Lambtown

I’ve lived mostly in the Bay Area for the last 25 years, but not once have I made it to the local fiber festival known as Lambtown – at least until this past weekend. My secret to attending was a. not being employed on a Sunday, making the whole weekend available for fun, and b. signing up for a class.

I attended just for Saturday because I played with a friend on Sunday, but I managed to have a pretty good time. The signage for the festival was extra good – I never had to ask where something was because the map was good, and the signs even better!

There were two full rooms of vendors with yarn, fiber, tools and accessories. Some don’t go to the “big” events because they cost a lot, so it was fun to see new-to-me folks.


My strategy for the marketplace was to have a strict budget, and not buy any fiber until after the spinning class that I took called Self-Striping yarn- with the amazing Abby Franquemont. I had taken a class on spindling with her several years ago at Rhinebeck, so I knew I’d get a lot out of the class. This is one of her “on the floor” exercises for taking solids and playing with how to make strips.

This is what I bought, ending up under budget this time:

The braid is 100% BFL wood in the Norwegian Gold heather color way from Greenwood. I love the darker natural fiber mixed with the heathered colors! The buttons are from a new-to-me button company from Oregon called Wooly Moss Roots – it was a group of “seconds” (they look fine to me) for only $5.00. They were at Stitches West last year, but won’t be back because they are small and that event is pretty expensive. I love their buttons but didn’t have a reason to buy more.

The yarn is from Invictus Yarns – and oh, I love her hand-dyes. This is the Tenacity yarn, which is an 80/20% superwash merino/silk blend in the Dream Magic Colorway. Such great color sense! This will be part of secret project so mums the word! It wasn’t until I took the photo that I realized how similar the fiber and yarn color ways are.

There wasn’t time to go see the sheep, but one of them did stop by the vendor area and was dressed mighty fine!

All in all, there was more than I could see in the time that I had, and for a $5 fee entrance, this event is really a bargain. The only downside was that there were only three food vendors, so next time I’ll bring some food for lunch and avoid that crush!

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FO: the Simple Cable Cardigan

After illness last week that thwarted my progress in knitting, I have completed my cardigan, and I am pretty darn happy with it!

It fits, it has POCKETS, a shawl collar that turned out well, and nice long sleeves that don’t ride up too much. If you want to know more details, here’s my Ravelry link and this post discusses some of the in progress issues.

A couple of days ago I had posted the sweater bp, that is, before pockets, and it was a pretty good sweater already:

All About the Pockets

I really wanted pockets for this grandpa kind of sweater. The Vogue Knitting book has a nice section on pockets. Here was my method. I outlined the area for the pockets by using a darning needle and contrasting scrap yarn (see the right side as you face the sweater).

Then I snipped a thread and pulled out the yarn to form live stitches on the top and bottom. With the top stitches, I knit a rectangle in coordinating yarn (this was an alpaca/wool blend, worsted weight), and then grafted those stitches to the body of the sweater, and closed up the sides. Here’s the wrong side:

Then I went back to the bottom live stitches and did a row of stockinette, a row of seed stitch, a row of stockinette, and then cast-off.

I like that the pocket front echoes the seed stitch pattern elsewhere, but has a minimal profile. I think it looks sleek! This is only my second set of pockets on a sweater, I think they look good.

Front

I had thought I would put a bunch of buttonholes and funky buttons on the front, since I had some great buttons in the stash:

But the more I thought about how I would really wear this sweater, the more I decided against it. Instead I put one buttonhole at the bustline, and I’m not sure that I’ll put on a button. The sleek look is good, and I rarely need to close up a sweater completely in the mild climate I live in.

Economical Knit

Because I used Cascade’s Ecological Wool, the sweater materials came in at a great price – I used just about 2 skeins of the yarn (I really had about 2.75 because of leftovers), and my guess is that I paid about $20/skein at the time, so somewhere between $40-60 for a lovely sweater. I’ve learned recently that Cascade has some “interesting” points of view, and I haven’t been a fan since they boycotted the industry trade show and set up shop at a hotel nearby. But this yarn was in deep stash, and not knitting it wouldn’t change things for them.

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Keeping Track

The fun part of creating your own designed item is that you get to do what you want. But there is also the other part of such efforts – like keeping track and adjusting as you go. For me, this ends up being a messy process of numbers/erasures/writeovers and just plain ol chicken scratches. Here are the working sheets for example:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the challenge of this pattern is incorporating a couple of kinds of stitch patterns along with stockinette, and having one of the stitch patterns be the ‘side seam’ along the cardigan. As you can see on the second diagram I literally put the stitch counts in for each part to make sure that my counts were correct. Plenty of correction along the way!

Then when I got to the sleeves I debated how to knit them – flat with seams, or in the round? Because I wanted the same treatment I used on the side seams to be at the inside of the sleeve, I’ve opted to knit them bottom up and in the round, and had to do the same kind of calculation incorporating that as well as the cable along the front of the sleeve. In trying to figure out many to cast-on, and how to do it in pattern as I did for the body, this time I literally charted out the row, which got more complicated because I wanted the sleeve and button band edges to be done with a tubular cast-on which wears better. (I didn’t do this on the body because it adds some bulk with this thick yarn.) Seriously, there are days when I wonder…

Now that all the hard math is hopefully done, except for the front edges, I decided to copy over the work more neatly on a new sheet of paper so that I might be able to read this in the future and know what I did.

