It don't come easy

You gotta pay dues
If you're gonna sing the blues
And you know, it don't come easy.
--Ringo Starr

Some projects just aren't meant to be easy.

First off, there are no size 00000 knitting needles in Ventura for ready money.  (Anacapa Fine Yarns did have some scrumptious yarns, so I didn't leave the store unscathed).  I could have ordered the needles on-line, but I wanted immediate gratification. 

So I toodled off to the hobby shop in search of 1mm brass rod to make my own needles.  Hobby shop doesn't carry metric, so my choice is between 3/64" rod, which is more than 1mm, and 1/32", which is less.  I buy both.  The 1/32" rod is more like wire - super bendy.  So I cut the thicker rod, and grind the ends into points.  Viola!  I'm calling these 00000.5 needles. 

The 20/2 silk that I was planning to use won't work on the smaller needles.  But that's ok, I have some 30/2 silk in my stash.  I wind some off and start knitting a little swatch.  I also get some more practice picking up dropped stitches. 


The resulting gauge: 14 stitches per inch.  Not the 18 I was hoping for, but I'm going to live with it, especially as I know that with the two color knitting I'll have some draw-in from carrying the thread across the back.

You may have noticed that the swatch is white.  My design is not.  So that means dyeing the yarn.  Out comes the dye notebook, I pick my colors and get to work.  But first I have to divide my yarn into skeins.   That's when I discover that the counter on my reel is broken.  So I count the turns out loud - 1,020 times.

Eventually, I actually get to the dyeing.  Whenever I dye yarn, I thank Deb Menz for her super easy to follow directions and computations in Color in Spinning.

Here are the results:


So there's day 4, 5 and 6 of Art Every Day Month: making the needles, making a test swatch and dyeing the yarn.  You won't hear any more about this project for a little while.  I don't intend to start the actual knitting until I have my new glasses.

... And not much to show for it

Day 3 and not much to show for it.  It's not that I didn't work on my new 14th c. bag project - I did for a couple of hours.

There are some parts of any project that are just not as much fun as others - dare I say "tedious"?  Swatching and sampling fall in that category.  I got out my needles and yarn and worked up a swatch.  I confirmed that my gauge with 000 needles and 20/2 spun silk is 12 stitches to the inch - pretty far away from the originals at 18 stitches per inch.  I also confirmed that I really need those new glasses (eye doctor appointment next Tuesday).  Also got some practice in picking up dropped stitches - which would have been easier if I could have seen more clearly. 

What I ended up with was a tiny swatch a little less than two inches square and the fact that I need smaller needles and finer yarn.  Next: the search for 00000 needles...

Day Two: Another Skein and Another Project

For the second day of Art Every Day month, I plied a second skein of the silk/merino/alpaca yarn. 


November is a month when we will be traveling quite a bit.  If I'm going to do Art Every Day, then I'm going to need something portable.  I could dig out a UFO - heaven knows I have enough of them - but what's the fun in that? 

Every since Ursula Georges conducted a workshop on the Gunnister pouch, and I did my first 2-color knitting, I've been anxious to make another and to kick it up a notch.  In this case it means bigger and smaller - a bigger pouch and smaller stitches. 


My inspiration are the Sion pouches - a collection of knitted relic bags from the 14th century that are a favorite of historical knitters.  The originals are in the cathedral in Sion Switzerland, and documented in Bishop Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting.  They are knitted in exquisitely small stitches - about 18 to the inch and the smallest bag is 8-1/8" high by 6-1/4" wide.  That works out to about 32,805 tiny little stitches!

Am I ready for this???

First, start a test swatch.  My smallest needles are 000.  I've decided that those are quite small enough, thank you, so unfortunately my gauge will be greater than 18 to the inch.  Second, make an appointment with the eye doctor - I can't see what I'm doing!

Finally, create a design inspired by, but not copied from, one of the relic purses:


Something old, something new


A couple of week's ago I took a knitting class based on the Gunnister pouch.  The 17th century original was found in a peat bog in Scotland, along with other personal items. 

Here's a picture of the original:


My adaptation includes a design of crosses, instead of the stripes and checks of the original.


It's also a little bit longer - just the perfect size for holding my iphone.