Friday, 22 February 2008

Mushroom Cap Hat

So here is the skein of the wool I spun the other day. Silly me, I thought I wouldn't need all the fibre . . . but that turned out to be a good thing. I did much better prep on the remaining fibre and used my wheel instead of my spindle and got a much more consistent yarn. And as for designing the yarn for the project, well, three tries later I finally had the colour pattern that I wanted! Of course, I had to knit the hat three times anyway. I used 15mm needles the first try and I had a hard time getting the tension right, so I tried again with 12mm and decided that the fabric was too stiff. In the end I went back to the 15mm needles and had a much easier time, I guess it just takes practice to use such enormous needles!

In the end I ran out of yarn and had to borrow some strips of Blue Faced Leicester sliver that I am using for another project. I didn't bother spinning them, I just twisted them as I knit the last couple of rows. Probably if I had been more consistent with the first batch of yarn, I might have had enough. Who knows!

Here is the finished hat. The pattern is my own, such as it is. Cast on 30 stitches, knit plain up to about 12 cm, then decrease 5 times every second row until there are 5 stitches left. Pull the yarn through and voila! — a new Mushroom Cap Hat. The yarn worked out to about 3 wpi and Barb, one of the owner's at River City Yarns, where I picked up the fibre, says that she is certain it is Merino. It is definitely soft!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Ultra Bulky

On the weekend, I saw a woman wearing a toque that had a stitch gauge of 4 stitches per 10 cm. Yes, I am not kidding, a stitch per inch. It was very cool. The hat was all about the stitches, the colour didn't really matter, although it was a lovely blue and the hat was entirely done in stocking stitch to more effectively show off the ridiculously huge stitches. I loved it and since I am totally sick of frogging my cabled hat, I decided a new project was in order. So with kids in tow today, I headed to my LYS and picked up this lovely bit of top and tried my best to spin an ultra bulky yarn with my Ashford Turkish spindle. I haven't really used it before and the yarn was obviously too heavy for the spindle since it was backspinning on me all the time. But I ended up with this . . .

It is my first truly planned yarn, as far as colour goes. I split the fibre into colours and chose the sequence. It has been shocked and whacked and the twist has set with not really any extra twist in the skein, which is nice. It has a very sheepy smell, which I am enjoying, oddly enough. I have no idea what the fibre is, other than that it is wool. It seems as if it is naturally coloured as opposed to dyed and the shades of cream through grey to walnut are really lovely. Hopefully tomorrow I will get a good photo of the skein and maybe, if I am very blessed with a peaceful house, even a hat!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Exotic Fibres

Click for bigger image.

My favourite yarn shop, River City Yarns, was hosting an evening session on spinning exotic fibres the other week and I got to go! Yay! We spent three hours playing with all kinds of fibres new to most of us: cotton, bison down, silk, ramie, alpaca, bamboo, llama, and soy protein. Birgit Rasmussen guided us all along the way and was a fantastic instructor. Very patient! Above is a shot of my mini skeins from the session.

The alpaca blend was definitely the softest. It is verrrry cuddly. I have no idea what it was blended with however. We were just given a sample to spin and it was a mystery to the instructor as well as she had been gifted it earlier by the class organizer.

The bison down and cotton, both raw cotton and prepared roving, were definitely the most challenging. My drop spindle had quite a few crashes during those experiments, poor thing. The bamboo was quite lovely and the regular bamboo had a really nice sheen. The carbonized bamboo was interesting and still quite soft, though without any gleam at all. I didn't like the ramie and found it more difficult to spin than either silk or any of the other more slippery fibres.

All in all, it was a very interesting evening. I will definitely consider incorporating some of the nice shiny fibres into my spinning. Of course, since I have no way of blending the fibres, I am probably stuck with whatever I can buy for now!

A couple of years ago, I bought a beautiful merino silk blend and spun it into a thick and thin bulky weight two-ply yarn and knit a head-band for my sister-in-law. (No pictures sorry - we were on vacation during the knitting and gifting!) I am using her spinning wheel on indefinite loan ;-) and thought she deserved a gift. It spun up very nicely and I didn't find it too difficult. It ended up being a very pretty yarn.

