Caress Sweater

When I started carrying this yarn base, I knew I had to have something in it. And then years passed and I never did anything. Then I finally dyed the yarn for the shop and all my desire for it came flooding back. It’s so soft and drapey. It would be perfect for a shawl. When it came down to it though, I really wanted a lush sweater. I chose to just wing it with a plain raglan pattern. I didn’t need fancy. Just a nice sweater that I could wear over a tank top in the warm months or over a long sleeve in the winter.


I was also a little specific about what I wanted to get out of this.
I wanted the fabric to be a little more open and airy.
I wanted a wider neck but nothing so big as a scoop though that would have worked nicely.
I wanted a long enough body that it wouldn’t ride up all the time.
I wanted the sleeves to be about elbow length.

Such a custom little thing, I figured it was easier to just do this myself than try to find someone that already had.

I realize that some of you might want a sweater like this as well. I haven’t got the time to work out all the sizes but I’m going to give you the basic information so you can make this on your own if you have knitting knowledge. If you aren’t an experienced knitter, I recommend that you find a well written pattern. For reference, I’m a solid medium in general US sizes. I measure at 40-28-39

Gauge (in the round – not blocked)
6.5 SPI and 9 RPI

CO 132
6 rows of 1×1 rib
Knit 1 round and set up for the raglan. The beginning is the middle back. k46, PM, k20,PM, k92, PM, k20, k to end.
Increases every other round look like: *k to one st before marker, kfb, sm, k1, kfb – repeat from * around. Knit to the end.
I continued in this manner until I had worked 7.5 inches (from CO edge). Next round I knit the body while putting the sleeves stitches on holders. I changed the st markers to mark the sides so I could do a little bit of waist shaping. I reduced 4 sts (1 st each side of a side marker) in a round every 6th round.I worked 8 rounds even and then increased every 6 rounds in the same manner. Knit even until I got the length I wanted and then worked 1×1 ribbing for 6 rows. BO loosely in rib.

Pick up and knit all the stitches plus 4 under the arm to close up the gap. Next round, start decrease. k1, k2tog, work to 3 sts before the end of round, ssk, k1. Work this decrease every 3rd round until you have 62 sts. Work 1×1 ribbing for 2 inches. BO loosely in pattern. Work the other sleeve in the same manner.


Block and wear!

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Let’s talk a bit about tensioning for scotch tension. In specific lets talk about the band materials and the springs themselves. There are so many different band materials and so many different types of springs. You can have a remarkable number of combinations. Then to think about the wheel/bobbin itself and there are certain materials that work better with others….and its all a personal decision.

Let that mull over for a bit.
Dizzying the number of things that one might have for their wheel. I’m going to talk about a few that I have liked and to talk about others that you might want to experiment with. It’s all about getting the right tensioning for you and how you spin.

Look at all those options. Just because your wheel came with a particular spring, it doesn’t mean that you can’t change that out for something that works better for you. I personally like to change mine out for hair elastics.
My favorites are the ones that don’t have a metal piece and aren’t really thick. Just plain nylon covered hair elastics. Why do I change them out? I like them. I find they’re a little lighter, a little more sensitive and they give me the feel that I want. They’re just not as stiff and I really like that in my tensioning.

Another thing you can do if you find you need a little more play in your tensioning is to add a second elastic or spring. Certain wheels like the Joy from Ashford already come that way but you can cut in and add another elastic/spring on the opposite side of the one that’s already there.
This is my Fricke wheel and you can see that one of the springs is pretty well shot. When your spring looks like that, it’s time to get something new in there. The tensioning on this wheel is only still working well because there is a second spring in there.

There will be some wheels that you just cannot add a second spring like the Sidekick and the newer Matchless from Schacht.
You can change out the spring for a different spring or a hair elastic but there really is only place for one. So in cases like this, or when you just aren’t happy with the braking, then you can also change out the band itself.

