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Sunday, 6 January 2019

another year done and dusted!

I hope you all got through christmas and the change to a new year in one piece? we had our usual quiet christmas (once all the mail is on its way, I don't have much to worry about anymore) - and the same for the new year celebrations. tomorrow is the big day, where I can finally pack away all decorations - though I already saw on pinterest and FB that people apparently think about easter deco:) I quite enjoy the time between - still not much to do in the garden, which means I can potter about with my crafts!
 
of course I haven't stopped over christmas - which is the perfect time for me to relax from all the handmade gifts I needed made before! as planned I rewarded myself with spinning the peduncle silk. what a joy - it runs into the wheel by itself, only very few tiny specks I had to pick out, and the yarn turned out lovely:
the colour is pretty good in this photo, but the silk is more lustrous, not as woolly as it looks like here! 
this one shows the lustre better - but the silk isn't as grey - a mix of both really:) I have about 450 m, and the plan is to knit a cowl "intermezzo" from it. I just ordered several packs of beads for it, because despite my big stash of beads - I lack the colour and size for this yarn:( pity that the silk is quite expensive - I wouldn't mind spinning enough for a nice silk sweater! it wouldn't be as slippery and easier to wear than mulberry silk I think - but I'll have to wait for a lottery win to be able to afford enough:(
it was difficult enough to finish the plying though! I bought my lendrum wheel 2nd hand, but in very good condition. when I was halfway through the plying - the drive belt snapped! superglue didn't work - so I tried to find the replacement belt that hung off the wheel's back for many years, before I took it off.
checking out the uk supplier I was suprised to find out that apparently there are two drive bands, one for the standard spinning head, one for the much bigger plying head! I think the previous owner didn't know that, because she told me that she left the replacement on the wheel, just in case:) ok, I did wonder at first why the plying head is so close to the wheel when mounted .... but it worked, so I didn't worry about it! I just had to order two bands now - because after just hanging about without being used the plying band is just as brittle as the broken one:( good thing that I still have the louet to spin! but I do want the lendrum back at work again, because I'd like to spin all the merino colours for one of the foley shawls on this one! I did start with the sari silk on the louet though, because the yarn will be different anyway, whereas the merino should be pretty similar for all colours...
of course I also knitted a little bit during the holidays. only a few rows on my "favourite scarf", just the rest of the umbrellas... I left out the black for handles and top, I'll just add them on later because I couldn't be bothered to use more than 2 colours... somehow "the air is out" of this one just now; I can't decide for the next peerie or pattern - but I have a feeling that it won't be finished for this winter anyway....  
and I had to finish the first birthday gift of 2019! this snakes and ladders gameboard has been in the making for a veeeery long time! in fact I had started the first quarter in 2001 - as a game for my son! who is nearly 21 now and not remotely interested in games like this:) luckily we have a few "newer" kids in the family, so I finally finished it! I think it's perfect for a 5 year old, not too difficult, fun and portable ....
rolled up it can be taken on holidays or to the beach - no electrics, no batteries needed, and dice or buttons can be replaced easily if they do get lost... if I ever did one again I'd change over to larger aida though - it's 18 count I think, embroidered with a single thread - and not very good to see because of the dark colour...
 
 
I also started a very mindless cowl in Lang Greta yarn, which I bought a few weeks back as a test. It's merino, but I wouldn't like to wear it myself, too warm I think! the colours are nice though and the pattern very simple to work. it'll be the second gift of the year so:) and after that I should really dig out the "owl feathers" again, to frog and rework the yoke, which is too big. I decided to keep this pattern anyway, even though DS decided that he doesn't like it. if he really doesn't want to wear it after it's finished - it also fits my husband! very practical that they both wear a similar size now:) it's a pain when sorting the washing though - it all looks the same and I really have to work with peeled eyes to make sure that the stuff doesn't end on the wrong shelves...

