In 2019 I started spinning yarn for a pair of two-end knitted sleeves. I have worked on and off on them since then, but now they are finally finished!

You can see videos where I spin the yarn here and where I knit the sleeves here. You can read more about two-end (twined) knitting here and about the project here.

It started with some sweet locks of dalapäls wool I got from a shepherdess, Carina. She had collected the longest locks from several of her sheep and I got to buy them. I had been keen to knit a pair of two-end knitted sleeves and when I saw the locks I knew they would be the perfect candiates for the yarn.

Two-end knitting

Two-end knitting is a very old Scandinavian knitting technique where you use two strands of yarn and twist them around each other on the wrong side. This creates horisontal twisted ridges on the wrong side and makes the fabric very sturdy and wind-proof. You knit quite tightly with small circumference needles.

The right side to the left and and the wrong side to the right.

I choose to have the right side facing, which is traditional in Sweden. In Norway it seems to be more common with the wrong side facing, often for workwear garments and accessories.

It takes time

I have worked on these sleeves for a very long time. With long pauses obviously, but spinning the 430 grams of yarn that the sleeves required on a spindle does take time. I spun the yarn on a supported spindle from the tip end of lightly teased locks. Mainly in bed in the evenings before I went to sleep. It was the loveliest way to end the day.

Here is the whole process – lock, teased lock, singles, plied yarn, skein, ball and the two-end knitted sleeve.

The knitting technique in itself is slow too, and add to that 2 millimeter needles and a tight gauge. As always, I have knitted the sleeves parallel. I do not want to risk either a second sleeve syndrome or different sized sleeves due to different tensions.

Many a journey

The sleeves have accompanied me on many train journeys, to the farthest north in Sweden and down south to Austria. The journeys and my experiences are now forever knitted into the sleeves.

I cast on for the sleeves just before I went to a teaching gig at Sätergläntan back in 2019. Two-end knitting is the perfect train craft – it usually dosen’t take up very much space and the knitting is slow and mindful. As the yarn gets too twisten I hold it up and let the ball untwist the yarn. I remember a lady watching me on the train, smiling. When I readied myself to get off she approached me and asked if I was going to Sätergläntan and if I was two-end knitting. She said she was nearly blind, but she had recognized the motion I had made to untwist the yarn. She was of course a knitter too and had taken many courses at Sätergläntan herself.

Frogging and finding sheep

I had calculated the increasing of stitches, but as I approached the upper arms I realized the sleeves were a bit on the slim side. On the 2020 wool journey I asked the teacher Karin Kahnlund for advice and she said I should frog a large part of the sleeves and make more increases. For a long while I didn’t knit at all, the project didn’t sing to me at the time.

Spinning away.

Eventually I did pick up the project and started the long journey to the upper arms, now with frogged yarn. It went quite well, until I realized I didn’t have enough yarn. I needed to find another sheep with the same staple length. I put the project aside again. Six months ago I did find my fleece – a lovely one from my dalapäls shepherd friend Lena’s ewe Nehne. I started spinning again. This time my heart sang. I had found a sweet spinning rhythm that moved me from winter to spring in a mindful flow.

Sleeve caps

I have been knitting on most of the coffee breaks at work since January, spinning at home on the couch. And suddenly, a couple of weeks ago I had reached the armholes. I wasn’t comfortable calculating the decreases for the sleeve caps on my own, so I looked for help. Luckily, Karin Kahnlund, one of the most skilled two-end knitters and knitting teachers in Sweden has her studio just a couple of kilometers from my house and she offers tuition twice a month.

I went to Karin’s place and found myself in the midst of five ladies and their two-end knitting projects and Karin walking between all of us and guiding us. She helped me calculate the decreases and gave me lots of feedback on my plans for the sleeves (which will be another post).

Cut the steeks

Two-end knitting is almost always done in the round. It is a lot easier than working back and forth. The back and forth method also results in stitches tilting in different directions. So her advice for me was to knit the sleeve cap decreases in the round and then cut the steeks.

I know cutting steeks works perfectly fine, but still, it’s totally nerve wrecking! I did finish the decreases and I did manage to cut the steeks without either fainting or ruining the sleeves. The shape of the sleeve caps looks really nice. All is as it should be.

Fulling and fluffing

To make the steeks a little more reliable I decided to full them slightly. I also wanted to make the wrong sides a little fluffier against my skin. So I dusted off my sweet waulking board, turned the sleeves inside out and worked them against the board. As a bonus the soap and the hot water helped clean the sleeves too. They were a bit dirty from all their adventures through the last four years.

I fulled the wrong sides of the sleeves slightly to make them softer and fluffier.

I do have plans for a bodice to attach the sleeves to. I’m just not ready to share that yet. But I can tell you that it will be splendid! To be continued when it’s finished.

Happy spinning!

You can find me in several social media:

  • This blog is my main channel. This is where I write posts about spinning, but also where I explain a bit more about videos I release. Sometimes I make videos that are on the blog only. Subscribe or make an rss feed to be sure not to miss any posts.
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  • I have a facebook page where I link to all my blog posts, you are welcome to follow me there.
  • I run an online spinning school, welcome to join a course! You can also check out my course page for courses in Sweden.
  • On Patreon you can get early access to new videos and other Patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patreon only benefits. The contributions from my patrons is an important way to cover the costs, time and energy I put into the videos and blog posts I create. Shooting and editing a 3 minute video takes about 5 hours. Writing a blog post around 3. You can read more about my Patreon page here.
  • You are also welcome to make one-off donations on my Ko-fi page.
  • Follow me on Instagram.  I announce new blog posts, share images from behind the scenes and post lots of woolliness.
  • Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
  • In all the social media I offer, you are more than welcome to contact me. Interacting with you helps me make better content. My private Facebook page, however, will remain private.
  • I support Centro de textiles tradicionales del Cusco, a group of talented textile artists in Cusco, Peru who dedicate their work to the empowerment of weavers through the revitalization and sustainable practice of Peruvian ancestral textiles in the Cusco region. Please consider supporting their work by donating to their causes.
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7 Replies to “Sleeves”

  1. I remember seeing these sleeves before the frogging process when you had discovered they were too small. At that moment the sleeves were in “time out.” That makes it even more impressive to see them finished and I’m really excited to see the rest of the project.

  2. Josefin, I was wondering what the sleeves will become attached to, but now I read the Patreon post and will look forward to your surprise. I had immediately thought of a long ago Norse pattern I saw in one of my Scandinavian knitting books of a knitted sleeves sewn to a wool felled fabric and then all dyed in red. The black pattern in the red dyed sleeves was very attractive and still remains on my to-do list. Can’t wait to see yours!

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