The Ardent Shawl with Malabrigo Handspun
The journey to this FO started a year (or more) ago when I got some beautiful Malabrigo Nube fiber. I had decided way back then that I wanted to knit a shawl out of handspun. That meant that I needed to make sport weight or lace weight, and for me, that meant spinning a 2-ply yarn. If I had done a 3-ply, it would likely result in a light DK or thicker yarn.
Life intervened though and I only spun up half of the fiber. That half waited patiently in a closet for the day that might never come. I wasn’t even sure if I could still spin to be honest. Then entered the wettest winter California has seen in 10 years. Something about cold stormy days awakens the deep desire to work with wool. On rainy days my absolute favorite thing to do is to pour myself into the making of fibery things that will keep my loved ones and myself warm and cozy.
I finished spinning the second ply over a three day weekend, and only let it sit for a night for fear that I wouldn’t ply them for another year. I wasn’t sure what would happen with one ply having sat for over a year and the other ply only for 1 night. But, I plowed forward. The yarn itself won’t win any awards for balance, but it was the right thickness and Malabrigo colors never fail to amaze me. I got 304 yards out of the 4 oz. of fiber.
Now to pick a pattern. I wanted a shawl that wasn’t too complicated. No charts or complicated repeats for me at this point of my working mom schedule. Plus, the handspun yarn can stand on its own. I didn’t want it to compete with a complicated pattern. I scoured Ravelry and was trying to decide between three similar shawls that could be easily modified to use up all of my handspun yarn.
Reyna by Noora Laivola has been in my favorites for a long time, it looks great with a marled yarn. The Citadel had a similar concept, of striping rows of lace and garter, also with a center spine, but with thinner stripes. Then I discovered Ardent by Janina Kallio, and it had thicker panels of lace and garter and it was more of a crescent shaped shawl (i.e. no center spine), but still in a v-shape for the most part. This gives it a lovely modern look of big side sweeping lace stripes. I fell in love.
I couldn’t stop knitting this shawl. The pattern was clear and easy to keep track of. It starts at the small end, so progress is fast immediately. Then I just would sneak in row after row in the morning, before bed and at lunch if I had a spare 10 minutes. I had enough yarn to do an extra repeat, leaving only a tiny ball of unused handspun.
I still wasn’t totally convinced after binding off that this was really the right pattern for the yarn, but it really came to life after blocking. It’s super light and lofty. The lacework is staying open and I was happy to see that the colors don’t overwhelm the lace stripes either. It’s light and warm and cozy as a dream.
Spinning a Gradient Yarn with Fauxlags
This is a fiber story from roving to toy. It is also a love story dedicated to my dear daughter. It all starts last summer when I received some some bright pink and purple roving for my birthday. She instantly claimed it as her own and I was happy to oblige.
The fiber was Malabrigo Nube, colorway Baya Electrica. You can find it online for about $15 at places like Yarn.com or Jimmybeanswool.com. Pretty decent price for 4oz of 100% Merino, and the colors – priceless. The fiber was a bit felted in places though which was expected based on the reviews. So doing a bit of extra prep up front seemed like a good plan to make the spinning much more pleasant.
I’ve always wanted to spin a gradient yarn, so this would be the perfect fiber to try fauxlags. I watched this video and this video to learn how to make fauxlags and began to separate the colors. I took over the entire kitchen table for a few hours to make this happen! Once they were all rolled up, I used this old document box lid to organize them by color so that they were all ready to spin up.
I definitely need more practice making fauxlags. Some spun up easily, while others were too loose and pulled apart in clumps. Overall they were really fun to spin though. The progress went by quickly because everything was bite sized. I could easily see how far along I was and it was hard not do “just one more”.
After all the singles were spun, I used chain-ply to make a 3-ply yarn and maintain the gradient effect. It was so fun seeing the resulting yarn come to life!
