Monday, February 22, 2016

Easy Bulky Hand Spun Ribbed Hat Instructions

I spun this yarn on my Majacraft Rose Wheel -Single Ply Bulky.  It was dyed after being spun with Jacquard Acid Dyes following the dye directions. The yarn was lightly felted by washing it in hot soapy water and dunking the skein in cold water several times. I repeated this  until the desired felting was achieved.  I used Merino roving for this project.  The finished yarn came out very soft and seemed just the thing for  hats. 
I knitted these hats on a 7 mm 16 inch circular needle that is between a 10.5 and 11 in US size. I would substitute a 10.5 US if you don't have the 7 mm, unless you are a tight knitter. In that case, I might use a US 11.

I wanted to knit these hats  for ages two and four- average size girls.  The smaller one is perfect sized for an average 2 year old. The larger one came out a bit bigger than I intended. It fits an adult woman  medium size head.  I plan to make a third hat for the 4 year old next.
I started with 4 balls of merino that were about 3 to 4 ounces each.  I will have enough to complete the three hats. 

Instructions  as Follows for Adult and Small Child Size Hats
I did not do a stitch gauge- but the stretch in the rib is pretty forgiving if your off a bit.
Materials needed
1 Ball of Bulky Yarn- about 2 ounces
16 inch circular needle size 7 mm or US equivalent (  10.5 )
One set of double point needles of same size
Size small child- About age 2

 Cast on 40 stitches onto a circular 16 inch needle or use double point needles if you prefer.
Join and work in the round until piece measures 7 inches
K 1, P1 Rib
When the length of your hat measure 7 inches-
Change to K rows for the remainder  of the project,  and work in stockinette stitch- knitting around each row.
At this point, you may want to put your stitches on double pointed needles, as it will be easier to complete the rows as they get shorter.
Decrease 5 stitches every other row by knitting two stitches together evenly around the row starting with a decrease row.
K each row between decrease rows .(20 stitches remain on needles after last decrease
Knit one row.
Final decrease Row:  K 2 together around
Bind off by pulling yarn through your stitches around the row and pulling the yarn taught.  Knot the end into the top of the inside of the hot to secure the yarn so that it does not show. Weave in ends

Adult Female Average Hat Size
52 Stitches
Following same directions as above- work in knitted in the round until hat measures 8 inches.
Begin knitting around for rest of hat
Decrease 8 stitches every other row by knitting two stitches together evenly around the row, starting with a D/C row.
Knit the Rows in between the decreases. ( 20 stitches remain after decrease rows)
Knit one row after last decrease
K 2 together around
Bind off

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mini Ice Age Mittens

The last two cold winters here in Maine have inspired me to start knitting mittens.
I am on about my 6th pair now.
I am calling them ice age mittens.  It helps to have a bit of humor when the snow is so high you can't see out your windows and it is so cold,  you can barely start your car.

I have made so many pairs now, that I am not needing a pattern anymore.  I have mostly used handspun and some commercial odds and ends of yarns as well.  I am knitting these on 8 and 10 double point needles and have doubled the strands to make a bulky yarn. Some came out a bit bigger depending on the yarn thickness I used.   The pattern is below.  It is for an adult size average mitten.
I made up the pattern and it is quite simple.  My usual free way of knitting. I like mindless projects, not counting stitches. I also like things that are not perfect and look home knitted. 

The big pair on the left in blue was done in three strands of pretty thick yarn and they will fit a man with larger hands or go over another pair for super warmth. The black and white are handspun of one strand alpaca one on of Blue Face Leicester. I used hand spun white handspun and the hand dyed green for the green and white pair.  The blue pair are all kinds of odds and end as are the red ones.

                                                     Mini Ice Age Mittens Pattern
( This pattern assumes you have some basic knitting skills to knit in the round on circulars. Otherwise, pretty easy)

