Sampling

It’s been quite a while since SAFF, but I’m still working through my class fiber samples. Here are a few yarns I’ve recently finished.

My most recent spin was a BFL/silk blend top in a purple to pink ombre. You can see it on the bottom left in the picture above. I had planned to spin it as a thick singles, but alas, my singles were thin (I need to work on that). So I changed course and chain plied the yarn to keep the colour order intact.

I didn’t add a lot of twist to the singles, and I’m delighted with how fluffy and soft this yarn is!

I also have a pair of yarns I’ve been spinning for quite a while now. In the topmost picture they are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th samples from the top (these are also BFL/silk blends).

I spun the 2 samples with purple in them (2nd and 3rd from the top) separately, and then plied them with extra twist.

Then I spun my 3rd sample (4th from the top) in the same direction I had plied the previous yarn in and plied the yarns together again to create a crepe yarn.

I ended up with sister skeins. The 2-ply is a fingering weight, and the crepe is a DK weight.

I’m almost done spinning through my class samples. I’ll have to take a picture of them all together when I’m finished. Then it will be time to find the perfect project(s) for them. I can’t wait!

I Love Batts!

I talked a lot about SAFF after I went in October, but there’s 1 more thing I learned that I didn’t tell you about: I love spinning batts! Batts are fluffy swathes of carded wool and they are such a delight to spin! After sampling some batts we made in class I made it a point to buy one that I could enjoy more fully.

20181028_162409

Just look at it. Isn’t it lovely? I bought it from Katelyn of DunnSpunn (She’s fabulous! You should check her out!! She had a pair of batts in her shop that were inspired by Anne of Green Gables and her best friend Diana. I wasn’t fast enough to snag them.) The colourway is called Candied Pumpkin, and it’s 3.1 oz of wool, mohair, bamboo, soy fiber and Angelina. I carefully unrolled the batt, stripped it, and spun. If you’re used to spinning worsted you will be amazed at how quickly woolen yarn spins up. I spun up the singles in an evening and a morning, and plied them with some deep green laceweight singles I had leftover from my Lilting Leaves spin.

I love how this yarn turned out. There are thick and thin spots and locks hanging out, and I have sparkly Angelina all over my house, but it’s so worth it. This yarn is gorgeous, and once I figure out how to showcase it in all its glory I’ll make it up into something lovely.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have another batt lying around somewhere.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

In August of 2017 I started knitting Portage, an open-front textured cardigan. I knit the first 6 inches of the raglan increases before I lost my place and couldn’t figure out what row I was on or what my stitch count should be. In the interest of sanity (and because I enjoy knitting and I didn’t want this to spoil it for me) I set the sweater aside for another day.

raglan-portage

This year I decided that the time had come to restart this beautiful sweater. I love the yarn and I’m always cold at work, so this would be such a useful item to add to my closet (ok, let’s be real – it will live at my desk). So I ripped my stitches out and re-swatched to make sure my gauge hadn’t changed drastically since the last time I cast on. Then I started the sweater again, and this time I used ALL THE STITCH MARKERS to make sure I didn’t lose my place (My mom sent me these Llama/Alpaca stitch markers. Isn’t she sweet? HI MOM!!).

portage - markers

Friends, I am ecstatic to tell you that I finished the raglan increases correctly. Just to make sure I wouldn’t have to redo them again I ran a lifeline through the last increase row. You know, just in case. Now I’m working down the body slowly but surely. I am trying really hard to enjoy the knitting, but have a love/hate relationship with cables (I love to look at them and wear them, but hate to knit them), and the 1/1 cables that make up the whole back panel are driving me a little crazy. But I am soldiering on because this sweater is going to be so warm and cozy and I will have made it and it will be mine.

Ok, back to the grindstone. If I keep knitting on this maybe it will be done in a few years….

Check that Box!

Hey Friends, February is almost over, but I have to show you one more thing I made before March hits us.

Will you just look at it? I am quite pleased with how it came out. Well, mostly….

The pattern is Very Easy Vogue V9151.v9151

According to my measurements (and my common sense) I made a size Medium. I don’t know why, but every time I measure myself for a commercial pattern the size I measure for ends up being quite a bit too big for me, so now I default to 1 size smaller. In this case I think I may have been able to go down another size. The fabric is a cotton/poly shirting I found at Hobby Lobby. I think it really makes the garment come alive.

20190224_125848-1709793742.jpg

Since I was working with a check pattern I took extra care to line up the seams so everything flowed well together. In order to avoid a clunky look I cut the center front and upper back panels on the bias. Since cutting on the bias uses extra fabric I did have to piece the center front panel, but the check pattern does a fantastic job hiding the pieced bit. I have to feel for it to figure out where it is!

20190224_125941-1854977931.jpg

I sewed most of the construction seams on my friend’s sewing machine, but the collar and the sleeves were sewn in by hand. I also finished all the seams and hems by hand, and I must say, I’m quite pleased with the low profile of the finishing work (even though it did take longer than serging or top stitching by machine)!

20190224_125928-1222658237.jpg

The only change I made was to widen the hips a little bit. The pattern rather bizarrely tapered in toward the hips, and since I wanted to be able to actually wear the shirt, I cut the seam line straight down. Even so I wish there was a little more room in the hips or that there was a slit or a curved hem, or even that the shirt was a little shorter. It’s just not quite right. Also, the way the sleeves are set in cause the neck of the shirt to rise in front and fall in back – which is rather annoying, but just as well since the front slit is rather lower than I prefer to wear.