I believe I ended up with about 100 yards of worsted weight yarn, here’s a link to my ravelry spinning project page. Perfect for making a little pink elephant for my daughter. I have knit this elephant pattern called Elija by Ysolda Teague for my son years ago.
She loves it and the yarn is holding up really well. I was a bit worried that the handspun would wear out quickly, but it’s been nearly 6 months now and it looks as good as new! The amount of love and care that went into making the yarn and knitting the toy was well worth it.
Sock Knitting: Vanilla is the New Black Review
Take the standard plain vanilla sock pattern, add a sexy stiletto-esque heel and voila, you have Vanilla is the New Black by Anneh Fletcher. It’s one of those brilliant patterns that seems so simple, yet so unique and different. It was the perfect pattern for me to take on vacation because it was mostly stockinette, with just the right amount of new design elements to keep my interest peaked. It knit up quickly and easily and fits great. I highly recommend it great for beginners and advanced knitters alike.
About the yarn:
I used this florescent speckled sock yarn from Hedgehog Fibers. This limited edition colorway is way out of my comfort zone, but since Hedgehog is all the rage right now, I had give it a try. Overall, I have to say, it was not my favorite sock yarn. It’s a little splitty for my sharp signature DPNs and they are wearing a bit quicker than my other hand knit socks. I think it would have been great for a shawl or something that doesn’t get worn as hard as socks do. I did end up falling in love with the colorway though, it was a delight to see where those little pops of color would land in the knitting.
Embroidered Owl Pin Cushion
Embroidery has been calling to me ever since I laid eyes on Bonnie Sonnet’s Instagram account, @bluepenisula. She does the most amazing embroidery I’ve ever seen. It turns out that she also has a blog where she shares her amazing embroidery stitch journal, in addition she sells beautiful knit patterns.
As inspiring as her embroidery is, I was not about to go buy supplies and start yet another hobby. My spare moments are full enough as it is with knitting, spinning and now gardening. Or so I thought, apparently the universe heard my wishful thinking because I won the cutest little owl embroidery kit from Kiriki Press (@kirikipress on Instagram)! It was a perfect little project that came with all the supplies I needed to indulge my desire to dabble with embroidery. Their collection of embroidery kits are absolutely adorable and they come in different levels of difficulty depending on your skill set.
I quickly got started, made a million mistakes, learned a ton and really couldn’t put it down! It was such a fun project. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in picking up embroidery.
The cute modern owl design and the fun colors were so pleasing to work with. I decided to keep it for myself (despite my daughter’s assumption that this cute little plushie would be hers). For now it will keep me company on my desk while I work.
However, next time I have a needle and thread project, it will serve me well as a pin cushion. I do feel a little bad poking needles into it though!
These videos and PDFs were super helpful:
- Chain Stitch Video
- Padded Satin Stitch Video
- Fern Stitch Video
- Arrowhead Stitch PDF
I definitely see more of these little cuties in my future!
7 of my favorite things from Stitches West 2016
My bounty from Stitches West 2016
Yarn as far as the eye can see. Famous knit wear designers, indie dyers, and podcasters at every turn. Classes teaching new techniques, how to design, knitting ergonomics, color work, the list is endless. There are Notions, needles, bags, accessories, fiber, yarn bowls, pins that say things like “Stay alive! Don’t Knit and Drive!” and “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but WIPs and Chains excite me”. Anything and everything that a knitter, spinner, crocheter, weaver, felter (is that a word?), could ever dream of all comes together every February in the Santa Clara Convention Center for my favorite convention called Stitches West (for those of you not on the west coast, they have a Stitches show for just about every region.)
There are literally knitters sitting in every chair in the hotel bar and lobby attached to the convention center. All in their natural habitat with their WIPs in their laps, hands working away, chatting up a storm (WIP stands for work in progress, for those non-knitters out there.) If you are into the fiber arts, you HAVE to make it to one of these shows.
Here are the highlights of my 1-day visit to the marketplace from a knitter/spinner perspective.
