New Territory

“Crocking” from a yarn that was dyed with madder root

In full disclosure this is not a issue with the yarn dyer but more attributed to using natural dyes, I do not believe this happens with every naturally dyed yarn[ I also contacted the dyer and she was very helpful in suggestions as to how to set the dye].

I recently experienced “crocking” for the first time. It has been happening with the yarn I am using to knit up my Cedar Grove Shawl by Judy Marples.  I don’t often knit with naturally dyed yarns so while I may knit with some yarns that may bleed when they are soaked and blocked it was strange to see color leaving the yarn while I was knitting  on my shawl.

I first went through a few stages…. the only thing I think think of is that pamphlet about “the stages of grief” but while it wasn’t grief…. several things went through my mind “WTF!” “What am I going to do to set the dye?”, ” I don’t want this bleeding all over my blocking board”, ” Crap, this isn’t super wash…. I don’t want to felt it to set the dye”,” I just need to get through this knit”

The yarn is simply lovely but I haven’t been so much in love with how a pink tint follows everywhere the yarn goes… but I am fairly certain after I get this sucker of the needles  I will have the crocking issue fixed.


I have had some time to think about it and have done a lot of research as to ways to set the color. I think the whole project has been a good learning experience because I know better understand yarn and the saying process.

There are 4 more rows to go before I cast off.. and I am leaning towards the soaking in cold, soaking in warm ( without agitation)  and than blocking the shawl. There are other alternatives  but I feel pretty certain that this is the route I will be going.

Learning a bit here and there.

Learning to spin has been such an adventure. As a knitter I have been  making “knits” and “purls” for the last five years and while it will always be my first love it has been really exciting to do something completely from scratch. I now realize how many things I have taken for granted in learning a tactile fiber art. It is hard to know how much pressure you should apply, how you can get a consistent result, and managing new tools and equipment.

I have resisted spinning for so long and now find it meditative and educational. I had been feeling like I was  making some progress on the last couple of  yarns I had spun up  so I  decided to mix things up by playing with some new fibers yesterday…. Well, it was a good lesson in “what not to do” and how much I can improve ( we don’t need to talk about what happened with super wash merino).

Hedgehog Fibre's Silky Merino
Hedgehog Fibre’s Silky Merino

I took a couple of pictures of some Hedgehog Fibre’s Silky Merino. I had not spun with a fiber with silk content but decided to give it a go ( I must reduce my fiber stash!)  I didn’t prep the fiber  before spinning it on to the first bobbin and will likely throw it away. It was extremely hard to control how much fiber to pull and was very inconstant ( It was frustrating and not very motivating).

Ugh!!!! not a fan how this turned out.
Ugh!!!! not a fan how this turned out.

I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew, so I changed bobbins and gave it another go trying to prep the fiber before I spun… and surprise it turned out better. I had an inkling that I should have prepped before I started to spinning….. but thought “let’s give it a go!” I think next time I am going to listen to my instincts.


What a difference prepping the fiber makes! It was so much easier to control how much fiber I was spinning.
What a difference prepping the fiber makes! It was so much easier to control how much fiber I was spinning.


Snowdrops by Dani Sunshine

IMG_8146I had the pleasure to knit up Snowdrops by Dani Sunshine. I have long admired it on her project page and was  really excited when she mentioned that is was ready to be test knit.

I don’ t really know where to start it is knit as  a bottom up sweater where after after splitting the body for the sleeves you continue to work the front and back of the pieces before starting panels and the shoulder and working the sleeves from shoulder to cuff.

IMG_8121The lace detail is beautiful and it nicely offsets the stockinette body and the neckline with the i-cord gives it a clean line that doesn’t distract from the lace.

IMG_8122Dani’s patterns are clear and well written., best of all it gives my daughter a beautiful sweater (although she is starting to get quite the collect of sweaters these days (Maybe it is time for mommy to knit a .sweater for herself)).


I have an idea….


Although we are not even halfway thought the month of May I have come up with  an idea for my May challenge. I had thought about it earlier in the year but it had fallen by the wayside.

I am cruising along on a the test knitting even though I am multitasking with  trying to spin as much fiber as I can get my hands on.  With a new kind of stash growing I have decided that  for the month of June it is all going to be about working with yarn and fiber that is on the main floor of my house. I think a “Stash busting it Down Downstairs” seem appropriate, Best of all if I make a dent it will make me less self conscious when I have non knitters over to my house.

some stash that I hope to say goodbye to
Some stash that I hope to say goodbye to

I suppose I should explain how I even have a stash of fiber downstairs. It started that it would be a holding area for projects that would be next up……(Yeah I suppose that is still partially true) but it has kind of bloomed in to something else entirely.

