Category Archives: 100-mile clothing

100-Mile Skirt – Complete – the photo shoot

I started this project in October 2011. Inspired after a spinning workshop with Abby Franquemont, who had plans to make her own pair of jeans from hand woven fabric from her own hand spun cotton, I thought I could do something similar.
I was in love with the Claudia Evilla skirt. While a bit of a knitting marathon, it was an easy knit. I had made one already, knew that the style looked good on my shape, and knew roughly how much yarn it would take.
So I started. Through the course of 2011, 2012, and yikes, 2013 I blogged about it. I combed the alpaca, spun 4 sets of singles, plied the yarn and then plied it again to make a strong cabled yarn that could withstand the wear and tear that a skirt, especially the bottom, gets.
And then I started knitting. I ran out of yarn and had to go back to the combing, spinning, and plying. I combed all the alpaca I had, make all the yarn I could make and got back to knitting. And then I was stuck.
Stuck because I just didn’t have a good plan B if I ran out of yarn. Fast forward to late December 2013.  Local Yarn Store 88 Stitches hosted a KAL (knit along) on Ravelry to help us finish UFOHs (Unfinished Objects with Hope). Among the three things I listed, one of them was the 100-mile skirt.
And I finished it. All that worrying about plan B was all for naught. I ended up with a small ball of yarn about the size of a loonie, 8 metres to spare. 
And here are some photos of the finished, washed and worn skirt.  It is an incredibly warm skirt. And the fact that it requires a second layer under it because of the lace. . . . well, I’ll only be wearing it in January and February. We’re moving into a wee cold spell here in so I’ll wear it to work this week.
Here’s a photo of it being blocked.
After it mostly dried, I hung it over the stove to finish it off and to get the drape going.

The first time I wore it, it was full of static.  It bunched around my legs and drove me crazy.  I was so upset! After all that work and the damned thing is full of static!?!!

Then whilst in the laundry aisle looking for something to remove hair dye from upholstery, I saw something from my past called “Static Guard”.   INSTANTLY ELIMINATES STATIC CLING! was the claim. I bought it. And yes, it has saved me and my skirt from annoying static cling.

Ta-da!

I wore it yesterday to an event at 88 Stitches and was happily reminded about how much I love this skirt. It flows beautifully, is the perfect length, and yes, I have the satisfaction that I made the entire thing.

Figuring out what’s left

Ever get to the end of a knitting project and want to have enough to cast off and at the same time make sure you use all the yarn?

I have figured out a way to do this.

Prior to this I would do the “three times the length” and add another length for good measure as a way to make sure I had enough yarn to cast off. This doesn’t always work and I have found that out the hard way. It is also really difficult to do with pieces that are being knit in the round and are all scrunched up.

So this is how I’ve solved the problem. I used my scale. I have a very sensitive scale that measures grams into the decimal points. So at the beginning of a row for my 100-Mile Skirt, I weighed the yarn. Knit all around and weighed it again. Got a measure. Did this a few more times and came up with an average. and rounded up.

I have 14.7 grams of yarn left. It takes approximately 4 grams per round. So that means I can do 3.675 rounds. That means two more rounds and a cast-off round with confidence.

That’s a switch.

And here’s what’s left as I started the bind-off row.

Yes, the bind-off row. Photos later on the FINISHED, blocked skirt.

A Recurring Theme – The 100-Mile Skirt

I was looking over my blog, reviewing 2013 and I noticed a recurring theme. The 100-mile skirt. This year I have several posts about it, all promising some kind of progress and completion.  Here’s the short story of it.
In October 2011, inspired by Abby Franquemont at the Taos Wool Festival, I decided to make a 100-mile skirt. That meant that I would source the fibre from my area, prepare, spin and knit it. I already had a pattern, from a knitted skirt I made and finished in August 2011. 
Here’s the fibre I chose. Local alpaca – nasty stuff, full of brambles, twigs and other things that stab you. And a braid of fibre from Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club.

I did a few samples and settled on the look that the skein on the far right gave.

The yarn is a 2 x 2 cabled yarn. That means one ply of grey alpaca and one ply of the blue stuff made into a 2-ply yarn. Then you take that 2-ply yarn and ply it again. That meant spinning up yards and yards of each – it was a 4-ply cable to that was a lot of fine spinning.

Here it is being plied again to make the cabled yarn.

And here are the first two skeins, washed and ready for knitting.

I got this far with the skirt and then ran out of yarn, so I had to go back to combing the alpaca and spinning up more singles of each – the alpaca and the blue wool.

And here is the last skein of this yarn. Once this is all used up, I have to go to plan B.
And here it is in progress. This is where we are today — 8 repeats of the lace pattern. I’ll knit until it’s gone and then if I need more length I’ll make a cabled yarn from the blue wool singles that I have left over. Right now it reaches to about an inch above my knee.

Here’s a close-up of those sweeties.

Plan B:  There’s a lot of yardage on these bobbins, so I think, if needed, I could make enough yarn for a half repeat. Enough to give a finish. We’ll see.

88 Stitches, our local yarn shop is hosting a Knit Along (KAL) for the month of January. I have openly announced that I will work to finish this project. I am so close – so very close. So I’ll have some incentive to get this done. . . . of course I have the Norwegian mitts to finish first. When they are done, I’ll re-acquaint myself with this pattern.

Happy New Year’s to all and best of luck and love for 2014.

