Emily is so smart - she taught me this method of tying the scarves. Clever, eh?
Isn't it nice?
A closer look.
Here's how - it's super easy to do - -
First, you fold the scarf in half, and put it around your neck. Then, you pull one end through from left to right...
...then you pull the other end through the loop from right to left.
Tug on the ends to tighten it up a little bit.
Aim the "knot" towards one shoulder, and there you go!
This is a very quick knit, and super easy as it's 100% garter stitch. The way this scarf is made, you knit from one end to the middle, then stop and set it aside, while you knit the other half. Then, you join the two halves in the middle.
I made a couple of changes - - on the scarf pictured above, I made the "tails" much larger to exagerate the fish-tail look, and I really like the effect. Also, instead of the join recommended in the pattern, I grafted it instead and I was thrilled with the outcome.
This how I grafted it - - when I was finished with the first half, I dropped the working yarn and picked up some similar gauge waste yarn and knitted about 5 ridges (10 rows) of garter stitch. Then I bound off and set it aside.
I knitted the second half and stopped with 8 beads* (see note below) left to spare, then knitted 5 ridges of garter stitch in waste yarn, and bound off.
Now, I held the two halves together in the middle, and following the general idea of Ms. Neatby's "sock toe chimney" advice, I grafted to two halves together. It worked so well - you can just oh so barely tell where the join is, and this is only because, architecturally speaking, the scarf is not the exact same from either end, and the rows of beads don't line up exactly perfectly, but almost perfectly. It's one of those things that *no one* would ever notice. I'd show you how it looks but I didn't think to photograph the join before I sent the scarves off. Silly me. They really did come out very nice.
When grafting, you'll take all of the beads off of the yarn which you use for grafting, and thread them on when it is time to place a bead. Due to the problem mentioned above, you will need to place a bead on the back side of the scarf and one on the front side in the very next stitch. This might not be readily apparant, but it will make sense when you are doing the grafting.
Weave in all ends and you are done!
*The truth is that I didn't stop with 8 beads left to spare, I stopped with ***4*** beads left over because this is what I thought I needed. I was wrong... Until I had the project in my hands, I didn't realize that I would be placing beads on the front and the back of the scarf, I was planning on only needing them for the front. Sigh. So, I went on a mad bead scramble which went something like this, "YIPPEE, there's one behind the sofa!" "Yeah, there is still a bead in the pocket of my jeans!" "Hooray - there's one in the bottom of my knitting bag!" "Let's see... where did I step on that bead in my bare feet.... oh yeah, in the kitchen... Oh Glory Day, HERE IT IS!!! Yep, that's about how it was. I was in a huge panic, but I found them all! I found another one just this morning under the rug that my knitting rocker sits on. See, I had a minor bead stringing accident...
- aren't these too cute! They are knitted out of a yarn which is a mixture of alpaca and soy silk, and they have black thrums from one of the black alpacas at Eyedazzler alpacas.
Grace is working on another pair which are a khaki color with beige spots. I can't wait to see how those turn out!
The Blonders sell all sorts of hand knitted alpaca items - why not pay them a visit and see what they have in their store?
(If you want to know more about these mittens, then please click HERE and HERE.)
... and they both live at Eyedazzler Alpacas, up in Westcliffe.
I also entered a pair of my thrummed mittens and they won first and a people's choice as well.
The thrums were made from Mountain Valley Girl's fleece, and yarn from Colorado Fiber Arts - it's wonderful yarn!Each People's Choice Award comes with a free subscription to any magazine that Interweave Press publishes, so I think that I'll get Interweave Knits and Spin-off.
So... I'm busily getting them back online.... what a bother!
On the whole, I've been nothing but completely and totally thrilled with my humble little blog on this delightful service, blogger.com....but...today....I'm a little peeved.
Soon remedied, so please check back soon.
Here is the neck warmer, busily being blocked to death... I'm going to wet it again, and try to find a smaller something to block it on, and hope for the best.
