Introducing the Beach Pebbles Hat and Cowl. This set, like the Backshore Pullover, was inspired by my family’s trip two summers ago to the Great Lakes, where I grew up. On the trip I became fascinated with the Petoskey stones that can be found along Lake Michigan, and even found a couple. According to Wikipedia, Petoskey stones are a form of fossilized rugosa coral, Hexagonaria percarinata. The hexagon shapes of the knits and purls resemble the shapes of these fossils.
This also gave me a perfect opportunity to use natural undyed wool for the design. Knit Picks Simply Wool Bulky comes in a range of natural grays and browns, and perfect for making a textural fabric. As much as I love yarns from my local farms, it’s nice to see an affordable eco-friendly undyed wool on the market.
The Beach Pebbles pattern is available now in my Ravelry store, on LoveCrafts, and on Patternvine. The hat is written in two adult sizes, the cowl in one size, and is a quick knit suitable for an advanced beginner knitting, with both charted and written instructions.
I‘m offering this pattern for a one-time introductory price of $2.50 until February 2nd, 2020.
It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about spinning different sheep breeds. I got distracted by my spinning wheel, the Tour de Fleece (which I participated in for the first time with Three Waters Farm), and learning to weave. Phew!
Last year I was given a 1970s-era Ashford Traditional wheel that needed some TLC, and I finally got it fixed up a couple of months ago (the main difficulty being a rusted out, stuck hub pin). Since then I’ve been creating yarn at a rather alarming rate, though as I’m rather new to wheel spinning I’m not as good as with my spindles yet. So I’ve also continued to do some sampling on my spindles, and I can now compare my spindle spun and wheel-spun samples with different breeds.
I’ve actually got a bit of a backlog I’d like to tell you about, but I’ll start with some Finn and Romney. First up is some Finn roving from Heelside Farms that I talked about spindle spinning in my first spinning post. Finns are a primitive breed, and I’ve been enamored of their wool since I discovered Tukuwool yarns, which are a blend of Finn with a bit of Texel. The yarns have a faint sheen and depth that makes the colors really beautiful.
I had around 4 oz of the Finn minus that bit for previous sampling, so it was the first fiber I tried out on my new-to-me wheel. I found it fairly easy to spin on both the spindle and the wheel. I plied the wheel-spun tighter, which will make for a sturdier yarn, but the more softly plied spindle-spun yarn is pleasantly squishy. I love the natural gray-brown color, and the wheel-spun yarn does have a slight sheen, even with the more woolen preparation (I did a short forward draft on the wheel).
The second is one I’ve just finished – some Romney lambswool that I bought at SAFF last year. I decided to try spinning this one on my dealgan, which I hadn’t had much success with before. This time I did manage to create yarn. The dealgan doesn’t spin for very long until you build up a bit of a cop, and some of my early singles didn’t have quite enough twist, so I had some breakage when I went to ply. But I spit-spliced the broken ends and soldiered on.
Romney isn’t the softest of wools – it’s intermediate between the fine wools and longwool breeds, though usually grouped with the longwools. Having said that, I have a garter-stitch shawl knitted in Romney from farms in the western part of my state (from the now-defunct Fern Fiber), and it’s one of my favorite knits of all time. The Romney is in a natural gray plus a gray overdyed with weld, and it has a beautiful sheen and depth of color. And the garter stitch makes it nicely squishy. So I was eager to try the lambswool.
I can’t say it was my favorite fiber to spin with, but as lambswool the Romney is reasonably soft, and the chocolate brown color is lovely. I’ve since knitted up a hat (the Ljós pattern by Ysolda Teague) using the Romney and Finn along with some white Targhee and Corriedale that I dyed with pomegranate rinds.
I’m starting to discover which sheep breads I like working with best, and I’ve also started working with blends and dyed rovings, which is a big subject in and of itself. Much more learning and experimenting to come!
My newest design, the Backshore Pullover, is now available in the Fall 2019 issue of Knitscene magazine. This design was inspired by a family trip to the Great Lakes region, near where I grew up. The Great Lakes are dotted with lighthouses, and the colorwork motifs of the sweater were inspired by photographs of the Fresnel lens, which was utilized in many lighthouses around the world.
Backshore features a classic yoke contruction, knit from the bottom up in the round. Sleeves are knit in the round and joined to the body at the yoke. It’s sized from 36 1/2 – 51 3/4 inches and is knit in Rauma Garn Tumi, a lovely and soft sport weight blend of wool and alpaca. More details can be found on the Ravelry page.
ETA: I posted a couple of pics of me modeling the sample size, and I thought it would be a good idea to post them here. I was hoping to get some better photos first – I snapped these quickly before sending the sample off – but here goes. This is the 36 1/2″ size, and I have a 38″ full bust, so the fit is a bit less slouchy on me.
It’s that time of year when I’m been working on a few bits of mending – darning socks, fixing unraveling mitten cuffs, all the things that need repair after a winter of wear. I posted about this on Instagram awhile back but wanted to give a bit more detail on this particular mending project, and since it’s Fashion Revolution Week it seemed apropos.
I’ve had this sweater of my husband’s sitting in my mending pile since last spring, and I finally decided to get to it. It needed elbow patches and I decided I would knit some to sew on. My local yarn shop carries this Regia 4-ply Festival Color sock yarn, so I swung by and picked out a color that would coordinate with the sweater. Using US 0 (2mm) needles, I cast on 30 sts and knit two rectangles about 4 1/2 inches long. I then bound off and sewed the new patches on. Voilà!
If you’re looking for more sweater mending ideas, I highly recommend Tom of Holland’s blog. I also have a Pinterest board with visible mending inspiration. And of course Katrina Rodabaugh’s book Mending Matters is a good reference too.
I’ve been relatively quiet so far this year on the design front. I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on last year’s designs and where I want to go next as a designer. Sustainability and intentionality are core to what I do, and the best way to have a sustainable wardrobe is to wear quality garments and keep them around for a long time. So I want to design garments that are truly wearable, and whatever your price point for yarn, will be items that you want to keep around and take care of. Which for me right now means taking my time with the design process. I am hoping to design more sweaters and garments this year, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m doing a lot of swatching; here is a sneak peak of something I’ve been playing around with.
What are the most wearable knit pieces in your wardrobe?
My newest pattern is now available on Ravelry. It was inspired by a technique for knitting a heel-less sock that first appeared in the 1938 edition of Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book. It involves knitting a staggered 3×3 rib, such that the fabric biases to form a helical structure. While knitting up my new socks it occurred to me that this would also be a great technique for a cowl – it would stretch to fit over the head but then twist up for a cozy close fit around the neck. And so the Helical Cowl was born. Unstretched, the cowl measures about 17″, but it stretches to around 28″, so one size can really fit nearly anybody! Being a ribbed structure, the cowl is also completely reversible, and is perfect for tucking in your bag or pocket for those chilly spring or fall mornings!