100-mile skirt update V

Here’s the last skein of yarn for the 100-mile skirt. It is 189m and I hope this finishes the skirt. 400m took me to about 3 inches above my knee, and while the pattern does start to flare out quite a bit, I think this last 189m will do the trick.
Here it is on the niddy-noddy:

And here it is, nicely dried after a good soak in hot water.

 Now I have to find the pattern and try to remember where I was. . . .

Skirt Update IV

I blew my right knee spinning so the skirt won’t be ready for FibresWest. It’s true. The story is pathetic because it was an entirely preventable injury.

In a short while, I did a marathon amount of spinning to get enough grey alpaca and blue merino/silk onto 4 bobbins. No problem, knee was fine. Then I started plying them last Thursday evening. Remember, this is a cabled yarn so this stage of plying has a lot of twist in it, which required a great deal of treadling. I got this one above started, and then realized that I had a “Wild Silk” spinning workshop on Saturday and needed the wheel, so I had to madly finish the plying on Friday night. I was sitting on the couch and it’s too low so my knee was doing more of the work than usual. But in my frenzy to finish I ignored the pain and never even considered moving to a better chair or position. What’s wrong with me?

And then to add to the problem, I spent the entire next day at a silk spinning workshop. And if you know anything about spinning silk, it’s fine and requires a lot of twist – ergo treadling. Nothing that a couple of Advil couldn’t handle. After the workshop I wanted to get back to the yarn for the skirt so I spent the evening plying the second bobbin.  My knee was aching, but I kept at it because I wanted to finish the yarn, so I could get back to knitting the skirt.

The next day I was limping around the house and couldn’t go for my morning run. In fact, I haven’t been able to do any running since — well it’s only been a week, but I miss it. It’s on the mend, but I’ve learned a good lesson:

Pay attention to PAIN. It’s a signal that something’s not right.

100-Mile skirt update III

I’ve been faithfully knitting along on my 100-mile skirt until yesterday, when between Scott Road and Gateway Skytrain station, I ran out of yarn.

I’ve done 6 pattern repeats and have just increased in the purl ditches. In my other knitted skirt, I ended up with 14 pattern repeats, and I imagine I want the same length. But that’s all the knitting for now. I have to go back to the very beginning and comb some more of that nasty alpaca and do a whole bunch more spinning.  I figure I am slightly less than 2/3rds of the way through. But it does get wider as it gets longer, so I may actually need almost as much as I started with. Wow, that just knocked me back — that took a long time to make.

Not that I mind the combing or the spinning. It’s easy and mostly fun. It’s just that I was really enjoying the knitting. I was at the stage of knitting the pattern where I had it memorized — believe me it’s not a difficult pattern, but I have it all in my head. If I take too long a break, I’ll loose my rhythm with it. Which is why I am being boringly disciplined with myself and am spending the day combing the alpaca — here’s a close up of it. You can see all the vegetation and nasty bramples just waiting to stab me as I reach in for a lock.

To cheer myself up, I’ll move my lovely bouquet (thanks Davy) into my newly tidied studio to keep me company.  Flowers, Bizet’s Carmen on Radio 2 and maybe a wee glass of bubbly.

Happy Saturday everyone.

Progress report on the 100-mile skirt

It’s coming along nicely. The yarn is lovely to work with and the pattern is mindless. So far it’s just a wide rib stitch with gentle increases every 8cm. Right now it’s 10 inches. It barely and yet completely covers my butt. But alas, I am not of the age where I am comfortable wearing or being seen wearing a mini-skirt, so I knit on. I have a bit left of the first ball and then onto the second.

I know I will have to spin up more of this yarn. My thinking is that with so much of the skirt already knit, I will be duly inspired to get right to it.

But it’s coming along and I’m excited to be at this stage of the project. Hoping I’ll be wearing at Fibreswest this year. Nothing like a deadline to get things in focus.

100-mile skirt update

As a result of a great effort, and I kid you not, I now have two decent sized skeins of 2 x 2 cabled yarn.  It is a total of 400 m and 212 g. I know I don’t have enough to make the entire skirt, but I have enough to get started, and maybe even get mid-thigh. But it’s a darned good start and that’s exactly what I need.
As a reminder, this yarn is made up of two strands of 2-ply yarn. In each strand there is a singles of grey alpaca and a singles of blue merino/silk/bamboo.Yes, that’s singles with an “s”, the single strand of yarn that you spin is called a singles. Don’t argue with me, I didn’t make up this spinning language.  
When you spin the singles for a cabled yarn, it’s a good idea to put a gentle twist into it. The fibres I am/was working with are fine fibres and I was spinning a thin yarn, so I made sure that there was enough twist to just lock the fibres into place, that’s a way to ensure a gentle twist.  Then I plied the grey and blue together putting a lot of twist into the ply. A lot of twist into it. So much that I had to take breaks because my treadling leg got tired. Seriously.  And I’m a runner. 
Then I plied those over/super plied yarns together and got a 2 x 2 cabled yarn.  Why all this work you ask?
I am making a skirt that I want to last and look good.  The seat of a skirt gets wear and tear so I wanted a structure that can take wear and tear and bounce back.  A cabled yarn is the answer.  At least that’s what I have been lead to believe.

Here are the finished skeins all washed, bashed and ready to be made into balls and knit up. They are soft, surprisingly light and from a distance they look like denim.  There’s 400 m of it, so it’s enough to really get going on this skirt and then only (hopefully) have a wee bit to spin up to finish.

And then I’ll have a 100-mile skirt.

Imagine that.