Friday, 8 February 2008


I have to admit that for the most part, right now anyway, this blog is mostly narcissistic. I have made so many things in the last few years and I feel a need to catalogue them somehow. I want to see them in pictures and marvel that I was actually that clever, just for a while. It's really encouraging to see what you have accomplished — all in one place.


I love making dolls. I've mostly made Waldorf style dolls, except for this really sweet muslin doll I made when I was a teenager. Unfortunately she had a run-in with my mother's cat, but she still looks pretty good considering she is over 20 years old! I sewed every stitch of her and her clothing on my great-grandmother's Singer treadle sewing machine. It has so many cool attachments. Sigh. I've also made some cute little fairy dolls from Felt Wee Folk by Salley Mavor, but I'll save them for another post.

Here is a gallery of sorts of the Waldorf dolls I have made, starting with the first and ending with the last.

I changed the body style of the dolls considerable as time went on. At first I thought that a button jointed doll would be the most fun to play with, but after reattaching the black doll's arms and legs a few times I decided that maybe they weren't the greatest after all. These dolls were made with patterns from Joy's Waldorf Dolls (modified by me, it seems I can't ever follow a pattern without changing it.) She has nice patterns and good quality doll supplies. The baby doll is about 30 cm (12") high and the black doll is about 40 cm( 16") tall. Both of them have hair that is made from a crocheted cap of mohair (with a bit of nylon). The black doll has his hair rug-hooked into the cap. The baby just has a brushed mohair cap.

Dressing and undressing the button-jointed dolls proved too difficult for young children as well, and well, frankly, I dislike the shape of their bodies. So, the next doll I made I did a rework of a couple of patterns and made Gina and Fridgie (the baby).

I made Gina partly from a pattern rework of one of the dolls in Making Waldorf Dolls by Maricristin Sealey. For the one piece doll body she recommends sewing a diagonal lines to form the hip joint. I didn't do a one piece body - the legs and arms are sewn on separately, but I thought it might be good to incorporate the diagonal line. No. The short answer is no. If I had thought about it I would have realized that. Oh well. When Gina sits down she becomes very pigeon-toed! She has a huge head of hair, made the same way as the earlier dolls with two complementary colours of yarn.

Fridgie is based on a tiny soft baby doll that my sister had as a child. She is about 15 cm (6") high. Her legs could be a tad longer I think, but otherwise I think she is very cute. I used a pre-made wig from Joy's Waldorf Dolls that I had kicking around.

Gina is also accumulating an extensive wardrobe!

After little bit of tweaking with my pattern we had Jeff. Jeff is my latest doll and is true adventurer and explorer. My husband even made him some binoculars and we have plan to build a GPS too! Our Christmas crackers this year were loaded with lots of Jeff-sized tools: a tape measure, compass, flashlight and whistle. Essentials for the modern adventurer.

I don't really like Jeff's hair; I sewed it on using a methods from Making Waldorf Dolls. It was a new style for me and, although it's okay when he is sitting up nicely, when he lays down he looks like he has an odd ponytail on top of his head. His hair is made from alpaca and it is lovely lovely lovely. I took my son to the yarn shop to choose hair. He is a very tactile child and found the mohair of Gina's hair to be too scratchy and disliked the mohair of the unnamed black doll as well. It was quite funny to watch him choose, The alpaca was the first yarn we picked up at the shop and after a couple of blind feel tests on the cheek with several other soft yarns, he always chose the same one. It is sooo very soft.

The designs on his coat and backpack were made using freezer paper. I printed the stencil on the freezer paper using my computer printer, cut it with a blade, ironed it gently onto the fabric, and used fabric paint ( Pebeo SetaColor ) to stencil it on. Then you set the paint with an iron for five minutes and it is wash-fast! The stencil is from the Print for Free items at Ottobre. The binoculars are made from two empty sewing thread spools, glued to a bit of wood that my husband cut to fit.

