Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Where's the Weft Scarf

So far my journey into weaving has proved to be an incredible learning experience.  Every project has taught me something and in this instance it's that I'm <gasp> weft heavy.  Essentially that means that my weft, the threads that go horizontally across the loom are much more prominent than the threads that go vertically.  It is entirely my own fault as I'm far too heavy handed with the beater.  Apparently it just needs to "kiss" the fabric in progress, not get beaten against it with a great deal of force! In my mind I had assumed that something called a "beater" would need a bit of strength behind it.

The problem with being weft heavy is that the warp doesn't really show through.  I turns out all of my calculations when winding this warp were for nothing.  The vertical stripes just don't show in the final product thanks to my heavy handedness.

For this project I chose shades of Raffia, Charcoal and Aztec and was delighted that the good folk at Bendigo Woollen Mills supply their 2ply classic yarns in cones.

I planned to make a men's scarf and thought the best place to start when calculating the dimensions of the scarf would be to ask the men in my household, all of whom had no idea.  So it was that I turned to The Art of Manliness who seem to know everything about men's scarves, and particularly that they should be 10 inches wide and 70 inches long. 

Even though my plans to have vertical stripes running through my plain weave scarf didn't work out, I was still quite pleased with the colour choice and overall look and feel of the project.

I also undertook to twist the fringe with this one and although it was a long process by hand, I actually really enjoyed it.  I might just save up for a fringe twister though!

The overall consencus from the males in our household is that the scarf is too wide, and that is why my daughter is modelling it for us here.  I'm wondering if I should use it as a table runner instead?

Happy weaving


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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Falling Leaves Crochet Cowl

In between ballet class, school, study and wearing Fitzbirch creations so that I can take a photo of them for this blog, Andie , the youngest of the Fitzbirch nieces, is want to do a bit of craft herself.  Recently this has involved loom bands and washi tape (not at the same time!), but this weekend she discovered the bag of homespun yarn that Louise had left with us on her last visit and crochet hook in hand a new project came together.

First there was the task of winding the wool, something much loathed in this household after recent disasters.  Thankfully, Louise's yarn winds beautifully and so it was really simple and quick...hooray.

The pattern Andie chose was the Open Checkers Stitch from New Stitch a Day


Using a 12mm hook and thick yarn, chain 18.  
Continue with Open Checkers Stitch until desired length is reached
Join the beginning to the end of project using a row of single crochet
Weave in ends

Andie was really thrilled to be modelling her own creation for a change and decided on the name "Falling Leaves Cowl"  for the soft Autumn tones in the wool that Louise had dyed and spun herself.

Now with a busy end of the school term coming up, I think we might have to wait until the holidays before Andie's next project

Happy Crocheting

Deb and Andie

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Tour de New Zealand (AKA Honeymoon) Beanie

The first skein of yarn from my 'Tour de Fleece' spinning was earmarked for a colourful beanie for New Zealand.  

It is going to be cold and I have been given a wonderfully warm coat - 3 layers that should keep all the cold wind out.  The only issue is that it is black.  So when my first skein was spinning into something quite colourful, I knew it would make a great contrast to the dependable dark coat.

This hat knitted up comfortably in one evening and not only was it very easy, but it is extraordinarily warm.  I loved it.

The next day was a glorious winter day. Sun shining all morning but a drop in temperature in the afternoon.  Peter had spent a relaxing afternoon in this sunshine reading and when he came inside, I noticed he was wearing my beanie.

"Hey, this is a great hat" he said.
"Thank you", I replied.  "It's my new hat for New Zealand"
"Can I have one?" he said.  "It fits perfectly because it covers my ears and keeps them and the rest of my head really warm"
"OK" I said.  "I'll spin some more wool and make another one".
"umm, actually, I really like this one - It looks like something you would buy from a surf shop.  Can I have this one?" he asked

How could I say no?  

Luckily, it's the tour de fleece so there should be plenty of wool to make another one


M1 - Work to the place where the increase is to be made. Insert the left needle from front to back into the horizontal strand between the two stitches.  Knit the stitch through the back loop.

Using the WPI (wraps per inch), my homespun was somewhere between 8 and 10ply (Dk and worsted weight).

Using a set of 5.5mm DPN's, Cast on 76 stitches. 

Establish a K2, P2 rib pattern and join in the round.
Knit the rib pattern for 10 rows.

Next row:  Knit, increasing 12 stitches evenly around the beanie (88 stitches) using the M1 method.
Continue to knit until the hat measures 17cm from the cast on.  This will make a loose fitting, slouchier beanie.  Reduce this measurement if you want a tighter fit.

Next row:  K8, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K7, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K6, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K5 K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K4, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K3, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K2, K2tog to end
Next row:  Knit
Next row:  K1, K2tog to end
Next row:  K2tog to end

Thread a wool needle with the yarn and pull the remaining stitches to close.  Weave in any loose threads from the cast on and the finish and you are ready to go.

Happy Knitting and Spinning,

If you've been inspired to make or wear a beanie and donate funds to brain cancer research, the following organisations would be thrilled to receive your donation:

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Sunday, 13 July 2014

French Square Scarf

When I first learnt to crochet, I was thrilled to just be able to chain a few new stitches together and as my skill level progressed I discovered there's no feeling quite like gazing at the first Granny Square you've ever made.  

When I went yarn shopping recently and picked up some Manos Del Urugauy "Clara" I knew it called for something a little more refined than my usual simple stitches though, and so turned to my new favourite crochet stitch finder, New Stitch A Day.

After a quick search I discovered the lovely French Square Motif and so once the process of winding the wool was over, I began crocheting away at what really is quite a simple pattern.

To make my scarf I crocheted 28 motifs, blocked them and then sewed them together at the corners to form a long rectangle.  The yarn is beautiful to work with (once the ball winding process is out of the way - you can read all about that troublesome activity here).

I'm really delighted with the end result.  The scarf is soft and delicate, making it perfect accessory to wear in  all types of weather. 

Happy crocheting


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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Cluster Crochet Cowl

I've reached the point where I'm determined not to buy anymore yarn until I've made some sort of inroads into using up my yarn stash.  The trunk that I use for storage currently resembles a bomb sight and rather than take everything out to reorganise it, I've figured it might be easier to just grab some yarn every now and again and use it, hopeful that one day it might actually come to the point where it magically looks neat and tidy.  I remain forever the optimist!

On top of the yarn stash this week sat the yarny remnants of a recent loom knit project.  I had about a ball and three quarters of Sidar Denim Ultra, a super chunky yarn that translates to about a 20 ply With such a small amount to work with, I thought a beanie or a cowl were probably my only options clothing wise and finally settled on a cluster design cowl which I thought would work better than a hat, given the thickness of the yarn.

Using a super chunky yarn of your choice and a 12 mm crochet hook

The cluster pattern:

Cl:  Yarn over, (insert hook into required stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop)  repeat three times, yarn over and pull through all seven stitches on hook.  Chain one to close cluster.

The cowl pattern is then:

Chain 45
Row 1:  cl into 3rd chain from hook, skip one chain, cl into next chain, repeat and cluster in last chain
Row 2-7:  Chain 2, turn, cl into space between clusters on previous row and repeat into each space across row.

To complete project:
Twist the length of crochet fabric once and slip stitch the end seams together to form cowl.

This project got a little scary towards the end, the last row was a nervous battle with the yarn looking like it wasn't going to last the distance and me willing it to get to the last cluster in the row.  Eventually we called a truce,  where we managed to end the row with just centimetres of yarn to spare and then sewing up the seam with cotton.  

Sadly, removing a ball and three quarters of yarn from my stash doesn't seem to have made much difference.  I think there might be a long way to go before it reaches neat and tidy status!

Happy crocheting


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Saturday, 5 July 2014


Beautiful, fluffy 'Fauxlags'
As a new spinner, any tips that come my way are greatly appreciated and I saw something the other day on Pinterest that I had never even thought or heard about. However, now that I know, it has transformed my spinning.

I saw a pin on Fauxlags and thought what on earth are these?  Well, it is a way of making a smooth combed roving into rolags for ease of spinning.   Certainly a lot easier (although less authentic) than my first attempt.

Test Spin
Previously, I have been separating my tops lengthways into thirds and then separating each piece into half – effectively creating some sort of pencil roving.  When I saw just how easy this method was, I set about transforming my stash of ‘Tour de Fleece’.



Materials - Combed top, smooth rolling pin (eg, PVC pipe)

Step 1.  Quite simply, you smooth out the top and firmly ‘pull’ on it to loosen the strands.  Just enough for you to feel the ‘give’ and for a bit of ease and movement but not enough to separate.

Step 2.  Using your ‘roller’, roll the combed top over the roller once, press firmly on the roller to hold in place and gently break off the roving.  Then slide off for a lovely, fluffy ‘fauxlag’.

I originally used a wooden ravioli roller but the fauxlags would snag on it and in the end, my Dad hit on the idea of some PVC piping we had used for our reticulation.  A good scrub and it was absolutely perfect.  The fauxlags slide off beautifully.

Voila .. a combed top rolag – or fauxlag as it’s known in the business.

Happy Spinning,


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Drop Stitch Cowl

We were at a yarn market a couple of weeks ago and after speaking to some pretty fabulous yarn people all day long, I was struck with the...