Finished: stranded cuffs

I was so happy with the yarn that after I finished the socks on Friday I used the remnants to make some wristwarmers:

I’ve just finished them, casting off the brioche top as we were driving from the cabin back to the city on Monday morning.

Four days for a chique pair of wristwarmers!
Considering this weekend had lovely Spring weather and I spend hours puttering about in the garden that’s a good result.

I made them with the same pattern as my green/white Fair Isle Cuffs that I wear a lot: Fair Isle Cuffs by Julie Williams.

It’s different when you use variegated yarn instead of a different colour for each row like the green ones. I think I prefer the latter. But the former knits faster.

With the green cuffs I did a beautiful photoshoot when they were finished. In the snow, with magical morning sunlight:

I should do one with these too, now with this beautiful Spring weather and the first trees in full bloom. There are some closeby. 30 minutes ago:

cat cherry tree speing

Even in my back garden, Magnolia, Ribes and Rosemary, 30 seconds ago:


But then I ought to block them first. And also get up from the sofa where I’m doing my photographing and writing at the moment:

That’s a cat on my blanket on my legs. I think we’ll all stay here for a while and enjoy the sunny spots:


3 minutes later. Complicating factors.
now where do I keep my knitting? and my laptop?


Rockefeller in progress

This thing knits itself!

We don’t mind at all that we haVE to spend a lot of time on the couch, recuperating from that knitters’ picknick last weekend.

To wash out the cat’s snoring I’m watching selected BBC interviews from the last century: Richard Feynman, Buckminster Fuller, Dali, David Nevin and Jacob Bronowski.
It’s wonderful to look back and recognize points of view, ways of thinking and era atmospheres.

All the while stopping the video to count stitches or to think or to just admire my knitting. Here I am, halfway trough cue 2.
The colours are amazing!

cutting the blue wire

I started a Rockefeller shawl, one of the two-toned shawls I’ve been looking forward to for ages now.

Beforehand I did a lot of colour mixing and matching to find the two yarns I wanted to put into this shawl.
There was contrast and saturation and hue to consider. But in the end it all comes down to: properly framing this handspun:

It’s 466 m handspun from 140 grams of BFL/Silk batts I got as a birthday present from Kooldutchlady.

Pretty soon after spinning the yarn I knew I wanted this yarn in a Rockefeller Shawl.
And it needs a well chosen second yarn to play with.

So about 6 months ago I forced half of the Dutch Karma Group to help me choose the second colour.
My main inspiration is this shawl of one of my Karma friends:

Rockefeller Shawl by Kooldutchlady. (there are no coincidences)

Amazing colour choices! And some clever modifications to the pattern such as the continuation of the borders and smoothness between Clue 1 and 4.
But the colours! To choose that yellow to go with an aqua handspun? genius!

In return for my nagging for advice the Karma Group forced invited me to articulate precisely what it is about Kooldutchlady’s colours that I find so amazing. If I could analyze the colour thingies going on here I could perhaps apply the same thing to my handspun.

I tried. (links to Dutch conversation. Stay here if you want to get the gist in English)
Here’s a close up of her shawl, to really show you the colours:

The yellow brings something entirely new to the table!
It takes the handspun into an unexpected direction. Without upstaging it. How come?

How did Kooldutchlady arrive at this particular yellow?

The handspun is mainly blues and turqoise. There are some hints of yellow in it but also hints of purple.
The yellows are not nearly as saturated as the solid skein is…
Is it the saturated turquoize that allows for such a saturated yellow?

And to put it next to the purple… that takes some guts! The Yellow makes the purple pop:

In terms of darkness there is not much contrast between the two yarns. One is not darker than the other.
I went as far as to look at the shawl in grey tones:

And at our yarns:

Left Kooldutchlady’s handspun, mine is on the right.
My skein looks like it has more contrast…

After these thoughts me and my friends tried to think about my handspun in a similar fashion.
We thought about purples, about pinks and even greens and yellows. But mostly we thought about silvery greys or blues. These were eye openers for me. Clear cold morning blues… they would work beautifully with my yarn!

If it’s true that my handspun has quite a bit of contrast within itself I need to address that. There’re pronounced dark bits and light bits. To play with the light bits seemed like fun and it would provide a clear contrast to the dark bits.

I put some light colours next to the skein. Grey colours, blue colours, dusty pink colours.
Some made the light parts of the yarn speak loudly. Some made them recede. Some made them grey.

After a thorough discussion with my friends and much holding yarns together I decided upon a pale blue colour to frame the handspun. It’s a laceweight I have in my stash and keeping it triple would still give me the yardage I need.
Yesterday I casted on:

The yarn is greyish blue. Much grey.


It yields a very floppy fabric, perhaps because I’m holding a thin lace weight triple.

But the blue. This is such a meh blue!
It makes me sigh looking at it, never mind knitting it. I would knit with it because in the end it would give a smashing shawl.
Only it doesn’t.

This particular muted greyish blue does not grab the handspun by the hands and takes it for a swirl. Instead it just lays there snoozing, shedding, expecting the stripes to do their magic all by themselves.
pic by Adrian Denegar

This is not going to be a shawl with any of the vitality Kooldutchlady’s shawl has.
Chosing a colour that is both lighter than the handspun ánd less saturated than most of the handspun probably was a mistake. Especially in a design where that yarn’s role is as a framework for the the handspun. I should have thought more of Tiffany lamps and less about … I dunno… using what’s in my stash.

Should I have gone for a brighter, fresher light blue like the ones a lot of my friends suggested? There were pictures of crisp icy mornings in Finland….

Or should I remember that I don’t like to knit with blues anyway?

A real dark colour could also work:

This is a charcoal silk (which I’ll definitely will not be using because it’s one of a pair destined for a Summers Top and also silk is too drapey for this shawl. It needs a round yarn with nice round garter stitch knitting. Yarn like Wollmeise.)

Six months ago we did ponder dark colours. We had some concerns that it would result in a shawl that’s too flashy. A shawl that would wear me and not the other way around.
It’s when people notice your garment first and then you. They should see you first, notice how healthy and radiant you look (which is aided by the colours and contrasts you wear).
Too dark a colour may overwhelm me?

Still I love (to knit with) the dark colours. Charcoal, dark green, Dark Purple.
Some of which happen to lie on my table in WIPform: Charcoal Summer Top; Dark Blue Peabody Sweater and Fliederbush Purple Tunic. Let’s combine:

Each colour brings out something different in the handspun. Of course I’m showing you terrible pictures here. None of these colours are true to the colourthings I see happening here on my table.

The Charcoal makes the light bits of the handspun pop.
The Peabody brings out the grey in them.
The Purple connects with the intense purples of the skein and emphazises the blues. It also makes all the light bits light blue, nothing grey to see.
The Fuchsia brings the middle tones of both the blues and the pinks to the front and makes the light bits a whitish blue.

Looking at it I conclude that the Purple makes all the colours in this skein pop. Yes, I’m going with purple.

Purple in a nice round yarn that will make the garter stitch rows look like little strings of pearls. A nice round yarn that will keep the shawl together both colourwise and shapewise. Yes, I’ll need a purple round yarn in a yardage that matches that of my handspun.

So please meet 100% pure Wollmeise in the colourway Fliederbusch.
The colour is pretty close to the handspun I’m using for my lace tunic and it’s the kind of purple that we in Holland call “pimpelpaars”.
It’s as purple as purple gets.

Colourway Fliederbusch on the various yarn bases of Wollmeise. Picture from the German Wollmeise Fan Group on Ravelry

When in doubt, go pimpelpurple.

Flip Flop Summer knitting

I’ve started the lace tunic from my own pattern. To try it out. I’m thinking of not putting lace in but embroidering it with a nice fuchsia handspun:

Both yarns are not soft enough to wear next to the skin but as a tunic or pinafore they’re great.
That fuchsia will liven up the dark purple!

The embroidering might be crochet-wise:

Supermitts! by Jacqui Harding, with surface-crochet

or it can be knit-wise:

This is Middlemarch by Miranda Davies, a free pattern in the Knitty.

I like the idea of allowing lace knitting to perform on a stage of stockinette stitches. While knitting it.

(This pattern only has two projects added to the Ravelry database. Such a pity! It’s been on my radar for years now.)

So I’ve started the tunic, at the back panel. I’ve made a provisional cast on and worked the back panel upwards.

Bound off in the middle but continued the cabled shoulder straps towards the front. Then I will cast on for the front panel.
That’s when I have to decide wether to knit a lace pattern or to keep it plain. (We already know that I’ll keep it plain. But I like to pretend I’m still reasoning about it. For one thing: embroidery of any kind will make this tunic an eye catcher. And I already have a lot of eye catchers in my wardrobe. Perhaps I need more plain clothes to function as a base for the other eye catchers to sparkle on?
But plain clothes are not very fun to knit. A fuchsia embroidery tunic is fun to knit. But embroidery takes time, it is not very efficient… I like to get results, fast.

On and on this goes in my head. All the way to the front panel. Without making the definite decisions. Or, to be more honest: without owning up the the decision I’ve already made.)

All these tinkering thoughts are frivolous. Because:

stockinette stitch struggles!

Of course the bottom part curls up. It’s what stockinette stitch does. Once I unravel the provisional cast on and pick up stitches to knit the skirt downwards it will lay flat.

The problem is at the top, where I bound off in the middle.
I ended the panel with a bit of ribbing. Ribbing prevents knitting curling up.
But it doesn’t prevent the transition from to ribbing to flip.

The dreaded Flipping Border Band.
Techknitter has researched both the vertical and the horizontal phenomenon.
I’m dealing with the horizontal one. It needs fixing.

Here’s a view of the landscape at the moment:
We stare into the distance, looking over purple flat plains that could harbour embroidery of various types.
Our view of the horizon is obstructed by the Majestic Flip Ridge.

All traveling plans towards the front panel and a purple tunic are suspended until we know how to conquer this ridge.

spinning colours under the tree

I should show you the little braiding studies I did this weekend. It was fun.

But instead of taking the few little pictures I need to illustrate it…. I’ve been spinning all my free time, sitting outside under the beech in the beautiful weather we are having.

I’m spinning a dent in that fibre exchange I told you about, where we exchanged bits of 20 grams.

Just tonight I started some nice purple rolls, they are rolled so loosely I can draft backwards and let the twist even out, just as with rolags and Long Draw:

(it’s on top of the Hampshire Down, which I’m also spinning. This is a big nono amongst spinners because now I’m forced to finish the purple rolls first before I can continue with the Hampshire Down. What is I run out of purple steam? What if I’m attacked by a Hampshire craving? Well, there are always empty bobbins to be filled. The Hampshire Down is a 2 ply so it needs a partner bobbin filled anyway before it can be used.)

There were orange irregular singles which I pleid with a very thin thread of silk hanky I drafted quickly. I quite like drafting hankies!
I see possibilities for the stack of gorgeous red purple hankies in the top picture!

With this orange yarn, I’d like to see up close if there’s something I can learn about the appropriate intensity of colour and thickness of a thread when you want to ply it with a single. I have a feeling this silk is too bright for the single. Tomorrow will tell.

And I finished plying the turtles of that lovely Mountain Queen spindle spun. I found another lonesome turtle this morning so had to ply that one too, with itself. A pleasure when it’s wind up precisely.

It has to rest now. Tomorrow I can skein it and then I know how much meters I spun.

Weird Wool Wednesday: spinning bunnies

This is an Angora bunny:

It is a rabbit that has a DNA mutation that makes it hair grow and grow and grow. The same way it does in Angora cats and Angora goats.

It has to have its hair clipped every few months. This fluff can be dyed. Say turquoize. It is soft and smooth, it is hair.

Then you clip some wool from a sheep, say a German Merino. These clipping you dye pink. This is wool, it has small invisible roughness on each hair that makes it want to stick together.

Then you card them together to make rolags:

You send them to me and I spin them, Long Draw style:

This is one single, with lots and lots of twist. I ply it with another single, I make a two ply. It will be a pinkish yarn with some flecks of blue.

Then I knit with it. Perhaps a cowl.

I wear the cowl.

During the movements of the wearing the bunny hairs slowly work their way out of the 2 ply thread. But not all the way, I have spun this yarn tightly. They are locked into it with half their length. The other half peeks out of the thread, giving the knitting a halo. The same halo you know from a mohair sweater.

Now I have a pink woolen cowl with a developing turquoize halo. This means that during the wearing the cowl will shift in colour!

at least, that is what the owner of the bunny and me are hopping for.

Tour de Fleece First Week Collages

Tour de Fleece is one week on its way. Here are the collages I made showing results for each day:

(Yeah…. day 7 was not a fun day.) Overall I am happily spinning purple and doing so outside, under the red beech tree. There are wonderful smells in the air, now that various flowers bloom.

I do wish I had put more time into preparing the wool. There are some white coarse hairs in this fleece and they will make the yarn more scratchy. If only I had combed them all out…

The first bobbin I spun with the nice fibre, with few coarse hairs. Now I am left with the coarser pieces and spinning is less fun that way. Still, better soldier on. I am looking forward to having a two ply yarn of this colour. And a garment from it.

Then I want to get started on that greenblue fleece. Which needs to be prepped first.

I cannot decide how to prep it. It is Clun Forest. It has no coarse hairs. It is quite frizzy though. And soft. Excellent for Long Draw spinning! Which is a favourite technique of mine. But I don’t like the weel I have for that.  And the right prep would mix the colour into an uniform green. Which might not be a bad thing in itself, if you dream of owning a forest gren dragon cardigan. Which I do.

Spinning from the locks will give more colour variation. And more colour experience while spinning. Easier spinning too, more relaxed. For that I could comb each lock but I would lose quite a lot of the fibre with short staple lengths, which is perfectly spinnable especially with Long Draw. I hate to throw away good fibre.

I could card the fleece on my drum carder. Fast, clean. Ready to spin. Only that would mix the colours again. And I don’t like spinning from batts very much. I don’t know why.

One additional problem with Long Draw is that I will be travelling to and from the city in the next two weeks and I need to decide upfront which spinning wheel will live where and what technique I will use on it. And, as you may have guessed from Collage Day 7, I am not in the best condition to think and plan ahead at the moment.

I’ve got wool problems!

Green luxury problems.

Day 24 of the Advent Shawl Poinsettia: finished.


poinsettia poinsettia1 poinsettia2

on the last page this was revealed: the whole shawl is made with the designer tool Unikatissima has developed: the YouKnits Designer.

Lace blocks are represented by their knitted appearance and they can be combined visually. It’s such an easy tool! You can drag blocks, remove them, replicate.

When you are content with the visual appearance your shawl you ask the tool to print out the pattern and then you can go knit it. From chart ánd written instructions.
youknitsYou can find the site with the tool here and on Ravelry there are many blocks, both free and for purchase. The Poinsettia was made with 6 free blocks and look how they flow into each other, such a unity! Lovely.

Have a nice x-mas!