had to let go of was the Tour de Fleece 2010.  It was beautiful when I had the energy to spin, take pics, and post everything on Ravelry.  That 1st week of work did me in though.  It was rough.  Each night I was searching & searching for all that stuff I never thought I’d need again.  Trying to find my court tabs?  Like finding a needle in a haystack.  I did break down & get a new pair but even now I’m itching to find them…  So, yeah.  I watched & spun through the whole tour (to DH’s great amusement) but not posting made it feel pointless.

Being a rookie fail in the TdF10 you can imagine my excitement when JessaLu told me I had won a SbJL bucket bag from her birthday blog contest!  This is her post on the winners, and I have ordered her lovely Frolic bag.  It will be brightening my days at the office with a spindle & fibre for sure!

This was a June knit made for the Ontario Handspinning Seminar.  It’s an Anthropologie Shrug in yarn that I just love, Colinette Iona.

Am a sucker for top-town raglan:

With just 2 skeins, I had just enough to get the width (with coughnegative easecough) & the less I say about the length the better…

Judging from the mad compliments, it’s all good!

This shawlette was comfort knitting from start to finish.  The yarn is my own handspun BFL wool 2-ply from Fleece Artist roving.  I only had 300 yds, and made a Three-cornered Scarf by Ruth Hollowell from JMM’s The Intentional Spinner.

I’m going to block this one out for more size.  My mods were to use the rick rib lace from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and to only have 4 rows of garter in between each 2 row lace repeat.  The border is a series of the rick rib rows + garter + a YO edge.  I also single crocheted the raw top edge.  I have a purple wood button that may be the closure on this one.  Destined to keep me warm at the office!

Have a great long weekend, y’all!  Happy Emancipation Day when it comes to my Jamaican friends!


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Appreciating life

As of Saturday the Mach II spinning wheel is officially mine.  DH wasn’t into the country drive vibe, so it was a bit of a quickie trip out to the Fibre Garden in Jordan.  Unfortunately, FG is no longer a dealer for Spinolution’s wheels.  This would be under warranty but I’ll have to source any bits & bobbs elsewhere.  Now that he’s mine, I can show you The Indomitable Earl:

Check out Toby… not being cute – he was royally annoyed that I put the wheel in his morning sunshine!

Either that or he was combining his love for attention with his love of sunbathing…  Don’t you think that the words, “My name is Earl,” would look cool arcing under that logo?  I do but don’t worry, I probably won’t act on that there impulse.

The yarn on the bobbin is the Louet Shetland wool top 3-plied.  I spun the singles on the Wee Peggy spinning singles, and took advantage of Earl’s mighty bobbins for plying.

Even I am starting to get confused between all the natural white handspun/ fibres in the house.  Note to self… label!

I know that I’ve been massively silent about the finished baby blanket.  Pictures are taken, and I am sending it to my friend, today.  Pattern is still in the offing…

On Monday, I casted-on for another Anthropologie shrug.  The best I can say for attempt #1 was that it was a swatch.  A very time-intensive, handspun, itchy swatch.  Shrug #2 is way beyond that.  It’s in the ever-yummy Colinette Iona in dusk (colour 77).  It’s about time that I used that yarn… stashed it almost a year ago…  Almost a skein in:

Very relaxing.  This time I am using the border from Sandi Wisehart’s Comfort Shawl.  It really is one of my favourite borders, and I’m a happy camper.  Here’s to hoping I have a shrug before summer hits…

On Monday, I got the sad news that a friend & former co-worker passed away on Saturday.  Sharon had a long battle with cancer, and passed peacefully.  Her service was yesterday, and I was able to go.  She had worked with the firm for 25+ years.  I was lucky enough to sit beside Sharon for an entire year.  Once she decided that I wasn’t fooling around behind the partition, we became good friends.  She was a huge support to me during & after my articling, and hilarious to boot.  I hope she rests in peace.

This morning, I am just appreciating life a little bit more.


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A little out there

Over the past several days I have been carefully weighing the idea of a Spinolution Mach II as my 2nd wheel.  My skein of lavendar Corriedale 2-ply wool is really large.  After finishing it came in at 230 yds from 1 bobbin!  An endearing feature to say the least.  Look, Ma, no ends to weave!

This is the v. quick knit Birthday Cowl by Nova Seals (free to you here).   I am 3 rows short of the end, and still have a fair-sized ball of yarn.  I am knitting it with 5mm needles at a gauge of 4st per 1″.  The yarn is so soft, and mostly bouncy.  The thinner areas are over-plied but I’m not fussed about it with this pattern at all.  Here’s a close-up:

Hopefully the garter edge will lay flat on blocking.  I’d also like the yarn-overs (holes) to show more.

