Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Morning Knit Wit ~ Reversible Cable Scarf

It is almost the end of February and we woke up to yet more snow today.  I was kinda hoping that spring would be showing her face soon, but here we are covered in white.

Today I can't help but show off my newest scarf. I combined some of my own hand spun alpaca yarn that has a bold colorway that goes from yellow to orange to reds with a commercial solid orange alpaca, merino, silk blend. The alpaca gives it softness and the merino gives it memory while the silk provides just a tad bit of sheen.

The cables are on both sides, making this one totally reversible and there is absolutely no curling in on the sides. It drapes perfectly and if I do say so myself, is just about the best one I've ever made. Now - I could be a bit too attached as I've spun the yarn and knit the scarf. Almost like a mother being proud of her babies.

In any event, here it is ~ Orange Colorway Cable Handknit Scarf in Alpaca Merino Silk Blend

The front has 3 rows of cables while the back has 2 rows. I worked the cables on the back while purling, which is something I have never done before.  It isn't much different that working them on knit stitches.  The only difference is I held the cable needle in the back rather than front when purling. 

What are you working on this weekend?  I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Recent Reads - Stormy Weather

I throroughly enjoyed this book and found myself thinking about what will happen next during the day, awaiting the time I could read some more.

Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles takes place in Texas during the Dust Bowl/Depression and it is not aa depressing story as you may think.  It is rather up beat for the times and although the family in the story experience some really tough times, they always seem to keep it together as best as they can.

I think I will carry this story with me for a long time as a reminder that no matter how many challenges life throws at me, I will never have experienced extreme hard times. 

I rate this one a 4.5!  Give it a try ♥

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fresh From the Wheel ~ Alpaca Merino Silk Blend

I had such a fun time spinning this alpaca merino silk blend.  It was exceptional during the spinning process and just flowed through my fingers. 

The roving was purchased from Corgi Hill Farm on etsy and was one of my most pleasant spinnings yet! 

Here is a little about my process: 
After spinning 2 spools,  I respun them together in the opposite direction.  (Called plying) 

 Once that was done, the yarn is wound on a Niddy Noddy to keep it all straight and managable

 I then soak it in conditioner for about 20 minutes and let it hang dry for 2 days.

The end result ~  3.5 oz of gorgeous soft yarn,  just waiting to be made into something special

This is yarn is listed for sale in my etsy shop, but if it isn't sold by the time I finish my current projects, I may just pull it out of the shop and use it myself.  It's just lucious!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Morning Knit Wit ~ Honeycomb Scarf

I couldn't be more proud of this honeycomb scarf that I knit with my very own handspun wool.  This yarn was just screaming to be be knit into a textured item, and the honeycomb design was a perfect solution. 

The honeycomb design is nothing more than alternating directions of cable work and although it looks difficult, if you can cable, you can make honeycomb.  In fact, this knit up surprisingly quickly.

Honeycomb is worked in multiples of 8 stitches with whatevery you want on either side.  For this scarf, I just added 3 stitches that are knit (both front and back) to give it a solid edge.  I have 8 rows of garter sitch on each end as well.   To keep the garter stitch edges from 'rolling', I needed to cast on a few less stitches at the beginning and decrease a few stitches at the end. 

This is a a fun pattern and once your stitches are established, you can easily memorize the the work so it is a great project to work on if you have several intruptions as you can always figure out where you left off.

The cables are worked with either holding the cable needle in front or in back of your work.  This will determine which way the cable will slant.  So pay attention to F or B on the cable  rows.

You can make this scarf any size you like and gauge does not matter.  I used size 7 needles and the yarn would be equivalent to a heavy worsted weight yarn.  My scarf measures 5.5 inches wide and 48 inches long, but you can make it any length you would like.

Garter Stitch (Knit ever row - front and back)
C4F – Cable 4 stitches - Slip first 2 knit stitches onto double pointed needle and hold in front of work. Knit next 2 stitches from left hand needle then knit the 2 stitches directly from the double pointed needle.
C4B – Cable 4 stitches - Slip first 2 knit stitches onto double pointed needle and hold in back of work. Knit next 2 stitches from left hand needle then knit the 2 stitches directly from the double pointed needle.

Cast on 26 (the math does not make sense at this point, but you will increase 4 stitches at the last row of garter stitch)

Garter stitch for 7 rows.  On the last garter stitch row increase 4 stitches evenly.  You now have 30 stitches - 24 for the honeycomb work and 3 on each edge.

