Category Archives: Claudia 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.

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.

Back to the 100-Mile Skirt

After fiddling round for a while with various cabled yarn experiments, I have finally decided which one I want to make for the 100-mile-wear version of the Claudia Skirt

The one on the far right is the prototype.  It is a cabled yarn.  This cabled yarn is constructed from a 2-ply grey alpaca single and Placid Waters (50% merino, 25% bamboo and 25% silk ) single.  That 2-ply yarn is then plied again to make a 4-strand cable.  It’s a lovely yarn.  It has a wonderful drape and from a distance looks a bit denim. 

So I devoted last Sunday afternoon to combing alpaca nests, and here is what I got  — 22 grams of combed nests.  I haven’t yet done the complex math to figure out how much I need to make the skirt, and therefore how much I need to comb, spin and ply and cable.  Part of me just wants to comb up all the grey alpaca that I have and hope for the best.   It is extremely fine fibre and is to be spun up fine, so this amount, small as it seems, will go a long way.
 

I am going to comb up another serious batch of it and start spinning.  Here’s to lazy, rainy Sunday afternoons and a challenging fibre project!

Cheers.

Experiments with cabled yarns

A while ago I started spinning up some samples to make a cabled yarn for another Claudia Evilla skirt. I wasn’t happy with the first sample, seen on the left. The battleship grey is just too dreary for me, so I abandoned any idea of using the grey alpaca exclusively. I did like the feel of the yarn so decided to continue experimenting with cabled yarns. 
Cabled yarn, as a re-plied yarn, has unlimited possibilities.  For these samples I spun a two-ply yarn (singles with a Z -clockwise twist and plied with an S-counter clockwise twist). Then you take the two-ply yarn and ply that again using a Z twist.  In these samples there are 4-singles.  Because of that, there are wonderful opportunities to add colour and other fibres.  Which is exactly what I did.

If you haven’t yet played around with cabled yarns, I encourage you to do so.  A four ply cabled yarn has more strength than a regular four ply — which is pretty strong.  Taking the first plied yarn and plying it again adds another level of strength.  And if you are using a coloured single along the way, it has a way to tucking the coloured single into the yarn, giving a dotted effect as opposed to a barber pole striping effect that you get when you ply two yarns of different colours.

The first skein on the left is the very first, all grey alpaca sample.  The middle skein has a double grey alpaca ply, plied with a grey and blue fibre from Sweet Georgia Yarns called Placid Waters.  It is 50% merino wool, 25% bamboo and 25% tussah silk. Nice combination for the grey alpaca and to create a fabric that has a good drape.  So altogether that one used 3 grey singles and one blue one.  The skein on the right uses two double ply grey and blue for a total of two grey singles and two blue singles. 

You can see the effect of adding one more blue single each time.  The battleship grey falls into the background and the luster of the bamboo and silk start to take over.    It’s starting to look a bit like denim — and for a skirt, that may not be a bad thing.

Now I have to knit up a sample or two — it’s such a dreary, rainy day I just may get around to that.

Project A: 100 mile skirt with handspun local alpaca

For my 50th birthday, my husband organized a trip for us to the Taos Wool Festival in Taos, New Mexico.  The gift also included a three day workshop “Spinning for a Purpose” with Abby Franquemont.  He scored big with this gift! 

We flew to Albuquerque and drove to Santa Fe right away.  We tooled around the historic plaza area, had a terrific dinner and stayed the night.  The next morning we headed north to Taos, with a stop along the way in Espanola to rent a spinning wheel for the workshop. We took the scenic route to Taos which took us along winding mountain roads.  In the far distance, those are the hills we were heading towards.

The workshop was three days long, from 9 – 5pm and it was heavenly.  Imagine being in the company of 15 other advanced spinners and headed up by the queen of spinning — Abby Franquemont.  She is fun, funny, irreverant and very, very smart.  The course was called “Spinning for a Purpose”, she called it — “Being the Boss of Your Yarn.”  Here’s a shot of the white board on Day 3.  I should have taken a shot of it every day, but alas.

