Purple progress



I have turned the heel on the wisteria socks and begun on the leg. Both heels, both legs, because I’m still knitting these in parallel, which seems so far to be an excellent cure for the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. The cable panel is still mostly indistinct, but it’s clearly a different texture, so that’s all that matters really. 

And I only had to add my last skein (about two-fifths of the total) partway through the heel, so these will still be navajo-ply for a good amount of ankle before I switch to the thicker three-ply for the ribbing.

I’m still really happy with these – they’re soft and pretty and I made them! I’m all impatient to finish, and since I’m taking the rest of the weekend off from the Dissertation of Doom, maybe I’ll knit these socks instead :-)

I’ve also been spinning more purple singles – I’m now at nearly 700m, but it’s not going to be enough, so I’ll have to buy another bag of fibre (oh, the hardship). And then I’ll have to start planning a pattern…

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Assorted purple things

The Wisteria socks have about half of a gusset, in the shape of the ridgeline increases from New Pathways, and a small cable panel acting as the ridgeline. I’m actually not wild about the cable – its details don’t really show up very well, but it doesn’t really matter.

I’ve exhausted the first ball of yarn, and tied the next one into lots of little bundles so I could work out what was going on with the colour sequence; when I exhaust the other original ball, I’ll attach the other end of the bundled ball so I’m knitting both socks from one ball, to maintain something a bit like symmetry without being too wasteful of the yarn. There’s one more skein of the navajo ply that’s not currently attached to the socks, but it’s a big one (about as big as both my two starting skeins together, so that should keep me going into at least a bit of ankle before switching to the three ply.




I now also have new photos of the purple cable cardigan, since I’ve done a bit more knitting on it. It’s actually a bit more cardigan-shaped than it looks in the first photo – it’s a bit squished up to fit on the needles.

The second photo is a close up of the cable so far, and the third is a view of the variegated silk of the collar facing. I still really like this cardigan, so I must try to motivate myself to finish it, although it’s currently at about the same place as the interminable red cardigan: longer and longer rows, and the split at the underarms feels like centuries away.

But just in case I don’t have enough cardigans-in-progress, I’ve started spinning for another :-) This was inspired by the discovery that one of my favourite bought cardigans – a long, loose, drapey lacey black thing – weighs slightly less than the amount of this purple merino fibre I have in the stash…

This yarn is the first I’ve spun to be singles – and the first deliberately somewhat varied and slubby in texture – since my first attempts at spinning, and I’m really happy with it. Depending on how much yarn the whole lot of fibre produces, and on design decisions as yet unmade, I might put contrast bands of a different yarn into the cardigan, for example at the wrists and hem. This contrast yarn might be the silk cut. Or might not. Anything is possible ;-)

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Handspun socks



The top photo is this morning, and the bottom one is about an hour ago, and I haven’t actually done much knitting today, but they’re going really quickly. I’ve done some more since I took the photo, and am probably about ready to start the gusset increases.

The stripes are still lining up, just offset by half a repeat, which is better than I deserve, considering I only checked that I was starting on a different colour.

I’m thinking of using the ridgeline increases from New Pathways, with a four-stitch pattern of some sort on the ridge. The pattern will probably be a cable because there aren’t many four-stitch patterns, but four stitches means the decreases when I change yarns (and therefore move to bigger needles) will work perfectly with * knit 1, k2tog * – 64 stitches moving to 44, with four stitches in the centre front remaining untouched.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Knitting with the attention span of a flea

That’s Juno Regina to the left, with three diamonds completed. I don’t feel as if I’ve completely bonded with it as a project yet, but it looks pretty, and it’s nicely balancing interesting to knit with easy to knit, so I’m tentatively considering it actively in progress…

Which reminds me, how long does it have to be since you’ve knit anything on a project to count as hibernating (for Ravelry purposes)? I’m very polygamous with my projects – I have [checks] six active projects listed on Ravelry, and two projects I consider to be actually hibernating (the other hibernating ones are either finished but for the sewing in of ends, or due for a good frogging, so they don’t count). But one of the active projects (the interminable red cardigan) is something I haven’t touched in months [checks] – not since last October – so should it really count as hibernating? And if I designate it as hibernating, will that make me even less likely to do anything to it?

