Wednesday, November 30, 2011

100-Mile Christmas Stockings

Happy December everyone.  By the time you read this it will be the first of the month and therefore time to start decorating for Christmas.  I know these stockings may seem like a large project, but believe me, they knit up very quickly. These stockings are all knit with my locally sourced hand spun yarn -- with the occasional blast of novelty yarn thrown in.

I was inspired to make these Christmas stockings by desire to have a unique gift for every member of my family.  As a sock knitter, I really enjoyed making these stockings. First, they are knit on large needles so they work up really fast. Second, it’s a great way to use up all those left over mini balls of yarn that build up in a knitter’s stash each year.  And finally, because you are making each one to be unique, you don’t have to stress yourself by trying to match the second sock! The bells add a sense of fancy and Christmas joy.  But you must be careful on Christmas Eve; their gentle jingling will give you away!

You don't need to buy chunky weight yarn to make these; in fact they look much better when you create a chunky weight yarn by combining 2 (or more) strands of DK weight yarn.  When you do this you have a better chance to play with colour and texture.  And don't worry about making it all the same yarn weight.  If you look closely at the red/white/and green stripe stocking at the end of this post, you will see how it bulges out at the green stripe.  That is because that was knit with a hand spun super chunky weight and I used it because I needed some green.  I liked the affect because it reminded me of a stocking that would be used in a Dr. Seuss book.

I hope you enjoy making these.  Here are some of the details and the pattern can be found through the link below.


Size: measurement from cuff to heel – 14 inches; from heel to toe 10 ½ inches.

Yarn: assortment of #3 DK light worsted yarns in Christmas colours like red, green, white.  The addition of other colours like orange, pink, blues and textured yarns with sparkles, add to the uniqueness.  The yarn will be doubled throughout to make a chunky yarn.  Patons Classic Wool, in a series of colours, held double, will do the trick as will your hand spun yarns.   You will need a total of 200 grams of yarn. 

Notions:  10 –½ inch brass bells

Needles:  4 double pointed, size 6mm or size needed to obtain correct gauge
Tapestry needle

Gauge:  In St st, 12sts and 18rows = 4”/10cm on size 6mm needles

This pattern is available for free on Ravelry.  Let me know what you think.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Grey Alpaca: Sample #1

The grey alpaca spins up beautifully and effortlessly.  This is important because I have a lot to make if I want to knit a skirt.  I spun this up on my Abby spindle, it's a simple, inexpensive and highly effective spindle that Abby Franquemont offers as part of her materials in her classes.  I like it because it's light, fast and I don't worry about busting it up in my travels.  I take it with me where ever I go and spin when ever I have time (and energy).

For my first sample, I spun  it fine with a "Z" twist.  That's turning the spindle clockwise to spin. I made sure the fibres were locked, but I didn't put a great deal of twist into it.  My goal is a soft, but strong yarn to withstand the pressures of being a skirt. I can't remember exactly how much I spun, but enough to make a good sized sample.  My goal was to make a cabled yarn.  That is a 4-ply yarn, so I needed a lot of yardage on this single.  

After I felt I had enough for the sample, I wound it off making a centre-pull ball, then I plied it, "S" twist - turning the spindle counter-clockwise.  I put a lot of twist into the 2-ply, as much as it could handle.  This is important when making a cabled yarn.  This 2-ply yarn is going to be plied again.  Yes, again. 

In the second ply, it is going to lose some of the twist so you need extra.  I wound the 2-ply yarn onto my hand in the Andean style, making a bracelet so I could spin from both ends of the yarn.  And I plied the 2-ply yarn with a "Z" twist.  Cabled yarn has a lovely texture.  The 2-plies lock against each other giving a purly texture.  The resulting yarn was soft, still fine -- which is surprising because it is a 4-ply yarn.  The photos below show it. Not the best images I know.  I am in a hotel room and I took the pictures with the camera on my phone.  To gauge the thickness of the yarn, those needles are 3mm.  

The final sample yarn is 17 metres.  Enough to knit up a good sized piece.

My assessment: while lovely, strong and soft, it is not a beautiful yarn.  It reminds me of a scene in The Sound of Music -- when upon arrival at the home of the Von Trapp family, the Captain asks her to change her clothes.  She declares she can't because she gave all her clothes to the poor.  He looks down at the dress she was wearing and asks, "what about that one" to which she replied, "the poor didn't want this one."

I don't want to make that kind of skirt.

So onto sample #2.  My plan is to introduce a single of tencel/silk, with a bit of colour.

Stay tuned.

Beyond Fibre: Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild Annual Artisans Sale

Mark your calendars and join us on Saturday, November 5h, 10am – 5pm and Sunday, November 6th, 10am – 4pm for the Langley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild annual Artisans’ Sale:  Beyond Fibre

This is a sale for those of you looking for unique, one-of-a-kind items or gifts.  Located at the Community Hall in the quaint historic town of Fort Langley, the Artisans’ Sale: Beyond Fibre features the juried woven, knitted and felted works of the Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild and several other local artisans.  Some of the artisans include jewelers, potters, photographers, wood turners, soap makers, card makers.  You will find hand crafted silk flowers, origami cards and sheep skin slippers.  

This is more than a sale, it is a fibre event, for there is a Wool Room featuring the wares of our guild vendors selling fibre arts materials, supplies and equipment.  Relax downstairs in our Tea Room with a warm cup of something and a delicious snack – observing our display of handcrafted socks.  There will be door prizes and a silent auction. For more information and to see photographs of previous years, please visit our website.

Langley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild Annual Sale:  Beyond Fibre
9167 Glover Road, Fort Langley Community Hall, Fort Langley,  BC
Saturday, November 5th, 10am – 5pm and Sunday, November 6th, 10am – 4pm

I hope I see you there!