Anyway, I copied an idea that I read on knitterguy's blog - he was knitting a shawl which had a knitted on border, and demonstrated how to do this. Here's the post - -
So, this is what I did and if I might say so, it worked out perfectly! Much more perfectly than I could ever have hoped or dreamed, in fact.
Next, I threaded a darning needle with the end of the alpaca, and then it was a *very* simple matter to just follow the purple yarn's path on the way back.
I casted on in a bit of grey-green yarn, and knitted a repeat and a half of "fir cone" which is knitted with the pattern rows on the right side and a purl row on the wrong side. I knitted the purl row in a bright purple, then began knitting with the intended yarn - blue alpaca. I knitted and knitted until I was just about out of yarn, making sure that I stopped at the same place as was the purple row.
OK... so.... it wasn't all that simple, but it was "doable" even if it did take all of my powers of concentration.
In the photo above, you can see that my blue yarn is following the path of the purple yarn, then on the way "back," it will go back through *two* loops of the blue, just as the purple yarn is going through two loops of the green. Get it? In this way, I've just kitchenered a k2tog.
Try it with some scrap yarn - you will be surprised.
In the photo below, you can faintly see the purple yarn behind the blue. At the beginning of the row, I would follow the purple for a couple of stitches, and then take out the purple, then advance with the blue, retreat with the purple, and so on. This was a mistake! Leave the purple yarn alone until you are all done.
Just look at this! You can't tell where the seam is. How cool is this?
You might have noticed something - I did my fir cone pattern just a little differently than usual, and I really like the effect. Instead of doing a double decrease, every other row as prescribed, I did a double decrease at the first, then I did a k2tog on *every* row, and I think that it came out really nice. I can post a chart if anyone is interested. Let me know.
You can do a similar trick for other kitchener needs. Somewhere on line is a post showing how to kitchener sock toes by knitting a "sock toe chimney" (Lucy Neatby is a pure genius - have you seen her sock knitting book? It's great!) and then following the stitches to do the toes. Right now, I'm knitting a scarf where you knit each half from the ends and then join it in the middle - I'm going to do it this way, too. Of course, the "knitting architecture" won't be exactly the same, since it will join two different directions coming together in the middle, but it will work out just fine. It is so so so much easier to knit in some waste yarn and then follow the trail of the waste yarn when kitchenering.
Another kind of neckwarmer...
Now, THIS is why you are here!
I got many requests to tell about the jewel spindles, so here goes. It's really fast and easy.
Overview and Description -
One day, I discovered a bead store in my town that I never knew existed, lol. I stopped in and saw this bin of these little jewel doughnuts and practically yelled out loud, “Spindle Whorls!” The ladies who run the store sort of looked at me… Anyway, I dug through the bin of “glass” ones and I dug through the bin of “jewel” ones and I selected 5 which I thought would suit my purposes. I purposefully selected 5 different sizes and weights and raced home to experiment.
When I was selecting, I had it in mind that the holes should be as close to perfectly centered as possible. At the time, I hadn’t ever made or used spindles made out of heavy little stones, and I didn’t know better. I passed up a turquoise one because it looked like the hole was too off-center. In retrospect, I’m not sure that it matters much, and next time I’m on that side of town, I’m going to drop in and see if that little turquoise one is still there. Now that I’ve made them I know that much of the balance comes from how you adjust the hook, and I’ve learned a little trick about winding the black rubber in the center – more on this later.
At first glance, the 5 which I selected might not look all that different, but they are *quite* different in weight. The smallest is clear glass with blue floaties in it, and it’s very lightweight and it spins like crazy - - really really FAST. It’s made a perfect lace weight spindle. It really zings along, but since it is so lightweight, it doesn’t zing for very long. It’s tremendously fun to use and really keeps me on my toes!
Moving left, the next one is a lace weight spindle as well. Nothing too noteworthy about it except that I used a too-large hook while constructing it, so I’ll certainly change out the spindle shaft at my earliest convenience. I couldn’t wait to get going with my spindle making experiment, and this was all I had at the time. Also, it was made on a chopstick instead of a skewer, so it’s quite a bit shorter and very lightweight. It’s glass too, and has a lovely translucence.
