Weaving: warping with a knitting tool.

Finally! I’m warping my new (to me) loom. It’s an Ashford Rigid Heddle, 80 cm wide, with a stand. It’s much lighter than my Glimakra and this one will not damage the table top.

It has a fairly low stand and I’ve learned that most people weave sitting down. Either with the loom on a stand like this or with the loom in their lap, its far end resting on a table top.

I love to stand while weaving, I’ve never done otherwise to be honest. But I’m going to give sitting down a try. This loom is so light I can carry it from this room to the sitting room easily so I have numerous chairs to choose from. It also invites me to declutter the floor, which my husband thinks is a good enough reason to tolerate another wooden wool toy in the house..

Tie Rack (Closetmaid) pic by Joe Hall

To warp with even length I was having a look out for those vintage racks people used to hang their ties on. So I saw the potential when I found a bag of Chinese plastics called knitters looms/aids when I strolled through the Action:

A couple of clamps and go warp!

On the other side the warping yarn is on my ball holder:

My yarn ball holder is one of the knitter tools I never thought I needed but now I feel such luxury whenever I use it. It’s wooden and it takes up space and it’s a well made piece of equipment, artisan made.
And it’s multifunctional as it turns out to be!

I’m warping a length of 1.90 m for a cloth of about 65 cm wide. I’m using a high end light fingering I bought at Spinspul at Knit & Knot Fair in Tilburg:

It will shift the colour of two weft yarns which both come from this little number:

It’s the weird hat I knitted but never wore. Pattern inspiration is the wonderful designer Lee Meredith.

The lighter yarn is that beautiful Passe-Partout handspun that I’ve been trying to make into something great for years now….

Fulled singles, 283 m out of 100 grams of really soft BFL.

It has been a shawl, another hat…

At least by now I know this yarn doesn’t knit up really great on its own, colourwise. Combining it with the Wollmeise Lace colour Grand Mère did wonders in that one hat, every colour nuance showed:

It will do wonders in the weaving too.
I don’t know how yet, because I’m a beginner. I have two large weaving sticks, each filled with one colour, and I will alternate them in the weft. I don’t know yet in which rhythm, I’ll have to play.
Colours are in the palette I’m loving at the moment so I’m really looking forward to make a usable garment/item with these yarns and these tools.

 

PS warping this way gives a more consistent length to all the warp threads. When I used the umbrella the outer threads were longer than the middle ones. This can cause a difference in tension. It will definite cause extra loss of yarn because you’ll have to cut away the excess at the sides, in the end.

PS 2

I may have miscalculated how much yarn the warp or the weft takes. It’s difficult to predict because the warp is a wool thread under tension and will therefor spring back more then the weft.

In previous projects I often have more weft yarn but no warp left. For this project I keep in mind I can use the left over yarn to add details with. Perhaps use knitting or crocheting as a border or to attach woven panels together. (just a little note to myself)

Weird Wool Wednesday: a new way to knot a sock

This is my toe up sock in Wolbeest yarn, here’s the heel, with just the first set of short rows completed:

After this comes another set of short rows, to make it round the bend of the heel. I knit a few rows in the round and then I start the second wedge.

Short row, short row, short row.
I knit a whole evening worth of short rows. I tried the sock on a few times, to make certain of the fit. I won’t get caught with too tight a sock again!

Here it is the next morning, and something is not right:

This is the top part of the sock. Not the sole. Yet… there are shortrows here…

I took out the needles at the instep and had a closer look:

Yes, that looks suspiciously like half a heel wedge to me, on the instep side. I’ve been at it for a while too because there are already 5 short rows on either side! I’ve tried on this sock at least ten times, while knitting a heel on the wrong side.

My sock has grown a frog mouth.

And I’ve found yet another way to blunder basic knitting. Teeth gnashing as it is, I’m also a bit impressed.

Thoughts about the Rockefeller shawl pattern.

