New Pattern: The Odd Couple Shawl

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

Odd Couple combines simple auto-pilot knitting with slip stitches and texture to tame wild, variegated yarns.

The shawl can be worked with any weight of yarn, be it sock yarn, bulky, or anything in between. The pattern starts with a small number of stitches and keeps increasing so you can make a shawl as big or small as you please.

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

I’m absolutely thrilled to finally share the Odd Couple shawl! It’s been many months in the making, so it’s great to have it off the needles, blocked, and ready to wear. The inspiration for this shawl was a beautiful skein of hand dyed Corrie Sock by Happy Fuzzy Yarn in a few of my favorite colors. The yarn matched my favorite coat, so it was destined to be a shawl. But what kind? I had a few ideas. It had to be asymmetrical with a little texture, and nip pooling colors in the bud. Oh, and if it were auto-pilot knitting, things would be even better. 

Mixing all those things together turned out to be a tall order. Even with an idea in my head and sketches on paper, I spent way to long frogging to figure out the shape and construction. The time was well spent though, and lead to a shawl that had every thing I wanted. 

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

Odd Couple starts at the bottom with a tiny number of stitches and keeps on growing. You can make it big or small, and bind off when you’re ready. Use any yarn that you like - it doesn’t even have to be variegated. A solid color would beautifully show the texture from the slip stitches. 

To celebrate the release, Odd Couple will be on sale through Sunday, October 2. Use coupon code ODD to get $1 off. Put Odd Couple in your Ravelry cart (no account required), click add coupon, and type in the code. Happy knitting!

Tame wild, variegated yarn with slip stitches and the Odd Couple Shawl. | withwool.com

Odd Couple

Yarn: Your pick of yarn in any weight. 

  • Fingering Weight: 400 - 800 yds
  • Sport Weight: 450 - 750 yds
  • Worsted Weight: 400 - 600 yds
  • Bulky Weight: 350 - 570 yds

Needles: Circular Needle 32” or longer to match yarn

Notions: 1 stitch marker, and a tapestry needle

Odd Couple Tutorial: How to Pick Up + Knit(kfb)

Odd Couple shawl tutorial: How to "Pick Up + Knit(kfb)" | withwool.com

When I was in the early in the design process for the Odd Couple shawl - aka ripping back to nothing most of the time - I was trying to figure out how to work in increases that were invisible, but easy. Finicky and auto-pilot knitting don't really go together after all. The answer turned out to be pairing "pick up + knit" with the shawl's center spine of decreases.  The result is a lovely line with none of the aggravation that usually comes from picking up stitches. I'm no fan of picking up dozens and dozens of stitches myself, but this is different because you're only picking up one stitch at a time. Check out the video to see how it's done!

FO: Vertigo Scarf

This scarf and cowl combo is fun and well worth the wait. FO: Vertigo Scarf | withwool.com

How long it took me to fall in love with the pattern: 5 seconds. 

How long it took to buy the yarn: 3 years

How long it took to knit the scarf: 4 months

How long it took to block and sew on the buttons: 3 weeks

I think it’s safe to say that this scarf has been a long time in the making. Mostly because it took me years to get the yarn even though I knew exactly what yarn and what color I wanted. I’ve got absolutely no excuse for that. The yarn would probably still be sitting on my shopping list if I hadn’t ended up winning enough store credit at Eat.Sleep.Knit to cover a couple of skeins. Plus I wanted to treat myself after not being able to knit for a month. 

This scarf and cowl combo is fun and well worth the wait. FO: Vertigo Scarf | withwool.com

The pattern was pretty fun to knit, and I even got used to working “purl 2 together through the back loop” several times a row. And the Malabrigo was it’s usual lovely self to work with, but I still got stuck with knitting ennui halfway through. The thought of have a big, cosy new scarf to wear through the winter got me to finish the rest of it. Binge watching tv helped too.  

This scarf and cowl combo is fun and well worth the wait. FO: Vertigo Scarf | withwool.com

Binding off that last row was pretty awesome. Blocking the scarf and seeing the pattern open up was even better. It went from smooshed and rippled to the large and beautiful vision I had in my head. I didn’t have as sure an idea of the buttons though, and it took some time to decide. Contrasting blue was definitely the right decision.

This scarf and cowl combo is fun and well worth the wait. FO: Vertigo Scarf | withwool.com

It may have taken me a few years but I’m just glad that I finally knit this scarf. And I’m going to wear at the first sign of cold weather because I am not waiting for snow. 

Pattern: Vertigo by Jamie Thomas

Yarn: 287 yds Malabrigo Yarn Chunky - Frank Ochre

Needles: 7.0 mm circulars

Dates: May 3 - September 15, 2016

@Ravelry

Very Green Garterlac

This kitchen towel was worth the wait. Very Green Garterlac | withwool.com

The last lingering work in progress* is finished! I cast on for this kitchen towel way back in April, knit a good chunk of it, and put it down to work on other things. Part of the reason I stopped working on it was because I wasn’t sure if I liked the extra square and width I’d added. Turns out, yes. The other reason was that I had other things I wanted to knit and do over the summer. So garterlac, as addicting as it is to knit, went on the back burner for awhile. 

When I eventually did start knitting the towel again, I was hooked. I was sneaking in squares any time I could, and keeping my hands busy during tv shows and movies. Now that the Very Green Garterlac is finished, it’s become one of my favorites. From cast on to bind off, it's 17" and 9" wide. The yarn and the pattern are the perfect pair. The fabric is thick and textured which makes it excellent for drying hands and picking up hot pans. Plus, I really like the colors.

This kitchen towel was worth the wait. Very Green Garterlac | withwool.com

I’ve got plenty more cotton stashed away in a lot more colors. At least a few yards are going to turn into more garterlac. Probably going to stick with washcloth sized versions though. But don’t hold me to that. In the mean time, I’m enjoying knitting scarves, shawls, and socks for colder weather. 

Pattern: Garterlac Dishcloth by Criminy Jickets

Yarn: 191 yds Peaches & Creme Ombres - Ivy League

Needles: US 6 - 4mm straights

Dates: April 8 - September 2, 2016

Full Mods @Ravelry

*Well, there are other lingering WIPs, but they’ve been hanging around for years. 

This kitchen towel was worth the wait. Very Green Garterlac | withwool.com

Free Pattern: Show Off Boomerang

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. | withwool.com

I finally finished a couple of long-term works in progress last week, and decided to reward myself by casting on for something new. The yarn I spun during this year’s Tour de Fleece has been taunting me, specifically a wild combination of dark grey merino and random mini batts. I may or may not have wound the yarn at 11 PM. Okay, I definitely wound the yarn that late. I stayed up watching movies and cast on for a beautiful shawl. Unfortunately, the yarn obscured the yarn overs, increases, and details that made the shawl what it is. Simple, reversible, garter stitch was the only option. 

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. | withwool.com

I love the look of asymmetrical triangle shawls. And I love the fact that I could knit every inch of that precious skein without worrying when to bind off. So, I experimented with and frogged a few different versions of bias knit boomerang shapes before I found one I liked. Then I made sure that all the action happened on one row of the pattern repeat for easy auto-pilot knitting.  

Thanks to plenty of down time, I knit the shawl in one day and blocked it the next. Blocking smoothed out the curves - the yarn had it’s thick and thin spots - and added a few more inches of depth. I’m so happy I didn’t let the yarn linger in the stash or try to force it into a complicated pattern. This shawl will be the perfect pop of color on a dreary winter day. 

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. | withwool.com

If you’ve got one precious skein of handspun or hand dyed indie goodness that wants to do it’s own thing, the Show Off Boomerang might be just the pattern you’re looking for. 

Size: Your Choice

Yarn & Needles: 200+ yards of any weight yarn and needles to match

Show Off Boomerang - A free pattern for that one special skein of yarn, handspun or hand dyed, that’s a show off all by itself. | withwool.com

WIP Parade

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

Finishing the Turtle Purl socks a couple of weeks ago has put me in the mood to finish the rest of my lingering works in progress. Add on plenty of nights spent watching movies and catching up on tv, and I’ve been a very busy knitter. 

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

I picked up the Vertigo scarf again thinking that it’d be nice to have a new scarf/cowl thing for the winter. Temps are still in the 80’s, but there’s going to be snow on the ground soon enough. And I will be ready. I’d probably still be working on this thing and working lots of “p2togtbl” if this weren’t knit in bulky weight yarn. I mostly work with worsted weight yarn and finer, so it’s always a pleasant surprise how fast bulky yarn knits up. 

The stitches are bound off and the ends are woven in. Blocking the scarf will be simple (and entirely necessary) which means there’s just one more difficult step before I get to wear it. Which buttons do I choose? Do I go with the earthy, neutral buttons that will blend in or the bright blue buttons that will stand out? I cannot make up my mind. 

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com
Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

Now that Vertigo is bound off, I’m back to adding squares to my Garterlac kitchen towel. It’s not growing as quickly as the scarf, but entrelac is addicting to knit anyway. I can’t knit just one square at a time. Plus, it’s a simple project that I can pick up and put down without loosing my place so the towel is great for keeping my hands busy. I haven’t decide how long it’s going to be yet, but I don’t think that I’m far from binding off. 

Scarves, socks, and kitchen towels! Oh my! I’m finishing up a bunch of projects so I can start new ones. WIP Parade | withwool.com

Here’s another pair of socks for purse knitting. I pulled the yarn out of deep stash, #coldsheep, and started a toe. I wanted to knit a slightly more involved pattern since the last two pairs were basic ribbed socks. The stitch pattern for the Escalator Socks caught my eye so I gave it a try. While I liked the pattern, it didn’t mesh well with the yarn. Plus, I like how the colors knit up in stockinette much better. Ripped back to the toe, and going with a 3x1 rib this time. I’m will knit a complicated pair of socks eventually. I hope.

A video posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

FO: TurtlePurl Socks

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

I rarely walk out my front door without knitting in my purse. Having a simple project to keep my hands busy while I’m in line or killing time in a waiting room is a must. Plus, I enjoy it more than playing the same game over and over on my phone. Vanilla socks are my favorite purse projects, but a pair can hang out for so long that I get incredibly bored with them. I try not to chuck the offending socks into a WIP bin never to be seen again though. Instead, I make myself finish knitting, so I can start something new guilt free. Need fewer needles that way too. That’s why I finished this pair of socks, which I cast on way back in March. Going Cold Sheep and #YarnFort definitely had something to do with it too. 

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

The yarn, Turtle Purl self-striping Absinthe, was a gift from a good friend of mine, and caught my eye when I was rummaging through the stash. The stripes seemed like the perfect thing to keep a pair of vanilla socks interesting. I didn’t even have to do any work to make sure the socks matched since the dyer did all that work for me. I made a lot of progress because I kept telling myself to finish just one more stripe. And when I was figuring out when to bind off, the stripes made it so easy to make sure each cuff was the same length. Self-striping yarn keeps getting better and better. 