So for the remaining month of May and June I am going to do my best to work thought as many skeins, partials, and, batts and braids as possible.  As always I am going to make it a game and see how many skeins I can work through. There is a rough outline of what I can accomplish in this month and a half in my mind so it will be interesting if this  a struggle or a sprint:

  • Finish test knitting
  • Finish the One Big Granny Square Blanket by Churchmouse Yarns and TeasIMG_7342
  • Cedar Grove Shawl by Judy Marples
  • See how far the 1 skein of yarn gets me on Veera V. sweater
  • The sweater in question...
    The sweater in question…
  • Maybe cast on a some stuff I have already swatched
  • If desperate make another hat
  • If I really want to dig the bottom of the barrel pick up my Funky Grandpa by Rillie and figure out “why my stitch count went cuckoo for Cocopuffs”




Full disclosure

I try to pick the best pictures I can… but sometimes I just make stuff that I am proud that I made but not up to my aesthetic standards. In full disclosure here is the 2ply I made last night. The singles looked pretty but  seeing them blended together makes me understand how much practice I really need…. I also tried Navajo plying the yarn and it was a giant failure.


2 Ply handspan from Nest Fibers
2 Ply handspan from Nest Fibers

Around and around we go….

You may have noticed that I took up spinning yarn. I have resisted another hobby ( and a fiber related hobby) for a long time. I think I have worn out the saying ” I do not need another hobby” I might even add to that last comment that I don’t need one that makes more yarn.

Beemiceelf in Targhee
Beemiceelf in Targhee

I think it is a bit of a stretch to take on spinning yarn when you are trying to work through your stash. I am doing extremely good on the yarn stash busting but the new hobby has created kind of a stash enhancement. I was very skeptical of spinning. There is a Rarely friend that spins the most beautiful yarn and I keep seeing her pictures pop up on Instagram. I was very aware that she is an exceptional spinner and that my yarn would not look like that in appearence. But when I saw the fiber she spins come up for sale online I was hooked… It didn’t matter that I did not have  spinning wheel or that I did not know how to spin.

This is where my lovely enabling friends come into the story with the ” Would you like to borrow a wheel?” and “Did you see they have classes on Craftsy?” I am getting better gradually, but am not that great at spinning. It was a very “novel” and I want to go as far as the term “brave” to pick up a hobby that I knew I would be crappy at. I kept picking up the fiber and trying to spin in-between knitting and crochet projects. Much of it is truly ugly and horrible. I ripped out, underspun, broke the yarn, and overspun like crazy ( this is still known to happen)…

An OAK in Falkland from Nest Fiber. Jennifer makes some truly beautiful stuff.

What I have found though is a new form of mediation in spinning. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do. Feeling fiber and have a very simple continuous motion is very relaxing and calming. It is different than knitting. I am not after a finished product ( in fact if it is not up to my standards I will probably want to toss it), but the hands on experience, unlike knitting there  is no adjusting the stitches, flipping the work to purl, consulting the directions for the next steps… its just simple…treadle, pull fiber and let it twist….  I really love it… and I am having fun learning something  completely new.

One of the first singles I produced.
One of the first singles I produced.





Does this happen to you?

You are knitting along and reading the pattern and then…ROADBLOCK. You are positive that the issue is with the pattern and it isn’t you. You have read the pattern so clearly.

All of a sudden you start having excuses about the issues and are convinced that it is not you until you re-read the pattern and have an “Oh shit!” moment and ponder  on what is the next thing you should do.

This has happened a couple times over the last month. Some are related to a test knit and another one is just frankly “crappily” written. I am not going to make any excuses for the pattern nor put the designer on blast, but I feel a little received when I was telling a friend about this and she said ” I thought everyone knew that she was a shitty pattern writer”.  I do have to confess at least one of my mistakes  on this WIP is now a design feature.


A well written pattern by Dani Sunshine.... I am testing
A well written pattern by Dani Sunshine…. I am testing

The test knit is going smoothly.. I just needed to rest my brain a bit as it is a new construction method. It’s a relatively easy pattern but I just needed to put it on time out for about a day to give me the “Ah–ha moment!”



and just like that

I signed up for a test knit. It is kid’s sweater I have been wanting to knit for Maya for awhile by Dani Sunshine. I love the pattern it is called Snowdrops and it is pretty brilliant it has enough stockinette to make it go quickly and a some lace detail that makes it interesting and delicate.

The start of the kiddo's new sweater with a lovely new project bag I picked up from Bitterpurl
The start of the kiddo’s new sweater with a lovely new project bag I picked up from Bitterpurl

I had been thinking that I was going to have have a tough time coming up with what I was going to do for May, so it was a welcome relief to find something that I can knit  in a month and want to knit.

Even better, I have some Hazel Knits stash that I think would be perfect for the pattern.