The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Happy New Year – weaving brick by brick!

The 6 towels that I beamed on my Mighty Wolf loom at the end of October, 2020 are hemmed as of yesterday.

Six handwoven cotton towels by irieknit folded in a stack on festive tablecloth.  Towels are an 8-shaft straight twill block structure with coloured weft on white warp.
Happy New Year!

At first taking space to breathe felt strange. It was not a choice exactly. Wanting to weave with a loose aim of the holidays meant starting, working around the tough regular school-at-home pace.

Back beam of Schacht Mighty Wolf loom with warp of white cotton 8/2 threads and packing sticks for kitchen towels.
Beaming triumph! And then it sat.

Taking 2 months let some new thinking in. Some of that shows in the towels. Mostly it helped my weaving not tick everyone off.

Now I go up to this spare bedroom but return fairly quickly. When I return we can carry on because I am not exhausted. A trio of knitting projects got equal play. The hat design calls for its own post but Ty is happy with this year’s Teamh variant.

Child wearing cable knit hat by irieknit in Rhichard Devrieze denim-E colourway yarn.
Rhichard Devrieze Denim E yarn has a new fan

After the hats, alongside the towel weaving, I had enough mojo to bring back this good idea: Pinked Socks for N. His first pair is so loved that it wanted back-up. Judy Alexander is the designer.

Knitting-in-progress stranded handknit sock by irie knit Pinked Socks design by Judy Alexander
Loves them!

Tired brains innovate sometimes

Upstairs, the loom was sorted at the end of November. Sustaining regular school-at-home was by then very hard but workable for the most part (still waiting on those supports hrm…).

Cones of 8/2 cotton weaving yarns on mahogany desk.
Two recipients asked for nautical blue (back cone)

The good thing about a white towel warp is that you can get such different looks for a 1-shuttle weave like this. It wove as 19.25″ wide under tension.

Weaving 2 block straight twill false damask pattern gold mercerized 8/2 cotton weft on white warp by irieknit on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom.
Gold is Ty’s favorite now

The warp plan is a 2-block straight twill adapted from Tom Knisely’s table runner Pumpkin and Harvest design in “Handwoven Table Linens,” (p. 57). It uses all 8 shafts of my Mighty Wolf loom, is a ‘false satin.’

Tired warping led to some asymmetry you can see below. It’s a ghost of Block A that I kept after the threading discovery, 16 extra ends.

A bigger problem was uneven tension but I started anyway with gold for Ty. This is where I lost the plot of weaving entire blocks and stumbled into a nice effect.

Pressed cotton handwoven towels laid to show left selvedges gold, nautical blue and yellow on white by irieknit.
(l-r) selvedges: gold oops!; nautical blue; dark yellow

In tromping not as writ, treadles 1-8 straight there is a nice textural border to be had. The traditional read the book correctly pattern woven to square is nice too.

For 6 towels aimed at 31.5″ each + sampling, I made a 6.67 yard long warp. The 8/2 cotton is mainly Valley Yarns (3,360 ypp): 8001 white & 2550 nautical blue.

Weaving 2 block straight twill false damask pattern blue 8/2 cotton weft on white warp by irieknit on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom.
End of November

When my thinking evened out for towel no. 2, I still had waves from tension being uneven. This too is staying for our kitchen needs.

The studio is open!

When weaving is to happen, I started to announce in my fun voice, “The studio is open!” Sometimes that comes out as, “Nope! The studio is open!”

I might need a sign for them though.

Weaving on the Mighty Wolf, storing stuff is really the only craft work done in this space. Since I do all appointments behind the closed door it has become more like an office-in-pandemic than a studio.

Hemstitching woven false satin towel on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit.
Hemstitching on the loom

The idea now is to take things as “brick by brick,” a favorite poem encourages:

build me your story brick by brick your

history foundation walls

don’t worry if it doesn’t fit together

no life does

The Fires of Naming, Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes, 2001 Seraphim Editions, p. 9
Hand sewing hem on handwoven cotton 2-block twill towel blue weft on white warp by irieknit.
Machine stitching is less intense, I know

I am almost sure who is getting a towel from this warp. There are 4 going out this time. Luckily, I fixed the early waves of tension on the loom.

However each towel is received, I did make them under some hard circumstances and am proud to call them last-made for 2020.


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Mittens matter

The past couple of weeks have pressed all of T’s mittens into use.  In addition to the 3 pairs of plain stockinette knit mittens he has a store-bought pair that withstands the snow play longer.

It’s a strategy that left me with wiggle-room for the inevitable… a lost mitten.  It happened!  Not quite 2 months into his school career, I looked down at pick-up time with an instant, “Hey!  Where’s your other mitten, hon?”

