Sometimes, life takes us in slightly different directions. After four years blogging here at Twisted and Warped, I’ve decided to refocus my blogging slightly, and make it more representative of myself and my textile interests. So, as of this morning, I have a new textile blog in a new location, with a new name:

Yarnosophy

I’ve imported all the content from here to the new blog, and at the moment they look very much the same, but the new one will gradually evolve. I want to take a little more time with blogging, explore textiles and the textile world more, and reflect on my own work and others.

So, please update your links and RSS feeds – and I hope to see you over at Yarnosophy soon!

Last weekend I finished my third Brangian, in a deliciously rich dark red sock wool from Saffron Dyeworks. It was a bit of an experiment – I’ve put the yarn requirements for the small size in the pattern as 440yds (400m) but I wanted to see if the revised small size could be knitted with just 400yds (365m) of yarn. The answer? It can’t! I ran out of yarn two rows from the end, so had to cast off early without doing the picot row.

However, the other experiment with this one was to bead it, and I used dark red clear glass beads – and I’m very happy with the result!

Pattern: Brangian Shawl Yarn: Wasabi from Saffron Dyeworks

Pattern: Brangian Shawl (bead detail)

Beading instructions:
Use the crochet hook method to place beads.
Chart 2:
On rows 3, 11, & 19: Add a bead on to the K1 between the K2tog and ssk (ie at the beginning of each bud.)
On rows 5, 13 & 21: Add a bead on the 2 & 4 stitches of the k5 section. (ie on ether side of the bead in the previous row).

Chart 3:
On row 3: Add a bead on to the K1 between the K2tog and ssk (ie at the beginning of each bud.)
On row 5: Add a bead on the 2 & 4 stitches of the K5 section. (ie on ether side of the bead in the previous row).
On rows 7, 9, 11 & 13: Where there is a yo, K1, yo to form the columns, add a bead on the K1. Also add a bead to the centre K1!

Brangian wasn’t actually designed for beads, but I do love them, and I’m always looking for ways to incorporate them. Last night I knitted a sample swatch to see how beading might work on Brangian. I inserted beads in chart 2 – the alternating buds section – putting three beads at the top of each bud, with the idea that it might emphasise the way the buds alternate in this section. Then I also added beads in the same place in chart 3, and also in the yo, k1, yo columns in the last rows of chart 3. I’m quite happy with how it turned out:

Brangian shawl beaded swatch

I’ll be beading my next Brangian!

(ETA: Instructions for beading in this manner are now given on the Brangian page. )

However, in the process of swatch knitting, I did discover, to my horror, an oops! in the pattern. Prior to publication, I’d altered Chart 2, starting it with an non-column (‘B’) bud and reducing it by 8 rows so that there were only 3 ‘rows’ of buds – B, A, B. I did check that Chart 3 still fitted – but I overlooked that, because I’d reduced the design by the 8 rows, and this impacts on the placement of the buds relative to the edge, while Chart 3 fitted fine, it didn’t alternate with the last bud row in Chart 2. Not many people would actually notice at all, but I knew it wasn’t perfect.

Sigh. Cue panicked re-do of Chart 3, working out how to do the edging correctly, fixing up charts, uncharts, updating pattern files, proof-reading…. I uploaded the revised pattern to Rav this morning, and sent out a notice to those who’ve bought it so far, and to my test-knitters. Fingers crossed that everything is now fixed, and that no other errors have crept in!

My shawl pattern, Brangian, has been knitted up by several test-knitters, the pattern tweaked on the basis of their feedback, and it’s now available in the Ravelry store. It’s been a lot of work – but an enjoyable challenge! – getting charts right, creating ‘uncharts’ and checking them, playing with the layout, making sure the instructions are clear.

I incredibly grateful to my wonderful test-knitters, most of them from the Aussie Shawl Knitters Hangout on Ravelry, who have, in a few short weeks, knitted shawls and provided feedback on their experience – along with enthusiasm and encouragement! Thanks, Sue, the other Sue, Rachel, Tara, Kelly, Margaret, Bel and Ellie!

Extra special thanks to Tara, who lent her photography skills to the project and took some great photos, and to her friend Bella, who modelled the shawl.

