Sweden: Where every person is a beanie person.

Hej,
So I have been in Sweden for nearly a week now. I am reeally appreciating all the warm woolly clothes people are wearing. Because they have to. Because it is cold. They apparently have several words for scarf. And I have plenty of knitting stuff to talk about with you.

Firstly, and very excitingly, my sister and I are working on a collaborative fibre art project. You see, my sister is a crocheter. While I think crochet produces lovely objects and is a great pastime for other people, I think that if I were to crochet for an extended period, I might need to conjure up the dark arts and cast a spell of patience, so I very much respect people who crochet. To be fair, I have crocheted a hat and a number of other smaller items, but still, I’m no crocheter. My sister is, though, and I blame myself.

When my sister and I took ballet lessons, she used to crochet bun nets for herself, which were really nice, but she stopped doing that after a while. But, two years ago was when I became obsessed with knitting, and through the magic of Internet, I was able to inadvertently inspire my sister to take up a crochet hook again. So I take credit for my sister being a crocheter.

Just before I came to Sweden, I asked my sister if she would like to do a combined knitting/crochet project with me, her doing the crochet and me doing the knitting. She thought this was a nice idea, so when I finally arrived in Sweden, we sat down and decided on making this bag together. We’re making two, one for each of us. Her favourite colour is red and my favourite colour is purple, so hers is going to be mostly red with purple accents and mine is going to be the inverse. We are using cotton yarn, and I’ve decided to go with smaller needles because the stitch pattern and the object lend
themselves to a rigid fabric. Also, the needles I have here which are the recommended size are dpns,
 and they wouldn’t acommodate the large stitch count. I haven’t done a tension swatch, and my sister hasn’t either, so I’m just adjusting the length of the pieces as I see fit.

What I am really interested by with this pattern is the stitch pattern used, which until now I have never come across. Take a look:

   
It is done by knitting pairs of stitches out of order. A little bit like cabling, but when you knit the stitches, you don’t release them from the left needle until the pair have both been knit. Take a look at the pattern for more information. I like it. It produces, as you can see, basically woven stocking stitch, and I think it is one of these rigid, “structurally sound” stitches, like linen stitch. It is easy to do once you have practiced a bit (I did a little practice swatch before starting the project), but it is more time consuming than stocking stitch. I’d say in terms of time consumption, it is halfway between stocking stitch and double knitting or brioche. I don’t know what the stitch it called, but I like it. If someone knows, please enlighten me. I want to call it basket weave, but I think I’ve done a basket weave stitch before and that produced a twisted/slanted stitch rather than one like this. I will let you know how the bags turn out.
In other knitting/holiday news, my sister took me up Norra Berget, or north mountain, in Sundsvall, where she lives. On top of it, there is a playground with gigantic park benches and a slippery dip (read: slide) in the shape of a mythical creature with the head of a rabbit, and the body of a rabbit. And also the wings of a bird. Here is the Knitted Kitten making friends with this fellow inanimate object in the form of an animal:

My sister and I wandered around the top of the mountain for a while and happened to see a few ladies carding fibre and spinning it on a drop spindle! I do believe it is the first time I’ve seen a drop spindle being used in person, and it makes me want to try it. My clever sister, who can speak Swedish, informed me that the following sign says that the ladies were in a class for fibre preparation.

And here is the knitted Kitten enjoying the view from the top of the mountain:

So that is my time in Sweden so far. I’ve also been hanging out at my sister’s work and learning Swedish words and ruining the Swedish experience by being a vegetarian.

Peace out,

The Knitted Kitten

Fruity Alpaca

Bonjour,
Just quickly wanted to share with you some pictures of a yarn I made. It is alpaca yarn, prepared using hand-cards and spun using the long-draw method. Eyeballing it, I think it’s about 10ply weight. In actuality it is a 2-ply yarn. I had planned to leave this yarn white, but it had too many discoloured bits (it was made from the waste fleece from a combed preparation). I mordanted it with alum and tartaric acid, then hand-painted it with blue and yellow food colouring, setting the colour by steaming it on the stove. I’m rather happy with it, and I like that the yellow and blue mixed together to make green as I had planned. I haven’t heard or read before of using alum to mordant yarn which will be dyed with food colouring, but I do think it helped the yarn soak up the dye. I shall knit something up with this in the next few days.

Learn How to Make a 45 Degree Angle Lazy Kate

Pinterest image of How to Make 45 degree angle Lazy KateAnother spinning-related post here: it’s a DIY on how to make a 45 degree angle Lazy Kate! For quite a while now, since I learned of their existence in The Intentional Spinner, I have wanted a Lazy Kate on which bobbins of yarn slant at a 45 degree angle. This makes the yarn come off smoothly and prevents the bobbins over-spinning. For non-initiated readers, here are some definitions so you can follow what I’m talking about.

Lazy Kate: A Lazy Kate (love the name) is a wooden stand that you put bobbins of yarn on so that they will unwind as you ply the yarns together.

Bobbin: A bobbin is the thing that newly-spun yarn is wound around on a spinning wheel. It is essentially a large wooden spool, and you can think of the yarn is the thread.

