IMG_0556

Here is my little man trying on his sweater, the body at least! I used toddler t-shirt vest by sam lamb on ravelry as a staring point, but as the vest was 24mo sized…. this was too small for my little line backer. I scaled up the pattern and changed nearly everything, including adding sleeves! You can see this project on ravelry. Click here

I’ve been spinning the yarn required as I knit and I believe it’s going to take 3 skeins. Not having measured the skeins previously (you dont have to do these things when you are the yarn creator, haha!) I’ll measure the last one to determine how much yarn I used… approximately.

Here are the changes that I’ve made to the sweater. It’s pretty basic changes to the size. Mr. C is tall and stocky for this age of 2.5 and 36lbs so this sweater is more of a 3/4T. If you’ve got any questions or comments I would love to hear them!

Notes

Changed the pattern drastically to fit a 4T rather than 24mo.

Neckline – CO 74st and work in the round k2,p2 ribbing for 1.5”

Row 1: k7, pm, k1, pm, k21, pm, k1, pm, k15, pm, k1, pm, k21, pm, k1, pm, k8

Row 2: all even rows are increase rows. K to 1 st before marker, KFB, slip marker, K1, slip marker KFB. Repeat and include last marker, K to end.

All odd rows K, All even rows increase until 147st remain.

Divide for Body:
K73, turn and P39, turn
K39, turn
P39, turn
K39, turn
P39, Turn
K39, turn Break yarn leaving tail.

Place next 34 st on st holder

start with yarn again, K40, turn
P40, turn,
K40, turn
P40, turn
K40, turn
P40, turn
K40, turn place next 34st on holder. DO NOT break yarn.

CO19st and k39, CO19 and k40

You have now joined the body with a total of 117st

Remove all stitch markers except row start marker (i use the tail to mark start of round)

Continue knitting in the round until desired length is reached :

K2, P2 ribbing for 2” bottom.

Bind off in the super stretchy binding: K1, P1, purl through these two stitches leaving 1 st on the right hand needle. K1, P1, purl through these two stitches leaving 1 st on the right hand needle, Slip first stitch over the second and proceed with K1, P1, P through two and slip stitch. When you come to the final stitch, simply pull your yarn through and tighten, then finish.

See my next post for sleeves, or finish with little cap sleeves: Pick up 56st (34st on the holder and 22 through the arm pit) K2, P2 for 2″ to create the vest arm holes.

 

Good luck and happy knitting!!

Evolution of a Sweater Pt. II

Evolution of a sweater Pt. I

This Icelandic shows washed fleece, picked and skirted. It’s then been combed and spun into this textured 2 ply yarn. The raw fleece is amazing, it contains Black, White, Silver, Cream, Brown and caramel. I didn’t seperate the colors at all, simply blended them into each roving and then spun it creating this heathered yarn. It will become a sweater for Mr. C! Being Icelandic, the Thel and Tog have been left together offering both qualities to the sweater. Strength, and warmth. The finished garment will not be a next to the skin and will be worn over a shirt, but perfect for our chilly, wet Canadian Spring!

Evolution of a sweater Pt. I

Washing your hand knit items – dont ruin them!!

could I be ruining my knit wear?…well… possibly.

ImageHave you been using a good detergent to wash your hand knit items? You might be slowly ruining those wonderful items that you love so much. Read on to find out.

I’ve been trained and worked in museum sciences so understanding how fibers react to certain chemicals is rather important to ensure a valuable woolen artifact isn’t disintegrated by a silly mistake.

Fibers that come from an animal – wool, fur, hair, fleece, are protenatious. Basically almost any fiber that comes from a mammal is comprised primarily of protein. Even the hair on your head. Under a microscope the different fibers look very different from one another and part of this makeup is how woolen fibers felt and hold better than hair or dog fur – I can write more on this later if you’d like.

Image

My hand spun yarns are processed by hand in small batches. The vegetable matter is removed by hand and scouring is done my bathtub or laundry tub with exceedingly hot water and washing soda or my hand made washing powder. It is then hand carded and spun. As I’ve stated a number of times, made historically – historically they did not have super wash yarns or plastic coatings. NO additives are in my yarns so the integrity of the fiber remains with no chemical protection. Wool has been around for thousands of years as yarn – far before detergent was invented. Chemical protection was and is not needed on your yarns with the right washing techniques.

Without a plastic coating (*read more on this lower in the post) the chemicals in your favorite detergent have access to the fibers each time you wash your item. Detergents are made for polyester or cellulose (cotton) fibers and NOT wool. Anything in your clothes closet made of commercial “wool” yarn is most likely dry clean only (which uses even MORE chemicals than you own to wash your items). The couple of times that you do wash your commercial yarn in your detergent will not damage it due to the protective coating.

Most detergents contain harmful chemicals that will remove the oils from your wool and cause it to become brittle and eventually fall apart. The worst offender in detergents is bleach! Bleach targets cellulose, proteins and vegetable particles. Bleach contains sodium perborate or sodium hypochlorite. There are also other agents added as “activators”, to enhance the effectiveness of the bleaching agent; a popular one is tetraacetylethylenediamine…  *say that six times fast! These all attack the fiber and break it down leaving nothing but a pile of mush. If you’d like to test it out – grab some hand spun wool, pour 1/4c bleach and put it in there. See how long it takes before nothing is left. Now detergent doesn’t contain strait bleach, but there is only so many times that you can wash something before it’s effects begin to show. Even detergents without bleach may contain oxidizers which are not “bleach” are brightening agents or just harmful chemicals in the first place.

USE ORGANIC OR HANDMADE DETERGENT

Outside of the handmade movement and natural ingredients being better for you than chemicals anyway, they are better on your wool. Find a wash that you like and stick with it. These washes have been formulated to both clean and condition your wool items. Natural oils are important to the health of your items and although dirt should be removed, you dont want all the natural oils to leave. Similar to using a soap that makes your skin feel dry – your fibers will feel the same. Without harsh chemicals raping your fibers, these natural wool washes clean, condition and with each wearing your items are softer and more supple.

You can check out my hand made laundry soap here.

If a spinner takes days to create your yardage and you take weeks to knit your item – why would you take the chance that the soap you’re using could ruin it all?!

COMMERCIAL “WOOL” YARNS

Commercially produced yarns are worked through a rigorous process using harmful chemicals to both scour the wool and eat away the vegetable matter (cellulose structured particles – ie, hay, twigs, bits of grass and seeds). As I’m sure you can understand, putting something like your hair through chemicals and abrasive carding and scouring – it’s going to come out fried. kaput. To counteract this, the processes add MORE chemicals to condition the fiber and make it silky and nice.

ImageOften, a polyester or nylon coating is added to the finished yarn to create a barrier to prevent shrinkage or wear (since the wool has little to no integrity or strength, this is required). Which is why when you purchase “100% Wool” fiber from your local walmart – it looks and feels like any nylon or polyester yarn. So many chemicals have been added into the fiber that it’s basically only wool in distance memory. The wool that this is made from is often not of the best quality and often comes from sheep that are raised for meat. Their energy is put into meat production rather than fiber production so the fiber is not the best to begin with. The addition of the chemicals and processing causes the fibers to loose the majority of their integrity and strength. *To test – grab a piece of store bought yarn and break it with your hands. Do the same with some hand spun and see which is easier. Because little to no wool really remains in the store bought yarns and the plastic coating on the yarn repels the chemicals in your soaps, washing with your favorite detergent isn’t really going to make that much of a difference. You may not ever notice a problem with your hand knits.

Working with Hand spuns, small batch wool mills or organic yarns is where you’re going to notice a difference and have to understand to prevent disaster!

Do the right thing – be kind to your wools and all the hours put into creating them.

My 6 Sheep

My husband recently asked me what my 6 sheep would be when we own our farm. We’ve been looking for sometime and when we find it, I’ll have a couple sheep, some ducks, geese, a milking goat or cow, of course my chickens and possibly a pig… if I can convince hubby. Love bacon, not so much on the pig idea… hmmmm?

Anyway, I’m not sure how he came up with 6 sheep or why he assumes I would be held back by such a tiny number? Silly man. Clearly he has to understand that I’m just going to randomly come home with sheep. Buy a girl a barn and she’s going to fill it with sheep. Especially a fiber junky girl!!

‘So… We sat and chatted about sheep. For all the reason’s I love my husband, one of them is that he understands breed specific sheep. It took the man 3 y

ears to remember what type of milk we drink, but gosh darnit, he remembers Jacob is good for socks. That makes him almost perfect.

#1 – Jacob. I love this breed. Not only do they look cool (both male and female are horned with up to 6!! They are classified as a heritage breed and they have a beautiful fleece that is rugged and really great to spin with. It’s coarse and perfect for making rugged mitts and socks. Hubs wears boots in the field and can be rather hard on them. Jacob woolen socks stand up really well and keep his feet warm in our -40+ winters. They come in a multitude of colors and some are even spotted!

Image

Jacob Ewe and baby.

#2 – Romney – This breed is a multi purpose wool and is another heritage breed. Their wools are great for sweaters, caps and anything that you’d like some long lasting wear with a little softness and wear ability. These are also multi colored and are really sweet looking!

Image

Romney Ewe and baby

#3 – South Down Baby Doll. Please. Stop squealing. ok. take another moment. I did too. These are the most adorable sheep on the face of the planet. Even when they are adult. I love these guys! They have the softest fleece ever. It’s not sleek and smooth like merino, but cushy like a cloud. I love their fleece, their faces and everything about this sheep! It’s historically from South Down, England but it’s features and fleece quality became a fast friend everywhere. It’s fleece is perfect for next to the skin garments, baby items and anything you want unknown amounts of squish factor in.

Adult South Down Baby Doll, I need this ALL THE TIME!

Adult South Down Baby Doll, I need this ALL THE TIME!

 #4 – Gotland. This sheep is amazing and it’s yet another heritage breed. It’s fleece is similar in sheen and luster to merino and similar softness. I would get one of these over merino as it’s a lesser known breed and I like that. They also come in some great natural colors.

GOtland

Gotland, Ewe and baby

#5 – Corridale. This is another great fleece sheep! This fiber is a reliable multipurpose fiber that is medium soft with some luster and a lot of loft and elasticity. It has enough character to be interesting but no so much as to take over your creative vision. It makes great sweaters, socks, blankets, pillows and other clothing and household textiles!

corriedale_ewe_and_lambs

corriedale ewe and lambs

#6 – Karakul. A little known sheep breed it was bred in the middle east and it’s fleece is generally used for rugs, carpets and house hold items. One of the oldest knitted surviving socks (early 9thc I believe? I’ll check on that date) is made from karakul yarn in blue and natural white. These sheep also come in a variety of colors. I’ve worked with this fleece in a small amount I was able to find and it’s unbelievably silky and smooth. I would almost hazard to say soft. It just looks luxurious! I can’t imagine it in a beautiful woven carpet. Wow! I would also want these because in commercial farms, the babies are often taken from their mothers slightly before birth, simply for their skins. Their initial fleece is close to the skin and very soft. It’s used for jackets, caps ect. I dont like the idea or the look of them. I think the whole practice is ridiculous and barbaric.

KarakulKKA_190

Karakul Adult

karakol

Karakul lamb caps.

So – those are my six… that I told to hubs anyway 🙂 Maybe I’ll bring them all home pregnant. Then I will have 12, and when they enter my property, I will have 6…. it’s not really a lie that way??