Row 1 - Knit
Row 2 - K3, P 24, K3
Row 3 - K3, (C4B, C4F) * 3 times, K3
Row 4 - K3, P 24, K3
Row 5 - Knit
Row 6 - K3, P 24, K3
Row 7 - K3, (C4F, C4B) * 3times, K3
Row 8 - K3, P 24, K3

Repeat these rows to desired length.

Knit 8 rows of garter stitch and remember to evenly decrease 4 stitches on the first row of garter work.

Bind off and weave in loose ends.

I hope you enjoy this scarf pattern ~  Happy Knitting ♥

Until next week, keep the needles clicking

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fresh From the Wheel ~ Samoyed Dog

Yes - you read that right!  I have spun some fabulous yarn from dog hair.

When my co-worker, Don, showed me a picture of his dog Blue, my first questions were,  Does he shed? How soft is his hair?  Can I have some?  When he brought me a small bag of it I was elated!

 Blue is a breed known as a Samoyed that originated in Russia. Taken from the web: Samoyeds have a dense, double layer coat. The topcoat contains long, coarse, and straight guard hairs, which appear white but have a hint of silver coloring. This top layer keeps the undercoat relatively clean and free of debris. The under layer, or undercoat, consists of a dense, soft, and short fur that keeps the dog warm. The undercoat is typically shed heavily once or twice a year, and this seasonal process is sometimes referred to as "blowing coat". This does not mean the Samoyed will only shed during that time however; fine hairs (versus the dense clumps shed during seasonal shedding) will be shed all year round, and have a tendency to stick to cloth and float in the air. The standard Samoyed may come in a mixture of biscuit and white coloring, although pure white and all biscuit dogs are common. Males typically have larger ruffs than females.

Because I don't have a drum carder, I spun the yarn straight from the wads of hair from the bag, so mine came out a bit 'lumpy bumpy', but I actually love the texture. I did not separate the outer coat from the under coat, so it is mixed with softness and some wirey hair.

I wasn't sure how dog hair would stand up in a traditional knitted garment, so I decided to make a keepsake felted bowl for Don and his family. This yarn actually felted nicely and has a softness that does not even compare to merino wool. I had a bit left over and made Mrs. Don a crocheted flower pin as well.

Don says that in the spring, Blue will shed an entire garbage bag full of hair. I'm hoping he will share that with me and at that time I will pick through it and just spin the under coat, which is almost as soft as my Angora bunny's hair! And, it will be a nice summer time project (spinning on the porch so my house isn't full of dog hair!)

I guess you can say that I've joined the hopelessly addicted group of people known as spinners. I no longer look at a dog and say, "What a cute dog".... I know say, "Humm.... could I give that hair a spin?"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fresh From the Wheel ~ 3 Ply Natural Romney and Shetland Blend

I just finished spinning a fantastic natural blend of Romney and Shetland wool.  This roving was purchased from smokeymountainfibers on etsy and it was a joy to work with! 

I found that it drafted so easily and I was able to keep it pretty consistent, although almost thread-like.  Because it was so fine, I decided to try doing 3 ply for the first time.  And even with 3 ply, it is closest to a fingering weight that worsted.  

It is a bit coarse so I'm sure this will make a great outer scarf filled with cables that pop. I'm thinking something along the line of an Irish design for this! 

What's on your wheel?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Morning Knit Wit - New Ascot Cable Pattern

Cables are my thing..  I can't seem to knit something that doesn't have a cable or two. I really love the way they add texture and and movement to a knitted item. I find knitting plain stockinette stitch really boring and will loose interest almost immediately if there isn't some type of cable work within the project.

I've been working on the design for this cable neckwarmer for quite some time and my cable ascot neckwarmer pattern is finally perfected and available for sale on etsy.  This was one that was a long time in the making, but well worth the modifications. 

Although it looks like it is pretty difficult, if you can make cables, it is pretty easy (I knit the entire neckwarmer in a total of 4 hours). I worked closely with my tester and together, we streamlined the instructions to make it easy to follow and have a really cool check off grid to make sure you stay on track!
What I like most about this pattern is by simply changing directions of the cables mid-way, a beautiful diamond is formed in the center of the neck in the back. And, of course my signature cables on each edge make scalloped edges stand out.

This is available in pattern form on etsy and ravelry for the DIYers, or I have a few fininshed versions on etsy and artfire.

I have a few more ascot style patterns being worked on, so stay tuned for some fun new patterns coming soon!

Until next week - keep your needles clicking and stay warm!