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....


Helen said...

Wow you have been busy I love the dickey's particularly the red and pink one with flashes of green. I do so envy thsoe who can knit
:( ..sigh and in front of the TV too. Glad you have not disappeared off the face of the earth anyway!

Jana said...

Liebe Bettina,
die Kragen sind einfach traumhaft! Und eine tolle Möglichkeit, auch kleinere Mengen Garn ansprechend zu verarbeiten.
Liebe Grüße