Monday, 30 June 2014

quick update

just a short blog entry - to say that yes, I am still alive - and I finished the quilt, puh:) just in time - I slightly underestimated not only the number of green hexies I'd need (easily rectified by making more) - but also the time I need to put it all together. but it's done now, so no need to complain! I think I might be taking a break with the hexies for a few weeks - a lot of stuff wasn't done lately and I'll better get up to scratch on a few things first! but the plan is to make at least one other "wild flower garden" (for myself this time!).....
 these are some of the work stages: lots of paper inlays:) bottom left shows the back of the top, looks very 3-D! I didn't quilt the top, I just knotted it - like flower stamen, in some of the flowers, but not all of them. I thought about sewing around it all on the green edge with multicoloured thread, but there's already so much colour in the quilt! and I've done all of it by hand - didn't want to add a bit of machine work after all:)
the bottom right are my leftovers. I made 36 flowers more than I needed (not on purpose, but I can use them for the next one!). and I've only left a handful of greens - after I made more than 100 extras! I think I might choose fewer greens for the next one though - all the different greens make the whole thing a bit too unruly:) flower garden for very wild grannies:) I counted 1705 hexies - and the whole thing took about 150 hours give or take. if anybody asks: no, I wouldn't do something like that for sale! or at least not until somebody pays me the minimum wage per hour:) which would mean 8.65 per hour - that would be about €1300 just for the work - plus of course all the materials:) I can't see anybody forking out that kind of money (or even just half of it) for a tablecloth of 110 x 110 cm....
 so this is the finished table cloth. on a nice summer day:) I put thermolam in as a waddding, but I think a piece of brushed cotton would have been enough - it's not to keep someone warm after all! but at least nothing wobbles; it's soft, but not so soft that glasses or cups wouldn't stand properly. if I had more time I would have liked to handquilt a leafy border around, but that would have been cutting it a tad too fine!
 I didn't do much beside the sewing, but I needed some relaxation on the side here and there:) so I started on another one of the pencil roving "cheeses" I ordered from Studio Donegal a while back. I love the colours, but this time the roving is extremely fine and flimsy. so much so that I had to double it up to be able to spin it. I pull out one colour and divide it - to match the colours reasonably well. but it does get mixed up a bit, so the colours aren't as clear as the last ones. if one can call tweed colours clear that is:) not sure what I'll make out of it - I think maybe a bag? it's too rough to wear knitted up and I wouldn't have enough to weave a larger piece of cloth.
 the last few weeks have been pretty good weatherwise and we spent a lot of time outside. I was rather surprised to find this fellow inside - he (she?) made a racket at the window, trying to get out (yes, really, it sounded like a little helicopter!). I managed to catch it in a jar to carry it outside - doesn't it have gorgeous colours? it's called "elephant hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) and I have never seen one here before! I thought they might be rare, but apparently they're not.
still, I am happy to see all the different species - to me it means that our garden is a home to a lot of wildlife.... 
 my garden isn't quite the riot of colour the quilt shows and I have to admit that some of the real plants are more gentle on the eyes:) this is the rose "New Dawn", a lovely climber with porcelain pink flowers that's been growing outside our porch for many years. we cut it back last year, because it was rather straggly, but it's been coming back nicely this summer! pity though that it isn't scented - and it doesn't do rosehips either! well, you can't be beautiful and smell  nice at the same time:)
other flowers however go better with my "wild garden" colour scheme:) this is a primula vialii - and I love how the two colours set each other off! I wouldn't want to wear a dress like this - but the flowers give a real "zing" to the flower bed. small - but bright:)
this is it for now from me - lots to do, places to go:)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

