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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Pulling-up Socks and Closing the Fell

To The Knit Knack Blog’s readers and friends:

You too may be feeling a dash of strain sprinkled with sleep deprivation, and sometime fist-shaking.  On a surprisingly mild December day that is also quiet enough for thinking, I have some admin good news & project successes to share.  First the…

Good admin news

In a series of steps this year we have moved more surely towards continuing to create the blog in 2019.  The latest step is to keep working with the photography mostly in Flickr for now.  We were a free member with over 1,000 photos.  Imagine the chill on reading:

Free members with more than 1,000 photos or videos uploaded to Flickr will no longer be able to upload new content after Tuesday, January 8, 2019 unless they upgrade to Pro. After February 5, 2019, free accounts that contain over 1,000 photos or videos will have content deleted — starting from oldest to newest date uploaded — to meet the new limit.

Did I want the grief of meeting the new limit?  Dear readers, I did not.  We upgraded and I am calling it a Christmas present to myself & my 1,422 all rights reserved photos.  Not a final decision by any means but rather a step into the new year.

We have a big anniversary coming… this next March, TKK turns 10 years old!  Possibly the only thing that has not changed about TKK since 2009 is the intention.  It’s simple really, I build posts on work done.  A tidy idea with no room for affiliates, sponsors or senders of swag.  Just right here in the scary & unpaid open, I put out what’s the most compelling.

TKK is a blog about adult learning that I started as a very unlikely, very new knitter.  In some ways it has come full circle – I do know my way around & am less of a novice even with weaving but find myself at home in the same way that I used to be at paid employment… with less community than I would like, and frankly, stressed.

This morning, I started listening to the latest “On Being” Podcast show.  Krista Tippett interviews her friend, Dr. Pauline Boss who floored me when she said:

The treatment of sadness is connection.

Dr. Boss’ area of work is ambiguous loss, and I will be going back eagerly to hear the rest of the uncut interview.  The admin news does allow TKK to go forward with the idea of connecting outside the walled craft gardens.  Let’s see where it takes us.

Pulling-up my handspun socks!

What a good feeling to have finished the Strie Cheviot wool socks this Sunday!  The designer is Lara Neel.

New handknit handspun Cheviot wool socks in Strie top-down pattern

Ever so snug!

These socks were knit pretty evenly split between 2 months this fall.  The foot soles are knit through the back loop (i.e. crossing the knit stitches).  The 2-ply Cheviot yarn is Z-twist direction, and was slightly loose knit through the front loop.

Handknit handspun Cheviot wool sock by irieknit

Points out where I briefly knit as usual in the first sock

For a few rounds on the first sock, I forgot the ktbl plan.  That band shows clearly in the sock – do you see the slight pucker?

New handknit handspun Cheviot wool socks in Strie pattern by irieknit

So, so good! That new sock feeling

The gentle flashing in the handspun was fun to watch unfold on the needles, and I am in love with the finished socks.  Wearing them has put a spring in my step!

Closing the Fell

Nothing is uncomplicated about weaving a week before family visits for Christmas.  If you are going to do that in the guest room then this a good kind of project to choose.

Weaving basket and plain weave baby blanket on Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit in cotton

Ever so sweet baby blanket

The sage 8/4 cotton is 2 ends x 2 picks plain weave, and the Monte Cristo cotton bouclé is 2 x 2 common basket weave.

Blooming phalaenopsis orchid by irieknit

After pausing to water the orchids, yesterday morning, I sat at the loom bench as much as possible.  The short warp is finished!

Handweaving hem for cotton boucle baby blanket in plain and basket weave on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit

Wow that was quick – hemmed-stitching!

The basket weave took-up more than I expected over the 2.5 yard warp, and it will be a smaller size baby blanket.  Good thing I am sending it home for the newborn phase!

As I threw the shuttles, I had time to think both about weaving & a knitted olive branch that I mailed mid-week.

