Presents!

The holidays were wonderful this year. The weekend before Christmas we made a trip to Pittsburgh to visit James and Emily (and housemates Kelly and Alma the cat) and to exchange gifts. We had dinner at Emily’s mom’s place (yum!) and the next morning we had brunch at Zenith on the Southside (yum!) and then headed back home. It was a lovely time. And there were presents!

I gave James his Tea with Jam and Bread sweater

James’s sweater waiting to be blocked

and a pair of fingerless mitts in Brown Sheep Nature Spun wool in Bulldog Blue.

Simple K3 P1 mitts for James, modeled by yours truly.

James was very happy with his new sweater. It wasn’t a surprise. He had approved the yarn last summer and tried the sweater-in-progress on over Thanksgiving. But he was very happy with how it turned out, especially with how well it fit. I added three double sets of short rows to the back, one at the shoulders, one at the bottom of the armholes, and one above the bottom ribbing to add length to the back. The short rows at the shoulders gave a slightly rounded shape that fit across his upper back very nicely. And the other two sets of short rows made the back about an inch-and-a-half longer than the front so the sweater won’t ride up in the back when he wears it.

I also knitted the body longer than I usually do. I checked on-line to see how long commercial sweaters in “tall” sizes are from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the sweater and used that as a guide. It’s 31 inches for an XL. 🙂

James also seemed very happy with the fingerless mitts. He expressed an interest in giving them a try when he was here over Thanksgiving, so I knitted him a pair in very dark blue using a simple ribbing that makes them stretchy. I cast on four more stitches than I would were I knitting these for myself, and I knitted the cuffs just a little longer than I would for myself to accommodate his larger hands. When he tried them on, they fit, um, like a glove. 🙂

Emily also got a pair of fingerless mitts, knitted from Cascade 220 Heather in a lovely soft blue.

Emily’s mitt with fold-over cuffs on both the wrists and fingers for extra warmth

I was working on these mitts over Thanksgiving, and Emily really liked them, so they mysteriously found their way into her gift bag.

While James and Emily were showing off their fingerless mitts, their housemate Kelly was admiring them. So naturally, I asked him if he would like a pair. He said yes, so I told him to stop by when he was in town for the holidays and I would have a pair ready for him.

Kelly’s mitts in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Mist

They are identical to the ones I knitted for James except they are in a different color and yarn. He picked them up the Friday after Christmas and seemed pleased with them. Although I knitted them using the same stitch count and needles that I used for James’s mitts, these mitts are just a wee bit smaller because of the different yarn. But they are very stretchy, so it’s not really a problem. Fingerless mitts are very forgiving like that. 🙂

Oh, and let’s not forget the best present of all. I actually made a pair of fingerless mitts for myself.

The Pittsburgh Penguins gnome keeping watch over my mitts

Mine, all mine!

All I can say is, Fingerless mitts, where have you been all my life?

 

 

 

An Old Dog Learns New Tricks

My success in spinning up the mohair/Shetland fiber I bought along with a spindle from KeepEmGoing on Etsy inspired to me keep at it. I assembled the Turkish spindle I bought from Knit Picks, broke out the Wool of the Andes fiber in Natural, also from Knit Picks, and went to work.

A Turkish spindle has a whorl that is made out of two cross pieces, one of which slides into the other; then the cross pieces slip onto the shaft and stop at the knob.

           

The yarn is then wound over the cross pieces.

Spun singles wound on Turkish spindle

When it’s time to remove the cop (the wound yarn), you slide the shaft out of the cross pieces,

The shaft of the Turkish spindles has been removed

pull the one cross piece out of the other,

The first cross piece has been removed

take the yarn off the second cross piece, and you are left with a nice, neat center-pull ball.

The second cross piece has been removed leaving a center-pull ball

Yes, that is plied yarn you see in those pictures. I used the Turkish spindle to ply the singles I had made and ended up with a nice skein of two-ply yarn.

My yarn hand-spun from Wool of the Andes roving on the Turkish spindle

There are different ways to wind the yarn; the most common one seems to be to go over two, under one. Winding the yarn this way results in a very neat ball.

The bottom of the ball looks like an “Ojo de Dios” or “God’s Eye”

The Turkish spindle required some adjustments from me. Whereas my other spindle is a high whorl spindle, the Turkish spindle is a low whorl spindle. And there’s no hook on the top of the shaft on which to anchor the yarn, so I have to use a half-hitch knot to anchor the yarn. The Knit Picks Turkish spindle is designed to be reversible, that is, you can turn the shaft upside down and put the cross pieces on so that they form a high whorl. I haven’t tried it as a high-whorl spindle yet.

Knit Picks Turkish spindle assembled as a high whorl spindle

When I first started spinning on the Turkish spindle, I wasn’t in love with it. It doesn’t spin as fast as my little high whorl spindle, and it doesn’t spin as long. But I did like winding the yarn around the cross pieces, and I don’t mind doing and undoing the half-hitch knot to attach and unattach the yarn. As I practiced with this spindle, I started to develop a feel for it, and it began to grow on me. After a couple of days of practice, I had developed a nice rhythm with this spindle.

Those of you who are my loyal readers know that I am not a monogamous knitter. I always have multiple knitting projects OTN. So it won’t surprise you to learn that I am not a monogamous spinner, noob though I be. I was curious to learn how the WotA fiber, which is the same Peruvian Highland wool that is used for Knit Picks WotA yarn, would spin up on my little high whorl spindle. I chose the Aurora Heather, which is a heather forest green, and went to work.

Aurora Heather Wool of the Andes fiber spun on a .75 oz high whorl spindle

Yep, I’m hooked. 🙂

In The Pink

I had an urge to knit some girly-girl hats, and there’s nothing more girly-girl than pink. I had Knit Picks Wool of the Andes on hand in two shades of pink, Rouge and Blossom Heather, as well as some WotA in White, so I went to work.

The Candy Stripes Rolled Brim Hat is my own design, which you can download by clicking here or clicking the Patterns link. It’s worked in Blossom Heather and White.

Next came the Sixteen Hearts Hat. This hat was inspired by the Loving Hearts Hat , but I completely redesigned the hat, changing even the colorwork chart. While the Loving Hearts Hat is knitted from the top down, I knitted my hat from the bottom up. I changed the heart pattern from a 12-stitch repeat to a 14-stitch repeat. This gave the hearts a little more space so they don’t look so jammed together. I used K-P WotA in Rouge and White, and to great effect, if I do say so myself.

If you like this hat, the pattern can be found here, or click on the Patterns link.

While I was working on these two hats, I couldn’t help but think about making a hat that used both shades of pink. The design that kept calling to me was Winter’s Coming (http://kalmanac.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/winters-coming/), which I had knitted in red and white a while back. I thought it would look lovely in Rouge with Blossom Heather as the contrasting color. I have named it Double Pink Diamonds Hat and here’s a picture of it for your viewing pleasure so that you, dear reader, can judge the result for yourself.