The next two came from the “jewel” bin, but they are actually just some sort of stone. Well, now that I think of it, aren’t all “jewels” just “stones?” These two are close to the same diameter, but the green one is *much* heavier. The brown one is an excellent spinner because it’s so thin at the center and thicker at the rim. It is close to flat from the center outwards to the edge, where it quickly flares out to form a rim – it is almost cup-shaped. Maybe you can see this in the photos? I’m not a huge fan of “brown” but I am a huge fan of this spindle – I selected this particular jewel for it’s shape, and it does indeed work very nicely – lightweight with good balance and good rim weighting for a long spin.
The green one is quite heavy and I use it as a support spindle – do you see how it’s shaft is much shorter than the other spindles? I really like this one, too. It fits right into a Parmesan cheese plastic jar, lol, which makes it so very easy to drop it into my backpack and away I go. In fact, this works extremely well – just drop it down in there, and if you want to put the lid on, just open the flap with the sprinkle holes, let the spindle shaft stick out of one of the holes and screw the lid on. It works!
Anyway, back to my green spindle - I can also use it as a drop – in fact, I alternate from support to drop with this little number. Of all of my jewel spindles, I like the looks of this one the best! I just love it!
Now, on to my last one – the pale green one on the right. I love the looks of this jewel, but it’s really kind of heavy for my tastes. I like to spin very fine yarn and this one is just a tad bit too heavy for that. It’s also kind of heavy to use as a support spindle, too. I’m keeping it on hand to use as a plying spindle, and also, I’m keeping it on hand just to look at, as I think that it is *very* pretty! If you look closely at it, you can see the lines where different slabs of stone have been glued together to make sort of a laminated thingie. Isn’t that cool?
Jewel doughnuts - from the bead store.
Shish Kabob skewers – from the grocery store. These are nearly always nice and straight. You want straight for spindle shafts.
Chop sticks – from a lovely Chinese restaurant meal – have your friends save them, too. These are not always particularly straight. I save the not-so-straight ones for making knitting needles – straights or circs – because it doesn’t matter, but for spindles, you want straight.
Bicycle inner tube - from out in the garage, lol. If you don’t have bike inner tubes hanging around, then contact your local bike store and ask if they’ll save one for you, next time they change a tire. Or, just buy one – in any case, you want the kind which are the same thickness all the way around, not the kind which is thicker on the outer part of the tube, and thinner on the inner side. Also, you probably don’t want a tube which has been slimed. One innertube will keep you and 20 of your closest friends in spindles for the rest of your natural life.
Brass eye hooks – I found these at the hardware store. They are “National” brand and I purchased sizes 216 and 217 ½. The smaller one - the size 216 - is my fave, and from now on, I’ll only buy the smaller one, but both sizes are nice. The smaller ones are way more delicate, and likely to snap as you are screwing it into the shaft, but I just like a smaller hook. You want brass – you don’t want the silvery-colored ones as they are much thicker and impossible (for me) to reshape, as the metal is very hard.
Scissors - for cutting the innertube. Standard, household scissors work just fine.
Thumb Tack - for starting the eyehooks. Link to a picture is below.
Cut across the innertube and then cut again so that now, you have a black rubber-band which is about ¼ inch wide. Now, cut across this so that you have a rectangle of rubber which is ¼ inch wide, and about 5 inches long (I’m guessing here). Wrap the rubber around the skewer and then try on the doughnut. You’ll get the jewel doughnut onto the rubber with a twisting motion – twist one way and it will work – twist the wrong way and the rubber will bunch up. Most likely, your doughnut hole (lol) is much too small for this amount of rubber, so nibble away at the rubber until you get it short enough that the jewel will twist onto it. You want for it to be on there snugly, but not so tight that you feel as though you are really *forcing*it on there.
