Sides and stripes

Josefin Waltin walking on a country road, wearing a striped sweater in blue and orange
Sides and stripes sweater by Veera Välimäki. Photo by Dan Waltin

I have finished a sweater! It is the Sides and stripes sweater by Veera Välimäki I mentioned in a previous post about the designer.

The design

The sweater is knit seamlessly in the round. The yoke is quite fitted but the body has lots of positive ease. There are short rows at the bottom of the back body to make the sweater a bit longer at the back. The sides are purled to make a reverse stockinette stitch. The hem of the body and sleeves are in garter stitch.

The back of a striped sweater in blue and orange
Short rows at the back of the neck and at the bottom of the hem. Reverse stockinette stitch side panels. Photo by Dan Waltin

The yarn

The main colour yarn is the 3-ply finewool yarn I have been spinning during august. It’s spun woolen from hand-carded rolags on my spinning wheel. I’m really happy with the result. I spin lots of 2-ply and like the result, but 3-ply is just so round and beautiful!

I dyed it in a jeansy colour. As usual, I’m way too cheap when I dye, so I try to press too much yarn into a pot that is too small, resulting in an uneven dye. But I do love the result, it gives the yarn a variegated finish.

A basket of skeins of blue handspun yarn
Dyed finewool yarn

For the constrast colour I used a 2-ply yarn spun woolen from the fold on a supported spindle. I dyed it in a warm, dark orangy shade.

Two skeins of handspun orange yarn
2-ply Jämtland yarn spun woolen from the fold on a supported spindle.

The orange yarn is thinner than the blue, but since the sweater is striped it doesn’t really matter, the difference just adds texture to the striped section.

The knitting

Knitting was just a pleasure. There is a lot of stockinette, but the stripes and the reverse stockinette sides make the knitting more interesting. When I got to the sleeves I feared that there wouldn’t be enough blue yarn. I decided to knit both sleeves at the same time to avoid ending up with different length sleeves. When the sleeves were not at all finished, I ran out of yarn. I did have one undyed skein left though, and the dye. I figured, that if I managed to dye the last skein in a similar colour, I could get away with it. If I didn’t, I had to solve the problem somehow.

The setback

I dyed the last skein, and it ended up a clear moss green colour. I have had some problems with this dye, I had added some yellow to it earlier to make a turquoise shade, but somehow the yellow didn’t show. But now I found it, in the last skein. There was no way I could use it for the hem of the sleeves. So I knit 9 of the 12 garter stitch rows for the hem in the final meters of the blue yarn. Then I made a turned hem. I knit a purl row of orange and continued in stockinette stitch for 8 rows and cast off while at the same time fastening the bind-off to the wrong side of the sweater. To do this, I used a smaller needle to pick up the purl bumps on the inside of the garment, just at the height of the fold. From that I made a 3-needle bind-off. This way I used as much as possible of the blue yarn (and there were only inches left of it after the garter stitch hem) and still got a nice finish of the sleeves.

A detail of the sleeve of a knitted sweater
My panic solution to running out of blue yarn. Photo by Dan Waltin.

Happy happy!

New video: Ply on the fly on a supported spindle

 

My friend Anna is a master drop spindle spinner and she often plies on the fly. Ply on the fly is a technique to spin a yarn on a spindle and ply alternately. You spin a bit, secure the end of the single, and chain-ply the part you just spun. I have never practised it, but it is a smart way to finish a yarn without having the trouble of unwinding the spindle in between. I have seen a few videos on this technique, but only on drop spindles. So today I made a search on plying on the fly on a supported spindle. And I found Ioana’s video. She has a good technique and explains it very well.

The basics are: you spin clockwise and wind onto the temporary cop and butterfly the single onto your fiber hand, just as you would normally do. For plying, you pick up a loop from the bottom of the shaft and chain-ply counter-clockwise. When almost all the butterflied single is plied, you secure the loop at the bottom again and go back to spinning.

I wanted to make my own video, soI went to the allotment with my garden chair/camera stand and started spinning! I put in explaining in text and slow motion sections to show the technique as clearly as possible. However, there are many steps in a short segment of time and you might want to watch it more than once to get the technique. Also, look at Ioana’s video for additional explanation of the method.