A small terrorist that inhabits our house executed a sneak attack upon the intrepid explorer though and he contracted a serious case of Yellow Fever. Other dolls in the house have had cases of Pink Fever as well. So far they are washing up extremely well. I just gently handwash them in lukewarm water with some Eucalan wool wash. The body photos above were taken after his bath.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

First Knitting

This is my second knitting project (as an adult anyway). It is still unfinished after three years. The first one is unfinished too, sort of. The first was to be a baby sweater, but it ended up as a square. I don't know what the square is for, but is a very nice stripy square. This, however, will be lovely when it's done, if I can ever figure out how to finish it. It is a rectangular shawl, a stole I guess, with a simple k2, yo, k2tog pattern, but I can't figure out what to edge it with. The yarn is 2-ply sport-weight Lincoln (I think) from Celeigh Wool in Millet. It is Alberta wool, naturally coloured.

One day I will finish it. I have a new lace edging to try out. I am going to use a darker colour to edge it.

Little Bags

I made these last winter to hold
little bird-watching books that we made.

Little bags. No pattern, just made them.
The green is fabric from an old Samoan lavalava.

Sweet little bird.
Gingham applique on velour.

Fabric Purses

Ladybug, ladybug.
This is from an Ottobre pattern.

Reversible bag for my sister.
I made the pattern from a bag I had been given by a friend.

Reverse side of my sister's bag.

For my sister-in-law.
Same pattern as the one for my sister.

Pocket detail.

Felted Slippers

These have all been completed over the last couple of years. I really only use one pattern, the Mohair Ballet Slippers from Beverly Galeskas' book Felted Knits. I have never used the yarn called for in the pattern, but so far Eskimo by Garnstudio and Iceland by Crystal Palace have both felted up very nicely. I used a single strand throughout. The little purple ones on the top right have needle felted flowers on the toes and a little needle felted fake button on the strap. I modified the pattern to include the strap. Instead of using the rolled cuff, I did a seed stitch cuff, left a few live stitches for the strap and voila — mary janes!

The blue ones on the top have an elastic cord inserted in the rolled cuff to maintain their shape. I found that the cuff on that pair really gaped at the back.

From top, clockwise:
Blue, child's size small. Blue is Eskimo by Garnstudio (I think). Colour 12. Trim is Alafoss Lopi-Lett.
Purple, child's size medium. Honestly, I can't remember but it was a lot like Eskimo. the pink is Iceland, by Crystal Palace Yarns.
Red, adult's size medium. Red is Eskimo, solour 8. Pink is Iceland.
Green, child's medium. Apple Green Lopi by Alafoss, and the trim is Lopi-Lett.

These are the red ones that I knit for myself. After a year of continuous wear (our floors are cold!), there is not much left of the sole. Boo hoo.

These are from another pattern by Beverly Galeskas, but they are Felted Clogs from Fiber Trends. I knit them for my mom using Noro Kureyon for the main part and Lopi-Lett for the contrasting trim. I can't remember what I used for the soles.

I have another pair in the works, but they didn't turn out so well. I spun some very bulky yarn for the contrasting trim and we dyed it orange with Kool-Aid, but it didn't felt so well. It was too bulky. I used some old Cowichan Buffalo Wool in bright red for the main part of the slipper and that worked just fine. I'll rework them with some scissor action and all will be right as rain.

Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid, I Love Kool-Aid

Actually I don't, I think it's rather vile. However, it makes grand colours on wool! Here are some mittens that I knit up from bits and pieces. No real pattern, just a hodgepodge of patterns thrown together. These are the first mittens I ever knit! The green yarn is wool that I spun and dyed with, you guessed it, Kool-Aid.

This is the mitten yarn ready for steaming.

Just to see what the colours ended up like, I did a small sampling of flavours.

More Kool-Aid yarn. This is the roving that I spun into this.
(Scroll to bottom of post.)

And this is a mishmash of yarn, spun and ready for something.... some of it ended up in the mittens. We seem to have lost the mittens recently. I am very sad. They reminded me of parrot fish from a long ago trip to the South Pacific with my not-yet husband.

First Socks

This is some sock wool from Celeigh Wool in Millet, Alberta. Alberta bred, spun, dyed, and . . .


They are a reworked version of the Ruffle Socks in the Baby Gifts article at the back of the Summer 2005 issue of Interweave Knits. You cal also find it here at Knitting Daily.