Friday, October 31, 2008

Tempory interruption

There is no easy way to say this, so I will go right ahead and say it
My Nana died, like most nana's she holds a very special place in my heart, and I think maybe more so as my mum died a long long time ago - and so she is a link to some one I have not had around for a long time.
Now I miss them both.

I'd love to say Nana taught me to knit, but she didn't, she was a knitter and we have a few baby blankets here that she made - the cubs are cuddling them a bit right now. She learned to knit from WEA classes in the 1940's and taught my mother who taught me. WEA was/is the workers education association. A society intended to improve the lives of workers by providing ongoing education, in languages, sciences, trades and crafts. She learned to sew and embroider and decorate cakes and knit via the WEA.
I will blog again, soon, but for now the cubs and I need to get our selves in travelling mode and to Auckland by Wendesday, and home latter that week.

na Stella

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Easily distracted ... thats me

Easily distracted, this week I've been contemplating ripping back the ziggady zaggidy top down raglan - the yoke is just a little snug, Not much room for Poppys shoulders. I thought that the shift from the finner guage of the white yarn to the looser guage of the pink would be a nice substitute for the last increase round but its not, I was in denial while I knit the sleeve - but now Poppy has tried it on with one sleeve - I realise I do really need to frog and increase a bit more. Bother Bother Bother

I have been knitting on other things, well one other thing - and so have yet another boring shot of the tangled yoke cardigan. No I've not yet begun the tangles yet, after a bit of a think I realised that as my gauge is finner than the one the pattern is written for, my tangles will not be as tall as those in the pattern so I really should work 4" not 3" plain before the tangles begin. These tangles seem constantly out of reach -- constantly just a few days knitting away, its that anticipation of them, I hope they live up to all my tangled expectations of them. I've copied the chart, enlarged it, got all ready and still I'm knitting the precursor yoke section.

I've also been spinning the pin drafted roving - and am on to the second bobbin now. I have thought about dying half of the yarn and working colour work mittens ... thats the plan. This fiber has luster and strength and a little halo as I spin it, so outerwear mittens seem a good choice - and i want to do some colour work mittens. For Bear not me, but I do love the colour of the fleece so maybe I won't dye it. I'm spinning on the Pippy after a long spell spinning on the Wing. The Wing has that lovely carry handle, so its the easiest one to take out for spinning night - and I realised the Pippy was sitting unused in the corner - apart from the odd plying job because her bobbins hold twice the yarn the Wing can. I love this wheel - the bobbins hold so much and it has a nice balance to it, and its short enough I can comfortably spin whilst sitting on the couch.

And lastly - the thing that distracted me was at Monday spinning, but it wasn't fiber related. Morag showed of her home made soap, and she made it sound so easy I thought about it for most of the next day and then - bam I found myself off searching the web for recipies and off buying supplies. M is right, it is easy - although next time I would line the mold with paper not glad wrap. I ended up with lots of crease and fold marks. I think Paper would leave a smoother finish. This is a almost pure Castile soap using a one quarter scaled down version of this recipe. The mix did all the things it should have and took around 20 minutes all up. Its now cut into bars and I plan to let it dry out for a few weeks or as long as possible, before I am tempted to use it.
ok - Its a spinning day Saturday, 10:30am-3pm, a bit of a fleece info class in the morning and spin-in in the afternoon, so I'm really looking forward to that.
take care, spin, knit or make soap ... like I did

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gardening weekend

This weekend past was Labour weekend in New Zealand, so Monday was a public holiday, traditionally the first long weekend of spring, all over New Zealand people make gardening plans. This year weather reports and reports of the weather reports were of hail and cold winds and generally 'stay indoors' weather - and yes we had hail on Saturday night, and Sunday morning when Toby and I went for our walk around the reserviour there was still hail in around the trees, but Sunday afternoon and Monday - what a difference. We have had sun and dry and warm ... so some garden sprucing was in order. We weeded, we planted, we tidied and so in consequence not as much knitting as I planned was done. Todays post is a day late as yesterday I was pulling weeds and planting plants, but I've got some garden improvements to show for my time spent outdoors, I have been knitting and now have another sleeve, and I've started a new spinning project with interesting fiber, and lastly in a 35 year old Bear family tradition - Labour weekend is all about Asparagus. But I do need to say thanks for the shrug suggestions for the pink alpaca - I need to spin the rest, and I will pass on all the lovely comments to Ngaire, who knit the shawl.

