knitting


I am extremely pleased and proud to introduce my first published pattern – Frosted Windowpanes.

Frosted Windowpanes hat

I was honored when Debbie (pictured above) asked me if I wanted to write up this pattern to be published on the Sweet Paprika website as part of their Fall 2009 collection of patterns and I agreed to it immediately. They had seen an earlier version of this hat that I had knit years ago when they first started their hand-dyeing business and remembered it. Back then, I hadn’t done very much color work and my stranded knitting was so tight that the hat didn’t fit too many people (I ended up gifting it to a friend, Beth, who likes her hats SNUG). Luckily, my tension has improved since then. 🙂

They sent a few skeins of yarn and I started knitting and writing up the pattern as I went. I sent the hat back to them to be examined and photographed and was incredibly happy when I received an email including the .pdf file of the pattern expertly formatted and written up by the Sweet Paprika crew. I am so grateful to them for this opportunity and hopefully this is the first of many of my published patterns.

The Details:

Pattern: Frosted Windowpanes available for FREE at Sweet Paprika Designs.   Ravelry Pattern Page

Yarns: Sweet Paprika Designs “Dolce” in African Violet and Sweet Paprika Designs “Minuet” in Deep Purple

Needles: US size 7 (4.5mm) circ.s and/or dpns

I LOVE working with these beautifully hand-dyed yarns. Dolce is a DK silk/merino blend yarn which is hand-painted in a variety of breath-taking variegated colorways. Minuet is a bouncy DK superwash merino yarn with subtle variations in color that gives a look of depth to the knitted fabric.

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A short while ago, I won this amazingly beautiful BFL wool spinning kit for taking part in a contest on Cosy’s blog. Thanks again, Cosy!

I highly recommend Cosy’s spinning kits (available at her shop on etsy) to any spinners or people looking for a gift for a spinner. The dye colours were beautiful individually and in combination and the wool was soft, shiny and a pleasure to spin.

The basic idea is to spin the largest 2 oz braid into a single on one bobbin, then spin the 4 1/2 oz multi-coloured braids onto another bobbin and finally ply them together.

Although it was my intention to follow those instructions, thing’s didn’t exactly turn out as planned!

When it came time to ply my two different coloured singles together, they just wouldn’t ply and I realized that the singles were each spun in a different direction, making it impossible for them to twist together. I had managed to make this basic spinning mistake because one single had been spun on my spinning wheel, and one was spun on my drop spindle. I had never tried plying from both at the same time before which is where the confusion arose. So, I changed my strategy and spun each bobbin into it’s own 3-ply navajo yarn which kept the striping colour changes intact.

I now have one light blue skein and one green, white, brown and blue striping skein.

As I ended up with a 3-ply yarn instead of a 2-ply as I had intended in the first place, it is definitely bulkier than I had planned (about 8-10 wpi, bulky to super-bulky weight). I wanted to knit a baby sweater, possibly a BSJ but am now reconsidering because this yarn may be too thick.

My first time knitting with my own hand-dyed hand-spun yarn! This is the kind of thing that makes me feel very self-satisfied 🙂

hand-dyed handspun yarn

BFL wool dyed with Kool aid and food colouring drops, spun on my drop spindle, knit on 10mm needles.

It came from this spinning fiber, dyed once with cherry kool aid, then over-dyed with a tiny bit of blue and yellow food colouring:

dyed bfl wool

This is another over-dyed BFL wool top, originally cherry and orange kool aid, then immersed in a dye bath with blue food colouring:

dyed bfl wool

Both of those started as something similar to this one but with more separated and splotchy colours:

dyed bfl wool

I have many of these pink/red bundles of fiber. And to be honest, I feel really ambiguous about a lot of them. Lesson learned: when trying out dyes for the first time, limit myself to small test batches of fiber! A lot of the blue over-dyeing I did recently still hasn’t turned out “dark enough” for me. I keep drying the wool, seeing how much it lightens compared to when it is wet and wanting it to be darker! How many times can I dye this stuff before felting it, I wonder? 😛 I still haven’t tried Wilton’s icing dyes which I have read give a really nice saturated dye. I also want to try applying the dye when the fiber is hotter (like in a crockpot) so that the wool accepts the dye faster and the colours come out more distinct and less muddled.

geranium in a pot

Have a great weekend!

a passion flower
passion flower

a clematis
clematis

a pink tulip
pink tulip

or two
pink tulip

I forget what this is called (zinnias?)
flowers

I have no idea what this is
unknown ?

blood orange
blood orange

tangelo
tangelo

a yellow rose
yellow rose

the grass covered in dew drops, shining in the early morning sunshine
grass and dew drops

My stuffed animal modeling a hat I made (ravelry link to this project)
hat model

a drop spindle full of falkland wool yarn that I spun for the shawl I’m knitting
handspun

On my drop spindle over this past week has been a beautifully hand-dyed green and purple (and many other colours) BFL wool roving. I purchased it at last year’s Ottawa Weaver’s and Spinner’s Guild Annual Exhibition and Sale from Judy Kavanagh. Her website features her really nice hand-crafted spindles and some great resources for spindling and buying fleece on her links page.

