December 04, 2021

Twenty Percent Less Yarn

      Just checking in to say that my cold sheep resolution this year has resulted in a reduction in my stash of yarn by twenty percent.  If you don't count the two sweaters in progess that have been stalled for years. Which I don't. 
     I am fairly happy with that amount of progress.  
     I am considering rolling the resolution forward into 2022 and trying not to buy any yarn again, with the exception of a couple of sweater quantities. 

September 18, 2021

Yarn, Organized

      A hat I'd knitted a number of months ago disappeared for a while.  It is a gift for a family member and the person's birthday is approaching, so it was becoming more important to find it.  I even started knitting a contingency hat. 
     I finally found the lost hat, at the bottom of a box of yarn.  Huzzah. 
     While I was rummaging in the yarn box, I pulled all the boxes out and organized all the yarn.  I sorted by weight and then sorted the fingering weight by content, since that's what I have the most of.  Before, the yarn was all just sort of in the order I'd bought stuff.  Organizing it was a task I'd had on my to-do list for a while, so I got the satisfaction of checking it off.
     I mentioned to someone (someone with a fabric stash) that I'd done this task and she asked if I found any yarn I'd forgotten about.  I found just one ball of yarn I'd completely forgotten I had.  Such is the power of having filled out a Ravelry stash inventory.  As a bonus, the yarn was in a colour I'd been thinking of buying.  Electric blue, if you were wondering.  
     I matched up three more patterns with yarn I have and put them in my Ravelry queue.  I think most of the yarn is matched with patterns now.  It's just a matter of getting around to actually knitting it up to reduce the amount on hand. 

August 28, 2021

What to Make Next

     The green cowl worked out fine. 
     After I finished knitting it, I didn't knit for about a month.  Finally I ripped out the two projects I had languishing on the needles.  They were a hat and a pair of gloves in patterns I'd never done before.  I restarted them with patterns that are old favourites.  
     I withstood the temptation of a rather good yarn sale.  When I say withstood, I mean I didn't buy anything.  But I wasted a bunch of time putting yarn in the online cart, thinking about it, and taking it out.  The waste of time counts as a minor cold sheep resolution failure for me.  One of the points of the resolution was to take the time I would normally spend window shopping, and spend it on making things. 
     I ran across a good piece of advice on Ravelry.  Someone said she wanted to knit a garment but didn't know what to pick.  Someone else advised her to think about how long it had taken her to knit the last garment, then count the same amount forward in time, figure out what the weather will be then, and choose a pattern suitable for that weather. 
     Well!  This advice would have me casting on for a wool sweater tomorrow.

July 03, 2021

the green scarf didn't work out but the cowl seems okay so far

      I was telling you about how I was adapting a hat pattern and using the chart to knit a scarf.  It didn't work out.  There was an imbalance between the number of knit stitches and purl stitches, and that caused the scarf to curl.  I got a little more than a foot done and then ripped out the stitches.
     I started again with a cowl, knit in the round, using the same chart.  There's no curl this time because the fabric is a tube.  And of course I put ribbing at the edge to prevent curling there.
     I chose a larger needle than the hat pattern calls for, to create a soft and loose fabric that will drape.  I've seen the recommendation for a larger needle for cowls in a couple places.  
    I based the number of stitches on a lace cowl I'd completed recently in the same weight of yarn.  That number turned out to be inadequate.  This cowl was turning out to be much narrower than the other one.  I ripped out my work and cast on again, adding enough stitches for two additional repeats of the motif.  Now everything seems to be in order and it's just a matter of plugging away at the knitting.  
     I was thinking yesterday about the role fear plays in my fiber arts and that of my friends who are kind enough to talk to me about their own progress.  A small problem like this one with the scarf slash cowl doesn't bother me so much.  But I do get hung up on some things.  I tend to get gripped by fear during bigger projects where I really care about the outcome and I'm unsure about my chances of success. 
     Right now fear is making me reluctant to start a fingering-weight sweater for myself for Fall.  Also, I'm not ripping out and redoing a hibernating WIP, one of the two sweaters that have been stalled for years.  
     I read once that when you have projects looming over you that you're procrastinating on and not about to start, you can use the energy from that nervous pressure to get a lot of little stuff done that you mean to do anyway.  Guess that's what I'm doing with the cowl.  
     Hopefully, whatever projects I do, I will use up some stash.  My cold sheep resolution is going alright on the yarn-buying front, I've bought the bare minimum.  I want to use up more yarn by the end of the year, though.   

May 29, 2021

email subscriptions are ending

      If you have subscribed by email to this blog, The Sojourning Spinner, please know that your subscription is ending.  This is because Google is putting Feedburner on maintenance mode in July. 
     Apologies, but I can't see any way on my end to add this function back.
     You have the option of subscribing through an app that serves up RSS feeds. 
     In other news, I am in the process of adapting a hat pattern that I like.  Not for a modified and improved hat but for a scarf.  A scarf to go with a hat I've already knitted.  
     The adaptation process is a little tricky.  While the hat is knitted in the round, the scarf is knitted flat.  Any knit stitch that is knitted through the back stitch to twist it on the right side (and there are many such stitches) must be turned clockwise and purled on the wrong side.  
     Further adding to the difficulty is the fact that the chart is charted for every row.  In a lot of charts, the even-numbered rows are the same stitch and not even shown on the chart, and are thus rather simple to convert to flat knitting.  Not so with this pattern's chart.  The stitches are worked as they present themselves just as they are in the row below.  Apart from turning the purls.  So, you see a knit stitch below, you knit a stitch.  At first I found it hard to see which was which.  So, I turned to the chart.  You have to read the chart the other way, left to right, on the even rows and do the opposite of the symbol as given.  That was worse and I went back to examining the stitches. 
     Anyway, it is a challenge.  And I consider the effort to be worth it for the end result.  I think that once it is done, the scarf is going to be well received by its recipient. 

April 10, 2021

A Resolution, In Conflict with A Greater Goal

      In January I resolved to go cold sheep.  That is, I resolved to not buy any yarn or fiber for the year.  The only out would be if I knitted up two-thirds of my stash.  
     This resolution sprang from the realization that I had enough yarn to knit for a year without buying any more.  I felt that if I stopped spending time on yarn selection and pattern selection, then I could apply that time to using the plans and yarn I had already sunk effort into.  Finishing projects, rather than starting.  Doing justice to them. 
     I lasted two weeks.  Then I discovered that the two sweater quantities of yarn I'd bought in December were too itchy.  I exchanged them.  I felt irritated because I hate to go back on a resolution, especially a resolution with cachet like cold sheep.  However, the main goal is to make myself clothing, and new yarn was the path to doing that. 
     I could have frogged two old and stale projects, the partially-knit sweaters, and used that yarn.  I just wasn't ready to do so.  Now I might be ready to tackle one, after I get some gift knitting done.
     It is an odd thing that having unfulfilled plans and unused materials around is unsatisfying yet the process of getting plans and materials is satisfying.  
     The other week I found myself browsing online looking through yarns on sale.  Must have been in need of some retail therapy.  I selected a yarn and a pattern to go with it, both of which would suit a knit-worthy family member.  It made me feel clever, to spot them and make a pairing.  It's the old hunter gatherer instinct, presumably.  Then I asked myself if it would really make me happy to place an order, given that I had enough yarn on hand to make gifts for family this year.  The answer was no.  I emptied my cart and made a note about the pairing in my records to review next year. 

April 03, 2021

It's Very, Very Pink

     I knitted myself a cardigan.  It's a very intense pink, which makes my inner child very happy.  
     The fit is excellent, due to some modifications I made to the pattern.  The idea for one of the mods came from a video on Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Patreon account.  
     The pattern is one that I'd meant to do for a long time ever since I heard podcaster Louise Scollay rave about it.  Am late to the party and all, which is okay.  
     The buttons on the cardigan came from a couple of old linen jackets that I had loved and worn to shreds. 
     It's quite something how for a project you take information from here, inspiration from there, and materials from the past and present. 

November 07, 2020

Potato Chip Knitting

     You might remember an old commercial for potato chips that bet you can't eat just one.  I find that some knitting patterns are like that too.  I knit them, and then knit them again.  It is quite satisfying.
     I am currently coming to the end of a streak of knitting accessories for gifts.  There's half a hat and one pair of mitts to go.  The hat pattern is one I've used before, and the mitts pattern will be new to me.  
     I am growing a little in technical skill.  I feel quite clever because I've applied a technique I learned from Ann Hanson in a Craftsy course of hers, the one row buttonhole.  I used it to make a ponytail opening just above the ribbed brim of a hat.  That hat was the third hat I've made from a particular pattern, in white after doing lime green and dark red.  The pattern has a lot of texture from thin lines of stockinette on reverse stockinette.  It is a pattern with a bold style.  There are family members I would not make it for, because I just don't think it would appeal to them.  I like the look of it, though, and fortunately I also like the knitting process for it.  I found the stitches easy to read and the pattern easy to memorize over the course of a round.  That surprised me, given all the cables.
     Have amassed some more books on knitting sweaters but haven't dug into them yet.  I got one book for a particular pattern that I think is quite pretty because it has a lot of texture.  It is similar to the hat I just mentioned.  However, I have concerns that such a sweater would visually add bulk and not be flattering to wear.  And I think you really have to be sensible and weigh both when picking a project.  So that pattern may stay in the "nice to think about" category.
     I did read one knitting book recently that was written in the 1980s.  The content is very dated in parts and rather amusing.  The author raved about the new looser fit that had just become fashionable.  It's good to know that I have the pattern for a dolman sleeve sweater if I ever need it.  I got the idea to buy that title from watching Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's stash room tour on Patreon, a tour which includes her bookshelves.

July 25, 2020

Raglan Sweater

     So I was working on a sweater.  I am pleased to say that it is finished and it fits. 
     I had started out following the pattern Brick by Clare Lee.  I made quite a few modifications to the fit and the design details.  In the end, I began thinking of it as just a raglan sweater. 
     Anyway, it is nice to be done.  I enjoyed the process of making the sweater as much as I enjoy owning it.  (Not wearing it, not till Fall.)  I just mean to say, the sense of accomplishment is pleasant.  Big project and all.

February 29, 2020

Trends in the Cut of Clothing and Knits

     Decades ago I read a book about planning a wardrobe and making smart choices when one gets pieces.  It recommended that you study the clothes in the shops and magazines to examine the cut, as well as the colour, embellishment, and texture.  For example, see where the waist sits, where the line of the shoulder sits in relation to the tip of a person's bone at the end of the shoulder, how high the underarm sleeve sits, how closely or loosely the fabric sits against the body, where the hems and seams hit.  It seemed like a sensible and clever approach to me, so I adopted it.
     Recently I had a look at knits on the market and realized that drop shoulders have come back in.  I feel like this change snuck up on me.  I remember the last time they were in and I remember when they went out.  The shoulder is dropped and the body of the sweater is wide like before, but the sleeve is much narrower this time.  With less of a taper, understandably.  The necklines are somewhat wider and lower.  The yarn is a finer gauge.  The modern knits don't have as much texture or colourwork as they did in knitting books from the last fashion cycle.  This may be for style or just because it is cheaper for a factory to make plain garments.
     I suppose if a knitter was enterprising and liked math, she could snap up secondhand some of the knitting books from the 80s and 90s and modify any drop shoulder pattern that lacks armhole shaping.  You'd reduce the number of stitches in the sleeve, plot a new neckline on graph paper, and perhaps convert a pattern to a different, finer gauge by recalculating the stitches and rows or by using the directions for a larger size and accounting for the difference in row gauge.  I saw a used book from the 90s the other day at a thrift store and passed it up without thinking about possible modifications.  On the other hand, using a recently-published pattern would be simpler.
     In the same thrift shop, I saw a cardigan with a colourwork yoke that looked to me like it was handknit, judging by the lack of tag and a texture and gauge like Icelandic wool yarn.  I thought the yarn felt rather scratchy and wondered if that was the reason the sweater was donated.
     The other day I was able to correctly identify a woman's cowl as handknit.  This was out in the wild, not at a guild meeting where the odds are high of running into handknits.  I guessed because the cowl was in garter stitch.  If a factory had made it, the machine would have needed two needle beds.  More complicated machine, more expensive, less likely.  Whereas a handknitter can knit garter stitch flat easily.  
     Besides the drop shoulder sweaters, I noticed some yoke sweaters with colourwork for sale online.  I've seen one person wearing one.  I will have to try and see the details up close sometime.  From a distance the sweaters appear to have been knitted flat in pieces, using short rows to imitate the curved design that's characteristic of handknit yoke sweater patterns from the 80s.  The original designs were a function of the technique in the decreases handknit in the round.  Again, simple for a handknitter, involved for machines.
     It's is nice to know what the new fashionable options are.  Fashion still seems to be favouring sweaters with a natural shoulder fit and a high-ish underarm seam.  I consider these to be more flattering and more trend-proof.
     This begs the question, why am I knitting a sweater with a raglan sleeve.  Expediency, I think.  Brick is such a simple pattern that the directions make me confident I can finish knitting it if I keep plugging away.  I expect the result with Brick will look acceptable and be comfortable to wear.
     It might be fun to do another sometime in two colours like a baseball t-shirt for a retro look.

February 22, 2020

Rabbit Hole of Research in Knitted Texture

     I created a bundle of favourites on Ravelry and called it texture.  I created it so I can view at a glance pictures of a collection of patterns and projects that show texture in the knitted cloth and that particularly appeal to me.
     When I saw the URL for the bundle, it appeared hundreds of other people had done so before me.  Found I could type in a different number in the URL and see other bundles.
     I'll be a while.  The results are very cool.
     Am also looking at projects made with undyed yarn, using the advanced search feature, sorted by most favourited projects.  Some of them are very pretty.
    Myself, I just finished knitting Julie Hayes' beret pattern Colette in undyed brown yarn.  Love the concentric decreases in the crown.  Am wondering if I should mail the hat to a family member now or wait months and months until Christmas.
     I applied concentric decreases to a stockinette hat that's fresh off the needles.  I knitted it without a pattern as a sort of test swatch for a sweater, as is recommended in Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears.  Used the same yarn as I used for Colette but with one needle size down and a different natural shade of wool on the white side.  Am not into brown.
     Have cast on for the sweater, Brick, using the same yarn but in a medium natural grey shade.  While I wish the wool was glossier, the colour appeals to me.  Brick is a plain stockinette raglan sweater so it has no texture to it.  I plan to knit the trim from the Susie Roger's Reading Mitts pattern on the cuffs and hem, with picot at the collar.
     Oh, wow.  There are hundreds of bundles of favourites under the name linen too.  Love linen.
     You can type in www dot ravelry dot com slash bundles slash [name] for any name or word you think is likely, and see what comes up.

January 04, 2020

A Podcast on Craftivism

     If you are spinning yarn or knitting and want to listen to interviews as you work, I recommend episode 447: "Rethinking Craft" from the CBC Radio program, Spark.
     You can stream it with your Internet browser at  Or find Spark from CBC Radio on your favourite podcast app, and find the episode.  
     The last segment on crafts and activism, also called craftivism, will probably be of interest to you.
     For those who prefer to read, a synopsis of the episode is here,

December 28, 2019

Whims and Plans

     At the last handspinners guild meeting, I asked a couple of people if they had yarn resolutions for the new year.  One said, to finish unfinished projects.  The other said, to make things for herself, since the Christmas gift knitting would be over.
     I consider these to be excellent resolutions.
     The trouble is, unfinished projects usually sit unfinished for a reason.  Some problem holds you up from finishing.  Moreover, I find it hard to resist the lure of knitting small gifts and charity donations.  It is fun to delight other people.  It's only when I get to the end of the year and reflect that I want to give myself a shake and tell myself to snap out of it.
     I am glad I made the things I did this year, even though they fell short of my ideal of "clothing, for me, in undyed or naturally-dyed colours."  The knitted pieces were made for other people to use as accessories or for dishwashing.  The yarn was in synthetically-dyed colours.  I prefer undyed or natural colours because they are beautiful and eco-friendly, but am willing to use synthetic for other people.
     Looking back over the amount of knitting I did this year, I probably put in as many stitches as go into two or three sweaters.  The stitches just went into different things.  I find that garter dish cloths are easy mindless things to make while talking with someone or watching TV.  I can sometimes knit a dozen stitches in a row on a dish cloth without looking.  Sweaters, not so much.
     For those of you who have been keeping half an eye on my progress, let me remind you of the story so far.  I have made a handspun, handwoven vest and I have made a språng vest.  I have yet to make a complete handknit sweater.  This despite having started two and despite having been a knitter for eleven years.  In contrast I have made enough dish cloths that friends have urged me to start keeping a tally for their amusement.
     You might remember the Scraptastic hat I mentioned in the last post.  I finally got it knitted in the correct size after four attempts.
     In light of my ideal of clothes for me and in light of the obstacles in the way, I have made some moves forward.  This has been in the areas of my purchases and the way I use Ravelry.  They are preliminary steps merely.  I still need to do the work.
     I purchased four online knitting classes on Bluprint (formerly Craftsy).  One of the classes is Button bands and Buttonholes by Anne Hanson.  I have no skills or experience in this area, and the lack has held me up from finishing the Cullercoats sweater.  The other classes are by Amy Herzog, and I'm hoping they will give me the skill of altering a sweater neckline, the problem holding me up from finishing the pullover in dark brown Rambouillet.
     I enhanced my stash of commercial yarn this year with a couple of sweater quantities of undyed wool.  If you haven't heard the term before, sweater quantity (SQ) is a term for enough of the same yarn to make a sweater.  One SQ is dark brown Rambouillet sourced from a single flock direct from the shepherd and the other SQ is a dark grey in wool pool fiber from a large knitting company.  Both are worsted weight.
     It is sort of a push pull feeling, owning an SQ.  I want the SQ to fulfill its destiny and be a sweater.  Having an SQ in the stash is like having money burning a hole in my pocket.  On the other hand, a sweater project feels like a lot of responsibility with many factors that could go wrong.  So I hang back.
     As I hang back, I have been looking at the Ravelry pattern database for worsted weight sweaters.  Have not yet found a design I like.
     Besides a sweater, I could use a SQ to make a shawl.  I feel ambivalent about a shawl.  I expect I would feel like a weirdo wearing one, beyond my comfort level with weirdness.  It is an appealing prospect to have a shawl to drape over a chair at the guild's annual sheep to shawl educational demonstration.  A number of handspinners I know do this or wear their shawl at the event.  However, my goal is to own a wardrobe, not educational props.  I can afford to indulge a whim, but I don't know if I can bring myself to do it.  Possibly the book I ordered, with a Faroese shawl pattern in it, will be as far as I go.
     I have felt, in the past month, that I need to focus my mind on finishing works-in-progress.  To that end, I have changed my view of my project records on Ravelry.  I used to have an Internet browser tab open to show the default view of thumbnail photos and captions for all the project records in chronological order.  I now have a view of only the thumbnails for current projects I've marked as works-in-progress (WIPs) and the thumbnails for old unfinished projects I've marked as hibernating, the ones that have a little ZZZ marked on them.  I now see a to-do list, whereas before I saw a jumble.
     The change is good.  But I find myself working on my Ravelry queue, lining up the next several projects to do, rather than actually doing projects and getting them done.
     I really only started using the queue feature this year.  I enjoy planning and it is nice to see a plan written down.
     This month I updated my Ravelry stash record for the first time in ages.  I played with the default settings on the stash section, to my benefit.  I found that with the list view I could see the names of the colours of each yarn stashed.  With this, I avoid the necessity of having to take photos of each ball to indicate colour on the thumbnail view.  This only works because the amount of yarn is small, the colour ways are solid not multi-coloured, and the colour names are basic and factual, mostly, not fanciful and vague.  Black, not Cosmic Night and such.
     I filled in my Ravelry library section for the first time ever.  I limited it to knitting books and handspinning magazines only.  I don't see any point in adding weaving and språng books.  Those books' drafts and patterns won't become searchable in the pattern database like the knitting books' patterns do.
     Finally, I discovered that I can use Ravelry's search function to find commercial yarns that are undyed or naturally dyed.  The details include where to buy the yarn.  This should prove useful.
     My Kanban board for fibre projects remains useful and up-to-date.  It shows me my options, tasks I've committed myself to do, and works-in-progress ranked by level of service (fixed due date, first in first out, etc.).  The board duplicates the basic information on the Ravelry project records, queue, and stash record.  It is just a different way of arranging it.  I don't look at it enough, though, I look at my main Kanban board.
     I created one thing this year that I'm proud of.  I made it after a lot of experimentation with a new material.  It was a shawl pin made with lost wax casting, using a matt wax gun to extrude hot wax and create the model.  It is a circle of bronze, textured, with a pin of textured bronze to match.  The texture was derived from extruding wax onto a bed of coarse salt, the kind you top pretzels with.  The idea for the texture came from a direct casting technique, hot metal poured onto rock salt, the kind you spread on icy walkways.  I'd either read about that or seen it done on YouTube, I can't remember which.  It wasn't anything taught by my metal instructor.  The texture reminds me of the rocky slope of the beaches on Protection Island and Newcastle Island back home, pitted.
     So that's how things are here in my wool room.  All the best to you in the new year, with your own whims and plans.