We really must….

Discuss a yarn diet.

I got my knitpicks order today, containing yarn for Nicks scarf, 100% Peruvian Highland wool.
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In that order I also received J’s brothers sweater yarn, 30% silk and 70% baby alpaca. This one, due to the color, is not staying long but I thought I would show it anyhow. It is too dark, it needs to be switched with something lighter to fit recipients sense of style.
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Also, after hearing how my LYS was having a sale on Koigu painters palette premium merino, and seeing all the lovely KPPPM that Sav has bought, I decided to pick some up for myself.
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This will be my first KPPPM experience but I have heard SOOOO much about it!

That brings me to the yarn diet.  And subsequent rules.

Obviously, I have enough yarn to keep me busy for a time.  So I need to stop with the yarn.  I am giving myself the date of April 13 in which I must knit only from my stash.  April 13 is easy to remember as it will then be a year that I have been dating J.

The rules:

Yarn buying is allowed if it is for an upcoming commission and I will be recouping the cost.

Yarn buying is allowed if additional yarn is needed to complete a project.

Yarn receiving is allowed if I have not paid for it out of my own pocket.

I am open to suggestions here, but on sale yarn does NOT count!

Finally, I will be receiving a few  additional yarns (hopefully).  I still have one kit from Chameleon Colorworks which needs to come in.  (more on that tomorrow) and then the new yarn for J’s brothers sweater.  And that is it, stash knitting here I come!!!

Spit Splicing

Nick wanted to know how the heck I join the end of the last yarn to a new ball of yarn when I was knitting. I thought I would share my favorite technique, called the Spit Splice.

Now, as discussed in blocking creatures of the reef, any time we use a wool yarn, we need to be concerned about felting. Felting happens in wool when temperature is changed, moisture is added, and friction is created. A good example of felting on purpose is the needle case I made a few months back. Many people love felting wool for the dense thick unusual fabric it creates. While I think it is quite fascinating, I am not terribly interested in doing it on a regular basis. Just a personal preference.

With the spit splice, we are using the wools tendency to felt to our advantage. Please keep in mind this can be done with wool or wool blends, but not silk (much to my chagrin!)

We will start off with the spanish christening blanket I am working on.
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I am currently at the end of my second ball of yarn, so I need to join the third.
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Yarn is made up of ply’s. A single is fiber which has been drafted and spun on a wheel. Double ply is when fiber has been drafted and spun separately as singles and then the 2 singles have been plyed (spun together). Consequently, 4 ply is 4 singles plyed together. (Um….I am not yet a spinner, so if anyone is reading this and has a better explanation, feel free to chime in and comment, I am just going with my most basic understanding!)
In this case, I have a 4 ply merino yarn. What I want to do, is take the end, unspin it a bit (twist it in the opposite direction it wants to go) and divide the plys in half.
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I then do that to the other side as well, and snip off 2 plys from each end.
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Now I want to join the yarn. I take each snipped end and twist them gently together.
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I then place them in my hand (Hey look! That is me wearing my creatures of the reef shawl!!!)
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This is where the name “spit splice” comes in to play. Remember, we need change in temperature (your hands), Friction (we will get to that) and moisture. So when reading most instructions on spit splicing, they say to lick your hands.
Well, I work in microbiology research, and I am not about to lick ANYTHING around here, not even my own hands.
So I use a bit of water from my water bottle. This picture shows too much, but it doesn’t matter really.
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Then I put my hands together, and rub the yarn vigorously between them. That gives me all 3 things needed to felt the yarn, change in temperature, friction, and moisture.
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I am left with this, which doesn’t look perfect, but it will do. It is also quite damp (remember I added too much water?) so when it dries, it will fluff back up.
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Once I knit it into my project, you cannot see where it was done and it provides a sturdy join.
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I love spit splicing for a number of reasons. First, it allows me to use ALL of my precious yarn, rather than leaving an end, so it appeals to my frugal nature. Also, it allows me to avoid weaving in a bunch of ends, which thrills me to pieces, as that is my least favorite knitting activity. And finally, remember, knots unravel, woven ends often look sloppy, but spit splicing is forever!

My siren’s call

Lace is my mistress, adorned in beads and finest silk.

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This is the beginning of my Mystic Waters shawl. Another lace mystery knit along. I vowed not to start any new lace until Creatures was done. I held to that, I was not unfaithful. I actually thought that I would not have time to start new lace, since I have so many other projects on my plate. On the other hand, I am waiting for the yarn of said projects to arrive, so I have a little breathing room. Which has been utilized in lace knitting.

Mmmmmm YUM!

And this time I am talking about food, not yarn!

A dear friend was so kind to make me Lamb Curry this weekend. Now, you may be saying “I thought you considered yourself a vegetarian!” but that is not completely accurate. I avoid meat and don’t buy it, but if I am with my family or whatnot, I will eat it. It is just rare.

(Actually, J always encourages me to get stuffed grape leaves at the Greek place we frequent, I think this is because he wants to live vicariously. He loves them but is an ACTUAL vegetarian, so he won’t eat them.)

So anyhow, I was told a few things about my lamb curry. First, it would be too spicy. Second, that lamb is an acquired taste and I wasn’t likely to enjoy it. Third, that seeing bones on my plate would freak me out.
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My arguments are as follows:
Nothing is too spicy, the spicier the better! (I will admit, it was so spicy it gave me the hicups. On the other hand, spicy meals always do, as does soda.)

Secondly, if one likes goat cheese, one is not going to have a problem with lamb.  And I think lamb is just fine.  Besides, any flavor of lamb I might not like is more than covered by its spiciness.

On the other hand, I will admit that the bones DO sort of freak me out.  But the yumminess of the dish and the mere fact alone that what you see there is real basmati rice, negates any mild freak out over bones.

And by the way….THANK YOU!!!

Progressive Peg Preparation, from Nick

As some of you can tell I can be a bit of a perfectionist. While that can be a good thing sometimes it can also be a pain to deal with. Also when building something like this I like to cut and shape accurately. I like to have guides or lines in place to go by. Well this is a case where things have to be done by feel. And I have to admit I’m stressing about it. But I’m willing to face my fears…

It’s time to prepare the pegs. And they deserve just as much attention to detail as the rest of the swift. After all they kinda are the stars of the show. They are the ones holding the yarn in place. Just cutting them to size would not be good enough. Sticking with the rounded theme of everything else the tops will get domed, and the bottoms will have a slight bevel to assist in hole insertion (Stop giggling kids!)…

Oh if you remember we started with 3/8” dowels made of Oak at the begging of this project. Since then I found a Lowes that stocked Poplar dowels! This is good news as now all of the wood will match! While picking them up I made an executive decision to up the dowel size to 1/2”. The 1/2” dowels were less warped at the store. Also the larger diameter of the peg will be gentler on the yarn.

Here’s a photo of the new dowels along with the arms.
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The pegs are going to stick up 8” from the arms and insert in the arms about half an inch. So the 1st step is to rough cut the pegs to 10”. Why 10”? That gives me some wiggle room in case I screw up shaping the domes (can you tell I have lots of self-confidence with this step?).
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Ok, here’s the plan. Using the angle guide on my disc sander I’m going to shape the domes a little at a time. Starting with a steep angle then adjusting the guide in steps shaping the dome a bit by bit. Here’s the guide set for the 1st shaping.
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With the dowel against the guide I twirl the end against the sander. Think pencil sharpener. With my gorilla pod wrapped around my hanging shop light I take a quick video of what’s going on (apparently the power tool videos are popular with the ladies).
After the 1st step (and a few screw ups) here are all 5 pegs lined up. So far so good. Oh.. why 5 pegs? 4 will be used for wrapping around the yarn and an extra one will be used as a handle to spin the swift while winding yarn on to it.
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Now it’s a matter of adjusting the angle guide a little at a time and repeating the process. The trick is to only sand a little at a time then adjust the guide. This is where the “feel” comes into play. And I have to shift my thinking from precise cuts to “carving” or “sculpting”.

This is done in about 10 small steps. But here are few so you can see the progression.
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Here’s where the guide was set at for the final step. You can look at the 1st setting again and compare the two.
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Now after a quick sanding by hand to smooth things out…
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…we have 5 domes that look kinda even. Whew…
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Now I can cut the pegs down to their final length of 8.5”. Also I give the bottoms a slight bevel on the disc sander to help in hole insertion (kids,, shhhhh!). Here’s a before and after of the bevel.
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Now since the peg / hole fitment needs to be precise I’m not going to varnish the pegs (that would throw off their size by adding to the thickness). Instead they get a VERY light sanding with 600 grit sandpaper and a coat of wax. BTW, this wax is different than your auto wax (how, I don’t know). But the wax will act as the finish and also help in… You in the back of the class… that’s right hole insertion…
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Just like the Karate Kid… Wax on, wax off… And the pegs are done!
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Here’s a finished peg in a test hole. Looking good!
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Next we prepare the circles for varnishing. And more power tools!