Bulky Yarn or two strands that equal a bulky yarn.8 and 10 DP needles.
Cast on 24 Stiches on to 8 double point needles so that you end up with the stitches on three needles.  I use a knitted cast on.
Start working in the round.  I personally do one row before I start the circular knitting as it is easier not to twist stitches for me. 
K1, P1 Rib for 2 or 2.5 inches depending on how long you like the cuff.
K 1 row on the number 8 needles.
Change to the number 10 needles and K 3 rows around
Knit one more row and increase 1 stitch as you go around. ( 25 stitches)
Next Row -start thumb increase- Knit 12, place a marker, K in front and back of next stitch, place a second marker,  K12. 
Knit 1 Row.
Increase in first and last stitch of thumb gore in next row and K around.
Repeat these two rows  until you have 10 stitches total between the markers.
Place thumb stitches on a holder.
In the next row,  K around casting on two stitches over the thumb gore. (26 stitches)
K the next several rows until your little finger just reaches to the top of your knitting when trying on the mitten,  or 2 inches from the desired finished length of mitten.
Next row decrease 8 stitches evenly around.  (19 stitches)
K next 2 rows
Next Row  Decrease 9 stitches around ( 10 stitches)
K 1 Row
Next Row- K 1, K2  together around
Bind off the top of the mitten by pulling your yarn through each stitch until all are off the needles
Pick up  thumb stitches from the stitch holder and divide onto three size 8 needles.
K around  knitting in two stitches over thumb gore into fabric in the first row. (12 stitches)
K to 1/2 inch  from end of the thumb desired length.
K 2, K 2 tog  around.
K next Row
Next Row -K1, K 2 tog around.
Bind off in the same manner as the tip of the mitten by pulling the yarn through each stitch.
Finish Mitten by weaving in ends and yarn with darning needle.

I have made variations of this pattern and used less stitches for grandkids etc. It is pretty mindless once you have made a few pairs. The big needles help it go fast.
I use the 8 needles on the thumb as they make the thumb a bit warmer with the fabric more tightly knitted. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Convert Your Skein to Yarn balls- No Tangles

I occasionally get questions about how to unravel a large skein of sock yarn the correct way.  If not done correctly, it can result in hopelessly tangled yarn and a miserable start to your project.

Large skeins of hand dyed yarn can be especially challenging at times to unravel.  They can be upwards of 500 yards. Having a  basic understanding of how the skein is put together and the ways to take it apart will save you a lot of frustration.

A skein is created using a skein winding device of some type.  I have one that runs with a motor and winds each wrap of the skein in whatever size I set it for.  It wraps it neatly around and around in loops as it takes the yarn off a cone or ball. When you reach the end of the skein,  you tie the two ends of the skein together.  While it is on the winder, you tie several ties evenly around the skein - usually 4 or more. 
This keeps the yarn in order so it can be unwound which is necessary in order to use it. 

When you are ready to take it off the skeins,  you need to place it so that the circle of loops is over something that will keep that same configuration while it is unwound. Some people loop it over their knees  or over the back of a chair. The ideal thing to use is a swift that holds the skein firmly in place and moves freely as you pull it off around in  a circle. 

When you are looking a really big  skein of yarn with several yards on it, see if you can determine which is the inner beginning thread and which is the end that was at the outer part when it was wound.  Usually, the outer thread will come off a bit easier.  It is helpful to get it on your knee or swift so it is not twisted and that outer thread if on the outside all the way around.  Sometimes it is hard to tell which end to start with so just do the best you can. 

Once it is secured around knees, chair or swift,  cut the ties and begin to roll your ball, looping around each loop as you go. If you are using you knees,  you have to be careful not to let any of the loops come loose and  sneak to the other side of your circle as that will create a tangle.  Sometimes they want to slip off you knee and you might not notice.  Once this happens, it can be hard to tell which side of the loop they belong on.

As you go, resist the temptation to do the over under strands, thinking the skein is tangled somehow. It is not. If you think about the science of how it goes together,  it does not start out tangled or get tangled half way through.   If you start doing the over under stuff, then it is tangled and you will have to keep doing the over under until it gets free which could be the whole length of your skein. 

If you find a spot that looks like the yarn is wrapped around another strand, gently work at it by tugging lightly until it frees itself.  Hand dyed yarn especially can be twisted in a few spots from the dyeing process.  It should pull free and continue on unwinding easily.

Occasionally, the twist just seems like it can't be released.  By the laws of science, it can, but sometimes we give up and decide to do the over under technique to free it. If you do this as a last resort, just know that you are going to have to do it for several rows , possibly to the end and take it slowly.

Never, never remove it from the swift or your knee, or chair and lie it down  any time during the process.  If you do,  you will have a mess. Even near the end of the skein, when it looks safe to take it off, I would not.  You will be surprised how much of a mess you can make. 

This technique of skeining yarn can also be used in reverse, if you have yarn that you don't want to get tangled from the balls and you want to store it. I can't tell you how many times I have looked into a basket or bin of yarn on balls and all the ends are wrapped around all over and tangled with other skeins. Even if I have not been in the basket or messed with it, it seems to happen. I really think yarn balls have dance parties when we are not around.

I hope this is helpful to prevent the frustration that comes with a tangled mess of yarn.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spinning Cotton form Seed. Why Not go for it.