Close-up of a person chain-plying on a supported spindle
Ply on the fly on a supported spindle

The spindle is from Malcolm Fielding, bowl is an egg bowl from Gmundner Keramik and fiber is hand-combed from the Swedish finewool sheep Engla at Överjärva gård. Sweater pattern is my own (unpublished) and yarn is from Östergötlands ullspinneri.

Happy spinning!

 

Oh, Kieran

In my series of favourite designers the turn has come to Kieran Foley. He makes extremely complicated designs, mostly shawls, in lots of vibrant colours, using several intricate techniques such as intarsia, lace knitting and stranding, preferably all at the same time. All the designs make you breathless, both by looking at and by knitting, like the Kurdish shawl and the Oceania pattern. I have made a few of his not so exhaustingly complicated designs. Well, one of them really was quite complicated, the Daisy crescent shawl. A regular crescent shawl, but with flowers knit in intarsia. Using 69 mini skeins.

A person squatting on a rock, putting her hands on a crescent-shaped shawls with flowers
The Daisy Crescent. MC is my handspun, Daisies are scraps of handspun and commercial yarns. Photo by Dan Waltin

My first Kieran was less difficult, though, the Shetland crescent. He was inspired by the colour range of Shetland sheep when he designed it. I was at the time equally fascinated by the same in alpaca, so I knit in in my handspun alpaca yarn.

A hand holding hanger with a natural-coloured lace shawl
Shetland Crescent, by Kieran Foley. Yarn is my handspun alpaca. Photo by Dan Waltin.

I also made the Echo beach shawl with very interesting ladder patterns. So simple an idea, yet so exquisitely designed.

Oh, Veera

In a recent post I told you about one of my favourite knitting designers, Kate Davies. Another favourite designer is Veera Välimäki. She has designed a lot of sweaters with brilliantly smart and yet simple yoke constructions, preferably using short rows. Many of the designs are in garter stitch which gives handspun yarns an extra opportunity to show their perfect non-perfectness.

My first Veera was a shawl, though, the Color affection. You can read more about it here. I knit it in my handspun  alpaca yarn in natural colours and I love the result, it has a wonderful drape.

The back of a person wearing a striped shawl
Color affection, by Veera Välimäki. Yarn is my handspun alpaca. Photo by Dan Waltin

When I changed jobs a few years ago, my colleagues gave me a gift voucher at a local yarn store (boy, did they know me well!) and I bought the yarn for and knit the Still light tunic, a garment I could live in.

One of my favourite Veera designs is the Shift of focus sweater, which I altered a bit. Instead of a buttoned front, I made it closed and I really loved the result. The yarn was a different matter, though. I wasn’t very used to making consistent grist, so the skeins were quite different in thickness. Also, I had spun too little yarn, so I had to make some more from another fleece. Fortunately I had the same dye bath left, so nobody knows the difference.

The torso of a person wearing a teal knitted top
Shift of focus, by Veera Välimäki. Yarn is my hand dyed and handspun from Jämtland sheep, Swedish finewool sheep and some silk. Photo by Dan Waltin

Right now I’m working on the Sides and stripes sweater. The yarn is my handspun from Swedish finewool sheep (blue) and Jämtland sheep (orange) and hand dyed with Greener shades.

Orange and blue hand spun skeins of yarn on a wash line
Yarn for Sides and stripes sweater by Veera Välimäki

I’ll show you when it’s finished!

The Gryffindor wand spindle

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a lottery at the Woodland woodworking forum at Ravelry. The turner Carl had made four beautiful one of a kind wand supported spindles in the colours of the Hogwarts houses – Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. All you had to do was to post which spindle you were interested in and Carl would draw the winners. Each winner would be able to buy their chosen spindle. I really wanted the Ravenclaw spindle, but it was already spoken for by the person who had originally suggested the idea of the house colour wands. Instead I chose the Gryffindor spindle. I didn’t really believe in winning, since most of the posts were on Gryffindor. But – like magic – I did!

So, a couple of days ago an owl landed at my doorstep with the wand in its beak. And I made a short video. Don’t forget the sound!

Spinning on a supported spindle – close-ups

I made a new video today!

I wanted to make a video on supported spindle spinning with all the segments of the spinning and with good close-ups and slow motion pieces. Hope you like it!

The spindle is from Malcolm Fielding and the bowl from the Skansen pottery. Fiber is merino/Tussah silk from Vinterverkstan and the sweater is Fileuse by Valérie Miller, knit in my handspun yarn.

Happy spinning!

Oh, Kate

One of my all-time favourite knitting designers is Kate Davies. She is from Scotland and many of her designs are influenced by the landscape and history of Scotland and Shetland. She has written several books, where she often combines and integrates stories of the area, history, tradition and beautiful photography with the patterns. Like the Moder Dy hap, where she tells the story of how these giant shawls were constructed and why, the origin and purpose of the different parts of the shawl and how she has adapted it to modern techniques and yarns. You can read more about the Moder Dy pattern in Kate’s blog. This hap is on my waiting list. I just have to spin a little more yarn before I can begin.

In the textile department of my book shelf I have three of her books, Colours of Shetland, The book of haps and Inspired by Islay, and I can recommend them all.

I don’t know what it is about her patterns that is so appealing. Perhaps it it the foundation in traditional techniques that she has adapted to a contemporary context. One example is the Paper dolls sweater pattern, a traditional sweater with a Fair Isle construction but with a more contemporary motif. I knit it a couple of years ago for my daughter. She complained that she always got hand-me-downs. But this one was only for her. Knit in my handspun, of course. Another such example is the Oa sweater. Also a Fair isle pattern, but knit as a modern hoody. It is also on my list and also in need of yarn being spun.

Connecting a pattern to a story is also something that gives a design an extra meaning. Like the Stevenson sweater and Stevenson gauntlets that origin from the story of a famous light house engineer. I knit it in my handspun yarn, but obviously I didn’t check the gauge properly and I had to make lots of adjustments to get a good fit.

Josefin Waltin standing by a tree, wearing knitted gauntlets and a short sleeve sweater
Stevenson sweater and Stevenson gauntlets, by Kate Davies. Yarn is my handspun. White and blue is Jämtland wool, fawn is Shetland wool. Photo by Dan Waltin.

Or perhaps it is just because her designs look so darn good and are so ingeniously smart constructed. The Northmavine hoody is one such design. The clever striping that looks just like blue stripes, but actually contains four different shades of blue and turquoise (you find the same stripes in the Northmavine hap as well). The clever hood construction that is so obvious when you think about it. And the super smart edgings  and finishings that don’t have one single seam. That is an ingenious pattern.

Josefin Waltin wearing a knitted hoody, scarf and hat
Northmavine Hoody, by Kate Davies. Yarn from Jamieson & Smith Shetland woolbrokers. Photo by Dan Waltin.

And as you may have seen on several of my videos I wear my Northmavine hoody a lot. I bought the pattern and the yarn in Shetland at Shetland wool week 2015 and I’m longing to go back. Perhaps the hoody takes me a little closer.

Slow fashion 2 and Outlander

Slow fashion connection to the Outlander series

I recently published my new video, Slow fashion 2 – from sheep to shawl. There is another aspect of this video as well. I saw the Starz TV-series (on Viaplay in Sweden) and read the book series Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and loved them. The short version is: A combat nurse in post-ww2 Scotland is on her second honeymoon with her husband, when she happens to walk through time in a circle of stones to 1743. The long version is 9000 pages so far (and worth every page!).

Series plot

The mid-18th century was before spinning mills as far as I know. Which would mean that every garment in this time was made from yarn that someone had spun by hand. If not, people would not be clothed at all. I don’t think every household had enough space and money to have their own spinning wheel or buy fabric from someone else, a lot of it was probably spun on a spindle, at least in more remote areas as the Highlands. Just the thought of all the work, skill and effort behind one single great kilt or dress makes me speechless.

Textile crafts in the series

There are a few places in Diana Gabaldon’s books that cover spinning, weaving  and dying, which all warmed my heart. Below is also a metaphorical description of the relationship between brother and sister Jamie and Jenny:

“Their shared childhood linked them forever, like the warp and the weft of a single fabric, but the patterns of their weave had been loosened, by absence and suspicion, then by marriage. Ian’s thread had been present in their weaving since the beginning, mine was a new one. How would the tensions pull in this new pattern, one thread against another?” From chapter 27 in Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

In the TV-series, costume designer Terry Dresbach has been extremely true to the time in creating all the amazing costumes. As a lover of all things woolen, I especially loved the parts in Scotland.

A person running with a plaid shawl behind her

My outlander inspired shawl

In the TV-series the heroine Claire is  wearing a plaid shawls when she goes through the stones. She leaves the shawl on the ground beneath the center stone in the 18th century. Later, she comes back to the stones and the shawl is still on the ground, all wrinkled, weathered and forgotten. I wanted to make a similar shawl, from scratch. I spun yarn and wove a plaid shawl in natural colours (I didn’t want to dive into the process of 18th century plant dying in Scotland). The tools I’m using are from my century, but the same kinds of tools were probably used in the 18th century.

Hobby vs real life necessity

This is a dear hobby to me, but during the whole process I kept thinking that this was real life back then and skills that people needed to feed and clothe themselves to stay alive. So in that aspect, it was not slow fashion at all. It was a necessary part of life.

In the video, there are a few parts where I’m flirting with the Outlander theme. If you are familiar with Outlander you will recognize them.

Plaid shawl hanging on washlline, old red house in background
The finished shawl. Photo by Dan Waltin

Slow fashion 2 – tools and designers

These are the tools I used in the video Slow fashion 2 – from sheep to shawl

First of all, the fleeces are from Jamieson & Smith Shetland woolbrokers.

Mini combs from Gammeldags

Carders from Kromski

Supported spindle from Neal Brand

Spindle bowl from Malcolm Fielding

Navajo spindle from Roosterick

Spinning wheel from Kromski

Lazy Kate from Kromski

Niddy-Noddy is my own handmade from a maple sapling

Rigid heddle loom and weaving accessories from Ashford

Second hand umbrella swift from Glimåkra

These are the designers, patterns and yarns featured in the video

Tumvantar mittens by Berit Westman, yarn is my handspun

Northmavine Hoody by Kate Davies, yarn from Shetland Woolbrokers

Stevenson Gauntlets by Kate Davies, yarn is my handspun

Stevenson sweater by Kate Davies, yarn is my handspun

Crofthoose hat by Ella Gordon, yarn is my handspun

Color affection shawl by Veera Välimäki, yarn is my handspun

Marin shawl by Ysolda Teague, yarn from Wollmeise

Fileuse sweater by Valérie Miller, yarn is my handspun, see also my first slow fashion-video.

Northmavine hap by Kate Davies, yarn form Shetland woolbrokers

Daisy crescent by Kieran Foley, main colour yarn my handspun, daisies are scraps from handspun and store bought

Ulli dress by Kristin Jelsa, yarn from Magasin duett

Walk along t-shirt from Ankestrick, yarn from Växbo lin

East end top from Alicia Plummer, yarn from Quince & co.

Josefin Waltin sitting outside carding wool
Carding Shetland wool. Photo by Dan Waltin

Slow fashion 2 – from sheep to shawl

Here it is, finally. My second bigger video project Slow fashion 2 – from sheep to shawl.

Slow fashion and the value of a craft

I wanted to make another video on the slow fashion theme. Also, I wanted to show some other aspects of crafting. I have seen people sell handmade items for basically the cost of the material, which is such a shame. There is so much talent, time, effort and experience behind a handmade item. People don’t give it a second thought in a society where we expect to have stuff and we are in turn expected to buy more stuff (that has preferably been shipped three times around the globe). Giant store buildings are popping up like mushrooms because we don’t have any space left for all our stuff. This video is about the value of good craftmanship and all the time, tradition, skill and effort that lie behind it.

Josefin Waltin sitting outside by the spinning wheel. There are garden chairs around her with smartphones attached to them for filming.
In the studio, with garden chairs as camera stands. Photo by Dan Waltin

For the love of spinning

The video is also about the love of spinning. I try to capture the way spinning gives me that meditative feeling, how the motions and the touch of the fibers gives me serenity and a sense of weightlessness.

The leading fleeces

The fiber in the shawl is from two natural colour Shetland fleeces. The warp was spun worsted on a spinning wheel from hand-combed tops and 2-plied. The weft was spun woolen on a Navajo spindle from hand-carded rolags into a singles yarn. The shawl was woven on a 60 cm rigid heddle loom on double width.

Josefin Waltin standing in field with plaid shawl over her arm, sheep in the background.
The finished shawl. Photo by Dan Waltin

For tools and designers, see this post. For a connection to Outlander, look here.