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April 2014
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archive for 'knitting'

knitting lace

Knitting Beyond the Hebrides – Lace Symposiummiles ahead of myself as usual :)

knitting alpaca

handspun alpaca

branching out: i’m sure it’s ubiquitous for a reason and i just can’t think of a better use for the measley 100g of black alpaca i’ve yet to spin.

have been working up to it and i think a fine singles will be the way to go. i’ve been practising with different preparation techniques. while joanna may be able to spin the stuff just flicked open i’m just not skilled enough to do that and turn out a yarn i’m anywhere near happy with. i’ve carded the flicked fibre and spinning from those rolags is a joy, but i’m going to experiment with just carding and see how well that deals with the vm. i found with flicking the locks i lost a lot of fibre i.e. my final skeins weigh in at just under 70g from 100g of raw fibre.

it would be nice to think that i can skip straight to the carding stage and save prep time as well as be able to use all the tangly fibre that gets discarded when you flick and try to keep the locks intact.

i really need to find an efficient processing method since i have a large amount of raw alpaca winging its way to me as i type (i hope).

i might find out if it’s possible to widen branching out if it turns out i get 75g plus out of 100g.

nice socks

at magknits, nice idea for an issue too. i really should start finding projects for using up my skeinettes, or even just get round to adding to the interminable beginner yarn blanket. i’ve been knitting up swatches recently and remembered how enjoyable small amounts of easy knitting are to do.

fingerless mitts


(note the plural :P )

for the first time in what feels like months i’ve actually finished something! fingerless mitts made from this pattern from handspun merino/silk blend, dyed with food colours. a lovely easy knit, although i did have to rip back when i realised there was no way my holey m1s were ever going to be taken for a deliberate lace pattern as i’d hoped :lol: i was finding getting into the back of the loop almost impossible beause it was too tight. i finally managed it by going into the front of the loop and then sliding over the left needle while staying under the yarn (if that makes any sense at all).

i’m much happier with the yarn than i was when it came out of the dyepot. it was lovely to work with and there’s just enough colour variation to be interesting but without being out-and-out variagated, which i’m not so keen on. the sheen of the silk really shows too. the rather unattractive bloom on the yarn which i took to be felting i now think was just patches of very fluffy merino. knitting has made those patches pack together and become denser, more colourful and less alarming.

holey ankles batman

i found this response to a question on holes in yer ankles on knitters review. i’m going to paste the answer as chances are by the time i get round to my next pair the thread will have been archived or deleted.

This problem is basically very localized laddering, caused by stress on the corner when you’re working the heel and the instep stitches are resting.

For covering up the ones you’ve already done, take a little scrap of yarn and duplicate stitch over the holes to pull them together, then weave in both ends of your yarn scrap.

For preventing them in the future, either lift the stitch from the row below on the instep side and knit it together with the first stitch on the heel side, or vice versa, or pick up the bar between the stitches, twist it, and knit it together with the next stitch. If you can still see a small gap, a little judicious work with a crochet hook, easing the slack into the surrounding stitches, will take care of it.



not enough yarn to make it a partner :(

the yardage on the pattern said 80, but i guess that must be per mitten. there was 177 yards of this bfl when it came off the wheel (before washing and dyeing) but the one mitt took 5-and-a-little-bit colour repeats and i only have 3 left. i didn’t swatch since it was easy enough to try as i went along and it’s bang on size-wise.

i’m in a quandry what to do next: spin some extra and try to approximate one of the colours then use that for the cuffs? spin some extra and dye to a co-ordinating colour then intersperse that as another stripe? spin some extra don’t even bother to frog the first and just have them unmatch? just do something different with the yarn? i do love the mitten though, fits perfectly (apart from over-tight cast-off, obviously) and is super cosy and soft.

the pattern was great, really easy to follow, and i learned how to make 2 stitches together. wasn’t sure what “reverse loop” was so did “knit left loop then knit right loop” as per knitting help. also learned how to pick up stitches around the thumb which worked out really well with no gaps (once again yay for kh).

the yarn is the very first thing i spun on the wheel and i’m super pleased with how it turned out. i had to keep hauling it off the bobbin and running it through again to add extra twist when i was plying, i much prefer a nice tight ply, and it came out absolutely totally balanced :D

the self striping was a cinch too. i just wrapped the yarn around 2 chair backs the length of our front room apart to make a really long skein. then i marked it into 3 with yarn and each third went into it’s own bowl of dye in the massive pot. the only tricky thing was handling a skein that length, especially for rinsing, but in the end i just hauled it of all the bowls and dumped into the sink (handily enough our front room isn’t exactly huge, so the skein was just about manageable).

the colours were supposed to be greyish-purple, greyish-green and grey, but came out damson pink, khaki and greyish-pink respectively. i lost my nerve with the purple and addded extra red after the skein went in, hence the pinkness. i wanted to add a little warmth to the grey so mixed in a spoon or 2 of the “purple” bath, but that red sure is insistent, a little goes a long way. again to help the colours blend i added a little “purple” to the green and again the red has dragged it too far towards brown. all that said i love the accidental result (accurate colours here).

the thing i liked best about all this is that it didn’t take much longer to do than it did to write up. it was fluff at lunchtime and knitted before bed.

Fingerless Mitts

i have a hank of handspun and a hankering for fingerless mittens. this pattern looks like it fits the bill. i even have 5mm dpns *happy dance*.

do i bother to stripe-dye the yarn first or dive in with it hot off the wheel?

decisions decisions…


i have a very special bag to make (luckily for someone who doesn’t read here) and have been mulling over the possibilities for a while. it’s gradually coming together and seeing this bag over at fivegallonbucket has pushed me a little further in the right direction i think.

ballsy bag

the base will be black alpaca a) because i have some and b) because the recipient is allergic to wool. she reckons a wool bag should be okay since she wouldn’t be touching it all the time, but i’ve heard alpaca can be better for some allergies so i thought that would be on the safer side. i’ll line with some yet-to-be-acquired fabulous fabric, hopefully silk. i’ll spin some silk for the strap (have just ordered from fyberspates) and probably blend the silk and alpaca for some accent yarn.

now i’m having happy thoughts about felting some round beads or, if the alpaca’s not keen to felt, making pompoms (though making sure they don’t fall to bits is the challenge there i reckon). a handful of co-ordinating glass beads and we should be there i reckon.



i finished the socks i started on boxing day on sunday, so just under a month, even with a fair bit of dedicated knitting time. i used wendy’s toe up sock pattern which was (on the whole) a breeze. once i got my head around the short rows it was really straightforward – enough to manage the second one with barely a glance at the pattern.

the biggest problem i had was knitting the double wraps at the ends of the rows in properly to make the right side neat. trouble is i don’t remember how i managed to do it right in the end, or even where i found the tip that set me on the right path. i know that knittinghelp didn’t help me this time. next time i do some i’ll have to update this entry, when it all comes back to me or i have to go hunting for help again.

since it’s my first try at socks they don’t fit brilliantly and don’t match. the first one (on the right in the pic) turned out so much too small around the leg that i cast the second on with extra stitches (64 vs 60) and accidentally started the ribbing much lower on the leg. so i decided to frog the first back to the ankle so that i could increase the number of stitches in the cuff. so i actually had 2 nearly completed socks about 2 weeks ago, but it took me a while to get back to finishing sock no.1.

the final verdict is that sock no.1 istoo small – it’s a little short in the foot and it could be a little wider. sock 2 was too long in the foot before a wash but perhaps fits about right now. i actually decreased the sitches by 2 once i’d past the ball of my foot as it was feeling a little loose (it turned out that my tension relaxed loads after i’d firmly got the hang of the dpns – the first sock bore very little resemblance to my guage swatch, much tighter) then i increased up to 66 for the cuff.

on the first sock i changed from 2.5 to 2mm dpns for the 3×3 ribbing but had to change back since one of my birch needles snapped (i didn’t put any additional pressure on it). i limped along with 4 until i lost another irretrievably down the back of the in-laws sofa, and then reverted to the 2.5s. i have to say i much preferred working with the metal needles, but will have to remember to test the replacement guarantee on the brittany ones.

i think next time i would do the rib in a smaller size needle, but increase the stitches to compensate – i think i’d prefer a tighter looking rib. while i love the striped yarn (regia canadian colors, toronto) in the stockinette stretches i’m not mad on it in the rib, the purl stitches are too bittily stripey. i guess i’d be better off with a wider stripe.

i had problems when it came to binding off, too tight, but solved that with a crochet cast off that i’ll link to here cos i’m sure i’ll come looking for it again soon.

but i’d say on the whole i loved knitting these, the changing colours in the yarn kept me interested and the whole thing was much easier than i was expecting (given that i’ve only knitted rib scarves and half a hat on dpns before). the only thing i really need to address is quite noticeable holes at the ankles where it joins back into the round after the short rows. i did have a very slight widening at the corner of the needles but a trip through the wash evened them out a treat.

curious yarns

urgh why does any vestige of rationality disappear whenever shopping is involved?

a) i haven’t finished my first pair of socks, they’re taking much longer than i expected, i’m getting quite bored and have a whole heap of non-knitting projects i want to finish, plus i want my next (eventual) knitting project to be non-socky, probably using my sari silk. so WHY am i lusting after sock yarn?

b) i am not and will never be predominantly a knitter, i have knitted a grand total of 2 and 9/10 items, none of which was complicated enough to require markers, i think it will be a long time before i tackle any pattern which needs them. moreover, i make stitchmarkers. i make crochet ones (which i will use) and knitting ones (which i probably won’t), i have a whole stash of supplies including some very cute beads just waiting to be turned into markers. damnit i even have little tins to keep them in. so WHY am i lusting after stitch markers? (specifically the little blue and white ceramic animals).

