Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Baby's first Easter

Wet Felted Easter Egg Rattles for Baby's First Easter
This is my current project -- Easter Eggs for my grand daughter's first Easter. 

I can't find any chocolate that doesn't contain soy and soy has been implicated in tumour growth and thyroid dysfunction, so I won't be mailing any chocolate easter eggs.  I love them too much to give them cancer. 

These are made with Joybilee Farm multidyed wool rovings and they have a bell inside to make them rattle. They won't harm the house if they are tossed around, and the cat might even play with them.

I got the idea for these rattles from Chris Mackenzie at the Kalkamalka Guild Spin In last Saturday.  Thanks, Chris. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sock Tutorial -- Sock number 2

How are your socks coming along?

I just finished turning the heel on sock number 2....I had to frog it twice after turning the heel. The first time it seemed lop sided -- like I had forgotten one of the p2Ts. I pulled it out, picked up the stitches again and tried again. The second time the placement of the heel was good but when I examined my turned heel one side had really loose, I mean really loose, stitches that wouldn't have worn well in use. So I frogged it again right to the heel flap, in fact I ripped it back to the second to last heel flap row and purled the last row with really tight stitches, so that the loose stitches would be no more. And turned the heel for the third time.

Now I'm satisfied with my turned heel and ready to begin the gusset.

A bit about frogging or ripping out your work. I just pull the needles out and rip back to where the error is and then pick up the stitches with a needle that is finer than the ones I am working with. You will see that the stitches all stand at attention waiting to be picked up. You want them to lie in the right direction when you pick them up. If any are backwards as you go to knit them, slip them off and correct their position before you knit or you will have a funny row of stitches in your work. If you pay attention to how the yarn lies on the needle as you pick it up to knit it, you will understand what I mean.

How about you? Are your socks working for you? Do you like them? Do they fit? If there is something about it you don't like, you can rip it back, pick up the stitches and continue knitting until you like them.

I view knitting as a journey and each row is an enjoyable step in the journey. The destination -- a finished sock -- is not the reason for the knitting of the sock. If you just wanted a sock you would buy a pair at Walville. But the journey to get to the sock is what we are wanting -- the learning of a new skill, the experiment with a new yarn, the joy of working with our hands to create something beautiful. This is the real goal of knitting. So don't fuss if you need to frog. Enjoy the journey.

When you are ready to begin your sock number 2 you have a choice -- you can find the place in the yarn's pattern repeat where you began the first sock -- recommended if your sock yarn has a huge pattern repeat, as my first yarn, Opal #650, did. On my second pair of socks the pattern repeat was much shorter and I opted to just begin where I left off. There is enough yarn on a ball of Opal sock yarn to find the pattern repeat so the choice is yours.

Another choice that you have is to make an entirely different sock for sock number 2 -- "One sock is ART, Two socks is wall mart" we say at home. Sometimes you want matching socks and sometimes its fun to make two different socks from the same yarn -- they match but they don't. So if you want to try this, for sock number two cast on the same number of stitches as sock number 1 and do the ribbing for the top of the sock for 2 inches and then get out your stitch dictionary and find a stitch pattern you've always wanted to try. Its best to find a pattern that will work on 32 stitches so you won't have to add stitches for the instep. When you divide for the foot, you will continue in this new pattern stitch for the instep stitchs but knit stockinette for the foot.

Use the directions for the heel flap, turning the heel, and the gusset as in the first sock but be creative with the rest, being sure to use your pattern stitches on the instep. You are designing your own sock. We'll talk more about sock design next time.

You can post pictures of your socks on Joybilee Farm Facebook

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Opal Sock Tutorial/Knit Along -- closing the toe

Now you have just 16 stitches left on your needle.  You will move 8 stitches onto each of two needles so that toe decreases fall at each end of the needles, giving you a flat toe.

Now you will close the toe with kitchener stitch, sometimes called "grafting".

Cut your yarn leaving a tail about 18 inches long.  Thread this through a darning needle.  Hold the two needles in your nondominant hand, separated with your index finger. 

