Posts Tagged ‘ravelympics’

Frogged Sock Becomes Mitten

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

My grand plans of making a sock with my handspun fell through today.  I got part way into the foot (toe-up), and realized that it was going to be ridiculously thick and bulky so I ripped it out.

I have since cast on for a mitten.  “Thick” and “bulky” are words that seem to go with mittens, particularly in Canada!

I’m making it up as I go along.  So far I’ve incorporated interlocking cables in the white cuff, a chain design before the thumb division, and a colourwork braid in the middle of the hand.

I think these will be great for St. Patrick’s Day!

Knitting Olympics Day 1

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

My wheel is fixed–thanks to my dad, some long thin pieces of rubber, and locktite adhesive.  This afternoon I carded and spun up two bobbins full, and navajo plied them.

I chose to make the yarn 3 ply since my fleece isn’t so uniform.  There are lots of short fibers, and it’s still a bit greasy (not soiled though).  Even though I carded it twice, and removed many small pieces, it still is riddled with “fluffy bits” when I spin it.  Luckily when it is 3 ply, the fluffy pieces blend together with the thin bits to make a “rustic” yarn that seems to be worsted or aran weight.

This wasn’t really my plan, but that’s what the fiber does.  These socks will be very thick, good for wearing in rainboots I think.  Maybe thick socks will be finished quickly.  If there is time, perhaps I’ll make mittens too.

dying yarn with food colouring and vinegar in the microwave

To add some interest, I dyed one bobbin full of yarn a nice shade of green.  I needed to use a lot of food colouring, and then I added green kool-aid, and some orange too, to dull the intensity a bit.

hanging up to dry

The colour in that picture is not very accurate.  When it is dry, and in natural light, it will look better.

Now I’m off to bed to dream up a pattern!

Spinning Solutions

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

It’s amazing what a few emails can do.  I’m so impressed at the speed of response to my drive band issues!


Quick Spinning Wheel Lesson:  The pedal is pushed with the right foot which causes the large wheel to turn in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction.  The drive band is the connection between the spinning of the large wheel and the spinning of the flyer (around the bobbin).  The speed of the flyer can be adjusted by putting the drive band over the larger, middle, or lower setting on the flyer (see right side of bottom photo).  The flyer apparatus can be raised or lowered to take up the slack in the drive band which will stretch over time.

image source: lotsofyarn's flickr photos

The drive band is flexible rubber that needs to fit in the grooves on the wheel and flyer.  It needs to be strong under tension, and have enough grip to stick to the big wheel, and to the flyer.

The fiber enters the orifice (far right of the above photo) and comes out through the hole in the metal piece (easily visible above), goes under the metal hoop, and through the sliding loop on the arm of the flyer (top of above photo).  The bobbin (middle of the photo) has the fiber attached to it, and it is kept relatively stationary while the flyer spins around it, laying down spun fiber with each pass.

My possible solutions:

I have located a local spinning supplier who has Ashford drive bands, which may work.  These are over 6 feet long, and need to be cut and melted to fit together.

Also the local weavers and spinners guild have replied saying that there’s also an option of using similar tubing from a hardware store and heating up the ends to fasten it together.  It looks like I may get to use a blow-torch this weekend!

I measured my broken band, and it appears that I need 5′ 6″ of tubing.

Hopefully I’ll be back in spinning action by nightfall.


Friday, February 12th, 2010

I got home tonight in time to see the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, and start my carding and spinning for my knitting olympic project–handspun, hand-dyed, handknit socks.

I carded wool while watching the First Nations people dancing, and spun wool while the fiddlers did their thing.  I had almost one full bobbin of singles spun up!

Then my spinning wheel’s drive band snapped.

No drive band=no spinning wheel action

My options are:

  1. give up (not really an option, what would the Olympics be without a bit of a challenge)
  2. change events (it’s a bit late for that though, the games have already begun!)
  3. find a new drive band (I’ve emailed the local weavers and spinners, and a local spinning supplier, let’s hope they come through)
  4. find an alternative for a drive band….any ideas?
  5. get out my drop spindle–so TEDIOUS, but maybe it is the best option I have.
  6. card lots of wool now, and dye it and figure the rest of my plan out tomorrow.

Gonna go with option 6 for now…followed soon after by a good night’s sleep.

How are your Olympic projects starting out?

Count Down To Cast On

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I’d like to thank all the fantastic, generous knitters out there who have purchased the pattern for 2010 mittens.

As of today, $800 has been raised for the Penguins Can Fly Swim Team at my local YMCA.  It is a swim team for disabled youth, and their siblings that encourages active participation, hard work, and personal growth.

There’s still time to cast on and knit yourself a pair during the Olympics!

