Weird Wool Wednesday: Mother of Purl

I’m knitting Narcissus pseudo-narcissus Cuff by Hunter Hammersen:

I’m using left over Wollmeise twin in Mauseschwanzchen because it’s a beautiful colour and Wollmeise gives great stitch definition.

My first cuff wasn’t that good. I had split the yarn a bit with my needle and Wollmeise didn’t forgive me so things look a bit ratty here and there. There’s some cat hair in my knitting. The cuff is a bit snug and “a bit snug” is enough reason in real life not to wear a handknit.

But mainly there’s a huge difference in width between the two columns of purl stitches:

In the middle, right between the columns of slipped stitches the knitting reads:

“k, k, k, purl, Ktbl, Ktbl, Ktbl, purl, k, k, k,”

The left column of stacked purls is way wayyyy wider than the left one, nearly twice as wide.

Obviously this is caused by a difference in tension.

So I cast on and solved for all my problems: used a slightly bigger needle; watched out not to upset the splitty yarn; kept away from shedding cats; and paid especially attention to every purl stitch and its neighbours:

Same problem?!?!

Of course I was checking nearly every row and the more I knit, the more I corrected for tension. The last 15 rows are knitted with tension so tight it really hurt my hands and nearly bend the tips of my needles. The column on the left was done as loosely as possible.

That’s right, the yarn-snapping tight stitches are the wide ones on the left, the loose flapping loose stitches are on the right of the middle.

???

It’s a puzzle. And it’s not caused by a difference in tension.

The only thing I can think of is that I’m knitting continental combined which leaves stitches in a certain way on the needles. Typically my k stitches have their right leg in front and the left leg at the back of the needle. Ktbl rotates a certain way: mine take the yarn from the previous stitch and drag it along the front to the left, leaving a looser previous stitch possible?

Just making the movement from k to p to ktbl must require more length of yarn than going from ktbl to p to k? Could be. When my Ktbl release their yarn for a new stitch, say a purl, they do so from the back, it has to peek out from under its collar and travel to the new stitch. This makes for a longer travel, especially towards a purl stitch which requires the yarn to be in the front?

??? Nah… this all should be corrected for when I tightened some stitches beyond reason and left other dangling in the wind.

I’m stumped. Which makes me dislike the cuffs. Dislike is a good enough reason in real life not to use a thing so I know better than to just soldier on. I’m very miffed at my cuffs!

Then, just I pasted the pattern picture in this post, I noticed something:

There’s some mighty difference between your purl ladders too, matey!

Looking at the various projects when people are wearing them I see them everywhere: two different purl ladders. Everyone has them and they’re never the same width. It must be the particular sequence of stitches.

I can’t unsee.

What to do….

  1. pretend I never wrote this post, knit cuffs blindly and only wear them under long sleeves
  2. see the assymmetry as a design feature and tell everyone about it when out in public
  3. fire up the brain cells and rewrite cuff part into a less offending stitch sequence

 pic by Svilen Milev

4. have a piece of pie

finished: Brioche mitts

58 grams together, on needles 2,75 mm

They are not the same. I couldn’t concentrate, I’m so worried about Lillepoes.

(she’s out of immediate danger now, she should be well enough to endure a rhinoscope tomorrow. If we find a facility that’ll take her.) (She did wash her own face today, she clearly felt more like a cat again 🙂 )

My mitts look like they’ve been made by a drunk spider:

Accidental handspun cowl ‘n mitts

I’m working on tea cosies and Deco Cardi and felt dress and other things but somehow also this happened:

A cowl/neckwarmer and two mitts. The mitts in my head are called: “tulips” for the wrist and for the part of the hand that rests on the computer keyboard. They are often in my line of sight so they need to look nice.

Knit in Brioche stitch on needles 4,5 mm. I used 157 m of aran weight yarn.

The yarn I spun myself, last October, on that annual Spinners’ Retreat. The roving is handdyed by Wolop and was bought at the annual Day of Wool & Fibres. Back then the roving reminded me of sun on snow and I wanted it dearly, even though I’m no fan of pastels or of roving with lots of white in it. But the pastels that could come from this roving… these would make me happy, I knew. I love the sun on snow, especially on a small contained scale (just your backyard, just a snow drop peaking through, just a snowflake in a macro photo. Small scale and smaller scale.)

But when I spun it it was glorious weather. We were walking barefoot in the grass.

It’s soft BFL wool. And ever since I spun it I’ve been thinking what to do with it.

The last few days my neck was cold and my aching shoulder prefers my knitting to be Brioche (why does that not hurt? Am I slower? More relaxed? I enjoy it a lot, the moment of knitting, I’m not thinking so much of the end product as I am when knitting stockinette stitch. Perhaps it’s that.).

And it’s January. The sun has become a little more bright than a few weeks back. Snow is a possibility. The skies are swept clear by winds. The land lays bare and I can look all the way to the horizon. All this makes me think of snow and mountains and little streams flowing under ice and caves with sparkling ice

I was rummaging through the stash in search of thickish yarn to make tea cosies from. And all of the above was going through my head and then I came across that beautiful skein if sunlit snowflake BFL …. so I yanked the 4,5 mm circular out of the Deco Cardigan and just started knitting. In that Double Dutch Brioche technique I unvented. I knit from both the outside and the inside of the ball and I weighed the yarn carefully when I was making the mitts, so they both would be about the same size. I started with the cowl though, estimating the amount of stitches I had to cast on.

This is how I thought: well, it’s basically akin to ribbing. So I’ll just do the thing I do for ribbing which is circumference x gauge – 10%.

Because I’m knitting with aran weight and my 4,5 mm needles so much I knew the gauge pretty well. (14 st/10 cm). For the cowl I cast on 4 x 14 = 56 – 5 = 50 (I needed it to be even). The cowl is worked top down and I increases + 8 once and + 16 on the second time.

For the mitts I cast on 20 st. (15 cm x 14 st = 21 – 1 = 20 st) and increases 4 once and then 8.

Ahh, so happy with this!

The colours, the softness, the brioche squishyness, the warmth. Yes, a fine in between project that gives fast results that are functional.

(note to self: I need to buy more 4,5 mm Red Lace circulars. It’s services both my default spinning thickness and all the Irish aran that keeps appearing in my house. One is just not enough.)(also: buy some more erasers. They keep disappearing.)

Weird Wool Wednesday: not wearing mittens #2

The octopus mittens have made something clear: I adore mittens. Yet I want to wear wristwarmers all the time. Not mittens.

But there are so many lovely mitten designs out there! I want to knit them all. Own them all!
For example these lovely dandelion mittens I yearn for every Spring:

Dandelion Mittens by Natalia Moreva

But who needs mittens in Spring? I don’t. Not even dandelion mittens.
But I do need dandelions in wool on my hands!

So here’s my solution:
Dandelion handwraps. Mitts. Wristwarmers.

Dandelion mitts

It’s the same pattern as the mittens but without the thumb gusset or the decreases in the top.

They are knitted by the lovely Yarncontaminated with Evilla like yarn from Wool & Yarn that I provided. The greens are fabric dyed colours, the yellow is white that I dyed myself. The purple is another shetland type yarn I tripped over in the stash and it’s combined with a strand of Lang Yarn Alpaca Superlight, for fluffiness. To resemble the dandelion fluff. The fluff doesn’t show yet.

These mitt(en)s are knit at a very tight gauge and the alpaca halo didn’t get a chance to wriggle free yet. But perhaps with use it will.
A tight gauge is good, it will prevent wear (which is the reverse of the halo showing, I could have guessed)

Dandelion mitts

It’s stranded knitting which means a double layer of warmth. They’re lovely to wear when my hands are resting on the cold metal of the Apple laptop ( = a MacBook I think. It’s silver.)
There’s no thumb because frankly I don’t particular like the restraint around my finger.
They wear like superlong sleeves. Which is comfortable. My hands hide in them and are warm.

Dandelion mitts

I think I’ve found a way to wear ALL THE MITTENS

morphing mittens into wristwarmers

Last year I purchased these wonderful mittens:
Untitled

They were sold when knitters and divers supported a good cause and I had intended them for a dear friend.

The pattern is Octopus Mittens by Emily Peters.

Unfortunately the mittens were too tight. For her and also for me, especially the left one:

See how the fabric stretches around my hand? It’s too close a fit, it will make the hand cold. Here, let me point out my protruding little hand bone (“connected to the yarn bone connected to the knit stick connected to …“:

Too tight 😦
cold hands 😦

But these mittens are so darling! With the octopus and the cause and the colours! And the yarns! Let me tell you about the yarns.

The green one is Unicolours from Dutch brand Handdyed Wool. Colour Golf Green. Beautiful dreamy green!

The brown is Cephalopod Skinny Bugga!, colour Ghost Moth. Skinny Bugga! is a darling yarn amongst knitters for years. When the two-woman company traversed into two one-woman companies they both took Skinny Bugga! with them. That’s how great the yarn is.
This one is from Cephalopod Yarns which has stopped dyeing only last July but check out their logo:

Cephalopod yarn and a misty green for octopus mittens? Yeah baby!
You understand I wanted to keep these for myself and was adamant to adjust them into something wearable.

Nelleke, please prepare yourself, because I took scissors to these mittens…

I opened the top of the left one and unravelled it. At the straight part I then bound off. This mitten was so tight I was going to wear it upside down, so the narrowest part would be around my wrist.
Mittens to mitts

I also opened the thumb, it had to go.
The cuff has a double layer and that makes the mitten too narrow to wear it as the top around my hand.
Mittens to mitts

So I undid it and folded the hem back out again. Instantly more give.
Mittens to mitts

This is how I’m going to wear it. It sits nice and comfortably around my hand, no tightness whatsoever.
Mittens to mitts

I do have to fix the thumb gussets. But as of yet did not have any idea how.

First the second mitten: I opened up the top and unravelled. This one is loose enough to wear around my hand as is. That’s good because I’ll have at least one octopus facing me the right way up.
Mittens to mitts

Because I want to match the mitts I decided to knit a border on top of this one in the brown that came from the unravelling of the tops.

Now I turned my attention to the thumb gussets. For a moment I thought about making them into little pockets, to carry my ear plugs and Hydrocortisone pills in (the two things I need to take everywhere. Which is why I’m talking about pockets when talking sweaters. And why my bra is often bulky. Not in a good way)

Deciding against little “wristpockets” because I’ll drag them through soup and tea I now knew the extra fabric had to go. So I unravelled all the stitches that made up the gusset and stared at it for a bit.
Then I cut through a lot of them. Just not the bottom three or four rows. They could be long floats on the inside.
Mittens to mitts

The rest now were long enough floats to cut through the middle and weave them in, closing the gap in the mean time.

Some chapters of audio book Harry Potter (read by Stephen Fry!) later and the surgery was done. Only need to snip away the remaining bits from the woven in ends.
Mittens to mitts

Look on the inside before snipping away the excesses:
Mittens to mitts

Finished. Here shown how they were knitted, bottom up mittens:
Mittens to mitts

And here’s how I wear them, wristwarmers. The left one got two rows of green and one row of green purls before I started on the brown border. I used every cm of brown I had. It’s still a bit shorter than its brother but that’s fine:
Mittens to mitts

Celapholod wristwarmers.
One has a double layered cuff, one just a simple bind off. But they are long and will usually live inside the sleeves of my sweater/shirt.

The fabric is lovely and souple, being of fingering thickness yarns. The yarns are both soft, the Skinny Bugga! especially. I’ve been wearing the while typing this and I just can’t stop. Can’t stop wearing them, can’t stop typing.

They can do with a blocking, it will even out the stitches I added, especially the brown top on the left one.
But we’ll see if I ever get around to doing that. I think we can all be proud that I wove in all the ends!

Love my mitts! Loved this adventure. Loved this dyer.

Finished: mitts for Francis

They are so soft!

I wrapped them up with a bow and took them with me to the organic farm shop Francis runs. But she wasn’t there, she was at the shop at her own farm De Laan van Wish.

Both my husband and the girl who does work on this farm said it would be much nicer if I gave the mitts to Francis myself, even though it might be a couple of weeks before I get to see her again. So I didn’t leave them at the shop but took them home with me again.

Finished: Frileuse Mitts

I gave them white borders, from Knitpicks Lace held double. Appropriately soft next to the handspun.

These are excellent computermitts, what with the cold metal of the MacBook pro (I thínk I have a MacBook pro… I’m not sure. It’s the one with the cold metal casing)
I’m wearing them right now 🙂

I’ll be taking them off later on though. I’m leaving for a sheep wool fair in a bit, wouldn’t want my new mitts to become greasy and dirty on their first day.
It’s Dag van de Wol (the Day of Wool) I’ll be visiting. Trucking over there all by myself, in my knitter’s automobile.

I’ll see if I can take some pictures for you. It’s a friendly, small scale event. At a farm where they breed horses (for milking I think?)

In previous years there was a guy with a harmonica…. and someone herding geese through the horse barn it’s held in. The geese feet swirled all the dust in the air, covering all the people and yarn and wool in dust.
I think they stopped with the geese.

“doing wool” at the fair

I got a lot done last weekend, whilst sitting at the fair.
I worked a little on the Rockefeller but I got nasty tingling in my right arm so I changed it for some shoulder friendly Brioche:

It’s nearing completion and I’m already thinking what to do next in brioche stitch.

As we sat at out table chatting, it was an excellent opportunity to give these mitts new thumbs. The old ones were too tight and prevented me from wearing these.
New thumbs:

Old thumbs:

Before they had better matching colours, the thumbs. But after a year of waiting on new thumbs AND weaving in all the ends, I think these are great.

I also got a lot of spinning done at the fair:

That’s one big bobbin full of singles and some of it is already plied onto the bobbin on the left.

As this is Long Draw spinning and I spin turned to the left side I was a perfect demonstration spinner at the fair. Sat sideways along the path and making those long arm motions I got a lot of people fascinated.

Men were particularly interested in the wheel. It’s a modern all round wheel with at least 25 gears and a lot of ball bearings and good balance which is important when spinning at the great speed Long Draw requires. So there was lots to talk about and show and explain.

The back of my wheel, with all the gears.

Here there’s only one green belt attached, it’s in single modus. In the other picture you can see that at the moment I have another belt attached, to engage the second pulley. But it’s still on a medium fast capacity.
When I spin the singles of this Hampshire Down it’s on yet a different configuration and will be on one of the fastest ratio.
The fastest gear is used when I spin non-sheep short stapled fibres in Long Draw such as yak or baby camel. Or cotton. These fibres don’t have interlocking scales on the individual strands such as sheep wool does.
They need lots and lots of twist and virtual no pulling on the thread by the wheel.

The many children were mesmerized by the magic happening in my hand: a cloud of sheep wool turning into a thread, right before their eyes!

And they wanted to know where on the wheel Sleeping Beauty had pricked her finger.

Finished: Oak Grove MITTS

I finished the mitts for which I got the yarn and the pattern in the swap I mentioned earlier.


I like them a lot. The yarn is wonderfully soft and gleams with the silk.
I did make two different mitts…

on the left is the mitt that mostly followed the pattern, except for the ribbing which I mistook for 2×2 in stead of 1×2. And I moved the leaf higher up the hand (on both mitts).

On the right is my own design. Because I thought that most of the mitts made from the pattern had quite a bulge where the ribbing of the wrist went into the hand. Because ribbing alternates knit and purl stitches there is a thread running from back to front of the knitting all the time. This provides lots of extra stretch. That’s why when knitwear transfers from ribbing into (reversed) stockinette stitch a knitter normally decreases 10% of the stitches. For example at hems of sweaters and cuffs of cardigans.

In this picture my own design is on the left. On the right lots of bulge.

Overall very pleased. A very nice way to make a gift my own and to enjoy in the colours someone else has as her favourite.

Weird Wool Wednesday: Summer Knitting

I need to finish up three sweaters and knit 12 blocks for the blanket and crochet 4 cats for my other blanket. I have three lace shawls on the needles. Three fleeces on two spinning wheels (this requires planning and shuffling skills) and another two raw fleeces waiting to be skirted and washed. I have various projects planned for July (which is running out fast!) and still some plans left over from June. There is silk, linen and cotton waiting on my table to be made into typical Summer projects.

yet somehow:

I’m cranking out mitts like nobody’s business.

It’s the only thing I do. It’s a sweltering 34 degrees Celsius over here, a heatwave we are not used to. Wool is sticking to my hands. Who needs mitts now? Still I have queued another two patterns for mitts and am looking through the stash for fitting yarns.