I’m knitting again.

I know it’s a weird statement, on a knitting blog. But this rut I’ve been in has extended to anything harder than garter stitch blankets. But I’m working on a trade, a scarf for a Christmas ornament, and I’m really enjoying the project. I’m not working on anything terribly complicated-lace on largish needles with bulky yarn. It’s pleasant enough though-and I like the yarn. Always a bonus.

As I settled into the rhythm, I realized that the needles I’m using are bright green-which triggered an idea I’ve had for this column for a long time and have mentioned in passing on occasion. But it’s unofficially Memory Month, so if I’m rehashing an idea, it’s actually appropriate.

There is an idea, in relation to folk magic and urban legend, that you can work spells and raise energy with fiber arts. The basic idea is an extension of knot magic: knitting is basically a series of needle-worked knots, and knots can be used to ‘trap’ or catch energy. So in theory, you could work up spell bits and bobs, in various colors, and hold onto energy that way. If you wanted, you could hold the piece until the end of the spell and burn the piece then to release the energy. Or you could hold onto it like a talisman. This idea actually extends to a superstition that’s floated around my Internet career on various fiber sites-that different cultures had the idea that it was terrible to rip out your own work because it tears out your own luck.

The idea of this binding means that you can also bind a person to you through knitting or other fiber work-working your hair or the hair of another person will bind the two of you together.

Knitters will sometimes say that projects and yarns have personalities, and you can ‘raise’ energy will working on a piece. It’s not necessarily bad luck to work a project that you don’t like, but it can be rough going and sometimes yarn will tell you what it does and does not want to be-it’s easier to work with a yarn that wants to be, say, a scarf than yarn that doesn’t.

In terms of energy, it also possible to use fiber to work with manifestations, meditations, and other mindsets that are aided by repetitive motion. If you wanted to work an abundance chant, for example, you could use green needles (hence what triggered this post), green yarn, or both (or neither, to be honest) and work your chant across each chant. Spinning and knitting are both helpful to clear the mind for meditation.

Folklorically, a lot of the myth surrounding European hearth spirits mention fiber, at least in passing. Many of these spirits (fae or otherwise) are deeply interested in spinning and other fiber arts. Some will actually do the spinning for you if you stay on their good sides, for others, if you slack on your fiber work, you risk enraging them.

Knitting is not without its own little urban legends and superstitions-it’s terrible luck to knit for a baby before it is born. As in, potentially fatally bad luck. There is also the infamous sweater curse-don’t knit for your partner before you’re engaged, or you run the risk of breaking up the relationship. You should also try to never hand a person a pair of needles with the points to them or risk damaging your relationship. Dropping needles is bad luck. Don’t leave knitting needles empty.



It hit me earlier this week that if I waited too long to cast on a sweater, it could be years before I actually finish the thing.

I have one on needles that I started for Mid but I keep putting off working on it. I have a sort of quasi-realistic fear for doing so; I’m afraid I didn’t buy enough yarn and I haven’t had a chance to go get more. The dye lot will be different but I’m not above the alternating rows trick. Maybe I’ll do that this weekend.

Freya has seen some use recently, and I’m starting to put myself center in my life again, as opposed to everyone else and everyone else’s schedules. I don’t want to sound whiney but I’ve spent over a year trying to placate other people and it means that a lot of the stuff that I want to do has been pushed to the side. Anyway, point being, I’m working on spinning the yarn I’m calling Skadi for a sweater.


Mid was out of town earlier this week and the urge to cast on a sweater was pretty overwhelming. I knew I wanted it oversized (at least, I would be okay with it being big) and sort of boxy, like a man’s sweater. And I wanted it to have cables.

I found the Balder pattern which I feel like is a good fit against what I had in my head. I’m knitting the men’s small (which I hope will fit, I’m hoping my math didn’t come out wonky).

My only main issue isn’t with the pattern. I’m alternating commercial and handspun, and the commercial I’m knitting with is definitely not a heavy worsted/knit on size 7 like the ball band suggests. Whenever I switch over to the commercial there’s a definite gauge difference and a loose row. The upside being is that it has happened so frequently it’s now a design element.


