Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

19. August 2010 09:50
by Jobo
2 Comments

A little Bit Husky...

19. August 2010 09:50 by Jobo | 2 Comments

While out doing one of my spinning wheel demonstrations last week... I was approached by a gentleman and his wife about potentially spinning up some custom yarn for them - from the combings of undercoat from their dog - a beautiful Alaskan Malamute!  The eventual goal would be to have some mittens and a hat made from the coat of their furry friend.

I had been a bit skeptical at first... knowing that some breeds of dog that have lovely fur on the animal, but spinning the coat from clippings or combings in some cases can make a horrible itchy yarn.  In the case of this breed though, their undercoat is so soft and downy, it blends well with wools and actually makes a fuzzy yarn that is almost like an angora blend.  I had the opportunity to look at and touch some Husky Blend yarns knit up into hats up at Belfast Mini Mills the last few times I visited, so I had a feeling that this yarn would work out just fine.

After some internet searches, and a some helpful pointers from Straw (a lady who posts regularly on some of the Chiengora Boards over on Ravelry) I decided that the easiest to prep the fiber would be to blend it with some wool - to help it have more memory and elasticity than just dog fur alone.  I have a nice stash of both Merino and Shetland wools, but I decided on the Merino because I felt that it was a little closer in staple length to the 1-2 inch undercoat, so maybe it would blend better.

Straw had suggested that somewhere between a 70/30 dog/wool blend and a 50/50 one would be appropriate... so for simplicity's sake, I chose to make a 50/50 blend... and went rummaging through the packing boxes for my little wool scale.  The scale doesn't measure as small of increments as I would have liked for this job... the undercoat is very light and airy, and surprisingly free of guard hairs and dirt. These folks must really love their pup, I'd say he is very well cared for ;)

My Ashford Hand Carders seemed to hold 4g of fiber quite nicely! (2g of each creamy white merino and downy grey undercoat)  I alternated adding the fibers to the carders to ease the blending, and carded lightly to get a nice homogeneous mix.  The resulting Rolags were light, soft, and a lovely dove grey heathered shade. 

husky wool blend carded basket

husky wool blend carded - gratuitous closeup!

I carded up around 1.5 ounces as a starting sample which filled a good sized basket.  The fiber was so light I worried it would float out of the basket while I tried to capture a decent photo... it was windy!

I have heard that dog fur, actually pet fur of any kind, is a lot warmer than wool on it's own, so I decided that a dk or sport weight yarn would probably be the best weight to strive for... that way the finished mittens and hat would be thin and comfortable for the wearer.  (I'm guessing a bulky weight yarn would have been way too warm, and then the items wouldn't get as much wear)

I actually only spun up around 0.6 ounces... dk/sport 3-ply as a navajo 3 ply.  By that point I had a good feel for what the yarn would be like.

 

Husky yarn miniskein

This:  is the resulting miniskein.  I did not measure the yardage or WPI on this one... but I will before I choose the garment patterns.

Even after only a little "thwacking" the yarn had already begun to show a nice amount of fuzzing and halo.  When I was picking through the husky fiber, I was worried that I might not have picked out enough of the guard hairs.  Obviously I pulled out any of the long bristly obtrusive ones, but there had been some finer ones.  I tried to take most of them out, but I feared that the ones I missed would result in a scratchy sample.  I guess they weren't coarse enough to make any problems, because the skein is quite soft.

I would describe it as being a little bit thinner than Patons Classic Wool, but about the same bounciness and just a little softer.  I think the halo accounts for that part. I always found the classic wool to be a little bit itchy for close to the skin garments like hats. (make my forehead itch a bit)

 

husky yarn closeup Closeup!

After spinning, washing with a little shampoo to remove any traces of dogginess, and then fulling... I left the yarn to dry overnight.  It was hard to wait... this stuff takes a fair bit of time to dry!  Maybe that's the ambient humidity's fault though... not the yarns!

swatches all 3 

The next step of course... was to knit some swatches to see what the yarn will *feel* like in a knitted state.  The yarn fluffed up a pleasing amount during the knitting process and has just the right amount of halo I think - fuzzy but not completely obscuring the stitch definition.  I tried a swatch of plain stockinette, a slightly lacy diagonal pattern, and a little 2 stitch cable... just to see how it stands up to each style of knitting.  Sometime this weekend, I hope to visit with the customers again and see what they think of the yarn.  If they are happy (and I bet they will be !!)  we can start a design session to choose the details for the final garments :)

** I also have a bit of dark brown fiber saved from the undercoat too... it's a pretty darker brownish grey, and there were only a few bits in the odd clump of fur!  I've been picking it out and saving it to card with some natural black merino which is a similar color and hopefully will use it for some sort of accent on the finished product... maybe a little sewn paw print somewhere, or a cuff accent or something :) **

More to come on this one... and hopefully I'll be able to add a pic of the Dog too :)

29. December 2009 22:32
by Jobo
2 Comments

The Naughty Reindeer Strikes again

29. December 2009 22:32 by Jobo | 2 Comments

Rudolph?  forget reindeer games, he's been naughty this year? really really naughty?  definetly not PG-13 Rating either!

Some time ago, I spotted the "fornicating reindeer" chart on Ravelry, and I knew it would be perfect to make a not-so-normal gift for my Brother-in-law Ian. 

To give you some background? a few years ago for Christmas I knit him a pair of custom Norwegian Moose Mittens.  They were beautiful, oversized for man sized hands, with traditional patterns, and a nice Big Moose on the backs of the hands.  The youngest brother, who was around 11 at the time helped me to pick out the yarn? so the color was, errrr, a little less appropriate than one would have chosen for a 6 foot something Man - Fuschia Pink and Black.  There were lots of giggles on Christmas Morning when he opened them in front of the family.

Despite the Color Mismatch, he actually wore them!  I didn't know it at the time, but his buddies over in Deer Lake, Newfoundland, actually call him "Moose" as a nickname.  Apparently he got teased a bit? but if you knew Ian, you'd know? you don't really argue with a guy who is his size :)

So this year, I thought I would make him another knitted Moose item? though perhaps in a more color appropriate for a Gentleman of his stature ;)  The pattern however is MUCH less appropriate.  This little chart has been turned into everything from Mittens, to Hats and Scarves? each one more charming than the last.  I decided on the hat just because I knew I could finish that in a reasonable amount of time, and it could be finished with just one ball of each color.  Last time with the mittens I almost ran out of yarn? dude has XL hands

Enter:  Fornicating Deer Chart

I'm no ungulate expert? but to me, it seems that the chart could be reindeer or moose, so I think it works out okay?

Here's Ian sporting his new Chapeau:

 Humping Hat

I was impressed at how well received the whole thing was... there were lots of laughs and giggles, especially from my Father-in-law who laughed until he had tears rolling down both cheeks!  Apparently the design doesn't catch your eye right away, so isn't that noticeably naughty, but once you figure it out, it's quite funny.  I'm waiting to hear the Deer Lake Newfoundland reviews.  You never know I might be commissionned to make a few more?

Hope you all had a Merry ChristMOOSE!

18. December 2009 15:09
by Jobo
1 Comments

Divine Chapeau

18. December 2009 15:09 by Jobo | 1 Comments

The hunt for fast, efficient, well-received Christmas projects is on!  I tried my best this year to work on homemade gifts for my family members and friends, but seriously folks ? there is only a week left before Christmas! (If you weren?t aware, I?m so sorry to break the news)

After some time spent procrastinating, then panicking, then searching for patterns, I found this:

Divine Hat by Rheatheylia

hatforweb

Originally, I thought I might *knit* some hats or scarves or something for a couple of hard to buy for people on my list.  I generally feel bad about gifting people boring things like gift certificates and chocolates, though I?m not exactly sure why, because I myself love receiving these!  So in efforts to better round out a less-personal gift, I try and throw in something homemade.  Last year, my go-to homemade item was basic fingerless mitts (a-la-Irish-Hiking-Mitts) and they seemed to be reasonably well received? (at least to my face)

I knew that I could probably knit the projects, but where time is running short, I deduced that *crochet* might end up being a more efficient use of my time in this case.  I generally prefer to crochet large projects, like blankets, as opposed to knitting them just because it is so much faster!  For some reason I tend to forget that you can crochet smaller more detailled items too? who knows why.

So I set out on Rav to try and find some ideas for Crocheted Hats? and this is what I came up with.  (Not only me, according to Ravelry records, more than 900 of these have been recorded to date)  The designer, Rheatheylia, must be so proud that this pattern has become such a mainstay ? and I can say, the attention is 100% deserved, this is a really well written pattern, and a fun design to work on!

I really like the little ?shell? pattern that emerges from this straightforward recipe ? made almost entirely of Double-Crochets.  The whole thing works up FAST.  I don?t mean ?get-it-done-in-a-few-days? fast? I mean ?make-the-whole-hat-in-three-hours? Fast!  In particular, Rheatheylia?s row join technique is INGENIUS? you really can?t tell where the rows join in the finished hat! (a relief to me since seamless row joins are something which I have not completely mastered)  The only modification I made was to go down a hook size since I generally crochet pretty loose ? I used 6.0 mm for the main body of the hat and a 5.0mm hook for the ribbing.

For this particular hat, I used a wayward skein of Paton?s Canadiana Wool and used up around 3/4 of the skein (yay for sales at Michael?s last month ? it cost me less than 4$ to make this hat)  Just for kicks, I thought I would start a second hat and see how far I would get with the rest of the ball, and I got to Row 10.  From the estimate, it looks like I will be able to get 3 hats from 2 balls of wool, which is very convenient since I have another ball just sitting at home waiting for me? lol.  I also have a skein of Cream Yarn of the same brand which may find itself also becoming a Divine Hat.

Now I just have to go home and crochet like a crazy person? I think I could reasonably churn out 2-3 more of these for gifts if I really got at it.  Imagine, if the first one only took 3 hours? Now that I don?t have to look at the pattern, things are only going to get faster and faster!

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