Brangian Shawl detail

Photo copyright Tara Mitchell

I’ve created a page with more info on Brangian, a link ot the Ravelry pattern store (you don’t need to be a member to purchase it) and answers to what might be Frequently Asked Questions. There’ll be a few more bits of info added to support knitting the pattern in the next week or two.

Oh, and I’ve knitted a second Brangian, this time in Handmaiden SeaSilk, and in the medium size. It’s currently blocking, and taking an age to finish drying, as we have wonderful rain today:
Brangian Shawl blocking

I’ll take some better photos when it’s dry, and the sun is shining!
ETA:

Pattern: Brangian (medium). Yarn: Handmaiden SeaSilk

Brangian Shawl Pattern

I’ve designed a shawl :-)

In the old tales of Tristan and Iseult, Brangian was Iseult’s faithful companion, who travelled far from her own land to serve her Princess. This shawl, with its textured lace columns, subtly shifting to form a border flowing into the scalloped edging, is not as stunning as some lace shawls, but like Brangian the handmaiden, she is quietly beautiful.

I’m very happy with the shawl, and have written up the pattern – it’s now being test-knitted by a few friends. Once that’s been done, and their feedback incorporated into the pattern, I’ll be making the pattern available through Ravelry (and possibly through this site).

Brangian Shawl - detail

I’ve thought long and hard about whether to make it available for free, or to sell it for a small cost… and I’ve decided not to give it away. One of my concerns over the years in the textile/fibre arts is that traditional ‘women’s’ crafts such as knitting, spinning, weaving, etc are constantly devalued – and that often, we are party to that devaluing. It’s for this reason that I don’t sell what I make, because the going prices for hand-made items do not reflect anywhere near the expertise and time that goes in to the making of them. I’m always saddened and frustrated when I see a pair of handmade socks selling for $20, or a beautiful woven scarf for $60. Subtract the cost of materials, and divide by the number of hours of (trained and skilled) work that goes in to the making, and you come out with a very low number. Try telling anyone else in an independent business – a plumber, or a computer technician, or your hairdresser – that they should work for $1 per hour!

I do give things away as gifts some times, to people who appreciate the value of the making and the giving. I’ve designed my own patterns before for various items, and there’s a lot of work and experience involved in making things work – and even more in doing it and writing it up in such a way that the pattern is repeatable by others. I don’t mind paying a few dollars for a pattern in recognition of that work, and I hope others don’t either. I don’t think anyone’s getting rich selling knitting patterns :-)  (Okay, maybe Kaffe Fassett…)

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great that there are free patterns available, too. But I think that the choice to give away a pattern is each designer’s to make, for whatever reasons they choose to make it, and should not be an expectation. A design does have considerable value, whether bought or received for ‘free’, and that should be appreciated.  If ever I design more patterns, maybe some will be free, as a gift to a community that I enjoy being part of.

Anyway, the Brangian pattern will be available, probably in a couple of weeks, in both charted and ‘unchart’ form. It’s designed for fingering-weight yarn, and will be in two sizes, a small shawl, and a larger shawl. Now, I’d best get knitting and finish the larger version!

As I mentioned in my last post, we had our family Christmas celebration early as I was visiting Canberra last week. My family doesn’t go overboard at Christmas, and handmade gifts aren’t uncommon. This year I made a few – shawls for my mother and my sisters, socks for my Dad, and my brother-in-law got 1.5 socks! (He laughed when he opened the parcel :-) And I will have them finished by the time he and my sister call in here in a few days, on their way to Queensland.) My niece made beaded jewellry for several gifts, including a lovely red necklace for me.

My parents gave me a beautiful gift, which means a lot to me:

Embroidery by Martha Rudge

My maternal grandmother, Martha Rudge (1900-1963), like many women of her generation, sewed and knitted out of necessity, but also embroidered many items to decorate her home. She passed away not long after I was born, but my mother still used various tray cloths and aprons that Grandma had made. After fifty-plus years of use, they were getting well-worn, so, rather than just tossing them out, my mother ‘rescued’ the embroidery from several pieces and had them framed as gifts for various family members. Mine is from one end of a tray-cloth; I love it for many reasons – its simple beauty, the connection with my grandmother, and the reminder of seeing it and other pieces of handwork made by her and my mother while I was growing up.  I couldn’t carry a glass-framed item on the (small) planes I travelled home on, but my sister will be driving past here in a few days, and she will bring it with her. I’m not sure where I’ll hang it yet, but I’ll decide before she arrives!

For those interested in the stitches, here’s a close-up:

Embroidery detail (Martha Rudge 1900-1963)

I haven’t been able to post about this finished shawl, as I made it as a gift for my sister, and I’m not sure if she reads this blog or not! However we had an early family Christmas celebration today, and I gave her the shawl.

It’s the lovely Aeolian Shawl pattern from knitty.com, knitted in Handmaiden Sea Silk. It’s a great pattern – it’s not particularly difficult, and quite intuitive to knit, as it’s easy to ‘read’ the pattern, but it looks so impressive! Here it is blocking:

Aeolian Berries shawl

And here’s my lovely sister wearing it:

Andrea wearing her Aeolian Shawl

Andrea wearing her shawl

I think she likes it :-)

November has not been a good month for me. I headed down to Sydney on the 9th for surgery on the 11th, hoping I’d only be in hospital a night or two, but planning to stay in Sydney a few extra days afterwards, so I took some knitting with me. Unfortunately, the surgery (attempting to insert a stent inside the existing stents in my cerebral aneurysm) did not go well, and despite the best efforts of my wonderful doctors, I ended up with multiple complications – a small brain hemorrhage, some damage to the retina in my right eye, an abdominal bleed, and a tear in my femoral artery which gave me a large bruise/haematoma on almost my entire upper right leg. So, as a result, I was eight days in hospital, and had to have further surgery to repair the femoral artery.

Boy, was I glad I had my knitting! I did try some lace knitting on an Ishbel in the first couple of days, but my brain/eye coordination wasn’t that great, and I had difficulty relating the knitting to the chart, which is something I usually find easy. My lovely sister fixed up the row I stuffed up, but I put Ishbel aside for a day or two and instead worked on some socks, which were much easier. Many of the doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, fellow patients and their families expressed interest and asked me about my knitting. One of the young doctors mentioned several times that he’d love a pair of handknit socks :-) After I finished the socks, I picked up Ishbel again, and my brain and eyes were working much better so it went more smoothly – except a number of times I was one stitch short at the end of a pattern row. I fudged those bits, adding a stitch reasonably seamlessly in the pattern – and so the scarf, in a peppermint green wool/silk, got renamed the Peppermint Fudge Ishbel.

I finished her a day or so after I got out of hospital, but as I stayed on in Sydney for a few days as a precaution, I didn’t get to block her until today. Here she is, all pinned out:
Peppermint Fudge Ishbel

The pattern is, of course, the popular Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, and the yarn is a merino/silk fingering weight yarn from Lush Yarns. I used size 4mm needles, and made the small size in the stocking stitch section, and the large size for the lace section, working charts ABABACDE.

The socks are the Harris Tweed pattern, knitted in Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 4ply. The pattern was nice and easy to knit, so I could knit while writing – the knitting keeping my fingers from being distracted and clicking all over the internet, but easy to drop the moment any words came to mind. I suspect I’ll be casting on another pair soon, because I love these ones, but I’m giving them away as a Christmas gift. Sorry that the photo isn’t that great – taken in a hotel room, rather than my usual photography space at home!
Pattern: Harris Tweed. Yarn: Bendigo Luxury 4ply

Now I’m home, I’m working on my two Aeolian shawls. The blackberry one is getting closer to finished – I’ve only got about 10 rows to go, but as they’re looonnngg rows and beaded, there’s still a few hours’ work in it. I’ll post pictures when it’s done. The sea green/blue one is still only in the yucca section, so it has a lot more to go yet. But I’m thankful that, despite the medical problems, I can see, and knit, and I figure there can’t be too much brain damage if I can knit lace! It could have been so much worse, so I’m grateful that it wasn’t. I have to take things easy for a bit, and will go back to Sydney in mid-December to see the neurosurgeon and the vascular surgeon. There is likely to be more surgery on my aneurysm in the future, since this lot wasn’t successful. I’m not looking forward to that, as it’s always risky, but I’m determined to pull through it okay. After all, I’ve got a lot of stash waiting to be knitted up into beautiful things!

I seem to have multiple WIPs happening at the moment.