Take the darning needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to purl.  Pull the thread through the stitch but leave it on the needle.

Take the darning needle through the back stitch as if to knit.  Pull the thread through the stitch but leave it on the needle.

Step 1:  Take the darning needle into the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit.  Take the stitch off the needle and immediately put the needle into the next stitch on the front needle as if to purl.  Pull the thread taut and leave this stitch on the needle.

Step 2:  Take the darning needle into the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl.  Take the stitch off the needle and immediately put the needle into the next stitch on the back needle as if to knit.  Pull the thread taut and leave this stitch on the needle.

Repeat steps 1 and 2 until all stitches have been worked and you no long have any stitches on your two needles.  Slip darning needle into the inside of the sock a the toe edge.  Turn sock inside out and weave the end through several stitches to secure.  Clip this final thread after two inches have been worked into the inside of your sock.  Darn in any ends.

Sock is complete.  Now repeat the pattern from the beginning for your second sock.

The Mother Daughter Project Part 3 of 3

Sarah and I have been working on a special garment -- a dressy jacket -- for her wardrobe.  She graduates from high school this year and will be beginning college and work and a dressy, one of a kind jacket seemed like an essential wardrobe edition.
The Mother-Daughter project Jacket

Part 1 of the Mother Daughter project.
Part 2 of the Mother Daughter project.

This jacket also showcases Sarah's talents and skill in spinning, weaving and creativity -- a masterwork for her high school graduation.  Although the sewing and garment design were Mom's effort, much input came from Sarah.

The jacket took 1200 grams of handspun yarn, although we spun
1 kg. of the green -- Ashford's "Peppercorn" -- we have 1 - 200 gram skein left over for another project.
400 grams of the red -- Ashford's "Pomegranate"
200 grams of the lilac -- Ashford's "Juniper".
The yarn was washed and wet finished in alternating hot and cold water and air dried before weaving.

Total hand spinning time:  50 hours

We wove the jacket on two Ashford Knitter's Looms -- 50 cm (20 inch) and 30 cm (12 inch).  Two panels were woven at 7.5 ends per inch, and 75 inch warp, -- 20 inches in the reed.  And one panel was woven at 7.5 ends per inch and an 85 inch warp at 20 inches in the reed.  One panel was woven at 7.5 ends per inch and 85 inch warp at 12 inches in the reed.

The first and last rows of each panel were finished on the loom with hand stitching before the panel was cut from the loom.   The warp threads were trimmed to 3 inches in length on each end of the hand woven panels.

Total warping and weaving time:  24 hrs

The fabric was wet finished by putting in a top loading washing machine with warm water and dishwashing detergent and agitating on the delicate cycle.  The fabric was checked every 5 minutes.  10 minutes was enough to produce a nicely fulled yardage.  The cycle was stopped and the fabric spun out and removed from the machine.  Cold water was added and the fabric reintroduced without agitation.  After 5 minutes of soaking in cold water the fabric was again spun out and hung to dry.

After drying the fabric was steam pressed before draping and sewing.

Wet finishing and Pressing time: 2 hours.

The garment was created without a pattern by draping the pieces on Sarah and then sewing by machine.  Since the fabric was narrow no cutting was necessary for the body of the jacket.  Selvedges were used to the best advantage and seams were overlapped and sewn with two lines of stitching.  Folds, darts and tucks were used to create smooth lines and a flattering fit.

The sleeves were cut from the longest pieces of fabric, and the seams were finished with a serger stitch, without cutting the fabric edges.  Since the wool/silk fabric was fulled before cutting, there were no loose, unravelling edges to worry about, so I didn't stitch the individual pieces before sewing to secure the cut edges.

A pocket and sash were cut from the remaining fabric.  There was very little waste fabric and very little thrums left fom the weaving, once the jacket was complete.  Nice, because handspun yarn is precious and cutting off yards of thrums is very disheartening.  Our longest thrums were a mere 8 inches in length and will be saved for other weaving projects.
Very little waste of fabric and thrums from this project.

