Planning and Dyeing


The grey skein is what the yarn looks like before dyeing.  I’m not using it in the project.

So I finished several things over the weekend leaving me with no everyday knitting.  I spent some time in my queue but couldn’t quite find anything.  Then it occurred to me that I don’t have to finish spinning all of the Patrick the CVM fleece before I start using it.  I had already picked out 3 patterns for it, 2 of which I already own.

Lady of the Blue Forest and Sing a Song of Sixpence

I could do one or the other with the yarn I had done but not both.  I really like the multi colored Sixpences but didn’t want to dye that much yarn.  I’m not set up to do long color repeats so I’ll do single color small skeins.  But that meant re-skeining and then dyeing a bunch of different colors and I just didn’t have the time or energy for that.  So Lady won by default.  I took a look at the finished projects for it and decided to go with….yeah, blue.

Now I’m not very scientific about dyeing but I did note down some things for those who like numbers.  252 grams of fiber.  1/4 tsp dye.  1 gallon (or so) of water.  I kettle dye on the stove.  Dharma acid dyes – Midnight Blue.  3 TBSP of vinegar when the yarn goes in at about 170 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bring the temp to 180 and add 3 more TBSP vinegar.  I generally end up taking it to just about 200 before turning it off and letting it sit.  This time, it wasn’t exhausting so I brought it back to 200 for a minute before turning it off.  After 15 minutes or so the water was clear.

Yarn was dry late tonight so I caked it up and will cast on tomorrow.

Expect a FO post on Friday.  I found some things that have been long finished but in need of blocking so did that since I had my blocking board out anyway.  It all needs to dry before I take pics.



It’s Complicated

Relationship status:  It’s Complicated

That pretty much sums up my relationship with two of my WIPs.

Dracula’s Bride and Gordian (Refer back to the first Knitting WIP post for pics, red shawl and pink cuffs)

I have loved Dracula’s Bride since the first time I saw it and was thrilled when the designer finally had a sale and I was able to buy it.  Then I had to get the yarn and ended up plying together strands from 3 different unraveled sweaters.  At first the knitting went well and fast but as is the nature of large shawls I’m now at a point where the rows are quite long (6 sections of 70 stitches plus a 21 stitch center).  The stitches themselves are not complicated but those long rows require a lot of concentration.  I really can only manage 2 rows a day and that takes a good 2 hours (with breaks to rest my hands).

Gordian is a lot of 2 stitch cables in fingering weight.  I’ve not yet gotten the hang of cabling without a needle so doing it in that thin of a yarn is a challenge.  Plus I can’t seem to knit a row without making a mistake that takes me just as long to fix as a row takes to knit.  I really love the look of the finished gloves so I do want to knit these but I’m still just in the cuffs.  This may take years to finish at 1 row a day (cuz I end up with a headache after fixing the mistake).  I also have a ton more patterns from this designer I want to do – all cabled gloves (check her out, the patterns are free).

So I can only work on one or the other on any given day and I have to have the ability to concentrate as well.  Lately I’ve been lacking in concentration so no work has been done.



Knitting WIPs


I didn’t bother to take a pic of the Jacob shawl as I only got 4 rows of the next color done.  I also didn’t work on the Rose Harbour shawl at all.

I’ve made good progress on the cowl.  I’d say I’m about 3/4 done.

And on Monday I got it into my head that I wanted to knit a colorwork Christmas stocking.  I also decided that I was never going to finish a hibernating colorwork thing that’s been sitting for years.  The needle was too small and I didn’t like the item it was supposed to become.  So I frogged that and used some of the yarn for this stocking.  I’m about halfway through the gusset which makes this also about 3/4 done.  Not bad for 4 days of work.  I’ve got a few more stockings queued so I might do some more.  I’m not sure.  By the time I finish this I might have worked through the colorwork urge.  But I do have more scratchy yarn like this and I’ll never use it for anything else.  If nothing else, I can always print out the patterns and bag them up with the yarn so it’s ready for future colorwork urges.

Combing Wool Locks


First, please excuse my messy desk in the background.  Second, this is the way I do it.  It’s not the only way and possibly not the best way.  But it works for me.

This is a CVM fleece.  It wasn’t coated but is remarkably clean.  I use a hackle and a comb but you could use two combs, if you have a way to secure one down to the table.

  1. Load the locks on the hackle.  I load butt ends onto the hackle.  If the tips are gunky or there is a lot of vm I’ll flick first.
  2.  Fully loaded.  Start with less and work your way up to an amount you are comfortable with.  Mist lightly with water to keep down static.
  3. Start combing.  Keep the comb perpendicular to the hackle.  It doesn’t matter if you go from left to right or vice versa.  You could even switch.  Start near the tips, moving closer to the hackle with each pass.  You won’t get all of the locks into the comb at first.  Pull the comb towards you, making sure that all the fiber that comes away is free from the rest on the hackle and sticking straight out from the comb before making another pass.  I often use my other hand to guide the locks onto the comb and to smooth them out before making another pass.  Be very careful.  Those tines are sharp.
  4. Most of the fiber is on the comb and what’s left is short and matted bits.  Discard this waste (or save it, but I’ll get to that later.)
  5. Now put the fiber back onto the hackle.  Keeping the comb perpendicular to the hackle, bring the fiber down onto the hackle.  Just the ends at first and work your way closer.
  6. You may need to repeat steps 3-5 depending on how it looks.  It should be smooth and without tangles.  Discard the waste from the comb.
  7.  Lift the fibers up off the bottom of the hackle a little.  This allows the fibers to pull off easier.
  8. Start at one side (it doesn’t matter which) and start pulling off the fiber.  Some people use a diz.  I used to , but no longer do.
  9. Work your way back and forth across the hackle until you’ve pulled off all the fiber that you can.
  10. You’ll have a long rope of fiber.  Start wrapping this rope around your hand.  Not too tight but not too loose either.
  11. I often draft the fiber a little here and there to even it out.
  12. When it’s all wrapped around your hand, pull your hand out, leaving you with a little nest of fiber.
  13. This is my waste pile.  I’m actually saving if from this fleece since it’s fairly clean and nice.  I’ll card it and make lumpy bumpy yarn.
  14. Box of nests.

To use, simply unroll the nest.  Start spinning from the outside, the last part that was wrapped around your hand.  For me it drafts easiest from this end.

Knitting WIPs


First up is the Jacob Shawl.  I’ve finished the light grey and will soon start the charcoal grey (cake on the right).  Then it’s on to the black/brown and it’ll be done.

Rose Harbour Shawl is about halfway through the 3rd repeat (out of 5 or 6, I’m undecided.)

And then the cowl, which has been giving me fits.  I started with a single strand on size 7 needles but the fabric was too open.  So I decided to double the yarn and stay with the size 7 needles.  But I couldn’t cast on loose enough with the 7s.  I changed to size 9 straights to cast on, knit flat for one row to transfer onto the size 7 circulars and then joined.  Did a couple of rows of garter and then switched to stockinette.  A couple of rows into that I decided I didn’t like the needles and switched again and now I’m more or less happy with it.  So I started with wooden 16 inch circs for the single strand , then switched to metal 16 inch circs and then went to 29 inch circs in a different metal (not counting the size 9 metal straights for casting on.)  It’s a pity I’ve got such bad associations with this yarn as it’s turning out to be really pretty now.

I’m resisting the urge to cast on more things.  I’ve got enough going right now.  I’m also impatiently waiting for the weather to cool down.  I really want to get back to work on the dressing gown.  Maybe by the end on the month.

Spinning Wheel Spa Day


Today was spa day for my wheels.  I took them out in the backyard and took them apart as much as possible.  Then I applied a generous amount of boiled linseed oil.  The boiled part is very important.  Let them sit at least an hour and wipe off the excess oil and put them back together.

The dark wheel is my working wheel. It’s an antique from the 1850’s (I think), bought at an estate sale. This is the second time I oiled it (I first did it in the Spring) and I actually applied two coats.  It was so dry when I got it that it was grey.  I lemon oiled it then (Summer of 2015) and used it over the Winter before I learned about boiled linseed oil.  Today’s first coat was nearly soaked in after an hour so I did another one.  I’ll probably need to oil this one twice a year for the foreseeable future.

The other two are the broken flyer wheel (Also an antique from the 1850’s , bought on Craigslist) and the baby wheel (Vintage, perhaps 1960-70’s, and another estate sale.)  They both have decent finishes and I’ll probably never oil them again, just dusting with a damp cloth when needed.  My husband swears he can fix the broken flyer and it also needs a few other minor fixes.  The baby wheel is for display only.  It could work if I added hooks to the flyer but I’d have to treadle like mad to get any twist.

I like to do this out in the backyard so I don’t have to be careful with the oil.  I can just slop it on and wipe it over everything and who cares if it drips on the grass.  And I can also throw the rags right in the firepit when I’m done.  I’ve read warnings that the rags are prone to spontaneous combustion so I figure that’s the safest place for them.

Also be aware that the wheels will smell like the oil for awhile and will also be oily to the touch.  Generally it takes a week for both the smell and the oily feeling to go away.  I won’t spin on the working wheel til then.

I have one other wheel, from Craigslist but I don’t count it.  It’s vintage, at best, and very likely someone’s shop class project.  But it’s got parts that my husband can use for one of the wheels he’s promised to build for me. One of these days I need to take it apart so it’s easier to store.  I’ve already got 2 wheel that live in the living room (broken and baby) and I’m going to need room soon for the Christmas tree.  The working wheel lives in my workroom upstairs.

In case anyone’s wondering, I’ve thought about naming my wheels with human names as so many spinners do but nothing’s come to me yet. So descriptive names it is.  Although Baby wheel might just keep that as it’s name.  It’s so adorable.


Flicking Wool Locks



I threw this together for someone on one of my Ravelry groups but I thought it would be good to share here.

This is my method of flicking locks. That’s just a dog brush (the kind that looks like a mini carder). Brush through the tip end several times until it’s all fluffy. Then do the same to the butt end. Twist the lock before you brush and hold it at the twist. It’s easier to brush against your leg but put a piece of leather or heavy cloth on your leg. Those tines are sharp. Once done, I comb but you can spin from it just as it is. Fluff it out a bit with your fingers and predraft it out a little if you want

I really only try to brush the ends, the last 1/2 inch or so, unless there is a lot of tiny vm in the lock.  Then I’ll brush all of it.  I don’t always flick.  If the tips are funky or there are second cuts, then I flick both ends.  Sometimes I’ll only flick the tips.  Even with in the same fleece I could flick both ends on one lock, just the tips on the next or not at all on another lock.  It just depends on the condition of the lock.