Day 78

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Firstly, a purple-ish rectangle. This blanket is going to be enormous if I do all 365 pieces as a single blanket….

day 78

So, hand spindles. There are 2 main types of hand spindle – supported and unsupported – and most spindles will fit into one of these categories. Many of the differences are because of the unique qualities of different fibres but all handspindles are based on the same principle – using a weighted stick to twist strands of fibre into a thread. I almost exclusively spin wool so I can only speak about some of these spindles from what I’ve read.

Just to clarify, I am speaking exclusively of spindles that are not attached to a wheel-based machine.

We’ll talk about unsupported handspindles today (because they’re the type I use). These are often called ‘Drop Spindles’ and generally fall into 2 categories – top whorl or bottom whorl.

The handspindle is a very simple machine that can be made with as few as 2 parts – a shaft and a whorl.

If you take a straight piece of wood, like dowelling or a chopstick, attach a length of thread to it and try to make it spin, you will notice that it will twist in the direction you turned it maybe twice before turning back on itself without making any difference to the length of thread. To make this shaft continue to turn, it needs a weight on it. It doesn’t have to be a heavy weight but the weight, or whorl, will give the spinning shaft momentum and keep it going for long enough to make a change to the fibre or thread you are trying to spin.

Where you put the whorl can make a difference. If you put it in the middle, it won’t spin. This has to do with the shaft’s centre of gravity. If it is placed toward the top or bottom of the shaft, it will work as a spinning device.

I have never noticed any difference to how the two function and consider it a matter of personal preference but we know that the bottom whorl spindle has long been used in Europe (seriously, it’s depicted in use on Greek pottery) and is better suited to spin thicker yarns that need less twist.

The top whorl spindle is thought to come from the Middle East and produces thinner yarns more easily.

Whichever you choose, the weight of the whorl will make a big difference to what you produce. A heavy weight will snap thin yarns, a light weight won’t twist thick strands so keep that in mind when choosing the spindle for a project.

A variation on the bottom whorl spindle is the Turkish spindle.

spindle-turkish2This spindle is made of three interlocking pieces – a shaft and 2 arms, where one arm fits through the other spindle-turkish1then the shaft through both to hold them in place. The clever part is that you can wrap your spun yarn around the arms to make a ball of yarn. When you are finished, you remove the shaft, then the arms and there you are, a ball of yarn all ready for use. I confess that it always feels a bit magic when I finish spinning with mine, take it all apart and have a ball of yarn.

There are many styles of whorl and as long as it’s balanced with the shaft running through the centre, it doesn’t really matter what you use.

spindle - lilianpar

The most elaborate spindle I have has a whorl made of layers of plastic and beads. (made by Tilt A Whorl on Etsy. go and look!)

 

 

 

spindle - rainbow whorl

 

I have one with a whorl made by AYarnLovinMama from baked modelling clay.

 

 

trindlestylespindle

 

 

I made this one with an old knitting needle, some beads and some wire (based on something I saw online).

 

 

 

handspindle - chopstick

 

I even made one with a chopstick and a small plug, which I made when I needed a light-weight spindle and didn’t want to wait for an order to be delivered.

 

As you can see, all of them except the Turkish spindle are top whorl. The technique I have unconsciously developed for making the spindle spin works best with top whorl spindles so that is what I use.

The Joy of Handspinning website has videos and more information.

And now for the history lesson…. sort of. I was going to share a boyband type ballad by Kings George 1- 4 but my friend J suggested this one…

Now compare that with Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’….

Yes, the dancing confuses me…

Day 61

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It’s a bit ironic that on the day I actually go to a knitting group, I get almost no knitting done. I have eaten breakfast in a cafe, wound yarn for friends, eaten lunch at Wagamama’s with Hubby and my friend G, shopped for food, bleached the hubby’s hair, used a mortar and pestle to grind durum flour for hubby who made pasta (tagliatelle, ravioli, and tortellini) from scratch just because he could, knit about 6 rows on the current sweater, knit today’s trapezoid and now I’m blogging. Much busier than I anticipated….
My Hubby, the pretty pretty princess 😉 We bleached out all colour in preparation of dyeing it purple. Should be fun. He’s suggested I dye mine turquoise. I asked him why he wanted us to look like a couple from Japanese animation. He asked why we wouldn’t which is a difficult argument to maintain cause it would be pretty cool…

pretty pretty princess

pretty pretty blonde princess

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s song is one that I apparently sang *alot* when I was growing up. You can imagine my embarrassment/horror when I realised in my late teens that the song I had sung so much as a 6 year old was actually about…. I still know all the words to ‘Physical’ by Olivia Newton-John.

I struggled with which song to share today. My friend J suggested ‘something goofy and fun’. ‘Cheesy’ is the same thing, right? And it was either this or something from Xanadu so you weren’t going to get anything less cringeworthy.

Ah, what the heck. Gene Kelly on rollerskates, people! (I adore Gene Kelly)

To close my busy day, here is a stripy trapezoid…

day 61

Day 58

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I’m attempting to share 80’s Australian music with you for a week without resorting to Kylie Minogue. It’s surprisingly difficult – mostly because I actually like all that utterly terrible pop. Part of the difficulty is in the connections I keep remembering. For example, in the 90’s she became involved with the lead singer of today’s band and it radically changed her image. Yes, today it’s INXS. From their much celebrated album ‘Kick’ this is ‘New Sensation’. There are several excellent choices from this album but this was my choice. Not sure about the dancing by singer Michael Hutchence but that seems to be a theme in an alarming number of video clips – Australian and otherwise.

While I wait for hubby to go into the loft, I’m going to start work on another shawl design (and continue to type up the epic pattern for the first shawl). This one is going to use the same basic design ideas but will have a different combination of knit and purl rows, and a longer, shallower triangle shape. This one will be blue and will only use one ball of the yarn I have chosen.

Before working on the blanket today, I got the shoulders done on the sweater today, and most of one front. The construction is tricky to explain but I’ll give it a go. Part of the back is worked first, from the underarm to the shoulders. The stitches are then divided between the 2 shoulders and the neck. The right then the left shoulder and fronts are worked. At this point the body is then worker in the round. It’s actually pretty straight forward once you work out where everything goes and I’m enjoying it more than I expected.

Another piece placed in what appears to be limbo for the blanket today. I swear it will all make sense.

day 58

Day 57

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More music from the ‘When I was 10….’ group. This is the band 1927 with a song that won them Breakthrough Artist awards from ARIA (the Australian Recording Industry Awards). Can’t define why I love this song. It’s well put together, tuneful and good to sing along to but there is still that extra something…..

oneI’m making good progress with the next sweater for my friend J. The yarn is ‘Coast’ by Danish company Holst Garn, which is a 55% wool/45% cotton blend. This blend makes it a little more coarse than a pure wool but no less lovely to work with. The cotton also gives it drape that pure wool doesn’t often have. The colours are Begonia and Lead and I’m enjoying myself so far. It is a new yarn to me and yet another new construction method. The photo shows the back and up to the shoulder (which is at the top).

I’m learning a new technique with this project, a new way to do short rows that is so much easier than the wrap & turn technique. German short rows essentially have you pull the stitch up and over the needle in a way that we teach new knitters not to do. It sounds confusing and complicated when you read the pattern instructions but there are several really good YouTube tutorials. I recommend having a look at the technique next time you have a project that uses short rows.

Day 57You may be wondering why today’s blanket addition is a square off to the side and not a trapezoid attached to the triangle. If you go back to whenever it was I posted the blanket plan, you will see that I need to add a couple more pieces for the trapezoid to attach to as well as to the triangle. It will all become clear in the next couple of days. I’m not making all of this up as I go 😉

 

Day 55

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Oh how I miss some of the 80’s pop/rock. Today is an Australian delicacy  – IceHouse fronted by Iva Davies and his epic mullet. The song is called ‘Electric Blue’ and it kinda haunts me. Can’t say why but it’s another of those songs from when I was 10. I should probably work out what was happening in my life at that time for the music to be so significant and ‘good’ in my mind.

There is so much music I’ve rediscovered from searching for this song. It’s very hard not to just fill this post with links to Australian music from the 80’s….. Maybe I should. Cold Chisel, 1927, John Farnham, Midnight Oil, Redgum, Noiseworks, INXS…. so many choices.

This has also led to rediscovering the Eurythmics and the stunning Annie Lennox, The Police, Paul Simon among many, many others.

Maybe I should make some sort of playlist on YouTube. If I do, I shall share the link.

sekku 4I got a few more rows of my self-designed shawl done today and started a new sweater for my friend J. It’ll be grey and pink stripes and looks very pretty. There’s not enough to photograph yet though. And I still haven’t chosen a pattern to knit with the yarn I bought yesterday which looks like this –>

And this tiny grey square…

Day 55

Day 48

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The Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music. A very familiar tune, I’m sure. Such a jolly piece. I love Handel’s use of horns in his music. They round out the sound and lift it in a way that string instruments simply can’t.

This performance was for the 2012 BBC Proms. From what I can see in this clip, many of the instruments are period authentic.

KC - swatchI knitted swatches for 2 more sweaters for my friend J. I know what size needles to use to match what the pattern wants. Which means I get to check the maths of each of those 2 patterns in the next few days.

Once I finished the swatches, I went back to working on the shawl I’m designing. I’m about halfway through I think and it’s looking pretty good. It’s interesting how much you can do to make a garment with textural complexity using only knit and purl stitches and basic geometry. I look forward to sharing it with you all when it’s ready.

I’m so close to finishing this square of 52 pieces for my blanket and I really, really, really, really want to finish it Right Now. But I shall behave…. don’t wanna though 😉

Day 48

Day 47

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So….. I finished knitting for The Sweater.

driftwood v2 - needing sewing upYeeeeeeah, it ended up 15cm larger around the body than the pattern schematic said it should have which is puzzling because I got the gauge that the pattern said I needed. Basically, this means that it’s too big for my friend J. Disappointing. However, it is the right size for me so it wasn’t a wasted effort.

You can see that I still need to sew in the yarn ends and to add the buttons but the majority of the work is done.

Things I have learned : Do your maths!!! All of the difficulties that I have had with this pattern are down to maths – whether I haven’t checked my gauge properly, I haven’t checked measurements or the sizing isn’t calculated correctly, it’s all down to getting the numbers right. There is nothing complicated in the maths – it’s all addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. When I do it, I will share it with you all. It helps that I have already completed the pattern once so I know what I’m looking for/at.

Things I changed : So, the first time I knit the body of this sweater I followed the pattern exactly which meant that I worked backwards and forwards for the button band area, and after separating the sleeves from the body I cast on the stitches for the underarm. This time I knit the button band section in the round then steeked (secured and cut) the opening. It was much quicker to complete even with the few extra stitches on each round because I didn’t have to turn and re-situate the knitting at the end of each row, and because every round was knit stitch and like most knitters my purl stitch is a little slower than my knit stitch. As for the underarm, by casting on then picking up the stitches for the sleeve there was a stiff line that could be an irritant, so this time I did a provisional cast on which meant the join between sleeve and body under the arm was seamless. It looks and feels much better.

Things I would change next time : I would do my own maths for sizing. Looking at the gallery of other knitters sweaters from this pattern, the smaller sizes seem to fit perfectly but the larger sizes “swim” on the wearers. Not sure where the maths is wrong but I’m sure that it’s not me that made a mistake. My gauge was spot on so it should have come out to match the schematic in the pattern but it didn’t. So, yeah, I’ll do my own maths according to the measurements of the recipient of the sweater.

I will also be volunteering to test the designers patterns to help remedy this problem. I really like this pattern, and the construction is fantastic, and I am happy to knit it again at a later date. But first I’ll knit something else. I’m liable to destroy the sweater from boredom/irritation if I knit it again so soon. I have plenty to be going on with.

In honour of the  journey this sweater has taken me on, I present Faith No More’s ‘Epic’. It’s a bit of a flashback to my early teens and is one of my favourite pieces of modern music.

Today’s small square is blue. It is also setting up space for tomorrows rectangle. We’re coming to the end of the first chart so quickly. I am still surprised that I’m still going with this. I am terrible about starting things then getting bored but I’m enjoying this project. And knowing that there is something new to make and finish each day is good. If I don’t do anything else each day, I have accomplished a little bit more of this blanket.

Day 47

Day 43

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I love the Disney movie ‘Mulan’. At a time when I struggled with not being what everyone else told me I ought to be (well, my teens in particular. I’ve never been good at doing something if I don’t see the point in it), Mulan was a character that ‘spoke’ to me. In particular is the sentiment, even the words, from the song ‘Reflection’. Being out of my teens has not been a magical cure. I’m still not what I’m “supposed” to be. But then, despite all of that I am 14 years married to a man who loves me as I am, who supports my efforts to improve myself and demands only that it be a change I want for me, not one to please someone else – not even him. Then came my son who loves me even when I’m grumpy and despite my best efforts, refuses to be embarrassed by me.

I still have trouble believing them some days. Self-esteem and -confidence are fickle things. But I’m getting better about it. And still there are days where my reflection isn’t what I expect…

 

Sweater Update Body and one sleeve are finished!!!!! I am now working on the button bands and collar and will start on the other sleeve tomorrow. My friend J loves it which is fantastic because it’s going to live with her when it’s finished.

driftwood v2 - steeked and sleeve1

And of course, the blanket… today I have returned to Step in ‘Beere’. This might be one off my favourite colourways. Though in truth, I like them all.

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Day 39

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Just a quick one today because I’m falling asleep as I write this (no idea why, it’s quite early for me. I’m just very, very tired).

Something whimsical and amusing today for you to listen to. Comedy pair ‘The Scared, Weird Little Guys’ were once part of an award winning a cappella group. Now they sing for our amusement. This one illustrates how many people view Australia and her wildlife… It’s not really this dangerous. At least, it wasn’t where I grew up but, yeah, lots of things for the paranoid among us to worry about 😉

Today I finished the first sleeve of the sweater. It looks pretty good and my friend J lies it so i’m putting this one in the ‘WIN’.

sleeve1

 

I’ve ripped back the stripes in the body so that I have white yarn for the other sleeve and started knitting on the body again. It’s all coming together it would seem.

blankeplan2So we’re up to day 39 and I had only finished the plan for 52 days. Today I expanded the plan for the blanket to 136 pieces/days. I have no idea how well they’ll all come together. I’ve tried to number everything in the order I think they’ll need to be worked but it’s a big space and some of the shapes are facing new directions. It will all work out but I can only guess at the things that might cause trouble right now.

day 39Day 39 is a simple small square, worked along what has typically been the left hand side of the blanket. So much lovely purple!!! Though the colour isn’t quite so ultraviolet in the real world. I should probably try to locate a ‘real’ camera instead of continuing to use my phone….

Day 37

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driftwood v2 - body complete backSo, I got it right this time! All the measurements are right so it will fit my friend J! I shall be getting another friend to try it on for me at knitting on Wednesday just to double check I think.

The sleeves are next. The stitches for that are all on holders and just need me to thread the needles through the stitches and I can get started on them.

driftwood v2 - body complete frontThis sweater has a long button band down the front. The pattern calls for the section to be worked back and forth, knit one row then purl the next. I decided not to do that on this 2nd attempt at the pattern. I am going to be courageous and try steeking. It is a very common technique in intarsia and fair isle knitting and in knitting Scandanavian sweaters. It involves knitting across the ’empty’ spaces (like sleeves and button bands) with extra stitches, then shoring up those sections before cutting the fabric. My explanation is terrible, I know, but my point here is that I’m going to voluntarily CUT MY KNITTING! Yes, I will take photos and explain the process when I actually do it, and the hole in the front of the sweater is part of it.

I’m taking a break from the sweater for the rest of today to work on a wedding gift – a knitted lace tablecloth.

But first, today’s music. I am feeling…. well, i’m not sure what the word is but it is positive and calm. I don’t remember the first time I heard Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’ album, I don’t even remember how I came to have a copy but I remember being lost in the raw beauty of it at that moment. The album is full of songs you will know but not in a voice you will recognise. Carole King wrote ‘I feel the earth move’, ‘you make me feel like a natural woman’, and ‘Will you still love me?’. The album is unpolished and simple and one that I always have a copy of. This is the title track performed live.

Lastly, another trapezoid….

day 37