New Swatch and some misc

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Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible pattern #43

So I did need an extra stitch.  But I only need it for one row so in the future I could borrow it from the edge stitches.  I wouldn’t need it at all if I was knitting in the round.

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The first hexagon in progress for my French Quilt shawl, adapted from a counterpane pattern in Weldon’s Practical Needlework.  By adapted, I mean not as big.  I’m estimating two rows and 4 columns of hexagons, plus the little squares and triangles to fill in the gaps.  There is also a border and an edging.  An interesting though occurred to me while I was knitting this.  I could substitute any doily or round pattern, as long as I could block it into a hexagon.  The gap filling bits could be anything I like as well.  I may play with this concept in the future.

I also went thrifting this past weekend.  I found 4 sweaters – 2 cobweb weight men’s merinos in green and brown plus 2 heavier weight sweaters.  I estimate sport to dk weight, both in lambswool.

Both are already unraveled and the black is washed.  I’m planning on dyeing the hot pink.  It’s not my color and is even brighter than it looks in the pic.  I’m thinking about some shade of purple or a toned down red/pink.  I want it to stay fairly light as I want to pair it with the black for a colorwork sweater.  Those vertical stripes on the black sweater were a pain.  Thankfully they were only on the front.  The good news is that they were intarsia and the yarn was not cut.  The bad news is that the yarns were twisted together at every color change on every row.  So I had to untwist them.  It took forever.

My Olympic spinning plans have gone right out the window.  I have spun a little but not nearly as much as I had planned.  I keep getting distracted.  But I am accomplishing things and I’m happy.  That’s all that really matters.

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Books, Glorious Books

So I went on a little book buying spree.  All but one have arrived and I have to say I’m thrilled with them all.

  1. Up Down All Around Stitch Dictionary – Another stitch dictionary.  What can I say?  I collect them.
  2. Knitting Counterpanes – To me, this is another stitch dictionary because, let’s be honest, I’m never going to knit a whole counterpane.  But elements of them might be interesting in other items.  Or maybe a square or several (depending on size) as pillow covers.  Or shawls.  Lots of uses.
  3. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 1
  4. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 2
  5. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 3
  6. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 6
  7. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 7
  8. Weldon’s Practical Needlework Vol 11

I got the whole 12 volume set of Weldon’s Practical Needlework from the library last year and I’ve wanted my own copies ever since.  While it would have been nice to get them in order, I bought the cheapest ones so as to get as many as I could.

I love these books.  While many of the patterns aren’t very useful these days, it is fascinating to see what the knitting fashions were in the 1890’s to early 1900’s.  It does take some translating as the knitting terms were different and there often aren’t pictures or if they are, they aren’t very accurate.

There are other crafts in the books as well.  Nearly as much crochet as there is knitting and much of it crocheted clothing.  Some of it really makes me wish I could crochet better.  There’s a few sections on patchwork and embroidery that answered a few questions I had about Victorian crazy quilting.  I’m going to have to give it a try soon.  Oh and a few macrame sections that are really interesting.  This is not your 1970’s macrame.  It’s really beautiful stuff.

Anyway, in Vol 7 I found what’s called a French pattern for a quilt.  It’s a counterpane but I think it would look awesome as a shawl/stole.  I’ve translated/transcribed the pattern and just need to decide on yarn and needles.  I don’t even know how to translate the suggested yarn and needles into modern terms but I’m pretty sure both are small and I want to make it with larger yarn and needles anyway.  I’m thinking fingering weight yarn and size 4 or 5 needles.  Depends on what I have available in circular needles.

I haven’t been this excited about a project in ages.  But I’ve sworn that I’ll finish the current swatch in progress before I start.  But I’m just over half way on the swatch and like an idiot, I pushed a bit too hard this morning while knitting it.  My back is considerably better but I still need to be careful.  I’ll probably do a few more rows today but it might take til Friday before I finish it.

Another Swatch

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Pattern 26 from Japanese stitch pattern bible.  This one was fairly easy.

The next one on my list has got me a bit confused before I even begin.  I’ve got it written out but I’m unsure how many stitches to cast on.  And it’s not until row 11 that I’ll find out if the number I choose is correct.  That’s the confusing row.  It looks like there’s an extra stitch to make the pattern come out right.