Notice that as you wrap the rubber around the shaft, your rubber starts “here” and ends “there” and more than likely, these two aren’t 180 degrees away from each other. If your start and your finish are on the same side of the skewer, then your jewel won’t be dead centered on the skewer. See? This is why I think that the little turquoise jewel doughnut can be made to work – you can play with the centering and the balance in this way, and also by fiddling around with the hook (see below). You don’t need to get it perfectly right at the beginning – get the jewel doughnut onto the shaft, and you can fine tune it later.
You’ll notice that I made 2 hooked versions and 3 non-hooked versions. I made all 5 of these before I went to the hardware store, and all I had on hand were the two brass hooks. Actually, I had three, but I broke one.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and so... I made three bottom whorl no-hook drop spindles, and this caused me to learn how to use them! I’ve never used a bottom whorl before and I gleefully spun them off of my thigh, just like the top whorl ones. Later, I googled bottom whorls and all of the sites I visited stated, quite plainly, that one can’t spin off of the thigh with a bottom whorl. Why not? It works perfectly! I also had to learn how to do the half hitch knot at the end of the shaft, since I didn’t have a hook there, and this is a nuisance. Yes, after a bit, I got quite fast at it, and learned that little wrist flick thing, but it’s not my favorite method. I’m really happy that I’ve learned this new technique, but I’ll stick with top whorls with-a-hook since I can go so much faster.
Place your jewel doughnut on it’s little rubber thingie close to the end of the skewer because the skewer will split when the hook is screwed in. There are a couple of reasons for this - first reason - I don't have a drill bit for this tiny of a screw, and second, you can't drill into the end of a shish kabob skewer - I've tried numerous times and have since given up trying.
Instead of drilling a hole, I get the eyehook started in this way - I take a thumbtack and stick it into the end of the skewer, as far into the wood as the "tack" part is long. Twist it in, and give it a few more turns to widen the hole a little bit. This is the kind of thumb tack that I used - thumb tack picture.
Then, I took out the thumb tack and screwed the hook into place. The screwing-in of the hook will cause the skewer to split, which is why I put the rubber right at the end of the skewer. I don't know why this split doesn't show up better in the pictures, but it is quite a split and the *rubber* is what is holding everything together.
In other words, if you wanted more of the skewer to stick up above the whorl, and you moved the rubber down the stick a ways, then the stick would split so badly that the hook wouldn't stay screwed in. Get it? This is why I have the rubber right up to the end.
Sometimes, the smaller diameter hook, the number 216s, won’t cause the skewer to split.
Adjusting the hook - Notice how I've reshaped the hooks? Easy to do with jewelry making, round jawed, or round nosed pliers. I like to use brass eyehooks - the smallest ones I can find - and straighten the hook all the way out. Then, I grab the very end of the dealie with the jaw of the pliers, and turn the hook. Then, I screw the hook into place and take a look. Next, I tilt the hook a little to one side - just a tiny bit to the side - sort of how you might cock your head to one side if you are in a flirty mood? Then, I screw it into the skewer and try spinning. I bend the hook this way and that until it spins nicely.
You can't bend the hook while it's in the skewer because the skewer is split, so you have to take it out, bend it, put it back, test it, and so on until you get it right. Once you figure out how YOU like your hook to rest, then you can get it fairly close to the goal from the start. Keep trying, you'll figure it out. If all of this has worked a too-large hole into your spindle shaft, you can either get a new kabob stick or put a dab of glue or epoxy into the hole.
I cock the hook to one side because the spun yarn comes out on one side of the hook, right? Since you want for the spun yarn to come out of the *middle* of the spindle shaft, you have to get the hook out of the way. You'll lean the hook more to the side for fatter yarn, and less for lace weight. If you get it right, you'll know it because the spindle will spin so still. I know that this doesn't make any sense, lol, but it's true! If it's off center, then it will bob and jerk, but once you hit it right, then.... ahhhhhhhhhh........ stillness while spinning....
Now that I’ve blathered on and on and on and on about making jewel spindles, let me tell you that my FAVORITE spindles are made from toy truck wheels, lol. These aren't nearly as pretty as the jewel ones, but Oh Me Oh My, what little spinning dynamos these are!!! They spin like crazy for a very long time. I use my jewel ones when I'm trying to show off, but I use these when I'm trying to actually spin, heh heh heh.