Toby has been bugging me about planing potatoes. last year his class grew them in plastic bags on the veranda at school, this year they have a geodome to plant things in. I had promised him that we would start on the garden Labour weekend, that this year it would not be potatoes, and so we were both a little sad with the forcast of rain and hail. When Sunday came with the warmth and the sun we headed of to garden. First stop was the garden center, where my Toby did me proud - Look mum broccoli, can we have some, Mum! Leeks! I need those, Bok choy, Mum we need that, Mum I eat those (lettuce), can we grow that. Look zucchini come in green and yellow - can we have both? I leave the vegy garden to its own devices over the winter and weeds take over, so first we had to deal with them, and then we added compost and planted. We've got lettuce, Bok Choy, Strawberries, silverbeet, broccoli, zuchinni, corriander, italian parsley, and a blue berry bush. Right down the end are two feijoa trees, one new one old.

There have been big changes to our backyarn recently, the old shabby car port has gone and in its place is a double garage, with power. Well its not finished yet, there is still the power to put in and those poles have to go, and the car door is still to be delivered and fitted. But we will have some where safe to store our 'non house stuff'. Plus the lathe .... for making spindles.

Saturday I did knit, while it hailed outside, well Wednesday night, Friday and Saturday, and now I have another sleeve. This one is on the Top-down round yoke steeked cardigan that I'm knitting for Poppy. The first sleeve I knit was a little snug - so I've increased the number of underarm stitches I cast on and it seems much better. I've heard that working the sleeves before the body is easier, there is lest bulk to work with - and so far it seems true.

My new spinning project is Wensleydale X Cotsold Pin drafted roving. I looked up Pin drafted and found its a nice manner of roving prep, that results in a light airy roving - and once I fluffed this up - that seems very true. This was a gift from a visiting knitter, and I was waiting until I felt ready, or worthy of spinning it.

I looked up Wensleydale and Cotsworld fibers, in Nola Fourner and Jane Fourners In Sheeps Clothing book, and both seems suited to outerwear and have a high luster. They are apparently hardwearing fibers, I've no idea what I will knit with it, but for now its spinning up into a sportweight 2 ply - maybe finer.

and Asparagus, Bears family have trekked north to Palmerston every Labour weekend for years, and I've been trekking for the 20 years we have been together. The Labour weekend trek is to buy Asparagus direct from the farm. Today we trekked, we bought, we had icecream at Palmerston, we bought more plants at a garden shop on the way home, and tonight for dinner its Asparaus. I spent our flybuys points on an asparagus pot some years back - and highly recomend cooking asparagus that way. The ends stay intack and the stems cook perfectly.

So off to steam my asparagus and then tonight it is spinning at M's house - what a perfect end to a productive yet relaxing weekend.

take care (gotta love these short weeks)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just add sleeves

Finally, I've done the sleeves, but first today I have an exquisite peice of knitting to show, and its not mine, well it is mine now but I didn't knit it. The local guild had an exhibition, and the lovely Ngaire submitted two items, a georgous red cabled felted hottie cover, and this whisper light feather and fan shawl. I sucumbed and bought it, its so beautiful, don't you think? Truth it was one night at spinning when she drew the whole shawl entirly thru one of her rings and I was in total awe, then finding it for sale ... well the more I thought of it, the more I wanted it. So on day three of the exhibition, finding it still for sale, well I made it mine.
And as for my own knitting, today there is steady progress on my tangled yoke cardigan, I'm dabbling a little in some colour work on my top down project, I was asked so I'll explain how I gathered the waist on my dress, and there is one more skein of handspun.

A few rows and two new balls of yarn after the last post I finished the sleeves, so went about the process of setting aside the under arm stitches and moving all the yoke stitches from the body and sleeves onto one the one needle in the correct order. That done I've been plodding back and forth on over 400 stitches, working quietly and slowly up to the 3" mark when I can start the tangled cable. I've reworked the guage and changed the yarn and added a little more waist shaping but basically I'm still aiming at EJ's Tangled Yoke Cardigan from IW Fall 2007. I'm at inch one of the three on the yoke before the fun really starts.