Most wheels come with a material that the manufacturer finds optimal for their wheel and the materials really do range quite a bit. Nylon, fishing line, hemp, cotton… This means that someone has felt the wheel works best with one of these materials but that doesn’t mean that it works best for you with one of these materials. You can change that out and in some cases, the wheel will work better for you when you do. In some cases, it may not and you want to go back to the old manufacturer settings. This is a trial and error sort of thing. Gather some materials, spin 4 ounces or so (if you don’t immediately loath it) and figure out what works for you.
That thread I’m holding in my hand is elasticized thread. This is some fun stuff to have on hand. I have several cones of it and a couple of smaller spools like this. My love of this stuff is another post for another day. I’m bringing it up because it makes a pretty decent brake band. I haven’t tried it on the Sidekick but I have on the Louet Julia, Louet Victoria, and the Fricke wheels. If you have some on hand then add this to your box of tension experimentations.

As always, if you have a question, ask.

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Stashdown and Destash

Yup. I do stashdowns. Mostly so I can spin up what’s in my bins in a fury and then have room left for whatever I want to buy. It’s a stashdown so I can stash-up. I try to do stashdown crazy spin ups before I know I’m going to a show or before a big bunch of fluff is about to come into my life. SPA is coming up at the end of the month and then shearing isn’t really too far off. At Ravelry we just completed a handpainted stash down last week and I got 4lbs done. I mostly didn’t spin the first half of the month because of work stuff but I worked fast in the last half.
L to R
Spunky Eclectic “Black Pearl” – 2ply 1540 (16 oz)
Southern Cross Fibres “Desert Pea” and “Uluru” combo – 2 ply 650 yards (16oz)
Hello Yarn “Timber” – singles yarn – 1320 yards (22oz)

L to R
Spunky Eclectic (all of them)
“Diesel” Gradient – 2 ply 240 yards (8oz) One skein made into a hat already
“Rosa Rugosa” Gradient – 2ply 170 yards (2oz) – working on a sample sock.

Now we’re working on a “Naked” stashdown in preparation for the magical fleece shearing season.

I rarely ever show off my show buys anymore but maybe I’ll remember after SPA. If not, you’ll see my goodies all spun up someday.

I’ve also been stashing-down of a different sort. I have a bunch of unloved commercial yarns. I’m starting to go through my yarns and be realistic about the yarns I love and should keep and the yarns that I bought on a whim because I thought I loved them.
Some things I bought with my kids in mind and they’re no longer hot for whatever color that is. So, if you think you want some of my really nice but unloved yarns (before I can’t stand it and fall in love with them again) you can head over to Ravelry and pick through my wool bins. This is just part of the ceiling stash. I need to go through a few bins and another part of the ceiling.

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Double Driving

You want to use a double drive wheel but are a little unsure or you just can’t seem to make it work. Maybe you just feel like it’s not working as well as it should. I had a conversation on Ravelry a while ago that I’m going to cut and paste a lot of the information over here. We were talking specifically about a Schacht Matchless but I’ll throw in some info about production wheels.

I love to spin in double drive and have always used double drive when I can. I don’t like my wheel to have a ton of pull but it has enough take up to work. My standard method of draw is sliding long draw and I love slightly woolen yarns. I find that double drive is easier on my hands and is more fluid method for me. Though, I can spin/draw relatively the same on scotch tension I just love the feel of double drive a little more. Its why I tell people all the time that it’s a personal preference thing.

Let’s go through the wheel and do some spot checks.

  • The drive band adjuster works – it’s clean (free of dust and fiber). If it’s metal it can use a light coat of lube, otherwise don’t. If it’s wooden and squeaky, clean and use beeswax.
  • You’re bobbin is lubed on the shaft and pointed in the correct direction? On the Matchless, the big end of the bobbin is for Scotch tension, the little end is for Double drive.
    It won’t work happily the other way around. If you’re using the 4 fastest ratios (only on the optional whorls Hi-speed and super Hi-speed) and you use double drive, you will need the fast bobbins – the smaller end on those is smaller than the regular bobbins. You see, in order for a wheel to work properly the bobbin has to have more take up than the flyer (they need to spin at different rates). On scotch tension you get that with a brake. On double drive you get that when the bobbin has a smaller pulley than the flyer whorl.
  • The mother of alls are seated properly and hold the flyer/bobbin assembly well? They should be upright and locked. There should be a little play with the bobbin on the shaft but not a ton.
  • The bearings that hold the shaft and orifice are working properly (cleaned and oiled)? If you have a wheel that is using leather – don’t oil leather. Use a good saddle soap to help condition the leather.
  • The drive wheel turns well and isn’t warped? If it’s sloppy on the drive leather washers can be added. A little play isn’t a problem. A lot of play and it can throw your drive band.
  • The treadle(s) operate freely with no rubbing? Fix it if they are. There are ways to adjust. There should be no rubbing.