Note: The project template page is from an older but quite good book on designing and knitting your own sweaters called Sweater 101, but many other design books also have them. This one has three different templates, depending on whether you are doing a drop-shoulder, raglan, or set-in sleeve style. There are also sizing options so you don’t have to start in the dark if you don’t have every detailed measurement!

As far as the said sweater goes, the body is done and blocked:

and now I am onto knitting the sleeves in the round – I’ll do two-at-a-time on a couple of circulars I think. Thankfully this is bulky yarn so it should not take forever!

Izzie says, can I help?

 

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Too Hot to Knit?

Tomorrow at Casa del Revknits it is going to be close to 100 degrees. Yikes! That is hot for this time of year.

My progress on my own design that I’m calling the Simple Cable Cardigan is going well – I’m almost finished with the lower body and about to split into the fronts and backs:

The yarn is Ecological Wool, which is a woolly bulky yarn that is light, which will make the sweater cozy and fun. But having a lapful yarn on one’s lap in this heat is not fun. But I had just finished my last charity hat with about 2 yards of yarn leftover:

So I looked in one of my bags and realized that I had put aside a couple of fingering weight yarns to play with. One is yet more handspun awaiting some purpose – a lovely merino-silk blend from Ellen’s Half Pint farms,

and a new-to-me indy dyer called The Dye Project. It’s a Corriedale/Nylon blend in a color that glows!

I think the cardigan is going to have to wait for cooler weather!

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Hats and Pompons

 

I’ve been going through my stash to knit some charity stuff – our local hospital has a great need for all kinds of items. With the leftovers from the Op Art Baby Blanket, I’ve been knitting a few bright hats! With the exception of the red and black hat (Pattern: Bumble by Tincan Knits) these hats are me winging it with color, using some size information from Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl McPhee.

At first, I wasn’t going to put pompons on all of them, but I really can’t resist. With the Clover Pompon maker, it’s easy and they look great – the secret is to fill them up all the way, and to tie the knot tightly.

Plain ones are obvious, but I like to play a little more. If you wind together 2 or more colors together – you get an easy multicolored one:

If you switch out colors while keeping one dominant one, the effect is a subtle striping, which works especially well with a striped hat:

The most distinct is to switch single colors in and out:

This hat will go to the baby that got the blanket – because it’s so much fun! It’s like a party on the top of the head!

What are your favorite ways to use pompons?

 

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Adapting for Another Size

A number of years ago I made a series of sweaters for Afghans for Afghans as a way to work through grief. One of them was my own design, with a fairly simple cable on the front of the cardigan. Behold the simple cable cardigan!

Afghans for afghans sweaters

I’ve wanted to make it for me for years, I had even bought yarn (Eco-Wool) to make it, and as I was wondering making a cool weather sweater for me for fall, I realized that I had everything I needed, including one side of the chart of the front cable:

The best part – I could swatch immediately and make sure that my gauge matches the first sweater (it does).

Now onto the math to plan my cardigan! I think Brandy is going to help!

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Test Dye

I finally took the plunge and did some test dyeing on Saturday with natural dyes.  For this experiment I decided to do both bits of fiber (wool and alpaca) and different protein yarns. The fiber was put into a mesh laundry bag:

And I added ties to the small mini skeins I was dyeing ( note that the blue note has a different order of skeins than in the photo):

My dyeing station was out on my deck to reduce exposure to the chemicals. I mordanted the fiber and yarn overnight in a pot, then set up the dye station – a small side table topped by a Cusimax cast-iron electric hot plate topped by a large pot I got at Salvation Army. Other materials used included the mordant,  Botanical Colors liquid dyes,  a wooden spoon and measuring spoons:

I decided to try for an Aqua color which uses both the Saxon Blue dye and the Myroloban extract. It wasn’t clear what percentages of each I should use, so I did equal amounts.

The pot started looking like this:


and ended by looking like this:

There was still a fair amount of dye leftover – and I think it was mostly the Myroloban, so I’ll have to take a look to see if the proportion should be changed in the future.

After rinsing, I dried the yarn and fiber on the balcony:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The results – definitely variation among the fibers dyed:

and the yarns as well:

This is some nitpicks Wool of the Andes – and it turned out with a blended look:

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Squirrel! (When Crafters Get Distracted)

In the movie Up, there’s a lovely sequence about a dog that constantly get distracting whenever he sees a squirrel:

True story: members of one of my congregations knew the actual dog this was based on.

Last week, I had great intention of beginning to spin the lovely hand-dyed merino, and I even did a couple of samples and swatches:

both have a lovely hand. I like how the heavier three-ply feels more, but the weight of the lighter one is more practical. I was ready I thought, to begin, but then I rummaged through my hand-spun shelf, and discovered a lovely hand-painted BFL that had already been spun into 3 singles, only awaiting plying and finishing. Squirrel!

It really only took about 1.5 hours on the spindle to do this, and now I have this lovely yarn. It needed a good thwacking after soaking to get the kinks out.

which will help me complete a cowl/mittens/hat set – the color way is close enough to coordinate well:


In the meantime, I saw someone had linked to a Jillian Moreno post on spinning on Knitty.com <http://knittyblog.com/2019/08/popular-posts-how-much-fiber-do-i-need/>, and I realized that no way do I have enough of the green merino top for a sweater – I probably have about 1/2 to 3/4 of what I need. So I will be looking to find some more merino top in probably a neutral color way to pair with this for my sweater adventures. I’m hoping to go to Lambtown this year so that will be on my shopping list!

Finally I’m finishing up reading Craeft by Alexander Langlands. It’s so interesting to read someone who has thought a lot about the meaning of crafts. Check it out!

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