New Design: Plates Blanket

A short while ago, there was a sale at a yarn shop that was going out of business. They had a lot of yarns which I would not usually go for – rustic wools and Icelandic yarns, which I would usually find too scratchy.

However, when I saw this pile of Plötulopi (unspun Icelandic wool, or pencil roving), I was in love:

Plates

I spotted a gradient, and straight away knew what it wanted to become.

PlatesBlanket2

PlatesBlanket3

PlatesBlanket1

Plates Blanket is a blanket worked with two strands of Plötulopi, creating a subtle gradient. The knitting is kept interesting by the textured stitch pattern, and as two strands of yarn are used combined throughout, it knits up very quickly!

Use 5 skeins of Plötulopi or a sport weight yarn (approximately 300 m / 100g), holding two strands together. Or use 800 meters of a Aran weight yarn, just one strand at a time.
Make a simple textured blanket using just one color, or make striped sections, or create a gradient like I did. The possibilities are endless!

My blanket now lives on the couch, and I’m using it all the time. It’s perfect for the colder temperatures, and combined with a candle, a cup of tea and a knitting project, it feels like heaven! :)

See the pattern page on Ravelry here: Plates Blanket

Buy the pattern now!

 

 

       PlatesBlanket5

Tutorial: Crochet Cast On Without a Crochet Hook

I love neat cast ons in my knitting, and even though I have my absolute favorites, I also like to try out new methods.

The crochet cast on method, using a crochet hook, is amazing for provisional cast ons: You can just slowly unravel the chain, revealing the live stitches! I did a tutorial on this a couple of years ago.

However, I also very much like the neat edge it creates, which mirrors the very ordinary knit one, *knit one, pass stitch over,* repeat *-* bind off. If done with the working yarn instead of the waste yarn, you can get identical cast on and bind off edges!

I’ve always found the crochet hook version a little fiddly. And worse – you need to remember where you put that crochet hook (or bring it with you), which non-crocheter-me always forgets!

So need made me unvent an identical cast on, just without crochet hook. If you’re familiar with the crochet cast on, this might not be anything new for you, as you might be able to wrap your head around it yourself – but for those who don’t, I made a tutorial!

There’s a video tutorial right here:

Or watch a step-by-step illustrated tutorial below:
(the illustrations are screen captures from the video, so they are a bit grainy at times)

 Step 1:
Create a slip knot  by laying the tail of the yarn across the strand that is attached to the ball.

CCO1x

 Step 2:
Lay the needle on top of the strand that is attached to the ball, leaving the tail end and slip knot on the right hand side of the needle.

CCO2x

 Step 3:
Pull the strand attached to the ball over the needle and through the slip knot.

CCO3x

 Step 4:
With one hand, hold on tight to the yarn on the needle and the loop you just pulled through, and with your other hand pull the yarn tail to tighten up the slip knot around the loop you just created.

CCO4-2x

 Step 5:
You know have the first stitch on the needle. Pull your loop to tighten the stitch around the needle.

CCO5x

 Step 6:
To make your next stitch, wrap the yarn around the needle so it’s in the back.

CCO6x

 Step 7:
Pull the yarn through your loop.

CCO7

 Step 8:
Pull the loop tight around your new loop.

CCO9x

Repeat steps 6-8 to cast on the number of stitches you need minus one.

 Step 9:
To finish your cast on, lead the yarn to the back, then put your loop on the needle and pull it tight.

CCO10

A blanket as a family project

To go directly to the instructions for making your own big blankie, click here!

The person who taught me to knit, my mother’s mother (Oma!), is turning 95 today. She hasn’t been knitting for years, but it used to be a very big part of her life, and she used to knit sweaters for all of us. With 3 children and 10 grandchildren, she was occupied! ;)

For her 90th birthday (I think – or was it the 85th? In any case, some years ago!) we did a “fashion show” showing off all the creations Oma had made – and there were many! All children’s garments have been passed down from grand kid to grand kid, then great grand kids, and they probably have many years in them yet.

When my sister announced that she encouraged people to think of entertainment for the afternoon of the birthday party a couple of weeks ago, she prompted me to think about the knitting that Oma and I have in common. I’m not entirely sure, but I think I’m the only grand kid who knits regularly (at least in the extend that I’m doing!), so really that should be me, right?