   Spinning Cotton From Seed

I have never spun cotton. I have so much fiber now stuffed in trunks and pillow cases that I may never get to along with several projects lined up waiting in the cue of my imagination.

Right now, I am trying to hold the line and planning to use what I have.  It is much more fun to be in expansion mode for me, buying just about every fleece  I see that I can get my nose into. Ah, just the thought of the lanolin is so yummy. I have stayed away from a couple of fairs lately,  just because I knew I would not, or could not resist coming home with a fleece of two.
It is like standing in front of an ice cream stand.  Not a good idea unless I planned to eat the ice cream.

I like to buy fleece and go from the raw wool to the finished yarn. Dyeing, carding, and blending, sometimes mixing in other fibers such as mohair, or angora into the roving.
What do you like to spin or knit?  What draws you in? - the colors, the scents, texture, the finished project, or maybe all of it.

True confessions. How is your fiber or yarn closet managing?  Where are you stashing your stash?How many boxes and totes are hidden around the house stuffed to the brim? 

I think perhaps restraint is over rated.  Guilt is such a waste of time. I feel great when I am in the energy of just about to buy that fleece and get it home.  I can't wait to get the locks soaking in my slate sink. Get the dye pots out.
Yet, when the fiber is tumbling out of the closet and I don't even have any idea what is in there any more, it is so stuffed, perhaps it is time for  a bit of restraint or a bit of giving away.  I have given away yarn or fiber many times, much to the delight of the recipients, but then off I go again.

Anyway, back to cotton. For now, I will pass.  Or will I.  To be or not to be. To spin it or to live a boring life of guilt and restraint?  What side of me will win out?
If you want to try spinning it right from the raw seed, this video seems pretty cool.

Happy Fiber Frolicing,


Sunday, April 22, 2012

If you want to try to dye self striping sock yarns, check out this cool video.

I am not sure I want to try it as I think I would get all the pieces tangled but it does look
interesting to try.

Happy Dyeing

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Canadian Production Wheel

The other day my friend Mary offered to trade her Canadian Production Spinning Wheel for a Carder that I wanted to sell. An offer I could not refuse.
I have a Lendrum, and a homemade upright wheel that spins bulky with a big flyer. I have to admit that I was a bit bored with spinning of late and my wheels have been just sitting for months.
The new wheel has given me a revived interest in  making yarn again.

I realized as I tried to work on my new toy that I was very challenged by the fast spin ratio. The Canadian Wheel has a supposed spin ratio or 20 to one rotation of the wheel. Frankly, it seems much higher to me. I guess I will have to count and see how close that is. Regardless, the wheel has  given me a whole new interest in the process.

You can really feel connected to earlier generations of women spinning on these wheels for practical and utilitarian reasons. It treadles very easily as long as it is kept well oiled. I love the heavy black iron parts and the metal that is part of this style wheel. 

I have started working on some mohair I had carded and dyed a couple years ago plied with Black Alpaca that also has been sitting in my spinning stash for some time.

Even though the wheel is designed to spin very fine yarn, I am spinning mine just a bit thicker as I like it and it is working out fine.
I am having trouble not over twisting and it will take me some time to get it right.
I am an impatient person and so, am knitting a hat as I spin each ball. The wheel has small bobbins and only one on mine so I am making skeins about 2 ounces each once plied.

Here is a picture of the hat as a work in progress on 8 circular needles.
It is very dark blue combined with black and was hard to photograph.
The hat is popcorn stitch and my usual no pattern designs. To decrease at the top section, I knit 3 together instead of 2 as I went around so I could keep the pattern going.

I will post it when it is done very soon. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Will I Use Bulky Merino Again? My finished Merino Sweater Project

The Sweater Is done

I finished my bulky handspun sweater project finally.  Although it was pretty easy,  it took me a long time.

Lots has gone on this year in my life including a major move to a new house and the loss of my father.
My projects got scattered, and I was lacking in energy to look for them for a few months after my Dad died in April.

I was also limited to my little dell notebook over the summer and it is so painfully slow, I ended up neglecting my web site too, my Etsy store, and just let it all go.  I moved into my new house the end of October, and am now starting to get my life back.

It feels good to be back!

The Project
The sweater project was to knit a free style no pattern sweater from hand spun yarns I created and dyed. I used mostly Hand Spun Bulky thick and thin merino. It is, or perhaps I should say -was beautiful yarn. On the down side,  the yarn ended up pilling very badly. I have worn the sweater almost daily at home for a month and it already looks like a four year old garment. I had been told previously that  Merino pills, but I have never experienced it with the yarns  I use. The merino in my sock yarn, and the others I dye and use for socks do not seem to have this problem. I  think it is because this yarn was so lightly spun as I constructed it to be bulky and soft.