In other news, I found an awesome sweater this past weekend.  It’s got New Zealand Possum fur in it.  Possums there are an invasive pest and quite different than American possums.  I was very excited to find an “exotic” fiber and didn’t inspect the sweater at all.  Got it home to find that it’s steeked for the front zipper and completely ruined for unraveling.  But it’s an XL so I tried it on.  It fits!  So I washed it and today it’s dry so I’m wearing it.  It’s very warm and comfortable.  Well, mostly comfortable.  I’m not used to wool around my neck and it’s a bit bothersome. Not really itchy but the fiber brushing my neck is not a normal feeling and bothers me a little.  I’ll probably get used to it eventually.

When new, this sweater cost $175.  I paid $5.  Awesome deal.  I’m also quite pleased/amused with the Lord of the Rings themed brand name.

An Amusing Thing

An amusing thing just happened.

My husband is an avid YouTube watcher.  He likes videos on woodworking, electronics, gardening and so much more.  I was just in his room and as per normal he tried to play a video I might be interested in (or at least not too annoyed by.)

He started a video from a lady that he follows for her gardening videos but this one was about washing fleece. Less than a minute in and I’m already arguing with her.  By two minutes in he turned the video off.  He said that the last thing he wanted was to listen to me argue with a video, especially when he agrees with me.

What set me off was her saying that you can’t get good yarn from a crappy fleece.  That is such bullshit (which is what I yelled at the screen.)  I’ve had plenty of vm filled, filthy fleeces and while it takes more work, I’ve made beautiful yarn from them.  It’s more to do with the process than the original fleece.

Take my Hampshire, for example.  It was from a pet sheep, not raised for it’s wool.  It was filthy and vm filled.  It was also free as in I paid nothing for it (other than gas for the trip to go get it).  Now Hampshire is a coarse wool and nothing will make it soft but I’m not expecting to make next to the skin items with it.  I’ve made wonderful yarn with it and I will be weaving beautiful items with it.

My first CVM was a filthy, vm filled mess.  While the yarn from it is rather slubby and odd, that was the user, not the wool.  I really learned to spin using that fleece. I absolutely cherish the shawl I made from that yarn and you can see the improvements I made in spinning from the top to the bottom of the shawl.

The Corriedale I’m still working on was also filthy and vm filled but it also makes gorgeous, soft yarn that I’m currently using to knit myself a sweater.

It all depends on the work you put into the fleece, the methods you use to process it (combing, carding), the skill of the user and what your expectations are.  Don’t expect perfectly even, smooth yarn.  By it’s nature, handspun is uneven and sometimes lumpy.  Most of those imperfections are hidden by the knitting.  If you want perfect yarn, buy commercial yarn (and that still doesn’t mean you’ll get perfect yarn.)

Ok maybe amusing isn’t the right word.  I was amused when I sat down to write this post but it seems to have turned into a rant.

Olympic Plans

I had wanted to spend February, and in particular the Olympics, spinning or doing fiber prep.  This back injury has ruined those plans, or so I thought.

I just realized that while wheel spinning makes my back hurt, spindle spinning does not (or not as much).  I’ve been neglecting my spindles terribly so dedicating the Olympics to them is not a bad thing.  Fiber prep is still off limits.  I tried combing last week and oh did I regret it.  I thought I’d set back my healing for weeks if not months.  But a few days of rest and I’m back to where I was before the combing experiment.

I can also knit, sort of.  Sweater knitting is out, much to my disappointment.  The rows are too long and put too much stress on my back.  I have been having success with swatches.  The much shorter rows (currently 42 stitches) have me resting more often.  But I can’t knit swatches and watch the Olympics.  The swatches require too much concentration.

So here is the plan:

I will spindle spin whenever I’m watching the Olympics.  I have many spindle projects in progress so I shouldn’t run out.  If I’m not watching, then I can knit.

There is one bit of fiber prep I can do.  I have two fleeces (Cormo from 2017 and Corriedale from 2015) that need trimming.  For some reason the butt ends got cotted or felted a bit during washing.  Both are very fine fleeces.  Combing or flicking these ends is just more effort than it’s worth so I’ve been cutting the last 1/4 inch or so off of each lock.  So if I’m not feeling up to spinning or knitting I can trim these locks.