Sunday, 16 December 2018

are we there yet, are we there yet????

the last week before christmas it always feels to me like that - checking my to-do list and how many days are left is a constant now! sometimes I wish I could just book a nice swiss chalet in the snow for the 2 weeks before and leave without letting anyone know! I could bring my knitting or spinning and sit in front of an open fire, working away - or going out into the snow without worrying about how to get my shopping done or will the mail be there in time! I think christmas should be whenever I've finished all I had planned to (though that would probably mean it only comes once every 10 years or so:)
 
I've been working away on different things - but just now I realized that I've taken several "finished" pix with the tablet:( meaning - the pictures are still in there, not on the computer up here... well, that's technology for you! but I have a few things to show.
 
after our session of WWSIP in september, where I used my blending board to make that autumn medley I suddenly had the idea to make an advent calendar for a spinning friend. that night I didn't sleep well, because I constantly worked over in my mind how to go about it. and if I made a board full of fibre, wouldn't that give me more rolags in each colour? I decided to do a little calendar give-away for the group. but there are only a few spinners, most are knitters, some patchworkers... one or two don't really do anything textile... what to do for them? after getting up at 4 in the morning without any sleep I decided to do one for knitters with 24 small skeins of yarns, one for patchworkers, with 24 pieces of fabric - and one for those non-textilers - with 24 little pewter charms. I should have enough stuff in my stash - and it would mean that I'd get rid of some!
 
well, after a few weeks of just thinking about it I realized that most of the work is in the wrapping, not the collecting of materials! I wrapped the fabric in small paper tubes and glued them on a cardboard circle... bit of decorating, putting on the numbers, easy... for the charms I used matchboxes - the charms are small, so I only glued together twelve of the boxes, decorated them, split them in half - so the box can be used on both sides, like little drawers... now for the yarn skeins! the plan was to use toilet roll inners... but I didn't have enough collected in the short time! putting two skeins in each? no, too big. and how to close them, so that they could be opened easily? the whole thing turned into a bit of a packing nightmare - and the clock was ticking by then:) eventually I decided on putting the skeins and the rolags into paper bags. but making 24 for each of the 5 or 6 calendars would take ages... buying them? phh, they are either in huge amounts (5000 paper bags anyone?:) or quite costly. with the deadline coming steadily closer I finally realized that I could use paper sandwich bags.... of which our supermarket had exactly one pack left! for a hefty price, but so be it. together with the ones I still had in stock (I use them for wrapping seed heads in the garden, to dry and collect the seeds!) I nearly made it - only had to fold and glue four more by hand. but they were boring white, so I dug through my collection of stamps - and colouring pens... numbers on, now just the filling... you see the bags in the photo below... 6 x 24 - and the stamps took ages to dry, but it worked. two days before the due date (there's no point in sending out advent calendars too late - nobody wants to open 20 bags shortly before christmas:) I just had to do the rolags... which took me most of one day:)
 
sometimes sleepless nights can mean great ideas - sometimes it just means making a huge load of work for yourself:)
 
well, I only took pictures of the rolags - but the idea was to make two skeins/fabrics/charms/rolags for each month. and I tried to follow the year, so january = white/icy/sparkly etc.. if I had bought the materials for this, it would have been easier, but it worked out ok, I think - best of course with the rolags, because I could put together which colours I wanted. these are the 24 rolags for one calendar - you can see the tips of the other 3 sets above them.. and the decorated bags on the left..... after handing all of them out I used up the last fibres/rolags of each blend to spin up a ball of my own "seasons" - not sure what to make from that though... maybe something double knit with a single colour?
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
I also took part in an exchange of the OLG. send out a coaster and receive one from your exchange partner in return. I received mine from canada - but apparently my set of leaves is still somewhere in the post:( I liked the different autumn colours and used my handspun to make another set for my friend, though this picture shows them unfelted. I put the 2nd set in the machine and they all felted nicely. though the crochet pattern is more obscured, but they are denser - and of course washable now! they show how the leaves turn from green to....orange, some red - and brown and dry eventually... 
 we also had a secret santa in our textile group. the group decided years back that we do one gift to exchange in the group - and one to put into a collection for the museum staff, who look after us so well. which is always a bit more difficult, because there's no way to know if a male or female will receive the gift! eventually I settled on making a "spa basket"... the basket itself is made in tunisian crochet in the round, 2 colours, the brown is a linen/cotton blend, the natural one is sea island cotton, which is very soft - and stays soft after washing! I made a wash mitt and a wash cloth in waffle stitch, one of those scrubbie balls, and 10 face scrubbies (make-up removers) with a little wash bag...
after making the make-up removers I realised that they might be a good gift to make for a lot of female friends and relatives as well - so I spent a large part of the last few weeks with making small rounds in puff stitch... can do them in my sleep now, after producing about 60 or more of them... they all come with a little "basket" to store them and a lacy washbag so as not to loose them in the machine... swimming on the eco gift wave:) and making good use of cotton yarn leftovers...
 
I also made a double knit cowl for the exchange between our members - but the photo is still "in the tablet"... and I made another one of those in a different pattern for myself - but I still have to close the upper edge with a whole load of kitchener:)
 
So after I've done all the baking (still working on it) and the gift wrapping, parcel packing, putting everything together in the house - I'm finally going to be free to do what I want - in things textile I mean. a while back a friend of mine fell in love with Kieran Foley's crescent scarves... lots of colour, interesting knits - of course I was all for making one for her:) it's just finding the right yarns in the right colours... you can buy them, but either they cost a small fortune or they don't come in the colours she wanted or they aren't very soft or... there was always something. when the UK company World of Wools did a 20% off sale on merino fibres I thought I'd go for it... to have some choice I bought some of her favourite colours, berry tones and turquoise/mallard/duck egg tones... some grey to tone it down if needed, some darker purples (which I can use for myself if not needed:), a bit of sari silk with turquose to set it off and just in case a contrast is needed the golden yellow (I have enough yellows to play with the stash if I need to blend). I think the pink is a bit iffy in this set-up but I couldn't resist that hot pink:) now I'll send her samples and she can decide which colours she'd want. and which of the 7 crescent scarves she likes best...
I think I am going to spend the christmas week with spinning some of those colours - they are the best medicine against cold and grey winter days! oh yes, I forgot to mention that I bought 300 g of natural brown merino (I want to knit the hexahap in the Kate Davies hap book. have the main colour spun up, but needed a yarn for the edge!) - and a kg of natural merino, just in case I need to test a dye urgently...


 

 


Why am I not allowed to write on the side or directly below the pictures??? very weird... anyway, I also wanted to test silks they have on offer... this one is called red eri silk - a natural wild silk with the most beautiful orange-golden colour (not red at all though...) I only bought a test sample of this....
but I bought 100 g of peduncle silk!
it's not exactly cheap, in fact it costs more than mulberry silk! but it is really special - I love it! it has this natural brown colour (peat?) and is soft and silky, but not as shiny as mulberry silk. I am going to spin it into a fine 2ply for a cowl for myself. this is so lovely that it will be my christmas gift to myself:) can't wait to spin it up!
I think this will be all for now - I still have to do more baking, more wrapping and packing - and I should really do something about sunday dinner now:) have a good time before christmas!

 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

time flies....

.... I can't believe that it'll only be another 2 months and a bit - and it'll be Christmas! maybe it's because the weather has turned mild again after a few colder days? it doesn't feel like winter - though the leaves have pretty much fallen. I love my little japanese maple above. the colour changes from green with a slightly red tinge to this fiery red within a day or two! unfortunately that colour won't last long either - another week or so and it's bare - like now. there isn't much colour on the patio left, apart from the few red leaves on the blueberries it's only a bit of green and nothing else..... I am always envious of gardens in the subtropics at this time of the year - but then I'd have to suffer their heat during summer as well, so maybe it's all for the best😏
 
the good thing about the change in season is that knitting weather is back! I mostly spun during the summer, knitted only small bits and pieces, mainly in cotton - but now it's time for longer evenings inside in front of the wheel or with bigger, woolly knitting projects in front of the TV. and it's high time, too - the christmas gifts won't knit themselves!
 
I also finished the one skein of autumn colour I started at the WWSIP last month. I grabbed everything in yellow, orange, red, some lighter green and a bit of silk - to make rolags on my blending board.
 from this mess.....
...to pretty rolags only takes a little while. but what a change!













 ...to this skein. it looks like a lot, when you have a shoebox full of rolags, but spun up it's only one skein after all! I do like the colour though - it'll be a good choice for "autumn", when I put together some advent calendars I want to use as gifts....
to our great surprise we had our first walnuts this year! the tree is huge, but never did a thing before - maybe it's down to the for us warm and dry summer? anyway, I got all excited - not because I like walnuts (I do:), but because this was the first time I was able to use the green hulls for dyeing! of course I didn't wear gloves, when I found the nuts - so by the time I was inside again my hands had turned a lovely, deep brown already. no need to start wearing gloves  for peeling and chopping, but I had brown stained hands for two weeks or so:) good thing I don't work in a kitchen or restaurant!  
I had mordanted about 500 g of teeswater top already, because the original plan was to pick reed flowers to dye green. but either the weather was too bad to wander down to the bog - or I was busy with other things. there's no need to pre-mordant for walnuts, but it doesn't do harm either, so after simmering the nuts I immediately dumped a small bit of fibres in that hadn't taken up any colour in a dye bath with purple fungi! look at the full dark brown of that small skein! I added a second batch into the dye bath, about 100 g this time - and it's still a lovely shade of brown - even though I am not usually a fan of beiges and brown! I did do a third batch, which ended up a teddy brown - but I haven't spun that one up yet. a lot of colour for the hulls of about 30 nuts! I do hope for more in the coming years..... one good thing coming from climate change?