I still do love the sweater and plan to make it agian in another fiber, Blue Face Leicester perhaps. The colors are gorgeous.  As I knit, I ended running out of the merino and substituted some other hand spun yarns in multiple strands to keep the guage as close as possible as I went along. This was one of those unplanned things that made the sweater turn out even nicer in the end.

The How Of Making This Cardigan Sweater
Using size US 13 needles,  I measured around my hips, did a guage sample, and figured out how many stitches would fit loosely around my body.  After casting on the stitches that would go all the ways around me, I ribbed a few inches with 11 needle.  I then switched to 13 needles and  knitted up to my underarms in all one piece. I used  98 stitches to fit my size.

As I knitted, I kept checking and when the length measured from nine inches below my waist  at the bottom and  my arm pit  at the top, I divided the piece onto three needles.  I put the first 1/3 of the stitches on a circular needle, the second third on a larger 13 circular, and the final third on another. I continued to knit up each of these 3 pieces separately until I reached 2 inches below my shoulder line.  I chose to knit all three at once so I could make sure I would not run out of a particular color and would remember the color changes as I went a long.  I did this by attaching a ball to each piece of the color I was using and then attaching a new color on each at the same place on each section.

At the two inch before the top of the shoulder mark, I started decreasing a few stiches on each of the  two narrower front sections every other row where they would join at the neck.  Because I was using such big needles,  I only had about 8 rows to do this in so I decreased 4 times of 3 stitches each decrease.
On the bigger back piece, I just knitted up these 8 rows. Next I bound off, leaving one piece of knitting.

At this point, I sewed the shoulder seams together on each side. Then,  I knitted on the two arms at the shoulders on  13 circular needles. I measured my stitch's per inch and used that to figure out how many stitches to cast on to the arm.  It came out to about 60 for my sweater. I knitted the sleeves around so there is no seam.  I did both arms at once with two circular needles.  I knitted the arm for 5 inches, and then started decreasing.   As I went along, I gradually decreased the number of stitches by knitting two together in about every third row.  I joined my colors on each sleeve so they would match on both sides.

At the bottom of the sleeves, I switched to 11 needles and ribbed, casting off at about 3 inches of rib.  I measured as I went along on my own arm to make sure the length would be just right for me.

The final step of this sweater was to complete the collar and front bands.  I  knitted on enough stitches to the neck to fit comfortably around my neck. I  rib knitted K1, P1,  around the top of the neck with the 11 needles. 

After I did this, I planned out the front bands.  I used my guage to figure out the number of stitches I would need, and then knitted on the left band and ribbed for the desired width. I casted that side off.  I used the 11 US needles and K1, P1 rib.
I then knew how many stitches would go on the other side where the buttons holes would go. I laid my buttons out on the completed side to see how they would space out.

I decided on 7 buttons and figured out how many stitches I needed between button holes. The stitches did not come out exactly even so I had to plan and extra stitch in between two of them. I planned to use two stitches for each button hole and figured this into my math.   I drew it out first so I would  be clear about what I was doing before I started knitting and how many stitches I would leave between each of the button holes as I worked theses.

To start the second band, I knitted on the required number of stitches I used on the other side.  I knitted two rows of rib  and then started the button holes continuing the rib pattern. I planned to cast off two stitches and then add it back in on the following row. This is a really simple way and there are more finished ways to do button holes.  I wanted this to be a really simple fun knit so I did just simple easy techniques throughout. After I finished the button hole side and casted off.

The Finish
I found some old leather buttons that added a funky touch to the sweater that I really liked. They were all different and some were a bit bigger. It worked. I made sure they fit through the button holes, of course before I sewed them on my sweater.  After attaching the buttons, I  wove in any loose ends in the yarns from the back of the sweater,  and  then came the best part.  I  adored myself in my new garment. 

I love wearing the sweater. It is soft, and comfortable. It is a shorter more flattering length than the longer cardigans. It is very warm and I have used it as a light jacket. The first time I wore it, I went shopping in Camden, Maine and one of the shopkeepers suggested I should make and sell them. 

Even though I have no interest in doing this, I was pleased to have the notice of how beautifully it had turned out.

The Next Sweater Project
I am going to try it again,  in another fiber. I will stick to the bulky fast knit up yarn and dye colors that harmonize.
I will try to keep closer track of the steps next time,  so I can give you a more detailed pattern this time around.
So, if you see me running around Maine in my funky pilly sweater, stop and say Hi.