Finished: Winter Walk Mittens

It’s the middle of Summer, poppies are making seed, the jackdaws are picking trash from the can and I finished a pair of winter mittens:

The pattern is Winterwalk Mittens by Simone Kereit. A top-down mitten pattern for any yarn and any gauge and any hand. Even weirdly big scoopy hands growing on little twiggy wrists:

Made from my wonderful handspun. Well, the batts were wonderful anyway, made by “the wool smith” in Norway, given as part of a fairy tale swap, back in 2010, which are the magical dark ages as far as my woolly career is concerned.

I was very happy to knit these and will be happy to wear them, bringing some of that magic to the city.


Designing Concrete Cardi for a practical wool nymph

Do you remember my love for Concrete cardigan by Nicole Feller-Johnson?

It has this lovely textured back panel and I thought it would look smashing in thick handspun yarn, back when I preferred to knit vests beginning from the back panel, not top-down or bottom-up.

I casted on, back in November 2016, and elongated the back so it could become a proper length vest or even cardigan:

I then put it in hibernation about a year ago because the neckline was way too wide at the back and the arm holes were not functional enough for me and I didn’t know how to fix it. I could have guessed these issues by looking better at the pattern photo’s:

Concrete is knit sideways and meant to be decorative first and functional second and looks best on elegant and flat chested nymphs. I guess a year ago was still delusional about my knitting skills and my nymph like nature.

Here we are today. I’m at the cabin, the mushroom yarns have been rinsed for the final time:

I brought the sparkly Sunshine on Snow pullover (Crazy Stripes) in fingering weight to work on and I have worked on it but now I’m want a break and it’s cold so I feel all adult-y and ready to pick up a thick vest WIP and knit for my real body:

This panel is too small. Do not think this will be wearable. This I have learned from Mushroom Dyed Vest. This piece of knitting here really is just the back panel of a vest, without the side bits with the decreases for an armhole.

These armholes do not work for me. I want normal armholes. Shaped armholes. “Decrease, increase. Pick up stitches, knit a sleeve, if you must.” kind of armholes. I will not be distracted by the holes in this piece of fabric, this panel has no armholes. Yet.

I could add side bits to this back panel for that but that would require sideways knitting. Which I think is a bit too weak a fabric to have at this point in the garment. I will knit the side bits the regular way, top down, while I knit the front bits.

That leaves me with this existing back panel that has two vertical slits in it. Vents. A bit cold for me. I cannot rip them out and reknit because the panel is knitted outwards from the centre and then continued at the bottom. I have no tail to pull. Two vents…. a good place to insert fairy wings I guess.
pattern Enchanted Ivy Wings by Lisa Jelle
Still a bit cold though and me being such a practical wool nymph… I’ll sew them shut.

OK. Next problem. The neckline is too wide and I get cold there —> I would like a normal vest shape, with two shoulder straps. How do I give that to this piece?

Well, in these wool woods there’s no stitch marker police. I am allowed to rename the existing ones at the top edges “shoulder point stitchmarkers” and add new ones in I’ll call “inner shoulder seam point”. Voilá, shoulderstraps created.

Right. Final problem: what is the front going to look like?

I’ll be descending into the front panels from the two shoulder seams/straps. I need a neck line shape (I usually do V-shape). And I need a decision about texture. Large horizontal ribs like the lower back? The bottom border will be high and ribbed, just like the back. The sleeve cuffs too.

I won’t mirror the square panel on the front, I don’t think that is flattering on me.
I could do a wide collar? And by that I mean a wide lapel. I’ll think about all this as I sew the vents shut. In the mean time I’ll ponder this yarn because it’s an old and dear one.

It is 400 grams, 700 meters, of a short stapled organic fleece, from a breed akin to Zwartbles. I spun it back in January 2010, all in one weekend for my very first spin-along. I was still fairly new to Ravelry and spinning and still very ill. I had just moved into the cabin with Lillepoes, who helped with the spinning:

Spinning short staple longdraw on a Louet S10 without modifying its pull! Lucky is the beginner who doesn’t know she’s working against the grain.

