Teyla Shawl

The unusual construction forms a semi circular shawl which hangs comfortably over your shoulders, with a textured stitch pattern and 5lace panels. Knitted from the nape of the neck outwards in one piece with easy resizing options included. Charted instructions.

Knitted and photographed by Irokezka ©.

Requires 4ply/fingering weight yarn – 625metres for the Shawlette size or 1000m for the Shawl size. It will look lovely in any weight yarn.

Teyla Shawl is the second shawl pattern I have self published.
It’s construction was a little different from the hundreds of triangular shawls and I think the textured stitch makes a lovely change from stocking stitch for the body.
The design came from paging through Barbara Walker Treasury’s, then modifying 2 lace patterns to meet my needs for the shawl. I wanted something that only had lace on the right side rows, with the wrong side rows being just purl.
Teyla Shawl came to fruit quickly and with the help of some lovely pattern testers and a tech editor it is now available for Ravelry Download.

Spinning for Fair Isle & A Poorly Cat

I’ve been quietly concerned about my old cat for a while now. Cuddles has just turned 19years old, which is a fantastic age. We’ve been lucky with him day one, with exception of being hit by a car when he was a kitten, he’s never had much need for a vet.
Sadly for the last 2years he’s had random bouts of diarrhoea and loosing weight, then he goes off his food. Each time the vet can find nothing wrong and further tests would require an anaesthetic, but he’s always got better and gained the weight back when his appetite returns. After several episodes like this the vet assumed it was some form of irritable bowel disease.

We had learnt to live with this occasional problem and it didn’t seem to be getting worse.
But over the last 6months he’s got more doddery on his back legs, unable to jump as well, and unable to sit down properly. He’s old and didn’t seem to be in pain with it (though it’s often hard to tell with cats) so we assumed it was old age causing stiffness and maybe arthritis. But in the last 2months those diarrhoea accidents have turned into solid poop accidents. Which from a super clean cat who washes obsessively was very odd. I noticed he was a bit smelly, and put it down to the pooping and washing less. He shows many signs of dementia so we gave him plenty of leeway and again didn’t worry as he seemed happy.
In the last 2 weeks I noticed slightly wet patches in his bed and on the floor (thankfully he’s been shut out of carpeted rooms for a while), saw him do solid poos while walking about and seeming totally surprised. Then when sleeping on my lap he wet himself (or should I say he wet me!!) I knew something was really wrong and off to the vets we went.
The vet didn’t seem sure and ran some full blood tests, wondering about thyroid, kidney disease, urinary infection (and dementia while doesn’t show in blood tests!).

So the last 2days I’ve nervously waited for the results, wondering if his time had come to an end.
I stayed up very late spinning both evenings plying some BFL/silk in yellows and oranges and spinning and plying some Romney fleece I’d dyed purple.

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The plan for these contrasting mini skeins is a fair isle bag from the latest spin off magazine.

More cat news to follow as the results come in.

Stripes

After 2 courses of antibiotics and a week in bed in agony. Did I mention just how bad this toothache was? We are now wondering if it is also neuralgia, this would explain why it’s been so much worse than regular toothache. Yesterday the antibiotics finally started to feel like they are working and the episodes of severe pain stopped. So I recommenced some knitting, which saved my sanity I’m sure. I think I was right on the edge of break down, not being able to knit makes life so hard!
I stayed up late working on my stripes, having slept during the day when I was released from the pain. Going to bed didn’t seem like a priority now I could knit again. I worked 4inches of one front for my cardigan before forcing myself to go to bed and listen to ‘The Hunger Games’ as I fell asleep. I am really enjoying it so far and it’s well read, I’m hoping it’ll be a good use of 3 Audible credits.

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I’m really pleased with the 1 row button holes, they are the method Ysolda describes in ‘Little Red In The City’, they have a good firm edge and don’t feel like they will stretch out over time.

I’ll post more about the simple clean looking Cardigan when I’ve started the back and can post some photos of that.

I didn’t want to speak too soon, but 2 weeks ago a friend welcomed the first ever lambs into her Polworth flock. The ewe had been very sick and we were all very worried about her, even the vet. She eventually squeezed out 3 beautiful pure Polworth lambs. Unfortunately 1 lamb didn’t make it, but the 2 ewe lambs are being bottle fed and getting stronger every day. I was asked to help out with the lambs when my friend has other pressing things to deal with, so I had the pleasure of bottle feeding 2 beautifully 3day old lambs. Polworth’s have wonderfully fine fleece, the breed was originally established by crossing Merino’s with 1/4 Lincoln. This gives them the fineness of Merino with some of the length and lustre of Lincoln. The addition of the Lincoln also makes them slightly more suited to the English climate than purebred Merino sheep.
I’ll dig out a photo of some yarn I spun from English Polworth fleece last year for my next post.

Flicking Shetland

I’ve had a 3week long battle with a dental abscess and the dentist. I won’t bore you with all the details, but today we got to;
Dentist “I didn’t know you were in pain last time I saw you.”
Me “I told you I was. And the receptionist.”
Dentist “you didn’t tell me or I would have prescribed some antibiotics.”
Me “The receptionist told me there was no way for me to get an appointment any earlier (than 2weeks), that I’d have to wait, even though I told her I was in pain.”
Dentist “You could have come back sooner.”
Me “As I said before the receptionist said the earliest I could be seen was …”
Me “The only reason I called today was because my GP said you HAD to see me today. So I thought I’d try.”

So the result so far? Another course of antibiotics, stronger ones for anaerobic bacteria this time, hopefully they will work and we can get on with treatment.
The toothache is bad enough but I’ve been getting waves of the most horrific pain all up that side of my face, jaw and neck. These waves of pain leave me unable to do anything but lay there shaking and sobbing until they pass, usually about half an hour later. There doesn’t seem to be a trigger and the painkillers make no difference. I just hope the antibiotics work quick!

So as you can imagine I haven’t done much knitting in the last 2weeks and especially not the last few days.
Between waves of pain I’ve managed to knit most of the raglan for a jumper for my daughter.

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The wool is beautiful Superfine Australian 8ply, maximum of 18microns. It doest say it’s merino, but it must be at that kind of fineness. It’s superwash and bright red of course so perfect for my daughter. It was a very kind gift from an Australian Ravelry friend.

Last night I thought maybe I could work through the pain by flicking some beautiful Shetland locks. I got some done before the pain overwhelmed me again.
The fleece is a White Shetland Ewe fleece I bought at Wonderwool last year. It’s beautiful; fine wool with a good crimp, no break.
Hand washed by me.

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A box of flicked locks.

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This is probably the simplest, easiest and cheapest method of processing fleece except for spinning directly from the unwashed fleece.
All you need a small flicker, you can buy one from your spinning supplier, but you don’t need to. A dog slicker from your local pet shop or discount store will work just as well. I paid about £2.50 for mine from Wilkinsons.
I’ll try and post a photo later so you know what you are looking for.
You’ll also want a piece of leather or thick plastic to lay over your lap to flick on, otherwise you’ll soon have a whole in your trousers.

As a final thought, I’ll show you the pretty card my daughter made for me. Wow her feet have got big since she was that tiny baby I bought home.

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Finish-itus & Unravel

Finishitus* like Startitus* is highly contagious I’m sure, so I feel it’s only fair I warn you that I seem to have caught this wonderful bug. I’ve longed for a case of finishitus for years, as I have recurrent startitus.

So I finished my Mitred Socks (which I cast on in 2010!) Mitred Socks
and finished the first of my Toe Up River Socks

I also finished a pair of leg warmers, but having been a wip for over a year, my gauge had changed so the second is too small. So They are now back on the needles.

Feeling very motivated to finish some projects and I’m managing to resist the urge to cast on new things. I desperately want to finish these socks –Arch Shaped Socks
I literally have 10rounds to go on the second sock, but I can’t find it, which is super frustrating!

I went to Unravel and Farnham Maltings last weekend, it’s a great fibre festival but a little cramped. It was pretty busy and that means tiring for me, but well worth it. I had promised myself no fibre, fleece or yarn, so I happily walked past all that. Until WidowTwanky started looking at sock yarns, then I was doomed! So I came home with a ball of Lang Sock yarn and 2 balls of another sock yarn (I can’t remember the name right now).
This also led the purchase of a ball of solid purple Regia sock yarn from my local yarn shop to use with the variegated yarn I bought.

After a recent #bargainbals splurge (Regia 6-fadig College – 150gram balls of sport weight SW wool/nylon Sock yarn, £3.99 from Kempswoolshop) I really can’t go buying any more yarn for a long time.

I also bought some more Knitpro tips and KnitPro padded crochet hooks from Knitting4Fun, they had the cheapest priced KnitPro’s from the vendors at the show.

I also got 2 new books ‘200 Fair Isle Motifs’ and ‘Blocks, Blankets and Throws’. The first I’ve been meaning to buy for a while and the second is much better than the cover would lead you to believe, it contains lots of techniques and ideas on joining panels/blocks in both knitting and crochet.

Hopefully I will manage to finish a few more projects in the next week or 2, before my finishitus fades.

*Finishitus – a compulsion to finish all works in progress. It is thought to be contagious, but very rare.
*Startitus – the much more common and high infection compulsion to cast on new projects, despite having many projects already.

Leather Spinning Journal

A new year, a new journal. A hand bound leather spinning journal.
Each leaf has a detail section for spinning project, holes for attaching samples and a notes section on the reverse.

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Hand sewn using a technique that allows the book to lay flat when opened.

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With a firm real leather cover that will protect and really last.

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I made a mini spinning journal last year but am really loving this A6 size for all the technical details.

I’m in the process of making some more journals in a variety of leathers with different ribbon ties. I’m also making some wrap around style journals which are beautiful too.

If you are interested in buying one please leave a note in the comments, email me or send me a message on twitter @ninjabex
Prices will vary depending on the size, style and number of pages, From £15.

Happy New Year Spinners!

Added some more photos for you. Will post good pics when the light allows…

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Change of pace

Since the autumn started the onset of cold weather has left me struggling to manage my ongoing pain. Which has meant a lot less spinning and almost no dyeing.
It has given me a chance to do some Christmas gift knitting and finish a few WIP’s. Here’s a small selection;


Knitted Christmas Baubles (from “55 Christmas Balls to knit” and hanging stars based on a free Ravelry pattern)

Double knit Coasters
Double knitting (2colour, 2sided) Coasters in 4ply wool (based on a free Ravelry pattern for pot holders)

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Cute red hat with reversible ear flaps using the Owls chart, this is to match a Cardigan for Emily. Still needs beads for eyes.

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Simple yet effective lavender favours to keep draws smelly nice.

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Another cute hat, this time with stranded colourwork bunnies and a bunny tail style pompon and earflaps.

Schacht Wheel Reviews Coming Soon

I am working on reviews for the Schacht Spinning Wheels, and perhaps a comparison chart to help people to choose which one is right for them.
I think I’ve now owned all 4 wheels, the Matchless, Ladybug, Sidekick and 30″ Schacht-Reeves Saxony wheel, long enough to be able to provide you with detailed and helpful information.

If there is anything specific or unusual you would like me to cover let me know in the comments.

I have no association with Schacht and am not a Schacht dealer, just a happy customer spreading the love for beautiful, carefully crafted wheels.

Odd Shaped Shawl Calculator

Here’s a little way to calculate the maximum number of rows you can work on a shawl (top down shawls only). You need to have knitted at least 20% of your yarn to do get an accurate answer, it will give you a result as long as you have used more than 10% though.

Odd Shaped shawl
This calculation will work for any shawl pattern that starts at the top and has a consistent rate of increases along the length. (ie. 8increases in 9 rows out of 30 = ( ( 8 * 9) /30 ) = 2.4sts per row)
(ie Teyla Shawl)
The yarn usage and stitches per row won’t be as exact for some patterns, Teyla for example increases every row for several rows, then not at all for several more. So the Stitches per Row and Maximum number of rows will only be truly accurate if they fall on a pattern repeat.
I could alter the script so that you enter the pattern repeat length and it only gives answers for full repeats, but it probably isn’t worth the effort. (Please comment if you think that would be more helpful.)
(Use my triangular shawl calculator for regular triangular shawls like Ishbel, Aeolian, Laminaria, Traveling woman, Gail, Dew Drops, Danish Ripple, etc)

You need to know:

Number of starting stitches: (e.g. Teyla – 33, this is usually how many you cast on.)

Increase rate: (average number of stitches increased per row, (total number of increases within the repeat divided by number of rows in the repeat. e.g. Teyla – 2.4 )

Total yarn weight: (This is the total amount of yarn you have available for the project, works best in grams.)

Used yarn weight used so far: (This is the total minus what you have left un-knitted, works best in grams.)

Number of Rows worked so far:

RESULT:
Maximum Number of Rows:

This result is the number of rows you can work with the yarn you have available, it allows you 3rows worth of yarn to cast off which is sufficient for a very stretchy bind off.
If you pattern has a lot of increases in the final few rows, ie lots of yarn over’s for a pointier edge you will need to subtract a few more rows to allow for that.
If your pattern tells you to cast off with the yarn held double you will need to subtract a few more rows to allow for this.

These other bits of information maybe useful/interesting for you.
Total Number of Stitches in the Last Row:

Total Number of stitches worked so far:

Maximum Number of stitches you can work altogether:

This Calculator requires javascript to be enabled.
I hope you find this page useful, I provide it free for everyone, please link to it here.
Contact me through Raverly, or email me if you have any questions.
P.s. Don’t blame me if the answer doesn’t work out for you, I provide this script working to the best of my knowledge, free to everyone.
(c) Bex Hopkins 2010, please do not attempt to steal this script.
If you would like to know how this is calculated please contact me.

Spinning for a project – Use of colour

I am quite keen on making the most of both the time I spend spinning and the fibre I use, to that end I spin most of my yarns with a project in mind.
Hand dyed spinning fibre is a big temptation, but so many spinners are disappointed with how their yarns knit up. Due to; muddied colours, barber pole effects, length of colour repeats, strong striping, dye lot changes, etc. The list is endless.
So I thought I would write some blog posts addressing these issues.

The first issue I thought I would address is the effect on the length of colour stripes when the width of the knitting fabric changes.
Eg. You spin some beautiful yarn from hand dyed top or graduated batts, and proceed to knit a triangular shawl which starts with a few stitches per row and increases to several hundred per row.
The closer you get to the edge the thinner the bands of colour become, to the extent that the edge doesn’t even have stripes.
The effect may be pleasing, or it might not.

To keep the bands of colour more equal make a simple change to the way you prepare your fibre before you start spinning.

Here is an example:
I have 100grams of hand painted top which has repeats of colour along its length and 100grams of hand dyed top which has very little variation in colour.
I plan to spin both lots of fibre and ply them together to form a 2ply.
I then want to use it to knit a large circular shawl, If I work from the top as I received it, without any splitting the resulting shawl with have a large circular of colour in the middle with the bands of colour getting smaller and smaller towards the edge and even mottled at the far edge.
If I want the bands of colour to have a similar width across the diameter of shawl I can strategicly divide the fibre before I start spinning.
For this example I will just divide the fibre for 1 ply and leave the second more solid fibre as is.

Undivided Top

fig1: Undivided Top

I split the fibre in half length ways as my fibre is a silk brick which is much wider than regular top, so for regular top skip this step or your fibre may be too thin to split further.

Split in half lengthwise

fig2: Split in half lengthwise

fig2 diagram

fig2 diagram

Next comes the strategic dividing of fibre. I broke the top into 5 fairly equal pieces, you can do this based on the colour repeats in your fibre for best results.
The first piece is not split at all (1). The next piece is split in half lengthways to make 2 thinner strips (1/2). The next piece is split into 3 lengthwise for even thinner strips (1/3). The next piece is split into 4 lengthwise (1/4). The last piece is split into 6 lengthwise (1/6) (I can’t manage to get 5 equal strips so I do 6, I do this by spliting in half, then spliting each into 3.) You can see in the photo the piles of fibre getting thinner from left to right.

fig3: Strategic dividing

fig3: Strategic dividing


fig3 diagram

fig3 diagram

I then crochet chain the strips of top in order so that they don’t get mixed up before spinning, if you want the colours to follow in sequence make sure you take note of the ‘start end’ and the ‘end end’.
You can see in this picture that the chain goes from fat, to thin and then thinner, the thinnest I rolled into a ball as it would be messy to chain.

fig4: final chained top

fig4: final chained top


When you have spun and plied your yarn you want to use the end with the short colour changes at the small part of your shawl (centre for round shawls) and the slow colour change end will be for the longer edge of your shawl.
For this fibre I will straight 2 ply with the 2nd solid ply, but you could navajo ply for great colour alignment. Or if you are really confident in your dividing skills divide in the same way for both plies for a matched 2ply.
I’ll update this post with a photo of the shawl when its finished.

Triangular Shawl Calculator

Here’s a little way to calculate the maximum number of rows you can work on a shawl (top down shawls only). You need to have knitted at least 20% of your yarn to do get an accurate answer, though it will return a result with more than 10% yarn used.

Triangular shawl
This calculation will work for any shawl pattern that starts at the top and has a consistent number of increases in each row. (ie. 4increases on every right side row and 2 sts on every wrong side row, or 4increases every other row.)
(Examples of this type of shawl are: ‘Swallowtail’, ‘Ishbel’, ‘Aeolian’, ‘Kiri’, ‘Traveling Woman’, My ‘Dew Drops’ & ‘Danish Ripple’ Shawls)
(I know these shawls have slightly different shapes, but trust me the maths works for all of them.)

You need to know:

Number of Constant stitches in each row: (eg. Swallowtail:5, Ishbel:7, Aeolian:5or7.) (usually edge stitches on each side + centre stitch) (If you don’t know this don’t worry too much as it doesn’t make a huge difference to the result.)

Total yarn weight: (This is how much yarn you have available for the project, in grams is best.)

Used yarn weight so far: (This is the total weight of yarn minus what you have left un-knitted.)

Rows worked so far: (with many shawl you can count the number of holes running up the middle next to the centre st and x2).

RESULT
Maximum Number of Rows:

This result is the number of rows you can work with the yarn you have available, it allows you 3rows worth of yarn to cast off which is sufficient for a very stretchy bind off.
If you pattern has a lot of increases in the final few rows, ie lots of yarn over’s for a pointier edge you will need to subtract a few more rows to allow for that.
If your pattern tells you to cast off with the yarn held double you will need to subtract a few more rows to allow for this.

This calculator requires javascript to be enabled.
I hope you find this page useful, I provide it free for everyone, please link to it here.
Contact me through Raverly, or email me if you have any questions.
P.s. Please don’t blame me if the answer doesn’t work out for you, I provide this script working to the best of my knowledge, free to everyone.
(c) Bex Hopkins 2010, please do not attempt to steal this script.
If you would like to know how this is calculated please contact mes.

Building a Tri-Loom

I decided to build a Tri-Loom, after seeing Thiftwizard’s Tri-loom when I visited her house for a spin-In.
I haven’t found any where in the UK that sells them, and to be honest its no great feat of engineering to make one.

I went to B&Q to look for suitable wood, they don’t sell Hard woods, but did have some fairly hard smooth planed wood. I bought a pack of 4, 2.1m x 44mm x 34mm.
The resulting loom is 2m on the inside edge of the long side. Which should make a nice sized shawl for someone my height.
For those who have no idea what I am going on about, have a look at some building instructions here.  I also took some inspiration from this blog.

I chose to set my nails on the hypotenuse (longest side) at 1cm (3/8inch), giving me 2oo on each side.  I figured that 1/2inch that everywhere seems to recommend would give me too loose a weave for the yarns I am likely to use.