Wheels are made of wood. Wood sucks in moisture and can dry out. This can make your wheel do funny things. If you heat with wood fire then your wheels are going to dry out in the winter and you’ll need to tighten some things, but will need to be loosened in the spring. If you live in a very humid area, your wheel will behave differently in the summer. Spinning wheels are fabulous machines but they’re not super precise in some areas simply because of the variations in their. I’ve met people that are super picky and any little whir or slight mechanical difference in their wheel, they get upset over. I’ve also met people that ignore big knocks and screams their wheel is making. Try to be somewhere in between. Clean and oil your wheel, find a routine and stick to it. Monitor it for the big stuff but know that as the environment changes, so will your wheel so give it a break (especially in the spring and fall when there are great humidity changes happening in many places)

Lets talk just about the drive band:

  • What is that made of? Cotton, hemp, mercerized or not….all good cords. Some people like silk. Not too thin, not too thick. Find what makes you and your wheel happy. Cotton for drive bands may be the easiest to find. Hardware supply stores have string chalk refill that has no chalk on it. That stuff is what many people like. You can try the hemp or silk or other yarns as well. There was an article that Beth Smith wrote for Spin off that talked about drive band materials. I think it’s a personal preference. Keep the cotton if you’re happy but when it needs changing, try the hemp or something else. My personal favorite is sport weight mercerized cotton. You may find different wheel prefer different cording but this is the one that I like for me and the wheels that I run.
  • Never use poly cord for a double drive. it rubs against each other and doesn’t work well.
  • It’s one continuous length of cord? The answer to this needs to be yes.
  • It’s knotted properly? Square knot or a surgeons knot should work just fine and not come undone. If it comes undone and you have made the knot properly, chances are the cord is too slippery. You can also sew your drive band. Knots are the quickest and easiest but find the method that works for you.
  • It’s not too slick or falling apart? – it seems silly to have to mention this. If your drive band is unplying, falling apart or can’t stay tied, then there’s a problem. Change your band. You need this to work well. It drives your wheel!

Your wheel is in good working order right?
You went through these spot checks and you fixed the problems you had and made good friends with your wheel since you’re taking care of it. I can tell you, the drive band is usually the biggest problem that people have with making their wheel work. Too loose, too tight, too delicate, wrong material….. All of these things can kill your spinning experience. Do what you can to adjust it properly and if you continue to have issues or are just unsure, take a class or see the shop where you got your wheel. Talk to them about maintaining and checking on your wheel to make sure that it’s set up properly. You bought an antique and think it might need a repair. Find a guild that can evaluate it or a reputable shop/repair person that is able to help you.

Happy spinning!

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Work it out


Yes, indeed.
I like to work out and I do certainly jiggle when I’m doing it.
How about you?

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One pot meal

I see these and they seem like magic. Like magic that couldn’t possibly happen. I pinned a few on Pinterest and then waited for a time when I felt game.

That happened a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t really feel like cooking but someone needed to. I felt like maybe I could throw a bunch of stuff in the pot and if it wasn’t great, oh well. That was about of the extent that I cared about dinner that night.

I pulled up the recipe and decided to modify a little bit.
I cut up an onion first and started to saute that. I like the flavor it lends and onion so I figured I could put that much effort in at least. I sauted the onion while I cut up everything else. Then it all went into the pot like the recipe said. Well, almost like the recipe said. I also added in some tempeh for protein. Gotta have your protein. And I reduced the amount of water. I was still skeptical and I’m glad that I was, all the water called for would have been too much for my happiness.

I set my timer and I walked away.

