Knitted Handspun

A few weeks ago I handspun a skein of Blue Faced Leicester and promptly forgot where I had stored it.  Consequently, when I spun another one this week it was a different weight entirely.  The first one, which later turned up, was definitely an aran weight and the second one a double knit, so when I come to knitting it into something I will have to be a bit creative!  Despite the difference in size, I am really pleased with how they turned out.  They are every bit as soft as merino, BFL is tougher, it has an incredible lustre that is missing from merino and it is British.  I still have plenty more breeds of sheep fleece to try but I know I will use BFL again.

I hand painted these two skeins in the same pale lilacs, blues and greens so that they can be used for the same project.   What project that will be, is yet to be decided.  At the moment I am just enjoying looking at them.  They are very pretty – and shiny.

Earlier I handspun some pre-dyed Corriedale fleece into a double knit in shades of pale pink, dark pink, salmon and cream.  Corriedale is very fine and soft (not quite as soft as merino) and these colours have worked well together. So I decided that this handspun wool would be knitted up into something for myself.  It was a bit of a dilemma deciding what to make from it and a curly scarf Rustic Potato Chip won out, but I will probably spin up more to make some gloves or a hat, or both.  Probably both!  (Assuming I ever finish the scarf.  It is really easy but really time consuming with lots of short rows.)  This was a free pattern from Ravelry.  I might have said it before, but I love Ravelry.

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I also knitted some fingerless gloves this week, not with my own handspun but at least they have been finished.

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Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.

Hand Dyed Yarn

Another new section in my shop: Bramble Patch Hand Dyed for natural yarns hand dyed in my studio in Cornwall.  When I dye fabric and wool for my own use I rely on completely natural dyes from my garden and kitchen and I know that I may have to re-dye them if they fade .  But the yarns in my shop need to be colour-fast, so I have used commercial acid dyes for these.  That sounds scary but the only acid used is a couple of tablespoons of distilled vinegar.

All the hand dyed yarns newly introduced into my shop are in a soft merino 4 ply or sock weight and are 400 m long.  Kammneves is a rainbow coloured merino yarn.  I have used two methods of dyeing Kammneves but have used the same batch of dyes so the colourway is exactly the same.  The one pictured above has been hand painted while the other two were kettle dyed.

Koswik is hand painted in fabulous bright greens and yellows like a forest and Koswik law is kettle dyed in the greens and pinks of exotic birds and flowers in the rainforest.

I just love these hand dyed yarns.  In fact once I had taken all my photographs I had second thoughts about selling them especially the hand painted version of Kammneves.  I shall try to resist temptation but if it doesn’t sell soon you might see me down on the beach with a beautiful rainbow coloured, hand dyed, lacy scarf!

 

 

How To Wash Wool

Why buy items made from wool or spend hours making things from wool when it is so high maintenance and there are so many synthetic ‘easy care’ ready made items of clothing/ carpets/ rugs out there?  Well, the manufacturers of the synthetic products have done a really good job of advertising those products and they’ve made a lot of money.  But I think more and more people are becoming aware of the short comings of these fabrics and how good our natural fabrics actually are.  Maybe you can’t just throw your handmade woolens in the washing machine and tumble drier – or can you?   I’ll come onto that in a minute.

Why Wool?

Wool is actually quite awesome.  Completely natural and renewable.  Anything you wear made from wool keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer.  It does not need washing nearly as often as any other fabric.  Even socks can be worn for several days without washing as long as they are aired at the end of each day, and your wool carpets will not need a coating of chemicals on them to resist the dirt.  Wool does that anyway.

Wool has a memory;  it’s elastic.  It takes dyes easily, even completely natural ones and it already comes in a range of colours straight from the sheep!

There are literally hundreds of breeds of sheep all of which produce wool with different characteristics.  Some produce really fine soft wool to make baby clothes from (obviously, that’s not why the sheep produce fine wool), some produce wool that is suitable for outer clothing like coats while others produce wool which is really tough and can be made into bags, rugs and carpets.  The others fall somewhere in between.

Caring for your woolens:

So, first of all what to wash it with?  You could use just water!  What you must not use is your standard chemical laden biological detergent, however tempting that maybe.  Biological detergents contain enzymes which eat and destroy wool.  So, unfortunately, you do need a special cleanser made for wool – they have a woolmark symbol on them:

If you don’t have any in or don’t want to buy one just for your woolens just use water; it should work fine.  There are lots on the market such as Eucalan Lavender 100ml No Rinse Delicate Wash.   I use  NIL Ecover Delicate 500 ml which has the woolmark image on the front.

Can you put your woolens in the washing machine?  Well, yes and no.  It depends.  (Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)  Some wool is ‘super-wash’ treated.  Most shop-bought wool garments will be super-washed and can be put in the washing machine.  But always put it in a netting laundry bag first to stop it stretching.  Many people also partially tumble dry these items on the lowest temperature setting.  Personally, I have never been brave enough to do that so couldn’t recommend it.

Also, some sheep produce wool that does not felt easily, such as wool from the Perendale sheep, so items made from their wool should also be fine to put in the machine without it felting.  Oh yes felting.  You know the ‘felt’ fabric we’ve all used (especially as children) to make small items or to add decorative applique to things because it does not fray.  It’s the same thing (in fairness nowadays most felt is synthetic but traditionally and in my house felt is made from wool) and you don’t want your gorgeous wool jumper turning into that!  Most wool will felt, though, if you subject it to too high temperatures, sudden temperature changes, or just by agitating it.  This sounds scary but is actually a really good excuse to do less.

Washing wool is really easy:

  1. Pour slightly warm water into the sink and add a cap full of wool wash.
  2. Drop your wool item onto the top of the water.
  3. Go and have a cup of coffee or catch up on your emails for twenty minutes.
  4. When your wool garment has sunk to the bottom, you know it has absorbed enough water and cleanser.
  5. Drain the water and refill with water of the same temperature to rinse without agitating your woolen. (Some wool cleansers do not even require rinsing.)
  6. Rinse once more then drain.
  7. Very gently squeeze out the excess water.
  8. Roll your wet garment up in a towel and squash to remove as much water as you can.
  9. Gently pull your garment back into shape and air dry flat, out of direct sunlight.  I have a Leifheit 72408 Mesh Clothes Drying Rack Sensitive Air which is a folding, pop-up net hoop which is very good for this as it can be rested across the bath.

Remember to make sure it is completely dry before packing away as wool can feel dry but still contain over thirty percent water!

Moths are attracted to wool so you do need to protect your woolens from attack.  Traditionally cedar chests or cedar lined drawers were used to store items to prevent insect infestation and this is still the best method today.  Most of us don’t have cedar chests of drawers, though, and have to resort to sealing them in plastic bags.  I really don’t like plastic but it is very effective in keeping out moths.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a few draw string bags or bowls of wood shavings impregnated with drops of lavender or cedar essential oils nearby. Just like our grannies used to do.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

Handspun Yarn

I’ve been busy with my new Kiwi spinning wheel for the past couple of weeks and now find it easier to use than the borrowed one I had been using.  It is costing a fortune in fibre but I’m finding it a bit addictive and it’s not leaving much time for knitting or sewing!

I’ve put another section in my shop: Bramble Patch Handspun for my handspun yarn.  The first item in this section is ‘Avalow’ which means ‘apples’ in Cornish.  I have used shades of salmon, mulberry, green and pink to create this apple coloured skein.   It is handspun from soft corriedale fibre which has become even softer and fluffier after washing.

Corriedale wool is perfect to be worn next to the skin and can be also be used for children’s clothes.  As it is a natural wool which can felt, it does need to be hand washed gently in cool water.

I shall be adding to this section over the next few weeks.

 

 

Fingerless Gloves

I like hand knitted fingerless gloves and, unable to find patterns I liked, I decided to make some of my own. I’ve made a few pairs of these recently.  They’re all made from aran weight wool and knitted in the round.  Some are knitted from a really soft merino and some are a mix of alpaca and merino.  I was going to keep them for myself as I like to have unique items that nobody else has, but I have now decided to put the patterns in  my shop.

They are really quick and easy to knit on a circular needle using the magic loop method, or they can be made with DPN’s and there is no sewing to do.   I have recommended the Old Norwegian cast on for them as it is stretchy and neat.  When I was taught to knit I only learnt one cast on method and it wasn’t until about two years ago that I found out there were other ways.  After a bit of research I found Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor.  54 ways to cast on and cast off.  It was a revelation.  This is actually one of the best books I have ever bought and I have quite a few.  It doesn’t have any pretty, colourful pictures. Well, it does have pictures but they are useful ones showing what you can achieve for the various methods; it’s not a pretty coffee table book.  But it covers so many options to cast on and off.  It is spiral bound, so lies flat when you have your hands full of wool and needles, and has really detailed instructions and diagrams for each method.  The only downside, and I’m pretty sure it is the only downside, is that some methods cover two pages so that when you have yarn in one hand, needles in the other, it is virtually impossible to also turn the page to see the next step.  I refer to this book all the time and every knitter should have one.

