Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Repairing a Well-Loved Sweater

So not all Store-related knit work is as fun as knitting store samples.  I'm open to taking repair jobs from customers, since despite telling myself I just don't have the time and energy, I can't leave poor damaged knitwear that someone's grandma or mom knit then.  Though I've learned to be more picky on the jobs I take on.

This sweater is one of the repair jobs that taught me that lesson.

Repair Work For a customer
This beauty was brought in by a local gentleman along with two other sweaters.  Um, about a year ago.  Oops.  They were all knit by his Mother years ago, and she's since passed away.  This is an important job.  The first sweater was an easy repair - a couple of broken strands and some mostly-matching yarn to fix the hole.  This is the second sweater, and boy did I under-estimate the work needed on her.

Repair Work For a customer
There are no before pictures, but there were quite a few holes in the sleeves.  Mostly at the elbows, but while repairing those, I noticed how thin the fabric was getting around the holes, and on other sections of the sleeves.  You can maybe see my patches above and below.

Repair Work For a customer

Repair Work For a customer
Maybe because I'm damn good at these sort of repairs - patching large sections and creating new fabric.  Though there's only so much I can do to match the yarn colour.

Repair Work For a customer
I only noticed the hole while taking these photos. You can sort of see a patch I started months ago. Obviously I didn't finish the section back then.
Sadly, looking over the whole sweater for other thin sections, I noticed just how brittle the yarn is getting.  I'm really not sure how long this poor thing will last, but hopefully it'll last a bit longer.  The armpits in particular are looking so strained and brittle, but there's only so much I can do here.  I've decided, for now, to leave this section be.  I'm going to tell him to bring it back in if he has any problems.  I may sew a fabric patch over the whole area if needed, rather than reinforce the entire area.

Repair Work For a customer
The last section to be repaired (other than a few wee holes around the colourwork at the bottom of the sweater) was the ratty hem.  I wish I'd taken a photo of it before hand, or even from a few hours ago.  I'd say about 2/3rds of the bottom hem were falling apart.  Mostly just on the cast-on row, but there were a few sections with broken strands a few rows down.

Repair Work For a customer
It took a few tries, and abandoning the hem to practice on the sleeve hems, but I managed to work out how to do a sewn reinforcement for most of the edge, with a few areas where I had to build up the fabric by picking up clean stitches and knitting the fabric up, then bind-off the edge.  My yarn is a bit more red than the sweater yarn, so you can kind of see what I'm talking in these photos, especially the one below that shows one section that I had to build up the fabric.

Repair Work For a customer
The sweater is having a bath right now.  Ye gods, I didn't realize how dirty this sweater is, poor thing.  I was hoping to take it to work tomorrow because I think he's coming by then, but I feel like I should leave the sweater in the bath overnight.  I added a bunch of moisturizing conditioner to try to add some moisture back into the fabric.  Don't know if it'll work, but it can't hurt.

Repair Work For a customer
Oh, and here's a shot of the yoke colourwork.  She really is a lovely sweater.  Despite the time and effort of this repair, I'm glad I could give it some life!

Do you ever tackle any big repair jobs?  I know I didn't before this.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

fo: (Pumpkin Spice) Fredrika Socks

So remember that sock I mentioned at the end of my last post

I uh...finished them.

fo: Fredrika Socks
These were the quickest socks I've ever knit.  Granted, I shortened them to ankle-length to get the pair from one ball of yarn, and the yarn itself is worsted.  But I don't really attribute either of those to my speed.

fo: Fredrika Socks
I entirely blame the pattern itself.  It was addicting!  Each section was quick and interesting, with 4 different (but relatively easy) charts to finish, and a unique heel method that had me fascinated by the whole process - both times!  They just seemed to fall off of the needles.

fo: Fredrika Socks
Which is good because it's -17C outside right now and my floors are damn cold!

fo: Fredrika Socks
Pattern: Fredrika, by Tiina Kuu
Yarn: Custom Woolen Mills CWM Sock Yarn 4-ply
Needles: 3.5 mm
Modifications: Shortened to ankle-length

I actually knit these as an excuse to use one of Custom Woolen Mill's new sock yarns.  I'm not a quick sock knitter in general, and I resisted using their 2 ply (fingering weight) yarn.  And then the 4 ply (worsted weight) yarn arrived, and there ended any resistance.  This yarn is hardy and rustic - entirely my sort of yarn, and with 30% nylon, it'll hold up to all sorts of dragging my feet around my home.  This colour called to me too, and I'm so excited to wear these suckers!

fo: Fredrika Socks
If you have any sort of interest in sock knitting, do yourself a favour and knit these socks.  The pattern is even free, so you have no excuse!  I'm torn between making another pair, or tackling this pair that my fingers are itching to start.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

fo: Unanticipated Christmas Stocking, and Another Oops

Folks, I hate all things Christmas when it's still October.  Or honestly, before Remembrance Day on Nov. 11th (do you have that in the States?  Elsewhere?).  But I've unfortunately learned that when you're in retail, especially in yarn-related retail, you kind of need to start thinking Christmas earlier than that.  Mostly because smart knitters and crocheters have started their Christmas creating by now.


So this year (unlike last year), I dived in early and I got a Christmas sample made up.


fo: Christmas Stocking Knit using Briggs and Little Heritage yarn and their Christmas Stocking pattern.
Okay, so it's not very traditional for Christmas, but whatever I knit a Christmas stocking.  And do I know my customers?  Yes I do, because I had a lady with her friend come in just as I hung this sucker up and promptly freaked out about the adorable little sheep and decided to make one herself.

Though we had a good laugh because she loved my colour choices but didn't want to copy me.  Oh my dear, it's not like we'll be wearing these stockings out and get all embarrassed because OH NO WE HAVE IDENTICAL CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS YOU HORRIBLE COPY CAT YOU.  :)

Seriously though, who can resist that sheep?!  I couldn't - the sheep is precisely why I knit a stupid Christmas thing in October.  Stupid cute sheep.

Pattern: Christmas Stocking #103, by Briggs & Little
Yarn: Briggs & Little Heritage (with a bit of Custom Woolen Mills 2 ply Mulespinner, because I had a bit of cream and brown on hand for the sheep)
Mods: Only did 3 sections on the leg; changed up the heel flap for my standard heel flap method; lengthened foot of sock; did contrast heel/toe.

fo: Christmas Stocking Knit using Briggs and Little Heritage yarn and their Christmas Stocking pattern.
I loved working with this pattern, and B&L yarn permanently lives in my yarny heart.  The pattern was great because it has multiple charts you can choose from on the leg, so you have mix and match to your hearts content.  I kind of want to knit another one in blue with a snowflake theme!

Though not right away because I have way too much else to do.  For every project I show here, there's at least 3 that I've finished that I never blog about.  Certain bits of owning and operating a shop is getting easier, which frees up more time to deal with all the other stuff I never realized I should've been doing!  Haha oops.

fo: Christmas Stocking Knit using Briggs and Little Heritage yarn and their Christmas Stocking pattern.
That doesn't meant that I'm not making time for personal project though.  For instance, winter is officially here in Whitehorse, and that means that the floors of my basement suite is getting DAMN COLD.  Being a knitter, that means that I have to knit myself new thick woolen socks.  Obviously.  And when Custom Woolen Mill's CMW 4 ply sock yarn arrived, I knew immediately that they were the One.

And despite telling myself I couldn't start it until I finished a different store project and 2 repair jobs, tonight my hands conspired with my cold feet, said screw that, and I got the cuff of an ankle sock knit.

Oops I started a sock.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


So despite having several finished items to share with you, I haven't managed to find the time to take decent photos yet (and the one sweater now needs to be reblocked because I've worn it so many times, it's a bit stretched out).  Instead, I'm going to show you the new project I started!

This project is another accident.  Wasn't anywhere near my queue.  Wasn't even on the radar.

At this month's Northern Fibre Guild meeting, I borrowed this book from the guild library so I could read up on Fair Isle knitting and play with some of the charts in the book.  It's an interesting book with some gorgeous designs in it, despite the very strong 1970s vibe.  Oh the sexy moustachio'd man poses!  ::swoon::

And then this yarn arrived in shop.

And I had a closer look at the pattern on the cover.

Swatching for my new sweater
And then I swatched.

Oops, started a new sweater.
And now I'm knitting a sweater.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

fo: Rolling Rock Henley

fo: Rolling Rock
This photo is a bit dark, but it's the closest to the true colour of this sweater, which is a dark grey/charcoal shade. The rest of the photos wound up too bright, but shows the details a bit better.  Ugh photography - you are not my thing.
Anyways, here's some photos (at last) of my Rolling Rock that I knit during the Briggs and Little Spring KAL earlier this year.  I love this sweater and I wear it regularly, but there's some major issues with it.  More on that in a second.

Pattern: Rolling Rock, by Thea Colman
Yarn: Briggs & Little Sport in Dark Grey
Mods: Not much on the upper body, all the waist shaping on the lower body.  Shortened sleeves to 3/4 length.

Things I love about this sweater:

fo: Rolling Rock
Henley neckline.  Very cleverly done and well instructed.  It makes for such a lovely neckline and one of my favourites that I've ever knit.  The buttons were some old ones I've had in my button stash for yonks, which I found for about 30 cents at a thrift shop in Manitoba.

fo: Rolling Rock
Oh wow, nice butt photo there Heather.  If I weren't too damn lazy and wanting to go to bed, I'd go back and crop it.  OH WELL BUTTS FOR YOU.
Lace pattern on the back piece only.  It's a lovely lace, is easy to remember, and I adore that it's just in the back.  Granted, it didn't show up well in this rustic wool, but the texture is there and I love that the lace pops when I wear a bright tank top underneath!

fo: Rolling Rock
Body shaping.  I added a ton of shaping to the body below the bust to make this sweater fit me better.  I think it turned out really well, and skims my body nicely.  Not too tight, not too loose, but just right = Goldilocks shaping!

fo: Rolling Rock
THIS YARN.  Dear me do I ever love Briggs & Little yarn.  It's rustic for sure, rough and a bit scratchy.  But it's warm as all get out, and so long as I'm wearing a tank top to protect my lower back and tummy, I can easily wear this against the skin.  It does soften up with washing, and I'm itching to knit another sweater from it.

Things I don't like about this sweater:

fo: Rolling Rock
The too-big upper body.  So, I wasn't thinking when I cast this sweater on.  I did choose a size that corresponded with my upper bust as I always do, but unfortunately this pattern has both that size and the one above it start with the same cast on amount, and you just add more stitches later on for the larger size (which happened to be my full bust size).  By the time I started to realize that the sweater was coming out too big, I was nearly at the sleeve divide.

fo: Rolling Rock
MOAR BUTTS.  But (hehe) you can also see how bad the upper torso fit is at the underarm.  It's too wide across the upper back.  You know, I could probably knit this whole sweater again and simply eliminate a few lace repeats form the back.  Hmmm.
Now, I don't mind ripping out a sweater if something is going wrong with it.  Better to get it over with and redo it than to wind up with a sweater you won't wear.  But I was in that KAL and I was determined to finish on time.  I wouldn't be able to do that if I ripped it.  I convinced myself that it would be alright.  Dividing for the sleeves and knitting an inch proved me wrong.  So instead of starting over, I started to do some aggressive waist shaping to get a good fit below the bust.  Not sure what my reasoning was - probably the thought that I'd get the sleeves and lower body fitted well and maybe no one would notice the poor fit above the bust.

And you know what?  It worked!  Sort of.  I point this problem out to EVERYONE, and they all say that the sweater looks great and they don't see anything wrong.  I do, of course I do.  Between the large size and the slight bias this single ply yarn creates, the neckline is actually skewed a bit, and the henley doesn't hold itself open unless I keep the sweater tugged down.

fo: Rolling Rock
But you know what?  I DON'T CARE.  Love love love this sweater and I'm going to keep wearing it with pride.  I'd like to reknit this pattern in another colour, and I'll try to get a better fit that time.  But there's so many more sweaters I want to knit in the mean time that there's no sense in resenting the problems in this one.  It's comfy to wear and looks great on me - what else could a knitter want?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

sskal Projects

Oh jeez guys, it's been a while.  Sorry, it's been a busy summer!  As usual, I've been crafting a lot, I just haven't found time to take photos and, more importantly, write up some posts.

wip: Amiga Cardigan
I've joined the Very Shannon Summer Sweater KAL again this year in an effort to finish up a few sweaters.  My buddy Margaret has outright forbidden me from starting any new sweaters until I finished up some of the...more than I'd like to count...sweaters I already have on needles.  And since I'm biting at the bit to start my Skogafjall, I'm focusing on some of my old wips.

Future Skogafjall Pullover
I'll be knitting it out of some gorgeously rustic wool from Custom Woolen Mills in Alberta (Canadian raised sheep wool, Canadian milled, Canadian bought.  Oh yeah, go Canada!), in two undyed natural shades (grey and dark brown) and some naturally dyed wool from a woman in Atlin, BC (green).  SO EXCITED.

But first, I have to finish the second sleeve and then button band of my Amiga, shown at the top of the post.  It's probably going to be the most wearable sweater I'll ever make, but dear pete is it ever a boring knit.  Stockinette stockinette stockinette in solid black.  UGH just magically be done already.

fo: A Simple Baby Sweater Knit from Diamond Luxury Fine Merino Superwash Aran
I've had a couple of other successes in this KAL though.  I'd accidentally cast on a baby sweater right before the KAL started, and finished it within the first week of it.  It's a store sample in Diamond Luxury Fine Merino Superwash Aran and A Simple Baby Sweater.  Quick knit, though I found the instructions for joining in the round after the henley lacking.  I added some notes on my Rav project page to explain it if you're interested.  I love this little green sweater so much, and I'm tempted to swipe it and send it to my buddy who's about to have a baby!

Frogging an Old WiP
I also tackled a really old wip.  I pulled out my old Reverb sweater to reassess the sweater.  It's so pretty, with this gorgeous yarn and lovely cables, and I was well past the arm divide when I put it down.  But I put it down literally years ago, back in 2013, and my tension has loosened up considerably since then.  There's no way I can finish this without it looking wonky, and the fabric was knit much tighter than I prefer now-a-days.

Frogging an Old WiP
So I frogged it.  Sad in a way, but I didn't realize how much it was weighing on my mind until it was just a huge ball of yarn again, so I'm glad I did it.  SUCCESS!


One of the reasons I've been so busy this summer is that I'm spending a lot of time with both friends and myself.  I feel better every day, though I'm still struggling with some parts of our breakup last winter.  I can't even believe it's been nearly 7 months, but I'm relearning myself and I like the person I'm finding.  I feel like I'm finally lifting my head up after being weighed down for the last few years, so obviously this is a good change in my life.  It's taken a while to admit that, but admitting it sure helped.

The Little Guy
So did buying myself a new toy.  Friends, meet the Little Guy.  We've gone on a few adventures already, and I can't wait to hitch him up to my little car and go camping again this weekend!

The Little Guy
Take care of yourselves, folks.  Hopefully it won't take so long for another update!  <3

Monday, June 19, 2017

Yarn Dyeing Experiment: Lupine

I've been plotting and planning to create my own line of naturally dyed yarn, and I'm now in the experimental phase.  I'm not going to go into too many details yet until I have a better feel of things, but I'm sure I'll share more here as I learn more.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
Today's post is about my first attempt at dyeing yarn with lupines.  They grow thick and beautiful here in the late spring/early summer.  I spent a lovely evening gathering a bunch of it the other night with a friend, and have gathered more since to freeze for future dyeing days.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
I only collected the flower stalks, and used only the flowers for the dye bath.  If you had to guess what colour that would produce, you'd probably guess blue or purple.  You'd be wrong.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment Lupine Dyeing Experiment
While the dye bath was a lovely burgundy/pink shade, the yarn initially came out looking a sad shade of greyish-green after steeping overnight.  I was disappointed, but figured I'd overdye it with something else.  I toss the first dip yarn into a bath with pH neutral wool wash and an extra skein into the dye bath to exhaust the dye.  I left for work and left it be.  When I got home, the exhaust bath yarn was a paler sad shade of greyish-green when I pulled it out and into a rinse bath.  So imagine my surprise when I reached into the wool wash bath and pulled out a skein of lime green yarn!

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
First dip yarn on left, exhaust bath yarn in middle, undyed yarn on right.
I'm not entirely sure what caused the change, but I suspect the soap adjusted the pH and affected the colour of the yarn.  The chemistry is fascinating!  I'm so happy with the results - even the exhaust bath yarn.

For a bit of background here, I used Briggs and Little Sport yarn, divided into 25 g skeins for experimentation.  I premordent the yarn with alum, with cream of tarter as an assist.  I forgot to rinse the yarn before moving it from the premordent pot to the dye bath, and I thought that was why the dye seemed so disappointing.  I suspect that my water isn't a pure as I'd like.  I'll probably have to get bottled water to get more control of my results.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
I already have a couple baskets worth of yarn in the freezer for future dyeing!
I want to play a bit more with lupine, see what happens when I modify it with iron and copper solutions.  I can see this one making it into my final line of yarns.

Have you tried natural dyeing yet?  I'm fascinated with the chemistry behind it, and have been consuming all of the books I can on the matter.  Know of any good ones to recommend?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

fo: Gramps Sweater

Back in February, my wonderful, life-saving employee had a baby - an adorably disgruntled-looking little boy that has stolen my heart.  Seriously guys, I've happily avoided holding any babies since my Mom plopped one in my arms when I was 19.  I like making faces at them, and that's about it.  But this little guy?  I steal him as often as I can.  I've volunteered to baby-sit him, ffs.  He's a little pouty grump and I adore him.

So of course I had to knit something perfect for him.  What's more perfect for a grumpy-old-man baby than a grampa sweater, complete with elbow patches?  Nothing, I say!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
Pattern: Gramps, by Tin Can Knits (one of my favourite knit designers)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash
Size: 1-2 years (since they have 12 bajillion sweaters that'll fit him up to 9 months)
Mods: Shortened the pockets a bit, and that's it.  What do I know about baby fits?

This is a clever pattern.  Knits up really quickly, but pay attention to the instructions for binding off the neckline.  To pull the shawl collar in and prevent a floppy collar, you need to do a decrease bind-off around the neck.  I didn't do this at first, and then ignored the sweater for way longer than I want to admit before I ripped it back and fixed it.

It took 30 minutes.  Why do I do this to myself?

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
ISN'T THIS THE MOST ADORABLE SWEATER?!  I can't get over those elbow patches.

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
The buttons though, they definitely bring it to another level.  These are buttons made by a woman in Scotland that I carry in shop.  They're not super popular, but I think people just don't know what to do with them.  Might have to make another sample with them featured!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
The matching hat was thrown together last minute from left over yarn based on Tin Can Knits Barley Hat, though I just knit the body of it in stockinette.  I love the floppy loose pompom!

Seriously, I'll be knitting this pattern again.  It turned out soooo good, and is a breeze to knit!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
Do you have a go-to baby pattern you make up for friends and family when they have wee sprogs?  Haha have you ever had a baby charm you despite your nature?  I can't wait to see little sprogy in this sweater...once he grows up a bit.  :)