Playing with Pioneer

pioneer cuffs-6.jpg

Thank you for all of the thoughtful comments on my previous post. I've been thinking about the stories behind our textiles, and so often it seems that problems lurk where we don't know the story, where there is no transparency about their creation. 

pioneer cuffs-8.jpg

As a crafter I'm always interested in the story not just of the finished object, but of the raw materials so I've been intrigued by A Verb for Keeping Warm's new yarn since I first heard about the project. Fortunately, when I got my hands on it, the yarn itself turned out to be as compelling as its story and I couldn't resist playing with it. Kristine has built a successful natural dye and lys business over the last few years, and is now attempting to revitalise the California wool industry, reducing waste and growing jobs.
I suspect that Pioneer is just the first step. You can read more about the yarn's story, and the fascinating people that made it a reality, on Kristine's blog.

Pioneer is a soft but rustic woollen spun merino, and was spun by one of my favourite businesses in this industry, Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont. Green Mountain is a worker owned cooperative, spinning yarn under their own brand and for others with a focus on supporting small farmers. Last autumn I visited them and took some photos for a different project that I'm working on, a project for which the stories behind the yarns we use form a central part. It may seem like a slightly odd choice to send the fibre across country to be turned into yarn, but in most places, a local mill of the right type just doesn't exist and Green Mountain's story seems to fit in so well to this project.

I'm dreaming of using Pioneer for bigger projects, but until then these little cuffs were a fun way to try it out. If you do make something larger, this would be a perfect way to use up the leftovers. The tutorial is really a guideline, I only stopped making these when I started to run out of arm space, they're an excellent little canvas for trying out ideas.

pioneer cuffs-5.jpg

Crafting perched on a wall in the garden is optional, but we've had so little spring that I'm making the most of every bit we get.

pioneer cuffs-12.jpg

You will need

pioneer-cuffs-supplies.jpg

Download the templates and chart.

A note on gauge - I used a relatively small needle for these, to give a firm gauge. Using a US 3 / 3.25mm needle I got about 6 sts per inch in garter stitch and 7 in stranded colourwork. They're so little and sizing isn't too crucial so I wouldn't bother swatching, just use a needle that keeps things nice and sturdy for you. The fair isle cuff is knit in the round, so you'll need needles for your preferred method of knitting a small circumference in the round. For any of the others you can use whichever needles you prefer.

I used small amounts of several colours, not usually everyone's favourite thing to purchase, but the good news is that this is perfect for leftovers or if you can't decide which colour to use for a larger project without testing them. A stack of different cuffs in a single colour would also look really effective and you could make a whole bunch from just one skein.

Step 1 - the knitted parts

Knit the cuff according to the directions below and block. 

pioneer cuffs-4 copy.jpg

Cuff A - shown in Tree Fort

this would actually be a fun first project if there's someone in your life you want to introduce to knitting.

Cast on 4 sts.

Work 6 rows in st st (k 1 row, p 1 row).

*Next row: kfb to end (8 sts).

Work in garter stitch (k every row) until there are 14 purl ridges on the right side, ending with a wrong side row.

Next row: k2tog to end (4 sts).

Work 5 rows in st st.

Rep from * once more.
Bind off.

Cuff B - shown in Wolf Lichen

When working cables work across cable stitches in 'k1, p1' rib as set. Even if you prefer to cable without a cable needle you may find it easier to use one for these reversible cables.

Cast on 12 sts.

Row 1: (k1, p1) to end.

Rep row 1 5 more times.

*Next row: C8B, (k1, p1) twice.

Work 3 rows in 'k1, p1' rib as set.

Next row: (k1, p1) twice, C8F.

Work 3 rows in 'k1, p1' rib as set.

Rep from * until cuff measures approx 1" less than desired circumference of cuff, ending with 5 rows of rib after final cable row. Bind off.

