The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Newly minted knits

This post is going to read like an Ode to the Colour Purple no matter how much or little I go into the details.  It is my happy place.

Irieknit Ampersand socks in Indigodragonfly handdyed merino yarn

Project Purple Toes

A few months ago, I shared about this nice act of aeroplane knitting.  This is the late-breaking progress picture!

irieknit Ampersand sock in progress Indigodragonfly handdyed yarn

My gauge with  2.25 mm Dyakcraft needles is a snug 36 stitches = 4″ in pattern.  The cast-on worked out at 72 cuff stitches.  I pared the stitch repeat down by 3 stitches, and it still plays so nicely with this hand-painted yarn.

Finished irieknit Ampersand socks in Indigodragonfly handdyed yarn

Very January appropriate

Last Saturday was the finish date for these socks, and I wore them immediately!  The extended ribs are not on centre but I like them lots.  The legs are 7″ long (3″ added), and I used 99g from the 115g skein.

The matchy-matchy new cardigan

Another new FO on the block this week is my Something Silver cardigan.  Naturally, I called the project ‘Something Purple.’

irieknit Something Silver cardigan in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool overdyed logwood

Pockets! Purple!

Not only does this cardigan offer the all-over half diamond single lines of lace that are easy to follow but the garter stitch band conceals pockets.

Rear view irieknit Something Silver cardigan in Silky Wool overdyed logwood

As I have been chatting with my friend Sarah, the garter stitch neckline is pretty deep.  If I had more yarn it would have gone towards an applied i-cord (or two) for that area.

This lived with me on & even briefly off the needles from August 20, 2014 – January 28, 2015.

Irieknit overdye Elsebeth Lavold yarn with natural logwood exhaust bath

Natural dye magic: logwood

 

This really is a good news story about over-dyeing a commercial yarn.  It came to me as colourway 12 ‘dusty rose’ on the left there.  Then it entered my exhaust bath of logwood chips in January 2013!  There are flicks of deep pink in the yarn, and I love how it gives my cardigan a heathered effect.

The ensemble is made

Speaking of logwood, I had another dye session that took my breath away back in June 2013.  This is my Harvey Columbia wool yarn spun on the CPW.  All-time favourite shade, Yes!

Handdyed Columbia wool handspun yarn with logwood

Logwood and her BFF Columbia wool handspun yarn

The 4-ply woolen-spun yarn weighed 210 g when dry.  I re-used an alum pot to pre-mordant, and let the yarn cool overnight in the prepared dyebath.   It was an old logwood pot, and I added 20g of  fresh chips.

Melvin occupies Columbia wool basket with Cadorette Canadian Production spinning wheel

Right under my nose!

Melvin decided to have a say in this yarn’s fibre content.  It was spun on my Philias Cadorette CPW, and plied on the Spinolution MachII at 5:1 for 247 yards of 4-ply yarn.

Handspun Columbia 4-ply wool yarn by irieknit

Yarn before her adventures with logwood

Scale is important for understanding the project this went into, so bear with me.

The handspun yarn measured 10 wraps per inch on my spinner’s control card or in the worsted-weight range.  It is 494 yards per pound.  This is much heavier than a millspun worsted-weight yarn, which is 800 yards per pound.  That difference showed in my project.

Irieknit Pinion Tam in handspun Columbia wool 4-ply yarn dyed with logwood

My baby Pinion Tam

The pattern is Pinion by Naomi Parkhurst, and it calls for 110 yards of worsted-weight yarn.  These are my 5.0 mm needles.  The swatch was honest- I needed 2 less stitches to knit 4″ in stockinette than the pattern called for.

Irieknit handspun Columbia wool knitted Pinion Tam blocking

Blocking my handspun Pinion

My tam has a sharper decrease section, and I decreased 8 extra stitches after doing the math for the brim.