I am also still trying to spin up my fibre stash! this came as a huge white cloud (batt), 25 % cashmere, 75 % "himalaya fibres". it was a gift, but I assume that those fibres are very soft wool... it's nice and squishy - good for next to the skin items. I also learned to spin long draw with this fibre - works like a dream.... because it's so fluffy it's fairly thick for me - I tend to spin thread rather than yarn most of the time:)  
some of it I turned into this cowl. the german pattern is called  Teufelszwirn,  devil's thread, named after a plant, has nothing to do with the devil, bad vibes or anything like that! the cowl is knit in a lacy pattern, but the holes of that lace come out in unexpected places - and the cowl is worn inside out! the effect is rather 3 D - easy to knit, but I hope nice to wear for the recipient as well..... for me that cowl would only be wearable in the coldest of winter, but then my friend lives in Bavaria, where the winters are usually colder than here! (the pattern is available in english now!) 




for my cold winters I am still working on the second part of the scarf for my scood! on the first side there are dogs at the bottom, so this side needed some cats. I adapted a chart I found online, with a few paw prints at the bottom. I still want to knit a Harry Potter inspired cowl, but I couldn't resist adding "dolores umbridge" colours to this one:) 
the next pattern after a small peerie is going to be owls - which are nearly finished by now. only in hindsight did I realize that owls would be a good HP pattern as well... not sure what I'll knit up next, maybe frogs? or spinning wheels? or some graphic pattern? to be continued....  

and to make sure that I won't run out of spinning fibres any time soon, I used up the rest of the mordanted teeswater by dyeing it brazilwood red. I like madder reds, but they don't suit me. brazilwood reds however are "blueish" reds, which I can wear much better. this batch isn't going to end up as a garment though - I am still dyeing more teeswater for my "Persian Dreams" blanket! I still need blues and maybe some stronger greens, and of course enough spun yarn for the basic colour, though I am still not sure if that should be left natural white - or dyed in a darker colour? there are lovely photos on ravelry - but they make it harder to decide which colour to choose! 

the brazilwood comes in powder form - which I inherited from a late dyer friend, who sent me a kg of it last year. I am going to be very mean with it, because it's next to impossible to find anymore after the ban on brazilwood, but I did need to check if it was the real thing - or a replacement, some of which only give apricot or light rose tones!
 
the other "problem" I have right now is that the same designer published a new pattern - at least as stunning as the persian dreams! it's called Indian Nights and I think it's simply spectacular! I get itchy fingers just by looking at it:) and I could even make one for our own sofa, because the dogs don't seem very interested in it anymore, after we exchanged the very old bottom cushions for new ones. it's not cheap in the original yarn, but then it's not a pattern for a quick knit that goes out of fashion any time soon.... I am extremely tempted:)

but before all that I have to make my last batch of blackberry jam - so off to do kitchen duty!





 

Friday, 14 September 2018

autumn

the weather has changed.... you can smell autumn. it's wetter, windier and the sunny spells are less frequent - or it only seems that way because we had a decent summer for once? in the header picture you can see the bog down in the valley - the pink heather is mostly gone, left are the greens and browns and you have to get very close to find small spots of colour. scabious in lavender, the darker purple devil's bit scabious with the little drumstick flowers, elderberries, blackberries, some red, most black - and some light rose blackberry flowers in between:) the colours are all muted, but I like this time of the year. not so cold that you have to wrap up, but when you walk, cycle or work you won't melt either!
 
this is the time for pumpkins - not my own in the garden, because for some reason they never want to grow for me. but if I can't grow them - I can always knit some!
this is a free pattern on the net, but I didn't save the link. there are plenty of pumpkin patterns around though. I added the little tendril and the leave from another pattern... the orange is handspun teeswater, dyed with food dyes. the green is commercial sock wool, dyed with reed flowers.
it's going to go to a new home tomorrow though, as a little thank you. 
the socks are a bit late for the season, but I wanted them finished; they can "rest" until next summer. I like wearing cotton sneaker socks in my gardening clogs - the woolly ones are to warm for summer! why the colourway is called kiwi though - I have no idea! and I think it's the first time that I managed twin sock without trying...


I also (finally) finished DH's birthday present from june, ahem:) it was nearly done, but the weather turned so hot that I couldn't bring myself to knit wool tweed yarn to finish it in time. and even though the weather turned cooler in august, I lost my wool knitting mojo - it only came back at the beginning of september!
the pattern is a very simple, straight one, with a bit of "fair isle" basket weave at the bottom. the yarn on a cone (directly from kilkarra donegal yarns) is prepared for knitting machines, a fine singles, slightly oiled. this gives it a bit of an odd feel when spinning by hand, but once washed it has a very nice hand. my husband likes it warm and he loves anything woolly to wear over shirts etc. 
remember the colourful sweater my son didn't want to wear? this is the yarn after taking it all apart. it's a single, but with practically no wear it was easy to unravel. I think I will use it for a larger knit/felted bag for me, knitted in domino style, to make the short colour changes less fussy. have to do a sample first though - I always find it surprising how different the shrinkage rate during felting can be, not only with different yarns, but also with different stitch patterns and esp. between knitting and crochet! I have 750 g - should be plenty for even a larger bag.







 
but now I better pack up my stuff for tomorrow - because it's WWSIP - worldwide spin in public day! we have set up our first ever event at the museum, where our textile craft group meets - and I hope we'll have some visiting spinners on the day. the weather will not be great - but we can sit inside and spin away the day:)

Friday, 31 August 2018

another rainy day....

this day already started grey - and didn't improve! shortly after lunch it started to drizzle, first tiny sprays, but by now it's like a white wall of mist out there... no point in doing anything outside, drizzle is just as wet as rain - it only takes slightly longer to get drenched in it:)
it does look quite autumnal though - it's still too warm for autumn, about 18 deg.C, but often windy and we had a good bit of rain last week. humid - and my potatoes won't like it. I hope they don't "catch" blight - they have a bit of catching up to do, because I was late in planting them. the blue and pink fleshed varieties stay fairly small anyway, but pea-sized spuds are not really a delight to use:)
 
I did persevere with my boucle practice over the last few days - and eventually managed a yarn that deserves that name! not sure what to use it for yet, but at least it looks like boucle and has a soft hand! and it's all protein fibres, so I can dye it without much ado if I want to.
 in the middle is my first try, with linen = potscrubber. on the left the second, a bit better, but not really a boucle, it's too densely coiled. on the right finally a boucle - yay:) I think I'll have to buy new alpaca top to spin an amount that I can actually use for a project.... it's a lot of work - for quite a small amount of yardage!


Maisie is loosing her summer coat, she's shedding like mad. I've collected a box full of her undercoat in spring, and together with my "harvest" now I spun a small skein of "chiengora". one wash and the doggy smell is gone, luckily she doesn't have a strong dog odour - yet? in my experience most younger dogs don't have that pong that older dogs can develop... so I'll make the most of it now! this is the second small skein - I think eventually I'll have enough for a hat? oddly enough Maisie is a border collie, black and white - but the yarn is dark brown. very soft though.... 
 the last bit of spinning were two skeins of a three-ply. I spun two bobbins full of slightly rougher yarn and overplied them together. the last strand is a fine (softer) fibre from the same dyepot - I think a remnant of superwash? anyway, I put some clear, silverlined glass beads on it and plied it again. the skein on top is the leftover soft ply, chain-plied together, because I wanted approx. the same thickness as with the beaded yarn. now what to do with it? and when I chain-plied that last bit I didn't think and spun in the wrong direction! I was nearly done and surprised about the odd look of the yarn, when I realized what I had done - so I had to treadle like mad for double the amount and in the other direction to get a proper yarn:)
when I cycle to town, I pass a small stand of goldenrod, solidago virgaurea... usually the county council mows it around this time, so I try to pick it for dyeing. 200 g of teeswater top on the left are from that dye bath; a "cold" yellow with a slightly greenish tinge. the softer yellows on the right side are dyed with frozen dahlia flowers that I wanted to use up. I didn't have enough of my favourite red pompom dahlias, which give a lovely soft orange, so I mixed whatever I had in my bag plus a few fresh blossoms, which ended up a less strong dyebath, but still nice I think. the brown skein across is more teeswater, but from an older dyebath. as usual I have forgotten the dye plant - but I don't care:) it all goes in the bin for my "persian tile blanket".... now I just have to go down to the bog to pick a bag full of reed flowers - I do need a few nice green tones for that blanket!

