Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Night Owl Shawl – complete

December 22, 2014 060

The yarn for this shawl is from Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club — January 2014 .The colourway is called Night Owl – reminiscent of the night sky with a large moon. It is 75% Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) and 25% silk. It was beautiful fibre to work with and to spin.

This braid presented an interesting challenge because it used purples and yellows. If I did a 2-ply fractal spinning, there would be moments when those two colours would be plied against each other, and I am not sure that I wanted that look.

I decided to spin it ombre style, to have long, long colourways that slowly move to the next one and then the next one and so on.  To do this I separated that colour sections into piles and hand carded them into rolags. Once each one was carded, I carefully put it into an order that would move the colourway from one end to the other. You can see in the photo below all the carefully carded rolags for my first experiment with ombre. This is not the Night Owl colourway, it was another colourway from the fibre club a while back. But it shows what the colour gradations look like within each rolag.

OmbreThe ball of yarn on the right is the product of those rolags. They were spun for Spinzilla 2013, into thin singles and then Navajo plied to keep the colour intact. The ball on the left is the Night Owl colourway. You can see the intense yellow, then the how it gets lighter, then moves to purples and gets finished off with blue. Just like a night time sky with a big moon.

2014-04-04 11.35.27It took me a while to find the right project. I wanted something that would show off the colour gradations. I also wanted something that was easy to knit because I am working on knitting Continental style after 40+ years of throwing my yarn with my right hand. The Boneyarn Shawl by Stephen West was the perfect solution.  Here it is, fresh off the needles with about 2 meters of yarn to spare.

shawl 1And here it is later in the morning being blocked. The lighting really changes the colours. The shawl ended up being 42″ across and 24″ deep. A very nice sized neck scarf. Enough to wrap around your neck, but not too big that it makes you fuss with it because you have too much around your neck.

shawl 2A word about blocking – whomever invented blocking wires most certainly has a place in heaven. At least the heaven that knitters know about. Blocking wires make it easy to have crisp lines and to make both sides equal. It is frustrating trying to do that with pins.

And you can see from this photo that I really stretched it in the blocking process, thus opening up the stitches. It is soft and has a lovely drape thanks to the silk. I’m not sure about these colours for me, so watch for it at next year’s guild sale.

December 22, 2014 059

How to avoid SSS – Second-Sock-Syndrome

2014-12-17 08.35.41-2

As I traveled around the province this fall, knitting was my constant travel companion. The easiest travel knitting project for me is socks. They don’t take much space and I have the pattern for them memorized. Just pick the needles, some fun yarn, and I am on my way.

Along the way I met many knitters who as much as they like hand knit socks, have either never tried to make a pair – because you have to make two of them (!) or if they tried, often times, never finished the second sock. Much to their surprise, this is a common affliction for many sock knitters. In fact it has a name – Second-Sock-Syndrome or SSS. Where we enthusiastically embark upon a sock project inspired by the yarn, the new needles, or pattern, and then once the first sock is made, you are mostly satisfied. Then we look to the second sock with dread. But the thrill is gone, we know what it will look like and how the yarn will behave. The second sock is a chore. (If you are a fast and prolific knitter, you probably have no idea what I am talking about – but the rest of us often suffer through the second sock.)

But I have found a way to get around SSS. Here is my cure.

First things first. Let’s look at the anatomy of a sock. When you knit a sock you knit seven sections that can be looked at individually. (If you knit from toe to top, just reverse the order, the principle that follows will be the same.)

  1. cuff
  2. leg
  3. heel flap
  4. heel
  5. instep
  6. sole
  7. toe

My technique for combating SSS is to knit the socks at the same time. And this is how I do it. First, I knit the cuff section for sock #1. Then I get another set of needles and I start another sock and knit the cuff section for #2. Then I do the leg portion for #1 and then the leg for #2 once that first one is complete. I keep moving along, doing one section at a time on the first sock, and then that same section on the second sock. If I am working from a large ball of yarn, the yarn for one sock comes from the outside of the ball, the other from the centre.

There are many advantages for knitting socks this way. Often I don’t work with a pattern. I just have the basics in my head. But I do need to remember how many stitches I cast on, how long each section is, how I turned the heel, and how many stitches I picked up after I turned the heel. These things are difficult to hold in your head if you make a full sock and then move the other one. Especially if a week or two (or several months) pass before you get started on the second one. When I do one section after another, I can easily see what I’ve done. And for the more finicky things like turning the heel, or picking up the stitches, I can quickly do them back-to-back.

Another big advantage is the true sense of progress. After all, you are making a PAIR of socks, why not see progress on the PAIR as you go along? And while it is possible to abandon one sock and never make the second one – I have a few examples that could prove this point, I have found it difficult, if not impossible to abandon 1/2 knit socks in progress.

2014-12-16 11.22.38The final reason that really sold me is this: when you have finished the toe on the first one, you then move onto the toe on the second one. That’s the stage I was at in the above photo. After that, all you have left to do is the Kitchener stitch on both and weaving in the ends.

And you have a pair of socks. Complete.

Doesn’t get much better than that.