Updates from April, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • knitting1105 2:45 pm on April 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Double Spinning 

    I have been using both wheels and going back and forth.  On the Joy I am spinning the batt from Loop, and using my normal spinning technique.  This is a  variegated batt that pulls out of the center, no drafting needed.  I wonder how she makes these up, it is a joy to spin.  I have decided in my mind that this spin will remain a single, as I do not want to purchase another batt, and nothing would show off the gradation as well if it were plyed with another fiber.  So, if all goes well and I am able to set the twist properly when done spinning, I will have a lace weight yarn with sparkles.  I do wish that I could get the hang of N-plying though.

    I love watching the colors evolve.

    And on my new Jensen wheel I am trying to learn to draft with my right hand and control the twist with my left.  My first attempt was with this technique (I have been doing the reverse up till now, but would not be able to do a proper long draw with this wheel unless I switch), was not so great – fiber that I had downstairs, but I like the thick/thin yarn, will make a good hat.

    Then it occurred to me that the best fiber to learn to spin with would be some pencil roving from Fiber Optic.  So, I pulled out this and started my new spinning technique, the color is Blackberry Jamble.  There was a bit of breakage and run-away fiber at the beginning, but about 1/2 way through the first bobbin of this, I seem to have gotten the hang of it. I also wound the pencil roving into center pull balls which really helped with the drafting of the fiber:

    Two wheels of beautiful color, side by side.

  • knitting1105 12:04 pm on April 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Spinning update 

    I finally finished plying the Black Coffee pencil roving from Fiber Optic.  My new Jensen wheel was used, and it made very quick work of the plying.  425 yards of 2-ply, 4 oz; destined to become socks for my husband.

    And, more fiber to admit to.  This is also from Fiber Optic.  It is a dye break, called Mad Monet.  I purchased some of this last year, and loved the play of colors.

    Apparently this is a hard color to replicate, it is a bit different from last years that I got at a Fiber Festival, but I love it none-the-less.

    • Diane Hamilton 10:46 pm on April 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      The Black Coffee looks like it will be great for Dan. I love the colors of the Mad Monet–can wait to see what it looks like when it is spun. Glad you are enjoying your newest purchase!


  • knitting1105 11:51 am on April 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Knitting is now Cool 

    Apparently my blog title is not incorrect.

    This article appeared recently in the Huffington Post — look at the end for links on the web.

    See who is #1 on the list?

  • knitting1105 5:18 pm on April 24, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Flax   

    Greencastle continued 

    This is the second post on The Fiber Event at Greencastle.  Not only did we find some great fiber, but we met some really interesting people also.  Our favorite by far was Gee Gee, a 72-year-old who sewed the most amazing aprons on her 1918 Singer.  She had aprons from period patterns, and the story behind each style and why they were making them at a period in time.  These are from the 30’s when women were concerned about conserving fabric, and would use smaller scrap pieces for the pockets, or neck-band, and not a lot wasted in flaring out or gathering of fabrics.  The blue one was purchased on my second visit as a gift.

    Gee Gee was just so cute that I had to get a picture of her with Andi.  She was very flattered.  She is a hoot, saving her money to buy a computer so that she can research the history of aprons and also read some of her favorite books.

    We went back twice, and I got this early 40’s bib apron for myself, the gathering indicates that there was more money available, and they were able to use extra fabrics.

    I also got myself this 1/2 apron, a 1950’s “Party Apron” design that uses full 1/2 circles of fabric to create wonderful drape.  I want to have a dinner party  just to be able to wear it.

    And then we met Stephen Bowman, the bobbin lace man.  He runs the Bedford College of Lacemaking, we plan on getting a group together in the Fall to take a weekend of classes.  Loved his business card which stated:  “Running naked with scissors and plotting world domination on a shoe string budget since 2007!”  

    Just before we left we met this wonderful couple who are reenactors at a historic village in Indiana and were there demonstrating spinning Flax.  The first process is Retting, which is essentially soaking the fiber for a period of time.

    From Wikkepeidia Flax article, here is the description of how Flax becomes Linen:

    Dressing the flax is the term given to removing the straw from the fibers. Dressing consists of three steps: breaking, scutching, and heckling. The breaking breaks up the straw, then some of the straw is scraped from the fibers in the scutching process, then the fiber is pulled through heckles to remove the last bits of straw.

