About cathelinaalessandri

I re-enact Florence in the year 1480.

Blue sock

So I’ve been working on my next pair of socks. I haven’t taken any progress photos, but here is the first sock of the pair so far.

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I’m using a variaged wool, It’s pooling in an interesting way, but I don’t mind it.

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Because the wool was plainer I wanted to try something more adventurous as far as pattern, but after looking at a number of sock patterns I decided to go for a ribbing and save the fancier socks for when I’m more confident.

I did try something a little with the afterthought heel in that I knitted it like the toe (from the point of the heel down) and inserted it as I went. Not sure how it’s worked out but I’ll see how it goes. It did mean I didn’t have to pick up stitches which was a big plus.

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I Can Knit Sock!

I can knit sock, not socks as I’m yet to finish the pair.

Here is my first sock:

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There was a hickup as after I finished the heel it didn’t fit, but I realised I did decreases in every row instead of every second row so I ripped it out (very scary, but I got the loops back on the needles after) and re-did it.

I’m not happy with the cuff, it is too loose and I don’t know how to fix it. I did 2 x 2 ribbing. Do I try another ribbing, re-knit it tigher, re-knit it with smaller needles…? Something else?

Wrong starts and knots.

I’ve been working on my sock today while I was home sick battling a nasty virus.

Here is where I left off last night.

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Here I am trying it on for fit.

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And with some more knitting.

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I’ve knit right up to where the heel starts now. I’ve temporarily put the sock on a circular needle as a stitch holder while I start the second sock—I thought it would be easier to get both feet the same length this way.

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Now before I started knitting I spent some time to make sure I started at the same point in the colour change.

Turns out I was WAY off.

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My first sock had a knot in the blue stripe third up from the toe, and I assumed it had been knotted in at the right part of the colour change. I’m thinking perhaps not because if so I haven’t got through a full repeat yet.

I was looking forward to the challenge of matching the stripes up on these socks. But oh well. They are made by hand, not a machine. And looking at how the colour changes might play out, they might just work out after all!

Malibu Socks

So my smaller knitting needles arrived yesterday. An added bonus I forgot I ordered some more sock yarn, so it was a surprise to have that in my package 😀 It is a wool/cotton (and other things) blend which I’m hoping will be good for the not so freezing days (for anyone not from Brisbane, temperatures in the daytime below 19C (and for the Americans that’s about 66F) are considered ‘freezing’ cold.)

So I’ve started knitting with one of my new balls of yarn- the colour is called Malibu Stretch. The pattern suggested size 2.5mm needles and the band on the ball suggested 2.5-3mm. I first did a gauge swatch with the recommended needles of the pattern and I was one stitch too many but when I moved up to 2.75 it was perfect.

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This is my progress so far.

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Meanwhile the yarn gets twisted up as I knit it. It always does this but it more noticable with this yarn. Right now I’m letting my knitting hang every few rows to untwist but it is anoying.

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The needles are ‘Karbonz’ and in the longest they come in. I’d prefer longer needles, like at least 30 cms long but dpns don’t seem to come that long any more. I find these ones are better than metal, but one of the tips is a bit rough and scratched up the needle next to it, so I switched that needle for another in the packet (there were 5 in the packet and I’m using 3 to knit with). I’ll have to see if I can smooth the rough tip down with anything—any suggestions?

Meanwhile I’m also doing some spinning.

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Just what is a Skein of Yarn?

When I first ventured on the internet I began learning a whole new language—American English. I already knew the jelly-jello and mum-mom and a few other bits and pieces from American books and film, but conversing with people from another country online means a lot more comes to light.

For example when I mentioned I was buying my dad a new jumper I was confused why a whole bunch of people were shocked that my DAD wore jumpers. Or the time I casually mentioned I left my hairbrush in the toilet—it was beside the sink near the mirror, but the word ‘toilet’ has a more narrow meaning over there.

As I’ve got older and started talking about crafts online I’ve learnt other things. What I call printed calico they call calico. What I call calico they call muslin. What I call muslin they call… actually, I have no idea and this has caused some confusion.

What’s causing me confusion right now is when we’re talking about forms of yarn, ie is it in a ball or a skein or whatever. Now, growing up in New Zealand it was ‘wool’, not yarn. You would knit something out of acrylic ‘wool’ or out of a wool that was a silk/wool blend. This doesn’t actually make any sense, so I’m 100% with the Americans on calling it yarn. Except when I forget. But that’s not the confusing part.

The confusing part is growing up wool came in ‘balls’ of wool or ‘skeins’ of wool. A ball of wool is when it’s wound into a ball type shape, a skein is when it is made into big loops on a skein winder or niddy noddy.

Thus, these are balls of wool (yarn):

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These are skeins

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Then I started hanging out online with American knitters. Apparently skeins are called hanks, and some types of balls are called cakes and others are called skeins.

Confusing? Not so much, I figured American’s call hand wound balls of wool balls of yarn, those wound on a yarn winder cakes of yarn and those bought commercially wound into balls skeins, and all skeins were called hanks.

The confusing part? I started hanging out with American spinners.

These people will call a skein winder, a skein winder. They will talk about winding a skein on the skein winder. The finished product is what an American knitter will call a hank.  Why is this? Is it just the knitters are wrong? If the knitters are right, why don’t Americans call skein winders hank winders, and why do they wind skeins not hanks?

Now I’m confused and never sure WHAT someone means when they say a skein of yarn!

 

Learning to knit socks

 

I’ve wanted to knit socks for a long time. I tried knitting socks maybe seven years ago but didn’t get too far. Recently I’ve decide to have another go at it.

This time I’m doing toe up and using a craftsy tutorial by Susan B. Anderson called My First Toe-Up socks.

I had the choice of “worsted” yarn or “fingering”. I wanted to do the thicker for my first pair but couldn’t find 10 ply (worsted) weight yarn. I asked for suggestions on an Australian facebook group and apparently it is a common weight in America but not here. At their suggestion I substituted for an 8 ply wool that is on the larger size of 8 ply. They suggested I went up a needle size but I found my gauge was off, so I ended up using the needle the pattern suggested.

Here’s my progress after 5 re-starts.

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I found I was getting ladders between the needles despite pulling really tight at the first stitches on each needle.

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I also found my sock was pointing up as I knit it. I usually knit with my right needle under my armpit, so somehow this translated to knitting on the far-side of my ring, which apparently is wrong. I switched to the near-side and it helped with the ladders.

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My pattern had an afterthought heel, but I was anxious to try it, so once I got past the heel I switched the active stitches over to a circular needle and worked the heel. The nearest needle I could find big enough for yarn was a bone one— a “you know you’re a reenactor when” moment.

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Working the heel meant I could continue to try the sock on as I went.

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I didn’t knit any of the sock on the circular needles, was just using them as a stitch holder. I find circular needles too akward for knitting with- probably because there’s nothing to tuck under my arm or brace against my body.

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And here it is, waiting for the ends to be woven in.

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Alpaca Sunrise

Last year I treated myself to the November Spinning Box. One of the fibres inside was a sheet (possibly a bat?) of alpaca. I tore it into strips based on colour.

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I then spun the strips in to a single

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Then I chain plied it.

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I’m new to chain plying so I didn’t do it too evenly. Here it is after washing, I think it is slightly underplied as well as the uneven tension on the chain plying, but I like it how it is.

 

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Cushion for Sister

Now Christmas is over I can share the cushion I made for my sister.

Earlier this year I went to the quilt and craft fair with my mother, sadly my sister couldn’t make it. I was hoping to find hand dyed spinning fibre but unfortunately there was none.

Instead my mother bought me a skein (a hank to my friends in the US) of beautiful fine merino silk blend and I bought the matching skein of mohair. I chose colours I hoped my sister would like so I could make her something. Once home I had to finish weaving up my mother’s cushions before I could start on my sister’s, so I didn’t get started until the 10th of December. But I was optimistic in finishing them.

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Now, did I mention the yarn was fine, didn’t I? Did I mention it was 900 metres to the 100 grams fine? And that as I had no pretty yarn for the warp these would be weft faced cushions? No? Well, I should have!

Here is a whole weekend’s work.

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I was aiming for a randomish but not to random stripe pattern. Because I hadn’t planned the pattern in advance, this is how I kept track of what I had woven.

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I found it worked really well to enable me to visualise the cloth so far!

The plain weave was just that, the plain silk merino packed down to be weft faced. The textured elements were one pic of boucle in a one up one down pickup pattern, spaced by three picks of the plain yarn (one pick up, then down, then up). The grey stripes were one pick grey variegated mohair one pick the plain yarn. The bulky yarn you see is something cheap I picked up because it went well with the colours and was bulky, I was beginning to get worried at how slow it was going.

During the week I was barley getting an inch or two a night done.

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Here (plus an inch) is how much I’d done by the 18th of December. Obviously doing two sides like this was not going to happen by Christmas so once I had (finally) finished the first side of the cushion I wove the back mostly in the bulky yarn, with some of the finer yarns included for texture.

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I finished the weaving on the 23rd, thanks in part to one of the bosses at work who told me to go home at 10:20 am (I’d done all my work and there was nothing else to do, yay for an early mark!)

Then I just had to sew it up! I did that on Christmas eve.

Here is the finished cushion front:

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And back:

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I had it done by Christmas and ready to give!

Cushions for Mother

It’s been ages since I’ve done some weaving and I found a bulky thick and think yarn on sale, so I picked it up with a thought to make some cushions for my mother.

I used a synthetic mohair for the warp and warped up for a weft dominant weave.

After weaving a header of plain yarn I switched to the thick and thin. I was planning on alternating but instead I stuck with the thick and thin. Before I wove each pick I lay the yarn over the warp and used my pickup stick to pick up more threads over the thin parts of the yarn and less over the thick. This made the thick parts stand out more. I was going for a ‘pebbles on the beach look’

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Here is my first cushion front on the loom:

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and some taken while I was sewing it up:

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I was worried the texture was too overpowering  so for the second I just wove a stripe of the texture.

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I sewed up the cushions using some wool I found at a second hand store on a trip to Sydney.

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Mum loved them!

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