Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Talland Tee

Today we’re celebrating Halloween, and I haven’t decided yet whether my latest project is a trick or a treat. There may have been some strange witchcraft involved.

The pattern is Talland Tee by Sonja Bargielowska. I had just over 1,000 yards (914 m) of handspun fingering yarn that appeared to be a good match for the pattern. I knit a swatch and determined that US-9 (5.5 mm) needles would work well; I liked the drape of the fabric after soaking and the knitting held its shape well.

The six inches of positive ease that the pattern calls for sounded excessive to me. I chose a size with two to three inches of positive ease as I normally would.

I have a longer torso and typically need to lengthen patterns. For this pattern, I wanted the bottom edge to land about mid-hip so I knit one extra repeat of the lace pattern chart.

I usually need to lengthen the yoke as well, but I thought this one should fit as written. I knit about 10 fewer rows for the front yoke and 20 fewer for the back to achieve armhole depths that matched the measurements in the pattern.

I added some stitches to the outer edge of each armhole to offer a little more shoulder coverage. I worked those areas in garter stitch instead of stockinette stitch to prevent the fabric from curling.

After the top was complete, I soaked it. This time, the knitting grew — a lot.

Yes, it is now a Talland Dress. The stockinette stitch yoke, which was supposed to end about an inch and a half (3.5 cm) above the widest point of the bust, comes down below the bust. The armhole depth exposes the side of my bra. The bottom edge lands just above my knees. Interestingly, it fits well around my body and measures as it should — the extra positive ease was unnecessary after all.

I don’t think I can blame this on the weight of the yarn pulling the stitches down because the growth was apparent while the piece was drying flat. I don’t know why I didn’t have the same results from the swatch. Perhaps, because the yarn is made from different types of fiber, the swatch was primarily one fiber.

I can adjust the armholes to cover my bra and, with the right base layer, wear this as a dress. I need some more time to mull it over. And I don’t have a photo of me in the dress because I’m getting over a stomach bug. Nobody needs that much of a fright this Halloween!

Be safe and have fun.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Project's Journey

I spent a lot of time spinning my Purple Llama yarn, so it stands to reason that knitting a project from it will also take some time. Choosing the right project for this fingering weight yarn has been a journey in its own right.

Knitting Progress of Talland Tee Pattern

After searching through various garment types and styles, always making note of the required yardage to take full advantage of my 1,022 yards (934 meters), I came across a top that I thought would suit the yarn beautifully: Calendula by Hélène Rush.

I thought the drape of the garment would work well with the mix of llama, merino, bamboo and Tussah silk fibers in the yarn. In addition, the Purple Llama yarn has some striping due to how I spun the different fibers together. Between the sideways construction and the lace details, I thought the striping would draw interest while not competing with the stitches.

Based on the yardage amount supplied with the pattern information, I calculated that I would need about 1,034 yards (945 meters) of yarn to complete Calendula. That’s about 12 yards shy of the amount I have — although I round down every time I measure a skein so it could work out. Maybe.

I started to swatch, and needed to go up two needle sizes to obtain gauge, from a US-5 (3.75 mm) to a US-7 (4.5 mm) needle. However, the llama fiber has enough of a halo — that fuzziness surrounding the yarn itself — that knitting this fingering weight yarn on US-7 needles still looked too tight. Instead of the open, draped fabric that I was envisioning, I was getting a much tighter matted-looking fabric. I could move to larger needles and a smaller garment size with the expectation that they would balance each other out, but how would that change the yardage? Theoretically, it should work out fine. But I didn’t want to knit through an entire garment to test that theory.

Reluctantly, I restarted my project search. This time, I landed on the Talland Tee by Sonja Bargielowska. Again it has a nice drape and interesting lace detail. This pattern only calls for about 800 yards (731 meters) of yarn, so I have some wiggle room to make adjustments if I choose.

Bottom Edge of Knit Talland Tee Pattern

The pattern calls for at least six inches (15 cm) of positive ease, which seems excessive. I’m knitting the size I would normally knit, although I went up two needle sizes to US-9 (5.5 mm) in order to get the draping fabric that I wanted. My row height is longer than the gauge specifications in the pattern, so I may need to knit fewer rows when I reach the armholes.

The journey with this handspun yarn isn’t over yet, but I’m optimistic about the final destination.

Oh, and the Calendula pattern? I still love it! It’s high on my to-make list.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Handspun Purple Llama Yarn

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival has been a fall tradition in Ketchum, Idaho, for the past 20 years. It’s five days of lamb cuisine, sheep dog trials, a folklife fair, a sheepherders’ ball, and a fiber festival. There are classes and presentations on related history, cooking and fiber arts. The event culminates in the Trailing of the Sheep Parade on the final day; the streets are filled with sheep as they’re moved down from the mountains to warmer pastures for the winter. Our family had a wonderful weekend when we attended the festival in 2011.

The 2011 Trailing of the Sheep Parade

As you might guess, I was most excited about the fiber festival. Although there was plenty of fabulous wool to be had, at the time I was looking to expand my spinning experience to other types of fiber. One of the purchases I made that weekend was 5.75 ounces (163 grams) of llama roving from Kimknits Fibers.

I was challenged to determine how I wanted to spin the llama. It has a long curly staple length with very little luster. It feels a little too prickly to be something I want to wear against my skin. The color is a medium beige with very little tonal variation.

I worried that any project made from the spun llama would look like a mass of dull brown hair, but I didn’t think dyeing the fiber would bring enough life to it. I did some research on what other types of fiber blend well with llama, then went shopping online.

I chose four ounces (113 grams) of top from Miss Babs that is made up of 50% merino, 30% bamboo, and 20% Tussah silk. The colorway is called Timberline and is primarily purple with a bit of white and brown. I liked that it would bring subtle color to the llama while adding luster and softness.

As far as the spinning itself, I made a point of alternating the purple blend with the beige llama because I didn’t want the colors to muddy. I spun the colors into each single in the same order so they would be more likely to match up when plied.

The colors align more in some areas than in others.

I started spinning this yarn in February 2015. It’s the first time I’ve spun so much of a single type of yarn in a consistent enough weight to potentially make a garment. I have about 1,022 yards (934 meters) of fingering weight yarn and I’m so excited to knit with it!

All but two skeins of my Purple Llama handspun yarn.

This yarn doesn’t have a lot of elasticity and, as I already mentioned, it isn’t something I want to wear against my skin. There will be striping between the beige and the purple, with some areas more pronounced than others. And although the amount of yarn seems like a lot, it’s not enough for most top-layer garments in my size. I’ve been combing through patterns and I think I’ve found a good fit. I’ll have more on that next week.

In the meantime, what are your favorite festivals for fibers and fabrics?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Omnishambles Brioche Scarf

Have you ever knit Brioche Stitch? It’s an interesting technique that involves combining yarnovers and slipped stitches to create a ribbed fabric that is both lofty and warm. While it’s beautiful when knit in one color, you’ll often see it knit in two colors. This gives the piece a different look on each side with the added bonus that it’s easier to keep track of the stitches while knitting.

Scarf Knit in Brioche Stitch and Two Colors of Yarn

Many years ago, I attempted some brioche knitting. The instructions weren’t particularly clear for straight knitting, and were downright nonexistent for the increases and decreases. I muddled through a few small projects but my uncertainty about the stitch has made me avoid it ever since.

I recently tested a pattern by Kate Atherley for a basic brioche scarf — no increases or decreases. The instructions were clear enough that I felt ready to attempt a more intricate scarf pattern: Omnishambles<, also by Kate Atherley.

The pattern calls for a half skein of Cascade 220® in black along with a full skein of Noro Kureyon in color #263. I didn’t have anything close to either yarn in my stash; I placed an order for the black Cascade yarn but went with color #399 in the Noro yarn.

Side note: Have I mentioned that there are no local yarn shops here? None. This area has the basic big box stores, but no place dedicated to immersing oneself in knitting indulgence. The struggle is real, my friends.

Folded Brioche Stitch Scarf Knit in Two Colors

The pattern is easy to follow. Between the initial increase and final decrease sections, it’s a simple matter of repeating the same 24 body rows for as long as you wish the scarf to be. I don’t know whether it was intentional, but on my scarf the color changes in the yarn were about the same length as the pattern repeats. There were a few instructions in the decrease section that made me do a double take, but at that point I understood the pattern well enough that I was able to quickly work out what needed to be done.

Omnishambles Brioche Stitch Knit Scarf in Two Colors of Yarn

With my one skein of Noro Kureyon, I had just over four yards (almost four meters) of yarn leftover after making the entire scarf with nine body repeats. After blocking, my scarf measures just over four inches (10 cm) wide and about 64 inches (almost 163 cm) long.

I’m happy that I decided to give Brioche Stitch another try. Are there any techniques that you’re thinking of giving a second chance?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


About a year ago, we downloaded the soundtrack to Hamilton: An American Musical and our whole family was instantly hooked. We don’t live close enough to any of the live shows to go see it — and probably couldn’t afford tickets if we did — but most of the story is told through the songs so it gives our imaginations a chance to run wild as we sing along.

While on Ravelry recently, I searched for Hamilton-related knitting projects and was happy to find the free HamilKnit hat pattern by Emily Straw. The design has words and phrases from the musical knit around the hat in two type sizes, and a star as in the musical’s logo at the crown.

The stranded colorwork pattern calls for two colors of fingering yarn. I dug through my stash and pulled out some Cascade Yarns 220® Fingering in colorway 7824 Orange and Plymouth Yarn Zino in colorway 8. The Zino has long color changes from purple to gray to orange-brown.

Side View of HamilKnit Knit Hat Inspired by Hamilton Musical

The charted pattern was a breeze to follow, and I was able to knit it up very quickly. The hat is knit in the round, with a tidy colorwork brim that is folded under and knit into place. I only noticed one minor error — in one section, the dashes between the words don’t align horizontally — and that was easy enough to correct as I knit. I love the color combination in this hat, although it’s a little challenging to read the words against the gradient.

It can be difficult for me to determine gauge on stranded colorwork projects because I tend to either knit a little tight or a little loose, and that can change throughout the project. This pattern calls for 27 stitches per four inches (10 cm), and I came close at 27 1/2 stitches. If anything, that should have made the hat slightly narrower, but somehow the circumference is about a half inch larger than the pattern says it should be.

Top View of HamilKnit Knit Hat Inspired by Hamilton Musical

We haven’t worked out yet whose hat this will be, but I have a feeling that eventually I’ll be making enough of these for everyone in our immediate family. As is, the hat fits me pretty well but is too large for our children. If I stick with using wool yarns for future versions, I can felt the hats to make them fit smaller heads as necessary.

Meanwhile, I’ll be singing along with this relevant line from one of the first songs on the soundtrack: “Every action’s an act of creation!”