Sock Knitting Exploration – Version 2

My second project ….

Used FLK  (Fish Lip Kiss) pattern for sizing and heel.   I used Turkish Cast On and Magic Loop from the toe up approach. This pair was done on two circulars, and I did an inch on one sock then an inch on the other sock in order to avoid the dreaded SSS (single sock syndrome).  Still not quite ready for two at a time Magic Loop!  It took me about 15 hours of knitting for the pair which was dramatically better than for the 1st pair (>40 hours). I can only hope this trend will continue!

The yarn used for the  sock body was Rambler’s Way Handpaint Rambouillet DK (100% American raised wool and spinning) which is spun with a high twist.  The heels were done in a worsted 2ply 100% mohair yarn which was very slippery and hard to knit with to keep about the same gauge as the sock body.

I also tried “Feeding Ducks and Holding Hands” stitch pattern for the top of the sock body (available as a scarf pattern free on Ravelry). I converted it to a knit only version (it’s written as a purl version).  The knit version is initially slightly more difficult to do than as a purl version, but easy enough as long as the stitches are not made too tightly.  Loved this stitch pattern as it’s easy to do as well as remember (no need to keep checking the pattern!) and looks fantastic with this kind of yarn (relatively short color repeats).

Due to the size of the yarn they don’t fit in regular shoes but are fine in boots or slippers.

Now to test wear ability vs version 1!

 

Learnings:

100% mohair is slippery and more difficult to knit with than all wool.  Up to this point had only knit with my 75% mohair – 25% wool roving/ tops that had been handspun.

Next….Same pattern, but using superwash wool with 25% nylon ie-classic sock yarn. Already not happy with my choice – took 4 hours to convert the skein into a center pull ball. It’s also a very slippery yarn.  The superwash process removes the scales from the wool (so it won’t felt) which not surprisingly makes the yarn slippery vs regular wool.

Project info

Fish Lips Kiss Heel by Sox Therapist

US 4 – 3.5 mm

: Rambler’s Way Handpainted Rambouillet DK, = 600.0 yards (548.6 meters), 10.58 ounces – I used about half a skein;
: Sunglow;
: Discontinued Brand Name Yarn

Construction Details:

Toe up, each sock on it’s own circular working one then the other about an inch at a time

Turkish Cast on (4 stitches = 1″), wedge toe, increased (inserted a backwards yarn loop) 4 stitches/ row up to 24 stitches then increased every other row up to 40 stitches total

Foot and leg: Stockinette (on circulars so straight knitting)

Heel: 100% 2 ply mohair yarn, FLK pattern

Finish: 2 x 2 rib for an inch and a standard loose bind off

Socks Version 1
Socks Version 2
Socks Version 3

Commercial Cage Free Egg Production – Bigger Cage, Just As Crowded

This video promotes an engineering feat – the industrialization of cage free buildings for egg production.

https://cagefree.summitlivestock.com/

Even thinking about producing 1.1 billion eggs in only 10 layer houses in only 3 sites in the US is scary.   They never show how the building looks from the inside (ie-hen view) but it’s pretty clear from the other video stills/links provided at the end how it will be.  The “cage” is bigger and the amount of space provided is pretty much the same – way too small for a living animal.

People think they are doing a good thing by buying cage free eggs but big industry has figured a way to claim the tag phrase without allowing the hens to live like chickens.  “Free range” has similar issues although arguably somewhat better for the hens as they are only crammed wing to wing at night (vs 24 x 7).

Use your money to provide good lives for hens by buying your eggs from a local small farmer where the hens ARE cage free!

Dominique Hen Looking at Catnip

Late Winter on the Farm

It’s been a busy time for farm and wildlife activities over the last month.  The weather has been quite capricious as well.  I knew there would be payback for the lovely warm February this year!

Chicken Traumas….

On President’s day Regina (Salmon Favorelle hen 3 years old )

Regina - Favorelle Hen

Regina – Favorelle Hen

was pecked on the head so severely by Coq Au Vin (Easter Egger rooster 1 year old)

Coq Au Vin – Photo courtesy of

that the skull was visible.  She made a full recovery in about 2 weeks which is yet another testament to their healing abilities and tolerance for pain (good old fashion toughness and strong will to live!).

