Sunday, April 27, 2014


I was going to name this post Muddling, but between the smooth touch keypad on the ipad and my typing spelling autocorrect suggested Idling - which in the weird way auto correct works suits better. For me autocorrect is mostly so wrong it's funny and rarely very very right. We have just started the second week of a two week break from work, school, and all that gets in the way of hobbies and interests. I'm old enough to know that holidays don't always mean that lots gets done, and that there is value in spending time as things occur instead of rushing along with an arbitrary self imposed timeline. That seems a long version of saying for someone who has had a week to play there is not much to show. The cardigan is still in the work basket, the socks have made progress ... but mostly last week was all about spinning, and beading, both are slow-food projects.

This is a finished bobbin of singles waiting to ply, the fiber is a mixture of things including some sparkly stuff. I love this wheel, the vintage Pipy Wendy, although I do find she makes a bit more noise than my newer wheels. Not a loud noise, a visitor described it as a bit like clockwork, a quick mechanical metal noise. I love the way the treadle fits two feet, and how easy the tension is to adjust, the minute threads of the screw thread are prefect for teeny tiny adjustments. I love that having found the sweet spot for this project I didn't have to adjust anything for the entire bobbin. I've explored the Pipy forum on and discovered a possible fix where the back bearing is switched out for a nylon one. The fix uses a nylon bush from a auto parts bonnet repair kit, which means a trip to the land of auto parts supply stores and possible weird conversation with a sales person asking what make of car and not understanding when I say it's for a wooden and brass spinning wheel. I'm tempted to try that, but knowing me that means sometime in the next few years, somethings I need to do NOW other things are on my sometime list. Now I have finished spinning this single I think I will replace the drive band, right now it is short and the flier frame sits at a downward angle, ideally I suspect the frame should sit nearer to horizontal. I was wary about changing things that are set up and work well mid project, but am happy to do so now the single is spun.

The adapted legs for my slate frame are working well, a little higher than the table top set that came from lacis - but far more stable. Higher is good, but my arms are getting use to the new angle of working. In use there is still a faint wiff of the linseed and wax mixture I used to finish the wood - not unpleasant but I will be looking forward to that fading away soon. I use the same mixture on all the nice old wood in my house ... Guess that after a while all those things will be the same soft shade of waxed and oiled wood - one way to achieve a sense of cohesion in visual decor that I never planned but is happening.

And a closer view of the frame pinned to the leg. I've found that the frame is the most stable if the legs are positioned at the far corners of the frame. Physics could have told me that, I've also discovered that as the legs add weight the frame is a little more tricky to move around - but not impossible.

I've also found a use for several broke wooden straight knitting needles, as thread spool holders. I just drop the needle down through the spool of thread and pin it to one of the unused adjustment holes in the slate frame! These were some I bought for little cub who prefers straight needles, problem is wooden needles are fragile and there have been a few sacrificed over the past few years. Each was too pretty to throw away ... And now I have the perfect use for them.

I've also been spinning a three ply ... after rewatchingJudith Mackenzie's plying DVD I am leaning more towards three ply for knitting with. The extra ply just evens out any hand spinning inconsistencies more than a two ply can. I've no idea how this yarn will look, as I am not attempting to match the colour runs in the fiber over the three bobbins. I know a two ply yarn where both plies differ in colour are called barber pole yarns - but what is the same effect with a three pliƩ called? I feel that something clicked with my spinning and I'm finally able to become more consistent with drafting - so I am looking forward to seeing and using the results if this spinning. I am near the end of the second bobbin, so only one a pond a bit to go. That last bobbin might be an unofficial goal for this week. I also found a great tip on a ravlery thread about spinning for socks that I have tucked away for the next spinning project. One of the best and worst of having time to read and find and think is knowing that what one finds shouldn't be incorporated mid project that would change everything. Having something to play with for the next project provides a sense of promise, and a quiet excitement about something to look forward to exploring. I think I may have four projects on spinning wheels and less than that on the needles ....I have no idea if that makes me a spinning knitter or a knitting spinner, it does mean I am enjoying this week a lot.

And socks, one gansey sock for the large footed cub is done and the second one started. Like all second socks it's smoother the second time round, and I was so glad I made notes about sizing as I cast on for the 72 stitch size the after the rib deceased to the 64 stitch size. I had a vague memory of mixing up the sizes but without my notes would have been reduced to counting stitches in the finished sock. I guess the artifact is itself a workbook of sorts, but not as easy to acces as a written note of stitch counts.

This sock is top down where as usually I prefer toe up. In the scheme of things direction a sock is knit is a very minor point, but somehow seeing a finished toe is more satisfying than seeing a finished cuff to my eyes. What I do like about this sock is the way the gusset is integrated into both the side panel, the heel flap, and the side of the instep. Moss stitch is used, along with a little section of garter stitch - and it all fits together very very neatly. Th decreases are mid moss stitch but somehow they look like they occur nearer the sole.

Today is wet and dull, to dull or really work on tambour things, for that clear natural light near a window seems best. So today I will spin, and knit, and maybe bake ....bread or cake, maybe both!

Na Stella


Monday, April 21, 2014

This year Easter is school holidays

Which in this case means a full two weeks off work, at home, with cubs, and the kind of weather that means staying indoors is a good plan. I've been knitting, even finishing a body of knitting, done some frogging - because knitting seamless means you can and should try things on - and adjust for size before a whole sleeve is knit. And I've also been adding to my embroidery kit ...finally making some sturdy legs to hold my slate frame up off the table in an elegant way. And there has been a new project started - but it's a secret, for the local mid-winter swap, so I can't tell you about that in too much detail.


