Category Archives: work in progress

Using a swift….

I have begun a new, large shawl – based on the Pi are Square shawl from E Zimmermann (I’ve made some of these before, they’re on my projects on Ravelry). I have some Fibrespates Luscious Wool, in a deep red, that came in a skein, and therefore had to be wound off into balls to use.  So, when I was last at Knuston Hall, I got out my fabulous Mama Bear swift, which looks like this…  2013-01-18 14.43.11 and got winding. 🙂  To wind off a skein, one of the most important things (for peace of mind…) is to get the wool on the swift BEFORE you cut the ties that bind – let me repeat that – ON swift, THEN cut.  Really.  Your sanity may depend on this…   You can see the ties in this picture… once the wool is on the swift, THEN they can be cut…2013-01-18 14.31.51  That then leaves you will the wool, nicely spread out on the swift, and ready to wind…    2013-01-18 14.31.44  Take the end of the wool out, and feed it into the winder.  I always worry that I won’t be able to find the centre bit of the centre pull ball, but somehow that’s never been a problem.2013-01-18 14.33.01  And then wind… and wind… and wind some more.  If you have people around who are interested in the process, let them wind, as well.  Fun for all the family (and it saves your arm!).  Keep cats OUT of the process, however, as mine, at least, finds it amazingly intriguing and she has to stick a paw in to check the tension…

Once you have wound what seems to be an ocean’s worth of wool, you end up with something very pretty and amazing, like this: 2013-01-18 14.43.25  Isn’t that fantastic?  And all I had to do was turn the handle – all that fancy winding got done automatically!  Lift the yarn ball (often called a cake) off the winder, drag the original bit of wool out of the centre, and you’re off!

If you’ve not got a swift, you can substitute a couple of chairs or a willing accomplice (ply accomplice with tea and cake but not too much tea – you don’t want them having to run to the loo part way through!). And no cake till after (crumbs – not a good look in a ball of wool).  If you don’t have a swift and are thinking about getting one, I can’t recommend these people highly enough – the Oregon Woodworker.

And there you have it – from scary skein to useable cake in just a few minutes! 🙂

The shawl, predictably, will take a bit more time….


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Abrabham Lincoln grew up in one, but you can knit one!

A log cabin, of course…  If you’re a quilter, you’re now thinking I’ve taken leave of my senses, because Log Cabin is a well-known quilt pattern, that allows the using up of scraps. (I love quilts, and proudly have two, made by my grandmothers, in the living room).

However, it’s also a knitting technic, developed by someone or other – lots of people claim it as theirs, but it’s so widely known, I have no desire to say who came up with it!  The general idea is simple: knit a garter stitch square (or rectangle – however you shape this first piece will dictate the shape of the rest of the blanket).  Cast off all but one stitch, turn the work 90 degrees, and knit up along the side of the square with a new colour.  Knit (garter stitch) for x ridges, ending back at the corner where you began with the new colour.  Cast off that colour to the last stitch, do not cast off, turn, add new colour, knit up along the side, knit X ridges (the same number each time) ad infinitum. (There are lots of patterns out there, if you want a better detailed explanation – look here among other places).

I’m making one to use up the bits and pieces of DK I have in baby sorts of colours – and also because I have a shed load of marking due at the end of the week and I need something fairly mindless to keep my hands busy then – I figure by that time, the blanket will be big enough that I will have LONG rows of garter stitch to do!

log cabin (2)  In this picture, you can get the idea of how it works, I hope.  I’ve done these before, when I needed to a. use up wool, and b. have something mindless to knit. I’ve given away a number of these blankets – being entirely in garter stitch, they are lovely and soft and warm. (I also have one downstairs, for keeping warm while watching TV and knitting!).

log cabin with cat This is one I did some time ago, which I put down to photograph, but of course, that couldn’t happen until it had been inspected…. 🙂

Doing the constant adding-in-of-wool means that there are lots of ends.  This is annoying – when one has finished something, darning in all those ends takes time! log cabin (4) However, it’s possible to make that job a lot easier.

As you knit in the new colour, pass the ends of the wool – both cut ends (old and new colour) OVER the wool that you are using to make a stitch. This is difficult to explain but easy to do – like so many things in life. log cabin (1)  The pink in this picture is the working wool, the purple is the one I am weaving in.  Do this over-the-working-wool every other stitch for as long as the wool lasts.  That way, when you come to the end of the work, all you need to do is snip off any little tiny bits that stick out – the rest are already safely woven in!

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This is an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern – and I love her patterns. 🙂  And I have step-grandchildren to knit for!

