Sunday, January 8, 2017

My Swedish socks

I continue to work on my Medieval style knitting project. This first sock will clearly document my trials and errors, because I just can't pull them out. The stitches are too small - I would lose my mind. In fact, as I was knitting over the Christmas holidays, I was pleased because I had reached the 5 inch point - I was ready to start decreasing the back of the leg. Then I noticed I had dropped a stitch, within the triangle pattern. It was several rows back. I tried to pick it up, but it just got worse, so I unraveled several rows and put the knitting back on the needles.

It was a worse mess than before - I had missed several stitches, and kept splitting the yarn. It took me about an hour to get everything back on the needles correctly. That row looks awful. Sigh. But I am on my way again - almost back to the 5 inch point.

(The color is all wrong in this photo, as you will see, the yarn is red.)

Here you can see some of the choices I've made as the project progresses:


This is the center front of the sock. I added a little triangle, for just a bit of interest. When I started the sock, I only had 4 needles, and I had a very hard time with the tension, particularly going from needle to needle. You can clearly see where I stopped knitting until I was able to borrow a needle from a friend. The tension issue has gotten better, but it has not gone away. I'm not sure what else to do. Perhaps it is because of the small size of the stitches; perhaps it is because the silk/wool blend is not as forgiving as a plain wool yarn. I don't usually have this problem.

Here you can see the back of the sock. I began by purling the first and last stitch of each row, but after completing 2 triangles, I decided it didn't look right. Looking closely again at the photo of the artifact, I decided to purl just the first stitch of every other row. It seems more correct, but I didn't like how that looked, either. After one triangle, I switched again.

Now I am purling the first stitch, except at the beginning and end of each triangle. That stitch I am knitting so that I don't have 3 purl stitches in a row. It does not exactly match the artifact, but I like how it looks. One more triange and I should be ready to start decreasing!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 in Review

Happy New Year! It went by so fast. Luckily I kept my goals simple in 2016. I had 3 goals - to teach, to spin, and to always be working on a project. I did teach, both at events and one to one. I didn't do much spinning, though. Work had me on the road often, which doesn't leave much time for spinning. Still, I enjoyed it whenever I could put a spindle in my hand. Unfortunately, I didn't even manage to try spinning with any new fibers. Maybe next year.

As for projects, I had several. I continue to play with lacis. I did quite a bit of knitting for Christmas gifts - mostly socks, and a pair of warm mittens for my sister who has moved to Wisconsin. Silly me, I didn't take any pictures. I've continued working on the Swedish sock pattern. More on that in my next post. And, I had a special knitting project in 2016 - I knit the sky. Here it is:

The idea was to look at the sky each day and knit a stripe using the colors you observe. I knit the colors I saw as I walked to work each morning, or when I first looked outside if I was not working. Most of the days are the Albany sky, but if I was somewhere else, that's what I knit. I expected to have beautiful blue stripes for the days when we went to LA, but it rained and was cloudy. One garter stitch rib didn't seem like enough back when I was starting, so I did 2 (4 rows of knitting each day). In this photo the end of the year is sitting on top of the beginning of the year. Any day that was clear or cloudy was knit in garter stitch. If it was raining, I knit a simple lace pattern; if it snowed, I knit "snowballs." The pink and peach colors are days when I saw a beautiful sunrise. That only occured at the beginning and end of the year. And a bit in October, before the time changed.

