Monday, 24 March 2008

Happy Easter!

I know, I should have mailed this earlier, but we had connection troubles again yesterday - the line disconnected after mere minutes.... never mind, we had a fairly nice Easter sunday with some sunshine, not too much in the way of showers - and definitely not a speck of snow! we dyed our easter eggs late on saturday night and we hung up our painted eggs even later (there is a big difference between dyed eggs and painted ones in our house! dyed eggs are done in food colours, essentially hard boiled eggs in different colours. painted eggs are first blown out, washed well, dried - and then painted with water colours or similar! we collect them, a few more each year, and hang them up, see photo). I cut the branches of some flowering trees, early cherries, hazel, birch etc. - it looks like spring in a jug!

I had to hide the dyed eggs inside - when we were ready for them we had a few heavy showers and searching for them outside didn't seem too tempting! after counting them all (we had forgotten one outside years ago - and only realised that, when Michael hit it with the trimmer - the stink was unbelievable and the dogs nearly went berserk over the spot for days:)) we demolished quite a few of them over breakfast, together with part of our saffron yeast plait - another tradition we have every year.

the rest of the food over Easter isn't really traditional, we just have what we all like. the most memorable thing was dessert this time - lemon mousse on grilled fresh pineapple. it tasted very nice - but that wasn't the memorable part! when I saw the recipe being done on german tv, they used one of those little blowtorches for the kitchen to caramelize the icing sugar on the pineapple. I don't own anything that fancy, so I thought it would work the same under the grill! it did - but unfortunately my porcelain plate had a tiny crack - which split in half after 2 minutes under the grill:(( but - looking on the bright side - the pineapple was still nice:))

I also managed to do some textile things - I finished the "spring in the woods" shawl, did it up and washed it. it really changed after washing, white and like a slightly fluffy cloud it looks really inviting! though it is a bit difficult to wear - folded in half into a triangle leaves it too small, so I'd have to wrap myself into it as it is. not very practical when working, but cosy and warm as a lap afghan".... or maybe as a heirloom baby blanket (only, no babies in this house anymore....)? I still have to do the last two charts of the peacock and this will be done, too. I look forward to finishing and esp. washing it to see how much this will change (if it does at all!) afterwards - it made a very big difference with the spring shawl! I also have enough yarn left over from both of the yarns to do another shawl each - or maybe something entirely different? just now I saw some interesting pictures from the book by Fiona Ellis "Inspired Cable Knits" that I really liked....
when we finished dyeing the eggs I kept the leftovers of the dyes - and sprinkled some over NZ lambswool tops I still had - should be enough for a pair of socks after spinning! DS claimed he would like some socks out of "egg" wool..... I might ply the very mixed colours of this with one strand of a darker yarn in a single colour for effect.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

lace addict writing

I am spreading myself thin (lucky that there is enough to spread:)) - two large projects in knitting, but I just cannot resist the lure of the peacock! to get the leaf shawl finished too I decided to knit away on it in the morning (no chance of doing work in the garden, the weather is still bad, stormy and wet most of the time) and only change over to the peacock in the evening - when watching tv. at first I thought it might not work, but even though the pattern changes in every row, it is fairly regular and mistakes kind of stand out soon! I finished the first "eye" yesterday - and started the second one - like a true addict I just cannot stop and knit into the early hours of the morning! who said watching tv is bad for you? if you hunt out the right channels, it can be downright educational! I learned about the huns, troy and rome and also about volcanoes and glaciers so far:)) by the time I finish the peacock I should have made progress on the educational side also! the leaf border of the spring in the woods shawl is nearly finished on the 2nd side, too - just about 48 more leaves to go:) should I snuggle up under one cashmere shawl then - just to finish the second one?
I did spin a little bit today - just to finish an audio book I started a while ago. the silk bobbin was full, so I plied it, reasonable softly as it is supposed to be knitted up. and I started to spin some fine silk too, plied much stronger, to try out and use it for bobbin lace soon. or maybe dyed for some embroidery - yet to be decided.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

lace everywhere

I've been busy with three projects lately. the spring forest shawl nears completion; the first side is done with the 2nd leaf border, pattern is in my head, easy knitting now (the one downside is the constant turning for the narrow border). the peacock is quite a different story though! I am not bothered by the pattern itself, it's just not in my head and I have to look at the chart all the time! I finished chart A and B (the photo only shows A), started on C - where the first "eyes" of the peacock are worked. this means that 16 stitches have to be worked into a double yarnover! of course, I watched tv (Bond:)) while doing this - and ended up finishing the row with only 8 increases in each "eye".... mistake ironed out, no problem, and I do like the result - makes for happy knitting!

