Visit us in the quaint hamlet of Myrtle Station, ON at: 9585 Baldwin St. N. (905)655-4858
(17.8km north of 401 exit 410. Look for the green house with the red roof a few doors north of the Myrtle Station railroad tracks)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Make do and mend

Do you have a bit of spare sock in your life? Maybe you made one sock or mitten and got distracted by another fibre opportunity, or maybe there is a particular hole in a sock and you feel pretty sure mending it will not happen. But you like the knitting a lot, and cannot not say goodbye.
But fear not Stephanie, I say to myself, the answer is... make one of these sweet artistic pin cushions. One that is especially friendly in holding my preferred blunt tapestry needles.
I have made pin cushions successfully out of t shirt material and enjoy seeing the colour of the fabric in a new way. Pin cushions also make a nice gift for a fellow fibre enthusiast.
It creates a second landing place for pins in my sewing room. The main difference is fabric needles are much sharper and an easily pierce cloth. My favourite blunt ended tapestry needles for sewing up hand knitting not so much, actually they just bounce off the surface.
I thought, so why not use hand knitted material.
In hand weaving, wool yarn as a warp is an excellent material for cleaning and polishing the steel reeds as you weave. I didn't have much fleece on hand so I softly wound a donut shaped ball of wools left over from other projects.
In this example I use the leg part as the foot had a large hole on the side from an unfortunate sharp encounter. It is also a little bit more worn on the bottom.
Cut a tube about 4 inches long, just below the rib and above the heel.
Then, gently pull out the yarn bits to reveal live stitches. I like to keep unravelling until I have about 18 to 20 inches of yarn on one end for the sculpting part. This pair had been washed many times so after picking out the bits, the stitches stay open and happy to accept the tapestry needle.
 I used a fairly small tapestry needle, and  although the yarn was very curly from being knitted for so long, the stitches were open and stable for pulling through.
You could use new uncrinkled yarn, or even a sturdy thread like Coats Button and Craft. I like sock yarn because the nylon content makes it very strong for sewing.
Make the stuffing, by winding up some scraps of wool yarn into about a 2 ounce ball. Keep the winding soft and squishy, not hard, because you want to be able to sculpt the pincushion into shape.
Make a of hole in the middle as you wind. I used the handle of this Danish Dough Whisk because it is thicker than my wooden spoons. In the spinning world there is actually a tool to facilitate the winding called a Nostepinne.
One could also use fleece or a complete unused ball of wool. The important thing, if you want to polish your needles is to use wool, not acrylic or cotton.
When you remove the label is is easy to flatten it into a more donut like shape.
Pull the yarn through to gather one end.
I like to thread the yarn though the open stitches twice and gently draw the opening closed. I find it stays closed better than just going through the stitches once.
Stuff in the stuffing. I should be a fairly easy fit, not a struggle, and yet fill the tube.
Close the other end of the tube by threading through the open stitches as before.
Using a fairly long piece of yarn or thread, sew through the centre, making sections, pulling in a firm and friendly manner until you have shaped the ball into a sort of pumpkin.
Fasten off the thread and all is complete.
A decoration in the centre is nice, a button or a bead. I am going to find something red or deep pink to go with the grey colour of my new pin cushion family member. Maybe my favourite rose and leaf.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Planning a Knitted Jacket

The Whitby Knitting Guild this season is to explore pattern drafting and stitch techniques within the context of a modular garment to create a jacket or cardigan.
This excellent book by Jenni Dobson inspires me, and especially her Hanten jacket, where the author uses a narrow sarong augmented with gorgeous silk patchwork.
Sharion, our guild president began the knitting journey in the spring, starting with this pattern as a guide. I believe it is still available as a download through Ravelry. The original yarn is an Aran weight.
and made her own magic by mixing fine mohairs, DK and a wool blend chunky. I am looking forward to seeing what marvellous jackets and samples she has created over her summer at the cottage.
For my design dimensions, I am using the child's' cardigan I knit a few years ago as a base. This one is a mix of worsted and Aran weight yarn, using some of the fairisle stitch patterns (peerie) based on the design Jenna Louise from the book Fairisle Knitting Simplified by Anne and Eugene Bourgeois of Philosophers Woo.l This time I am making more of an indoor cardigan by using DK weight yarn.
I believe DK will create a fabric weight similar to this jacket I sewed up in a size 4 from a draft in some fleece in my stash leftover from the hoodies I sewed for my grandchildren. I believe the shape will also work well in crochet.
I checked in with my favourite children's' reference book, Style Your Own Kids Knits by Kate Buller, of the Rowan yarn company.
Rowan sizing is generous, a is a good plan, as those lovely children do grow, meaning the cardi can be enjoyed for a long time. I am making a size 5 to 6. Another thing I like about Kate's book is the clear yarn amount information.
The shape and style of the Hanten Jacket is perfect for translating into modular knitting. Japanese style skill and craftmanship never fails to please me. I posted here about the Japanese clothing  exhibit at the Toronto at the Textile Museum.
I use 4 square to the inch graph paper as it is easy to find as well as easy to use. It is also slightly heavier than ordinary lined paper, making edits work well too.
One square of the paper to one inch of the garment gives plenty of room for a child size. For adults I simply tape pages together.
To get a PDF of my draft for the child's version just send me an email with the words Hanten Jacket in the subject line.

Friday, August 24, 2018

A Classic Lopi Yoke Sweater, Mom and I.

20 years ago, Alafoss published Book 18, containing most garments made with what we understood as classic Lopi yarn. A full chunky for the 6 mm needle and a gauge of 13 stitches to 4 inches.  One of the other versions Lett Lopi was new to us with Einband and Plotulopi not available to the Canadian market. The company introduced lovely tweeds that year, so my mom, (Mrs Ferguson to the Whitby knitting public) decided to try it. This week, we received Book 37, with the complete range of yarn Alafoss makes. It is a new world, with designs and materials worked into so many wonderful designs.
Mum chose the model with a very cute light teal rolled hem, innovative at the time and the rich colours which perfectly complimented the tweed flecks in the main yarn.
I don't remember who she was knitting it for, however, also at around that time, she decided to retire and we moved the shop from downtown Whitby to Myrtle Station. The project was bundled up and put away along with many other materials. A Sleeping Beauty you might say.
In July, my mom passed away, quite suddenly actually, after a short illness. A few weeks later, while beginning sort we found the Lopi project. The body, and one sleeve complete.
In honour of my mom, who by the way, was the best stocking stitch knitter I ever knew, I decided to have a go at finishing it. I figured that because it was in the round, it was possible for me to work the material in a tension that although definitely not as smooth as hers would nonetheless turn out "not bad".
What I can say to our fellow knitters is, finishing this sweater, remembering mom's hands making the stitches as I made mine, was comforting, and very helpful to me. Our connection through skill and interest remains with me, solid and wonderful. Thanks mom.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Modular Knitting

This lovely waistcoat is a pattern I have been thinking about for a long time. Hayfield 4299, originally designed to use the yarn "Cotton Rich DK" a blend of cotton and acrylic.
In my archive, (which title I bestow to yarns I have treasured for over 20 years), my goodness, I hold some lovely Mandarin Classic, Pingouin Tweed, Avanti and a precious scrap of Noro silk.
Now is the time to make this waistcoat, one square a day, and as my mum used to say..."Every Mickle Maks' a Muckle" It has become the morning mediation.
Hayfield 4299 is a classic style of written pattern, in columns, requiring a particular kind of focus. To make progress even more likely, I have made further modifications to my working space. First I photocopied the pattern.
I cut each unique section of the pattern apart and pasted them on to index cards
The main and most important stitch pattern is on pink cards.
I taped only the pink cards (main motif) into a continuous strip, leaving an eighth of an inch between each card to create a sort of hinge effect and help the cards fold better.
Then I used a colouring pencil to highlight the two rows within the pattern that I notice required more focus on my part.
Here are all the cards ready to pack in an envelope for a tidy or travel.
Another modification I made is to begin and end with waste yarn in a clearly contrasting colour, all the better to graft the pieces together my dear. Maybe I will use a completely different yarn.
Byron made this handy very Canadian yarn holder for me.
Practice make progress as Brandy Agerbeck says, and it is so true, many thanks Brandy.