Sunday, January 30, 2011

Claudia Skirt Update: 72% complete

Its a stunningly sunny morning and the weather report promises full sunshine for the next few days.  Halleluiah! The rain and fog were so oppressive last week -- I don't care that I was 10 degrees celcius, all I wanted was some sun and view that went farther than 100 metres.

It was a good week knitting wise.  The Claudia Skirt is coming along nicely -- the eyelet pattern, while it looks complex, is easy to memorize and easy to read in your knitting.  This is good.  When it is easy to memorize and when you can tell from looking at your work what you need to do next, you can knit without balancing a pattern on your lap.  This makes it an excellent candidate for knitting on the bus and very crowded Skytrain. My morning commute is about an hour and ten minutes, and the evening commute is an hour and a half, I have a lot of time -- nearly 2 1/2 hours of knitting time.

Here's the lovely gal so far:

And here's a close-up of the eyelet pattern, it hasn't yet been blocked, but you can get the idea.

The eyelet lace starts about halfway down the thigh, so I have several more inches to go. On this round of knitting I increase 1 stitch in each of the repeats, there are 20 repeats in this pattern.  I love the way each repeat grows, accomodating the lace pattern and widening on the way down the leg. 

More to report on later on. . . .

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Progress Report on the Claudia Skirt: 52% complete

I mentioned in an earlier posting that I was fascinated by the Claudia Skirt by Ruth Sorensen.  I think I already 'fessed up to abandoning any hope of designing my own skirt pattern and purchasing the pattern because my obsession with the skirt was far, far greater than my design skills. I didn't know this, but when you buy a pattern from Ravelry -- or maybe anywhere online, you get it the next second.  Talk about consumer gratification. I wanted to knit it up as soon as possible, so the idea of using my own handspun was quickly replaced by the fact that I had some very nice left over yarn looking for a project.

A few summers ago I made myself the Adara Rainbow Shawl, buying the kit from Elann.  I was an easy knit and it's an amazingly versatile shawl.  It's great in the summer, dresses me up nicely for work, and can be used as a scarf in the winter.  Every time I wear it I get compliments from complete strangers.  The shawl used about 20g of each of the 12-50gram balls, so I have a lot left over. 

Hence, the fit.  A skirt I want to start knitting, lots of yarn made from fibres that have good drape necessary for a skirt.  It's a bit thicker than the yarn used in the pattern, but with quick swatching and calculations I figured I could make it just fine, if I used a pattern size down from my regular size.

Here it is so far:

I am 1cm away from beginning the eyelet pattern -- and no, my waist is not that slim, never has been and certainly isn't now.  It will get blocked and stretched, but a quick check already shows that it's on it's way to a good fit. 

Once you hit the eyelet pattern, there are many more increases making it a nice A-line shape.  In the box is the yarn I have left.  I don't think I will have enough to get me right to the end, so I will have to order a few balls more from  They are terrific and fast, so no worries there.

Stay tuned, I have a lot of commuting to do next week, hence a lot of knitting time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Two New Wheels

We have two new wheels in our home.  Well, they aren't new in the sense of just having come off the woodshop floor, they are new to me.

The first is a Majacraft Suzie that I purchased today from a dear friend.  As you can see, it is well used and shows the dents and scratches of having been tossed into the back seat of a car for transport to a guild meeting, or evening spin-in.  I'm giving it a good sanding and covering with natural Minwax, just to restore the old gal a bit.  Then a good rubbing with tung oil will keep the wood happy.

Isn't she a beauty?  I tried spinning on it while at Liz's house and really struggled with the double treadle -- it kept spinning the opposite way that I wanted it to go.  I am used to the single treadle, and if necessary, grabbing the spokes of the wheel and giving that a whirl to get things moving in the right direction.  Seems that I am right back a square on learning how to spin.

The next wheel that's new to the house is an Ashford Traditional.  This one has spent the last 17 years on display in someone's living room.  They decided to rennovate and change decorating themes, and alas, she needed a new home.  A generous woman called me and asked me if I'd take it off her hands, otherwise, it was going to be landfill.  I picked it up and was amazed to see that with only a wee bit of tinkering, this would be a fully functional wheel.

The top photo is the wheel sanded and washed.  The bottom photo is the wheel with one coat of "Early American 202" Minwax.  I think I'll do a couple of coats to bring out the richness of the wood.  It needs a drive band, brake band and tension nob.  No problemo.

These wheels will be added to my other two wheels, another Ashford Traditional and a Thumbelina - cute little castle wheel from New Zealand -- making a fleet of wheels.  I plan to teach spinning classes in my home this summer, and folks don't have to own a wheel yet. 

Gotta dream big.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Recent obsessions x 3

I completed the fibre kits for the Drop Spindling workshop at Fibreswest and in the process managed to activate my already over excited fibre brain.   

In my usual ADD way, as I was digging through boxes and bins to find llama, alpaca, silk, mohair and good old uncarded wool [all local except for the silk] I also made piles of sock yarn -- to perhaps create a self-imposed sock club like the Yarn Harlot; but then. . . . I started thinking about combining the fingering weight yarns to make thicker yarns and maybe just focus on some scarves like this one:

Then . . . in the midst of all of this comes the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild January Newsletter.  On the very last page was a local ad -- Majacraft Suzie with bobbins -- and it was listed at a terrific price.  It was a friend of mine from the guild, so I called her, had a chat and have arranged to see [and purchase] the wheel on Saturday. 

I have been spinning on an Ashford Traditional -- ever since I started spinning in 2000.  It's a great wheel, very affordable, still being made so you can easily obtain replacement parts, and it's a great looking wheel cause it looks like an old fashioned wheel. 

However, it has one speed -- the speed at which your foot can treadle.  This is fine if you want to make all the same yarn, but when you want to make fine fingering weight sock yarn or even lace weight with silk in it, you have to treadle at breakneck speeds.  That is simply no fun.  The Majacraft has several ratios, like gears, that allow the bobbin to spin at different rates, so your treadling is the same, you just get more bang for your physical efforts.  I am over the moon about this wheel and can't wait to get it tomorrow. 

Then . . . on the bus ride home the other day, I was reading the Yarn Harlot's blog, and absolutely fell in love with the Claudia Skirt [Ravelry link]. At first I thought I could figure it out on my own, after all I've been knitting for years and understand lace and increasing and so forth.  After several days of scratching around on paper and knitting swatches - and banging my head against the desk and throwing the knitting across the room -- I gave up and bought the pattern. 

And that's what I am working on at this moment. 

For now at least. :)

I have dreams of spinning up my lovely grey romney into enough yarn [with my new Majacraft of course] and knitting up the Claudia Skirt in my own -- locally sourced -- handspun. 

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Plan for Saturday

My plan for today is to start preparing fibre kits for the spinning workshop I will [hopefully, if enough people sign up] teach at Fibres West in March.  Participants will each receive a fibre kit for the workshop.  I want to put interesting and fun things into the kit - like alpaca, mohair and silk.  I also want to put in some amazingly prepared combed nests of fibre so the drafting of the fibres will be the least of their worries.  Thanks to my friend Kim, I have plenty of locally sourced fibres to choose from.

So that's the plan for today.  Yesterday, on the way into the city for a meeting, I started a pair of half mitts.  The meeting was grand and the kind that you knit through -- lots of talking, listening, sharing ideas, giving feedback.  The tip home was extra long because I was meeting my husband at his workplace, so I got in even more knitting time.  I actually finished the mitt - ABT - all but thumb, before the end of the day.  Here it is.

While I was waiting for hubby to finish work, I zipped over to my LYS - 88 Stitches, in Walnut Grove.  I managed to find some yarn I needed, and another skein that I just wanted.  Additionally, I bought another pair of SoxStix by Lantern Moon.  I purchased a 2.5mm set last week and I have been dreaming about them since.  They are truly amazing.  Made from Rosewood, these DPNs are strong, with a perfect point, and smooth, smooth, smooth.  So I had to have the 3mm as that is my other favourite size to work with. 

You get five needles in the set -- the other one didn't make the photo shoot.  They are expensive, certainly not as expensive as Signature DPNs! But more than I usually pay for knitting needles.  I don't care.  They make me very happy, and they will be used a lot.

Off to my workshop to card and comb fibre for the kits.  The second mitt will have to wait.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Year

I know it's a bit far into the new year to be wishing good tidings, but I've been busy lately.  I've been re-organizing/reclaiming my studio/workshop since the young lad has left.  Yes, the holiday season is over, he's back at work in Northern Alberta, and I can have my space back.

I did have these dreams, weeks ago, that over my Christmas holidays I would make yards and yards of yarn and card up pounds of interesting fibre blends.  I've done nothing of the sort.  Instead:

  • I cleaned and then decorated the house.
  • I baked three kinds of cookies, several breads and four Tourtiere.
  • I shopped, worried and wrapped presents.
  • I wrote cards and sent packages back east.
  • I sang carols with my youngest daughter night after night.
  • I put up outdoor Christmas lights.
  • I listened to Gift of the Magi by O. Henry on the radio one night and was reminded of the beauty of giving and the true nature of love.
  • I knit some last minute gifts for new folks at the table.
It was a nicely hectic time.  Hardly relaxing though. 

I spent the last week reorganizing my workspace. And now it's ready for me and I am ready for it.