Rockefeller is a pattern by knitting pop star Stephen West:

It was a mystery knit-a-long in July 2012. It had four clues:

  1. the neck part with the short row wedges
  2. the lower part with the solid coloured part and the little YO’s
  3. the outer border with the stacks of short strokes
  4. the striped wing tips

 pic by FiberRachel

I’ve knitted my own back in 2014, with some changes:

The borders run the length of the shawl, both at the top end and the bottom end. That last one is done when you knit clue 4 (the wing tips) before clue 3 (the outer border).

I also decreased faster than the pattern says in the wingtips. And between the main body part and the striped wing bits I made sure I didn’t knit a double stripe. I did this by using a prov. cast-on and prov. cast-of at begin and end of clue 1 and by starting clue 4 in sequence with clue 1 instead of just following the pattern.

Today I’m knitting a second Rockefeller. In blue and white:

The blue is Dutch Knitting Design Krokus, a lovely yarn consisting of 65% Merino, 20% Bamboo and 15% Silk. It’s a soft and draping yarn and I’m knitting it on small needles, 2,25 mm, with a firm hand.

The white is a round plied fingering weight which I knit with a slightly gentler hand. Still the white pops up and the blue drapes.

In this Rockefeller I will do the same things as I did in the purple one. The border-thing and the shorter wing tips. But this time I’m also doing lots of other tweaks to please my inner nit picker. For instance, I experimented with different Wrap & Turns:

At the bottom is a standard shadow W&T. Because the blue yarn is knitted with more tension (?) the white stitch that knits together the blue stitch and its shadow is pulled down.

In the wedge on top I knitted the shadow together not with its own stitch but with the previous stitch. I don’t know why but it worked: no more white V’s out of line.

Of course I then had to frog everything and start anew, to have consistency. Another thing I did was not picking up stitches at the outer most ends of the i-cord and also begin and end clue 1 with half a white ridge. These things will come in handy later when I want the i-cord to lie between the garter ridges and not break through it. See at the bottom right:

I’m now in clue 2 and here I don’t cut the yarns but carry them up the sides. I’m also changing the pace of the blue-white because I’m a bit weary of too neat blue-white stripes…. they soon become “Breton”…

From Breton you get to “nautical” too easy. In the Netherlands we have this nautical boasting which grew from our sea faring history, our traditional sail manufacturers, the sailing cloth that’s visible in our daily clothing and the high money sailing events that occur nowadays. It’s very much a clique.

Or perhaps I have too many fashion clique memories of the ’80s to see dark blue and white stripes just for what they are…

 Gaastra sailing clothes and experience

But also! Each Summer wannabe skippers stroll the canals around my house, wearing these shirts and a ridiculous skipper cap. I hear them loudly proclaiming all kinds of nonsense about the harbour and the weather and even my house. Go back to your plastic floatable, you ridiculous man!

 pic by passantenhaven WV de Waterpoort

How different are these tourists from the other guys that dress the same: the shanty choir singers. Now these are boating characters who know not to take themselves so seriously and to make life fun:

'Stuurloos' pic by fritscdejong

Navy blue stripes… probably unfair but I’m not a fan.

Since I have way more yarn of the blue than the white I thought to put in lots more rows of blue in clue 2 before doing a white stripe. Which I also make half as high as the pattern states.

I’m also changing the shape of the shawl. I increase far less than the pattern does because this time I don’t want a circular shawl, I want a shawl that hangs flat on my back. The pattern increases 24 stitches on each of the five increase rows. My increase rows are further apart and have maybe 16 increases, if that.

If you want, here’s my project page of the finished purple shawl, with English notes.

Paperboat by Hamlet&Heimer, a free pattern.

A Saturdaynight in with Rockefeller

I’ve started a Rockefeller shawl last week. This was my Saturday night excitement:

Grrr, one wrong stitch in the garter section. This will bug me. I’ll have to fix it.

Eep! What’s that?! A dropped stitch right at the Wrap & Turn! This is not an aesthethic problem, this is constructional!

