Second Guessing the Third Ply

It turns out, being well enough to sit upright at a wheel does not by itself provide time to spin. Somehow, between yesterday and today I snuck away for long enough to finish spinning the punis and ply them. 

These proved an interesting puzzle to spin, because I don’t know exactly what’s in them. The tag says “superfine merino, cashmere, yak, silk, bamboo, Angelina”, but with no clue about proportions. I’m just assuming that the list works like Nutrition Facts on the side of a box of cereal, and the first ingredient is dominant by weight. So I spun them as if the dominant fiber was superfine merino- that’s probably the cheapest ingredient on the list, too, so it seems likely enough. 

Now, I say that as if I know how to spin superfine merino. Halfway through this spin I acquired Beth Smiths book The Spinner’s Book of Fleece, and realized I do not at all know how to spin superfine merino. But I wasn’t far off: I spun the singles at 15 tpi or so. 

But how to ply? I’ve read far enough in Beth’s book to get a little bit of the math for calculating ply, so I ran with that: 8 tpi for the ply, or a little more than half the singles twist. Of course, I realized halfway throughplying that that calculation probably only applies to 2-ply. I haven’t read far enough to know if that’s right for 3-ply or not. 

I got into my own groove with Navajo plying; by the end it was downright enjoyable. I have my own variation on Sarah Andersons YouTube video. It’s very handy to be spinning in a large office chair with armrests to help me position my arms without too much strain. I have this handy 18″ ruler that N found at the thrift store that lays nicely across my lap to measure my lengths precisely. 

Having spun and plied these two colors, I think I was probably right about there being mostly superfine merino in the white punis. However, the brown is quite different. I spun them exactly the same, or at least as much the same as I’m capable of. The white is sprongy, fine, and happy. The brown is slightly thicker, over-energized, and ropey. You can see the difference in the picture below, straight off the niddy noddy. Looking at that list of ingredients, I’m not sure what else the brown could be? This is one mystery that will probably go unsolved. 

Glamour shots and conclusions after they’re dry. For now I’m just happy they’re done!

A Hat: …Really Finished

Ugh. Writing all these posts about unfinished things lit a fire under my bum to do something about these projects. (Not counting the Kidlet; she’s not supposed to be finished.) I don’t want pretty knitted things to just sit around unused for lack of a little extra work! So a few days ago, N and I toodled out to Baffin Electronics and bought some fabric, thread, and a zipper to figure out this laptop case. Maybe I’ll get to sit down with that on Sunday or Monday… ha. And earlier during the day, I threw this bad boy in the washing machine. Here’s the before picture:

Epic-ly enormous. It took two full cycles of the washing machine – like half an hour of agitation, at least – to get this thing down to a reasonable size. Here’s what it looks like now:

Much, much, much more reasonable! And with a wonderful halo that is extremely fetching and very soft. It can be worn as a beret, or more as a slouchy hat:

Although my older daughter rather wants it to be a mushroom for Halloween.

It has been removed from Miss Toadette and delivered to the ACW bin. I missed the craft sale this was intended for because of the sizing snafu, but it’ll be ready for the next one. Yay! An actually finished thing!

Now, to find a few quiet hours to assemble this bag…


A day off wool blogging because this little looney toon turns 4 today. 

That’s right, 4! My wiggly snuggler is a kid. It’s not so much that the time has flown as that I’m shocked the time passed at all! But here she is, and I enjoy her more every day, and the person she’s becoming. My crafty lady. 

Happy birthday, Naomi. 

Fuzzy Definitely UNfinished

This endless head cold has been bad for spinning, but very good for garter stitch.

I think our family has watched My Neighbor Totoro every day for almost two weeks. The girls are mostly better, and Jared’s been better so long that he’s starting on his next cold, but mine’s still hanging on. So it’s couch and garter stitch for me. Yesterday, though, I was given the amazing gift of a day without the kids (and therefore also without Totoro). The solitude was as good a medicine as the rest. 

Not much to say about the sweater The weird gaps you see above are the collar steeks. I’ve never seen steeks on a sideways sweater before, but it was the only way I could come up with to keep the stripes a consistent width across the whole body. But I haven’t cut them yet, so there’s not much to show. 

Three more stripes and a lot more knitting to go before the body is done.  Then I’ll make the cowl collar, steek, try it on, and assess how much yarn I have left for the sleeves. 

This is the only thing on the needles right now, but I want to keep it that way until I’ve finished finishing all those other things. I must be getting better, because all this garter stitch is feeling pretty boring again. 

Fuzzy Maybe Finished?

In the background, quietly, while all this spinning and blah blah has been going on, the Mitered Magnificence has continued to grow. Quietly, humbly, though it is not a pattern suited to being quiet and humble, it has submitted itself to that status.

Seven rows of squares…

Eight rows…

Ten rows…

By eleven rows, you could really see the cool colors starting to balance all the warm ones.

I completed the last square just before dinner last night, and sewed in the last of the ends.  

I have learned a lot about color theory since first sketching a plan for this stole, and if I were doing this again, I would do a few things differently. Primarily, I learned that colors do not balance by having equal amounts of each color; they are balanced proportionately. Some colors are stronger and louder than others, and you don’t need as much of them to look balanced with the others.

Here’s so much more to color than just hue family, and my sketch with Crayola markers didn’t tell me anything about how my palette would mix, with the dark red, the pale lavender, and the very light real, just to mention a few outliers. The rainbow effect is there, but it’s even more subtle than I expected. 

The warm colors, orange and red and yellow, are always loudest, and the orange in this set of colors is especially bright and loud. That’s why, to my eye, it seems to take over, even though there’s pretty much an identical amount of all the colors.

