Monthly Archives: August 2010

Hollyberry Kimono Cardi

I finished the Kimono cardi for my niece yesterday. So far I am winning this little race as she hasn’t been born yet, although I may be cutting it a bit fine. I shall run out to the post in a minute, and cross my fingers it will arrive before she does!

I am very pleased with how this has come out, and hope my niece (or at least her mummy and daddy) will like it. The pattern is Garter Stitch Baby Kimono. I used 2.5mm needles and KnitPicks Comfy Fingering, 75% cotton, 25% acrylic, in Hollyberry with Ivory edging. I deviated from the pattern in using short rows to shape the front rather than casting off, doing an icord edging rather than garter stitch, and using press-studs for easy getting on and off rather than buttons. I toyed with the idea of having icord ties at the sides, which would make it more flexible size-wise but thought they might be a bit bulky and fiddly, whereas at least the press-studs should make access nice and easy.

Patchwork knitting workshop

Saturday found me in Marlow, teaching a patchwork knitting workshop with Rosie and Jill. This was the first try-out of a new venue, Marlow Bottom Village Hall, and it was lovely. This lady greeted us on our arrival.

It was a really nice bright space, enough room to move but without being cavernous and intimidating.

We covered a variety of different module shapes and joining techniques. Rosie has recently been working on strips made up of hourglass shapes. Here is the shape attendees were working on in class, with a mixture of stocking stitch and garter stitch:

And here is Rosie’s scarf she had made all in garter stitch. I love the sequin yarn used just on the joining sections.

Apart from the teaching, one of the other things I love about these days is the opportunity to see what everyone has been working on. Very inspiring!

This is a blanket by Marion, using a variety of different shapes, and one subtle multicolour yarn:

A blanket in two yarns, one solid and one with flecks, by Jill:

And an example that shows you can create very interesting texture effects using mitred squares in just one colour. I think this one was by Helen, but please correct me if I have got it wrong:

All in all a lovely day. We are hoping to hold another at a similar time of year next year, I am looking forward to it already!

Auntie Heather

I’m going to be an auntie! My sister is expecting a little girl at the beginning of September. So I thought I had better stop procrastinating and actually cast on for the baby cardigan I had been planning. I started at the beginning of last week, and it is coming along quite well.

The pattern is a free one and is available from here, but I am doing icord edging and ties. I am using 2.5mm needles and KnitPicks Comfy Fingering, 75% cotton, 25% acrylic. The main colour is Hollyberry, with icord trim in Ivory. I am making the 1 – 3 month size just in case she is big and doesn’t fit the newborn size at all, or I am slow and miss the newborn size! I decided to do some of the edging before embarking on the sleeves to check how it would come out. I had a bit of a moment earlier this week when I got a bit clever for myself with the front shaping and had to undo it all, but apart from that it is coming along well πŸ™‚

I had better get a move on with it, it feels like a bit of a race whether my niece will arrive before I can finish her cardi and get it posted! I have already sent her an elephant though so I am not a total failure of an auntie πŸ™‚

Patchwork knitting this Saturday

Places are still available on the Patchwork knitting workshop I will be teaching on Saturday with Rosie and Jill.

We will be covering a wide variety of different modular knitting techniques, including:

  • Mitred squares, a great and very versatile introduction to modular knitting. These are the basic shapes I used in my Patchwork Jumper.
  • Rosie will be teaching how to make a reversible hour-glass shape she has recently been working on.
  • I will be teaching how to make reversible ribbed leaves

This is the shape I am using to make my Handspun Leaves Waistcoat.

  • We will demonstrate various different joining techniques to attach your modules together, and how to make garments (I will also cover how to increase and decrease within your mitred squares to create shaping, as used in my Patchwork Jumper).
  • Jill will talk about patchwork knitting and machine knitting, and how to use these techniques to combine hand and machine knitting.
  • There will be an inspiration and show and tell session where we all get to talk about what we have made and what we are currently planning (I get some excellent ideas from this session!)

I look forward to seeing you there!

For more info and to book a place email Jill at or telephone Jill on 01628 471397.

PS. I have a shiny new washing machine (arrived this morning)! Woohoo!

Handspun Haruni

I finished this back in April and am only now catching up on sorting out photos of finished stuff.

And here is a closeup:

I am very pleased with how this has come out. The pattern is Haruni, and I used 3.5mm needles. The yarn was some I spun a while back, and the colour changes have worked very fortuitously with the pattern. The only fly in the ointment was that it got a bit felted when I spun it in our rather temperamental washing machine after hand washing it. Needless to say the washing machine will not be remaining in our employ for very much longer. After some serious blocking the shawl is mostly recovered, though a bit fuzzier than before, and luckily is still perfectly wearable. It is more of a little scarf than a big snuggly shawl, but I think will be very useful in the neck of my coat once the weather cools down a bit.

Sunshine merino / silk

The afternoon of the day I went up to Knit Nation saw me frantically plying the first lot of my sunshine coloured 70% merino / 30% silk that I had been spinning during the Tour de Fleece, in an attempt to have enough free bobbins for the workshops I was doing.

I am very pleased with how the first skein has come out:

455m and 78g, 3 plies, it is a bit thinner than a standard commercial 4ply yarn.

It has come out a bit thinner than I was planning. I think I got a bit paranoid about the last sock yarn I made being a bit thicker than I had planned so this time went overboard in the other direction. I am quite pleased by how even it has come out though and I think it should still make useable socks.

I’ve still got one single left to spin, and then I can finish off the plying and start knitting!

Knit Nation

I had a lovely time last week at Knit Nation. Luckily my foot was much better and I was pretty much completely mobile (it has improved even more since then, and my foot is only slightly swollen now, and the blister is healing quite well). I went up to London on Wednesday evening, and checked into the hall of residence so that I didn’t have to drag the wheel through rush hour traffic in order to get to my Thursday morning class.

Thursday I had an all day class on Spinning for Lace with Janel Laidman. She was lovely and knowledgeable yet relaxing and I had a great day. We spent the morning fiddling with our wheels and our techniques, trying out different things, like changing the speed at which we treadled, changing the ratio on the wheel, and changing the tension going on to the bobbin. It is definitely something I am going to be experimenting more with. I was also surprised at how much I loved the highest speed ratio on my wheel. I had been concerned that it would run away with me and I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but actually when you are spinning fairly fine yarns it is really handy, since the likelihood of the yarn not having enough twist and drifting apart is much reduced.

Here we are, all concentrating hard:

And here is my rather wonky efforts from the first part of the morning:

The fibre was a lovely 70% bluefaced leicester/ 30% silk mix. Lovely to spin, I shall definitely be on the look out for something similar.

After that we learnt longdraw, something I had tried before with little success, so it was great to be able to try again and pick up some more tips. My longdraw is still not terribly convincing but I am at least making yarn this time πŸ™‚ In the afternoon we got to play with several different luxury fibre mixes. Another very enjoyable and useful experience.

We all came away with very useful cards with information about what we had done and samples of our spinning. I shall definitely be using these to keep a better track of my future projects. I am hoping that tying my project card to my wheel whilst working on a project will help me stay a bit more consistent too!

The afternoon’s fibres were 70% merino / 30% silk, 80% merino / 20% tencel, a mixed fibre batt, 50% alpaca / 50% tussah silk, and 100% Mongolian cashmere (I think I need a lot more practise with the cashmere πŸ™‚ ).

Thursday evening was the market preview. Wow! what a lot of lovely stuff! It was fantastic to see so many lovely yarns, fibres, and various knitting and spinning accessories, and of course to see all the wonderful people who sell them. I did not come away unscathed (what a surprise!). These lovely goodies came home with me:

400g of 70% alpaca / 30% bluefaced leicester fibre from John Arbon:

100g of New Zealand Polwarth in TreeHugger by BabyLongLegs:

100g of supersorted BFL in TangyDoodleTastic again from BabyLongLegs:

A 300g skein of Wollmeise Lace yarn in GrashΓΌpfer (which I am assuming probably means grasshopper):

2 balls of Biggan Design‘s new 4ply in Colour 630:

I am really thrilled that she is making a 4ply now. It is great to see such lovely colours in a nice soft yarn in both 4ply and DK weight.

And finally some fun stitchmarkers from The Bothered Owl:

After all the excitement I staggered off to bed to get some sleep before the next day’s classes.

On Friday morning I went to Wonders of Wool with Clara Parkes. Unfortunately half an hour into the class there was a fire alarm and we had to trudge down the 5 flights of stairs of the Physics building we were in and assemble in the car park. However this was an excellent excuse to continue the rest of the class at one of the large picnic tables in the quad outside the market place.

Clara has a photo of me and the lovely lady from Boston I was sitting next to (who I have unfortunately forgotten the name of πŸ™ ) up on her review of Knit Nation (why is it that I am always talking on photographs?).

As well as learning lots about different kinds of wool from all around the world we got to knit up samples of several very varied wools from different sheep, spun in different ways.

Here is the sample before I washed it:

From the white cast on end these are:

  • Saxon merino from Catskill Merino. This one feels gorgeous, a jumper in this would be fantastic πŸ™‚
  • Wensleydale. A little scratchy for me, although it softened up quite a bit after washing.
  • Columbia, which is a mix of Rambouillet and Lincoln Longwool, woollen spun, from Imperial Stock Ranch.