Sarah is a collector of unusual buttons and she has a fabulous wooden button, huge with an interlaced knot motif,  in her collection that became the sole closure for her jacket.  The loop cord for the closure was created from handspun, multidyed tussah silk, made into a firm cord on a wooden lucet and secured at the pocket edge.  Two other metal buttons from her collection accent the back sash piece.

Total designing, sewing and hand finishing time: 14 hours.

Total time for this special jacket, our "Magnus Opus":  90 hours.

Much of the spinning and weaving time for this project was "family" time in the evenings and we listened to a story, read aloud by Robin, while we worked.  Our current story is  "Beric the Britain" by G.A. Henty on Kindle.  Only the machine sewing was a solitary occupation.

Sleeve detail

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Mother Daughter Project Part 2

The four panels of free woven cloth are wet finished and pressed. We started the work of draping the fabrics on Sarah and constructing the jacket yesterday. Saori weaving and clothing making is freeing and inspirational. No paper patterns are used and very little cutting. The fabric is draped over the model and pinned, folded and stitched to fit.

If you've just tuned in you can read part 1 about our project here.

All the yarns used in this project are handspun.  The cloth was woven on two Ashford knitter's looms -- a 50 cm and a 30 cm loom -- using tapestry techniques and interlocking weft.

Here is the work in progress:

The inspiration for this project.

4 handwoven panels of merino/silk wet finished and ready for sewing.

The fabric 80% merino wool and 20% silk really blossomed in the wetfinishing.  The colours glow and the cloth has a nice drape and an incredibly soft, velvety hand.

The back of the jacket in progress.  No cutting has been done.  The nice selvedges become the hem and seams are overlapped.

The front of the jacket in progress.

The side of the jacket in progress.  Notice how the hem in the front is higher than the back.  We are working on a fix.

More on this project in a few days.  The goal is to finish this by Friday, in time to take it to the Vernon Spin in for show & tell on Saturday.

Part 3.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Part 5 -- Opal Sock Tutorial/Knit Along -- the toe

By now you have knit the cuff, the leg, created the heel flap, turned the heel, picked up stitches and knit the heel gusset, and completed the foot of your sock to within 2 inches of the finished length.

You are on the last "leg" of your journey, with the toe decreases.  You have 1/4 of the stitches on each of two sole stitch needles (needles 1 and 3) and 1/2 of the stitches on your instep needle (needle 2).  Your knitting begins in the middle of the sole, on needle one.

Row 1:  On needle one knit to 3 stitches from the end of your needle, knit two stitches together, knit the last stitch on this needle.  On needle 2, knit the first stitch, slip the next two stitches and knit them together (ssk), knit to the last three stitches on this needle, knit 2 together and knit 1.  On needle 3, knit the first stitch and ssk, the next two stitches, knit to the end. (4 stitches decreased)

Row 2:  Knit all stitches, remembering to pull up firmly as you knit the sole stitches.  You will no longer use k2 p2 rib on the instep stitches.  This will give a smooth, seamless toe to the sock which will be comfortable to wear.

Continue in alternating row 1 and row 2 until 16 stitches remain.  (These stitches will be grafted together using kitchener stitch -- instructions coming in the next installment.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Saori Free Weaving on the Ashford Knitters Loom

Ashford Merino/Silk Sliver in Peppercorn
My darling daughter and I began a joint project last year when I gave her a 1 kg. bump of Ashford 80% merino/20% silk roving in Peppercorn as a Christmas gift, with a promise to work together with her to spin it and make something for her wardrobe.

Sarah is an accomplished handspinner, having learned to spin at 6 years old.  She began weaving at 12 on an Ashford Knitter's Loom and has won awards for her work.  Sarah is 17 and completing her high school studies this Spring.  We thought it would be a fitting celebration of her accomplishment to spin, weave and design a jacket for her to wear.

Sarah loves to use tapestry techniques while weaving on the Ashford Knitter's Looms.  We have 2 - 12 inch Knitter's Looms and one 20 inch.  And we are delighted with the creativity that Saori weaving and garment design affords so it seemed the perfect match to combine Saori weaving principles of creativity and joy in weaving with this delightful project.