Here is a small sample of the drafted wool, all shiny and lofty:

bfl wool roving

I spun two “spindle-fulls”:

handspun

handspun

and ended up with two beautiful skeins:

handspun

I am adding these to my growing pile of bulky hand spun yarn. Does anyone else have this problem at this time of year? I really am a seasonal knitter. I guess I am hoarding them until the weather gets cool again. Until then, I amuse myself by knitting lace. I have been very monogamous to my optic waves handspun shawl and was really pleased to see it on Cosy’s blog. I don’t have anything else on my knitting needles right now which is unusual but not that weird because I have become consumed with spinning yarn. The knitting of it has become somehow secondary. Now that’s weird 🙂 I have some projects in mind to knit but I (of course) want to spin the yarn for those projects so a bit of planning is involved. I’m planning on having these projects on the needles soon: a summer shrug, a blanket, and something for a baby (yay!)…

… and the most all-consuming project of all, my upcoming line of hand-spun yarns, soon to be offered for sale!

I finally spun that milk fiber into a more substantial-sized skein, and it looks really pretty. It seemed like a good fiber for lace to me, so I decided to spin a fine 2-ply with it. Here it is pictured with two skeins of navajo-plyed yarn, one BFL wool and one organic merino wool:

skeins of handspun
From left to right: milk fiber 2-ply, BFL wool navajo 3-ply, organic merino navajo 3-ply.

I have also been plugging away at my hand-spun shawl:

handspun shawl

But the biggest project I’ve been working on that is taking up the most of my time is still in the top-secret planning stage. Here is a hint (organic merino handspun yarn in a variety of styles and sizes):

handspun samples

Any guesses on what those are all about? I’d love to hear them!

This shawl has been in the planning stage for weeks, now. The reason it took so long to get going is that I was a sampling maniac with it because I had never knitted lace before and I had never spun lace before.

Hand-spun Shawl:
hand-spun shawl

The Pattern: Optic Waves Shawl from the Knitter’s Book of Yarn (Ravelry Link)
The fiber: Cosyspins hand-painted Falklands wool (Lynx colorway) spun on my spindle

I am spinning as I knit which is a great method of working for me because I become impatient and this way I get to change things up by splitting my time up between both crafts. I began with a 4 oz. braid of falkland wool. I start at one end of the braid and work my way to the end by pulling off short chunks:
spindle and wool

I draft out those fibers as softly and evenly as I can and it fluffs up quite a lot:
drafted wool and spindle

I wind the wool into a nest around the wool bracelet for easy storage while spinning:
drafted fiber

I have a bit of an obsession with keeping the color changes in the spinning fiber intact in the final yarn, and as I am working with small amounts of the wool at a time, I take care to always know which end goes where. The yarn that is spun onto the spindle first will be the end I attach to the working yarn on the knitting needles. So, when the spindle is full, I will wind the yarn into a center-pull ball on an empty toilet paper roll. The first yarn spun onto the spindle is now the yarn on the outside of the ball and I attach that end to the knitting yarn. If I have left enough twist in the yarn I can just draft out each end and let the twist enter that area and it becomes joined. If not, I can always felt the ends together.

Shawl with spindle:
shawl and spindle

Another summer clothing project are these short socks:
short socks

Pattern: Super Simple Short Sock by Meghann Holcomb (Ravelry Link to pattern)
Yarn: Estelle Arequipa (65% Superwash wool, 20% Alpaca and 15% Nylon)
Needles: 3.0 mm bamboo dpns

These were a lot of fun and a quick knit that I am excited to wear when summer finally arrives. I didn’t actually follow the pattern (or maybe I did – I don’t know because I never read it). I found the pattern free pattern on Ravelry and just made it up as I went along based on the pictures. My hope is to get another pair of shorties out of this ball of yarn. I may try a toe-up pattern this time.

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