Also, because they are not sheep I would also have a couple of llama or alpaca. Definitely guard llamas. Guard dogs just wouldn’t fly on our property and we know this. With all good intentions, we love our dogs too much and couldn’t leave one out in the cold with the animals… we’d ruin a perfectly good guard dog. This is our weakness and we accept this. So we’ll have a guard llama. Because as much I might try, a llama is not a house pet.

My little slice of heaven with sheep and everything else! What breeds of sheep are your favorite and what 6 would you choose? if you’ve never tried any breed specific yarns, check out our mystery breed boxes here.

Knitting spun yarn Vs. Crochet spun yarn

I was recently approached about the difference in knitting or crochet yarns. While in the commercial world there is no difference, in the handspun world – there is!

First off, spinning fiber is simply adding twist to the length of the fiber to give strength. It’s possible to knit with roving but the finished product will not have any form of strength and may fall apart. Not that the fibers themselves are not strong, but the fibers will not hold onto one another. In spinners terms, it’s S or Z spin.
Image

 

S = Crochet            Z = Knitting

Even if you turn the yarn upside down the Z twist is still a Z twist. The S twist is still an S twist. In commercial yarns – they are generally always spun in a Z twist, which is more suitable for knitting. While a finished yarn with an S twist is more suitable for crochet.

Both varieties of twist can be used for either knitting or crochet, but do be aware that it may effect your finished piece. Don’t pass on a yarn you love simply because the ‘knitting’ box is checked. If you purchase a crochet style yarn it will not self implode at the thought of being used in a knitting project! 

All of our yarns are marked to determine their twist. To make it easy for the masses, there is simply a check for ‘knitting’ or ‘crochet’.

The industrial machine and our yarn makers in china do not discriminate between you crocheters, knitters, teens making friendship bracelets or small children with glue and paper. It’s all spun one direction (Z or conventional knitting). In the start of the industrial revolution, the biggest market for yarn, was ladies knitting. Crochet was not a fad yet and children did not glue yarn to paper. There was no need to two different types of yarn and thus, only one was made.

Crochet

If you’re crocheting the biggest place you’ll notice a difference is if you’re used to using store bought yarns.As crocheting became more popular, us honorable keepers of the craft (aka Hand spinners) knew that a wheel can spin in two directions. People with more time and thinking power than me figured out the difference between knitting and crochet, and how the yarn reacts to both. You will most likely have the same experience when using hand spun Z (or conventional knitting yarn) as that of the store bought. When you use store bought yarn to crochet, it will often start to unravel a little causing looser stitches. Modern crocheters often have learned to compensate for this. When using a crochet hand spun yarn, the ‘twist’ of the yarn actually becomes tighter as you stitch rather than looser. This tightens up your work and creates a better end product. HOWEVER, historical patterns will benefit from this as they are written for yarns that are made for the craft. Modern patterns might turn out too small or too tight as most people only have access to store bought. It’s not a huge hurdle to over come and once you do, your projects will light up with your new-found knowledge and mastery of Hand spun yarns.

Knitting

If you’re a knitter, The directional twist of an S spun yarn can effect the look of certain knitted stitches. Using S spun yarn and the stockinette stitch, it will show up as a backward check. One arm of the “V” will be longer. With a conventional Z spun yarn, the stockinette stitch will look like a “V”.

 

If you’ve never used hand spun before I suggest swatching a small amount to see how it will react with your tension and how you might have to adjust.  Experiment with both directional twists in different patterns and techniques. Once you do this, your ability to use hand spun will dramatically change your projects!!

B&W Woolery meets blogging!

Hello to all you out there!

I’ve decided to start up a blog to discuss all the wonderful things about hand spinning fiber. Part of the challenge is re-educating the masses that icky store bought acrylic is NOT the way to go for your projects, especially when a shawl or sweater takes so much time, wouldn’t you want the best materials to start with? Why set yourself up for failure?

So, I’ll attempt to write at least once a week with new findings, exciting tips, projects, yarns, giveaways, information and more. Little things that pop into my head and I’d love for others to know as well. Knowledge is power- but only if it’s shared!