Monday, January 29, 2007

Spinning and Winding Wool

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It's about time I got back to spinning. On Friday I watched Spinning Wool--Basics & Beyond, an instructional video by Patsy Zawistoski. Then on Saturday afternoon, I spent several hours with Virginia Kromski (my wheel) practicing some of the things I learned from the video. I can see improvement already. Once I got started, it was hard to stop. My goal was to spin up two bobbins worth of yarn, so that I could attempt plying for the first time. I think that was a little ambitious for one sitting, because I got tired before I finished and my spinning became sloppy. I made myself stop and will finish later this week. The roving I'm working with is Medium Coopworth.

I had so much fun spinning on my wheel that as soon as I finished, I pulled out John's green socks and got busy knitting. After all, he was the one that bought the wheel for me and he deserves to have his socks finished before the weather warms up. I think he'll be wearing them by the end of the week.

Later I went to get the mail and was treated to another gift from my husband.
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It's a hand turned nostepinde by Thomas Smith of Milledgeville, Georgia. Recently I received an email from Mr. Smith thanking me for purchasing one of his nostepindes. You may remember that I bought one at a yarn shop in Georgia in October and posted a picture of it. It seems one of his friends in Australia came across my blog and let him know about it. It really is a small world, isn't it?

Mr. Smith has recently started a blog of his own that features some of his work. The nostepindes that he makes are similar in style, but no two are alike. My "one of a kind" treasure is made from canary wood from Panama which is often used for ship components, veneer and flooring. It is beautiful! The best work I've seen anywhere.

Click here to learn how to use these low tech "wool winders". And, if you want to order a nostepinde from Mr. Smith, leave a comment on his blog or email me and I'll send you his contact information.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Lacy Gown and Hat

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This bereavement set is for the Emmazing Grace Foundation. Candy started this foundation as a way to honor the memory of her daughter Emma Grace. Through this foundation, families that experience the tragedy of the loss of a child are assisted financially to help ease the burden of burial costs. Bereavement clothing is also provided to hospitals and funeral homes.

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Some people find it too emotionally difficult to make bereavement clothing for the little ones. For some reason, this is something I can do. I think it's because I have heard the stories of so many who have lost preemies and the challenge they experienced when trying to find clothing to fit their baby. Candy shared why she makes bereavement clothing in her January 9, 2007 post (scroll down the page). Her story inspires me to help others.

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Patterns: Jenny's Tiny Knitted Burial Gown and Lacy Hat
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft Baby Sport
Needles: US 5
Size: 1-3 lbs

The way the gown pattern is written is confusing in places to me, but it can be figured out. Just be sure to increase the stitches to 72 before beginning the skirt. The stitches will be arranged on the needles as follows:
10 stitches, stitch marker (SM), 16 stitches, SM, 20 stitches, SM, 16 stitches, SM, 10 stitches

Before I send this off, I'll knit a pair of booties to go with it. I will probably use this pattern.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Snap a Dozen Days

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January Sky Reflected in Hale Lake
Brazos Bend State Park
Needville, Texas

January is a month to reflect on the year just past; a time to set goals for the year to come. There is a sense of renewal and optimism unique to this month. Nothing seems too big to accomplish. Though the weather can be gray and dreary, January always feels new and fresh to me. It's a month I look forward to.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Project Compassion

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There are so many good causes to knit for. It is impossible to participate in all of them, but this project really touched my heart and I wanted to make at least one square for the afghan. I thought I would have to go to the yarn shop to buy some washable wool until I remembered I had yarn left over from the Mac Hat. Be sure to check out the requirements for the squares here.

Pattern: Up and Over from 200 Knitted Blocks by Jan Eaton
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool, 100% Merino Superwash
Colors: Raven and Natural
Needles: US 8
Size: 8" x 8"

The challenge in knitting these afghan squares is to figure out how many stitches to cast on to get the required size. I thought I had this one right, but ended up having to pick up stitches along each side to add a little width.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Keeping Warm

Yesterday the local news stations interrupted regular programming all morning to keep us up-to-date on the "Arctic Blast". We aren't used to freezing temperatures here in the Houston area. It's cold, but I'm keeping warm with Steam and Calorimetry.

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Reversible Cable-Rib Scarf

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Pattern: Steam by Diana Gates
Yarn: 2 balls of Nashua Creative Focus Worsted, 75% Wool, 25% Alpaca
Color: CFW2055 Carmin
Needles: US 6

There are two versions of this scarf. I made the one with the garter stitch border. The other omits the border, resulting in a wavy edge.

Blocking this scarf really helped to open up the cable ribs. I love the way it turned out.

Knitted Headscarf

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Pattern: Calorimetry by Kathryn Schoendorf
Yarn: Nashua Creative Focus Worsted, 75% Wool, 25% Alpaca
Color: CFW2055 Carmin
Needles: US 6

If you aren't a hat person, then try this pattern. It feels just as warm as a hat to me--a nice alternative.

It is worked using short rows, without the wrap and turn part. Some holes are formed as a result, but they are on the underside of the scarf, so they don't show when worn. One of these holes is used for a buttonhole. Since there are several to choose from, this headscarf is very adjustable in size.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Working Together

It's just one small square...

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...but it will join other small squares and become a community afghan for a family in need. This family tragically lost a two year old child in a car accident on New Year's Eve. An effort to make an afghan is underway and if you want to help, you can read about it here.

The squares for this afghan should measure 7"x7" and be made from soft acrylic yarn in blue and/or green. I used Caron Simply Soft in country blue and dark sage.

Today I read about another community afghan in the works for a family experiencing a similar tragedy. This project is the first of many for Project Compassion.

