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Decked Out Holiday Sale!

The Etsy Maryland Promotions Team is holding a holiday sale from November 19 through December 3 with over 2 dozen wonderful local shops offering between 5 and 30% off with the same coupon code! I will be offering 10% off everything in my shop ( Kate’s Cauldron ). Just use code “DECKEDOUT” at checkout. For more information, and a compleat list of participating Maryland Etsy Sellers, just click the sale sign on the right to go to the team blog or go to www.facebook.com/mdpromoevents.  Happy Shopping!

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For those in the are, I’ll be working at the Alpaca Festival at the Howard County Fairgrounds this weekend. I’ll have my spindles as well as my other crafts. I should be set up in one of the outdoor barns. Stop by and say , “hello!”

For more information: http://www.marylandalpacas.org/pages/festival/index.html

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Just a reminder that my shop, Kate’s Cauldron, along with 40+ members of the Maryland Promo Team on Etsy will be running a two week long sale starting TOMORROW, August 15th until August 31th.  Click the button on the right for more information on the Fall into Autumn Sale,the giveaway, the participating shops, and their discounts.  Coupon code MDFIAS will give a discount at all the participating shops.  Kate’s Cauldron is offering 10% off.

I’ve been spinning up several skeins of this yarn.  It reminds me of Fudge Ripple ice cream, lol.  I had a mixed roving of natural colored wool from whites all the way to darkest brown (an a bit of everything in between).

The single were all spindle spun, but I finished it up as a 3-ply on my Frankenwheel (which still needs it’s own post)..  It ended up as a nice fingering or sock weight yarn.  I keep thinking it would make a gorgeous pair of wristers or mitts, maybe with a lace ruffle….. I have 4 skeins up in my shop right now, but more in the pipeline.  Only problem is–now I want some ice cream!

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Fall into Autumn

3 days to the big Maryland Promotions Team Fall into Autumn Sale (on Etsy)! One coupon, over 30 shops, discounts from 5% – 20%!

Make a note of coupon code MDFIAS and get ready to get a jump-start on your holiday shopping. Details soon…..

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Well, I’m all recovered from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  It was a wonderful weekend and many spindles found new homes!  Now I can finally post the results of my Kitchener experiments.  First, I realized that I forgot to link both Kristen’s video and the sock machine video that I mentioned in my last post.  Try them both and enjoy!   I have had great luck using the second video, and Kristen’s is a really nice video, but the technique, at least the way I’m doing it, doesn’t make a seamless join on stockinette.  I’ve been thinking about it and think I know why. So I decided to to do a test.

Basically, I knit up a few little swatches (half garter/ half stockinette), folded them in half lengthwise and grafted the live stitches on each half together.

The first sample was knit in stockinette and I grafted it folowing the instructions on the GoodKnit Kisses video.  My result was a pretty noticeable garter ridge right across the join.  Hmmm, that’s not what I want.  Kristen’s join actually looked pretty good, if not 100% seamless on her video, but she was joining garter stitch not stockinette.

I wondered if you would get a different result depending if you ended on a purl or a knit row.  So that’s how I did the next 2 swatches–in garter, one ending on a knit row, one on a purl and again grafted following Kristen’s video.

Both of these looked pretty decent.  One seemed to have an extra purl on the right side and an extra knit on the other.

The other was the other way around.  I guess I should have been able to predict that, lol, and save myself some swatching. In any case, these little irregularities getting hidden pretty easily in the garter stich pattern, unlike the way the purl ridge stands ount on the stockinette.

But WHY doesn’t the method seem to work on stockinette?  Clearly, the kitchener works beautifully on needles (at least when done by people other than me).  Even I can mange a seamless sock toe when I SEW it (as in the video I linked).  Why isn’t the technique translating to the loom?  First, there could always be user error on my part.  Grafting on a loom involves dealing with long floats.  Although I do tend to tighten them up as I go along, I could be getting twisted along the way.  But I PROBABLY wouldn’t be making consistant errors.

Another problem is that loom knitters don’t seem to have consistant language for refering to direction relative to their looms.  I tend to always think of the tips of the pegs as “up” and the base of the loom as  “down”, but many loomers hold their looms sideways or even upside down while knitting and I’ve heard that they just don’t alway think of “up” the same way as I do.  Needle knitters use the terms “as if to knit/purl” pretty consistantly, but I still haven’t wrapped my head around what that means on a loom.  So language is a problem, but I THINK I was able to follow along with Kristen fairly well–having her video sure helped!

Then I started thinking–always a dangerous thing.  When you Kitchener a sock toe on needles, the front needle holds half of the stitches with the knit side showing, but the back needle shows the other half with the PURL side showing.  So, when you work the Kitchener, you are working the RIGHT side of the work on the front needle, but the WRONG side of the work on the back needle.  Hmmmm…..All of the directions I have found (including Kristen’s assuming I am actually interpreting things correct) seem to just put the needle knitting terms exactly into looming language.  But when I work on the loom, even to graft,  I am always  turning the loom and looking at the right side of the work.  Shouldn’t the back needle instructions be reversed when converting to a knitting loom then?

Only one thing to do.  The last swatch was stockinette again, but I decided to reverse all the instructions for the back pegs.  I think it turned out pretty darn seamless on both sides and most importantly, you can’t even feel the graft.

