Between Ewe and Me

Knitting discussions between an expert knitter (XJ) and an intermediate knitter (KJ).
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outlander: bonus content

snippet from KJ’s trip to Scotland, 2010…

Things you would like in Edinburgh:

1) Scottish men
2) JK Rowling lives here
2) There’s a store with a pun for a title that has a knitting ball-shaped teapot in the window:

I’ve just booked a ticket. Mmm Scottish men. There were some Irishmen on the radio the other day and I fell in love all over again with the UK/Former UK.

That is a really freaking good tea pot. I would be inclined to use that as my everyday teapot like it was perfectly normal.

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Sometimes the world is just lovely

Well, THAT’S the best Panopticon ever.

I want to be that man’s friend. Or Dolores’ anyway.

I have discovered exactly what you need for your apartment when you get one:

Or perhaps this one:

I am a genius, I know.




I’ll have you know I applied to 7 apartments today, and I think it’s entirely your fault.

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Silk for Shetland?

This is 4.65 miles of single ply silk. It was a Christmas present from KJ and has a lovely sheen, color and texture.

It took in the order of 6 hours to wind it from the skien. My partner is extremely grateful that his involvement in the process was only to avoid getting caught up in the thread as it wound arond the house after me.

Secondly XJ, I am think of setting forth on a Shetland Lace pattern. Do you think I should ply it? I do have a wheel so can ply it fairly easily. Most of the patterns call for 2ply. WADDAYA think

I think we all know what I am going to say here: Make a swatch! What fun! Do one with it unplied and one with with it plied and see which one you like better. It is hard to say which I think will work better as Shetland Lace is traditionally done with wool and that is the only way I have done it, and silk acts so different than wool.

I got a swift and ball winder for Christmas a few years ago and I loves it. I have also used it to frog unfortunate projects and revitalize the yarn.

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On t-shirts, quilts, and quilts made out of t-shirts

Last weekend I went away to a friend of the family who is quite the quilter and made a t-shirt quilt out of all my boat t-shirts. We got the whole top done, which is the major undertaking. Now I have to choose a back and get it quilted. Pretty exciting. I am stoked about it, turned out a little better than I was expecting.

I love that quilt. Tell me about the quilt making please, because I’ve had plans to make t-shirt quilts before but was told that the t-shirt material wasn’t good for that sort of project? Because it’s too stretchy and then disintegrates too easily or something? Did you have to use special needles while working with the jersey material?

Thanks! I am pretty stoked about it. Now I just have to find fabric for the backing and have it quilted. One of the ladies I was working on it with had a hard time masking her surprise that it wasn’t an ugly t-shirt quilt.

You have to back the t-shirts with an interfacing. This stabilizes them so they don’t stretch out all funny and such. After that you work with them like normal. In general the quilting process is pretty easy. It’s not as forgiving as knitting, if you cut it too small, it is still too small. No going back. So normally you cut things a little too big, sew them together, then true them up. My quilt is what you would call a scrap quilt, and it is much more forgiving. I wasn’t trying to get anything to line up exactly etc. When you want things to line up exactly you have to be much more precise and perfect. I don’t really rock the precision, so this was a good quilt for me.

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Wisdom for the ages

I have learned a couple very important lessons from socks recently. One, which you yourself have recently learned, is that both socks really need to be the same size. I made a pair for my beloved Aunt from yarn she bought at Sock Summit. One fits fine and is lovely and all things well and good in the world. The other one won’t even go on her foot. That is what you get for getting all excited about a bonnet that you have to have this moment and rushing the socks that are on the needles needed for the bonnet.

The socks in the picture are lined up perfectly at the top, illustrating that the heel flap for one is distinctly smaller than the other.

The other lesson is that even if you have washed your pink flannel pajamas multiple times over many years they are not necessarily done bleeding color. This is not a big deal if none of your clothing is white. However, if your newly finished and already much adored Beer Socks (yet another B!) have white undyed yarn at the top of them they will happily absorb dye in the washer. The lesson here is two-fold:

  1. White + Red = Pink.
  2. Take a photo of your socks before you wash them, otherwise you have to advertise to the world your ineptitude.

It is a little hard to tell in the photos, but the head on the beer is definitely pink. Bah.

I have thought about ripping out the white and doing it again because it is a little tight anyway. I have enough yarn and I might just do that. Normally I wouldn’t care all that much, but these socks were so good before and the pink isn’t even a good one. It is almost a mauve, very old lady and not at all beer.

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Blasphemy starts with a B!

Now that you’ve finished Christmas 2009, what knitting are you going to take with you to Scotland?

The knitting I’m taking to Scotland is a pattern that Mum designed—this one:

She and I are getting into the idea of pattern design, and so this is our first experiment. She invented the pattern and wrote down what she was doing as she knit, and now I’m going to attempt to knit it and see if what she wrote down works as a pattern. It will be an interesting experiment because our brains work in such completely different ways—hers is so spacial and visual, and mine is so so linear (as you know). So if this works it will mean we’ve finally found a way for our brains to communicate! Also I just really like that sweater and want to own it. Plus Mum bought the yarn and it’s Knit Picks Comfy Fingering in Jalepeno:

It’s super soft and knits up beautifully, so I’m excited. But I’m also bringing all my interchangeables in case I get the urge to knit up a quick hat or something.

What are you working on these days?

Your mum doesn’t even look like your mum! Her hair is so long and blonde! It’s like you have traded places. What is happening, KJ has short hair and her mum has long? I’m so confused.

I do really like that sweater a lot though. I would say that I would be happy to also try knitting it to see if it works for me too, but I have so many sweaters on the needles already right now and I really want to finish them first. Why does knitting have to be so slow? Gah.

Taking all your interchangeable needles is a very good idea. There have been plenty of times I’ve wished I had more needles than the ones I brought with me with specific projects in mind. And I have also just come up with the most compelling reason to get interchangeable needles. So I can pack them all. Hmm…

I have been knitting away on things other than the sweaters I so desperately want lately. I finished the adorable bonnet I could not live without. I have ribbon to sew on and still need to do it, but it is damn cute. Also made the adorable bird from Itty Bitty Toys. Really cute. Currently working on the bear from the same, because what does one do when they have loads of projects they want finished? Start something else! And I made some really cute Easter bunnies for the celebration of some guy leaping forth from his grave; that and sex in general.





On an interesting side note a dear friend and I have a theory that all good things start with a B (with a few exceptions: botulism being one). The above is proof once again of this theory.

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Binding off when you’re sans needles

Check it out XJ, I’m like fuckin’ MacGuyver:
Totally needed to sew in the end on a hat, and totally didn’t have a needle, and totally improvised by using a paperclip. It worked really well!

Here is the finished hat:

and here is my godmother wearing her lizard socks:

and that means that AS OF APRIL 25, I AM OFFICIALLY DONE WITH CHRISTMAS 2009!!!

Hooray! Now I can get on with my Knew Year’s Knitterly Resolutions!!

YEAH! Good for you!

If it is just the 6 or 8 stitches at the top of the hat you can also knit them off. Break your yarn and knit around, except instead of putting the yarn on the right hand needle pull it all the way through the stitch. Rinse and repeat. I discovered this because I didn’t have a needle and couldn’t be bothered to get all the way out of the chair to even get a paperclip. I find that laziness truly is the mother of invention.

The hat looks good. Who is it for? A lovely blonde with glasses in Portland that you know?

The socks look amazing. And having never met your godmother I would say she looks pretty pleased with them. Glad to see they came out the same size any everything. I wish I could say the same for my last pair.

KJ: Ooh, that’s a good call! That hat was for the former boss and has already been given away, but it’s a fun pattern (though I advise adding at least another half-round of the lace part for length), so now that I know that a certain lovely blonde with glasses in Portland that I know likes it, who KNOWS what will happen?? (Wait—we are talking about Emily, yes?) The socks did come out well, although I had to knit the second one twice. Your trick about pulling super tight between the needles when the color is the same on both sides made all the difference, though I had to shuffle things around a lot to make that happen. XJ: Emily does not wear glasses silly.
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Idle hands

In case you get bored during your unemployment, something to keep you busy:

P.S. Notice on the side the link to glitter crafts. I love that there is a whole link dedicated to glitter on Martha’s website.

Ha!! Why, Martha? Why?

I am now imagining her twirling around in her empty mansion wearing this.

or, possibly, with Jay Leno
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Umm yes. I saw your Weezer video. The Lutheran lurking deep down inside of me is appalled that you threw out all that yarn! What are you going to make with what you kept?

I have also decided that top down is the new black, and I think you should now make sweaters from the top down. That will alleviate many of your issues.

the offending video

Well… yeah, the end of the video is definitely what I FELT like doing, but the miser in me a) made sure there was a clean empty bag in that trash can and then b) after I’d finished filming, totally fished it all out and finished the job. No yarn actually got thrown away. So your inner Lutheran and my inner Scrooge can clink their glasses of tepid water together in victory!

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Drop Spindle vs. Kick-wheel spinning.

Have you done much drop spindle spinning? This seems like a good project to learn with, although I never do anything with chunky fiber any more so I’m not sure how useful it would be. (Maybe if I got some very fine silk or something I could try plying?)

I have done the tiniest bit of drop spindling. Basically I took a class, made a little bit of yarn and haven’t done anything since. I do have plans, whatever that means, to take it up again. I see people with all their beautiful handspun and I want to be just like them.

I think the usefulness of the project is the learning how to ply. You don’t have to make very much. Then you have a hank of yarn and you look at it. With all my sage knowledge of spinning I would recommend at least giving it a try on bigger yarn first and then going for the small stuff. Or go big or go home. (The classic dilemma: Be there or be square, but it’s hip to be square.)

I guess I wonder, is drop spindling as fun as spinning on a kick wheel? The thing I like about spinning is the meditative state you have to get into for it to work properly, the idea that you can’t force it but have to let it sort of come from a place of calmness and focus. (The thing I don’t like about spinning is I’m allergic to wool when it’s in that raw state and generally spend the whole time sneezing.) Do you get that with drop spindling as well?

Ummm, my best answer is that I didn’t do enough drop spindling to find out. However, I find that the meditative state of which you speak can often be found in different ways for different people. For example, I enter that state in bookstores, usually when I am looking at knitting pattern books. I find it very refreshing, and will often go into a bookstore and look at books I have looked at a zillion times before in order to escape for a little while and come out the other side rejuvenated.

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