Category Archives: Knitting

Merry Knitmas

Hmm, it’s spring now, isn’t it? No matter, the northern parts of the east coast are still mired in Ragnarok (probably), so the holiday knits I sent out a couple of weeks ago are still relevant to my family.

First, the non-knit crafty things though–

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“Is that a trio of dinosaur print flannel jimbly-jambles,” you are asking yourself, I’m sure. And let me tell you, friend–it certainly is. I sewed all three in a span of three days near the end of January and I’m pretty pleased with myself. I recently learned that all seams have to be “finished” or your garment falls apart, which really might’ve been nice to know about ten years ago. Then instead of being incredibly frustrated with my abysmal sewing skills, I might have had a couple of encouraging successes, leading me to practice more, and, in this alternate reality, I would now be capable of inserting a cuff placket instead of a miserable failure at same. But never mind, that’s a story for another day.

In addition to belated holiday jammeroonis, I made a belated holiday point twill scarf for my dad (no finished object photos, sadly, as this item was given away before I had simultaneous light and time for picture-taking), a pair of handspun colorwork mittens for my mother-in-law, a tiny sweater for a brand-new nephew, and a cabled cowl for my dad’s girlfriend.

Let’s start with the least drama-fraught item.  This is a newborn-size Welcome to the Flock, and I shall henceforth refer to it as “wee sheepies.”

As almost the entire planet is probably aware, I become incoherent with delight where sheep (and especially lambs) are involved.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for my colorwork in this instance.

Just look at those fuzzy little sheep tummies and try to ignore the mess around them, okay?

I probably made quite a few modifications, but I couldn’t say what they are. I was too busy gibbering about the wee sheepies to make notes.

Next up, Irish Vine mittens.

Funny thing about these mittens. I was knitting along on the first mitten, delighted to be working with cormo, which is a lovely wool, which I had combed and spun myself, endlessly entertained to watch the pattern emerge with each round. But there were doubts, too. The fabric seemed a little thin. It was a little open. All in all, it was looking just a little bit on the side of not-quite-big-enough.

No, I thought. No, this will be fine. It’s going to stretch when I wash it. I’ve followed the pattern, it’s going to be fine.

I kept knitting.

I grafted the top closed.

I started the thumb.

It felt wrong. Really wrong. I tried on the mitten.

My fingernails nearly stabbed through the top.

I made despairing noises. I sighed. I carefully ripped the whole mitten out.

And I restarted with the yarn held double.

It was a good decision. Colorwork in too-thin yarn on too-large needles is a pretty sad sight.

Of course, I could have saved myself a great deal of time and labor if I hadn’t knitted on in denial for several days.

Last, and with perhaps the most dramatic story of all, this Nennir cowl:

I started this shortly after the Winter 2012 issue of Knitty came out, using Malabrigo sock in “Playa.”

After finishing the first chart, I decided I didn’t like the hand of the fabric. Too loose, almost mushy (not to be confused with smooshy, which is a great characteristic in a knit); my stitches looked sloppy and the cables really weren’t showing well. This is a big issue I have with Malabrigo Sock–it’s soft as anything, but it’s well on the “heavy lace” side of “light fingering,” with little twist in either singles or plying. For something calling itself sock yarn, you’d walk holes through it in about two minutes. That’s usually a deal-breaker.

But this is a cowl, not socks, so I ripped it out, held the yarn double, and started again.

Then I ignored it for a while. And then a year had gone by since I bought the yarn, but I wasn’t worried, I had lots left.

But then I knitted and knitted and knitted and knitted and suddenly there was not so much yarn. I began knitting faster, to outrun the end of the yarn. (Did I mention how knitting in denial is a very bad idea? Knitting in denial backfires almost every single time. Avoid.)

Suddenly there was half a chart left and I was definitely, definitely certain that the yarn was faster than me.

No matter, I thought. I will go to the yarn store. I will purchase another skein. Surely they’re still dyeing this colorway. If I use one strand from the original and one from the new skein, they will totally blend and no one will ever notice.

I almost didn’t find any Malabrigo Sock at the yarn store. When I did manage to locate it, there were only four skeins in just three colorways.

I ended up with “Primavera.” It’s not really close, at all, but it was closer than the others; nothing else even resembled the right combination of color, fiber, diameter, and texture.

