Sassenach Socks – Pair # 53

These beautiful socks are the latest pattern test knit I completed for Dana Gervais who is the most prolific sock pattern writer! The detail in these socks amazes me and they were an absolute pleasure to knit.

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I used a solid colour to ensure the pattern was highlighted as much as possible. I bought this yarn from a Facebook destash and it had no tag on it but I believe it could be a merino/alpaca blend. It’s very soft and was a pleasure to knit with.

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Inspired by the book and television series, Outlander, Sassenach socks areย designed to be a mix of both masculine and feminine while being modern and distinctly argyle.

Worked cuff down, this fun sock pattern uses cables and lace to create a contemporary argyle pattern down the front of the leg and on the top of the foot. The heel features an eye of partridge heel flap and half handkerchief heel. The sock ends with a wedge toe that is grafted closed with Kitchener stitch.

Instructions are given to knit the socks in narrow, medium, wide and extra wide widths.

sassenach-24It took me a while to get into the pattern rhythm but by the end of the first sock I was well into it.

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I read the pattern once however by the time I reached the toe section in the first sock I just assumed you knitted the pattern until it was time for the toe decreases which resulted in this look.

sassenach-04What it should look like is this.

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Now, I’m a bit torn as I quite like my look!

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Seeing as my socks will be covered by shoes no one will notice the difference anyway! I’d be interested in what finish you prefer. That just goes to show that some mistakes actually look okay!

As I mentioned, there’s lots of lovely detail in the pattern which shows off so well against a solid colour.

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I’m on a bit of a sock knitting roll at the moment after having purchased this book.

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The book is beautifully presented with some lovely patterns but be warned, if you are fairly new to sock knitting there are some errors in some patterns so make sure you join the FB page which itemises some of the errors. I’m on my second pair of socks using the yarn I solar dyedย not long ago. Will show you them very soon ๐Ÿ™‚ And I will also note any errors I found.

I can’t leave before I show you some of my latest Opp shop buys ๐Ÿ™‚

What do you think of these cute sheep (or should I say, ram)ย slippers?

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They were only $3 a pair and they’re both size L which fit perfectly ๐Ÿ™‚ As one of my friends said, one pair for upstairs and one pair for downstairs ๐Ÿ™‚

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Plus this lovely sheep mug with black and white sheep on it.

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Iย actually bought this mug at a chemist. Couldn’t leave it behind could I?

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And lastly, one of my friends was cleaning out her jewellery box and found this brooch which she believes is about 30 years old. I was the first person she thought of ๐Ÿ™‚ Isn’t it gorgeous? I wore it to Knit and Knatter last Saturday.

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That’s all my news for the time being. I hope, if you live in Australia, you’ve managed to keep as cool as possible as this awful record-breaking hot weather hits the country.

Until next time…

Melanie

Solar Dyeing with Queen Food Colours

With all the hot weather we’ve had lately in Brisbane, I decided to use some of the sun’s heat by doing some solar dyeing using food colours.

Now let me warn you, I am not an ‘exact measurement’ dyer when it comes to mixing the food colours and water. I found half the fun was actually putting about a cup of water into a jar (I had a nice collection of old jam jars) and then adding a few drops of the dye until I had a colour I liked. When the mixture ran out, I’d just add some more water and dye and made another shade. It’s really fun!

Before I started I soaked my skeins of wool overnight in a 3 parts water / 1 part vinegar solution. The vinegar helps the yarn grab the dye more quickly. Plus, if your yarn is scratchy, it softens it up quite nicely!

There is lots of information on the internet about dyeing and I would suggest you read as much as you can so you understand what you are actually doing!

Chantelle from Fiberific has made a fantastic YouTube video on basic dyeing with food colours although she uses steaming to set her dye. This video is very informative and I’d recommend you watch it if this is your first foray into dyeing. She shows you how to lay out your plastic Glad Wrap and wrap your skeins in the sausage shape.

Here is the result of my dyeing:

This effect was obtained by randomly squirting drops from a pipette all over the skeins. It will be interesting to see how it knits up.

