Spin, knit, weave, repeat

Posted by caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, Stashbash, Weaving on January 27th, 2012

violetI finished spinning all the skunk tail batts, washed it, dried it and packed it away. There are at least two warps standing between it and the loom so it’s not in any danger of becoming a rug just yet. I’m still working my way through the sacks of 2011 fleece purchases and even a little spun up is a move in the right direction. The purple yarn started the week as Portland fleece, this week I’ve combed it, spun it, plied it and dyed it. There is about 500 yards here, it’s going to be a little beaded shawl providing that it behaves itself when knitted and the beads I’ve ordered turn out to be the right colour in real life.

jadeThis started off as more odd ball wool, at some time I dyed two hanks of some wool I can’t now remember for a project I can’t now remember. The one thing that I do remember is being pleased that I got exactly the colour I wanted so it’s a mystery that I went on to use something else. It made a lovely warp, it’s nearly but not quite solid and the slight variations of colour aren’t enough to swamp the diamonds (it’s raining/sleeting/snowing so you’ll have to take my word for the subtle colour variation). I like it, it’s a length for another of those one piece bags because the wool isn’t really soft enough for a scarf.

2pieceI was sewing the buttons on this at about the same time that the ambulance was arriving to school to collect the teacher who had gone into labour two weeks early. I don’t feel guilty that I caused it because I didn’t know she was pregnant so I couldn’t have been knitting the jacket with her in mind. 2piecefrIt is finished, seams sewn, buttons on and ends sewn in so if she had a girl this will be going to school on Monday. If not then I’ll be finally sewing up this one from last January. That’s usually how long it takes me to finish something, it’s exactly how I left it after the photo for the blog. No ties, no seams, no interest. I needed to finish the pink one quickly – until I’d knitted the edging and made the button loops I couldn’t use the leftover pink for something else and I’m planning another in pink and brown.

2piecebackIt’s knitted in two pieces and sewn together at the centre back. I wound the sock yarn oddments into centre pull balls so that I could work both pieces at the same and have them match with little effort. edgingI didn’t feel like icord edging, I rarely do, so I edged this with two dpns, picking up stitches with one and then casting them off purlwise at the other end of the needle with the other end of the ball of yarn. I could have picked up all around with a circular needle and then cast off purlwise on the second round but it’s easier with two dpns, you don’t have all those stitches sitting around and you can see straight away whether you added enough ease at a corner for the edging to turn and sit flat. It doesn’t have the roundess of icord but it does the job.

gartersleeveI’m beginning to believe that I could knit all year from the bag of leftover sock yarn. This is another baby jacket and I’m knitting both sleeves at the same time because you know what I’m like for having things match. The photo needed flash, you’ll have to take my word that the blue is less evident in real life. I feel like I’ve been knitting the sleeves forever which is usually a sign that they are about the right length. I measured them and I have about half an inch to go before I get to do something other than knit with two increases every eight rows. It’s made ideal tv knitting this week but I’m ready for a change.

Next week I’ll try to take photos when there is some sign of the sun, either that or I’ll skip the photos altogether and attempt a description. Either would be better than colours distorted by flash or missing in poor light.

Weaving week

Posted by caroline in Knitting, Spinning, Stashbash, Weaving on January 22nd, 2012

birdseyeregiaThis was the week where the leftover yarn hit the loom multiple times. The first scarf was a variety of pale sock yarn leftovers and it was let down by my choice of weft. headerI’d woven the header with some navy that was left on a bobbin and that was what I should have stuck with but that meant going upstairs and finding the rest of the cone. The alternative to this was stretching out my hand and picking up a ball of leftover Regia sock yarn left over from weaving a ruffle scarf and so I took the easier option, telling myself that it was the better solution because it used more leftovers. It wasn’t, I don’t like the colour changes all that much and the navy looked better against the warp.

redscrapscarf2For the next scarf I’d learned my lesson and made a massive investment of time in that I walked upstairs, opened the wardrobe door and took out the cone of navy yarn. It was a detour of a less than a minute when I was upstairs putting the ironing away and the result is that I like this one much better with the dark solid weft. The warp is a leftover ball of Wendy Happy, the leftovers from the first Baby Kendyl and two balls of mystery yarn. The Happy has added the odd white streak which I rather like. It’s the same threading and tie up as the one above, just a different treadling. I think this used about 90g of warp yarn, there was still a fair amount of some of the yarns leftover so I found some more red and wound another warp.

ff1This was also the week when I saw the end of the fun fur. I do now remember what it was that I originally bought it for, after I bought my rigid heddle loom I bought two balls of eyelash yarn because I thought they’d look good woven. I used it in an early scarf and then forgot all about it. That’s how the stash grows, buy two balls, use half of one and then put the rest away “for later”. The yarn police no doubt have a rule about never mixing handspun and eyelash yarn but it’s my yarn, I spun it and I’ll do what I like with it. For the record, making a twisted fringe with eyelash is about as bad as it gets and I’m planning on never doing it again. There was a yard or two left but I was ruthless and put the odd bit in the bin.

