Posted on

Christmas Knitting Done in the Nick of Time!

This year, I hadn’t planned on any knit, crochet, or woven Christmas stuff. And usually when I do make such plans, they’re for crochet items, which are significantly faster. But then, as it happened, I had a yarn that I wanted to swatch for photos, and so sometime in late October I decided I’d combine that need to swatch with a knit scarf for my third grader’s teacher — it’s her first year as a full teacher, our son isn’t the easiest student in the world to teach, and she’s really been going above and beyond in my opinion, and I usually do like to give a handmade fiber gift to his teachers. Or chocolate. So, I started lackadaisically knitting up 200 yards of the handpaint tussah single into a fairly lazy little improvised lacy diamonds kind of thing, which since I wasn’t knitting on it with any great regularity, I just barely managed to finish yesterday afternoon.

Scarf for my son's teacher

In lieu of blocking — which lacy knitting truly requires — I opted to wash it, and iron it dry. This worked out very nicely, however, and the finished scarf was not only thus dry in time to wrap and send in to school with our son on his last day of school before winter break, but super-flat, shiny, and wispy — and almost 8 inches wide and 5 feet long.

More of this same yarn is available in my eBay store, here.If that link doesn’t work out for you, just go straight to the store home, and enter “raw silk” in the search box. The handspun, hand-dyed tussah singles I routinely list for sale would also make similar scarves, but are finer; whereas this scarf was knit on US size 6 / 4mm needles, I’d recommend a US 4 / 3.5mm needle for the handspun tussah singles.

Other than that scarf, right after Thanksgiving, my better half mentioned — as he has more than once in the past — this one Christmas when his mother knit everyone in the extended family stockings, and how those had been the best stockings ever, and they were SO stretchy that as Christmas stockings they just were so great, and the next time I was talking to his mother, maybe I might ask her for that pattern. Indeed, I thought, I should finally do that.

Unfortunately, the pattern was lost some time ago, but she was able to lend me a finished stocking, from which to reconstruct the pattern. Armed with the actual object, the web, and — believe it or not — Red Heart Super Saver and sparkly acrylic “holiday” yarn, I set out to make three of them. These, I narrowly completed the night before last, and they now grace the mantel which Chad had put up specifically as a platform from which stockings could be hung.

Stockings were hung by the chimney with care

Edward’s was by far the most annoying; I can’t give “Red Heart Holiday” a particularly glowing review as yarn, nor is the resulting fabric terribly appealing; but it was the yarn he chose! And yes, folks, this handspinner is totally unrepentant about using cheap acrylic yarn for this project — Christmas stockings, after all, will be stored untouched and unseen in a dark place for most of the year, should be machine-washable if needed, and the last thing you want is to be unpacking the Christmas box and discover it’s been irretrievably moth damaged. Nothing eats that kind of yarn.

Depending on my level of ambition, however, I may redo these stockings in the coming year. Or the year after that. Certain things about them just disappoint the perfectionist in me a little.

Of course, there is a “well, that didn’t happen in time” to mention: a week and change ago, my son charmingly requested a Santa hat to wear to school, and I even bought some truly heinous but indestructible yarn for the purpose, but it just didn’t happen. I’m afraid December, and the last part of November, were largely lost to me due to dental work which I can really only term as extreme — until last week, I never knew it was possible to get half a root canal before having to be referred out to the super-specialist for the remainder of it. And never in my self-aware life have I subsisted for over a week on nothing but broth, yogurt, and pudding, nor had to commit to painkillers for weeks at a time. Here’s hoping I never do again!

Photo Gallery for 2006 Christmas Knitting
Photo Gallery for Christmas Stockings

Posted on

Purple Mohair/Silk Triangle; Creme de Menthe Scarf

Some recent finished objects with handspun yarn, and one in progress.

1. Triangle, bottom up, improvised variant on “Falling Leaves” lace, bounded by criscrossed diamonds. The yarn: I blended mohair, tussah silk, and a dash of the horrible-looking orange and black firestar nylon, and that is this 2-ply yarn.



http://ucan.foad.org/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=mohair-silk-triangle

2. Sampler scarf, including lots of fudging! The goal: fit various lace patterns into bounded diamonds while using up the yarn, which I’ve been meaning to do something with for 2 years now. It’s a cashmere/tussah silk/merino 2-ply yarn, and the scarf, knitted on size 2 US needles, came to about 6 feet long.


http://ucan.foad.org/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=creme-de-menthe-scarf

3. Again with the using up stuff I spun a while ago, this yarn was dated 1/4/2004, and is a L:ouet camel/tussah blend that gave me because he rules.

Posted on

What is blocking?

What is blocking?

It’s when you stretch your completed object out or finish it in one of various ways in order to make it stay a given size and shape. The shawl I’ve been knitting on, here:

will not be that size or shape exactly when it’s done, and the pattern will really pop out once it’s blocked. As it is right now, you can’t really see the pattern — it’s very muddy looking.