slow progress

I've been working flat out on several projects - but I didn't finish all too many of them - yet! well, I suppose it's easier to finish socks, scarves and other small things, at least that's my excuse:) I have finally finished the peagreen monster - the recipient was happy, although I thought that the smaller size would have been large enough for her. but if she wants the cardie to wrap around her - who am I to complain. I am well known for preferring woollies to wrap in to "negative ease" garments!
I think it has been a rowan pattern, from one of their magazines... it's debbie bliss donegal tweed, but I have to admit that I prefer the finer Kilkarra aran tweed. the pattern gives the 6.5 mm needle, but I only used 6 mm, to make the gauge fit, but also because I liked the grip of the tighter knit better. the sleeves are wide, totally unshaped at the bottom, so maybe not very practical in use, and the fit is extremely loose (tent springs to mind:). the collar sits better on a real person - but unfortunately there was nobody to take a proper photo (as usual)....
the next nearly finished project on the needles is the baby alpaca cardigan - which has to be blocked before I can work out the upper sleeves... the lace pattern pulls in so much that it is difficult to calculate the decreases otherwise. 
the other main project (unfinished of course!) is the hexagon table cloth. all the flowers are finished, plus some double and triple ones and a handful of buds. those are all the greens to surround the flowers (at least I hope I'll have enough!) plus a few sets, in case I do need more small inserts.... 
I couldn't resist the stack of flowers - a hexie highrise in colour:) I don't think I'll need all of them, but it's better to have a few spare - and I want to do a second one anyway.... 
until my room is ready, I won't have the space for an upright board, so I put two polystyrene boards on a camping table to lay out my hexies. I know that there is too much room in between some of them, but I wanted to make sure that the colours are spread out reasonable well. (the green is just fabric pieces in this pic!). the colours in the back look more muted - but I put that down to the darker background fabric. I printed some close-ups and keep them close to my sewing corner. I pricked the first few hexies up on a piece of cardboard and started sewing this morning. to be continued... 
I also received some purple fabrics - my favourite bag is slowly coming apart and I plan to make myself a new one with some purple fabrics. and maybe a little green, but I'll test that before I sew. the pattern consists just of larger squares that are put together to form a round bag - easy to sew with the machine, even for me:). and I have no idea why blogger doesn't let me write on the side of the picture....
on the 24th of may our group, the Connacht Textile Crafters, took part in the "Feile na Tuaithe" (good thing that I can type here, I wouldn't be able to pronounce it properly...). it takes place in the Museum of Country Life in Castlebar, where they have a lovely park to put up that festival. our group was given a marquee, so we brought a few of our finished projects for decoration. Lesley brought some of her lovely quilts, which look good even from further away.  I brought my revontuli shawl (black/grey/white, right side) and the red and green thingy (shawl), that looks like a curtain here:) we had problems with putting the stuff up so that it's visible - but doesn't cover the rest... we also had smaller projects on the tables below, peg loom weaving, embroidery, crochet, knitting etc. in the background we put up our bunting, which was made by members a few years back. each member received a felt tile to decorate with one letter of the groups' name. in hindsight we should have put it up closer to the front, because the details of each tile were too far away to be appreciated; but we were worried it might rain and end up a soggy mess!
I demonstrated bobbin lace (place on the right, only my board is there:) and ended up nearly finishing a bookmark; I did the last bit at home later. not perfect, because it's hard to concentrate and talk and explain at the same time, but at least it's usable. I'll mount it on some fabric to make it a bit sturdier.
Anne, another member, demonstrated how to make buttons out of fimo clay - which was an instant hit esp. with the kids, because it's colourful and fun to look at.
we were lucky that there was practically no rain, but it was windy and cool - esp. after a few hours of sitting in front of the projects...
so now - back to sewing hexies. I had to resort to using one of those sticky patches - after sewing about 400 flowers, my middle finger wasn't taking any more needles without "complaining":)

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

waiting for...

 ... better weather!
I should be working in the garden most of the days by now - but we have our spring monsoon time again, i.e. heavy showers or straight rain most days:( every time I put my nose out I get wet - which is quite annoying, because there would be so much to do. the soil is soggy and only the weeds are growing.... I have to admit though that I blamed the tulips for a no-show - and all I would really have needed was a bit more patience, because they flowered quite nicely, just later than I expected:) pity that they don't bloom together with the daffs, which would have been quite the spectacle in the flower beds!
at least I had sunny colours inside - when working on my flower garden tablecloth! by now I have more than 100 flowers and quite a few "doubles", only about 20 or so to go. not to mention all the greens in between of course:) 
I don't want just full flowers, I like it better if some of them overlap, have buds or are closer together without green hexies to separate them, so I put some suitable colours together. as you can see some are quite bright:) most of the greens are more muted, which will bring the brighter colours down a bit, I think.
I already cut half of the green fabrics, but I still have to fold and "stick" them, before I can start putting everything together.  
and yes, I do really just stick the fabric around the template with masking tape. there is "low tack" masking tape available, which holds together the fabric, but won't leave any residue on it. it might not last long enough, if you plan to do the quilt of a lifetime - but I have to work quickly anyway (deadline looming), so it suits me fine. and the paper templates are re-usable two or three times! which is good, because it saves me from cutting everything out again for the 2nd planned project...
I only sew, when I sit at a table - which doesn't work in front of the tv for me. I usually either spin or knit there... I did spin a skein of dark grey, three-ply gotland, but haven't taken a pic, not very exciting anyway:)
I did knit some smaller projects on the side, when I had to stop with the beige cardie (which only needs a little more work, blocking and finishing). I made large potholders in black and white, with the chinese symbol for "luck". looks to me like a human standing in front of a house? which might be considered very lucky - esp. if it is your own house:)
 there were some leftovers, so I used the yarn up by making matching dishcloths. my favourite "no-think" pattern is the circular saw...
so I made another three for a small mother's day gift, together with a hand-made (not by me!) piece of soap. and was rather surprised, when my mother claimed that she was delighted to receive three pretty doilies:) well, it's not up to me how people use their gifts, but I don't think I'd like to use those as doilies (but maybe that's because I am not really a "doily person"). I find them quite nice to use as dishcloths myself, though I changed the original pattern a bit by wrapping the short-row stitches and knitting the wrap and the stitch together to avoid holes in the fabric. there are still the lace holes along each stocking stitch part on the outside (the zig-zag of the "saw blade"). but at least there are none in the middle, which wouldn't be very practical when in use... perfect for leftovers of multicolour cotton I think!  

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

one month later...

typical for spring are days that are too short to put in everything I'd like to put in! so no blogging.... there's still too much work leftover, when the day is already gone:) of course I still knit/sew/spin etc. but gardening work takes over the regime. the weather dictates inside or outside work and lately we did have quite a few drier spells.
last week we had to go to Galway. we went very early and took some time out to walk down to the sea first. another day of lovely sunshine - first we fed some birds (swans and seagulls mainly), then we went down to the water to collect some shells and sea glass:) the header picture goes out towards Galway Bay (famous from several songs:). the rest of the day wasn't quite as idyllic, a lot of running in and out of shops, waiting in lines for the till etc. - walking from one shop to the next is far more tiring to me than walking hours and hours through a forest or on a beach!
Galway Bay 
Galway Cathedral
yesterday I went on a longer drive with a friend. I was asked to choose a birthday present - a special one (the big Five-O looming:). I decided that I'd like to go to Lough Key Forest Park - quite a drive from here, nearly an hour... not doable without a car and train and bus connections don't seem to exist either. we watched the forecast for a while, but I didn't really fancy going during the last 2 weeks of easter holidays. there's a lot of stuff on offer for kids and when the weather is reasonably good, it can get quite crammed. we were lucky to choose yesterday - today it's been raining on and off! yesterday we drove in brilliant sunshine, warm, but not too hot, not much wind - the perfect day. this park is an old family estate, taken over by Coillte. hard to believe that one family should have owned so much land - it's huge (I think 800 acres or so?), with the lough right beside it and access to boat tours etc. we didn't come for boat tours though, we came for some greenery:) the park is literally covered in wild garlic, and we went and picked some leaves... and enjoyed a walk through the forested area. at this time of the year it's the perfect walk, the trees are not as dense as they are in summer, there is dappled sunlight everywhere, but it's sheltered and "wild" - esp. after the recent storms we had. we enjoyed some coffee and brownies and sat outside, watching the birds all around....
 Castle Island in Lough Key Forest Park
the Fairy Bridge
I didn't just drive around all month, I did some work as well:) I am still working on the hexagon table cloth - haven't taken any new pix, but my stack of finished flowers is growing, I need about 100 - 120, but I have sewn more than 50 plus some "extra shapes", where flowers overlap. plus some "buds", so I reckon I need another 35- 40 maybe...
the first batch of flowers - picture taken several weeks ago:) I was worried that I might end up with a sore finger, but I only did 4 or 5 a day max., so it wasn't that bad. I bought some of those "patches" you can stick to your finger, but so far I didn't need them. I hate thimbles and try to work without them if I can....
I think this was my "hexie collection box" at its fullest -  most of them already in sixpacks (new meaning to the word?:); on the right are the ones where I only have a few or leftovers from cutting (I got 8 out of a charm 6x6 in, so I always had two spares that I could use for a middle patch).
so far I only washed and ironed the green I need between the flowers. not sure if I really should use the light green (bottom right), because it has red dots... and the more blueish green (larger piece in the middle). but there are plenty of different greens in the charm pack and I also have some greens already in stash. I separated the more khaki green ones, somehow they don't seem to fit the colourful flowers of a flower garden? maybe I should do a desert garden next:)
thanks to a friend, who collects FQ's, I had a large choice of colours for the flowers, but I also ordered stuff from "planet-patchwork", a mail order company from Berlin (yes, it's silly, but it's cheaper and faster to order from germany than from the UK; over here there isn't all that much choice in PW mail order companies:( at least I didn't find any online that offered enough choice of what I wanted....)
I also nearly finished the beige cardie; I just need to finish both arm shapings and put everything together. and I finally knitted the black and white potholders in double knitting I wanted to send off as a thankyou. I chose the chinese symbol for (good) luck instead of a sanquhar pattern - but didn't have the time to take a pic yet... next in line will be the green monster (a cardie in frog green donegal tweed I promised to knit for my friend) - and hopefully finally the rest of the FIA I started last year (good thing that UFO's don't need feeding and watering:)! unless - I can't help myself and start on one of the purple donegal tweeds that look so tempting every time I pass the cones....