I came back from that workshop newly inspired to make better yarn. I won’t be making the same defaut yarn over and over again.  So here’s my first project:

I am going to take the “nasty alpaca” from the last post, spin it up and knit myself a Claudia Evilla skirt.  I wore the cotton/linen one I made earlier, to the Taos Wool Festival and it was a hit. In fact, I could very well be responsible for a burst of sales of the pattern.  Ruth Sorensen, you can thank me later.

Before the workshop, I would have just dove into the spinning.  I have an ounce of the alpaca combed up, and I would just start spinning it, and then ply it — making the same old double ply yarn that I make over and over and over again.  Not this time.

This time I am going to spin a very soft and fine single, then ply it with a lot of twist in it, and then ply that again, making a cable yarn.  The yarn will be 4-ply, and hopefully very soft.  I’ll knit up a sample and see what it looks like.  Then I’ll try some other spinning technique. I am looking for a fingering weight yarn (fine) that has strength — as a skirt takes some wear and tear from sitting and moving about — and good drape.  It’s a skirt and I want it to flow.

I’m heading downstairs to get working on it.  Will post some shots of the samples tomorrow.  I promise.

Finish-itis

I’ve been on holidays for the last 4 weeks.  And before you start to feel jealous about that amount of time and mental space I had– it was delicious — let me assure you, it was a different holiday than the one I had planned for the weather did not comply. 

While the rest of Canada and parts of the US were burning up with record breaking heat waves and oppressive humidity — we out here in the Pacific Northwest, were dealing with rain, clouds, drizzle, and more rain.  Living on the flood plain did not help matters either.  Due to a late spring and non existent summer, the Fraser River has been high as the snow pack melted and found its way to the ocean.  The fields surrounding us slowly filled with water and stayed that way for weeks.  Thus creating the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes!

I grew up in Northern Ontario, so I know bugs.  But it is amazing how after a couple of dozen years away, the memories of swarms of blackflies and mosquitoes fade.  So imagine my surprise when, upon our return from Montreal and Maine, despite the rain, I headed out the garden to start making sense of the weeds and such. I couldn’t stay outside for more than five minutes because of the bugs — I had zero tolerance for dealing with them.

So I spent time indoors. Nearly three full weeks of dismal weather and rain.  In the last week of my holidays, the sun finally came out.

It was a productive time.  I was tempted to start a bunch of projects, but decided instead to reclaim knitting needles from the unfinished objects box.  Four big projects have been completed so far.  Here’s what I have managed to get done.

The sweater is an Elizabeth Zimmerman “Baby Surprise Jacket”.  The yarn is two skeins of softly spun singles by Kaffe Fassett.  Lovely yarn.  The only thing this sweater needs is buttons.  The socks are a pair that I started in the airport on one of my many trips to Winnipeg this year.  Nothing inspriring about the yarn.  Just glad they are done and could remember how to make the second sock.  The half mitts are from a nightmare knitting marathaon.  I ended up knitting five mitts in an attempt to get a pair that matched!  At least I have two pairs to show for it.  The fifth mitt ended up getting ripped all the way back.

The final thing I completed was the Claudia Evilla skirt by Ruth Sorensen.  I made a lot of changes to the pattern.  First, I didn’t use a fingering weight wool yarn. I used a worsted cotton linen blend. I used larger needles than what was called for and finally, in the last 1 1/2in of the pattern, I went up a needle size, to give an additional increase oomph.  Here it is, off the blocking board and hanging to encourage the pleats. 

I will definitely make this skirt again.  It was fun to knit, and now that I understand the construction of this skirt, I will make even more changes.  Next time, I’ll do it in my handspun, locally sourced yarn.

Back to work tomorrow. . . . so off to the garden for some bubbly.

Claudia Skirt Update #3 – nearly done

This has been a terrifically fun skirt to knit — it’s not done yet, so I mustn’t get ahead of myself.  It’s about 90% complete.  Not only did I use thicker yarn than the pattern called for — and compensated by making a smaller size — I also changed needle sizes when I began the eyelet pattern.  I love gored skirts and wanted to really emphasize the way the panels were expanding.  So I changed from a 3.5 mm to a 4mm which gave me an increase in width, without increasing stitches. 

