Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hothouse Flowers

While the cold winter winds blow, hothouse flowers bloom.

The latest FO, my Bird in Hand mittens have already come in handy. These puppies are warm! Knit tightly on size 2 needles, the fabric relaxed slightly the first time they were worn but not so much as to make them too big.
Here's a shot of the braid join that I discussed last week. Not too much of a jog there.The second FO this week is my Mallins 44 doily.
The texture in this doily is wonderful and somehow unexpected in lace work. It ended up with a 14" diameter.
It's probably the smallest size thread I'm going to try, though. My eyes were feeling the strain near the end.

So, on the other end of the spectrum, I started spinning this.
It's some cloud prepped fiber purchased at Shepherd's Harvest last spring from Fae Ridge Farm in Iowa. At 15 WPI, it's a fast spin. Hopefully, that means a Bluebells and Perwinkle skein will be in bloom next week.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Beginnings

Started on a new project this week. The very popular Bird in Hand mittens designed by Kate Gilbert. Already finished the first one.
The yarn is Ultra Alpaca in Rose Spice and Winter White. I deviated from the pattern instructions in several places. First off, my mitten ended up way too short; my gauge was straight on and the width perfect. Hmmm. Ended up starting the decreases for the top a few rows later than charted and just worked the extra rows in white. Actually, done that way it gives a more balanced look with the hem, I think. Speaking of the hem, that was worked differently, too. To avoid having to sew it down, I used Joyce Williams Eastern European cast on (the one used for toe up socks on two circs) for the total number of sts needed and just worked the wraps on the first needle. Once the hem was worked and the number of matching rnds for the cuff, I knit the next rnd together with those remaining wraps from the second needle. I used size 1 needles for the hem, size 1.5 for the cuff and size 2 for the mitten body. The biggest change came in the placement of the beginning of the round. My preference is to place that at the karate chop (pinky side) of the hand instead of at the thumb side as shown in the pattern. It's easier to hide any small jog that way. There won't be much of a jog in the colorwork, but it's difficult to hide the one in the braid. My solution was instead of joining the braid as stated, to pick up the M1 stitch from the row below. The other big change was in the ending of the thumb. As graphed it made kind of a point and was too long for me, too. So, after working one plain rnd after the bird was finished, I K2tog for one rnd and then K2tog on a second rnd, ending K1. Still have to knit the second mitten. That may be my inauguration day knitting--talk about New Beginnings.

Here's the first 50 or so rnds of Mallins 44. As you can see, I did switch to working it with the #60 thread. It is small! Works okay in the actual knitting, but is a bear to see should any mistake be made and have to be undone. This is quite a different doily to knit with lots of design elements to watch for. On this go round I worked the inner petals with a twisted knit stitch and it shows up much stronger.

It's amazing how fast the mitten worked up compared to the doily. For the stitch count at this stage, 6 rnds of the mitten equal one of the doily. Which is good because with all the stranding, these mittens will be warm and it's cold out there! Forgot to mention how much I love this yarn, too. It's becoming one of my favorites. New Beginnings even among yarn.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Change of Heart

When I left you last week, my readers, I was all enthused about knitting a handspun Round the Bend jacket. After finishing the first corner on Monday, it looked like this.
The contrast colors are some cochineal dyed Coopworth/silk from Stephania and spindled silver Shetland. I love how they look together, but alas, the cranberry keeps telling me that it wants to be a cabled sweater. So, this project was put away while I cogitate on the matter.

Instead, I took to organizing. Found a new storage/display option for my spindles. I hung them by ribbons in one of the wire cubicles.
And, found room for my niddy noddies on the side of it. There are a couple of spindles not included as they're residing in project baskets.
But, there's a new spindle to the collection that arrived this week. It's a Tibetan spindle made by Edward Tabachek. It's similar to a Russian spindle and was created by Mr. Tabachek after this video on YouTube was discovered of a woman in Tibet spinning.
My spindle has a Purpleheart whorl and Hickory shaft and is pretty heavy at 60 gm. The little pink ceramic waterlily bowl was something I brought back from Hawaii last year and has just the right amount of slipperiness.

The weight and length of this spindle is much larger than the Russian spindles I bought from Galina several years ago so it's taken a bit of time to get used to it. It wasn't comfortable to sit with the bowl on one side of me because the height the tip of the spindle ended up at was too high, so I put the bowl on a small box (the box it came in) in front of me and sat cross legged on the sofa. That solved one issue.

Then, there was the weight to deal with. It's slow so I started out using some pink alpaca from Spunky Eclectic which has a fairly long staple and doesn't need/want too much twist in it to keep it soft. Also, on their site, Joanne Tabachek recommends winding some of the spun single up near the spindle tip to keep it in from tipping over. That definitely helped.
To see spinning on this type of spindle in action, here's a video of Faina using one--she's much more proficient than I.

Next knitting project for the year is the Mallins 44 doily by Herbert Niebling. The Yahoo Niebling group is using this piece for a KAL and as I have no doilies on the needles, I joined in.
My first start was with some pink Omega thread but I'm considering switching over to #60 Cordonnet. Check back next week to see how many other changes of heart happen around here.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Year, New Start

It's a new year, but it looks just like the old one. Lots of snow, and now ice!

But, my knitting is taking a new (well, old) turn. I'm knitting a sweater! It's been awhile since I've made one for myself. And, this will be my first handspun garment.
This is the Secret Garden Coopworth from Hidden Valley Farm Woolen Mill that I spun last summer. The pattern is Meg's Round the Bend jacket from her little blue paperback book. It's long been on my "to do" list and I'm finally doing it! The piece begins with a sleeve and in place of the sort of full sleeve in the pattern, I'm making mine with a shorter cuff and more tapered instead.

In spinning news, I finished plying the Thermograph spun on my new Golding spindle last week. Originally, I was going to fractal spin this, but got a little mixed up on what on was doing and ended up just haphazardly plying up all the little cops from the spindle
BFL is my new favorite fiber. This skein is so soft and squishy. Think my next handspun sweater with have to be with BFL.