Beginning Spinning

It had to happen eventually. My blog page about the Barnett Drum Carder occasionally attracts queries about spare parts, which I forward on to my Uncle David. Recently a lady who runs spinning and felting workshops enquired, and in the course of her query I noticed her website, Beechwood Crafts, and went to have a look. Turns out her classes are not too far away and she does a novice class, ‘Beginning Spinning’. So I thought, why not have a go? Could be another way of getting in touch with my family heritage on my mother’s side. I have happy memories of watching my Aunt spinning wool, it was kind of hypnotic, almost like magic.

Well we had a fab day, myself and 3 other ladies, all beginners. To our amazement we all managed to familiarise with several different spinning wheels, set up and actually spin some yarn. Once we’d spun 2 bobbins, we put each bobbin onto a ‘lazy Kate’ and plied the 2 yarns together to make some actual yarn. Then we made our freshly spun yarn into a skein by winding it onto a niddy-noddy (aren’t the words in spinning so colourful?)

As soon as I saw our teacher demonstrating the technique where you feed the wool in and control the twist so that the yarn is perfectly even, a light went on in my heart. That’s exactly what I saw my lovely Aunt doing on childhood visits. It was fascinating and mesmerising. Now, instead of finding excuses not to spin my own yarn, (too busy, takes too long, needs too much equipment, what would I knit with it anyway), I just want to spin for the joy of it and I don’t care what I do with the yarn.

First attempt – great fun but so uneven!
Second attempt – better but really need to practise!

The only thing to do now is to get a spinning wheel…

More Reversible Cloths

Following the success of Three Reversible Cloths, here we have Three More Reversible Cloths.

First is the blue Tumbling Blocks cloth. Love how this pattern jumps out.

Yellow is the Diagonal Zigzag cloth, a nice easy one.

Finally green is the Herringbone cloth. This one is worked with slip stitches and makes a very dense fabric and a really hard-wearing, practical cloth.

All three are worked in knit and purl stitches, and the pattern appears like magic on both sides of the cloth. I love it when that happens!

Pattern is available on Etsy as a PDF download or as a printed pattern, and also on Ravelry. You can also find it on my website, Knittingrev.com.

Now what to knit next? I might return to the sock project I shelved a year ago, I really need to nail a sock that fits my feet. If I manage that, it could be the start of a new obsession…

Reversible Rules!

Such a busy few months over at Go To Design fine art printing, I have quite neglected the knitting so I am very happy to return to the reversible cloth project. Here is a diamond shape with a lacy edging, worked in a magic double-sided stocking stitch. This gives it double thickness, all from a little slip-stitch.

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Loving these pastel colours in 100% soft cotton. I’ve also added a hanging loop in the form of an i-cord. This cloth is quick, fun, all-in-one, and no sewing! Yay for that 🙂

New – Lace Flower Circle

Here is my latest knitting pattern, the Lace Flower Circle. Following on from the Three Reversible Cloths, I wanted to design a circular dishcloth with a lace element. I also wanted it to be reversible – who doesn’t love a reversible cloth?

The pattern is worked in one piece using short rows and simple yarn overs for the lace effect around the edges. There is one short seam to sew.

The Lace Flower Circle can be knitted in any kind of yarn from fine 2-ply up to seriously chunky. It can be many things depending on the weight of yarn you choose.

Dishcloth – spa cloth – table mat – coaster – rug – throw – cat blanket.

Knitted in cotton yarn, it makes a decorative and practical dishcloth or face cloth.  Alternatively you could use 4-ply or a finer yarn to make a small delicate flower, for a beautiful addition to your dressing table.  Or why not go chunky on big needles to make a giant flower to grace your favourite armchair, or for your cat to lounge on?

1940s Vintage cardi FO

Finished Object – stripey 1940s short sleeved cardigan in 4-ply angora.

This was commissioned by a friend who does historical re-enactments, putting together a 1940s outfit.  She chose the pattern, the colours and the buttons, which saved me a lot of time as I am hopeless at putting colours together!  I love the gathering effect on the waist and sleeve cuffs, and also the fabulous pleat in the shoulders.

