Monday, April 28, 2008

27 April 2008: Back in the Spin of Things

I finally completed spinning a half pound bag of Fleece Artist handpainted superwash merino roving. The skeins are soft and colourful. It took me a week to spin the singles and another week to ply them.

Now that the skeins are set and ready to work, I don't want to do anything with them except put them in a nice bowl to admire them. I don't have a fruit bowl; I have a yarn bowl!

I'm even more appreciative of the lovely quality of this merino... since I spent today working on cleaning a Jacob lamb fleece that I bought last summer. The fleece is nice and soft and very fine but it needs cleaning and has a fair bit of vegetation left in it. Once I get it cleaned, carded and spun, I'll dye it too!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

19 April 2008: More Snow... More Mitts!

Just when we thought spring was here to stay... it snowed. Sigh. The tulips and irises have popped up and are now shivering under a blanket of snow. It's a great day to put the colours of the flowers into a practical spring garment: mittens! A week or so ago, we got in a shipment of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn and I fell in love (again) with the fabulous colours. But instead of another pair of socks, I decided this ball of yarn was destined to become a pair of mittens. Today is a good day for mittens. And, since it's supposed to continue snowing tomorrow, I may just have to knit up a matching hat, scarf, sweater, leggings and socks!

Just in case you want to knit up a pair of these mittens yourself, here's the recipe:

Cynthia’s Simple Kureyon Colour Way Mittens

“socks for your hands”

Finished Size: women’s medium mitten, approx 20cm (8”) across palm. Smaller or wider mittens can be made by decreasing or increasing the number of stitches cast on by multiples of four. Each multiple of four stitches is approximately equal to 1.25cm (0.5”).
Materials: one 100g ball of Kureyon Sock Yarn (70% wool, 30% nylon)
Needles: 3.0mm dpns or 2 circulars
Gauge: 32 sts over 10cm on 3.0mm needles, measured over stranded colour work section

Begin by splitting one ball of Kureyon Sock yarn into two balls. You want to begin with two contrasting colours, so just make sure that you are starting at two different places in the colourway on each ball. Designate one ball as your main colour (MC) and the other ball as your contrast colour (CC).

Cast on 56 stitches loosely using a two-colour cast on. Transfer cast on stitches evenly over needles (a multiple of four stitches per needle works well). Join, being careful not to twist stitches.

Two-Colour Cast On: leaving a 15cm (6in) tail with both yarns, make a slip knot with both yarns held together and place on one needle. Continue to cast on using a long tail cast on method, with one strand coming from each ball of yarn. One colour will form the bottom edge of the cast on stitches and the other colour will be on the needle. Remember that your slip knot is doubled… knit both strands of the slip knot together when you begin your first row.

Begin the semi corrugated rib cuff as follows:
Rnd 1: *K1(MC), K1(CC)*. Rep from * to * for rem of rnd.
Rnd 2: *K1(MC), P1(CC)*. Rep from * to * for rem of rnd.
Rnd 3: *K1(CC), K1(MC)*. Rep from * to * for rem of rnd.
Rnd 4: *K1(CC), P1(MC)*. Rep from * to * for rem of rnd.
Repeat Rnds 1-4, four more times or until cuff measures 6.5cm (2.5”).

Now work palm and increase for thumb as follows:
Rnd 1: K1(MC), place marker (PM) onto RHN, *K1(CC), *K1(MC)*. Repeat from * to * until only one stitch remains, PM, K1(CC). The markers will help you to remember where the thumb gusset begins and ends and all increases for thumb will occur before and after these markers. All stitches inside the markers will be knit in MC, with CC stranded in back.
Rnd 2: K1(MC), M1(MC) (M1=increase one stitch by lifting bar between stitches onto LHN and knitting it), slip marker (SM), *K1(MC), K1(CC)*. Rep from * to * to next marker. SM, M1(MC), K1(MC). You now have four thumb stitches between the markers.
Rnd 3: K2(MC), SM, *K1(CC), K1(MC)*. Rep from * to * to next marker. SM, K2(MC).
Rnd 4: K2(MC), M1(MC), SM, *K1(MC), K1(CC)*. Rep from * to * to next marker. SM, M1(MC), K2(MC). You now have six thumb stitches between the markers.
Rnd 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17: Knit up to marker (thumb) in MC, SM, alternate between MC and CC in a sequence opposite to previous row, SM, knit rem thumb sts in MC. Remember to carry CC along in back of thumb stitches.
Rnd 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18: Knit in MC up to marker, M1(MC), SM, alternate between MC and CC in a sequence opposite to previous row, SM, M1(MC), knit rem thumb sts in MC. Continue increasing between markers until you have 20 thumb sts.

Continue knitting in the round without further increases until thumb (measured from Rnd 1 above) is 8cm (3in) high.

Put thumb on hold and work palm as follows:
Rnd 1: K10(MC), SM, *K1(CC), K1(MC)*, Rep from * to * to next marker. Remove marker. Place 20 thumb sts on holder and remove first marker also. Go back to RHN (where your yarn is) and cast on 4 sts: CC, MC, place marker, MC, CC. The marker indicates the beginning and end of each rnd.
Rnd 2: *K1(MC), K1(CC)*. Rep from * to * to marker.
Rnd 3: *K1(CC), K1(MC)*. Rep from * to * to marker.
Rep rnds 2-3 until mitten covers your shortest finger.

Decrease for top of mitten as follows:
Rnd 1: SM, knit in pattern for 30 sts, place marker, knit in pattern to first marker. You now have two markers indicating the sides of your mitten. The first marker is above your thumb; the second marker is on the “pinkie” side of the thumb.
Rnd 2: SM, SSK(MC) (SSK=slip, slip, knit: decrease by slipping the next two stitches, one at a time, as if to knit, then insert the LHN tip into the slipped sts through the front of the stitches and knit the two slipped sts together), continue to knit in pattern until two sts rem before marker. K2tog(MC), SM, SSK(MC), knit in patt until 2 sts rem before last marker, K2tog(MC).
Rnd 3: SM, K1(MC), knit in patt to 1 st before next marker, K1(MC), SM, K1(MC), knit in patt to 1 st before last marker, K1(MC).
Rnd 4: SM, SSK(MC), knit in patt to 2 sts before next marker, K2tog(MC), SM, SSK(MC), knit in patt to 2 sts before last marker, K2tog(MC).
Rep rnds 3 and 4 twice (you will have 22 sts between each marker or 44 sts in total). Continue decreasing (rep Round 4) every round until 12 sts rem between each marker (24 sts in total) OR until mitten top covers fingernail of tallest finger.

Graft sts together using Kitchener Stitch in MC.

Building the thumb:
Transfer the 20 thumb sts from holder back onto needles. Pick up 6-8 sts along cast on edge at base of thumb (you can pick up the sts in one colour only or alternate between colours), placing a stitch marker in the middle of these new sts. If you picked up more than 6 sts, decrease the extra sts in the first round (i.e. if you picked up 7, dec 1 st; if you picked up 8, dec 2 sts).

Continue to work in the round in the established pattern of K1(MC), K1(CC) until the thumb covers the thumb nail (all of it!).

Decrease for top of thumb as follows:
Rnd 1: *K2tog* Repeat from * to * for remainder of round (13 sts remain).
Rnd 2: Knit all stitches

Cut both yarns, leaving 15cm (6in) tails. Thread both tails through a wool needle and slip the rem sts from your knitting needles onto the wool needle. Pull needle to tighten.

Finishing: turn mitten inside out and weave in any remaining ends.

Copyright 2008 by Cynthia Hyslop

Pattern posted for personal use only; please do not reprint without written permission by copyright holder.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

5 March 2008: Snow Day

Wisp and I are bored. An incredible amount of snow has come down here overnight and it's just recently stopped snowing, but it's still very wet and "goopy" outside. Wisp is watching water drip from the eaves and alternates this activity with brief naps. I'm updating my webs and alternating my activity with snacks.

It's a snow day. I could go outside and play. Or...

I could stay indoors and spin. I need to spin. I have a lot of fibre to work on and I should be working on my Level 2 (Spinning) homework. I even have a very colourful bag of Fleece Artist hand dyed superwash merino top to spin. See? I've got one bobbin full already. I just need to pull up a chair, find a dvd and encourage the cat to come away from the window (she likes to play with the roving as I draft it up and into the wheel.)
Yeah, I'm going to do that. I have no excuses... the kids are out, the sidewalk's shovelled and I've done my piddly housework for the day (I made my bed and tidied up the kitchen - isn't that enough?)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

2 April 2008: A Moose, A Muse and a lotta Marketing

Last week, my business partners and I went to Chicago for a retailer's conference. We had a day to wander around downtown and we spent it on the windy, cold and sunny streets - alternating the blasts of bright cold air with visits inside cute boutique stores. On the way to visit the Art Institute of Chicago, we passed by the Chicago Tribune building and saw this metal moose. I don't know it's significance or if it has a special meaning... but it was very cool to walk down the street and stumble upon this "Canadian" symbol. The statue was big and shiny and I couldn't resist taking a picture.
I also took my new acquisition, a book called "Selbuvotter" by Terri Shaw along with me and read it on the plane. It's a great history of mitten making in Scandanavia (I know, I know... pretty obscure interest of mine). I am inspired now to make patterned mittens and everything I knit has at least two strands of colour going through it.
The conference was very good. Quick sessions with pertinent topics. Good speakers and a small audience. We came back with new ideas and confirmation of our business strategy - all in all, worth the trip and the time.