I am also still looking around for suitable patterns for my hummingbird stole. after I decided to change the shape from more or less triangular to rectangular, I feel quite comfy with this and it makes the decision for a pattern easier as I don't have to work increases into it. at the moment I am thinking about starting with a provisional cast-on in the middle of the back - with small featherlike patterning - and this pattern is going to be elongated, but not widened towards the outer parts. mirror image on the other side - I hope this will work. I spent quite some time with winding skeins into balls the day before yesterday - until my arms nearly dropped off. all set now for a lot of knitting - to show some examples of lace knitting at the demo for our meeting. I looked through my stuff and found to my dismay that I don't have a single finished piece of lace knitting here any more! I think I should really stop giving away my products!

on the "other lace side" I am still putting things together in bobbin lace - end of march isn't all that far away and I better get cracking here! in the process I found two pieces of handwoven material, where I wanted to use the warp threads to add some bobbin lace - got distraced in the process, I assume.....

when I dyed the yarn for the hummingbird project I looked through some of the old gaywool dyes and discovered that some kept better than others. the yellow looked disgusting and I discarded it without trying. because I have a lot of natural white stash, I decided not to risk wasting the colours and finished all the mixtures on some nice and soft lambswool top. as it turned out the wool took the dye better than the silk mix and I found out that I have the perfect hummingbird colours - on wool now! well, the species I chose as inspiration for the challenge is aptly named "woollypants" in german - so why not knit something hummingbirdy in wool, when I have finished the silk project? I guess I could spin it up to use for a baby project I have planned, the colours are cheerful enough and the wool is very soft.

Monday, 3 March 2008

irish spring and hummingbirds in silk

there used to be a tv ad in germany: all green and clear running water, sunshine and flowers (it was for a shampoo) - well, dream on - this is what "Irish Spring" was like today - ok, there is some blue sky visible, but more by accident than anything else.... the snow cover came and went several times today - and there is more forecast for tonight! the poor daffs are sodden and hanging to the ground....
but look on the bright side - there is nothing like a spot of dyeing when the weather outside is grey. after testing one skein yesterday, I decided to change to the silk/wool mix instead of the silk/cashmere (less "hairy", not scratchy, but the cashmere gives a lot of halo to the yarn!). and even though the colours weren't exactly what I wanted them to be (the gaywool dyes don't come in clear base colours and the mixing can be a bit of a surprise!) - I think I am quite happy with them now. I painted all skeins on the kitchen sink - much higher than the table and if an accident does happen - so what!
after painting I wrapped all skeins into cling film, steamed them and rinsed them out after they had cooled off.
this is the ball of silk/cashmere I painted yesterday (just a small one) and the colours do look fairly similar at first, maybe a bit more intense on the silk/wool mix, but that's only a marginal difference.
this is the first pattern of the "pretty as a peacock" shawl - but when I test knitted yesterday I found that there was too much yellow in it - and the colour spread is too patchy. I divided the skein with a ruler and painted each colour sequence 4 times, hence the spotty spread. this time I didn't I spread the sequence only once around the skein, a lot more green and blue in full areas and less yellow altogether! now I hope that I can find several nice "feathery" lace patterns for my hummingbird challenge shawl - I am itching to start knitting, though of course I have to finish the leaf border on the spring shawl first!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

spring in the woods

I finally started the second border on my lace shawl "spring in the woods - a shawl by Lotte". in case you're wondering, this shawl has been designed by Lotte Wackerhagen and is on offer as a pattern for sale from Dorothea Fischer (with nice pictures of finished shawl) in germany (the pattern is translated of course!). I was asked if I fancied testing the pattern - I wanted to knit a lace project anyway, so I got started.
I tried my cone of found cashmere yarn, doubled up at first, but it was still a bit fine, so I tripled it and I am quite happy with the results. the large middle part was easy knitting, I showed the "anemone" lace pattern before. the knitting worked well in front of the tv. the first leaf border is knitted in rounds, not rows, so I started to pick up plenty of stitches:)) 860 in all, if I remember it correctly - and of course you keep adding to manage the increase for the borders! the knitting isn't difficult, just don't tell anybody that you're "just finishing the row":))
the second leaf border is knitted in rows again, but is knitted to the first leaf border immediately, so no major sewing involved, just a quick putting together of the narrow border in kitchener stitch at the end (I am still quite far away from that point though:)). the only problem will be the blocking part - I guess I just have to vacate the bed for a day or two to put it up there. the downside of timber or tile floors....