Spinning with Beads Part 2

I knit several of the first samples I made. First up was #2, the small sample of cabled yarn with beads on one ply. It looks better in reverse stockinette.


Fewer beads show on the stockinette side and it curls a whole lot (hence the scissors).


Another small knitted sample is of #5, which is the bright silk plied with itself. The colors in the yarn become more muted since it mixes in the ply. The orange beads provide quite a contrast for the now somewhat muted yarn.


The other sample I knit is #3. I started on #3 (3.25 mm) needles. About halfway through the sample I started to switch to gradually smaller needles every few rows, eventually getting to #0 (2.00 mm).



Next I tried to follow instructions. I used some merino top. To add the beads when you spin, you spin some and break off the yarn. Meanwhile, you have beads (such as size 6 seed beads) on doubled fishing line. You then take the fluffy end of the yarn and put it through the loop. You can then slide some beads off the fishing line onto the yarn. You then get back to spinning and place a bead where you want it, sliding the rest down until the next spot for a bead. I had no trouble with this part. My difficulty came in that the beads didn’t stay in place and the all bunched up on the hooks. I was fussing with the beads so much that I didn’t spin too well–in some places the yarn was terribly underspun and fell apart when plying. I plied it from a center pull ball and adjusted the beads across one ply when plying. The beads are about 5.5-7.5″.


I tried the same technique again using wool that wasn’t nearly as smooth. The beads still didn’t stay in places completely, but it was a lot better. I tried to space the beads when winding it into a ball. I put the beads all across the yarn and then plied it on itself. Center pull balls do not work well for this, especially for the strand from the center of the ball. I needed to do a lot of fiddly stuff to position the beads. This meant the center pull ball kept snarling up and so again, the plying stinks. The beads seem to be about 6-8″ apart.


I tried again, but this time all the beads are on one ply and the other is plain yarn. I plied off two bobbins. I still needed to adjust the beads but it was MUCH easier.


Next I made a very small sample. I used wool (which I was plying at the time) as a core and wrapped it with silk from a hankie pulled out quite fine. If I do this again, I shouldn’t make the silk so fine/thin. I then plied it on itself with a thread with some largish beads. This did not feed on at all well, getting caught on all hooks.


I then spun up the rest of the silk hankies and spun up some green merino. I plied them together with maroon size 11 seed beads on a thread. The beads are 7-9″ apart. The beads a subtle, but I think it might make a nice accent.


I had some extra wool, so I plied it on itself with some sparkly brown beads (that have been in the family craft supplies for about 25 years–they were in an old non-child proof medicine bottle) labeled by DJ. I wanted to try sparkly beads but I don’t know that the brown was a good choice (other than being what I had on hand). The beads are about 3.5-5.5″ apart.


A few things to keep in mind–think about the weight of the beads in relationship to the yarn and the use of the yarn. I think the distance of the beads needs to be based on the final use. How many beads do you want to show? Will you be knitting or weaving? What size needles will you be using and how much yarn does it take to make a single stitch?


Review: Knitorama

Knitorama: 25 great & glam things to knit 9781840729863 by Rachael Matthews is a very quirky book. JQ should look at it (unfortunately, I don’t think there is a copy remotely close to her). It is written by one of the organizers of Cast Off, a London group that knits in public, with each meeting at a different place and time to expose more people to knitting.

The author states:

Organizing a knitting circle in public is relatively easy. You can’t really get in trouble for group knitting because you are “just knitting.” You can use the preconception that knitting is a harmless pastime practiced by old ladies to your advantage. You will always appear peaceful and non-threatening when you are knitting, so use this image to make the most of public spaces that you wouldn’t normally use. Some public spaces have terrible lighting. Cast Off members recommend wearing mining lamps, which consist of a lamp on an elastic headband.

You just gotta love a group that operates like this. When looking at the Cast Off site, I saw the project to try to cover a WWII tank with a pink blanket as an anti-war protest in Denmark. I may need to send in a square (and TH says I may need to teach him to knit).

The book begins with basic instructions. They are not as thorough as in many books, covering a lot of techniques very quickly. Many photos in the book are superimposed on 1950s and 1960s interiors, adding to the book’s campiness. Most of the patterns are far from practical—the duster glove and the apple cover (which I could use because my afternoon snack can get a bit banged up on the walk to work), fried egg ear muffs and the shoe laces are some of the more useful items. Many of the patterns are for food, such as Battenberg cakes, ham and cheese sandwiches, a glass of stout etc. The knit turtleneck and vest for the hot water bottle is probably the only thing I am tempted to make. Although if DJ actually got TV reception, she might appreciate the bad TV hand grenade.

I do need to share a bit of the commentary on the garter: “We were discussing what a garter is for because you usually have just one, so it’s technically not for holding up stockings. So apart from being beautiful, we suggest you use it for all sorts of things like holding shopping lists…”

While this isn’t a book I want to own or would even use, I really enjoyed reading it and it got me thinking about knitting in some different ways.

Rating: 3

Yarn Stash

I just finished putting my pictures for my stash in Ravelry. It is a bit scary. OK, a lot scary. I made the mistake of showing TH. He says he has no sympathy for my lack of money. I pointed out that much of it is gifts, yarn I spun a long time ago etc. I really need to get busy and use more of it. The big problem is that I keep not having the right yarn, so I need to buy something more to supplement/coordinate/extend the yarn. I’m also such a slow knitter that it doesn’t go away very quickly.

I have been sitting around today not doing much. (Other than a trip downtown which involved checking out four more random knitting books). I have a cold. The main symptoms are sneezing, watery eyes, and being stupid. I am also sleepy and am getting a headache. The being stupid part and wanting to be under a blankie is limiting what I can do. Since the last post, I have done a bit more spinning with beads but it is pretty challenging for a groggy head. However playing with the pretty fiber and beads is nice and knowing it is just samples and doesn’t need to be particularly consistent makes it a decent thing to do with little brain power. I’ll try to post more pictures later this weekend.

Review: Sensual Knits

Sensual knits : luxurious yarns, alluring designs 9781402749209 by Yahaira Ferreira has several very nice designs in it. There are also several designs that I would consider if I was younger and shed a few pounds. The patterns all call for luxury fibers. Some of the patterns are not as timeless as I would like for such expensive fibers. The patterns are meant to be “classic without being boring” and to give the knitter a “one-of-a-kind look” or “a custom piece, couture if you will.” I find these ideas to be potentially at odds with each other, unless (and this is confirmed by my opinion of the patterns, some of which seem classic and others much trendier).

The book is also frustrating in that it lacks some key photos. For example, the Demeter camisole is described as “This deceptively simple camisole hides a sexy little secret. The sweetheart neckline gives a hint, but the low scooped back screams ‘siren.'” Unfortunately, there is no picture of the back, and even the pattern schematic doesn’t show the back! (You can see one here). Another example is the camisole-sweater twin-set. The camisole has lace details that don’t show with the sweater of it (see Nov. 30, 2007 post by the designer).

I like the Sayuri sweater (one of the extra pictures on Amazon) enough it is on a list of things I might make. I think Ivy dress is very attractive, but I would never make it for myself.

There is an errata here.

Rating: 3

Spinning with Beads Part 1

Next month’s spinning program is about spinning with beads. I volunteered to learn about it. Unlike last year, I actually started on this several weeks early.

First, here are some sources:
Spin-Off Spring 2004 “Dew drop fabric” by Laura Harrawood p.38-39
Spin-Off Winter 2003 “Beaded yarns” by Judith MacKenzie McCuin p.50-54
Spin-Off Winter 2003 “Beaded Yarns for a Little Scarf” by Judith MacKenzie McCuin p. 57
Spin-Off Spring 1997 “Novelty act” by Stephanie Gausted p.40-43
Spinning Designer Yarns by Diane Varney p.85-87

I haven’t read these yet but they look good:

Despite having read the Spin-Off articles and the selection from Varney’s book, I didn’t follow any of the instructions. Instead, I messed around yesterday. The day before I added the rest of my commercial and most of my handspun to Ravelry stash (pictures not yet added). I also made my Ravelry avatar (an abstract self portrait in yarn). In the course of all this, I set aside some odd bit of samples etc.

