Winding up Wednesday: The Sacre Couer Shawl by Nim Teasdale 

This past week I made the Sacre Couer shawl by Nim Teasdale. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry. I actually started this shawl in August,  but lacking yarn, I had to make it a spinning project before it could continue as a knitting project.

Week before last I finally got around to spinning up enough yarn to finish my little shawllette. When I sat down to finish I discovered a dropped stitch that wasn’t easily corrected.  I also decided to change the colorway. So, I embraced my inner Kermit and frogged the whole thing, and bought some beads. This is my first beaded project. 

The pattern 

The pattern is very flexible. It’s designed to make anything from a small shawllette or scarf to a full cuddle up with a throw sized shawl. Since this piece was always destined for the Etsy shop, I decided on a shawllette / scarf size. 

There are two options for the cast on. The first is a garter tab, which is not my style. The second is to cast on nine stitches. So, me and the Old Norwegian cast on got busy. The beginning section sets up the correct number of stitches to begin knitting the Arch Lace section. This is one area where the shawl is flexible. I like the fact there is a chart of how many set up stitches you need before knitting the first lace chart. It took the math out, and that’s always nice. 

The Arch Lace section was easy to knit through while watching a documentary on the christening of Edward, the Boy King. I did two complete repeats, and then the first eight rows again before moving onto the Stain Glass lace chart.

Uh? What?

And that’s where this shawl took a left turn. Well, specifically it took a left turn at a downhill gallop heading into a fence with a busted bridle at row nine. No matter how many times I knitted and frogged, I just couldn’t get it to work. It became a jumbled mess. I even frogged out the Stain Glass section twice and started again. Finally I decided to stop before building a bonfire, dancing about like a mad woman, and using the pattern instructions to light shawl and knitting needles ablaze. 

I finished out the piece to row nine, and used a 3/5 picot bind off. Then I blocked the entire piece, and breathed a happy sigh of relief. 

Good Parts and Lessons 

I really do like the way this came out. I do plan to use the pattern again, up to row nine, that is. I’m wondering if there is a misprint in the pattern. Overall, it’s well written. I printed the pattern off ages ago, so it’s very possible it’s been corrected. Or, it could just be a case of my dyslexia kicking in, which is very possible. 

It was also good to try beading. Beading definitely slows knitting down. It basically doubles the time. So, unless it’s a wedding piece, beads just aren’t happening in my studio. If you do bead work,  bless you. You’re a more patient soul than mine.

My big take away is the next time I decide to do a lace pattern I’ll use an acrylic test yarn before breaking open my handspun. Test knits aren’t just for designing. Fortunately everything turned out well and this lesson wasn’t too costly. 

Until Friday,

In all you do, craft no harm 

Moriah 

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Monday’s Musings: Self Speech 

It’s been a busy Christmas day, and things are finally quiet enough to get today’s post done. Since it’s been so busy, today’s post is a quick video.

I’ll be expanding on this topic of how we talk to ourselves over the next few weeks.

Happy Christmas,

Moriah

Friday’s Flock: Mighty Minerva and Dagging 

Mighty Minerva 

Our smallest lamb has grown into our smallest ewe. She weighs only twenty five pounds compared to the average one thirty in the rest of the flock. She was our bottle lamb, and in her opinion chores are a natural part of a sheep’s routine. It’s always sweet and humorous to watch her follow us around and discuss the day’s issues. She also understands gates.

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So, the other day, when I was tired and hungry I closed the main gate to keep the sheep in the barn paddock instead of the main pasture that currently is without fences. Before I could turn around and head to the house, the entire flock spilled out from behind the barn, gambling and leaping into air at a full run, straight into the pasture.  Minerva led the charge, and kept leading the charge until we finally got out the lawn mowers and rounded them back up.

Once all back in the barn lot and the back gate secured with a t-post I watched as Minerva started gumming the latch to open it again. This time she failed. She then began pushing on it. Over came Black Iris, Night, and Loral to investigate. After some none verbal communication the four of them began pushing on the gate. I was impressed both with group effort, and the intelligence. We often sell animals short, but clearly there was serious communication and collaboration at work. Minerva may be small, but she’s a smart cookie, like the rest.

Dagging

The word “dag” first appeared in Late Middle English at the start of the sixteen hundreds. It originally meant a pointed hanging part, or sometimes, a challenge. The Australians applied this word to shepherding, specifically the hanging bits of dung matted into the wool on the backside of a sheep. I think it’s a brilliant use of the word – it hangs, and is a challenge. The word was also transformed from a noun to a verb. These days, we dag sheep, or as this week’s blog is about, we learn about dagging.

