Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sweater Update – On the Home Stretch!

And I really am on the home stretch! I got the sleeves attached and started working up to the neckline last weekend. I’d be finished by now, but I goofed and had to frog back sixteen rows. Since I was afraid to just lay it on a table, remove the needles, and start ripping, I “tinked” back the entire sixteen rows one stitch at a time!

I know, I know! And if the yarn had been wool, I wouldn’t have worried, but the silk is SOOOO slippery! I had visions of the entire sweater unraveling before I could stop it. I kept telling myself that the process was important, and I’d finish up the sweater this weekend instead of this week…and not-so-patiently unknitted the entire sixteen rows!

Once I was finished with the tinking, I started knitting again, this time binding off the center front stitches and beginning to work flat for the neckline short rows. I’m now within a half-dozen rows of finished! Then I’ll do the 6 rows of seed stitch for the neckline edging and bind off.

Then it’s wash and wear! I’ve woven in the ends as I’ve gone along, and got impatient with the tinking and went ahead and sewed the underarm seams night before last. So the finishing chores will be quite minor. I am slightly concerned about the finishing, though. I washed the yarn, and some of it isn’t as color-fast as I might wish. I’ll wash it with a color sheet and then rinse in vinegar water – hopefully that will be enough to keep me from having to buy Synthrapol before next month’s supplies order.

Now it’s time to start thinking about my next project…

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Dribs and Drabs...

"What's some of the things you guys have knit during the last year?"

The question was asked on a list I enjoy. It stuck in my mind, and I finally realized why. Making a list of accomplishments is a positive reinforcement - something various therapists recommend as an antidote to depression! It is January, and I have been feeling blue - it's cold, and cloudy, and my bones are aching.

So here goes - my list of finished projects during 2004:

1. I knitted a 72-inch square lace baby shawl from handspun merino-clun forest cross for my first grandson. The spinning was done from locks spun in the grease during my public demonstrations during 2003. I actually spun all of the singles during demos - plying was done on 'my' time, though. The finished shawl is a lovely thing - a garter stitch center done in a diamond and bordered with an 18-inch deep feather and fan border. Edging was simple - just a few rows of garter stitch and a crocheted bind-off. But the shawl is beautiful, and much treasured!

2. I did two pair of socks for myself from handspun. Lace patterns in both, nice simple knitting for stressed-out times. I'm wearing a pair of these now, to keep my feet warm in our current cold snap.

3. I designed, spun the superwash wool, and knitted two cardigans for the grandchildren's Christmas. This was a fun project, since they're both so small (2 and a half years and 6 months). I finished up both cardigans from initial idea to sewing on the buttons in less than a month.

4. I designed, spun the Shetland wool, and knitted a rectangular shawl for my mother for Christmas. This was a long-term project, begun in late summer and finished up the week before Christmas. Probably took so long because it was so complicated! I used Shetland lace patterns, but knit the shawl Orenburg fashion. That required lots of concentration, and I could only work on it when I wasn't hurting too much! But the finished shawl is lovely, and Mother loves it - she's been wearing it all the time!

5. I spun the wool and made a set of Swedish color-patterned gloves for a young friend for Christmas. She loves them, especially since they fit her very small hands!

6. I made a mohair-blend ear warmer for a work friend who jogs for a Christmas gift. Also a much-appreciated gift that she wears all the time.

7. I knitted a dozen or so dishcloth/washcloths for gifts.

8. I designed and knitted my first sweater back in the late winter from some lovely medium wool - a project that took courage. And sure enough, while I don't particularly care for the finished sweater, it got me over my fear of this sort of project. Now I'm working on a sweater for me again - and this one's going fast! I love the fabric and design on this one, too, and expect to get lots of wear from it.

9. And I forgot - I spun and dyed an alpaca-wool blend and made my first pair of gloves during my January 2004 doldrums! I'm still wearing these, and they're so warm and cozy!

Gee, when I see it all written down, I accomplished a lot during 2004! And I feel better - how about that! What about everyone else? If you feel up to it, do your own list and share, please? I love reading about everyone else's projects!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


It's actually looking like a sweater - albeit in pieces! I bound off the underarm stitches yesterday, and started the first sleeve on double-points. Now I need to get that sleeve onto a circular needle and finished up. Then it's on to the second sleeve and the upper part of the body.

This has been such entertaining knitting! The continual color changes keep me knitting along just to see what comes up next and how it will look with the row or rows before. I was afraid the straight stockinette fabric would get quite boring, and that this would languish in my UnFinished Object bin forever. But I can see that I might actually be wearing this before too long - another month, tops!

So I might actually get to that square or circular shawl I want to do for myself this year, after all!

Monday, January 17, 2005

To the Sleeves!