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

This pair followed my default vanilla sock pattern: toe up, a simple rib, about 6.5” of leg, and Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. I wanted the stripes to look the same over the entire socks, so I skipped the heel flap and gusset for an afterthought construction. However, instead of adding an afterthought heel, I worked an afterthought leg with instructions from the Houdini Socks by Cat Bordhi. Knitting the toe, foot, and heel in one go was so much less work than making the usual tube and adding a heel later. I didn't worry about having enough yarn for the heel or have to find the right spot in the stripes to join. The technique worked even better than I hoped too. Not only was I able to bind a ready to wear pair, the heels used enough of the stripe repeat to put me back on the green I needed to start the cuff! Adding an afterthought leg is going to be my default method to make afterthought socks from now on. 

Self striping yarn knits up into great afterthought socks. This pair is going away to wait for cold snowy days. FO: TurtlePurl Socks | withwool.com

Before I get started on the next pair of socks, I’m stepping on my soapbox to talk about blocking for a moment. Blocking works wonders for knitting, even on a basic pair of socks. I soaked the socks in cold water - the water turned a little blue, but the color didn’t fade in the slightest - with a little Eucalan and hung them up to dry. That’s it. I didn’t worry with sock blockers or shaping the socks at all. Once dry the stitches were much more even, and the yarn had relaxed and softened. The socks look better, fell better, and fit better. Okay. Getting off the soapbox now, and putting this pair in the drawer to wait for a cold snowy day. 

A video posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park

Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com

The Bearded One and I went on adventure to Rocky Mountain National Park over the weekend. We got a late start to the day but still had time to stop in Estes Park for caramel corn and a visit to The Stitchin’ Den. The weather was absolutely perfect for driving the Trail Ridge Road and making frequent stops to enjoy the view. I probably could have finished knitting the pair of socks I brought with me, but the mountains and sky ruled the day. We even got lucky enough to see a herd of elk. 

P.S. Caramel corn is the perfect snack to munch on a mountain top.

Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com
Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park | withwool.com

Knitting For Cold Sheep

The second rule of Cold Sheep: Knit and spin from the stash. No feeling guilty about the stuff you don’t like anymore either. Knitting For Cold Sheep | withwool.com

Since I went Cold Sheep in June, I’ve only had one rule: Don’t buy yarn or spinning fiber. I’ve mostly followed that rule with the exception of 88 yards of t-shirt yarn joining the stash 18 days later. I made it another 30 days before buying 6 oz of fiber to play with on my new-to-me drum carder. I don’t feel guilty about either of these purchases because, while they were impulse buys, there was a project waiting for them. I’m going to use the t-shirt yarn to make a basket. And that fiber is for my first attempt at making blended roving/batts on my new-to-me drum carder. I haven’t used the carder yet so my new bundles of goodness won’t be sitting around for long. 

It’s a month and half later I’m adding another rule to my Cold Sheep: You actually have to knit and spin with the stuff you have in stash. Yarn Fort isn’t going to get any smaller if all I do is look at it and I look at it a lot. It’s a looming presence in my studio that is impossible to miss. That means I actually have to finish the projects I cast on. On the top of the WIP list is the Vertigo Scarf and the TurtlePurl Socks. Don’t worry, I’m not forcing myself to knit these things. I’m enjoying the process of knitting just as much as I want to wear them. So I’m knitting instead of playing time suck games on my phone. I’m knitting instead of aimlessly scrolling through Instagram. I’m knitting instead of looking down at my phone in general. Seems to be working too since the socks are getting closer and closer to the bind off. 

The second rule of Cold Sheep: Knit and spin from the stash. No feeling guilty about the stuff you don’t like anymore either. Knitting For Cold Sheep | withwool.com

There’s one other project on the current WIP list, this Garterlac Kitchen Towel. It’s an upsized version of the Garterlac Dishcloth with a few other mods for easy knitting. I couldn’t decide if I liked the size 7.5 rows in and promptly ignored it for a couple of months. I even stole the needles for another project. A knit the stash rule also means that I don’t have to finish WIP’s that I don’t love anymore. Garterlac ended up making the list and will be perfect for tv knitting.  

There’s one other benefit to the knit/spin the stash rule. If I’m not going to use it, I don’t have to keep it or guilt myself into working with yarn I don’t like. I haven’t gone through the stash in years and I’m sure there’s more than a few skeins that won’t make the cut. Maybe even more then I expect. I’m not looking forward to culling the stash, but I do want a 100% knit-worthy one. 

Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

My spinning wheel and I spent a lot of time together last week as I finished plying my Tour de Fleece yarn. Glad I did too because, not only did I free up all my bobbins, I added some lovely new yarn to my stash. This Tour de Fleece handspun has really taken the edge off going Cold Sheep last month. 23 days and counting…

After the plying, it was time to set the twist for every skein. All the yarn got the same treatment. First, a 15+ minute soak in cool water with Eucalan. Second, squeezing out as much water by hand as possible and snapping the skeins over my forearms. Third, wrapping the yarn in a towel and squishing out even more water. Next time I’ll snap the yarns after the towel step because I was uniformly damp after finishing 9 skeins. I skipped thwacking them against the wall this time to keep a smooth surface. The last step was hanging them up to dry. The wait is usually the hardest part of the whole process, but washing before bed meant the yarn was dry and squish-able when I woke up the next day. 

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com
I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

What started as 5 oz of BFL from Greenwood Fiberworks turned into ~500 yards of sport weight yarn. I put a lot of Z twist into these singles and plied them with S twist to match. Fresh off the bobbins, all 5 skeins were closer to fingering weight. Soaking during finishing gave them a good plump body that I can’t wait to use for a hat. 

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com
I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

The 2-ply grey and mini batt yarn changed too. It bulked up to about 8 WPI and is firmly in the aran - bulky range after finishing. There are a few thick and thin in spots but those only add to its charm. Before going into the water, this yarn could have been described as lustrous. Washing the yarn relaxed the wool and gave the yarn a more rustic matte surface. All the glorious, out-of-my-comfort-zone color is still there though.

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

It’s been years since I’ve worried about screwing up my spinning. When you spin without an end project in mind, you get awesome yarn no matter how you spin. The other Tour de Fleece yarns only had loose goals attached to them - they’d a success no matter how they turned out. These two skeins of sock yarn were different. They needed to match, have stripes, be fingering weight, and have at least 500 yards between them. The skeins do match and I’ll probably see some mottled stripes when I start knitting. Instead of 500+ yards of opposing ply fingering weight, I’ve got about 330 yards of sport weight. I really need to start sampling before spinning half a pound of fiber. Live and learn. 

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

I can accept those differences and still make the knitting work. What I was really worried about was mucking up the plying. It was so hard to evenly tension the yarn because of the opposing ply. I wasn’t sure if the yarn had too much twist or too little. I couldn’t tell if the S twist ply was joining well with the 2 Z twisted plies. Setting the twist was the only way to know for sure. 

I was definitely relieved when I got my hands on the dry yarn. Both skeins are still kinked up with twist, but much less after going in the water. All the plies seem to be working well together too. Still, these skeins definitely weren’t my best attempt at plying, nor did they meet all my goals. I can still knit with the yarn though which counts as a successful spin to me.       

I finished plying the last of my handspun and set the twist the week after the Tour ended. Now I’m Really Finished With Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

Frustration aside, I’m happy with everything that I spun during Tour de Fleece and the next week. All the yarn is beautiful and oh so tempting. There is, however, one difference between this Tour de Fleece and previous years. I have plans and projects for everything I’ve spun. The ombre bundle is going to be a stocking hat. The colorful, bulky 2-ply is going to be a Myndie shawl. The sock yarn is going to be socks of course. Feels good to have a plan for this 1000+ yards that I’ve spun. Also feels pretty good to know that I can spin that much in a month when I want to. Now I’m off to knit and start my next spinning project.

Another Successful Tour de Fleece

I didn’t finish all of Tour de Fleece spinning, but the past 3 weeks have been a great success. Plus I got great yarn out of it. Another Successful Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

I started Tour de Fleece this summer after a long spinning drought. I had set up my wheel and cleaned it, but never picked out anything to spin. Something else always came up. The daily spinning challenge that is Tour de Fleece turned out to be just what I needed to get moving again. I’ve spun for the Tour every year since 2012 and I wasn’t going to skip this one. Three weeks later I’d spun a pound of fiber into 3 skeins of yarn - with leftover minis - and drafted the plies for 5 more skeins. I won’t have a tallied yardage count until after the plying is done, but I’ve got at least 500 yards. Might even have another 500 by the time I’m done.

I picked three projects to spin. A set of mini batts, 2 matching skeins of sock yarn, and an ombre bundle. I didn’t spin every riding day of the Tour, but I finished everything except for plying the bundle. And here I thought I was going to have to pull more stuff out of the stash. Even though I didn’t finish everything on my list, I’m calling Tour de Fleece a success simply because it got me spinning again. The dry spell is over and I’m ready for making yarn to be a regular part of routine again. 

I didn’t finish all of Tour de Fleece spinning, but the past 3 weeks have been a great success. Plus I got great yarn out of it. Another Successful Tour de Fleece | withwool.com

First up is finishing the ombre bundle from Greenwood Fiberworks. When I bought the kit, I thought I’d make one long striped single. Instead, I’m making my own mini-skein kit. I love the colors and will get exactly the kind of yarn I want. I’m aiming for a fingering to sport weight 2-ply and enough yardage to make an extra long stocking cap. Let the winding and plying begin. Then it’ll be time to set the twist on all this yarn with one big washing party. 

Plied Tour de Fleece Sock Yarn!

The Tour de Fleece sock yarn didn’t turn out exactly like I wanted, but it’s still a success. Plied Tour de Fleece Sock Yarn! | withwool.com

The last week and some change of my Tour de Fleece spinning finally moved to the next step over the weekend. I finished drafting all 6 sock yarn plies and rewound them onto storage bobbins so I could spin them from the same end. I only have 3 regular bobbins for my wheel which wasn’t enough to leave the plies as they were. Also, it was an attempt to hack my brain. If I stopped midway to ply the first skein, I knew it’d be harder for me to sit down and spin the remaining 3 plies I needed. Assembly lining the process definitely kept the motivation going. 

A video posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

I made the last minute decision before drafting the 3rd ply that I wanted to go for an opposing ply construction, 1 ply going in the ply twist direction. The general thought is that this construction makes for a more durable yarn. I haven’t conducted my own tests on the matter though. I’ve spun sock yarn with this construction before and I don’t remember plying being this aggravating. Should have taken better notes. Anyway, I started plying the first skein and it didn’t go well from the first yard. Because one ply shares the plying twist direction, it was hard to tension all the plies equally. It looked like the 2 other plies were wrapping around the opposing ply instead of bonding together. Didn’t look like the most comfortable thing to walk around on. Plus, adding slack to a fine yarn with hard twist meant that I was constantly unkinking the yarn. Ugh. 

The Tour de Fleece sock yarn didn’t turn out exactly like I wanted, but it’s still a success. Plied Tour de Fleece Sock Yarn! | withwool.com

A photo posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

The second skein a little better since I knew what to expect. The second skein appears to be more evenly plied than the first too. I upped the tension on the lazy kate and made one other change which seemed to help. For the first skein, I plied with the yarn feeding through the left arm of the flyer. For the second, it fed the right side which is the default arm I use. Note: I also drafted the opposing plies on the left flyer arm. I’m not exactly sure why changing which arm of the flyer I used would affect the twist, but I have a guess. Plying on the right arm changed how the yarn fed onto the bobbin and resulted in less twist. Therefore, the opposing ply was able to better meld with it’s companions. I have no idea if this is true, which means I’ll be experimenting to test this hypothesis in the future.

I have one tip for spinning opposing ply yarns which I’ll definitely be using next time around. Spin the opposing ply with less twist than the other plies. When it comes time to ply, the plying twist will give it the remaining twist without creating hard wire. 

The Tour de Fleece sock yarn didn’t turn out exactly like I wanted, but it’s still a success. Plied Tour de Fleece Sock Yarn! | withwool.com

So, how did the yarn turn out? Well, it’s definitely wild and not quite what I was I was expecting. That’ll teach me not to sample first. Maybe… I was aiming for 700 yds of fingering weight yarn. Some sections are fingering but there’s more heavy fingering and sport weight though. I haven’t set the twist yet either so there’s a good chance this yarn will bulk up a lot in the bath. At least the ~330 yards I have are enough to knit socks for size US 14 feet.  

I was also trying for a striped yarn. The parts of the beginning of the skeins definitely are, but there’s more marl than stripes. Oh well. I knew going into this that trying to line up the colors on 3 different plies was going to be a hassle. At least both skeins match so I got that part right. 

The Tour de Fleece sock yarn didn’t turn out exactly like I wanted, but it’s still a success. Plied Tour de Fleece Sock Yarn! | withwool.com

There was a good chunk of extra yardage with the same twist leftover that I ended up chain-plying. It’s 52 yards of gorgeous. Kinda wish that the rest of the yarn looked more like it. Next time. 

Tour de Fleece 2016: Sock Yarn Challenge

Prepping fiber to spin matching skeins of sock yarn for the Tour de Fleece 2016 challenge. | withwool.com

It’s the second week of Tour de Fleece and I’ve spun a lot of yarn. Definitely far more than I expected to for this point in the tour. In the first 5 days, I drafted, plied, and skeined 200+ yards of bright colorful goodness. I’ve haven’t stepped away from the wheel since I’ve also been spinning the 6 plies I need to make 2 matching skeins of sock yarn. I am so glad I did all the prep work for this handspun before the Tour. It’s made the whole process go so much faster. Here’s how that went. 

Prepping fiber to spin matching skeins of sock yarn for the Tour de Fleece 2016 challenge. | withwool.com

I was checking out the local yarn shops in town and found these blue, tan, brown, and white beauties. The mystery wool isn’t the softest stuff, but it would make a good durable yarn if spun the right way. The Bearded One liked the colors so I picked up 8 ounces to make him sock yarn. 8 ounces is probably overkill, but 4 certainly wasn’t going to be enough either. Spinning 2 skeins of matching sock yarn seemed like a good challenge for Tour de Fleece so I pulled the fiber when it came time to prep. 

Prepping fiber to spin matching skeins of sock yarn for the Tour de Fleece 2016 challenge. | withwool.com

I was rather surprised when I opened up the braids to find finger-sized top instead of the regular bundle. I love spinning pencil roving, which has a similar diameter, so this was pretty awesome. After a little trial and error, I found the color repeat and laid out both braids the same way. The top was dyed in just such a way that I could evenly split it up for 6 plies without breaking the color sequence. Perfect. The repeats aren’t a 100% match, but they’re close enough to work. 

A little digging - thank you, internet - told me that I’ve got Northern Lights Top from Louet. Northern Lights has been on my “spin it” list for a while so this is all a happy coincidence. 

Prepping fiber to spin matching skeins of sock yarn for the Tour de Fleece 2016 challenge. | withwool.com

Next came the hard part, storing the top so that I spin it all in the same direction. Don’t want to mess up the colors after all. My plan was to spin a yarn that striped when the colors matched. I’m not trying to make the colors line up perfectly, just make sure that they end up in about the same place. A little blending is A-OK. I pulled my never before used storage bobbins out and wound all the top on them in the same color direction. Then I kept the original braids together by stringing the bobbins on the cables from my interchangeable knitting needles. When it came time to spin, all I had to do was grab a bobbin and get going. 

Prepping fiber to spin matching skeins of sock yarn for the Tour de Fleece 2016 challenge. | withwool.com

A photo posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

The spinning has been pretty easy and really fast too. When I made sock yarn during Tour de Fleece 2015, each ply took me 3 days to finish. Now I’m knocking them out in a few hours over the course of a day. Woo! Opting for the opposing ply construction again - where 1 ply is spun in the same direction as the plying twist. I finished the plies for the first skein on the 7th, and I’m so close to finishing the last ply today.  

A photo posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

There’s one more step before I start plying. I’m rewinding the plies onto storage bobbins for two reasons. One, I don’t have enough bobbins for my wheel to spin 6 different plies at once. Two, I’m hoping that by plying from the same end of the yarn as I started, that the colors will match up better. Let’s see if I’m right. 

Off To The Races

The first 5 days of Tour de Fleece have been a blast with 1 awesome skein of handspun yarn! Off To The Races | withwool.com

Tour de Fleece kicked off 5 days ago and I’ve been at the wheel for every one of them. It’s been an absolute blast. I’ve gone stash diving, spun yarn that’s been on my list for way too long, and am pushing myself to become a better spinner. The Tour came along at the right time to be the perfect motivation I needed to get going again. It’s been months since I’ve spun anything at all, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until now. 