As a result, the skirt is getting longer, faster than the pattern calls for.  Increasing the needle size may end up being a mistake, but for now I am claiming victory.  I have several more repeats — 48 more rounds to be exact — before I am told to cast off.  However, as you can see, it’s already 16 inches, which when measured against my frame, brings the skirt to an inch or two above my knee.  I don’t have much more to go.

This skirt will also get washed and blocked which will stretch it out a bit more as well.  I have about 4 more inches to knit, so will need to order more yarn. That sad, proud´╗┐, wee ball of purple is all I have left.  I plan to finish it off with the same purple.

I love the way the colours merge together.  Thanks Elann and Adara. 

Plan is to finish knitting this soon, make modifications to the pattern, and then spin and dye my own locally sourced yarn — thus creating a 100 Mile Skirt!!

Claudia Skirt Update: 72% complete

Its a stunningly sunny morning and the weather report promises full sunshine for the next few days.  Halleluiah! The rain and fog were so oppressive last week — I don’t care that I was 10 degrees celcius, all I wanted was some sun and view that went farther than 100 metres.

It was a good week knitting wise.  The Claudia Skirt is coming along nicely — the eyelet pattern, while it looks complex, is easy to memorize and easy to read in your knitting.  This is good.  When it is easy to memorize and when you can tell from looking at your work what you need to do next, you can knit without balancing a pattern on your lap.  This makes it an excellent candidate for knitting on the bus and very crowded Skytrain. My morning commute is about an hour and ten minutes, and the evening commute is an hour and a half, I have a lot of time — nearly 2 1/2 hours of knitting time.

Here’s the lovely gal so far:

And here’s a close-up of the eyelet pattern, it hasn’t yet been blocked, but you can get the idea.

´╗┐The eyelet lace starts about halfway down the thigh, so I have several more inches to go. On this round of knitting I increase 1 stitch in each of the repeats, there are 20 repeats in this pattern.  I love the way each repeat grows, accomodating the lace pattern and widening on the way down the leg. 
More to report on later on. . . .

Progress Report on the Claudia Skirt: 52% complete

I mentioned in an earlier posting that I was fascinated by the Claudia Skirt by Ruth Sorensen.  I think I already ‘fessed up to abandoning any hope of designing my own skirt pattern and purchasing the pattern because my obsession with the skirt was far, far greater than my design skills. I didn’t know this, but when you buy a pattern from Ravelry — or maybe anywhere online, you get it the next second.  Talk about consumer gratification. I wanted to knit it up as soon as possible, so the idea of using my own handspun was quickly replaced by the fact that I had some very nice left over yarn looking for a project.

A few summers ago I made myself the Adara Rainbow Shawl, buying the kit from Elann.  I was an easy knit and it’s an amazingly versatile shawl.  It’s great in the summer, dresses me up nicely for work, and can be used as a scarf in the winter.  Every time I wear it I get compliments from complete strangers.  The shawl used about 20g of each of the 12-50gram balls, so I have a lot left over. 

Hence, the fit.  A skirt I want to start knitting, lots of yarn made from fibres that have good drape necessary for a skirt.  It’s a bit thicker than the yarn used in the pattern, but with quick swatching and calculations I figured I could make it just fine, if I used a pattern size down from my regular size.

Here it is so far:

I am 1cm away from beginning the eyelet pattern — and no, my waist is not that slim, never has been and certainly isn’t now.  It will get blocked and stretched, but a quick check already shows that it’s on it’s way to a good fit. 

Once you hit the eyelet pattern, there are many more increases making it a nice A-line shape.  In the box is the yarn I have left.  I don’t think I will have enough to get me right to the end, so I will have to order a few balls more from Elann.com.  They are terrific and fast, so no worries there.

Stay tuned, I have a lot of commuting to do next week, hence a lot of knitting time.