Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Well Granny Tan sucked me into something else... and I'm not talking about the wine drinking until 3 am on Sat night... (Tan's dog, Clancy finally konked out while waiting for us to go to bed)
Yikes! I'm talking about spinning my own yarn. Because the knitting has Tim so turned on - I had to add to it.... We went to the spinning class at London-Wul on Saturday afternoon. It's official, I'm the worse student on the planet. I have no patience for class time. Although the information was really interesting. Even if I never spin again, it was good to learn about the different fleece and where it comes from and how it is processed. As someone with allergies to everything, this is important information. Although I did nearly have a cow when we realized we had wool oil on our hands (lanolin) which I am allergic too.... But understanding where different types of yarn comes from is half of my battle.

I was having a hard time in class. I'm rush through things. Our teacher, Heidi, picked up on this right away. At home I take my time and it is working better for me. Here are the different wools we did in class. The top is a 2 ply of carded wool and combed wool. I found the pulworth (the white wool) hard to work with. The bottom is the mohair. I loved working with it.
I had bought some New Zealand combed wool earlier in the week in anticipation of the class. It's beautiful but I won't touch it until I feel comfortable that I can make it into a nice yarn. I'm not there yet.
I picked up some Icelandic combed wool before I left London-Wul to practice with. It's got nice short, rough fibers so it winds up into yarn nicely (I think I just screwed up every bit of vocabulary I just learned... oy vey!). I also picked up some more mohair.
I'm spinning the Icelandic when I have time. (Currently I'm trying to finish my brother's other wool sock for Feb. 1st - and it has to be mailed to him in Ontario!) It's coming up thick in spots but I'm okay with that because I'm going to knit my first mittens with it and probably felt them with a fancy fun yarn cuff. I loved how the Icelandic wool felted for the slippers I made so I'm kind of addicted.
Ah, the world of knitting... it's very therapeutic isn't it. It seems to nourish the soul.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Necessity of Good Needles

This week I got some plastic needles to try instead of the metal needles I was using to make my brother's socks.

These are fantastic! I may actually knit more socks. I don't need a thimble and they don't poke my in the wrist since they are somewhat flexible. Hopefully it means this sock will knit up quicker than the last one. I only have 3 days to get it finished!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Hunter's Toque

I finished the toque to go with my brother's socks for his birthday. I have about 3 days to do his other sock and I'll still have to send it express for him to get it in time. I got new plastic needles to do the second sock so I hope those work better for me. I found the metal ones really painful to use. I had to knit with a thimble on my left pointer finger so I could push the needle through the knit stitches.

Anyway, here's the finished front side of the hat. It was done on regular needles in a bulky acrylic.

I had a problem sewing it up as per the instructions. And my mom had to tell me to use the matching colour to sew up the matching area so you couldn't see the seam. My first attempt followed the pattern but I just couldn't get it. I like to be shown, not just read how to do it. It was counter-intuitive to me and turned out horrible. The picture does not do it justice.

I had to take it out and try again. I did it as I would sew up a seam if I were sewing fabric. I do know how to sew and this made sense to me. It also worked much better. Now I am pleased with the hat!

Now I must get back to knitting that second sock. I hope it takes me less time then the first one or my brother will go on his fishing trip and come back before he has his warm hunter's socks!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bright Orange Socks

I started these socks for my brother for his birthday coming up on Feb 1st. He goes ice fishing every winter so I thought these would be nice and warm and toasty. However, after spending 4 hours getting the yarn from a hank to a ball and drinking 2 bottles of Merlot (with Tim, not alone) I shouldn't have started knitting that night. You may be able to notice the 2 rows at the top where the yarn is carried over.... Okay so don't start something new after 2 bottles of Merlot. And if you look a little further down the sock you will see what looks like a hole, it's not but one shouldn't be knitting and watching a really good football game at the same time (hey, it's the playoffs!). Especially when one must pay attention each time I had to start a new needle with a purl. I wasn't getting the right tension. It's okay I got it all figured out. But unravelling with 4 needles?! Yikes, I wasn't about to attempt that. So the socks will go with this little endearing flaws... And an explaination that I hope my brother finds amusing.

I realized, after consultation with Granny Tan, that I had not turned the heel on my first sock correctly. It was okay because they were the felted slipper socks (must make more of those, they are lovely). But this time I needed to get them right. As you can see, I have properly turned my first heel. It's a bit of a let down though because I had gotten excited when I thought I had done it before while knitting the slipper socks. Oh well.

Like the bright orange? I'm planning to also knit my brother a hat to go with the socks for his gift. I have the same bright orange and some nice dark green to make his hat. And Granny Tan graciously took my second hank of the orange wool and made it into a ball on her ball making contraption. Thanks Tan!

Friday, January 12, 2007

My delirious jump into the world of knitting.

I have a friend whom I call Granny Tan. She is a few years younger than me but she knits like a little old soul. She is totally addicted. I thought she was nuts.. I mean what do you do with those 2 needles? I had tried knitting as a child. Garter stitchon white wool for a scarf. Do you know that kids don't tend to have clean hands? My scarf quickly ended up with a sort of brownish strip through it. *sigh* I would not be carrying on the proud family knitting tradition.

Over the years I have learned to cross stitch quite well, even taking a friends wedding invitation and converting it by myself, to a cross stitch work. I have learned to sew and for a while, made many clothing and gift items. I like to paint pottery and ceramics. I also make wreaths, table centerpieces, ornaments, etc. I'm pretty crafty. So this Christmas, for the first time in roughly 15 years, I had the time and energy to make most of my gifts homemade. So I set out to make jewelry and paint ceramics for most of my gift recipients. The women on my list were no problem, but what about the men? What would be quick, cost effecient and useful to men? Then I though of Granny Tan. I had already commissioned her to create some felted purses for some of the ladies on my Christmas List. She does amazing work. Here's a pic of the mohair shawl she gave me for my birthday and the felted market bag she did for me for no particular reason.

So I thought " how about making scarves for the men for Christmas?". Granny Tan and I were scheduled to go on a road trip later that month so I could pick her brain for 4 days straight if I needed to. So I told Tan my plan and she gave me my one and only lesson that week. I started with the cotton dishcloth pattern. Super easy and because it's so quick you get instant gratification. Nothing like a little positive reinforcement to keep you knitting! I moved on to scarves pretty quickly since I was on a time crunch. I don't have a single picture of any of the scarves I knit because I quickly sent them away. But I'm going to start snapping pics now! So stay tuned, because there is always something on the needles around here.

Oh and those purses I had commissioned Tan to do for me... I ended up finishing them up myself. And they turned out great. I do have pictures of one I did for my niece. I'm going to do one for myself in the reverse colours.

Felted Lopi Slippers

After spending the Christmas rush making scarves, a couple of felted purses and those cotton dishclothes, I thought it was time to try something a little more challenging. Granny Tan makes socks all the time and was confident I could handle 4 needles. I had purchased some Icelandic Lopi wool to make something for Tim, my better half. He has actually been to Iceland and I thought he would appreciate my creating something out of wool from there. Only problem was that I didn't have time before Christmas. I ended up with enough Lopi to do at least 2 pairs of felted slippers and a hat. Here's the first pair of felted slippers. I love them. I love how the Lopi felts!

In my last post I spoke of felted purses I had completed before Christmas. They felted totally differently. It's really interesting to see the varying impact felting has on different wools. Jeez this is fun!