Sunday, 23 March 2014


after several days of really yucky weather with torrential rain, storms and frost at night today is a quiet sunday. earlier the sun peeped out for a bit, but we have more rain in the forecast for tomorrow and the clouds are already gathering... never mind, the weather after tomorrow is supposed to be "picking up"! hope dies last:) of course a few days of nice weather and the daffs think it must be spring. they are blooming everywhere and all nearly at the same time - and I think there'll be none left to flower around easter as it is so late this year (they are called "easter bells" translated from german - but over here they're usually gone by then!).
I love all the spring flowers, but in contrast to tulips, which only flower really strongly in the first year (unless you dig them out and replant them) daffodils increase without me doing anything about it - perfect for lazy gardeners:) pity that the muscari aren't flowering yet, the "swedish" look with yellow and blue gives the flower beds a real boost! the only downside to the long-stemmed daffs is that they break easily in our strong winds. I just spent a nice 15 minute break in the garden, collecting all the broken ones to put into a big bunch inside! they are so cheerful - even a hole in the flower from a greedy slug can't change that!  
I am also doing other flowers, the "grandmother's flower garden" kind! I checked through my stash to dig out fabric for a larger project - and couldn't resist making two smaller mug rugs first. of course eedjit me sent the finished ones off before taking a photo. I made them "egg-shaped" with a bias-taped edge in green....  I bought thermolam as wadding for potholders last year, but it worked nicely for mug rugs, too. it's heat resistant, denser than normal wadding and not too thick - I did all the sewing by hand and it was very easy to work with.
 this is the first step for the bigger project! I am going to need about 1100 of those for my idea! couldn't get the 0.75 "easily as pre-cut, so I took thicker paper and copied 25 pages of them... a lot of cutting involved, but luckily I don't need all of them before I can start! we have our craft meeting next saturday and I plan to have enough hexies prepared to do some sewing. I don't want to make a very orderly flower garden, I'll include some partial flowers and a lot of different greens in between (have to order more fabric for that of course....:) to make a square table cloth out of it. the first 300 are cut!
I also finished the baby booties - as usual knitting the base was done in an evening - fiddling about with the dogs took ages... to make them stand up nicely - I filled them with kiwi fruit:)
the green is much more yellow in reality though.... 
 ... this comes closer, esp. the upper skein. I am just spinning the last bit of the fibres, two skeins are ready to go for the baby cardie. I think I won't double the yarn up as I did for the booties though - or the sweet pea pods will look like broad beans:)
I didn't finish the baby alpaca cardie yet, so the sweet peas have to wait a little while longer until it's finished. no pix yet, don't want to spoil the surprise for the future owner:)
 on one of the rainy days last week I finally used up my own lemon "harvest" - I made jelly out of my 7 lemons. I gave one each of the irish bio lemons to mother and mil (as proof that there are home grown lemons available in ireland:) - and used the rest with a little bit of "help" (aka lemon juice) from 3 shop bought ones. I cut the peel into very fine strips and simmered it with a bit of water for a while. it turned a very deep yellow! then I used the peels, all the juice and slices of the smallest fruit with jam sugar to make the jelly. it's very tasty - not really very sweet, but full of aroma! perfect on a fresh buttered roll - yum!
and now I better get started - I have to iron a gazillion of little fabric pieces to start the patchwork! and finally get out the order for more fabric, esp. in greens....

