Hearts!

I don’t want to alarm you, but it is February now and Valentines Day is creeping up on us. There are a lot of people who don’t like Valentine’s Day because they think we should express our love every day and not just on a Holiday. I completely agree. We should express our love to the people that matter to us every day. But why not take a holiday that’s focused on love and use that as an excuse to do something extra special? Go out to dinner. See a movie or a show. Do something nicer than you normally would. Every relationship needs those times when you do more than usual.

Now, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t bring yarn into this discussion (that is why you read my blog…right?). Hunter Hammersen recently released a pattern for the most adorable heart stuffy. The genius of her design is that you can use any yarn and needles you like. If you haven’t made a heart yet, stop what you are doing, get the pattern, and knit one right now! They only take a few hours to knit, and they are so sweet! And the pattern is 10% off with the code SMITTEN through February 14th. Hunter is running a knit along right now, and it is so wonderful to see all sorts of hearts popping up, and especially to see all the people making multiple hearts.

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My heart was a great stashbuster. I used aran weight yarn, so it turned out quite large. The cream background yarn was the cable plied BFL from this month’s breed study. The pink is a sample of Miss Babs, and the purple was a handspun sport weight yarn held doubled. I used all the pink up, and had only a few yards left over of my handspun yarns, so I used them to stuff the heart along with some poly-fill and a lavender sachet.

What is your favourite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Sometimes You Just Need to Knit a Washcloth

My husband was looking for a washcloth the other day. Apparently he was having trouble finding one, because he told me we need more (We used to have piles and piles of washcloths. I don’t know what happened to them…). Instantly I went into knitter mode. Must. Find. the Cotton. Yarn!!

green cotton yarn

It turns out I had precisely 1 ball of washcloth cotton, and it was only a partial. What a pity. I just had to go buy more yarn. That really broke my heart.

cotton yarn

I am really loving the simplicity of garter stitch right now. I have so many plans and projects and thoughts in my head that I need to just slow down and knit one stitch after another. Since I have lots of colours now, maybe I will join the Fringe Association LogAlong bandwagon. Everyone keeps saying how fun and addicting log cabin is. And I do need washcloths….

knitting garter stitch

I Made a Basket!!

Last Fall when my husband and I visited Colonial Williamsburg I bought a basket weaving kit.

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It sat in my stash for a while as I got up the courage to learn a new craft. It turns out, basket-making is not hard (and YouTube is awesome)!

I started by soaking my materials to make them pliable. While they were soaking I found a basket weaving tutorial by Nancy Jacobs and figured out what to do.

It was odd working with a rigid material (yarn is decidedly flexible). For the most part, though, this was not hard to weave.

hand woven basket

Tadah! If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend weaving a basket. When it’s done you can prance around the house excitedly chanting, “I made a basket!!!” (Not that I did that…)

What new things have you tried that turned out way better than expected?

One Sock Down

I love garments with interesting constructions. I think it’s fascinating how many ways people can come up with to do the same thing. I have been knitting the Squircle socks by General Hogbuffer with Knit Picks Felici in Mint Chip. Whoo, is this an interesting construction! Let’s take a look and compare classic sock construction with this sock construction.

This is a regular sock construction. You cast on a number of stitches (64 in my case), join in the round, and knit your leg. The heel flap is worked on half the stitches, then you turn the heel with short rows and/or decreases, pick up stitches along both sides of the heel flap, and decrease for the gusset. The foot is worked even, and the toes are made with decreases every other row.

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And this is how the Squircle sock is constructed. You can see how this sock starts just like a normal sock. Everything changes, though, when you knit the thinnest heel flap ever! You then pick up a million stitches and start double gusset decreases while increasing for the heel! Once you’ve finished the heel increases you finish decreasing as for a normal gusset. The foot and toe are done much in the same way as a normal sock, but the toe decreases are graduated instead of being every other row for the whole toe.

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One sock down, and one to go.

What is your favourite sock construction?

Breed Study

I am part of a spinning group at my LYS. We meet twice a month, and this year we have decided to do a breed and fiber study. So once a month our meetings will focus on a specific wool breed or fiber, and we will all take turns teaching each other about them.