The activity should contain the following: Knitting with Oma, involving other family members, and making a usable result.
So the idea formed: To knit a big blanket, out of thick yarn, with thick knitting needles! It should be fun, involve Oma, and also keep others entertained.
My thought was to have two people each holding a giant knitting needle, a third controlling the yarn, and Oma telling them what to do. Should be doable, right? Oh, and it needed to be done on the day, so Oma could bring the blanket home straight away…

So I went in search for thick yarn and big knitting needles. Initial idea: Buy some of those giant skeins of yarn and using broom sticks or the like to knit on. But looking at the thick yarn online, prices are going through the roof for that…
Some googling brought me to pages where the suggestion was to make your own thick yarn by making an i-cord of existing, thinner yarn. The alternative would be to use multiple strands of a yarn, and I thought that would become too messy, with so many people involved. Also – I wanted it to become pretty. Oma has a sense of quality, so it needs to look nice and feel nice! Wool, no cheap acrylics or such!

First, though: No way in h*** that I would be knitting enough i-cord on a couple of knitting needles. So I went in search of alternative methods – first starting with the manual little knitting dolly, then discovering a quicker method: An i-cord machine!

I found a used one online for cheap moneys, and here’s the Instagram video I posted of it a couple of weeks ago:

Awesome, innit?

I bought 20 skeins of one of my favorite heavy duty yarns – good quality, 100% wool, superwash, keeps it’s shape, and relatively cheap in this part of the world – Drops Karisma. In a color that I hope goes with all Oma’s furniture, and is neutral enough to go with anything else over time. It makes for a total of 1 kg, each skein (50g) being around 100m, and I thought that should prove quite enough.

Making the first skein into i-cord, I had 7 meters… Which would make my 20 skeins amound to around 140 meters of i-cord. Should be enough for a big big blankie, eh?
Each 50g skein took about 20 mins to turn into i-cord. So processing all the yarn into i-cord must have taken… just under 7 hours! (I didn’t time this, and I didn’t do it all in one stretch – it took me around 3-4 evenings to get it done)

I-cord yarn

As for knitting needles… Broom sticks might be a bit unhandy and I would have to rely on broom sticks being available on site of the party. Perhaps not that handy (and not super pretty either ;)). So I was on my way to the DIY store to get a thick rod to make knitting needles of, when I discovered a rod from an earlier project standing in the corner of my living room. Roughly 2 meters of a 22mm diameter rod = roughly 1 m long knitting needles, size 22mm! It took around 15 mins to make those.

Giant knitting needles

Once the yarn and needles were finished, I started knitting. I mean – if I wanted this blanket to be done and ready to bring home on the day itself, I would need to make a start on it, yes?
So I cast on and started knitting. That’s heavy work on your own! And not for my wrists, no – for my arms and shoulders. But fun, so fun! I’ve never had knitting that grew bigger so quickly :D
I actually had a hard time putting it down. But when I got to about halfway through using all the yarn, I had to stop myself – there should still be a bit to work with on the day itself!

On the day, there were a lot of activities and things to show, and my blanket was only a little part of it. But I had Oma knitting with a couple of her great grand kids, just one row, and then I took over again myself.

I don’t have any photos of it in action though, which I’m a bit bummed about – but someone did take photos of me knitting on the blanket!

Knitting giant blanket

(I had a little helper right there. He was really good at wrapping the yarn around the needle, and it actually went a lot quicker with him doing that part!)

I finished it there, while it was also still light out, and gave it to Oma. She was happy, but also very overwhelmed with the whole day.

Oma 95

Ain’t she looking good for a 95-year-old? :)

Here are some shots of the blanket, finished and all:

Giant knitted blanket

If you didn’t know the size, you’d think it was just a gauge swatch. It makes me giggle a bit!

IMG_2549

Giant knitted blanket

Now I want one for myself. Who wants to volunteer to make the i-cord, please? :D

 


 

Big yarn blanket

Approximate size: 70 cm / 27.5 inches (width) x 50 cm / 20 inches (length).

You will need:

  • around 140 m / 155 yards of i-cord yarn.
    To make your own:
    –  approximately 2000 m of DK weight yarn
    –  an i-cord machine (or 4mm / US 6 DPNs, if you’re crazy enough to knit the i-cord by hand!)
  • 22 mm giant knitting needles
    To make your own:
    –  a rod of a diameter of 22mm / 7/8 inches, a length of 2m / 6.5 feet.
    –  a saw, a sharp knife, and some sanding paper.

