He’s been poorly

so I’ve been busy. It’s nothing terribly serious but I’ve been ferrying him hither and thither for three days, which has eaten time I’d normally spend doing other things, including work and blogging. I did get some knitting done, but frogged it after finding a major error. And the Bearfoot socks are back in yarn balls too: I didn’t like the fabric I was getting on the 2.25mm bamboo needles. Too relaxed 🙂 I wanted a denser fabric — and smaller socks! There are some things I CAN control in this life.

KiriBlue is finished. Another lovely shawl. Despite adding a pattern repeat it’s smaller than I’d like but, as it’s for someone else who may not want miles of loose fabric draped around her torso, it might be perfect. I’ve written ’15 repeats’ on the pattern for future reference. Note that it’s blocking on my side of the bed, and that I resorted to using a hair dryer across it to be certain I could get to bed that night; it’s unseasonably warm here and quite humid. The blocking wires are very useful although thicker than I’d expected: on the top, where I’ve fed them through stitches quite close together, the shawl dries with a sort of lacy effect due solely to the wires. It occurs to me that I’m going to have to include full care instructions with these gifts. ‘Handwash in cool water with care’ isn’t enough. A paragraph explaining blocking will be essential and I suppose an offer to re-block in future would be kind. How do other people cope with this? Is every gifted shawl accompanied by a lifetime maintenance contract?
Here’s a shot similar to that of the Sea Silk version. Note the difference! The alpaca fuzz, er, halo obscures the stitch pattern, but promises warmth. It’s a friendly-looking thing, really. Denim-blue and cuddly.

Pattern: Kiri, a free download from All Tangled Up.
Yarn: Lisa Souza Baby Alpaca Silk in Blue Sky, knitted on a 3.75mmm circular.
Modifications: 13 main pattern repeats instead of 12 resulted in a shawl 130cm wide (from fingertip to fingertip on me) by 103cm deep to the point of the triangle. If/when I do this again, I’ll try 15 pattern repeats. I repeated the change I made to the first one: If you follow the pattern as written, the two sides of the shawl (either side of the centre line) are identical. I decided to make them symmetrical, so on one side all the ‘slip 1, knit 2, psso’ became ‘knit 2 (which I decided to do through the back loop for some reason I don’t understand), return to left needle, pass next stitch over the one just made, slide result to right needle’.

For the record, here are all the results of my spinning to date. Far left, the first yarn I ever made, allowed to twist back on itself. Middle, the second, left as a single. Is that the correct terminology or should it be ‘as singles’? Left is the third, which I deliberately tried to make thinner and more even, and twisted more as a single because that’s what the books say to do when it’s to be plied. I then plied it back on itself (last entry’s photo). I haven’t washed it or anything, so I guess technically it’s not finished, but I’ve been analysing it as best I can. My goal is to make sock yarn which I think means fingering-ish weight and reasonably tightly spun so it’s hard-wearing. This stuff is the right thickness in places and I suspect might knit up to make suitable sock fabric (yeah, right. I’ll judge this based on my vast experience, ie three pairs of socks?) but handling it suggests I’ve achieved the thickness by twisting the singles too tightly.
The thinnest bits are quite hard — there’s still some give, but I think they’d leave little purl ridges imprinted in the wearer’s soles. I wonder if there’s a market for socks that act as pumice stones, abrading the wearer’s feet? It’s not a bug, it’s a feature… Anyway, my theory is that I need to use a little less wool in each single and not twist it quite so hard. To me that seems likely to result in a slightly softer yarn of the same diameter. Comments? Joanne?

I carried that tiny skein around with me for about a half-hour last night with frequent stops to admire it, just like a dog with a really good stick. When I showed it to A he did look slightly impressed (and he hasn’t even seen me spin yet). I pointed out its faults as a sock yarn and he said “It doesn’t look that bad to me. I’d wear socks made of that, spun by your own fair hand. Better, I’ll get some straw and we can retire.”

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About sarahw

A zoologist who draws, a spinner who weaves, a person who thinks.
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4 Responses to He’s been poorly

  1. alice says:

    Looks like you’re really getting the hang of the spinning. Spinning seems quite an art. I mean, there’s no exact formula to follow. I suppose you get a feel for it and develop your own concoctions. How exciting!Your blue shawl is really very pretty – you certainly knitted that one up quickly. I’ve never thought of the recipient having to block an item. I suppose I’ve given it to them and left it in their custody, as their responsibility. How thoughtless of me.

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  2. Debby says:

    When I’ve given knitted presents (rarely, but it has happened), I usually pin the ball band to the object so the recipient has washing instructions. As I’ve never given a lace shawl, I hadn’t thought about the blocking question, but I suppose I’d offer to do that verbally, if needed. Chances are it shouldn’t need that very often, right? (fingers crossed)

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  3. sarah says:

    It’s good to hear from you both…Definitely fingers crossed. I’m trying not to imagine red wine on ivory sea silk. The blue one is going to someone perfectly capable of blocking it if she has to, probably better than I could ever do — fabric of any kind does *precisely* what she tells it to. The sea silk is going to my sister in Canada, who is probably much less competent. It’s not that I’m particularly thoughtful, it’s just that I have this image in my mind, my little sister looking at a crumpled wet lump of sea silk and wondering how on earth to make it into a shawl again. For some reason I don’t understand I’m hoarding the ball bands, possibly so I can remember what I knitted and where I got it from, so I’d rather not part with them (the blue alpaca silk has only one band as it came in one enormous skein). I think the best thing will be a brief, concise printed set of care instructions, possibly mounted on a card that could also serve to carry a short skein of spare yarn for repairs.

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  4. Joanne says:

    When you give knitting to people you love, they usually ask for washing help at the time they need it. (that’s what I’d hope anyhow.) The card is a great idea…assuming folks don’t lose those cards. I know I would.. but I know how to block stuff.The spinning looks good. Singles look good, 2 ply looks good. You are way too critical of yourself, those are some great first efforts. Sock yarn is tough to spin, in my opinion. It needs to be firmly spun and hard so that when it is knit up, it will wear well under your feet. Believe it or not, everything softens when washed and you will probably not feel little purls under your feet. Also, soft merino feels good, but doesn’t wear well-that’s why coarser yarn is good for socks. I could write a treatise on this, but I won’t…I love your comments on my blog, I owe you a note, but I’m having a hard time focusing on my work right now, so I’m stalling on the fun stuff. Keep spinning. You’re doing beautifully!

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