This is the knitters study group hat, constructed sideways with short rows, and the seam covered by a leaf motif. The leaves are also worked as the lower edge of the hat. Iover the years I've worked my way through a variety of short row techniques, starting with classic wrap and turn, in all its forms - lifting the wrap and knitting it, lifting the wrap and adjusting the mount so the resultant knit stitch lays flatter. I've also been a big fan of Japanese short rows, and never really mastered yarn over short rows which some call German short rows. More recently I think I have found my holy grail of short rows, the paired, shadow or twin stitch. I first discovered these in the FLKH sock pattern, where they are called twinned stitch honors rows, but have since come across the. Under many names. I love these, they are easy to work easy to see when worked, and melt into the fabric like - well a shadow on a dull day. When ever I worked wraped stitches there was always some little hint of the working, a looser stitch or a bump in the work - no so with shadow wraps.

So the hat, it's soft as only something with 20% cashmere can be and in blocking it fuzzed delightfully. I worked the full eight leaves /short row wedges, and after initial tussles with the chart on the first leaf found the pattern quite straightforward. The chart does have an error, which is listed as errata on the ravelry page - but for a chart it is not very visual. None of the increases or decreases line up, which is weird, when knit they do, and the chart has lines which are offset as the leaf increases and decreases - so there is no reason the pattern should visually line up.

This is the hat blocking, on a hand blow glass bowl that upside down is just is perfect for blocking hats. When worn the hat has a nice amount of slouch ...and matches both cubs eyes nicely ... so I assume it matches mine. Blue eyes run in the family, bear has them as well.

Folded the hat makes a lovely shape, it's long rather than round ...which I guess is how the slouch happens. Before blocking the leaves were bowed, concave, cupped, post blocking they were much more relaxed, nice and flat.

Not sure if you remember these, the remains of Bears grandmas dining table, I think these were the tips of turned table legs. In this condition they are about 50 years old, as far as we know, and the table would have been older than that. We found them twenty years ago tucked away against the wall if the carport, saved for some future use. Last year I rediscovered them and realised that they would make excellent legs for supporting a slate embroidery frame above the table. Yesterday bear drilled out holes in the tops and I added cork to the bases.

The cork was to provide a slightly soft, and grippy stable base to the turned wood bits. I want to call them legs but as they have been trimmed to wee short things stumps seems a better term. So yesterday I sanded, trimmed cork, sanded the edges, glued cork to the bases, and rubbed the wood with a wax and linseed oil polish. Today I plan to set up the frame, and test it by working on my circle beaded sampler ... and knit a little on my secret swap knitting, and make bread, and hang out washing, and keep the cat company, and make a lunch that doesn't need to be transported easily to work, and all the things that I can't do when work looms large in my day.

Take care, I know there are more things to blog about ... So all going well another post might happen this week.



Saturday, April 05, 2014


Today's post is another in the line of finishing and plodding. There is a baby due at work, the mother leaves at Easter to make that transition from working couple to family of three with the 'responsibility' of a child. I've been there, and survived, and like most parents found that it was both more work and easier than I imagined. Easier in that at the end of the day if your baby is alive, growing, feed, warm, and showing an interest in the world you have succeeded, more work in that it takes all your mind, all your waking hours and some that you would rather be asleep during. Scary in that there is this little helpless living person totally depent on you, and wonderful in when you get it right they smile, sleep and grow.

A few months ago, well last year to be truthful another work friend gifted me a fleece. I embarked on my first real project of fleece to knit project, I washed, flicked, carded, spun, plied, knit, and blocked. The finished blanket is 580g, and probably more a cot blanket than a crib blanket.

The pattern was Quadrature for Kerrigan, but foreshortened. As I carded and spun I realised that I either had two fleeces, one short dark grey brown, blocky locks and soft, the other longer, grey less soft and paler grey locks. At first I processed the locks as they came to hand, then as I got more a feel for the fiber I began to select out locks of simillar colour and feel. I ended up wth skeins that varied in colour, at first more variegated and then either light or dark grey. I decided to use the different colour skeins to mark the transition in the pattern from blanket center to blanket border.

I loved the pattern but was a little confused by the options. I'd been attracted by the stocking stitch center, and the garter border with the twisting cable at the corners. As I read the pattern I realised there were options, I could have a stocking stitch edge or other variations. I knew I was working with the yarn I had ... Rather than spinning yarn to make the pattern as written, so I followed the pattern as a guide rather than a rule. When I realised that I didn't have enough yarn to complete the boarder with its three twisted bubble cables I decided to finish the blanket with a single bubble at each corner and mid point. It still has a nice wide boarder but I wonder how much more dramatic it would be if the boarder was the size specified in the pattern.

I also needed a more portable project and fell back on washcloths. I prefer the term wash cloth over dishcloth as ours are used for more than dishes. I had three colours of sugar and cream cotton, in size medium. I love the colours but find this weight dries to slow here to leave damp, even when wrung out the cloths are cold and wet to pick up and use later. Bear wanted some heavier clothes to use in cleaning and this seemed a perfect solution. Knit thick durable cloths that could be used then tossed into the laundry. Patterns are double bump, Chinese waves and snakes and ladders, 5.5mm needles and all cast on 41 stitches. I think I have enough yarn left to knit a multi stripe one or two.

This week was iD fashion week in dunedin, so there have been lots of talks and shows and events ... All of which coincided with a blood test revealing a rather low iron count. Some how knowing I had a physical reason to feel tired made me feel more tired. Good news is I'm taking iron and vitamin c tablets, eating lots of high in iron foods, and cutting back on the iron sapping foods and activities. I am looking so forward to this coming week, of having a little more energy, plus Deirdre Nelson is talking at work, and it's only a few weeks until the next holiday.

Take care, na Stella