All of the yarn for this project was handspun jointly by Sarah and I.  Sarah spun singles on the Ashford Kiwi Spinning Wheel, and I spun singles on my Ashford Joy Wheel wheel.  We didn't worry about getting a smooth even yarn because the slubs and unevenness will add to the character of the finished fabric. The finished yarn was about sport weight -- a bit heavier than sock yarn.  This gives a good weight for dressy jacket material.

Each skein of plied yarn used one singles that Sarah spun and one singles that I spun, to even out any extreme differences in the final yarn.  The yarn was plied on the Ashford Joy Wheel using the new Ashford Joy Freedom Flyer. 5 -- 200 gram skeins of peppercorn, 2 - 200 gram skeins of pomegranate, and 1 - 200 gram skein of juniper were spun and plied for this project.
Handspun Ashford Merino/Silk Sliver in Pomegranate, Peppercorn, and Juniper
Weaving with 14 inch stick shuttles
 An 80 inch (200 cm) warp was put on the 20 inch (50 cm) Ashford Knitters Loom in random stripes.  The fabric stood 20 inches in the reed but drew in to 17 inches in the weaving.  3 panels were woven in plain weave using tapestry techniques of interlocking weft, random stripes, and picture weaving.  A fourth panel was woven on the 12 inch (30 cm) Ashford Knitters Loom.
First panel completed

The Ashford Knitters Loom is quick to warp and a joy to weave on.  The loom can be folded up and put away with the weaving in place.  It allows unlimited creativity in weaving through variation of the beat, colour, and weaving technique. Saori free weaving techniques work very well with these two looms as the resulting weavings fit well with Saori clothing design principles -- being an ideal width.  The looms hold a surprisingly large amount of finished cloth and can be warped up in less than an hour.

I own two floor looms, which take over a week to warp, three table looms which also take a long time to thread the heddles and be ready to weave, so I come back to the Ashford knitters looms again and again for the satisfaction and creativity that these simple, sturdy looms offer.
Weaving with handspun yarn on the Ashford Knitter's Loom

 Sarah was in charge of warping the looms and chose a different random strip pattern for each panel.   I wove 3 panels on the 20 inch loom and Sarah wove 1 panel on the 12 inch loom.
The first two panels completed on the Ashford Knitters Loom 50cm model

Interlocking weft

Weaving on the 12 inch (30 cm) Ashford Knitters Loom

3 panels woven on the 20 inch (50 cm) Ashford Knitters Loom in Saori Free Weaving
The next step is to wash the fabric and ready it for folding, stitching and creating the one of kind, wearable art jacket for Sarah.

For part 2 of this project go here.
Part 3.

Joybilee Farm carries Ashford wheels, looms and sliver.  The Saori weaving books are available from Terri at Saltspring weaving.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sock Tutorial Part 4 -- The foot

So by now you should have knit the cuff, the leg, the heel flap, turned the heel and picked up and knit the gusset and you are ready to knit the foot, in the round.

If you need help with the the heel and the heel gusset refer to the three videos of the previous posts.

To knit the foot of the sock, you want to remember to knit the instep stitches in your pattern stitch -- which is 2 x 2 ribbing in this case. And the sole stitches (the other two needles) in stockinette (knit every stitch), for a smooth, hard wearing bottom.

Tip: When knitting the sole stitches you want to pull up tighter on your stitches to give a firm sole, that will resist wear. But on the instep stitches knit with your usual tenion to give a stretchy instep. The difference should be minimal but will make a long term difference in the comfort and longevity of your sock.

Knit in your pattern stitch/stockinette for the length of the foot less 2 inches. At which point you will begin toe decreases.

The next post will give you tips on decreasing for the toe. And then the final step, closing the toe with kitchener stitch.

Then I will discuss knitting socks with handspun yarn, and designing your own socks so keep checking back.