Changing down a needle size to 4.5 mm helped to make the brim smaller, and I also modified the ribbing for more elasticity.  Mine is K, [P, K]* x 3, P3.

At its widest we are 3″ larger diameter than Naomi’s pattern or 13″.  Luckily, I had a big enough plate for the wet blocking!  It used 153 yards of the yarn.

We haven’t taken any final pictures yet but I love the pattern, and am wearing my chunky purple tam!

Spinning Columbia wool roving on Cadorette Canadian Production spinning wheel

Moar Columbia!

Yes, I am still on this purple kick!  Sheepspot‘s handdyed Columbia roving is now all spun up, and I now have 310 yards of 2-ply yarn from the 119 g.  It was both spun & plied on my CPW.

 


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An ounce of (Moosie) win, and shawl surgery

Moosie! (1)

It’s been weeks, and I still can’t believe this statement is true:  I have a Moosie!  The whorl is 1.75″ of handcrafted moose antler on a tulipwood shaft.  All together with a balancing pin she weighs 28g or one ounce.

Moosie drop spindle

Moosie wearing dyed Shetland top single

Jonathan & Sheila Bosworth offered a group of 10 with 5 different special shaft woods.  They were all lovely but the sole tulipwood #7 was my first choice.  Sheila helped me to decide on a 9″ length. Its spin is even more beautiful than I dreamed.  First there is the smooth but softly grained wood as I set the spindle in motion with a thigh roll.  The spin is fast without being aggressive.

The fibre is “Cherry Fudge” Shetland top from The Painted Tiger.

Re-purposing for a Gift

Mom celebrated her 60th birthday in September.  With a deep list of in-progress items, I still had enough time to dig out my first large shawl and its glaring corner problem.

Lace stole hand knit in spider pattern

One of these corners is not like the others

What glaring corner problem?  I was honest and brave about it all in this September 2011 TKK post.  Eventually, the (ahem) swatch turned up, so I had a little extra matching yarn on hand.

Lord Varys Shawl FO fixed two (2)

Eek that corner out

Fuchsia is Mom’s new favorite colour.  It was perfect for her, and she can use it this coming year in Europe on her sabbatical.  That was the theory.  In practice, I had to un-graft and not loose any stitches.  That was a big, scary pain and a half.

Lord Varys Shawl FO fixed (3)

Live stitches caught, pattern rendered, and Lo!  I ran out of yarn again.  This was my Bloody Hell moment, and I thank those of you who saw my tweets and offered words of encouragement.

Sleep always helps, and I came up with this flaw of a 3-needle lace bind-off.  I am happy to report that the flaw has use – it’s Mom’s way of knowing which side is up!

Good kitty and blocking shawl

Melvin was risking life & limb by interfering with the shawl at this point.  He knew better than to push that particular item completely off the table, I think.

Also in progress

In and among more Super Secret projects, I started an RPM sock in my Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, “Lakeview.”

Revving socks in Lorna's Laces (2)
The spiral pattern is easy to work on the two circulars, and I love how it is breaking up the pools of colour in the variegated yarn.  The only thing that I don’t like is the join on these particular needles – they are Knit Picks Options nickel-plated fixed circulars.  I knit tightly for socks, and moving the stitches across the metal/plastic join is not seamless.

Cotton merc 5 over 2 warp on board

Week before last, I did beam this narrow warp on the Mighty Wolf loom.  It was very useful to take what I am learning in the BAC classes, and apply it to my home loom.  It’s taking me awhile to get started on threading because life has taken over.  When sunny  weather returns, I will take pictures of my class sampler.

Muga Silk plying (3)

Working with this muga silk that I bought from Morgaine this Spring has been a sheer joy.  The scientific name of this species of wild silkworm from Assam, India is Antheraea assamensis.  It is far more delicate than the Bombyx mori silk that I have spun, and the gold colour was entrancing.