Once the shawl’s complete, I’ll wash it (because I also want the mohair to bloom) by hand in cool water, and then roll it up in a towel and squeeze it till it’s only damp. While it’s damp, I will spread it out someplace big enough, tug it here and there to be make the pattern show and line up and so the whole object is the right size, and then pin it, weight it, or lightly go over it with a not-so-hot iron to make it steam a bit. Once it dries, it’s set in place like that (until it gets soaking wet again, of course).

Before blocking:

After blocking:

Before:

After:

I’ve promised detailed blocking pictures for the next project to be blocked. 😉

Posted on

Denim-Look Mohair Silk Sweater!

From ages and ages ago, I had this yarn that I strongly felt should be a sweater, a sweater I even wanted, but which I had no desire at all to knit. A friend of mine kindly offered to knit it for me. We sat down together, talked it through, took measurements, and she designed and knit me a sweater. But, then she decided she didn’t really feel satisfied with how it came out, so she redid it! And now I have it.

Original post a bit about the yarn, which is a mohair and silk:

http://www.livejournal.com/community/spinningfiber/183539.html

Photo gallery: http://ucan.foad.org/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=denim-mosilk

My designated knitter, who’s been knitting longer than I’ve been alive, says she really enjoyed the yarn, and — as I hoped would be true — it didn’t shed, it was possible to frog the entire sweater, it was pleasant to work with, and it has bloomed in the garment finishing process and should bloom a little more still. All in all I’m pleased. 😉

Posted on

Hot Yarn Porn!

All yarn pr0n all the time! The past week or so of yarn.

Exciting yarn pr0n! Hot mohair action! Thrilling blends! Commercial alpaca!

Click any picture to go to the photo gallery (and you can leave comments and questions on the photos there if you like, too).


One ply kid mohair, one ply tussah silk, appx 2400 ypp


One ply merino/tencel, one ply merino/tussah silk, one ply space-dyed in the roving tussah silk


2-ply alpaca from commercial combed top

Next up: Deciding whether, and how, to dye the mohair/silk, and what purpose it’ll be put to. I’ve decided that 1.5 lbs or alpaca is going to be a cabled sweater, which means I won’t be getting to it anytime soon, and I’m going to deliberate about pattern, and doubtless come up with my own to a degree so that I can be one of the cool people who does that. The purple 3-ply tweedy giant skein is like 850 yards and, given an appropriate pattern, could be a close-fitting lacy sweater with a nice drape to it. With 3/4 sleeves and a wide neck, cropped. Haha.

I should be working on the shawl for my mother-in-law also, of course.

Next up spinning stuff: if there’s a Fiber Friday theme I’ll do something for that, I figure. I have this one bag of maybe a pound of blended interesting colour stuff I bought off ebay a while back, that I spun some of 2-ply and so now, of course, I have to come back and match that like a year later. I’m on a mission to spin my way through all the stuff that doesn’t readily fit in a neat location in my new stash organization scheme. Because if nothing else, the yarn’ll store in less space and it’s that much closer to being used for something, I guess.

I want to do some blending… but, I’m waiting for my new motorized Fricke drum carder, which I hope will get here in time for the weekend. It would be sweet to be playing with it this weekend. And now that I have solved my drum carder quandary, I have to also choose, then score, a floor loom. Then maybe I could chill out for a bit and just be productive.

Posted on

Projects, Projects…

A handful of recent projects. Lace knitting, even…

I started this in September as a “should take a while” project when we flew to Connecticut for my father’s memorial service, and finished it last week on vacation in Ohio:

http://ucan.foad.org/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=200402-shawl-01


It’s elann.com “Baby Cashmere,” which is a cashmere/merino/alpaca blend. One large panel with the leafy thing, two small end panels that are zig-zags, knitted; then each panel edged and straightened out some with single crochet then simple filet crochet border, then sewed together, then a simple crochet edging all around.

The major point of this project was prototyping for the shawl I figured on having made for my mother-in-law for this past Christmas, from this yarn that I spun last summer:

Impossible to photograph the yarn, and it turns out, even harder to photograph in progress

once it’s finished and blocked I’m sure it’ll look better. I’ll have to take pictures in daylight probably.

Included in the album are 2 photos of the swatch for it — it’s the leafy pattern, with central diamonds, and leaves have sorta diamondy vines around the center diamonds, which are going to occur throughout, and… well, okay, it’s just not gonna look right until it’s done and blocked and stuff.

