April 11, 2016

DIY Flutterply


The Andean bracelet technique is a wonderful way to create a 2 ply yarn using up all of your hand spun singles. The drawback of the technique is that you use a hand to wind your yarn on and you can't easily stop in the middle of winding. After you created your bracelet you can leave it on your wrist (again not very practical if you need to stop) or transfer it to an object, like an empty toilet paper roll, but you have to be careful it doesn't slip off and you are left with a tangled mess (especially if you put a lot of twist in your singles). 

There are several plying tools on the market, but none of them were exactly what I was looking for. So I decided to create my own. This plying tool is lightweight, portable, and your finished bracelet won't slip off. The process is very simple and the materials cheap and easy to obtain.

Here are the instructions on how to create and use your own DIY Flutterply!

What you need

  • One wooden clothespin. You'll need one of those old fashioned peg type designs (see picture) and not one with a spring. You can often find them in craft stores and of course you can buy them online. In the Netherlands you can find them at Dille & Kamille, for example.
  • Some cardboard large enough to fit the "butterfly" design. The thickness much be such that you can easily slide the clothespin on and off. Don't worry about it being too loose, the yarn will hold it in place later. It would be more of an issue if it fits too tight and will be difficult to remove. I used two thinner cardboard parts and glued them together.
  • The butterfly pattern. Download the PDF here.



Step 1: cut out the butterfly. If you cut out multiple layers glue them together.

Step 2: Add the peg to the wings and you're almost done....

Step 3: Cut a small slit at the bottom of on of the wings to hold the start of your single.


Of course you can now embellish as you wish. Colors, buttons, glitter.... just remember that there will be yarn wound around part of you butterfly (see the instructions below) so you want to keep those parts free of things the singles could catch on. Also take care you don't use things that can transfer color onto your carefully spun singles.

If you want to make a sturdier more fancy version you can also cut out the wings from some thin MDF or plywood. I want to try this myself if I can find a suitably thin piece of wood and when I do I'll show the result here of course.

Your flutterply is finished, now it is....

Plying time!

Start by securing the start of your single in the slit.


Now follow the scheme below to wind on your single (or look here for an excellent drawn step-by-step tutorial, or search YouTube if you prefer videos).
The tool with all singles wound on:


Now simply remove the peg and you are left with a bracelet nicely secured on the butterfly wings.


Grab both ends and start plying!



June 8, 2015

I have just released my first paid pattern, Guna, on Ravelry. I'm very excited about it and it is a design of many "firsts": first knitting design, first shawl, first pattern that I had tested, first pattern that I'm trying to sell. Here I'll try to explain a little about the designing process of that shawl.

I really like the idea of shawls you can just knit and knit until you run out of yarn (1). Especially now that I am spindle spinning my own yarn, I really want to use it all up. I also learned that the shawl shape I like to wear is a crescent (2). And I like an open lacy fabric (3). So I wanted to design a shawl incorporating all these three elements.

I also decided I wanted to spread out the increases over the rows of the shawl, instead of for example only increasing at the edges. This gave me a shawl shape with 6 wedges. Some thinking and sketching in InkScape later I came up with the Guna design:


After converting this into knitting I ended up with this shawl:




A lovely bat wing shaped shawl. I'm currently making another one in hand spun yarn. You can find the Guna pattern here.


Will there be more shawl patterns in the future? I have some things in mind, so watch this space.

April 12, 2015

DIY polymer clay Turkish spindle

DIY polymer clay Turkish spindle: Tutorial



After spinning on a top whorl drop spindle for a while, I got really curious about Turkish drop spindles. I ordered a very cool TurtleMade 3D printed spindle from Etsy. But it may take a while to be produced and then get here from the U.S. and I'm impatient and want to try out a Turkish spindle now :-)

The solution was making one myself. I created this one and it works really well:



I thought other people might also want to try making a spindle, so I made another one and took pictures of the process. It is really simple to do, and you only need two things for the spindle. A piece of polymer clay for the arms and a paint brush for the shaft. What type of brush and how much clay will depend on how large a spindle you are planning to make. Also remember that the (upside down) brush handle will be your shaft so you need to like its shape and diameter. I prefer to spin thin yarn so like my spindles light. I started with a small cheap brush and half a pack of Fimo (28 grams). Not all of this clay will end up in the arms, so my final spindle will be lighter than 28 grams.

Making the shaft is easy. Remove the brush from the handle. You only want the wood to remain. How easy or difficult this really is will depend on your brush.



The arms are a bit more work. First divide the amount of clay you want to use in half. Then make two rolls out of this.

Flatten the rolls to create the base shape of the arms.



And cut them to size and make them nice and even. At this point you might want to check with a kitchen scale that your arms are the same weight. If not, modify until they are roughly the same weight and size. For this tutorial I did not make them very even, but you can perfect their shape as much as you like.

Now make the hole for the shaft. One in the center of each arm. I started with making a hole using a drinking straw and then made it a bit larger. Carefully check the size on the shaft. Make sure the hole is not too large, if it is too small after baking you can easily make it larger using the tip of a sharp knife (or craft knife).



If you want to decorate your arms with engravings do it now. Or if you like your spindle light like me, cut out some more holes in the arms. Do a final weighing to make sure they are still similar in weight. You can try to make them as even and pretty as you like. My quite uneven versions still work well enough, so don't worry too much about perfection.

You can simply bake the arms flat, but most Turkish spindles seem to have curved arms. You do want the central part of each arm, where the two arms will touch each other, to be flat. If you can find a small flat bottom (oven safe) bowl, you can drape your arms over that. If not, like me, you can make a  support yourself. Determine the width the flat part needs to be and cut out a few rectangles of this width from cardboard. Stack these rectangles and cover them in aluminum foil. Now you can drape the arms over the block you created before they go into the oven. If you want you can make a more elaborate support with curved sides.




