Wool Maker Lane

knitting, spinning and life with alpacas

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Happy New Year…Happy New Jumper

Icelandic Sweater

Yes miracle of miracles I have completed my Icelandic yoke sweater in what, for me, is super quick time .  There is a reason for this….I have fractured a bone in my foot and have been under strict instructions to “Rest up.”  Easy for a consultant to say when you’ve just limped in the door but a pretty hard task when you have a busy life that doesn’t stop for broken bits and pieces .  While this ‘inconvenience’ did not prevent me from going to work it did allow me to take it easy the rest of the time with leg raised and needles clicking.  Every cloud…

This has meant that I have had lots of time to focus on the yoked sweater that I returned from Iceland enthusing about.  I had never knitted one before and really wanted to learn about the construction of such a garment.  Whilst in the Hand Knitting Association of Iceland shop in Reykjavik  I bought nine 50g balls of dark blue Léttlopi, and two 50g balls each of pale pink and sea green.

I used the Anniversary Pattern from Ístex which I downloaded for free on Ravelry.  I found the instructions to be really clear and easy to follow including the chart for the pattern.  As usual I went off piste slightly by changing some of the design.  At the base of the pullover, I simplified the colour work by using a two by two pattern in the contrasting shades.  This was because I was worried that I hadn’t got enough wool.  In fact coming up to the end I hurriedly ordered some more balls from Iceland which eventually weren’t required (hats, mitts….?)

Every part of this project seemed so easy.  My major worry was the joining of the sleeves to the body to form the yoke but it actually all worked out fine.  It did seem to take an age to get around the 272 stitches that were on the needle at one point but it was only for nineteen rows as on row 20 the first of five sets of decreases commenced.

I must say that I really loved making this jumper and work started taking a go slow towards the collar as I didn’t really want it to end.  I now have no ongoing knitting here at the moment as I try to decide whether the next pullover will be a traditional gansey style or a pullover with a yoke.


Coats are a growing


Albie and Bootsy’s coats are starting to grow back now as it has been four and a half months since they were sheared.  Luckily, for them, we have had a really mild winter up to now.  I found it very hard to get down to the field to feed them with the bad foot so one particularly dark, muddy evening I decided to put their feed in the boot of my car and drive down to them.  All was going well until I got the car stuck in a ditch and had to get a local farmer to pull the car out the following day.

Left legged spinning


As my left leg is now the main shaker around here I have had to train it to work the treadle on the spinning wheel.  I’m getting better at it I must say as the spinning wheel now remains stationary rather than being pushed towards the middle of the floor by an over zealous foot.  I would really love to make my next knitting project from Albie’s fleece so there will be plenty of spinning going on now that the left leg is as good as the right used to be!


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In the pink

Having dyed Bert’s wool pink last week I decided to put it to good use and to make a baby hat for Hannah who is the daughter of Bert’s owner.  First of all I made a small swatch:


The wool that I dyed last weekend came out as a really subtle shade of pink which was perfect.  When knitted up on 4 mm needles it turned out that 10cm x 10cm could be achieved with 19 stitches and 26 rows.  I cast on 72 stitches and started knitting in stocking stitch for about 11 cm.  I divided the total number of stitches by 8 and then started decreasing evenly across 8 divisions every alternate row working 16 rows altogether before breaking off the wool and passing it through the remaining stitches and sewing up the side seam.  So easy and quick.  I was delighted.  I decided to embellish the hat with a small flower and hey presto it was complete.  Hannah now looks gorgeous with her new headgear.


Sock knitting


I returned to my sock knitting this morning.  I haven’t touched these for a while now and I have a feeling that I messed up where the Fair Isle pattern is concerned (the curse of watching t.v. and counting stitches simultaneously).  I studied what I knitted briefly and I really can’t imagine anybody getting down around my ankles with a magnifying glass so I’m just going to keep on working away at them.


My efforts to get the resources for dyeing this week have moved on somewhat thankfully.  Last week I ordered some alum from WildColours.co.uk and it arrived to my workplace.  My colleagues couldn’t understand my joy when I pulled it out of the package but they gave me understanding looks when I explained how hard it had been to get.


A few minutes later I was handed another small package from a friend and I got such a shock when I opened it:


More alum but where the alum from the UK was in crystal form the most recent alum was in a small block.  It turns out that it came from one of the Chinese markets in Dublin and the lovely note accompanying the packet informed me that if I need more that is where I should go.  I’m really delighted to hear this and can’t wait to get started with dyeing wool naturally.  I even bought some undyed wool so that I don’t waste any of the teensy amount  of white/grey alpaca fleece that I have left.


The only fly in the ointment is that those bushes that are growing all around me are just not bearing enough fruit at the moment so it’s a bit of a waiting game.  I’ve been reading an old book that I found in my mother’s house.  It’s called The Woolcraft Book, spinning dyeing weaving and is by Constance Jackson and Judith Plowman (1982, pub. William Collins).  I must say that it is fascinating reading and I have been returning to it again and again.  The authors are based in New Zealand and recommended, not surprisingly, ferns for dyeing.  I hurried out into the wood to see what is available there:


Somehow I don’t think that I need to worry about finding a source of green material.  I shall give the blackberries and elderberries a little more time though.


The boys have been allowed down into the garden again as the grass is getting rather long.  Usually they have the whole run of the place but recently Bootsy decided that when they are by the house it is too far to go to the back field to relieve himself preferring to use the driveway instead.  This morning I had to put up a hasty barrier using string and garden chairs and old bits of a trampoline.  Alpacas are very good with barriers though however flimsy they may be.  Unlike sheep it doesn’t take much to keep them contained.


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Cable Call Phone Pouch


I’m not sure about you but I spend an awful lot of time hunting for my mobile phone – particularly when I am at work so today I decided to remedy this situation by making a Cable Call Phone Pouch.  It is very simple to make and doesn’t take up too much time or wool.  I”ve made the neck band nice and long as I like to wear it across my shoulder so that the pouch can sit on my hip.


Cable Call Phone Pouch

copyright Wool Maker Lane


1 pair of 5mm needles (U.S. Size 8)
1 cable needle
50g of Aran weight wool (I used Tivoli New Celtic Aran)
1 darning needle for sewing

C4f- Cable four front.  Slip the next two stitches onto the cable needle and leave to the front of your work.  Knit the next two stitches.  Knit the two stitches off your cable needle.

Border trim:
Cast on 22 stitches and work as follows for moss stitch:
Row 1: K1 P1 across the row
Row 2: P1 K1 across the row
Row 3: K1 P1 across the row
Row 4: P1 K1 across the row
Row 5: K1 P1 across the row
Row 6: P1 K1 across the row

Main Body of Pouch:

Row 1: P3 K4 P2 K4 P2 K4 P3
Row 2: K3 P4 K2 P4 K2 P4 K3
Row 3: P3 C4f P2 C4f P2 C4f P3
Row 4: K3 P4 K2 P4 K2 P4 K3

Repeat this pattern until your work measures the same length as the back and the front of your phone.

Border Trim:
Moss stitch again for 6 rows:

Row 1: K1 P1 across the row
Row 2: P1 K1 across the row
Row 3: K1 P1 across the row
Row 4: P1 K1 across the row
Row 5: K1 P1 across the row
Row 6: P1 K1 across the row

Cast off knitways.

Making up:
Fold over your work lengthways with the right sides facing each other and sew up the two long sides.

Cast on 4 stitches.
Row 1: Knit across row
Row 2: Purl across row

Repeat these rows until the strap meets your desired length.  Cast off and sew each end of the strap into the top inside seams on either side of the pouch.

Congratulations.  You can now wear your Cable Call Phone Pouch with pride!