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For this effect I simply alternated between an orange dye and a green dye.

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Once I had ‘painted’ the dye onto the skeins, I just rolled them into a sausage shape in plastic Glad Wrap and placed each sausage into a black garbage bag on the pavers out in the sun. Once the colour has been absorbed and any liquid is relatively clear is when your yarn is ready to rinse and hang out to dry.

This is my favourite colour which is a combination of yellow and yellow/orange.

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I have used this yarn to make a pair of socks and they are coming along nicely ๐Ÿ™‚

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So if you are interested in dyeing some yarn using the sun’s heat I would highly recommend it. All my skeins are OOAKs (one of a kinds) as I didn’t measure the drops of colour I used. I find this is less stressful and it’s always a surprise to get a unique skein.

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Don’t these skeins look amazing!!

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And here are caked skeins

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Have fun solar dyeing with food colours ๐Ÿ™‚

Until next time…

Melanie

Close to You Shawl

I’m feeling a bit chuffed as I’ve managed to complete two long-term WIPs! The first one is this lovely Close to You Shawl which I started in July last year. I have no idea why I left it so long to complete as it was a really easy knit. The free pattern can be found on Ravelry. It’s written by Justyna Lorkowska also known as Lete on Ravelry.

close-to-you-03As you can see, most of it is just garter stitch is which too easy!

close-to-you-01I love the edging of the shawl which adds a nice bit of pizzazz and interest!

close-to-you-07I used some super plush yarn from my stash called Gorgons Head Coral. It’s from a Sock Yarn Club I joined a couple of years ago. The yarn is Dyed by Hand Yarns Silk Stocking which is a 50% merino / 50% silk blend and it is incredibly soft and luxurious. A perfect selection for around your neck.

This particular yarn name is based on the Gorgons Head Coral. A four-week expedition to explore the deep ocean south-west of Tasmania in 2008 revealed new species of animals and more evidence of impacts of increasing carbon dioxide on deep-sea corals.ย A bright red, undescribed species of shell-less coral, called an anthomastid or gorgons-head coral was discovered at 1700 metres deep at the Cascade Plateau, off south-east Tasmania.

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It’s always a pleasure to knit a garment using a quality yarn.

The shawl is finished off with a picot bind off. This is how I prefer to finish all my shawls as it’s rather nice and avoids just a straight edge.

close-to-you-06close-to-you-08close-to-you-09If you are a beginner knitter this is a pattern that you could knit. As with most patterns, you need to concentrate at the beginning but once you get into the groove of the pattern, it will quickly become very easy to follow and memorise.

close-to-you-04close-to-you-05I’ll show you the second completed WIP very soon ๐Ÿ™‚

Until next time…

Melanie

Away From the Lighthouse Socks – Pair # 52

Another another sock pattern test knit is completed!! This pattern, called Away from the Lighthouse, is by Penny Schumers. This is my second test knit for this designer, the previous was for the Down the Hourglass socks.

Because they are constructed to withstand powerful storms, lighthouses are frequently depicted as symbols of strength, shelter, protection and peace. This stitch pattern reflects a strong pillar accented by two twisting โ€œwavesโ€.

away-from-the-lighthouse-11I love all the details in this pattern, particularly the cables.

away-from-the-lighthouse-10Despite the fact I was using a cable needle and not twisting the stitches as I knitted them, these socks were surprisingly quick to knit.

away-from-the-lighthouse-16I absolutely adore the beautiful and gradual colour changes in this sock yarn but I wasn’t overly impressed with the yarn itself and that’s mainly because it’s a single and tended to split a bit. The yarn is Knit Picks Chroma Fingering which is a 70% wool / 30% nylon yarn.

