Archive for August, 2007

ssal3.jpgIf you’re a spinner, you know full well the lure of a gorgeous, hand-dyed, colourful roving. I have a few (dozen) in my stash at the moment. Although I keep buying multi-coloured roving, however, I’ve never been a fan of the barber-pole effect in hand-spun yarn and I hate it when my beautiful roving ends up being a mish-mash of all the colours once spun, sometimes simply collapsing into a grey or murky brown.

In this Spin-a-Long we look at a few different ways of tackling a space-dyed roving, all of which will produce different effects in the finished yarn.

Download Sunday Spin-a-Long #5 here


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My apologies for being late on this one, it’s been one of those weeks I’m afraid. Also, I finally did the draw for SSAL #4, the winner is Anne K :-D Congratulations!

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Welcome to the Steek-a-Long! There is safety in numbers, so they say, so we can all start together, chop together, finish together, and defeat the dreaded Steek Monster :-D There will be 3 parts to the Steek-a-Long, today we will look at what you will need, and a bit of general information about Steeking.

Why steek?

Steeking, or cutting, is most commonly used when a garment is worked in Fair Isle, or other forms of colourwork. Most knitters believe colourwork is easier to implement from the right side, and steeks allow the work to continue in the round all the way to the neck without having to stop and divide for the armholes and neckline of a sweater. Another useful application for a steek is when using self-striping yarn with long colour repeats, such as Noro Kureyon. Steeking a v-neck or the front opening of a cardigan will allow for perfectly matching stripes which are practically impossible to achieve otherwise.

But won’t it unravel?

Many knitters machine-stitch the steek edge to reinforce it before cutting, but traditionally edges were simply cut and then overcast for neatness. Think of different dress fabrics you’ve seen cut - slippery rayon or synthetics will fray all over the place but cut into a tightly woven tweed suiting and it will go nowhere. Thus, the unravel factor depends a lot on your yarn. A Shetland yarn, for example, is quite fuzzy and ‘clings’ to itself, making it highly unlikely that the stitches will unravel once cut. Smoother yarns, like pure silk, are far more likely to fray.

What will I need?

We’re going to cut an un-reinforced steek, on a swatch of Fair Isle knitting :-D safety in numbers remember!

Choose a yarn which has a bit of surface fuzz and not too much squooshiness. I am using Tess Dawson Merino 4-ply which is pure wool and has enough fuzz to make it ‘cling’ but is still nice and soft. If you prefer to work with larger stitches, the DK will also be great, or any other yarn you have that is a bit fuzzy. Anything super soft and bouncy, like Cashmerino for example, will not be so good. You will need one ball of each colour. If you want to Steek without doing the Fair Isle, just follow all the directions for stitch count etc, but in one colour throughout. The swatch isn’t going to be super-huge, oddments you find in your stash would be fine.


You will also need sharp scissors, two stitch markers, and needles of the size to achieve a nice, firm gauge. Stretchy, open knitting does not work so well with Fair Isle or with Steeks. I am using 2.5mm needles, with a DK I’d recommend about a 3.5-3.75mm.

Next week: The Swatch!

Oh, and I think I might have mentioned a little prize draw for all those with the courage to chop up their knitting at the end :-D

Further reading:

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A big thanks to everyone for all the kind words. I continue to blame the weather, which continues sunny.

I have a theory though: Being brought up in an arid country, on a farm where the clouds were (and still are) the only source of water, a rainy day was a thing to rejoice in. Which probably explains why I’ve been so happy the last couple of months - it’s deeply-ground conditioning :-D

And the halo?

This is what is currently gracing my corner cupboard:


And I haven’t peeked! Okay, I’ve had a bit of a poke, but I haven’t been to check out my Amazon wishlist to see what’s disappeared from it, and I even refrained from reading the customs label on the parcel from home. Mum, you may notice that the chocolate is not in the ‘not to be opened yet’ pile but it wasn’t wrapped so therefore it can’t be a birthday present which means I must be able to eat it all now (heheh).

I am under strict instructions from all around me, very much against my will I might add, and I will continue to be good.

What about you? Are you …

a) I can’t stand waiting but I will because it’s the right thing to do

b) Open ‘em when they come - it spreads the fun more evenly (this is my philosophy, thwarted by Neil)

c) Presents? What are they? I can’t remember when I last had a birthday

and for Nathalie:

d) Are you kidding? I love the wait - the excitement builds and builds until…Pop! Everything’s open at once.

And speaking of birthday presents, since all good people have their birthdays in August I am hard kind of leisurely at work on several and there will be as much outgoing as incoming. You know who you are ;-)

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Sorry for the grumps in my last post - last week was a bit mad, this week’s shaping up to be similar.

When I have my wits back together I will a) post the Spin-a-Long; b) finish that other article; c) tell you how the green thing is going (stalled at the moment); d) show you some new design pics.

In the meantime, here’s something to smile over: We went to the Innocent Village Fete on Sunday, it Rocked! The weather was awesome, we got free smoothies and saw lots of people knitting in public :-D I looked out for Amelia but didn’t spot her among the thousands. Not surprising really.

Best thing: We bought a couple of tickets in the Penguin Classics raffle. They had a tent set up with comfy chairs and lots of bookshelves - perfect place to while away some time. We rolled up for the 5pm draw and having presented a winning ticket to the nice girl … we got to pick 10 books from the shelves. Woohoo!! I stocked up on Jane Austen, Neil grabbed The Iliad and The War of the Worlds.

Sadly, I was only half-way to Regent’s Park when I first regretted not taking my camera. A cleverer blogger would have realised that her mobile phone takes just as good pictures. My apologies, when I have my mojo back …

Keep well, I’ll be back soon.


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I have a sneaking suspicion that the sun has swung around a bit. Lacking any outdoor space in this flat, the kitchen window sill has always been my favoured photography spot. The last month or so, however, it seems to be getting no light. None.

In a flat with no outdoors and now no handy sunny window sill it becomes insanely difficult to take decent photographs. This is SERIOUSLY annoying me. I don’t particularly want to have to cart everything down to the park every time I need a photo for an article or tutorial. Any brilliant suggestions?

In the absence of the tutorial I was hoping to put up today (no photos), and the Spin-a-Long which I was hoping to put up today (no photos), I leave you with …



I haven’t modelled them as my pal has much bigger feet ;-)

Yarn: Trekking Pro Natura wool/bamboo; Pattern: based on one from Knitting Vintage Socks;

They are now on their way to Canada :-D hope she likes them!

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