Since then I’ve tried to knit the yarn into a Wrenna Cardigan but the open lace work looked horrible in the thick round yarn. This pattern needs soft bulky yarn that fills up the yarn overs:
 pattern Wrenna by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes:

For Concrete Cardi the yarn is perfect. No holes, just play with knits and purls. I’ll see where all this inspiration takes me for the front panels.

finished: handspun cat ears hat

I amended the pattern and kitchenered the top while making the cables turn one more time:pattern Cabled Cat Ears Hat by Lorna Watt. It has amazing well designed ears.

I used 112.0 meters (122.5 yards), 77 grams, of the handspun Saxon Merino, on needles 6 mm. It’s a tad smaller yarn than the pattern calls for so I added some more rows and some more stitches.

Finished: handspun Feather and Fan shawl

My plan for larger stripes at the bottom did not work out as well as I thought. I’m also not convinced about the obvious “stripeyness” of this shawl, I prefer the more toned down green one.

Still, I’m wearing it today. It’s nice and soft and just as functional as my green one. I think when worn the colours may blend in with each other, conveying a greyish purply shawl. Definitely less contrast then the green one.

It’s the same size as the shawl Ribbels made:

I used up all the 100 grams and all the 357 m. I think I got 1 m left of the Dutch Wool Diva Sassy.

I made some yarns.

One more silk ball spun into yarn:

74 meters out of 20 grams, fingering weight. Worsted spun.

The “bunny batts” that Gwen the Random Knitter gave me at the Knit&Knot Wool fair:
 Two skeins of 68 meters, each in a gradiënt.

I dyed 500 grams of a Merino sport in a nice cool light grey:

(Cake for white value.)

It’s for a Pumpkin Ale cardigan which will have a different cable motif on the back panel, I’m leaning towards the cables from A Floral Affair, by Hanna Maciejewska:

The dyed yarn is beautifully soft and bouncy. And round plied. Very good for cables. I dyed it in my big pot. 5 skeins of 100 grams can be swished around in it comfortably, ensuring a reasonably even dye.

The skeins for the workshop Mushroom Dyeing are properly mordanted now:

The wool bloomed beautifully. No spinoil residu. But they do feel a bit sticky because of the alum.

And I just finished plying this Merino Silk blend:

Dyed by Passe-Partout, spun into aran weight, 80 grams, 180 meters

This roving was fractal spun:

I took out some of the bright pink and also some of the bordeaux on the single with the short colour repeats. Because I wanted a yarn with a little less contrast.

The idea is to knit another Rikke hat, in a more greenish colourway:

Right, I’m off to set some twist.


Finished: Cashmere cowl, Rikke hat and handspun.

pattern Pudorosa neckwarmer by Lia Moya
I used 24 grams of the 100% cashmere. Needles 3,75mm

So stylish! This will be very welcome in the Fall in the city. The colour is excellent.

Rikke hat is finished and blocked too:

pattern Rikke Hat by Sarah Young. I used up all the handspun I had: 70 grams in the hat and 5 grams in the pompom.

It’s rather big but I’ve been assured this is hip. So I’m expecting compliments from random dudes with manicured beards and fixed gear bicycles soon. Or is that not hipster, complimenting strangers in the street? We’ll find out this Fall, stay tuned.

The handspun for the vest is also finished and the twist is set:

It’s so bouncy! 682 m of sportsweight going on DK. Handspun always needs a bigger needle than commercial yarn of the same weight.

I put in a marker at the end of the skein that’s more variegated than the other. A reminder that I want to start a top down vest from the other end of the skein and have the more heathered fabric at the hem of the vest.

The coloured single was plied with a merino/bombyx silk single which is not a cool bright white but more of a warm toned off-white. The whole skein now has a warmish tone to it. Not something I favour at this moment but come Winter I’ll probably be glad with it.

I’ve already chosen a pattern: Flinders Sweater Vest :

Top down, a round neck, seamless, with raglans to shape the neck opening. I started this pattern with the sibling handspun of this skein, the green(purple), last November. But I tried to be smarter than the pattern and it went all wrong:

I frogged it and made Hilja vest  with the green(purple) instead:

after I rewrote Hilja into a top down approach. Which I find too fiddly for this time so top down Flinders it will be! As soon as I’m done staring the handspun dry.

This was all photographed in the last minute of sunshine. After this it turned dark and rain clouds gathered. It’s expected to last the rest of the week but we’ll see.

Biasknitting: seaming blocks together.

Here’s how my Blue Texel Shetland wrap looks like at the moment:

Three strips seamed together. The two outer strips are zig zags and knitted on the bias.

A biased knitted block has much more stretch than a regular knitted block. So what stitch to chose to seam blocks together and preserve that stretchy quality?

Normal used seaming stitches for knitted blocks are mattress stitch or whip stitch. Both are not really stretchy. You can get away with them for regular knitting because you usually use the seams as some sort of strengthening of a plane such as a blanket and/or reinforcing the shape of a design such as the side seams in a garment.

After much procrastination debate I settled on a handsewn zig zag stitch, made with sewing thread. Normally you stay away from sewing thread because it can fray and cut the knitting yarn. But I wanted invisible colours because with all the bulky and multicoloured knitting sewing with a distinct coloured yarn wouldn’t look neat.

There are various stretchy zig zag stitches in the land of hand sewing:

What’s also unusual is that I used a flat seam. I placed one block on top of the other and sewed them together. Instead of putting right side to right side and folding the fabric open later. It’s called a flat seam I think? I chose the block that had the nicest looking edge to go on top.
I did this so it wouldn’t be too bulky.

Here’s my bias block sewed onto a regular knitted block:

Now the wrap is finished and I can think about a border but it wasn’t an easy finish. I had a very false finish first:

I miscalculated how high the strip on the left should be. During knitting I measured it numerous times and held it to both the middle strip and the right strip so I really don’t understand how it happened.

Maybe I measured by putting the “spines” together, the vertical ridges. The zig zags may have thwarted me because they do not run level. At the left bottom the dark grey triangle is much higher than it’s partner next to it. All the stripes in the left piece of knitting run askew as a result of this.

This was made very clear to me when I put two stitchmarkers near the top to indicate how high the strip actually ought to be. They are pale purple circle markers. One in the spine on the right, in the dark grey stripe. The other is in the midgrey stripe, just under the white-with-the-black-streak.

These two stitchmarkers are at the same height. They are level, horizontally speaking. You’d hardly believe it, the marker on the left looks to be som much lower!

Here’s proof that the two stitch markers are at the same level, I folded the piece of knitting on one of its spines. The bottom is at the same line, the edges run perpendicular. And the stitchmarkers are at the same height:

Seeing this really hurt. Bias knitting that plays with skews really isn’t for the foggy brained.

I’d have to frog everything until I reached the first stitchmarker, whichever that would be. No! The LAST stitchmarker!
Because that one indicates where bindoff should already be happening while I knitted further on the rest until is got high enough to start binding off there too.
Am I explaining this in a way you can understand? If not I felt exactly like you do….

Here I’m pointing to the row that the left stitchmarker indicates. I will have to frog till there and then start binding off around that left stitchmarker because that’s the maximum height the strip ought to get:

Boohoo! All that knitting has to be frogged.

For a while I contemplated another solution:

But I didn’t. Mainly because securing a cut piece of knitting is frustrating. And I’m sure I’d all kind of other problems, trying to secure it in a bias stretchy appropriate way.

