Saturday, January 19, 2008


Thank you for sending me flowers and for writing that I make your day! It is just the other way around, you make my day and here is to you!

How have you been? I came back already last Saturday and please, don’t ask me where my time has gone because frankly I don’t know that myself either. Lots of small, unimportant things have been on my agenda this week and day after another has just slipped through my fingers with not much to talk about. Luckily it is Friday today* and the weekend starts. I always try to have one day a week for just myself, and things that interest me and maybe I’ll have a me-day today. A day a week does not involve even making dinner; that day is just for me but some preparations and extra work are usually needed beforehand. Today we can have leftovers for supper from yesterday, so maybe I’ll just knit or spin the whole afternoon... I know I very much need that, because since coming home I have not had much time for me.

(* I did not get around to send this last night… but if I start editing again, this will never get done.)

Let me first complain about the weather a bit. Since last October I have been expecting snow and winter and cold, freezing days. We have had few winter-y days in a row but not a good, solid, deep and peaceful winter. Last Saturday when I got back home from Helsinki, the world was cold and white and fairy-tale like up here but ever since warm air mass took over and snow has been melting away for the third time this winter. This is very, very annoying and disturbing. I do not remember anything like this ever before in my long life up here.

Finally last night I got to knit the Winter Forest again. I tried it on and realized that I have reached the point where all the second thoughts start marching in and where the interest just fades away. The Winter Forest mojo just crept over the threshold and I heard him close the door very firmly. And I am afraid the day will come when I will look at the huge pile of knitting collecting dust on the coffee table and then I can picture myself quietly hiding it in the closet. I am fighting this but am well ware that this might soon happen. I should really dedicate all wake time hours for the sweater to get it done quickly before this unavoidable will happen… (Next time when I plan to purl a whole sweater, remind me please.)

These are the thoughts that keep swirling in my mind: do I really like the basic design or am I just wasting my time on this? Did I make the right yarn choice? Is this going to be too cute, sort of, not beautiful but too crowded and unsophisticated with the lace? What about the fit? Are the sleeve openings too wide? Just how long do I want this to be?

In spite of the second thoughts there is something very good; I love to knit at the moment and am inspired to tackle a new sweater as soon as Winter Forest is done or maybe even before... I am a bit tempted to buy some new yarn. I went to a good yarn store while in Helsinki and managed to avoid the temptation there, telling myself that I am in the middle of Winter Forest and should not buy yarn now… (I bought two small skeins of milk and two skeins of sock yarn, both of which do not qualify really as buying yarn…) but yesterday just briefly I popped into my LYS and was this close to getting some Grignasco’s Tango. I just postponed the affair; I am definitely going to need some of this tweedy goodness in the near future.

I have a few new knitting and embroidering books to show, and I still have not told you what I got myself for Christmas but first I have to write to you about my newborn interest in spinning and the frustration it has brought to my life. It all started with the new Spin-Off magazine. In the magazine there was a section of sweaters made off hand-spun yarns and especially the red sweater in the magazine spoke to me. It is very simple, raglan sleeves and beautiful in its simplicity and I want to make one like that.

I have plenty of wool but I’m not sure whether I have worth of a whole sweater of any kind. Anyway it is about the time to get going with the fibres again and make a dent in the stash. I like to spin very thin. Well, honestly, I don’t know how to spin thicker and find it a lot easier to get even thin singles than even thick singles. Because of thin singles I thought that I should try three-ply yarn. Easier said than done. I have not had much success with my earlier attempts in chain plying but now firmly decided to learn to. Also I have little bit of variegated wool in my stash and chain plying might be the easiest way to keep the colours clean and nice. Or so I thought.

This attempt to chain ply has led me to yards of tangled mess and in a severe love and hate relationship with my wheel. I have a vague idea what I am aiming at and what I am supposed to be doing but over twisted yarn seems to be what I am getting at the moment. I have really tried hard to spin slowly-slowly but no success yet.

But I am determined that I will knit a sweater of hand-spun yarn, and that most likely it will be two-ply after all. That is if you can’t tell me any good reason why I should keep going with the chain plying? Because at the moment the variegated wool as a reason is wearing very thin. Why the creative endeavours can never be calming and relaxing and successful from the very beginning?

Yours over-spun and tangled mess,


PS. You asked me what my wood carrier is made of. It is made of wood – birch?? - and I bought it from a local fair few years ago. It is very sturdy and has outlasted many birch baskets. I like baskets more but don’t remember how many baskets I have broken by dropping heavy firewood on them.


  1. Dear Lene, please don't give up on the chain plying yet. It's extremely frustrating at first, I agree! I still haven't completely mastered the technique--keeping the three strands under equal tension is very difficult for me (one of them always seems too slack compared to the other two.) But it's such a useful skill to have, especially when you're working with multicolored roving.

    I recommend using the pdf from Spin-Off and doing *exactly* what it says, very slowly and deliberately. Painfully slowly and deliberately, in fact. ;-) This felt very unnatural to me at first, but it really helped me learn to coordinate all those little movements.

  2. What a lovely letter/post.

  3. It's global warming and I am pretty sure we are going to lose the polar bear; which saddens me beyond telling.

    And it already reaches 110 F in the summer where I live.

