Friday, 28 December 2007

a tea cozy of a different kind

I was looking for a small handmade gift for my friend, as all the others (sounds grand, but they are of the small kind:)) have been bought. one of them is a "sheepy" tea mug, so I decided that a tea cozy might be nice for this. I saw several designs, but the used mugs had very different shapes, so I decided to make my own. the mug is wider at the bottom and the top rim, so I had to take this into account. I have done quite a few things out of a lambswool single that I dyed with natural colours of all kinds. actually I think I must have dyed about 5-8 kg in 50 g hanks over 2 years or so, and there are lots of small amounts of different colours left (no wonder that I still have a fair-isle bag in knit-felt on my mind.....). the problem is that the natural colours do change a lot when felted with washing powder in the machine, but I didn't want to felt this tiny piece alone! so I tried to stay on the safe side - and chose light yellow (dyed with gorze flowers) and a slightly muted orange (dyed with dahlia flowers). I counted out an old knitfelted sample in the hope that it might fit after felting.

with hindsight I should have done the bottom part differently - maybe a circle done with short rows would have been a good idea, but I didn't want to take up stitches on the side. so I cast on 9 stitches on dpn and increased every 2nd row until I had the necessary 68 stitches - which sounds a lot, but as I said the pot is as wide on the bottom as it is on the top! I then knitted several rows of stocking stitch in a single colour to form a ridge. after 5 or 6 rows I picked up the stitches from the back of the knitting further down (the last row of 2 colour-knitting) and knitted the live stitches together with those - to form a "fold". then I continued knitting in rows with two colours until I had to do short rows for the area where the drinker's mouth will be during use. I finished it all off with an attached i-cord that I grafted together over the handle of the mug. it looks far too big to ever fit - a bit like a too large sweater on a child:))

after felting - the whole thing fits like a glove - lucky me, it worked on the first try:)) the light yellow didn't change at all during the felting, only the orange became more intense! now I am thinking "spring" and "flowers" - and I think I'll embroider a few simple flowers on to it. of course the warming effect won't be perfect as most of the heat of a cup of tea will probably escape through the open cup - but I figured that it might not be so nice to add a woollen lid - as fibres in the tea are a big put-off, at least for me!
after christmas means all presents are done - and I can finally start something new and (hopefully) exciting! well, I still have to do the next birthday present of course, but I am going to start a sample right now, a shawl pattern in lace, where I have to test if I should use the yarn single thread (very fine) or doubled up. just enough for an hour of knitting or so - no more "knit allnighters" for me for a little while at least!

Friday, 21 December 2007

surprise parcels are the best!

I received a nice parcel in the mail today! a fibre friend from germany had ordered some spindolyns in the US a while ago and one of them was for me, seen here in the middle (the brass hook at the top didn't fit the photo). I also knew that I'd receive a kilo of cotton top eventually, but the silk top, the fine silk yarn in skeins, the linen and the grey and white balls of "pre-draughted" top came as the surprise (as were all the sweets and lebkuchen:)). as I just finished all the christmas presents etc. I am quite happy to work on some of the materials during the xmas holidays (not that I'd suffer from boredom otherwise, but new fibres always beg to be tested?)
I could not resist testing the spindle and used some of the lovely silk - and it turned out that the blues and greens would be perfect for my hummingbird silk challenge! now I just have to find out which dyes were used on it....
the very fine (I am talking finer than sewing thread!) silk will be great for doing embroidery - I'll dye it with natural colours I think. I have no plans for the two balls on the right, but I am sure I'll find some good use for those. it is a commercial preparation for spinning machines, like very, very thin pencil rovings, which can be spun without further drafting as they are - or of course draughted out even finer for thinner yarns, to be plied most likely. I guess I could also use them as they come for knitting, as long as I give it a slight turn from time to time during the work.
back to the kitchen and the cookie tins - which still have to be filled!

Monday, 10 December 2007

not everything works out as planned....

when I came home from a visit to wales in october 06 I was very keen to start knitting with the three skeins of alpaca and alpaca/silk mixture I bought from Meadowsweet Alpacas. the yarn is lovely, soft and silky, about needle size 3,5 to 4. I wanted to make a dubbelmossa, a nordish hat that's very warm, for my DH. this is done by knitting a long "tube", which is later doubled up, i.e. one side is stuffed into the other; where the rim is folded over, there are really 4 layers of knitting. ideally suited to "cold heads"! I didn't have a proper pattern, but the basic instructions I found somewhere online were simple enough to translate into my own. so I knitted away until I came to the area of the upper layer, where I'd have to do the decreases - when I realised that the whole thing is probably too big, even when a second layer is put inside the first. I managed to come this far - but now I had to face it - frogging was imminent! I put the whole thing on long circulars and put it over my head (yep, I am a big-headed girl - not pig-headed though - well, most of the time at least:)) - far too large even for me and my Hagrid hair:( it nearly fell down over my head, so I can safely say that nothing else but taking it apart will help. the one good thing that came out of it: when looking at the photograph I realised that I didn't like the distribution of the three colours all that much! when doing it all over again, I'll use the colours differently - less dark brown in the upper part of the wide pattern, more below - and vice versa for the light colour! the lower border pattern can be quite wide as there are no decreases to work in this part. on the other hand it will be covered by the folded rim - so I might rethink the whole pattern after all..... who said knitting hats is easy and straight-forward?:)) well, it'll have to wait a little longer - I am still working on the other alpaca hat -black, grey and white and handspun. should be done today though - the scarf out of the same yarns will follow next.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

praise where praise is due....

... or handspun versus commercial yarns

ever since I learned how to spin I became more critical of commercially available knitting yarns. now, I am not saying that everyone who usually buys yarns in the lower price range or poly-yarns (or even cheaper mixes) should consider spinning their own. it does take some time and effort to do! but when compared with the high-priced yarns available (and let's face it, most nicer yarns are quite pricey) I do sometimes wonder if handspun wouldn't result in at least the same if not better quality. e.g. the noro quality of silk garden didn't convince me at all - esp. given the high prices those balls are leaving the shelves for!

so I was a bit reluctant to order some pure alpaca yarns recently - but I just didn't have the time to handspin them. I ordered Artesano hummingbird, in the colourways kingfisher and pheasant, 14 euro per 150 g. and to my delight they turned out absolutely gorgeous! the colours are strong and the yarn is soft and smooth - and I am very tempted not to knit the planned socks out of it - but something less hidden by pants and of course less stressed than socks. I don't know how durable the socks turn out to be, but I have to admit that I most likely won't be able to do a scarf or even larger projects with just the one skein each - so it has to be the socks....

I finished "Henry" - the woven-looking scarf from the last knitty issue. the cast-on was interesting, worked well as did the knitting. not difficult, as long as one checks the front every now and then - miscounting has to be tinked as every mistake is visible from a mile away. I wasn't happy with the tubular bind-off though as it doesn't look at all like the cast-on (as is claimed in the instructions), but more like a narrow, but normal rib! I did and undid it 5 times (quite a job as it isn't just frogged, you have to "unsew" the whole and very long row) - until I left it the best way I could. still not perfect, but the best I could do.

