Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fiber Camp

Last weekend, my friend Roberta came up for a visit. We had both been wait listed for Meg's Knitting Camp, so we decided to have a Fiber Camp of our own.

We did the usual camp activities. Mini-workshops to learn new things, went to the obligatory WI Friday night fish fry, spent one night watching fiber DVD's--this time Patsy Z's, not one by Meg. And, we had show and tell.
You've already seen my Forest Path, DFS and Hawaii Charlotte. But Roberta brought her Douceur et Soie scarf from Victorian Lace Today, her DFS and gorgeous pink Hanami. Her Ravelry ID is Robedia--go check out her projects page for more lovely lace knitting.

Oh, and we went on a stash enhancement expedition, too. Found a lovely new knit shop up in Door County called Spin. Here are my purchases.Some Silk/Cashmere from Jade Sapphire, a skein of Jitterbug, Addi lace needles, Wallaby pattern all fitting nicely into this fun basket from Lantern Moon. Probably would have spent more at knitting camp, but definitely wouldn't have had more fun.

Watch for upcoming blog posts about our adventures in drum carding.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Flowers and Lace

All summer I've been leading my posts with pics from my flower garden. It hasn't usually related much to the rest of the post. This week, my garden mirrored my knitting with the explosion of Queen Anne's Lace blooms.

You see, I finished my Birch Catkins doily. My first finished Niebling! The Niebling Yahoo group took this design on as a KAL. Without further ado, here's my finished doily.
All in all, I'm satisfied. I took a wild guess and matched up size 30 thread with 2mm needles. It makes a nice fabric but it'll be interesting to see how the other versions turn out. A looser gauge might make a gauzier effect. For the crochet cast off, I used 12 chains and wish I had backed off and used less. But, I was uncertain how the thread would block out and wanted to have enough leeway at the edge.

There were a couple of issues with rnds 89-93 as charted. On rnd 89, there is a difference in a st between the Burda style chart and the one in Diana magazine. The third inc on the Burda chart should be a K2tog. That makes the repeat have 51 sts in it instead of 52.

On rnd 91--make sure the last stitch is an K/P increase. It wasn't included on my Burda style chart. But, even including that, the patterning didn't work out right. So, I worked a K2tog on one side of that last inc, and a SSK on the other side. So, to begin the repeat, I worked SSK,OO,K, K2tog, and then the full first box only twice and worked the last box once and then ended it with--SSK, K, OO, K2tog. Stitch count of the repeat still 57.

Rnd 93 needed to have another shift at the beginning of the rnd so that the extra stitch from the KP inc was used up in the SSK of the first st. Repeat stitch count 60.

Doing the above got me to where the vertical patterns are undisturbed when worked across the entire repeat on rnd 95. This is a close up of that section.

The section I redid is shown at the top of the arch where one pattern changes to another. I'm not sure how "Niebling" like my fix is, but I'm happy with the look of it. There are a few places where the holes of my hex mesh seem larger than others, so there's definitely room for improvement in the working of these stitches.

Just one last shot of the doily as it was blocking since it looks so pretty on the blue towel. Next time I want to make a real blocking board with circles drawn on it so that it will be easier to keep it round. I had limited time when pinning it out, and it needs alot of pins, so it's not perfectly round. Finished measurement of the diameter is 19". Made from Cebelia #30 in White with 2mm needles.

All in all, it was a very fun project. Now, it will be back to knitting the famous Niebling design--Lyra.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Lavender Wands

We interrupt the usual fibery blog post for this timely tutorial on how to make lavender wands. It's best to make them when the lower flowers just begin to open so the essential oils are at their peak. And, be sure to cut the stems in the morning when you have a few minutes to work on a wand right away, as once they dry out a little they become brittle and difficult to maneuver.

The ingredients needed to make a lavender wand are an uneven number of lavender stems, somewhere between 13 and 19 works best, and three to four ft of 1/4" satin ribbon (I like to use the picot edge type).
I usually purchase a few spools of ribbon when I see them on sale during the year.

Just a note about lavender plants, themselves. Here in the upper Midwest, where we range between zone 4 and 5, I've been able to grow three different cultivars of Lavendula Augustifolia. If you live this far north, it's probably best to give them a little winter protection. Last winter my plants were left to fend for themselves through a brutally cold winter but it also had an early and deep snow cover which helped to keep them insulated.
Shown from left to right are, Munstead, Hidcote, and Jean Davis. The Hidcote is probably the most tender of the three, but has a deeper color and more fragrant flower. My favorite has to be the Jean Davis which is a lovely light pink, not white as it appears in the photo. Plants need to be grown in full sun (at least, up here) in order to produce blossoms.

After you've cut the stems, strip off any lower leaves and lay them out so that the lower flowers start at about the same place. You want the stems to be about the same length but it won't make much if they're an inch or so different from each other.
These are some extraordinarily long Hidcote stems.

Now, gather the stems up in your hand the same way you had them laid out before you.
If you have any of those tiny rubber bands that kids use when they have braces (do they still use those? or am I dating myself), it's great to slide one up the stems. It helps to keep everything snug as the lavender shrinks up as it dries.
My supply of rubber bands is gone, so now I just proceed with the next step. Tie the ribbon around the bundle and try to hide the end in the middle of the flowers.

Tip the whole thing over so that you're holding onto the flowers and gently bend the stems down. If they're freshly cut, they shouldn't break off.
Then, you'll begin weaving.
Over, under, over, under. On the first rnd, I keep the over stems underneath my thumb so I'm sure to know they're place is taken. Otherwise, they tend to flop from side to side and things can get a little untidy.

After the second rnd of weaving, all the stems are locked in place.
And, round and round you go.
Once you get to below the flowers, just wind the ribbon around the stems. As it dries, you'll need to go back and tighten it up so there's no sense in spending time weaving them. Gather up any flower buds that drop off. They're great to use in an herb mixture for soup.
When finished, you have a nice little lavender wand to tuck in with sweaters, your fiber stash or anywhere you want a nice lavender scent.
Next week, it's back to the regularly scheduled fiber post.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Progress Report

Just a quick post with progress pics to keep you updated on my fibery exploits. Finished another spindling project! I'm trying to get things completed within a year of starting them and this came in just under the wire.

This is Superwash wool (the stuff from the Sheep Shed) dyed by Liz, the Chocolate Princess on Etsy. Doesn't look like she's doing any dyeing anymore. Too bad because this was pretty stuff. It was the only braid of fiber she brought to knitting camp last July and that's where I started spindling it.
Shown with the Janet Yost Ebony/Redheart spindle I used. It was my take along/waiting room project so is a bit uneven. I thought it was a 3 or 4 oz braid so I might have lost some along the way as this skein is only 2.5 oz and 330 yds--might not be enough for socks.

Next spindling project to start will be my June Spunky club fiber. It's a lovely Merino/Mohair blend--very, very soft. The colorway is called Little Weeds.
And, doily fever is still running its course. Here's the progress of my Birch Catkins doily. I'm very glad I reworked those early rnds. This shows it about on rnd 65. The catkins are worked in a twisted stitch giving it a nice texture.
Doily knitting is so enjoyable as it's so light and small and the cotton thread stays cool in your hand. May be the perfect summer knitting.