The rooster had been picking on some of the older hens, just warning them away from his favorites, but not anything serious up to this point.  My experience is that roosters that lives with a smaller group of hens will prefer them if they are then all released into a larger group.  This rooster had been raised with his “sisters” until about 8 weeks when he began to be too aggressive and he was moved to a pastured area with 1 year old hens.  After initial dissatisfaction (had to clip his wings to keep him in their area!), he settled in, got on with them very well and they loved him too.    I’d never had a rooster attack a hen and cause such a significant wound.  I put him in his own area and it was quickly clear that he’d been terrorizing some others as well because they stopped hiding within a few days.  I’d thought it was hen disagreements causing the slight dissension in the main group.

Since Coq Qu Vin is very good with people I decided to re-home him thinking that starting off with a new flock he wouldn’t have any prejudices.  I found a nice home for him and thought things were going well as there was no word for almost 3 weeks but alas he decided he did not like Buff Orpington hens either and he came home again.  He’s in his own pen with a view of the ladies while I decide my next approach.  I’m thinking of letting him run loose outside the chicken yard and roost in the greenhouse overnight.

Around the same time one of my Australorp hens broke a thigh bone completely (snapped in half) in two separate spots – one in the center of the bone, one just below the pelvis joint.  No idea what happened but she was suffering greatly although she valiantly moved around using a wing to support herself on the bad leg side.  She did not make it, the injury was just too severe.  Most animals have appetite loss if they are in severe pain which causes them to go down, not the injury itself.

Also a Dominique hen (KFC – so named because she loves “fast food” aka corn) tore a growth off her leg which bled for a long time despite my attempts to stop the bleeding.  After a week in the greenhouse with a bandage on her leg she was doing so well that I  returned her to the geriatric hen pasture to complete her recovery.

Goat Issues…

The (presumably benign) tumor on James’s (12 year old Angora goat) throat finally got to a critical stage.  He’s had it for over a year and I had a vet look at it soon after I first noticed it.  The opinion was that it was inoperable because of the location.  So…had not been looking forward to what was going to happen with him over time.   The tumor had grown quite large and reached the point where his skin couldn’t stretch any more, bursting open so that he was draining fluids from the opening continually.

Since fly season was approaching and he was clearly not feeling  good I decided to have the vet try to remove the tumor, knowing that there was a good chance he might not make it through the surgery.  A big snowstorm was expected (>2″ predicted) and the vet wanted to do it the day of the storm as all his other patients had cancelled and he could focus on the difficult procedure.  So… James went to the Vet the night before the storm and while my entire day was spent shoveling James surprised all of us by surviving the surgery in great shape.

He spent 5 days in the garage at night and in a stall in the barn during the days so he could be easily monitored in a sheltered, more sterile area.  He has progressed nicely and is happily re-united with his brother out in his regular pasture.  I still have to borrow the staple remover from the vet and take all the staples out but hope to do this early next week. His voice is normal again but he’s still coughing and choking more than normal.  Hopefully that will slowly improve as all the muscles in his neck and throat heal.

Of course he had to give me a good scare the other night.  I went out to do the evening feeding and couldn’t find him.  Finally I see him on the ground at the far end of a remote pasture.  I call to him and there is not motion so I start running and I can’t tell he’s alive until I touch him.  Then he shifts his eyes to look at me pleadingly but patiently.  He had managed to get tangled up in the electric net fence intended to keep the boys from knocking heads with the girls through the main fence.  There was no electricity involved, it was just being used as a visual and soft physical barrier.  He was perfectly fine after I got all the wires off his horns and front legs although he was grinding his teeth (normally a sign of pain) and for a bit I thought the plastic wires had sawed into his skull at the base of the horns.  Thankfully the wires were  only caught on an imperfection on his horn.   Needless to say this means they won’t be using that pasture again until I can work out a better barrier.  Unfortunate as it has better grass than their “home” pasture and they had been using that pasture with that fencing for months now without issue!

Bunny Mishaps….