Yarn bowl of irieknit's Peace Fleece yarn for mittens

Peace Fleece – reserved for mittens apparently

We asked, and looked but a Peace Fleece mitten is lost to the environment.  He regrets the loss.

Maybe someone stole it, Mom.

No, I don’t think so but understand what you mean.  It’s a pretty nice mitten except just one won’t help anyone.

Since it really is a pretty nice mitten, and I do have more yarn, last night I cast-on & off again for a third one of these.

The Peace Fleece yarn has all of my love & admiration as a kindergarten-mitten-grade wonder.  It comes with some VM and stiff fibres for your picking-out but really does better than standing-up to this level of play.  This morning, T regretted that the replacement is not as soft as the other.  I was sure that he could break it in very soon.

Oak leaf hydrangea early buds

Hydrandgea!

Early buds is my signal for there also being a lot of grit and mud left behind.  The school yard is making itself known with the accessories.  We are at 15°C today, and may break a February record if the radio forecast is correct.  It is downright delightful.

Handknit Cormo wool child's mittens by irieknit new and used

Well loved, and broken-in Cormo wool mittens

Remember the backup pair of Cormo mittens from Sheepspot yarn?  They came in quite handy while I took my time working up to knitting the pattern a 7th time!

Of the 3 pairs, it is the superwash Rowan wool mittens that has fared the worst under T’s outdoors fun conditions.  Where the Cormo pair is this picture of fuzzed-out happiness, the superwash wool mittens have pilled, lost shape, and are close to getting rejected by T.

It’s all very well & good considering that I have some stranded mitten ambitions that could start with the child’s size!  The Christmas stocking for T was a wonderful glimpse into Latvian motifs.

Handknit Latvian motif stranded Christmas stocking decoration by irieknit

A first stocking for T

The pattern is “Irma’s Christmas Stocking” from the Fall 2011 issue of Knitting Traditions.  After lots of delving, I replaced the 5th chart with a motif given as from Kurzeme in “Latvian Mittens” by Lizbeth Upitis. Specifically, chart 122, plate 13C in the book.

Handknitting Latvian motif Christmas stocking by irieknit

Latvian stocking-in-progress

 

This was my first time knitting with these now-discontinued yarns.  They are simply stunning for stranded knitting:  Valley Yarns Northhampton sport.

The other day, T got my warmest yes answer.  He asked if we couldn’t just keep the stocking out a little longer.  Why, I asked?

Because I just like looking at it sometimes.

Now if this is not a good reason to make warm mittens for growing hands then I do not know what is!


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Carrying forward – the new Knit Knack year

This past month has been a very good one for my fibre work, seeing N recover from his lingering shingles pain, and the winter of fewer weather alerts.

Stranded two-colour knitted gloves for adult man by irieknit

Little Lithuania gloves for N

The gloves came off the needles shortly after my last TKK post.  They are for N but also were a great reminder that I miss the knits that teach me new skills.

Stranded two-colour knitted gloves for a man by irieknit

Long floats behind the pattern

In “Lithuanian Knitting:  continuing traditions” the authors cite this motif as being common in Lithuania’s western coastal area, Mazoji Lietuva.  As recently as last fall, I had finished a pair of fingerless mitts designed by Donna Druchunas, and so had a grasp of how fingers are placed.  I will share that project & its matching hat soon.

A technical note is to say that I knit these with one yarn in each hand.  The light “cold pressed” CC yarn was held to the left of the dark “prato” MC yarn.  What dominates more to my eye in this pattern is the light value.  The contrast & proportion of light value is what I think makes that pattern yarn dominate over the darker background yarn here.

It is as though the light pattern leaps forward in the hand.  From what I know of colour theory this main hand pattern is a high-major key.  The dark is dominated by the high-value.  This was N’s colour choice, and he loves the gloves.

A traditional pairing is natural or white on a dark background for this motif (p. 165).  Some were 11 stitch floats all across the round.  One round is all light value.  For any floating over 5 stitches, I caught them together.  That extra manipulation was fiddly & slowed me down a ton.

What I am late to finding but would like to share is this guest post by Donna Druchunas on Deb Robson’s blog.  In the post, Donna mentions the traditional crossed knit stitches.  The twisting seems like a good help not just for warmth but also for shielding float colours.  I will try that when knitting other patterns from the book.

For this year

In making the resolution to keep going in the direction of my crafts – spinning, knitting, weaving – I have looked carefully at how to improve the balance.  Selecting what to share & when has proved more of a challenge as content gets ahead of posts.