Aaaaand a small amount of spinning:

I had 2 pounds of this commercial alpaca top in my stash when I sorted it the other week, and resolved to spin it all up reasonably fine, to get the hang of the new accelerating head for the Suzie that Chad gave me for my birthday. Turns out, inidentally, that I can cram about 8 ounces of this on a standard Majacraft bobbin:


That one’s not quite full yet. Once I get a pound — about 8 oz on each of 2 bobbins — then I’ll get back to the plying. I got about 6 oz onto the Woolee Winder bobbin, so I figure I’ll get another skein around that size off, then cram those 2 bobbins the rest of the way full again, using up the remainder of the yarn, and then ply for 17,000 years and be done with it. Then I’ll try to figure out what to do with the yarn.

Posted on

Summer Sweater, WIP

It’s been too hot to spin, so I’ve been covering myself in yarn instead.

This was a stash-reduction project. I had 9 balls of this rather nice cotton yarn, Skacel Tola, that I had picked up on sale at some point, and concluded I ought to be able to make a wearable object from it. So it’s a raglan I made up with some mild shaping, a lace panel from the Susanna Lewis “Knitted Lace” book that my dad got me for this past Christmas, with the “fern” motifs fudged a bit for shaping in the sleeves. I didn’t like how it sat with the rolled edge I had originally planned so it would be a slouchy sweater, so I added a few rows of crochet edging to the bottom. And I may do the same to the 3/4 length sleeves. It ended up using 6.25 balls of yarn — about 600 yards all told.

Photo Gallery for the green raglan


The front… or maybe the back depending on how glaring I really feel like the one major error in it is… of a tank I’m making up to use about 500 yards of sort of sport weight single-ply tussah that I spun and dyed this past spring. This is pattern #78 from that same Lewis book. I think I’m going to block this and then press it, once I’ve finished the pieces, and before assembly. But it’s too hot to keep working with sticky staticky silk yarn right now. So more another time.

Photo Gallery for the tussah lace tank

Posted on

Oil Slick Yarn, or When Spindles Save The Day

I had packed 500 yards and over 5 oz on the Woolee Winder and…

http://ucan.foad.org/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=oil-slick

I just could not get the last little bit on there. So I wound all 3 plies into a pull-from-either-end butterfly type thing (hey, it works!) and then took the *other* end of the 3, and plied it with a drop spindle, and…

And then I had to feed it all back through the orifice, and 2 circles on the woolee winder, without tangling it, so that I could skein it off the wheel, and get…

Drop spindle saves the day! It’s a merino/tussah 50/50 blend that I had lying around, which is dark charcoal grey, with varied colour silks space-spun in different colours intentionally ummmm… and then with another ply that’s similar except less silk and it has some firestar, and a 3rd ply that is opalescent mylar or something like that, and the spacing of the colour repeats and the sequence of how they’re done, I’m expecting is going to work out so that the resulting shawl, which is for ME to keep in the office and use when it’s cold and I wore a t-shirt, is going to look like an oil slick on asphalt.

Anyway, this skein, which is a little less than half, is 530 yards / 5.5 oz. And the other skein is going to be larger so I’ll have to repeat the ply-the-last-bit-with-dropspindle trick… oof.

Dang shawl better come out how I want.

Posted on

Boucle Gallery

A few highlights from my photo gallery for the study I did in 2004 of handspun boucle yarns, found here: http://ucan.foad.org/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=boucles


The first, a blend of New Zealand Brush Tail Possum (whatever that is, it’s neat stuff though) and coopworth, with rayon binder. I tried to do this all 3 strands at once and it’s not a stable yarn. Therefore I’m stuck coming up with a project for it and working with its flaws.


“Tropical Rainbow Skeinbert”
Emma will be shaking her head over the flaws in this one, which is a true boucle and tolerably stable, but is the first I would deem so.


“Cadbury Foil”
A more stable boucle from a coopworth single from that same ebay source, ebay user jjfarm, that all these coopworth blends came from. 394 yards, 9.875 ounces.


“Dandelion Fields”
I dyed this yearling mohair bright freakin’ green. This time, I tried pills23’s sequence with twist direction, and got a too-twisty result which does have perfect little mohair loops in it. I think a washing and beating up will help this skein a lot. 133 yards, 3.375 ounces.


“Cranberry Garland”
Z tussah silk single, Z nylon core, Z plied together, then S plied again with the binder, this one is absolutely the best of the lot. I’m going to repeat this with other colours and other binders, with more tussah silk. 306 yards, 2.5 ounces

I have at least 3 more already-spun yarns to turn into boucles here, haha. A few more good evenings and I’ll be done, and totally sick of plying.

Posted on

Tropical Rainbow Skeinbert: Boucle

First you take this:


(coopworth/alpaca blend from Jehovah Jireh Farm)

and then you make it into this handspun single-ply yarn:

Which then in turn gets plied with this iridescent commercial flossy stuff for a binder:

And then it looks like this:

Then, ply it one more time with the binder, in the opposite direction from the last ply, the same direction in which the original single was spun, and when you skein it you get:


…what my better half named TROPICAL RAINBOW SKEINBERT!