Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

24. August 2011 08:03
by Jobo
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Playing... with samples

24. August 2011 08:03 by Jobo | 0 Comments

Often when you buy a new spindle... a handful or chunk of some sort of fiber is included - presumably so you can test out the spindle and learn how to use it properly.  But what do you do with all of the little yarn samples?  they aren't really big enough to make an entire project with, but at the same time it feels wrong to just throw them in the leftovers bin with all the other tiny leftover balls of yarn.  (If I was smart, I'd likely throw some of that stuff away, but you never know when you need waste yarn to do a provisional cast on, or tie tomato plants to a trellis...)

diamond pattern 4 swatch

This is what became of the sample of Ashland Bay Merino that came a few weeks ago with a Turkish spindle I acquired... I didn't weigh the fiber itself, and I didn't measure the final yardage of the thread - but there was lots and lots.  I'd hazard a guess of somewhere between 100 - 150 yards of light lace weight.  The thread itself is 2 ply, and a little bit lighter than a standard lace. 

I love the color!  This is the "Violet" solid colorway.  I often shy away from solid colors, but I think I should try something like this again.  I liked the simplicity of the spin... no handpainted colors to arrange, or heathers to worry about even spinning so the colors would mix appropriately.

The swatch is another piece from the Haapsalu Shawl Book (which I've raved about many times before, and no doubt will again).  I've been working different samples from the book with the hopes that someday I will be capable of knitting myself an authentic (or as close as possible to it) Haapsalu shawl from handspun yarn.  Traditionally these are knit from 100% wool... which has a nice amount of bounce and stretch, and apparently is the best thing for knitting Nupps (the little bobble-ish things you see in the center of the diamonds above.  Nupp rhymes with "soup")  This particular pattern is one of the "Diamond" motifs, named Diamond Pattern #4 in the book.  The swatch was knit on size 4 mm needles, with a slipped stitch on the left and right edges to make an easily blockable rectangle of lace.  I like the way that the slipped stitch creates the chain-like edge... Perfect for simple blocking.  The finished sample swatch is 9 x 18 inches - if I had had 3x as much, it would have almost been a whole narrow scarf!  Yeek!

People have asked before what I actually do with my lace swatches, and the simple answer is - basically nothing.  I have a little pile of lace pieces.  I pet them, and play with them, and generally abuse them by carrying them in pockets to see how the yarn holds up to wear.  I've thought of sewing them together or something, but they are all different shapes and sizes.  The thought also crossed my mind of having some of the pretty ones framed or something.  Mostly, the swatches just help me to learn about the yarns I make, practice blocking intricate laces, and also practice knitting complex and foreign lace motifs.  It's like test-driving a pattern/motif before really committing to it ;)  I know some people hate swatching with passion, and feel that it is a big waste of time.  I think I might be a swatch-a-holic!

8. April 2011 08:21
by Jobo
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Back to the "Swatching" Board...

8. April 2011 08:21 by Jobo | 0 Comments

You might have noticed the swatch under Grampy's Scissors in the post on Monday... What WAS that anyways?  Well... it is the latest Angora swatch... testing out some lovely traditional Estonian designs from a book I bought recently Haapsalu Shawl by Siiri Reimann.  The book itself is amazing!  It isn't exactly a step-by-step pattern book, more an anthology of wonderful traditional patterns and motifs.  Drool Drool.

Lily of the valley swatch

The yarn (or dare I say "Thread") is a soft blend of "Blue" English Angora fiber (from my "Private" supplier *wink wink*) and some  Handpainted Seasilk Top that I've been tiptoing around in my stash.  The Seasilk is dyed in Blues and Purples, reminiscent of lazy purple sunset clouds and the color of perfect faded blue jeans.  When mixed with the Angora, the result is a very light, very soft hand, and a delightful muted purple tone.

To give you an idea of size... this swatch was knitted on 2 mm needles, with the light 2-ply laceweight, and still looks quite airy!  The blocked piece is around 4 inches by 5.25 inches.  Not very large, but full of movement, and very light and drapy.

lily swatch

The motif featured is a variation of "Lily of the Valley" - with lots of nice Nupp stitches (basically little bobbles) interspersed with lacy YO loops, and an alternating Maple Leaf.  I worked these nupps with 5x wraps, but I think if I actually go forward with this I might do 7x or 9x just to make them extra full and textured.

My goal is to choose a traditional pattern and make a classic Haapsalu shawl from my own Ruttiger Fuzzybutt fiber... complete with a sewn on border, and the proper Haapsalu dimensions.  I'm guessing I will need somewhere around 1500 yards of thread to accomplish such a project, but that shouldn't be a big deal if I can finalize my fiber blend.  I'm not sure how much the thread will fuzz up, or whether that fuzzing will obscure the lace and the nupps.  I plan on abusing the swatch a little and then I'll gauge from there if the yarn will serve the purpose.

7. February 2011 12:05
by Jobo
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Yarn Candy Monday: not yarny so much...

7. February 2011 12:05 by Jobo | 0 Comments

haapsalu_shawlIn the last little bit... there hasn't been a lot of new yarn coming into the house... a few things here and there, but no real beauty skeins just waiting to be showcased.  So today, instead, I thought I would show you a new book that arrived in the mail last week! The Haapsalu Shawl:  A knitted Lace Tradition from Estonia

Quite honestly, this book is crazy!  Crazy good of course, but still quite intimidating.  I have been in love with Estonian lace from the moment I first saw it... and when I hear this book had been translated into English, I really couldn't help myself.

This isn't so much a pattern book, as an anthology of the traditional lace motifs and borders used in the very beautiful Haapsalu Shawls and Scarves of Estonia.  There are more than 100 beautiful lace designs charted out... from lilies of the valley with their lovely nupps, to Greta Garbo patterns, leaves, vines, butterflies, and so many more.  I have read each article, and flipped through the lace sections a dozen times already.  The beauty of the fine lace just takes my breath away.

Also, in the beginning of this Estonian Lace "Bible", there is a section describing the traditional shawl and scarf makeup.  It shows dimensions, proper arrangement, sample stitch counts, seaming diagrams, blocking instructions, yarn suggestions... all the things a knitter needs to make a *real* authentic Haapsalu Shawl.  Perfect for a wannabe like me... so I can someday try this.

I have chosen a few lace styles that I really love... and am making lots of mental notes about the shawl I want to make someday.  I've started looking for commercially available yarn, but will likely end up spinning my own, perhaps from Merino, or Cashmere Blend or something.  A girl can dream... can't she?

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