I went crazy with online buying recently and on the same day that I bought my Craftsy course from the last post, I bought three bobbins online. I previously only owned three bobbins, so the most plys I could spin were 2-ply, or 3-ply if I use Navajo plying. My wheel is an Ashford Traditional single-drive wheel, so I bought the Ashford standard bobbins, from the eBay seller ropes546, who is excellent and even sent with my bobbins a copy of a spinning magazine called The Wheel. I bought unstained ones as they’d be about $5 more expensive each if I were going to buy them lacquered. So, I thought, I’m going to have to buy stain and/or varnish for these bobbins anyway, so I may as well make my own 45 degree angle Lazy Kate and use up the whole pot (actually, I used barely any of the pot).

As I am so nice, I’ve decided to give you a little step-by-step tutorial on how to make a 45 Degree angle Lazy Kate like mine.

How to Make Your Lazy Kate

You will Need

Materials (and approximate cost):

  • Wooden door plaque about 30cm long, 8-10cm high and at least 1cm thick….$3
  • 90cm length of dowel, 0.6cm in diameter…$2
  • Wood stain. I used Intergrain NaturalStain in Merbau and I bought a sample pot…$10
  • Two wooden craft letter “V”s about 5cm high (I searched high and low for suitable 45 degree angled triangles of wood. I wasn’t going to faff around with a saw trying to cut a piece of wood at an angle. I ended up finding these “V”s at Cheap as Chips and when I held two together I found that they made a 90 degree angle and therefore individually were 45 degrees. Bingo. They are made of kind of pulped up wood, like super-duper-thick-and-dense cardboard, making them easy to sand down. The plaque is made of similar material)…$2
 Estimated cost of materials: $17


Images of materials used in construction of Lazy Kate
A picture of some of the supplies you will need. Dog is optional.

 Tools:

  • Saw
  • Sandpaper (I like a sheet rather than a block so you can tear it up to do the fiddly bits.)
  • Power drill
  • 0.6cm/quarter-inch-ish drill bit (I’ll tell you a secret: I knew my dowel was 0.6cm across so I was looking for a drill bit (that I already owned) that was equal to or slightly larger than this size. The best I could find was 7/32 of an inch. “That’s nearly 0.6cm,” I said to myself, little realising that 7/32 of an inch is slightly less than, not slightly more than, 0.6cm. Doiiiii. I ended up finding a screwdriver that was exactly 0.6cm across and expanding my already-drilled holes by forcing the screwdriver through them. It worked well, as the dowels fitted in very snugly and didn’t need to be glued in. Not gluing them in will make them easier to replace).
  • Strong adhesive. I used Parfix Fast Grip (in a much smaller tube than the pot shown). I used the wet adhesive instructions rather than the contact adhesive instructions. Liquid Nails would also work.
  • Paint brush to apply the wood stain
  • Newspaper for the messy work
  • Small flat piece of rigid plastic to stir wood stain.
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Eraser

What to Do

  1.   Mark off three 20cm lengths on your dowel. Save the rest in case you need to replace a dowel later on.
  2. Cut these three lengths from the dowel. Sand down the ends. I sanded one end round and one end flat. See Fig 1.
    Image of sanded dowels
    Fig 1. How I sanded my dowels (two rounded and one flat end)
  3.  Take the wooden plaque. Sand off any rough bits. Measure and mark a line running along the middle of the plaque along its length. See Fig 2.
  4.  Mark three points evenly spaced along this line. These will be where you will drill holes for the dowels. My plaque was about 30cm long. I put the two end holes about 4cm from the edges and the middle one equally distanced between these two. See Fig 3.
    Pencil markings on Lazy Kate plaque
    Fig 2. Centre line running the length of the plaque  
  5. Taking your power drill (with correctly-sized drill bit), drill holes in each of these three marks. Sand off any rough bits. Erase pencil marks.
  6. Insert dowels into holes. Have the flat end of each dowel flush with the back of the plaque, with the rounded end sticking out. Because my holes were the exact same size as the dowels, I did not need to glue them in. This will also make it easier to replace them if need be. If your holes are slightly larger than your dowels, you may need to use your strong adhesive to secure the dowels in place. Sand off the back of the plaque where the dowels poke out to make it smooth.
    Close-up of markings on Lazy Kate
    Fig 3. Close-up of mark for drill holes
  7.  Saw outer serifs off letter “V”s. Sand them down so that the serif stubs are flush with the rest of the outside of the “V”.
  8. Turn plaque over so you are looking at the back of it. Mark two lines on either side of the plaque. This is where the “V”s will be placed. It doesn’t matter too much how far apart they are, just as long as they are parallel and when attached make the Lazy Kate stand sturdily and at a 45-degree angle. You figure it out. See Fig 4.
    Image of placement of "V" wooden pieces on unfinished 45 degree angle Lazy Kate
    Fig 4. Placement of letter “V”s
  9. Glue letter “V”s to Lazy Kate along these points with heavy-duty adhesive. As well as putting glue on the surfaces touching each other, I ran a line of glue down the sides of each “V” once it was stuck on, to reinforce them. Erase pencil marks. Allow to dry.
  10. Stain Lazy Kate according to instructions. Allow to dry. Enjoy. See Figs 5. and 6.

So there it is, my tutorial for a 45 degree angle Lazy Kate. I hope you enjoy making yours as much as I did mine.

Peace,

Kat

 

Image of finished 45 degree angle Lazy Kate with bobbins
Fig 6. Lazy Kate with two of my new bobbins on it
Image of finished 45 degree angle Lazy Kate
Fig 5. Completed Lazy Kate