I found these at this web site, Lee Valley Tools. Great company, by the way. Pleasure to deal with, no affiliation and all that. These wheels are light weight, rim weighted, and balanced enough – you can make adjustments in the construction of the spindle
Now, the hole in the wheel is considerably smaller than the hole in the jewel, and as you can see, the whole rubber thing just isn't very aesthetically pleasing, because it got all mushed up, but you know what? It still spins like a champ!
What I've done on more recent wheel-spindles is to wrap Duck Tape (yes, google it, the proper name is DucK tape, not ducT tape, lol.) instead of rubber and then, wedge the wheel on. It stays on quite well, especially after you get the hook screwed in. When you screw in the hook, and the skewer splits, it pushes out sideways onto the interior of the truck wheel, and holds it on very tightly, you know, like a wedge or a shim. I have had absolutely no problems. In lots of ways, the duct tape is easier to use. I cut across the duct tape to make short strips and jimmy around with these until the wheel fits nicely. I wrap the tape just like I wrapped the rubber – around the shaft, at the end of the shaft.
The hole on the jewels is very "short" - you know, from the top to the bottom, so it doesn't hold very well onto the duck tape, but holds on quite well to the rubber. Conversely, the hole on the wheel is *quite* tall - almost 1/2 inch, so it's too much friction to try to squeeze it onto the rubber, but it slides nicely onto the tape. Experiment and find out your favorite way.
Another thing is that the black rubber just looks so very pretty with the jewels.
In the above photo, you'll notice that I've cut a notch into the wheel? I use a triangular file and grind grind grind until I get it deep enough to hold the yarn. Then, a quick pass with some fine sandpaper and I' m good to go.
You could finish these toy wheels with some furniture oil, if you like, but I just leave them plain.
I’ve used all 4 sizes of wheel that Lee Valley offers, and I like the two larger sizes the best. Try them all and see which ones you like best.
Make spindles!!! Spin!!!
I always like to see how others store their fibery stuff, so let me show you my system. Nothing fancy, just a plastic box with my spindles and some roving to work with. Since I'm often working with white alpaca and white merino, I try to keep them in their respective jars so that I can tell which one is which by looking.
Another idea - if I'm spinning on many different projects, I sometimes forget what I was doing on which spindle. I take a note card, and write whatever is necessary to cause me to remember, and then punch two holes into the card with a paper punch. Then, I thread this card onto the spindle shaft. This way, I can remember that I was spinning the white merino on the fold and the white alpaca from rolags because I don't *ever* remember what I was doing and I can't always tell by looking, either. It works beautifully.
Ready to go!
I don’t often want to take this big tote with me, away from home, so I generally pack my spinning in a plastic jar and drop the jar into my backpack. It’s perfectly OK for the end of the spindle to extend beyond the top of the jar, but by using the jar, it protects my hook, and protects the rest of my backpack from the hook. It also keeps the roving nice. I put the roving into the jar first, and then drop in the spindle. You’ll discover that you buy your mayonnaise and your peanut butter based on whether or not you can fit your spindle whorls through the mouth of the jar, lol. Those are Kraft Mayo jars in the tote box. They are quite handy!
Here is a quick run through of what I've been up to - In blogger order. Does anyone else think of their knittery life, chronologically reverse, since blogging? lol
I attended another Pajama Jam at The Lamb Shoppe - great fun, as usual.
I taught another thrummed mitten class to a bunch of the most eager mitten knitters I've ever seen.
Most of the class didn't need a teacher - most of them could have taught the class themselves but we all had a great time, just the same. Check out the knitting school at Eyedazzleralpacas.com for more information. Allie has great things planned for the spring semester - keep checking! You can also contact her and ask to be put on her email update list.
We took a week-long driving trip, and we had a blast. We like to do this every October because October in the west is perfectly beautiful. This time, we went to Arches National Park and Moab, UT, where I found this delightful store, http://www.desertthread.com/ - it's a great store with a little bit of everything.