I frogged dutifully and when I hit the first stitchmarker I started to count how many rows I had to frog until I hit the second marker. 15 rows. That’s how askew the zig zags run. I’m sure if I measure the difference in rows between the two triangles at the bottom it will come to 15.
As soon as I pick up these last stitches I’ll start binding off around that spine. First only at the left so that part’s done. Then I’ll start knitting right from the marker to the end of the row, continueing to increase and decrease at the “spines” according to the bias pattern  but each time I reach this side I’ll bind off one stitch on every row. (Both RS and WS, this will create a horizontal edge.)

I will have to continue knitting 15 more rows until the spine where the other stitch marker used to be is at the same height. Which will also be the height of the piece this strip will be seamed on.

That’s what I did and now I have a new edge and it’s as high as the knitted strip on the left that I attached to it. The top is level, even though it looks a bit wonky now due to how I’m holding it:

Now thinking about a border. iCord is beautiful but I’m afraid to run out of yarn. I could pick up stitches (ratio for biased knitting??) and do a rolling border. Probably make it roll the other side: have reverse stockinette stitch on this side.

Because indeed: the knitting curls quite a bit at the moment… Block first, border second?

I’ll sleep on it for a bit. In the mean time I’m already using this lovely knitting. As a wrap, as a lap blanket. It’s so soft and cosy and warm!

And I really like how the zig zags play with your eyes. If the border evens things out you can clearly see that the zig zags do not run level, that there are all kind of things happening here:

Progress on Handspun Green Vest

I’ve finished the body of Hilja sweater vest. It’s such a happy knit!
I’ve got stitchmarkers, my favourite ones, that go perfectly with the yarn and now every stitch is a joy to look at:


Sometimes I think that knitting (and spinning) is all about the colours and only about the colours.

That that’s why knitting and spinning fits us, colour crazed beings; in the same wondrous way that cat companionship fits humankind.
Cats identify with their fur, they like it washed, touched, stroked. And we, humans, like to “watch” with our hands. We love to touch things, we have sensitive finger tips, we revel in tactiles/touchables.

Put these two characteristics together in a room and you’ve got two species reinforcing each others’ coincidental happiness.

Throw in a bit of cod for dinner and you’ve got best friends for life who allow all the petting and cuddling you like, as long as there’s a snack at the end of it:

As humankind is an eye-species as much as it’s a touch-things-species I think that’s why we breed cats in such various shapes and colours, just to please our eyes while we indulge our hands. It’s not something I favour because it does not benefit the cats… but I see how it plays into our eye-addiction.

As far as the knitting goes, my colour indulgence is over, the body is finished. I went on to the ribbing at the neck and arms.
I picked up stitches at the neck and did a 1×1 ribbing (on a smaller needle, 3 mm instead of the 3,75mm):

But I didn’t like how it looked. It’s too…. crude. Too scruffy. Not refined enough to wear amongst city folk.

I thought that a commercial yarn would look better. It would show deliberate contraposition between the handspun and the commercial yarn.

I chose a colour with quite a bit of contrast. I can handle contrast because my darkish hair has quite a bit of contrast with my fair skin and when I mirror this in clothing it makes me look healthy. (Although in 2014 I’ve grown grey from the stress and the contrast in the vest will now be a bit harsher than my own but that’s ok, it may make me look a bit more stern but I’m ok with that. Besides, I don’t have any other good yarn and this is a really nice one, it has some cashmere in it.)

I knitted 2 cm of 2×2 ribbing on the first arm hole and it looks very nice:

So tidy!
And just the contrast in texture with the handspun I was looking for. It seems to say what I want it to say, that its companion, the bodice, is made with a designed yarn. Yarn of a chosen, deliberate texture. Not something a well willing amateur made who couldn’t do any better.

The bind off is Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off done from the wrong side so it gives a nice edge on the right side.

I’m a bit sorry the knitting part is over for the handspun. I really enjoyed it, both in colour and tactiles. Soft wool, silk and vintage glass beads, that’s a high for me.