Category Archives: knitting

Lupine Forest – experiment #2

Welcome to 2017. Here’s a blog post that’s been sitting in my drafts for a while waiting for some photos to attach to it. Finally, I finished it.

A while back I wrote about working with this colourway – Lupine Forest from Kinfolk Yarn and Fibre. I liked the result, but also felt that the purples, the Lupine buds, were lost in the yarn. So I decided to try spinning it differently so that I could try to get the purple buds to POP.

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I spun it on a drop spindle because I made this spinning decision at a guild demonstration where I only brought my spindles. I’d never really tried to spin thick and thin on a spindle, but I am always up for a challenge and the chance to learn new things. I hate making mistakes, which may surprise you for the number of mistakes I make, but once I get over the ego-bruising of a mistake, I have always learned something valuable.

Below is the result. Notice that the purple pieces are thicker than the other colours.

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And here is is next to ball of varigated greens that it was plied with.

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I plied it on my wheel. I wanted to try different plying techniques that I have only learned and practiced on my wheel, so comfort was the key to confidence. First I tried differential tension with the plying that you can see along the bottom right of this skein. I didn’t think I wanted that. Then in a fit of enthusiasm, I made a couple of super coils. I didn’t think that would work with the knitting pattern and plan that I wanted to compare it to, so I continued with straight on plying.

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And here’s the final yarn. The purple pops, and when knitted up into half-mitts it popped a bit. Not as much as I thought it would. So there’s a message to those who think their uneven yarn won’t look nice.

And here it is knit up into my Simple Lines pattern. The purple bits did exactly what I wanted them to do.

And here’s a close-up. I love the texture it brings to the mitts.

And I continued the experiment by doing the thick purple parts and this time plying it with variegated brown instead of with green. I haven’t knit it up yet, but it’s a good example of the many yarns you can make from one painted braid.

Happy Spinning!

A Fibre & Colour Challenge

At the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild Annual Artisan Sale I sold my Candygram socks to a fellow artisan. Similarly inspired by the colours in the socks she bought, she asked me if I ever worked on commission.

My answer, “It depends. What are you looking for? Tell me more.”

So she showed me this photo of Turkey Tail Fungus that caught her attention.

It’s pretty amazing stuff in terms of colors and shapes. So I agreed to try to recreate this look and feel into a pair of socks. Crazy challenge in some ways, but so weird and wonderful why not try?

I have a few strategies at hand.

Plan A: easiest one is to over dye a pair a pair of socks that I have on hand. They are pink, orange and yellow – with an over dye of indigo they may just give me the look I’m after.

Plan B: spin a braid of  Sweet Georgia Yarns “Bourbon” but add some burgundy and white bits. Lots of work to spin, ply and knit. But will certainly do the trick.

Plan C: . . . hasn’t been thought through yet. That will involve space dyeing a skein of sock yarn that will do wonderful striping. But that’s Plan C. And we hardly ever get to Plan C right?

But then as I write this and think it through, there is also the wonderful curly element that needs to be considered. I must hit the pattern books to find the right way to describe this. I may even need a Plan D for this project.

Thanks Dawn for the challenge!

Simple Lines

Here is my latest pattern. I just posted it on Ravelry. It’s call Simple Lines because of the elegant 3 x 1 rib stitch. It is a straightforward knitting project, suitable for new knitters. In fact, it has been test knitted by a fleet of new knitters from the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild. Have a go at it and let me know what you think.

They are so easy (and inexpensive) to make, you will make a fleet of them for all your friends and fashion needs.

Reflections on the month of July

I love the month of July.

It is a month of celebrating – starting with Canada Day on the first, then a nod to my roots – Independence Day on the fourth. A little over a week later, it’s my birthday and after that my wedding anniversary. In the middle of that is the charming Aldergrove Fair. And to top it all off, July is when I usually manage to organize my summer holidays and get a few weeks off work. Delicious.

Fibre-wise it’s been a good month. I’ve got a good start on spinning and plying the July Fibre Club. I’ve reclaimed some local Cormo and am in the process of cleaning it, again. That will be a separate blog post. But the biggest accomplishment for me this month is that I have changed the way I knit.

I learned to knit when I was 10 and since my mid-teens I’ve been a steady knitter. So why would I change now?

I love making yarn almost more than anything. I mostly knit when I am tired of spinning or when I am commuting. I am amazed at the production of some knitters and when I get to the roots of their speed, one common factor is the way they throw their yarn. They are knitting Continental – throwing with their left and picking the yarn to make the loop. I knit English style which is to throw with the right hand and wrap the yarn around the needle before you pull it through. It isn’t efficient at all.

I learned how to knit Continental style at the insistence of Lucy Neadby. At a knitting workshop she showed us some of the best ways to get a smooth and consistent fabric when making intarsia or knitting fair isle. That was to hold one colour in one hand and the other colour in the other. Thus the need to be able to throw with what ever hand/colour was needed at the time.

So I know how to do it, but I only did it when I did colour work. But suddenly I wanted to see if I could knit faster so I could get through more yarn. That’s when I decided to knit Continental, and Continental only beginning with a lovely little project – baby socks.

The pattern is by Kate Atherley and it’s free on Ravelry. It was a quick easy project and one that I could focus my new knitting skills upon. You start with a 2 x 2 rib stitch so it was good to get practice with knitting and purling right from the start. But it was frustrating at the beginning. On my commute to the city, knitting my usual way I could easily have finished the cuff/leg and even had a good start on the heel flap. But not this time. I barely had one inch of knitting to show. Nonetheless, I didn’t give up. Ever time I reached for my knitting, my hands would go into the English throw position, and I had to readjust. By the time I was onto my second sock I was getting a bit faster, at least more comfortable with it.

I finished those socks and quickly moved onto another pair. That pair went much faster than the first, but still it didn’t seem as fast as my other knitting. Now I am onto a third pair and I am happy to report that I can now do the knit stitch without looking. It’s just coming quite naturally. And the purl stitch is actually fun, and easier to do than the English style.

Lesson learned:  You really can teach an old dog new tricks.

I wanted to change the way I knit and so I focused exclusively on changing the way I knit. When it got tough I either put it down for a spell, or just persevered. The change didn’t come over night. It took a while for my hands and my brain to get used to it. I noticed that every morning when I picked up my knitting, it was just was wee bit easier than it was the time before.

Here’s the first pair I knit next to the parent pair that used the bulk of the yarn. Aren’t they the sweetest things?

And here’s a photo of the second pair of socks I knit from leftover handspun. Great pattern – these are the newborn size and used 20 grams of yarn.

That’s it for July. Welcome August and all the new fibre adventures it will hold.

2014 Winter Games Challenge continued

I have been making good progress on these socks. It has been a creative marathon.

The challenge is that the pattern is for a mid-length sock and my friendship wants knee-high lace socks. Hence the challenge to

a) figure out a way to increase the number of stitches so it can grow around the calf

b) do this in a way that it grows beautifully and naturally out of the already established pattern AND

c) execute it twice.

When I first imagined doing this I thought I would simply increase the number of purl stitches in the purl ditches separating the lace columns. But I didn’t like that look and besides, I wanted all the increasing to happen at the back of the leg.

So this is what I did – as I approached the bottom of the calf, I went up a needle size from 2.75 mm to 3 mm. Then I “grew” another column of lace stitches out of the purl ditch on either side of the central lace column at the back of the leg. After knitting 1.5 inches, I increased another 4 stitches in the purl ditches at the back of the leg.

Total increase – 14 stitches. And I think the look is just fine. (When fully complete, I’ll take photos of them on so you can see the effect.) As I get near the top of the sock, before I start the edging rib stitches, I have decreased the four purl increases. I will decrease another five to bring it to 70 stitches. Then using 2.75 mm needles again, I will knit 2 inches of 1 x 1 rib, cast off loosely and call it a day.

I’ve been knitting these socks in tandem so I could make the necessary pattern modifications and still end up with matching socks.

Sock #1 is waiting for me to start the 1 x 1 rib.

Sock #2 is still being knit in pattern with all the increases in. I have two more pattern repeats and then the decreases, and then the 1 x 1 rib.

I am planning to finish these up as I watch several episodes of Lidia’s Italy .

Here’s a snapshot of the two columns of lace increases across the back.