As with all my patterns, these have Cornish names; Delen meaning ‘leaf’, Kadon meaning ‘chain’ (a cable look without the cable needle), Todnow meaning ‘waves’, Nedha meaning ‘twist’ (another cable look without the cable needle), Mor meaning ‘sea’.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

Still a W.I.P.

Why can’t I finish this?  This is probably the most simple jumper I’ve ever knitted.  It’s knit in the round so it is nearly all plain knitting with just a few rounds of garter stitch, a small amount of I-cord around the keyhole and some increasing and decreasing to form the ruching.  I mentioned the Ruched Yoke Tee I was knitting several weeks ago.  It has progressed but is still nowhere near finished and I really don’t know why.  I have a few more cardigans lined up for when this is finished and usually that’s all the motivation I need to finish what I’m doing so that I can start the next one.  But not this time, apparently.

I usually have a few W.I.P. (work in progress) on the go but only one jumper or cardigan at a time.  (Several pairs of socks, gloves, hats and scarves, but only one cardigan.)  It is useful to have a W.I.P. or two to hand for different situations.  A small, easy pattern in your handbag for when you have five minutes waiting for something when you’re out, some intricate lace or cabled socks when you have the house to yourself (not that that happens that often) or a plain stockinette stitch jumper when you’re chatting in a knitting group.

But this one is just a chore and I have no idea why.  My other half asked why I didn’t just start my next cardigan before finishing this one.  That does seem like defeat and I’ve never done that before but that’s precisely what I am going to do.  I will come back to this one!  Really, I will, if only because I shall need the cables for another project.  Now I just need to decide between another Peasy in a rust coloured alpaca and merino or a second Acorns in a light olive coloured alpaca and merino.

 

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.

Knitting Baby Booties for a Neighbour.

One of my neighbours is expecting a baby soon and I thought that was a good excuse to knit some more booties.  I spotted this book while looking for ideas,  Knitted Booties for Tiny Feet (Baby Love).

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I just love the designs in this book.  The reviews are not good as, apparently, the instructions have a lot of errors (probably due to the translation from French to English) but I found a link for the Knitted Booties Errata so decided it was worth a shot anyway.  I particularly like the look of the booties on the front and they’re the ones I want to knit in some baby merino I have had in my stash for some time.

Although the book should only take a few days to arrive (and I still have a lot of WIP’s that really need sorting), once I had thought of knitting baby booties, everything else was discarded (there is a possibility that I am just avoiding finishing the jumper I have started knitting – it is taking forever)  and I started looking for a pattern for baby ballet pumps.   There are quite a few available but none to my taste.  So, I made some up.  I really need to work on my maths skills.  I was sure they were right.  I checked them more than once.  Then I tested them.  So many mistakes.  But now they are correct and the patterns are in my shop.

Both these baby booties patterns are seamless and neither require stitches to be picked up.   Where possible, I always avoid seams in knitting, and picking up stitches – which really is not difficult, it’s just the thought of it.

The first pair ‘Haf’ (‘Summer’ in Cornish) is knitted in garter stitch and has a knitted I-cord tie to help it stay on.  I was going to put in an optional eyelet row for this in case it was difficult to insert the tie between the stitches, but I had no problems doing that and I felt the tie would stay in much better than if it was threaded through eyelets.

The second pair ‘Kyfvewy’ (‘Party’ in Cornish; they are ever so slightly over-the-top!) is knitted in stockinette stitch, has a diagonal button loop stretching from near the heel, and a flower on the front.  Again, other than attaching the button and flower, and weaving in the ends, there is no sewing involved; the whole thing, including the button loop is knitted in one piece.  The green and pink ones are quite pretty but not exactly as I had planned (but hopefully my neighbour will like them) , so I have altered the pattern slightly and I am happy with the finished result.

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

Tea Leaves Cardigan

I have knitted quite a few cardigans recently. I made this cardigan a few months ago from a beautiful pale pink soft merino which has a reputation for stretching in the wash.  I actually put this cardigan in the washing machine and I’ve not had any problems.  My alpaca and merino mix cardigans get hand washed, but the merino is fine in the machine as long as you put it in a net bag to keep it confined.