Theses guys really stepped up their game by introducing support spindles that have a beautiful blown glass feature. They had such a large assortment to choose from too. It was so hard to pick just one. Here’s the gem that I came home with. She looks like a magic wand and spins like a dream! If you missed these at the show, don’t worry, you can find them on their website http://www.mingoandasho.com/ and in their Etsy store https://www.etsy.com/shop/mingoasho. And check them out on Instagram @mingoasho – don’t be shy about contacting them and asking for what you want. They have so much more diverse styles of glass than they show on their store. There’s glitter, spirals, spirals with glitter, these bubbly organic looking ones. You must see them in person.
2. Friends with Benefits, i.e. a hand made DPN holder
One of the very best things about being a knitter is the community. I have a tight knit (had to make that pun) group of knitters that I meet with about once a month. This year I met up with Marisa (@quiltotaku on IG) and Marianne (@arunningstitcher on IG). They have extra sewing skills that I get to benefit from. Marianne surprised me with a hand made double pointed needle holder with some super cute fabric. Just what I needed for this pair of socks that have been carelessly sitting in wait while I finished another project. See those stitches dangerously close to the edge ready to fall off at any moment! Now they are safe, thank you Marianne!
3. Pigeonroof Studios
I have a sentimental attachment to Pigeonroof studios since it happened to be the first fiber that I purchased to spin with, and I spun during an extremely difficult time in my life. My dad had passed away and all I could do for days was sit and spin all the best memories into that yarn. It was instrumental in helping me process the grief. So, I’m really looking forward to spinning more fiber from them, in a happier place this time. And just look at this colorway called Andolin. It’s 4 oz of beautiful Organic Polwarth, a fiber I’ve never spun before.
4. Hedgehog Fibers
Have you heard of this stuff? It is pretty trendy right now with some custom colorways by the amazingly talented Steven Be and Steven West. You can’t miss it if you are on instagram, there is constantly someone new knitting up a shawl or sock with it. They have some bright neon colors in their pallet that is a little out of my comfort zone to say the least, but I couldn’t resist grabbing the a skein of Hedgehog Fibers Sock Yarn in the “Steven Beyond” colorway. It comes with a generous 400 yards too. It will be a blast to knit up some bright socks and watch the pops of color materialize on the fabric… plus I can see what the craze is all about. The jury is out on whether or not this bright speckled yarn is up my alley.
5. Sincere Sheep
Brooke from Sincere Sheep has a truly amazing selection of yarn that is all naturally died. That’s color from plants people! She posted a picture of a this dye jar on Instagram recently, with a stunning sock blank inside soaking up a lovely ombre dye going from green to blue. I never wanted to knit from a sock blank until I realized that you could get 2 socks knit up at the same time with the same gradient/pattern. Unfortunately, they were all snatched up on the first night! I ended up grabbing a gauge square that will be helpful when making a sweater instead, and promptly headed to her website to sign up for her newsletter so that I can be the first in line to get her next batch of sock blanks.
6. Never Not Knitting
Alana Dakos from Never Not Knitting recently held a mystery knit-a-long which I had proudly draped over my shoulders when I went to her booth. It’s the Four Seasons Shawl pattern that I had literally finished the day before. She recognized it immediately and I was in awe of her talent to make up this beautiful pattern. I ended up getting a kids book called Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf, which both of my kids loved. It has instructions for little ones to learn how to knit including a story about a little girl who tried to learn, got frustrated and gave up, then re-tried one day and became triumphant. After I read it to my two children, my son asked if he could learn to knit! YAY! I also picked up a kids sweater pattern called Little Oak Cardigan. It comes sized for 6 month old babies to 14 years old! Quite the range.
7. Spun Right Round
Last but not least, there is more neon in my life, in the form of fiber. I’m thinking of trying a new spinning technique to make the yarn thick and thin. It will make a cute chunky knit hat for my daughter, and possibly enough for a set of mitts too. This is 4 oz of Bluefaced Leicester, another new-to-me fiber that I can check off my fibers-to-be-spun list.
