Sunday, 29 March 2015

carding for colour

Being part of my local Spinners', Weavers', and Dyers' Guild has been a wonderful experience. It's so enlivening to be part of a gang of people who are enthusiastic about experimenting with textiles, and sharing their experiences. Trying other equipment is also a great bonus. I have been eyeing up various drum carders for a while, so I have done a traid with one of my lovely Guild chums. She has taken Bliss home for a test drive, and I have her Classic Carder to try out for the month.

I downloaded Color and Yarn Design for Spinners' from Interweave quite a while ago, and really enjoyed Deb Menz's approach to colour matching without having to use a dye pot. The more I coat the kitchen in plastic, and mess about with all those chemicals; the more inclined I am to avoid dying. It's just something I don't enjoy. I have enjoyed mixing colours on my hand carders, and have been intrigued by the depth and interest added to the yarn by having a number of shades and tones in the yarn. I've been itching to find out how easy this technique really is.

This morning I took one of my favourite old cardigans (for the colour, not so much the style), and set out on my little colour matching adventure. I started out with red, and added yellow and blue; to try and get the muddy maroon colour.

This definately gave the red more of a browny tinge, but didn't have the depth I was looking for. At this point I'd run out of blue, so tried a bit of purple and green to see if that would give the batt a bit more of a bricky browny hue. It worked, sort of, but the resulting batt wasn't nearly a dark as I would have liked. That's where the navy and natural Masham brown came in.

I ran the final colour combo through the carder a few times get the best colour match that I could. As you can see, I was heading in the right direction, but didn't quite get there with my limited colour selection. The difficulty was in getting the right depth of shade. It was hard to make light fibres appear darker just by adding darker shades. I suspect that probably works the other way too with mixing dark colours with light.

Unfortunately the carder goes back this week, so my little adventure has come to an end for now. It's definately a process I'd like to try again with a specific project in mind. And I'm looking forward to the return of Bliss, so I can see how this little batt spins up.


Friday, 20 March 2015

fitting hiro - finishing glory... finally

This year feels like it's been really slow off the blocks on the knitting front. It is the middle of March, and things that were started last year are still languishing on the needles. There are bobbins of singles everywhere. The whole house feels like it's cluttered with last weeks work. But the year is about to turn a corner. Not because it's spring and the daffodils have put their heads up. Because Hiro is finished.

(Unfortunately this silly, no make-up picture, turned out to be the one that showed the detail of the jersey best.)

When we last spoke, I was waiting for a wee hank of the Nautilus colourway to arrive from a lovely American knitter. The yarn that arrived was a completely different dye-lot, with a much lighter tone. I have cunningly blended the new yarn in with the corregated ribbing technique, and using it for the purl stitches. This little strategy turned out to be a stroke of genious. The colour difference just looks like the usual variation you'd expect in a hand dyed yarn. Phew!

(Note for other desperate knitters needing to employ this technique: Corregated ribbing does not concertina like normal ribbing. It sits flat and straight, more like a seed stitch edging.)

Wollmeise DK is a wonderful to work with. It almost feels like cotton as you knit with it. After a trip through the washing machine, (Can you believe I put a whole adult jersey through the washing machine?) the fabric comes out soooooooo soft. I usually go for sturdy yarns that will take a lot of out door wear, so it will be interesting to see how this pullover stands up over time. It's warm though, my word it's warm.

Mostly I'm happy with the fit. As I've mentioned before, the waist shaping is slightly high. Now that the torso is longer, it would have been nice to have the decreases from the hem to the waist a little further appart. Neither of those issues makes the jersey any less wearable. Next time I'd just be much more careful about my length measurements and row guage.

I can't bring myself to take this off long enough to trim the ends, and am calling it my Pounamu jersey. The colours remind me of beautiful deep New Zealand rivers, and the Greenstone (jade) that naturally occures there. A little part of me is hoping the weather doesn't get to warm to soon.


Friday, 27 February 2015

fitting hiro - the yoke

The saga that is Hiro has stalled. The yoke and neck are complete. This is a bottom up, yoked pullover. One would think that casting off the neck band means that one should be basking the the warm glow of Finishing Glory. Here's the story from the beginning.

When we last spoke, Hiro was at the armpits. I had studyed the pattern, checked row guage, and determined that the armholes weren't going to be very deep if the pattern was knitted as written. By "not very deep" I mean that I was going to hard pushed to get my hand through that hole, let alone an arm. So I took my favourite sweater, measured the armhole, and calculated that I would need 64 rows between the armpit and neck.

Option one was to add in a few extra rows in the main colour, before starting that pretty yoke pattern. I was rapidly running out of the Nautilus colour, so option one wasn't really an option at all.

Option two was to add in extra pattern rows between the decreases, so that is what I did. I worked about twelve extra rows by repeating specific pattern rows.

The decreases in the yoke also needed a bit of fudging so that the neck would fit. Another case of ending up with a hole that would be too small if I followed the pattern. All the decreases were knitted as written until I came to the very last set. At this point I tried on the jumper, decided how wide the neck should be, and decreased the appropriate number of stitches.

The yoke had been beautifully simple, and the only maths involved was to work out how many rows I'd need to make the armhole deep enough. This is where things have become slightly unstuck.

When I tried Hiro on I realised that the yoke construction does funny things to your length measurements. I'm used to knitting set in sleeves, where you knit straight up to the top of the shoulder, then shape the shoulder slope. A yoke is worked in concentric circles, so the stitches go up at an angle. When I measured my favourite jersey, I measured from the armpit to the top of the shoulder. I should have measured from the armpit to the neckline. This meant that the waist shaping was a couple of centimetres higher than it should have been, and the whole jumper was about 4 cm too short.

I am a tall person. This is not the first time that I've come up short. It's not a reason to fret or panic. Having one small nuget of yarn left is a reason to fret or panic.. or perhaps both. Contacting Wollmeise was fruitless. They were helpful, but had sold out of the yarn. So I did what any sensible knitter does and contacted Ravellers who had used that same yarn, begging for their leftovers. A lovely American lady has come to the resue, and there is a ball of yarn making it's way back accross the Atlantic as we speak.

Meanwhile, I have unpicked the ribbing, and knitted straight down in socking stitch as far as I can. Stand by for the next installment if you want to know how I intend to cunningly hide a completely different dye lot in my ribbing. Until then I shall be knitting something that requires no maths or fitting at all.



Wednesday, 4 February 2015

new phases in knitting

You've definately reached a new stage in your knitting life when you start darning those early socks. Apparently it's harder to show your hand knitted things the bin. This phase might have come sooner for me than most, due to my love of pure wool socks. There is definately a place for nylon when it comes to our earthward extremities, but there is nothing like the lux feel of pure sheep on your feet.

It transpires that I actually like darning. Or perhaps I've just not done enough to be sick of it yet. My little darning egg came from an Etsy seller. There were loads of eggs and mushrooms available, but not many of this concave style. I like that it gives you a wee gap to get your needle in. Hopefully it carries with it some of the competance of darners past.

If you happen to be eyeing an elderly pair of favourite hand knitted socks, and wondering what to do, check out Susan B Anderson's wee video.



Monday, 2 February 2015

socks that fit better

For Christmas last year I was given a plethora of marvellous books. You'll see them trotted out when they're called into service. You've all heard of Lara Neel's Sock Architecture right? If you're in to knitting socks and you haven't seen it, you definately should.

This book is all about making your socks fit well. Lara details a stunning array of heel and toe shaping techniques, then tells you what sort of foot they would suit best. She just takes knitting socks to a whole new level. The book really is as marvellous as everybody says it is. There are only two small things I'm not keen on. I find Lara's writting style slightly verbous, and sometimes I wish there was a picture where there isn't one.

I had already started the Sweet and Spicey socks when the book arrived. They're my first top down socks since I was churning out Fuzzy Feet all those years ago. I decided to throw in the square heel and the swirl toe, because they happened to be stuck in my memory when I came to those sections. The square heel construction just sprang to mind while I was hanging out with some knitterly chums in Whitby. While that swirl toe was a satisfying finish to a Sunday lunch with Bob's step son. They both fit wonderfully. Why on earth did I stick with that awful short row heel shaping for so long?

For the next sock I'm going the whole hog with Lara's fitting directions. I'm using these socks as a guage swatch, and working toe up because there's only about 70 grams of this yarn left. The first swirl toe is complete, so this morning I'm pondering heels.




Sunday, 1 February 2015

i can't draw

Did you look at yesterday's design drawing and think it looked a little, well, rudimentry? That word describes my sketching skills perfectly. There is no way I could have rendered all that, with the right proportions, by wielding pencil over paper. But the secret to making this sort of line drawing is not really a secret at all.

I traced it. The photograph came from Woolly Wormheads marvellous book 'Going Straight'.

Then I added in my design over the top, and coloured it in. What you see here is the final attempted, not all the iterations in between.

There you go. That's what can be achieved with pencil and markers when your drawing skills are a little on the rusty side.