Now bake according to the instructions of your clay. I baked 25 minutes at 110°C.

After baking allow the arms to cool. When cool check the fit on the shaft. If the hole it to small or uneven, use a knife to enlarge it carefully and check often, you don't want it too large.

Slide the arms on the shaft and you are done. Now you can take it for a spin. Or you can decorate the arms and shaft. Decoration possibilities during and after the creation of this spindle are endless. 




There you have it, a quickly made Turkish spindle using cheap materials. Happy spinning!

UPDATE: LEGO mold to make more even arms

Because I'm not very experienced with polymer clay, I was having a hard time making the arms even. To solve this problem, I decided to make a mold out of LEGO blocks. After removing the arms from the mold, you can still flatten them, shape them, etc. But at least you are starting with two arms that are the same shape and I found it much easier to start from there. Here are some pictures of my mold in action:
 





February 23, 2015

Nifty n-ply tool

I started drop spindle spinning about a month ago and I love it. Then I discovered chain plying on the fly and now I can't stop spinning. I like alternating spinning and plying and in the end I have an  plied yarn, no more steps to take (apart maybe from joining smaller balls to create one larger skein). There are a lot of videos on the internet showing ply on the fly with a spindle.

The drawback of chain plying on the fly is how to keep the yarn loop of the last made chain open. For this I came up with the "nifty n-ply tool" (chain plying is also known as n-plying, where the n stands for Navajo, I think "nifty n-ply tool" has a nice ring to it).

How to make the tool

To make the tool all you need is a juice box or milk carton. You could use some other sturdy paper too, but I like the juice box carton because of the smooth surface. It keeps the yarn from catching on it. Also it is sturdy and cheap, it is easy to make a new tool.

The size of the tool will depend on the yarn you want to make, a thicker yarn will require a larger tool. There is no need to be super precise when making the tool, I just cut it out without using a template, but here I will give you a template of the overall shape:



The gray part should be cut out, I make it tapered so the yarn does not slip out easily. Fold over the dotted line.

How to use the tool

Make your first chain ply loop as usual, but before plying hook the tool into the chain like this:


Then hold the tool and the yarn and ply (I find the tool also helps keeping an even tension on the three strands). After you are done plying the first chain, wind the yarn onto your spindle and in the end you can wind the remaining single at least one time around the tool to secure the tool in place while you spin the next length of single:


After every length of singles I keep winding one time around the tool so it helps me count how many lengths I have done, but that is just a personal trick and not necessary.

When you made a single long enough for the next chain plying step, unwind the single from the spindle until you come to the tool, then unwind a little more and secure the yarn. I personally wind the single around my index and middle fingers because I find it easy to feed the yarn into the new loop this way. Now you can use the tool to make the next chain. I could try to explain this in words, but that is quite hard and I think this picture shows it (although making a good picture was also hard, I've tried to draw in the missing hand feeding the single and holding the fiber). The tool keeps the loop open and the folded over piece makes sure you can make your new loop smoothly:


Once your loop is as long as you want it to be, unhook the tool from the old chain loop and insert it again at the top of the new loop as before. Continue chain plying in this way.

UPDATE: Alternative tool from plastic floss bobbin

In most craft store you can find cheap plastic bobbins for embroidery floss. I made a tool out of these as well, which is sturdier than the tool above. Just cut the tool out according to the template below. You won't have the "fold over" part, but instead you can use the hole to assist you with threading the single through the loop. I actually prefer this plastic tool to the tool above.


March 18, 2014

Stardust cast-on and bind-off

Why stardust? I had to come up with a name, typed the first letters of stretchy, sturdy, and decorative into Google, presto! And the a? Well, it is also amazing! So here you go:

Stardust: a stretchy, amazing, decorative, and sturdy cast-on and bind-off



Since everything which can be knitted can be knooked, similarly, this cast-on and bind-off, while shown for knooking, can equally be used for knitting. But it does require intermediate to advanced crochet skills. If you are already familiar with foundation single crochet, it is going to be easy.

So what is this cast-on and bind-off? The cast on is simply foundation single crochet (fsc). I will not provide a tutorial here how to do that. There are plenty of photo and video tutorials on the internet. My favorite tutorial is this tutorial by futuregirl. The bind-off I created is nearly identical to an fsc cast-on, so you'll get nice symmetrical results.

Why use this cast-on and/or bind-off? Because it is crocheted, it is very sturdy. But, it is also stretchy, unlike a regular crochet cast-on and bind-off. And because it looks like a double braid, it's decorative too. Here you can see the stretchiness at work. Before, the stretched out sock cuff was 7 cm wide, fully stretched it is 10 cm. Since this is in the round, we actually go from 14 to 20 cm, so the full stretch is 6 cm. The bind-off has the same stretch.





December 10, 2013

Growing Star

Groeiende ster

Rainbow star made with 7 colors of cotton and a size 2.5 mm hook.
 I used scraps I had laying around which were not all exactly the same weight.

Five differently sized stars. They are made with thin (pearl) cotton, kidsilk haze (outer edge) and a size 1.5  mm hook.

This pattern is similar to the growing heart pattern, in that it keeps its shape when you make the star bigger.

Dit is een patroon van een ster dat zijn vorm behoudt, ook als je hem groter maakt.

December 2, 2013

Picture tutorial for the tricky parts of "Growing Heart"

Some parts of the growing heart pattern can be a bit tricky. In this post I show a lot of pictures of the more difficult parts of the pattern.

Just before the pattern states to pull the magic ring tight, you should have something which looks like this: