I’m actually a little embarrassed to admit it. No sooner had I cast off a February Lady Sweater than I cast on a Clapotis.

Mini Clapotis

Pattern: You really need to ask?

Yarn: Rowan Summer Tweed (70 % silk, 30 % cotton), colourway 529 denim, 3 balls. Every last centimetre of them.

Needles: 5.5 mm Knitpicks Options.

Modifications: Worked over about half the pattern stitches, worked until the yarn ran out.

This really is a very nice pattern. And it is the perfect pattern for the recipient, it has a little interest while having clean, simple lines. I knit it for my aunt, who is also a knitter. I bought the yarn for her birthday, and told her she could knit it herself or I could knit her a scarf from it. I procrastinated on the knitting until she took our son on holiday for a week. That’s the kind of thing that should be rewarded with a finished scarf, I think!

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Slightly sooner than I thought, I’ve bought a spinning wheel. I had planned to buy a wheel around Christmas, and had my eye on a Louet Julia. However, the closer I got to actually having to make the purchase, the more I started second-guessing myself. What if I don’t like wheel spinning? What if I never have the time to sit down with the wheel? Close to 5000 kroner is a lot of money for something I don’t know if I’ll like.

So I’ve been monitoring the online for sale-ads, and I recently saw an ad for a used Ashford Traditional for about half the price of a new Louet. Its previous owner is a professional spinner and the wheel comes with both the normal flyer and bobbins and the jumbo set. I’m not a huge fan of novelty yarn, but I have heard that the jumbo set comes in very handy for plying, especially considering the tiny Ashford bobbins. I know that the Saxony models have a larger footprint than the castle ones, and I am a little concerned about storage space, but I’ll work something out. It will probably get here within a month (the seller does not want to ship it, which I understand, so she’ll bring it the next time she makes the three-hour trip). I’m really excited!

clapotisweb

Three rows and eight stitches to go on my mini-Clapotis. The very end of the third and last skein of Rowan Summer Tweed.

It took me a while, and quite a few swear words, to realise it, but I actually had a solution to the problem. I’m something of a packrat, and I had actually coiled up and kept the ties for the three skeins. One of them turned out to be 20″ length of yarn. So in the last centimetre of scarf I had three ends to weave in. No matter. The scarf is done, and it looks great. Look for a full presentation later.

 FLSclose

It’s always humbling to realise just how unoriginal you are. Just like when we named our two children, thinking we had found lovely but somewhat unusual names, only to find that both names have increased massively in popularity in the last few years, I have now finished the February Lady Sweater, as one of 2006 knitters on Ravelry to knit this¹.

FLS3web 

I loved FlintKnits’ original sweater, and, since Sundara’s yarn is no longer available, considered buying Dream in Color Classy instead. I spent many hours browsing web shops and peering at shots of all of the DIC red and burgundy shades. In the end, I went with a more mundane Rauma Vamsegarn, and I’m happy I’m did. DIC is a very popular yarn choice for this pattern, but the versions I’ve seen on Ravelry are just not as successful as Flintknits’ original. I think the DIC yarn is just a little more variegated and has slightly shorter colour sequences than Sundara, so that the overall effect is a little more busy.  

Pattern: The ubiquitous February Lady Sweater

Size: XS (the sizing on this pattern is very odd, I’m never an XS!)

Needles: KP Options 5 mm

Yarn: Rauma Vamsegarn, 8 balls

Modifications: Used kfb instead of m1 in the raglan increases. I don’t like making m1s, and I like the line that kfb creates in raglans. I should have used kfb instead of yos in the increase row before the lace as well.

¹In the hour it’s taken me to write this post, it’s gone from 2005 to 2006, that’s how popular this pattern is.

FLSbuttons 004

Brenda Dayne said, on a recent episode of her (excellent) podcast Cast-On that everyone has a red that’s perfect for them. When I decided to take a leisurely leap onto the bandwagon and knit the ubiquitous February Lady Sweater, I knew I wanted to knit it in a fabulous, deep red. A red wine sort of red. A red that would look good on me.

Now, my wardrobe consists almost entirely of dark brown, with a dash of black thrown in, and some jeans for after-work hours. So any red I chose had to look good with all of those. In fact, after I realised that I liked red (not coincidentally, after I started knitting), that has been my main guideline – if the shade of red goes with dark brown, it’s probably right for me.