Melissa LaBarre’s Tea Leaves Cardigan is a really simple pattern suitable for a beginner knitter.  You do have a lot of stitches on the needle when doing the yoke but you only need to know a few basic stitches and techniques.  I could happily knit this one with lots going on around me without the worry of losing concentration and going wrong (I usually need complete silence when I’m knitting).  This could be my go to cardigan pattern when I don’t want anything too involved!  A lot of other people feel the same way.  More than two and a half thousand people have posted their copies of this cardigan on Ravelry.

There was a similar pattern on Ravelry for a short sleeved jumper called Ruched Yoke Tee by AnneLena Mattison which is knitted in a double knit yarn.  I really liked the keyhole at the neckline but I didn’t want a short sleeved version as I have lots of T-shirts and can’t be bothered to knit one.  But I really like that keyhole and this pattern is easy to knit like the Tea Leaves Cardigan so I have started knitting one in a pale pink cotton merino, but with three quarter length sleeves.  I usually only knit cardigans; I can’t remember the last time I knitted a jumper.  It is taking forever.  It shouldn’t be.  It is knitted in the round using stockinette stitch, so I just have to keep knitting.  No purling.  But it’s still very slow going (I do realize that’s only me as nearly everyone else on Ravelry has said it was a quick knit for them) and I keep getting side tracked with other projects like darted tops and baby booties patterns.  I really have to finish it.  Just one more waist decrease, then increasing again for the hips.  The worrying thing is that my next planned project is in 4 ply.  Perhaps I should put that off for a while and do a quick aran knit first.  Or perhaps I should stop thinking about what else I want to knit and just finish this one!

Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.

New Baby Booties Knitting Patterns

Five words I never thought I would say: ‘I’ve made a knitting pattern.’   Well, two patterns because after making one for double knit yarn, I found some nice aran wool in my stash so I made another for that wool.  I’m not really sure why I decided on baby booties, except they are small and it made a change to see something knit up quickly – and they are cute!

They are shaped like small envelopes so I have given them the name ‘Maylyer’ which is the Cornish word for envelope.   They have knitted button loops and buttons to keep them on little feet.

My baby booties patterns are available in printed form and as a PDF at Bramble Patch Designs.  I knitted up a few pairs as well which can also be found in my shop.  I got a bit carried away here and have knitted them in a variety of yarns from organic naturally dyed cotton, to extra fine super soft merino, to an alpaca and silk mix yarn in cream which knitted up really light and fluffy like a little cloud.  Mostly I have used wooden buttons but the alpaca and silk baby booties have oval shaped mother of pearl buttons.  I think they are easy to knit and very quick to do (compared to knitting a cardigan for myself) even for someone who has only just started to learn to knit.

I’m now thinking about other baby booties I could knit; some baby Ugs or ballerina shoes would be nice, and I have an idea for a sewing pattern for some fabric ones.

 

Acorns Cardigan

Another completed cardigan and in blue.  I’m not sure what’s come over me; prolific cardigan knitting and using the colour blue!  This wool reminded me of the sea on a stormy day.  (Although yesterday, when we were walking around the cliffs the sea was a brilliant turquoise blue, I am on the lookout for a yarn in just that colour.)  I knitted this from aran weight merino so it’s more of a winter garment, but you never can tell in Cornwall it will probably come in handy in July.

I really enjoyed knitting this cardigan with the acorns around the yoke.  Carol Sunday’s Acorns Cardigan is not a beginner’s knit, not that it is difficult, it just requires a lot of concentration due to the huge variety of stitches and the use of different increases and decreases.  This is my kind of pattern, I loved knitting it.   The yoke did take ages.  It seemed like I had been knitting it for weeks and had very little to show for it.  But once I got onto the body it took no time at all, probably because I could concentrate on the number of rows between increases and decreases which is much better than the usual ‘continue working in stockinette stitch until it measures…’.

I did miss off some of the acorns on the front of the cardigan because I thought it might look better with them just around the yoke, and I think that was a good choice.

A few people on Ravelry have mentioned the confusion with the cuff chart and when I got to that point I realized why.  The designer has been very helpful in converting the chart for working on the wrong side but has reversed the purl and knit symbols, so you have to pretend you are working on the right side, i.e. the empty square is always a knit and the square with a spot in is always a purl.

A lot of people have changed the neckline but I liked that part of the design so I knitted it just as the pattern said.  I probably should have taken more notice of their comments on the button band.  Even before I put it on I could see that it would gap and it does (although not so much when I put it on my tailor’s dummy because she doesn’t move) so next time I will possibly alter the number of stitches I pick up, and use extra buttons.  (I have already bought some extra olive coloured buttons for that purpose.  But that is several projects away.)

 

Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.