Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

Category: Knit Page 52 of 87

Madrona & Friends

Madrona was a blast, as usual. It was great to get away, spend time with your friends, both old and new, and learn something new that is totally unrelated to your every day work life. My work life is completely consumed with computers, so it’s nice to go off line for over a week and interact face to face with people.

What did I do at Madrona? Lots of talking, eating, drinking, and laughing. Oh, and a little bit of learning here and there. My biggest accomplishment? I finished these:

Cai and Cael Sweaters

What does this have to do with Madrona? Nothing, except I have really, really good friends. These 2 sweaters are for my new grand nephews (I think that’s the right term — they are Martin’s niece’s new twins). I bought yarn back in September to make two of the sweaters on the right. It’s a Debbie Bliss baby sweater pattern (sweater on the right). It’s adorable. It’s garter stitch. It’s baby sized. How difficult can it be? But I lost interest in the sweater by the time I got to the arm pits. Not that it was boring. It’s only a baby sweater after all. Boredom will last only so long. No. It’s these that gave me nightmares. All those fiddly little ends.

When I first hit the roadblock, I whined to my friend Penny, who said that she loved to weave in ends, and she’ll help me with these ends. Upon seeing the finished garment, pre-weaving and seaming, she claimed that she must have been weak with some illness or another and she really didn’t mean it. So, I was left with 4 days before I first see my grand-nephew, all these ends, and a second sweater to be made.

I quickly switched tacks and casted on for Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Sweater (the sweater on the left). This sweater zipped right along. There were only color changes when I felt like it.

What do friends have to do with this? I didn’t finish weaving the ends by the time I saw Cai and Cael for the first time. But since I was passing through their house on both ends of the trip, I availed myself to the grim reality that I will be spending all of my free time at Madrona weaving in these stupid ends.

While at Madrona, Eva sat down with me and helped weave in ends for a bit every evening. Kathleen made us cocktails and brought us wine while the weaving and swearing continued. This continued every night until the last evening, when I finished sewing on the buttons.

Oh, you wanted to hear about the classes. I didn’t take many pictures of those, but I took 3 classes: Weaving With a Stick and a Handful of Stones (warp weighted loom), Two Color Patterns of Marta Stina, and Scottish Wools. First class was with Judith MacKenzie McCuin, and the second 2 were with Carol Rhoades. They were all wonderful classes. I leave you with some pictures. Click to enlarge.

Warp Weighted Loom - Warp tie up
Warp tied on to a dowel. The ladies in the background are tieing up little packages of aquarium rocks for the warp weights. The yarn is my own handspun — shetland and silk, I think.

Warp Weighted Loom - Weights
Warp weights — these are little pouches of aquarium rock wrapped in plastic wrap and tied up with yarn. I only tied up my warp in pairs. Most people chose to tie up each warp separately. I was too impatient (surprise!) to get started. When we ran out of aquarium rocks, peanuts from the gift shop were put into service. And when we ran out of that, I saw someone using rock salt.

Warp Weighted Loom - Weaving
Mid-weaving. Morning of the second day. I did finish weaving the scarf, but I haven’t woven in all the ends yet (the story of my life). It’s not the best weaving job I’ve ever done, but I’m still happy with the results.

Two End Knitting Lessons Learned

Lesson #1: use worsted spun yarn

For the silk pouch, I spun the silk from the fold. While this allowed me to spin a thicker yarn (my own personal spinning quirk, your mileage may vary), it also produced a fuzzy woolen yarn. This may be desirable in many instances, but not in two end knitting, in my humble opinion. I would have preferred a smoother yarn to show off the stitch definition. As it is, it is all lost in the halo of the yarn. I know, “halo” is not how one typically would describe a silk yarn, but mine definitely had a bit of a fuzzy halo about it. Not only was the stitch definition lost, so ws the color variation. And this is all before I washed my sample. It will likely bloom even more.

Lesson #2: use a nostepinne for making the center pull yarn ball

The center pull yarn ball from my ball winder collapsed part way through and caused a snarly, ugly mess. The nostepinne would have kept my yarn ball neater.

Lesson #3: overply your yarn

This was recommended in Ann-maj Ling, and it definitely is a great tip. The ply definitely untwisted during the knitting process. To keep a stable yarn in the knitting, you definitely need to overply your yarn.

Lesson #3a: don’t set your twist

She also recommends that you don’t wash your spun yarn before knitting with it She doesn’t explain why, but my conjecture is that you don’t want to set the twist so that the twist in your yarn is still “alive” and will untwist appropriately. This is just my observation of how my yarn behaved. I don’t know for sure what she had in mind.

Lesson #4: find your perfect yarn length

Ann-maj Ling recommended unwinding 2 yards of yarn from the yarn ball, and knit from that length. Nancy Bush suggested 1 yard of yarn. I found that my ideal length is slightly less than 1 yard because I am height impaired. While seated, if the yarn is too long, then the yarn ball drags on the floor while I’m dangling it to unwind. Everyone will have a different ideal length. Experiment and find your comfort zone.

Lesson #5: don’t try to knit to the last possible stitch before unwinding more yarn

I found that when I knit all the way to the end of the yard length, the yarn is near unplied. At the start of the next length, the twist is still very high (over plied). This causes great variation in the stitch definition at the beginning of a yard length vs. the end. If I had knitted 3/4 way through and unwound more yarn, the twist would even out a bit more. Thus less variability between the start and end of a length. Keep an eye on that twist and determine the best place to unwind more yarn.

Lesson #6: don’t forget to twist the yarn between every stitch

I forgot to do this during the first couple of rounds. I ended up knitting in regular fair isle method. You don’t get the stitch definition if you don’t twist the 2 yarn ends as proscribed.

Lesson #7: It’s FUN!

I will definitely do it again. I would love a pair of mittens using this method. And I would like to make a vest using this technique for sailing.

Silk Pouch and a Farewell

Silk Pouch - twined knittingI turned that Z-plied silk into this little silk pouch (click for larger image). It’s made using Tvåändsstickning, or two end knitting, which is also known as twined knitting. This is a technique that I’ve wanted to try for over a year, but kept putting off because I never got around to spinning my own z-plied yarn, as Ann-maj Ling recommends in her book, Two-End Knitting.

This all came about because I received Piecework Magazine in the mail on Thursday. It is a beautiful issue, focused primarily on folk knitting. In addition to the twined knitting article by Nancy Bush, there was also a wonderful article about the history of the purse, with a pattern for the Miser’s Purse. I highly recommend this issue to any and everyone interested in knitting history.

I combined the two ideas (twined knitting and purses) into a little project. I plan to make a little braid strap for the top and add some beads to the bottom. This is sized to hold my little bottle of spinning wheel oil.

Stats: about 5 gm of Chasing Rainbows silk spun S/Z, knitted on 2.25 mm dp needles, 2.25″ diameter at the top, 4″ in length. 2 hours to spin and ply, and about 4-6 hours to knit up. Since I didn’t use up all the yarn I spun up, this is definitely a quick 1 day or weekend project to play with.

As the astute of you out there might notice, it looks like faux fair isle when used with handpainted yarn. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough contrast in this yarn to really show it off. The fabric is extremely dense and cushy. I can see why this is preferred in cold climates. It’s definitely warm! I know a lot of it is the silk, but I can see how fabric made with this technique will keep the wind out. But the thing that kept going through my mind while I was knitting this was — this would make a mighty luxurious pair of silk slippers. The density would make it cushy on the toes. Yum.

The creative juices are definitely flowing on this one. Higher contrast hand painted yarn to show off the two-ends playing off of each other. Worsed instead of woolen spun yarn to show off the stitch texture (the silk was too fuzzy for my taste). Navajo-plied to preserve the colors, if handspun. That lincoln-corriedale roving I have in the garage would make beautiful gloves in white. And there is plenty of stash fiber. I’m sure I can find something that would be suitable for testing out the faux-isle ideas. Perhaps a hat is in order.

One might think that it would be too warm in the San Francisco area to ever warrant needing clothing made in this dense of a fabric. I am here to assure you that you need lots of very windproof, but breathable clothing for winter sailing around here. There is nothing worse than being cold, damp from your own humidity, and have the wind whistling through your clothes, while you are trying to manage the sails, or worse, standing still and steer the darn boat.

Rosie Toes
Rosie Toes
December 1993 – January 5, 2007

I had to put Rosie Toes to sleep on Friday. I had to make the decision while I was in the middle of a meeting — that was when the vet called to say, basically, anything would be extraordinary measures to save her life, and even that wouldn’t be guaranteed. She would be put through a lot of stress and pain for no sure resolution at the end. She had already been through much during the past month. She had surgery just before Thanksgiving to remove a cancerous tumor from her bowels. I just couldn’t see putting her through more surgery, when it looks like her heart was failing, and she had pneumonia to boot.

Page 52 of 87

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén