I have a glorious rainbow of Corriedale. 254 grams (9 ounces) should be enough for something fun!

I could make… hm….

A cowl? A scarf… maybe brioche! A slouchy hat (crochet or knit)? Maybe socks

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The folks in the Combo Spin team are telling me that I should probably have a full two pounds of fibre for a sweater spinning project, and that means I’m short by four ounces. So on Sunday I got out the drum carder and came up with this batt, in shades of pink with a little bit of green/yellow (that’s showing up as gray, unfortunately) and quite a bit of white alpaca – probably why the colour got so muted. It came out to 36 grams, just over an ounce and a quarter.

It wasn’t quite what I was looking for, so I decided I would just buy another braid of fibre in the right colours. Then I tried something completely different, experimenting with feeding the fibre directly onto the drum instead of sending it through the tray, and got this orange-to-purple gradient with layers of silk between each colour. Fortunately everything went on fairly straight, because I couldn’t figure out how to send it through for a second pass and maintain the layers of colour. I also got more fibre onto the drum; this batt is 48 grams (1.7 ounces).

Next I tried a left-to-right colour blend of four… well, let’s just say they might be the most overplayed colours of the moment, at least in the realm of athletic clothing for people with female-shaped bodies. (At least it’s easy to coordinate my outfit when I go to the gym, since I can only find clothes in these colours…) I let the big drum pull the fibre slowly out of my hands again, and put layers of silk in again. Then I stripped it off the drum, tore the colours apart, and sent it all through for a second pass to get a little more blending where each colour meets the next. This one is also 48 grams (1.7 ounces); I could have gotten more fibre onto the drum if I had had more of every colour, which I didn’t. Oh well.

After that I was curious how many grams of fibre I could fit onto the drum, and succeeded in making a 50g (1.75 ounces) batt of white alpaca. I think I could probably make an even heavier batt of something that’s less floofy and more dense. I’ll have to try that next, maybe with something that’s better to photograph than a cloudy white mass.

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Maryland Sheep and Wool was a lot of fun this year! I drove up with Caroline on Saturday morning and we met Laurie there. The three of us spent about six hours, minus fifteen minutes for lunch, walking around looking at everything! It wasn’t too crowded, probably because the forecast called for rain in the middle of the day but clear skies on Sunday. Indeed, we did get drizzled on a tiny bit, but not a lot. And there was a lot of mud on the ground; I was glad to have my boots. But because we did very little standing around and waiting, I didn’t get very many pictures.

I couldn’t resist pausing for these paintings, though – and later I got a good shot of their subjects.

And then there was the shopping. I went to the festival armed with lists of possibilities. On one hand, if I could find inexpensive DK-weight yarn, I could knit up some more of the colourwork hats that I have charted out. On the other hand, I was invited to join a “Combo Spin” team for this year’s Tour de Fleece, so I had noted down some of the coordinating colours of fibre already in my stash. Whichever I found first, I said, I would go with for the rest of the day.

It was the fibre, and it was the greens and pinks of a rose garden.

First I found some Ashland Bay merino/tussah in the “Autumn” colourway. Their dyed fibre in this blend is apparently being discontinued, so it was on sale and I bought eight ounces of it. I’m sad that it won’t be made anymore and I’m seriously considering looking around the internet to see if there’s any more at discount prices. Once it’s gone, it’s gone – and I really love Ashland Bay fibre. It may not have the prestige of being handpainted but it’s consistent, it drafts well, the colours are lovely, and it feels nice. Ah well.

Then I saw this FatCatKnits braid in “Ranchero,” on both a plain merino and a merino swirl base. After much deliberation, I went with the swirl, and I regret nothing.

My third buy was a Greenwood Fiberworks braid in merino/bamboo/silk called “Spice Market.” There were a few other colourways that would have worked, but I resisted buying them all.

I brought everything home and set it all up on the table with the two braids of fibre that had gotten me started down this road in the first place: Into the Whirled “Martini & Rossi” romney, and Cloverleaf Farm “Cranberry Bog” merino. I bought that merino nine years ago, before I was good enough to spin it, and I’m glad that it will finally be part of a project. But I thought the group needed something else… not just for quantity, but for the overall colour scheme, to keep it from being too dark.

This braid of Romney that Amabel gave me last year seems to fit in perfectly. I might card a few batts to bring the total up to two pounds, because I have a plan for (eventually) making a sweater from this pile of squishiness. (Also because I haven’t carded up a blended batt in a while, and it seems like a fun thing to do on this cool and windy day.)

