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Posts from March 2010

Pretty Yarn

I've been doing a bit of spinning this winter.  Not a lot, because winter is full-on-knit-warm-stuff season, but enough to keep the love for putting twist into fibre going.

First up, one of my Grafton Batts.  Frankly, I referred to this as ugly batt the entire time I was working with it.  Not my colours (it's from my Colourways membership).  Too much yellow and too much grey and lavendar tones--just not my thing.  But any fibre is good to practice on, so I worked on my long draw and making a soft lofty 2ply.

Grafton batt

Mission accomplished.  And it does look much nicer spun up.  There's a strip of turquoise in it that will be interesting when it's knit up.  I split the batt in half and tried to maintain the colours, but it wasn't as definitively striped as some others, so that part wasn't completely successful.  I ended up with about 120m of worsted weight yarn.

Ugly Batt

My lastest spinning was with Into The Whirled falklands in the colour Terra.  I bought this at Rhinebeck and I adore this colour.  I have the braid in my Ravatar.  This time I confess I didn't have a plan, except to chain ply so I could maintain the colour runs without the barber pole effect (don't get me wrong, I like that too, but wanted to mix it up a bit).  I'm pretty happy with the finished product (130m, 12wpi), but I overplied in a few places (it got away from me) and it's a bit less lofty that I hoped for.  It'll be good for gloves or something.  The colours are AMAZING.  I will get more--maybe for socks.

Into The Whirled Terra

Both yarns really benefitted from a good hard wash.  I used the instructions in The Intentional Spinner: hot and cold baths, lots of agitation (I wore my rubber gloves) a good thwacking--having a fully tiled bathroom is fantastic for this--and I weighted the yarn while it was drying (I used a pretty heavy weight for the chain ply and most of the kinks came out).  I may run the Terra yarn through the wheel to get rid of some of the twist, or I might not. 


Right now I have some superwash merino Lisa Souza roving in Mardi Gras on the go.  This time I'm attempting to spin my first sock yarn.  I feel the need for speed!  Lots of twist going into this baby.

March 2010 Spinning

Mini Review Time

Occasionally I receive books from publishers to review.  Here are a few that crossed my path over the last few months.

Kaffe Fassett's Quilt Romance


Okay, I don't quilt--me and the sewing machine don't get along so well--but I aspire to learn some day.  This is the second Kaffe Fassett quilt book in my library (the other--Glorious Patchwork--is a signed copy that I just had to have) and they are beautiful not only for the craft, but for the luscious photographs and images they project.  They make me want to quilt, and set off for the British Isles and drink tea snuggled in one of these pieces of art.

If you are a quilter, I cannot tell you if  Quilt Romance is a good book in terms of making a quilt, but it does appear to come with complete instructions and tons of inspiration.  Photographed in a small Welsh village renowned for it's Mediterranean architecture, it is a beautiful book to flip through and provides inspiration to all crafters who love working with colour.

Haiku Knits by Tanya Alpert


This is a lovely hardcover book of interesting and innovative knitting designs for women.  All are inspired by Japanese design and take knitting as fashion rather than just craft.  The photographs are excellent--the sweaters are easy to see, one can get a sense of the fit and construction and the patterns are well laid out and easy to read.

I want to say I love the cover pattern--Chrysanthemum--it can be worn as shown or turned upsidedown to look like this:


While interesting, fashionable and innovative, Alpert's designs are for the young and thin.  The top size in most patterns is a 40" chest (some are smaller) and while many designs like the one above have a large amount of ease, they are meant to have that beautiful drape and flow.  I loved many of the designs, but I gave away my copy since most of the designs wouldn't fit me the way the designer intended.  It is unfortunate that a larger range of sizes was not provided. 

These designs are also meant to highlight the yarns used which are often special for their texture, content or drape.  This is not a criticism; Alpert does a wonderful job creating projects that look beautiful and use yarns that are somewhat atypical for most knitters or which are seldom used for things beyond scarves and shawls.  

400 Knitting Stitches by Potter Craft

Stitch dictionary

Who doesn't love a stitch dictionary?  This one is a good addition to your library with a nice range of stitches.  In this one, the focus in on texture with slipped stitches, different ribbings and a few cables.  It includes both line-by-line written instructions and charts.  The book is also compact, so you can carry it in your knitting bag.

It's a perfectly good book except for one thing--the charts are REALLY small.  This may show my preference for charts over written instructions, but having charts the size of  thumbnails that require me to scan and enlarge them really took away from my enjoyment of this fine resource.


They grow so fast

Poor Xander wore his favourite handknit skull socks right out (Seen here when they were done 2 years ago). 

Happy Pirate Kid

I noticed they were small because the heel was under his foot and he was having a really hard time getting them on.  So I suggested he put them in the give-away bag for his cousins and I'd make him a new pair.  He wore them that one last time and well, they didn't survive the day.  His feet busted out and we had to toss them.

While he wanted another pair "exactly the same" I decided different.  That's because I had Indigodragonfly yarn I wanted and this gave me the perfect opportunity.  He is my baby afterall.  And, seriously, I had no semi-solid or solid yarn in the stash to do a FI skull pattern.  There was a skein of Malabrigo sock but Xander didn't like the purple and there wasnt't enough contrast with the planned black skulls.

I just got started with Self-Elmolation and it's fabulous.  I've never used an MCN (merino, cashmere, nylon) yarn for socks.  I now can't envision socks in anything else.

Xander's Socks

The other good part?  Xander's feet are just a hair smaller than mine (I *know*!  He's 9 and wears about a woman's 8.5, I'm a 9 to 9.5).  If I make these with a bit of room to grow (and I will), I might get these back as hand-me-downs.

