Thursday, 28 February 2008

the last dickey....

this will be the last dickey for some time! I don't really like mass production much and even though I tried to change the border of this one, I ended up doing it the same way as I did the 2nd one. as the colour is called "kingfisher" I thought a border reminiscent of feathers might be nice, but even though I tried several patterns, in the end I didn't really like any of them. so back to plain I-cord with "unattached spots" - it'll do. I had some angora in the light lilac tone, so I "lined" the neck part with angora - just in case we'll ever get a real winter over here:)) it does look like a return of colder weather on monday, but I don't think it'll qualify for something as warm as this, so the kingfisher will wander into the press for the time being! maybe I should make a similar design, but without the neck part. made from stronger yarn that doesn't stretch that much, I could work in small pockets to be filled with cherry kernel bags or commercial heat pads - for those time where I end up with neck and shoulder pains because I did too much knitting or spinning? I have had plans to do something like that for years now (more than a decade I think?) - but something more important always pops up - usually a present for somebody else - and I end up with a non-decorative, but useful hot water bottle on my shoulder:))
I am also nearly through (again, haha) with the first leaf border of my "spring woods" shawl - I hope I can do a longer tv session tonight to finally get to the 2nd, outer border. that'll be the finishing part, apart from washing and blocking of course.
on the dyeing front I hope to do a first test skein today with the hummingbird colours - hight time, I'll just jump from one lace shawl to the next, it seems.... first things first though - the sun is still shining - time for a spot of gardening!

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

here comes the second lot!

this is the second part - paid for this time, but nonetheless I am very pleased with the contents of the huge parcel that arrived from germany yesterday! DS came running up the road before I even jumped out of the taxi - just to tell me that I had mail:)) some of it will end up as projects for him, but of course, being only 10 he wanted stuff immediately and wasn't at all pleased that only wool and fibres came out! this is the lot I ordered from Wollpoldi in germany - I wonder how much the postman cursed when he dragged the heavy box inside:))
the fibres are viscose, cotton and soy (top), bamboo and ramie (middle) and flax at the bottom right hand. most will go towards the whacky fibres workshop by the OLG and their dye workshop for veggie fibres later in the year.
the yarns are cotton chenille, viscose/silk mix and cottoline (top) and schappe silk, lace wool yarn and wool yarn (for socks) at the bottom. I have plans tu use the chenille for an afghan and pillows, the schappe silk (very fine!) for embroidery and the viscose/silk mix for a sleaveless sweater - the rest I don't know yet...
these are four varieties of pre-drafted "yarns", which I tried before. the upper left is cotton/wool mix, the one on the right (veeeery shiny) a viscose/silk mix; the grey is superwash wool with silk and the white at the bottom the same mix in white. those are very soft and a bit shiney and spin up very quickly into a lovely yarn - I am looking forward to using them! they are ideal for presents as the spinning doesn't take long and still makes the result rather special. of course they could be knitted up into something as they are, but I think the yarn will be more stable once it has run through the wheel. it's easy to spin a balanced singles as well!
DS asked me why I always order boring white "stuff", he would like more colour:)) but of course being a dyer - that should pose no problem! I can only say that I am very happy with this order - all is good quality, the prices are more than reasonable and the service was fast and reliable! well done, Gabi!

the first of two hauls

why is it that finding something "for free" is even nicer than good stuff that had to be paid for? well, it's not totally free, but the membership (in the center!) of our connaught guild as a group isn't all that expensive, given all the nice things that can be found at the recycling center. I went in briefly yesterday - and found another lot of lovely yarns. of course, as they come from a mill, most are fine, but they have nice colours and I can always ply them or just use more than one strand when knitting. but as I wanted to try my hand at weaving anyway, I guess part of them will go towards that goal. or I could use some for lace knitting!
here is my haul:
3 cones of pure wool, navy, light caramel and natural white. very fine, but soft and good quality.

4 large cones (1kg each) of petrol green, bramble and rosewood, I think it is a 2ply mix, 1 strand cotton, 1 strand linen.

4 cones (2 each) of sea island cotton, 2 navy, 2 white. fine and very soft, must make a lovely kimono or summer sweater! unfortunately the way from the center to the station is quite far, so I wasn't able to carry more (as it is the extension to my arms must be permanent by now:)), but I was quite happy reaching home safely with this lot! but maybe it's partly a good thing after all not to have the center closer to my home - or having a car to go there more often! or my room would really be bursting open!