At the end of March a baby bunny (eyes still closed) was found on the main path into the chicken yard with one eye pecked partially open and a large wound on it’s back.  Since the bunny was very cold it was brought into the house to be re-warmed.  There was no sight of a nest even after repeated attempts to locate one so  the bunny stayed in the house while I put a game camera up over night to locate the nest.

I was able to use the game camera pictures to find the bunny nest after a few tries.  There were two more rabbits in the nest also with pretty full coats and eyes closed, ears down (thus <a week old).  They were in the compost pile which was pretty wet due to the recent rain and full of goat poop and smelly hay as this is where the mess from the barn ends up.  I imagine this was the only place the mother could dig since the ground was snow covered from the 14 inch snow we received the week prior and the lack of any real warmup to significantly melt the snow since then.  It has been the second incidence of a 60 degree day followed by a significant snowfall this year.

It was safe in that it was a fenced area with electric lines around it but not safe for baby bunnies wriggling out of their nest and attracting chickens looking for snacks.  The short version of events is that after several attempts to reinforce and better water proof the nest, the mother wasn’t able to find them (even though it was in the spot she had put them in) and the injured one as well as another kept escaping from the nest and striking out for parts unknown. Since they were escaping through the fence around the compost pile there was no way to ensure their safety during the day (chickens) nor a way to keep them safe from Mother Nature at night in between feedings by their mother IF she could find them.

Unfortunately rabbits are very difficult for people to raise.  They require a formula that is very high in fat and protein (not even goat’s milk at 43% fat is sufficient, cow’s whole milk is 5%) plus the killer issue is they must eat a bit of their mother’s night time poop preferably every day.   Yes, there are 2 kinds of rabbit poop – dry pellets and a smelly, gooey kind they do at night.  Fresh poop is needed in order to inoculate their intestines with the proper bacteria to digest the fiber in greens (grass, etc.).  Without rabbit poop in their diet they will quickly die once they start eating greens. So if you don’t own a rabbit or know someone nearby with a healthy domestic rabbit and are not willing to spend $60 for the proper formula, orphaned baby rabbits are history.  I had been keeping the injured bunny going on goat’s milk since that was the highest fat and protein milk I could easily find and had been hoping to get the orphan back into it’s nest ASAP.  Keeping the bunny warm and avoiding dehydration were my main goals.

Once I decided I couldn’t keep any of them in their nest, I started looking for a wildlife rehabilitator that handles rabbits.  The NJ Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators provides a list of NJ state licensed rehabilitators on their website. Luckily Woodlands Wildlife Refuge is located fairly close to the farm and they rehabilitate rabbits.   I talked to them and they agreed the situation here at the farm could not be remedied so I dropped the bunnies off for them to raise.  The bunnies opened their eyes the evening before I dropped them off and they weighed 1.8 (the injured one) to 2.1 ounces!  Their eyes typically open at about 7 days. The injured bunny had healed very well and the injured eye completely opened a day before the other eye.  It might end being blind in the eye that got pecked, too early to tell but it looked clean and healthy at the time I dropped the bunnies off at the rehabilitators.

If you are interested in knowing more about raising orphaned rabbits and general information on their unique needs and growth benchmarks there is an excellent website created by Ron Hines (a vet)  who covers health topics on both domestic pets and common wildlife rescue info.  The injured bunny really touched my heart because it had such a strong will to live and was able to accommodate all the changes in it’s short life: learning to drink from a syringe and have it’s butt rubbed with a q tip (to encourage it to go) vs the way mom did it, a strange place with strange smells/ sounds and all while blind and in pain.  Maybe the bunny thought mom had made a very poor choice of nest location and was determined to improve it’s life even at 4 days of age!

Duck Sightings on the Pond…

A pair of Buffleheads had been on the pond for months, with an occasional extra male visiting from time to time.  When I went to clean out the pond overflow drain the male did a fly by quite near me several times making me think they might be nesting nearby.  They are cavity nesters using old Flicker or Red Bellied Woodpecker nests of which there are lots to choose from in the trees on the east side of the pond.  However, they disappeared shortly after that and haven’t been seen since Feb.