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

one swallow....

.... doesn't make a summer! not sure if there's a saying like that in english, but one nice day in march doesn't make it spring either - that's definitely true! we had two quite nice days yesterday and the day before - but today we were back to grey, drizzle and wind:( the crocus flowers look sad and droopy and everything is dripping wet:( everybody seems to be waiting for spring to arrive and I hope it doesn't stay cold for as long as it did last year!
I should really be working in the garden, but apart from the occasional hour or two I haven't been getting anywhere - the ground is soggy and with only 8 to 10 deg. C sowing seems to be a bit early. luckily I still have many textile jobs to do inside. I did finish the mice potholders - but I still think that the design would have looked better with less "rain" above the mouse and more leaves etc. below.
I have to say though that the pattern is far clearer in the photo than in reality. when you look more closely it's harder to see the separate colours, even though the contrast between black and pink should be clear enough.  the next potholders (another gift) will be black and white  and of course double-knitting - but I am not sure about the pattern yet. black and white should go well with graphic patterns, but somehow they all look rather "cold" to me. maybe I should do a contrast - black and white plus some ornamental pattern? or irregular lines and shapes? still in the thinking stage with that one....
I also made a set of dishcloths with the same yarn, partner look in the kitchen:) with the pink one I followed the pattern and didn't wrap the stitches for the short rows. in the black one I wrapped the short row stitches, which gave it a neater look without the "holes" in the separating rows. when I put both of them together, they looked like a nice flower and the recipient was rather reluctant to see them as dishcloths - she thought they're supposed to be a brooch:)  
while I  worked out the patterns for the next two larger projects I finished another pair of slouch socks. this time I used only 2 stitches and two rows: 2 rows of 2 k, 2 p. 2 rows k. 2 rows of 2p and 2 k, followed by 2 rows of p. I like the crinkling the patterns forms, very comfy for slippers (maybe not so much in shoes - not nice when the leg slips down). I call them flowerpower, because they remind me of greenery in the garden with flecks of colour for blossoms.... and just now, while I am writing, I thought of all the sock charms I bought - maybe I should attach two of them to these new socks? hm, ladybirds? bees? are there dragons in a flowery garden?:)
this is one of the gauges I made. it's the horseshoe pattern I mentioned in the last entry, simple to knit, and it forms a nice lower edge. I changed the middle stitch to make it less prominent (actually I just follow the original walker pattern in the project, I had changed that stitch for the gauge!) and I'll finish the bottom with a narrow i-cord; for that I started with a provisional cast-on. it'll be a short cardie, but with long sleeves.
of course I also spun some more yarn (I think I love knitting - but I couldn't be without spinning for long). this is a sample (100 g) of polwarth, which I ordered with the angora/silk top. spins nicely, very soft, but not as cottony as fine merino; it has a bit more "grip" to it. I plied it with fine commercial silk - not sure if I'll eventually dye it or not. for now I leave it as it is.  I didn't  measure, but it's quite fine; I'd say lace weight - and weighs 125 g now. should be enough for a smaller lace project?
I also started to spin the superwash wool I dyed light green with gaywool dyes. it's not my favourite fibre to spin, but I have to admit that the finished yarn is very soft and squishy - and washable, too! perfect for the "sweet pea" cardigan, but first I have to spin some more. I did use part of the first skein to make baby booties though, couldn't resist it. anyway, I have to hurry with those - once the kids are up and running the booties are quite obsolete....  
and then there was the "purple" dyeing. I had spun up about 800 g of grey wool/silk blend and plied it with a fine pink viscose yarn. but somehow I didn't like the contrast of grey with pink once I had finished. so I "brewed" a blend up blue and red - looked a nice purple in the pot to me. it still looked purple on the yarn while in the pot - but turned out to be more blue than purple, when the yarn was finished. only a few spots had take the purple... odd, but I still like the look of it.  
the weird thing happened, when I added two more skeins (one baby alpaka, right, one merino/silk, left). expecting them to turn out like the above - I was rather surprised to not see a hint of purple - and neither any blue - but red! I have no idea what happened in that dye bath - and people say natural dyes are unpredictable:) both these lots were in the same bath as the purple superwash I showed in my last post!
but luckily all the colours turned out nice, so I am happy. I have a skein of fine soy silk that would go perfectly with this, and I am thinking about making a three-ring cowl with it. not sure if I should really take three similar shades - or the two reds - and one contrasting colour? first I have to finish the two cardies though - and there's a big birthday gift "in the making" as well. or rather in the planning stage, but I don't have endless time to finish, so I'll better get going with that one!