I have been making a very concerted effort to focus my knittng work on the Tangled yoke cardigan, after all I started it way back in April 2008, and I'd like to wear it for Christmas. I've been avoiding other projects ... but some times a knitter just needs a little colour work to break up the monotony. My little knit reward for getting the sleeves done was to work a few rounds of colour work on my top down round yoked steeked cardigan, the one I'm knitting for Poppy. Not much to show - but its nice working a colour work section in rhythm, knit 4 white, catch the pink float yarn, knit 5 white, catch the pink float yarn, knit 4 white, knit 1 pink ... repeat. I like the quiet concentration and rhythm that colour work requires. I've named this cardie Ziggidy Zaggidy after the colour work pattern I'm using - I'll show you as it evolves.

I did have a few questions about how I pulled in the waist on my dress. For a traditional English patternmaker the term used would be 'supression', as in waist supression (thats one for the lingusts out there). There is in that expression I think some hint of a time when womens waists were thought to require supression isn't there?

I have not had much luck with shirring elastic, the ends pull out, the elastic breaks after a few washes and wears, the elastic stretches a litte after a while and often the weight of the skirt drags the elastic down. Plus the gathering is difficult to control with any accuracy using domestic equipment. So I supressed the waist fullness by using narrow 6mm elastic and a multi step zig zag stitch. I prefer to use narrow elastic, and for a custom fit I put the dress over a dress form inside out and stretched and pinned the elastic in place. I went for a relaxed fit with a little organic nature, so the elastic was not set in parallel lines. I stretched the elastic more across the sides and less over the tummy - you know - cause none of us needs extra gathers there. Then I machine stitched it down - stretching the fabric flat as I sewed. The multi stage zig zag stitch sits flatter and produces a nicer gather on the right side that a plain 2 step zig-zag. I've made a pattern for the second dress, but not cut it yet.

And the pink alpaca, I've ordered another 200g of this, enough to make Poppy-bear a shrug for next winter. 300g should give me enough. I thought I'd knit from the top down and it could be short sleeves, 3/4 sleeved or long sleeved, depending on how far the yarn goes. I am thinking textured or lace, so I'm looking for a suitable shrug pattern or lace texture .. suggestions welcome.

ok- I'm off to knit and watch trash tv,
take care
na Stella

Saturday, October 18, 2008

50 g sleeves (thats 2oz)

50 gram sleeves, yes, and when done these sleeves will be just over 50 g each. Thats just the sort of odd information that a knitter collects as they work their knitting. How do I know that these sleeves are a little more than 50 g and why do I care? I'll explain today, along with my not knitted but made of wool fiber and now-finished dress, and a short spinning report.

I am here, just like those maps for lost visitors, with a location indicator pointing to a spot on a pictorial map. Here, 17" from the cuff of a pair of sleeves, and each has used 50g of yarn. I need to be 'there', at 17.5" or somewhere slightly over 50g, so I'm still knitting. But this little useful(useless?) fact has me wondering, are all my sleeves going to be around 50 g, what is the standard weight of knitted fitted long sleeves anyway? I guess I'll make a mental note and see how the next pair compare.

... but when you are at 50g and 17", and you need to be at 17.5", well you need more yarn. And that brings me to how I know that each sleeve now has 50 g of yarn. I started each with a 50g ball of Aplaca, and that is now all used up. Oddly one sleeve ran short 4 rounds before the other, but now with half an inch to go, well I'm starting a two new balls of yarn, just to reach that 17.5" length. Thats just how it is sometimes for us knitters, nearly there and need more yarn.

And I know its a knitting blog, but I include this dress, because its finished, because I reported its making last post, because its wool, and because I'm proud of it. Made from slighlty sheer wool Challis, this should be cool for early summer and late spring, heck - pretty much for all of Dunedins southern coolish summer days. And because its a bit sheer - I headed off to buy a nude petticoat to put under it. I've already made plans for another dress, in the same fabric but with a more floral print. These are all sewing from your stash dresses - if my fabric stash takes up less space, then I can use that space for yarn and roving right? I was toying with a slight variation of style for the next one - but maybe I'll just make this style again.

At the moment I'm spinning with a group on Monday nights and a half hour most evenings - which is adding up to a lot of spinning. I'm already half way through the second bobbins of the Pink Alpaca. It is darker in the singles than in the unspun fiber.