I also spun two of the three natural alpaca colours - the white is still on the bobbin for another day or two. the black was hard to photograph, but it is even nicer than the grey, lustrous and smooth - I'll definitely spin some more of this soon! I was thinking of maybe combining it with black mulberry silk, one single yarn done up as a two-ply. though I'll have to be careful with the knitted project, as the yarn will be quite heavy and probably prone to "hang out" a bit.

I have to be careful not to plan too many new projects for the time after christmas - the spring months are already filling up nicely - with one alpaca sleeveless vest and at least two lace shawls (never mind the small stuff like socks etc. that always comes in between...)

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

"creative spinning" book

I had meant to put this up earlier - not enough time, the usual problem.... I received the ordered book about spinning a while ago, the 2nd book in the series by Gaia Craft Books. it's been written by two of my OLG colleagues, Jane Deane and Alison Daykin - and I heard about the efforts involved in getting this printed during my wpsg (steering group of the OLG) time and was quite keen to get my hands on it.

the book shows the basic "how-to-spin" instructions with drawings in the first part. everything is there, but I wouldn't have bought it just for this, as I have quite a few books about handspinning already. what makes this book stand out (at least IMHO) is the second part - with stunning photographs of the fibres used, the yarns spun and a small sample showing the yarn knitted up. and a photo of the inspiration for the yarn (or maybe vice versa, the yarn was there first? the old question about the hen and the egg?:)). each yarn is described in a short "recipe", fibres used and amounts given - and then a brief description how it is spun and plied. I am sure I don't have all books about handspinning - but it is the first I have laid my hands on that really made me want to dash to the stash, dig out some fibres and sit at the wheel to start spinning some of them up! all kinds are shown, shortwools, longwools, rare breeds, silks and man-made fibres - in scrumptious colourways, some even with beads. I wonder why knitters still bother to buy commercial yarns for extortionate prices - surely it must be far more satisfying to make your own for a fraction of the price? the one downside is that I have no time to start experimenting yet - I have to finish all the xmas stuff beforehand! but as soon as that is done I'll start fiddling about - there are several rather tempting ideas that I'd like to follow up! (if you want to order it, contact Jane - jane@janedeane.co.uk - or Alison via her blog - www.willingtonweaver.blogspot.com )

Thursday, 22 November 2007

my hands in too many pots?

I haven't been lazing around as you might think from the lack of entries to my blog! it's just the usual pre-christmas madness - too many plans and a serious lack of hands! and I don't even have pix to show yet for the things I made in the meantime.... you just never know who might read your blog and I don't want to spoil the secret santas by putting them online.
just the one here, I finished the moebius scarf with an attached i-cord. the lilac is merino with soy silk, singles of each plied together, dyed with the 2nd bath of cochenille. the white is one thread of angora and one of mulberry silk, plied together. I put in some seed beads, but they are very small and not visible on the photo. I originally planned to use bigger ones, but then thought, that the feeling of cold glass beads might not be so nice in a short scarf! the ones in it now are small and they stay in the fluff of the angora, visible but not cold on the skin. of course all threads are handspun.

the black scarf in the woven looking pattern from the fall knitty is nearly finished too, as is the embroidered scarf, two more ticks on my to-do list:)) I am left with a lot of alpaca spinning and knitting a set of hat, scarf and maybe mittens - but urgently, as the post takes quite some time before christmas. the stash shift for the OLG is sorted, all ready to be packed and sent out, puh....

in the dyeing section it's quieter at this time of the year. I dug out several bags of avocado kernels and skins from the freezer and chopped them up. I put them in several glass jars and stuck all of it in the canning cooker, as I am supposed (at least that's what the article in the spinoff some years ago advised) to heat it all every couple of days to prevent mould! I just hope I won't forget it one of these days as I am all keen on the reds and burgundy (I only bought the brown-skinned Hass variety!) and not on beiges and browns! I received a large bag of dye materials from my friend, who had planned on dyeing for years but realised that she hasn't got the time to do it all. it's mostly logwood, brazilwood and fustic, also some weld and some madder.... I tried the fibres of coconut before and didn't get anything much apart from a mucky, dirty beige - so I put those out into the garden as mulch. they didn't look inviting enough to try them for spinning - I might still need the skin on my fingers, esp. as I had planned to work with the silk hankies and the mulberry top!:))

we did have a nice clear evening after a very mixed day yesterday - here is a photo I took before dusk.... the curtains of rain in the background had just moved away a few seconds earlier!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

one finished sweater later...

I've finished DS's new winter sweater in time - only on the calendar! no winter in sight here (yet), but he is happy and wore it all evening, even though it was quite warm inside. no complaints about it being scratchy either, not even with just short sleeves underneath. it's the kg of space from Wollknoll, nice to spin and just as nice to knit! it was a fast job as I've spun chunkier singles to keep the colour variations from becoming more muddled from plying. at first I thought of knitting just garter stitch, but I like the basket weave pattern better. it's not difficult to knit, just knit and purl, but it's not as boring as straight knits or purls! and it's quite stretchy and feels nice, so I am planning to do one each for the grown-ups in this house too - but maybe not quite in such a lively colour scheme:)) I have one skein and a bit left and plan to do a hat with it. one thing astounded me though: I wouldn't have thought that I might need 750 g to knit one kid's sweater out of it. but then maybe I tend to forget that DS isn't quite a small baby anymore:)) gone are the times where I can cast on and finish in one week......and in colours and patterns I like! I know that it looks rather big - but he likes his clothing to be wide and comfy and he's growing so fast that I am hoping to get away with it for maybe two years! the polar bear sweater out of manx and nz lamb was worn twice before it became far too small and I don't want to risk that again! I did take out the sleeves once though - they were a bit too generous in length the first time round! the one downside with this type of yarn is that it won't be a good idea to put it into the washing machine - it'll felt very quickly - and it's not large enough to accomodate a minor washing disaster:)) but then it'll be worn mainly outside during the winter, so there shouldn't be too many accidents with food stains (I know, I am the eternal optimist!)

we did go to dublin to the show - and without major problems as well! ok, 5 minutes delay on a train, that's to be expected, something I can live with. the taxi driver was waiting for us, everything went smoothly. everything but the show that is! I've said it before, but this time I mean it! to me this k&s is going downhill fast. maybe someone responsible reads blogs - if so, I wonder why an organizer of a knitting & stitching show invites stall holders, who sell ready-made leather handbags, chocolates, massage chairs, fake jewellery and - of all things - bits of artificial hair! ok, maybe I am not exactly the average customer, but if I go to a show like this would it really be so unreasonable to actually find a supplier for textile stuff, such as DMC cotton embroidery yarn? either I have gone blind - or there was none. ok, there have been a few stalls selling knitting yarns. oliver twists yarns was there (my favourite for hand-dyed embroidery threads - and also undyed silks etc.) there are the usual stalls of the irish wsd guild, the felters, the patchworkers (but several stalls that have been there e.g. for patchwork fabric, seemingly haven't bothered to come either) - all doing good work as far as I could see. there are also some book sellers, but in general I think the dublin show gives rather poor value for money (the entrance fee has gone up again, too)! I always go green with envy when I hear people talking about the Harrowgate or Alexandra palace show! of course it is down to the customers to support stalls by buying their things - but how am I supposed to do that when the stalls on offer show stuff that has nothing to do with textile crafts? I think I am going to give the show a miss next year - I much rather spend my money via mail order for goods I want than to throw it out for train journeys to shows that are rubbish!