Constructional problems need to be fixed. In this case by frogging three wedges:

Now for aesthetics… sssshh…concentrating:

Done:

Pfieeeuw!

no Countryfair for me today , no Countryfair for anybody yesterday

This weekend the Countryfair is held in a village nearby that I visit every year. It’s one of the highlights of my wool year! I host the cosy SnB table where we knit all day and eat lovely things and people can sit down and join us.

It’s a huge event with sheep and cows and brocante and food samples and a Steampunk popcorn maker and vintage and antique farm equipment and garments and prams and a adventure forest for children and dancing sheep and chicken football and hamsters and professional fencing companies and quad dealers and outragous horse breeds and cows to cuddle and reindeer and sheep dog shows and birds of prey shows and lots of felting art and supplies and lots of fleeces and so much more.

Last year I collapsed and couldn’t participate in the last two days. I brought my stretcher but it was no good:

This year I decided to go to the Organic Farm last week instead and skip the Fair. It’s just too massive and too intense for me this year. But now that the Fair is actually happening I’m quite blue and sad.

The Fair is such a lovely event! Every year I drive to the venue early in the morning. In my wool car, filled to the brim with wool examples and knits and fun things. And every year I get stuck behind an antique thresher and its antique tractor filled with hay.

It fills me with giggles as we slowly wind our way through the lovely, small scale landscape, with this High Summer atmosphere cast over the landscape. Golden grain and swallows everywhere.

The Wool-tent is a delight. I bring a nostalgic table cloth and flowers and food and glass bottles filled with water and slices of lemon and orange and mint (and salt) to make it through the hot humid day.

2012 or 2011, my very first fair:

2014:

I splurge on unsuspected wool purchases that make me happy the rest of the year.

2015:

Not this year.

I’m so sad. (I need to actively distract myself and knit and enjoy my own garden and eat lovely things at home. We’re going into the vilage and get an organic ginger ice-cream and I prepared a pinapple with whipped cream. Planning to enjoy my garden. Perhaps do some spinning outside? I made a list of things to choose from but still it’s plan B.

Then something else happened this year at the Countryfair! It got flooded. There was terrible rain all night long and the venue flooded and booths collapsed and drifted away. Lots of damage and an unsuitable terrain.

They had to cancel the first day of the three day event, something that happened only once in the decades it’s been on.

Look at this pictures of yesterday morning:

pictures by Omroep Gelderland, Gelrenieuws and Gelderlander.nl

They worked very hard all day yesterday, with help from the local Fire Departments, lots of volunteers and friends and the official water management institutions that are sprinkled all over my country (we’ve been battling water for 400 years over here, what with the country being below sea level AND receiving water from major rivers from all over Europe.)

They did it! Here’s yesterday morning and last night photo:
countryfair-2016

Visitors and vendors and hosts are advised to wear wellies and enjoy the day. Anybody with a useless ticket for yesterday is admitted freely today and tomorrow.

Please do so and have a lovely day!

Finished: teeny tiny x-mas mitten

Today, on a midsummer’s day with tropical temperatures I finished the x-mas ornament:

Shown here hanging in the house plant in our front room that has a permanent x-massy resident. Because I love reindeer and wood and Norway and possibly x-mas.

The mitten has some French knots for berries. Made in 100% silk embroidery thread.

Personalities of the birds differ from front to back. I wonder if that has something to do with the image being mirrored and knit going from either yellow to green or green to yellow. In the first picture the shape of the underbeak is helped by yellow stitches having a ^-shape. Plus tension? I don’t know.  All I know is I’ve got two birds.

100% silk

Measures about 5 cm wide (2″) and 9 cm high (3.5″)

weighs 4 grams

Is more evenly in texture than the two bottom pictures suggest. Top picture is more accurate.

Open Day at the organic farm.

This Sunday the organic farm where I get my eggs and meat and the occasional fleece was open to the public, to celebrate organic farming.