2piecebYou will be imagining that I am spending every waking minute weaving (I wish) but I do have slightly more of a well rounded wool obsession than that. I’ve been knitting and spinning too, it’s just that the weaving is the only thing I finished this week. The baby jacket needs a bit of seaming up, some sort of an edging and buttons. That’s several months work there, six weeks of avoidance followed by two evening’s work. rugwoolThe yarn is made from the skunk tails that I carded before Christmas, I said that I was going to work out how much I needed for a rug and spin just enough. I decided that involved too much estimation of unknowns so I’m spinning it all and the leftovers can become future stripes. There was 530g when I started, I think I’ll end up with about 400 yards of really thick yarn when I’m done. I like the way that the white streaks ended up, I have a bag of mule fleece and another coloured Ryeland fleece and I think I’ll do the same with those. The yarn would be much lighter but I should still get that streaky look.

(I used to have an Etsy link in the sidebar but I took it out for some good reason that escapes me now, anyone who wants to relieve me of a scarf should look here.)

Starting over with the scrap bag

Posted by caroline in Knitting, Stashbash, Weaving on January 15th, 2012

It’s been a while since I wove something on the floor loom. Early in December I ordered some cotton yarn samples and that threw me into a turmoil, I was flip flopping between yarn choices and projects several times a day. When I look in the stash for something to weave my options are limited, but give me a sample chart where I have choices of colour and thickness and there’s too much choice for me to pick just one project to work on. I could think of dozens of things to weave but couldn’t narrow it down to the one thing to weave next. I’ve spent over a month looking at the sample cards and bought nothing so I’ve put them aside and gone back to the stash where there fewer choices and a big bag of leftovers that needs using up.

wasteI gave the big loom a spring clean. I’ve been tying onto a dummy warp for some time, the big advantage to that is that there are no threading errors or sleying errors, all you are doing is using the end of the old warp to pull the new warp back through the reed and heddles. If you habitually make errors in threading or sleying this is a really good thing. I might have rethreaded once or twice but I always used the existing warp and the result is that the back of the loom is a mess of knots. It doesn’t matter to the weaving and you can rarely see then but I know they are there. On Saturday I pulled the loom out and unwound the yards of knots from the back. The original project was the mug rugs that I started last May. I made a single set of black and cream and then moved the remnants of that warp across, added a dummy warp on the other side and made two sets side by side in red and orange.

sockwarpThe back is all neat and unknotted now, the front is a warp of sock yarn oddments made just to get me moving again. I picked three balls of leftovers in similar colours and wound a warp twice the length that I wanted, holding all three yarns together. When one yarn ran out I continued with two and in the end I just had the one yarn left. I cut the warp in half and put it back together again so the more varied part is at the outsides. I didn’t think that I could see the difference between where there are three yarns together and where there is only one but I can see in the photo that the centre is darker than the edges. If it does go on to make an obvious stripe then one central planned one will please me more than two smaller stripes. I’m not winding another warp until I’ve finished the first scarf just in case I’ve got the length wrong but after that I’ll be thinning out the sock scrap bag. I have a bag of browns and a bag of pinks to go at before I need to start putting odd balls together.

seaslug3When I’ve made scarves like this before they’ve been a mixture of superwash and normal wool and the ruffles form in a hot wash when one of the yarns shrinks. This one is different, it’s a mixture of leftover sock yarn and Cascade Fixation. The interesting thing about the Fixation is that it’s stretchy, it’s a cotton and elastic yarn. I warped the loom with the Fixation stretched tightly, once off the loom it relaxed and pulled the sock yarn into ruffles. Unlike the fulled wool version the ruffles aren’t permanent, if you hold it by one end you can bounce it up and down like a Slinky. A warp length of 130″ gave me a 60″ scarf, this used 36g of the 50g so it should be possible to get three scarves from two balls.

scrapjacketThis is not the project I was hoping it would be. I’d imagined something where I could knit both halves of a baby jacket together on one needle using both ends of odd balls of sock yarn. That would mean that I could use up all those odd balls without having to think much about matching the two sides. What I’d failed to consider was that when I cast on to form the shoulder and complete the round I needed to start in the middle of a row. For a couple of inches the knitting is U shaped rather than straight and I had to work each part separately. I did consider ripping it at that point but I carried on because it’s a learning experience and will teach me to plan ahead. It’s all back on one needle again but the fun went out of it and I won’t be making a second one. The browns that would have gone into the second one will become a scarf warp instead.

One way or another I am going to make an impression on the bag of sock scraps this year.