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2014 Winter Games Challenge

This month I’ve joined my local yarn shop in their celebrations of the Sochi Winter Olympics. They are hosting a knit/crochet challenge that has three levels of competitions: Gold, Silver and Bronze, along with several other wonderful prizes for participants.

To join in, you needed to identify your project before midnight on Thursday and couldn’t start knitting until the Opening Ceremony began at 8:14am Pacific Time. The project I identified was a pair of knee-high lace-rib socks. The pattern is toe-up, something I’ve never done before, and while the pattern is only for mid-calf and my friend wants knee high. Because of this, my project has been put into the Gold (Moscow Biathlon Participants) category.

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I had the yarn picked out and had swatched prior to the official starting time. This photo shows how far I’ve come in two days. Because I am making modifications to the pattern I am knitting these in tandem. Toe for sock #1, then over to the toe for sock #2. What you see here is one toe complete, and on the other sock, the foot, nearly up to the place to start the heel. When I get to that point, I’ll stop, and start on the second sock. Then I turn the heels at the same time and will be able to do the shaping for the calves at the same time.

(The next time I photograph these socks, I’ll put them on my feet so you can see the lace.)

The foot for these socks need to be 9.5 inches long, and the leg 16.25 inches high, add 2 inches for the heel and each sock represents about . That’s 28 inches (27.75) for each sock a total of 56 inches. If there are 17 days of knitting to be had during the Olympics, then that means that I need to do a minimum of 3.3 inches on these socks every day to stay on track for a completion before the closing ceremonies. I think that’s manageable.

This afternoon I am going to plunk myself in front of the TV and watch about 7 episodes of Lidia’s Italy and Lidia in America, drink wine and knit these socks. That’s my idea of a Sunday afternoon.

Monday morning update,both pairs of socks ready for the short row heel:

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The Candygram Socks

Sometime back in March 2013 (was it really that long ago?) I spun up the February Fibre club yarn called Candygram. It is lovely stuff with just a wee bit of sparkle – not enough to make it tacky, but enough to make it special. Recovering from a spinning-inspired knee injury, I spun this 100 grams on my drop spindles. You can find all the info about this fibre and the spinning in this blog post.

Once it was spun up I stared at the yarn for a long time. I just didn’t like it. I didn’t like the purples and lime greens together and thought they’d look muddy when knit up.

Well I was wrong. Really wrong. This was a case of ugly yarn, lovely result. The yarn actually striped up when it was knit, and even those rare times when the greens and purples collided, it was actually okay.

So here they are, a pair of socks. Just my basic “mindless-knitting” sock pattern. They aren’t exactly the same, but they surely are a pair.

Flash off.

 Flash on.

Just to make sure I didn’t get SSS (second-sock syndrome) I knit them mostly together. Cuff on #1, cuff on #2. heel flap on #1, heel flap on #2, and so on right down to the decreases at the toe. I recommend doing socks this way — it’s easy to remember the pattern when you are doing on piece following another. And for me, I know that once I saw the result of the yarn, the mystery was over and I could easy be left with just one sock. Nope, not now. I now have a lovely pair of socks to show off at the next fibre event!

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.

Overdue Christmas present – Norwegian Selbu Mittens

I managed to do a good amount of knitting for Christmas presents, but ran out of time. I started these mitts on December 22nd with the bold hope that I would have them finished by Christmas Day. At least sometime during the day. But alas, here it is December 30th, and this is how far I’ve come. And I didn’t knit a stitch on them yesterday at all. (Because I spent the day tidying up my studio – she writes defensively.)

It’s not that they are difficult. In fact, they are quite straightforward. They just require absolute concentration. This is not a “knit and watch a movie” kind of project. This is “sit up and pay attention” with the pattern being consulted every single stitch and every single row.

The chart is terrific, but the instructions are a little skimpy. If you are a proficient knitter you will easily figure out where and how to put in the increases and decreases, and what “reverse pattern for second mitten” means. And then there is the thumb!

The pattern is a lovely traditional Norwegian snowflake pattern. I love it.

Now that I’m nearly done and I know how much yarn they take, I’ve got a plan to make a few more pairs in my hand spun. Should be lovely.

BTW the pattern is Norwegian Selbu Mittens by Henrietta Hope. It’s a free download on Ravelry or here.