Saturday, February 18, 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

It's my birthday, and I wanted to tell you about what I've been working on lately...

Well, once again I'm chugging along on projects.  Here's one:
The second pair of slipper socks.  This is the superwash part that doesn't felt.  Next thing is to pick up stitches and make the sole out of feltable wool.  This one will have the Fairy Tale color of Wool of the Andes that I had left over from my sweater.  Should be wonderful - and the best part is that the soles don't take very long to knit.  I'll get started on the top of the second slipper in the superwash so I've got simple knitting to do at Church tomorrow.

I've also been rummaging through my stash.  Did some more spinning too.  This time it was a smidgen of combed Merino top from Ashland Bay in the colorway Rose Quartz.  Their top is such a delight to spin!  Before I knew it, I had finished it up and then Navajo plied it.  Washed up and skeined it looks like this:

The vital statistics on this little skein are: Singles spindle spun clockwise, Navajo plied 15 treadles. Weight: 52 grams and 212 yards.

I think it is a lovely heather - looks like dusty mauve overall, but there are so many colors in this one!  From yellows to blues and several reds and violets.  Up close it looks like this:
If you click on the picture you can zoom in as far as you like.  This yarn is so soft - being Merino I expected that - but still, I'm thrilled!  Might do some lacy mitts with some Fair Isle patterning with the Amethyst skein I told you about a while ago.

I've also been spinning some Cormo top from the Riverwinds Farm in Boyd, Wisconsin.  I bought 4 ounces of this blended gray from them at the Jefferson Sheep and Wool festival back in September 2011.  I've put two or three spindles full onto the bobbin for plying and I've got another one started:
It is just as soft (if not softer) than the Merino, so it may get a role in the mitts as well.  This soft stuff is spinning up pretty fine, so it will be interesting to see how it works up.  Might even have enough left over for socks - at least the cuff part of socks.  I'm not sure how well this super fine wool would wear in socks.

Here's a closer look at the singles on the spindle:
Mighty pretty color and so fine and soft.  Spins so smoothly, it is difficult to stop spinning.  I guess I've been fooling with the Nasty Romney for so long I'd forgotten how nice it is to spin good wool!

I've also been digging around in my storage unit and finding a lot of my older handspinning.  I'm getting it out and rewashing it a skein or two at a time.  I'm amazed at how far I've come in my skills.  Seems to me that it is good to revisit my old yarn - and my old spinnables that aren't yarn yet.  There are some neat possibilities for me to explore in those boxes... I'll shoot some pictures of my "beginner yarn" once the skeins are dry.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Well, the ruffle yarn arrived in yesterday's mail.  Couldn't help myself - I started in on one of the scarf patterns right away to try it out.  This is some weird construction... here's a picture of the way this stuff is put together:
This one is called Frill Seeker Stargazer.  It has some metallic shot through it as well.  Pretty hot pink/burgundy/black progression through the colors.  The metallic is red, but it really looks nice in this combination.  I checked out some YouTube videos about how to knit with this kind of yarn.  Basically, you just use the top edge for the stitches, working with the tiny chain between the blocks to make the stitches.  I did this on size 10 needles (6mm) and a cable - this stuff is slick and slides around a lot! 

Here's a shot of the whole skein before I got started on the scarf itself.  It was loosely tied in 3 places, and it said right in the pattern NOT to wind it into a ball, so I put it on an umbrella swift and started knitting.  Very simple pattern, just 12 stitches in garter stitch until you run out of yarn, or get to the length you like.  Mine turned out 50 inches long, and it is much softer than I expected it to be with all that metallic in it.  The fiber content on this Stargazer yarn is 78% Acrylic and 22% Polyester.  Since it doesn't mention the metallic, I'm assuming that the polyester is the metallic carrier somehow.  The ruffling happens automatically - the chain knits into a scaffold of sorts to hold the gathers in place for ruffles to happen on the outer edge... like this:
Soooooo, after the last of the skein comes off the umbrella swift and over the needles I ended up with a very pretty scarf to wear with my raspberry colored winter coat.  One thing I did notice with this yarn is that it snags pretty easily - especially the metallic thread.  So this isn't going to be something that will work with any coat with Velcro closures near the neckline.

This is a hand wash and dry flat kind of scarf, but being all synthetic, it won't take long to dry.  Keep it from snagging up - wear gloves when washing it so it doesn't catch on anything.  It seems to be very soft and should be quite warm - of course it is also highly unusual and decorative!  Pretty as an accent scarf for a plain dress or turtleneck too.

I don't think I've ever done a project that worked up this fast - and fun to watch it do it's thing!  So I already have a finished scarf!  Ta-daaaaa!

Next thing I finished up was the sweater.  I decided to "line" the button bands with ribbon for stability since the knitting was somewhat soft and there really wasn't much to attach a button to that would hold it up without sagging or pulling the stitches out of shape.  I spent some time in the library, dug out the old standard Vogue Sewing book and read about couture methods on buttons and buttonholes and came up with an idea that worked out well.  I wasn't able to find ribbon that exactly matched the red-violet color.  This didn't really surprise me, it isn't a common color.  So I used a satin ribbon printed with a Victorian style pattern in black and white.  I hand sewed it in place on both button bands so they would be firm and straight.  Then I cut small slits in the ribbon and did hand worked buttonholes, using buttonhole stitches (basically the same as a blanket stitch, worked tightly and very close together) and I got very stable, firm buttonholes.  I tested the fit of the buttons several times as I worked the buttonholes, since I wanted them snug, but not too tight.  Here's a picture of the buttonholes:
The stitches are pulled quite tight, that keeps the row of edge stitches in place and centered on the edge of the hole itself.  Interestingly enough, I found that I had a better result by starting in the middle of the long vertical of the slit rather than on one of the ends.  I'm not sure why, but that's how it worked out for me.  Here's a picture of the ribbon bands - granted, this is the inside of the sweater - the stitches aren't perfectly even, but they look okay to me.  Since I'm the only one who will really ever see this part, I didn't tear it out to make it perfect on the inside.  I'm recovering from generations of perfectionism... so I'm calling this a good thing! 

Interestingly enough, I've never seen this method of handling button bands except on an old sweater that my Grandmother made for my Mom - she did machine buttonholes over grosgrain ribbon.  I wanted mine done in yarn, so this is what I came up with.  Never have done a cardigan before, and even though this one took two tries to complete, it is done and I'm pleased with it.  Finally, finished and blocked, here is the last picture of the finished button bands.

Yep, my first ever cardigan.  I like it.  A lot!