I was there with some wools and tools to show the visitors how I process the fleeces from the organic sheep and what useful things I make out of it.

It was a lovely day. Next to me were people preparing a Nepalese food called momo, using the various meats from the farm. Momo are delicious! They are steamed and sometimes fried too. The nice lady was so hospitable, she kept offering them. She was also very fast and skilled folding the momo in various shapes, to keep track of which flavour it was.

Here’s me eating a chicken one:

The farm is Laan van Wisch in Hengelo, Gelderland. It’s run by a husband and wife team and for them quality of life is the first priority. For themselves and for the animals. That’s a very refreshing business model! Rewarding too.

All animals have enough space and plenty of diversity to make for happy lives. This makes it easy for the cows to keep their horns: they have the space to figure out their hierarchy without wounding their herd fellows.

The cows at Laan van Wisch live in a herd with adults and “teens” so the teens can learn from their elders how to be a cow and not try and rear themselves and invent all kind of weird behaviour. It makes for relaxed and confident cows.

On Sunday they all gathered at the meadow gate closest to the farmyard, because of the music!

Another example is that the chickens get to keep their beaks because they are not bored or put in such close quarters that they turn on each other as is the case in farms focussing on large production instead of quality.

The chickens at Laan van Wisch have a large piece of land with a part made of gravel (to strengthen their feet), a part with sand (to scratch around in and take dust baths), a part with grass and herbs (to look for bugs) and a part forest (to go on adventure). And their coop of course, where every chicken has a separate sleeping/laying boot. The temporary farm hand, Thijs, explained all this to us. He was so knowledgable and enthousiastic!

There’s one rooster and he’s constantly calling the chickens to point out something tasty here or there. He has magnificent plumage.

Next to the chickens are the pigs. They live the good life too! Two sows and they had their piglets earlier this Spring:

This is them last Sunday:

ba

All animals on the farm get to live to adulthood before slaughtering is even thought about. For some animals slaughtering is never thought about and they get to die of old age.

The farmer gave tours on Sunday and spoke about one of his favourite cows who lived to be 21 years old. He got teary eyed just talking about her.

There was an artisan making bread in a wood stoked oven: Ben from Ben’s Houtovenbrood:

People could climb the large apple tree, aided by professionals:

It was a grand day!

Living a life of quality instead of the constant want for upscaling just might be the smartest business move of all.

most pictures in this blogpost are copyright Laan van Wisch

Souvenirs from Lithuania

My father travelled to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, on the other side of the continent from us, and asked if there was anything wool-related he could bring back for me.
Yes there is!

Lithuania has a a strong knitting tradition just like many of its neighbouring countries do (Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Russia). Each country has handknits that are characteristic of that particular country.

For Vilnius they are:

  1. beaded wrist cuffs, called Riešinės in Lithuanian.
  2. Women from the region producing hand knits and selling them in little market stalls in the capital.
  3. yarn from local sheep spun in local spinneries.

My dad got me all three of them!

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Something else Lithuania is known for is an interest in linen. Both for spinning and for garments. And knitting with unspun wool.

The cuffs, the Riešinės, are impressive!
lithuanian knits
They are knit sideways, on small needles. One has a slit for the thumb, the purple one has not.

Somehow the beads only show up on the outer side of the cuff. They are not seen nor felt on the inside, next to the skin. Perhaps because it’s done in garter stitch and the bead is positioned on the outer edge of the stitch.

Riešinės are beautiful things and very worthy of a google or etsy search.
lithuanian beaded cuffs

The socks have an interesting toe:
lithuanian knits
The decreases in the lace pattern are continued right up to the tip.

