The last video was a huge success so I’ve decided to keep with the format. I hope you enjoy it.
In this first episode, I talk about the following:
[00:00:59] Wood Runner Pullover by Erin Searl
This is a test knit so I can’t provide a link for it yet.
[00:02:19] Cowl (Winter Shadows?)
[00:03:13] Iceland Socks
Pattern: Hermione’s Everyday Socks, by Erica Lueder – a free download from Ravelry
Yarn: BFL Socks in Wellspring by SweetGeorgia Yarns (Discontinued)
HiyaHiya Sharps 2.25mm
[00:04:30] Scrappy Blanket
Pattern: The Coziest Memory by Kemper Wray
Needle: Hiya Hiya 2.75mm
Yarn: Alafoss Lopi – assorted colours
[00:09:44] Spinning – Forest Row Farm Shetland Fleece
Video Music Credit
For Mimi by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
I mentioned in the Part 1 post that I’ve never processed a fleece by hand so it’s a fair question to ask why would I start now after the industrial revolution successfully removed this kind of drudgery from women’s lives. There are piles and piles of beautiful yarns available for easy purchase in my little town, let alone the bounty of the internet. So why bother making it.
One reason is that I have an interest in history. Lanark was once a major center for textile production in Ontario, much of it wool. In fact, the last working mill here, the Glenayr Kitten Mill closed in 1997 – which really wasn’t that long ago. The wool mill in the big living history museum near here is (for me) a fascinating place and I wanted to try my hand at it. And finally, I have a lingering, probably highly romanticized fascination with ‘traditional women’s skills’. By this I mean household production tasks which traditionally fell to women such as yarn and cloth production, candle making, beer and cider making and food storage and preservation. I do all of this except the candle making – I have to draw the line somewhere.
This is where the interest began and is still the root of why I’ve put effort into this but over time it has morphed into something more. Last October, Instagram exploded with #slowfashionoctober where everyone who had anything to do with fibre was talking about how and why they were pushing back against fast fashion. This really struck a chord with me (and the rest of the world considering the 1.25 million hits returned by Google) and gave me an opportunity to really think about not just why I was knitting, but why I was making yarn.
Clothing with Terroir
I realized that I wanted to create garments that had a sense of ‘terroir‘. Much like a wine or cheese has a taste of where it was produced, I wanted my clothing to have that same feeling. Subconsciously, I have been moving in this direction for a while. All the fleece I have – wool, alpaca, and llama was raised on farms very close to me. There is mohair and angora around here too, but I don’t have any (yet).
Ulysses lived 20 km from me. The mill which did the processing is 26 km away. Short of raising sheep in my backyard (which local bylaw says I’m not allowed to do), you can’t get much more local than that.
Part 1 – Background
(This is part 1 in what will become a series of related posts)
Two and a half years ago, I was at a small fibre festival in McDonalds Corners in rural Lanark County (yeah, I know most of Lanark is rural, but this place is really in the woods) where I bought 500g of washed Blue Faced Leicester fleece. Oh, it was lovely and soft, but it was short – too short for the mill which was why this shepherd was selling it for hand processing. Full disclosure – I’ve never processed a fleece by hand.
No problem, I thought. People have been hand carding and combing wool for far longer than the process has been mechanized. I can take care of this. Besides, it’s only 500g. Not like it’s the entire fleece.
I’ll pause here while you have a good laugh.
I don’t have a drum carder. I do own a set of hand carders but I’m not handy with them. I understand the basic premise of what I’m supposed to do, and perhaps 10 minutes with someone who really knows how to use them could change my opinion of them. But I’m not there. I find them awkward and I hated using them. So the fleece sat in it’s bag. Every so often, while stash diving I’d see it and open it up. It really is lovely stuff but I was never going to get it all carded.
Two years later, the fleece was still in its bag and I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. Then I heard about a new fibre mill which was opening locally! I contacted them and – Hallelujah – they could take the fleece and process it.
I drove over on the appointed day and handed over the bag. Remember me saying it was short – yeah, they looked at it and weren’t sure they could do it. Disappointment must have showed on my face because the owner said to leave it with him, that maybe he could blend it with a minimal amount of something else, just to get it through the machines. That is exactly what ended up happening. The BFL was blended with 10% nameless wool as a carrier medium to get it through the machines.
So why is this called the Ulysses Project? Well, Ulysses is the hero of The Odyssey which took place over 10 years. There were lots of twists and turns and side adventures in the story of his return home from the Trojan War. Ulysses was also the name of the ram who provided the fleece. Since this particular project has been going for more than two years and also has some twists and side adventures, I thought the name was fitting.
Hey look – I have a few more things finished!
This is my Qiviut that I was spinning a few weeks ago. I’m calling this a finished item because it now looks like actual yarn. I’m still thinking about what I’m going to make with it. I have 235 yards of a heavy lace / light fingering weight yarn. Any suggestions?
Socks. This is my third pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks.
Seriously, if you don’t have a pair go cast some on!
I didn’t show this last week with the rest of my work basket tour but it’s been lying around for a while now. I think this is the first thing I’ve ever knit – and finished using my hand spun yarn. I’m pretty impressed with myself for getting something even enough to consider measuring gauge.
The yarn is a handspun made up of Yak, Merino and Silk. How decadent is that!
This blend came from Noble Fibre Mill in Almonte and the pattern is Alhambra by Anne Hanson of Knitspot fame. You can purchase this pattern from here. I’ve made this scarf several times; usually to give as a gift but I do have another version of it for me made of cashmere and silk. This is the great joy of knitting (and spinning frankly). I can knit the lux things I can’t afford to buy and in the case of the qiviut, I can’t even afford to buy the yarn – but I can spin it.
And lastly, I have a cowl to show you. The yarn is called Alpaca 60 by Estelle Yarns and it fell into my bag while browsing in the yarn shop last weekend. I have no idea how these things happen.
Anyway, this is quite a bulky yarn and I don’t often knit with bulky so I’m always so surprised at how quickly things knit up with it. This cowl was a few hours of pretty mindless knitting and then it was done.
The colours in the second picture are closer to true. My initial thought was that these aren’t my colours and that I was going to give the cowl away as a Christmas gift but the more I look at it (and touch it – oh, this is gloriously soft), I think I might keep it for myself.
I have nothing so dramatic as the newly completed Bear Lake Pullover to share this week, but making and creating continues. There are three projects on the go right now: a pair of socks, a baby cardigan and some spinning.
Lets start with the spinning – gosh, this one is so exciting to me. Looks kinda dull and boring eh?
Actually, it’s Qiviut. Never heard of Qiviut? It’s the softer-than-cashmere, down from Arctic musk-ox. Yes, it’s also crazy expensive and everything they say about it is absolutely true. This is a bag of soft. Is that a thing? I don’t know but that’s the sensation when I touch the roving. This preparation came from Noble Fibre Mill just down the road in Almonte and I’m really pleased with it. The current plan is to make this into a two ply yarn that will become some fluffy, lacy neck thing. I know – not painting much of a picture with that but honestly, the fibre hasn’t quite told me about what it wants to be.
What else do I have? I have this adorable little cardigan.
The pattern is called Jessica by Linda Whaley (Rowan) and I’m actually using the recommended yarn for the knit! Does anybody else do that? I don’t normally – I have a substantial stash so I often shop there first and fudge the numbers if my gauge isn’t quite right – but I’m just so pleased with how this looks that I just might use recommended yarn a little more often! I’m knitting this for a little miss who is due to make her debut at the end of November. This is a 6 – 9 month size so I was hoping she could wear it next spring or summer. That said, it looks awfully small to me. We’ll see how it goes. It may end up being a layering piece this winter.
This knit was the first time I’ve ever used a picot cast on and I have to say, I’m smitten with it. It’s kinda fussy and I’m not usually one for frills (hazards of being a boy mother) but I really do adore the little bit of flounce on this cardi.
And lastly, there is a pair of socks. The pattern is Hermione’s Everyday Socks and you can download it here for free. These are made using a traditional top down, flap-heel construction and this is the third time I’ve knit these socks. I like how the pattern is simple enough that it’s a relaxing knit but isn’t boring.
But mostly, I like how these socks fit. Do you have a favourite sock pattern? Drop me a note and tell me about it!