The Newest Arrival

February 28, 2011

Okay, so first off, yes, I needed another spinning wheel like a hole in the head. I can’t spin on more than one at a time. They take up room. I don’t have time to refurbish the ones on my workbench. Etc., etc.

However, every so often something comes along that just won’t be ignored. This was the case with the newest arrival, a Hemlock Hill Handspinner.

She may not be a beauty, but she sure can spin!

Several years ago, before I knew what this wheel was, I purchased a similar one on Ebay. I received an e-mail from a woman who had been watching the sale. Her father had been the wheel’s designer and she let me know that the wheel I had won was a prototype. Of course, ever since then, that made me want to see what the final version turned out to be and here it is.

The wheel was designed and built by retired engineer John Woodward of Maryland. Woodward and his wife ran the Hemlock Hill Farm for many years. They raised Romney sheep. Additionally, Woodward is credited with being one of the people instrumental in founding the Maryland Sheep and Wool Show. In the mid-70s, Woodward took on the challenge of building an affordable, sturdy wheel and the result was the Hemlock Hill Handspinner. One feature is the extra-wide treadle which allows the spinner to comfortable treadle with both feet and which, I was told, accomodated his daughter’s size 10 feet.

Another feature is the reversible bobbin.

As the wheel came to me, the smaller pulley end of the bobbin is near the orifice.

The larger end and the tensioning screw.

But the most interesting feature is the flyer.

No, that is not a Woolee Winder. Woodward’s daughter explained that her father never thought to patent this flyer design. He was just looking to build a better mousetrap, as it were. It was not until later that another maker introduced a similar device.

Overall, the wheel is in good shape. The connector for the treadle and footman is a piece of leather similar to what the older Ashfords have and it is snapped, so I will replace that. The tensioning screw appears to be a bit warped; the bottom is not seated straight and I will need to examine this a little closer. Other than that, it spins fine and just needs a little clean up. It came from an estate sale in Clarksburg, Maryland; the former owner’s son was not sure if his mother knew the Woodwards or not. She raised angora goats and attended the Maryland Sheep and Wool Show, so she may well have gotten the wheel there.

If anyone else has one of these spinners, I’d love to hear from you, especially where you found it geographically. Both of mine came from Maryland within 50 miles of each other. I’m wondering if there are others out there that found themselves further afield.



February 21, 2011

I seemed to be fixated on gloves lately. Perhaps it is because I always viewed them as something difficult to make because of the fingers. However, having graduated from wristwarmers to fingerless gloves, it now seems the simplest thing in the world to just knit the fingers a little longer and — voila — a glove!

And, although I had found a number of patterns to plan towards making, I couldn’t find one for what I envisioned. So, I had to make it up myself.

I have a buckskin jacket with fancy beading and wanted something to go with it. Also, I have an almost-completed Annie Oakley cardigan from the “Folk Styles” book. That piece has embroidery around the cuffs and uses I-cord edging. The embroidery and I-cord are in Rowan Wool Cotton. I didn’t use the color scheme suggested in the pattern, but picked out something I preferred. In doing so, I stumbled across the Rowan Wool Cotton in pumpkin and in chestnut.

The pumpkin color is similar to the buckskin jacket, so when I determined to make gloves to match both jacket and cardigan, this yarn was the choice. It turned out to be an excellent one, I think, and I am enjoying working with it. Our progess so far:

In truth, I am using a smaller needle size. The yarn is supposed to take a 5 needle and I’m using 3. However, I like a firmer, tighter surface and this is turning out to have just the fabric texture I like.

The gauntlet part is in moss stitch, followed by a section of K1, P1 ribbing, followed by plain stocking stitch:

The big question was on the gauntlet part. I wasn’t sure whether to face the opening toward the side or put it in the middle along the underside of my wrist. I finally settled on the middle:

I think I will call these the “Blank Canvas Western Gauntlets.” I will finish this off with the same embroidery as on the cardigan and trim it will the I-cord edging to match. It is tempting to want to embroider up the back of the hand, too. There really are a lot of ways to trim these. Hmmmm … may have to make a second pair!

They’re Done!

February 16, 2011

The Rainy Day Fingerless Gloves, as cited in an earlier post, here in their finished state:

I left the rain out, however. The sky part had little half-stitches duplicate-stitched in; they were supposed to be cobalt blue. I decided I’d rather have Sunny Day Fingerless Gloves. And the little apples are cute, I didn’t want to detract from them:

The Jamieson’s Spindrift Shetland fulled, bloomed, and softened beautifully. The gloves are a tiny bit tight, but I have small hands, so it is okay although I am making a second pair in a different yarn and added 5 stitches. It feels better with the additional stitches. The pattern was sized only for small, so some experimentation is necessary to size them better. However, I’m happy with the results and my hands are warm now while driving!

Twist New Hope, PA

February 15, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I went on a sort of cook’s tour of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, stopping at yarn stores and used book stores along the way. I knew there was a knitting store in New Hope, PA, but had never been able to find it. However, having acquired a Blackberry, I was able to Google up directions while on the road and track down the shop.