must resist…

bfl/silk blend scarf


i think i’m safe enough posting this, as far as i’m aware my dad doesn’t know about this blog. this is his xmas present. it took ages to do and i was pretty sick of it by the time it was finished, although i do think it’s gorgeous, if a little short. no stats.

the yarn is a bfl/tussah silk blend (natural colours) which i spun from the fold, hence the speckly appearance of the silk, as the silk was streaked through the top (lol, i’m sure there’s a technical term for it) so it would appear in clumps during spinning. i found spinning from the fold a complete pita. it seemed to be sooo much slower than my usual semi-worsted spinning from the end of the top. i wanted to try it because the first scarf i made seemed excessively dense. i wanted as much softness as possible, and hoped that using a method that supposedly incorporates more air should be more economical as i only had 200g to work with.

i managed to get into a real mess to start with, absolutely no consistency in the wpi and just not getting it at all. i got some help on spinningfiber, my biggest problem being putting in too much twist for a thick yarn. practise certainly helped, but i can’t say i was particularly enjoying it even at the end. i’d line up a dozen or so staple-length-handfuls which helped keep the momentum going, as joining in every couple of minutes was bugging me, but i never really came to terms with it.

the knitting was very straightforward. just a 2×2 rib. i’m definitely getting faster at combined knitting. i love the way the variation in the weight of the yarn comes out in the knitting, making gentle undulations in the line of the ribbing.

rubbish blurry pix, still waiting on gallery plugin upgrade.

how to become an expert knitter

Two Pointy Sticks

Two Pointy Sticks

not her work but dig the caterpillar cushion:


and how’s this for colour inspiration?


Sock Knitting Tips



yay for learning to knit! yay for beginner yarn that doesn’t show beginner knitting mistakes! there are only 2 really obvious goofs i’ve spotted, a dirty great hole and a stitch that goes straight across for some odd reason. the fact that i meander between slipping the last stitch and knitting it doesn’t show enough to count. i didn’t like the reduced stretch slipping the stitch gave to the edge, even if it was a bit neater.

i don’t count the fact that i changed from english to combined knitting half way through either, as far as i can tell there isn’t any difference in the fabric itself. combined knitting was a godsend with the 2×2 rib, moving the yarn back and front was a doddle. although overall i was probably slower because i’ve done wee bits of swatch knitting and way back when i was a kid i’m sure i tried to learn to knit and that was all english style, so i was kind of familiar with the movements.

i used 3 yarns, all bfl – straight oatmeal, straight humbug and a random chunky mix of the 2. i was hoping for a more random distribution of the blocks, but it’s come out looking quite designed (lol, my inner control freak surfacing no doubt). the way the colour blending’s worked up is very educational for me to know, though i can’t say i’m greatly struck by it. i’m very pleased there’s no screamingly obvious weight discrepancies. it’s turned out very warm, surprisingly dense and drapey. there’s a very slight prickle which i’m a bit disappointed by, perhaps that’s the ultimate test, as it feels fine on my face. i’ll be interested to see whether that’s still there with the silk blend i’m spinning at the moment (with a lower twist).

i’ve been wearing it round the house all night and will probably wear it to bed. it’s fucking arctic here at the moment.

knitting styles

so last night i was knitting in bed and the yarn was somewhere on the floor to my left. since it was too cold to get out and pick it up and it was bugging me to have it running across the work i had a go at holding the yarn in my left hand instead (which i guessed must be something like the continental style i’ve heard mentioned). it was possible, if tricky, so i went searching for proper instructions and landed at knittinghelp. i found doing it properly was more fluid than my busked version, but still pretty tricky. so then i tried the combined method, aka eastern uncrossed, also illustrated (and here) and wow! how easy is that? i can see that it could cause problems following patterns, but for simple stuff like scarves it looks like a real winner.

as far as i can tell (from my very brief experience, might be totally wrong) the only difference is how the stitches are held on the needle, not the fabric that’s produced. i went from one style to another on my scarf and i can’t spot the changeover.

i think i’ll probably try to learn all 3 methods since each seems to have an advantage in different situations, all i have to do is remember which method i’m using and not get mixed up between them.

so for my ref:

  • standard: k&p both through front loop, yarn wrapped anticlockwise*
  • combined: k through back loop (which is leading loop, opposite to standard), p through front loop, needle over yarn and scoop through.

oh and i also want to learn how to knit lefthanded so i can do the stockinette without turning trick as per this craftster thread.

*just reading a thread over on knitty that said wrapping clockwise is the right way. but studying the videos i think i’m going the right way but viewing it from the pointy end of the needle back towards the work, in which case it is a-c. still, i should probably start thinking of it the other way or i’m going to get very easily confused.

another version of “standard” knitting, with better economy of movement.

another discussion, this time at angelyarns.

yet more discussion with a nice clear explanation of the differences from knitty.


Wovenflame: Proud Peacock cos yeah, i really need another laceweight shawl.

seriously. i will.

weaving in ends

Knitting with Handspun Yarns

fabulous article on gauge, yardage, wpi etc.