enough complaining - I did buy a few bits and pieces, lovely "once-offs" (from OT of course, the colours are a bit lighter in reality), lots of purple, some beautiful "seagreens" also. several bags of throwster's waste - I want to try out some lumpy-bumpy designer yarns. a bag of degummed cocoons, the first time I have seen those. I couldn't resist and started to draw one out on the train - my neighbour looked rather curiously, but was probably afraid to ask what I was doing there:)) I wonder how he would have stared if it had been a "full" cocoon - with a shrivelled up caterpillar dropping out! I found Nancie Wiseman's book about wire knitting and a small wooden lucet for next year's workshop in the OLG. also interweave's folk style knitting book - I had been keen on that one. and from the newly published Gaia series I bought the book about natural dyeing (the sister book about handspinning by fellow OLG members Alison and Jane is still in the post) - nice to look at, lovely colours and photography, though probably best used by beginner dyers as I didnt' really find new information on closer reading.
was there anything else? yes, two replacement bulbs for my daylight lamps - not available in the normal shops here. but that was it really, compared to other shows a few years ago - next to nothing. the only solution here - buying by mail order - again!

Monday, 29 October 2007

colourful felting....

we are going to go to the knitting & stitching show on thursday - and this year DS is happy to be on the train, because he can take his nintendo ds and play all the time! I tried to buy one of those sets where there is a cover for the gadget,
but couldn't find one around. of course for a knitter that's not really a serious issue - as long as the recipient is allowed to choose the colours. he chose a strong red, dyed with brazilwood, from the stash. and a dark purple, dyed with logwood. I have knit-felted with this yarn before and had a sample to check for the size. to make the fabric as strong as possible, I knitted squares with two colours - the yarn led along the back gives a nice cushiony effect on the inside, but it felts tight enough not to get in the way when in use - no lining necessary here.
I knitted according to the sample, sewed the sides together and cleaned up the ede with crab stitch around it. I thought it might be better to do it later - after the felting - and I should have done this, as the border is slightly wavy, again! not too bad on a small project like this, but it wouldn't have looked great on a larger bag! for some reason crochet doesn't felt as tightly as the knitted part does - something to remember for a coming project!
then there's the colour change! quite dramatic
again, esp. in the red and purple. a bit more subtle in the second project - a cover for the digicam (it has a small bag, but it's only covered with elastic on the sides and I don't want it to be damaged accidentally during the pushing and shoving at the RDS). it always happens when I felt knitted bits in the washing machine that are dyed with natural dyes! I've had beige change to mustard and yellows change to moss green - and now red to purple:)) it seems to be done by using normal washing powder as it doesn't happen when I felt without using this. brazilwood has had the most stunning changes, from wine red to strong pink or, like now, from strong red to purple. it's not down to the purple of the logwood - as this has happened before, without any other colour in the wash! something to be explored more fully in the future, I am sure...
now everything is well prepared for the show - the wish list is written, all the gadgets are safe - the only thing we need now is a willing taxi driver and hopefully no major botch-ups with irish rail! we have had the most bizarre trips in the past - and I just hope that everything is going ok. I do like adventure holidays - just not when only a day trip to a k&s is planned:))

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

the end is in sight!

I can't believe that I am still fiddling about with those apples! we had 5 buckets from all other trees together (quite a few!) - and nearly 7 from a single specimen of "everest" (could be renamend into avalanche:))! unbelievable really. I wish my normal apple trees would carry only a quarter of that amount! the juice from crab apples is quite aromatic, but there isn't all that much else that can be done with it. and how much apple jelly can 2.5 people use in one year? but of course we can't leave the apples hanging. when they drop they make a rotten mash on the ground and it kind of goes against the grain of self-sufficiency anyway (and who knows how next year is going to be?).....

on the textile front I am still working on a quite boring project. when my friend came with a kit of a guinea-pig in cross stitch, I volunteered to do it for her as she doesn't do cross stitch (no, don't ask, I don't know why she bought it in the first place, but she loves the little creatures and can't resist anything with a picture of them on it). it's not all that big really, but I have been working on it for quite some time and half of it is still unfinished:(( the reason for this is simply bad design. it's made from a photo by one of those cross stitch design programs. this works very well if a good base photo is chosen, e.g. a painting of some kind or a photo with not too much detail. other than that it comes up with single crosses in odd colours, that make no sense really and fuss up the whole design:(( apart from that it's difficult to see because the symbols for the colours are too similar to each other and not easily distinguished. it's not a good idea to choose four different triangles, all in full black, for a small design like that! normally I would just throw the stuff in the bin - but I promised and now I have to keep my promise! lesson learned: be careful with promises like that:))
I have been spinning a bit here and there, but not as much as I should given the fact, that I still have to work lots of yarn to make several xmas presents! somehow the days are really getting shorter, not only the daylight hours! the only thing I did get on with a bit was Stefan's colourful sweater. I finished front and back in a basket weave pattern and just need to do the two sleeves now, should be finished fairly quickly. if all else fails I just take it with me on the train next week. people always look at me funnily when I fiddle about with a set of sock needles:) maybe they are afraid of being attacked?

then there is the knitting & stitching show in Dublin next thursday. a whole day just for a few hours of browsing and hunting for a few materials. but I could use some bits and pieces that are difficult to find over here - even though I know already, that I am going to be rather annoyed with all those stalls that have nothing whatsoever to do with either knitting or stitching or any other textile crafts! again... "same procedure as last year, miss sophie"! and of course there are no stalls for handspinners - apart from a few lucky finds maybe on the felters stall. two years ago they had small bags of different fibres in natural colours on offer, but I couldn't find them last year. might be down to me running around in a mad hurry though - I didn't even see Oliver Twists - a mainstay for me normally! even though I have a bad conscience about it - I won't be spinning at the irish guild stall this year as the time is just too short for me, when I have to catch the train:(( this should leave me enough time to for browsing, I hope!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


I bought two balls of regia bamboo sock yarn early this year, and started to knit. I had just finished the rib of the first sock, when I saw the interesting pattern by Cat Bordhi, published in vogue knitting last year. frog, frog - but then I realised that I'd need to use the yarn doubled up and with shoesize 42 I was afraid that I wouldn't have enough for this. eventually I decided to buy another lot later, and more this time, to try it out - and use these balls for simple lace socks. ok, they were planned for the summer - only, there was none at the usual time, i.e. between june to august, so I stuffed the knitting into a corner. until now (and no, even though the weather is reasonably good, I wouldn't call it summer) - with all the urgent projects finished I decided to give those socks another chance of life. the yarn knits up nicely, it's smooth and quite soft to the touch - might be nice for a scarf too, maybe doubled up to save time? it's reasonably elastic, because it's not pure bamboo - I am not so sure how it would feel in pure bamboo? one is finished - the other one halfway down the leg, should be done in a day or two more. (the lace isn't all that easy to make out - maybe I should have painted my foot black before taking the pic?:))