Posted by caroline in Knitting, socks, Stashbash, Weaving on January 9th, 2012

I don’t do New Year resolutions, if you want to change your life then any day will do, why not pick a day and start rather than waiting for the “right” time. I started with my resolution for 2012 back in December, that’s when I had the idea and it was as good a time to start as any. It came about from poking around in the yarn stash recently. The last time it had a really good clear out was in 2007, since then I’ve bottomed the fibre stash but the yarn has crept away from me. It’s not particularly that I want less, I just want the bottom layer to move along and make space for new and exciting yarn. I have a lot of odd balls and leftovers that are of a useful size and would come in for something but somehow they never do, they just sit there and taunt me. This is the year that some of them leave home, my plan is that 2012g of the older stuff will be used up and moved out by the end of October.

pinkvcowlThis will be part of the January weigh in, it’s another endless cowl from the endless bag of pink. The pink bag has now provided the yarn for two of these and two hats. I’d like to say that there was looking to be less in the bag but that’s just not true. I’ve taken 500g out and there seems to be as much left in there now as there was when I started and I’m pretty sure that there’s been no-one adding to the bag. I hope when I’ve made another cowl the bag will suddenly reach that tipping point and move from “full” to “not enough”.

brownsocksThese look like scrap socks and they should have been given that the sock scraps bag is taking up most of one storage box. The reality is that I started with two 50g balls of Regia, took an instant dislike to the cuff and brought in a plain ball of Trekking to break up the pattern. There will be a lot of leftovers from 200g of sock yarn but I want brown scraps for the next project so it’s not as bad as it sounds. I would have cast on Project Scrapeater by now but when I worked out the number of stitches to cast on and it came to more than three hundred I had second thoughts, especially as I wanted two matching pieces so would be casting on 600 stitches. I’m making excuses (can’t find the right needle, need to wait for more brown scraps) but the real reason is I don’t feel up to facing those long rows. I’ve lost the bit of paper now with the drawing and calculations so I can put off starting for a little longer especially as the socks are photographed against the background of the poorly blanket. The dog is fine, everyone else has some variety of lurgy.

The weigh in for December was 366g, made up of one woven scarf (150g), two hats (170g) and one pair of mittens (46g). It’s a good start, let’s see if I can keep it up until I hit 2012.

PS It was a good job I lost the piece of paper with the pattern notes on otherwise I would have been casting on twice the number of stitches that I needed on the brown scrap eater.

Leftovers and scraps

Posted by caroline in Family, Knitting, Spinning on January 1st, 2012

dogagainIt turns out that there is still room to fit a dog under the tree after Christmas Day, you just need to pile it up on top of the presents. I think he might be sitting on a box charkha as well as a Lego book, I rescued my fluff from under the tree in case it was scrabbled into but I thought a wooden box would be dog proof. He’s basically a Good Dog now and not much of a chewer but we removed the beef jerky to a place of safety just in case the temptation was too much for him.

rainbowI put the wheel up for a couple of days, just long enough to spin and ply 100g of coloured merino. You can’t see it clearly in the skein but this is a rainbow and I think it will end up as a scarf running red to violet to red across the width. There is a little over 200 yards here, I do have another 200g of fibre but that might well end up being something completely different.

bigmittI’ve spent the last four days knitting thumbs, one a day until I was done. It turned out that with a 72 stitch mitten there wasn’t quite enough yarn left over from a pair of socks to knit two mittens and two thumbs. I could have got a matching pair if I’d split the remaining yarn into the red and the yellow/green multi and then knit the two colours in alternate rounds or I could have knitted a red thumb and a yellow thumb. It was easier to go with option three and find some more leftover sock yarn in a similar colour and make a matching pair with the minimum number of ends.

smallmittIf I make a mitten eight stitches smaller then there is enough yarn left from a pair of socks to make two whole mittens. If I make any more then this is the size I’ll be making, cast on 60 stitches, increase to 64 after the rib and increased to a 24 stitch gore. I had yards of the contrast left, enough for me to not be worried about running out. I’m not sure there will be another pair right away because I didn’t want to face up to the thumbs on these which does not bode well for another pair. The driving force to finish them was that I wanted the darker yarn and couldn’t count it as leftover until I’d finished.

euphreflectThe post with my aims for 2012 will have to wait for another day, I had a late night followed by an early morning and as a result I’m tired rather than reflective today. I think I’ll end with a random selection of photos from the camera card as that doesn’t need me to be coherent (click for bigger photos). legoshipThe card has an assortment of photos of things that don’t belong together, just like the space man at the helm of the “Black Pearl”. volsI wasn’t utterly convinced about the lime working with the smoked salmon. that seemed a bit astropirate as well, but the vol au vents all vanished so I was not able to snag the leftovers for a second taste. (I didn’t make them, my husband isn’t just a sock appreciator, he can bake as well)

In finishing the mittens I successfully emptied the knitting bag for the start of the new year, it’s time now to start filling it up again. Happy New Year to one and all, may your cast ons all be successful. I hope mine are too although experience says that a fair percentage of them will be rippers.