The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


2 Comments

New knits with handspun

Last year’s push to work with my handspun yarns has really started to bear fruit.  I’m excited because there’s now plenty more to share as brand new knits in my life.

Fall Colours, my way

Back in September, I told you about my Seriously Fun Spin.  Weeks later the dyer, Brooke of The Painted Tiger, announced her Fractal Fiber spin-along/ knit-along in the Ravelry group.

This is Susan Ashcroft’s “very easy but effective” No-Fuss Shade-Loving Shawl.

As I quipped on my project page – it’s a fractal-loving shawl!

Avatar-worthy!

The form (i.e. modifications) followed function.  The solid colour bands were on the verge of shifting when I was making the seed stitch lower edge.  I sped up the increases (every row), and made Meg Swansen’s edge.  It’s charted on page 114 of Knitting Around.

Heart Warmers

Around the same time, I was spinning grey Jacob wool top.  This project was all geared towards making purple & grey stranded mittens for this winter.

This spin on my Wee Peggy helped me weather more of the medical stuff.  Soon, I was wondering why not try to design these mittens myself?

The cuff is based on the Estonian Peacock’s Tail pattern set out in the Knitter’s Book of Wool Risti Mittens by Nancy Bush.  I threw caution to the wind adding sundries:

  • Red:  fibre came with my Jenkins delight from a B.C. Raveler.  Traditionally, red cuffs are for good luck;
  • Avocado:  natural dye sample of woolen-spun PolwarthxPort fibre; and
  • Purple:  leftover SW Corriedale from my Redhook sweater.

My gauge on 2.5mm needles was 15 stitches = 2″.

This book taught me both the elements of mitten knitting & the stitch repeats (Swedish & Faorese):

Sheila McGregor, “Traditional Scandinavian Knitting.”

Not many knitting books sit by my beside.  “Traditional Scandinavian Knitting” did for ages.  It’s full of useful information that doesn’t leap off the page on a 1st reading.

Sure, DH was within his rights to declare the cuffs “ghetto” but I am super-proud of this project.  One simple idea that grew into its own:  I have a pair of warm Jacob mitts!

Out of Hiding – Shetland 

As far back as 2010 this spin shot Shetland to the top of my personal wool list.

Moral:  spinning triumphs sometimes become an end in themselves.  Keep creating.

The spark for taking the skeins out of the box was another spin-along/ knit-along on Ravelry.  It’s in A Spinner’s Study, and I joined Team Lace – cowl knitting.

Aah, my friend, Logwood!  This time, I threw some copper liquor into the dye pot.  Made from this humble copper scrubbie.

Copper teaching me electrolysis in action

I am showing you the cowl first before the group.  I gave it diamond lace to match my new mittens.

There’s a lot out here about the ‘hows’ and ‘wherefores’ of spinning.  What I wanted to show today is why I really spin.  Handspun is yarn that gives back to you.  Large.


Leave a comment

From our Yard

There are 2 things to know when you land in Kingston, Jamaica:  the entire plane claps the pilot; and you step out into the fresh harbour air.

Kingston Harbour.  It’s the 7th deepest natural harbour in the world.  Beautiful as seen from a sandbar called, Maiden Cay.

A rather soused me had the sense to take a few pics.

I was on a food break from the rest of the BYOB-to-Maiden-Cay party.

Adult beverage marketing, Caribbean style.

Best plying ever – St. Mary, Jamaica

Lest you think it was all vodka-Tings, I did spin and ply in glorious comfort.

The few days in the country were wonderful.  We might have high-fived at the tv reports of a snowstorm back in Canada.

This kind of “cold front” was way more satisfactory.

The windy weather did make finishing DH’s socks less of a hassle.

Already well worn!  It’s my basic sock knit in The Painted Tiger‘s “Bands of Autumn” colourway.  430 yards of her Safari base – 75% superwash Corriedale; 25% nylon.

I loved knitting them and he loves wearing them!

In other Knit Unto Others Good Karma news

Mom, and you have heard me say this before, is a huge supporter.  She now has a handknit shawl.  It’s the Shoulder Shawl in Cherry Leaf pattern from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby.

The size is great (and I’ll give the caveat in a sec) – it’s Handmaiden Sea Silk.  The body is knit on 4.5mm needles, and the point border on 3.75 needles.  It also has a Japanese seed bead for each leaf, and point.

Everyone is happy.  But smug I am not!  That gauge killed my skein of yarn.  You might have followed my live tweet freak-out?  Yea – 1.5 points short on the right edge.  Brilliant.

That’s a GIZZADA to you, friends.

Not unlike this gizzada.  Yum even if the label is not technically correct.


3 Comments

Words with thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!  We spent the Canadian holiday hosting a young cousin from the States.  Irony of ironies his visit happened at the same time as another procedure for me.

We managed to keep that which is personal private, and be hospitable.  What got lost in the crisis was a formal Thanksgiving.

An awesome friend hand-stitched this for me.  She makes bookmarks while watching her daughter play soccer.  In our last conversation she listened, and said:

It’s okay to complain.  What you are going through is difficult.

Her gentle words said in kindness pushed out all the “I shoulds” with the bravery.

It’s been a beautiful fall, rich for creativity and walks with Sir Toby.  These are my favourites.  You know, as opposed to What I Should be Telling You.

I finished my 1st handspun sweater.  This is the Redhook Tunic by Jared Flood, started during the Summer Olympics.

Clearly, I am a little pleased!  It was finished in time for my classes with Deb Robson at the end of September, and gets its fair share of wear.

The shawl collar is double-width.  It still feels a shade short, so I don’t use the top button.  My favourite part is the colour sequencing through the upper body & collar.  It took some juggling & weighing but was so sweet to work.

That’s an Also-Ran for a 1st hand-spun top…  The yarn is my Icelandic dyed with red lac powder.

One fitting proved the waist was not working.  It had no definition, and the shaping was all wrong.  Also, the tog & thel Icelandic?  I could feel it through the under-garments, and not in a good way.

Hard to frog but easy to know what it really wanted to be – a warm Icelandic shawl.  Or in other words, I went back to Plan A.

It is Evelyn A. Clark’s Sigridur Shawl pattern with a modified border.  It’s one Dayflower repeat for the border – I charted the instructions from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury.

It was finished in time, and went up for our Guild’s summer display at the Queen Elizabeth Park Community Center.

What I now have back home is my warmest shawl for its weight.  The 60″ wingspan is perfect for cool mornings, and dashes outside.

Yet again, socks have been my go-to project for the stress.  Mandie’s Iron Man colourway kept my interest, and I finished them in just over 2 months.

In mid-September, I started to ply my Bronzed Chai spindle project.

Awful lighting but I have approx. 980 yds with an extra singles ball to spare!

It’s a goal met:  I am also worthy of my spindle-spun laceweight yarn in this quantity.  From 4 ounces.

It’s what I am looking forward to for this season – a cove on the coast of Negril, Jamaica… and All the People/Places/Things.

Right now we still have time left for talking, spinning, knitting and Thanksgiving.

 


1 Comment

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.


Leave a comment

A Swallowtail Happy

The word Swallowtail means something to most knitters.  It’s an Evelyn Clark small triangle shawl design that has gone viral.  There are 9,543 projects on Ravelry, and now I understand why!  This cone of red Habu Tsumugi silk yarn never even hit the stash!

The heap of magenta is a project that only Melvin is enjoying very much – the Laar Cardigan by Gudrun Johnston.  More on that is to come in a future post.

Initially, I cast-on for another Evelyn Clark pattern, the Prairie Rose Lace Shawl from the Knitter’s Book of Wool.  That was more of an exercise in swatching the Habu, and I soon went for the Swallowtail.

All I could hear was Teresa’s voice saying, “You totally should make one!”  Which Teresa?  The one who made no less than 5 of those Ravelry projects.

I settled on using my 3.0 mm lace Addi turbo needles.  My system for working with the nubby Habu silk was:

  • Pants – smooth not grabby;
  • Lap cloth – lingerie, repurposed; and
  • Lazy kate – the Will Taylor tulip kate kept the cone & my sanity upright.

It went on the needles February 8th & came off on the 25th.  I really like the pattern, and the sweet challenge was working my first mirrored border.  With the yarn managed, I found it went very quickly.  All other projects were set aside!

For my Lily of the Valley border, I substituted orange Toho 8/0 seed beads for the Estonian nupps (think bobble).  I used a tiny 0.6mm crochet hook, and added them on the right side.  The edging is also beaded but on the wrong side of each double decrease.

The beads showed well even before blocking (but not so well on the flannel sheet).

As soon as he saw the beads on the tray table, N said, “Now you’re happy!”  He was right!  For all the extra manipulation, placing beads gives the shawl weight, dimension & highlights the pattern.

So, Ms. Teresa:  when we see each other again, I will be wearing a Silk Swallowtail!  Thinking of you this week & get well soon.  Lace knitting & pilates to follow, right?!


Leave a comment

A Handspun Juneberry Triangle

My only FO of the season made from my hand-spun yarn is Jared Flood’s beautiful Juneberry Triangle design.  I’ll sum up my post for you now:  I loved this project from start to finish!

It all started with 8 oz of Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) top dyed by Turtle Purl in Quebec.  I split the 2 braids of fibre to keep the colour progression through the 2-ply yarn, attenuated (i.e. pulled), and spun to my heart’s content on my Watson Martha spinning wheel.  At the end of this adventure I had 523.6 yards of hand-spun goodness.  As I put it in my spinning notebook the largest skein was “mostly DK-weight with fingering”.  The other 2?  “Mostly sport-weight.”

This was my 1st Jared Flood design.  I figured that going with a pattern sub-titled, “Textural lace shawl” by a star of the knitting world was the best I could do by this sweet teal yarn.  The pattern is totally clearly written.  His lack of spoon-feeding was a boost for my lace knitting self-esteem as I pieced it together in just 12 days.

I am calling it my Tealberry Triangle.  The centre triangle was lovely to work.  It doesn’t follow the convention coughfadcough of symmetry, and had some lace knitting on both sides of the work.  Not too much & not too little but just right.

I did a few repeats with the bobbles-as-written, and quit.  It seemed like an awful waste of hand-spun yarn.  With much shoving and hauling I managed to add beads for a bit.  It was a lost cause, so I knit the rest of the centre triangle plain.  The border has popcorns, which are bobbles-lite, and worked over 2 rows.

Any of my knitter friends can tell you I did have a big issue though – yardage.  I used a 5.0mm needle because that worked with the varying yarn grist, and dove in.  If there is a way to reliably gauge swatch for a non-standard yarn, I wouldn’t know.  My approach was to use the metrics of his suggested yarns & squeeze in between.  This resulted in an epic nail-biter with 2 border edge attempts frogged.  And wailing at knitting groups.

In spite of it all, I still love that edging pattern to bits.

The final stretch of border got knit on with double joins.  Which is far better than not getting finished if you ask me.  This is where I drew on my experience from the Spider Net shawl in Victorian Lace Today.  Sometimes we make things happen, cast-off and block out the difference with vigor.

 


Leave a comment

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!