Muga silk on niddy (4)

The singles were spun on my Wee Peggy wheel in double drive using a crochet cotton (plied on itself) band.  I plied on my Watson Martha wheel also in double drive, and with a linen (10/2) band using the small whorl, 1st ratio.  This is approximately 604 yards from 1.6 ounces of muga silk in batt form.

(edit only to italicize a term)


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An Irieknit Design

My commissioned lace stole is overdue for her reveal!  What began as a serious inquiry last Boxing Day on broad specs grew into an original stole design with beautiful Helen’s Lace yarn and light beading.

Although knitting for hire was a bundle of new challenges, I knew early on that my label as it were would be Irieknit.  This is, after all, the way that many of you know me as a spinner & knitter on both Ravelry and Twitter[.com].  My ‘irie‘ designation dates back to birth.  In full-flush of First Time Dad excitement, I was announced to the world (via a Gleaner classified ad) in all caps as born that day “one IRIE GEMINI…”

Then as now, some got it; others not so much.

‘Sea Grapes’ knitted lace stole

The colourway of this 50% silk/ 50% wool yarn is Berry.  The stole used 950 yards or 85g of the yarn with the body and border knit with different sized needles.

Body detail, ‘Sea Grapes’ knitted lace stole

The centre is the Melon pattern from Victorian Lace Today with repeats added to the panel.  Thinking of my Jamaican client as I knit lent the motif a decidedly Caribbean feel.  One thought led to another and soon I had a doubly-wide border of soft waves.  The VLT techniques pages were very empowering.  They helped kick me up a notch to lace design.

The client’s wide brief is what also allowed me to go farther.  Following my muse often takes me back to poetry.  This 27″ x 88″ stole is named Sea Grapes after Derek Walcott’s 1976 poem:

…for the sea-wanderer or the one on shore

now wriggling on his sandals to walk home,

since Troy sighed its last flame…

The classics can console.  But not enough.

People often ask, “How long does it take to knit that?”  In this case, I have an answer based on a focused lace knit.  The knitting time was 30 hours for the body; 17 hours for the border.  It was made over 17 days.  This does not include 2 hours for blocking or added prep time & design work.

On the blocking mats, ‘Sea Grapes’ knit lace stole

Producing knitted lace of this scale for hire changed my work days, and lifted my game.  In the end, I was happy to deliver an item that can not and does not exist elsewhere.  It came as much from our relationship of many years as from my skills, time and materials.  We are both happy.

Supporting handmade matters.  I’ll be happy to collaborate again in the future.


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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?!


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Winter is Coming – shawl edition

Apologies in advance for the sheer pinkness of this post.

One of my first impulses after the last day of work was to get back to knitting this lace shawl.  Quietly started back in January, it was at the knitted-on-border stage when I picked it back up last month:

The big fear was that I would never finish it!  The pattern is Jane Sowerby’s Large Rectangle in Spider Net from Victorian Lace Today.  As I said back in January, Teresa is at the root of the whole attempt.

Finally caught a good rhythm for the wide border.  It was all groovy until I noticed that the yarn ball was too small.  And this a special dye job of Indigo Moon wool/silk for her stall at the 2009 Knitter’s Frolic.  This knitting on of a border gives you 2 choices – rip it off or keep calm & carry on.

Gasp all you want.  Ripping out wasn’t an option.  I also wasn’t into pausing to seek another 1,000+ yards.  So the last half-corner became the natural insertion point for another Canadian yarn, Handmaiden by Fleece Artist.   I am not pretending this is either a design element or high art.  It is Former Tom Boy Does Lace.

That was blocking attempt number 2, by the way.  The dog chasing the cat over attempt number 1 was spectacular.  In the disastrous second, I caught Toby mid-run & stopped the tear of yarn courtesy of his claw.  No rest for the wicked?

I’ve called the project Lord Varys’ Little Spiders since we’ve found the Game of Thrones in the time it took to knit this.

