Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Spindle Storage

I've been trying to do a bit of organizing lately, and found I needed a solution to deal with my slowly growing spindle collection. With the weather turning cold and the increasingly dry air, I didn't want the shafts on them to start to warp. I loved how Caroline, of the blog formerly known as Pink Tea, handled it with a towel bar but I couldn't figure out a place to hang something like that. So, I grabbed a pasta drying rack and rest the whorls where the pasta normally hangs. snickering from you "real" spindle collectors.
From left to right: Navajo spindle from Grafton Fibers, Hatchtown Kaari (Fishtail Oak on Hickory/Padauk), Golding Swan Lake, Kundert (Walnut/Cherry/ Maple), Mielke Emily (Maple/Padauk), Mielke Lizzy (Lacewood), Merike's olive wood starter spindle, Tabachek Compact Deluxe Santos Rosewood/Pecan.

My favorite little Golding Tsunami has too small of a diameter for the rack, so I popped it in this fun coffee cup I bought at Creative Fibers in Mpls last summer. It's swaddled in a wrist distaff so it doesn't lean over too much and warp.

And, I purchased several more Russian spindles from Galina at Stitches Midwest and have them resting in a vase.

Here's another shot of the coffee mug. It has sheep and spindles on it! The woman who makes them was vending at WI S&W this fall but I didn't pick up a card from her booth. I think she's a regular member of Kerry's spinning group, though, so maybe she can get you in contact with her if you need one.

Lastly, here's a shot of my latest finished socks. They're made from Lisa's Sock! in Elektra (the skinny version) and the pattern is Spey Valley from Knitting on the Road. The patterning near the top gets lost a bit in the variation of the yarn color, but it was interesting to work the braid variant Nancy Bush uses which is much easier than a regular Latvian braid--none of that twisting the yarn when working one rnd, and untwisting when working the next. I worked these socks toe up and also did an afterthought heel.

Check back again soon, because I'll be posting pics of some knitting and spinning stuff that I couldn't find room for and will be putting up for sale.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Travelers with Afterthought Heels

Haven't been doing too much knitting lately, but one night about a month ago found myself anxious about a dental visit the next day so grabbed some yarn, Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road, and cast on for the Traveler's Socks. The yarn is Lisa Souza's skinny Sock! in sage. I wasn't sure I'd continue with the socks after the border pattern as I was just trying to calm my nerves, but it looked really pretty in this color so figured I'd press on with a few modifications.

The pattern instructions call for a regular turned heel and gusset, but I know I prefer the fit of an afterthought heel. One of the really important things in handknitting socks is learning what works best for your own particular feet and finding a heel that fits and wears well is high on the priority list. If you haven't tried an afterthought heel before, here are the steps on how to convert a sock pattern.

First knit your sock as a tube, completely eliminating the heel shaping. I like to put a few short rows in the sole of the sock as it seems to decrease the wrinkling that sometimes happens across the instep.

Then, figure out the row on which you'd like your heel to begin. As a safety factor, you can run needles through each stitch one row above and one row below it.
That way, once you cut your knitting, the stitches are already secure and there's no worry they'll start unraveling. I'm using two circular needles for the heel and pushed the sts down onto the cable portion--it's easier to maneuver the scissors that way so you don't clip the wrong strand.
If you know exactly where you want to place the heel while you're knitting, you can knit in a piece of scrap yarn to mark the placement. I believe this is called a Peasant Heel except for this one difference, it's knit the same as the afterthought heel. This photo shows my current socks in progress (modified Spey Valley from KoTR) made from Lisa's Elektra skinny Sock!
In the middle of the selected row, cut one stitch.
Then pick out that row, working to one side of the sock and then the other side of it.
Now, you have an opening for your heel.
Round and round you knit, decreasing as you go. The rate of decrease will be different according to how many sts you start out with and the size of your heel--you may need a little experimenting at first. I usually use 76 sts for my socks and decrease 4 sts every 4th rnd 5 times and then every rnd after that until 24 sts remain (12 sts on each side). I also change directions in my decreasing--for the first 5 sets (the ones every 4th rnd) starting at the side with a right slanting decrease, work across my heel sts and work a left slanting decrease at the other side (repeat for the other half of heel sts). Then, when beginning to decrease every rnd, use a left slanting decrease on the right side of the heel sts and a right slanting decrease on the left side of them--as one generally does for decreasing a toe. I just find switching the decreases midway makes them look a little more invisible. All the heel needs now is a little grafting.
Because I think the increases formed for toe-up socks are more comfortable than the decreased toes on top down socks, I decided to knit a separate toe and graft it on.
Finished Traveler's Socks with altered heels and toes. I also didn't decrease the st count as the pattern instructed as this was smaller yarn and I used smaller needles--size 0.

As you can see in the photo, the cast on edge is rolling on me a bit. I've been wearing these socks on cold days this fall and like this yarn alot. I still have a few skeins of the skinnier Sock! left from last year and am happy I stocked up on it when I did.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Heartland Knits website!

It's official. Heartland Knits has a website!

The road was long with lots of twists and turns but it's finally finished. And, it's also the reason why postings here have been few and far between lately. After sitting at the computer for hours each day working on the website, I couldn't stand more time at it for anything else. But now that it's done (well, something tells me it will continue to be a work in progress for quite some time), I should be a more regular blogger.

Okay, pictureless posts are no fun, so here's what I was playing with this weekend. I'm trying to stretch my spinning horizons a little and so I dug out the Navajo spindle I bought last year and tried to figure out how to use it. This is about an ounce of a worsted weight softly spun singles yarn. It wasn't a truly enjoyable process, the spindle kept trying to escape from me. But thick lofty yarn like this is difficult for me to spin on the wheel so it's nice to know I have another option for spinning it, should I have the need.

More tomorrow.