    The dressing is done as follows:

    Breaking: The process of breaking breaks up the straw into short segments. To do it, take the bundles of flax and untie them. Next, in small handfuls, put it between the beater of the breaking machine (a set of wooden blades that mesh together when the upper jaw is lowered, which look like a paper cutter but instead of having a big knife it has a blunt arm), and beat it till the three or four inches that have been beaten appear to be soft. Move the flax a little higher and continue to beat it till all is soft, and the wood is separated from the fiber. When half of the flax is broken, hold the beaten end and beat the rest in the same way as the other end was beaten, till the wood is separated.
    Scutching: In order to remove some of the straw from the fiber, it helps to swing a wooden scutching knife down the fibers while they hang vertically, thus scraping the edge of the knife along the fibers and pull away pieces of the stalk. Some of the fiber will also be scutched away, this cannot be helped and is a normal part of the process.
    Heckling: In this process the fiber is pulled through various different sized heckling combs or heckles. A heckle is a bed of “nails” – sharp, long-tapered, tempered, polished steel pins driven into wooden blocks at regular spacing. A good progression is from 4 pins per square inch, to 12, to 25 to 48 to 80. The first three will remove the straw, and the last two will split and polish the fibers. Some of the finer stuff that comes off in the last hackles is called “tow” and can be carded like wool and spun. It will produce a coarser yarn than the fibers pulled through the heckles because it will still have some straw in it.

    And finally spinning it, and after being spun, it becomes linen.

    No part of the flax plant is wasted, from animal bedding, fiber for your musket, and seeds which make linseed oil.

    I will definitely go back next year, and try to encourage more to join me.  April 19 & 20, 2013.  Did I mention that this is also the covered bridge area?  We did not even get to those.

    • kathytny 12:37 pm on April 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Again, a great read, the photos were great and I am green with envy. I collect and LOVE aprons! Some of her aprons looked like my grandma’s ! My grandpa was professional baker and I even have his white apron………. they are so much a part of history! Sounds like you had a wonderful time!


      • knitting1105 2:58 pm on April 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you for all the wonderful compliments. I was also drawn to the apron lady, as my Grandmother always wore an apron. I inherited one of her aprons and it hangs in my pantry, I always think of her when I see it (she was much smaller than I so I cannot wear it).


  • knitting1105 3:56 pm on April 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Greencastle Indiana,   


    On Saturday Andi and I drove to Greencastle, Indiana for the The Fiber Event at Greencastle.  It was my first time going, and I was luckily able to get Andi to accompany me.  It was about a 3 hour drive each way, so not too bad.  We had a great time, lots of good things to see at the vendors, so we did one long pass through without purchasing anything, and then narrowed our choices down to return and buy what really caught our eye.  But first, there was a wee bit of animal time:

    I chose not to purchase any yarn, but get fiber that I felt was unique and I could not find elsewhere.  Hands down, this fiber caught my eye and I knew I had to have it.  So much so that we drove into town for lunch and to get extra cash since she did not take credit.  It is Shetland top (all fibers combed in the same direction, whereas roving has the fibers more random, see this post for a definition), with 3 colors of natural Shetland put together in a single grouping, from Psalm 23 Farm.  She had saved the skirting around the neck for 2 years to get enough of each of the different naturally colored fibers.  I bought almost a pound of this (so soft…):

    And, I had to get a bit of this combination also.

    Not to be missed also was the Fiber Optic booth, you know I love her colors.  Initially I was drawn to this color, Leap Day (80% Merino, 20% silk), and when I found out it was a limited edition dyed on Leap Day and not to be repeated, I knew it was for me.

    And this Robin’s Egg Batik on BFL as a coordinate.

    And so as not to forget Dan, this beautiful handmade twig ball with fiber for the birds in nest-building.  It is now gracing the Magnolia tree and the birds are already pulling out fiber.

    More from our trip tomorrow, too much for one posting.

    • kathytny 12:11 pm on April 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, I don’t think I could have walked away from that lovely place without doing some terrible damage to my bank account! I do not have a wheel so I would pass on the things you bought but would probably do a lot more damage on alread spun wool. And let me tell you, I would have one of those twig ball for my bird friends. I have something like that out already but not as lovely looking as the one you have!!!!!! On to read more!


  • knitting1105 7:56 pm on April 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    Quid pro Quo 

    My new spinning wheel arrived late Friday afternoon.


    I was so excited that I had to put it together that night, all by myself.  The directions were good, but not for someone who has no understanding of the basics of a spinning wheel design.

    A beautiful cherry wheel with a natural tung oil finish, which will fit nicely into my house…

    Legs into the main frame of the wheel…

    tying the foot pedals to the wheel

    And attaching the mother board, but not backwards!  Thanks for photos on the internet:

    then the finishing touches…

    And threading the string for a double-drive, even though I have never owned a double-drive wheel (the pedal spins both the wheel and the bobbin at the same time)

    She is a beauty, and I will have to slowly learn how to maneuver her.  It is a bit like giving a 10-year-old who knows the rudiments of driving a Ferrari to take out for a spin.  I will get the hang of it, but time is needed.  Love the shadows on the wall in her resting place.