The garish corner (yes, I can admit it) is easily covered by the sheer size of this shawl.  Winter may be coming but I’ll have a warm & super-bright shawl!  Canada is Winterfell without the wall, trust me.

All the friends assure me that fuchsia is my colour… uh-huh, right.

Layers of the warm:

And lastly, the leg o’ lace:

I’m looking forward to this afternoon – meeting up with Megster at a local cafe for fun knitting in public.  If you take a peek at her blog then you’ll know that Meg’s expecting!  Any day now there shall be a Junior in the house!


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Shawls are for tomboys too

Spending 6 days home in Jamaica for my Toronto cousin’s wedding was every-minute-amazing.  A&W had a sea-side wedding in Discovery Bay.  We sandwiched this ‘country trip’ by staying with my parents in Kingston.

In my carry-on was the just, just finished lace shawl – Oslo Walk by Susanna IC (publisher pics here).  Lace novice that I am, this was a huge 3-week challenge.  What possessed me?  Well, having to re-wear a dress for the wedding is what.  Also, thanks to the best sort of encouragement from T, my spinning angel lace expert, I happened to have matching indigo lace-weight yarn stashed, together with Japanese seed beads & even a small crochet hook.  To reconstruct the scene (plans fail, what can I say…):

Here I am posing with the intended dress for the maker of my intended necklace:

And this is the finished shawl blocking the eve of our flight home:

And close-up for the detail:

The beads are Tojo #6, and the yarn is 1 skein of Fantastic Knitting’s Zephyr Lace-weight in Indigo.

At the top left of this pic you can see where one of my eyelet lines veers off.  To show that I am a hapless lace knitter who was under a deadline.  This shawl, now called Blue Lagoon, is easily the most delicate thing that I own.

The first rows of the pattern were difficult – I was learning how to knit in beads for what felt like the greatest expanse of knitting.  Mistakes were made.  All over the place but I stuck with it for the idea of bringing it to this wedding was strong with me.

This best laid plan had a hitch.  Literally.  Our hotel was 40 mins away from this 4:00 p.m. wedding, and I had been swimming in the sea just hours before.  So, there was getting ready to be done.  As DH was doing up the side zipper for me, it burst.  Burst, I tell you.  At the ribs.  Instant panic & cursing followed by tears.  Would the thing budge?!  No!

Eventually I got the thing to run again but the zip’s teeth were mangled [DH wants to say he didn’t cause it… yea].  Since yours truly was also a Reader in said wedding, this was a calamity.  Luckily another cousin, C, had a dress to loan me.  The shawl still worked with the turquoise but not the necklace.  Except C wears a size large & I wear – well, I wear a small… With help from C, and bossing from the bride’s Mom, I pulled myself together.  The bride had everyone waiting a long while due to some serious hair issue.  Not what I planned but here is Blue Lagoon as I wore it:

In a more relaxed mood the following day at Shaw Park Beach Hotel:

We took many other trip pictures – soon come with those!

Happy Friday!


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Hot off the needles

A mother-in-law gift I can be proud of.  Je vous présenté Le Cravat!

Pinned straight

The lacy Baktus edges were too raw, and even with the extra 200′ of yarn it still felt small for her neck.  The sides have a garter lace edging charted in EZ’s Knitting Around, page 114.  Meg Swansen adapted it from a book called Classic Knitted Cotton Edgings by Furze Hewitt.  It was quick & not fussy at all to knit on.  I just picked up a stitch each even row, and knitted it together with the edge stitches.

I loved getting back to EZ & am seriously scoping out the books she learned with.  Another up-side?  A new knit knack from starting the edge – invisible cast-on!

The top is edged with an applied i-cord with the outer stitch slipped.  The edges are from my 1st skein of Sea Wool (the cowl).  The colourways are different but blended together very nicely, I think!

With no time to waste, I’ve already started Fetching fingerless gloves.  It’s from stash – this plum Berroco Ultra Alpaca:

I’m thinking it will go to a younger cousin.