My sweater is coming right along - if I didn't really need to meet some friends for lunch and do some shopping, I'd probably get one sleeve done today! I finished up the body (to the underarms) last night. Now to do just a bit of refiguring to modify the originally-planned short sleeves to 3/4 length, and I can cast on and knit.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Fabric from "Sari Silk" fiber Posted by Hello

New Year, New Projects in the Works!

The Christmas gifts are all completed and given to their recipients. Everything that needed adjustment or finishing up is done. Now I'm free to play with something just for me!

I've been spinning for a summer sweater off and on since last summer. A fellow spinner and HGA rep, Teresa Simmons, posted that she had obtained some "sari silk" and offered a special price. As a weaver myself, I'd always been horrified by the waste of a half-yard or more of warp threads on every warp I put on my floor looms. Taking the waste silk and recycling it into yarn sounded intriguing.

I had actually seen some of the recycled silk yarn at a shop in Indianapolis when I was there on a trip last winter. I loved the colors and the feel, but remarked to my DH at the time that I could do a much better spinning job - the yarn was way too thick for my taste.

So I ordered a pound of the "sari silk" from Teresa. When it arrived, it was pretty much what I expected - bundles/skeins of warp threads about 18-36 inches long, with tabby-woven headers to keep the threads in place. I decided to work on the dining room table - not always the best place, but I knew I could get this job done before suppertime. I carefully took each bundle apart and got a sharp pair of dressmakers' shears from the sewing closet. I added a large brown paper grocery bag, placing it on the floor next to my chair. Then I began cutting each set of warp threads into 5- to 6-inch lengths and dropping them into the grocery bag. As I reached the headers, I found that I had already made the decision on whether to unravel that header or not, and placed them in two piles.

When I had worked my way through the pound, I had approximately 12-13 ounces of spinning fiber. That's a pretty good yield - I usually get only about 8 ounces of spinnable fiber from a pound of wool or alpaca or other animal fiber. But I didn't think it was enough for a sweater...

After thinking for a day or two, I emailed Teresa and bought another pound of "sari silk". I went through the same process, with one change - I had to dye about a quarter of the second pound. It was orange, and I not only don't care for orange, I absolutely cannot wear it. I truly do look like a candidate for "worst mortuary mistake of the century" in anything orange. That's challenging when you live in the immediate neighborhood of the University of Tennessee! But I overdyed the orange with burgundy and got a beautiful deep port-wine color shot with glints of metallic threads I hadn't even seen until the dyeing was completed!

Again I set up the dining room table and cut the various lengths into spinning fiber. My DH and I were off on a vacation the next week, and I took the fiber along - and my spinning wheel! The Rose is a really good traveler, luckily, and doesn't take up a lot of room. I played with the new fiber during my vacation, learning how best to spin it. I finally started carding the handsful I pulled from the bag lightly, then spun a very thin singles very tightly - to keep the slippery threads locked into place. I then navaho-plied into a fingering-weight finished yarn. The navaho-plying kept the various colorways together nicely, and the yarn was beautiful, with a slight halo from escaping ends. But after a single bobbin of 400 yards, I had to put the project aside for Christmas gifts.

New Year's Eve, with the Christmas projects behind, I started spinning another bobbin. The spinning went quickly, and I finished up the next bobbin before I went back to work on January 3. It was time to begin designing my sweater while I spun the final bobbin. I knew that would go much more slowly, since I can't find nearly as much time to spin when I'm working!

I pored over my books, bought a new one, and finally made a decision that I think will make the most of the yarn and still be a wearable design. Long sleeves were out, as were cap or sleeveless styles - I wanted a three-season sweater. A short- or three-quarter sleeved raglan should work. A raglan style worked in the round will eliminate seams, which would interfere with the drape of the silk fabric, yet still give enough structure to keep the garment from "growing" too drastically. And at least if it does grow, it won't pull up or bulge at seam lines!

Sampling helped me make a decision to knit the fabric at a gauge of 5 stitches per inch on size 6 needles. That should also help with stretching, as should a 1-inch seed-stitch border at bottom, sleeve cuffs, and neck. I like a simple crew neck, although I might change that to a more scoop-necked design when I get that far.

I started knitting last weekend, and have already finished about 10 inches of the body, and most of the first skein of yarn (400 yards). I've also been spinning for awhile each evening, and am almost finished with another bobbin of singles. Based on what I have so far, I should be able to finish easily with less than a pound of fiber.

Goody! That will leave me some to play with later on. I keep envisioning a soft wool carded with bits of this silk in a shawl, shrug or sweater for my daughter. Or perhaps even another summer sweater, if it can be stretched that far. After all, she can wear sleeveless styles for another couple of decades, and is much smaller than her mother!

The fabric I've knitted so far is so pretty! The picture is at the top of this entry. Even the men I work with are impressed, and several can't get over the feel of the fabric - because it's fuzzy, they think it should feel harsh. The weekend is coming up, and I can get a lot more done - I hope!