Make the i-cord into one big ball of yarn – if you have several lengths (the i-cord maker doesn’t take 1kg in weight!), graft them together. It doesn’t matter if it is done seamlessly or not, as long as you don’t make big knots – small flaws won’t be visible in the blanket.

If you don’t have giant knitting needles yet, make them by sawing the rod in half, use the knife to make one end pointy, and sand them to make it snag free.

To knit: 
Weigh your yarn and make a note of how much you have!

Using the crocheted provisional cast on (for a nice looking edge that will resemble your bind off edge), cast on 30 stitches. Use your working yarn to cast on with, as it won’t be unraveled at the end (like all tutorials show) – and use your hand as the “crochet hook”. Place the “crochet hook loop” on the needle as the last (30th) stitch.

Knit 4 rows in garter stitch (knit every row).
Weigh your yarn again, and note how much you used for this first part. You’ll be needing just as much to finish off the blanket in the end! I had used about 150g.

Work in pattern:
Right side row: knit across.
Wrong side row: knit 3, purl until 3 sts remain, knit 3.

Continue in pattern like this, weighing your yarn periodically, until you have as much yarn left as you used for the cast on and garter stitch border. Make sure to end with a wrong side row.

Now work 4 more rows in garter stitch, and bind off from the right side.

“Weave” in the ends by tucking them in around the garter stitch border. If you have the nerve (and patience!), wash your blanket and let it dry flat. It’s thick and heavy, so this will take ages! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tadaaa, you got your very own huge blanket!

Wolletje part 2: Washing the fleece

Wolletje, my sponsorsheepie in Scotland, was shorn on June 18, 2014. I now finally got the fleece in the mail – I didn’t mind waiting, because it arrived in pristine condition!

Wolletje's Herdwick fleece

I got a nice box, containing a photo of Wolletje and her lamb, a lot of official looking papers with good info about the sheep, and, last but not least, the fleece wrapped with a pretty, tartan ribbon.

The fleece was “Skirted and tidied up”, as it said on the papers – and very well so. There was almost no vegetable matter and such in it, so it could go right in the washing bath!

I’m probably doing this completely wrong, it being my first time prepping a fleece and all, but I pieced together some info from various spinning books I have, and did my own thing. As they all tell you to separate the fleece into locks and put them in mesh bags, I am definitely ignoring some info, as I simply didn’t have the patience to get hold of some mesh bags before starting!
I even talked to my mom about it (hi mom!), who said that well, I should wash it, but I would probably want to leave in some of the lanolin, as it would be good to have that during the spinning… To which my response was a horrid “No!”, thinking of keeping my spinning wheel clean of grease. I’m used to spinning nice, non-greasy  and non-smelly wool tops, so I’m not scared of removing the lanolin altogether. I’m a spoiled spinner!
And I very much hope my method will work as well.

Firstly, I soaked the wool in cold water overnight:

Soaking fleece

There’s a lovely wool “soup” there, and my bathroom smelled quite sheepy.
The water turned very dark brown, so I guess it was a good thing to soak it a bit!

I drained the water, then washed the wool in warm water with regular dishwashing soap.

Washing fleece

“Washing” basically consisting of filling the tub with hot (well, warm, not really hot hot!) water and dishwashing soap, then adding a good portion of the fleece to it and letting it sit until the water has cooled.

I then lifted it out, got rid of the quite dirty water, filled the tub with cooler, clean water, put in the wool, and lifted it out again – repeating that twice, or until the water wasn’t dirty anymore. In the cleaner water, there still were some sandy grains and kemp hairs, but I ignored that – I can manage that, as long as it doesn’t smell too sheepy while spinning it, and isn’t too dirty so my spinning wheel and hands get all black!

Being very wary of the whole felting thing, I really tried to be careful not to squeeze or agitate the wool to much while wet. I’m impatient by nature, so I might not have been super careful really, so I guess I’m happy this is not an easy felting wool like merino or such ;)

After just letting it drip off the excess water, I spread it out on an old towel to dry:

Drying fleece

(that’s not all of the fleece, just about 1/3. Still washing right now!)

