Archive for the ‘Knitting Projects’ Category

What a stunningly beautiful February day. The sun is shining like crazy and there is snow piled high on tree branches and fence rails. The birds even look happy. They flit about with joy and a spring in their step.

Just 2 more days until Valentines day and the anticipated arrival of our newest little family member. We are just so excited.

I’ve spent the last few weeks on custom work for a few of my customers.

Becky was looking for a luxury baby gift with a difference. We decided on a hand spun Angora and silk handknit baby shrug and matching hat. I call it Whisper. I searched through some of my vintage pattern books and online at vintage knitting site. Inspired by some of the vintage looks and a piece that I did a few years ago I came up with Whisper. The yarn is an amazing mixture of Angora fiber and Silk. They are so different in texture and appearance but come together to make a truly one-of-a-kind yarn with the best of both worlds. The fabric is fluffy and soft with a gorgeous halo but also has the added strength and unmistakable shine of the silk, not to mention the crispy feel that crunches like footsteps on very cold snow. It is tied at the neckline with a delicate pure silk ribbon. The hat is loosely based on a beret style hat from an old SRK pattern that I have loved over the years. It is the sweetest little cardigan and hat set in Marble. I looked for the pattern for days and days and I just couldn’t find it anywhere. Finally a wonderful friend on Ravelry sent me a scanned copy of it and saved the day. I promise we didn’t infringe on any copyrights as I really do own this one, just can’t seem to remember where I put it. The lace edging and the rose are hand crocheted from some very fine 100% handspun silk.

I knit a pair of casual socks for Carolyn. They were to have a casual look and go with her jeans. I am thrilled to report that she was very happy with the resulting socks.

Richard wanted the Turn a Square hat by Jared Flood (one of my own personal favorite designers). This project was a treat to knit and I was finished the first one in just a few days so we decided to knit another one with the colours reversed and it turns out that 2 of these hats can be knit with 2 x 50 gram balls but don’t do any extra rows as I only had about 1 yard left over.

Jamie asked me to spin some camel and silk yarn for her to knit a jacket for her brand new grandson in size 2. Congratulations Jamie and family!

I finally finished the Nube Garter Stitch socks and the Alpacalicious slippers with the leather soles and they have already been gifted.

Love one another

Winter Weather

It’s often cold in Southern Ontario, Canada in winter and it does snow here but this winter has been a winter to remember. We’ve had lots of days with record breaking low temperature and snowfalls, an ice storm with power outages to tell the grandchildren about and enough snow days to keep the kids really happy. Even though we spent our life savings on propane just to stay warm, and I didn’t really enjoy having my gall bladder removed, I really have enjoyed this winter overall. It’s so pretty to look outside at all that snow.  We’ve been feeding the birds and they’re just such a joy to watch and to get to know, especially exciting are the multitude of Cardinals we’ve welcomed in the last 2 years. As a knitter I didn’t have to feel guilty to just hunker down and knit and spin to my heart’s content. Nobody was going anywhere and it was nice and cosy warm in my home studio.

The Designs

I do have a few designs on the drawing board. The adult size “Top Down Hoodie” and another summer top called Wheat Fields as well as a couple of vests. “Frank’s Vest” is going to be a favorite, not to mention a few smaller things like the shrug I am doing for a customer, some socks that I am spinning and knitting for myself and the baby hat I just designed for my soon to be grandson :-))) Getting these written out and polished are a challenge for me because they involve a lot of thinking and computer time and, well, I’d rather be knitting…. so they get put on the back burner. I really need to give myself a big pat on the back for keeping track of all of my spinning and knitting project on Ravelry. At least, this way, I won’t forget – where’s my knitting at? I’ve had lots of custom work this winter too. I’ll post about that in February when I get them all photographed and shipped, or check out my progress on Ravelry.  The New Baby

One of the most exciting thing about this winter is the anticipation of the birth of our newest family member. As you can imagine this is always the most important and fun time to cast on and just be creative. I found this sweater and pants pattern at Drops Designs and improvise a hat to go with it. It was pure pleasure to knit this in Malabrigo Sock a luxurious pure merino wool yarn dyed to perfection. This yarn is a superwash (machine washable) which is very important for socks and new babies!

 

I’ve just added a couple more gift items for baby. I’ve put all of my handspun handknits at really good prices, much lower than I would usually need to ask for a special order. I had a great time knitting these throughout the year and got to do exactly what I wanted and love to do. If I can do that and even recover the price of the yarn I would consider myself a winner and hopefully you would too. That’s what I call a “win win” situation.

Hope you enjoy the Handknit Smocked Baby Sweater and Handknit Lace Baby Sweater

Sale! Out of stock HandKnit Smocked Baby Sweater in HandSpun Merino Wool & Silk $105.00 $79.00 Read More Sale! Hand Knit Merino Baby Sweater $99.00 $50.00 ADD TO CART Sale! Out of stock Vintage Style Handknit Cashmere Baby Dress $325.00 $252.00 Read More Sale! Out of stock Handspun Handknit Old Shale Lace Layette $157.00 $115.00 Read More

I’ve just added two new luxury gifts for baby to the shop section. Both are hand knit from hand spun yarns.

The pure cashmere dress was inspired by an old Beehive Baby booklet that I used to use for knitting for my own little babies many years ago and the Cashmere and Merino Layette is an original design but was also originally inspired by one of those old booklets from the 60s and 70s. I even had a few of those little books when I was a kid. I use to knit baby things because they didn’t take a lot of yarn. It was fine and gave me lots of knitting pleasure for my dollar. I was always a little different… when other kids were saving up for toys I was saving for yarn and many times when they all went out to play I would sit in the family room and listen to records while I happily knit away at my latest project. As you can tell, these two designs brought back a lot of memories for me. I hope you like them too. Don’t worry about washing them by hand it’s so easy and I will send you full instructions. Each will make a wonderfull and very special gift that will be put away as an heirloom and passed down through the generations. As always please contact me if you have any questions or need any help.

I’ve been getting TONS of requests for custom work in the last few months. Part of that is because the Custom Handknit Sweaters page managed to get to the number one position in google for any related search terms. I know that’s a good thing but I just can’t knit that fast

The Mohair Vest:

I had a friend bring me a bag of various mohair yarns from a yard sale and ask me what I could do with them. It was a wonderful challenge because she knows what to wear and always looks so fabulous in everything. There was only enough for a vest so we agreed upon a great design by Sally Melville “The Asymmetrical Vest” from her book The Knitting Experience: Book 1: The Knit Stitch. I liked the pattern but it was written for beginning beginners and there was just so much text to read every time there was a direction to follow. I found it confusing and had trouble keeping my place. Just my personal preference, I would choose a graphic pattern every time to knit from. I used 2 strands of the mohair together and the suggested needles. The biggest issue with this vest was the ends every time I changed colour. I tried weaving them in and found it was going to be very difficult to hide them so I just started knitting them in where ever I could and it seemed to work better. I had to be very careful with blocking. It could change in either width or length with a light pull when wet. It took a while to get it into the correct shape to dry. The wooden buttons really worked out well. Marilyn just loved it.

The Harry Potter Sweater “Weasley”

I’m using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes for this sweater. I will knit the body and add the initial in duplicate stitch at the end. I will avoid intarsia at all costs, just a personal “thing” with me. I started this by knitting a good big swatch that gave me a gauge of 18 sts x 24 rows = 4″ before wash and block. It grew when wet and I thought it might stay there but it bounced right back when it dried. The pattern gauge is 16×24 so I had to adjust the number of sts to cast on. I actually need 37.5 for 4 inches of ease so decided to cast on the adult medium 82 sts plus 2 selvage sts. So far this is a great meditative knit. 25 ” of straight st st for the back. OMmmmmm.

The pattern for this sweater is designed by Alison Hansel and published in Charmed Knits  as well as free online at Canadian Living Magazine

 

One of the things I really enjoyed doing this summer was beta testing an awesome new online software for sweater design. Amy Herzog a Fit and Flatter expert and sweater designer “extraordinaire” has come up with something really new and wonderful for all knitters who want a custom fit sweater without all of the math that is usually involved in designing from scratch or even customizing the fit of a purchased pattern.

The software is called Custom Fit and its available online to a select few premier users right now but is expected to go live to the public some time in October.

Here’s what Amy says about Custom Fit:

“After the final preview group, with an estimated time of mid-October, CustomFit will go live to everyone.

CustomFit is a web application. This means that you log into our website to create custom sweater patterns. It is not software you install on your computer. Creating an account, and storing body measurements and swatches, is and always will be free. When you’re ready to knit the most fabulous sweater ever, each one is just $9.99. CustomFit has a vast amount of fit expertise built-in, so that you don’t need to think about any numbers – only style! But if you do want to adjust your own numbers, you have the option of doing so before you purchase your pattern. The first release of CustomFit produces an entirely new sweater pattern to your specifications, at a single gauge for the entire sweater. Future versions will give you more options, including modifying select existing sweater patterns. We plan to update CustomFit with great new features every few months.”

I had this lace pattern brewing in my imagination for a while and thought I’d try it out on my beta sweater. I loved adding the little birds randomly.  I will be designing a very similar sweater pattern from scratch and grading it for all women’s sizes this winter. Watch my pattern store here and on Ravelry and Craftsy.

 

When a customer requested a custom knit sweater vest with a round neck I quickly found out why it had to be custom-made as well as custom designed. It is surprisingly difficult to find a vest without a v neckline in ready-to-wear or even in a knitting pattern.

There were a few measurements that I felt were critical to fit. I had my customer email me the finished width (1/2 circumference) of the vest as well as the desired length and finished width at shoulders. I usually suggest that if they have a sweater that fits well this is the most reliable way to get out new one to feel good on. This left the depth at the underarms, the band widths and the neck width and depth up to me as the designer.

I started with a drawing and a swatch. We decided on a fairly unknown yarn from a very well-known shop. The Blarney Woollen Mill is in Ireland at the same location as the famous Blarney Stone. They have lots of wonderful knitwear but only one yarn for sale and that in only 3 colours. Fortunately one of them was exactly what we wanted for the vest so I ordered the yarn at a very good price and the shipping was free as a nice little bonus.

I did a bunch of swatches and I am very glad I washed them before I cast on because the knitting gauge before and after washing was significantly different and I had to rely on my post-wash swatch gauge for not only sts to cast on, increase and decrease but also for the length as I used row counts instead of inches. I got a little nervous a few times but I kept going, believing in my swatch and was rewarded with a finished vest that measured exactly what I was aiming for.

I have the knitting instructions all written out and sized in men’s sizes from 32″ to 60″ chest. I will probably knit it again in a more common yarn, at least a yarn with a more common gauge and tweak the numbers. It should be available to download as soon as I can get it finished and edited.

If you’ve been keep up with my adventures you will have read Spinning a Fine New Zealand Merino Fleece where I talk about spinning a beautiful fine Merino fleece into lace weight yarn after washing it lock by lock and hand combing it. There were some mistakes, and I leaned a lot from them, but I found myself spinning a lovely lace weight yarn that would be excellent in a handknit shawl by the third skein so I started to knit.

I choose a pattern from Nancy Bush’s book Knitted Lace of Estonia, the Queen Sylvia Shawl and cast on.  The knitting was fun and after a few days I got to the end of my first skein and joined the second. After a few rows I noticed, to my horror, that the colour was so different that I would have to overdye the whole shawl even if I choose to keep it for myself unless I can find a way to lighten the creamy parts. Upon closer inspection I did notice that there were bands of lighter and darker areas within the first skein that I just had not noticed until I gave it a better look in natural light.

You will have to click on this thumbnail to see the worst of the bands. It is at the very top. I stopped after just a few rows to take this picture. I posted my question on Ravelry Joy of Handspinning discussion board and I got some very helpful suggestions.

In retrospect I feel like it was really a “duh” move. I should have known this would happen and I will have to be more aware and careful whenever I spin from a raw fleece. I have been spinning from prepared fiber too much lately and have forgotten one of the basics of spinning from a fleece. Any fleece, and especially a coloured one will have this issue. It is something that a spinner *should* be thinking about right from the beginning of the project. Whether you are spinning a white fleece and you want to leave your yarn white or you are spinning a coloured fleece you usually don’t want the changes in color to come suddenly at the end of a skein creating a very obvious line.

Tip for Managing Color when Handspinning a Raw Fleece

If the fleece has obvious colour differences you should spread out the whole fleece and sort it before you start. You may want to emphasise the differences by sorting for stripes or blend them all into a solid or create a heather effect and they would all take different sorting and preparation. Wash enough fleece for the whole project at the same time. (I was testing different washing methods and I’m sure some were cleaner than others and this was one of the main causes for the colour difference) If you want a white fleece to end up white in a yarn you must break or cut off the tips. This is especially true for the fleece I was spinning. A fine New Zealand white merino will always have dirty tips that need to come off. (I am quite sure that this was the other reason for my colour variations.) If you are spinning a woolen yarn and you would like your colour to be even throughout the project you can put it all through the drum carder, split all of your batts and blend them by putting them through again mixed. Do this as many times as you feel is needed to get consistent colour. You can make a tweed by sorting the colours first, card them separately, stack and roll and spin from the end of the roll. If you are combing your locks you can also comb the whole amount needed for the project, go back and split them and re-comb to combine just as we did above with the drum carder. Further ensure evenness of color by spinning all of the yarn for the entire project and winding it onto inexpensive weaver’s bobbins before plying. Randomly ply bobbins back together. A helpful Raveler suggests this one, and it really appeals to me; I always knit with three balls of wool, that way the colour differences are not so noticeable, being only one line and not blocks. I use the three balls so there will always be a ball to change to at the end of each row of knitting. I find that any differences in colour is less noticeable if only one row is knitted with each ball rather than two rows. Finally, always plan with this in mind from step one when spinning from a raw fleece, even and perhaps especially when spinning a white one.

They started life as a lesson in preparing and spinning a raw fleece for worsted spun yarn. You can find that post here “Hand Spinning a Worsted Sock Yarn – Slow Cloth” so I though you might like to see the finished product.

The socks are a slightly modified version of Gladysby General Hogbuffer. This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download.

I had a bit of difficulty keeping the yarn consistent. This was probably because I was spinning too many other projects at the same time. I do find I can be completely consistent to the point where I can match yards per ounce in skein after skein but this is almost impossible if I am working on more than one project at a time.  It seems to be my “crocodile” brain that takes over when I am spinning. I blame the crocodile but perhaps if I took better notes and more complete records I could do a little better?

Here are the pictures of my finished socks. So warm and I am sure they will last a very long time.

Stunning Polwarth raw New Zealand wool fleece

A few months ago I shared the pattern for the Hat my guys like and now here is the sweater that falls into that same category. With lots of input from DH, the eventual wearer of this pullover, I designed another sweater to match the one I knit him almost 30 years ago. Not only did the original sweater last for 30 years, but hardly a day went by that it was not called into service (except those hot summer days, of course) and it’s still all in one piece even if it is showing a little wear now.

As you can imagine, I’ve knit him a few sweaters over the years and some he wears a little and some he wears a lot. This is the one he hardly ever takes off! When the boys come in and see his newest sweater they want one too. I’m going to have lots of opportunity to knit this one in several sizes and variations and will keep you posted.

Here is the story of  spinning the yarn for Jacob from a Jacob fleece and another short post with a few more pictures. Pattern coming asap. I will have to knit it at least one more time as I want to show the body with a simple rib instead of the colour variegation.