So, I’m using some Magi-Knit that I have left over from something or other… and knitting up a pink and white and pastel tomten. 🙂

The original pattern says to cast off (on the body part) when you get to where the sleeves will go. The notes suggest leaving those stitches on a bit of wool and then knitting them up as you knit the sleeves.

“A bit of wool” sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, for me. So I put the underarm stitches on two stitch holders – each with half the stitches, and each with the opening toward the bit being knitted. This looks a bit messy but it works. 2012-12-10 22.47.40

When you get to the end of the sleeve bit, don’t knit the last stitch. Instead, slip it on to the stitch holder (or slip the first stitch from that, on to your non-knitting needle, whatever works, just so that you end up with the last stitch from the sleeve and the first stitch from the underarm, together). That’s what you see happening in these pictures. (The stitch holder is purple).2012-12-10 22.50.09 2012-12-10 22.50.32

In the next picture, you can see the stitches being knit together.

2012-12-10 22.50.46

The next pictures are  the sleeve,2012-12-10 22.51.15  2012-12-10 22.52.23

and the next is the hood

2012-12-10 22.51.39

– I did the last four ridges of the hood in the contrast yarn. So far, I’m loving this – these poor kids might just have more of these than they will ever use!  The ends look a bit bedraggled, but that’s ok as I will do something with them – probably Icord, though I tend not to enjoy that overmuch… but it looks so nice I might just persevere!

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Yarn bowl… and scarf

Now, I quite like some of the yarn bowls out there – they’re lovely, and many of them are hand made.But… I want something I can carry around, and also something rather cheap.  So, at the pound store, I got a vegetable  keeper.  It’s basically a plastic dome, that sits on a base, and the idea is that you put that odd half onion you have left over in the keeper, so you can use the onion another day and so your fridge doesn’t smell like tired onions…

However, if you stick a hole in the top of it (carefully!! And don’t try this at home…), you can put cakes of wool in the keeper, and thread the wool through it and voila! It ends up looking something like these pictures….

  As you might be able to tell, it’s full of the pure wool I mentioned before – which has been used to make a shawl (pictures when I get a chance and a willing model!), and is being used for a scarf at the moment – I’m loving the stitch definition I get with 3.75mm needles…

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Double knit feels so big!

I’ve started a new “upstairs” project.  It’s a simple shawl – rectangular, made from a bamboo/cotton mix – Gorgeous yarn (that’s what it’s called, honest – look):

   You can see the new stitch markers I got from Fripperies and Bibleots…

 I see no reason not to be amused by one’s stitch markers. 🙂

The shawl is, as one would probably expect, as it’s “upstairs” (and therefore, mindless) knitting, in Old Shale.  But it feels so BIG, after all that lace knitting!


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Can can

  Not the dance – the wool. When you unwrap it from the ball, it looks like the first picture. But when you pull it apart a bit, it looks like this:

 You knit through the top of it, and just knitting five stitches in garter stitch (which is very tedious because you have to flay the wool out for EVERY STITCH), you get  a scarf that looks like this:

.  That’s a tad over-exposed, the actual colours are darker and nicer. 🙂




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Lace hap, continued…

The lace hap is coming on very well, I think.  It’s now 42 inches across each side (so, 42 inches square).  That’s not near big enough, really, but it’s respectable. 🙂

As mentioned before, it has a garter stitch centre.  I then moved on to a ladder stitch border, which you can see here:. (Forgive the shadow – and for some reason, pictures on my phone always come out just a little bit yellow…).  You can see the garter stitch in the centre of the shawl, moving into the ladder stitch.

When I thought there was enough of that stitch, I moved on to ostrich plume stitch.  In essence, ostrich plume is old shale (or feather and fan) for four repeats, then shifts over half a repeat.  To put it another way – old shale is an 18 stitch repeat.  When you shift (after four repeats), what was stitch one of the first four patterns is ignored – stocking stitch straight over it, till you get to stitch eight of the first set of repeats.  THAT becomes stitch one of the new pattern.  And away you go, for another four repeats, at which point you move back to the original placing. (It sounds a lot more complex than it is).

Of course for something like this, which has corners in it, each row increases the number of stitches – so sometimes rather than ignoring the first eight stitches, you’ve gained enough that you can add an entire repeat.

The only way any of that will really make sense is if you try it. 🙂

But this is what it looks like, with one shift having taken place…


I’ve ordered another ball of the wool, though I don’t know if I’ll need it.

And, as big as it is, I think it will still fit through my wedding ring, so it’ll be a true wedding ring shawl.  And it’s incredibly soft, as a bonus!

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