1) Silk I spun a long time ago and never plied. I dyed it at a long ago dye workshop and it looked far too much like M’s elementary school daughter (who is now in college). I plied it with a lavender sewing thread on which I strung matte pink delica beads. I used up the thread on the spool before I ran out of the silk (see #5 below). The pink beads are fairly far apart (probably 10-14″ — I wasn’t too exact). It is currently overplied, but possibly OK as a novelty yarn. I used a wide spacing because I thought I might ply it on itself, but I would need to add more twist first. The beads are very subtle on the silk.






2) Wool I spun a long time ago when I was learning Navajo plying. It was overplied. I added more plying twist and then strung #6 seed beads onto it and plied it on itself. The beads are again a close match in color. It is slightly overplied, but not too bad. These beads are about 5-6 inches apart. I ran out of beads before I finished plying, a problem when putting beads onto the yarn before plying.



3) I lightly spun silk hankies with a blue sewing thread on which clear seed beads (size 11) were strung. The beads are probably 3-6 inches apart. Because this is essentially a lightly spun singles, it is obviously not balanced, but I think it is OK as it is.



4) This yarn is from the first roving I ever got (gift from DJ). Some went into a knitting/weaving exchange years back. Some is in my stash. And then there were these two odd bits of thing, not well spun singles in two center pull balls. (I hardly ever get rid of bits of yarn.). I was going to use more seed beads, but then I thought I’d try something odd. I used red tiger eye chips. I used a beige thread (bad choice — it shows very obviously) with stones 3-4 inches apart. I plied the two yarns and thread together. I tried to push the chip stone up between the two plies to help hold it in place, but I often missed and I think the thread would easily snag and break. After I ran out of the stones I had threaded I plied the rest of the yarn. I then cabled it on itself. This one made a horrible clatter when spinning and sometimes got caught on the hooks. One or two of the chips also wouldn’t go through the orifice without fiddling with them.I think the yarn is really ugly and can’t picture using it, but it is a good experiment/sample. The good part about the beige thread is that it is obvious, so I can probably extract it from the yarn if I want.



5) For the last sample, I strung size 11 orange seed beads on lavender thread and plied the remains of the silk from #1 on itself. As with the stone chips, I tried to put the seed beads between both silk plies. The beads are 1.5-2.5 inches apart. Since the silk is plied on itself, the color is more muted than for number 1 and the yarn is heavier. The orange beads provide much more contrast to the yarn (and are a bit bigger than the pink beads).



I made jewelry for Christmas presents. To be fair, TH helped design the pieces. Even though they aren’t textiles I thought I could post about them. I’d tell you about them, but I honestly don’t remember what most of the stones/beads are.

This one is was for my mother:

This went to my SIL:

This went to my MIL:

This went to DJ (using beads scavenged from a necklace from AL, leftovers from something I made a while back for myself, beads that have been around since I think DJ was in high school, and beads bought particularly for this):

DJ’s Purse

DJ’s birthday was in October. I had the knitting for her present done in September and all the felting except the handle done before her birthday. (The purse should like something like the one here). I didn’t find a decent handle in town, so I made I-cord and felted it sometime in October. And there it has sat pretty much since then. I got back it just before Christmas, but then when I found out I wouldn’t be seeing her, I put it down again.

So, here are pictures of the purse before felting and after felting. I included a ruler for scale. I also included Pink Bear for scale.


hat 8a

Pink Bear was one of my teddy bears as a child. She made it through the final culling sometime in high school or college. My Mom kept her around because she liked having a childhood reminder. Fast forward to the introduction of my mother’s cat. The cat has poor manners and Mom used Pink Bear (with my permission) to protect her hands/play with the cat when Smokey Jo was particularly rambunctious. This was fine until I actually saw Pink Bear all beat up by the cat, with several tears. I gave my Mom Floppy Wolf instead – a sturdier toy for the cat.

hat 8b

Poor, battered Pink Bear came home with me to be mended and then be packed away with other childhood memories. Mending is not my strong suit so … uh… a long time has passed and she still hasn’t been mended even though she is sitting out next to the TV where I see her regularly. The result is that she has now been used to show scale. And she has gotten a new hat.