P.S. I added a recipe on my recipe page - is it normal that there's no empty open comment form on the "pages", so that I have to add the new recipe below the older entries???

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Irish Spring - and other mayhem

I've been meaning to blog for ages - but somehow the last month has been kind of hectic and chaotic. Not only inside - but outside, too! I remember an ad on tv years back, still in Germany. I think it was for a shampoo, called "Irish Spring". a gurgling small current, everything green and sunny, lovely flowers... if only! look at the header - that's irish spring weather today. and yes, I know, elsewhere spring starts in march - but over here it's supposed to start in february! honestly!
we didn't have much of a winter so far, practically no snow, very little frost - and you can see it in the garden. the snowdrops are in full bloom, the first crocusses are peeking out and the daffodils show fat buds already. what we did have in abundance though was wind. and rain. lots of it - so much in fact, that the coasts in the west and south are all flooded and there has been huge damage all along the coastline, due to storms together with very high tides. luckily we are quite far away from the coast and the small river at the bottom of the bog might be higher than usual, but no danger for us up here. and we had no storm damage in the garden, but the electricity went off several times. not for very long, 90 min. max., but funnily enough always in the dark! but it seems to me that the weather is doing weird things all over Europe (and not only there!) - so maybe we should count ourselves lucky that we haven't had 6 feet of snow or arctic temperatures?

on the textile line I've been busy, too. the christmas gift production is always followed by urgent birthday gift works here. I think birthdays should be forbidden after christmas at least until end of march:) no luck here, I've become a great aunt - in january! and of course there are others to work for already. so far I've managed all of them in time. apart from one, but that wasn't a gift, so it didn't matter. I did foolishly join the Christmas KAL on ravelry again this year. I started only in the 2nd week, so there wasn't a realistic hope for me to finish in time, but never mind. I did finish - by mid january:)
 I bought quite a few balls of Austermann Lace two years ago (special offer). they are pure merino and very fine. aubergine, I couldn't resist:) there is nothing wrong with the yarn, but when I worked several very open lace patterns, some with double yo's, I realized that the yarn isn't perfect for that. some of the patterns do look lovely in the yarn, but others are simply too open and loose. and after blocking the shawl it became obvious that some of the patterns will pull together more than others - permanently. well, it's wearable, soft and light, too - but I wouldn't give it away like this. teaches me a lesson about using the right yarn for the right project:)
this one however turned out very nicely, I think. it's handspun yarn, a blend of 50 % angora with 50 % silk, both undyed. in some places the silk is more visible than in other, but it looks and feels very nice. I was worried that the angora will shed a lot, but after spinning it with a little too much twist and plying it quite tightly it turned out very well. it bloomed a bit after washing, even more after knitting, but it doesn't shed - or at least not much. the recipient isn't going to spit out angora all the time, when wearing the shawl. the pattern is available free on ravelry here. frost flowers is a very nice name for the pattern; in germany it is called "bear paws" instead, not quite as pretty? I choose to knit only 3/4 of the chart in width, because I wanted a scarf, not a shawl. 