More recently a group of Ring Tailed ducks were out diving on the pond.  Their is also a pair of Mallard’s that have been here all winter.  The female has a bum leg which may be why they haven’t moved on.

 

Other (Human) Craziness…

When I bought the farm in 1997 there was a large dish antenna located near the side of the house.  I managed to remove the dish and find someone who wanted it not too long often moving in but after numerous attempts to use the metal support pole for “something” I realized it had to go.  Another example of how much things have changed in 20 years!

Last year I started digging around the concrete footings to scope the extent of the project. Needless to say I ran out of time as I was trying to put up a new fence around the vegetable garden and that had to take priority.  Since the weather in Feb, was so lovely, I returned to the task.  After I got down to over three feet, it finally dawned on me that even if I could get it completely uncovered there is no way I would be able to get it out of the hole and moved somewhere, not to mention where/how to get rid of it.  I tried whacking the concrete with a sledge hammer for awhile and concluded this approach would work but I’d be nearly 80 years old before I’d finished.  On to the next plan.

I decided to dig a trench, push it over horizontally and then cover it with dirt.  Being buried under three foot of dirt would get it out of the way and wouldn’t get in the way of planting things over it. This plan also hit a snag as it turned out that there were two reinforcing rods that extended well past the bottom of the concrete foundation!   After several attempts at pushing the concrete and pole over it had bent the metal rods enough that I could hacksaw through them.  Success at last as the foundation and pole slowly bent over and into it’s trench grave!  It only took about 45 hours of hand shoveling and 30 minutes sawing to see this amazing sight!  The trench has been refilled, three blueberry bushes are planted on top and one end has sprouted grass.  Definitely a project only a crazy person would have done themselves by hand!

 

On to snowblower and lawn tractor repairs!

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Shetland Wool Week 2017 Free Pattern Released

Shetland Wool Week 2017 Hat Knitting Pattern

Free Knitting Pattern

The official 2017 Shetland Wool Week ‘Bousta Beanie’ knitting pattern has been exclusively designed by Wool Week Patron Gudrun Johnston.

Knit the hat in any of the suggested colour variations, or come up with your own colour scheme, and wear it to Shetland Wool Week 2017 – identify your fellow Wool Weekers and compare hats at the opening ceremony!

To receive the pattern all you need to do is complete the form (at link below), and remember to share your pictures using #boustabeanie or #shetlandwoolweek2017, we can’t wait to see your creations.

Ravelry Source = https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bousta-beanie

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If Alicia Silverstone was naked and telling you all wool clothing was bad, would you believe her?

Not I….as an animal lover and long time sheep and goat owner I can say with confidence that fiber animals need to be shorn for their health and it does not have to be a frightening experience.  They don’t like having their feet trimmed either but if left untrimmed they would go lame.  Nature is far more cruel than a caring owner, and every second of life is not completely idyllic for any of us.

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If Alicia Silverstone was naked and telling you all wool clothing was bad, would you believe her?

 

PETA, the animal rights organization, has a reputation for employing the oldest marketing trick in the book: selling their message with sex.

The latest example? Their campaign to raise awareness of animal abuse in the wool industry, which features a poster of Alicia Silverstone walking naked into a meadow, her head turned over her shoulder, looking back at you with seductive, pleading eyes. The caption reads, “I’d rather go naked than wear wool.”

Pamela Anderson, the singer Pink, and a handful of other celebrities have also bared all for the cause.

The PETA creed is that “animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.” In other words, keeping livestock for purposes of human consumption, whether in a factory-farming setting or a small organic farm, is ethically reprehensible. PETA is well known for popularizing veganism and exposing animal rights abuses around the world. But livestock farmers, unsurprisingly, have long despised their shock and awe tactics, which have a tendency to paint all farmers as evil animal abusers.

PETA’s current sheep campaign—typically broadcast with the tagline, “there is no such thing as humane wool”—was launched in 2014 after the organization released footage of sheep being cut, manhandled, and mangled at wool-shearing operations in the US and Australia. The effort got major press coverage around the world, and led to the prosecution of several of the Australian shearers who were depicted in the footage on animal abuse charges. Now that Alicia Silverstone has put her skin in the game (pun intended), PETA’s wool campaign is back in the media once again.

Wool producers, along with a number of large agriculture organizations, have fought back. In Australia, the Victoria Farming Federation filed a formal complaint when a locally popular vegan musician was featured in PETA ads holding a bloodied lamb carcass with the caption, “here’s the rest of your wool coat.” It turned out the carcass was made of Styrofoam. PETA admitted to using a prop, but maintains that it was a realistic illustration of the horrors of shearing.

A skilled shearer needs just two minutes per sheep, and at worst, leaves a scrape or two no more gory than minor shaving cut. As far as viewing the sheep’s resistance to the practice as an indicator of cruelty, she suggests one might consider the challenges of bathing an uncooperative child or dog.

Animal abuse is far too common an occurrence with pets kept by demented individuals everywhere. And as PETA’s undercover sheep investigation clearly shows, along with many others that have preceded it, some abusive individuals (unfortunately) make their living handling livestock on farms throughout the world. The question is, is abuse the norm? Are examples of abuse at a few sheep ranches enough to indict an entire industry?

We thought it would be worth asking a wool producer who claims to raise their sheep in a sustainable, humane manner how their practices differ from what PETA ascribes to all wool producers. Becky Weed, owner of Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company in southwestern Montana, was a little reluctant to take the call from Modern Farmer, as she’s been caught in the crosshairs of the animal cruelty debate before and has better things to do than argue with activists about whether or not raising sheep is inherently evil.

“I am wary of PETA,” says Weed, right off the bat. “I don’t think it’s a particularly rational organization…I think animal welfare is important, but I don’t believe that raising sheep is by definition cruel.”

Her harsh words stem from PETA’s unwillingness to acknowledge the many farmers who make humane animal care a top priority, throwing animal-loving ranchers like Weed under the bus as they expose the horrors of the industrial livestock industry.

Weed, who also operates an artisanal-scale solar-powered wool processing facility on her property, says she would like to think that PETA would see folks like her as an ally. Her farm is certified organic, she goes above and beyond the most stringent animal welfare standards, and her sheep have free range on pristine Montana prairie. With 160 acres for her 100 or so ewes, Weed’s sheep are stocked at an extremely low density that’s good for the animals and good for the land. She says PETA would have the support of a lot more farmers if they didn’t paint them all the same way.

“There are things that happen in industrial farming that are outrageously indefensible,” says Weed. “Like cramming poultry in tiny cages, putting cattle in feedlots where they are standing in their own manure up to their knees, and feeding ruminants a diet heavy in grains when they have evolved to live on grass. I’m the last person who will defend them. But practices like shearing sheep just pale by comparison. I wish they would focus their efforts where the really serious problems are.”

PETA is correct, says Weed, in noting that sheep often resist being shorn and must be restrained. It’s also true that minor cuts and nicks are part and parcel to shearing, though Weed says the savage shearing shown in the PETA videos, where some sheep appear to have massive wounds with loose, bloodied flaps of skins visible, are signs of either a demented, or untrained and extremely careless, shearer.

A skilled shearer, she says, needs just two minutes per sheep, and at worst, leaves a scrape or two no more gory than minor shaving cut. As far as viewing the sheep’s resistance to the practice as an indicator of cruelty, she suggests one might consider the challenges of bathing an uncooperative child or dog. They don’t love it, but it’s one of those necessary inconveniences.

Wild sheep naturally shed their thick winter coat in spring, but domesticated sheep have been bred over millennia to have an unnaturally thick coat, which, as we’ve reported before, never stops growing. Older sheep become accustomed to the routine and put up little or no resistance. Perhaps they realize it’s for the best: after several years without shearing, the wool becomes suffocatingly hot and can restrict the sheep’s movement.

Excess wool also predisposes sheep to infections and parasites, which is why the American Society of Animal Science responded to PETA’s sheep campaign with one of their own. The tagline read: “There is no such thing as humane wool when it is left on the sheep.”