  4. Beautiful post!!!
    Thank you

  5. Lene, there are some very nice videos on YouTube of chain plying (also found under Navajo plying). As Beth says, it has to be done so very slowly and deliberately at first. I have also simply plied 3 strands together instead of 2, using my lazy kate that has room for 3 bobbins and a loop that allows the 3 strands to come together and then I use 2 fingers instead of 1 to allow them to run together onto my wheel, treadling very slow and steady and controlling with my left hand. Wow, it's frustrating to try to put this into words!
    Good luck.

  6. Congratulations! You’ve just won the “You Make My Day” award. Come steal the button from my blog and pass it on!

  7. I gave up on chain plying Lene, its not often I really give up on something but chain plying is not for me, I was told recently by the chairman of one of our Guilds of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers, that chain plying will always leave the little bumps I got in my first attempt, no matter how good you get at it, and that a 3 ply is just as good, and I don't feel any remorse at leaving this technique behind, because I really didn' enjoy it!

  8. So nice to have you back! I have nothing to add to your spinning - I try to stay away from it! I love the idea, but just feel I do not need another hobby - is there a hobby, other than day dreaming, that does not need lots of supplies?
    Grignasco Tango - I knit a shawl and a moebius scarf with it. I love it, but it is not easy to find!
    We are having a strange winter too - so much wind. I think about the trees, grasses and shrubs when the winds stop! They must be happy!

  9. It is so good to read a post from you! I'm glad you are safely back home. I'm sorry to hear about your melting snow, because I wanted to ask you about cleaning wool sweaters with snow. I remember you mentioning it last year, but I did not understand. Today we entered our coldest weather of the winter so far, -13C.

  10. Ellen in Conn03:38

    A funny typo - you bought 2 skeins of MILK! The Yarn Harlot buys milk in a plastic bag. I can buy it in glass, cardboard, plastic or those multi-material boxes. But not by the skein.

    Thanks for the note about the wood-basket.

    Oh! The word-recognition is "soyemlvk" which is like "soy milk" which my husband drinks.

    Navajo-plying. I am not great at it, but I do it to keep the colors in a variegated yarn together. I call the bumps "character".

  11. Lene, I just read your fascinating Piecework article. I know you've mentioned Satakieli on the blog -- can you tell me more about it? I'd like to spin similar yarn for these mittens. Is it fuzzy? Smooth? Soft? Strong? I have a Finn lamb fleece, do you think that would be appropriate?

    I'm so pleased that you took the time to write this up!

  12. Hi Lene, I have never made a shawl and was really thinking about you use your spun singles for knitting shawls? Tell me if I need to balance with a second ply or if the blocking takes care of the one-way twist effect.
    Glad you are back and spinning. I love navajo plying after some practice. Makes excellent sock yarn.

  13. As always, enjoyed your post. I am hoping our weather returns to a more "normal" winter. We have had record highs and record lows so far this month. I saw the cover of Piecework magazine online yesterday. I'm going to my LYS to buy a copy and I'm looking forward to reading your article! :)

  14. Hi, Lene, you have been awarded another "You Make My Day" blogging award at Vortex of Chaos. You've probably already read about it on Lynn's blog, but if not, stop by my blog for details.

  15. Oh, Lene, I am struggling with chain plying too. And also wondering if it is worth the bother. But I'm not ready to give up. I hope that you will succeed and then you can show us how.

  16. It's nice to have you back, Lene.

    What did you mean when you said you bought milk at your yarn store?

  17. Lene, whether it's chain plying or a traditional 3-ply, if you find you have too much ply twist, don't worry. When the bobbin is full, just run the yarnh back through the wheel, very quickly, the opposite direction to take out some of the twist. You want to increase your wheel take up so that it winds on very quickly, otherwise you might unply too much.

    I hope this suggestion helps. I find that I tend to overply and this suggestion came from Maggie Casey. It really helped me a lot and doesn't really add too much time to the process.

  18. Anonymous02:15

    Lene, I'm learning new things and words from your post! Like chain plying....I know nothing of spinning, except that I like the end results! I bought some wool roving and hand felting needles. I am having so much fun. I have made four "cookie cutter" hearts now and already given two book marks away as January birthday presents. Thank you again for your Christmas gift to us. Our weather is very cold right now -4 degress Farenheit. We have had gusting winds. Over all, the winter has been warmer than it used to be (when I was growing up!). I am learning to "enjoy the process" when I knit. However, that leads to a lot of new little projects. I have to sign off. I'm sure I have reached my comment limit and then some! Look forward to your next post and sharing what you are doing with us. Only the best to you. Jeanie

  19. How sad to have all the lovely snow melt. We have had a strange winter as well with temps in the 70's (in January) and yesterday in the teens. I would like an old fashioned winter where it got cold in December and stayed cold till March. I want some snow too. This cold, wet windy rain is just no fun.

  20. Anonymous02:59

    I agree with Cynthia. Thanks so much for sharing your information on Satakieli in PieceWork magazine.
    I wished they would have printed your watercolor map of Sweden/Finland/Norway a larger size.


  21. Hi Lene, Here in the midwest where I live the weather has been quite strange too. We have had snow storms and them high temps. that hit 70 degrees. All the snow has melted. Two days later it was 5 degrees. We have another 5" of snow and artic temps today. Glad to see your post! Welcome back!
    Warmest Regards, Barbara