I held out hope, though. Held double with “Playa” and kept to the back when possible, it wasn’t a particularly jarring transition.

But then, ten rows before the end, I ran out of the original color completely. And that’s why the inch or so left of center looks like a different color. Fortunately the person it will be accessorizing wears her hair long enough to cover the weird part.

It is a comedy of errors, friends.

In Which A New Obsession Looms

My Kromski Harp arrived on October 25th, a day later and a part brokener than expected. One of the ratchets had been cracked in half when it was attached to its beam, making it entirely impossible to assemble,  let alone use.

I called the Woolery the next day (Saturday), and they told me to email them a picture. On Monday, they emailed back saying they would pass it along to the Kromski distributor, who would send a replacement.

I was antsy about it all week. On Thursday (Halloween), the new piece arrived, and within two hours the loom was assembled and within three I was winding a warp. On Friday, it looked like this:

A critical observer may note that the edges are a bit rough and a bit strange. Fear not, critical observer!

They got a little better when I was weaving without paying much attention.

Above, you can see just how wobbly the selvedges were at the beginning, and below, the slightly improved end. They look best around the middle, really, but I’ll show that when I unveil the washed and pressed results (it’s already done, I just need to take pictures).

The whole set-up, there. Note the very wide heddle and the very long stick shuttle on the right side. The upshot here is that I can definitely weave yardage on this baby. Downside? I am short, that stick shuttle is very long, and because I’m dragging it through the shed instead of throwing, it contributes to the strangeness of my selvedges.

No matter, the Husband Creature has offered to make me a fringe twister and some boat shuttles. We shall see how that goes. Might be good to have a model on hand to replicate, though.

From warping to cutting it off the loom, this whole thing took just 4 days.

Straight off the loom, the texture is odd: rough and stiff, in spite of the very soft warp (Knit Picks Stroll Fingering in Aurora Heather). The weft is handspun New Zealand Merino in the colorway “Fangorn” from Lanitium ex Machina, which at 23 microns is on the coarse end of the merino spectrum (but still at the fine end of the wool spectrum).

Since I don’t yet have a fringe twister, I used a binder clip attached to the leader on my Stella to twist my fringe. Here’s that set-up:

I’m already scheming about my next project. And, I don’t want to say too much yet because then I can’t do a dramatic reveal later, but tomorrow, I’m off to Chico to look at (and probably bring home) a potential new addition to my odd little fibery family.

Aside from the weaving, I’ve finished a couple other things. The singles for my “Qarth” gradient are done and rewound for plying. I finished my Rock Island shawl, and it is big and lovely.

The edges aren’t as pointy as I’d have liked, but I expected that, using bamboo instead of wool.

It’s soft and cozy and I adore it.

(Not trying to look “artistic” or anything like the model for the pattern, I swear! Trillian was headed out onto the balcony and I was greeting her.)

I also finished some yarn for my shop!

Just a quick peek for now, I’ll talk more about it in a later post. I have another bobbin already filled for a coordinating yarn, and at least one more to go. Once I’ve wrapped that up, I’ll talk about successes (and sad, disastrous failures) in making coils!

A Finger in Every Fire, Irons in Every Pie

I have a confession.

I have Too Many Things in progress. Too many things a-spinning, too many things on the needles, and let’s not talk about the sewing projects that I’m trying to, not ignore, but…yeah, ignore, actually.

And lots of those Too Many Things in question? So close to being finished. Just shamefully close. A few fingers and a billion ends on a pair of mitts. Some simple garter stitch. A bit of ribbing. Beads and plying. A little hemming.

I like making things, I like the planning and the process. I like having the finished objects in hand. I just don’t like wrapping things up: the tedious jobs like rewinding washed skeins and taking an accurate count of wraps per inch, or sewing in ends, picking up stitches, finishing seams; the jobs that go against my nature a little bit like writing item descriptions and setting prices for the shop. (The casual self-promotion, too. I’m a very uncomfortable capitalist.)

But I’m working on it. I’ve even taken pictures of some things–I’m trying to get my fiber stash photographed before I spin any of it, but it’s slow going trying to catch enough light on my north-facing balcony with days getting shorter (and as it cools off, Trillflower like to be out there to watch and smell and lounge and otherwise get underfoot).

