Jobo Designs

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

17. July 2009 08:41
by Jobo

Swallowtail: Before and After

17. July 2009 08:41 by Jobo | 3 Comments

July 16/09 Sometime in the Morning - the BEFORE

I finished the last bit of the Lily of the Valley section quite quickly and breezed through the last two portions.  I decided to follow the "written out" directions for this pattern (mostly because I am not as comfortable reading charts as I would like yet) and really enjoyed this knit from cast on to bind off.  If I had time to work on something like this steadily over a week or so I think I could have finished completely in a week… instead of the month it took me with all the breaks and periods of non-knitting in there. 

Surprisingly I only used one ball of the yarn.  This amazes me completely, because I thought for sure that 4 ounces wouldn’t be enough for any major kind of project.  This entire shawl was completed with TWO ounces of yarn.  Hmmmm something makes me wonder if I am calculating something wrong or missing some important observation to tie this whole thing together. 

Either way, I finished with NO modifications, and it looks to be fairly small laying on the coffee table.  I think this might be deceiving though, because when I stretch it out so that the lace opens up… the thing almost doubles in size.  I think I will be surprised to see how much it will grow during the blocking process. 

In a way I am kind of afraid to do too severe a blocking, which is what I think this shawl might need coincidentally.  Because it is made of singles I have this dread that maybe a thread might drift apart somewhere, or get weak from the stretching and pulling and make a weak spot in the fabric that could open and ravel.  I didn’t find ANY place along the yarn that felt too “loose” on twist, or felt like it might drift… but after all the knitting hours spent on Swallowtail, those things happening sound a bit like a knitting disaster.   

The plan is to soak her this weekend and then gently block her on the spare bed.  I have been trying to get my hands on some stainless steel wire lengths to use as blocking wires this time, but I am not having much luck finding any. For the straight portion along the top and spine of the shawl… I think this time I might try running a thicker string (aka braid or shoelace) between 2 pins to create a kind of wire like line… and see if I like the feeling of it.  The other thing that someone on the Ravelry do-it-yourself knitting tools page suggested was to open up plastic coated wire coat hangers and use those as blocking wires.  I suppose if you used decent quality ones and watched for rusting that this might work out okay too in a pinch. 

The other option would be to just bite the bullet and go out and buy a proper set of blocking wires.  The only thing that erks me about that is the fact that there are no stores around here that sell such a thing, and I’m not sure how ridiculous the shipping would be on a set of 36 inch long wires… maybe I will have to look into it more. 


I had planned on waiting until the weekend to block the finished shawl... but I just  couldn't help myself.  I stayed up a little later than I normally would... gathered the necessary blocking junk and got to work!


July 16/09 Sometime after 11pm - The AFTER

I had originally decided to wait to block this shawl until I had gotten to the metalworks store to buy my new blocking wires.  (1 lb of 36 inch long Stainless Steel Tig wires... approximately 30 pieces... for FIFTEEN BUCKS!  taxes in.  that's a score!) 

My impatience is showing again I guess, because although it was bedtime (6 am comes waaay too early these days)  I really wanted to see how big the shawl would grow when blocked... would the lace and nupps stand out proudly?  would the yarn drift apart and I would have to cry myself to sleep?  too many unanswered questions.

Because I had "wires" on the brain... I wondered if I had anything around the house that might act wire-like under the right circumstances.  I finally decided on trying doubled up worsted weight yarn, which I strung through the lace in the same manner you would thread wires, and then sewed the lines down into the edges of the mattress so I could pull them tight.  Then I used a combination of eyeballing and measuring to even out the distribution of the lace on the lines.

This half-assed technique actually worked better than I thought it would!  I can totally see how the rigid wires would take a lot of the fiddlyness out of stretching out the lace.  Because my yarn lines didn't stay perfectly straight (despite really yanking on them and tying them down quite securely) I did use more pins that you probably would have to if you were using wires.

Close up of my yarn wires and an overall view of the shawl

As for Growth... I was very surprised at how much everything grew after soaking and blocking.  Straignt off the needles Swallowtail was less than 40 inches from wing tip to wing tip, and less than 20 inches along the spine.  After blocking - 54 x 28!  I think that's completely amazing!  Here I was worrying that it was going to be so small that it was useless (who wants a shawl that's more like a big bandanna? seriously)  And after the bath and the stretch she is just perfect!  I am a fairly small person,  so I think the size will be just right... can't wait to get home tonight and peel it off the bed and try it out!

I am really pleased with the gentle stripes of colour.  I was nervous that the way I had spun this originally (to be one ply of a 3 ply worsted yarn... but I decided to try leaving it as singles last minute) would result in a displeasing distribution of colours.  My original plan was to take a coloured painted roving and just tear bits and pieces off of it in a random way and just spin it.  None of the stripes or colour changes were planned.  I guess my random colour placement wasn't as random as I thought, because just look at the stripes and ripples!  I'm not sure I could have planned it that well if I had been trying?

closeup!  trying to show several sections of lace...

closeup of Nupps!

Overall, another pleasing project!  and BONUS! I have enough of the same yarn to do it all over again if I want :P  (should there be Swallowtail Twins?)


16. July 2009 11:23
by Jobo

Still Jigging away... Swallowtail Shawl

16. July 2009 11:23 by Jobo | 0 Comments

I've been knitting away on the Swallowtail... and I finally finished the Budding Lace portion… 

In the end I decided not to mess with the number of repeats as I had been considering before.  I was afraid that increasing the repeats would result in a final stitch count number that would cause too much grief and tears if it didn’t match up with the required stitch count for the next lace section.


I figure if I want to mess with the pattern and take some artistic license maybe I should at least try making the shawl as written ONCE before I completely destroy it ;)


I think I have lots of yarn… at this point I am at around the 12th row of the Lily of the Valley section and have still not exhausted the first ball of yarn.  I did decide on doing the Nupps… Mostly because I had been too busy this weekend to go bead hunting, and because after some pondering I realized that the yarn was a little “fuzzy” and I wasn’t sure I could pull it through the beads with a crochet hook without potentially altering the strength of the single ply yarn.  So to play it safe / lazy… I just did the nupps anyways,


My tips on how to successfully do Nupps:

-          Think Loose… really loose. 

-          Try and make sure you pull back a little extra on each loop of the (K1, yo, K1, yo, K1) in the same stitch

-          When you reach the next row where you are purling 5 together… watch as you insert the needle… try and keep it straight in line with the needle holding the stitches and just gently slip it in

-          I like to hold back the YO after the 5 to be pearled together with my thumbnail as I am working the P5tog… to avoid any chance of it getting in the way.

-          No matter what you do, at least one of your nupps will end up so tight that your needle won’t be able to slide in.  Do NOT get discouraged - It happens.

-          Keep a smaller sized DPN handy and use it to pearl your stitch.  I found there was less swearing when I just used the DPN instead of trying over and over again to use the proper sized needle (square peg, round hole – ladies and gentlemen)

-          If you are really unsure – swatch first ;)  I just took some scrap yarn, cast on about 10 stitches, and worked a few rows in stockinette stitch… on the next knit row I tried the pattern stitch

o       YO, in same stitch work: (K1, yo, K1, yo, K1) YO

o       On the way back on the pearl side… see if you can recognize the YOs and the nupps… try the P5tog as you go across. 

-          Be brave J you can totally do it!

Here are some pics of what the front and back of a Nupp look like.... I know I wondered before I started...

Being that I DO have so much yarn… a whole skein that I haven’t touched yet…I am now wondering if I should do just one repeat of the Lily of the Valley lace or try and double it up?  (here we go again… it’s like my brain tries to work faster than my fingers, but then realizes it’s an idiot and shuts-up)  I think I will just get through this part of the pattern and see what it looks like before I make any rash decisions.


I can’t seem to decide if it will be big enough as is… I have the same problem with quilts!  I start with a size and then usually end up making it bigger and bigger (hey, if you are going to spend so much time on a project… shouldn’t it be big enough for ANY bed?) until I either run out of time or run out of fabric.  I have even gone out and bought MORE fabric to make something bigger.  For some reason I can’t seem to be content with a small quilt, though many people prefer to make them.

This particular yarn and pattern will really need a good blocking I think.  Some of the other patterns I have worked on practically lied flat without hardly doing anything to them.  It seems when I pseudo block it (aka pin it to my couch with some quilt pins and stretch it out a bit) that the lace really opens up, and will perhaps be bigger than I think it will be?  Maybe it will be just fine in size… I guess I just have to be patient and wait and see!  


Here are a few closeups of Nupps and the lace Detail...  Will be ready for blocking probably this weekend :)


13. June 2009 09:27
by Jobo

Breaking the Rules... Refusal to ply :P

13. June 2009 09:27 by Jobo | 3 Comments

Faced with a dye lot dilemma I cracked under pressure...  I couldn't decide what to do with the second bag, and I didn't want to waste all that lovely lavender and blue loveliness - I decided to leave it as singles.

This would be my first attempt at singles, so there were many things I did not know.  I.e.  how twisty should singles be so that they are still soft but not so twisty that you have a completely kinky mess!  Single ply yarns tend to be a little bit biasy anyways, so I've come to learn, so I figured that since I had tried to use a "minimal" twist in this yarn anyways that maybe it would be okay once it was washed.

So I wound the bobbins onto my Niddy Noddy and held my breath while I pulled one end of the skein off.... I was sort of expected super twisty disaster... but instead here is what it looked like:

Not nearly as messy as I thought.  It was kind of interesting too how the twist seemed to make a twirl about every inch or so.  I'm not sure if this is a sign that the twist was fairly even?  since it all decided to kink at even intervals? (or is this just wishful thinking? I think my consistancy HAS gotten better over the last year)

Another pic, because it's actually kindof pretty.  The sections of blue and grey combine to make a kind of Lavender color... and the polwarth is very clean and almost shiny.  I had a hard time putting it in the bath... I wanted to keep touching it.

Next, the soaking and drying.  I decided to put the skeins into very hot water to soak, and thwack it well once it had cooled off enough to touch.  I hoped that would be enough to hold it together.  It seemed that later on winding it into a ball that it did seem fairly strong, though I'm still not sure.  If it isn't strong enough, I may have to bite the bullet and find a plan C...

After the soak, there really wasn't much kink left, but to be sure that it evened out as much as it could, I strung some half-empty cleaner bottles from the skeins (Ignore the horrible coloring... this is my laundry Room)  Since it is almost summertime here, the drying conditions were so so and the skein was pretty much dry by the morning.  (it's not inappropriate to bring a damp newly made skein of yarn to work to show a friend is it?  oops.)

Here is one skein all finished!  (There are two, and goodness they looked great all snuggled up together, and better still nestled together as one skein... but some bozo was toooo impatient to wait for sunshine to take a picture before she wound number two into a ball.  She thought she could start knitting sooner... lol)

Here is a slightly blurry closeup... but it shows the colour so nicely.  Soft blue and lavender ripples.  Almost reminds me of the purplish colour you see as the shadow under big puffy white clouds on a sunny day.  I think I will call this finished yarn "Lavender Skies"

And here she is all wound up and ready to go.  Now I just need to find a pattern.  I'm thinking of making some sort of shawl/wrap/scarf?  Something pretty light duty that won't wear out fast or get all nubbly, but still a garment that will flatter the softness and lightness of the yarn.  My coworkers couldn't believe that this yarn was 100% wool (one gentleman even asked if it was cotton or something) because there is absolutely no itchy wool feel.  The finished texture is super soft and super squishy.  I ended up with about 750 yards or so of this yarn, so definetly enough for a small shawlette or a nice lacy scarf.  The final count was about 22-25 WPI and I used 4 ounces of fibre.


** Now I have come to realize days later that when you make singles you are supposed to twist in the opposite direction so the finished yarn has a specific twist, but I think I am going to try working it anyways and see what happens.  Another raveler suggested if it comes "unwound" in my knitting and gets to weak to use, that perhaps I can crochet something out of it, since crochet doesn't tend to untwist the yarn in the same direction as knitting it does. **


Happy spinning/knitting all :)

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