Why dag? Well, those nasty bits hanging off the end of the wool sheep are a perfect place for flies to lay eggs and begin inflicting fly strike on the sheep. It can ruin the wool, and kill the sheep. Heavy wool bearers are the most at risk for developing fly strike because the wool goes all the way to the bum. It’s a messy, nasty job, and it’s my job twice a year to trim up the dag end of my sheep.

To demonstrate, I grabbed my buddy Black Iris. He wasn’t overly happy about it, but we  made up later.

In days gone by shepherds used to cut the skin off the back of the sheep in order to prevent fly strike. Fortunately that custom is dying out and dagging is becoming the norm. I use simple house hold scissors for this chore. If I had a large flock I would hire our local shearer, but with only twelve I can spread it out over a couple of weeks. For us, since we don’t dock our sheep any longer, this is an important part of our management.

And that’s dagging.

Have a lovely week, and we’ll see you next week when we clean out our sheep’s pen after a failed experiment.

Until then, In all you do, craft no harm.

Moriah

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Sunday’s Sassy Stitch and Spin: Busy as a Beaver 

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We are blessed with an abundance of wildlife here at Serenity. We regularly see deer in the woods, squirrels, the occasional coyote and timber wolf, turkeys, herons, song birds, hawks, and even bald eagles. We have a possum living under our house named Otis. However, living on the creek we get to enjoy the engineering marvels of the American Beaver. This year they’re living almost in the front yard. So, in addition to the regular work, knitting, spinning, sewing, and celebrating holidays, we’re wrapping trees in chicken wire. Even as pest like as these overgrown rats are, it’s difficult not to admire their industry and ingenuity.

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One of our trees wrapped in chicken wire. We’re trying to preserve our big tree, some of which have tops as big as the house!

On the Wheel

I enjoy spinning roving, real traditional hand combed roving, not processed top being sold as roving. However, spending hours with my Viking combs can get exhausting. My arms get quite the workout daily mucking stalls and hauling hay, so by the end of an hour combing my shoulders are aching loudly.

What’s my solution when I’m craving a true worsted yarn and farm chores are heavy? Lock spinning straight from the fleece. That’s correct. Part of Daisy’s fleece is slated for spinning with no processing beyond a good wash out in hot water and some flick carding on the ends.

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This method is not suitable for short fleeces by a long shot. I’ve actually flick carded the tips on fleeces with a one inch staple. It was tedious to say the least. But Daisy has gorgeous five to six inch locks, and a perfect Romney lock structure. This spinning is gift spinning, and I’m planning on featuring the technique and dyeing the first Winding up Wednesday in January. In the mean time, some of Daisy’s mom’s locks are headed to the Etsy store.

Off the Wheel 

Somehow I managed to finish up both Oatmeal Girl and Jackie this week. It was definitely a challenge. Overall, I’m pleased with both spins. Unfortunately, I didn’t get Jackie’s fleece spun in time to continue knitting the Sacre Couer shawl. I’ll finish washing out the yarn this week,  and hopefully my newest blanket will go on the loom the first week in January.

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Jackie in front and Oatmeal Girl in the back. Jackie is the lightest grey I’ve ever seen.

 

On the Needles

The Sacre Couer shawl is still on my needles this week. Unfortunately, I just didn’t have time to work on it last week. But, finishing it up is my main goal this week. I have decided to put beads on it. I’m considering some shiny silver beads, or maybe black. It really depends on what Walmart has in stock. One of the trade offs for living in a small town is that Walmart is the only craft store. But, hey, we’re getting a Burger King and a fourth traffic light! Oh, and there’s still a hitching post at Walmart. So, at least our Walmart is cool that way.

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Sacre Couer Shawl – Finally all the yarn made!

Out of the Dye Pot 

Speaking of Daisy early,  I dyed some of her Mother’s locks this week. They’ll go in the Etsy shop this evening. I used food dye for this project. I’m beyond pleased with the results.

I dyed these in the microwave. I’m slightly suspicious of microwaved food, and microwaved locks sounded a bit far fetched. However, microwaving locks is my new addiction! They turn out so well.

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Round Up

Hopefully, the beavers won’t keep me too busy this week, and I’ll be as busy as they are this coming week in my studio. With the New Year approaching my mind is thinking ahead to planning new projects. Many are as ambitious as my creek dwelling neighbors. However, I suspect I’ll never be as single minded as our busy beavers.

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The hut is actually under that tree in the creek bank, but they have an impressive pile of food.

In all you do, craft no harm.

Moriah

Winding up Wednesday: Shawl Collar Vest by Jennifer Miller 

As mentioned in this week’s Sunday’s Sassy Stitch and Spin I made the Shawl Collar Vest by Jennifer Miller. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry, and it’s a great pattern, too. I enjoyed making the vest and it’s quickly become my new favorite around the house item.

The Yarn 

I rarely make heavier weight yarns. I enjoy working with sport and dk weight yarns the best, and frankly I enjoy size five to seven needles the best. They’re the perfect size in my hands. But occasionally I’ll do a bulky or heavy aran weight yarn. That’s exactly what I made one afternoon. 

I had texel wool laying around in my studio. It’s a short staple, maybe two inches, and it was heavy on the vm. I ran it through the picker, and then carded it up on my hand carders. I spun it slubby and squishy and then did a traditional three ply. 

I also dyed it, and didn’t like the color. So, back into the dye pot with rit navy blue and a few tightly tied places to preserve the pink it went. It’s not exactly like I wanted, but it’s a wearable color on me now.

This was another fleece most people would trash, and now I have a comfortable bed jacket! A little work goes a long way with a lower grade fleece.

The Pattern 

The pattern is actually the exciting part of this project for me. I’ve never knitted a sweater or garment other than shawls, hats, scarves, socks, and gloves. There’s something about fit, sleeves, collars, etc that intimidates me. Nevermind I can knit up Estonian lace like nobody’s business, a collar makes me think twice. When I saw this pattern I thought, “this is exactly what I need”. 

The pattern is incredibly simple. It’s all worked in ribbing, and the sizing is extremely flexible. It starts out flat to create the yolk and arm holes and then joins up into knitting ribbing in the round. All together it took maybe four hours.

I did run into one snag that’s completely on me. I did my typical backwards loop cast on. When it came to picking up stitches and keeping the ribbing lined up I ended up with a line on the inside.  I think if I had gone with a long tail cast on it would have worked out better. Oh well, next time. There will definitely be a next time. I’ll also make my vest longer next time. I didn’t have enough yarn to get a long line like I typically wear. But those are my issues, and part of the learning curve. 

Lessons 

As knitters we sometimes get into ruts. Oh, look, another shawl, just like the five others not being worn. Sometimes we just need to do something different, get out of the comfort zone, and be daring. Okay, we just need a new pattern that’s not too difficult. For me, this was that pattern. 

This experience has also given me a jumping off point to explore other sweater and vest patterns.  I’m seriously considering a traditional pull over sweater as a February 2018 project. 

Chunky yarn can be fun. There was something intensely gratifying about seeing so much progress in so little time. I was watching McLeod’s Daughters while knitting this, so I was knitting casually. I’ll definitely be looking to balance out my projects portfolio with these sorts of patterns in 2018.

Have a marvelous week!

In all you do, craft no harm 

Moriah 

P.S. I’m in no way associated with Jennifer Miller. I just REALLY enjoyed knitting this pattern!

Sunday’s Sassy Stitch and Spin: Deep Freeze

Winter has finally arrived to our little cove and driven me inside for the yearly hibernation. We aren’t expecting a day over forty degrees until March or night above freezing until April. I don’t know how our northernmost neighbors cope, but around her we snuggle in and wait. 

Oh, I’ll still be out to see my sheep, love on hens, and train my riding steer, do chores and what not, but the days spinning on the porch or knitting under the pear tree over over until late spring. I’m so looking forward to getting some serious knitting accomplished and starting the winter spinning campaign before next year’s shearing in May. So without further Adu here’s this week’s Saturday’s Sassy Stitch and Spin!

ON THE WHEEL 

This week’s spinning Project is to finish up the Jacob ewe fleece from last week. There’s less than a pound to go. This particular ewe belongs to my neighbor at Spring Rock. She had a skin issue, and I snagged a free fleece on shearing day. I did have to heavily skirt this fleece, but I am pleased with the over all results. The fleece was divided into two portions: dark and light. The sheep is freckled, which means there are black specks throughout the cream wool. This creates a lovely heathered oatmeal yarn. I was thinking about using all of this fleece as warp, but I think part of the yarn will end up in my new socks!

I decided to card this particular fleece on my curves hand carders. The fleece is short, and even after sending it through my Little Dynamo picker it was a bit “farmish”. I found carding sorted out the majority of residual rubbish. The singles are a traditional long draw, and the final yarn is a fingerling Navajo three ply.

The black wool from this sheep is brown headed into lilac. It’s not a true lilac, yet. I think the color is lovely, and I’ll continue with the same spinning style and weight for the entire fleece.

My next spinning Project for this week is to finish up this gorgeous lilac Jacob fleece from Jackie. Jackie, a ewe, died several years ago and I’ve been putting off spinning her fleece. The white section of wool is already sitting by the loom waiting for me to finish up the warp. But the lilac, well, that’s going into something special: my current shawl project. It’s surprisingly soft, but then again she was still fairly young. I’ll be using her wool in my current knitting project.

ON THE NEEDLES

It’s been a while since I took on a lace shawl. I found the Sacre Coeur shawl pattern on Ralvery and knew it was perfect for my next shawl project.

There are three patterns in the shawl so I decided to use three different yarns, all handspun, of course. The first is some Shetland I traded Romney for. It’s a beautiful moorit. It’s spun dk weight on a drop spindle. The Arch Lace section is some of Charlemagne Bolivar’s second fleece. It was spun on my antique wheel, Abigail, from homemade combed roving produced on my Indigo Hound hand combs. I used copper, spinach, carrot tops, some holly hocks, and coffee in an iron pot and lots of patience to concoct this color of green. I don’t think it’s a repeatable colorway.

The next section of lace will be Jackie’s lilac wool that I’m currently spinning. I am keeping a bit of it for my next color work project, but her lilac is a perfect color. I’m still debating to put on beads or not. But that’s a decision for another day.

Finished! 

This week I started and finished my new sweater vest! I was in the mood to make something chunky and quick. I chose to use some texel i had just laying around. The pattern is the Shawl Collar Vest on Ralvery. It’s also a free pattern. I did make the shoulder portion longer than instructed, but my shoulders and arms are pretty stout for my frame. Lifting hay bales will do that. I didn’t have enough yarn to make it as big as I’d like, but honestly, I’m very pleased. I do plan to use this pattern again, and make a few as gifts. It’s quick, easy, and the sizing is flexible. If you’re looking for an easy and satisfying sweater pattern, this is it.

Also completed this week is my new scarf. It’s just a simple lace border with plain garter stitch. It’s made from the very first fleece i ever processed. Interesting enough, this ram also ended up as the foundation ram for most of my flock. This scarf is part of a fleece study that will take several years to complete, and you will be hearing about my study periodically. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying my scarf!

That’s it for this week’s Spinning and Knitting. Don’t forget to check out our brand new podcast on YouTube that airs today and feel free to leave your current projects in the comments below!  See you next week.

In all you do, craft no harm

Moriah and the flock


Winding up Wednesday: Spinning Oatmeal Girl

The Fleece 

This past February I helped out on shearing day at my neighbor’s place. She graciously gave me a salvageable fleece with problems. The fleece has been in storage until recently. This particular ewe had a skin infection that caused skin flaking and small scabs throughout the fleece. However, it was mostly on the spine and rump. The rest of the fleece was nice and soft. I don’t know this ewe’s name, but she’s Oatmeal Girl to me because of her creamy oat color spots.

Raw fleece “Oatmeal Girl”

The overall staple length is under three inches, and I suspect the micron count is in the low thirties to upper twenties. She’s also a freckled Jacob, so there are dark hairs in her light wool, and light wool in her dark spots. This is a love it or hate it trait, and fortunately a minority of Jacob sheep carry it. I personally fall on the love side. Since the staple legnth is on the shorter side, and there was some dander I decided to wash the fleece first. This time I used the washing machine, and just pine sol. I wanted to kill off any fungus or bacteria that might be lingering before handling the wool. 

Freckled lock. Look closely and you can see the black wool in the cream

After washing, rinsing, and hanging out to dry, the fleece was picked on my Little Dynamo picker until fluffy. That’s when I discovered there was also a vegetable matter issue. However, carding on my hand carders really sorted out the matter. I still had to pick out some farm while spinning, but overall my rolags ended up clean.

Oatmeal’s oatmeal wool all picked

Once my carding party was over, Josephine, my Babe Production Wheel, and I set out spinning supported long draw singles. Since the bulk of this fleece is going to become warp thread for a new Jacob Sheep inspired blanket, Navajo plying (chain ply) seemed like the best choice. I ended up with a lovely three ply fingerling weight yarn that will hold up to weaving. I’m about half way through, and I’ll be spinning up the rest this week. 

Spun into Navajo three ply

Lessons

In our modern age of machine processed fiber it’s easy to overlook and simply toss fleeces that don’t meet milled standards. However, if I had gone with that idea I would have tossed nearly three pounds of nice usable wool. It was definitely more work, but the sense of accomplishment outweighs the extra five days in processing time. Besides, I dare anyone to beat the price!

Because this fiber was softer than most Jacob I ended up having to put extra twist in, especially since I went with a Navajo ply. It didn’t come out as squishy as I hoped, but then again durability was the goal, not a fluffy scarf.

Oatmeal Girl spent an entire year of her life growing this fleece, raising a lamb, and avoiding becoming dinner for coyotes or dogs. Why toss that? In days not too long past our mothers and grandmothers would have spun this fleece and been grateful for the opportunity to keep their families warm. What wasn’t usable for spinning will end up as mulch and eventually compost. Gratitude may be the biggest take away lesson from this fleece. Gratitude for good neighbors, a wonderful day, a free fleece, and a little ewe who gave an entire year of her work without complaint.

In all you do, craft no harm.

Moriah and the Flock