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I’ve got three active knitting projects going right now. I won’t be able to photograph the Rock Island until I’m much farther along in the garter stitch body.

This sweater vest started out as a heavily-modified Hilja, but with all the modifications for gauge, I kind of stopped caring about pattern instructions around the neck shaping and made things up as I went. It needs ribbing at the arms and neck, and then it’ll be done. I’ve even seen to all of the ends so far. It fits well, with just enough ease to go nicely over a button-down shirt.

These are Little Cable Knee Highs, sort of, except I used my standard wedge toe and placed the gusset at the soles instead of the instep, and ignored the instructions for the heel turn because those yarn-overs really make no sense to me, and, you know what? It’s a pair of knee highs with little cables up the back and custom calf shaping. They’re a long-overdue gift for my mom (hi, mom!) in Knit Picks Capretta, which is lovely to work with and very reasonably priced.

I’ll have to untangle and wind the third ball soon, but I’m definitely going to have enough yarn. These are worked two at a time on one long circular needle, which is my current favorite method (although somewhat discouraging at times as it takes twice as long to see any decent progress). I like to wind two separate balls and then when the socks are big enough, I can tuck each ball into its sock and the whole thing is very portable.

In my last post, I mentioned a new fiber club and a new spindle coming into my possession. The August installment of the Enchanted Knoll Farm Happy Hooves Batt Club showed up at the beginning of August looking like this:

Now, in addition to the corespun also mentioned in my last post, it looks like this:

I wanted to make a fat singles art yarn with lots of cocoons, but after about 5 tries I changed my plans. Half of this will be strung with glass beads, then I’ll make a 2-ply gradient. It’s on hold for now though, because I finally started plying my “Tuscadero” spin.

I can’t believe how delicate and muted this is turning out. By the time I finished all the singles, I was sick of it, but I’m charmed again in the plying.

The spindle, a Jenkins Delight, is a wonderfully balanced, tiny, adorable Turkish number. It came with a sample of 50/50 merino/bamboo, which I started playing with immediately. In the car on the way to pick up vegetables.

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That sample, about 7 grams or a quarter of an ounce, turned into about 49 yards of light fingering weight 2-ply.

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Now it’s occupied with some cormo top I combed myself.

Big plans for this. Big secret plans.

Speaking of big plans, I also have big plans for the July 2013 Into the Whirled club fiber. It’s “Qarth” on Falkland.

I’m spinning it as a 2-ply laceweight gradient, to become a S[c]heherazade shawl. This colorway is magic. See those sort of dull tan-olive sections in the fiber? Well, that’s a deception. I started spinning, and it’s really strange.

It’s not dull or tan-olive at all. Here, a closer look:

I love it.

So I should have some finished things to show off soon.

 

FO: Extremely Belated Christmas 2012 Gifts

My holiday knitting got away from me last year. Something about ten thousand miles of garter stitch just takes an unimaginably long time.

This was my break from Garter Stitch Hell. A cabled hat for my dad in Knit Picks Biggo, cut down to four chart repeats to account for the larger yarn and needles. It worked up in under 24 hours, and I learned to cable without a cable needle. Biggo is nice, very soft, but it does split quite a lot, even with fairly dull needles.

Good stitch definition though, and the cables were so welcome to break up the monotony of the original Tom Baker scarf I was making for my father-in-law and the lace-edged garter stitch shawl for my sister-in-law.

What all this means though, is that this hat? It was done well before Christmas. So why so late?

Well, that’ll be because I didn’t have anything done for my dad’s girlfriend. I had an idea. And I started it. Then I restarted it with the yarn held double for better stitch definition and warmth (winters are pretty brutal in upstate New York, after all). Then I realized that there was no way I was going to finish that thing before August and went to my LYS for a backup plan. The backup plan ended up being two skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino in Zarzamora, which took a couple of months to become a Honey Cowl.

Generally I dislike the bias that singles create in stockinette, but the slipped and purled stitches are much more prominent features in the fabric. I was utterly charmed, and oh! the drape!

I might be just a little bit in love.

There were only a couple of yards of yarn left after the bind-off. Pretty perfect, in spite of being sent at the end of June when it is spectacularly useless (and in spite of how utterly sick of it I was by the time I finished).