The weather being quite nice today, I’m considering putting it outside. However, it’s also kind of windy – and I live in an apartment building with nice open areas, which are usually filled with playing kids…
I’ll need to find a nice, quiet area out of the sun and wind and away from little prying fingers.

 

Wolletje, part 1: Meet Wolletje

Last year, I got the brilliant idea (inspired by many other people’s posts in Ravelry groups!) to sponsor a sheepie in Scotland. Shankend farm is offering sponsorships – for around £20, you sponsor the sheep for a year, and you get a quarterly newsletter and the fleece from the sheep once it’s shorn. You even get to name the sheep, yay! :D
(My dad, being a farmer and having had sheep some years ago, told me that that is the approximate price of keeping a sheep fed and cared for for a year, so I actually find it quite cheap.)

So I got a sponsorship of a wonderful little Herdwick ewe, and I called her Wolletje. Wolletje is Dutch for “little wool”, and the spinner in me thought the name suited this little sheep well, especially because the wool was the most interesting part for me at the time ;)
Queue dreams of a Wolletje sweater, spun and knitted by yours truly!

At the time of signing up for the sponsorship, I did think a little bit about the whole fleece thing… It’s not at all like the wool I am used to spinning. It would be dirty, smelly, and very greasy (containing natural oils and lanolin), and it would most likely be a magnet for creepies that I certainly do not want anywhere near my stash!

Kate of Shankend has done a fabulous job of keeping me updated, sending newsletters that were both generic about her farm but also contained a page dedicated to my sponsorsheepie alone. It must have been such a huge job to keep track of all that and creating all those newsletters for everyone who sponsors one of her sheep! I am very impressed by the way it has been done, and I loved reading about the life on her farm, how well they got on, how many lambs were born etc.

Living in the “big city” (Copenhagen is a very small city compared to many other big cities), I have some way to get to a truly farm-like environment. Lucky for me, my parents each live a bit away from “normal civilisation” (compared to me, anyway), and my dad even has a little farm now (featuring a couple of cows for the meat, and this year even 6 piggies!), so I can get a little taste of it when I want to – but following the business of a farm is something else entirely, and turns out I have missed that!
Note to those who didn’t know: I grew up on a farm. I lived the first 16 years of my life on farms with dairy cows, so I have a pretty good idea of what farm life entails.

Back to Wolletje.
Wolletje is, as I mentioned, of the Herdwick race. I had to look that up, and to my delight there even was an entry in the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook (any hand spinner’s bible for wool breeds!).

Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: Herdwick

According to the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, Herdwick is a conservation breed, which (as far as I’ve understood) means it is bred to to try to keep the race. It should be one of the most hardy/robust sheep breeds, and the meat should be very distinct in taste. The wool is not something very sought after by spinners, as it’s coarse and scratchy – with a long staple length (= length of the fibers) and a large fiber diameter, it is best suited for outer wear, rugs, carpets, and the likes. It it known for being very varied, including kemp (the coarse, outer hair) and finer wool that sits closer to the skin, and it should be varied in color.
A fun detail, I think: Lambs are born black, then start getting white ears and faces, and gradually get lighter wool as they grow. They change color from black to light grey, which I find very fascinating – though the wool should be hard to dye (consisting mostly of kemp, which isn’t very receptive to dye).
Wolletje is a dark brown at the moment.

Wolletje is 2 years old, and she gave birth to a little ewe lamb on the 11th of May this year, here they are:

Wolletje

According to Kate, that all went very well and without any assistance, and Wolletje got on with nursing the lamb all well and good. It delighted me to hear, as I know how complicated it can be with that stuff not going well!
When I was a kid and we had sheep on the farm, there were some issues with sheep having too many lambs and not being able to care for them… So we had a little pen in the garden with a lot of little lambs in it. It was fun to play with them at the time, especially because people = food to them, so they were very tame!

Next up in this series of blog posts: Receiving and washing the fleece. Oh yeah!

 

 

 

New design: Pellucid

I am so very happy to release my newest design: Pellucid!

Pellucid

A simple, yet elegant top, worked with a large amount of positive ease. The yarn, worked at a large gauge, creates a drapey fabric perfect for chilly summer days and early autumn.

