Monday, September 14, 2009

Mystery fleece, and more mittens

We moved recently, and in doing so unearthed a couple of fleeces of unknown provenance in dusty plastic bags. One of them is a lovely reddy brown, greyish-reddy-brown in places, that was already washed. Excellent. I spent a few hours one afternoon pulling it apart into locks:

mystery fleece

This is my favourite part, because you get to do some quality control and some colour sorting and really get acquainted with the wool before you put any more effort into it. I feel a lot of love for this one. It is very wooly and a little bit crisp, not soft, and the little sample I spun and plied (from a flicked lock) was very substantial-feeling yarn. I'm not really fussed about not knowing what it is, but if anyone wants to have a shot at identifying it, here's a representative lock:

mystery lock


In other news, I am indeed knitting Liidia's gloves, with some modifications:
  1. There's no way that a 90-stitch mitten at this gauge would fit my hand. The main pattern repeat is 18 stitches, so I'm just taking one out, and working them over 72 stitches instead. The cuff pattern is a 6-stitch repeat so it's not an issue there.
  2. Because mine is smaller around than the pattern says, I'll only reserve 16 stitches for the thumb when I get to that point.
  3. I'll make them mittens instead of gloves! In keeping with the mitten vow.

liidia's cuff looks awful

I present this photograph as part one of a lesson in why you should block all your knitting even things that aren't lace even things that are small even parts nobody will see. It's lumpy and ugly now, but just you wait.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Everywhere is mitten trouble

So I got a couple of fleeces and that is fabulous and exciting but I will tell you about them a different day because right now all I can think about is

smittens 2

MITTENS. (Smittens?) These are from Folk Knitting in Estonia, which is such an excellent book that my copy is falling apart from overuse. (Weirdly, this is the first actual complete project I've made from a pattern in it; usually I just borrow a motif and stick it on some other project.) The yarn is Knit Picks Palette, in black and white and screaming bright red, and I used 2.25mm needles, one of which was actually 2mm because I was missing one from the set and couldn't find a spare. I knitted them mostly last weekend while I was reading Husserl's Paris lectures. The reading took quite a bit longer than it should have, but I have a pair of mittens to show for it. They only seemed to use an oddment of yarn—from my one ball each of white and black, I have enough left for another pair of the same pattern or one with a similar ratio of black:white.

They're shockingly bright. I think using white instead of cream may have been a mistake. I will try not to wear them when it is sunny outside so nobody gets blinded.

smittens 1

The contrast colour (black) in my pair "pops" a lot more than the contrast colour in the other pairs on Ravelry. I think that is because of how I strand the yarns: the main colour goes on top and the contrast goes underneath, which means the contrast stitches tend to stand out a bit more. (I used to waffle about which should go on top until I read an article somewhere, in Interweave Knits maybe, which described the phenomenon. I don't remember whether or not it took a side.) My opinion is that this is a feature not a bug, but now I am curious about the habits and preferences of other knitters. Any other opinions?

Now I am jonesing for more mittens! I have been staring at this photograph of 4500 pairs of Latvian mittens for the better part of a week. It is not quite mitten season where I am but it will be soon, already at night sometimes I want to be wearing warm woolly things, and I intend to be prepared. In anticipation I ordered some more Palette in twelve different colours. I like their new selection; it is much more sophisticated and usable than the old pukey taupes and crayon brights (of which screaming red is an example).

Did you know that at the beginning of this year, I swore a solemn mitten vow to myself? The vow was, This year I will knit a lot of mittens. I broke it in favour of dilettantism, mostly—I knitted a lot of nothing in particular. But there are a few months left of the year and these mittens only took a few days, so there is still time to make good.

This week I have a big chunk of Heidegger to read; I think I will knit a mitten version of Liidia's gloves, from the same book.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Seasonally inappropriate

First, some plain knitting: my mother likes to wear a black angora beret in the winter, so I figured I'd make her a new one. I found some luscious angora/silk at Romni and made the plainest hat I could: start in the centre with a 3-stitch icord stem, then increase every other round at eight points until it is a bit bigger than head-sized, knit plain for a couple of inches, decrease sharply (I had increased to 160 stitches, and decreased to 100), knit some kind of hem. This one has a folded-over hem—I was worried that it wouldn't stay on anyone's head since the yarn has no stretch or memory, and you can always stick a piece of elastic in there. I seem to have picked the magic number of decreases and it stays put on my head, but when I send it off I will include a note about threading an elastic through the hem to tighten up the fit.

the plainest hat in the world

Fancier knitting: I wanted to make a different thing at the same time as the mystery thing, so I found some stash yarn and went to town with graph paper. (A skein and a bit of Misti Alpaca laceweight in a heathery yellow-green, and 3.5mm needles.) The idea was to make something that looked a bit like a sampler of a few garter-stitch-based patterns with plain returning rows, for maximum mindlessness. It turns out that when you flip a Madeira fern upside down it looks a bit like a flower! So when I got tired of that I made some bigger flowers, and then some flowers underneath half-hexagon roof shapes, and then knitted on an edging.

My love interest is excellent and I adore him, but his apartment (where I am staying) is lightless and full of books (like there are books on every surface). Moreover it is too hot for me to be interested in going outside, least of all clad in alpaca. So this is the best I can do to document this project:

all together now

I was worried it would end up looking kind of motley, because by the time I got to the edging I was aching to knit something more complicated with no resting rows and picked something more or less at random. It is 1/2 of the last edging pattern in Heirloom Knitting and I like it a lot. The tiny edging along the hypotenuse is a small variation on something I picked up somewhere else; I remember it being a 4-row repeat but I added in two rows to make the double yarnovers stand out a bit more. I think they look reinforced, like grommets.

little edging

The faggoting column down the centre is a kind of homage to this idea. It's flanked by plain yarnover increases, which makes it stand out a bit less, but it's the thought that counts.

It's not too big—the hypotenuse is maybe the same as my wingspan, so 5'5", and the spine is about half that. When I put it on and fold the top edging over like a collar, the bottom points of the big edging hit me at my waist. This is an excellent size for being mostly a scarf worn underneath a coat in winter!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I have STILL been spinning a lot more than I've been knitting! Almost exclusively from flicked locks, which has been fun and instructive. No pictures of anything yet because everything is in a state of disarray and half-completion, but I think I will be done a pair of socks amount of CVM soon, so stay tuned?

In knitting news, the Edmonton Knitters group on Ravelry is hosting a mystery lace-knitting project for the summer, designed by Rebecca Logan—it's a big shawl or a small one, in lace- or fingering weight yarn. I chose the small size, with laceweight Misti Alpaca in an interesting greyish lavender colour, and I'm knitting it on 3.5mm needles. This is my progress so far, at the end of the first clue:

after the first clue

My favourite part is this little spine up the centre, which also happens along the hypotenuse (though you can't see it here because of my quick-and-dirty scallopy pinning-out job):

centre detail

And these flowers, which are turning up all over the lace-knitting internet but are rendered particularly elegantly here, I think; they look like little buds:

3-into-9 increase flowers

So basically the entire thing! I'm feeling a lot of love for this little project and I'm desperate to knit more, but the next clue isn't out until Saturday. I will sit on my hands until then.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I've been spinning a lot more than knitting lately, because it is a soothing repetitive low-impact relaxing activity (and at the end I get yarn). So I don't have a lot of knitting to show off, but I do have some spinning:

merino laceweight

This used to be a 50g merino sliver from Fleece Artist. (Am I the only person who's never even seen a Fleece Artist tag with a colourway name on it?) It's about 350m, so not inadmissably dense or anything, and I'm pleased with it. When it's wound into a cake like this I think it looks like something from a child's drawing, or a satellite weather-map rendering of a storm. I have no idea what to do with yarn in these colours, though.

handspun beret

This started life as Shetland from Spunky Eclectic ("Pluto" colourway). I spun it into a sportweight or so, and it is very crisp and perfect for a pattern full of ribbing like this one ("Porom" by Jared Flood). I modified the pattern by adding an extra few ribs, to compensate for my smaller gauge, and it fits perfectly. I'm thrilled with how the yarn turned out, too; the stripes are just subtle enough for my taste.

fingering shetland

This is a bigger project: I have 400g of Shetland roving from a local farm (by way of Wool Revival), and my goal is to spin it into a sweater amount of yarn. So far I've got two 50g skeins of 200m each (well, one is 202m, the other 204), so if I stay consistent that means I should have about 1600m at the end? Which is definitely a sweater amount. I'd never spun proper roving before, and it was a revelation. The yarn is lightweight and squishy and soft, and completely effortless to spin.

What really motivated this post was a box I got from Crown Mountain today, containing these excellent things:

shetland rainbow

a Shetland rainbow, and

corriedale pencil roving

Corriedale pencil roving.

I have a lot of homework still to do before the end of the semester (in eight days!), so I'm going to use this stuff as a reward—I'm not allowed to spin it in earnest until I'm finished school.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wind chill: -28

Winter is suddenly COLD. My reaction is to knit things that are warm and soft and bright:

rose red 1

I made this from Ysolda's absurdly pretty Rose Red pattern and Diamond Yarn Angorissima, which is pure angora, and it is so soft and it is bright red. It became my favourite hat as soon as I blocked it; it's big and warm and barely weighs anything (35g total, which is around a ball and a half of the yarn). I knitted the largest size of the pattern with a small modification, which was switching from 4mm to 3.5mm needles for the cabled band around the bottom; angora doesn't really have any memory and the ribbing tends to stretch out without springing back. This way it is tight enough that it doesn't slide right off, but the rest of the hat can still slouch.

I like to make a little loop in the centre of a beret instead of a stem, which maybe makes this into an even sillier hat?