Sunday 28 January 2024

Luxor sweater finished

 We talked about another sweater for my husband that I could knit for him. The first one was a round yoke sweater with dark brown main colour, a Threipmuir, design by Ysolda Teague. He loves that sweater. We talked about choosing another main colour, for variation with the Threipmuir sweater. However, as soon as he saw the yarn of the crossbread that I had been spinning in our holiday cottage, several holidays in a row (he never noticed it then), he fell in love with that darkest, almost black colour. So, that was the yarn-to-be for his next sweater.

Then to choosing a pattern. Ravelry is full of beautiful sweater patterns, and I have stored hundreds as favourites. When I made a swatch and had an idea of the nr of stitches per 10 cm, I looked at the sweaters that I had selected in that gauge range and made a few suggestions to hem. The choice fell on Luxor.

That was a good choice because:

  • The yoke gave options to use leftover yarns
  • In case the main colour would not be sufficient, I could repeat the pattern in the body close to the bottom and the arms. It appeared that I needed that, and made the pattern detail at the body equal to that at the arms.
So I started in november, and at some point in december it was finished. He wears it, is very happy with it and so am I!

Saturday 13 January 2024


Crimp and stretch

Last week, I finished two different yarns. The way they were spun were similar, my go-to short forward draft method. The preparation for both was equal too, prepared from raw fleece, scoured, washed, carded in the drum carder and rolled into rolags. Spun and plied into a 2-ply yarn, skeined on my thrifted Swedish skein winder (paraply haspel) into skeins 150 cm in circumference. The only difference was the sheep breed. One was Romney, with long, rather shiny fibers with a wavy kind of crimp, not very fine fibers I would say. The other was Flevolander, with shorter, also a bit shiny but less than the Romney, rather crimpy fibers. Very fine wool, lambs wool from the first shearing.

After being spun, both were washed, even in the same bath and rinse cycles and here the interesting difference happened. During drying it became clear that the length of the skeins differs hugely. They have both been lying flat when drying, next to each other. And still one skein is much shorter than the other. This difference is to be attributed to the crimp. The Flevolander has much more crimp which causes the yarn to ‘shrink’. But not really shrink as in felting, because it is still possible to stretch it to the original length of the skein.

This elasticity influences your knitting. My experience is that the project that you knit will be more elastic. That is a nice thing in hats and mittens, shawls and sweaters. Maybe not so in weaving projects for e.g. blankets or a woven shawl (especially when the warp material differs from the weft). Knitting with rigid yarns (I call my un-shrinking Romney yarn like that), as opposed to elastic yarns, can be a bit tough for the joints and muscles in your hands and arms. It gives you a final product where the individual stitches remain more visible as they do not shrink and spread themselves nicely in the open spaces. The rigid yarn has its advantages. Weaving with rigid yarns is more pleasant and the size of the final product is more predictable.

I wonder what difference it makes when crocheting. Classic borders, doilies etc. that are crocheted, were mostly made with cotton or linen, no stretch there at all. So a woollen substitute would best be an unstretchy yarn. However, a big croched shawl that is a bit stretchy seems nice. So maybe both types of yarn can be used, depending on the project being made.

Below are the two skeins, Romney to the left and Flevolander to the right.

This is what crimp does to the length of your skein, or to the elasticity in your yarn. Amazing isn't it?

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Soap making

 Last year, December 2022, I made my first batch of soap. In January 2023, I could start using them They were quite a success, according to friends and family who got a bar of soap to test. I was very happy with the result too. The scent was partly peppermint, partly lemon and orange. The peppermint was quite dominant, which made the association with toothpaste or chewing gum rather obvious.

The bars are almost finished (I had quite a lot of soap bars still in storage, that also were used up during 2023), so it is time to make new soap. This time, the scent is totally different: the rest of the sweet Orange, then Petit grain and Ceder atlas. All organic, as well as the base oils, Cocoa butter, Coconut oil and Olive Oil. It is an interesting scent, not something for the lovers of lavender soap. The tin is tucked away in a blanket right now and tomorrow I can cut it up in bars, that still need to finish the process of saponification during 4 weeks. So, in the end of January I will be able to use one!

Here some pictures of the process:

The fats and oils in the foreground, the lye solution in the back

The mold, a cake tin lined with baking paper
The mold, a cake tin lined with baking paper

The essential oils (fragrance) on my tiny scale, 22 grams in total