Of course I do need to be careful not to over do any of these activities but I feel better having a plan.  And maybe, near the end, I’ll give wheel spinning a shot. Or perhaps I’ll try combing some Hampshire.  It requires almost no effort.  I could spin from the lock but I prefer having combed nests

It’s amazing how many of my activities rely heavily on my back muscles.  You never really think about it until it’s injured.

Making a knitting swatch book

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I was rummaging through one of my storage cubbies and found some binders and some plastic pocket pages (I dunno what they’re actually called.)  I was looking for something else entirely, which I didn’t find.  Isn’t that always how it goes?  Anyway, I’d been thinking about buying some of these pockets to make swatch books.

The picture is the binder for the Japanese Stitch Bible swatches.  I have another one for the Victorian stitch patterns I made last year (and still have more to do.)  I print out the patterns to knit from so stuffing the instructions in with the swatch is easy.  Although I think I need to reprint this one.  I made some errors when transcribing the pattern.  I always go and immediately fix them in the file on my computer and just scribble in the fixes on the print out.  I’d like to have a correct print out with the swatch.

This makes it much easier to look at the swatches instead of rummaging through a box.

I knit a little on a swatch yesterday and knit a few rows on my sweater today; both with minimal back pain.  I was very conscious of keeping good posture and taking frequent (and sometimes, quite long) breaks.  A little progress is still progress.

February is quickly coming and while I had planned on spinning/prepping fiber all month, that plan is on hold.  It all depends on my back pain.  I kind of test things out every day.  Knit a little and stop to see how I feel before knitting more.  I’ll try that with the spinning/fiber prep.  Maybe I’ll make March my month of spinning.  Although I kinda had my heart set on spinning through the Olympics.  I’ll just have to see how it goes.

Spindle Spinning

I took down my Christmas decorations last weekend.  Wow, everything looks so bare.  I really need to work on my non-holiday decor.

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This is in my living room, on top of the dvd/bluray case.  On the left is some mystery fiber that I think is alpaca.  I picked it up at an estate sale last year.  On the right is Hampshire from 2014, my first fleece.  It’s been dyed and combed.  Having these right in the living room, nice and handy, is supposed to remind me to spin whenever I have a few minutes.  So far it’s working.  I’ve spun a little of the Hampshire while waiting for supper to cook.

I asked my husband if he minded having those there and he doesn’t mind at all.  In fact he said it’s sorta appropriate.  We do have 2 spinning wheels (the baby wheel and the broken flyer wheel) stashed in the corner of the living room.  And if I ever find a floor loom it will go in the dining room (I have no space for it in my workroom).  And my rigid heddle looms live on a shelf in the living room as well.  I’m blessed to have a husband who doesn’t mind my stuff overflowing into the rest of our home.

I’ve made a resolution to spindle spin more this year so besides the projects in the living room I’ve also been working on some Merino I won in a giveaway.  One of these days I have to get up the courage to try the silk hankies I bought last summer.  I have a few more spindle projects in progress but have not touched them yet this year.

My back problems continue.  They are getting better.  Now I usually feel fine, with no pain, when I get up in the morning but once I do something my back starts hurting.  I spun on my wheel for maybe 30 minutes over 2 hours yesterday and was in so much pain.  I haven’t tried knitting in over a week.  I plan to give that a try again this weekend.  Spindle spinning hurts a little but it’s tolerable.

I’ve been doing back stretches daily.  Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t but it doesn’t seem to be making things worse.  It’s very frustrating.  I almost never had back issues until this past year.  When it did happen, I’d rest a few days and then be fine for a few months.  This time I can’t seem to get rid of the pain.  I think it’s the cold weather.  I generally ache more in the cold months anyway.  I’m very much looking forward to Spring.

I had planned to spend February spinning on my wheel but that’s quite questionable right now.  I’m just going to continue trying to do a little something (wheel spinning, spindle spinning, knitting, embroidery, fiber prep) everyday.  At least that way I’m accomplishing something, even if it’s just a little bit.  And eventually I’ll heal and be able to get back to normal, although I do need to be more careful not to injure myself again.   This current injury goes back to November when I knit an entire sweater in 3 weeks.  I knitted way too hard for too long.