Weed says “our sheep act super happy and animated after they get shorn…they seem happy to get rid of their wool. Occasionally there may be some cuts, but I’d wager I cut and bruise and bleed more often myself working on the ranch than my sheep do when they’re shorn. I think it’s one of the least cruel things that happens to animals in agriculture.”

We invited PETA to respond to Weed’s assertion that shearing, when done right, is benign. We also inquired whether they agreed that there is typically a big difference in the treatment of animals at industrial livestock operations versus small-scale producers. We sent them a series of questions to this effect to which they replied only with the following statement:

“Sheep are prey animals, so unless they’re left alone, they’re terrified. The size of the farm doesn’t matter. Even on small farms, they’re often herded with vehicles or dogs, forced into a shearing shed, and pinned down and sheared. Even the most careful shearer often cuts these struggling, panicked, and stressed animals. The only way to ensure that no sheep has suffered for our clothing is to shop vegan.”

Becky Weed would certainly contend that there are indeed humane sources of wool clothing available. She’s one of 44 humane wool producers in North America certified by Animal Welfare Approved. And there is a new wool-specific welfare certification on the humane livestock scene, which is called the Responsible Wool Standard. They just certified their first producers this year: two in Australia, one in Uruguay, and one in Oregon.

Pushed by major clothing brands, such as Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and H & M, RWS is geared for the large-scale producers that supply the vast majority of the world’s wool supply, and came about in part due to the negative publicity generated by the PETA exposé.

So even if the group’s point of view is a little, shall we say, un-nuanced, perhaps PETA is still giving a needed boost to the ethical livestock movement anyways by helping to convince the world’s largest livestock operations that consumers actually do expect them to provide the same level of care for their animals as is often found on the smallest of family farms.

 

Source: https://modernfarmer.com/2017/01/alicia-silverstone-naked-telling-wool-clothing-bad-believe/

 

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Gene-edited chickens to help preserve rare breeds

Hens that do not produce their own chicks have been developed for use as surrogates to lay eggs from rare breeds.  The advance – using gene-editing techniques – could help to boost breeding of endangered birds, as well as improving production of commercial hens, researchers say.

DNA deletion

A team led by the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute used a genetic tool called TALEN to delete a section of chicken DNA.

They targeted part of a gene called DDX4, which is crucial for bird fertility.

Infertile

Hens with the genetic modification were unable to produce eggs but were otherwise healthy, the team found.  DDX4 plays an essential role in the generation of specialised cells – called primordial germ cells – which give rise to eggs.

Surrogate hens

Researchers say that primordial germ cells from other bird breeds could be implanted into eggs carrying the gene edited birds.  The hens would then grow up to produce eggs containing all of the genetic information from the other breeds.

These chickens are a first step in saving and protecting rare poultry breeds from loss in order to preserve future biodiversity of our poultry from both economic and climate stresses.

Dr Mike McGrew, The Roslin Institute

First in Europe

The surrogate chickens are the first gene-edited birds to be produced in Europe. Scientists from the US biotechnology company Recombinetics also worked on the project.

The study is published in the journal Development and was funded by strategic investment from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Related links

Journal article

Source: https://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2017/gene-edited-chickens-to-help-preserve-rare-breeds

2016 in Pictures

Gallery

Wet Snowstorm

Ozzie Sleeping on Washed Shetland Fleece

Jasper on Washed Shetland Fleece

Fuzzy First Day Found (~4 days old)

Fuzzy Taking a Bath

Fuzzy After Taking a Bath

Fuzzy After Taking a Bath

Fuzzy talking to Andrea

Soaking Wet Baby Robin Day of Fledging

Geese on Shed Roof

Twin Fawns in Buddy’s Pasture

Jasper Supervising Baby Chicks

Jasper Supervising Baby Chicks

Goldfinch Family Learning to Eat Sunflowers

Goldfinch Family on Sunflowers

Goldfinch Family on Sunflowers

Goldfinch Family on Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Dominique Hen in Catnip

Coq Au Vin – Ameraucana Rooster (Photo Courtesy Alice Su)

Blue Heron on Rowboat

Cardinal Flower

Monarch Butterfly

Great Spangled Fritillaria

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Hummingbird Moth on Lilac Monarda

Dragonfly at Pond

Ingrid and Starlight (Photo Courtesy Alice Su)

Jessie, James and Rembaldi (Photo Courtesy Alice Su)

TyDye in Deep Snow Path

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Sock Knitting Exploration

I’ve decided to do a project exploring fiber content and construction techniques for socks.  At the rate I knit it could be a lifetime project!

For my first project ….

Used FLK  (Fish Lip Kiss) pattern for sizing and heel. Since it’s my first time using this pattern I used plain knitting for the body of the sock.  This is only the second pair of socks I’ve ever knitted.  I want to work up to Magic Loop for both socks at one time but this pair was done on two circulars, and I did an inch on one sock then an inch on the other sock in order to avoid the dreaded SSS (single sock syndrome).  It worked!

This variation used Wooly Yarn (nylon wool blend, see Halycon yarn for example) held doubled with my yarn in the heel, and the next one will use 100% mohair for the heel.   The yarn used was Rambler’s Way Handpaint Rambouillet DK (100% American wool and spinning) which is spun with a high twist.  Loved the yarn!  It is super springy and knits soooo easily.  I had to watch out for splitting the yarn (my knitting Achilles heel) and accidentally creating yarn overs when increasing.

I used Turkish Cast On (my 1st time – love it!) and kept each sock separate (on it’s own set of circulars).   The Woolly Yarn used for the heels was hard to use as it kept sticking to my fingers and I split the yarn frequently – luckily I didn’t have to do any frogging!.  It took about 40 hours of knitting for the pair.

They fit fairly well initially but stretched lengthwise while wearing.  Due to the size of the yarn they don’t fit in regular shoes but are fine in boots or slippers.  I was surprised to find I did not like the feel of the purl bumps on my feet so am wearing them inside out with the knit side facing in.  So far they are holding up well.

 

 

Learnings:

High twist is needed for 100% wool yarn to wear well, particularly low micron wools such as merino, rambouillet, cormo, etc.  I use 25-50% mohair in all my own yarn blends to ensure good wear performance.  Size (weight) of yarn impacts which shoes the socks will fit into. Soft springy 100% yarn will stretch significantly so this needs to be taken into account for sizing.

Next….Same pattern, same wool, two at a time (TAAT), 100% mohair heels – thinking about a stitch pattern for foot and leg.  See Sock Knitting Exploration Version 2.

Project info

Fish Lips Kiss Heel by Sox Therapist

US 4 – 3.5 mm

: Rambler’s Way Handpainted Rambouillet DK, = 600.0 yards (548.6 meters), 10.58 ounces – I used half a skein;   : Sunglow;: Discontinued Brand Name Yarn

Construction Details:

Toe up, each sock on it’s own circular working one then the other about an inch at a time

Turkish Cast on (4 stitches = 8), wedge toe, increased (inserted a backwards yarn loop) 4 stitches/ row up to 24 stitches then increased every other row up to 40 stitches total

Foot and leg: Stockinette (on circulars so straight knitting)

Heel: Carried Wooly Yarn with Rambouillet yarn

Finish: 2 x 2 rib for an inch and standard loose bind off

Socks Version 1
Socks Version 2
Socks Version 3

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Maine in Short Rug

I was commissioned to hook a 2′ by 3′ rug for the Short Family in Maine as a Christmas gift.  I used my homespun and millspun hand dyed yarns, all of which are wool/ mohair blends  as much as possible but due to the short timeline for producing this rug I also used purchased yarns (details).  Even so I had to spin an extra 2 skeins of Starry Nights yarn for the night sky…can’t imagine how long it would have taken to dye and spin all the yarn colors needed for this size rug!  The backing is 100% cotton 13×13 epi Monk’s Cloth.

The design was created based on royalty free clipart and photos, then enlarged using Ronyasoft Poster Printer.  The Short family lives on a lake (or pond as they are called in Maine) which has loons and they often have bear, coyote and moose visitors near the house.  Additionally one of the family members worked at a state fishery for many years raising rainbow trout.  The rug was designed as a unique reflection of the Short Family.

