Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pimp Your Wheel

I finally finished my felted spinning wheel bag project and I ended up with a nice assortment of little felted bags. I think that they came out really cute and it is handy that my wheel has a convenient place to hang this little bag.I've got a WPI tool, diz, spinner's control card, oil, and a little pair of pliers stored in my bag. I know that all wheels aren't equipped with some place to hang this bag - but it is perfect for my folding Lendrum.

I made these bags in several types of wool to test out the pattern and to see how different wools would work with my pattern.I think that in the end all the bags turned out great and I don't see a huge advantage to one wool over the other. There was a huge difference in the rate at which the wools felted though. That is something you will want to be mindful of when felting.You need to be sure of the felting rate for the wool you pick or check the results often.

I put all the bags into the washer together and ran the agitator cycle three times and then checked the contents. I probably should have jumped in for a look after each round of agitation. This photo shows the results after those three rounds and you can see that all the bags but the ones knit from Kureyon (top 3) are basically finished. I was actually afraid that two of them had gotten a little small. But I gave them a little tug to stretch them a bit and they fit on my wheel perfectly.

I continued the wash the little bags made from Kureyon for another 3-4 agitation cycles before they were felted like I wanted.I did learn that if I was combining wools into the same project for felting that I would probably leave the Kureyon out. It always takes forever to felt.

I also notice a difference in the thickness of the final fabric. The Kureyon is slightly thinner than all the other choices. All of the other wools ended up being thicker overall and much closer in to each other than the Kureyon did.Although it really didn't matter for this project, I could see it making a difference in other projects. Although I could probably run the Kureyon through the washer a few more times and tighten the fabric up a bit, but it will serve the purpose here.

I think it basically comes down to personal preference. This project is also great for leftovers and scraps. All the bags I knitted are from leftovers from other projects and the Kureyon bags each are made up of multiple colors.

Well without further rambling here is the simple pattern. Let me know if you see errors and I'll make corrections.

Felted Spinning Wheel Bag

Yarn: About 70 yards of worsted weight wool suitable for felting.

I have tried the pattern with Noro Kureyon, Cascade 220, Pattons Classic Merino, Lambs Pride Worsted, and Wollmeise Merino-Lammdochtwolle. All will work well. Make sure you know the rate of felting for the wool you choose.

Needles: US #11 (8mm). I used two circular needles, but DPNs would work just as well

Supplies: stitch marker; 2 stitch holders; tapestry needle for weaving in the ends

Measurements: I didn't measure my gauge, I usually don't when felting. I've provided measurements both before and after felting fora guide.
Pre-felting Measurements: bag bottom - 4.5 x 3.5 inches; 6.5 inches tall
Final Measurements:


Cast on 14 stitches and knit 20 rows. Pickup up 10 stitches along the first short side of the rectangle, pick up 14 stitches on the long side and then pick up another 10 stitches on the remaining side. (48 total stitches)

Distribute stitches even between two circular needles and mark beginning of the round. Knit in stockinette stitch until side of bag measures 6.5 inches tall.

Move first 3 stitched to a stitch holder and then cast off 8 stitches. Move next three stitches to second stitch holder and continue binding off until 1 stitch remains of the right needle. Move the 2 stitches from the first holder to the left needle and bind off one more stitch. Knit the 2 stitches that are still on the left needles.

You will have 3 live stitches on the right needle. Using these 3 stitches, knit 8 inches of i-cord.

After i-cord is knit, stitch the bottom of the i-cord together with the 3 remaining stitches on the last holder. I break my yarn and thread a tapestry needle for this part of the project. I run the threaded needle through the first stitch on the handle and then the first stitch on the bag and alternate like that until all the stitches have been threaded.

Weave in the tails and felt!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Argosy - The Knitting Begins

Well I've finally started knitting something with all the yarn I spun during the Tour De Fleece. It took me awhile to finally start knitting because I couldn't decide what to do. I have enough yarn for a good sized wrap, but not for a sweater. The pattern had to be simple too. The yarn has so much going on with all the colors and different fibers that I didn't want it overshadowing any pattern I selected.

I decided on the Argosy Shawl pattern by VyVyan Neel. The pattern is knit on the bias and the original was knitted in Noro Kureyon. So I know that I like how the pattern looks with multicolor stripes of yarn and I think that my handspun will produce a similar type of effect.Plus the body of the shawl is plain stockinette stitch so it will be easy to knit and won't compete with the colors and textures of the yarns. I'm hoping the end result will be a nice drapey and colorful wrap.

The pattern is working up quickly and I like how it is turning out so far. It is find of fun to have all these different coordinating skeins to use on one project. It is fun to see how different each skein is actually knitting up. I'm currently into the second of twelve different skeins. I did try to decide on an order for the different skeins so that the colors are distributed throughout the shawl as evenly as possible.

I just wish that I had a little more time everyday to knit. My office is currently experimenting with flexible schedules and I've opted to try working four 10 hour days (6:00am-4:30pm) with Friday off. My carpool knitting has been curtailed a little for the winter season. It is now dark when I leave the house for work and after putting in 10 hours, I like the down time that the ride home offers. I get up about 4:30 so I'm going to bed a little bit earlier too which cuts into evening knitting time just a bit. but I love having Fridays off, so I'm just going to have to learn to adapt to my new hours. I'm hoping that after the trial period ends that the office will make the flex-time policy permanent.

I have a pair of socks going too - but with out my carpool knitting time they haven't been getting much attention. Maybe I can pull those out this weekend and get them going again.

And thanks to everyone for all the great names that are coming in for my name the puppy contest. We are loving the suggestions and will have a hard time choosing a name. I'll keep the post open for new suggestion until Wednesday, October 1, 2008. That is a week from tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sherman's Howlin' Cowl

I've unintentionally knit another cowl. This actually started off as a simple ribbed hat, but I ran out of yarn. I decided to bind off anyway and make it a cowl. It actually tuned out pretty good. It fits me and because of the ribbing fits a variety of neck sizes - as demonstrated by my model. The funny thing is he didn't seem to mind wearing it around at all and I had to chase him down to get it back.

This is knit out of some of my favorite handspun to date. I like it so much primarily because of the color combinations and the way the roving was dyed - it looked like it could easily turn into a striping yarn and that is what I wanted. I spilt the roving along the length trying to make each strip as even as possible. I then divided the strips into two even piles be weight and began spinning. I started spinning each strip from the same end to keep the colors in order.

This seemed to work well and until I was about half way through the plying, I was getting really excited about the results. That is about the time that the colors started to get off track. I was really curious on how this would all knit up and you can see what I'm talking about in the finished piece. You can see along the bottom half of the cowl the nice solid colored stripes.The top half still stripes, the colors just aren't solid. I actually like both halves and don't mind the mix in this cowl, bu tit would be nice to able to control the results a little more.

I'm guessing the colors got off track for a couple of reasons. The first being that my spinning is not perfectly even so even if I had exactly even amounts in both threads there would be some difference and the second - I'm guessing that there were different amounts of the individual colors in each ply. I figure I have a few options for this in the future. I could learn chain plying and really guarantee the colors stay together or I could become a more consistent spinner and try a few new ideas on splitting the fiber more evenly or I could just not worry about it and enjoy things as they turn out.

Project Info
Pattern: Sherman's Howlin' Cowl by sgeddes; modeled by Sherman
No pattern. Just a simple tube of 2x2 ribbing knit in the round over 80 stitche
Yarn: Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Blue faced Leicester; 4 oz/118 yards
Needles: addi TURBO US# 11 (8mm)
Notes: The name came to me while looking at that first picture of Sherman modeling the cowl. He just tipped his head right back as if he was ready to howl at the moon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Help Give Me a Name

A few months ago we decided that it was time to add a fresh face to the line-up here at Geddesburg and find Sherman a playmate. After some talking and weighing the pros and cons, we decided to get another Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

Sherman's new friend was born on July 26 and we went for our first visit last weekend. These photos are from that trip. She was six weeks old in the photos. This little sweetie will be coming to live with us the first weekend in October and we still haven't decided what we are going to name her.

We've thrown several names around - Peabody, Shiloh, Savannah, Marsha, and Scarlet. We are searching for the perfect name for Sherman's new companion, but we aren't sure if we've found it yet.

All of these names (except Marsha) have a connection to the name "Sherman" in one way or another. The name Marsha is a reference to the Brady Bunch (i.e. Sherman will think "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!" when the puppy gets too much attention).

This is your chance to help and enter your choice of a name in a chance to win a prize. To enter leave a comment on this post and suggest the name you think would be perfect for our new puppy. Please do not use the names listed above, come up with your own suggestion. I can't promise that we will actually use any of the suggestions - so to determine the winner I'll put all entries into a hat and let Brad draw. However, if we do decide to use on of the names suggested - that person will win automatically.

