Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Procrasti-knitting

A few weeks ago, I ordered yarn and a pattern for a new knitting project. I’m so excited to add this piece to my wardrobe, but I haven’t cast on yet.

You see, the yarn is white. Not ivory or off-white, but new-fallen-snow white.

While I know the project will look amazing in white, I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking. What are the chances that I can get through knitting pure white yarn without staining it? I feel like I should wear gloves as I knit.

Let’s not even think ahead to trying to wear it without staining it.

Mitered Square Blanket
So, I’ve been procrastinating — or procrasti-knitting, as the case may be — by adding some rows to the larger of my two mitered square scrap yarn blankets. Both are based on the Sock Yarn Blanket by Shelly Kang; my smaller one is knit in sock yarn, and this one is knit in wool yarns closer to worsted weight.

Detail of Knit Wool Mitered Square Scrap Blanket

I started knitting this blanket in January 2012. I plan for it to be 15 blocks across, horizontally and vertically. Right now, it is 15 blocks wide and just over 6 blocks long, which equates to about 80 by 29 inches (203 by 74 cm) — or a little more than a third of the way complete.

Just as with the sock yarn version, each block begins with 31 stitches. But with the heavier yarn I’m using US-8 (5.0 mm) knitting needles. Along the sides, the blocks measure about 3 1/4 inches (8.25 cm).

Knit Wool Mitered Square Scrap Blanket

Although the blanket is heavy for mid-summer knitting, I’ve been able to shift most of it off my lap as I work. Best of all, none of the yarn is pure white!

I’m caught up on yarn scraps now, so no more excuses. After washing and rewashing my hands, I started knitting swatches of the white yarn last night.

What types of projects make you procrastinate?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ten Stitch Rug

Last week, I left you with a loose end. I finished a spinning project that had been in the works for years and started knitting the yarn without revealing what I was making.

Angled View of Colorful Ten Stitch Wool Knit Rug

Surprise, it’s a throw rug!

One of my challenges in deciding what to make with this yarn was that the wool is too rough to be close to the skin for long. I had experimented with different spinning techniques over the years, which left me with a wide range of yarn weights to work with but only about 1,000 yards (914 meters). And I had dyed the yarn in an assortment of colors. Since I wanted to use the yarn together in a single project, my options were limited.

I chose the Ten Stitch Blanket by Frankie Brown. The simplicity of the design would work well with color changes, and I could knit until I ran out of yarn.

Except that I didn’t use that specific pattern. Based on reviews, I opted to knit the alternate version provided by Ealachan on Ravelry.

And then I made a few changes of my own:
  • I knit through the back loop of the last stitch on the even rows. This gave me a tidy line of Vs along the outer edge from which to pick up stitches in subsequent rounds.
  • I changed Row 17 on the first half of the mitered corner directions to slip two stitches purl wise, bring the yarn to the back, and turn. As originally written — and possibly also as a result of my previous change — the tip of the corner had a little twist to it. By slipping both stitches instead of knitting the first one, I ended up with a flatter corner.
  • I added a crochet edging to finish off the rug by alternating single crochet and chain stitches.
Top View of Colorful Ten Stitch Wool Knit Rug

The final size of the rug is about 29 by 31 inches (74 by 79 cm). I knit it on US-8 (5 mm) needles, and that needle size worked well for most of the handspun. I held the lighter weight yarn double. The single skein of bulky weight yarn serves as the edging, which I crocheted with a US-H/10.5 (5.5 mm) hook.

Crocheted Edging on Folded Colorful Ten Stitch Wool Knit Rug

Throughout the project, I alternated the multicolor skeins with the single color skeins. I was mindful of color placement to the extent that I could be, given that the color changes weren’t the same in each skein.

We’ll use this rug in front of the kitchen sink — after I pick up a rug pad to keep the wool from slipping on the wood. The rug that was in that spot will move to the back hall where the shoes congregate.

Ah, no more loose ends!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Handspun Mystery Wool

I’m a slow spinner. I spin on a spindle, and some would say that I should switch to a spinning wheel in order to spin more quickly. But I know spindlers who are very productive. I think it’s more a matter of my not making spinning a priority.

A Pound of Hand Dyed Handspun Wool Yarn in Various Colors and Weights

I was given more than a pound (453 grams) of wool roving in 2012 or 2013. It had been passed along a few times before landing in the hands of a spinner. I know that it’s wool but I don’t know what type. It’s scratchy and knotty, and the original colors ranged from off-white to deep charcoal. I have my doubts on whether it would be considered worth spinning by those who have a deeper understanding of fiber quality. If nothing else, it had potential as practice fiber.

My Process
Early on, I decided that I didn't like the colors. While I appreciate grays, these had a yellow cast that made the fiber look dirty. So, each year after my children dyed their Easter eggs, I dyed a little of the wool with the leftover dye. I used whatever dye we happened to buy for the eggs each year, which made the colors similar but not the same.

One-Color Skeins of Hand Dyed Handspun Wool Yarn
The one-color yarns. The skein to the top right was spun from random colors for an almost-solid brown.

I started out by spinning some of the dyed fiber each year, varying the process each time. The yarns range from lace to bulky weight. I spun most of the wool semi-worsted, but one lumpy skein is the result of trying to spin woolen despite the knots in the roving. Some yarns are a single color, some are two or three colors, and many are a full rainbow. For most of the yarns my goal was to align the colors of the two plies, but for a few I spun and plied randomly.

My spinning stalled as I tried to think of what I could make with such a hodgepodge of colors and weights. If I could come up with a plan, I could choose a consistent method for spinning the last half of the fiber.

Skeins of Rainbow-Colored Hand Dyed Handspun Wool Yarn
I have no idea which dye we used the year I achieved the vibrant colors in the middle skein.

Then it happened: I latched onto a project idea. From then on, I needed to finish spinning the fiber so I could cast on as soon as possible. I’ve spun as much of this wool in the past two weeks as I did in the previous five years.

I’m going to leave you in suspense regarding the project, although I suspect it won’t be for long; I started knitting a swatch before the last skein had dried. It’s a simple pattern and, with less than 1,000 yards (914 meters) on US-8 (5.0 mm) knitting needles, it should work up much more quickly than my usual spinning pace.

What inspires you to finish a long-running project?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Milestones

First of all, I need to announce a major milestone: It’s been 11 months since we moved, and my art/knitting/sewing space is officially organized! Woohoo!

I’ve had it unpacked for quite a while, but items that belonged in other rooms were taking up some of the storage space in my area. We’ve been slowly putting everything where it needs to be, and I no longer have stacks and piles at every turn.

Now the trick will be remembering what is where.

Sock Yarn Blanket
I’ve mentioned before that I have a scrap blanket in the works that is based on the Sock Yarn Blanket by Shelly Kang. I started knitting the blanket in late 2011, and its growth has been slow but steady.

Knitting Progress on Scrap Sock Yarn Blanket

As I was finishing my work area organization, I revisited my sock yarn leftovers. I group these fingering weight wool yarns based on yardage; it’s nothing scientific, simply eyeing up the sizes of the skeins. Skeins that look like they might yield no more than one or two blocks for the blanket go in a small basket, and the rest go into a cabinet.

After reassessing the yarn groups, I had a full basket of low-yardage scraps that I thought I could knit through relatively quickly. And that’s exactly what I did.

My goal is that this blanket will measure about 60 inches (152 cm) square. I am already meeting the goal on the width, and the blanket is now about 14 inches (35.5 cm) long. That means it is almost a quarter of the way done! The bonus is that I weaved in the ends as I knit this time, so those blocks are truly complete.

I’m working though some ideas for my next project with the higher-yardage leftover sock yarn. My sock yarn blanket will be on hold until that next project, whatever it may be, is done and has generated more small scraps.

Hooray for meeting milestones, whether they’re small or large! What accomplishments have you been able to check off your list recently?