Since I’ve taken such a long break, I picked 3 projects I thought I could tackle in 3 weeks. The first is something that I’ve wanted to spin since last year, a 2-ply yarn barber pole yarn with one solid ply and one wild variegated ply. I bought a 2oz set of random mini-batts from PineRiverKnits last year just for this purpose. To go with it, I set aside an equal amount of Ashland Bay merino in logwood. Then I put it all together in a bag, and that was the prep.

The first 5 days of Tour de Fleece have been a blast with 1 awesome skein of handspun yarn! Off To The Races | withwool.com

I started spinning the batts right after breakfast on Saturday. I didn’t want to fuss over the color progression, so I grabbed batts without even looking at them. The bigger ones I split in half lengthwise and worked the smaller ones as they were. There was so much color bundled up in every one! All of them were so fun and so easy to spin that I was sad when they were gone. Then I wasted no time spinning up the grey ply. My hands still felt pretty good and a had a couple of hours to myself, so I started spinning the first sock yarn ply. That first day of the Tour was really productive.

The first 5 days of Tour de Fleece have been a blast with 1 awesome skein of handspun yarn! Off To The Races | withwool.com

I didn’t have quite the same output on Day 2, but there was still plenty of plying. I use a jumbo flyer and bobbin for plying because I can get 4+ ounces on it without a hassle.  The yarn was beautiful and plying was going really well until I started running out of grey. I started plying a little slower in hopes that the grey would last a little longer. I know it doesn’t work that way, but I couldn’t help myself. There was still half an ounce left of the batt ply when I finally used all the grey. I wanted as much yardage as possible out of this one skein so drastic measures were taken. 

The first 5 days of Tour de Fleece have been a blast with 1 awesome skein of handspun yarn! Off To The Races | withwool.com

Having 2 flyers for my wheel made this really easy. I took the jumbo flyer and the front maiden assembly off and replaced it the standard flyer and maiden. No cutting of yarn required. Then I spun another half ounce of grey and let the twist rest for a couple of hours. Once I switched out the flyers again, I was back to plying. There was still a little bit of the batt ply left, but I pliedit with itself. 

The first 5 days of Tour de Fleece have been a blast with 1 awesome skein of handspun yarn! Off To The Races | withwool.com

I am absolutely thrilled with this yarn. It’s lofty and cushy and soft. The colors are way outside of what I would usually pick for myself, but I love how they interact with the grey. The yarn is thick and thin, ranging from sport to bulky weight. I can’t get the idea of using it for a trianglar or crescent-shaped shawl out of my head because it seems like the best way to show off the colors. I’ve got about 206 yards to work with which is probably enough for a small shawlette. 

The first 5 days of Tour de Fleece have been a blast with 1 awesome skein of handspun yarn! Off To The Races | withwool.com

Now I’m putting all of my spinning time into this sock yarn. One ply left for the first skein and 3 to go for the next. Spinning these is going much faster than I expected. I might be spinning more than 3 projects after all. 

The first 5 days of Tour de Fleece have been a blast with 1 awesome skein of handspun yarn! Off To The Races | withwool.com

Getting Ready For Tour de Fleece 2016

Time to finish getting ready for Tour de Fleece 2016! This is going to be so much fun. | withwool.com

It’s officially summer which means it’s almost time for Tour de Fleece, a spin-along that runs alongside the Tour de France. If I’m being honest, both summer and the Tour snuck up on me this year. How is almost July? I’m not complaining through since I love summer and a reason to spin for 3 weeks straight. Tour de Fleece starts on July 2 and runs through the 24th, same as the Tour de France. The only tour “guideline” that I abide by is to spin every day and take breaks on the 2 rest days. There are also specific challenge days with the goal of spinning something difficult. For me, every day of Tour de Fleece is a challenge. I use this event as a time to improve my spinning through practice and trying new things.

The Tour de Fleece Ravelry group is the best source for info and a great community too. Check it out if you’re interested in spinning along this summer. Plus, here are my 5 tips for prepping for Tour spinning. 

Time to finish getting ready for Tour de Fleece 2016! This is going to be so much fun. | withwool.com

2016 will mark the 5th year I’ve spun-along with the Tour. The first 2 years I used spindles, but since getting my wheel, it’s been my weapon of choice. There’s less than a week left to prep, but I only need to do 3 things. First, I need to give my wheel some love. I haven’t waxed or cleaned my wheel since moving from the humid Pacific coast to a much more arid climate - it could definitely use some attention. While I’m at it, I might as well clean my other tools. I recently picked up some second-hand cotton hand cards and a drum carder - both need a good detailing. 

Second on my prep list is picking what I want to spin and prepping the fiber so that it’s ready to go. Well I’ve picked my projects, but still need to prep so that they’re ready to go on Saturday. The last thing on my list is joining a team. I’ve only spun rogue, aka spinning without a team, in the past, but want to change that this year. Any recommendations? 

Time to finish getting ready for Tour de Fleece 2016! This is going to be so much fun. | withwool.com

I’ve got one big goal this year, spinning more sock yarn. I spun my first skein of the stuff during last year’s Tour de Fleece. Unfortunately, I didn’t get enough yardage out of it to make socks for the Bearded One, and now that sock yarn is mine. So I’m going to spin 8 oz - which is overkill, but I will have enough - to make 2 matching skeins of sock yarn. Still need to settle on a yarn construction though. 

Time to finish getting ready for Tour de Fleece 2016! This is going to be so much fun. | withwool.com

My second project is for fun. I love the look of 2-ply yarn makes where one ply is a solid color and the other ply is a mix of wild color. I’ve got some adorable mini-batts and gray roving to create my own version.

Time to finish getting ready for Tour de Fleece 2016! This is going to be so much fun. | withwool.com

My third project is this ombre pack from Greenwood Fiberworks. My original idea was to spin it as one long gradient single. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m really tempted to spin each color by itself and make a mini skein set. Then I’d pair it with an equal amount of a solid color for easy stripes.  

If I manage to do all that, I’m going to dig into my stash of alpaca and try my hand at that too. Tour de Fleece is going to be a fun and busy 3 weeks. Are you spinning for Tour de Fleece too? What are your goals?

Going Cold Sheep

After coming to terms with the overwhelming enormity of my yarn stash, I’m going cold sheep. Going Cold Sheep | withwool.com

Let’s play a game called “Find The Knitter”.  

Done? Awesome. That’s my 5’6” self standing behind the majority of my yarn and spinning stash and I can only just see over the top. I’m not standing on my tippy-toes either. Had I piled on those WIP bags and roaming skeins, I’d be well hidden. 

Hello, my name is April and I have a yarn…storage problem. After several years of separation and a recent road trip, the bulk of my yarn stash, my recent yarn and fiber acquisitions, and I have finally been reunited. I knew I had a lot of yarn thanks to my Ravelry catalog, but I’d gotten a bit fuzzy about the exact scale of the stash. The boxes are currently stacked behind me and they make a rather impressive wall. All the clear tubs are full of yarn. The two bags at the very top are stuffed with handspun. The green bins are holding my fiber stash. Plus, there are those 3 bags of poly-fil I’ve picked up over the years. 

I’m glad to have it all but, honestly, it’s a bit overwhelming. Though I do like the idea of being able to build a literal yarn fort. Fort Yarn would be quite cosy too. That said, effective immediately, I’m going cold sheep. The only rule is don’t buy more yarn or fiber. I might give myself a few more rules and an exception or two as time goes on but not yet. 

I’m also trying to let go of the idea that I have to knit or do something with every skein and cone of yarn. It is perfectly okay to give the stash a good toss and donate/sell/give-away the yarn that I’m not in love with anymore. Like some of that stuff that I bought when I first started knitting and don’t want to use anymore. I want a well-curated stash off yarn and fiber that I can’t wait to play with, not something I feel obligated to use. 

Wish me luck and a bit of will power too.   

Self-Striping Travel Goodness

Simple, self-striping socks are a perfect travel project, especially with afterthought heels or legs. Self-Striping Travel Goodness | withwool.com

It’s almost surprising how much knitting I get done when I actually work on a project. I’m traveling this week and somehow convinced myself to only pack one project, a pair of toe-up socks. Unlike my last sock project which lingered for months, this pair is going pretty fast since I'm not just carrying them around in my purse.  Some credit for my voracious knitting goes to the the self-striping yarn by TurtlePurl Yarns. I keep thinking that I’ll finish just this stripe. Then that I might as well start the next one. And repeat. Add in bits of down time and a simple 2x1 rib - my favorite for self-striping yarn - and I've got most of a sock. Or parts of two. I’ve been jumping back and forth between the two and working on whichever was shorter. It’s how I combat second sock syndrome which seems to work most of the time. 

Simple, self-striping socks are a perfect travel project, especially with afterthought heels or legs. Self-Striping Travel Goodness | withwool.com

Since this is self-striping yarn, I don't want skew the color repeats with a gusset and heel flap. The plan when I cast on was to knit a toe-up tube and drop in an afterthought heel. For whatever reason, matching the stripe pattern and coming back to knit the heel seemed like a lot of work. So, I’m doing an afterthought leg instead a la Cat Bordhi’s Houdini Socks. An afterthought leg and an afterthought heel are the same amount of stitches and the same steps, but a different order. What seemed like work was continually checking if I had enough yarn to knit the heel starting with the right color.

Simple, self-striping socks are a perfect travel project, especially with afterthought heels or legs. Self-Striping Travel Goodness | withwool.com

The first foot is almost finished and the only thing left to do is close up the heel with kitchener stitch. It’s a happy coincidence that the heel used most of a stripe repeat and I’m almost back to the the green I need to start the leg. This afterthought leg thing just keeps getting better. 

The Perfect Face Washcloth

After years of searching, I finally found the perfect pattern for a knitted face washcloth. The Perfect Face Washcloth | withwool.com

There are plenty ofthings I should have been doing yesterday: cleaning, designing, making phone calls, etc. Instead of doing any of those things, I cast on for something fun, the Mini Almost Lost Washcloth. The pattern popped up in my Pinterest feed and was too cute too resist. I’ve been on the hunt for a good face washcloth for a while and this seemed to fit the bill.  Plus, it was small so that meant it would go fast, right? 

After years of searching, I finally found the perfect pattern for a knitted face washcloth. The Perfect Face Washcloth | withwool.com

I pulled out my leftover balls of cotton & my favorite washcloth needles, picked out a color, and cast on. This pattern is the definition of potato chip knitting. Each of the wedges goes so fast that I have to knit the next one, and next one, and the next one. Even better, one wedge uses up exactly one color repeat which makes this knitter very happy. You’d think I’d planned this, but it just a happy accident and a perfect use for my last bit of discontinued Dishie Multi.  

After years of searching, I finally found the perfect pattern for a knitted face washcloth. The Perfect Face Washcloth | withwool.com
After years of searching, I finally found the perfect pattern for a knitted face washcloth. The Perfect Face Washcloth | withwool.com
After years of searching, I finally found the perfect pattern for a knitted face washcloth. The Perfect Face Washcloth | withwool.com

I ended up making a few mods as I went. One, I used the long tail cast-on which I won’t do again because it puts the tail in the wrong place to cinch up the center. Two, instead of binding off and sewing the ends together, I picked up stitches from the cast-on and closed it up with the three needle bind-off. The bind off took the place of the last knit row which made the join almost invisible. 