Monday, 25 February 2008

"Make my day" award

I received an award - a little while ago, but I had no time left to do an entry for the blog. thank you to Janet for putting me on her list of favourite blogs - it's a nice feeling to have people read my scribblings and even liking them:)) of course, now it's my turn to nominate my choice! not easy, esp. as I am not a great surfer and blog reader; I tend to stumble across some of them rather by accident. but there are a few I do like and I am going to add what interests me most on each of them. so here it goes - the listing is not a rating!
Leigh's blog is interesting because of her detailed descriptions about her spinning projects - I am sure, also for her weaving jobs, but I am too much of a beginner to even begin to understand her work:))
Kaz' blog shows fascinating pictures about her weavings - pure joy to the eyes!
Alison shows interesting steps in designing your own textiles - usually for weaving, but the theory behind it can be used for other techniques as well.
I like Cheryl's mix of thoughts, knitting, baking (eating:)) etc...
a male knitter, Jared, - with some nice projects and he even spins!
Helen is a natural dyer, who uses her results to make beautiful felt pictures. always interesting to read with new info and trials in dyeing!
I don't understand anything, but I do like most of the stuff she knits and she does give the correct pattern names, easy to google, so always worthwhile.
Jae has made me slobber for the peacock shawl for months - and now that I own the pattern I keep coming to her blog to look for more - for knitters, esp. lace fans!
what can I say, the title says it all?:))
another knitter's blog
I am sure there are many more, also some (e.g. Janet's own) about books I occasionally read, but those are the ones I check regularly:)) back to more knitting now - I nearly finished the first leaf border around the "spring in the woods" shawl - and then I had to tink - mistake, mistake:(( I should have noticed, I wonder where my thoughts where when I just knitted over the missing row:(( well, on the bright side - my dickey-mania is finished, I did the second one in hummingbird and that's that for a while. a bit boring after three in a row:)) and now - I am looking forward to the next lace project, we'll see if the colours turned out as I want them. I managed the blue, the red, the gold and the apricot just fine - but the green was quite another matter:(( the first try was olive, the second one plain yuck, the third one too blue.... well, maybe it's going to be a design feature if the colour in the shawl doesn't match the one in the photo:))

Saturday, 9 February 2008

another surprise in the mail....

.. and not even work involved for me at all!

I am a fan of polar bears - and of course the hype about "Knut" in germany didn't go unnoticed over here either! when my friend's husband in berlin took a snapshot of Knut, dirty like a piggy, playing with a blanket, I thought this might be a rather untypical, but still wintery motif for a greeting to the OLG shortly before christmas. somehow another member in canada picked up on this and yesterday I received "Master Churchill" - a true canadian polar bear:)) he looks very cute and - in contrast to Knut - he doesn't need water and I don't have to provide seals or fish for him either! so thanks to Heather for that lovely surprise - I think I am going to start a collection after all now!

I also promised a picture of the finished guinea-pigs, still a bit wrinkly and not "framed" (I am going to use fabric to make it into a small hanging, as the measurements just don't fit available frames). so here it is, unnamed - and with a sigh of relief as I didn't really enjoy working the whole thing. no more cavvies for me in a long time!

but look on the bright side - the first daffodils are out! nice nodding yellow heads, friendly and promising. in contrast to the flowers of the gorze, which has started to flower already in november and the pale yellow of some leftover primroses (they kept flowering all through "winter"!) they are real heralds of spring - very fitting as we are having a mild spell with a bit of sunshine here and there!
oh yes, I nearly forgot! I did finish the beret from the Knits issue winter 06.... after frogging half
of it because the larger size fell down even over my own ears, I figured it'll be much to large for my friend. never mind, it knits up really quickly with needle size 4mm - DH looks like some of the german troups going to afghanistan now! just black gauloises are missing - and ready would be monsieur Hulottes:)) he's only the model for the beret just now - we'll see how my friend likes it....

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

I am not dead - I am just....taking a break

and no, I am not eating Kitkat! (I hope I won't get loads of entries by "Elvis is alive" believers!:)

I haven't been lazy either, but first I didn't find the time for entries, and then we were short with the flatrate.... and when I finally had managed to write an entry, we had a power failure and everything was gone again:(( maybe I am luckier this time.

I did knit quite a lot and I also finished several other things. I managed to finish the dreaded picture of a guinea-pig in cross stitch (photo to follow) and also another UFO that was flying around in one corner.... that should do it on the cross stitch front for the moment. I did order the "Christmas fairy" from Heaven and Earth, but when the chart arrived, I realised that it contains 90 colours and will take me several years to finish (and of course, despite my large stash in embroidery yarn, I need to buy more than 2/3 of the colours and the fabric!) - so I decided to finish some UFO's first, before starting a large one! the second picture, a "spring fairy", done following art work by Ruth Sanderson, is ordered too, but has to come in from the US via a German x-stitch company - I'll be busy till I am 144 at least, or so it seems....

now to my favourite, the knitting and spinning. I received this lovely mixture of cashmere and silk (the top of the scan) as a pre-draft, so I set the alpaca aside for a while and started to spin this. it's a dream (even though it's a bit of a fake in spinning - all that has to be done is to let the pre-draft run into the wheel and add as much twist as you want) - and the yarn ends up very smooth, with a bit of lustre and also some "halo", but it's not shedding as much fibre as angora does! this must be the ultimate luxury to wear! the difficult part is to decide now for which project I want to use the yarn! I still need to do the "colibris in silk" challenge (a fibre mix would be allowed) - or should I keep this for the "pretty as a peacock" shawl? for lace anyway, that I already know. I still have a "normal" (i.e properly handspun) yarn here in half silk and half merino, so I shouldn't run out of material any time soon.

I was also asked by a friend if I could find the time to check a pattern out, the "spring in the woods" shawl, a lace shawl design. as I still had the full cone of pure cashmere (found for free in the recycling center in Castlebar:), I decided to give it a try, even though I had to triple the very fine yarn. it is nice to knit despite this and I have nearly finished the very large middle part (which is really easy to knit, even in front of the TV; the lace represents wood anemones) - I am looking forward to starting the interesting borders (leaves) soon. well, actually I thought I'd start this yesterday evening! I picked up a lot of stitches all around, until I realised that something must be wrong with the sides - too many stitches and not enough in the main part to pick them all up. only then did I realise that I hadn't done 12 repeats, but only 11.... well, it wasn't too bad, just letting the picked up stitches slide off the needle - and back to knitting another repeat. but still, I was rather disappointed about not being able to start the borders:( I'll give it another try tonight, but first I have to finish a beret for a friend's birthday (only a few rows left....)

when I saw the winter issue of "Knitter's", I decided that it might be a nice present, so I knitted my first "Dickey" (yes, I know, the name.....). I worked one, following the pattern closely, out of handspun silk/wool, dyed with dyer's chamomile (and some iron for the grey-green). it turned out ok, though the colours are not really mine (well, never mind that, it wasn't made for me anyway!). I also thought the border a bit boring, so I added a two-tone crochet finish for top and bottom. the original is worn in a single layer around the neck, but I don't fancy covering my ears with a collar! I changed this part when doing the second project. of course it is adaptable, it could be done slightly longer for a proper rollneck, if desired. looks a bit like an egyptian neck dress?

I have also changed my mind about using the alpaca from hummingbird for (bed) socks! when I had done the first dickey, I decided that it might be the perfect yarn for doing a second one for a friend who likes a warm neck anyway! the "pheasant" colourway looks very pretty on this - and the kingfisher is going to end up similarly, I'll just make it smaller for myself and add a different border on the bottom. the original pattern only had a simple cast-off row, but I wanted to use up all the yarn (one skein with 150 g will suffice) and making it larger doesn't make much sense, because it reaches the shoulders as it is and wouldn't fit under a jacket or coat otherwise. I started to knit an attached i-cord all around the bottom, but where the two knit stitches are, I did a normal i-cord for several rows, which was attached with the next stitch. this formed small holes between the two knit stitches and a little "triangle" to accentuate the shape. I am quite pleased with this and it was a great success at the last meeting of the land guild (even though someone suggested it might be a kilt for a small girl:)). of course a crochet border just like the first one would have worked too, but it didn't make as much sense for a multicoloured yarn.
by the way - I was a bit nervous when I worked the last, very long i-cord row - I ended up with about 50 cm of yarn left! well, I am all for courageous knitting:))

I also spun up some of the pre-drafts and fibres I received in the "surprise" parcel - and decided that this would be the perfect material for special garments, where I don't have the time to really do handspun, but still want something luxurious (in the upper photo, the yarn in the middle is silk/linen, the grey at the bottom is superwash wool/silk, lovely and soft!). so I placed quite a large order (I think 20 kg of yarn and fibres qualify for "large", even for me!) at wollpoldi in germany. this should take care of quite a few planned birthday presents - we have lots of "round" birthdays in 08 and 09! my DH is going to be 50, (DS will reach 10, but then at his age every birthday is special:), my mother and MIL have round ones too next year! and some for christmas 08 (yep, I am planning way ahead this time!) and normal birthdays too. I bought 3,6 kg of cotton chenille yarn too, enough, I hope, for three snuggly pillow covers and an afghan - not for myself of course, but all will be revealed later..... (can't give my presents away, you never know who reads the blog:)
so, you see - there was really no time for kitkat etc.! the gardening season begins soon as well and even though the weather is still typical irish winter (i.e. wet and windy, with very occasional snow and frost), it might change any time now and I have to dash out and start my work! and I also have other things to prepare, another "fibre book", some more natural dyeing, a lace demo (knitting and bobbin lace for the Connaught spinners and weavers for the end of march meeting), part of a dye workshop for the OLG and so on.... oh, and we are going to have parents and MIL here in late may/june, so I am off for two weeks anyway - I never get much done in the textile area when we have visitors! too much cooking, chatting and driving around....