Saturday, January 31, 2015

Love it but .....

Saturday was Knitters Study Group, and as usual we started a new project, this time a variation on Elizabeth Zimmerman's baby surprise jacket or the BSJ, The Baby Surplice Jacket. I guess that makes it the BSJ? The class announcement always gives the project details - which allows for before class homework. My homework was to browse completed projects on Ravelry. I loved the projects that used stripes, and even more than that I loved those with stripes that faded from one colour to another. Like the BSJ, the BSJ uses mitered increases and decreases to form the garment shape - and shifts in colour tend to make that shaping detail more obvious.


Based on what I saw and liked I chose a ball of Kauni to make my BSJ. In class I cast on and began knitting - and I began to feel a little uneasy about my choice. The Kauni was crunchy - not scratchy but crunchy. When stroked in the ball the yarn is soft - when knit into garter stitch the yarn is more springy and feels less soft. After the hem band I went up a needle size in the hope that the scratchy was a result of a firm gauge. Nope - ten rows past the needle change it was still crunchy.


This bothered me, I don't have a newborn anymore of my own so this will be a gift. Any parent of a newborn seems struck by how delicate babies are, soft, and so new, with tender skin. I couldn't help but think that if given, this BSJ would be admired for its colours, and I would be thanked, but it would always be pushed passed when reaching for something soft and warm and cuddly to dress the baby in. Of course it could be worn over something - be an outdoor layer, but honestly newborns are not typically in need of outdoor wear, and if they are outdoors they should be wrapped in warm soft blankets. So I knit some more last night before finally giving in and deciding to use other yarn. I thought in really needed to pick softer yarn and start again. I've chosen a pink and cream and green Schoppelwolle. Should give me the colour changes I want and the softness a newborn needs.

There is a whole lot of garter knitting right now, as my Enchanted Mesa seems languising in a sea of garter short rows as I continue to straighten up the hem, The shorter side is at 9", the longer side at 11". But the great thing about short rows is they get shorter each row takes less knit time. I should be at that 11" mark in no time as long as I don't get distracted.

And the other baby knitting is done, a small striped hat, and a pair of slightly modified Hodge booties. The hat is from Purl Soho, heirloom hats for newborns. Hodge is one of my free patterns, and the modification is to make the sides plain and then work a knitted tuck 9 rows deep just before working the sole. It makes for a cute wee bumper around the bootie. I've not idea of this baby will be a girl or boy - the green feels more boy like but if worn with pink will easily swing into a girly look. I wonder if it is done to provide dressing advice along with a gift?

So -I'm now off to frog the BSJ and begin again, knowing it will be newborn soft not crunchy.

Na Stella


Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Bear works with people of child bearing age, and asked I would|could provide a baby bootie or two as gifts for some babies expected by those he works with. I'm happy to do this, baby stuff is small, fast to make and so so cute. Bear felt a blanket or cardigan was way to much to gift - so I compromised on a hat and matching booties, the booties will be my own Hodge, the hat took some looking on Ravelry for a contemporary design that was gender neutral. Heirloom hats for newborns from Purl Soho seems just right for this gift, I like that newbies are traditionally provided with hand knits.

A quick fossick amongst my sock yarn left overs provided a possum alpaca merino bone coloured yarn and a bright 'outside green' yarn. One of the things I loved about this pattern was the fine stripes - but those stripes also provide some issues, namely the jog or transition from one colour to another.

A quick search of jogless stripes for kniting provided several solutions beyond the one I had used before, namely knit into the stitch below for the first stitch of the colour change in a round. That transition causes distortion along the line of the beginning and ending - so I was keen to try other suggestions, I went for the moving jogless stripes as provided by tech knitter. The result is - as you see hardly invisable - but I think that is a result of the two row stripes as much as anything.


In other knitting projects - my Enchanted Mesa begins to straighten up. I'm now working the short rows in garter that level up the body, and looking forward to finishing the body. That will only leave the sleeves - so should be well done by cooler weather here. Maybe even by Unwind 2015 - where a group KAL photo is planned(or so I hear ).

Take care, Stella







Thursday, January 15, 2015


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Choice -

One of the best things about being on holiday is the choice, I wake up and once the 'chores' are sorted I can choose how to spend my day, I can spin, knit, weave, read, tidy the preserves shelves in the laundry/pantry, go to the library, tidy and clear/tidy/sort the garden/garage/back room/book shelves/ whatever. The cubs are old enough to entertain themselves, and sometimes we do things together -sometimes not.

So I have been weaving, so far there are five and a bit of the eight tea/dish towels done. I have the loom set up in a sunny room at the back of the house, and it's almost too hot to weave during the heat of the day. The first four towels were plain weave, the second four are waffle weave. So far so good. I am wondering why I chose white as the main colour - after all white towels used in the kitchen end up stained. A cleverer idea would have been to use a colour that was less clean ... But I live and learn.

My score of the year was a slim wood Venetian blind in 'mahogany' at the Restore shop at the tip. For $3 and an hour cutting and sanding I now have 84 wooden thin warp packing sticks that match the reddish wood of the loom. The blind was wide and the strips when cut in half are nearly the full width of the loom - so 42 blind slats turned into 84 warp sticks. Thursday I finished weaving the plain weave towels so Friday while little cub and friends made masquerade masks I crawled under the loom and set up the treddles for the waffle weave. It's not difficult - just awkward, and involves sitting on the floor in a space slightly to small reaching just past a comforable reach to tie up dozens of cords. I get why weavers dislike that step - and I see why looms are marketed on how easy the tie ups are. More learning - I'm not loving the cottolin I bought from the north island, it was cheap and local but is sticky. And my inexperienced warping has not helped with that - but every warp brings a greater awareness of the things I need to be careful with. With the warp sticks sorted I needed to find some where to store them - and the Arts and Crafts umbrella stand seems perfect and elegant. The wheel to the right of our old umbrella stand/new warp stick stand is Ana's Wendy wheel - which I am fostering for her whilst she globe-trots. Out the window is the trailer filled with the hedge clippings, tomorrow my main chore it it take it to the free waste place to be composted - Bear can't back the trailer and I can - so I'm driving.

I've cast on for Enchanted Mesa, and so far the progress has been slow but steady. I am recalculating the numbers as I didn't want my fingering yarn to be knit up like lace - all open and breezy. I want this to be an oversized winter pull on. I also modified the neck - moslty as I didn't want to waste my graduated silk merino yarn on a cowl where it would fold and drape and hide its lovely grey shadings. So far I am up to the fourth section - although others in the KAL are well into the body and sleeves.

And then there is spinning, I signed up for a craftsy class on spinning. I want to rave about it ... but I've only competed the first two parts of the class so I really should finish before I review. The class is challenging - which is the reason I enrolled. It deals with the detail of how to hold and draft the fiber - and the teacher (Jacey Boggs Faulkner ) is full of detail on how she works the process. So I've been working on spinning across the top - which is hard. Jacey suggests it could be months before the technique comes easily - and for the past week I have been practicing. I understand the technique, I even remember when Jacey taught it a few years ago when she was here for a workshop - but getting my hands to do what my mind knows takes effort. Learning new stuff is tiring - and perfect for when on holiday and work has not drained the energy from my body.

So far I have spun 2/3rds of a 100 gram bump of dyed top across the top. And I am tired - but beginning to master the technique. The top was one of the 2015 Vintage purls fiber club installments, the second I think. It is Polworth so will bloom amazingly - and while I want to spin fine I am practicing most on the drafting across the top more than the fine. I have two of these - so plan to spin both then ply them together for a two ply yarn that fades from purple to red to yellow.

More soon, Stella