Handknit cabled hat for child by irieknit and picture book

Happy birthday

This is a 20″ circumference (small) Téamh hat designed by Jennifer Tepper Heverly for a turning-six-this-week girl.  As Jennifer explains in her pattern, “téamh” is Irish Gaelic for “warming.”  It’s been sent in an icing of relations, and is not her first FO off my needles.  The yarn here is Cascade 220 Heathers, knit on 3.5 mm needles.

One hat led to another!

Handknit cabled child's hat by irieknit

For a very happy kiddo

Both versions modified the pattern from a garter texture to the traditional reverse stockinette.  I also kept the same needle-size for a snug fit.

Handknit cabled hat for child by irieknit in Sheepy Time Knits yarn

Ears are covered!

The yarn is “Glittering Caves” MCN worsted by Sheepy Time Knits.  Now that this hat has T’s enthusiastic up-take, I have learned more about what’s important in a hat for him:

  • Covers the ears;
  • Warm but not with a folded brim because those are weird;
  • Dyed-in-the-wool colour; and super-importantly
  • Pom-pom is awesome.

Who knew?!?

Handspun BFLxShetland knitted monster toy by irieknit

Also meets with T’s approval – handspun Monster

This mid-September start on a Lloyd the Tall Monster by Rebecca Danger (“Knit a Monster Nursery”, p. 57) sat in pieces for oh, a month.  The yarn is my handspun BFLxShetland 3-ply knit on 3.25 mm double point needles.

With craft gifts almost all given, I am hoping to work up a garment for me soon.  As I sat at my loom this week, I weighed a thought.  Be it resolved to weave more in 2019?  That is the question.  Carving time for weaving = sacrificing other more established patterns.  It may well be time to do that because weaving feels like a barrel of potential.


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Shopping the stash – fall handspun knits

We’re fresh-off our Canadian Thanksgiving, which started a little early with my impulse to bake a cranberry/ blueberry crisp and finished with our first turkey dinner at home.

Yellow tulips on handwoven cotton silk table runner by irieknit

T-kiddo made a good choice on the supermarket cut tulips… they are still fresh & brightening the table runner that I wove in spring 2014, sari silk on 5/2 mercerized cotton warp.

Weaving sari silk cotton table runner by irieknit

The weft is Himalaya Tibet recycled silk, a long-ago gift that could keep giving – the 14″ x 42″ runner used only approx 80 yards.

As weavers can tell from the I Wove This pic a lot of learning was going on at the time.  Up to & including confusion when tying up my treadles for plain weave that worked in my favour.

Our front hall has its 2 handwoven table runners now, and this is the cheery one of the pair.

Cranberry crisp in baking tin by irieknit

Not a long-lasting crisp

Thanksgiving being just this past Monday is hard to believe.  We ran right into an energy audit + furnace replacement job, and handspun yarn has been heavily on my mind!

Handspun happenings

We are at a 4th handspun knit casted-on since mid-September.  That is more than usual & 3 are ready for sharing on TKK.  The quartet has 2 things in common – smaller-scale projects; and all existing stash.  They are a slice of how leaps in spinning can & do become finished objects.

At the centre is this truth – my handspun was not always flowing into queued projects.  This is an almost constant concern in spinning spaces:  how do you use your handspun yarns?  In these 3 projects today the work is a lattice & not linear.

What is not shown here is that I also will design from scratch for my yarns & work from sampling in a straighter course both for knits and handwoven items.  This slice is to show that creativity isn’t always caught in a web of control.  Patience, skill and circling back all can be fruitful.  In order of last to first the 3 new knits are:

Overall lace shawl

This Lacymmetry by Naomi Parkhurst is 1-day into its progress.  It is making me very happy.

Unblocked knitted lace shawl in progress Lacymmetry by irieknit in handspun handdyed BFL/Silk

This BFL/silk yarn is another 2014 story.  In mid-July that year, I used my 127 g of fibre to spin with the newly acquired William MacDonald antique spinning wheel.