Its sunday, late afternoon - so quiet family time, and dinner to sort, then some knitting and spinning me thinks, and an early night - we both feel tired. Next weekend is a long weekend, Labour weekend (to celebrate the introduction of the 40 hour working week I think - I should check that), and asparagus is in season. Our Labour weekend tradition is to trip off to Palmerston for a box of fresh off the farm asparagus, I'm looking forward to that.

take care
na stella

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wool - but not knitting

Seems I've temporarily reverted to an earlier hobby, one that is now my day job, pattern-making. Yesterday Toby wasn't well, nothing wrong, just some tummy pains, which disappeared after lunch, but that meant a day at home, and a trip to the doctor and the chemist to stock up on pain relief. So I dug out some fabric from my 'other' stash and made a pattern for a dress that has been forming in my mind for some time. Oh I have been knitting, the sleeves are now at 35 cm (no photo), and spinning, I've finished and plied the Alpaca Silk Merino(ASM), and moved on to the pink Alpaca. So today a preview of my dress, the finished plied ASM, and lastly there is cake, or rather the recipe, given the way the internet works, well I'd bake it but its mighty hard to share - so I've provide the recipe and you can make it yourself. Lastly the latest video ... starting knitting on dpns (- just in case they still scare you).

So - I'm a pattern-maker, or rather I teach pattern-making on a degree ... so I can make patterns for clothes. Do I, not much, after a day spent writing grant applications, and meetings and teaching - well I go home and I want to do something else. But occasionally the bug bites, and the feeling has been brewing a little bit recently. Probably fueled by the students nearing the end of their cumulative graduation project, and all the wonderful creative things they are making. This doesn't compare but I got out my brown paper, my notches, my grading board, my blocks and toiling calico and worked away, I didn't start until 10:30 by the time we got Toby back from the doctor, and I finished in time to get Poppy from school at three, and this is it so far, sketch, pattern, toile, and dress cut ready to seam. I'll probably seam up Friday night. Basically its a loose dress, with an elastic detail forming an empire line. The fabric is fantastic, a very fine wool challis, printed with grey-green-teal gemstones. My own take on a little subtle bling, I know, I'm so late to the bling party. I had 2.5 m of fabric and it was just enough, I've had this in stash from last December and thought it was going to be a classic shirt - but no, turns out its a dress.

and look .. the yarn goes. This is my grey-green Alpaca (65%) Silk (20%) Merino (15%) from Arbordell Alpacas, in Christchurch. We all have colours we have a thing for and right now this seems to be a colour or hue that I'm having a thing for. I've got 244 m at 15 wpi, being mostly alpaca and silk it will suit something drapey, and I'm wondering about a narrow scarf or maybe wristlets? Suggestions please ...

This is my best spinning yet, I think I found my groove, spinning this I found that my feet and hands worked in harmony. Treadle one, hand slides back drawing out the fiber, treadle two, hand slides in smoothing the singles --- a rhythm, nice, easy, pleasant, comfortable but with a needle to pay attention. Nice. Because I only had 89g I three plied as far as I could, then added in the last on the mismatched bobbins by Navaho plying - unconventional I'm sure - but it worked. Its all a 3 ply.

Lastly - Spicy chocolate apple cake, ad featured in the last post.
You will need a 23 cm square tin or equivalent, and a food processor (or you could grate the apples), plus the usual baking things. First heat the oven to 190 C (375 F) and line a 23cm square baking tin or similar. Note in New Zealand a Tblsp is 15 grams, and a Tsp / teaspoon is 5 grams, but its a pretty moist cake so total accuracy isn't really important.

First, make the topping, whiz together until crumbly
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tblsp Flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 25 g butter/margarine or 2Tbspn oil
  • 2 Tbls Almonds
Put the topping aside and using the unwashed food processor bowl, whizz
  • 3 apples, skin, cores and all, until fine but not puree (but take off the stalks first).
then add, and whiz the following in order until just mixed
  • 125 g butter, or margarine or oil, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 and a half cups of flour
  • 2 Tbspn Cocoa (I used drinking chocolate as thats what we had on hand)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • (some times I throw in a small hand full of rolled oats, or ground almonds)
Pour into prepared tin, sprinkle over the topping mixture, and bake with a sheet of baking paper over it for about 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean,
cool on rack for 5 minutes, then remove from tin, serve warm with yoghurt, ice cream, or as is and serve cold latter.

Lastly a new video, again responding to a u-tube request, showing the process of knitting on dpns. I have a little trick involving casting on 2 extra stitches and then interlocking them and decreasing them away in the first round which makes for a seamless join. Its a long video - and its about the process of starting and using the dpns not the way I knit stitches, if you want to knit like I do try one of the other videos showing the stitch movements more clearly.

take care
na stella

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Of my own making,

Look I've finished, no not my knitting, but my spindles, two, the two I made with a little help from my Dad now have hooks and are varnished. While the varnish was open I also polished the spare Wing Bobbins, so today there is that and then I've got some boring progress news on the sleeves of my tangled yoke alpaca cardigan, and I've got roving ... Pink Alpaca roving. Poppy is so happy with the pink, she is a little girl, and pink is her thing. I sort of sit on the fence about the nature vs nurture debate - but with a little girl in the house .... well a definite leaning towards pink things occurs, despite my ongoing and vigilant provision of all things black and navy, and boyish. This week I've been on leave, home with the kids, for the last half of this week, and I thought I'd get a lot more done, but no, time flew and then it was Sunday, the last day of the holidays. So what did I do since getting back from dads? Well we meet the designer who is doing our renovation plans, we went to the movies (Wall-E), we meet friends for lunch, went to tour the Gourmet Ice Cream Factory (and attached gourmet chocolate factory), watched as two men with a little digger demolished our car port and made ready for foundations for a new double garage, we baked, relaxed some ... and I didn't get any where near as much knitting or spinning done as I planned.

But back to the spindles, I even made my own hooks. Inspired by the hook discussion here and here, I abandoned ideas of using pre-shaped cup hooks. Well I tried, but the hooks small enough to reshape had such a short thread they seemed unlikely to stay put while spinning, and those with a long secure thread - well they were difficult to reshape by hand. But that left a problem, if I wasn't going to use commercially available hooks - what would I make them out of. I thought that the Stainless Steel TIG wire that I had been using for blocking wires might work. A quick trip to the engineering shop, 50c latter for two wires 1m long and 1.2 mm thick, and a little play with a pair of needle nosed pliers and look! Home made hooks! I also used PGR's Spinning in the old way, to inform my hook shaping. These spindles have had two coats of sealer, and 2 coats of varnish-stain (Kauri), with a light sand between coats, and I'm not sure if they need another coat or not .... they are pretty smooth and even.

While I had the sandpaper and the sealer and the varnish-stain out and open and stirred it seemed prudent to finish some of the bobbins that Dad turned for the Wing. These four are spares, all have little cracks in them, but will function just fine. The only problem is they might not survive a long forceful drop from a height onto a solid floor - but I've seen so many glued back together bobbins that shouldn't' be a real problem to some one who is missing a bobbin or two. I thought I'd 'practice' finishing the bobbins on these spares before attempting to varnish my own ones. I think it works don't you? And this is my original lazy kate, which works just fine for holding bobbins while they dry, a plastic basket and two pair of disposable chop sticks. I have four original bobbins with my Wing, and another 5 Kauri bobbins, so think I might sell these spares on Trademe, or offer them thru the Chch guild newsletter, if any readers want them leave me a note in the comments or on Ravelry.

But this is a knitting blog, so here is the knitting. I'm knitting two sleeves at once, on two circs. I've loosely followed the original pattern, but given I've recalculated for 34 sts in 4"/10cm - I've taken some liberties. For example I've added a bit more waist shaping, and on the sleeves I've used 4 increase points rather than just increasing at the underarm seam. In this case the sleeve has reached full width just below the elbow - I'm not to happy with that, I wanted a fitted sleeve, but I'm not frogging on 2.5mm needles. The fun in this cardie starts on the yoke, so I want to focus on finishing the sleeves and get to the yoke within a week or two.

And here is some very Pink Alpaca, a little thank you from Sue, who has the Highway Star Aplaca Stud farm in Canterbuy, Sue bought some of the earlier unfinished bobbins after I approached her at a spinning workshop, and asked if she needed extra bobbins, as my dad might be able to make some. I've not spun pure alpaca before, only blends, but once I finish the Alpaca-Silk-Merino that I'm spinning now, I plan to spin this. I'm not sure what I'll knit, but thought a lacy version of a shrug, a short sleeved one, for Poppy. At 6 Poppy is a little small for scarves, and hats and gloves need a bit more of an elastic yarn than Alpaca can provide. I've already weighed it and divided into two equal bumps ready to go. I'm on the last bobbin of the Grey-green alpaca silk merino, so should be able to make a start on this part way thru monday night at spin night. Sue tells me this spins up darker, yummy.

Tomorrow is Monday, Monday back at work after a week on leave. I've baked a chocolate apple cake to share for morning tea as its the first day of term four and we all probably need a bit of a pick up and get together after a long hard winter. I baked two, the slighlty burnt one I served with ice cream for supper tonight. I love my job, but some times I do wonder if I could just stay at home and play all day, if I would ever be bored? Do you?

Take care
na Stella

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Look what I made

with a little help from my Dad and from the lovely Ngaire who loaned me a bunch, like flowers methinks spindles are arranged in bunches, to model from. Well a lot of help as I've never wood turned before - so today I show of two nearly finished turned spindles* that we made, Dad and I, and we all went for a walk in the forest, which was nice. There was some knitting, things you have seen before are a little longer thats all, but that will keep for the next post, and lastly a link to a new video. Some one asked very nicely if I would make a slower and clearer one showing backwards loop increases, so I have. I've got another to upload - another nice polite request, so thats the next one to work on editing and uploading.

Spindle making, first you catch your wood, now thats not so easy, as I found. The wood needs to be fine grained to turn smoothly with no flaws, no splits or soft sections. My dad found an old chair rung/stringer, the top of a table leg and a little corner of what was once a shelf - and then we were set. This image shows the two spindles I made, along with the spindle shafts (we turned the whole lot - no commercial dowel was used), and an end from our turning showing the chair rail we used. Also shown is a standard whorl for a Wee Peggy spinning wheel and a high speed whorl he made up for a friend or two. Did I mention my Dad is a real sweetie?

But first the lathe, many years ago Bear bought a lathe, an engineering lathe, designed to mill things from metal, I forget why, perhaps something to do with model trains or cameras. As we have no garage at this house, the lathe lives with my dad, right next to his slightly larger and more industrial lathe. When I showed Dad the spindles and suggested as only a daughter can that after he was sooooo nice to make bobbins for me, and high speed whorls for my friends Peggy's, that he might be interested in making spindles, he shrugged. Then he being a Dad with 3 daughters and a you can do anything attitude, and wanting a little more space in his workshop and knowing we were having a garage built he decided to teach me to wood turn. I suspect he was following the parable of 'teach a man to make nets and fish and you will enable his whole community', or in this case, "if I teach her, then she won't ask me again'. This is my Dad, and this is our/my lathe.

And here in the sawdust, is a Kauri spindle top, my first ever wood turned thing! There were some creative differences, I wanted elegant curved dished spindles, Dad had thicker more plate like shapes in mind, we compromised somewhat. We turned one spindle from aged Kauri, the other from a reddish grey hardwood that we can't identify, one spindle dowel was turned from Kauri and one from Oak based on this article by Rosemary. Making dowels was hard, they need to be so thin and then they flex in the lathe as they are being carved down to size, shorter dowels are easier. All I need now is a drop saw or table saw, a drill press and a grinder, a vice, and I'm all set, oh an the double garage ... but construction for that is underway.

and it wasn't all indoor woodworking, we took time out to do a bush walk near Waimate. One of the things I love about New Zealand is a bush walk is usually only a few minutes away from where we are, wherever we are. Toby stands on rocks in a shallow stream while Poppy waits for us to catch up. Its very much spring here, now warm and dappled sunlight and nice enough to take a packed lunch out to eat, so we did.

And a new video, which I hope shows more clearly how I make backwards loop increases, (except that because I used paired loops only one is backwards - but I'm at a loss as to how to rename them to reflect that, and dose it really matter?). It seems I demonstrated way to fast in the last video so this one talks you thru making the loops and knitting them up. The knitting is my Toasty sock from Vintage Purls Sock Club 2008.

* these still need hooks, and after a bit of a search and a think we plan to make our own hooks, so that might be a few weeks before I can test these for spin and weight and balance, and function.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Knit, wash, boil, block -- Baby blanket done

I finished the Gotland baby blanket, one day latter than planned, Friday not Thursday. Only because I went to knit night without taking the 6mm needle needed to work the I-cord border, N loaned me one of hers mid evening, but it was to late to finish that day. So its an 8 day blanket, not including the spinning. The blanket has been boiled (yes boiled, and I'll explain why soon), and blocked and is dry and warm and snuggly, I've started a new project, one I've been planning for a few months now, and my Alpaca tangled yoke cardigan is going to be my 'away' project this time. Some quiet time at my dads should be a good time to make a start on the sleeves., and they are in the round (the cardie is knit flat)- so they will be a little more fun.