January’s focus was on Blue Faced Leicester. What a luscious fiber! I have only spun BFL once before (as part of my Skywool), and I had forgotten how easy it is to spin! The fiber we were provided with has a staple length of about 6 inches. The wool is wavy, rather than crimpy, and it is a commercial top preparation.

From about 1 1/4 oz I spun 92 yds of singles at my default spinning size of a light fingering/lace weight (Spun S). I like the yarn to be tight and plump when plied, so I spun with quite a bit of twist. In addition to trying a new type of wool. I decided to try a new plying method by cable plying my yarn. So after I spun my singles I plied both ends together, adding more twist than I would for a balanced yarn (Plied Z). I then plied both ends together again to create the cable ply (plied S). This resulted in 23 yards of a thick, almost ropy, Aran weight yarn, and I love it to bits!

 

Do you have a favourite kind of wool to work with? What about a new technique that you’ve recently learned?

Pattern Testers Needed!

Hey friends! One pattern has just been published, so that means it’s time to get the next into testing. My next pattern is quite different from normal for me, in that it is a crochet pattern. It all started on my vacation last October, when my husband’s grandma taught me how to crochet broomstick lace. I got an idea at that time, and now I’ve made it a reality: I made a Broomstick Lace Shawl!

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The beauty of this shawl is that it can be made any size, and with any weight yarn, so the possibilities really are endless. Mine is a shawlette, made with a skein of Miss Babs Yowza (Worsted, 560 yds/ 512 m).

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I’m looking for 6 pattern testers – 2 each to make a shawl in fingering, Sport or DK, and Worsted weight yarns. If you’re interested, all the details are here.

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Also, I need a name for this beauty. “Broomstick Lace Shawl” is descriptive, but not very evocative. What would you name this shawl? Leave a comment and include your Ravelry name. The person who comments with the best name will receive a free copy of my Ribless Hat as thanks.

Spinning with Rolags

Up until now I have exclusively spun combed top. Commercially prepped Top is easy to find, both dyed and undyed, and it’s easy to spin. And the method of spinning worsted (this has nothing to do with the diameter of the yarn, but rather with how you draft the fibers) gives the spinner a lot of control over how the yarn spins up. I love spinning Top, but I am a curious cat, and I wanted to try spinning woolen, and that meant getting some rolags and some batts and learning a different drafting method.

I bought 4 oz of these glorious rolags from Wildthyme Art on Etsy.

wool rolags
Image courtesy of Wildthyme Art

You can see how each end is a deep black that fades through grey to a stark white in the middle. The rolags have sparkly bits and some fun colourful additions throughout. I love the stark contrast of the black, white, but buying sparkles was a bit of a stretch for me.

The first rolag was so hard to spin. Not by any fault of the rolag, but because I was learning to use the short forward draw instead of my normal short backward draw. By the time I got to the second rolag, though, things were going well. I took this spin with me to a St. Distaff’s day celebration at my LYS, and spun almost half of my fiber in one day! Clearly, woolen spinning is speedy!

As I finished spinning my singles I thought long and hard about how I wanted to ply this yarn. I decided on a 2-ply, but I didn’t want stark black and white stripes in whatever I would make out of this yarn. After much thought, I decided to ply a marled yarn, where the black and white were plied together. I pulled the first few yards off the ball and held them in my left hand in a butterfly, then once I got into the grey section, I began plying the yarn on itself.

butterfly

When the short end that I had held in a butterfly was plied, I added the other end of my ball to continue plying the singles on itself.

I finished plying, looked at my yarn, and thought, “You know, I would like this yarn a whole lot better if it had a lot more twist in the ply. So I ran it through my wheel again to add more twist. I am SO HAPPY I did this! I love how my yarn turned out!

handspun yarn

This is definitely a thick and thin yarn, ranging from light fingering to heavy worsted. I would label it as a sport or DK weight. I ended up with 312 yds.

So now I get to decide what do do with it. Weaving? Knitting? I think it could make the most wonderful handbag!

handspun yarn

What do you think? What would you use this yarn for?

P.S. The coupon code for my newest pattern is still running. Get the Ribless Hat on  Ravelry for 18% off until January 18 with the code HOORAY18