to show that I didn't slack during my blog pause - here is a photo of a blanket I knitted for my mother. it's called stornoway. I used doubled up fine tweed yarn from kilkarra tweed, which fluffs up nicely after washing - perfect for a warm lap blanket! the main part was a bit boring (esp. as I worked on it during summer - not a good idea, too warm underneath:), just a knit and purl pattern, but I loved knitting the attached cable edging! I think I'll make another one for myself soon. I still have a small cone of this colour and another one of a darker petrol tone, which should go together nicely. 
 
this is an old sweater I made for my son many years back, which I dug out of my stash! I know, it's colourful.... I wouldn't have chosen that colourway myself, but he was a small kid and wanted this one - so I spun and knitted it for him. he was quite happy with it - until he wore it to school one day. normally they wear uniforms here, but they needed to repair the heating, so the kids were told to wear something warm that they like. he came back utterly crushed:( several kids told him that he looks stupid and that they don't like that sweater. he never wore it again, which made me so angry! not because of the work I put in but because he was made so unhappy and insecure that he never wore this again - and has pretty much been wearing dark, muted colours ever since:( I think I will frog the whole thing and make something else with it - a bag maybe? knitted and felted it should be strong enough - and if someone has a problem with me using it as a bag - they can stuff it! luckily at my age I have the luxury of not giving a hoot what other people think about my taste:)  


and to finish it off - here is a picture of one of two sunflowers the slugs haven't managed to finish off in the early stages! it's about 2.20 m high and has three flower buds on top - this big one and two smaller ones behind it! the downside is that I have to stake every sunflower here, because otherwise the wind will just snap them right off:( but I am hoping that the seeds will attract some finches again like last year, where we had a whole group of them partying on several big seed heads for days:)

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

passwords?

logging into this account is like entering fort knox by now:( first it doesn't recognize my password (I had the right one, because I put them down in writing!). then, when I finally get a code to change it, I get complaints that it's not safe enough! I tried and tried - and finally, when I chose a very insulting one, it worked! apparently you have to use swearwords now to get into your account:) but don't forget to add a number or a sign - or you'll get another complaint....

ok, so here I am. change of plan - instead of more gardening I am going to stay inside - it's raining... I measured and calculated all my finished skeins of yarn instead and labelled them... well, nearly all of them. I didn't bother with two. one is a small sample from a fibre book I took part in years ago. I threw out most of them eventually (too high-risk for moths!) and kept only special ones. I think this one is very special - it's not made from wire! but it feels like it:) no idea why I kept it - maybe because it's a natural brown?
 I lost the label in the bag, so I don't know which breed it is. but it must be something double-coated! some double cuts as well, but I was able to pick those out before or during carding. some very long brown guard hair - which I tried to pull out. some wiry, dark brown "hair" and medium grey-brown main fibres. I wouldn't call it down - more like pot scrubber feeling, but I spun it anyway. and either it was poorly scoured or not at all - it was quite greasy, but didn't smell like unwashed. mystery fibres anybody? long story cut short: not something I'd buy in a hurry - I think I might give it to a friend, who can unspin it again to use as a dwarf's beard.... it's too small to be saved for rug weaving - maybe a massage glove?
the second small skein that I won't measure is - boucle! I've been spinning for so long, but I've never tried boucle before. I was re-reading part of Sarah Anderson's book about yarn design and because I had also found and spun a sample of white mohair, I thought I'd give it a try. of course it was late and I was too lazy to dig around for a base yarn, so I chose a dove blue commercial 2ply, I think a mix of viscose or silk or something else shiny with linen? anyway, plying the first time wasn't terribly difficult - as long as the base yarn has the extra twist released regularly! I thought maybe I should put it on a spindle and let it dangle, but as I said - it was late and I kept going. 
some spots are ok, nice and loopy.... 
 in others I didn't have enough "room" for the loops, they plied too tightly to push up properly - like here. the loops can't open if they don't have enough yarn to even form loops!
 and of course the yarn turned out quite hard - entirely my own fault, because I used a white linen yarn (commercial) for the binder. did I mention that I found the fine (and much softer) silk a day later? well, it looks like boucle, but there is loads of room to improve! I started a fine white alpaca for the 2nd try - I put the fine silk aside already - all I need now is a reasonably soft yarn as base. because it gets more twist added during the ply I think I should be safe with a commercial wool yarn... of course Sarah Anderson is absolutely right in saying that using all wool/silk makes dyeing your boucle so much easier! maybe I shouldn't spin all my stash - we might be doing a "worldwide spin in public" event in September - I hope I have enough fibres left by then for a day of spinning:) 

I couldn't leave without a picture of my favourite fuchsia right now! it didn't look like much after spending the winter in the polytunnel, but after re-potting and fertilizing it again, it has recovered splendidly! I like fuchsias in general - they have such interesting flower shapes, but this one has a very pleasing tone-in-tone colour, whereas most of my others have a strong contrast, either white-pink, white red or, very common here and even growing wild is "fuchsia" with a purplish corolla... and it has nearly round buds - most of the others are much longer and thinner. 
they don't mind the rain as much as petunias, they really flower all summer long, they even form edible berries (no great taste though) and they are easy to grow from cuttings - what else could a gardener want?:) they look like little ballerinas with flowing skirts, arms outstretched!

off to do a bit more alpaca spinning - and finishing my second shopping net. I changed the design of the base - so now I am going to change the handle as well!





Saturday, 4 August 2018

On time?


I am a bit late with posting the results of my TdF sessions... but first we had a lot of rain (no good light for photos inside) and then other things had to be done and it kind of slipped my mind. but today I found all of the skeins - and the weather was at least dry! so here are my results of 2 weeks of spinning:
doesn't look like all that much? actually it's only 499 g - but 2276 meters altogether! the last batch, the pinkish cotton, took a lot longer than the other fibres - it's short and I haven't spun cotton for a good while, had to get used to that again. but at least another small batch is done now; I just have to work up all those small samples and dye tests! and all of them are plied - so that makes it double the kilometers?:) I count the cotton as my challenge - though that makes it sound worse than it actually was. it's just a big jump from the smooth long-fibred silk to the much shorter cotton.
 this colour combo reminds me of neapolitan ice cream:)
when I had finished the cotton, I started on another leftover, a small amount of superwash wool, dyed with coffee a small eternity ago. the colour isn't too bad, but I don't like the feel of the fibres, artifical and somehow sticky. but at least it's done now - that was the very last remnant of superwash fibres I've had in stash!
on the right side is a sample of "Gentile di Puglia", not merino soft, but with a very nice crimp and super to spin with a long draw! it's bouncy and lofty and would make a very nice sweater - if only I had more of the fibres! it's from a fibre book exchange - and I have no idea where to find more of that.... but I am sure there are similar breeds available closer to home.
I handcarded that - and right now I have  light brown fibres on the wheel - no idea which breed, but fairly long, a bit rougher - and unfortunately with some 2nd cuts that I have to pick out. what a difference to the apricot silk brick:)



we had our crafter's meeting last week and I needed a small gift, so I decided to try a pattern for a "shopping bag" I found a while back. it should be washable, so I used some cotton for it. you start with a circular base and do the main part in a very open yarnover pattern. a simple and quick knit, but I found that I had to change the handle design a bit. it's obvious that the bag stretches when filled - but I don't like handles that grow longer every time I use them! so I knitted that part in garter stich as given in the pattern - but added a line of attached i-cord on each side. this makes it much more stable I hope. I started a 2nd one immediately, but changed the design of the circular bottom. I see "baggy" times coming, but they are perfect as gifts, so I'll make a few of them, but I'll change the pattern slightly each time - don't want to bore myself endlessly:)
 
  Pringles of course had to check out what I was doing - I am not sure that he approves, but he's a bit out of sorts, because we had to go to the vet with him today (nothing major, just a small injury on the chin - probably a bite from a fight...). giving him his AB 4 days in a row is another story.... dogs are so much easier to treat, at least when they are as greedy as ours. just roll it in a bit of cheese, they'll swallow it whole! with the cat we need one person to hold him, and another to stuff the tablet in, hold his mouth shut and blow into his face until it's down... which usually gets both persons nicely scratched and a huffy cat running off under a shelf or cupboard! why don't they develop a nice, fishy tasting tablet just for cats???