Hand preparing dyed Gulf Coast Native wool looks on Russian paddle combs by irieknit

New year; new paths

The locks are 105 g of Gulf Coast Native wool hand-dyed by Sheepspot.  These are Meck Russian paddle combs, and were from a birthday present – thank you, N’s Mum.  They hold a lot, and are the in-between wool combs that I had long hoped to find.

Mini-skeins of handspun Gulf Coast Native wool yarn carded and combed samples by irieknit

Sampling like a boss!

The 1st mini-skein is from the Meck combs (winner!).  Same locks but the more muted skein is spun from drum-carded rolag batts.  This is thanks to another awesome new tool that I’ll be learning my way around, a Pat Green blender/carder.

This sampling run was a job for my Watson Martha wheel in the same afternoon last Friday.

Basket with Sheepspot hand-dyed locks and sample handspun skeins by irieknit

Nice, right?!

 

New tools & materials are part of the mix this year.  Even more importantly, I am solving the puzzle of how I can work more evenly; share more fully for TKK this year.

It’s happened because I decided to use a desk planner to you know, plan.  Even simple daily entries since January 4th have given me a handle on how I work.  There’s more spinning than anything & I can both weave & keep other projects going.

One big take-away – I knit too much for others now.  It used to be my thing.

Spinning hemp top on Tom Forrester supported spindle cow bone whorl

Hemp top last touched in December 2015

The hemp top spinning on this Tom Forrester supported spindle is an example.  It was last spun around December 26, 2015.  Here’s why my Planner shows:

Spinning Egyptian cotton on coin takhli spindle by irieknit

January’s joy of Egyptian cotton

This (to me) immensely full coin takhli was – as my new friend the desk planner says – wound-off on January 30th.  That is 25 g of fine cotton spun in 6 months.  Let’s see if I improve in the next few months.  I like & am resolved to spin more cotton.

As I try to rein in how thinly the work/life gets spread this year, I will be remembering our Jamaican proverb.  Old-time people seh:

One, one coco full basket

Keep gathering your ground provisions because that’s your way to a full basket.  In other words – don’t expect to achieve success overnight.

Melvin cat on bed of logwood-dyed Border Leicester locks by irieknit

Before he was rousted, Melvin

Let’s not scare the nice kitty but we are also seriously thinking about adopting a dog again.  Here’s to 2016!


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Season’s greetings!

Best wishes for a happy & safe season to all!

Our Peace and Quiet plans got thrown last Friday when N woke-up with a bad rash.  It’s shingles, and this quickly became a painful week for him.  The treatment is working but his skin continues to be very tender.

Christmas arrangement on handspun woven runner by irieknit

While making do without a tree for Christmas time, the new woven runner & a special delivery are both giving much needed cheer at our place.

A beautiful potted Poinsettia has also been doing a very good job in the living room.  We have traditional ham, etc. looking forward to as well.

Handspun woven Christmas overshot table runner by irieknit

Festive colour splash, thanks to handspun

The winding of my handspun for weft created a regular break for showing the yarn’s colour gradient.  The repeat is enough to bring the break together, and I love seeing the bands as I walk through the hall.

In planning, I allowed 15% extra Harrisville Shetland warp each for shrinkage and take-up after weaving.  This weaving of 55″ with 3″ hems on the ends has washed as a 46″ long runner for our vintage Singer sewing machine.  The width is 13″ (i.e. down 2″ from the reed width after washing).

When not posing for pictures, the table sees good use holding keys, spare change & so much paper.

Reverse woven fabric overshot handspun table runner by irieknit

Reverse – festive bubbles!

The fulling process did wonders for the reverse of the fabric as well.  I love the handspun pops.  The plain weave hems are hand-sewn with some of my late Grandmother’s thread.

The hems’ weft is also handspun that I dyed this spring – the rejected ‘soft’ sand weft in my Colour of Water guild show scarves.  It is 50% silk/25% buffalo/ 25% white cashmere from Sericin Silkworks.  With under 200 yards, I am having fun with it.

Knitting stranded gloves Little Lithuania by irieknit in fingering weight wool

Little Lithuania gloves

Knitting for the sick one is going to be today’s big task.  The incredibly mild weather – hello, 16°C in our town on Christmas Eve – takes some of the pressure off but I would like to finish 3 fingers, and 2 thumbs.

detail of knitting in progress for stranded gloves Little Lithuania by irieknit

Stranded, and his choice of pattern

The design is Little Lithuania, and N chose the Rhichard Devrieze fingering weight yarns in Prato & Cold Pressed.  I have added rounds to the top of the pattern’s chart to get the length it calls for.