We can accomplish much when we work together.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Green Socks

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The Green Sock Knitalong is very informal--no sign ups, no start date, no finish date--just knit a pair of green socks. This is the pair I'm working on. They are for John. He selected the yarn himself (Online superwash wool).

I rarely get in a hurry when I knit socks. I think of socks as my back-up knitting: something to work on when I need a break from my current project. Because of that, it can take me months to complete a pair. This pair was started on December 13, 2006 and measures only 5 1/2 inches. I think it's time to focus on getting them finished.

Kim asked this question recently:
Do you think a new knitter could handle socks? Green is my favorite color, but socks and all those sock needles scare me.

What do you sock knitters out there think? How long had you been knitting before you attempted to knit your first pair of socks?

I think I had been knitting almost a year before I gave it a try, but I'm the cautious type. Like most first time sock knitters, I found double pointed needles extremely awkward to manage at first. In fact, my first attempt was unsuccessful. I couldn't quite understand how to join my stitches in the round, but I didn't know about these helpful videos. I set sock knitting aside for a time and began knitting hats in the round on circulars. Because it is necessary to switch to double points when doing the decreases, this helped me get the feel of managing four needles at once. The next attempt at socks was a success.

Many people find knitting socks on two circular needles a good alternative to knitting with double points. Check out this tutorial. There is some good advice here too.

If you really want to knit socks, then give it a try. It's the only way to learn.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Change is Good

Have you noticed the new look here at Wool Windings? The biggest change is the new template. I was craving some color, but wanted to keep the clean simple look of the one I had before. I think this one works well. I enlarged the fonts to make it easier to read, because my eyes aren't as young as they used to be.

There are also two new buttons on my side bar:

007 Snap a Dozen Days
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This is a photography group I've joined. The idea is to take a picture(s) for the current month and write something about what that month means to you. At the end of 2007, you will have a collection of twelve photos or sets of photos that represent the year. If all goes well, I'll have my January picture up next week.

Green Sock Knitalong
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It just made sense to join this group, since I already have a green sock on the needles.

In other news, I'm still trying to finish Steam. I'm at the halfway point.
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Virginia is patiently waiting in her travel bag for me to finish, but I know that won't last. Maybe I should join this group just to keep her happy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Harvey Kimono

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Pattern Book: Natural Knits for Babies and Moms
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby
Needles: U.S. sizes 4 and 5 straight
Size: 6 months

This sweater comes in two versions. This is the boy's version. The girl's version has a very pretty picot edge.

This cute little sweater is knitted in five pieces: two fronts, one back and two sleeves. That means, of course, that there is some seaming to do.

Stitches are picked up along the neck opening to knit the garter stitch trim. I blindly followed the pattern and picked up the number of stitches instructed. Even as I was in the process of doing this, I knew I needed to pick up more stitches for a nicer join, but I didn't. I plowed ahead and when I was finished, I didn't have the heart to rip it out and start over. I filled in the holes as best as possible.

I would love to make this sweater in a natural fiber yarn. Does that mean I'm becoming a yarn snob? I think it might.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Small Bit of Lace

Ribbon Lace Washcloth and Soap Sack
I've now knitted all three washcloths from this pattern. I think this one is my favorite.

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Pattern: Fiber Trends Bathing Beauties
Yarn: Baby Georgia 100% Mercerized Cotton
Needles: US 4

Lavender Filled Sachets
These little sacks are quick knits. Instead of using them for soap, I filled a cloth bag with lavender and tucked it inside.

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Right to Left: Lacy Soap Sock, Fish Net Soap Sock, Honey Comb Soap Sock

Patterns: Heavenly Cotton Soap Socks
Yarn: Stork 100% cotton (lavender), Baby Georgia 100% Mercerized Cotton (green and pink)
Needles: US 4 dpns

UFO Report
I'm still working on the baby sweater and scarf from the post last week. The sweater is finished except the seaming. The scarf has grown to fourteen inches.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mac Hat

This time I got it right.

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Hat Pattern: Any basic stockinette hat
Apple Chart: Tech Guy Socks
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool 100% merino superwash
Needles: 16" circular US 6 and double points in same size

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Here's what I did to get the right fit for Matt:
Cast on 88 stitches.
Worked 1x1 ribbing for 1 1/4".
Knitted stockinette stitch for 6" from cast on edge.
Began decreases with K6, K2tog (worked alternate rounds even).

The apple is duplicate stitched on the hat using Cotton Ease. It takes up a good portion of the hat, so check the chart for the exact number of stitches needed to be sure your hat is large enough to accommodate the design. Use DK weight yarn or sock yarn to knit the hat if you want the design to be smaller and more discreet.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Unfinished Business

There are a couple of unfinished projects in my knitting bag that I want to complete before I start anything new. I began knitting both of these last spring and for no particular reason, they were set aside and forgotten.

First up is the Harvey Kimono from Natural Knits.

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I had completed the back and one side of this cute wrap-around sweater before it was abandoned. Yesterday I decided to pick up where I left off. I learned the hard way that it pays to keep notes on all knitting, even the projects you think you will finish up quickly. I thought I remembered the needles I started this sweater with and the size I was knitting. I discoverd I was wrong on both counts. So I knit most of the day, but made little progress. Lesson learned.

The second unfinished knit is a very nice reversible cabled-rib scarf called Steam. I think I kept better notes on this one. I'll find out soon enough.

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In case you're wondering, I finished Matt's Mac Hat. Pictures will be up soon.

Monday, January 01, 2007


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This is the year I will learn to spin. Officially I became a spinner on December 25, 2006 when I spun this yarn on my new Kromski Sonata wheel (named Virginia). The yarn is primitive and crude, but I am not discouraged. In fact, I am excited by the challenge of improving my skills. I am documenting the beginning of my spinning adventures on this first day of 2007, so at the end of the year I can look back and see just how far I've come. Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!