Monthly Archives: December 2012

This skirt ain’t gonna make itself. . .

So very true.

I made a claim last year that I was going to make a 100-mile skirt. I am going to use the pattern from the Claudia Evilla skirt by Ruth Sorensen. I featured the finished version of my first skirt back in August 2011. It’s a great skirt and I love everything about it.

Since then I’ve been making the yarn. Or thinking about making the yarn, mostly thinking about it to be honest.

I had a lot of work to do to even get to the spinning stage — first I had to comb all that nasty alpaca; then I had to get more of it which required asking a friend to return I gift I had given her. Then in another panicked moment of “I don’t have enough fibre to make this skirt”  I had to ask another friend to give me her March 2011 fibre club braid.

Then there was the spinning. Here’s what I’ve spun up this far. It may not look like a lot (she writes defensively) but it’s spun really fine and it’s a lot of yardage.

I want to start plying these singles, but I want to be absolutely sure that I have more blue yarn than the grey — so I”ll make one bobbin of a two-ply blue and grey using every inch of the grey.  Any left over blue will be added to and used to ply with the second grey bobbin.  My plan is to make a 2 x 2 cabled yarn, using blue and grey singles.  I blogged about it in late January, here’s the result of my experiments.

So while I watched the repeat of the Canada/US junior hockey game this morning, I got spinning some more of the blue.  I said a while back this was going to be a spinning marathon, I just have to get down to it, because as I noted in the title of this blog post, this skirt ain’t gonna make itself.

And if, but probably when I run out of yarn, I still have all of this fibre waiting to be processed and spun. This is the only project I am going to do for the next two days. Let’s see how far along I get.

Knitting on the Go: Part 1

I live in the countryside outside of Vancouver. I work in the city. While often I am able to work from home, I do spend a considerable amount of time commuting each week. As a result, I’ve learned how to knit on the go.

Knitting on a bus, train or even in a car can be a tricky business.  You don’t have a lot of space, in fact there is very little elbow room.  It’s often difficult to consult patterns, especially ones in books.  With the exception of mitts or hats, it is hard to try things on for size. I leave early and arrive home late so many times it’s dark on the bus. Because of the myriad of distractions around you, the knitting you are doing needs to be fairly mindless, but not too much so or it will lull you in sleep.  And finally, some people are self-conscious about knitting in public. People tend to stare at you and some even ask questions. With all these challenges in mind, why on earth would you even try?

I conquered the process of knitting on the go due to the basic facts that on my commute I have an abundance of time, my hands are free, and I desperately need something to distract me from the tedium of the travel around me.

So here are a few things I’ve learned. First, the item I’m knitting has to be compact. A pair of socks, mitts or a hat are great things to knit on the train. Having a pattern that is easily to memorize is an added bonus. That’s where these lovely mitts come in. They are from the yarn I dyed on a Good day to day. The yarn for these mitts came from the Magic of rainwater experiment.

I love the Baby Fan Lace mitts by Morgan Wolf. They are lovely to knit and the fan lace pattern is easy to memorize. The only problem with knitting these is when I come to the thumb gusset. It’s not a difficult thing to do, but it does require concentration. The thumb gusset increases happen on every third row and the fan lace pattern is over four rows. So to stay on track you need to follow the lace chart and check off your progress. This is a wee bit tricky on the bus/train as you need to keep the pattern nearby and a pen at ready.

So here’s my solution to that problem.

I decided to try something different around the treatment of the thumb. When I got to the place where I’d start the gusset I did so by defining the stitches for the gusset with yarn overs. Then I stopped the lace pattern and knit in straight stocking stitch. I marked each increase row with a yarn over on each side of the increase. Because I was putting in these yarn overs I had to decrease on each side of them as I did not want the gusset increases to come from yarn overs, but from “make one left” and “make one right”.  [I’ll write the whole pattern out soon.]

The point I am trying to make is that by using yarn overs as a “marker” I could do a couple of things. I was able to add a decorative element to the pattern which also served as an easy way to read my progress. It’s easy to count what row you are on after a yarn over, something that you could do by feel and in dim lighting. After I set aside the thumb stitches, I continued in the regular pattern right to the end.

So that’s a way I did minor adjustments to a pattern which enabled me to knit it with ease on the bus.

I love these mitts.  Everything about them. They are truly 100-mile wear.

Acacia Farm Half Mitts – complete

It was with great joy that I handed over to Jacqueline and Linda the six pairs of mitts I made from their fibre.  Here they all are.  All are hand spun, hand knit, and four of them are hand dyed.  Their reaction to these mitts made all of it worthwhile.

I haven’t really decided which one was my favourite, but these two below are in the running. The pattern for this one is Baby Fan Lace that I’ve used many, many times before. I love this pattern. It’s easy to do, easy to manipulate. I made this pair from a fingering weight I spun up of blended fibres. They were a light grey but I threw them into the dye pot at the last minute. And I am glad I did.

This is another pair that is in my favourite list. It’s just my standard mitten pattern instead of a ribbed cuff I made a 3 x 1 rib throughout. I love the way this yarn (made from the blending the dark grey and white fibre and then plying the blended fibre with a singles made of pure dark grey or white) behaves when over dyed with blue. It looks like denim.
 

The other day I noticed that my own pair of half-mitts is a little worse for wear.  Now that all the Christmas preparations are done, I can get into my studio and get started on a pair (or two) of these for myself.

Mitts #4 and #5 for Jacqueline

I am in the process of finishing up my knitting agreement with Jacqueline.  In exchange for 10 lbs of washed fibre (5lbs of dark grey, 5lbs of white) I agreed to make her six pairs of half-mitts.  Two for men, four for women.
I’ve got five pairs made, here’s #4 and #5 where I got out the dyes and had some fun with colour. The orange skein used to be all white.  The blue/green skein was 75% white and 25% grey.  I love the way the grey tones down the colour, while the white shows the true hue.  Combined in one yarn it adds depth.

Both skeins just off the drying rack. And below, wound into balls in preparation for knitting.  My commute to the city for work gives me a great chance to clock some good knitting hours.

Here’s pair #4 complete except for weaving in the ends, and the beginning of pair #5.  This is my second attempt at pair #5.  I had 3/4 of a mitt knit up in a lace pattern and finally admitted it was too large.  So it ripped it out and started all over again.  Put me a bit behind schedule, but the second attempt is much nicer.

I finished the orange pair last night.  And here they both are: #4 and #5 complete with the ends woven in.  I apologize about the quality of the photos, I can’t find my camera in my disaster of a studio, so I’ve been relying on the camera in my bberry.

I have one more pair to make.  The yarn that I made for it last week is not quite right, so it’s back to the spinning wheel.  That’s fine.  It’s a rainy day, my baking is done and all’s well with the world.  My world anyway.

Happy spinning.