Thinking along these lines has led me to take up the purple cable cardigan in the last few days. I’ve not done much, which is why there are no new photos of it, but it’s sitting in the active-project part of my brain again, which is good. I do like both of these cardigans, so I should make more of an effort to finish them.

All of these good intentions, however, are thwarted somewhat by the fact that in the last few days I have also finished spinning the Wisteria navajo-ply, washed and set the yarn, and now started knitting with it. The navajo-ply (which is just a twisted crochet chain with really big loops) means it’s three ply, but with the colour changes intact rather than mixed in together. It looks very different from the corresponding three-ply, but it’s very pretty. This was always intended for socks, and now socks it is becoming; I’ve used Judy’s magic cast on, and made a broad and shallow toe, because that’s the kind I find most comfortable, and I’m not intending to wear these with shoes so the extra fabric doesn’t matter. The yarn is really soft knit up. I was a little worried about its softness in the skein – it feels harsh next to the soft smooshy three-ply, but knit up it’s soft and a little fluffy, but feels hardwearing too (I hope!). I’m actually going to cast on the other sock now I’ve finished the toe, and knit them in parallel, to make them as symmetrical as possible, considering that the yarn isn’t all precisely the same weight. It doesn’t vary too much (which is a bit surprising, considering bits of it are variously spun and plied on both spindles and the wheel, which was probably foolish of me), but I’m planning to use the tightest-plied skein for the heels for strength, so it’s just easier all round if I knit them parallel.

I’m not sure how far up the sock I’ll get with the navajo-ply. I think it will be enough for the whole foot, but for very little – if any – ankle. Depending on how far it goes, I’m still planning to knit the leg with the thicker three-ply, just because I want to use the two yarns together for contrast.

I’m really loving how the colours are knitting up. I’m not keen on stripes usually, but perhaps this is like liking a book more once you’ve studied it – you understand what is going on, so you find new appreciation for things you might not otherwise like in it. I’m itching to knit more of it, and am in fact only writing this blog entry because I’m at female-friend-R’s house, taking a break from writing my dissertation, and I don’t have my knitting with me :-( If I was working at home today, this break would be a knitting one ;-)

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Whoops, my fingers slipped

Ahem. I seem to have cast on for Juno.

What happened was, I remembered about this cotton yarn in my stash that I bought in Baltimore, and then lost the label for. I cast on a clapotis with it not long after I bought it, but it wasn’t really working out (that’s the pre-frogging clapotis in the photo to the right). I’d gone down a needle size, because the yarn is lace weight, so it was only wide enough to be a scarf, not a wrap. Trouble is, I wear scarves for warmth rather than for decoration, and a cotton lace weight scarf just isn’t warm enough. I abandoned it partway through, and left it sitting in the stash for years, and today I remembered it.

I dug it out, and started to wonder what the yarn was. A bit of Googling and Ravelling, and I’d found it out: it’s Blue Heron yarns’ egyptian mercerised cotton, probably in the ‘Deepwater’ colourway. It’s soft and lovely, but I’ve never knit anything else with cotton, and I’ve never been completely sure what to do with it. However, with the wonders of Ravelry and my new-found knowledge of its identity, I wandered around looking at what other people have done with it, and after some more searching, I arrived at Juno.

I looked again at the clapotis, and decided it was irredeemable. I frogged it, wound the yarn into a skein and then a ball, and cast on.

I’m not completely sure this will be It for this yarn, either. (It was briefly a ruffled tank top from Alterknits before it was a clapotis.) But I like the pattern, and it’s a departure from my usual knitting, and it’s interesting at the ends, but straightforward in the middle, so I can do other things at the same time as knit it once I’m on the straight section. And the cotton doesn’t seem to mind being frogged and reknitted at all, so it’s no great hardship if this also turns out to be a doomed experiment ;-)

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Miscellaneous spinning







…And the equivalent quick update from the spinning front!

The top picture is the second batch of Wisteria fibre that’s destined for navajo plying. It’s about 300m, which means I’m still on track to product at least 200m of possibly-sock-weight three-ply. I’m itching to ply it, but navajo works better if the singles have relaxed a bit, so I am resisting the urge.