the pattern looks quite complicated, but it really isn't! no odd stitch combinations, no bent needles after trying to p5tbl etc... after one repeat I practically had it in my head, no need to look at the chart or count all the time, because the stitches have a very logical built-up.
the whole scarf only weighs 150 g, and because I bought 300 g of it - I could do a second one. I did finish spinning all of the fibres (I am famous for doing only as much as I need to just now - and end up with bags half full of fibre leftovers) for once - so I can think up another snuggly project. not for me though - I'd probably die of heatstroke in this scarf!
 I also dyed a few things. I finished spinning the baby alpaca - and dyed it with gaywool dyes; the colour is called mushroom. this I will knit up into a short cardie - a real longterm project:) I gave away a voucher for a "hanson" shawl, but the recipient prefers a short cardie instead. then it took a while to think up a colour and of course, I had to spin the yarn. and dye it. but now it's ready to go, the gauge is done and I will use a "horseshoe" pattern for the cardie. the yarn is very soft and fine and feels really nice - so I hope the cardigan turns out well.
the new baby in the family has to be dressed as well - the plan is to make a cardie like this. I thought about using angora or baby alpaca, but I think it's too hairy for a small baby. instead I dyed some superwash merino in a slightly variegated green. I dotted some blue on first and put everything into gaywool "ivy" after. when spun up it should be only very slighly mottled. the plan is to make it for 12-18 months of age, so that gives me a bit of time for the actual job! I have to say though that the superwash top was no fun to dye - it falls apart when wet, and leaves a right mess on the drying rack!
all in all I dyed about 400 g in green - which left me with about 150 g of undyed superwash top. I first did an acid dye bath in blue with a bit of red (leftovers from last summer) to dye a grey wool/silk blend. the intention was a purplish tone, but it came out pretty much all blue! two odd skeins that I didn't like the colour of came out pretty much all red in the next dye bath. and the superwash? turned out to be the colour I wanted for the grey skeins! very odd, not sure why this happened, but I suppose it had to do with the age of the dye.... the adventures of diy dyeing:) and I couldn't take pix of the overdyed grey yet - because the skeins took ages to dry...and the weather has been yucky ever since!
knitting is on the menu as well. I started something mousy again - a potholder in double knitting. the pattern is on ravelry - but it turned out as a flat rectangle, not the square I needed! this is only half of the potholder, but already more than 3/4 of the pattern! I had to add a lot of raindrops on top to make it square - but I think it looks alright. no. 1 is done, no. 2 on the needles.
when we went to the mill in Donegal I wanted to buy some aran yarn, too. somehow it got delayed and delayed (not that I urgently need more yarn:) until january, but now I finally have the yarns here that I wanted. this pic shows more detail, but the colours are way to light!
this is closer to the original. the colours are dark and saturated. the right cone is 2 kg of donegal tweed aran, for needles size 4 to 4.5. I plan to make a simple long cardie, maybe with a basketweave pattern, for me.
the cone on the right is a newer addition to the range, called soft donegal. it's available in fine single ply (like here) or in 2ply, on 2 kg kones. I didn't really have a plan for the 2 kg I ordered, but when I checked it closer I thought it might be suitable to knit a long coat in double knitting? I'd have to buy a 2nd colour of course, but that shouldn't be a problem. and I have to make a sample, because the single yarn might come out biased when knitted up! I don't want to invest time and money into a rhomboid coat!
the dark green skein on top is "donegal heather", chunkier than the rest and a 3ply for DH's new sweater...
of course there are a few small "side projects" coming up here and there. just now I have to sew in the threads on a set of gloves with cropped fingers - will be used as a valentine gift! and yesterday I plied 100 g of polwarth, which I ordered as a sample. I wanted to finish it before starting the sweet pea green - so I plied it with fine commercial silk. no idea if I leave it as a lace yarn for a small project - or put it into a dye pot during the next session.
off to make a mug of tea - just the thing on a cold evening in front of the spinning wheel! I just hope that the snow will be gone by tomorrow....

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