But the Gotland baby blanket, Friday morning it looked like this, as I worked the last two sides of I-cord edge. I like days I work from home, I get to use my tea and lunch breaks to knit, and appart from the cell phone, there are much fewer interputions. On the down side - the books and articles I need are not so handy. For the I-cord I used a heavier yarn, and 6mm needles, the blanket was knit on 4.5mm needles. One advantage of using the larger needles was I didn't need to add a few spacer-rows to the i-cord to keep the edge from drawing in.

When I washed the last of the skeins after plying, I had the skein sitting in a bowl with some of my wool wash soap in a sieve ready to pour hot tap water over. I decided to pour the half jug of just boiled water over instead. I thought it would dissolve the soap better. 30 minutes latter, I noticed two things. First there was quite a bit of oily film on the water surface,
and I noticed when I knit with that skein, it was whiter and not so sticky. As I knit - I realised that the slightly sticky wool would attract quite a bit of dust and dirt. I didn't want the blanket to look grubby a few months of use down the track - so I thought about washing it in hot/boiling water, then decided to boil it. I reasoned that would release more oil and lanolin than just washing, and just to be sure, I boiled it with some soap flakes. When I say boil - it was more of a simmer, and I repeated it 4 times, as for the first 3 times - well the water was distinctly brown.

To block I first stretched it out to 75 cm, but after an hour or so, re stretched it to 78cm square. The dry blanket feels soft and light, and I think looks whiter and less yellow, and isn't sticky at all. The boiling didn't seem to harm it, its slightly fuzzy - but nothing a few hand washes wouldn't have done, and no one commented on it at knitting this morning, other than to say nice things.

And all finished and dry, and soft and stretched, ready for a baby.

And this is a pair of yarns I've been playing with a bit recently. The Pink is slightly more than DK weight (I don't really speak USA yarn code but would that be Aran weight?). It was a 800g cone of pure wool for $8 at the Mill. The white is merino angora from the mill, they knit up at slightly different gauges but I've been playing with that in my designing. The pink has a rougher feel that of the white, still soft but not as soft, so I've been planning and playing about how to keep the white at the top of a cardigan and the pink on the working/wearing ends, the body, hem, sleeves, cuffs. As a parent the bits you don't want white on a 6 year olds cardigan.

So after a bit of a play, with colour work and gauge samples and corrugated ribbing, I've made a start.

This is what I've done, its the 4th try to get the yoke right, and the one that finally worked. I've been reading up Barbara Walkers top down book, and EZ's yoked sweaters and working with their suggested shaping maths. I wanted the neckline to be dropped slightly - I find both those two seem to design very high necklines which my kids don't want to wear. I also found that the standard instructions to cast on a section and knit back and forth casting on a few extra at each end of the row until you have enough to close for the neck - well, its not that simple. Working that way gives a tube, a tube with a slanted top but a tube all the same. Which works for high necklines - but not for lowered ones.

So the last two days I knit and frogged, and knit and frogged, and knit and frogged, until I got this, casting on at each end and at-the-same-time increasing randomly across the row -

Voila! Its very nearly flat the way a yoke should be. Its a subtle improvement, but I think a nice one. I've added a 4 stitch steek panel down the front, and will pick up and knit a band around the front and the neck edge once the body and sleeves are done. The plan is for some zig zag colour work to transition from the white to the pink yarn. And random increases - because I want a true round yoke not a raglan or a saddle or some other variation with formal structured shapping.

So thats what I've been upto, tomorrow is Sunday, so pancakes, and packing and off to visit grandad in Waimate for a few days. Its the second week of term break, and the cubs and I are on holiday this week. Bear is staying behind, to clear out the garage, in preparation for our new garage to be built.

Take care, knit something,
na Stella

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Grey, grey, my day is grey

well, the day is not totally grey, but my knitting and spinning are. I didn't notice the grey theme until I was sorting the photos to upload, but soft warm grey they all are. That means that I have not been knitting the red swatch stole, but I have been knitting a soft grey white baby blanket with a neat trick to the contrast i-cord edge, and spinning some soft grey fiber, and I've not fixed my tea-pot but do thank all of the visitors (known and unknown) that commented that they understood. I even learned there is a 'Cuppa tea' group on Ravelry. No I didn't join, I was tempted, but really - there are only so many hours in the day, and I don't have enough of them as it is. And there was an Anon commenter who asked a question about the stitch texture at the base of the thumb of my 24c Wine and Roses Mitts - so I've popped in that info. Lastly - there are some good causes out there, and if you are inclined to support such things, or have any experience with cancer and its devastating effects - consider stopping by here please.

We all know I can dither and dip and dive all over knitting projects, a good example is this baby blanket. Started last Thursday - the 25rd of September because I needed to. Yes I did need to, for two very good reasons. First I needed a simple knit that would cope with all the distractions that Thursday group social knitting can bring. Knit night knitting can't be lace swatching or casting on the right number of stitches for a sleeve, - no really it can't - I've tried before and it just ends up in multiple frogging. Why yes it was a particularly tiring week last week, remember?. Second I felt the need to have this baby gift done and dusted and waiting, not a to-do item nagging me from the back of my mind. With any luck cast on last Thursday, finished this Thursday. I've worked the center section and now have only the contrast i-cord to do. I loosly followed the pattern, but as I wasn't sure quite when the hand spun gotland merino blend would run out, I worked the last skein as the eyelet mesh into a wide border, followed by 4 rows (2 ridges) of garter stitch using the sample skein. I'm using 4.5mm needles so it knits up fast.

I found some hummingbird bulky yarn in my stash, just the perfect darker grey to use as a chunky i-cord bind off. I had bought this ages ago for felted clogs, but spoke to R who said it was hard to felt, so abandoned it to the back of the stash drawer. This yarn is slightly thicker and I've gone up to a 6mm needle for the i-cord, nice and squoooshy. I worked a few inches last night but realised there was a tick to contrast i-cord cast off borders. working them the usual way results in little contrast blips in the showing through in the i-cord. I hauled out my EZ glossary dvd - and sure enough there was a little slip this stitch, yo, knit, pss + YO over trick to solve that problem. That lady and her daughter Meg sure are amongst my knitting gurus! The darker grey is a pretty good match, and after Thursday I only need to weave in ends, and a hot sudsy wash and rinse (its still sticky with lanolin - so will collect every bit of dirt around if I leave it), and block and dry. I love the way the i-cord edging is the same thickness as the garter band - completely perfect and completely accidental.

And with the Gotland Merino all spun up, I dug around in my fiber stash and found this, some Alpaca Silk Merino hand dyed and hand blended carded batts from Arbordell Alpacas. Only 89g, but the softest blend of grey green, khaki, hints of dark forest jade that I can imagine, 65% Alpaca, 20% Silk, and 15% Merino. I've split this into 3 equal shares and am spinning fine thin singles with a view to a rounded 3 ply yarn. I don't know what I'll knit with this, but if I can get mitts from 24g, well 89g - well it could be almost anything couldn't it?

This is my progress so far ... this stuff is easy to spin, fine and free flowing and no noils or neps or vm or other afflictions of some fiber preps. Would buy again 5+ stars, perhaps there is a spindle rating system out there for fibers.

So to answer the Anon comment asking about the texture at the base of the Wine and Roses Mitts, its charted as Pebble stitch, and is a knit two together - followed by a 'purl 1, purl make one' row. Very very pretty and effective.

and the teapot?
well - next week I'm off to visit my dad, with the large workshop, well 2 or 3 workshops and a 2 bedroom house in Waimate. As soon as us kids all left - he sorted his living arrangements to suit him, 3 workshops - all double garages or larger and 2 bedrooms. And people wonder why I need more than one wheel, and stash - its genetics I tell you, hereditary and I can't really be held accountable. There are also 3 or more full sized vintage tractors (Case) and 2 or more land cruisers circa 1970, and 3 Bedford trucks pre 1940. Does any of that sound like stash? There is also a growing collection of vintage rotary hoes- mostly Cliffords. But returning to the topic/teapot, I have high hopes he can effect an efficient, elegant and rapid repair. He is just as likely to tell me to find a new one, I think he has shifted his soft spot to his grandchildren, and thats how it should be.

For now we have a plastic yellow spring-clip peg holding the handle in place, surprising effective but not very House-and-Garden.

take care, knit some, give some, I will
na Stella