Sugar maple tree fall colours in Ontario

Sugar maple cues the shawl this morning

It is 646 yards that I used in a first madder dye experiment later that year.  The burnt orange colour was an improvement but what to use it for?

Until Naomi’s release this week I was fairly stumped.  The suggested yarn is one I know well, Valley Yarns 2/14 alpaca/silk.  My BFL/silk is a pretty good fit, and with that plugged I had to start right away!

Takeaway – you will see curated pattern lists for spinners but keeping eyes forward on new releases lets you find your own gems.  This designer also spins, and that right fit for handspun is an excitement she knows well.

Hold the front page – spindle-spun socks!

Before the shawl answer fell into my lap, I started a new pair of socks this month.  It is with my most viewed spinning project the Pyrenees Delight Cheviot yarn.  The 1,529 views; 26 favorites came after being featured in Ravelry after the 2017 Tour de Fleece.

The 650 yards of 2-ply is not that old at a January 2018 finish.  It was a puzzle though… would I split to get the socks I had dreamed about while spinning or should I use all in a weaving project?  Here’s my current answer & sock knitting guide.

Starting to knit handspun Strie sock in Pyrenees Delight Cheviot by irieknit

When I dive into the handspun stash it is a mess of pulling yarns & looking back at the records.  This month I was weighing sock, colourwork mittens or sweater.  Measurements help but as a starting point.  This is part of the note I made when looking at possible mittens:

Thicker than idea in Drachunas (The Art of Lithuanian Knitting, 2015 with June Hall)

Will they look good?

When swatching the Cheviot, I knitted lots and measured twice.  The 2.25 mm needle gave a good fabric, 9 stitches per 1″ in stockinette around.  The guide is Lara Neel’s excellent “Sock Architecture, 2014.  I chose her Strie for its garter rib pattern with my lighter 2-ply.

Strie sock in progress by irieknit in handspun 2-ply Cheviot yarn

It is going well up to the heel now.  This z-plied yarn is untwisting a bit as I work & I may cross the foot stitches for firmness.

Takeaway – As one who has more socks than she needs, I will just quote Jan Viren (Handspun Treasures from Rare Wools, ed Deborah Robson, 2000, p. 77):

If you want boring, predictable socks, there are plenty available through standard outlets. These [California Variegated Mutant] have character…

The Handspun Treasures book has a highly entertaining & inspiring juried group of handspun projects.  I snagged my copy on a trip to the Strand bookstore in NYC.

Headwarming in fall

This Calorimetry headband in Targhee was a 2-day knit of joy.

Handspun Targhee Calorimetry headband by irieknit

In this second selfie view you can see the hint of its Corgi Hill Farm gradient, Inverness, properly.

Handspun Targhee Calorimetry headband by irieknit top

Using a single clay button, I have a 21″ long Calorimetry.  It is my 2nd version in handspun.  Working 1×1 ribbing helped cinching in areas with thinner yarn.

Spinning handdyed Targhee on Rappard Wee Peggy spinning wheel by irieknit

2015 Wee Peggy spin-along

This was from a 2015 fall spinalong in the Wee Peggy spinners group on Ravelry that went fairly quickly.  The blues went to N as a pair of plain mittens this winter.

Handspun Targhee men's mittens by irieknit

Made, used but not blogged – N’s mittens

The pattern guide was Knit Mitts by Kate Atherley, 2017 & used approx 170 yards of the blue.

Handspun Targhee wool yarn by irieknit from Inverness colourway dyed by Corgi Hill Farm

This is what I kept around since February waiting for inspiration.  It wanted to be a headband!  The orange is still on the couch waiting for the hat-trick.

Takeaway – gradients are not set in stone.  The 390 yards has made 2 people happy so far, and I am not sore about giving half to N for mittens.