So what’s a Combo Spin, anyway? The idea is that you take a bunch of fibre with one or two colours in common, split it up into many small pieces, and randomize the pieces to make a blend. Once it’s spun and plied, you end up with a mostly homogenized yarn that looks like it was all meant to be together. The colours get evenly distributed throughout the whole yarn, and the textures of the different fibres combine in really interesting ways. There’s a thread on the Ravelry forums with further explanations and examples, or you can check out this video.

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I was in the artsy-crafts store the other day and saw this ball of Sugar ‘n Cream in a new colourway that I just could not resist (Pebble Beach Ombre). And for $1.20, why should I? So I brought it home with me. At first I was going to make my usual washcloth pattern, but then I had the idea (perhaps inspired by mopping the floor) that I should come up with a textured stitch that would be useful as a washcloth, dishcloth, or re-usable mop pad. It came out so pretty that I wanted to share… so here it is. (It’s also on Ravelry if you prefer a pdf for your library.)

I started with a chain of 36 stitches and a US H / 5mm hook for a washcloth of about 10″ / 25 cm. Any even number of stitches to start will work just fine.

Scrubbing Nubbles Washcloth

Yarn: 1 ball Sugar ‘n Cream or other worsted weight cotton, 95 yards / 57 grams
Hook: US H / 5mm

Row 1: Chain 36. Skip the first chain and sc across (35 stitches). Chain 1, turn.
Row 2: (sc, tr) across, ending with sc. Chain 1, turn.
Row 3: sc across. Chain 1, turn.
Row 4: (tr, sc) across, ending with tr. Chain 1, turn.
Row 5: sc across. Chain 1, turn.

Repeat Rows 2 through 5 until the cloth is the size you like.

Optional hanging loop: When you reach the end of your final row, chain 15 off the corner, then sc back down the chain. Fold to create the loop and sl st to attach the end to the corner of the cloth. If you prefer a border on your washcloths, you can sc around the whole cloth, putting three sc into each corner (except for the one with the loop).

Fasten off yarn, weave in ends, and enjoy your new washcloth!

The texture is so neat that I took a giant picture of it. At 3658 x 2774, it could be used for phone/computer wallpaper. Feel free to download it here.

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Last May we bought a fleece at MD Sheep and Wool.

We were only going to look at the fleeces, not buy one. We were only going to compare a few, not buy one. We were only going to pet them, not buy one.

Suuuuure we were.

Pictured: two people who don’t yet know that they’re in over their heads.

We washed it all, and opened up some locks, and carded a few batts.

Pictured: All the fleece that can be fed into a drum carder at one time. It is… not a lot.

And then we lost steam.

But today! Today was a fibre day. We were going to get this project reinvigorated! We decided to work on opening locks, so that everything would be ready for the drum carder. Two hours later the box of flicked locks was quite full but the fleece itself didn’t look any smaller… and we gave up. This is just too much for us. We have other projects that we want to work on, and quite honestly, this isn’t very much fun at all.

Pictured: a very, very small fraction of the total fleece, which weighs about 6.5 pounds after washing.

It’s a gorgeous fleece, and it’s going to go to a mill for processing, and then we’ll have the fun of spinning it without the tedium of carding it ourselves.

It’s been a beautiful learning experience, though.

Pictured: amazing fleece with amazing crimp.

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Moorefield is a four-colour stranded hat that I designed to celebrate ten years (can you believe it!) of this very knitblog, started on a whim one night when my sister and I got into an argument over whether pirates or ninjas were superior. I said pirates, she said ninjas, and the next thing you know… ten years, nearly 800 posts, and countless stitches later, here we are. Here’s to the next ten years!

The pattern is charted out for 128-stitch and 144-stitch hats. Choose the right size for your gauge and head! For a close-fitting hat on a 21.5″ head, I used size 4 needles and DK weight yarn to get a gauge of 6.5 stitches to the inch in the colourwork pattern. Only two colours are used per round, making it easier to knit.

Get it on Ravelry here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/moorefield-hat or click here to purchase:

(For April 3 and 4 only, the coupon code 10YEARS will give you 10% off!)

YOU WILL NEED: 16″ circular needle (optional, but recommended) and a set of five double-point needles in the size needed to get gauge for your particular yarn, a stitch marker for the beginning of the round, plus a darning needle to weave in ends. Three extra stitch markers to indicate the quarters of the hat will make it easier to keep your place in the pattern.

YARN: Four nicely contrasting colours of DK-weight yarn (or the yarn weight you prefer, based on your gauge). Five different colour schemes are provided for inspiration. The pattern sample was knit with Jo Sharp Classic DK Wool, which unfortunately seems to have been discontinued in the US, but just about any DK weight yarn should work just fine.

Get it on Ravelry here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/moorefield-hat or click here to purchase:

Important Copyright Information: The Moorefield Hat knitting pattern is © 2017 Knitting Pirate. You may not sell or otherwise distribute copies of this pattern, but you may absolutely sell the hats you make with appropriate credit given for the design. If you have any questions about what you can or can’t do with this pattern, please feel free to contact contact the Knitting Pirate.

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I’m fortunate to have friends with good cameras who are willing to point them at me and my knitting.

Just a week and a half to go!

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It’s almost here…

The hat pattern that I’ve designed as a celebration of ten years of knitblogging! Here it is enjoying a nice warm bath with a little bit of Eucalan before making its debut. I let it fully sink into the water, of course, but not before getting a picture of it floating on the suds!

After a half-hour of soaking, the hat dried over a slightly small blocking head. One of these days, I’ll get one that’s the same size as my own head! I’ve found some that are prohibitively expensive, and some that get terrible reviews, so the search will continue…

I’m thrilled with the way the crown of the hat came together. This is the part that I always have trouble envisioning when I look at the chart. When I pulled the last threads through to cinch the top tight, and saw how neat the whole thing looked, I couldn’t have been more happy with it.

The pattern is under final edits, the test-knitters have provided some feedback, and I’m super-excited to put the finishing touches on this and release it to the world! Look for it on the 4th of April!

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Moorefield Mittens (take two) – now with a cuff of a more appropriate length. I’m getting pretty good at the alternating cable cast-on, which is still a little fiddly but no longer frustrating to do. I like how the cuff looks with red as the consistent colour – it’s a different ‘feel’ than on the hat, but still nice looking. The wonky stitch tension will even out with blocking; for some reason I have more difficulty with stranding on DPNs than on circular needles.

The thumb stitches are being held aside, and I’m up to the part where I’m going to create the opening that will make these flip-top mittens. This is accomplished by knitting a row of waste yarn across the palm, then continuing on in pattern. This technique allows the colourwork to progress uninterrupted up the back of the hand.

When I made the Fleeps I knit the glove with fingers part first, and then picked up stitches across the back of the hand to make the mitten top. This time, the mitten top is knit first, and then the waste yarn across the palm will be pulled out to give me two rows of live stitches from which I can knit the glove fingers.

I made the stitches across the inside of the thumb in pattern, though it’s probable that they won’t even show in the finished object. The thumb hole seems a little large, but that might be necessary for a range of motion. When I go to knit the thumb, I could decrease by picking up just one stitch into both “corner” stitches – where the stitches on waste yarn meet the stitches I cast on to bridge the gap. That would bring the total from 26 down to 24, which might fit my skinny fingers a little better. Conveniently, it might also help to prevent holes in the thumb!

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The hat has been finished for a while now. The ends woven in, the yarn put away (sort of – more on that in a moment) and the styrofoam head located. The hat, finished but unblocked, has been sitting on the styrofoam head in my living room, where I’ve been admiring it on a nightly basis. “But,” I said to myself, “I can’t finish writing up the pattern without pictures, and I can’t take pictures without blocking the hat.”

So it had a good warm bath, luxuriating in the Eucalan suds for half an hour or so…

…and now it’s back on the styrofoam head, its stitches far more even (especially around the decreases) and looking good. The head is actually too small for the hat, so it doesn’t look as good as it might. I’d love to have a proper-sized blocking head. One day!

It has a name now, too: I’ve decided to call it Moorefield.

As for the yarn, which has been sort of put away (it’s in a cubby of the coffee table), I might be making some matching mittens. I got started but then had to rip back; the cuff on these isn’t nearly long enough. But they’re pretty, so I’m sharing anyway.

There might not be enough brown yarn left to make two full mittens, so I’ve changed the colours around in the chart to have the main stripiness be red instead of brown for the second attempt. I’m also going to do these as flip-tops, because flip-top mittens are the best thing ever. If I really focus on them, I might be able to get them done and written up in time to release along with the hat. That’s ambitious, but not impossible.

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