Loomalicious Grafting Conversion (for stockinette)

Go Up: Starting at the base of the loom pass the yarn (either with a needle or using your loom tool to snag) under the loom and towards the tips of the peg.

Go Down: Starting at the tip of the peg, pass the yarn under the loop towards to base of the loom.

SET UP :  Cut the working yarn leaving a long tail.  Thread the end onto a tapestry needle (you can also do this by pulling the loops through with your loom tool).  Take the needle and GO DOWN on the first peg.  Then go across the loom and GO DOWN on the last peg.

Kitchener:

1.Going back to the first peg (left on the front of the loom), GO UP and remove the loop from the peg.

2.GO DOWN on the next peg, leaving it on the loom.

3. Go to the back of the loom.  GO UP on the last peg (left on the back of the loom) and remove the loop.

4.GO DOWN  on the next peg, leaving on the loom

Repeat these 4 steps until you run out of stitches (GO UP and off for the last front and back loop remaining at the end).

I like to tighten the Kitchener threads as I go along. Theyt seems to tangle less for me.  Plus you don’t need to cut quite so long of a yarn tail.  I hope some of you try this conversion out and tell me if the directions make sense or even work for you.  I’m still not completely sure that I haven’t just been misinterpreting other folk’s instructions.  On the other hand the back needle/wrong side/purl side just calls out to be converted.    Enjoy!

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I’ve been thinking that I want a different way to do the kitchner stitch. It’s probably most efficient to do it on knitting needles, but I always seem to mess that up (plus I seem to have an aversion to doing any knitting related tasks with needles). When I started making socks, I couldn’t find any detailed instructions on doing the Kitchner right on the loom. I did however find a video on making socks on an antique sock machine that had a method that worked for me. After turning the toe, you knit a couple rows in scrap yarn, then took the sock off the machine (or loom in my case). Then using a tapestry needle you just stitched the two ends together, using the stitches made with the scrap yarn as a guide.

I love the results. You really cannot see or feel the graft on either side of the work. BUT it just seems like I’m doing too many extra steps. Recently I saw a nice video by Kristen from Goodknit Kisses. She was showing how you could graft right on the loom and the results looked really nice. The only thing was that she was grafting a headband knit in garter and I wondered if it would still look seamless in stockinette.

Well, I was almost finished a sock and I was away from home without any scrap yarn, so I figured, “what the hay!” The results were pretty good, but not quite invisible. This was due in part from user error. I think I twisted a few of the threads. More importantly though, I could FEEL the seam even in the areas of the join that LOOKED fine.  If you’ve ever dealt with a child with sensory issues, you may know why this matters, lol. There was a noticeable rige on the inside of the seam.

Now I know this one sock done in in a busy community center full of distractions is NOT the best way to judge a technique, but it is enough to spark an experiment. My hypothesis is that the method I tried probalby makes a pretty invisible seam for garter stitch (like the piece in the video), but is less effective for stockinette and I think I know why! It may have to do with the original needle technique and the different perspective loomers have from needle knitters. Stay tuned. I’ll be swatching over the next few weeks and taking pictures. Will my hypothesis be supported by the preponderence of the swatch evidence? Can I find another method and have comfy socks?  We will see…..

PS If I take a bit too long posting the next installment, it’s probable because I am swamped getting ready for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (first weekend in May). I’ll be in Barn 5 with the Baltimore County Wool Producers. Feel free to stop by and say hello!

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When I last posted about my silkworms, they were about 6 days old and mostly in their second instar/stage.  About three weeks and three molts later and they were 2-3 inch long, plump and voracious fifth instar wormies.  They finished up their chow soon after that molt.  I made up a second batch.  Thistime they finished it within a few short days!  Since they were due to start spinning at ant time and the commercial chow was getting expensive, I starting asking around to see if anyone I knew has a mulberry or osage orange tree.  Luckily, I found someone with a mulberry.  I figured one good sized trash bag would get me through.

 

 

Wrong!  They loved the fresh food and showed no sign of slowing down.  I drove to my friend’s 3 or 4 times to steal branche prune her tree.  Just a few silkies were showing signs that maybe, just maybe they would start spinning soon, but this was getting old fast.  So I starting looking around the neighborhood.  Just a couple blocks away, in a vacant lot next to a church yard I spied a pair of mulberry trees.  YES!  The silkies seem to like the new leaves well enough, but still most weren’t cocooning up.

 

 

A few did start to change.  Toilette paper tubes make nice places for the worms to settle down for a spin.  They start by anchoring a few threads and then make a comfy hammock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then they keep spinning untill they have a nice safe cocoon.

Unfortunately, most of my silworms did not ever pupate.  Out of my 500+ worms that made it to the fifth instar, maybe 10% spun cocoons and some of those were on the thin side–the worm clearly died before finishing.  The rest just kept eating until they wore out and died.  I suspect my neighborhood trees may have been sprayed.  I’ve seen tent caterpillars in the area and I know some of the sprays they use for that are grow inhibitors that might prevent molting or pupating.  I would like to try this again, but not until I have my own mulberry tree that I know is safe and I might want to hatch out fewer caterpillars!

Next: Mothra emerges

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