Needing to size for N, and correcting an unforced knitting error in the second glove (thumb placement matters!) have made this a race to the deadline but that’s okay.  It is not like he is headed outside or like outside is very cold.

Wishing joy, and kindness

Please be kind to yourself, and to others.  This season can be so full of expectations, loss, strife.  Via Irwin Elman on Twitter, If the holidays are hard for you, doing these 4 things really could help.

Whatever your observance or none, wishing you joy!


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A gathering of knits

Wherein I try to bridge the yawning gap between the knitting and the blogging of the knitting.  You could call this a retrospective with some currents to start with.

If you move in my circles you may have seen this fall’s triumph – the lovely stranded Pinked Socks designed by Judy Alexander.  My feet have often looked like this:

They certainly did for the Yarn Harlot’s book launch.  I kind of skip when I wear these socks.  Apart from my pride in knitting sock-weight yarn in both hands all the way to the end, I adore the garter tab on the slip stitch heel.  Adore is not too strong a word.  Obviously because I am now knitting another pair.  That are by necessity larger.  For the current pair is being made to fit not just any man but my man.

To wit:  an 11 ½” circumference leg.

The yarns are both Cascade Heritage (solid & quatro).  The MC is the navy held in my right hand.  My gauge on 2.25 (Dyakcraft!) needles let me make the 80 stitch cast-on size.  The only modification is that I ditched the CC strip in the cuff again.  Honestly, cutting sock yarns just for show is not so cool in my books.

It’s a simple but captivating 5 stitch stranded pattern.  I’ve sped up in knitting it again.  The first was finished January 15th, and the second is here now:

DH also received a longer-than-me mosaic scarf this Christmas.  It was not supposed to curl by design (mine) but makes up for that in the aforementioned length.  If I get him to agree to pics you guys will be the first to know.  My argument is that it was that long.  

Speaking of winter wearables, I also have a new hat.  This friends is a hat by twined knitting, and I love it.

It’s warm but elastic and fits loosely enough for a person with my hair issues.

The design is the Traditional Textured Hat in Laura Farson’s New Twists on Twined Knitting.  After some wrong yarn turns, I ran out and bought 2 skeins of Ultra Alpaca Tonal.  The fuzziness at the top is a bit of Sublime Angora Merino that I dug out of the stash.  I used just 9 g from the ball.

The technique needs the right yarn.  For example, this Akapana by Mirasol Yarns was in the direction of madness.  All stabs at texture were lost.

Casting on in the twined way is not full-on fun, so I thought I would share the what not to do pic.  As much as it pains me.

The upside of relatively mild weather is that the fall knits have stayed in rotation.  In order of their knitting…  The FO pics of my Monday Morning Cardigan by Laura Chau:

I am royally ashamed to say that was completed in May 2011.  It was shy about the wonkiness in the collar area but has grown in confidence over time.

About that collar:  knitting in a car while chatting with Sandi Wiseheart is dangerous.  That is all.

Next up is my Tappan Zee by Amy King.  Yes, a blue phase was happening.

  The pictures do the project little justice.  I used my Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (4 skeins) for the 36″ chest size.  The mistakes are my own – it’s a great design!

 

My 5 ridges of garter at the lower edge were started 15″ below the armhole.  I also added 15 rows of stockinette after picking up at the arm and sewed all the bind-offs.  The yarn knitted very well, and is wearing beautifully.  It was so lackluster in the skein!

Another Knitty.com score was Leaflet Cardigan by Celcily Glowik MacDonald.  Knit in 4 days flat.

Business on the front.  Party on the back.

My yarn is Rowan’s Felted Tweed Aran, and I knit on 5 mm needles with 6mm for the binding off.  I had to make adjustments due to the gauge differences for a medium size.  My main modification was to use the rick rack rib from Barbara Walker’s Treasury.

This was my choice for the Woodstock fair in October, and many times since.

Garments – both knitting and designing – have been a goal for me of late.  I was able to stash sweater quantities from Main St. Yarns’ closing out sale, and am spinning away as well.  After speaking with Sandi, I’d also like to incorporate her Wise Sweater project into the learning curve.  I have also been adding to my library with books like Maggie Righetti’s Sweater Design in Plain English.

My big WIP that hasn’t been photographed is a Laar Cardigan by Gudrun Johnston.  It is giving me a run for my sanity with the miles of lace-weight knitting.  I love the result but am probably not wired for this sort of project…  Unlike some people that I know.

Lace is also a part of my knitting life.  For I keep stashing more!  I’d like to make the Prairie Rose Shawl by Evelyn Clarke with this new cone of Habu Tsumugi 100% silk:

We’re on the same page now!  How’s that for some progress?!?