A few days later, while journeying to Rocky Mountain National Park, we stopped for coffee in this darling coffee shop in Hayden, Co. and what did we find? KNITTERS!!! I wish that I could remember the names of these lovely ladies, but I don't. The nice lady in the red shirt, second from the left, represents http://www.knitfit.org/ - something that I never heard of, but which looks like fun, yes? They were the friendliest bunch ever and they meet every Friday morning at 9am or so. Join them!
Before that, my mother in law visited us for a week, and we had a blast. I reawakened her interest in crochet and sent her home with a project! She is a great gardener, and while she was here, she helped me with lots of yard work, and look what we discovered in the back yard - a fellow spinner! Isn't she beautiful?
Moving further into the past, lol, I knitted a neck warmer (wimple, smoke ring) out of the skein of alpaca which I dyed with indigo at the Natural Dyeing Class up at Eyedazzler Alpacas. It came out great, but I blocked it to death, and need to try and re-block it. Soon, I'm going to blog about how I was able to invisibly kitchener the end to the beginning, yarn overs and knit two togethers and everything. I'm soooo proud of myself! I nearly had a complete brain-freeze, but I stuck with it and it came out great.
As I was knitting this neckwarmer, of course I had to make myself some new knitting needles! I'll tell you all about it in a future blog, too. It was easy but time consuming, and probably not worth the effort, but the little needles *did* come out cute!
Now, I've moved back in time to the late summer. I was looking forward to lots of knitting on our trip to Moab, so I needed some MORE NEEDLES, lol, and I experimented with using store bought Bryspuns and Boye interchangeables to make circulars. Success! It was easy as pie, and I'll tell you all about it in a later post.
Finally, I spent all summer in spinning heaven - I've already told you about my Aguilar wool, but I haven't told you about all of the spindles I've made all summer. I'm completely in love with these jewel doughnut spindles.
I plan on writing detailed posts about making circulars out of Bryspuns, making spindles out of jewel doughnuts and truck wheels, making straight needles out of skewers, and a detailed post about knitting and kitchenering the neck warmer. If any of these topics interest you, then check back soon!
Years and years ago, her father in law raised sheep. Lots and LOTS of sheep - at one time, he had over 700 of them! The wool in the barn represented the last shearing of the last sheep that they ever owned - 4 sheep in 1972. Annette's husband remembers participating in this last shearing. He says that they were Suffolk sheep.
Just look at this wool. It's really VERY dirty. But... I decided to have a shot at it just the same.
I took a grocery-bag full of it home, and let it sit, ignored, in the garage all summer long...
When I finally got around to messing with it, I first separated it into locks, and lo and behold, it's really not all that bad looking. It is terribly brown, and the tips are sticky - old lanolin? - and it smells really really bad...
I packed it into a mesh bag...
...and lowered it into a bucket of scalding hot water. Mud poured out of the locks. Then, I drained the water, replaced it with more scalding hot water with a nice glug of hair shampoo,and lowered the wool back down into the water. I let it soak until the water was cool enough for me to handle the wool, and I was simply amazed at how it got so clean! Just look!
Just take a look at the crimp - I may never spin another kind of wool again! (Not really... in the meantime, I've bought more wool. I'm incurable. I'm fickle. I'm completely entranced with the notion that my new wool is from The Faroe Islands.)
It's all like this - crimpy and clean with hardly any VM in it at all.
On the bottom, you can see the "kitten brush" which I used on this wool and which is the *perfect* flicker carder. I opened up each end of the lock, predrafted out the whole lock and then just put in the spin. It's the easiest spin job I've ever done. I am amazed at how well the drafted wool holds together. I think that I could knit with it just like that, without even spinning it. The yarn is sooooooo smooth and nice. I can hardly wait to get knitting with it.
I'm spinning sock yarn out of the small amount that I took from Annette's barn, and I'm going to knit a pair of socks for Annette's mother in law. It might just put her over the edge, as she's been really nostalgic for the days of living on a sheep farm. They still live on the farm, only no sheep anymore.