Category Archives: feather and fan lace

Jenn’s elbow length gauntlets

I wrote about blending fibre for this project in an earlier post.  At the end, I noted that the results weren’t what I was hoping for — too many noils.  I figured I could easily get rid of them so didn’t fret too much over it.  I have 112 g of this blended fibre — wool, alpaca and silk — I am not planning to abandon it without trying a few things.

Yesterday I heard back from Jenn with her measurements and confirmation that she wants me to make these gauntlets — so I confronted the challenge of spinning this fibre into fingering weight yarn.  It was a lovely lazy day. After struggling through a hot spell the threat of rain in the air was a welcome relief.  I set myself up on the front porch, with my wheel, tools, and glass of cider.

As I mentioned earlier, this fibre ended up with a lot of noils in it.  Some of them were from second cuts. That’s when the shearer passes a second time over the piece being shorn and produces very short clumps of fibre. If I had paid closer attention, I could have removed these before I picked and blended the fibre. I was too excited about using the picker to blend the fibre that I didn’t even look closely at the polworth. The other noils are not from second cuts, but seem to be from mishandling of the fibre. The polworth is a fine wool and it can’t take the stress of the picker and then the drum carder.  The fine fibres either break or get tangled and become a noil. Again, something entirely preventable.

You can see the noils in this photo. They are the white bits that are sitting in the fibre. I figured I could remove them so I got out my mini wool combs and tried combing them out. To no avail. The fibre is so fine the noils just slip past the tines and stay in the fibre. I tried drum carding it again, being much more gentle  — but no, they are still all there. Then I tried hand carding them, to pick out the second cuts and comb straight the other noils. Again, it didn’t work.The noils are there to stay.

I started spinning.  As I spun I stopped often to pick out the noils.  It was slow going and not satisfying spinning.  There had to be another way.  The way I finally decided upon was to do a test swatch and as I spun ignored the noils.  It was difficult because everything in me wanted the yarn to be smooth and not littered with these bumps.  But really, what choice did I have?  I could abandon this fibre or I could accept it as it is and see what it looked like spun up.

I spun a small (15g) sample as though the noils didn’t exist.  I washed it up and then to my surprise, fell in love with it.

It’s not perfect yarn, but it is really lovely. The noils from the second cuts pop out on their own in the plying and washing. The other noils just get tucked into the yarn and create a bit a texture. The silk shines through, the wool gives it a bit of bounce and the alpaca some drape. I knit up a sample, see above, of the gauntlet.

I think this will do just fine.

Yarn for a new project

At the Aldergrove Fair a couple of weekends ago, a young gal asked me to make her a special pair of mitts.  She liked the half-mitt style in hand spun yarn — but for this pair, she wanted them to come up to her elbow.  So after a few minutes of finding out what fibres and colours she likes, I agreed to make her a pair.

I’ve got the pattern designed — it’s a variation on the Baby Fan Lace mitts, starting with more stitches and decreasing as you get to the wrist.  And now I am working on the yarn.  She liked the idea of blending alpaca and wool and adding just a wee bit of silk for some luster.  So I set out to do that. Here’s a sample of the blended fibres and knit pattern. The first half (on the left) is the one I settled for, the yarn on the right is wool blended with cinnamon alpaca and silk.
Here’s what it was made out of: beige/cream alpaca, polworth (wool) and some tussah silk.  Blending fibres can take a long time on the drum carder so I decided to use the picker to do the blending.
A picker is a piece of machinery that helps you open the fibres and get them ready for carding or even spinning.  It’s also a great tool for blending fibres so they are mostly mixed before you put them through your drum carder. My girlfriend, from the dyeing days, owns a Patrick Green picker and she kindly let me borrow it for a spell.  Here it is.
It has some pretty sharp teeth, so there’s no sipping wine while you do this.  You have to pay attention on every single swing.  The fibre is fed into the front and on each swing, the teeth grab the fibre, drag it across all the other teeth, and spit it out the back.  All loose and opened up.
Then I took this wool/alpaca blend, added silk and put it through the drum carder.  The results weren’t what I was hoping for — too many noils.  I’ll post some photos of the sample yarn, when I have the issue sorted.

Love affair continues. . .

I continue to be smitten with the Feather and Fan lace pattern.  It’s quick and easy.  In fact, I made this cowl in a little more than a day. During my morning bus ride, I cast on — was able to knit through most of the day long meeting — and was finishing up the picot edging this morning. 

I washed and blocked it.  It’s 50% silk so half-way through the drying process, I popped it into the dryer with a few towels to soften it up.  I am so pleased with the result and am having a lot of fun with the skirt portion.  For this version, I did five increase rounds.  I had a lot of this yarn and wanted to see what a longer skirt would look like.  Would have gone a bit further execpt that would have made even more stitches for the never-ending picot bind-off.

Now off to spin.

Cowl #2 — purple ramboulette — in progress

My love affair with the Feather and Fan lace pattern continues.  I liked the result of the last cowl I made so much, I had to make another one.  This time, I wanted one that fit a bit closer around the neck.  So I used slightly smaller needles (4mm), thinner yarn (DK) and fewer stitches.

I knit a tube using the Feather and Fan lace pattern for a total of 8 inches (20cm) then did a garter stitch border and cast off.  I tested it out by wearing it on our weekly early morning grocery trip.  While I love it, especially the colour and the softness of the yarn — handspun locally sourced Ramboulette, I didn’t like the fact it was a tube.  I needed a bit of something to cover my upper chest, but a bit of a bib, like I made on the other one. 

Thanksfully I have plenty of yarn left over.  So while I join the family to watch the various hockey games on today, I will undo the garter edge and knit a bit of flared edge. 

Here’s the pattern to make your own cowl:

Yarn: 70 g of DK weight yarn, must be very soft as it will be snug against your neck.
Needles:  4mm circular — 16″ or 40cm

Feather and Fan Pattern — another variation on the theme — this one uses a multiple of 11 stitches.
Row 1:  Knit
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: *K2tog, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, k2tog*
Row 4: Purl

Repeat these 4 rows to make Feather and Fan lace pattern when knitting in the round.

Instructions to make the Purple Cowl:

Cast on 77 stitches leave an 8″ tail — see below. 

I hate the stress of trying not to twist the stitches when joining in the round, almost as much as I dislike doing garter stitch on circular needles.  So this trick deals with both issues:  Instead of joining in the round, knit back and forth on circular needles doing garter stitch for 4 rows.  After 4 rows, join in the round.  You will find it nearly impossible to twist the stitches at this stage — the extra tail is used to stitch up the 1/2 inch gap .

Begin Feather and Fan Lace pattern as shown above.  Knit in pattern for 8 inches, or preferred length.  If you just want a tube, after row 2 of the pattern, begin 4 rows of garter stitch.  If you hate knitting in garter stitch on circulars, use same technique as above.  Bind off loosely.

If you want a bit of a bib, or something to cover a bit more of your upper chest, try the following.  It’s the same pattern as the one used in the Placid Waters cowl

Instructions for bottom flared edge:

Round 1: *Knit 7, increase by M1L* (make one left) for a total of 11 increases.  (88 stitches)
Round 2: Knit
Round 3: *Knit 8, increase by M1L* (make one left) for a total of 11 increases.  (99 stitches)
Round 4: Knit
Round 5: *Knit 9, increase by M1L* (make one left) for a total of 11 increases.  (110 stitches)
Round 6: Knit
Round 7: *Knit 10, increase by M1L* (make one left) for a total of 11 increases.  (121 stitches)
Round 8: Knit to the last stich and then icrease one by M1L (122 stitches total)
Round 9: *K2tog, yo*
Round 10: Purl
Round 11: Knit
Round 12: Purl
Round 13:  Bind off — if you have the patience and enough yarn, do a picot bind off

Weave in ends, block and wear with pride.

Will post my revised version later on today.

Feather and Fan cowl — pattern under development

I was so inspired by the yarn I used to make Leah’s hat, I had to keep knitting with it.  I usually knit socks and mitts on size 3mm needles, so using 5mm and larger was a real treat.  Things grow fast when you use thick yarn and large needles.  Duh.