The winner will receive a skein of handspun sock yarn and a small project bag; both made by me. The contest will be open for entries until Wednesday, October 1, 2008. We are going to pick up the puppy that weekend and I will post the winners after we pick her up.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Handspun Friday - Back to the Wheel

> Well, I've finally gotten back to the spinning wheel and last weekend I spun up this beautiful Corriedale roving from Traveling Rhinos. It has actually been several weeks since I've sat down at the wheel and I wanted to start with a small project. I can spin a 4 ounce braid of fiber into the singles needed for a 2-ply yarn in an evening.

This spin went well but it was a little choppy at first. My goal was to end up with a nice dk weight yarn to use for a scarf. In some spots I was right on target and in others I was a lot thinner. The past couple times I spun anything, I was trying to spin thin to get a nice sock yarn. That made this a little challenging to actually spin a the thicker singles.

I had heard that it was sometimes hard to get a nice even thick yarn once you got used to spinning thin thread-like strands. When I started spinning it was hard to imaging being able to spin such a thin single that this would be an issue. I guess it is all about control. I've signed up for a spinning workshop that will last one afternoon and will focus on spinning for a specific project. I think that will help give me some ideas on controlling my spinning better.

I think this is about the second time I've spun any Corriedale fiber. It's nice and has a long fiber/staple length that makes it great for a beginning spinner. This fiber specifically had been prepped and dyed really well too. The finished yarn didn't bleed at all in the warm water soak I used to help set the twist. I'd definitely buy more fiber from Traveling Rhinos.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn

Fiber Content:
Fiber Source: Traveling Rhinos
Color: Cancun I
Weight: 4.4 ounces
Yardage: 320 yards
WPI: 14 -15 wraps per inch (average)
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 8 to 1
Plying Ratio: 8 to 1
Notes: 2-ply

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cool Tools

I've been looking at these knitters' tools from Karatstix for quite a while now. I've wanted to get one of her WPI (wraps per inch) tools for quite a while, but everything in her etsy shop seems to sell out so quickly I never could get one.

And then I saw the set that Illi had custom ordered with her dogs pictured - so I decided to try and order a set inspired by Sherman. After a couple e-mails and an exchange of pictures I was assured that a likeness of Sherman was possible and that I'd have my tools in a few weeks.

I think the likeness is right on and better than I'd even hoped it would be. She even got a couple of different poses too. I probably got a few more tools than I'll ever need but it was hard to choose and they are unique.

I love the WPI tool and I'm now have that on my key ring. The little oval piece with the ring attached has instructions for kitchner stitch on the back. There are bobbins to hold emergency sock yarn, a knitting stitch guage. a couple different needle sizers, and some stitch markers too. Just about everything I could possibly need. If you are looking for your own cool tools or a neat gift for a knitter contact Karatstix. She does small orders too. You don't have to go overboard like I did, just order the tool that's right for you.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Stacked Eyelet Cowl

Everyone had so many good things to say about cowls that I decided to go ahead and try another one. You all sold me on the idea of the weather here being perfect for a cowl.

This time I used a lighter weight yarn and tried to knit so that the cowl fit a little closer to my neck. I like the overall results. I like the lighter weight and the yarn is nice and soft. I'll give the whole cowl concept a really good try out once the weather cools down, but I do like knitting them. Seems like you could make one as fancy or as plain as you like and they only only use up a small amount of yarn and they are quick to knit too.

It was my first time knitting with yarn from The Plucky Knitter; but how can anything with cashmere be bad? The yarn was nice to knit with and I love the colors. I have another skein of this color in a super wash sock yarn that I'm looking forward to knitting now too.

Project Info

Pattern: Stacked Eyelet Cowl by Ami Madison
Yarn: The Plucky Knitter Merino Cashmere Nylon Sport
Color: Summer of Love
Needles: addi TURBO Needles - US# 5 (3.75 mm)
Notes: No pattern modifications

Monday, September 01, 2008

An Assortment of Colors

I've been working on my little felted spinning wheel bag. I have an assortment ready for felting. I couldn't decide what I'd like best, so I've knit up an assortment of colors and wools from leftovers and will pick one after they are all felted.

The first two on the left are knit from leftover Noro Kureyon scraps from my Lizard Ridge Afghan. The third bag from the left is knit in Wollmeise Merino-Lammdochtwolle. I've been looking forward to seeing how this felts. I have some more that I'd like to use to knit some felted slippers. The middle bag is more Kureyon scraps and pinkish one on the right of that is knit from some Pattons I have. The last two are Cascade 220 (purple) and Lambs Pride (turquoise).

Once I get these felted and measured I'll post the final results and the simple pattern I used to make the bag.