There’s an Aeolian Shawl, in Handmaiden Sea Silk, on which I’m only 24 (long!) rows from the end. I’m really enjoying the pattern; it’s well-written, intuitive, and it looks stunning. I’m doing the version with the narrower border, as I’m not sure whether I’ll have enough yarn. I’ve stil got just under 50% of the yarn left, but the edging does consume a heap of yarn, so I’m keeping m fingers crossed (and I’ve order another skein, just in case – because who can have too much sea silk??)
Pattern: Aeolian shawl. Bead detail.
(The colour is actually not quite as bright, and there’s a bit more purple overall than in this little sample).

I’m enjoying the Aeolian so much, that I cast on a second one, so I could knit the shorter easier first section rows when I don’t have time or concentration for the first Aeolian’s long, beaded rows. I chose a KnitPicks alpaca and silk fine lace yarn from the stash, in beautiful turquoise colours. I’ve ordered beads for it, and they should be here tomorrow.
Pattern: Aeolian Shawl Yarn" Knitpicks Shimmer Alpaca/silk

The Harris Tweed socks are 70% done – just have to turn the heel and knit the foot of the second one. No updated photo of those, but there should be a FO post soon.

I also cast on two other pairs of socks yesterday, as part of the Ravelry Sock Knitters Anonymous October Challenge – which includes socks designed for men. Since the menfolk in my family could do with some more hand-knitted socks, I started the two pairs before the challenge deadline of October 31. Now I just need to finish them before November 30!

The weaving has been slowly progressing. Because the warp has been on the loom for so long, and it’s very fine, I’m having a few broken warp threads. Here’s the view of the back of the loom:
Replacement warp threads

Yes, that’s 6 film cannisters tensioning replacement threads – and there were two more earlier on that I’ve already woven back in. I’m running out of film cannisters to use!

Yesterday, I bought a small camping hotplate on special at Big W – and today I used it to dye some yarns. I didn’t get quite the colours I was aiming for; partly because of my very un-scientific approach to dyeing, and partly because I simply didn’t have the dye colours I wanted. But I’m still happy with the outcome:
Dyed skeins

The little stove worked very well. The gas cannisters were on special for $5 for 4, and I only used 1 and a half for close on three hours of ‘cooking’ – so I’ll be dyeing more regularly. But I’ll need to order some more dyes in the colours I want!

You know that black warp that’s been on my loom for, oh, almost two years?? The one that I finally finished threading back in March?

Well, I couldn’t decide what to do with it. I tried a few colours, didn’t like them. I hmmed and ha’d about whether I was going to weave some trim for a jacket, whether the warp was too narrow, whether I had enough warp on for enough trim and a scarf…. and the warp sat idle for months, gathering dust. Things gathered around the loom… mostly stash that overflowed from the stash cupboard.

A couple of weekends ago, I did some major clearing out of the yarn/fibre/stuff stash cupboard, turfing out old fleeces that I’ll never spin, rearranging some things, putting the overflowing yarn into plastic boxes. It’s nowhere near perfect, but it’s better than it was. Last weekend, able to get to the loom again, I made my decision about the warp: weave two metres of plain black for trim for the jacket, then weave a scarf. If I have warp left over, I can weave a little more plain black.

So, I sat down at the loom last Sunday, and wove, off and on, for a couple of hours. I’ve woven some more during the week. This morning I sat down again, and by lunchtime had finished 2.2 metres of plain black – it’s sett at 28epi, and I’m probably weaving it slightly closer than that, so there’s a lo of shuttle throwing and beating in 2.2 metres!

Then it was time to decide on the scarf pattern. The warp is threaded in an advancing twill pattern, but I decided, after some experimentation, to weave it as overshot, with a plainweave black pick in between each pattern shot. I recently bought on eBay some 2/28 throwsters silk in a natural ecru colour, and after trying it on the warp, I decided I liked it. So, here’s the progress so far – including the mending of a broken warp thread!

Overshot wool/silk scarf

Overshot wool/silk scarf

And here’s a detail of the pattern:

Pattern Detail

Pattern Detail

I’m hoping to get this finished in time to take it to the Spinners and Weavers meeting next Saturday – so I can show them that I haven’t entirely forgotten how to weave!

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