Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Washing wool

Washing wool, when I first learned about how to do it. I wanted a lot done in little time. It wasn't easy. Over time I realized that you should enjoy the journey and not the destination. I tried dawn as a de-greaser and cleanser. I didn't like it as much because in my opinion I thought that it left the wool feeling brittle. I then purchased a bottle of woollite and it was a little better. I bought some Eucalan wash it was expensive to me at the time and I didn't know if it was worth it. I didn't want to use it very much for fear of using it up too quickly and then having to buy more of it. I tried Laundry soap and found that it cleaned it really nice but had the same results as the dawn. It left the wool feeling brittle and there were pills. I even tried a natural soap with the laundry soap, and it was soft and clean, but there were a to many pills. I then decided to use the Eucalan soap. That to me had a really good result (if you have the water hot enough). water has to be at 110-125 F, on the thermometer. You also have to let it set for 30 min, and you don't even have to rinse it. Now I don't tend to be the expert but it was pretty good to have some success with no pills and clean, lanolin free wool. I am sure that there are other different ideas about washing wool out there that I haven't tried, that could be better. Let me know, I Love to experiment.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Adult Socks

I thought it might be fun to share with you my mock cable pattern that I am doing with my adult socks. I got it off line from a woman named Cynthia Guggemos
Rnd 1: *K1tbl, p1 k2, p1 repeat*
Rnd 2: *Klb, p1, k1, yo, k1, pl; rep from*
Rnd 3: *K1tbl, p1, k3, p1 rep from*
Rnd 4: K1 tbl, p1 k3, with the tip of the left needle, lift the third stitch on the right needle over the first two sts and drop it off, pl; rep from *

K1tbl (means) knit 1 through the back loop instead of the knitting it from the front side. It makes the knit stitch twist giving it the appearance of cabling.
Klb (means) knit loop back. (this is part of the twisting process)
Yo (means) yarn over, or yarn over your needle, because you are creating a stitch. This is usually done on the right needle in the place where you want to insert a stitch.
P1 (means) purl stitch.

On round four it is kind of tricky. You have to take a leap of faith that it works. You knit all three stitches and the third stitch is decreased back over the first two. I hope that is clear as mud.
This pattern looks very lacy with a solid color, but I wanted to do it with variegated for a change. Jenn

Friday, January 22, 2010


Pills are a terrible pain with fiber from wool. To help avoid them, pick a good fleece. One that the locks don't break in the middle when you pull on them. Get a fleece, that isn't completely damaged from vegtable matter, because vegtable matter cuts the wool, which breaks the wool, and breaking the wool causes split end, which causes pills. Fun huh! As I talked before about brushing with a flicker brush make sure that you brush easily so that the wool doesn't break, but hard enough to get out the vegetable matter. Then you wash your wool, I'll talk about washing later. But when you are done drying your wool make sure that your locks are aligned with the carders and gently card which doesn't create pills. Just remember breakage creates pills. Jenn

Thursday, January 21, 2010

About socks

The thing about socks is that should use 2 different sizes of double pointed needles. Double pointed needles are needles that have a point on each end of the needle. You will notice when you go to your local craft store, or on line that there is some smaller needles, smaller as in length not diameter. You will also notice that they have two points, one on each end. Those are sock needles. Now you ask yourself what size should I use, or what size should I get? Size meaning diameter, or how big around. When doing socks you need to ask yourself. What is the purpose of these socks? Are they every day wear, or are they Ski socks? If you are thinking that everyday wear you might want to go with a finger weight yarn or a "sock" yarn and then you will need a small size needle like a 0 or a .25. If you are going to make a ski sock you might want to have a worsted weight yarn, which is thicker. You would like to use a size 4, 5, 6 size needle. Most of the time a pattern will tell you what size needle and what size thread. Make sure when you read your pattern that you realize that there is a U.S. size and then there is a metric size. So make sure that you get the right size for you pattern. Their are also different kinds of needles. Stainless steel, (which I don't care for) plastic, Nickel plate, Brass tipped, wooden, Bamboo, glass, and so forth. Nickel plated and Brass tipped I like, the yarn just glides right off. Bamboo glides as well but it also holds the yarn as well so it doesn't quite fall off your needle. I never used glass, but I have seen them and they are beautiful. I would be worried that they would break easy. Now back to my first statement that I made. You should use two different size needles, when making the sock you are going to wear. The first size needle should be the needle that you are going to make the majority of your sock. The second needle should be a size smaller, this needle is used for the ribbing so that it can help the ribbing cling to you leg or ankle or what ever. So if you are starting out on the opening of the sock, cast on with the bigger needles first so that the cast on stitches are loose. Then change to the smaller needles on the first round of the ribbing. Then switch to large needles again when you are finished with the ribbing. Jenn

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Guild

When I went to my first spinning guild there were about 30 members, and they opened there hearts to me. I mostly observed, and brought my knitting with me. There were many members with all kinds of wheels and all kinds of ideas and sharing concepts on fiber. It was overwhelming. A Lady even taught me a simple memorable knitted finger glove pattern, which I will share later. Anyway, I was wondering what kind of wheel to get. One lady suggested that I build my own since money might be a problem. My husband thought that might be feasible. So on tax return day my husband said he would build me a spinning wheel if he could buy a scanner with the tax return money. I consented. I got a castle wheel pattern from a book from the library. At first I wanted a more of a traditional look for a spinning wheel, but I thought that the castle style might be easier to travel with. Which is funny because the wood that I chose is really heavy. Jeremy asked me what kind of wood that I wanted. He gave me some suggestions, and we both came up with purple heart wood. I called around for it and most dealers said that they didn't carry it. One dealer thought I was some kind of idiot because he never heard of it, and that I didn't know what I was talking about. Yes there is a tree out there that has purple wood. We finally found some at a specialty dealer. Then we went to Jeremy's home town and used the schools' tools to build with, because the shop teacher knew Jeremy personally and at that time you could do that sort of thing. Anyway that is my wheel, an purple heart castle style wheel. I am quite proud of it . Thank you Jeremy.
On wool, (because my focus is my children) it has taken some time for me to progress in spinning but I had a break through a few days ago. I hope I can explain it to you so that you can understand. I think I might have to create a video. I didn't like the concept of washing the wool in the washing machine, neither did my husband because he was concerned that the machine would get ruined with all the dirt and then we would have to buy a new laundry machine. I tried it in the bath tub and it was a difficult process and again my husband was concerned that we would ruin the bathtub drain by clogging it, and he didn't like the mess. Plus the vegetable matter didn't come out. Because of not being able to focus on working with wool I couldn't figure out the answer to clean wool. I ran into people along the way that would tell me how easy cleaning wool was and that they just stuck it in the washing machine, or tub and it came out so clean. I don't know how they did it until recently. It is the "before you wash the wool" stage. You have to take the vegetable matter out! Take it out with a dog brush. The bristles move instead of being held firmly in place like a carder. They are sometimes called flicker brushes (remember the bristles need to be able to swivel). So take a flicker brush and a lock of lambs wool, and hold one end of the lambs wool firmly. While brushing gently with the other end of the wool to get out vegetable matter. Be careful on doing that because the fibers will break and create "split ends" and create pills. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Finished and starting

You might be wondering why I am giving so much history and little on knitting and spinning. I hope you don't mind too much but, I thought it might be important to realize how I got to this point. After I learned to knit. I was making sweater after sweater. My mother gave me some straight knitting needles for Christmas with all the sizes it was truly a nice gift. (THANKS MOM!!!) I soon realized that I wanted softer yarns that were nice to wear and not scratchy. I went to a local yarn business store and realized that nice yarns were expensive and out of my price range. I decided to look into spinning. I then started to dream of spinning and owning my own wheel and how it would be possible to get a hold of one. By then I was married and living in a town. My husband and I were fortunate to live on a rental farm house, out in a farming community. The land was owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The cows in the back all went to people who needed food. We just got to rent the house on the plot. Farming families that belonged to The Church helped take care of the animals. A lady in my church heard of my interests in spinning and said she belonged to the local spinning guild and knew how to spin. I was elated. I wanted to know how to do it. So I took lessons from her once a week and I learned to spin on her spinning wheel. It took some practice, but I got it. At first she suggested that I learn on a spindle, but I was too impatient, the wheel or nothing. I learned how to Navajo ply as well. Then came washing the wool. She wanted me to learn everything and gave me a black fleece to learn from. I was overwhelmed at her generosity, it was very nice of her. I don't remember what kind of fleece that it was but it was brown on the tips. She showed me how to wash a lock at a time, and got the fleece completely cleaned. She used dawn and filled the sink with hot water and took a lock of hair and swished it in the sink and in the adjacent sink used the same temperature of water and took the same lock and swished to rinse it. It came out clean but it was a slow process, too slow for me. I decided to go on a quest to try to figure out different methods of cleaning. More of that tomorrow.
I am working on Adult socks now, my baby socks are completed. I am using the same generic sock pattern that I got from online. I am using a Mock Cable pattern for the length of the leg after the ribbing. I also found that pattern on line. The yarn is Sockotta (The plymouth Italian collection) 45%Cotton 40% Superwash Wool 15% Nylon. I like the yarn. See ya

Monday, January 18, 2010

History and baby socks

When I went to college I needed a release from my classes. First class started at seven A.M. and last class ended at 5:00. My Aunt Amber told me of a women who knew how to knit from Portugual, she didn't speak any English, but boy could she knit. I sat next to her learning English style knitting with a needle under my armpit. (I didn't learn continental until later from my aunt Lyn). I learned how to make a sweater and a little of sock knitting with her help. I am grateful she ran across my path in life. Knitting in essence is the manipulation of one stitch, backwards, forwards, twisted, turned, and change the colors. The only difficulty is to make sure that the measurements are exact, so it fits. Yarn is another story of course.
Right now I am working on baby socks for a baby shower, I am using the sock pattern on line called "Generic Socks" I love this pattern I like how you can make it fit and yet you can put any design with it.