Wool in Italy – What’s new?

I’ve realized that I was blogging alot about knitting and wool, so I’ve moved that over to my new blog:
come take a look and find out about:
So, if you’re interested in receiving my latest knitting, spinning and wool-working news and inspirations, please stop by at Wool in Italy and click the ‘follow’ box to your right on the home page.
Meanwhile, the rest of life in Italy will keep posting here so stay tuned for recipes, art, random thoughts, gardening and other things going on at the house.
Thanks for reading and happy wool-working to you woolies out there.

Slip-stitch Rib and the Graft: Still Spinning out of Control

Slip-stitch ribbing knit in the round with hand spun yarn.

So, I have begun the sweater I was thinking about when I wrote Norwegian Wool and the Magic Sweater  10 days ago, and my spinning has stabilized since I wrote Spinning Out (of Control) a week ago. My output of spun yarn has doubled to two-hundred yards this week and I have a good 7″ knitted. I’m in luck with this sweater both because my husband (who requested it) is slender – so I only have 36″ of ‘tube’ to knit for the body – and because I decided to knit it on U.S. #10 (6mm) needles! After working on my standard U.S. #2 (2.75mm) needles to make socks this sweater seems to be knitting up so quickly that I could finish it before the long Lombard winter actually ends.

I have learned two new techniques on this sweater. The first is the slip-stitch rib knit. I’ve found that it’s the perfect stitch to forgive the uneven quality of my different skeins of ‘beginner’s’ hand-spun yarn, the slipped stitches add density where the yarn is thin and at the same time allow enough openness to keep the thick spots from looking bulky…nice. If you don’t know this stitch, it’s easy and both the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ sides look cool:

Row 1: K1, P1 rib until you reach the marker at the beginning of your round
Row 2: *S1 (purl-wise with yarn in back), P1* repeat these two stitches until you reach the marker
Repeat rows 1 and 2 for as long as you’d like.

The second technique is grafting. My wonderful (and insanely talented) mother, Sara, sent me this link for yarn grafting that I have adapted for my wool. Considering that both my spindle and the Andean plying that I’m doing, limits me to a maximum skein length of 50 yards, without grafting I’d have a whole lot of little ends to be worked back into the fabric. Grafting two or more skeins together has allowed me to make up much larger balls and just keep knitting. Once again, the very forgiving stitch hides the grafts well. Thanks Mom!

Spinning Out (of Control) and Fancy Socks

Questo fine di settimana ho filato oltre 100 metri di lana…
ma sto diventando più brava (vedi la differenza tra i due prima 
alla sinistra e l’ultimi alla destra)! 
Cosa devo fare con le due qualità diverse di filato?

 So I’ve been spinning with the drop spindle this weekend and managed to meet my goal of making up at least 100  meters of plied yarn…that was more than 200 meters of singles and then andean plying all 4 skeins (whew!). My only problem now is that I’m getting better. My twist is ever smoother and more consistent and I can really see the difference between the yarn I made on Saturday and the yarn I made on Sunday. But now what do I do? The skeins are really different.

Theoretically this yarn is to make a sweater for my husband who fell in love with the roving as soon as I opened the package from the Wool Box. “It’s so smooth, it’s so shiny, it’s so soft! It’s almost as beautiful as your hair,” he says. If you read the last post you’ll know why he’s partial to Norwegian wool. He wants a close-fitting, raglan-sleeve turtleneck in slip-stitch rib so I’m thinking that I might use my ‘first’ skeins for the collar, the cuffs and the 1×1 rib that I’ll be using for the bottom edge and then hope that I can try not to get any better just yet!

“mini-trecce con merlatura” queste costa/mini-treccia
ho usato su due differente paio di calzini
e credo che il ‘merli guelfi’ ai talloni e punte
sono un modo divertente
per rendere la transizione tra i colori.

Meanwhile, the sock equilibrium is changing. I’ve been making wool socks for myself for some time now and at first my husband teased me about spending weeks on a single pair…until I made some for him. “They’re soft,” he says, “they’re comfortable,” he adds, “they’re beautiful!” So, now that he’s been converted to the joy of wearing hand-knit socks, I’m trying to make up the gap. I have more than 7 pair (one that my Mother made and sent me). He has ‘only’ three. These ‘toe-up’ grey ones with mini-cable rib and ‘crenellations’ are the latest. He’s hard on his footwear so I made a slip-stitch reinforced heel (alternating the rows to get a more delicate honeycomb effect rather than straight lines). I have done the square crenellations as a colour transition technique on several pairs of socks and find it quite nice for transitioning into a rib.
The blue and white striped ‘sailor’ socks are his favorites. Made from Lanagatta’s ‘Nuova Irlanda’ knit up on U.S. #3’s; I have to say that they have stayed soft, have not pilled at all and have not shrunk or stretched a millimeter since they came off the needles a year ago.

Questi “calzini di marinaio ”
sono i preferiti del mio marito.
His fourth pair will be the Modified Highland Hose that I posted a few weeks back made with a gorgeous and very sturdy, natural tweed Morron Bouton” that is a soft un-dyed tan with tiny fuchsia, marigold, and grass-green flecks.  I’m  knitting those top down  and on 3’s though  that needle gauge is a bit tight…I managed to snap one of my bamboo needles while cabling! However, between the snug gauge and the fully-reinforced Dutch heel, I don’t suspect he’ll be wearing through them any time soon.

Thanks for stopping by to read and Happy wool-working!

Back to the Wool-Works!

I spent all of February putting heart and soul into International Poetry Month. Now it’s March (and still crazy cold, wet and even threatening to snow) here in Lombardy…

So I’m happily back to knitting and about to think about starting in on spinning the wonderful fluff that I ordered from The Wool Box back in January. Want to see what’s in the basket?

beautiful pink fingerless gloves requested by my daughter

new pair of ‘highland hose’ adapted for bulky yarn
here they are from the side where you can see the reinforced heel.

My new hat that I just finished yesterday! Love that SSPTBL decrease….

Mini-Cowl from Mamma’s handspun yarn

My mother, who you can find over at saramuz, sent me some of her beautiful hand-spun yarn for my birthday. You can see her blog about this yarn and the Hill Country wool market HERE.

I played with it for a few hours, mixing it, doing stockinette stitch and garter stitch until I decided on a mini-cowl based on the one they have attached to the hat in Lynne Barr’s Reversible Knitting.

I knitted it up on #15’s (US) and it made up in about 7 rows of circular stockinette which rolls to show the purl side. I love it! Simple and a nice extra warm something with no dangling ends that have to be kept from falling into the soup (or the dishwater). In our climate where I don’t go out without a coat, it shows above the coat collar, doesn’t come loose or get caught in the zipper. Thanks Mom :)!