Thursday, 28 March 2019


Yes, spring has finally arrived here! it's still not exactly warm, and it looks like the temperature is going down again for the weekend, but even a day or two of milder and even sunny (today) weather is better than what we had before!

My camellia has been flowering for the last two weeks and I love the perfect flowers, even though they don't last very long. my smaller, red flowering variety is always much later! I see buds, but they'll need at least another week or two to open... the downside of those pretty blossoms - they have no scent whatsoever. it's like with some beautiful roses - the more special the flowers the less interesting the scent is - at least quite often... but there are very few insects about anyway - I only saw one bumblebee so far and no bees whatsoever, even though they are usually keen on the muscari flowers I have planted into pots and buckets in front of the house.
of course it hasn't only been gardening and flowers - I've been busy with textile stuff as well. an old project first - I thought I had forgotten to take pix, but I found one after all -  in a folder that I was moving. this is special, not because of the pattern, but because DS borrowed this hat - and lost it on the first outing:(
endless colour changes and just as many ends to darn in - and he just looses it after a single day of being worn:( that's not all - he also lost the handspun/handknit hat with reflective yarn in it!:( that finally pushed me over the edge - from now on it's only cheap bought hats for him, which oddly enough he never looses:( the pattern was a free one from ravelry - but I can't find the link just now. I thought about doing a replacement, but couldn't be bothered to do it all again anyway. given the fact that I am not a hat wearer.... and it's not exactly a very feminine pattern anyway! all sock wool leftovers....
I also finished the double knit harry potter cowl I had planned - and hope that he doesn't loose this as well! it was a good bit more work than the hat and I think I'd be beyond furious... it hasn't been cold enough to wear though - double knit with enough length to wind around the neck twice = quite warm, even on the bicycle:)
the knitting was straightforward, essentially DK is just like knitting a rib with two colours, I think. the only thing I didn't like was doing the cast-on! I wanted an invisible one, but it is quite loose and twists every way, which makes closing the round quite difficult. eventually (after ripping out 640 sts several times:() I decided to knit the first row straight and only close the round after that.
the cast-on ends have to be darned in anyway, which makes closing the little hole very easy. the end with 640 sts of kitchener wasn't as bad as I thought - and I finished the other, shorter cowl at the same time. it was done with the leftover silk/wool yarn from the previous cowl, same colours, different patterns. on to the "gift" heap with it! I had less than 2 cm of black left after finishing the cowl - talking about playing yarn chicken:)
I also finished a pair of socks (for me), following a pattern of the "silk road socks" book by Hunter Hammersen - 2nd edition. the lace pattern is very simple, but quite effective. I've started another pair with it, in cotton, for the summer... 
 my friend has complained for a while that it's always too cold and windy, she'd like a hood, cowl etc... so I decided that I'd try to put both of them together. the yarn is a handspun merino blend. the make-up is quite simple, a large rectangle, which is put together along the cast-on edge for the hood. a ring knitted in the round for the cowl. attach hood to cowl, add drawstring - et voila, "howl" (hood and cowl:) finished...
the downside is pushing long hair inside it - but there's enough space, so it can be put up and the hood should still fit! I added the drawstring to make the face opening smaller in strong wind, and to bring the cowl part closer to the neck, if it gets very cold...
our textile group has another group project - a charity blanket for a children's hospice. we make granny triangles in bright colours to give a bit of joy - the families keep the blankets as mementos after such a difficult time. 
crocheting the triangles is very simple - the only thing that takes time is darning in the ends. because the pattern is so open, the threads are visible when crocheted in, so they all have to be darned in separately. and the triangles have to be steamed, because they are shaped like a bowl after finishing them:) I finished my batch - I am looking forward to our meeting on saturday to see if we have enough for one blanket - and how much yarn is left to maybe make a second one...  
this is the latest - and nearly last bit of my "favourite things" scarf. I have to finish the very last pattern, which will be the same as on the first bit, because the upper part will form the hood - and I wanted the sides to match where I put them together. still a lot to do though - I have to work the steek - and once that is done I have to knit a border... not sure if I'll line the hood to make it more wind-proof, but I do hope that I won't need the finished project during the summer:) no idea which colour to use for the edge though...
of course I need to spin as well - or I'll get very crabby after a few days without!
the plan is to work the hexa hap from Kate Davies' book about haps. I have spun enough lighter yarn to do the full hexagon, but I needed a second colour for the edge! I should have enough with the three skeins (300 g) of natural brown merino, I think. the white on the left is another skein of himalaya fibres with cashmere - and the yellow is merino....
which is in this photo as well - same yarn. these are the first three skeins of yarn for the "chestnut crescent" I want to knit for a friend. not sure if the golden yellow stays - I also spun a naturally dyed lighter yellow silk/wool blend that might be a better match.... most colours are green/blues and berries, but I'll finish all of them first before I decide which yarns I'll use. the hot pink will definitely not be a choice - it's too bright and would smother all the rest...
I've spun up 4 more colours by now plus the sari silk of the last post, which leaves another 3 or 4 100g batches to be finished....plus the knitting of course!

but I have to finish more of this as well! the deadline to spin and knit for the "rhodion" shawl by Elizabeth Freeman is end of june.... I bought 400 g of this mulberry silk, half of it is spun up now. but I think I'll need at least 300 g to knit the shawl full length - as a birthday present.... winding it into balls is endless - and also fiddly, because the silk is so slippery that the balls tend to fall apart...
I am also working on a summer dress for a child - another birthday gift that has to be ready mid-may! the fine denim yarn I tried first didn't look so nice, so I changed over to a medium dark blue - with pink little rose buds at the bottom of the skirt and across the top! the knitting of the skirt is quite boring, but perfect for tv knitting. the rhodion pattern however needs more attention and has a large chart to boost, so no tv while knitting lace.... and now - off into the garden, before the sun is gone again!

Saturday, 2 February 2019


apparently it's cold and white everywhere! the uk has a cold snap, there's been loads of snow, esp. in southern germany - and parts of northern USA are in deep freeze as it seems... even ireland got a bit of a dusting! as you can see in the banner, which is from 2 days ago, we had a bit of a white wonderland for the last few days. I do like winter, esp. when it's sunny and cold, but not, when we have to travel on bikes - esp. in the dark and on icy roads:( I am a chicken, scared of falling, slipping, so in this weather I tend to stay at home if I can!
on the other hand it's the perfect excuse to stay inside - and knit or spin! someone has to make hats, scarves and blankets!:) I've been working on several things at once. after christmas all I wanted was a bigger project, without much sewing or putting together, just plain knitting row after row... together with an acute case of starteritis that meant one cowl (peduncle silk and beads) that I work on at the kitchen table. one cowl for tv knitting, spinning of course, and a pair of socks, following a pattern from the book by Hunter Hammersen, silk road socks. I was quite disappointed when I found out that the first print was oop and only to be had for silly prices in 2nd hand. but a little while back the 2nd batch was published and I snatched one copy up as soon as!
ehm, I had planned to show the finished sock here... but apparently I haven't taken a pic yet. ok, will have to wait until 2nd sock is finished so - sorry about that:(
what you see here is part of the hp cowl I've started. in double knitting, to avoid endless floats... it feels nice and warm... 
but the downsize is that I have to knit endless rows - 640 sts per row, to be precise! which is ok in general, but no fun if you made a mistake and have to knit back:( which I discovered after a few rows of knitting the pattern! I spend one evening with tinking just 2 rows - and knitting one of them new again:(  
and just now I discovered (only when seeing the pic!) that there is another mistake, albeit a small one... I am so not going to knit back again - this would mean half the cowl! I think a bit of swiss darning is in order - once the cowl is done! I am playing yarn chicken as it is - it'll be very close, but I ordered the yarn from germany and there won't be time to order and finish knitting in time for the birthday, if I don't have enough:(  
I have a bit of a twinge in the left shoulder, so I can't knit for hours on end. but I can't sit empty-handed either, so I got myself a new toy: the zoom loom from schacht! I've been ogling that for a good while now, and when I saw a good offer (from australia of all places:) shortly before christmas, I couldn't stop myself. it arrived on the 24th of december, a perfect gift to myself:) it's simple, very portable, easy to do, and doesn't use the same movements as knitting - so it's a good way to spend my time, when I need a break!


and it's handy for using up all those small balls of handspun yarns, leftovers from bigger projects, test spins that weren't needed etc. one square is 10 x 10 cm or 4 in - and needs very little yarn. I am going to make a small mountain first, of whatever yarn I can find - and might put together a blanket later...  
of course I also have other projects on the go. our textile craft group is going to make a charity blanket, lots of small granny triangles... and we're also making a nativity scene as a group project. only due for christmas of course, but I am going to make one of the three kings/wise men - so in my mind I am already planning how to make the figurine, how to decorate etc.. I am no good at needle felting, not good at sculpturing in general, so I'll have to find a way to make a doll shape first. the decorating can be as over the top as I like - kings are usually colourful with rich clothes after all:) I'll let it "stew" in my head for a while - and maybe I'll browse the net a bit to get a few ideas...
then there's the spinning and knitting project of the Chestnut Crescent by Kieran Foley. I bought mainly berry and turquoise/blue/petrol colours for this - plus some sari silk fibres to add a bit of zing! couldn't resist that of course and spun it up first. it's a two ply, 100 g of it - which should be enough as an effect yarn with the merino I still have to spin. the shawl is a riot of colour and uses gradient colours in parts, so now I have to decide whether I should blend and spin my own gradients - or spin the colours separately and just knit with lots and lots of them? I have enough to do a few small test runs - but first I have to finish the last batch of natural dark brown merino - for the hexa hap I've planned, as a contrast yarn.
with all this fibrey stuff going on - maybe I should wish for more winter to come? once spring is on the way, gardening will take over - and time will be in short supply again...

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


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:)