Finished – The Biggest Entrelac In The World

It’s done!  Celebrate with me!

The early days.

In the beginning
In the beginning

Here is a picture before completion.  You see why it may be the biggest entrelac piece in the world.

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This is Noro Nadeshiko yarn.

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Shown on a large couch before blocking.  It got bigger after blocking.
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Nadeshiko is fuzzy even before blocking!

Blocking changes the texture completely.

Everything flattens out in blocking.

I am taping a guest spot about entrelac today for a TV show about fiber arts. Stay tuned for more details on how to watch my episode.

My favorite pattern and all the specifics about this project are on my Ravelry page.

In the meantime, please cast on your own entrelac piece.  It’s very easy, just follow the pattern.

Comment to let me know how you like this shawl.

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Five Things I Want To Create in 2016 – And Free Shipping

My fiber plans for 2016 include these five projects.

Driftwood Socks

Driftwood Socks
Driftwood Socks

I am still working (slowly) on these socks.  They were started in September, it’s now February.  Not a lot of progress lately since I had to knit the biggest entrelac in the world in the meantime.

Rogue Wave Wrap

rogue wave
From Ravelry.com

I’ve been dying to make a freeform project, and this pattern from Jane Thornley looks perfect.  It’s designed for any gauge yarn.  I plan to use some hand spun art yarns in this project, along with leftovers and things I’ve been holding onto because they are so “special”.  This includes yarns that I only have one skein of, so cannot do a big project with them on their own.

Super Easy Handspun Scarf

super easy handspun scarf
From Ravelry.com

In an effort to improve my crochet skills, I’ll probably attempt this one before the larger scarf below.

Supersized See My Stitches Scarf 

supersize my stitches
From Ravelry.com

This cool crochet pattern is perfect for super bulky handspun.  I plan to dye a couple of rovings and spin them into super bulky art yarn for this project.

Jeck Socks

jeck socks
From Ravelry.com

I like the look of these easy socks.  They seem nicely fitting and good for hand dyed yarn.  I’m always looking for sock patterns that break up pooling and blotchiness that can occur when knitting with hand dyed sock yarns. I will probably use a Turkish Toe and Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato heel, I enjoy knitting them and the fit works for me.

One thing I really like about the Turkish Toe is that it’s seamless, that makes it comfortable and sturdy.

I usually knit 3.5 repeats of the heel on 1/2 the stitches, rather than recommended 3/4 of the stitches, because I’m too lazy to move the stitches around on my circular needles when it’s time to do the heel.

Yes, I use circulars for socks, and almost everything else.  I like that I can’t drop or lose them, and I find DPNs clumsy and hard to hold on to.

I’m sure I’ll also knit headbands and cowls and lots more this year.

You can see all my finished and ongoing projects here on my Ravelry page.

What fiber adventures are you planning this year?  Comment and let me know!

As a reminder, get free shipping when you purchase two or more spinning fibers from our Etsy Store.  Use coupon code FREESHIP2FIBERS.  Free shipping ends Feb. 29, 2016.

Here’s a little eye candy from the shop.

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Your First Entrelac

Would you love to knit a beautiful entrelac project like this?

first entrelac
My first entrelac project, knit in Noro Kochoran.

After completing 20 entrelacs I consider myself quite experienced. Many knitters have told me they would love to try it, but thinks it’s too difficult.  It’s not!  Really.  Here are some tips to make your first entrelac a success.

Pattern Choice

I always use the same pattern, if I want a bigger or smaller entrelac I change the number of stitches I cast on. My go-to pattern is The Basic Entrelac Scarf by Lisa Shroyer.  Find it on Ravelry here.  You’ll notice the shawl pictured above is featured on this pattern page.

The stitches are cast on in groups of 8, sometimes I’ve cast on as few as 16. The usual number is 24.  Right now I’m working on a huge custom wrap for which I cast on 48 stitches.  This project is is using 6 balls of Noro Nadeshiko, which is discontinued.

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The Giant

Start with 16 or 24 stitches on your first project.

Just follow the pattern, it’s very clear and well written. If you have any trouble understanding it, here is a tutorial on YouTube.

Yarn Selection

I recommend using bulky yarn for your first entrelac. You’ll see quick progress and the heavy yarn will make your stitches easy to see if you need to tink (unknit) something. It also makes it much easier to see what you’re doing when you pick up stitches to create the new blocks.

To get an entrelac with solidly colored blocks you’ll need a yarn with a long color change. My favorites include a lot of Noro yarns. I’ve used Kochoran, Nideshiko and Transitions. These are all discontinued. Many Noro yarns would work.

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Noro Transitions

Once you get comfortable with picking up stitches (or if you have some experience with this) try a worsted weight yarn.

taos entrelac
Crystal Palace Taos, worsted weight yarn

 

bright entrelac
Knit One, Crochet Too Paint Box, worsted

If you like striped blocks like this, try a hand dyed or commercial yarn with a short color repeat.

hand dyed yarn entrelac
Hand Dyed Yarn with short color repeats

Neutrals can be beautiful too!

entrelac latte ecoduo
Cascade Eco Duo (which is one of my very favorite yarns!)

Other Tips

When completing a row, spread out the project and make sure the edges are even. It’s easy to forget or add an extra a side triangle and once you continue there is no way to correct without ripping back to that point. Best to examine each row and avoid any anguish when you discover something awry rows later.

I like to use circular needles, it keeps the edges from slipping off best, but I use circulars for everything.

Picking up stitches intimidates a lot of knitters. I was nervous about it in the beginning. The important thing to remember – it’s easy to rip them out and begin again. Entrelac is the perfect way to get really good at picking up stitches, both knitwise and purlwise. You will be an expert after your first project and never hesitate again.

If you aren’t sure exactly how to pick up and knit, check out this YouTube video on picking up knitwise.  This is focused on socks, but the principle is the same, and the stitches are very visible in this video.

Picking up purlwise is shown in this short video.  This is going to feel very awkward at first!  Keep at it and it will become easy.  Remember, practice is the way to learn anything.

The little holes at some intersections of blocks are normal. Using a slightly fuzzy yarn will help hide them. This is a perfect excuse to use a yarn with a bit of angora, again Noro is a great choice for this.

View your first entrelac as practice. Focus on learning the skills you may not be comfortable with when you begin. Don’t worry about the result. The wonderful thing about knitting is that it’s easy to tear it all out and begin again. Entrelac’s block by block construction makes it especially easy to tear out a block and correct something you don’t like.

See all my entrelac projects (and everything else I’ve knit) on my Ravelry project page. Friend me!

Good luck with your first entrelac project. I’d love to see what you create.

Friday Finds, Jan. 1, 2016

Wow, it’s 2016 already!  That was a quick year.  Here are some things I want to learn more about or try for myself in the New Year.

crochet pillow cases

I am in love with these gorgeous pillowcases and finally found a great tutorial.  The series extends  over several weeks, and covers creating the pillowcase and adding the edging.  You could start with a purchased pillow case if you want to get right to the edging.

Here is the foundation for the edge.  The actual crochet edging is the next post.

I would love to put pretty edges on white pillow cases.  Perhaps my lovely sister will do it for me.  Linda, are you reading this?

I’ve been abusing my hands, wrists and elbows lately by knitting a big entrelac project and spinning yarn.  I tend to grip everything quite tightly in my quest for control, so I get very sore.  This is very common among knitters, crocheters, spinners, painters, anyone who does a lot of hand work.  Some of you will be happy to find this great site full of Finger Yoga. Click on poses and explore!  Very simple stuff and your hands and arms will thank you.

Would you like to live in a house like this?

shipping container house

Yes, please!  Can you believe it’s created from a used shipping container?  Apparently there are heaps of these just rusting away on the east coast.  Wouldn’t it be great if these could be repurposed into inexpensive housing for retirees, young people just starting out, or people who’ve been affected by natural disasters?

Here is a Buzzfeed blog post about shipping container homes that shows how fabulous they can be.  I dream of creating one for myself someday.

And a fiber picture to inspire your creativity.

yarns to willow mist aug 16 2013
Just a bunch of hand spun and hand dyed yarn I made.

 

 

 

 

Friday Finds, December 11, 2015

coming soon

What’s your first response?  Frazzled, jolly, overwhelmed?  Mine is annoyed.  I find myself grouchy about all the shopping, cooking, wrapping, etc.  That stuff just doesn’t feel all that good to me.  It’s not a holiday to me if I have more work than on a normal day.

I struggle with enjoying any holiday, and this post from Anna at declare dominion.com really hit home.  I’m going to pay a lot more attention to what feels right to me as I make my holiday plans this year, rather than just go along with “tradition”.  I love flowers, music and candlelight so I’m going to incorporate more of those to make my holidays special.  Big fancy meals, towers of beautifully wrapped presents and long car trips add stress to my holidays so I am throwing those plans to the side of the road.

Anna’s website is full of information on living a beautiful life – a life that is beautiful to you.  Check her out if you are finding things just a bit dull.

My kids are growing up quickly, and I find myself daydreaming a lot about the next phase of life.  One of our biggest decisions will be staying in Indianapolis or going somewhere more retiree friendly.  I think about Arizona or New Mexico, but people tell me there are a lot of yucky critters there.  I do know we will not stay in our two story house.  One thing I never thought about is renting vs. buying.   This fascinating post made me add this question to the list of things to consider.  I am one of those people who automatically assumed it’s always better to own, provided you can afford the payment for the foreseeable future.  I never believed in being house poor as so many people seem to.  After reading this post, I find Indianapolis is a place to own rather than rent.  But some of the places I dream of going might be different.  We are spoiled here by low house prices in general.  Moving might be a shock to the system!

I’m a big fan of books (you probably noticed).  I really love cozies and murder mysteries.  I also love food!  Would you believe there is a website that combines both?  I must try the recipe for Creole Eggplant on this page.  Mmmm, eggplant…

eggplant

The weekly fiber pic is for sock knitters.  I am slowly moving along with these socks.  Lots of other interesting things to knit, so I’m making little progress right now.  They are fun and an easy knit.

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See my Ravelry project page for details about the pattern and changes I’ve made.

 

Friday Finds, December 4, 2015

The things that made me go “hmmm” this week:

As an amateur Egyptologist I am fascinated by King Tut.

king tut

There is evidence his tomb contains hidden chambers.  Will this reignite King Tut fever and bring tourists back to Egypt?  Read about it here.

In other spooky desert news, scientists have discovered that tarantulas have evolved the exact shade of blue at least 8 times.  Why?  That’s a mystery.   They theorize that there is a “receiver” of the color who is not another tarantula.  I wonder who/what it is?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Showing my science geekiness now.

For knitters who have a hole in your project due to a broken yarn (and hasn’t that happened to all of us?) here is a fix using duplicate stitch.

My first handspun yarn was knit into a cowl and after I wore it a few times the yarn broke.  I have been wondering how to repair it without ripping the whole thing out.  I’m going to try this method!

If you have a better way to repair holes in hand knits, I’d love to know about it!

As is my traditional closing on Friday posts, here is a picture of juicy fiber goodness.  This one is for spinners looking for eye candy.

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Rolags!

 

 

 

 

Rolag Q&A


We get a lot of questions about one of our newest product, rolags.  I thought it would be helpful to have a post to point people to.  Hopefully I’ll answer all your questions, if you have more please let me know and I’ll update the post!

1.  What the heck is a rolag?  A rolag is a specific type of fiber preparation, especially created to be super easy to spin.  Here’s a little eye candy.

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Merino Wool, Silk and a bit of Sparkle

2.  What’s the advantage of a rolag over some other type of fiber?  Rolags are blended fibers, usually custom dyed (ours are), with the fibers all running in roughly the same direction. You can blend any fiber you care to.  So, we may use something pretty “standard”, like merino and silk – and sometimes we use something unusual, like rose fiber or yak fiber.  Strands of glitter can be included if you like it blingy.  Rolags can be used to make color and fiber combinations that are hard to achieve by just dyeing.

3.  Are rolags easier to spin than roving or batts?  It depends.  For me, batts can be more challenging to work with, because their fibers can be a bit more disorganized.  You can see from this picture how the fibers are looser and the fiber is in a bigger piece.  Rolags can be less intimidating because they are smaller and easier to hold.

I almost always spin using a top whorl drop spindle, because the cats won’t leave my spinning wheel alone if I leave it out, and I’m usually too lazy to go drag it out and then put it away.  I personally prefer rolags over batts for the hand spindle.   More expert spinners can spin batts with no problem at all on a hand spindle.  I’m just not there yet.

It can be harder to get a smooth yarn, especially if you are a beginning spinner. Sometimes a lumpy art yarn is what you want, so batts are certainly useful.  And, no argument, they are very beautiful!

purple lamb battThe gorgeous batt is from Purple Lamb on Etsy. It’s called Precious Metals and is a combo of Mulberry Silk, Alpaca, and Bamboo.  It’s really spectacular!   You can find it here. There are lots of other gorgeous fibers there too!  Go take a look.  I’ll wait.

Batts are very versatile and can be handled in a number of ways (that’s for a future post).

4.  Why are rolags more expensive than batts or roving?  There is more work (and time) involved.  To create rolags you need fiber (dyed or undyed – someone has to dye the fiber), a special blending board, and plenty of time.  The fiber is blended, then pulled of the board to get all the fibers running the same direction.  Typically a board of fiber is made into 3-5 rolags.   One way to think of it is that a batt is the whole board of fiber rolled up and folded, and the rolags are the same board of fiber pulled and stretched out into small tubes.  Obviously that takes more time and work.

5.  Do I need a spinning wheel to spin rolags?  Absolutely not, we both use hand spindles to spin rolags.  Cheryl doesn’t even own a wheel!  Hand spindles do a great job with rolags and they are very inexpensive.  Why spend money on a tool you may not enjoy using?  Start with a low cost spindle.  You will soon be quite good at spinning.  It’s like any other skill you’ve learned during your life.  Remember learning to ride a bike?  I thought I’d never get it, one day it just happened.  Practice is the key!

Give rolags a try, you don’t need any spinning experience at all to get a nice thick and thin yarn that you can make into a beautiful headband or baby hat.

I leave you with some more beautiful rolag photos.  Because we all love fiber eye candy!

silk and wool rolags
Hand Dyed Silk and Wool

 

Hand Dyed Alpaca, Yak and Silk
Hand Dyed Alpaca, Yak and Silk

 

Wool And Sparkle
Hand Dyed Wool And Sparkle

 

Give rolags a try – I’d love to see what you create with fiber spun from rolags.