20190224_125918-1649378404.jpg

All in all, it’s pretty good for a first draft, and it’s wearable and pretty. If I make this pattern again I think I’ll go down another size and possibly cut the front all as 1 piece. There’s really no reason to cut it as 3 piecesĀ (other than visual interest). I’m also thinking about adding a little waist/hip/hem shaping, but that’s a discussion for another day. For now I leave you with my hand-finished seams. Enjoy.

20190224_130452-1-1005223831.jpg

Lilting Leaves

Late last year I finished a spin that I had been working on since August. I started with 4oz of BFL dyed in lovely shades of green, and paired it with another 4(ish)oz of deep forest green Merino I had in my stash.

My goal was to spin a 2-ply sock weight, so I spun each of the singles as fine as I could while still keeping them even. Spinning fine takes forever, and by the time I was done with the singles I needed a break. Fortunately, this was around the time I went to SAFF, so I was able to refuel, restock, and be refreshed.

Everything was going well until I started plying, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. For some reason my plies weren’t locking together like I expected them to. I shrugged it off, figuring that a good soak would set everything to rights. Then 2/3 of the way through plying the yarn started doing what it was supposed to. My heart sank as I realized what had happened: part of the way through spinning the dark green singles I had changed the direction of my spinning. About 2/3 of the yarn was an opposing ply yarn, while the other 1/3 was beautiful and balanced.

I can’t tell you how frustrated I was at first. How can you switch directions in spinning without the yarn breaking or drifting apart? I wanted to have 800-1000 yards of yarn that was all the same so I could make something significant out of it. Now my plan was ruined because of a stupid mistake I made because I wasn’t paying attention.

I took a step back to let myself cool off, then made myself consider the pros instead of the cons. I’ve never made an opposing ply yarn before, so this was a learning experience. Now I know what opposing ply yarn does. It’s rather curly and delightfully kinky because of all the extra twist energy the opposing ply brings to the yarn. I wonder how this would change the texture in a knitted or woven fabric?

In a way this yarn is a lot like life. Everything can seem to be going exceedingly well, and then something happens that throws a wrench in your plans. In times like this it’s important to take the time to reconsider your perspective and see if maybe there isn’t a silver lining after all.

I can’t wait to make something out of this yarn. I think a large woven stole would be just delightful. I’m even considering lightly felting the finished fabric because I’ve never done it before and I think it would really finish the fabric in a beautiful way.

We all make crafting mistakes. What stories do you have of snatching a success from the jaws of failure?

Catch-Up

2019 is here with a bang, and while I’ve been quiet I’ve been busy!

I’d like to show you my Christmas knitting. I made 3 hats, none of them from a pattern. Hats are generally simple enough that unless I’m going for something really specific I don’t usually need to follow a pattern.

The first hat was a 2×2 rib base with a cable motif I modified from Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook. This was for my husband’s grandmother.

The 2nd hat was for my husband’s grandpa, and it was completely in 2×2 rib. I detest knitting ribbing, but it’s stretchy and manly, and sometimes you just do what you need to do.

These first 2 hats were knit in Cascade 220 Superwash Merino. The third hat was in a textured knit/purl pattern and was for my Father in Law.

I knit it in Cascade 220 Superwash, and was pleasantly surprised with how next-to-the-skin soft it was!

The hats were well received. I used to try to knit something for everyone in the family, but I find that it’s more manageable to knit for just a few people at a time.

Do you knit Christmas gifts?

Making a Tree Skirt (from Stash)

I love Christmas. It’s my favourite holiday of the year, and I get so excited about it. For me, the Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving when we set up our tree. This year we put our tree up a little early, and my husband remarked that we needed a tree skirt, specifically a red one. I am always happy to show that my crafting skills are practical, so I told him I could make a tree skirt. Now I just happened to have about half a yard of red knit velvet left over from making my Renaissance Gown, as well as a similar amount of thick grey felt that has been in my stash for several years. I did some measuring and drawing and then cut my fabric.

tree skirt1treeskirt back

Since I was working with scraps (or “cabbage” as couture sewists call it) I did have to piece both the inner and outer layers, but this meant that I was able to use all but the smallest bits of my fabric. If I was making this again I would have paid more attention to the grainline of the velvet. You can see that the texture of the pieced section reflects light differently because the grain is perpendicular to the rest of the fabric instead of parallel. In the end it doesn’t matter much as the piecing hardly shows when the skirt is on the tree. (Please forgive the cat hair – my cat has decided that velvet is her new favourite texture.)

pieced 2

I originally meant to sew everything on this tree skirt, but after a while I got tired of sewing, and I realized that the hem was massive and likely to shift, meaning that the more time I spent on the hem the more likely it was to become distorted. In the end I pulled out my trusty hot glue gun and glued the hem down – this way I was able to lay the whole skirt flat to minimize distortion while I worked on the hem. Normally I wouldn’t use hot glue on a fabric project, but this won’t ever be worn by a human and it will only be used for a month out of the year, so it’s not likely to have a lot of wear and tear.

pieced 1

With the hem sorted, the last thing I needed to do was to attach closures. I had some “Merry Christmas” ribbon in my stash, so after sealing the ends of the ribbon I glued it onto the back of the skirt, and then tacked it on with needle and thread for good measure.

ribbons

With that sorted, I felt that my crafting was proven to be a life skill and I was ready to move on to my Christmas knitting.

P.S. Speaking of Christmas knitting, if you’re in the market for an awesome hat, I highly recommend the Drosseln hat. I may be a bit biased, but I think it’s a really fun knit, and you can get it for 25% off until Christmas with the code, “LoveMyLYS” Happy Knitting!