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Having said that, I bought two different balls of the Chroma Fingering so I’ll have to be extra careful when using the second ball. Luckily, the colour changes are so lovely, they override the singles aspect of the wool ๐Ÿ™‚

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My favourite part of the of knitting socks is ‘turning the heel’ and making sure there are no little holes when picking up the stitches along the heel flap.

away-from-the-lighthouse-13I would highly recommend this pattern but make sure if you do decide to knit these socks you select a relatively solid colour and not a highly patterned yarn.

away-from-the-lighthouse-05away-from-the-lighthouse-07away-from-the-lighthouse-08away-from-the-lighthouse-14Until next time…

Melanie

Heliotrope Socks – Pair # 51

It’s been a while since I’ve shown you a pair of completed socks but I have still been knitting them! This pair was a test knit and I’m embarrassed to say, I finished the first sock in April and the second sock only recently. I’ve just been so sidetracked over the months either knitting other garments, spinning or weaving. Heliotrope socks were created by a very talented pattern writer: Dana Gervais whose patterns can be found in her Ravelry store.

Dana lives in Canada but no matter when I post a question or comment on the forum, she always responds so quickly! Her attention to detail is amazing and I can highly recommend her patterns. I also follow Dana on Instagram.

I love this pattern! The sock is worked from the cuff down, features a delicate cable pattern, heel flap and gusset and a toe that is grafted with Kitchener stitch.

heliotrope-socks-01The pattern really pops against the purple sock yarn don’t you think?

heliotrope-socks-02heliotrope-socks-03heliotrope-socks-04The yarn I used is Waikiwi by Naturally.

naturally-waikiki-purpleLove this yarn as it’s easy to knit with and doesn’t split. I’m not usually a purple fan but I rather love the richness of this royal purple.

I’m really quite pleased with how my sock knitting has progressed. I no longer get that little hole which sock knitters will know about ๐Ÿ™‚

heliotrope-socks-05This heel is called the half handkerchief (v-shaped heel).

heliotrope-socks-06The pattern is created by these two stitch cables. I used another needle which was fiddly to start with but I soon became adept at it!

heliotrope-socks-07I have just finished another pair of Dana’s socks for another test knit. This time I made sure I finished the second sock straight away. I’ll show you them very soon.

I wish you all a wonderful, happy, healthy and prosperous 2017 that is filled with lots of yarn and fibre ๐Ÿ™‚

Even though it is quite hot in Brisbane today, I will be sitting down to finish off another pair of socks! What do you have on your needles?

Until next time…

Melanie

Knitting and Spinning

I can’t believe it’s over three weeks since my last post. Time has just slipped away so quickly. Lots has been happening in my life: my son is in the process of buying his first home (he’s still awaiting finance approval) and sadly my family has had to place my 92 year old Dad into a nursing home as my 89 year old Mum was struggling to care for him. So, after more than 60 years of marriage, they are now living apart which is so sad but necessary to ensure the well-being of both of them.

On the crafting front, I’ve been knitting and spinning and I’ve also been destashing some of my spinning wheels and yarn to help my son pay for some of those new house costs that you tend to forget about like house insurance, solicitors, pest and building inspection and so on.

Having said that, I had been thinking of selling some of my wheels as my collection was steadily growing so I’ve sold my Ettrick Standard double drive, an Ashford Traditional, a Wee Peggy, an Ashford Scholar and I also have my Fomotor Peacock and Ashford Traditional double drive on the market. I’ve also sold off quite a bit of my yarn, in particular the Zen Yarn Garden ART WALK series skeins. It had got to the point where I realised I couldn’t possibly use it all so I bit the bullet and advertised a lot of it for sale and most of that has been snapped up quite quickly. I have kept the colours I really like.

Now to some knitting. I finished this In Threes baby cardigan while I was on my recent cruise to New Zealand. I love this pattern and so do many other knitters as over 6,700 of these cardis have been made!

in-threes-multi-large-01The wool I used is Shepherd Colour 4 Me Prints which is an 8ply 100% plied wool. I made the 3T size which I am assuming is for a three year old toddler.

in-threes-multi-large-05I bought the buttons in New Zealand. It’s just by chance they match the colours in the cardi ๐Ÿ™‚

in-threes-multi-large-04If you love knitting in the round without seams, I can highly recommend this pattern. It’s so quick and easy. In fact, I knit it when I feel like a quick satisfying knit. I have a few of these cardis stashed away.

in-threes-multi-large-06I’ve been trying to slow down my yarn and fibre purchases and start using my stash and I’ve been quite successful but when I saw this Optim fibre on sale on FB I knew I had to have it. I’ve heard a lot about spinning Optim but have never tried it so this was my chance. It was a potluck 5 x 100g balls.Optim is a treatment which stretches the wool fibres to make the product longer and a lot finer in the range of 12-14 Microns.

optim-5-x-100g_resizeThese were some of the examples of colours that were available. I must say I’m quite enjoying spinning Optim; it’s rather like spinning silk and it has a lovely sheen to it.

optim-03_resizeI picked up this metallic thread for $10 and $5 respectively. This will be invaluable for plying and maybe even weaving.

weaving-or-plying-threadI’m spending this Wednesday and Thursday crafting with good friends which I am really looking forward to. I always find these gatherings to be so therapeutic as it’s where we all share our love for our common crafts, solve all (or most) of our problems and generally de-stress. I’d be lost without these friends ๐Ÿ™‚

As 2016 rolls to a close, I hope you all have a wonderful 2017 filled with health, happiness, prosperity and of course lots of yarn and fibre!

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Until 2017…

Melanie

Roy and Ailsa McKnight – Redlands (Brisbane) Spinning History

If you’re a spinner and you’re familiar with what is known as ‘the Roy McKnight Suitcase spinning wheel’, this story will be of real interest to you.

Ever since I first got my hands on a Roy McKnight Suitcase Spinning Wheel, I’ve been intrigued and fascinated by the fact Roy lived not far from me and was a member of the Redlands Spinners & Weavers, along with his wife Ailsa.

Well, in November this year (2016), I was lucky enough to meet his widow, Ailsa as one of our members brought her along to one of our spinners’ meetings. I really wanted to have a chat to Ailsa about one of my unidentified spinning wheels which I believe is a McKnight wheel because of the finishes on the wheel.

spinning-wheel-01Here’s a picture of the above wheel (left) and the suitcase wheel (right).

spinning-wheel-05-tileSee the similarities of the parts used? Ailsa could definitely see some similarities but she believes it’s probably made by another wheel maker who maybe copied some of Roy’s techniques. So, at this stage, my wheel’s maker is still an enigma!

I feel quite fortunate to have met Ailsa. I believe it’s so important to try and capture some of the history of Roy’s wheels as they are quite sought after today and this is an important part of Redlands’ history which I believe should be captured for future generations to enjoy.

Here’s a picture of Ailsa using her upright wheel made by her husband, Roy. She was demonstrating at the Woolshed (Brisbane) in June 1990.

ailsa-mcknight-aus-woolshed-june-1990The similarities are astounding. I think the actual piggy tail orifice/hook is different from what I can see in the photo above.

spinning-wheel-02Ailsa is now 94 and incredibly sharp-minded and interesting and I just felt quite privileged chatting to her as she told me about Roy and his wheels. Apparently, the suitcase wheel is actually called the brief wheel! So we need to now start referring to it as ‘the Roy McKnight Brief wheel’!

Ailsa and me with my unidentified wheel.

ailsa-mc-knight-with-melanie-22-11-2016Ailsa brought along a couple of her old photo albums which she kindly allowed me to take home so I could scan some of the pictures. I felt so excited to be able to capture a piece of the McKnight’s spinning history and to share it with everyone!

Roy was a salesman and spent some time on the road and it was during these periods that Ailsa took up spinning to fill in her days. Once Roy had retired, he taught himself woodturning and started making wheels, bobbins and accessories for Ailsa and other club members. Roy also made beautiful furniture and woodturned bowls.

Here is the man himself: Roy McKnight (6-1-1920 – 6-3-2011) at the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Open Day in 1991. Look at all those stunning wood turned spinners’ goodies. Ailsa had the suggestions and Roy made them! Apparently if it wasn’t quite right Ailsa would ask Roy to refine it until she was happy ๐Ÿ™‚

I can see a squirrel cage swift, a brief wheel, a skeiner, bobbins, niddy noddies and other bits and pieces.

roy-ailsa-mcknight-open-day-1991Roy McKnight at the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Open Day in 1989 with a display of his woodturned goods: a brief wheel (I wonder what number this one is?), squirrel cage swift, spinning chair, skeiner, niddy noddies and other wooden items.

roy-mcknight-rsw-open-day-1989Ailsa McKnight at Marburg 1984. Note the upright wheel for sale.

ailsa-mcknight-marburg-1984Redcliffe September 1988 – Ailsa McKnight is second from the right spinning on one of Roy’s upright spinning wheels.

redcliffe-sep-1988An article in the Redlands’ local paper regarding the Open Day in 1988. Note the upright wheel on the left hand side.

ailsa-mcknight-open-day-19881984 article from the local Redlands’ newspaper.

1984-landscapeAn article in the local Redlands’ newspaper from April 1987 regarding the upcoming Open Day. Ailsa is on the far right.

rsw-open-day-1987An article in the local Redlands’ newspaper from 1987. Ailsa is third from the left (standing). There’s a clearer photo directly below this article.

rsw-1987-farewellrsw-1987a

What makes this story really exciting for me is that when I chatted to Ailsa she mentioned that she wanted to sell her remaining spinning equipment. I immediately knew that I wanted everything she had so I could keep Roy’s legacy alive among the local and online spinning fraternities.

Today (5/12/2016) I visited Ailsa’s son and daughter-in-law who live quite nearby to collect her gorgeous collection. I am so excited to be able to own this lovely package.

dsc09768_resizeI am now the extremely proud owner of the very first Brief Wheel made by Roy. I can say it has been well and truly ‘road tested’ by Ailsa ๐Ÿ™‚

dsc09761_resizedsc09762_resizeI love the nifty in-built lazy kate ๐Ÿ™‚

dsc09763_resizeAnd what makes it even more special is that Ailsa hand painted this beautiful picture on the lid of the case. Now that is certainly unique!

dsc09760_resizeI just adore this stunning upright wheel made by Roy. As you can see, it is quite different from the one Ailsa is spinning on in the pictures above and to the ones sold at the various Open Days so I can safely say that Roy made two styles of upright spinning wheels.

roy-mcknight-upright-01The flyer screws off completely (just like the Brief Wheel) and is stored behind the middle bobbin holder on the in-built lazy kate (you can see the hole in the picture above).

roy-mcknight-upright-02This is the connection where the flyer is screwed on.

roy-mcknight-upright-09It’s a scotch tension wheel…

roy-mcknight-upright-11The driveband tension knob…

roy-mcknight-upright-10This really is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship…

roy-mcknight-upright-03 roy-mcknight-upright-04 roy-mcknight-upright-05 roy-mcknight-upright-06 roy-mcknight-upright-07 roy-mcknight-upright-08And lastly, my own Roy McKnight spinning chair ๐Ÿ™‚

roy-mcknight-spinning-chair-01 roy-mcknight-spinning-chair-02 roy-mcknight-spinning-chair-03I must thank Ailsa for taking the time to talk to me and for giving me the opportunity to own these lovely pieces of spinning history and to Ailsa’s son, Ron and his wife, Carolyn for chatting to me and sharing some of Roy’s story with me.

I would encourage anyone in Australia who has knowledge of Aussie wheelmakers to record their history by contacting the administrator of the Australian Spinning Wheels website. It is so important this history is not lost but kept alive for future generations.

Roy’s suitcase (brief) wheel is also featured on the Australian Spinning Wheels website.

Ailsa has given her permission for me to publish these photos and newspaper articles online so I will also contact the Australian Spinning Wheels website to see whether they’d like to link to this story or use some of the photos of Roy’s upright wheel and chair.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into Redlands’ spinning history as much as I have had putting it together for everyone to access.

A BIG thank you to Roy, Ailsa, Ron and Carolyn ๐Ÿ™‚

5 December 2016