Fast forward a few weeks. Husband decides we should have bought the book on midieval clothing and armor from the shop in Lambertville. Sunday weather is nice enough (finally!) for a drive. Maybe we should go to Lambertville and New Hope? That’s fine, dear, we can visit that nice knitting shop again. So, the deal was struck and we set out.

After acquiring the book, we set off up into Pennsylvania. If you are not familiar with eastern Pennsylvania, it has some really lovely architecture. New Hope is a mix of Colonial, Victorian, and modern built to blend in. Along the highway is built up, but generally lacks the sprawling strip malls that New Jersey is famous for. Rather, the Pennsylvanians will restore and preserve an older house and make it a focal point of a shopping area. The colonial houses tend to be either fieldstone or clapboard and really do stand out when they are restored. It just makes for a so much more charming effect than miles of sterile big-box storefronts.

Twist Knitting and Spinning is located on Route 202. If you come from New Jersey, you can either come in on 202 or, if coming from Lambertville, come over the bridge to New Hope and stay straight; you will hook up with 202 a little ways outside the town. Route 202 is also called Lower York Road at this point. Stay on 202 for about 5 minutes. You will come to a hilly stretch and the shop is on your left, just after the crest of a hill. It is on the intersection of Aquetong Road and there is a light at that intersection. The light is a good thing if there is traffic, because it will give you a chance to navigate the narrow parking area.

Once safely parked, however, you find yourself in front of one of those lovely, preserved Colonial buildings. Does this not look like the ultimate front for a knitting shop? :

Anyway, if I had a knitting shop, this is exactly the type of window I would want! And look, it is just bursting with knitting and spinning loveliness!  Once inside, you realize exactly how much loveliness there is:

The original fireplace has been converted into display space. It is bursting with mohair, cashmere, and other fine yarns from makers like Madeline Tosh, Rowan, and Debbie Bliss.

The shop is cleverly laid out to take advantage of the small space. Every nook and cranny is filled with the most wonderful yarn.

There was even this gorgeous Lady Eleanor wrap from the “Scarf Styles” book on display.

And, if you wanted buttons, you came to the right place:

There is a nice selection of needles displayed behind the checkout counter. Believe me, not an inch of space is wasted here! A largish space is set up like a living room with comfy chairs and was filled with knitters. I did not bother them for a photo, as they seemed so happy to be chatting on their projects and I had already burst through them a couple of times with yarn and roving from the back room.

A little back room is filled with spinning supplies, a loom, books, yarn, and a discount shelf full of treasures. A woman was peacefully plying yarn at wheel and looked so relaxed, I also suppressed the impulse to whip out the camera.

I actually had a goal for this trip, which was to secure some Rowan Kid Classic for a pattern I’d just seen in one of the One Skein Wonder books. It turned out that Rowan is discontinuing this yarn and Twist had it on the discount shelves, so I happily bought enough for several projects.

Cissie, who was overseeing the shop and the knitters, cheerfully kept me supplied with shopping bags, weighed out my blue-faced leicester roving, and directed me to the shop’s Ravelry group while she rang me up. A most successful and pleasant yarn run! Twist is one of those LYSs you find, wish you lived closer to, and then realize it is probably better you don’t because you would never be out of the place.

Used books and yarn stowed safely in the trunk, we returned to the little Village of New Hope. If you have an opportunity to visit Twist Knitting and Spinning, make sure you head up the road and visit the village, too. There are some great restaurants. Our old standby, Karla’s, was packed, so we headed to the other side of town to the Triumph Brewery. We figured beer and a burger, but were again pleasantly surprised. We ordered the microbrew sampler — 30 ounces total of all their brews — and wound up ordering off their dinner menu just because it all sounded so good. That’s when we found out how good the food is here. It will be a tough choice the next time we visit as to which spot to eat at!

If you are nearby and looking for a day trip, I can’t recommend this enough. If you are nearby and looking for a good LYS, don’t hesitate to look for Twist! It will definitely be worth your drive.

Gothic Wrist Warmers

February 1, 2011

These are some little wrist warmers from the book, Knitting New Mittens & Gloves, by Robin Melanson.

I found a skein of Plymouth’s Baby Alpaca Brush in this great eggplant color. I had purchased it several years ago, when our LYS was going out of business. What to do with one skein of alpaca?

The pattern is called “Gothic” and is supposed to represent a gothic spire. I did leave out some fancy stitch work on the back of the hand, just under the loop, where you were supposed to sew some sequins onto the fancy stitches. I really didn’t need sequins.

They really are wrist warmers, as they do not cover much of the hand. They are good for work, where I tend to get chilly working at the computer. The little loop really doesn’t get in the way or annoy. This was a simple pattern that I varied somewhat — I did the cuff part in K3, P1 rib, rather than stocking stitch. Then there is a row of K1, P1 twisted rib stitch that adds some definition. Then strait stitch that decreases into an I cord for the finger loop.

Could not be simplier and I think there is enough left on the skein for a second pair!