Plying merino/silk lace yarn on an Andean low-whorl pushka spindle by irieknit

Last plying of a long merino/silk spin

As I am this close to finishing my 4 ounces of merino/silk with this medium Andean pushka, I have thought of a lace shawl.  Which lace shawl will depend on my bandwidth & how much yarn we have here.

There surely are spinners who in Beverley Horne’s words never ever sit with fibre to spin (Fleece in Your Hands – spinning with a purpose: notes and projects, 1979 U.S revised edition, p v):

… without having planned beforehand what you are going to do with the yarn.

Knowing how to do forward planning is important, I agree.  If like me ‘what ifs’, new tools, techniques beckon & good yarn results then you can still move forward.  Sometimes frustration kicks in, of course.  More often you go in a latticework of time spent on the project instead of the good old bossy line.

A side benefit has been letting new skills like weaving catch-up to those good yarns that I still love to spin.

Just think of it as a long run up to the crease (cricket term & to mix metaphors oops)!

 

 


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August chase

It was a simple enough idea that came while pressing the handwoven blankets… what if I brought T out for a trip to Kingston?  Calls were made, very strong yeses were heard, and here we are!

My cousin had us over on our first day in the island, and we were thrilled to meet her 8-month old boys.  The great news is that the hem colours made them easy to assign – one has always been wearing/using greens, and the other blues.

Morning light in Kingston Jamaica by irieknit

Beautiful morning light

It is a short trip and we will head straight into T’s school year when we get back.

Jamaican sugar cane and guineps

Kindness and yum!

Arriving in guinep season is a decidedly good idea.  T now calls them, “You mean the juicy fruit that you can’t get the juice on you because it stains?”  He is a fan of both these guineps and the sugar cane in the plastic bag!

In lieu of a beach day, I opted in for the Jah-3s Hash exploring a beautiful old estate in East St. Andrew, Dallas Castle, on Sunday.

Cane River in Dallas Castle St Andrew Jamaica

Hiking down the Cane River, Dallas Castle

It was the best kind of challenge day, and T made it with the help of his walking stick!  “Mom, I am going in the river again!”  We got through the paper chase with no major slips or slides.

He was really brave!  As for me this was so much fun I could burst.  It was also T’s first trip into the Blue Mountain Range.

Estate ruins at Dallas Castle St Andrew Jamaica

Waterworks ruins at Dallas Castle, St Andrew, Jamaica

The property that became Dallas Castle was purchased in 1758 as a working estate by a Dr. Dallas.  After what sounds like a run through sugar cane, coffee plantation profit to high debts it was sold eventually to the father of George William Gordon, National Hero in the early 19th century.  This planning site for the Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865 is now privately owned.

After hike cool-down

This first ever hike is being followed by more visits with family & friends.  We miss N but have been enjoying ourselves thoroughly.  Yesterday, T answered, “How are you liking Jamaica?” cheerfully:

It’s hot.

True but not as hot as August can get here, kiddo!  I am loving sleeping with just a fan on.

Travel sock

Another sock is already on needles but I cast this on for T when our tickets were booked.  The chief reason is that his foot has grown since the first pair.

Knitting a child sized sock in Sheepytime Knits yarn by irieknit

For the sockworthy T!

Seeing him struggle with a slipping heel convinced me to pause my own.  The yarn is from the Sheepytime Knits Middle Earth Yarn Club, November 2017.  Mandie dyed “The Great Sea” and it is a superwash merino/cashmere/nylon blend.  The pattern is a modified basic sock from “Tiny Treads” by Joeli Caparco.

Progress on handknit child sized sock by irieknit in Sheepytime Knits handdyed yarn

Good choices make for good knitting

For spinning, I am excited to visit my birthday gift, a Tyrolean spinning wheel right here in Jamaica!  I have my cotton project on the African clay bead whorl spindle (look up – it’s the one in the TKK header) as well.  It’s the best for downtime.

This is my first ever post from Jamaica!  The new light machine is making a huge difference – I am so glad that we were able to get it for many reasons but this is particularly sweet.