Pellucid

This top came into being in a collaboration with Fyberspates, dyer of some of the most luxurious yarns I know. Using Gleem Lace in alternatingly 1 and 2 strands, subtle striping is created – in this case, perfect for muting down the busyness of the hand dyed yarn, while showcasing the hand dyed qualities at the same time.

See more details on the Ravelry pattern page, where you can also buy the pattern!

Pellucid

The EXACT blue that I wanted

I don’t do a lot of dyeing, but once in a while I very much enjoy playing around with yarn and dyes. Hence the name – Knitter’s Kitchen :)

Today, I want to tell you a dyeing story.

So, I was persuaded to join a KAL (knit-along) in the Joji Knits group on Ravelry, where you could join with any of the patterns Joji Locatelli has designed. My reasons for participating were (among others) these:

  1. I met Joji at Unwind Brighton 1½ months ago. She is so nice!
  2. Joji designs some really cool stuff.
  3. I had my eyes on the Grandpa Cardigan ever since it came out.
  4. I saw a gorgeous gorgeous blue when someone else had swatched – according to that person the blue did not come out right on the photos, but for me it was the perfect color!
  5. At Unwind, I had bought 5 skeins of undyed yarn from undyedyarn.com, a lovely DK weight Polwarth.
  6. I’m pretty ambitious at times.

So I decided to go ahead and try to make that blue I wanted myself, instead of going yarn shopping to find it.

I had an idea of which colors were needed to make this particular blue (with a sea green/petrol/dark turquoise aura), so I mixed everything together and put the 5 skeins of yarn in the pot. My mistake? Thinking that hey, it needed to have a hint of sea green, I should add a little bit of yellow.

I should so not have done that!

My yarn turned out very green. Thinking to remedy it with more blue, in the end I ended up with 5 skeins of very dark green with a blue-ish aura. Very pretty, but so very much NOT what I wanted!

Having used all my DK weight skeins, I would have to either order more, or live with the green. Being stubborn, I ordered more.

Before the second attempt, I thought to try out my “new” recipe on a couple of skeins of fingering weight yarn, just to check if I was more right this time. And I was, the color was perfect! So in we went with 5 more skeins of DK weight yarn, and out came the most gorgeous blue on a squishy DK Polwarth yarn.

I was happy, and couldn’t resist the yarn sitting there waiting for me to finish something else first, so I cast on for the Grandpa Sweater (and #jojifallkal2014) almost immediately.
And that’s the happy ending, right?

#jojifallkal2014 - Grandpa Cardigan in progress
#jojifallkal2014 – Grandpa Cardigan in progress

After using 2½ skeins, I started faltering. If it continued at this rate, the 5 skeins I had wouldn’t be enough! I know the pattern had called for 6 skeins for the size I’m making, but always-gambling-me was too lazy to crack open another 5-pack of yarns (I was so foreseeing to buy more than 5 skeins for the second round!).
What to do?
Dye some more, of course! :D

I followed the exact same recipe on two more skeins of yarn (of course adjusting the amount of dye to the amount of yarn). Now, the yarn being entirely dry, I am happy to report that once again, I DID IT! :D :D :D

The final test comes once I get to the point where I start knitting with it. Keeping in mind that hand dyed yarns always have some level of variation, I will be alternating between skeins anyway – but I believe in it.

One of the first dye bath (to the right) and one of the second dye bath (to the left). Matchy matchy!

 

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach

Have you seen my newest pattern – Brighton Beach?

Brighton Beach

I submitted this design to the design competition for Unwind Brighton – sadly I didn’t win, but that just means I could publish it myself! ;)

Knitted in one single skein of Walkcollection Luxe Fingering, this shawlette is a fun knit – you start by casting on all the stitches needed for the width, and then you decrease on every row until you reach the center point. The rows keep getting shorter, and the foamy/scallopy lace pattern along the edge keeps it interesting.

Isn’t this perfect for a quick summer knit?

The pattern will be sold in kits (yarn + pattern) from Walkcollection at Unwind Brighton on July 12-13, where you will be able to get your hands on a hard copy. I’m ridiculously excited about those hard copies, it’s the first time I had a pattern printed!


Brighton Beach

If you can’t make it to Unwind, or you’d like to get your hands on the pattern before then, you can buy it on Ravelry here.

Also, there is a knitalong in the Knitter’s Kitchen | DVM designs group on Ravelry. Come join, and win a prize!