The second picture is my skein of spinning oddballs :-) I have a long-term wip which I’ve mentioned before, of a scrap scarf made from all the remnants of my commercial yarn; I decided early on in my spinning that I didn’t want to absorb my handspun remnants into that scrap project, but would make a separate one. The new Knitty has some stash-busting remnant ideas, which reminded me to get on with sorting out my spinning remnants, so I skeined it up yesterday, and was surprised that it comes to about 100m! And it’s really pretty. It’s currently one of the ‘pet’ skeins sitting on my desk to be stroked every now and again, and it’s made me realise properly that I love all of my spinning, even my crappy beginner efforts. I don’t feel quite the same about my knitting – I feel attached to all of it, but I don’t feel uniformly positive about all of it, possibly because it’s now finished, and has to be judged on how well it is performing its function. My handspun yarn, on the other hand, is still en route to its finished state (since I assume I’ll eventually get round to knitting with most of it), so there are no disappointments to detract from my love for it. I can see flaws in some, of course, but I love every little bit of it anyway.

The second and third pics are singles from Texere’s cerise merino, about 224m/50g, which I spun on one of the new whorls offered by my new flyer (bottom picture). The second picture is just before I twisted the skein into, well, a skein, and I just loved how it all curled up like that :-)

The fourth pic is of the same skein, sitting on top of the silk hankies which I will probably ply some of it with. The hankies probably won’t make as much yardage as the wool (I got about 150m from the other pack of hankies), so I’ll have to think a bit more about it. Maybe I’ll keep it as singles, and just knit it in a project with the silk, or maybe I’ll ply them (like the lilac ‘silk cut’ yarn), and put the leftover singles into the next skein of oddball. Not sure yet.

Finally, as mentioned above, my new flyer. I’m pretty certain now that my wheel is an Ashford Traditional (from the 1970s – about the same age as me!), and since my existing flyer had only one whorl (ie only one speed at which the flyer moves relative to the wheel), I splashed out on a replacement flyer with three – three! – whorls (whorls are the circles-with-groves at the left of the picture – the drive band (piece of string) is wrapped around the middle one in the pic). What this means is that I can spin with more twist (for finer yarn), without having to vary the treadling speed. This is a good thing, because there’s a speed of treadling that is most comfortable, and controlling twist by speeding up is annoying and tiring. And since this (relatively cheap) addition works, that means I can plan for later, more expensive, additions, like a lace flyer unit which provides more – and smaller – whorls, ie higher ratios and allow for even finer yarn.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Miscellaneous knitting






A quick update with some photos…

The top picture is the completed peekapurpleboo (no one else around at the time to wield the camera, so I couldn’t wear them to photograph them).

The second picture is an idea from the Twisted Sisters’ Sock Workbook: the endless circular swatch. I purl looser than I knit, so I need to swatch circularly, but casting on enough stitches for a decent-sized swatch is a pain, and I don’t like the thing where you leave long strands of yarn behind a flat swatch in order to knit every stitch (I have a vague recollection of once inventing a much better way of making a flat swatch and still only needing to knit, but I can’t for the life of me work out what it was, so I might have dreamt it). The idea is that, unless I need to cannibalise the swatch to finish the project, this will just be an ongoing swatch tube, possibly to be made into a little bag or something eventually, but just sitting there, waiting for the next needles and yarn that need to swatch. And the cast on is Judy’s magic cast on (which I got from New Pathways, but is also IIRC on Knitty somewhere), which really is magic.

The third and fourth pictures are the Riverbed BMP in progress. There’s an unfortunate problem: I didn’t anticipate what the effect on the fabric would be of me switching which hand I hold which yarn in, hence the line where the red suddenly becomes dominant. I like the red dominant better, but not enough more to frog the whole thing and start from scratch, so I think I’m just going to live with it.

The different yarn in each hand technique is loads of fun, and – colour dominance problem aside – I really like how these look.

The last picture is of my solution to the only problem with the otherwise gorgeous Harmony interchangeable needles. These needle tips are not marked with their size, and although the bag includes a number of perfectly needle-sized pockets, the needle tips come tucked into elastic on a piece of card with their sizes marked, and this annoyed me. I have now written their US and metric sizes onto both sides of little card labels (which I otherwise use for labelling skeins of handspun), and tucked a label and a pair of needle tips into each pocket. And added a needle gauge in case needles get separated from labels. This is a much more sensible arrangement, and I’m a bit cross they didn’t come like this :-( 

Read and post comments | Send to a friend



I’ve been knitting the Peekaboo gloves from Magknits, and I’ve just finished all but the thumb of the first. And in honour of having figured out iMovie and the camera attached to my computer, here’s a video! (The colours are better in the photos, because they had benefit of flash. The video was filmed directly under a bare light bulb, but I think it would have been better if I’d done it in daylight with the light on.)