Knittin' Fittin' Mittens

Just in time for Spring, here are my Fiddlehead mittens:

Fiddlehead Mittens

They fit me perfect and I LOVE them.  I always have cold hands and the idea of lined mittens didn't really occur to me until I saw these.  Now I want to go and line my other handknit mittens (perhaps with warm fancy yarns like kidsilk haze and Bohus leftovers).

The Tanis Fibre Arts Dk is squooshilicious.  Very nice to work with.  I have some tiny balls of leftovers that I'm thinking of adding to a coordinating hat or something (which means I can buy more Tanis Fibre Arts Dk).

Fiddlehead Mittens

And Adrian's pattern is lovely.  The only modification I made was to knit the decreases for the liner mitten the same as the outer mitt.  The first one came out too long the first time, but that's not hard to fix.

Sadly, I think I'll need to wear these next week.  Our super beautiful, bike-riding, way above normal temperatures are likely to be a teaser for the Spring to come.

Smartass Knitters for World Domination 1 Skein Club: Now accepting applications

Super-fab yarn dyer and wonderfully smart assed Kim over at Indigodragonfly has a 1 Skein Club starting in June.  It's open for subscriptions until Sunday March 14th and it's going to be lots of fun.

The deal is you get a skein of yarn dyed by Kim in a Club-exclusive colourway and a pattern.  I'm designing the first offering and am keeping company with other great smart-asses like Glenna C, Sarah Jenkins, Susan Lutsky,and Ronni Smith.  You also get a bonus of artisan swag--something nifty made by the creative folks that Kim meets during her work promoting the Arts. 

Yummy yarn, great patterns, swag, smart-ass-ness: What more could you want?

Did I hear <<Cashmere>>?

If you sign up for a 1 year subscription (6 shipments) there's even Cashmere.

Not sure? Go read the details.  And look at my recent Indigodragonfly acquisitions. 

Wounded in the Act of World Domination MCN Sock

Wounded in the Act of World Domination (Donut) Sock yarn

Self Elmolation (giggle) in MCN Sock for some socks for Xander.

Self Elmolation Sock

2ply Organic Merino in Seasky (I bought this as a gift for a friend and don't want to give it away)

2ply organic merino Seasky

Soft, squooshy colourful and cleverly named.  What's not to like?  And there's more here.  I'm particularly smitten with Beige.

The best sweater I never knit

If you've been hanging around And She Knits Too, you might remember this sweater.  Collette in Rowan Yorkshire Aran 4ply, from the Rowan Vintage Style book.


 Started in January 2007.  Abandoned in January 2007.  It was a case of loving the garment but loathing the process.  It was intarsia AND lace.  Little 7-10 stitch panels in different colours with different lace panels.  Evil.  I got about 2 inches in before I threw it in a bag and put it back in the stash.

Here's how far I got:

 Collette 2 

A while later my knitpal Keri told me she was looking for a knitting challenge.  She was bored with her projects and wanted something that would bend her brain.  Then, get this, she OFFERED to knit Collette for me.  After the psychological assessment, and a bunch of "are you sures?!" from me, I gave her the stuff, and told her to go for it.  I promised to never ask about it, put any pressure on her or ever comment about this sweater.  As far as I was concerned it was like I never thought of knitting it, and if nothing came of it, that suited me fine.

She had the back done in a couple of months.  I was pleased, but beyond telling her she was awesome and it looked amazing, I said nothing.

Some years went by.  We're still good friends.  The sweater is occasionally mentioned by Keri who says she intends to finish it.  I say nothing.

This year, Keri got the urge to finish the things in her WIP basket.  Including Collette.  She made completing it her Olympic project.  I felt very honoured.  And last weekend at our knitting retreat, she handed me the pieces of Collette.  Done.  Finito.  Gorgeous.

I must also say that Keri can knit Intarsia freakin' lace in rooms with other people, whilst talking.  She is amazing.  (She designed Jeanie--that tells you something about her knitting prowess).

I took all the pieces home and put them together and wove in the 10,000 ends.

How the heck am I ever to repay her?



The fit is perfect.  The colours are gorgeous. The knitting is superb.  Look at the detail.  I am not worthy.



Thanks a million Keri.  You're a great friend.  Next time you're stumped by the boredom of a plain stockinette sweater--I'll gladly knit it for you. 




10 women, a cottage and a lot of yarn (and there might have been some drinking)

That, my readers, is how to have a weekend.  Fellow-smart-ass-knitter pal Kim, left Toronto last fall to watch deer TV up in Haliburton and we missed her. She comes to visit occasionally, but to be fair, a bunch of us drove up there for the weekend and we rented a beautiful cottage and added to the fibre content of Haliburton county.

There was much knitting, some spinning, drinking of Glenna's fabulous Cosmos, yarn fondling (courtesy of Kim), Olympic watching, and a lot of eating.  Not only are we fabulous knitters and conversationalists, we are also very good cooks.  I was having so much fun I forgot to take out my camera, so all you get are those I managed to snap with my iPhone (sorry).

It was fantastic.  I even came home with some of Kim's beautiful hand dyed Indigodragonfly yarn (but only a little bit of this pile).  You should really go look at it.  There's some with cashmere in it.  And it's prettier than my pictures.  Don't worry, I won't be offended.

The best part for me?  I'm doing it all again in nine sleeps.  Different crowd of knitters, different location, but all the rest, relaxation and fun of hanging out with good friends doing something we love.