Then no kidding, 10 minutes later, dinner. I tossed in some corn starch to thicken up the juice that was left. It would have been fine left alone but I prefer gravy over au jus. I also managed to chop some cilantro and throw on some cashews.
Perfect easy meal.
If you were doubting these too, just grab the ingredients and give it a go.

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I have a bunch on the needles.
I should probably finish some…. one?
Could this be what I turn to when the hat fad has passed?

By now you might have noticed that I like to start these things more than I care about finishing them. I know this would bother some of you. Me, not so much. When I feel the need to have the sweater, it will get done. Or I’ll rip it and reuse the yarns. Want to see what I’ve got going?

Let’s start with what actually is showing on my Ravelry page.

Less is More #3
This sweater just needs sleeves. I forgot what size needle I was using and as usual, I forgot to make a note. It will get done eventually but at this point….this is where it rests.

sprout dijon
Sprout Growing Roots
I’ve got the hood done and am part way down the yoke. I was working on it to re-release a better sprouts pattern with new features. I kept getting emails and messages from people about this sweater wanting it released now. I admit, I got annoyed. Mostly with myself that I wasn’t able to find/make the time to make this happen. So, I just put it out there as it had been originally. I tossed this sweater aside and haven’t picked it up since. I might finish it eventually. I will not write nor release the new pattern, though.

That’s it. All my sweater WIPs on Ravelry. I’m really slack at putting WIPs on Ravelry… I’m also great at stating the obvious.

There are 2 more categories of sweaters on the needles. One category is the terminal WIPs, UFO’s, waiting to be ripped category. These are sweaters that I have abandoned and I haven’t wanted the yarn bad enough to rip them out. I’m not going to go dig them out. If you’re curious, a couple of them are hibernating in my Rav projects. There might be more of them but I’m not digging around to add them to Rav or talk about them. They deserved a mention but that’s it.

Now….What am I working on that’s active in my WIP basket now?

This might be my most active on the needles project. It’s just a simple top down raglan in Caress Merino silk yarn. I wanted it last spring but I didn’t want it bad enough. Maybe I’ll have it for this spring. The body is done (I’m finishing up the bind off now) and I want elbow length sleeves so it’s close.

I have a version of Canoe on the needles. I wanted a little crop top sweater to go over sleeveless dresses. Sometimes you don’t need a full sweater but you want sleeves, that’s what I’m working on here in a nice summery yarn called Comfort. I really love this yarn even though it’s not wool. I may have a couple other sweater lots of this stuff waiting for inspiration.

I’m in love with this sweater. Completely in love with it and the yarn that I am using. I have to actually follow the pattern though. I need some quiet time to work on it and get the cable patterning in my head then I’ll be able to make some good headway on it. I tell ya, this sweater would be really nice right about now with all the cold weather we’re having.

This is a handspun sweater that I’ve had the body done for a while. It’s a thick and thin chunky knit made from a colorway called “French Alpine” (discontinued Colorway for a Cause color). I finished the body, tried it on, wore it around and tried to decide if it needed sleeves. Yes. I think it needs sleeves but what kind. Close fitting? Bell sleeves? What length? I’ve been stymied on just that one aspect. As soon as I figure it out, I’ll get the sleeves done. It’s a ridiculously quick knit so with a weekend of work, I could have this sweater on my body.

Those 4 sweaters will get done. I want them enough and they’re far enough long that I’ll get them done. When is the bigger question. Other projects do keep jumping in front of them though so…..

I’m spinning for two sweaters at the moment:
Venezia and

Rock Lobster
That’s not even to consider all the handspun that’s already made and waiting for me to do something. I also love a lot of the shop yarns, particularly Targhee Classic.

I want to make Stillwell in the Targhee Classic

and Atalanta in Envy Candy which is a newish yarn that we carry. I love how it looks in the skein but I haven’t knit with it much so I need to get on with that.

I could probably go on and on photographing all my yarn stash talking about what I might like to do with it all but I don’t have the kind of time it takes to do that and you would be sitting here a lot longer and probably get bored half way through. I’m going to leave it at that. We’ll see what ends up coming off the needles next. It’s anyone’s guess really.

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