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.....

Saturday, 16 June 2007

blue monday gadget?

as soon as we became used to the digicam - we had to become "unused" again! it worked fine for a few days - and now it refuses to be switched on; never mind taking pix or anything else:(( nothing works, we changed batteries, took out the memory card - no luck. the only thing to do is to send it back to germany, where my family hopefully can have it exchanged or at least repaired! rather annoying really, it's just luck that I took some more pictures of the dye results for the olg workshop.
on the other hand I did find a fitting zip and a pillow filling, so that I am able to finish the silk cushion - you can't win them all?

and I collected three full stalks of delphinium for dyeing, the rest really only started to flower properly, but the hop wound around those three and brought them down. after one hour in cold water they already dyed the cold water blue! I am going to dig out the last bits of silk to add to it later to see the difference in take-up. in the pot I have flowers of herb robert (geranium robertianum) - but nothing much seems to come out of that. I read somewhere that they do give a dye, but I can't find the source of that at the moment!

because I wasn't really in the mood to start a new knitting project, I dug out the borrowed weavette and gave that a try. seems to be fun to do - I did three plain ones yesterday - and will try out a few of the more fancy patterns I found online. the scanned leaflets are quite old and the shown patterns are somewhat hilarious (which is to be expected I suppose - some of them are from 1938!), but of course they can be modernised quite easily.
I also started to do a snowy owl, after I found the pattern for "Errol" in the book "Charmed Knits". of course, being fans of Harry Potter, we (ie. I do and Stefan demands:)) wanted to do a Hedwig instead, and I added some angora fibres to the yarn and changed the pattern to make a larger owl - I hope this works out, though I don't really know what will happen to Hedwig, once the first excitement of having one is gone....but it should go well with the HP sweater - if ever it'll be a FO! at the moment Dumbledore is very slowly growing on the front part (the sleaves are done, but only with HP knitted into them) - the back is supposed to show Hogwarts by night (why on earth I came up with a fiddly design like that I can't remember...). I have to put the chart into my xstitch programme before going on with knitting, the feltmarkers on charted foil are a nightmare to make out, but I just have to finish it before Stefan is too big to fit into it (or to old to be wearing a dumbledore/hogwarts sweater!) at the moment I have at least 12 or more colours to be used in each row.... but I guess it's going to be worse for the back. all blues, greys and silver and even more to be counted! I will have to embroider the smaller parts on to it later, or I'll never get the knitting finished..... maybe I'll have my digicam back when the sweater is finished???

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Several FO's to announce!

I finally finished the baby socks..... they do look big on the leg part, but then the fat littly baby feet wouldn't fit easily through normal socks. I worked them after a written pattern, not my own idea to make the rib so wide:)

I also nearly finished the tussah silk cushion in the lily-of-the-valley pattern, I just can't make it up, because I have to buy a beige zip tomorrow first! I thought I had one - and I do, but it is a bit long at 75 cm....

and I did make up my own hexagon-shaped one, knitted from the noro balls! the one side looks quite nice now and I do like the colours, the other side is a bit garish for me - but then I can always turn this one to the back!

the dye pot is on the cooker again too - I was in the process of throwing away old, dark red flowers of sweet william - when I realised that they still don't look too bad. off into the pot, I just have to see how it turns out....

so, now - a new project is needed! I did order some materials for the september workshop in the olg, but that will take a while to arrive. maybe I should make a few more squares on the borrowed weavette? I just have to think about something new to knit - in the meantime there are always some socks to be done - and the dreaded mending in one corner doesn't finish by itself.....

Saturday, 9 June 2007

peer pressure for knitters?

I received two balls of noro silk garden recently - as a present. first impression: the colours of one are nice, the other ones don't work for me - but that's a matter of taste, I guess. what utterly surprised me (in a negative sense!) was the lack of quality in the yarn. I decided to knit both balls up in a hexagon shape until I run out of yarn and use both together for a cushion with two different sides. all well and good, but the yarn is so different in length (both on 50 g of course) that the difference made up several rounds! I had to use some other wool from the stash to fix this. the yarn is unevenly spun, but not in a nice way like some designer yarns - just badly done! it contains loose fuzzy fibres (looks like throwster's waste hasn't been carded in properly), doesn't feel especially nice - and costs a small fortune to boot! now I wonder: did all the raving knitters just buy one lot and went off it afterwards, disappointed like me - or is my taste so "snobbish", that I am one of a handful, who don't like it? maybe the other noro yarns are nicer - but I wouldn't bet on it. conclusion: no expensive "names" for me anymore - I can spin something like that myself!

on the bright side: I took some more pictures of my dyed yarns, here are some of them. I also finished the first sock to go with the baby cardie, but I have to pull in the threads before taking a picture!

to the right two skeins of silk, dyed with red camellia flowers on alum. the upper is a bought tussah silk, the lower a handspun 2ply singles. the astonishing thing was that the first dye bath on alum mordanted wool was just a yucky beige, not really nice. I then just threw in both of the silk skeins and quite liked the brownish tone I got.

Below (lower picture) some teeswater top, mordanted with alum and dyed with the blue flowers of a bearded iris. I froze them, because they tend to flower in stages.

Below (upper picture) three skeins dyed with delphiniums. the upper mintish green results from dried wild larkspur flowers on silk. the skein in the middle is the bought tussah silk again, the slightly beige tone of the natural silk makes the dye look a bit different, the lower skein is the same on white mulberry silk. both are dyed with the dark blue flowers of a garden variety of delphinium (pacific hybrids). after this results I started to grow some more from seed, so I hope this year I'll be able to dye some more of those blueish-grey tones. the wild larkspur doesn't grow here - but is available dried from some "drug" suppliers by mail order (at least I know from one in germany).

Friday, 8 June 2007

brilliant sunshine....

... and a nice surprise in the mail! we received our birthday parcel yesterday - a bit late - but the contents were lovely. esp. the digicam that came from germany:)) so now I am finally able to take pix of whatever I do and put them online -without waiting for months on end to fill and develop the film! of course I fiddled around with it all afternoon yesterday to find out how it works and what we can do with it.... lots to learn, but the first picture of the brilliant sunshine is here! well, not exactly my favourite weather, too warm for a "polar bear" like me - but what the heck, it's supposed to rain tomorrow!

we nearly finished the first week of hedgerow dyeing with the OLG - with nice results all around. a member in nz told me about experiments with fuchsia flowers and solar dyeing - so I am off to pick a jar full later in the afternoon (when the danger of melting outside is gone...), fill it up with vinegar - and stuff some teeswater top into it to see what happens. I read about Lillias Mitchell's dye results of purplish tones, but unfortunately so far all I had was a biting yellow (and a bee sting to boot - I should have been more careful when picking - and not squash the poor bee in the process!). I also have to pick the Gypsywort soon, another strong, slightly harsh yellow - and with some iron water as aftertreatment a strong mossy green! in the books it says black, but I must have done something wrong:))

Friday, 1 June 2007

Pictures ready

Today I picked up my pictures, the baby cardie is ready - see picture. most of the pix where for the OLG dye workshop in june, plants etc... the most exciting discovery is still the blue from Granny's bonnet, Aquilegia, and I hope it sets loads of seeds so that I can put out some more plants for picking next year!

I also finished the second part of the pillow, but I still have to block it! I have been good and didn't knit or spin a lot in the last few days, but I think I better get going soon or my bag full of dyed teeswater will shortly explode:) mostly yellows, but the barks look nice too, light browns or beige, which go well together. watch this space, I'll put up small pictures of different dyes in the next few days. and the dye pot still keeps going...

then there's the garden - I wonder if the company who produces plastic pots makes a fortune - or the garden centre maybe? jeeh, they have been going up in their prices! what's a girl to do - we raided the pound (euro?) shop and bought all the black buckets they had..... larger and much cheaper! I also bought a few plants for the hanging baskets, I don't think I've ever been so late in planting everything up - it's the first of june and it still looks bare and dreary!