Skadi-California Red

california red

Wiki doesn’t have a photo of the California Reds, but here’s the link.

I’ve actually had this batch finished for months, just hanging out on the skeining ball. But the ceiling flooded in our bathroom again, so instead of doing OT I’m at home cleaning and decided to get Freya out again-which means there’s no time like the present to get working on Skadi.

Skadi [ Second Batch, California Red]

ply: n-ply

wpi: 11.5

yardage: 150 across 3 skeins

dye: n/a, natural

purchase: Etsy-Apple Rose Fibers

Project totals: 393 yards, 10.75 wpi

I am completely unfamiliar with California Red. My feelings are this: it was a dream to spin up. I don’t know how I feel about the fiber once it’s spun. The squishiness of it makes me want to spin it again, but it is flecked with darker hairs that make it look sort of grungy to me. I think it would be a beautiful base yarn for blues or greens though.

I’m looking forward to knitting this batch.

Next batch is mixed left over fiber batts and roving.



So I’m spinning all this yarn. I need to know what I’m spinning for, so I don’t spin all winter and end up with three times the wool I actually need.

(All photos belong to their designers, blogger does not claim ownership of any)

(All links are to Ravelry)

copywrite, Berroco

c, Berroco


Solaris, Berroco

I like that this one is fairly sleek, the pattern stitch is fairly low key, and there’s no button band to worry about. It’s nice for a work sweater, but I’m concerned about drape with the way that Skadi is spinning up.

Copywrite, Drops

c, Drops

114-2 jumper with cables and raglan sleeves in ”Karisma” by DROPS design

I don’t necessarily want to deal with the floppiness of a sweater on circulars while I’m knitting, and I think the heavier bits of the yarn will be too heavy on a size 6. But I like the yoke pattern.

c, Patons
c, Patons

Cabled Yoke Pullover by Patons

I really like the yoke on this one, but again with the knitting in the round.

c, Lion Brand

c, Lion Brand

Shaped Cable Top by Lion Brand

I really like this one, the construction is simple enough I could change the bottom band and readjust gauge. The only thing I would change right off the top would be lengthen the sleeves, but that’s simple enough.

c, Lion Brand
c, Lion Brand

Aran Sweater and Tam #1101 by Lion Brand Yarn

It’s been a long time (well over a decade) since I knit a sweater this heavily cabled. But if I could do it in high school, there’s no reason I couldn’t do it now.

c, Imperial Yarns

c, Imperial Yarns

Winter Games Pullover, by Tanis Gray

I like this one. I would just knit the sleeves plain.


Remember this attractive fellow?

photo by David Merrett

photo by David Merrett

One of this brethren spun up something like this:



Skadi [First Batch, Jacob]

ply: n-ply

wpi: 10

yardage: 243 across 5 skeins

dye: n/a, natural

purchase: Rhinebeck, in person

The fiber was split into two bags. The first bag was less compacted, but the second ironically spun up more evenly.

Jacob is both a primitive and relatively rare breed. I did enjoy this spin, and would spin Jacob again. It’s not a top fiber, it’s not a favorite, but it was pleasant enough.

The fiber looked and felt clean-until I did the clean up. My wheel looks like it snowed and the wash water when I set the twist was fairly dark. The roving wasn’t fully stripped and that may play a part in it.

*I did beat up on the yarn a little in finish to get it to full a little. I washed it without soap to keep that lanolin in it and washed it as hot as the water would come out of the tap. I whacked it against the side of the tub to set the twist.

**I have a lot of varying different shades of natural, so I’m skeining Skadi a lot smaller than normal to make alternating skeins a little quicker/easier.

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skadi jacob 2

Just for something different, I actually ran a poll online to name this yarn.

Skadi was the winner. Skadi is a Norse giantess and goddess associated with skiing, winter, mountains and hunting.

I have a tendency to let myself buy undyed fiber. It tends to be cheaper per ounce (quality and breed dependent) and I can then dye it, spin it, and knit with it-I get more ‘usage’ out of it than pre-dyed fiber. Though I can’t resist good sock fiber.

I don’t however own a good white, work appropriate sweater anymore and all of my sweater projects for the last few years have ended up hibernating somewhere.

skadi jacob 1

With any luck, Skadi will eventually end up a mixed breed, white, slightly textured and maybe cabled sweater. Probably a men’s pattern, so I don’t have to worry about fit over other clothes and wearing my sweater tighter than comfort at work.

This is the first ball of the Jacob fiber I bought at Rhinebeck. I still have half the Jacob left to spin so I don’t have yardage or WPI yet. This handsome fellow is a Jacob ram-

photo by David Merrett

photo by David Merrett

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends (Friday)  and  Fall into the Holidays (Tuesdays)

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Shuffling Off to Rhinebeck-Part 2


So I’m back home, complete with the spoils of war.

There will, however, be no photos. Gasp! My phone spent so much time looking for a signal on the way down there that it just gave up and died. I didn’t want to lug [Mid’s] Nikon around in that crowd.

That might as well be the place to start-yes, Rhinebeck gets terribly, terribly crowded. It was like the entire population of Kenmore was in the line for the fried artichokes. There are reasons I have yet to actually get the fried artichokes. However, I feel like the crowds this year were actually not horrible. I don’t know if it was because I was expecting entire population of Utica to show up this year, if I’ve finally developed something like crowd patience, or if the general attitude of the crowd was more live and let live than in years past [I’ve gone with people who have had stuff yanked out of their hands because oh my god dye lot. Calm yourselves, people, there are plenty of sheep in the world].

However- the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival [what people mean when they say ‘going to Rhinebeck’] is the largest fiber event in the state, and it’s rapidly gaining ground in terms of size against national events. You have to go expecting massive crowds. It’s just a given. There are truly lovely smaller events to go to if you don’t like crowds. My only request in light of that is please be aware that you’re going into a huge amount of people so please try to be aware of your general footprint. This might not be the place for your cutesy, giant, handwoven basket you use for the farmer’s market.

I’ve been doing Rhinebeck since I was in high school so while I’m not quite at the ‘nothing new under the sun’ level, I’m past the big-eyed wonder stage so these are my general observations for this year, in no particular order:

1. Cosplaying. I would not have thought that Rhinebeck would be the place to attract cosplayers. I was wrong.

2. The general age of the population has veered heavily towards my age and younger. From things I was overhearing when I lost my mom [see point 3 forthcoming], this apparently was a point of angst for some of the older patrons. I have my feelings on that matter, but that may be a later entry.

3. I lost my mom. For two hours. That whole ‘thousands of people on the fairground’ thing. I was actually proud of myself for not freaking out, because if nothing else, eventually the event would close and we’d both end up back at the car.

4. So many veiled knitters (if you’re new to the blog, I cover my hair full time in public). So many veiled knitters. Did my heart good to see it.

5. So many men. That too made me happy, we could use a gender balance in the subculture.

6. Not so many wheels or spindles-I saw one vendor selling orifice hooks which was the one item I actually needed from this event. A ton of loose fiber, which was great, not so much on the hardware.

7. What happened to all the Icelandic? That was the one fiber I really wanted and I think I found three vendors that were actually selling it. That may be related to point 8, though.

8. Rhinebeck is a lot easier if you’re willing to work with the crowds and skip vendors.  Either go back to them or just keep walking. I’m sure Dragonfly and Loop have lovely stuff. I’m not standing in a line 25 people deep to see it when there’s 10 buildings full of lovely stuff to look at.

9. True to trend, it snowed at my parent’s house this weekend. It can’t be Rhinebeck weekend if it doesn’t.

Overall though I got some lovely fiber, stayed within my price per ounce caps and my personal rules (no spun yarn, no dyed fiber, and don’t come home without an orifice hook), and actually had a good time.

Loosing my mom for two hours notwithstanding.

*A potentially unnecessary apology-there were a fair number of people who acted as though they knew me but didn’t approach me. If you were waiting for me to do it and I didn’t, I’m face blind and there’s a strong possibility that I didn’t recognize you. If that ever happens again just walk up to me and say something.

Spinning Small Batch Dyed Fibers


I’ve been meaning to get this post up for months now, since most of the fiber that I’ll be spinning for the holidays has been dyed in the manner.

And promptly buried in the spare room behind a DJ rig. This is the story of my life, people.

Anyway, I discovered the joys of small batch kettle dyeing this summer-I mean, really small batch-things that can fit in canning jars.

This produces a very volatile roving with the potential for a huge amount of variation between batches-which begs the question, what do you do with fibers that have such a huge variation in coloring?

There are two main methods to spinning fibers dyed like this:

1. Roll with it.

Just grab the fiber and spin, white space and all. You’ll end up with what’s sometimes called a potluck style yarn which is fully one of a kind. All yarn spun with these types of rovings are going to be one of a kind, but this will really not be replicated. Pretty much ever. You might end up with a lot of white space in your yarn-so I would recommend plying it back onto itself with either a center pull ball for a 2 ply or a chain ply for a three ply. It’ll barber pole, but you’ll avoid having huge splotches of white/undyed fiber.

2. Create a spinning plan

The fiber pictured above is all very small batch Koolaide dyed fibers. I alternate each fiber, I believe there’s seven or eight total, and is called Hawthorne. I have a system where I alternate in a big circle, switching out the wool about once every five minutes. It is then plied back onto itself for a 2 ply.

There are undoutably more options to spinning small batch fibers than this, but these are the two that I default to most often.


Dyeing in Pint Jars-Solar or Stove Top

I’m sort of in between projects right now. Or rather, I’m sort of in the middle. Even the shrub I’m working on is still at the sit there stage.

It makes it kind of hard to post about anything, when all I have to show you is a half finished or quarter finished project.

This wasn’t meant to be the summer of the dye pot, but I’ll tell you what I have been doing all the time lately. This has easily become one of my favorite ways to dye. I use it all the time right now.

There are some downsides to pint jar dyeing, and the big one is that you can only fit so much fiber in a jar at once. I don’t mind my roving being split because I split it anyway but I can see this being an issue if you’re dyeing yarn. You’re also limited to how many jars you can fit in a stock pot, unless you’re solar dyeing and can just sort of line them up. But since this is the year without a summer, I’m going stove top.

I also don’t normally like a roving with a lot of white space, and every batch that I’ve run has given me if not white space then significantly lighter splotches. I’m okay with that, though.

One of the upsides to dyeing like this is that since your dye pot itself is not containing dyes, you can rerun the same pot multiple times, thereby saving the water. I know that’s one of the big issues that comes up when I talk about dyeing. You can reuse the water in the jars a couple of times too but keep in mind that every round is adding acid, which can alter your outcome. If you’re okay with unstable/unpredictable dyes, than that’s fine.

A lot of words for a fairly simple process.

Here’s a solar dye:

solar dye pint jarand rovings dyed in the stove top:

hawthornehawthorne 2 hawthorne 3See what I mean about the splotching?

The process itself is simple. If you’ve ever melted chocolate in a double boiler you can do this. I’ve found that the jar can hold about 3 packages of kool-aide without an issue.

Add your powder to the jar, then fill the jar about halfway with water. Wrap -dry- roving around your hand about five times (I’ve found that with the size of my hand, five wraps is about the maximum amount of wool I can get into the jar). You may have to really force the wool into the jar. Fill the jar with water to fill.

Yes, the top of the wool will most likely not be covered in dye. Hence the splotches.

Add the jars to a water bath  (the double boiler effect) and bring to at least a simmer. Let it cook for about an hour (though I’ve done up to 45 minutes without an issue with striking). Pull the pot from heat, or pull the jars with a jar lifter, and let the jars come to room temperature.

Carefully take the wool out of the jars and unwrap the bundles. Rinse and let them drip dry. I haven’t had any issues with felting if I follow that process.

Again, a lot of words for a fairly simple dyeing process.

*The wool that looks like it didn’t take dye well in those photos, did. I ran three batches sampling all the reds in my collection, including the pinks which struck but didn’t necessarily photograph well. It’s not under the best natural light.


Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

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