Sunday, January 29, 2006

Let the games begin ...

I decided my project for Knitting Olympics 2006 will be to knit as many socks as possible. I will cast on when the Olympic flame is lit on February 10, 2006 and see how many pairs of socks I can knit in 16 days when the torch goes out on February 26, 2006. I have plenty of sock yarn. Wish me luck and come join Team USA!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I'm Back...

I have completed the upper back for FLAK Part 4. The length of the saddles are 5", the back neck opening is 7 ", my cross-shoulder measurement was 17" so I needed to add 2" of filler (double Moss Stitch), from the center of my saddles to the sleeve depth (H) is 9".

Now, on to hubby's FLAK sweater while we wait for Part 5 of the FLAK instructions. I will need to adjust things slightly. Our chest measurements are the same but his neck opening and sleeve depth is larger.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild

Back in November I attended a spinning class with Norman Kennedy. The class was hosted by Melissa who is a good friend of Norman's and one of the members of the Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild. The last day of class Beth, the president of the Guild, stopped by the class and extended an invitation to come to one of their meetings. The only criteria for joining this group is you have to be nice.

Today was my first meeting and I loved it. Everyone was so warm and friendly. Besides the business part of the meeting they have a program and 'show and tell'. I couldn't believe how much talent was in this very active group! Besides knitting, spinning, weaving, and dyeing many were breeders (sheep, alpaca, angora goats and rabbits).

The program today was felting but with a twist. Ann breeds Karakul Sheep this breed has a double coat that is course and has very little crimp. It is really good for felting. Besides the felting process Ann showed us how she makes felted braided rugs with the fibers. She uses the natural fibers from the Karakul Sheep which are a gorgeous black, brown, and cream color. In the picture you can see Ann braiding the fibers, next she will felt them, then sew them onto the rug. She will be adding the tri-colored braid to the rug that is in the lower left of the picture.

I am very excited to be a part of this group of talented women.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Back

FLAK Part 4 ("The Back")

Janet made available FLAK Part 4 this morning. I have graphed the cables for the back. It is just a coincidence but my stitch count worked out to be the same as Janet's.

Picked up my stitches and I'm now ready to knit down to the armhole openings.

Raye, This Swatch Is For You!

What a difference proper blocking can make. The first time I washed my swatch I did not block it but rather laid it out to dry. Following the suggestions of Raye from FLAK I wet the swatch in plain warm water, rolled it in a towel, then pinned it on my ironing board (since I don't have a blocking board).

15 1/2" x 5"

I think the stitch definition is much better with proper blocking. Thank you Raye.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Dessert Anyone?

I was winding my wool into balls to begin swatching for my SFCKAL project and couldn't help but notice the wool looks like yummy sorbet. The colors are pumpkin, apricot, coral, framboise, bright lilac, and dark green.

My husband and I went to see "The New World" today. I loved it! The movie was inspired by the story of John Smith (Colin Farrell) and Pocahontas (Q'orianka Kilcher). You get a good sense of the relationship between the European and Native American culture during the settlement of Jamestown in 1607. The movie was filmed in Virginia not far from the original Jamestown settlement. I highly recommend it to anyone.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Saddles... Get Your Saddles Here!

I finished the saddles for the hubby's FLAK sweater. This time I decided to knit them without a cable needle and I liked it much better. There wasn't any noticable difference between the hubby's saddles and the saddles I knit for myself.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Déjà Vu All Over Again ...

Yesterday I washed the Peruvian Highland Wool from Elann I purchased for my hubby's FLAK sweater. The color is #282 Oatmeal Heather. As you can see there is plenty of residual dye from the dye bath not being exhausted. This is one of the reasons I like to wash all my wool ahead of time. See other reasons on my posting from January 12, 2006.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I Love My UPS Man ...

Today I received 2 packages from UPS. Don't we just love UPS yarn deliveries? One package contained my SFCKAL (Sweaters from Camp) wool. It was ordered 1-week ago from the very nice folks at Schoolhouse Press. They put this kit together for me. If you haven't ordered from them before you should. SFCKAL will be starting on February 15, 2006. My project will be the Northwest Sunset Fair Isle Vest.

The next package contained Fortissima Colori by Schoeller&Stahl. It's fun to knit socks with this self striping yarn and as you can see I will be knitting lots and lots of socks. Yikes!

Monday, January 16, 2006

My wooly little lampkin is no more ...

No more will I be able to pull its wooly black tail to pull out the 5' tape measure. No longer will I be able to press its wooly belly to have the tape measure roll right up.

I realize it's not one of the coveted "black" sheep tape measures but I loved my little wooly lampkin all the same.

Bad Dottie, Very Bad Dog! (This photo is a reenactment.)

Back in the Saddles Again ...

FLAK Part 3 ("Let's Knit Some Saddles")

My saddles are now complete. The finished length of each is 5" and the width is 2". If I was knitting the saddles again I would knit both saddles at the time on the same needles but pull the wool from 2 separate balls. This is another excellent tip from Ann in Webster, NY.

But wait, I forgot, I am knitting the saddles again. I ordered additional yarn to make a FLAK sweater for the hubby :)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Zigging and Zagging

FLAK Part 2 ("Meet the Cables")

Here is my 100-stitch swatch (before blocking) for FLAK. Initially I kept loosing my place when trying to keep track of where I was in the repeats of the individual cables (some were 2 row repeats, some were 4 row repeats, some were 12 row repeats, etc). Sometimes I "zigged" when I should have "zagged" (see braid cable on lower left of swatch).

I decided to take the time to graph out all the repeats to 12 rows. This helped tremendously. I also placed the pattern on a cookie sheet and used a magnetic bar to keep track of which row I was on.

Here is the 100-stitch swatch after blocking.

The horseshoe group came out to be just about 5 1/2 " and the braid group 5". The filler stitch stayed about the same as the first swatch.

Now on to Part 3 ("Let's Knit Some Saddles").

Friday, January 13, 2006

Got Gauge?

FLAK Part 1 ("Materials, Swatching, and Measurements") - Cont.

After washing the Elann Highland Peruvian wool and allowing all the skeins to dry I knit a ~9 x 6 Moss Stitch swatch using US size 5 Addi Turbo needles. I did notice washing the wool beforehand caused it to fluff up (bloom) and it has a lot of bounce.

The swatch measured 20sts x 34rows.

Next I soaked the swatch in water and laid it out on a towel to dry nudging it gently. When dry the swatch measured 22sts x 32rows.

Yes, I got gauge. Now it is time to knit swatch #2 for FLAK.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Splish, splash my wool was taking a bath ... and other ewesful information!

FLAK Part 1 ("Materials, Swatching, and Measurements") - Cont.

As suggested by a fellow FLAK'er I decided to wash all my wool *before* swatching. There are many benefits for the effort expended to wash the wool ahead of time. Commercial yarns are typically coated with oil or other substances to flatten down the fuzzy threads that could fluff up and get caught up in the machines. Because of this, the gauge and appearance of your knitted swatch will vary before and after washing and blocking.

Often residual dye remains behind because the dye bath was not completely exhausted when the wool was manufactured.

So by washing all your skeins identically before you begin knitting, you won't be unpleasantly surprised by uneven shrinkage or dye leakage in a finished garment. The wool 'blooms' and has a softer hand (feel) and is much nicer to knit with.

I welcome any comments. Here is the method I used.

First I turned the balls into hanks making sure I had plenty of ties. I was careful not to stretch the wool. Using a contrasting color wool I put 6 ties in each hank. Make sure you know how to tie a hank before doing this. A 'niddy noddy' makes this job easier but if you don't have one you can improvise like I have here. Ladder back chairs work very well too.

Next it was into the tub with hot water and soap. Midway through I swished the hanks then left them to soak until the water was cold. I drained the tub, removed the hanks, and refilled it with cool water again swishing the hanks to remove any excess soap.

After that I put the hanks into my Siemens front-loader (I am in love with this machine) and put it through the spin cycle to extract the water. When the hanks came out of the front-loader they were nice and fluffy.

I then gave each a good snap to straighten it out. I laid an old mattress cover on the floor of the laundry room and left the wool to dry. My black Lab Sam is supervising to make sure I am doing it correctly.

When I checked on them this morning they were dry. Now I am FINALLY ready to start swatching the FLAK project.

Thank you Ann in Webster, NY for this suggestion.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's here, It's here ...

FLAK Part 1 (Materials, Swatching, and Measurements")

I ordered the Peruvian Highland wool from Elann in color #1029 Admiral for FLAK (Follow the Leader Aran Knitalong) that started Jan. 1, 2006 (see FLAK button on the sidebar).

My order was placed on Jan. 1, 2006 and it finally got here! I am so in love with this wool I placed another order for #0282 Oatmeal Heather for the hubby. Mine will be a cardigan and his will be a pullover.