    A Jensen original!  The exact wheel that I test drove at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival last September.

    • Lisa 8:09 pm on April 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful! Now that was one I didn’t test drive! Congrats!


    • knitting1105 8:11 pm on April 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks! Boy you are a quick follower!


    • Diane 8:50 pm on April 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful wheel–I know it has found the right home.


    • Sheila 10:09 am on April 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Keats had it right…”A thing of beauty is a joy forever”. Nice job, Frances!


    • agujasblog 7:18 pm on April 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      She’s a beauty! Let us know how you like it. I just starting spinning on a drop spindle and so much want a wheel. All suggestions welcome!


  • knitting1105 11:16 am on April 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    While waiting… 

    So as not to miss the UPS guy delivering my much anticipated new spinning wheel, I am sitting at home all day.  To occupy my time (in between some real work), I am spinning up this footnotes unspun from Fiber Optic.  This has to be my favorite fiber to spin, it is pencil roving and easily splits right down the center.  No predrafting is required, and I swear that it spins up faster.  The color is Black Coffee, and it is a wonderful blend of darks, very subtle and deep.  The yarn is destined to become some handknit socks for my husband (superwash merino + silk).  This is for the April Sash busters on the Fiber Optic group on Ravelry.  I think that I will make the deadline.

    I finally finished the singles of this multi-colored fiber from IntoTheWhirled that was part of Feb/March SAL, and that deadline missed.  I am really debating plying these 2 together or plying one with it’s coordinating pink singles, and one with the coordinating blue singles.  I worry about the yarn becoming muddied if the variegated is plyed with itself.

    And, I pulled the Greta Garbo shawl off the blocking boards and am weaving in ends.  In theory I should only have the beginning and end threads to weave in (spit-spliced the 2 skeins during knitting), but if you remember my row of shall we say “wine induced nupps”, I had to catch several of those and that gives me many additional ends to weave in.

    Remember my post from the CookieA weekend?  She wrote a wonderful post on her blog about our group, and I got a double shout-out!

    • Lisa 11:55 am on April 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Okay, I am dying to know….what wheel did you buy? I bought my Lendrum and after trying all the ones Fiber Garden had at our class, I am so happy with my purchase. I love my wheel. Don’t spin enough but I will soon…..


      • knitting1105 12:27 pm on April 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Check in to morrow and I will have photos! Hopefully it will not take me too long to put it together.


    • kathytny 12:47 pm on April 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I am very excited for you and look forward to see it up and running. I just got my Wonder Washer for felting and I can hardly wait to get home and felt some things in it!!!! (I had it delivered here at work.)


  • knitting1105 9:03 pm on April 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Shawl, fiber and a wheel 

    I finished my Estonian shawl, and blocked it tonight, hopefully finished photos tomorrow, and project details.

    And, a package arrived for me yesterday, which I missed and picked up at the post office today.  The newest SAL from Loop.  This is a different version of a gradient, and I am anxious to try it.  It also has sparkles!  She cards the fiber into a batt, and then does the gradient color.

    AND, I just got notice that my new dream wheel is shipping and should be here tomorrow!!!!!! I am so excited!

    • kathytny 12:00 pm on April 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I LOVE the color!


    • Diane 11:28 am on April 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      The shawl is gorgeous and the hearts really do stand out after it was blocked. Another spinning wheel? Are you getting rid of your others?


      • knitting1105 7:59 pm on April 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Yes another wheel, the original Ashford will be removed. I will keep my travel wheel (the Joy).


  • knitting1105 5:23 pm on April 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Estonian Shawl 

    I started making this shawl almost 2 weeks ago, and will probably finish tonight.  The shawl is cast on at the bottom with 379 stitches, and knit up to the top decreasing at the outer edges, and a double decrease at the center. It has lots and lots of Nupps (nupp rhymes with soup), many more than on most Estonian shawls that I have seen, but that is what gives it the lovely heart-shaped patterns.

    The heart shapes will really stand out after it has been blocked.  A nupp is a series of stitches knit into one stitch on the knit side, in this case a 5 stitch Nuup (K, YO,K, YO, K), and then purled together on the back side.  This is where I ran into a few problems at first.  When knitting the Nupps, you have to do it VERY loosely, and then on the purl side make sure that you catch them all together.  If you recheck on the next knit row, you can pick up any errant loops that were not knit together.  If you wait, then you have to take a darning needle, some spare yarn, and hook the loop and secure on the back.  I have one whole row near the beginning where I missed about 6 loops, I think that it might have involved wine drinking.  Discovered way too late to rip back, so I have a bit of repair to do prior to blocking.

    During my 3 days of knitting class last week, I made great progress on the shawl.  It is nice that the stitch count is reduced by 4 stitches every other row, progress speeds up rapidly.

    • kathytny 7:21 am on April 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Oh whatt a beautiful creation! I just roared at your line: “I have one whole row near the beginning where I missed about 6 loops, I think that it might have involved wine drinking. ” I LOVE wine, fruit of the vine!!!!

      I bow to your unmeasurable knitting talent!


  • knitting1105 11:06 am on April 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    CookieA classes 

    Friday, Saturday and Sunday I spent the whole day taking classes with CookieA through the Windy City Knitting Guild.  The lessons were divided up among 3 1/2 day sessions, and originally I was going to piecemeal different classes together.  However, the drive out to Skokie is not a pleasant one, and I decided to stay the full-time each day.  I am glad that I did, as I learned something new in each class, and had a fabulous time.  I cannot say enough good things about what a great teacher she is, good sense of humor and genuinely nice.

    Friday Morning: Sock Innovation: Top Down Sock Design  Loved this class!!!  Taking this class has given me the confidence to tackle designing a sock, that is when I have the time, finish UFO’s and have some needles free.

    Friday Afternoon: Flat to In-The-Round and Back Again This was one of the classes that I was waffling on, and it turned out to be my favorite of all the weekend.  Sometimes the descriptions and titles do not really convey what you will get out of the class.  Cookie is fabulous with breaking down problems into manageable math solutions, and gives great handouts that clarify what she is talking about in the classes.  This was one of the classes that I was going to skip, and am happy that I did not, as it turned out to be one of my favorites.  Learning how to take a written pattern and chart it, how to take a pattern written in the round and transcribe it to flat and visa-versa. She had a great whiteboard to write on, and filled it up with very clear diagrams.

    Saturday Morning: The Perfect Rib  Another great class, and one that will help me to get that seamless rib into pattern look that Cookie is so well-known for on her sock design.  This was very well thought out and the handout, as usual, was superb.
    Saturday Afternoon: Cable Suckage Factor Don’t be turned off by this name.  The purpose of the class was to come up with our own personal cable “suckage factor”, so that we could both modify patterns for fit and design those that would fit.  We knit a plain sample swatch, and then knit 2 different cable pattern swatches to see how much pull-in we were getting as a percentage factor.  Then learned how to apply that suckage % to designs to make sure that our fit is good.  Suckage factors can be anywhere from 25-50%, mine was 42%.
    Sunday Morning: Toe-Up Socks with Gusset  I am not a fan of toe-up socks and while this was a good class, it did not change my mind.  We did, however, get good worksheets for figuring out the required widths and how to gauge when and how much to increase for the gusset.  This is always the part that poses problems for me with toe-up socks, and I do not like the short row heel with no gusset.  It just does not fit a person with a high instep like myself.
    Sunday Afternoon: Traveling Stitches.  This class did not give me much new information, as I had already completed many of Cookie’s socks and she loves to use traveling stitches.  This class combined with the cable suckage class really gave me lots of designing tools to use for socks and sweaters.

    Here are my weekend swatches.  Starting at the upper left and going clockwise:

    • (gold) perfect ribbing sample
    • (gold) flat to in the round and back again
    • (pink) traveling stitches
    • (purple) top down sock design
    • (green) 2 samples of cable suckage factor, plus gauge swatch
    • (white in center) toe-up sock design

     And some of my classmates:
    Including cute Mimi who for some unknown reason does not like her photo taken:
    I had my photo taken with Cookie, but it is not press worthy (totally on my part).  I will post it on my refrigerator for inspiration…
    • kathytny 12:46 pm on April 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, your blog made me feel like I was right there! I have never gone to any kind of class for knitting etc. though I have dreamed of it. I would love to take a Cat Bordhi class! Everyone looks like they are having so much fun!


    • Stefanie 9:08 pm on April 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Oh wow, I’m so jealous you got to take all of the classes! Thanks for sharing – She really was a fantastic teacher! I only got to take the toe-up socks class on Sunday, but totally would have taken a few more if time and money hadn’t been an issue. Also your swatches from all of the classes are gorgeous!


      • knitting1105 9:11 pm on April 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you so much. I enjoyed all of the classes, and you can attest to what a great teacher she was!


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