The squares are all finished, and the ends are all woven in, but I am still trying to decide whether I am finished or not. The question is, whether to put on a border. Mum is probably going to sew it into a poncho shape and add a small border; I am considering putting a border of some kind around the whole thing. I resisted this idea at first because I thought it would look like a picture in a frame, which didn’t make sense to me. However:

  1. The stole is not as wide as I thought it would be – a border could add some width
  2. I was not very consistent with my edges (sometimes I slipped the edge stitches but sometimes I forgot, so it’s kinda messy looking) – a border would fix this
  3. If I did the border in cooler colors, it could balance out the extra-powerful orange. I’m thinking teal and blue and grey, maybe a little bit of some black I have.

So I don’t know. I don’t know how much balance matters since I’m probably going to be wrapping it around my shoulders, not hanging it on the wall (though Jared has threatened to make it a wall hanging if it just sits in my drawer). I kind of want to just be done with it, but that little bit of extra love might make it more useful and wonderful.

I wore it to teach last night, and it was fabulously bright and warm. It stretches a lot, so I don’t know that the messy border is noticeable. I wonder if a border would break up the impressionistic effect of all those dots and squares. 

Any opinions?

A Hat: Finished-not-Finished

This has happened to me a few times: I am at ACW, and I want a project to work on While I am there that is to donate for the next craft sale. Logically, I wasn’t to use some of the yarn they have there.  there that is from the yarn they have. So I find something in the ACW stash, pick a pattern, and work on it for a few Mondays.  Then I realize that if I only work on it at meetings, I will not finish it ’till a craft sale this time next year. So I take it home and potter away on it.

The ACW stash of yarn is mostly acrylic, because that’s what they prefer. I can understand why; it’s sturdy, affordable, and they’re used to working with it, and make gorgeous things from it, so I’m not going to sniff. But every now and then, something really crunchy and woolly and wonderful comes through the stash, and I keep an eye on it.

No one wanted these two little woolly woolly skeins, from some small farm in Ontario, extremely crunchy. Not what you’d call soft, but right up my alley, and I was sure some granola Canadian like me would come through the craft sale and dig it. When the skeins had sat unloved in the ACW stash for a good six months, I took them home and went through my pattern stash to see what they could be.

I decided on the inspiringly beautiful but uninspiringly named “#18 Fair Isle Tam” by Anne Featonby, from my pile of Vogue Knitting magazines, Fall 2009. I even swatched, and washed my swatch. For a hat! I felt so virtuous.

It was really fun to make. I’d been hankering for a spot of fair isle, and this scratched the itch.

I did not feel any concern until I finished it, and noticed… it was kind of large.

Never mind my unkempt face and hair and all these awful phone photos; that hat is definitely on the big side. The brim fit, though, and it seemed to fall into the category of “tam-o-shanter.” I had thoughts of a jaunty yarn-covered button on the top.

But I still had to block it. Not just on principle; the fair isle really needed a good soak to even out my work.

Oh dear. Once wet, it just flopped over my largest dinner plate. I ended up stretching it over my largest pyrex bowl.

After a couple days of drying, it’s beautiful, but completely ridiculous.

I wore it around for a few hours to see how it wore. The washing and Eucalan had softened it up, so it was comfortable enough, but it was like wearing a sleeping bag on my head. Or an entire extra head of hair.

I think my only recourse to make something saleable is to felt it. The brim stretched out a bit over the pyrex, so I’m not worried about that getting too small. I’m just waiting for the right moment, when I can hover over the washing machine for fifteen minutes and there’s not already a bunch of dirty training pants already in there, to do it. I’m also maybe working up the nerve… it’s so beautiful; I don’t want to ruin it.

But I’d better. I don’t think we have a large enough supply of committed Rastafarians in Iqaluit to make it likely this will find a forever home otherwise!

A Laptop Case: Finished-Not-Finished

Puni spinning not done yet, but in the meantime, want to see a bit of knitting? Though today’s update is hardly a victorious return to the needles.

I finished the beautiful laptop bag that I started making right after mom gave me the yarn. But I haven’t showed it to you because I didn’t really finish it.


It’s based on Grace’s Bag by Daniela Nii from the 2011 Interweave Weekend Knits magazine. It’s a lovely issue, all seasonal and stuff, and there a couple of sweaters in it that I would love to make. I decided to adapt Grace’s Bag into a cover for my laptop, because I really need something to protect it a little better as I endlessly cart it between home office and work office 30 feet away.

Even though the gauge and shape were totally different, it ended up being quite easy to adapt, because my guage was exactly half the  of the pattern gauge! The pattern has you knit both sides at once, across; I knit one side and then kept knitting to do the other side – so it was the same number of cast on stitches. I just threw another diamond in the middle.

It took a bit of fiddling to get the length right – for once, I measured my row gauge, but I did it wrong, so this time I made it too long! Ugh. I figured this out before I was done the second half of the first side, so all I had to do was pull out some of the beginning and re-knit it in the other direction. That way I’ll have a cast off edge on each side of the zipper anyway.

I finished the knitting, and I blocked it into shape. It’s lovely.


Based in some lines to follow as I embroidered, as the pattern recommended, but the mathematical approach was better, as I was going to the side one stitch for every two rows.

Then came the embroidery. Definitely fell into the “a bit of a pain” category, but I was listening to G. K. Chesterton’s droll but soothing biography of Thomas Aquinas, and it got done in an evening.



So… it’s finished. But it’s not finished. It’s a bag shape that fits my laptop in it, but it is decidedly not a laptop bag. It needs to be sturdily lined somehow and given a zipper and straps before it’s really done. It’s been sitting almost a month now, so I should really do something about it.

Do you have anything like this, sitting around, done the knitting, but needs some fussy not-knitting to make it really done? Motivate me, because I’m tired of this hanging over my head! I want the bag before vacation at least!