Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where are they now? Part two...

Mom in her socks
After writing the bit about Mom's socks, I thought I'd check on them.  I found that she still has them and was willing to model them for me:

They were made of some self-striping yarn, I don't remember what brand, but I do remember really liking the yarn and the pattern it made.  Bright bands of color, these socks just scream out "FUN!" to me.

Busy with the tam and washing up a new fleece.  It isn't turning out the way I thought it would - but I can fix that - I'll dye some of it and see what happens.  More on that later on.

I've finished up all the pieces of the sweater, just need to block them, assemble them and pick up the stitches for the front band and the collar.  Probably take it to the LYS and hunt for some gorgeous buttons before I start on the button bands.

I'll keep you posted...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Felting of the swatch...

This is so cool... I'm amazed every time I do felting.  All the things you are NEVER supposed to do to wool, doing them and coming up with the most amazing and dense fabric you can imagine!

Hot water, strong agitation  with a pair of old jeans and extra laundry detergent.  After five minutes, I got this:

Five minutes

Still some small "holes" in the fabric, this photo is shot with the swatch very wet and plopped on top of the washing machine lid with most of the foam blotted off.  Not much shrinkage yet, but the yarn is starting to fuzz out a little. 

The measurements at this point were 6 3/4" wide by 6 1/2" high.

Back into the washer it went for another five minutes of sloshing around in hot water.  As an aside, trying to find the little swatch in all that foam and the wet jeans was a bit of an adventure.  That water is HOT! Thank goodness for rubber gloves!

After another five minutes, ten minutes total now,  the swatch was 6 3/4" wide by 5 1/2" high.  Interestingly enough, the knitted fabric was pulling in more in length than in width.  I guess I hadn't expected that.  Back in to slosh for another five minutes, fifteen total, the swatch measured 5 3/4" wide by 4 1/2" high.  Finally starting to pull in widthwise and firming up in texture.  Fewer holes in the fabric.  Back in for another slosh, after 20 minutes the swatch was 5" wide by 4" high.  Back in again, after 25 minutes the swatch measured 4 3/4" wide by 3 1/4" high.  One more time and after 30 minutes total the swatch measured 4 1/2" wide and 3 1/4" high and looked like this:

I've got pictures of the whole progression for my own files, but I noticed that the garter stitch edge behaved differently than the stockinette center.  The main difference can be felt (I couldn't help myself - sorry!) in the density of the fabric.  The stitches are no longer visible anywhere, although the garter stitch ridges are still there with a very firm touch.  The fabric got quite "hairy" and dense.  Very little drape so the tam should hold its shape well as long as it is blocked properly.

Now that the swatch is done and felted, I spun it out and rinsed it twice in the washer with the jeans.  The swatch is sitting out on the counter to dry, the jeans went into the dryer to await their duty as companions to the tam when it comes time to felt it.

All that being done, I started knitting on the tam.  Patterning is from Piecework magazine's feature on kilt hose and bonnets from the Royal Highland Regiment Black Watch.

Balmoral Bonnet to match Wallace Tartan
Some part of me recoils from calling a hat intended for a very large man a "bonnet" so I've been referring to it as a tam.  Although not technically correct, it sure beats the mental image of said big man wearing a frilly Easter bonnet.  So, it remains a tam for the purposes of this blog.

I'm pleased with the way the color work is going.  I haven't done any Fair Isle color stranding in a long, long time.  I knit with one color carried in each hand and the stranding almost happens without me thinking about it much.  I remember that tip from Alice Starmore's fantastic book on Fair Isle.  The long rectangles of color will become square in the felting process and, of course, much smaller.  I like the look of the brilliant yellow with all the dark colors.  The tam will be trimmed out in a black grosgrain ribbon edge with swallowtail ends in the back.  There are adjustment ties concealed in the ribbon edge that will adjust the fit.

Back to knitting!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Swatching for the Tam...

Swatch for tam before felting
Ahh, the joys of felting... I think I'm one of those oddballs that actually enjoy the swatching process.  I've done up the swatch in Firecracker Heather Wool of the Andes Worsted from Knit Picks (find it at: ).

Before felting this swatch measures 6" wide by 6 1/2" high across the full swatch.  Just the stockinette portion measures 4 3/4" wide by 5 1/2" high and is 19 stitches by 28 rows.

The tam is an historically correct version from Piecework magazine (love that historical knitting!) and will be paired with a set of kilt hose done in intarsia.  I dyed the yarn for the yellow in the Wallace tartan since it wasn't available in both of the yarn types I was using and I wanted the pieces to match as much as possible.  The kilt hose will be done in a lightweight two ply yarn called Palette (also from Knit Picks).  Here are the shots of the yarn with the magazine photo so you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about.

Yarns and photo of kilt hose
Here are the kilt hose, very interesting pattern.  These are knitted flat and seamed, that will certainly make the intarsia easier, but I'm thinking that I'd be supremely irritated by a seam on the foot of my sock, so I'm going to modify the pattern to do the foot in the round so that there will be no seam to irritate the foot.  The tartan is Wallace, red, black and bright yellow although the photo doesn't show it well.  The yellow yarn is hand dyed by me in Brilliant Yellow acid dye from Dharma Trading Co.  It is a great way to get the colors I want for this project.  Fun to do too!

Then there is the photo of the tam along with the yarn, tartan and photo from Piecework - interestingly enough these both came from the same issue of the magazine, how cool is that?

Yarns and photo for tam
So, next thing is to go and felt the swatch and to re-measure and adjust the pattern for size.  Then I can start on the actual tam, I haven't done felting like this in years and I really enjoyed it in the past.  Did a pair of slippers as a gift for my brother years ago - styled like chukka boots, the two eyelet ankle high style.  Remember those?  The felted "fabric" turned out so thick and soft - the knitted stitches became nearly indistinguishable.  I have also located a neat felted pattern for slippers for myself.  It uses both a superwash and a feltable wool... more on that later since it is quite a way down the knitting queue.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Well, finally got one of my Works In Progress done!  The "Pretty Thing" for Janet is knitted, washed, blocked and delivered.  Couldn't get a picture of her wearing it though. : (
Pretty Thing being blocked

This is a shot of the wet cowl on the blocking board and pinned out.  Wanted to pull out the scallops - might as well do that so she could see the most extreme version of her cowl.  Since it is a superwash wool I'm not sure how well it will hold the blocking, but it sure turned out to be a very "pretty thing" indeed!  One new thing I learned while working on this project is the sewn bind off.  Very slick, and very elastic -  I like it very much!

Here's a shot of the stitches close up and personal.

Pretty Thing stitch close-up
I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the color changes, but I find that I really rather like the small bursts of color and the definition of the stitches where they occur.  I think I have enough of this yarn left over to make one of these for myself too.  Not right away though, too many other projects already queued up for the time being.

Next up on the needles - the tam to match the Wallace tartan - there is a Renaissance Faire coming up where it could make a grand entrance.  The kilt hose will come later, that is intarsia, which I haven't learned how to do yet.