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Confessions of a yarn obsessive

I started knitting as an adult about three years ago. I stole my mother’s collection of straight plastic and aluminium needles, unused since my childhood, and I bought a load of ill-chosen yarn from an uninspiring (with hindsight) craft shop. I’ve been acquiring new tools and materials ever since.

I got my latest knitting gadget from Sainsbury’s last week. They haven’t started selling craft supplies; this was in the kitchen equipment section: a set of digital weighing scales with accuracy to one gram. (We’ve got kitchen weighing scales, but they’re mechanical and not accurate enough for yarn.) I’ve used the new scales loads of times in their first week: weighing skeins of handspun to mark on their labels, and weighing bought yarn to estimate remaining yardage. I’ll use them to weigh the riverbed socks when I’ve got the first one ‘long enough’, to estimate how much further I can go and still have enough yarn to make the second one match.

In between my mother’s straight needles and the scales, I’ve bought and been given an awful lot of knitting kit. I now own so many circular needles (including two different sets of interchangeables) that I’ve given away all my straights. I’ve got a small library of knitting books, and have now started on spinning books too. I’ve got crochet hooks (I can’t crochet – I use them for fixing dropped stitches and doing provisional cast ons). I’ve got a swift and a ball winder. I have spindles and a spinning wheel and bobbins and hand carders. I have an fairly large stash of bought and handspun yarn, and of unspun fibre. I have stitch markers made of beads, of earrings, and of tiny pieces of knotted yarn. I have five different tapestry needles, spare parts and oil for the wheel, and a day-by-day knitting calendar.

I have a lot of stuff. My library, which is effectively my study and workroom, was full before I started acquiring all this stuff, and now it’s even fuller. I’m typing this sitting at my desk, and without even looking away from the desk’s surface, I see two small skeins of handspun, index cards with handspun samples wrapped around them, spinning wheel oil, a small wooden box containing stitch markers, tapestry needles and a tape measure. I see a ruler (out on the surface because I’ve been measuring gauge). The handcream doesn’t look as if it’s knitting-related, but it is – I’m trying to remember to use it so the next time I handle the silk hankies the fibre snags less on my skin. My laptop is resting on a print out of the charts from BMP.

To one side of the desk is the stack of knitting and spinning books, the set of plastic drawers containing my bought-yarn stash, and my handspun on display in a basket and in a transparent plastic tube. My hand carders are on top of the drawers, and my ball winder is tucked into a cubby hole on a CD rack. To the other side of me my swift is tucked in beside the desk, and there are two piles of largely non-knitting-related stuff, one topped with the aforementioned weighing scales, and the other with a book and a notebook relating to my current sock project. 

If I walk through the house, just looking at rooms without touching anything or opening any doors, I will see knitted garments everywhere. Socks and cardigans and hats and scarves and gloves. I will encounter the spinning wheel and the lazy kate in the living room, and I will encounter my bag of fibre stash on the other side of the library, hiding far away from the rest of the knitting supplies.

And just as my house is full of yarn-related objects, my life is full of yarn-related activities. In between the other business of the day, I will knit a bit, spin a bit. In the middle of other activities I will be thinking about yarn – about creating it and about creating with it. I will tear off today’s page on the knitting calendar, and decide whether it is worth keeping, or just reading and discarding. I wear my hand-knitted garments often in the cold, and I find myself now starting to think not only about the construction of the garment, but about the construction of its yarn. Wearing Rogue, I understood for the first time that this is singles yarn, and that if I was to knit it again, I’d use plied yarn to better show the cables. I wear handmade socks, and think about how many plies, and how fine each singles is, and wait impatiently for the day I can spin that fine. I wear bought socks and I examine the short row heels and toes, and compare them with handknitted gusset heels. And I think about how much warmer handknit socks are, and I wish for the time when I can choose to wear no other kind.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend