What do Rainbow Brite, 70s Appliances, an Easter Basket and the North Pole have in common?

They are all handspun yarns.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I have a backlog of projects that need to get up on the blog, but I wanted to show off some of the yarns I have finished off recently.

The weekend before I started my new job I pretty well had the house to myself and a bunch of fluff that had been burning a hole in the bucket so I decided it was time to actually spin and ply my darling braids.

The neat thing about spinning is that you can start with similar preps and even similar fibers you can come away with totally different yarns based on what your hands do: woolen or worsted, lace or bulky.  By starting with combed top (rather than batts) I was working on the worsted side of spinning and two yarns (Rainbow and 70s were done more semi-worsted with some loft, and the Easter and Christmas yarns were done in a true worsted style, lots of drape).

Once you have the singles, then a whole other set of decisions, single, 2-ply, 3-ply or chain ply, loose ply or tight ply.  In this case I worked mostly with tight 2-plys because I don't spin thin enough to make a 3-ply that comes any thinner than an Aran weight, and prefer knitting with fingering, sport and worsted, and tight because I just like the way they look and work better.

So at the end of the weekend I had four yarns with distinct personalities (and having watched some of the most awesome S3 episodes of the X-Files).

FO: Endpaper Mitts

There are quite a few knitting patterns out there, like the February Lady Sweater, Clapotis, Monkey  & Jaywalker Socks that have been made by so many Ravelers, that they feel like a must-knit. The Endpaper Mitts were for me one of those uber-popular patterns that I needed to try myself. I have found myself with a terrifyingly large stash of KnitPicks Palette yarn, a fingering weight two-ply peruvian wool yarn that comes in 100 colors. As it comes in many colors and is not the softest wool ever milled (as I learned from my Chevalier Mitts, it wears well and felts like a champ) it is ideal for colorwork.   To me, and the 762 other people who have done the same, Palette seemed the ideal yarn for the project.

So I started swatching, and swatching and swatching.  So either I am the tightest knitter than ever lived or something was different about my swatch, because I ended up using US 6 (4mm) needles for the body and US 2 .5 (3mm) needles for the ribbing.  That is a full millimeter difference between my needles and recommended needles.  Either way, it means I will never have to buy needles of the multiple 0 varieties (ie. 00, 000, 0000).

Project Name: Endpaper Mitts

Pattern: Endpaper Mitts by Eunny Jang

Recipient: Me

Yarn: KnitPicks Palette in Merlot Heather and Cream


  • Used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Cast-On and Bind-Off instead of the Italian Tubular method.

New Skills:

  • This was only my second go at stranded colorwork, so it still feels like a new skill.

Feedback: This is such a classic pattern, and I know that it is on an archived website, but for something that is so popular it would be easier to read.

Re-Knit?: Probably, as I have lots of Palette, but I will use one of the other charts that have been designed for the pattern.

Day 4: Where are they now? - 2kcbwday4

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity. To me, this prompt make me think about the Cousin Hats for Waub, Musky, Gig and Meegis.

I started knitting with a vengence in the summer I was keen to show off my skills. During a trip to Ottawa for a friends wedding I brought along some of my knitting to show off to my relatives with whom I was staying for the weekend. While I was there I brought along a hat I had knit out of KnitPicks Elegance (baby alpaca and silk), which sadly had been discontinued. My aunt commented how much she would love to give her boys (three grown sons and a 5-year-old grandson) handknit hats like that one for Christmas.  Looking to impress my aunt, I agreed to make her the hats for the cost of the materials.

Thus began the saga of the Cousin Hats.  I had told her that I would only be making a single pattern in different colors and she would sort out who got which one (although one was to be smaller for her grandson).  I finally settled on the Top-Down Timothy Cap by Splindarella, which because it was top down and ribbed I could take advantage of the maximum amount of material, KnitPicks Andean Treasure (100% baby alpaca), and fit some very differently sized heads.

The project was painful for me, not only making four identical hats, but HAVING to make them and by a specific date. It took all the fun out of knitting. The only saving grace was the materials, the alpaca was nice, and didn't make me want to harm anyone with it.

So, I toiled through the hat making process, finishing them up well before their deadline.  As it turns out my aunt wanted me to give them to my cousins myself so they could thank me appropriately (which was very nice of her) and the two I did see (who are older than me) immediately picked their favorite and left the last one for their little brother.  The oldest of the three, Waub, is an on-camera reporter for the CBC (and has a book coming out in May, Midnight Sweatlodge) and he promised he would wear it on camera and send me a picture.

So, that is where one of them is now, forever immortalized on film.

Waub Hat

So I learned a few things from making these hats:

1. I don't do commission knitting 2. I am a Selfish Knitter 3. Getting your knitting on TV is really cool (particularly when your cousin gets all sorts of compliments on it when he posts the picture on Facebook for you)

Day 1: A Tale of Two Yarns -- 2kcbwday1

Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.  










For me the tale of two yarns is in fact the tale of one pair of mittens.  Like many out there I am an avid Knitty reader and when the Winter 2011 edition came out with the Shelburne Mittens in it, I knew I had to make a pair. Due to living in Northern Ontario, and mitten weather lasting from October to April, I have a bit of a mitten obsession. I want to have a pair for just about every day of the winter (and for every possible weather condition).

So when I found this pattern I was well into my yarn diet and went diving into my stash (which you will see on Day 3) to find something that would work. I came out with this fantastic Dream in Color Groovy yarn I had ordered to make Bella's Mittens.

After swatching and finding that I had to use a needle about 3 sizes larger than recommended (for a yarn that was seemingly the same weight, and had the same ypp), I should have been reconsidering the yarn substitution but I blazed onward.  After a day of knitting I had this ...

Needless to say, something was terribly wrong.

After doing some research and a trip to my local LYS (which is 130km away) I found the yarn called for in the pattern, Rowan Felted Tweed Bulky and the difference between the yarns explained everything.

The DIC yarn was everything that the Rowan was not.  The DIC was a worsted spun superwash merino while the Rowan was a woolen spun merino/alpaca.  Now when I say worsted, I don't mean the weight of the wool, but rather how it was spun.  If you aren't familiar with the characteristics of sheep breeds and how yarns are spun I would suggest checking out Clara Parkes "The Knitters Book of Wool".  The book, which includes some beautiful patterns by amazing designers, includes a large section on the characteristics of different types of fibers and how preperation changes how the yarns feel and knit up.

The short form is that worsted spun doesn't allow twist in the pre-drafted fibers and is harder, firmer and not as warm (because there is less air trapped between the fibers), while woolen spun allows twist into the source fiber and it is fluffier, ligher and much warmer.  However, woolen fibers are much less abrasion resistant, think about a Malabrigo (woolen spun) sweater versus Wool of the Andes (worsted spun) sweater, which one is soft as all get out but gets holes and pills sooner (hint: Malabrigo) and which one is a bit picky and hard but wears like iron and after years of hard work it hardly shows any wear (hint: Wool of the Andes).

So to add to the issues of woolen vs. worsted spun I was having with my mittens, the amount of twist in the yarn was totally different. The DIC was plyed tightly, giving it an almost spring-like appearance. The Rowan by contrast was much more loosely plyed.  (If you read The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin, you will see this is in contrast to how most yarns are plyed).  This made the DIC more like a piece of spaghetti (perfectly round) while the Rowan is a bit more like linguine (with a bit more spread in the middle).

So for me the moral of this story is, there is more too choosing the right yarn than having a similar YPP and getting gauge, and that sometimes frogging and reknitting is the right thing.

For the Dream in Color Groovy I found the perfect pattern, the Fried Chicken Mittens.

This pattern was quite the adventure for me, and you can read more about these mitts here. I haven't started the Shelburne Mittens yet, the snow has been melting and my thoughts are on spring shawls and felted bags, but I know that the Rowan will look great and that the DIC found itself an amazing pattern.

P.S. It's not to late to participate in Knit and Crochet Blog Week, check out Eskmimimiknits for more info.

FO: Belle Starr Hat


Back in the summer when KnitPicks released their first yarn that contains cashmere, Capra, I picked up a ball. At DK weight and 123yds/50g, there wasn't an excessive amount of yarn to make something wonderful and squishy out of.  So it sat in my stash improving with age, and I finally found this pattern, which worked great.  I used almost exactly 100 yds, leaving me a bit of scrap, but not much.

Project Name:  Belle Starr Hat

Pattern: Belle Starr Hat by Anne Podlesak of How the West was Spun (and of the Ennea Collective)

Recipient: Me

Yarn: Capra by KnitPicks in Harbor

Modifications: Just one

  • Didn't gauge swatch so I just went up a needle size (which is my default), and when I finished casting on 90 stitches, I though it was too small so I added 10 more, so I had one more "panel" than the design.

New Skills: Nothing really, it was a fun quick knit, with an easy pattern, clear pattern.

Feedback: Nice, easy, clear pattern.  Great use of a small amount of yarn (I only had one ball of Capra (123yds).

Re-Knit?: Maybe, I have a bunch of handspun kicking around in strange weights and short lengths that would be perfect for this pattern.  I may find different lace patterns for the bottom panels.