Speaking of blocking… it pains me to post this but here’s the Antrhopologie shrug I made from the California Red 2-ply.  Things are not improved in the fit department:

Far be it from me to hide my FO fail/ ugh…  Learned my lesson on stashing fibre in quantity!

So, the Mach II spins in 1:10 ratio demonstrably well.  What gave me pause?

  1. Spinning group was underwhelmed. Cool, utterly frank comments included, “It’s not the prettiest thing is it?”; and, “I wouldn’t buy that wheel.”  I do have good reasons but they were politely silent.  I have lived in Canada long enough to catch the drift on polite silence…  Yes, this wheel is out there.  If I get it, I better like it because resale is looking decidedly dim.
  2. The higher ratios. On testing them, I found the treadling is much, much heavier.  And my right ankle isn’t exactly 100% sound.
  3. Sheer size. It’s heavy, and cumbersome.  If I go through with the Master Spinner’s course next summer, I will need to cart a wheel around.  This won’t be that wheel.
  4. Single drive system – Scotch tension. I like ST but do want room to learn & use other drive systems.  My Wee Peggy can go double drive – is that enough?

When I started down this road, I assumed this would be a 2nd wheel; end of story.  Now the issues (especially nos. 3 & 4) make this look like a gateway drug.  I’m brainstorming & researching hard to see if it could work/ how.  Fact is, the out-of-the-box capability of the Mach II has caught my attention.

It is unconventional.  Maybe I am too.


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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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Woolsy Anniversary & Trip Pics

Happy Anniversary, Hubby dear!  Emily Post’s Etiquette says wool is ye olde 7th anniversary gift.  N.B. – The Knit Knack’s shamelessly brazen plug for More Yarn Please!

MIL outdid herself this year!  Even her son is in awe of this beauty of a gift…

Our first Rose Bush!

Our first Rose Bush!

We already did our celebrating in Houston.  Fancy dinner at a wine bar/ steakhouse called Flemming’s.  It had v. good internet reviews, and I am still hearing all about his bone-in rib-eye.  The server was snooty but we broke the ice by ordering the Chocolate Lava Cake.  It was to die for!  Loved. Every. Bite.

It was my first trip to Houston & the 90 degree weather was just heavenly!  The Lady B bag was the best carry-on luggage ever.  I started the Seduction Socks by Ann Budd with my mystery sock yarn.  The pattern is free here.  My main mod is to make them shorter:

Smallscale Seduction Socks

Smallscale Seduction Socks

This is because half of the yarn was used in my first-ever sock.  That’s the needle sock, and I’m not frogging it for love or money.

After all the selfish knitting, I had FOs for each day of this trip!  Texans were very friendly – every elevator ride lead to bubbly conversations & ended with, “Have a nice day, y’all!”  Co-elevator riders were actually the first to admire my Tender is the Night shrug when we set out for the wedding.  The shrug was a hands-down success.  It was perfect because I was the 2nd reader for the ceremony.  Dictates of modesty:  no bare shoulders for “reverencing the altar”.  That black pashmina was thrust upon my cousin the 1st reader.  Here we are processing:

Tender is the Night does me proud!

Tender is the Night does me proud!

It was a dream to wear, kept me warm during the air-conditioned reception, and netted a bag of compliments.  Mine is not a crafty family, so I was very surprised by the great response.  I am now a fan of silk shrugs – there is no slip sliding into soup bowls or constant arranging of fabric.

We did have a day out at the Johnson Space Center with my cousins.  I modeled the sunny sidekick but have no pics to prove it!  Here’s NASA Graffiti at its best:

Housing 30-story-tall rocket

Housing 30-story-tall rocket

Texas Longhorns – at NASA – huh?

Languid Longhorns

Languid Longhorns

That perked me up some for the tour of Mission Control.  Ancient consoles!

Not computers but consoles

Not computers but consoles

They sent men to space with just that level of technology?!  OMG.  After lunch we came to a quick consensus & off we went in search of Kemah and its boardwalk.

Can you say "Tourist Trap"?

Can you say "Tourist Trap"?

More of the amusement park setting:

Choo choo by the Gulf

Choo choo by the Gulf

Yay – the Sea!!  Kemah is on the Gulf, and a long ways away from good ol’ Lake Ontario!

It was a busy trip & I came home tired but with a full list of things to do.  I’m settling back down now & have a big reason to finish the baby kimono – Eden’s safely arrived!  Not deja vu or anything but here’s the baby gift being blocked:

Blocking Edens Baby Kimono

Blocking Eden's Baby Kimono

I know this has been an angst-filled project.  That said, green is the better choice for a wee one named Eden!