Wet Coast Wools Podcast Episode 79: Making Up for Lost Time

July 26, 2019

Wet Coast Wools Podcast Episode 79: Making Up for Lost Time

Episode 79: Making Up For Lost Time 
Filmed on July 25th, 2019

Welcome to all our returning viewers, and to those who are joining us for the first time!

Our show notes can be found in the drop down section on YouTube, and on Ravelry. Comments and questions can be left in either place.

Shout out to Chineka who popped into the store from Seattle! She sent Kelsey a really helpful video which has fueled her latest foray into crochet….

Glenda - Glenda on Ravelry, glendamcdonald on instagram

Kelsey - fiddlebach and Kzipknits on Instagram and Ravelry

Wet Coast Wools - WetCoastWools on all the things

FOs (Finished Objects)

Glenda is wearing Sandshore by Alicia Plummer, knit in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

  • Socks for Paul - FINALLY! Cuff down socks knit in Regia Design Line Jazz Color by Erika Knight in Mint Julep. Problem Yarn Square on my Bingo

  • Telemark Pullover by Erika Flory, knit in Onion Knit Nettle Sock in Lime Green (v1014). The yarn is a blend of 70% Superwash Wool and 30% (Stinging) Nettle. This is my ‘unusual fibre’ square.

  • Grapevine Lace Blanket (my own pattern) knit with Indigo Moon Ultimate Sock yarn in what started out as Gabriola Green. I will overdye it to cover up the major dyelot problems. Oldest UFO Bingo Square!

Kelsey: No finished objects

WIPS (Works in Progress)

- Fox Sweater - Sized up version of Revejakken 1701-05 by Anita Brathetland. This is my Knit City KAL sweater, knit with Holst Garn Supersoft 100% Uld in Sloe, and more colours to come soon.


  • White Buffalo #6521, Slippers for Everybody, knit with Briggs & Little Super in Brown and Rose.

  • Magpie Tendency by Melissa Alexander-Loomis. Knit in K-Zip Fingering in Grimace and some “oops” coloured yarn from my stash and earlier days of dyeing.

  • Iggy by Sandrine C. in West Coast Colour Home Grown - a CVM, Merino and Romney Blend. I am sizing this one up because it didn’t come in my bust size but I was a sucker for the texture with the ribbed back. This is my Knit City KAL sweater at the moment - there might have to be a second with how quickly this one is working up.

  • Zaftig by Joan McGowan-Michael. This a bachelorette gift/joke for my friend who is getting married in early August. I’m knitting with Classic Elite Fortuna which is a 58% linen, 26% viscose, 16% cotton blend that has been discontinued.

  • Christmas stocking - I don’t have a pattern for this guy, I just kind of cast on, found some colour work ideas I liked and am working them off! I haven’t entirely decided on the rest of the body yet….. maybe a deer, a moose or a Christmas tree?!

Know Your Wool: Nettle Fibre (Starts at 45:14)

Nettle fibre has been used to make fabric for more than 2000 years. It was used as far back as the stone age, but was eventually replaced by cotton from the 16th century onward.

There are several kinds of nettle plant; both the Stinging Nettle (in Europe and North America) and the Himylayan Nettle can be used for fibre.

  • Here in BC, Coast Salish people used nettle to make cording, which was knotted into fishnets

  • In Europe and Asia, nettle fibre was made into cloth, for things like sails, table linens, and fabrics for filtering honey and sifting flours.

  • During WWI, the German army used Nettle to make harnesses, sandbags, backpacks, and possibly uniforms (this was due to a shortage in cotton); Elizabeth I is said to have slept on a “nettle bed”, which likely means nettle sheets; and Napoleon’s army is said to have had uniforms made from nettle.

Nettle plants are hardy, and grow on wet, sometimes poor quality land on which it is hard to grow other crops. They do not require herbicides or pesticides, and can grow up to 8 feet high in one summer.

To process the fibre, you need to separate the bast fibre from the stalks of the plant by ‘retting’ or rotting the stalks (This is also done with flax and hemp plants). You can soak the cut plants in water for a few days, or you can ‘dew ret’ them by leaving them in a damp field for a few weeks. You then need to peel the bast fibre from the main stalk, and then do an additional step of scraping off the outer ‘bark’ of the plant. 
This is more laborious than processing linen, and is likely why nettle was replaced by cotton once cotton became more widely available (and therefore cheaper!). There are new mechanical ways for separating the fibres; retting water can be quite toxic because of the high bacteria content in the water (as a result of the rotting fibres), so it would be ideal to know more about where/how the fibre is processed. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be information that is shared by the manufacturing companies.

From what I can tell, you can process the nettle fibres to be short or long, depending on the method you use - the longer fibres make it more like linen, while shorter fibres would make it more like cotton.

  • “Nettle fibres are white, silky, up to 50mm (2”) long, and produce a finer and silkier fabric than flax, so that it is possible that fine linens for the wealthy may have been woven from nettle rather than flax.” (http://www.wildfibres.co.uk/html/nettle_hemp.html)

  • Nettle fibres have a high tensile strength, and can have a high breathability in a finished fabric. Nettle fibres are hollow. If you spin them closed, they don’t hold air, but if you let them stay open, the fibre can be very insulating.

