Archive for August, 2009

This was supposed to be a fun, random, do whatever you feel like project.  I wanted it to be a purse, so I planned to knit a flat panel back and forth on straight needles. I drew out what I wanted – such as, so many stitches garter, some purls and some knits to make nice stripes, a knit row on some purls to cable and make zig zags, then some big random cabled twisty whatever-I-feel-like in the middle, then repeat at the other end to make it symmetrical.
The garter stitches on the edge followed by knit rows turned out great, it caused it to have nice naturally folding sides when the two halves of the panel were stitched together. I was surprised and happy!
How to: Do whatever you want, just making sure to keep the same number of stitches per row to keep it nice and square (or rectangular if you want) until you get near what you know will be your halfway point (near the bottom of the bag if you start at the top and work down and back up). Near the bottom, decrease the garter stitches on the edge gradually to make the bottom fold together nicely without getting  a saggy corner.  I shot for a 45 degree angle on the garters.  I started with fewer stitches at the top to fold over a handle, then increased to the desired width of the bag, then just did the same thing on the other side when I got back up to the top (decreasing into the smaller section). I used two sticks from the yard as the hard handles, then made braided ropes to tie around the sticks on the inside and pull through the small knitted section as it was wrapped around the sticks.  Hardwood is best for the sticks, none of the tender bendy stuff.  I left my sticks broken off and natural, but you could use coarse sandpaper to file yours down if you want something professional.

Finished bag

Finished bag

Yarn is Boku, Color 9, Plymouth yarn.

I’ve done this cabled scarf (it’s still unfinished) in the same way.

Pattern Free Cabled Scarf

Pattern Free Cabled Scarf

This rolls inward on the 2 outer zig zag cable rows (too much stockinette on the backside, not enough purl).  So, I’m not sure if this will wind up usable unless the ends are tucked inside a closed jacket.  We’ll have to see what happens after blocking.  This is 4 stitches garter, a few of purl with one knit stitch cabled back and forth as a random zig zag, 1 row knit always in the same place to make the straight line, Then several rows of purl as a backdrop for some rows of knit cabled in a random pattern. Middle cables: Purl stitch used in the hole of the bottom cable, flower following a chart (see below), seed stitch done in the hole of the 3rd segment up, for the 4th and 5th, 2 knit rows cabled together on a backdrop of purls.

The flower head is done using chart #270 in Lesley Stanfield’s  The New Knitting Stitch Library (Quarto Publishing plc, 1992, pg. 159., flower part only).

Yarn for the scarf is Patons SWS Soy Wool Stripes, color 70415, Natural Pink.


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I wanted to spin some yarn that when knitted into something, looked like my favorite workplace garden. I’d never seen anything like this, so I had to think about this one for awhile.


So what's in it? Purple coneflower, black eyed susan, roses that turn from pink to white (and always one lonely hot pink colored rose that grows on the same bush)... blue spikey things, pale yellow I-don't-know-whats that stick out to the side....a lot of lovely colors you'd never wear together. I found this intriguing.

It would have to be crocheted. I could spin some yarn using small lengths of each color, but that wouldn’t look like flowers when knitted, it would just make stripes that probably wouldn’t look like much from a distance. So crocheting it would keep each segment of color in its own little “chunk”. To get crochet to turn into flowers, it had to be spun a few inches of green (for leaves), a few inches of sunflower yellow (for the black eyed susans), a few of dark brown (for the flower center), a few more of sunflower yellow, then more green. The same theme was followed for coneflowers, using 2 shades of pinky/purple with a brown center and green between every flower colored set for leaves. The blue spikey flowers were just done as a chunk of blue and likewise for the pale yellow ones.

width="600" See the black eyed susan?

Since the pale yellows are larger and stick out sideways in the garden, I left some fluff sticking out of the yarn to the side (for funkiness) which I could pull to one side of the item as I crocheted it. The roses were pink and white spun together a little fatter and softer to get that fluffy mix of pink and white. This yarn was left a singles, not plied, because it made it easier to keep the colors true. This was my first singles, (I always plied before) I wet it to set it once it was done (cool water), and let it dry outside in the heat and shade.  It wasn’t as horridly unravelly to work with as I had feared!

I was also going to do a tank top, but the spinning wasn’t going smoothly. Even though I’d predrafted all the wool into about 4 inch lengths, it was still a stop-and-go project, not smooth quick spinning. I had even started crocheting with one ball before I was done spinning the other. So, I only felt like doing enough to make the ends of a scarf (well, I’m doing it for the joy of the hobby, right? So if the joy is gone, time to move on!) Now that I’d started, I had learned I really could work with singles without it falling apart like ancient spider webs, so I had something else I wanted to try! I took the same colors and spun them together in long strips, eyeballing about how much length I’d need to get a few rows of each color, (not just one row). Each color was blended gradually together by spinning the two adjacent colors together for a couple of rows length.  Now I can enjoy my favorite garden in winter, when everything seems so brown for so long!

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My first (and only) wheel is the Kiwi. I’ve never used another wheel, so I can’t really compare, but I love it! It comes in pieces, so you have to put it together. I must say that of all the things I’ve assembled, this one was probably my favorite. Never have I worked with something where the holes lined up perfectly like this, good workmanship obviously. There are no words on the instructions, you just follow the pictures and all the different screws and things look different enough that this was all very easy. The only difficulty I had at all was with step 13, the fishing line on the tension knob. It is possible to do this exactly like the picture shows, but you have to notice two things:

1. There’s a tiny hole drilled through the tension knob, and your fishing line has to go through this.

2. You can’t just tie a regular old knot in fishing line, you have to do something more like what fisherman use. If you remember how your fishing line was wrapped around itself when you first took it out of the box, its something like that, just wrap the wire in and out several times through a loop. Here’s mine (that’s the end of the line sticking upward, I never bothered to cut that off).


The only other thing I was confused about when I first started using the Kiwi was the amount of squeaking I was getting with the treadling action. I’d oil it, then about 5 minutes later it was squeaking again. Was it my crooked house with its crooked floor, confounding this perfectly shaped assembly? Did I warp something when I was assembling the wheel? Nope. Maybe if I’d had a person teach me spinning instead of books and youtube, I would have known this, but anyway – the answer is to keep your feet not in the middle of the treadle pedals, but with your toes close to the footmen like in the photo above – no more squeaking.


Let me say again, its a great wheel! I love it, and thanks to it I’ve discovered I really love spinning and creating my own yarn! I had a spindle before this, but I never spun my yarn tight enough to get anything that looked professional, and it took a LONG time to spin. The wheel goes much faster, as you’d expect.

Did you know you can spin opossum?

Did you know you can spin opossum? Sadly, I think all the opossum you can spin comes from a place where opossum is a pest and they are probably just killing them to get it. I really don't know. This cutey lives in my yard though, and I promise that I haven't tried to hold her down and brush her.

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