100% of the purchase price ($5.00 CAD) is donated to the Penguins

As for my own Olympic knitting projects, this is the before picture…..

A bag of washed fleece (from Serbian sheep of unknown breed), and my trusted spinning wheel.

Statement of Goals

At 7:00PM on Feb.12th I will begin to card this fleece while watching the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics!

I’ll experiment with microwave kool-aid and food colouring as dyes on the weekend, and start spinning when the fleece is dry.

My goal is to knit a pair of socks from my handspun before the torch is extinguished.

I’m competing in several categories for the Ravelympics (team Canada of course), and also in the Knitting Olympics  hosted by our very famous Canadian Knitter, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee the Yarn Harlot.

I know that a pair of socks is not a “Epic” project, but because I’m starting from scratch, and that I am working full time and volunteering so much (helping kids build robots), I think it will be a challenge to complete this project in the 17 days allowed.

This whole process is bringing back memories of  the 2008 summer ravelympics when I started from fleece, and made a hat and mittens.  Back then I wasn’t working though, so I was fully devoted to my event.

You can bet that I’ll be blogging my progress this time round so check back frequently for updates!

What Knitting Olympic event are you participating in?  I’m eager to follow your blogs, leave info in the comments.

Getting Ready For The Olympics

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Oh my goodness, this is going to be fun!
I just had a look on Ravelry to see what’s going on for the Ravelympics.  I am trying to decide what events I will join.  You see, unlike the regular Olympics where most athletes will compete in only one sport, in the Ravelympics you can compete in multiple events….you are constrained only by the amount of time between the opening and closing ceremonies….and the other things in your life that you have to fit in during your non-knitting hours.
My continued loyalty is to Team Canada, but there are tonnes of teams to choose from, and not just countries….there’s a Team Bacon, a Team CrankyPants, a Team Korean Drama Addicts, a Team Middle-Earth, a Team Too-Busy, a Team Whatever, and even a Team Zombie Slayers….so no matter who you are, or what you do, there’s a team for you!

Here’s the list of events from ravelry

  • Aerial Unwind eventaerial (Frog those poor unloved projects to reclaim that yarn. (This event only: requires a WIP or FO pic and frog pile pic)
  • Bag Jump eventbagjump (Bags, totes, pouches)
  • Beading Biathlon eventbead (All things beaded and embellished)
  • Bobsled eventbobsled (All things pets)
  • Cable Cross-Country eventcable (All things cables)
  • Charity Curling eventcharity (Projects for charity)
  • Designer Biathlon eventdesignerbiathlon (From a swatch to published pattern in 17 days sample completed and pattern released on ravelry – swatching allowed before torch lit)
  • Designer Original Dance eventdesignerdance (Create your own design sample from scratch in 17 days {swatching allowed before torch lit}; pattern need not be written])
  • Designer Pattern Skeleton eventdesignerpattern (Create a publishable pattern (sample can be already knit); do what you feel is necessary to produce a publishable pattern testing, editing, etc)
  • Downhill Dyeing eventdyeing (dyeing yarns – this will only create stash)
  • Felting Freestyle eventfelting (All things felting and fulled)
  • Fleece to FO Long-Track eventfleece (Start with fleece or roving and create a finished object)
  • Flying Camel Spin eventflyingcamel (Just spinning…lots and lots of spinning)
  • Free Dance eventfreedance (Don’t fit into any other event? This is for you)
  • Giant Slalom-ghan eventgiantslalomghan (Afghan, blankets, throws)
  • Hat Halfpipe eventhathalfpipe (All things hats and heads)
  • Holiday Jump-Start Skiing eventholiday (Projects to be gifted/given in Dec 2010 and holiday-themed items)
  • Junior Olympics eventjunior (garments/accessories for kids and babies {toys have their own event})
  • Labyrinth Weaving eventweaving (All things woven)
  • Lace Luge eventlaceluge (Lace patterns and laceweight yarns)
  • Mittens Moguls eventmittenmoguls (Mittens, gloves, anything that covers hands/wrists/arms)
  • Nordic Colorwork Combined eventnordiccolorwork (Colorwork, intarsia, fair isle)
  • Platter Lift eventplatter (Home and décor projects)
  • Samalog Machine Skate eventsamalog (Machine knitting)
  • Scarf Super-G eventsuperg (Scarves, cowls, neckwarmers, smokerings, scarflettes…all things neck)
  • Short Track Shawls eventshorttrackshawls (Shawls, stoles, wraps, shawlettes)
  • Single Skein Speed Skate eventspeedskate (Projects of just one skein/hank)
  • Skelegurumi eventskelegurumi (Toys and amigurumis)
  • SnowCross eventsnowcross (Projects that combine knitting, crochet, needle-felting, embroidery, sewing …; minimum of 2 crafts combined together)
  • Sock Hockey eventsockhockey (All things socks and slippers)
  • Stash Compulsory Dance eventstashdance (Use of long-neglected stash purchased at least 1 year ago)
  • Sweaterboard Cross eventsweaterboard (All forms of sweaters, vests, cardis, pullovers, boleros)
  • WIPs-Dancing eventwipsdancing (WIPs/UFOs and only these; Projects not touched since Jan 12th)
A single project can compete in multiple events….so I’ve got some thinking to do.  I would like to use up some of my fleece, so I think I’ll be signing up for the Fleece to FO Long-Track, the Flying Camel Spin, perhaps the Downhill Dyeing and then comes the hard part.

What should I make with my handspun?

I think I’ll sleep on it for a while.  There are still 16 days before we all need to cast-on!

What event are you going to compete in for these Ravelympics?

Are You Using Ravelry Yet?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Ravelry is not new to me this year, but I seem to be regularly informing new knitters about what a great website it is.

If you are a knitter/crocheter/weaver/spinner and have not signed up for a free membership do so now!  Add me as a friend.  My name is knitaddict.

Ravelry is like facebook for knitters.  It is an online community where you keep track of your projects in your online notebook where you share pictures of your work.  You can also search an online database of patterns (many are free).  You can look up different yarns, or find projects recommended for a certain yarn that you already have.  You can find friends by geographical region, or by common taste in knitting patterns. There are groups and forums to ask for help, or discuss just about any topic imaginable!

knitaddict Ravelry notebook

knitaddict's Ravelry notebook

There is a messaging function, where you can send questions and comments to people about their projects, or to designers about their patterns.  I’ve found this part very useful.  How many times have you wanted to ask “What did you mean by this line in your pattern”, but of course, without this forum for communication you were left to give up make something up….

There’s a store (no membership required) with so many things you could get for your favourite knitter. T-shirts, tote bags, buttons, pins, pint glasses….I bought a shirt from them last year and was very pleased with the service.  Many of the items are designed by fellow “ravelers”

Image Courtesy of    A Daily Dose of Fiber

Image Courtesy of "A Daily Dose of Fiber"

In 2008 many of us gathered together to participate in the Ravelympics, and many have already joined up for the 2010 competitions.  Events are still being finalized, but stay tuned to the forums for more information.  It is a lot of fun to challenge yourself to finish a certain number of projects during the span of the games

my patterns on

my patterns on

Recently I became a “designer” on Ravelry, which lets me post my patterns, and sell them.  I’ve got several free patterns available, and my Red Olympic Mittens pattern is for sale (raising money for the Penguins Can Fly swim club for disabled children).  I’m enjoying the chance to share my creativity with others.  So often knitters feel isolated, fighting against many stereotypes….but now we have a place where we can all find each other!

Although a great source of inspiration, it is possible to spend TOO MANY hours gazing at beautiful projects and yarns….

Consider yourself warned!

Knitting Olympics

Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Olympic Torch

The Flame is in Canada

As the Olympic torch gets handed to Canada today, it is making me look ahead to the upcoming Olympic games.  I’m getting antsy, trying to choose an epic project for the Knitting Olympics.  I missed the boat in 2006, but have been in training since then.  I have already competed for Team Canada in the Ravelympics (for summer sports) in the events of “Fleece-to-Finished Fencing”, “Handspun Heptathalon”, “Mitten Medley” and “Hat Dash”.

It was the first time I’d taken a project from the dirty sheep fleece to the finished product, and when I told people about my Olympic challenge they responded with comments like “That’s pretty cool” or “I’ve never thought of doing that” or more commonly “You know…you can buy wool in a store these days”.  There is something special about making a project from scratch–taking fleece that was going to be thrown out, and with my own hands, transforming it into something useful, and quite beautiful.

It all started out like this:

Raw Fleece in the Grease

Raw Fleece in the Grease

I chose to use the white fleece (in the garbage bag) because it would give me a chance to experiment with natual dying.  I’m not sure what breed of sheep this is from, but I do know that this fleece was complete with vegetable matter (grass) and waste (sheep excrement) and grease (lanolin).

washing fleece

washing fleece

I put the fleece in my bathtub full of warm water.  I added cleanser (with a slightly acidic pH) to the water and let the dirt/waste settle out.  I drained the water several times until it stayed clear.  If you try this at home, be sure you have a filter screen on your bathtub drain–washing fleece can lead to drain clogging hairballs.

fleece drying on my balcony

fleece drying on my balcony

hanging to dry

hanging to dry

It took a day in the sunshine to dry the fleece.  I learned quickly that as fleece dries, small pieces are sometimes carried off in the breeze.  I wonder what my downstairs neighbours thought when they saw floating fleece from their balconies!

warm dry fluffy fleece

warm dry fluffy fleece

I put the dry fleece in a box, ready to start carding and spinning when the Olympics started.  I got up ridiculously early to catch the ceremonies live in Beijing.  I was kept company by my new drum carder and my spinning wheel.

and it begins

and it begins

I purchased this drum carder on E-Bay, and it works pretty well.  Some of the pieces need small repairs, but it still works much better than hand cards.  I injured my wrists carding wool with hand cards when I took up spinning, and it took 6 months before I could bear weight on them.  Good excuse not to do push-ups!  The drum carder has made fleece processing much more enjoyable.  It allows for blending of fibers or colours to create very fun variagated batts.

drum carder in action

drum carder in action

I carded through the opening ceremonies with a BIG cup of tea to keep me going.  I then started to spin a bobbin of singles, and then Navajo plied them to make a bobbin of 3 ply yarn.

bobbin 1

bobbin 1

I wound and tied the yarn into a skein on my niddy-noddy and then washed it to allow the yarn to bloom.  It is amazing how a good soak will even out the tension of the plied yarn.  The additional soaking helps to eliminate more dirt and vegetable matter.  If warm water and cleanser are used, more lanolin will be removed, and the wool will stop feeling greasy.  I’ve washed yarn in cool water before to preserve the lanolin for effect.  Wearing lanolin-laden mittens is a sure way to soften and smooth hands.  Processing the fleece and knitting with it is nice on the hands as well.

skein 1 drying

skein 1 drying

Skein 1 was put out to dry.  Some neighbours were out on balconies at this point, and started yelling out questions at me….Most were genuinely curious, asking what I was up to.  Others yelled to me that they learned to knit when they were young, or that they knew someone who used to spin.  Of course there were others with the smart comment about how it would be easier to go buy wool at the store.

dyed with onions

dyed with onions

The prospect of spinning white fleece for the duration of the Olympics, and then knitting mittens and a hat out of white fleece was starting to sound boring.  I had heard that it is possible to dye fleece with different plants, so I took on an extra challenge to experiment with local vegetation and see what colours I could produce.  Dying with onions gave me the best result.  I carded the fleece and divided up the batt into pieces.  I had been collecting the outer skins of onions for a while, waiting for this experiment.  I boiled a big pot of water, and added the onion skins to it.  I put the fleece into a mesh bag, suitable for washing delicates in the machine.  This keeps the onion skins and the fleece separate.  You do NOT want to add any extra vegetable matter into your fleece!  The water should be kept warm/hot, but not boiling as you do not want to agitate the wool and cause it to felt.

The onion skins left the wool a warm golden colour.

So…..that made me wonder….what else could I dye with?

naturally dyed wool

naturally dyed wool

I got to spinning, and over the next days I spun many small skeins of white wool, and dyed them on the stove with a variety of plants.  The orange was a result of using beets.  You’d expect beets to produce a lovely red colour, but it is a very fugitive dye, and this colour weakened over time.  The yellows came mostly from golden rod flowers, the greens were experiments with red onion skins, and red cabbage, dyed in an alkaline dye bath with a copper scrubbie in the pot.  I tried using tea and coffee as well as sumac.  I’m not sure if it is worth all the effort, but it’s nice to know that it is possible to do, and I was intrigued by the range of colours that I could achieve from locally sourced plants.

Note:  For the chemistry fans out there, different cations will cause the dye to “take” in different ways.  Alum (aluminum) tends to brighten colours, Copper (from the pot, or the addition of a copper scrubbie) tends to make the greens come out well, Iron (from the pot, or natually existing in the water) tends to “sadden” the colour to make it duller.  Also, the pH of the dye bath will affect the colour with acidic dye baths producing warmer more orange colours, and the alkaline dye bath produces a more green colour.  So, not only are you dealing with the variable of the dye plant, the local tap water, the pot you are using, the mordant (ions added to help the dye “take” in different ways), you are also dealing with additives of vinegar or ammonia.  I kept a detailed notebook with samples, but I am not sure that my experiment could ever be reliable.

Back to the project…

mitten 1

mitten 1

I knit the cuff from the 3 ply white yarn, and knit the rest of the mitten out of a 3 ply yarn (1 ply onion dyed, 2 ply white).  It is my basic mitten pattern, made to fit a man’s hand.

finished mitts and hat

finished mitts and hat

I knit the hat to match with the white fold up brim, and a cabled rib pattern toward the crown.  I was impressed with how smooth the finish product ended up.  The mittens feel silky, and not scratchy.  The hat feels more scratchy, but I think that’s just because the back of the neck is more sensitive to that kind of thing.  I was impressed with myself getting the hat and mitts made from that big pile of stinky fleece.  I finished in time too!  Gold medal for me!