Cuff C - shown in Horse's Mane

When working cables work across cable stitches in 'k1, p1' rib as set. Even if you prefer to cable without a cable needle you may find it easier to use one for these reversible cables.

Cast on 8 sts.

Row 1: (k1, p1) to end.

Rep row 1 5 more times.

*Next row: C8B.

Work 7 rows in 'k1, p1' rib as set.

Rep from * until cuff measures approx 1" less than desired circumference of cuff, ending with 5 rows of rib after final cable row. Bind off.

pioneer cuffs-3.jpg

Cuff D shown in Wolf Lichen

Cast on 5 sts.

*Row 1: k1, p3, k1.

Row 2: k.

Rep last 2 rows once more.

Row 5 (RS): k2, yo, k1, yo, k2.
Row 6 and following WS rows: k1, p to 1 sts before end, k1.

Row 7: k3, yo, k1, yo, k3.

Row 9: k4, yo, k1, yo, k4. 

Work 7 rows even.

Next row (RS): k1, ssk, k to 3 sts before end, k2tog, k1.

Next row: k1, p to 1 sts before end, k1.

Rep last 2 rows twice more.

Next row: k1, sl1, k2tog, psso, k1.

Next row: k1, p1, k1.

Work 6 rows in garter st. Bind off.

Pick up and knit 5 sts from cast on edge with RS facing. Rep from *once more for second leaf.

Cuff E

With background colour (shown in Horse's Mane) cast on 30 sts; k 3 rows.

Next row: (kfb, k4) to end. 36 sts. Join rnd and distribute stitches evenly between needles. 

Next rnd: k to 2 sts before end, this will be the new beginning of the rnd.

Joining contrast colours as necessary work 13 rnds in stranded colourwork following chart, ending last rnd 2 sts before end, this will be the new beginning of the rnd. Break off contrast colours and complete cuff in backround colour.

Next rnd: (k4, k2tog) to end. 30 sts. Turn and k 3 rows back and forth. Bind off.

Crochet steek (on first and 2nd stitch and first and last stitch of round) and cut.

pioneer cuffs-9.jpg
pioneer cuffs-10.jpg

Step 2 - the leather

Print and cut out the appropriate template for your cuff. Draw around the template on the wrong side of your leather, I find a ballpoint pen works well for marking the leather. Transfer the markings for holes and slits, I use the super fancy method of stabbing the pen through the paper to do this. Cut out the leather pieces.

pioneer cuffs-11.jpg
pioneer cuffs-17.jpg

Punch holes, I use the smallest punch for the stitching holes and the 2nd smallest for the snap holes (you might need a larger hole if you're using heavier duty snaps.)

pioneer cuffs-13.jpg
pioneer cuffs-18.jpg

Cut slits, I do this by folding the leather in half and cutting from the foldline out.

Step 3 - joining leather + wool

For the cuffs with two leather pieces, sew the each leather piece to the short ends of the knitted piece. Use a length of matching yarn threaded on a darning needle and bring the needle up through the knitting and then through the first hole in the leather, leaving a 6"ish tail. Backstitch to join the pieces, then weave in all ends on the wrong side.

pioneer cuffs-14.jpg
pioneer cuffs-15.jpg
pioneer cuffs-16.jpg

For the leaf and garter stitch cuffs weave in the ends and simply thread through the slits cut in the leather piece.

pioneer cuffs-19.jpg
pioneer cuffs-20.jpg

Step 4 - add snaps

Following the directions that came with your snaps add snaps to each end of your cuff. For the cuffs that aren't stitched together, poke the snap through both the leather and the knitting so that when the snap is set it joins them. Optional - distress snap with sand paper or by rubbing on a rock.

pioneer cuffs-21.jpg

Step 5

Wear with pride while swinging from a tree and dreaming of everything else you could knit from pioneer.

pioneer cuffs-1.jpg
pioneer cuffs-2.jpg

Field trip to New Lanark

Getting lost in the wardrobe