I have spun bamboo fibre before. the first time it was a small batch I bought at the K&S in dublin, a mess of fine white fibres with a funny "chemical" smell.... not difficult to spin, but not quite as nice as the soy fibres I bought at the same time. it lacked the lustre and the softness of the soy, so I didnt' think all that much of it. then I found a supplier of bamboo top - what a difference! not only did the fibres spin much more smoothly, the yarn felt differently, too! I used some of it to make dye samples and it even took natural colours reasonably well (lighter than wool and silk)! even though I read in the spinoff that it belongs to vegetable fibres, which don't usually dye well with alum and natural dyes! it still wasn't quite as soft as the soy, but with less twist during spinning and plying I ended up with a nice yarn for knitting (or crochet, I presume). it seems to be quite versatile, depending on how it is spun and I definitely will try some more of it.

I am not so sure though about those comments about its great value as a regrowable resource etc. the fibre (according to internet sources) is not produced like hemp or linen fibre. it is processed from pulp, rather like viscose, and to my mind this takes quite a few "industrial" steps - far more than wool, hemp or linen do. all regrowable resources - and nobody makes quite such a fuss about those? maybe it's because the bamboo feels nicer to the touch? I am always a bit suspicious about the advertisement of companies who claim to have "invented" the ultimate product - usually it turns out not to be quite so on closer inspection. I don 't think much about all the other properties claimed, such as being anti-bacterial etc. most people seem to forget that some bacterias are actually good ones (probably some buy bamboo because of it's anti-bacterial properties - and at the same time they buy pro-biotic yogurts to add bacteria:)) - and I don't feel I need this in my clothing. same for additions of aloe vera etc. in sock yarn and such. I have been knitting and wearing socks made from "normal" yarns for most of my life and don't really feel a need to change this. now, don't get me wrong: I am not totally green and fool enough to think that I am perfect in everything I do and use. I do use superwash wool, even though I am aware of the fact, that the production of it isn't quite blame-free! but I am not all that keen on handwashing socks, even though I am careful with the rest of my woollies.... enough work already and not keen on adding more to the list.... I just try to do as much as is practical to me, I feel that everybody has to make up his or her mind. I do use handspun untreated wool for socks too - sometimes, but they do take more care in washing, or I'll risk ending up with tough felted socks - too small for anyone to wear! now - back to finishing the other sock!

Monday, 8 October 2007

not exactly textile

I have been busy during the last days - finishing several things for workshops, cleaning up the mess in the workroom afterwards, some gardening etc. - we received the plastic for the polytunnel - but the weather hasn't been great for putting it up yet. eventually, when I had managed to get past the looming deadlines - I hit a "black hole", where I couldn't bring myself to do anything much at all, apart from the standby's such as sock knitting etc.

but I still had promised one thing - to help Stefan to build the wizard's castle. I bought him a book with cardboard pieces for this at the last guild meeting in the museum of country life - but it turned out to be quite fiddly and time consuming - and patience is a virtue Stefan doesn't really have in abundance! I ended up cutting, scoring and glueing everything myself, down to the last bits like flags etc. all of a sudden I was brought back to my childhood - I loved doing things like that and could spend hours putting together shapes and houses, though I used to draw most of them myself - there wasn't much available ready-made at the time.

and I remembered another project I always wanted to do - building a doll's house! I was never one for playing with dolls, but the building of furniture and putting up the rooms appealed to me! the downside always were the lack of space and the cost for all the bits and pieces a large doll's house includes. of course, making miniature quilts, carpets etc. might be fun too! and where to put this in a smallish cottage - and who'd clean it out every few days with all the ash from the range flying about?:)) it's simply not practical -that's why I decided to do something different: I am going to build a small "shed" like the ones in nativity plays. Stefan has a large box full of real clay bricks to build houses, and mortar for it - everything can be taken apart again just by soaking it in water. I have instructions for the necessary figures, the holy family, the three kings etc. in crochet and there is enough material to be found around the house to decorate this too. the good thing is that everything can be used for something else later - I have enough xmas bits and pieces of deco in all corners and don't want to add more to find storage place for!
of course halloween is coming closer, too! and this time Stefan does not want to be harry potter. so we had a look through a german catalogue of "Fasching" costumes... at first it was an old wizard that appealed to him, then he changed to a ninja outfit. the day I had planned to order fabric and pattern - he decided to be a devil! now I am going to order everything before he can change his ideas again! I have planned to make a large cape in black - this will have to serve for several years. but it can easily be redecorated later. I'll make a red tail, buy some red face paint and ready-made horns and ears. I'll decorate everything with some fabric printed with flames - and he already bought the "fork" in the local supermarket. the fabric should be enough to make a hood too - if lined with the flame fabric that has do be devilish enough for one outing!
and then - christmas! I know it's idiotic, but I am in a more christmassy (messy?:)) mood than a week before the actual celebration. might be the weather - or maybe the fact that I started looking for some patterns and decorations? I still have to frame some cross stitch patterns I made 2! years ago with suitable patchwork fabric to hang them up - or they'll fly about the workroom for another year. and I have to start my "to buy" list for the knitting & stitching show, which is coming closer fast!
I shouldn't really be dithering about - too much to do - as usual. I forgot to mention my trials with the new OLG workshop - nalbinding! not quite so easy, and the results so far haven't been in photo quality to brag about.... more practising might be useful!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

autumn = harvest time!

the weather has calmed down a bit again, only light wind, the sun is peaking out here and there - and I took the chance and went into the garden with the camera. I had an autumnal feeling for quite some time now - no wonder after this summer - but it's here for sure now! the leaves are falling and there are apples and pears and other fruit all over the place - rich pickings! we have so many cider and crab apples this year that I wonder what to do with it all! apple juice and apple jelly - maybe we should invest in a proper press too? I like the look of shelves full with bottles of juice and jars of colourful jam, if only it wasn't so much work beforehand:)) this picture shows "Evereste" - a very fitting name as the tree is covered in whitish-pink flowers in spring - and in small orange-red apples during autumn. the yield is so heavy that the branches are all hanging down!

caution - stranded whale in the garden....
we (ok, mostly Michael:)) have also been working on another project - our polytunnel needed urgent repairs! the northern side had been covered with corrugated plastic since the start, but the plastic on the southern side was shredded, esp. where the folds have been moving in the wind! both sides are now covered with the corrugated plastic, more sturdy and also,the tunnel plastic is easier to fix tightly, as there is no area, where it has to be stretched around a bend (it'll be wound around slats of timber, which are screwed under the rim along the metal bows!)also, the shelving was rotting in parts and the table was only usable with a closed door. not very nice during hot summer days! it is on the other side now and I can stand in a nice draught, when sowing and propagating! we thought we'd still have enough plastic to reclad but it turned out to be too narrow to cover the tunnel..... all the other jobs have been done, but now we have to wait and order new plastic before I can do anything inside! there are interesting varieties available now, special plastic with bubbles in it, which is not only more sturdy than normal tunnel plastic, but also more insulating and with special "light filtering" features. of course, it's a bit more expensive too, but our last tunnel lasted for 11 years, so it would probably be a good idea to invest a few euros more.... I hope we'll have new plastic together with a reasonably good day - no fun in recladding a polytunnel with gale force winds and/or pouring rain! however, it's a good thing that it remains uncovered for a while, as it will wash out residues and salts that have accumulated in the ground over the last few years. just watering can never replace a good soaking with rain! might improve the harvest in the coming years again....

Thursday, 20 September 2007

the scarf...

... is done too now - just in time. I had a bit of a problem with the picture, as it is rather difficult to take one of yourself, wearing the scarf:)) in the end I took a cloth hanger with a shirt over it and draped the scarf around. it looks a bit silly like this, but at least the embroidered part is visible. I am happy with the result - but not with the fact that I have to make another one as a gift, because I like this one too much to give it away (it's purple, need I say more?)! the second project I keep for myself in a row - previously unheard of!:)) I probably have to send out another order to germany for more.... I do have two silk chiffon scarves in dark blue and one in turquoise, but I think I can only embroider small designs onto them - the fabric is so light, that it might not drape well anymore with too much stitched to it. well, anyway, my part of the workshop is pretty much done for now, so I can relax a bit and get down to work with some of my other projects. spinning wheel - here I come! (I am suffering withdrawal symptoms....again)

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

latest results

I have been fairly quiet these days - with good reason. it's not that I was lazing around, far from it - I had to finish several projects and (what's new?) I set myself tight deadlines - too tight maybe? so far I managed all of them - just about! only two more to go and I think I might just make it in time! last year, wenn the steering group of the Online Guild decided to offer a workshop for "spinning for embroidery", I agreed to do a project or two as well. I wanted to do a "textile" bum bag for a while, so I decided on this as my first project. I like the result much more than the plastic thingy I've worn during several holidays - and I enjoyed working on it too. I am also doing an embroidered scarf, handspun and handdyed silk yarns on woollen mousseline, which I am going to introduce on thursday - which concludes my work for this workshop. during the first week we had crewel embroidery and I liked the shown camel in full regalia so much, that I decided to make my own - not a camel, but an elephant, decorated with the usual indian attire for a riding animal. of course I didn't have all that much time yet, but I managed to spin some fine grey-marled alpaca and a mix of one thread of this alpaca and one fine thread of brownish tussah silk, to stitch in a bit more than just grey. of course the real fun with this project is the deco, for which I am going to use some of the leftovers of my silk scarf and some newly dyed fine silk yarns - still to be done. the howdah will be embroidered with thicker tussah silk in natural beige, I hope this will look like a basket material when finished. (Kokiri, my elephant lady, does have feet - and the parasol looks a bit different in the drawing too - but it didn't fit onto the scanner in one go.....)

what totally baffles me is the reaction to this workshop. usually we have lively discussions, plenty of questions and a lot of resonance. this month must be one of the quietest that I have experienced in the group so far. now, either everybody is veeery busy spinning and stitching - or there is hardly anybody interested in this kind of work - I guess it's the latter:(( I don't know why though - I had great fun designing my projects and even more now in following the crewel work. we had a few people writing that they will eventually start something, but I don't set out much hope in seeing finished projects. nothing to be done about it - at least our time wasn't a total waste, as each of us has finished projects to use or to give away!

when I am not working on those projects I am working on DS's new winter sweater, in the strong colour mix I showed earlier. it's easy to knit, very soft and pleasing to touch - and the kg of fibres was done very quickly too. not mashine washable - but what the heck, we don't often have really cold weather and the sweater won't be worn all the time like a fleece.
I am also working on some gadgets that are called "huettenschuh" in german - socks with leather soles underneath. the sock is knitted like any other handknit sock, but in thicker yarn, a 6ply. the soles I bought ready-made, they are suede underneath to give a better grip, have a border sewn around with holes it it to first crochet around and then sew them to the sock. I have some of my own (nice and warm), but Michael wanted some too, so he'll have them as a small (we are not prone to give away new cars, long holidays or expensive jewelry in our family:)) present for our 10th wedding anniversary next week..... which leaves the cushion for his favourite chair in front of the radio and his alpaca dubbelmossa still to be finished - for which he received vouchers a while ago!:)) I better get them finished before the next christmas is looming!
next on my list is the dyeing for the hummingbird challenge, 5 colours, which will be spun and later knitted into a lace shawl with "feathery" patterns. and of course I have to spin more of the grey alpaca, together with black and white - to work on the projects for christmas! I have to dye two colours for the pattern I want to knit, though I am not sure yet which one to choose. two purple/lilac tones or two reds - with white, grey and black. I was thinking of dyeing with just one colour - but put in some white and some of the grey to get two different shades that work well together.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Sunburst bag for Janet

Janet, I promised you more detailed pictures of my bag - this is the one I use at the moment, more ornately decorated and a bit stronger in colour! I used a lambswool singles, dyed with brazilwood on alum - a very strong red. from a friend in Berlin I received a bag full of different guilded brass wheels, normally used by watchmakers. I knitted them into the front, simply by slipping the opening over the stitch. the embroidery is more detailed too, but again I used the "once-off" mixture by Oliver Twists. the little wheels are held only on one side: to avoid them sticking out after felting I stitched them down on the loose side.

the make-up of the bag is easy: you knit two "pi" circles first. for this I cast on 9 stitches on 3 dpn and knit one round. I doubled the stitches by working a yo after each stitch (don't forget to knit the last yo on the needle - they tend to "vanish"). then I doubled the number of rounds, well, I knitted 3. again doubling the stitches, then doubling the rounds, ie. by now you should have 36 stitches and you should have knitted 3 rounds after the first doubling and 6 rounds after the second one. you work this way until your circle is big enough for your needs.You could simply cast off now and work the long narrow rectangle that forms the handle. for this you just cast on as many stitches as you like, I think I had 15 or 16 for my bag. it forms the handle and the middle part of the bag, so knit it double the length you want your bag to hang - but don't forget that the felting shrinks it in length quite a bit!

I felt that the rims of the circles needed a bit more work to look nice, so I didn't just cast off. I worked one row of knit 2 together and yo and continued with 4 or 5 more plain rounds, then cast off. I then put the rectangle in around the circles, so that an opening remains (the rectangle was sewn together along the cast-on and cast-off first). then I used some sewing thread (anything smooth like cotton will do) and folded over the rim along the "hole" round to form a "toothy" edge. I sewed it down with the sewing thread on both sides, loosely with a basting stitch. this makes the edge felt together and defines the rim better - see in the photo. after felting at 60 deg. C in the washing machine you can pull out this basting thread.
the handle part rolls in on itself and is felted together to a roll - which makes the handle more stable. you could of course knit it with moss stitch or all in garter to prevent the rolling up, if you prefer a flatter handle.

if you have doubled stitches and rounds to say 24 rounds - but would like the bag slightly larger (working 48 rounds might end in a huge bag!), you can adapt the size easily too. work another round of increase - but don't double the stitches! just increase for every second, third or fourth stitch. then work the following rounds accordingly, i.e. don't double the amount of rounds, but work 1/2, 1/3 or 1/4 the rounds - and you still end up with a flat circle. if it still looks a bit wobbly you can either block it before sewing it together - or pull it into shape after felting, when it is still damp.
you can decorate the bag as you wish, but don't forget to add some sort of closure. here the folded over seam comes in handy! you can either sew it close around the opening too (when doing the basting) - or you can easily leave a small bit loose in the middle. if you put in a small piece of cotton fabric or even plastic, it will keep the folded over edge from felting to the main part and you can add a bag magnet after felting. just pull out the fabric or plastic and add the magnet - it won't be visible on the outside. you can of course add a closure with a loop on one side and a tassel to pull through on the other side (my bag has magnets and a tassel - but no loop, the tassel is just deco and used up a few of the leftover embroidery threads). if you like you could also knit a rectangle and sew it to the inside as a small pocket for coins, pens, keys etc. - but don't forget to put a piece of fabric or plastic between pocket and bag or they will felt together!
everyone is welcome to use this pattern, even copy it for friends (it would be nice if you mentioned the source:)) - but please don't start to sell it for yourself - or I'll be very cross when I find out!!

Saturday, 1 September 2007

long time no see

I haven't had much time lately to look after my blog; the workshop for the OLG kept me busy. now the major files are uploaded, I can finally manage a small entry again. not that I finished all that much! I just about managed another "pi bag" (two circles, with a handle in between) as a present for my aunt with a teeny bit of embroidery on it. it's dyed with natural dyes, tea, phormium, chestnuts, cherry bark etc. - and put into the wash cycle once after assembly. the green and olive yarns are from Oliver Twist's "once-offs" - I desperately need to buy new ones in november on the knitting & stitching show in dublin. last time I was in such a rush after spinning on the guild stall, that I must have passed her stall without noticing it:( not good for my stash:)) of course I could dye my own - but there are usually 7 or 8 different threads in one bundle, so I'd need to stock different rayon, viskose and cotton yarns - plus the colours that go with those threads. natural colours aren't very good to use for this kind of material and the multicolours don't work so well either. we'll see, maybe I will buy at least one cone of some of them (she usually offers white material for dyeing too) and maybe some basic colours of a suitable dye and try my luck.

one small embroidery, because DS pestered me for so long to have something "harry-pottery" again. really more suitable for Halloween, but he likes it anyway. in reality the red is more fiery and less pink, but you get the drift. the pattern is from the small booklet dmc published some years ago. there are more like that on his wish list, but for now that'll do.
the other bit I managed was one sock, not really special, just simple regia "india" sockwool. a bit of mindless tv knitting - the second one is in the making.
I am very much looking forward to more spinning soon, I suffer from withdrawal symptoms - haven't touched the wheel for at least 2 weeks:( and some dyeing, I need to test which colours to use to get the lustrous blues, greens, reds and golds for my chosen hummingbird! we did push the deadline back a bit for that challenge, as we all suffer from the same problem: lack of time (or lack of more hands....). once I have the rest of the space dyed merino finished for DS's sweater, it is all go on the alpaca - high time, as I don't only have to spin but also knit it - before christmas! did anyone notice that the years seem to go shorter??? or is it just me?

Saturday, 11 August 2007

finished socks

today was definitely a day to stay inside - drizzle or heavier rain pretty much all day kept even the dogs inside most of the time! it felt more like a wet late autumn day than a day in the middle of august:( I used the time to knit some of the bias tape - but after a while it became so boring, that I exchanged it for the second sock in opal yarn. the leg part is a waffle pattern, 2 rounds of knit, 2 of 2 knit, 2 purl - the rest was a basic no-thinking-required sock. by accident I discovered that on a german tv channel there was a "Miss Marple" night running - so I finished the second sock during "Murder most foul":)) I just love Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple - slightly excentric - but of course, being a knitter herself, she cannot do wrong for me! none of the other actors who played Miss Marple even managed to come close....
I also did quite a lot of my needlepoint - finished part two, started part three, but discovered a counting mistake halfway through and had to undo part of the stitching:(( after that I wasn't in the mood to keep going. tomorrow seems to be the same weatherwise, so maybe I can catch up and finish part three!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

colourful fibres....

... make for fast spinning! it's great fun to spin the space-dyed merino, every few seconds another colour! the first bobbin was full yesterday; after setting the twist I think it's ok like this to knit, even though it isn't the perfectly even yarn it should be. but then I always said I can spin fine yarns much better than the chunkier ones:) though after the experience of spinning 4 fine yarns and cabling them into one thicker (needle size 4 doesn't really count as chunky yet?) to knit the teeswater afghan - I have become more careful about my time and effort! it's ok to spin fine yarn for very special things or smaller projects - but working large stuff out of them is not something for the impatient knitter - or people under time pressure for presents! well, live and learn..... I have to take a break from the thick and colourful stuff now - I need more very fine yarn for the embroidery.... never ending story no. 324! what a difference, the two-ply for this is about 1/4 of the merino:)) also I have been thinking about how to finish up the belt bag (fanny or bum bag sounds so ordinary:)) later. I would need some bias tape to set in a zipper and do the seams - but the likelihood that I find something suitable in Ballyhaunis - is in the minus area, impossible! so my initial idea was to cut my own, but I don't have fabric that matches either. my thoughts now are to do my own bias tape - knitted! it's probably even more boring to do than to knit an attached i-cord around a long moebius scarf, but at least it's multicolour yarn! and the bag isn't exactly going to be enormous, so I should be able to do it in a reasonable time - or so I hope. it's mindless knitting - perfect for a long tv evening - if I could find something worth watching that is.

Friday, 3 August 2007

sampling away

I couldn't help myself (always a good excuse, I find:) - and started to sample some of the tops. the first one was the very colourful space for Stefan - I wanted to try it out to choose between a thicker singles (on the right) - or a 2ply from finer yarns. of course I had to knit it straight from the bobbin (well, more or less, I wound it into a ball first, but didn't set the twist). after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing from Stefan - he decided for the singles (here without the green bit) - my choice too, not only for the clearer colours, but of course it is far less work to spin without having to ply it too. the yarn feels softer too when knitted - and didn't slant, despite not having been set.

I started on the alpaka tops too - argh, the black is so gorgeous that I don't want to stop spinning it. it really is pitchblack, even darker than the black welsh I got a few days ago! I think there is no natural black in sheep's wool as deep as the one from alpaca. now the question is: do I use the grey with bits of black and white, do I use the black as main colour and accents of the other two? or do I dye a bit of white - as a highlight in the black, grey and white? red, dyed with brazilwoold maybe? or some purple dyed with cochenille?? I better decide soon, a lot of work - and only 4 1/2 months do go to christmas:) this will definitely be a 2ply, my only decision so far in this.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

vanishing picture

I had to put this picture up separately - every time I started to move it - it vanished:(( anyway those are the many small amounts of wool top I described earlier - great choice, I'll se koi carps on my crochet bag in orange and yellows!

two deliveries in one day!

first you wait for ages and nothing arrives... and then we receive two large orders in one day! I have to explain this - our cottage is situated bang in the middle of a very narrow road, more like a gravel path. interlink, dhl etc. have large vans and don't fancy squeezing them down to us - so usually they give us a ring that they are on their way, could we come up to the main road to collect. looks a bit funny, with larger parcels one of us comes running with the wheelbarrow:) well, anyway, in the morning the guy from interlink rang that he'll be coming later, no problem. I kept the phone line free as much as possible, but of course, nothing ever works as planned and my mother rang exactly when it's the usual time for the dhl guy to announce he'll be there in 5 minutes. (viking always delivers the following day, so I knew he'd be coming today). I put the receiver down, when it rang again - he was already waiting on the main road and could I come up. I snatched the wheelbarrow and off I went - arriving panting, tongue on the ground, of course:)) as soon as I had the 4 large boxes inside the house - the interlink guy arrived from the other side, but I was lucky and he brought the 20 kg box up to the entrance:)) living in rural ireland does have it's quirks:))

to cut a long story short - not only am I well provided now with paper, printer ink etc. - to start on the design exercises. I also received my "woolly" order from germany. several kilos of NZ lamb tops, 3 kg of white, grey and black alpaca tops, one space dyed for DS, one kg mulberry silk (for the "colibris in silk" challenge), one kg of tussah/wool mixture in case my design doesn't work so well with pure silk, 50 silk hankies and - as seen here - one kg of differently coloured wool tops, great for felting bits and pieces etc.... the ball is the space in bright colours, DS chose it, we'll see if he still likes it when spun.

I am in a woolly dream - would love nothing more than just to grab everything and start spinning it all at the same time:)) never mind using the new sock needles (bamboo), the peg loom and all the other bits. but I have to get to work on the embroidery things first - the etamine de laine scarf feels lovely as do the silk chiffon scarves......

nothing like a bit of retail therapy - even if it's done by mail order!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

some finished things to announce

I finished some of the projects. the"wine and rose" mitts from the winter issue of knits (06) turned into "denim and delphinium"; at least they are blue, and instead of cashmere I used tussah silk, handspun two-ply. might make another pair for myself, they looked quite nice, but next time I will choose a finer yarn or larger needles (might have to recalculate though) to have a more open lace pattern. and I might change the rather boring pattern in the arm part! I do like the wavy edge and the hand part, but the lace pattern in the rest is not exactly spectacular! or maybe I do change the border at the lower end too and knit the wavy edge instead of the turned-over seam?
the dye experiment with the delphinium turned to be mint green, no blue in it, but I also finished the rest of the mixture to free the bobbin. I left it all as a single - not sure if I should dye the second half too - and if so, what colour would go well with the mint green.
I won't have time to use it just now anyway, as I just have to get going (and quickly!) with the workshop projects. yesterday I did nearly finish some very fine bombyx mori, dyed rosewood with fuchsia flowers. this I will need for the planned scarf, together with some other silk yarns, which have been finished for some time now. not sure, if I should ply it though, I need some rather fine yarns for couching too.

not much happening on the knitting front; I didn't have time yet to spin some of the alpaca for the dog pattern for the back of the hp sweater, can't keep knitting without it. because I needed something to knit quickly for a train ride to castlebar last thursday, I grabbed a ball of multicolour sock yarn and started a simple waffle pattern - for myself = sock knitting without thinking:)
also I have been working on the seascape bag, the body and the carry handle are done, now I am thinking of the deco part. I tried to crochet a fish sideways, but the yarn was to thick - to have a nice shape the fish would have to be enormous. either I have to switch to another technique - or use a different yarn.... have to put it on the backburner though, or I'll never make the embroidery projects.... that's always the same with me: I don't like working on the most urgent project and doddle around with those I don't need yet:(

when in town we did go to the "creative resource center" in castlebar to get some cardboard - and were very lucky to get some other good stuff. quite a lot of yarns, which doesn't happen too often, so I took as much as I could carry. the colourful stuff is cotton, very fine, but good quality. the blue stuff is cotton/linen two-ply, same for the white cones on the left. the one in the middle was a great find: pure cashmere, though very fine, but that can easily be remedied:)) or I could use it as it is for one of the projects from "victorian lace knitting". one cone of frizzly stuff in white, I guess polyester or similar, but useful maybe for "christmas knitting", or some smaller fancy projects. I am just hoping to get my peg loom soon, the order from germany is on its way and I am looking forward to some pegloom weaving, as it should be much quicker and easier to set up than normal weaving. we could use some new carpets, either in wool for my room or the sitting room - or some in cotton (old t-shirts?) for the bathroom! I am not going to use up the pink, the green and the yellow together though - don't want to go blind from the dazzle:)

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

in love!

I shouldn't have opened the bag, I know - my own fault really! I only wanted to peek in for a second - and put the bag full of fibre away again to spin later.... well, good intentions - they don't work out all that well most of the time! I received a surprise parcel a while ago with two bags, one filled with a cashmere/himalayan sheep mix (veeery soft!) - and the other with a top in silk and wool. uaah... that stuff is addictive, I just had to grab it and start spinning! one hank and a dark black conscience later - tada, the first hank....
the photo doesn't quite show the lustre - the yarn is soft, but cool at the same time. I am going to put it into the last dye bath with delphinium flowers to see if the fibre mix will take up the two colours I achieved on separate batches of wool top and silk - denim blue and mint green!

I also finished the third hank of hedgerow dyed teeswater - I just spin all the different colours as they come - can separate them later, though I don't know yet what I am going to do with it. quite nice as a single too, so far I plied all the teeswater I spun. there is still loads in the bag, mostly yellows and greens....

this is the wool I am going to use for the "seascape" bag for the connaught spinners and weavers - and I decided to use the wave pattern in tunisian crochet, even though the colour changes aren't quite as visible yet in the lighter colours. not sure if I leave it like this though - or throw it into the washing machine afterwards to make the "fabric" stronger. I might use a fabric lining instead, so that the crochet pattern stays visible - assuming that the stitches in crochet change as much as knitted ones, after being felted. the advantage of using a lining would be that I could put in some of that pelmet vilene to give the bag a stronger shaping. when this is finished I am going to put some deco on, freeform crochet for seaweed etc. - and maybe some bright orange fish to pop out:) if it looks halfway decent I will enter the pix into the anniversary challenge for the OLG - though I have to either fix some driftwood to the bag or embroider it with daisies (not the best idea?) - or put on five fish to make sure that I cover two of the four design features set in the guidelines.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

it's a jungle out there!

you could sing this line - and it's true. after the warm spell and the weeks of rain it's not a garden anymore - but a jungle. I tried to walk around on the paths a short while ago, but everything is so overgrown by now that I am wet up to the waist - and got nettle stings up to my elbow:( not funny - I think I am going to refuse working in there until the paths at least are usable again! I did take some pix - the dicigam is great for general use, but for close-ups I still prefer the "normal" one! let nobody say that eucalyptus doesn't grow in ireland! they do and to quite a large size (comments of the gardening neighbour about 10 times a year: "look at the stem!":)) they also flower - but that picture was a bit wobbly, I have to take a new one another time - as it started raining again....
some nice colour combinations popped up too - I like the red of the crocosmia"Luzifer" together with the yellow Lysimachia.
and the bench under the large ash tree is pretty overgrown now, but gives a nice "framed" view; in a year or two the cypresses should be closing the upper gap!
nothing new on the textile front - I am still spinning the wool/silk mixture, which is totally lovely, to put it into the delphinium dye bath (which starts to smell a bit yucky, I better hurry up with the yarn!). and I took some of the turquoises and blues out for the crochet bag, the first sample was ok, but I'll try a few more before I decide which one I'll use. I did receive the crochet book Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet from borrowbooks.ie - so I can start with crocheting the scarf with diamond or spider pattern that was shown in the latest spin-off magazine. I still have quite a lot of tussah silk left over from the cushion and might even be able to do a similar dye job on it later!

Thursday, 5 July 2007

half a promise....

...fulfilled! well, nearly - I did finish the pattern part of the hp sweater front..... only a few more simple rows of dark blue for neck and shoulders and it's ready - to start the embroidery that is. we can't have Dumbledore without face and glasses now, can we? I better get on with the spinning for the shaggy dog - luckily I won't need much, should be done pretty quickly. I pulled in all the threads immediately, just to get that job over with! oh, of course - a few stars are to be added too - and some sparkle for the "put-outer":)

good news on the camera front too - today we received the parcel with the replacement! deja-vu or what? putting in the new settings and off we went - it works, but then we better wait a few days to see if it still does so in a week's time...

outside the weather is still dreadful - I managed to pick most of the delphinium flowers yesterday - in a dry spell of about 5 minutes. half of them were glibbery - I hope this doesn't influence the colour as I plan to put in yarn made from a mixture of half silk and half wool - in the hope that the silk takes up to blue and the wool to mint green as in the sample before!
the good thing about the yucky weather is that I can keep on working with textiles inside - I just started the socks "nordic lights" from the winter 06 issue of spindlicity - I have handspun teeswater ready - just love the pattern! and I did some samples for the "seascape bag" for the connaught spinners.... the crochet for the basic shape is probably done quickly - the bits and pieces around might take a bit longer!

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Harry Potter Sweater with hickups....

I had a bad conscience - I started this Harry Potter sweater for DS at the beginning of last year. he didn't like the normal coloured HP sweaters with the letter or stripes much, no, he wanted something special! one with hogwarts on it and Dumbledore too! well, I don't mind a bit of a challenge in knitting, so I got to work. he really liked the picture of Dumbledore on the back of the first paperback... I scanned it and used the grid foil I uploaded from the internet - for picture sweaters. the colours are - well, strong (not to say garish:))! but wizards do seem to wear more colourful stuff - just look at Mrs Weasley (ok, knitting for Snape might give eye problems - or death from boredom!). I bought 15 different colours according to the pictures on the book - from a german company (HWF) - and started to knit in rather fine cotton in dark blue - as the rest is colourful enough. only, after a little while a project for a birthday came right in between. then another one and so on.... when I finished the cushions I had the feeling that I should really clean out my "corner" - and out came HP! slightly dusty and messed up (no wonder, with all those colours in one row...) - and rather accusing me of neglect! I cleaned it up and changed the painted plastic chart into a readable chart on the cross stitch programme - and have been knitting for a week on it now! it's growing quite well - given the fact, that it is only needle size 2 mm. DS is all excited and checking on progress every few minutes.... only, yesterday he told me that he doesn't really fancy "hogwarts by night" for the back anymore:(( after a lot of discussion to and fro we have decided on not doing the castle (phh, that's a relief, would have been even more work!), but to use the silvery grey for a very big full moon - with a big fat black shaggy Sirius dog in the middle! seems to be much easier and of course, he loves dogs - so why not. good thing that I didn't do the chart for the back yet:))
the one downside with patterns like this (apart from changing colour every 5 stitches or so) is the cleaning up of all the threads.... I started to do a bit yesterday, but it is just so boring! look at the mess..... then I had a sudden bout of madness this morning and didn't stop until all the threads were done up nicely! puh, it looks much better on the front too, as the stitches are more even now and the angora/silk thread I use for dumbie's hair and beard doesn't get entangled with everything else anymore - so I am looking forward to a bit more knitting later - as the rain is pouring down in buckets anyway!

I might start spinning some black/grey alpaca next then - for "Sirius" - and hope that the sweater will be ready for this Halloween at least:) Stefan was hoping to wear it to the 5th film in cinema - but I doubt I'll manage all of this until mid-july!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Squares - lots of squares...

I started to buy the series "the art of knitting" a while ago; though I now ask my self why I did. the instructions are for total beginners - no, that is an understatement, they are for people with two left hands really. I am at no. 24 now and there is still not much of an improvement to be seen in the given instructions, the are just too simple and not really interesting. the would probably put even the most unexperienced knitter to sleep:(( the only thing that keeps me going is the small ball of wool that comes with it each week. the pattern behind it is a blanket made from lots of colourful squares. ok, I have so much wool, esp. smaller amounts, that I'd need more of it as much as a button on the cheek! but - now that I started to make all those squares I want my reward in form of a finished blanket. very clever really from the publishers, I expect lots of people just keep going for the same reason! the only thing is that the instructions for the squares are so measly and uninteresting most of the time (no challenge at all) - that I started to make up my own. it's fun to start a pattern like this - there are always a few yards of spare leftovers to do up all kinds of knits.

I started to experiment with slipped stitches again (did some of those patterns a few years ago for the "onion vest" for the lavendersheep) - and I do like the effect of the colours blurring, despite just knitting with one colour.
and the back looks interesting too! (sorry, not quite in focus - that was made when the digicam was still working)

my dye results haven't been all that exciting lately - the sweet william flowers gave a yucky beige, the flowers of herb robert -yep, a yellow (one of at least 30 or more yellows in the last few weeks) - and the berries of mahonia in vinegar look like a beige too. time for some red or purple? I am going to order from wollknoll soon, some madder and logwood and brazilwood would be nice for a change. I also put some sandalwood up for soaking earlier - I hope it really does give a peachy colour! I am fed up with yellows! but I did start spinning some of the teeswater in yellow and green - all results of the dye workshop for the olg. I concentrated a bit more and managed a slightly chunkier single as a result! I have to practise for thicker yarns or I'll end up spending half my life with plying thin ones:)) I'd like to order some space dyed fibre too and I don't want to ply it as I usually end up with barber pole stripes and muddled colours - or a too chunky navajo-plied yarn! the endless worries of a spinner.....