Here is what I learned from this project:

  • two rows per day would have been plenty - the scarf is over 14 feet long! (If you can see the pink stitch marker, that marks the start of December.)
  • I knit with 2 strands of yarn at a time, but there are many more than 2 colors in the sky at any time - sometimes I counted as many as 6. It was often difficult to choose which colors to use. I should have had at least 2 more colors - a very pale blue, and a lighter grey. The winter sky tends to be pale.
  • There was not much snow in 2016. Even though I knit snowballs, none of the times it snowed was more than a dusting, except one storm in April that was about 4 inches.
  • There was also not much rain. There are many long stretches with no rain at all.
  • The sky is an amazing thing, once you stop to really look at it. While my project is done, I still find myself looking up.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Swedish sock

It was so nice to have a day off from work this week. I got to accomplish some planning for knitting the historic sock. First, my yarn came, and I love it - it is 70% merino, 30% silk. It is a joy to knit with. Counting the stitiches in the photo of the artifact, I believe the sock was knit at a gauge of about 20 stitches to the inch. The smallest needles I own are 000, and that knits up a sample at 18 stitches to the inch. Not quite small enough. And I have a project on those needles at the moment. So I've decided to knit the socks on 00 needles. They knit up at a little more than 10 stitches to the inch. That makes it easy - I just have to knit half as many stitches.

After I knit a gauge swatch, I had to figure out how to make the pattern. I tried a few different ideas:

Purling the first and last stitch of the round; knitting the first and purling the second; purling the first and last stitch of every other row. I decided purling the first and last stitch was the way to go. I also needed to figure out the best way to decrease as the sock gets closer to the ankle. I decided the best way is to purl 2 stitches together at the point of the triangle. It makes the decrease practically unnoticable.  I also decided to keep the top of the sock fairly plain. I have no idea what the top of the artifact looks like, but since the majority of the leg is plain, I decided to keep the top plain, too. So I cast on 166 stitches, and got to work:

As you can see, I've knit about half an inch. At this rate, I'll have new socks in a year!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Poof! September is Almost Gone

Sigh, September has been a busy month. Somewhere along the way I misplaced my spindle with the thread I was spinning for the Ribe mittens. And my lacis project. Hopefully I will find them soon. In the meantime, I'm meandering as usual. I found a picture of a late 16th century sock from Sweden that I want to knit.
 Isn't it pretty?

This will be a BIG challenge. First I have to figure out the pattern. So far I am counting stitches as I search for the perfect yarn. Perhaps by the end of October I'll be ready to start.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Returning to an old project

Do you remember that I want to reproduce the medieval nalbinding mitten from Ribe, Denmark? Something has always gotten in the way of finishing, even when I felt like I was making good progress. Partly it is because there is so much to learn, but for the past year, it has been due to inactivity.
Currently I'm spinning up more Jacob wool.

Well, preparing for my lefties class got me going on the mitten project again. Why? Well, the starting edge of the Ribe mitten faces in the opposite direction from my usual mittens. As I made samples for my lefties class, I wondered if perhaps that mitten was made by a left-handed person.

Hand-warmers made with left-handed Oslo stitch.

But, I think the answer is no. I think my first thought - that the mitten was turned inside out when complete is the correct answer. I think this because of the slant of the stitches. Whichever way you turn a piece of nalbinding, the stitches slant in the same direction - right or left, depending on which way they were made. Compare the picture above with this detail of the Ribe mitten:

The stitches point in the opposite direction. I hope to finish spinning over the holiday weekend, and then I'm excited to make another sample.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


I can't believe we have been home from Pennsic for a week already. My thanks to everyone who took my classes, particularly the left-handed nalbinders. As promised, class directions for spots, stripes and rings, and for lefties have been posted here. They say that teachers should learn as much from their students as the students learn from their teachers. In this case, I think it was true. Having prepared for and taught the left-handed class, I now feel as comfortable stitching with my left hand as I do with my right. Thank you for prompting me to strive harder!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


We went to visit friends in Connecticut last weekend.
They took us across Long Island Sound in their lovely boat, to the little village of Northport. Very quaint. We poked around in the little shops, and I came across this:

 I had to have it - it was only a couple of dollars. I'm sure it is a 20th century piece, but there they were - linen stitch and loop stitch, just like I had learned from Barbeta!
I can't wait to get back to work on my own piece.

And here are a few more photos from the weekend: 

Mike even let Rich have a turn driving the boat.


It's a trip we won't soon forget.