They will be marvelous to wear coming winter.
lithuanian knits

They use the same heel as we over here in the Netherlands traditionally do. A heel I know as “A Dutch Heel”. It’s wonderful how this technique spans the width of Europe and I wonder if there was any interaction between Lithuanian and Dutch knitters to share this exact same technique.

 the Hansa countries in Europe

Both countries are sea faring nations and were once members of the trans-European travel routes called Hanseatic route with which I bored you once before, pondering pan-european fairy tales. I wonder…

Like in all European cities the interest for knitting is soaring in Vilnius and my father found various signs of modern interest:

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The yarn he got at another shop, the Woolhouse, which is the biggest yarn shop in Vilnius.Address: Universiteto st. 10 ,Vilnius , post code LT-01122

It’s run by LitWool who also runs the spin plants that process Lithuanian wool. They have an online shop too. 

They have all those specific natural colours that, up until now, I only knew from the Shetland breed. It’s logical though that all traditional land breeds have this variety of colours:
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My dad got me four skeins; a warm ceam, a wool white, a fawn and a heathered grey:

These yarns contain spinning oil, added at the factory to facilitate making it into a thread. Most yarns from European sources contain spinning oil: Kauni, Letland yarns, Estland yarnd, Shetland yarns, Donegal yarns.

I wash my skeins before I use the yarn because this spinning oil affects me. I am weirdly sensitive to these mineral/vegetable oils, they somehow act like caffein to my system. I get them on my hands, then I touch my eyes or face and next thing I know I lie wide awake at night. It’s a weird thing but it’s a true thing. These oils spike the adrenergic neurotransmitters of the Sympathetic Neurosystem of which I have an easily excitably bunch who partake in a long afterparty.

I can handle the oiled yarns just fine for skeining and washing but I need to wash my hands afterwards. It also makes me aware how often I touch my face without thinking about it.

Washing is done with hot water and wool soap or dish detergent:

Untitled

Add a splash of vinegar to the last rinsing water to neutralize the pH to the value wool likes.

The yarn blooms up wonderfully! Still wet:

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I’d like to combine it in colourwork I think. A tea cosy perhaps?

Oops! The heathered grey has a lot of kemp in it. These are upper hairs that are for strength and transporting raindrops away from the skin. The skein is still wet:

Kemp hairs make for scratchy itchy sturdy yarn.

Ewww, the hairs are not secured in the yarn. A lot of them came loose during washing:

Ugh. Because I washed all four skeins together the black kemp hairs got all over and into the other skeins:

The skeins are dry now and I just spend an hour picking out all these hairs from the three remaining skeins. An hour is about as long as it takes for these photos to upload, out here at the cabin, so that was an appropriate wool blog task.

Now dreaming about what to make with these yarns.

Itty bitty tiny mitty in progress.

Around 2 o’clock in the afternoon:

Nine o’clock at night:

I pretty much knitted on this all day. Such small needles!

The silk is lovely. Bombyx 🙂

The morning was spend with carefully taking some yarn from the still somewhat damp skein:

As you can see there’s still quite a bit of yellow visible where the skein was bound. So I only took enough silk for one mitten ( I hope) and tossed the skein back into the dye pot again.

The result:

Good for the next 11 mittens. If I run out of gold I might use some whitish bombyx silk I have. White and green is also very x-massy to me.

On the first mitten I made some mistakes. The number of mistakes increases now that it’s evening so I’m stopping for the day. Besides, my ring finger is tingling now and my other ring finger is growing some thick skin for where I wrangle the needle with every stitch. So it’s time to stop.

Noticeable mistakes are that I forgot to park the thumb stitches where the pattern told me so. I just kept on knitting and stranding until it was time to decrease for the top of the thumb and then I was: “Eh?”
I decreased and separated then and there but the thumb is pretty much webbed to the body of the mitten.

Other mistakes were knitting the wrong stitch in the wrong colour. I tinked back or dropped the stitch and worked it back up in the right colour. This messes with the tension but not too much (I hope).

I stranded a little pear on the thumb.
Do not recommend, it’s not as pretty as I hoped it would be.

And in the beginning I forgot that front and back are mirrored, not the same image repeated. For that I had to rip out a couple of rows and start the stranding anew.

Oops, trying to get too much grip on the situation: