Jobo Designs

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

24. March 2011 10:25
by Jobo
2 Comments

Silver Strawberries: Finished!

24. March 2011 10:25 by Jobo | 2 Comments

Finally... after many months of work...

Ruttiger and Silver Strawberries Stole

My "Silver Strawberries" stole is complete!  The finished shawl is so light and soft... just like the Bunny it was grown on!

Strawberries Stole floor folded JPG

I guess I should start back in the beginning:  The yarn.  When Ruttiger was a baby, and going through his first Molt I was obsessed with keeping as much of his first coat as possible.  Many people say that the baby fur isn't much of a yield, so it isn't worth keeping really.  I was unbothered by this though, and carefully kept every wisp of fur off of the brush and plucking carefully stored away in a box for safe keeping.  In the end, I didn't have that much of it (maybe 2 - 3 ounces) but I really wanted to make something special out of it some day.

bowl of battsAfter doing much research about Orenburg lace, I thought maybe this might be a good way to use it up.  Traditional Orenburg lace is made from a specific breed of Goat's down, spun by hand cobweb/gossamer weight, and sometimes plied with silk for strength.  I know Angora is no substitute for mohair or goat down, but I *did* have an abundance of it, so I thought maybe I could try it anyways? 

I took poofs of Ruttiger's fur and lightly carded them with pinches of steely carbonized bamboo and creamy soft Merino wool, hoping that those few pinches of longer fiber would lend some strength to the delicate angora strand.  I'd estimate that those small bits of bamboo and wool would amount together to no more than 5% of the total weight combined.

imageFor added strength and shine, I spun a very fine single of pure white Tussah Silk.  I've learned that I absolutely love spinning silk on my Golding Dragonfly ceramic inset spindle.  It's just the right weight for spinning fine yarns - 0.7 ounces - and is perfect for portable spinning too.  This little guy tucks perfectly into my purse! 

The plying process was a bit challenging for this yarn... I thought doing it on the wheel made more sense, but I found it really difficult to apply the correct amount of twist.  My first ball of yarn was quite underplied, though I thought I was probably twisting way to much.  I decided to ply the second and third balls of yarn on a heavier Golding spindle.  This was surprisingly much easier, and actually faster too.  Those two teensy plies took a lot more twisting than I would have imagined.

Once the yarn was completed, I decided to hunt for a pattern.  I had purchased Galina Khmeleva's book Gossamer Webs Design Collection, but the patterns in that book are quite large, and a lot more complicated than I wanted for a beginner Orenburg project.  I saw online where another Ravelry user had drafted a chart for a beginner stole with some traditional stitch motifs.  Basically it was just a chart, no instructions.  Since I had the book to use as a reference, I decided that it would be a learning experience... and just went for it! 

The pattern can be found here:  Orenburg Stole: Just a little strawbery by Russian Lily

In retrospect, I really don't think anyone could work this shawl from the schematic-style pattern alone.  You would need some help, either from a real live Russian knitter, or a book of some sort to be able to make sense of it.  Having said that though, it was a very enjoyable knit, and I learned so much doing it!  I know that someday I want to try one of those super-large gossamer wedding ring shawls.  I think I need a bit more practice at gossamer spinning, but I will definitely make one some day!

Now for the shawl itself!  I love it.  I adore it. I am so freaking impressed with myself!  I know that isn't the most humble thing.  I love it so much that I almost don't care!  *wink wink*

 

Strawberries Stole floor edging

Let's start in the beginning... the edging!  Orenburg shawls are knit with the edgings in one piece.  You begin the piece by knitting the bottom edging, turn the corner and pick up stitches back across for the main lace panel.  Then you knit the edge all the way up both sides as you go, then finish the piece off by working in the body stitches into the border as you go across.  It sounds devilishly complicated, but is quite straightforward if you follow along with a reference like the Gossamer Webs book.  Apparently most Orenburg Gossamer Shawls use a "5-hole" tooth border.  Mine was the simplest version... but you can count above... 5 holes in, then 5 holes out.  repeat.

Strawberries Stole diamond

The main body of the shawl features several traditional lace stitches.   Orenburg lace is knit in "garter" stitch.  Unlike other traditions where the "wrong side" rows are mostly purled across, when working in garter lace, you actually knit the wrong side rows.  This felt quite weird at first, but was easy to get used to.  I wasn't sure how I would like the finished look, but after blocking, the garter opens right up, with a quite pleasing finished appearance!

The other thing I was surprised to learn was that in Orenburg lace, there are no directional decreases.  All decreases are done with a simple K2tog, or K3tog.  This is a big change for me after making so much Estonian style lace.  Directional decreases are much more important apparently when working in stockinette lace (where the wrong side rows are purled)

Strawberries Stole halosee the halo?

As the name would imply, this stole features the "Strawberry" motif for the edging and the little flower-looking parts inside the graphic diamonds.  The other main features is a "peas" pattern - which actually has a pattern stitch on both sides of the piece.  This took a little getting used to, but was fun to challenge myself to pay attention to both sides of the work.

Strawberries Stole floor folded

The finished shawl blocked to 24 x 55 inches and only weighs 1.8 ounces!  Wearing it feels like wearing a cobweb around your shoulders.  It is so light and airy... but with the silk it's stronger than it looks.  I've been wearing it around a bit, trying to gauge how well it will last.  I don't want to wreck it, but at the same time, I can't bear the thought of it hiding in a box forever either!

Strawberries Stole windtossed 3

Trying to photograph it... the light wind was enough to toss the stole in the wind!

Strawberries Stole windtossed 2

I love the way it fluttered along in the breeze.  See how the sun picks up the silk shine?

Strawberries Stole whole 

All in all - another successful lace project.  I learned a ton, and plus the stole is extra special because it's made with my Baby's fur!  That makes it an extra special item.  This is the first project where I've raised the animal, prepared the fiber, spun the yarn, knit the stole, and completed the entire thing myself!  Yay Me!

10. August 2009 10:39
by Jobo
0 Comments

Golding Spindle - amazed beyond words!

10. August 2009 10:39 by Jobo | 0 Comments

I knew just from seeing photographs of Golding spindles that I wanted to have one of my own someday... but seriously folks, this is a Niiiicccceee spindle!

Like a kid in the candy shop, I arrived at the post office to pick up my new toy, and was so excited that I had the box torn open and was digging inside before the lady at the desk was even able to find my name in the received log!  Gently wrapped in tissue paper in all her glory - my new spindle!

From the moment I unwrapped it, it was obvious that this spindle was made by a seriously talented craftsman.  All wood surfaces are baby's-bottom smooth and pleasing to the touch. The bronze alloy accents add just enough gleam to compliment the walnut.  Classy. 

 

So I was obviously in love the second I saw it... but how does it spin?  Like a dream. 

Compared to the primitive old crappy thing I had been using before (made from a child's wooden toy wheel and a piece of dowel) the Golding feels so refined and professional.  The shaft has little grooves cut into the wood to help improve grip when giving the spindle a flick start - it feels like it takes no effort at all to get it started.  And once the spindle has started spinning... the balanced whorl just keeps going and going forever.  Even though I am not a very experienced spindler, I can draft all the way to the floor when working in the standing position (thats like 3.5 feet) and there is still plenty of spin potential.  Having the weight distributed in a ring around the perimeter of the whorl makes the spinning effortless.  Even the hook feels balanced.  Every stage of the spinning process is a delight working on this spindle.  I guess having quality tools to work with really makes a difference!?  Gotta love tools that are beautiful AND functional.

For my first project on the Golding I decided to use up my last braid of Fleece Artist Merino/Silk Sliver - blues and greens in the colours of the ocean.  I thought this might be a good thing to start with because of the clingyness of the preparation.  I found that the fibers weren't too slippery, and hopefully I wouldn't drop my beautiful new spindle on the floor too many times.  This is the third braid of this fiber that I had bought to learn on as one of my first fiber projects.

 

The resulting 2 cops of singles are quite thin, a thin laceweight likely.  My goal is to make a really airy gossamer scarf with it.  Something pretty and lacy.  I know I don't have much yardage, but that's ok - just because I live in Canada doesn't mean I want a hundred big bulky warm scarves!  I skeined and washed the singles last night, and they are hanging off the back of the bathroom door at home waiting patiently for me to get home from work tonight and ball them up.  The colours are sooooo beautiful... like waves on the ocean in every shade of sun-kissed blue green and turquoise.  Will post more pics later on :)

Bottom line:

- Thinking about investing in a Golding Spindle?  Go for it.  This is amazing craftsmanship, and worth every penny.  Every time I pick it up, I have a difficult time to put it down... kind of like putting down a good book.  This Spindle is my new favorite fiber tool!

Golding Fiber Tools

 

22. July 2009 13:09
by Jobo
1 Comments

Worth it's Weight in Gold... ing

22. July 2009 13:09 by Jobo | 1 Comments

I've been eyeing up Tom Golding's Spindles and Wheels for a while... every time I check out the site I have to wipe the drool off of my keyboard! (link here if you are brave enough ;))

The wheels especially are exquisite, albeit quite a ways outside my price range.  They have some custom designed ones that are just incredible, with carved animals and vines.  You just have to see them to believe them.  If I were to somehow win a few million dollars, I'd place my order for a dragonfly wheel tomorrow!

Last evening, while working an exceptionally boring overtime shift at the hospital... I happened upon an article about spindles again.  I decided I should finally take the plunge and get myself a spindle that is made of quality materials.  The one I have now is a beginner spindle, made from a wooden toy car wheel and a dowel, is still raw wood without any finish, and is on the heavy side.  This one is the polar opposite :)

This spindle is made of Walnut and has a beautiful bronze celtic knot inlay, and a bronze ring.  She weighs 1.6 ounces (so on the medium to light side) and has a 2 3/4 inch whorl.  The dark wood and fancy inlay make this spindle look so elegant!  I'm sure it will be a dream to spin with.... must choose fiber for test run mwa ha ha!

Now I just have to wait for her to arrive :(  Shipping is supposed to take 7-10 days, but the maker has contacted me to tell me that everything is in order, and the product is on it's way.  Great customer service also by the way!

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