Maine in Short Rug Back Before Finishing

Back of Rug Before Finishing

 

 

Maine in Short Rug Front Before Finishing

Front of Rug Before Finishing

Moose Side, Back of Rug Before Finishing

 

 

Center Front of Rug Before Finishing

Bear Side of Rug Before Finishing

 Learnings

Even at this large scale details such as eyes and color markings on the loon did not show as well as I would have liked but the use of finer yarns than in other parts of the rug helped.  The paw prints took a long time because of the many color changes needed and because I used finer yarn to get better detail.  For the coyote I used a tweed (white and grey) yarn to better mimic the color variations in their natural coats.

Working the lines of color around the animal outlines is an area I will work to improve on future projects.  I found it easier to get the shapes to hold true if I hooked the objects then worked the colors directly around them while holding back the yarn that formed the outside of the object from underneath.  Horizontal lines of varying color produced a nice impression of moving water.

Yarns Used

Info on the yarns used is given below.  The picture links to the full description and creation details for the yarn where available.

Colorway: Starry Nights roving

Weight: Sport (12 wpi) 2ply Handspun

Fiber Content: 41% DWF Mohair, 59% Shetland wool

Used For: Night sky

Starry Nights Roving

Colorway: Coreopsis

Weight: Sport (12 wpi)

Fiber Content: 50% DWF Mohair – 50% Shetland wool, hand painted (dyed) after mill spinning

Used For: moon, stars, shooting star

Coreopsis Yarn

Colorway: Aquatics

Weight: Sport (12 wpi)

Fiber Content: 50% DWF Mohair 50% Shetland wool

Used For: water and forest

Colorway: Forest Dreams

Weight: Sport (12 wpi)

Fiber Content: 50% mohair 50% shetland wool

Used For: forest and ground

Forest Dreams

Colorway: Green With Envy

Weight: Sport (12 wpi)

Fiber Content: 50% DWF Mohair 50% Shetland wool

Used For: forest and ground

Green With Envy

Colorway: Sky Blue

Weight: Sport (12 wpi)

Fiber Content: 50% DWF Mohair 50% Shetland wool

Used For: water
Sky Blue Millspun Yarn

Sky Blue

Colorway: Dark Grey

Weight: DK 2Ply Millspun

Fiber Content: 68% DWF Mohair 32% Shetland, Blue Faced Leicester Wool

Used For: edging

Yarn Dark Grey DK 2Ply Millspun 68% Mohair 32% Shetland, Blue Faced Leciester Wool - By the Pound

Colorway: White

Weight: Sport (12 wpi) 2 Ply Millspun

Fiber Content: 50% DWF Mohair 50% Shetland wool

 

Used For: loon

Colorway: Tan

Weight:Worsted (9 wpi)
Fiber Contet: 50% DWF Mohair 50% Shetland wool

Used For: moose antlers, bear muzzle

Weight: Sport (12 wpi) 2 Ply Millspun

Colorway: White Grey Tweed

Fiber Content: 68% DWF Mohair 32% Shetland Wool

Used For: coyote

Yarn Tan White Tweed 2Ply Sport

Colorway: Rosado Pink

Used For: Rainbow Trout

Colorway: Aztec Turquoise

Used For: water

Colorway:205 M Grassy Knoll

Used For: forest and ground

Colorway:Forest Shadows

Used For: forest and ground

Colorway: Midnight Green

Used For: forest and ground

Colorway: Turkish olive

Used For: forest and ground

Colorway: 114 Storm

Used For: body of moose and bear

Colorway:Burnt Sienna

Used For: eyes

Saco River Dyeworks (Maine) 6ply rug yarn

Weight: Worsted (9 wpi)

Colorway: Black

Used For: Paw prints, edging around animals, loon, canoe

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Gift Idea

How about a hand made yarn bowl filled with a skein of luxury farm fresh yarn?  Take a look at these beautiful combinations for inspiration…

For those who like colors….

 

and those who like natural colors….

Skeins can be wound into center pull balls for knitting or rug hooking convenience at no charge, just ask!

Wendy Kastan’s yarn bowls can be found on her website WendyClay.com She also makes beautiful buttons.

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