 


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Months of making… quietly

It is fabulous to sit down placing words in TKK’s editor this morning.  Over the long stretch we did live with those new challenges I mentioned (words “cancer patient & break-up”) but were knocked back by a sudden loss mid-November also in our immediate family.  That side had just buried another older family member the month before.

Kingston 8 sunset Jamaica

 

This is one of the new views we enjoyed from a balcony overlooking St. Andrew & Kingston but after the most difficult day.  The grief meshing with a long-delayed trip was tough, and we all have needed the comfort of time to reconcile these very different feelings.

North Coast shore, Jamaica

At the North Coast, briefly

One night on the North Coast was with rough seas.  The reason for leaving Kingston at this point was also a painful but necessary chore that was handled well in the end.

It absolutely did not help that N was sick or that almost everyone was overwhelmed.  In addition to explaining this TKK break the pictures are helping me to re-think my assumption that at least 1 image can go in on T’s big school project.  Pausing to reflect is a good thing in such a busy week.

Handspinning cotton on African bead whorl support spindle by irieknit

African bead whorl spindle in the island

The clay bead whorl spindle from West Africa came with me in the carry-on bag.  Cotton is basically what I love to spin in Jamaica but this combination was the best plan yet.  As of today, I have a 12 g plying ball from this project + a fairly full new cop.  The dish stayed behind but is by a Jamaican artist, and was surprisingly awesome as a support bowl.  I have asked for one!

When I started learning to spin cotton, I had no clue that it is SO very good for the exhausting, emotional seasons of life.  That should be said loudly enough for those of us in the back to catch-on.  It’s SO GOOD, everyone.

Looking forward

Irieknit's Kissing Cousins handknit socks in Tiberius yarn by Turtlepurl

Irieknit pulls her socks up

We have now finalised the formal family steps, thrown our first birthday party (T is 6! It went well!), and are planning a new event with family visiting us for June aka the best month.

Of course, the grief is still with us but its edge has lifted a little.  The prognosis for our cancer patient is thankfully encouraging.  The other difficulty of the break-up is still unfolding but as well as can be expected.  I am making my way through the to-do list logically, and that’s also a good thing.

Weaving with irieknit handspun Gulf Coast Native wool yarn on Louet Erica table loom

New year; new small loom!

This January brought the wonderful gift of a new Erica table loom kit from Louet NA.  Shafts 3 & 4 are on order.  The threads for this plain weave are handspun Gulf Coast Native dyed in the wool by Sheepspot.  The combing portion appeared on TKK here and gave a lovely 164 yards of 3-ply.  The warp is 9″ wide in the reed, 2.5 yards long.

Let’s skip my back beam mistake because it worked out, and Warped Weavers’ members were ready with good explanations for me.  The weft was the carded waste (yes, I have a Pat Green blender/carder!) spun on spindles for the Tour de Fleece last July.

Carded wool/silk blend handspinning on top whorl Tabachek in Holly and Wildcraft bracken spindles by irieknit

Tabachek Holly, and Wildcraft spindles in July 2017

The combed waste is blended with white Polwarth X Port locks & Tussah Silk for 151 yards of 2-ply.  It was a great whimsical spin, and I wanted them both together in a project.

Weaving with T on the Erica was the most special part of the weekend project.  This was in January, and tiring but totally joyous.

The Devil has been in the last steps for projects, weaving & otherwise.  This cloth & 2 scarves that I wove a week ago on the Mighty Wolf are in queue for pressing.  I wet-finished all 3, and have other projects working on.

Some WIPs finish quickly, especially the utility knits like mittens, spinning.  The pulling-up of new socks is to tighten that drift, and to write more often.

Handspinning Romeldale/CVM wool by irieknit on a Wee Peggy spinning wheel

Night is the spinning time – Romeldale/CVM from Spirit Trail Fiber Works

Shorter bursts are an option I don’t quite stick… This was after all going to be a short post & look at the time!  We have renewed TKK’s no-ads purchase, and I am considering the angles.