Completed socks from Opal Sock Yarn

Monday, March 14, 2011

Knitting socks -- working the heel gusset

Knitting socks -- Turning the Heel

Knitting the Heel Flap -- Video

Part 3 -- Opal Sock Tutorial/Knit Along -- The Heel

Here's the part of knitting the sock that changes it from a knitted tube to a sock -- The Heel. 

The heel is a 3 part construction that makes the sock a sock.  It begins by dividing the tube, that you've knit so far, in half.  Half the stitches are reserved for the "instep" or the top of the foot.  The other half are worked back and forth to create a heel flap, in the first part. 

The heel flap is an ingenius, reinforced square that takes up exactly half of your sock stitches and is knit for the same number of rows as the number of stitches in half a sock.  In our example the sock uses 64 stitches, so 32 stitches will be in your heel flap and 32 stitches will be reserved for your instep. 

Once the heel flap is knit, you will "turn the heel", another ingenious piece of knitting that creates a little pouch at the end of the heel flap to hold the bottom of your heel in the sock.

Then the third part of the heel is the gusset.  This involves picking up stitches along the sides of the heel flap and reincorportating your instep stitches to begin knitting in the round again.  By decreasing 2 stitches,every second row, a triangle is created on either side of the heel completing the heel construction and turning your tube into a sock.
Sock on the left has the finished heel flap, On the right you can see how the heel is formed and then turned and you can see the triangular gusset on the side of the heel flap.

(from the pattern) Heel:
Knit across 16 stitches, turn work and purl across 32 stitches. Place remaining 32 stitches
on spare needle or holder to work later for instep.
Heel flap:
Work back and forth on 32 heel stitches as follows:
Row 1: *Slip 1 purlwise with yarn in back, K1*
repeat from *
Row 2: Slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front, purl to
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until 32 rows have been
worked, there will be 16 chain selvedge stitches.

Turn Heel:
Row 1: knit across 18 stitches, ssk, k1, turn work
Row 2: Slip 1 purlwise, p5, p2T, p1, turn
Row 3: Slip 1 purlwise, knit to 1 stitch before gap,
ssk (1 stitch from each side of the gap), k1, turn
Row 4: Slip 1 purlwise, purl to 1 stitch before gap, p2T (1 stitch from each side of gap)
p1, turn.
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until all heel stitches have been worked, ending with a purl row and
ending p2T if there are not enough stitches to p2T, pl. 18 stitches remain on the heel

Heel gusset:
Knit across all heel stitches, and with the same dpn (needle 1), pick up and knit 17
stitches along the edge of the heel flap (16 chain stitches plus 1 stitch in the gap between
the heel flap and the instep stitches). With needle 2 work across the held instep stitches
in K2, P2 rib.
With needle 3 pick up 17 stitches (plus 1 stitch in the gap between the heel flap and the
instep stitches, and the 16 chain stitches on the other selvedge of the heel flap) and knit
across 8 heel stitches. Total stitches 84. Your round now begins in the centre of the

Tomorrow I'll direct you to some helpful videos that show you each of these three steps.  Master these 3 steps and socks will cease to be a mystery for you. 

How are your socks coming?  I've completed the socks that you see in the picture and was gratified that they were exactly the same.  That pair had a very wide pattern repeat and there were only 5 pattern repeats in the ball of yarn.  You can post pictures of you socks on the Joybilee Farm Facebook photo album "others".

I started a second pair that has a shorter pattern repeat and I've finished the first sock from that ball.  I just started knitting the second sock in that set and I didn't worry about matching the pattern on the second sock.  I'll take a picture once I start the heel flap. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Part 2 -- Opal Sock Tutorial/Knit Along

By now you have all mastered part 1 of the Opal Sock Knitting Tutorial and have cast on over two needles and spaced out the stitches over 3 needles, joined in a ring and started to knit in a k2, p2 rib.

Today, we continue knitting in the knit 2, purl 2 rib until we've made a tube about 12 inches long or to a place in the Opal sock yarn where you can see the beginning of the colour repeat emerging again. This is the place where we will continue in part 3 to "the heel".

If you haven't already done so you can download the pattern here.

Variation that isn't mentioned in the pattern:
You can knit a 2 x 2 ribbed cuff for 2 inches and then switch to stockinette (knit every stitch)The self pattern of the sock yarn is different in stockinette than in ribbed stitching. Stockinette is quicker to knit (maybe more boring).

The sock is more stretchy at the ribbing than it is in stockinette. The choice is yours. But you will want to make both socks the same so write down what you did with the first sock on the pattern so that you can make the second sock the same.

Visit our website to learn more about Joybilee Farm

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Cast on socks and knit cuff, Sock knitting tutorial

Homeschooling through HighSchool

Sarah, my youngest is in her last year of high school.  She has homeschooled from birth.  This year she is enrolled in two university courses, while she completes her grade 12 program.  She is not graduating with a dogwood diploma.  Does this mean she didn't graduate?  Not at all. 

In BC homeschooling through high school is a legal option and she will graduate as a homeschool student.

Sarah found pre calculus math very hard.  After struggling through it since September, we decided to drop it this week.  Her university program doesn't require it.  She does have grade 11 math. Dropping the class doesn't mean she failed it -- since we are homeschooling.  In the school system this would mean a fail.  I am proud of her that she attempted a course for 6 months that she found challenging.  Math has never been her favorite course.

On the other hand, she completed her grade 12 Biology course in January.  She likes biology.  It fits with her love of plants and nature.  Growing up on a farm made Biology and human anatomy much more sensible to her than logirythms and quadratic equations.

Yesterday we found out that Moody Bible Institute, Sarah's university, offers highschool juniors (grade 11) and seniors (grade 12) the option of taking distance ed university courses for credit while still in high school.  Sarah is enrolled in two of their courses but we didn't realize that it was an option in grade 11.  It means that a motivated student could begin their university studies at 15 and have their first sememster of university completed before they graduated from grade 12. 

Another interesting thing about Moody is that they accept CLEP test scores for credit.  What this means is that for some general studies courses like English Lit, Math, Biology, Intro to Psych and Developmental Psych, a student can study on their own, take the exam and receive credit for the body of knowledge, if they achieve a 50% on the exam.  This allows up to 21 credit hours of college credit to be achieved without the expense of tuition, if a student is motivated to self study -- something homeschoolers are used to.

Students that begin their university studies in their junior year of highschool and take the CLEP exams as well could graduate with a full year's university credit -- 30 credit hours -- at the end of their high school.  And once you have good grades on your university courses, they no longer look at your highschool studies.  You can always pick up your lacks as a mature student -- even in sciences -- for any program of study that you desire.

We have only looked into Moody, because Moody offers a degree in leadership by distance ed, which is what Sarah was interested in.  But other American universities may be similiar. 

CLEP exams are not an option in Canada.  They have to be taken at an American University.  Successful CLEP students report studying about a month before each exam.  Cost per exam is around $100 plus textbooks, so far less than the cost of the tuition for the same course.  Only American universities accept CLEP credits in leiu of course work.

For the curious -- tuition costs on the distance ed courses are $250 per credit hour, through Moody.  A semester of study is about 15 credit hours.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sock Tutorial Day 1 -- The cast on and knitting in the round

Today we begin the sock knitting tutorial.  If you are joining us indicate by clicking one of the boxes on the bottom of the page "interesting" "funny" or "cool".

We are using Opal 4 ply sock yarn and 3.5mm needles or the size you need to give you a gauge of  8 stitches per inch (2.5 cm) in stockinette, 10 rows per inch (2.5 cm.)  Joybilee Farm now carries Opal sock yarn in a variety of colourways. 

You can download the Joyilee Farm pattern here.

We are casting on over two needles to give a strethchy top.  You can use any cast on method that you are familiar with that will give you a stretchy cuff.  You don't want a binding cuff on a sock.

Once you have CO 64 stitches plus 1, you will move the stitches onto 3 dpn needles and join in a ring, being careful not to twist.  Try to get all the little stitch bumps on the inside of the needles, when they are joined in a triangle. It helps to hold it over a table for support, for this part.

Once you have joined in the round, knit 2, purl 2 around the ring.  You will have one stitch left over.  Slip this stitch from the 3rd needle onto the first needle and knit this stitch together with the first stitch of needle one.  This closes the gap.

Continue knitting in K2 P2 rib until ribbing measures 12 inches or until you are at one complete pattern repeat in your opal sock yarn.  (sock knitting tutorial continues on Thursday...)

You can post pictures of your socks in progress at the Joybilee Farm Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Free Sock Knitting in the Round tutorial/knit along begins Next Week

Advance-beginner Sock knitting tutorial/knit along begins next week, right here, on the Joybilee Farm blog.  There will be 10 sessions over 3 weeks.  Pick up your yarn and dpns over the weekend and join in.  We'll be using Opal self patterning sock yarn (4 ply) and 4 - 3.5mm dpns.
Your LYS should carry this.  I'll post the pattern.

Necessary skills: Cast on (co), knit, purl, k2T, P2T, SSK.  If you need help with these I'll post a glossary to help you along. 

If you can knit and purl and cast on by yourself you have the necessary skills to succeed in this project.  You will also need to set aside knitting time to complete two socks -- One in the first 3 weeks and the second one on your own, referring back to the tutorial sessions if you need a refresher.  Average time to complete your first pair of socks -- 15 to 20 hours.

As a blog tutorial, I will post the pattern and step by step pictures as we go.  You can post your pictures on the Joybilee Farm facebook page and ask your questions there or here.  If you haven't already joined the Joybilee Farm Facebook page you can do that here.

Session 1 begins on Tuesday March 8th, "Elastic Cast On in the round."

Want to know more about Joybilee Farm?
Joybilee Farm is an eco- Fibre Farm and Fiber Arts studio in the Kettle River Region of BC, Canada.  See our website to learn more.

Opal Socks for pleasure knitting

As a hand spinner who raises her own wool, mohair, and angora fiber, washes it, cards it, dyes it and spins it from scratch, one would think I would be immune to the beauty of machine spun, chemically dyed, commercial yarn.  But there is a simple pleasure in picking up a ball of beautifully dyed yarn and just starting to knit on a project that can be completed in a week or two.

We brought in an order of Opal self patterning sock yarn for the Joybilee Farm studio gift shop -- 10 balls of vibrant colour.  It was too tempting to just roll them into the brass display bucket, untouched.  I stroked one ball and somehow it ended up in my hands, casting itself on to some dpns.  How did that happen?

It must be the fever.  Its going around town.  Its an epidemic so bad that they are threatening to close the elementary school -- 40% of the students are off sick and most of the teachers and subs are sick as well.  So its natural that I would be feeling a little nauseated, achy and feverish at the same time that the box came from the post office.  In my weakened state you couldn't expect me to resist the bold colours and simplicity of a self patterning sock.  And the stitches just jumped on the needles while I was adjusting the blankets around myself, while lying on the couch, by the fire.

One sock done and the second sock on the needles.
And here's the sock (Friday night to Monday night for one sock) so far.  I discovered that there are 5 repeats in the pattern in a 100 gram ball.  This gives you some waste yarn to begin the pattern on the second sock at the same place as you started the first sock.  There are also a few inches of off colour yarn between the pattern repeats (3 stitches worth) so you have a warning that the pattern ends here.

One pattern repeat was enough for the cuff, and I began the heel flap when the second pattern repeat began, and then closed off the toe when the third pattern repeat was looming on the ball.  The sock fits a woman's medium, so one ball of opal sock yarn would make a pair of socks in any normal foot size.

One draw back in using Opal Sock yarn has always been the lack of patterns in English.  The label has a sock pattern for a sock knit flat from side to side. (right angles to the normal way a sock is knit in the round).  But the pattern is in German so one must be bilingual to use the pattern.  I am not.  So this necessitates designing a sock on the fly and a new pattern.

That new pattern will be coming in a few days, so stay tuned...