I’m so excited to play with all my new fiber… but this makes me wonder. Am I a knitter or a spinner? I took home mostly fiber. Hmmm….
Did you get to go to a Stitches this year? What favorite things did you get?
Chain Plying (Navajo Plying)
Hi! This post is all about Navajo plying, also called Chain plying.
I’ve been on a break from blogging for quite a while, but I’m back and will try my best to keep up with it. I’ve been really getting in to spinning lately, so I want to keep some notes that have helped me and hopefully they will help others as well.
What is Navajo Ply?
It’s a way to make a 3 ply yarn out of one single by plying it onto itself. You make a loop with the single, pull a length through it, which forms a new loop and repeat. Since it is plying onto itself, the colors stay together to instead of getting single plies that make a “barber pole” effect with different color singles plied together. It’s great for making gradient yarn which is one of my current obsessions.
The Best How to Video on Navajo Plying
Sarah Anderson has a very easy-to-follow video of chain plying. One hand stays close to her body keeping the loop open, while the other hand controls where the twist goes in and feeds the wheel. I fumbled with chain plying until I watched this video. It’s the best video I’ve found on Navajo ply.
What do you do if you are short on yardage to finish a project?
This is the Pleiades pattern by Beth Cling. It is basically a scarf in a crescent shape. She describes it as a shallow, curved shawlette.
The pattern is written really well. Each technique was described thoroughly, a beginner with a little experience could follow it easily.
My only problem was yardage. I knowingly used a smaller needle size because that’s all I had, but I didn’t anticipate how short I would be. I can either bind off now and completely miss the 2×2 rib section, or I can add another color which might look really cool, or could make it look horrible…. What would you do?
My husband said to me one day, why don’t you just buy more yarn?? I hadn’t even thought of that because hand dyed yarn can be so different if they are from different dye lots (I learned that the hard way). But I decided to give it a try.
To the trained eye it is obvious, but to the other 99% of the population it is virtually undetectable. So, nearly a year later it is finished and I can enjoy this cozy frilly knit. There are progress photos available in my project page in Ravelry.
I highly recommend this knit and yarn, oh my gosh, the yarn was particularly great! This was the first time for me using Miss Babs yarn. I absolutely love it. If you haven’t used it, you must give it a try. The aptly named, Yummy 3-ply sock yarn, is so squishy, and the subtle color changes made this semi solid interesting the whole time.
Can you see where the color changed?
Spinning up the Summer
Are you still knitting this summer? For some, their answer is YES and for many many others, it is not. This is the first year that I’m experiencing the knitting lull that many knitters get during the hot summer months. Our knit night group hardly meets anymore, and I haven’t touched any of the sweaters I started last winter. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a few rows on a lace or sock, but to be honest, I haven’t been doing much of that either. I’ve picked up a little bit of crocheting, but mainly I’ve spinning! There’s just something so refreshing about spinning out in my back yard when the cool breeze kicks in to temper the warm day. I live in the bay area and usually around 6pm you can open the windows and get a nice natural cool breeze that blows in from the bay. This is why it costs such an arm and a leg to live here… and I have to admit that I love it.
I got this super springy, soft, Cormo fiber from Sincere Sheep at CNCH earlier this year. I’ve never spun pin drafted roving before, and I’m really enjoying every minute of it. I’m spinning it worsted, which is new for me as well. I have so little left to go on this 4 oz bump. I can’t wait to ply it and then I have grand plans of actually dying it like Laylock (love her blog!) did and perhaps having it grow up to be something like this Ribbon of Breeze scarf by Sachiko Uemura.
Now that I think about it, this is kind of the perfect fiber storm… spin in the spring / summer, knit up my handspun in the Fall and Winter. Fiber bliss all year long!