All said and done I used about 15 yds (about 8g) of yarn and the finished cloth is about 4.25” from point to point. It hasn’t gone through the wash yet though. I ended up getting exactly what I wanted in a face scrub: quick to knit, scrubby texture, and just the right size. I’m going to be making a whole stack of these…after I finish my to-do list. 

Pattern: The Mini Almost Lost Washcloth by Sandy Tieman

Yarn: 15 yds (8g) Knit Picks Dishie Multi - Nettle

Needles: US 6 (4.0mm)

Date: June 6, 2016

@Ravelry 

Giving 2-At-A-Time A Second Shot

My first attempt at knitting two-at-a-time felt like wrestling an octopus. I gave it another try and decided the technique wasn’t that bad if paired with the right project. Giving 2-At-A-Time A Second Shot | withwool.com

I've tried knitting two-at-a-time before. The exact details of the project are fuzzy - maybe it was a pair of socks - but I do remember not being fond of the technique. Learning to knit with double pointed needles felt like holding an ornery hedgehog. Trying to knit a pair of socks at the same time on one long circular needle was like wrestling an octopus. After that initial attempt, I didn't bother trying two-at-a-time again as it seemed more frustrating than useful. 

Let's jump to 2016 when I was in the middle of knitting the Gramps cardigan. When I cast on, it seemed like a great idea to start with the sleeves and skip second sleeve syndrome. That first sleeve went quickly, but I couldn't finish it until I knew what cable row I'd have to match on the body. So I started the sweater body and knit to the join. Then I added the necessary rows to the sleeve and put the two together. My satisfaction of having something that looked sweater-like was short lived because the sleeve was too long. Ugg. I tinked back, removed the sleeve, and ignored the whole thing for a day.

My first attempt at knitting two-at-a-time felt like wrestling an octopus. I gave it another try and decided the technique wasn’t that bad if paired with the right project. Giving 2-At-A-Time A Second Shot | withwool.com

There was a fair bit of math involving gauge, cable repeats, and cuff ribbing, but I figured out how to get a perfectly sized sleeve. Then I ripped out sleeve #1. Knowing that I was essentially knitting three sleeves didn't appeal. For once, trying to knit two sleeves at the same time seemed more appealing than slogging through them one at a time. I'm blaming The Knitmore Girls podcast for putting the idea back in my head.

This video tutorial from KnitFreedom about how to cast on for two-at-a-time was the least fiddly that I found. Still, the first couple of rows were like wrestling with an octopus. There were strands of yarn and dangling cables everywhere. A needle tip even flicked up and winged me in the face. This only made me more determined to wrangle the sleeve beast. Thankfully, things did calm down after the first couple of rows. Knitting the sleeves went reasonably quickly and wasn't a complete slog either. The thought that I'd essentially be knitting 5 sleeves if I messed up this pair did occur to me. Fortunately, the sleeves turned out the right length this time around.

A photo posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

Since working sleeves two-at-a-time went so well, I decided to try knitting a pair of socks the same way. To be fair, the only reason I did was because I couldn't find my second 2.0mm circular. Casting on would have been easier if I'd started both socks at the same. I added the second sock to the needles when the first toe was almost finished. By the way, I do not recommend this. I've since put a few more rounds on these socks and I'm not loving the process. Maybe it's the stitch count. Maybe it the cable on the circular needles I'm using. Maybe it's how often I have to untangle yarn. All of these frustrations are adding up and it feels like wrestling an octopus again. These socks are supposed to be purse knitting: easy to pick up and work on for a minute or two at a time. This pair is anything put. The good news is that I found my other 2.0mm circular so each sock will get it's own needle ASAP.    

Knitting two things on the same needle has proved itself to be a mixed bag. It was great for making matching sleeves without having to psych myself up to make the second. Though trying to knit two socks at the same time is everything aggravating that made me ditch the technique in the first place. Two-at-a-time isn't going to become my default way of knitting pairs of everything, but I'm not throwing is aside either. It's great for knitting pairs of small things: baby sweater sleeves, ear flaps for hats, or softie parts. I'm definitely going to use the technique again, just matched with the right project. Octopuses are awesome but I don't want to wrestle one every time I knit.  

Frogging Day

Ripping out knitting get a bad rap, but it's worth the aggravation. - Frogging Day | withwool.com

The first half of the week was full of marathon knitting sessions. I worked up a lot of yarn but was still left with several tangle-prone balls. To save me from later headaches, I busted out the winder to rewind the yarn into tidier packages. The before and after is always super satisfying. That done, I decided to rip out a few projects I was never going to finish. First up was a striped cat that's been without a head for years. Then a pair of socks that had been waiting for me to turn the heels for at least a year. 

A video posted by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

I decided to film the sock frogging on a lark. Then I couldn't resist editing the video to make it look like it was magically knitting and frogging itself. I love living in the future.

Ripping out knitting get a bad rap, but it's worth the aggravation. - Frogging Day | withwool.com

When all was said and done, I'd reclaimed 3 balls of Koigu KPPPM, two balls of mystery yarn, 2 stitch markers, and my missing 2.0 mm circular. Ripping gets a bad rap, but this just goes to show that you can get good results - and more yarn - once you're past the aggravation. 

Ripping out knitting get a bad rap, but it's worth the aggravation. - Frogging Day | withwool.com

Before I put the winder away, there was one last skein to take care of. I picked up this skein of Happy Fuzzy Corrie Sock last year and have been trying to decide what to do with it. Well, its time has come and I've got big plans for this yarn. More on that soon.