  • Columbia, worsted spun from the same fibre source. It was really interesting to observe the differences between the same fibre spun in different ways. This would make great socks. I hadn’t come across Columbia before, and really love both the yarns.
  • Dorset down, woollen spun. Springy yarn which bounces back well, I found it a little harsh.

  • Finn. Another one I hadn’t tried before, surprisingly nice, a bit similar to Shetland.
  • Shetland, woollen spun, from Garthenor Organic. This is the softest Shetland I have ever met, a very nice yarn.

  • Icelandic. I found it rather hairy.
  • California Red. A really interesting yarn, whitish with occaisional dark red fibres, it felt rather hairy.

  • Perendale. Not that keen on this one, a little bit scratchy.

  • Columbia worsted spun with some different stitch patterns.

  • Columbia woollen spun with some different stitch patterns.

This was a great way to try out lots of different types of wool yarns and I learnt a lot. I definitely see some of the merino, Columbia and Shetland in my future πŸ™‚

In the afternoon I was back with Clara, this time for her class on the Wonders of British Wool. Unfortnately my photos taken during the class are dark and blurry so you will have to imagine interested people listening to Clara in a physics classroom πŸ™‚

We did more sampling and this is what I produced:

Here is the unwashed sample:

From the cream cast on end these are:

  • Bluefaced leicester. One of my favourite fibres πŸ™‚
  • Teeswater. This feels a bit like Wensleydale. It holds the structure of the stitches well, but I find it a bit scratchy.

  • Southdown. Very dense and springy, I was surprised how much I liked this one and will definitely be looking into trying some more.
  • Dorset. This was the same as the sample from the morning’s class. It is not quite as dense, springy, or soft as the Southdown.

  • Swaledale. Very scratchy, made me think of rope!
  • Manx Loghtan. I have had a go spinning and knitting with this before and it is a very nice fibre. Quite rustic but still soft and I love the colour.
  • Shetland. This was the same lovely Shetland from the morning, and I still loved it πŸ™‚

Another very interesting class, and a great introduction to lots of the different kinds of British wool. I shall definitely be having more of a play with several of these. Especially when I buy a lot of my yarns and fibres mail order or over the internet it is very valuable to know which breeds of wool I do and don’t like.

Friday evening was the Ravelry talk. It was really interesting to hear more about the origins and future plans, and the nuts and bolts, from the horses mouth. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures as at that point I had a roaring headache πŸ™ In all the excitement I failed to drink enough on Thursday and got a bit dehydrated, and even drinking 6 litres of water on Friday hadn’t put off the inevitable headache. Stupidly although I had brought loads of plasters and antihistamines and steriods for my bite on my ankle, I had totally failed to bring any painkillers. Luckily Lisa was a total life saver and gave me some she had in her bag and after half an hour I was feeling so much better.

While we were hanging around in the quad trying to decide what we wanted to have for dinner we noticed that the sun had lit up the tower a most amazingly pinky-orange.

My picture doesn’t quite capture the way the light made the stone glow. Beautiful.

And to round off a wonderful day I had dinner with Lisa, Terri, and Kathryn. Just what the doctor ordered, a nice meal among wonderful and interesting friends πŸ™‚

Saturday was an all day class with Judith MacKenzie McCuin on Spinning for Socks. In the morning we each chose 5 colours of merino and practised blending the colours while spinning worsted style. I was having some trouble with my hands sticking to the fibre so I think I shall have to try this again when the weather is cooler and I am less stressed!

We also introduced a bit of dyed silk which I loved. This was the first time I had tried spinning silk top and I am definitely looking forward to trying more.

Into the afternoon we did two more singles and then plied them together. I was a bit slow so two of my singles were about the same length and the third one was much shorter, hence I ended up with a bit of 3ply and then plied the remaining two together to see the difference. The lower skein is the 3ply, the upper the 2ply:

She also gave us some samples of other fibre blends which I didn’t get round to trying during the workshop but which I am looking forward to trying in the next few weeks.

Judith has been involved with the fibre world for a long time and it was very interesting to listen to her talk about all sorts of things not necessarily related to spinning for socks during the workshop. I am looking forward to reading her book, when I find it, I am pretty sure it is in this room somewhere.

After dinner it was time for the Ravelry party.

I only lasted a couple of hours before I had to crawl off to bed, but it was lovely to see everyone again, and to admire everyone’s beautiful shawls.

I came home Sunday morning and was very grateful that Paul retrieved me from the station saving me from the walk home.

All in all a very enjoyable few days. I learned lots and had a great time meeting new people and previous friends. I hope they will hold another next year, although I am rather tempted by a lighter wheel if they do. I love Suzie but she is a heavy girl (rather like her owner).