I am in love with the Feather and Fan lace pattern. In fact, I’ve been dabbling with it for a while. The knitting magazine I received in my stocking this year contained an article about the Feather and Fan patterns and all the delightful variations on the theme.  There are dozens. If you haven’t yet explored it, consider doing so.  It is simple and elegant– of the four rows of the pattern, only one row requires you to pay any attention at all — with a series of rhythmic k2togs (knit two together) and yos (yarn overs).  The article ended with instructions/ideas for making items with this pattern.  One of them was a cowl.

Hence, I grabbed the rest of the placid waters yarn and another similar bundle — coal harbour, all from Sweet Georgia Yarns, and cast on. The nice thing about making a hat or a cowl, is not only that it goes by quickly, but it is that you only have to make ONE.  You can make changes and additions and variations, and unless you are trying to design a pattern, you don’t have to worry about repeating it.  Just create as you go.  It’s like free form drawing. 

So here it is, the photo shoot:

Here it is right near the end when I started thinking about taking photos.

Here’s what it looks like after it is washed and blocked.  Quite a simple item don’t you think? It is essentially an 8″ (20 cm) tube with a bit of a skirt.
In this last view you can see the effect of the skirt.  I have cast on again, planning another Feather and Fan lace cowl, but this time making it much more snug.  The Feather and Fan lace has quite a bit of stretch, so it will fit over the head even if it more snug around the neck.
Stay tuned.  I am on holidays and have all the time in the world for knitting and playing around with fibre.


Inspired by the season

Last year I purchased a skein of yarn at my LYS – local yarn store – 88 Stitches.  I was inspired by it because it reminded me of the autumn colours you see back east at this time of year. 

I didn’t have any particular pattern  in mind, or even a thought about what kind of an item I would want to knit up.  I just loved the colours. 

I started knitting a pair of socks, but stopped because the yarn just striped and I wasn’t looking for a pair of striped socks. Ripped it out. 

So I tried something else.  I started a scarf from which uses a dropped stitch pattern and blocks of knitting and purling.  The end product looked woven.  It would be a lovely scarf/wrap in any other yarn.  But this one just wasn’t working.  It sat there in my UFO box. 

On Sunday, inspired by the fact that I no longer had to focus on getting those items completed for the sale, I was FREE to play and imagine new things.  So I headed to my studio and took out some fun yarns I have had on the back burner.  I had this small ball of lovely merino left over from a pair of socks I made.  I wanted to try the Feather and Fan Lace pattern, so grabbed that yarn to do a test swatch.

Feather and Fan Lace:  works on multiples of 18 stitches

Row 1:  Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3:  K2tog – 3 times, YO knit 1 – 6 times, k2tog – 3 times.  Repeat across the row.
Row 4: Knit

Repeat these four rows for the pattern.

A variation of the patterns adds a stitch at the beginning and the end – so it is 18 stitches plus 2.  Knit the first and last stitch on row three.

Here’s what it looks like. 

Not only was it easy to knit, I loved what was happening with the colours.  They weren’t striping, they were pooling.  That’s exactly what I wanted the Fall Coloured yarn to do, but hadn’t yet found a way to do this. 

This one was pooling in two distinct columns, which is kind of pretty, but not what I had in mind for the Fall yarn.

I ripped out the dropped lace scarf and was secretly happy because I could reclaim all my abalone stitch markers.  Re-wound the ball — and dug up some slightly larger needles than the ones I used on the test swatch.  For that I used 3mm.  I grabbed the 4mm, cast on 38 stitches and started knitting.  In a very short while I realized I had found what I was looking for.  It’s really hard to imagine how happy this made me — so happy in fact I tried to share my enthusiasm with sleeping hubby.  Got a much better reception from the gals at work the next day. 

Here it is.  It is what I envisioned — it looks like an eastern forest in mid October.  The golds, oranges and reds are at their height causing the dark greens from the evergreens to stand out. 

The rocks on the windowsill say it all.