So, the FLS. In Norway, there are very few worsted-weight yarns. At shops in my immediate vicinity, there are really only three choices: Trysil Garn Artic (top right), Rauma Vamsegarn (top left) and Dalegarn Freestyle. Of these, only the first two have a recommended gauge of 18 sts/10 cm, which is the recommended gauge for the FLS. I was at Europris, a discount store not far from me, where they sell Trysil garn. I was fooled a little by the lack of proper lighting in the store, and the fact that there were two reds. I chose the darker of the two, but immediately suspected that it wasn’t quite dark and “red winey” enough. So now I have ten balls of not-quite-dark-enough-red in my stash (at 129 kroner, though, it’s quite a steal for a sweater’s worth of yarn!) The vamsegarn is significantly dearer, but the shade of red is just perfect. I knew immediately that it would work. I’m not so fond of the yarn itself, though. It feels almost squashed, whereas the Artic is nice and round. It also splits a lot, I often found myself breaking single strands of fibre while knitting.

The FLS is blocking as I write this. It was a very quick knit, and I’m so excited about trying it on properly tomorrow once it’s dry. I think – I desperately hope – that this will turn out to be my perfect red.

This summer was consumed, as I’ve told you before, with a huge move. There was about a week, though, when we were all packed up and living in a hotel, waiting to leave. I had nothing to do but watch television, play with the kids, and knit – this:

genser1

It’s a top-down raglan, following Glampyre’s wonderfully instructive top-down steeked cardigan pattern. The yarn is Schoeller + Stahl Limbo (100 % superwash wool). I’ve used it before, in a crocheted poncho for my niece, and I liked it better then. For some reason, this time the yarn felt a little squeaky, like the discount store superwash wools. It’s nice enough on, though.

I really like this sweater, and I feel confident that it will see a lot of wear this winter.

Started: 8 July
Finished: 28 July

Suddenly, I’m on a sweater knitting roll. I’ve never knitted an adult size sweater before, but so far this year I’ve finished two cardigans/jackets, two sweaters and have the February Lady Sweater on the needles!

Cross-continent moves are not to be taken lightly, I now understand. I cannot understand what possessed me to sign up for the Spinning Olympics. I didn’t even look at my spinning things while the Olympics were on – they were all securely packed in boxes that were far less important to unload than others – such as those containing our kitchenware and our clothes. Now, however, things are settling down just a little, and an event last Sunday reignited my interest in spinning.

Our local folklore museum held its annual(?) sheep-shearing day, and invited children to watch the shearing, then learn to dye, card and spin the wool. Unfortunately, my camera’s battery gave out after only the shearing, but we had a good time nonetheless.

Sheep shearing

I’m not so sure about the sheep, though. They had to be dragged reluctantly over to the little shearing platform, and whenever a new sheep was due to be sheared, the other ones circled it anxiously, looking an awful lot like a father-to-be in a delivery room:

Sheep shearing

Afterwards, we visited the workshop where kids learnt to card and spin wool. I was very happy to have my son with me, so I had an excuse to sit down and try the hand cards – a completely new experience to me. I didn’t do very well, and the instruction was less than perfect, but at least I tried it. And touching the wool and trying out the boat-anchor spindles reignited my enthusiasm, so I went and bought one of the hand spindles sold at the museum. Also, my mother-in-law recently gave me a pair of old hand cards, so I’ve been slowly getting back into the swing of spinning:

New hand spindle and new hand cards

I’ve bought some cheap wool in a grey heather, a brown heather and some solid colour red, and I’m experimenting with colour-blending through carding. I’m shooting for a tweedy yarn, and so far it’s not going so bad. I’ve looked up some carding videos online, and they’re more help than the museum demonstration.

My t-shirt is done, after only eight days of knitting (after my multiple start problems, it has been very smooth sailing). A top-down short-sleeved raglan in worsted weight sure is quick!

The good:

I love it! It’s so soft and comfortable to wear. The raglan boatneck is my favourite neckline shape. The waist shaping worked out beautifully and ended up exactly where I wanted it (I’ve learnt from my warming vest, where the ribbed waistline hugs my boobs!). I got the length exactly right and the sleeves are long enough to cover my shoulders but short enough not to be hot. Although the yarn is rustic, and looked quite uneven after I had finished knitting and weaving in the ends, it blocked very, very nicely and looks wonderfully smooth and even now.

The bad:

When I say two dyelots, I’m not kidding:

silketopp FO

This yarn was bought when I was a very new knitter, and still somewhat intimidated by yarn shops and their elderly female shop assistants. I just scooped out seven balls from a shelf in a dark corner of the shop and took them to the till. When the assistant asked me if I wanted seven of the same dyelot I said “no, that’s no problem” partly because I had no earthly idea what she was talking about and partly to get out of there. So I ended up with three different dyelots, and they really are very different. The base colour is not so different, but one of the lots (top and bottom here) is much less tweedy than the other two. It’s also softer, has a better hand and was the most numerous with three balls, so I had to use it.

silketopp FO front

FO: Top-down raglan t-shirt following Stefanie Japel’s raglan cardigan pattern.