In yarn, nettle tends to come blended with another fibre - wool, modal (wood fibre), hemp, etc. I have also seen pure Himalyan Nettle yarn available online, which looks very much like a rough spun hemp or linen.

I have only tried this wool/nettle blend; the nettle gives a lovely silkiness to the fibre, and adds a bit of sheen to the fabric. You can see the white/pale grey fibres in the yarn, and in some places it wasn’t spun in as well… They say that you can use this for sock yarn, but I’m a little wary. I will have to knit a pair to try them out.

Ask Us Anything (Starts at 56.52) 
Evajuma asks: I’m relatively new to knitting so I’m wondering: What are your absolute do’s and don’ts of knitting that everyone should know and heed?

Kelsey’s Ideas -

Swatching is your friend - for gauge, texture, cable, lace motif practice and it helps to avoid surprises in your knitting! 
Don’t be afraid to tink or frog your work. I’ve learned so much about the kind of mistakes I tend to make and am far better at fixing them in my own and others knitting from having torn apart my own projects.

Blocking - Don’t judge your knitting until you block it. Textured patterns and lace especially completely transform when you block your project. Don’t be afraid to block something part way through if you’re unsure of what you’re getting.

Lifelines - they save my butt constantly when I’m doing complex lace or any kind of lace without a rest row. Dental floss is my go to product for putting in lifelines!

Use good quality supplies - Yarn doesn’t have to be expensive; there are a lot of companies that have really great yarn that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! Custom Woolen Mills, Holst Garn, Cascade, Borgo de Pazzi, Briggs & Little, Drops to name a few. You’ll enjoy the process more and the result! Also, by using a better quality product, if you end up having to undo and re-knit something, these yarns can be a little more forgiving to being unknit and reknit.

Glenda Says: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Part of the learning process is to rip out your knitting and start over. We all do this, no matter how experienced a knitter we are - many people just don’t tell you about their mistakes because we forget the hard parts once we are finished the project. Use good materials, and they will stand up to wear and tear and many knits and re-knits. And if you don’t like your finished project, frog it and turn it into something you do like!

The Sweater Segment (Starts at 1:08:44) 
This is going to be a new regular feature - talking about sweater construction, alterations, etc. Ask us questions and we will talk about it on future episodes of the podcast!

Today’s topic: Designing a bottom-up sweater (EPS, Strange Brew, etc.).

Step 1: Make a proper swatch.

  • Cast on the suggested number of stitches on the yarn label, plus about 10 more.

  • Knit in stocking stitch (or the required stitch pattern) until your piece is about 4-5 inches tall - the bigger the better!

  • WASH your swatch and allow it to dry properly before counting gauge.

Step 2: Measure Gauge and calculate stitch numbers

  • We provide an image that demonstrates how to measure gauge (image shows a knitted swatch with a 4” ruler on top, with individual stitches highlighted by red ‘v’s)

  • Measure stitches in the middle of the swatch for the most accurate count, because the sides and top/bottom are skewed and less accurate. If the swatch is large, measure in several places and average your results. Measure over 4”, then divide the total number by 4 to get your sitches per 1”

  • Decide how big you want your sweater body to be: Stitches per 1” X Desired Sweater Body Size = Number of Stitches in the Body ie: 25/4= 6.25sts/1” X 36” = 225

Step 3: Adjust for design, and cast on your body stitches 
- My Fox sweater has a 2x2 rib at the bottom, and I wanted the fronts to end with knit stitches on each side of the button band. Therefore multiple of 4 + 2 stitches = 226.

After working the ribbing, I joined in the round and added 7 sts for the steeking panel. I will later steek in the middle of the panel and use the 3.5sts on each side as the placket.

To work out sleeve stitches, calculate stitch counts for the upper arm (where it joins the body) and for the cuff. To work out shaping (ie: how to get from the number of stitches at the cuff to the number required for the upper arm) you can use a ‘sleeve increase calculator’, many of which can be found online (there is a way to do this manually also, but that’s better left to a future episode!). Standard Sleeve increases are 2 sts every one inch of sleeve, but you may need to alter this based on your own preferred sleeve shape.

Next time: How to use gauge calculations to alter and existing sweater patterns to match your yarn’s gauge, change sizes, etc.

Store News (1:22:50) 
Knit City Knit-A-Long 
- Knit a Sweater or Shawl to wear to Knit City (over 500m used)

To enter, check out the Vendor’s List for Knit City. You need to use yarn from one of the vendors OR a pattern from one of the vendors or teachers who are coming: 
Andrea Mowry, Tin Can Knits, Josee Paquin, Puzzle Tree Yarns, Crafty JAKs, Julie Asselin, etc. 
A secret: Holst Garn counts because we always bring Holst to Knit City! ;)

  • Starts June 15th, ends on October 5th (Knit City Day 1!) We will put up a thread for conversation; the FO thread will go up in a few weeks.

Stash Dash Totals (See the Knit Girlll’s Podcast for more information) 
Glenda’s stash dash total: 3,853m 
Kelsey’s stash dash total: 2,070m

Yarnageddon Update: No one has bought yarn!

WCW Knit & Crochet Bingo! 
- We have taken down the Bingo boards; if you still want to register, email us for a bingo board. You need to declare your challenges when you register.

Challenge started January 1st, and will run until the end of the year. Rules and notes about the game squares are all in the Chatter Thread on Ravelry.

We will announce winner for both June and July next episode (sorry!)