It is true that the fibre work has trimmed itself down but the same categories are full of promise.  Dye gift from N & don’t forget the fleece to be cleaned!

Botanical Colors natural dye kits for home dyeing

Right up there with washing my October fleece!

The larger projects are still WIPs and not sleeping even though I fell behind on sharing as a log of that work.

For today we have a post, and the socks on my feet/in the post are the Kissing Cousins pattern by one of my favourite designers, Sarah Jordan.  They are ingeniously conjoined!


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Reviving Ramie on the small saxony wheel

In the final days before welcoming T home last summer, I opened my 151 g of Ramie top, and started spinning on my painted East European saxony wheel.

Spinning Ramie on antique Eastern European flax wheel

For Twitter and my only record of the start (please excuse the mess!)

This is my first project with Ramie & was love at first spin.

Priorities soon made themselves known.  The night that I had given a Lecture on not touching Mom’s tools, I took this wheel and its Ramie up to my studio.  The fibre stayed downstairs but it was a pretty vain hope.  With everyone under strain family bonding was clearly more important.  What I didn’t know then was how long that takes when your child is aged 4, and circumstances are what they are.  Sitting at wheels took a back burner as we navigated our long, early parenting days.  Others came out but this easiest-to-knock-down wheel was up until just last month.

irieknit spinning Ramie fibre on antique painted East European saxony wheel

Dust-gathering no more!  Ramie stash spinning again.

Small note It is a crazy peg array.  Safety first, and I am not telling anyone to follow this particular flight of fancy.

While she was up & out of dear T’s reach, I saw quite a few questions in Facebook spinning groups about similar wheels.  The questions boil down to:

  • Should I buy this?  A: maybe – do you know what you are looking at; do you like to spin fine?
  • Did I make a mistake in buying this?  A:  it depends; I love mine.
  • something something ‘gypsy wheel’… A: no, seriously, all of Eastern Europe

Invariably, 1 or more voices on the thread cry down that these small wheels make you “treadle like a hamster even if it operates.”  Well, mine operates and that is not my experience.  At all.

The wheel has such a gentle action in terms of the draw-in of the yarn, and the old leather hinges on the treadle bar.  It is also an almost wheel-less feeling as I work since she stands below my torso.  With the band fitted and at the right angle with the mother-of-all, this is smooth and easy spinning now that my (yes, crazy; do not do) pegs are worn in a bit.

irieknit's antique East European saxony spinning wheel drive wheel detail

Small drive wheel = light drive wheel

Sometimes, I do need to fiddle with the mother-of-all screw tension.  Most times it is fine with my Hempathy yarn band going strong.  When running these wheels have a sweet spot of momentum.

We are at around the half-way mark to what experts call the family equilibrium.  Supports have come and gone; other supports are tremendous.  Not only is this & my Martha wheel now carrying spins-in-progress but I got myself an afternoon away this weekend as a real break.

irieknit's Kissing Cousins sock in progress and spinning Cheviot on Turkish Delight drop spindle

Mobile comforts – mindless sock and Cheviot spin

This top-down to toe-up piece is a March pattern release by Sarah Jordan called Kissing Cousins Socks.  It is in a Turtle Purl yarn, Tiberius.  The Cheviot wool dyed by Sheepy Time Knits is my ‘Pyrenees Delight’ Tour de Fleece project.  It was such a thrill to have my spinning picture featured by Ravelry and this has stayed in my spinning rotation ever since.

Progress and respite.  I wish the same for you!

Handknit Valentines Day hearts


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Lots of love, Happy Valentines!

Happy Valentines Day!

Handknit heart decorations by irieknit

Family of hearts

The middle Heart Pin is for T.  It used a bit of my remnant Cascade 220 worsted wool yarn.  Each side has 4 ends of weaving-in love.

Outer hearts are in Sublime angora/merino bought these many years ago as a single ball on sale.  They have gone with cards for T’s new teachers.  Schooling love started last month.  How proud am I?  20 ends sewn-in proud with glitter heart stickers proud!

The white tie on our left heart there is also in T’s set of back-up mittens for school.  The undyed Cormo Worsted from Sasha Torres’ Sheepspot line of yarns paired with her inky blue to take the edge-off knitting a third pair of mittens.

Handknit child mittens in Sheepspot Cormo Worsted yarn by irieknit

No-itch Cormo Mittens!

The pattern is Kathy’s Mittens by Chris de Longpré.  All 3 pairs are knit in the round.  The other 2 (not shown) are solid yarn leftovers from two of T’s sweaters – Peace Fleece and green Rowan pure superwash wool.

For this last pair in Cormo, I used 46 yards of blue + 16 yards of natural.  With a cuff that I was clearly anxious to stop knitting plus breed-specific yarn, I am happy to send them inside of T’s backpack.  What kindergartener is easy on the mittens?

Off the needles

One of last year’s happy knit events was a KAL in the Knit/Wit Designs Fans Ravelry group.  It fell out of the blog posts at the time but was a fun gift for a dear family friend, Hedy.

Handknit colourwork Zeccola Cowl in progress by irieknit

Zeccola Cowl starting lines

The Sheepy Time Yarns rainbow kit was an obvious choice since the answer to favourite colour that Hedy gives everyone is “rainbow!”  This is one in a series of colourwork designs by Sarah Jordan, the Zeccola Cowl.

Handknit colourwork Zeccola Cowl by irieknit

Ready for shipping, Zeccola Cowl

This project is a perfect example of how knitting has worked to naturally stretch my colour horizons.  Our friend loves her bright scarf.  It is knit in the round, and is probably superb in Sarah’s recommended sport yarn.

Fast forward to this year, and Sarah is currently hosting her StitchburghKAL.  It runs until Friday, March 3rd & is for patterns in her new collection of the main name.

Handspun Corriedale handdyed wool yarn by irieknit

Deep stash – handspun Corriedale wool

As the image shows this was a 2010 yarn of super density that I spun on my then-new Spinolution Mach 2 wheel.  The around 222 yards is not much to hold 8 ounces of Corriedale wool!

If you have heard me go on about my grist learning curve – yup, that’s it!

444 yards per pound may not be an easy yarn to plug into most patterns at half that yardage but Sarah has an ingenious pattern in her collection that works for a wide range of yarns.

Handspun handknit Corriedale wool Pierogi slipper sock

Instant gratification for the mid-winter: Pierogi slipper sock

The Pierogi Slipper Socks pattern is written for sport or DK-weight yarn.  It worked very well using a stitch ratio approach.  I again gave thanks for my Darn Pretty Needles as the 2.75 mm set is unharmed.  They worked hard to give me 20 stitches in stockinette stitch in the round.

Handspun handknit Corriedale wool Pierogi Slipper Socks finished by irieknit

Ah, the brightness! We need the brightness!

The colourway is Gumdrops by Sweet Georgia Yarns.  I had bought 2 braids from a local spinner’s destash.  This tight gauge blends the clearly barberpole yarn into such neat colour bands.

As you can tell, my toe-knitting is still not equal from one foot to the next!  It was late?  My nutty gauge used approximately 140 yards.

Back view of handspun handknit Corriedale wool Pierogi Slipper Socks by irieknit

The “pierogi” tabs on the hoof!

These were a quick-enough knit that joining the knitalong now is definitely do-able.  Mine were between January 31 and February 3, 2017.

This was my first finished object of 2017.  Handspun stash lessening!  They are warm and equally nicely, snug.

My family lived in Pittsburgh for 4 years when I was around T’s age.  It has been cool to read Sarah’s design introductions because I have childhood memories but have not been back since age seven when we returned to live in Jamaica.