Yarn: Idéna silkegarn, colour 028, 4.6 balls (230 grams).

Needles: 4.5 mm 80 cm Addi Turbos.

Modifications: The pattern is more of a template, so modification is maybe not the right word. I added waist shaping (three sets of decreases and three sets of increases) and knit the sleeves very short; when I put the sleeve stitches back on the needles I went straight to the garter stitch cuff. I was concerned about the silk being dragged completely out of shape and the neckline becoming off-the-shoulder, so I reinforced the neckline at the bottom of the garter stitch section.

I listened to the latest Yarnspinners tales podcast, and she encourages spinners to issue themselves an Olympic spinners’ challenge (most knit blog readers probably know about the Yarn Harlot’s immortal knitting olympics, which, as far as I know, will not take place this year but only at the next winter Olympics in 2010). The Olympic games will take place from 8-24 August. I’ve decided that my challenge will be to spin up one of the packages from the Fyberspates fibre club. They are about 4 oz each, and my choices so far (by the start of the Games I’ll have received one more) are:

Fyberspates supersorted ShetlandFyberspatesclub1 001
(Supersorted Shetland on the left, superwash merino on the right).

This doesn’t sound like much, but the explanation is that the days of the Olympic Games, 8-24 August, will be the busiest period of my life for several years. I will move into a new home and start a new job. If I manage to spin anything at all, let alone 4 oz, it will be a pretty good indication of how important this new hobby is to me. If I do manage to meet my challenge, I will consider (gulp!) getting a wheel. Wish me luck. If you do decide to make yourself an Olympic spinning challenge, I’d love to hear from you!

Speaking of spinning, I have a couple of new WIPs:

Fyberspates silk hankies

I started this a little while ago, but haven’t posted a picture before. This is Fyberspates silk hankies in plum and gold, on my Bosworth mini (17 g) in zebrawood. Silk hankies are fully drafted before you spin, and require a great deal of pulling and tugging, much more than I’m used to from wool. The colours in this fibre are absolutely glorious.

spinWIPs June 001

This is some carded wool bought at a hobby store when I first started experimenting with spinning. It was natural-coloured, so I dyed with some bags of Kool-Aid grape. I divided the fibre, all 250 grams, into several pieces of different sizes, wet them and put them into different microwave bags. I mixed up different amounts of the Kool-Aid, poured into the different bags, closed them and steamed the packages for 40 minutes. I’m very excited to see what the finished yarn looks like. I’m spinning it on my Bosworth midi in maple using what I think is long draw. Since this is a carded fibre, and the dyeing process compacted the fibre a little, I thought that woollen spinning would suit it nicely.

We went on a drive this weekend. Long drives = excellent knitting time, but because I’m the designated map reader/juice dispenser/peace keeper/CD changer the car is not a good place for my Faroese Shawl (Rav link), so I decided to bust some stash and cast on for a top-down raglan t-shirt using my Idena silk yarn.

silkyarn

Now, because this yarn was purchased when I was a very new knitter, this t-shirt will be called “The three-dyelot t-shirt” (yes, really!). I picked a ball and cast on 100 stitches and knit a couple of rounds the night before and packed the newly-cast-on project in a bag for the drive. Settling into the passenger seat with my map book, my bag of juice bottles and CD stack, I pulled out the project and started knitting. I had knitted several rounds of seed stitch for the neckline before I realised that I had twisted the cast-on row before I joined to knit in the round. I thought I had checked carefully before I joined, but apparently not.

I ripped out and cast on 100 stitches again. Five rounds in, I realised that I had two purl stitches next to each other, and in examining how that came about I realised that I had a) placed two knit stitches next to each other at the beginning, and two purl stitches next to each other in the middle of the round and b) twisted the *%&/”# cast-on row again. This is what makes me wonder if I can even sort this blog post under category “lesson learnt” because apparently, it isn’t.

I cast on 100 stitches again, and started knitting, this time in garter stitch, as I didn’t trust myself to manage seed stitch. By the time we reached our destination, two and a half hours after setting off, I had less knitting done on my project than when we got in the car.

About

I knit and crochet. This is my log of ongoing and completed projects, mistakes made and lessons (hopefully) learnt. You can contact me at ceecrochet (a) gmail.com

My patterns

Airy Baby Blanket Tiny Party Clutch Notions and Trinkets Bag One Skein Baby Set First handspun felted coin purse

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