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I am so pleased with how it turned out, but…will it fit?  My friend lives quite a distance away so we have not been able to do many fittings.  The pattern only gives one size and my friend is smaller, so I reduced the number of stitches.  Then I found that the pattern didn’t make sense: with stripes it is easy to count the rows, and the pattern instructed me to knit many more rows than are visible in the photo.  So I had to rely on my stitch gauge and my friend’s measurements.

Added to which, my friend did not want the pocket flaps or the collar.  The flaps were easy to miss out.  Then for the collar I worked a simple ‘pick up & knit’, 2 rows in garter stitch, and then cast off.  For some reason this was fiendishly difficult – the first attempt was puckered so I had to re-work with a much looser tension.

The sleeves look huge and I’m now thinking I should have reduced them more.  But perhaps they look huge because the waist is drawn in – maybe it will look more balanced when it is being worn.

My friend is coming to collect at the weekend – fingers crossed for a decent fit!

Vintage Knitting

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This week I’ve been working on a commission to make this 1940’s striped cardi,  I love a spot of vintage knitting, and it makes a nice change to work with fine yarn and no 9 needles (US 5), when you’re used to handling needles the size of a broomstick.

My friend has chosen some fabulous colours, and a superfine angora yarn.

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The pattern is from Subversive Femme, a fab website full of vintage inspiration.

Vintage patterns are interesting.  Only one size is given, so if that’s not your size, you have to work out how to amend it yourself.  On top of that, this pattern instructs you to knit almost twice the number of stripes you can see in the picture.  The shaping is accurate, which is a relief for such a fitted design.  But the given length is way off!

The only way to make sure I’m getting a good fit, is to do a fitting with my friend, in person.  We are now permitted to meet in a garden, if we keep 2m apart.  So I will have to pass her the Left Front, and the pins, and ask her to fit it herself.  Or ask her partner to pin the piece accurately on her.  This could be quite a challenge for a burly tree surgeon, especially when the sides of the piece curl in!  We certainly live in interesting times.

I have some lovely vintage buttons for this cardi, looking forward to getting this far!

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Barnett Drum Carder

I have occasionally mentioned the Barnett Drum Carder in my posts.  As a result, I sometimes get enquiries from spinners and fans of the machine around the world who are looking for advice or spare parts.  So I’ve dedicated a new page on my blog to the Barnett Drum Carder.  Drum Carder front pageDavid Barnett is my Uncle (my mother’s brother) and although I’m not a spinner (yet!) I am so proud to be part of the family handcrafting tradition.  Uncle David made the giant double pins and circular needles which enabled me to start my adventures in Extreme Knitting back in 2012.   I am also the proud guardian of the Great Wheel which he made back in the 1970s.

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My cousin Libby demonstrating the ‘Long Draw’ method

 

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Here is a picture of me with my Uncle David and Aunt Sonia in Sheffield Botanical Gardens, on the occasion that they visited from Sussex to deliver the Great Wheel.

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One day I will learn to spin, as I think that will be a whole new world….but for now I’ll be knitting, with the tools that have passed through my Uncle’s hands, and the collection of knitting needles inherited from my Aunt and Grandmother.

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Being productive?

So all 3 cats have ‘had a go’ in the new giant wool cat beds.  They don’t need much persuading, especially if I place the bed in a high status location, like in front of the radiator or on top of the piano.  Uncle Herbert was pretty happy about his snooze here.

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Early on in lockdown I got a bit frustrated with being being unproductive, when I suddenly had all this time on my hands.  There are lots of articles in the news about how to use this strange gift of time, if you’re not doing your day job.  Some people even suggest that, hey, don’t feel under pressure to be productive, just enjoy your unproductiveness, you’ll never get another chance.   Well that didn’t sit well with me.  So after doing all the obvious lockdown activities like clearing the garden and re-acquainting myself with home baking, I refreshed this blog and set up knittingrev.com.  Time well spent!

Then, over the last 2 weeks I’ve been focussing on my art print business, Go To Design.  Wow, it really needed a re-vamp.  I have a website but most of my sales & traffic is on Etsy, Ebay and Amazon.  It’s been great to have the time and the head space to really think about the images I’m listing and adding new ones.  Categories, tags and descriptions have been spruced up, and 150 new images are now live, with another 100 to come.

I select images based on well known artists who are out of copyright.  I have to decide which artworks would make a good piece of framed wall art.  I get such a buzz when one of the new images sells!  It’s not always the image I would expect.  For example, floral still life pictures aren’t the greatest sellers, but this one sold straight away.  ‘Peonies, 1920’ by Charles Rennie Mackitnosh.

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To take a break from all this at-the-computer time, I am doing a Zoom pilates class but best of all I get to walk Meggie and Badger 3 times a week.  The weather has been sunny and the bluebells are glorious right now!  Here is Megs in our local woods, with her happy collie face.  She’s the most beautiful girl in the world!

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I can’t mention Meggie & Badger without giving a shout-out to The Cinnamon Trust.  I am a registered volunteer with them, and they do the most amazing work to help the elderly and terminally ill to keep their pets.  They celebrate and promote the special bond between people and their companion animals, recognising the benefits to physical and mental health.  Taking the dogs for a romp through the woods is a joy and a wonderful mood lift!

Hope you are all keeping well and finding ways to get through,

L x

 

Cat Basket finished!

So the test knit worked!  Cat basket in dove grey arm knitting yarn, hot off the needles and approved by Larry.

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This yarn is acrylic, so it doesn’t have the woolly scent which attracts the furbags.  So I placed the basket in a high status location – kitchen table – location is everything – and sprayed it with catnip spray.  Took about 5 minutes for Larry to jump in it.

I’ve only knitted these in wool before, so wondered how the acrylic yarn would perform.  Well, it was perfectly easy to knit with, a consistent thickness, and pretty strong.  Like any yarn, you have to be careful not to split the fibres whilst working.

This particular basket was knitted from the top down, so the outer rim is the cast-on edge.  I used the long tail cast on, to make the edge neat and flexible.  Larry will stretch out in his sleep and flatten the sides, but this yarn is happy to be re-shaped afterwards and the sides hold up pretty well.

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Really loving the dove grey colour and find it goes well with the decor in any room in the house.  Grey is the new white!

I’ve listed the Giant Wool Cat Basket, and the pattern, on my website Knittingrev.com, and in my Etsy shop.

The pattern includes 2 sizes, and 2 methods.  You can work top down, as in the grey basket, or from the centre outwards – see white basket below.  If you work from the centre outwards, you start off with 6 stitches, and your cast-off edge is the outer rim.  You might prefer the look of this.

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For both methods, the basket is worked in the round, on circular needles, using the magic loop method.  There is no seaming – hurrah! – and only 2 ends to weave in.

Arm knitting yarn and 25mm circular needles from Woolly Mahoosive.  Many good suppliers for extreme knitting also on Etsy.

 

Cat basket in progress

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For a knitting pattern to be successful, it has to be thoroughly tested.  Just as important, it must be easy to find the tools and materials needed to make it.

My giant wool cat basket is knitted in the round.  I’ve always made it using large 20mm doublepins.  Back in 2012, you couldn’t buy oversized doublepins anywhere, so I asked my Uncle to make some for me.  Many cat basket orders later, and a change of wool supply, I am still happily knitting these on the oversized doublepins.

Since then, extreme knitting has come on in leaps and bounds.  There are lots of giant yarns available from specialist suppliers, in both wool and acrylic.  You can even get giant circular needles for making those eye-popping blankets and throws.  But you still can’t get giant doublepins.  So how was I going to make my pattern appealing to knitters, if the tools for the job were not available?

Then I discovered the Magic Loop method.  This is how you can knit even the smallest circumference on any length of circular needles.  I tried it and found it really simple.  I knitted the whole basket this way and it worked a treat.  Then I knitted the whole basket in reverse – from the outer rim to the centre.  That worked too!

Next is to test knit the basket again, using 1kg of easily available arm knitting yarn.  Step forward Dove Grey acrylic from Woolly Mahoosive!  Let’s see how the basket knits up with this yarn…watch this space!