Last November, I visited A Wren’s Nest Farm to help harvest some of their chickens. While I was there, I stumbled upon a wall of dyed fiber. It was merino wool off their sheep that they had harvested, cleaned and dyed a lovely array of colors. I also spied some drop spindles. The Matriarch of the farm told me that she sells the spindles and includes a quick lesson in how to use them. We were very preoccupied with the chickens, so I was unable to get a lesson then. I did return a couple of weeks later for some eggs, goat cheese, wool and my lesson. Here is the result…. it’s a work in progress.
I am not sure if you know, but one of my MANY hobbies is caving. You know, spelunking. That activity has given me an even greater love for bats than I once had. In fact, my first amigurumi creation was a bat. It didn’t turn out very well and the yarn was returned to a ball state. In the spirit of Halloween, here are some lovely batty crafts that turned out much better than mine. The first two are of finished products which, when sold before Halloween, a portion of the purchase price goes to Bat Conservation International. The middle two photos are of patterns that are available to purchase for just a couple of dollars. The last two are free patterns that are available to everyone.The designers might also have some completed ones for sale on etsy. Click each photo for more information.
Well it only took a year and a half and the cries of a seven year old boy to do it, but I finally finished them. I have no idea why they turned out so small. The cuff is just a continuation of knit two, purl two.
We tried our hands at tie dying.
1. Use an elevated work surface that allows the excess dye to run trough it. We didn’t and dye got on spots it wasn’t supposed to, totally ruining effects that we were aiming for. Chicken wire, screen, or a BBQ grill top would work well. I would also use a spray bottle to rinse it off before placing the next object on it.
2. Rinse well before you untie. Many of the resources that I found online either untied and rinsed or didn’t specify. The first thing that I unraveled and rinsed could have been the best of the batch. By not rinsing thoroughly before unraveling, it didn’t make the top three.
I visited my parents for a few weeks. I get to do that about once a year or so. When I do, I usually stick around for at least a month. While I was there this time, my mom wanted to try her had at socks. She went out and bought herself some yarn and some circular needles.
The first part of the lesson was to toss her new needles. She had bought some aluminum Boyles. I let her borrow a nice, smooth pair of my Audis. She immediately understood the difference. The Boyles are just find for crochet, which she has done avidly for decades, but for knitting, they will get old fast. They aren’t smooth. They get scored quickly, because you (I) are constantly rubbing them together and the yarn gets hung up on those scores.
My mother hasn’t picked up knitting needles in probably 50 years, but she’s awesome so after a five minute refresher on knit and purl, we got down to actually making socks. I had her start out with the same sock pattern and lesson that I did: Silver’s Sock Class. After two days of yelling and wanting to give up, the ah hah moment came. I knew it would. (I remember my own “ah hah” moment well.) She just had to get through the learning curve. Which is quite large if you don’t knit and your first project is a pair of socks on a magic loop.
She is a quick study. Before I left she was already on her second pair. I was still on the pair that I brought with me.
It was nice to be able to do return the favor. After all, being my mom, she taught me a lot of stuff.
Before I finished his black socks, Johnny put in a request for a hat and a couple more pairs of socks. While I truely love the appreciation and enthusiasm, it is unexpected. Growing up, I don’t ever remember anyone being overly excited about receiving a gift of socks and especially not the ones that their (not mine) grandma knitted. It had a bad air about it. It just wasn’t cool. Of course I am sure that those same folks had no idea how much time and effort when into those gifts or the fact that grandma was thinking of you , lovingly, the whole time she was making them. Many probably still don’t. Socks and blankets are mass produced, inexpensive, and easy to come buy. In a way, I think this cheapens the home crafted items to the naive receiver. On the surface there isn’t any value. I was also guilty of this. I had little appreciation for the items my mother made for me when I was younger. It wasn’t until my 20’s that I even considered the time, efforts, and affection she put into a project. Now years later, I am creating my own items, and I finally understand. Its great to have a admiring receiver.
Johnny is so eager that he came into Joann’s and while I was looking at needles, he ran off and grabed a skein of wool.
What better souvenir from Alaska than some muskox wool? None that I can think of. OK, well maybe tons of salmon and halibut. Since I haven’t been able to catch any fish at all while I have been here, I will happily take some qivuit.
Qiviut, (sometimes spelled “qivuet”, “qiviuk”, “qiveut”, “qiviuq”, “kiviuk” or “qiviute’, and pronounced kiv-ee-yut) is an Inuit word commonly used to indicate the wool of the omingmak (the Inuit word for muskox meaning “the animal with skin like a beard.”). They say that it is stronger and about eight times warmer than sheep’s wool, and softer than cashmere wool. As I am a fiber neophyte, I don’t know how much truth is in that statement, but it sure sounds good to me. The musk ox is a holdover from the ice age that can function in -40°C with high winds and blowing snow, so its probably true. The wool is most often used to knit lacy hats, scarves and smoke rings. I plan on using it to make me some light weight gloves, because my hands are always very cold. I wont be using it any time soon though. It is really pricey stuff, and I don’t want to have to frog it.
I purchased this treasure from the UofAF L.A.R.S last month. While I was there, I picked my mother up a skein as a birthday present. She is an avid crocheter. However, she is going to try her hand at knitting a scarf with her skein. I believe its been a few decades since she has picked up any knitting needles. It should be a fun relearning experience for her.
Next time I visit Alaska, I hope that I will have learned to spin. I would love to pick up some raw qiviut and spin it.
Open 10 AM – 5 PM, 7 days a week
See website for tour hours.
A farm, museum and yarn shop in one! The Large Animal Research Station conducts public tours of animal enclosures during the summer months, June through September. These tours allow the visitor a closer view of the muskoxen, caribou and reindeer maintained at LARS for research and education.The gift shop has Qiviut (muskox wool): raw wool for spinning, lace-weight yarn (100% and blends), hand-knit hats, scarves and smoke ring. They will ship orders of qiviut to you. All proceeds from admissions and gift shop sales support continued care of the animal colonies.
Great information about Muskoxen and the properties on Qiviut on their website.
Yesterday evening was entirely wasted. Well, not completely wasted since I did learn something, but pretty darn close! I spent the evening unwrapping and wrapping one 8oz/465yd bundle of wool. Why? Because I am a newbie.
I am making a hat for Johnny and after showing him a bunch of different stitches and thicknesses, he decided he liked the 1Kx1P swatch that I doubled the yarn on. Now, so far, I haven’t been a ball roller. I have just used the yarn straight off the store bought skein. I have never had an issue. And normally, I can pull the yarn from inside and outside the skein which eliminated the need for a second skein when knitting socks two at a time. However, the yarn for this specific project only unraveled at one point. No problem, I thought. I will just unwrap it until I get to the center and then wrap it up starting from the center. Did I mention I live in the back of a pickup truck? And ya, it was raining outside. Not to mention that I had no real way of knowing when I was at the “middle” of the skein. Hence, the aforementioned task coupled with the conditions turned out be a much greater chore than I had originally fathomed.
216 4th Avenue
Seward, Alaska 99664-0048
A Flyin’ Skein is a full service store, carrying a complete range of quality yarns, from affordable to luxury fibers. We offer a wide variety of knitting and crochet accessories.
This place was pretty busy when I stopped in. Most of the customers were locals. Wide selection of yarns and needles. Classes and events. Every thursday is “Knit ’til 9” from 5-9pm.