Thursday, 24 April 2008

Hummingbird shrug

I finally managed to take pix of my finished shrug - the result of the "hummingbird in silk" challenge. no willing photographer around, so I had to improvise with a cloth hanger and a broomstick:))

I do like the colours and the yarn - and I like to wear it - but I have to admit that a shrug with less wide sleeves at the bottom would be more practical! it's ok when knitting (I use circulars anyway), but even when I am trying to eat I have to take it off - even more so when doing any other work.... on the other hand, a silk/wool shrug maybe shouldn't be worn when doing household chores?:)) I started one in purple merino in brioche stitch some time ago - maybe I should finish this one for the more menial tasks around the house? I don't know why I chose the top in this strong purple - after I spun the yarn I decided that I'd not work it into larger projects - to avoid shocking innocent people who come too close accidentally:) it's ok for smaller things (I made a hot water bottle cover a while ago) - but a bit too strong for garments, I think. or at least for garments worn in public! anyway, if I do finish it - I'll put some rib on the sleeve parts that draws it in a bit! or maybe I'll start all over again and with less stitches in the lower arm area....

I spun the top by hand, dyed the yarn with gaywool colours (painted skeins) that were steam fixed. I started the pattern along the back, with a small repeat that grew in length every few pattern repeats (easy to do, just add one more pattern row and one more back row) and a provisional cast-on. after finishing the first half I took up the live stitches from the cast-on and worked the same in mirror fashion. I kept all stitches on the needles and worked a zig-zag border along both sleeves. then I closed the seams and crocheted a narrow border on the two open parts on the neck, top and bottom. finished....

and I finally started to knit the kilcarra donegal tweed sweater! despite my digging and shifting I cannot find the original pattern, so I just have to make up my own. I did the sleeves quite some time ago, so I already have the basic pattern for the leaves in it. I just have to count it out onto square paper and knit back and front. it won't take too long as the wool is quite chunky with needle size 4, but then I only have 4 weeks left anyway, so I better get going.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

the white peacock

I finally gave myself a kick today, freed the bed and started to block the peacock. I knew that it would be too big to put it all up at once, so I followed Lotte Wackerhagen's (the designer of the "spring in the woods" shawl) tip to double it up and block both sides together, one on top of the other. it worked very well, I did the first half and just had to pull the second one into shape and draw the stitches over the needles in the frist half! it took a while to dry, but otherwise very little effort!

I am very happy with the result - it's a good size, nice and warm and it doesn't look and feel too flimsy. of course it's not something to wear when cleaning or gardening, but it's not too elegant either. perfect - a keeper! here a few pictures of the details and the completed shawl.

I am also nearly done with the "colibri" shrug - I fiddled about with different patterns for the border on both arms - and finally decided to mix several together. one side is done, the other one should be finished by tomorrow - another one to block on the bed, but at least it'll fit in one go! the second "spirogyra" is nearly finished too, time to start something new and exciting:))

I tried to pick some gorze yesterday, but after a few minutes decided to drop that plan - until the wind stops! I need my fingertips whole for knitting and the dyeing isn't anything urgent (apart from the fact that it's nearly end of april and the main flowering season for gorze will be over soon!). I started to sow my dyer's knotweed seeds and would like to overdye some different yellows with the fresh plant to end up (hopefully!) with some nice greens! but if that means to rund around with sore fingertips for weeks - I might choose different plants; after all there are enough choices to dye yellows....

Monday, 14 April 2008

first half of spirogyra

I just finished the left spirogyra gauntlet and took a picture - a bit wobbly, because I only had one free hand! I do like it, the soft colours and the yarn feels nice too, but I guess I'll give this pair away (once the other half is finished....), because it is a bit too long for me. it goes up my arm even further than in the picture and I only use gauntlets when I wear something with long sleeves - and living in ireland means it's not cold enough (at least for me) to wear doubled-up sleeves:) I think for my own pair I'll knit two pattern repeats less - or maybe even three. a bit idiotic really, as I thought while knitting that this will be too long - and trying it on for fit wouldn't have been a problem...... well, a finished present will always come in handy - esp. one that isn't really restricted because of size or colours!

I have to be tough with myself now, though - I have to get some gardening done, even though the textiles are rather tempting right now:(( but I have to take advantage of the nice sunny spell as long as it lasts!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

core yarn spinning

I just had to try it - the spinning of core yarn as described in the article in the new spinoff. the photos were irresistable, so I sat down today, armed with a spindle, a wheel, some cotton and some pre-drafted yarn made from wool with some silk. at first it seemed a bit weird to use a spinning wheel and a spindle at the same time - I thought I'd have to work like a juggler to keep everything going:)) but after some fiddling I realised that the spindle really only holds the core yarn, so that the additional twist can run out if need be. the main spinning is still done by the wheel! and it worked quite well after only a few minutes of trying! it looks far more difficult than it actually is.... I worked for a while until the test core yarn on the spindle was finished and decided to try to add some beads. the article describes that it's best to add beads on a fine yarn and fix them by another strand plied in the other direction (like cabled garn, vice versa to whatever direction you spun first). eventually I realised that I should probably have added a bit more twist to the fine silk yarns with the beads, but the base yarn looks very nice and I think I'll use it for a scribble lace scarf like the one in the mag! I just have to finish the second set of core yarn (still on the wheel - eventually I had to do something else - unfortunately:) and spin a fine yarn for the "in between" parts. it's probably not suitable for "normal" knitting such as sweaters etc. but very effective for small projects, even jewellery. it's surprisingly soft - feels a bit like chenille in my yarn quality! of course it would be even nicer if the wrap yarn had some colour - the article provides great ideas and it's no problem to dye the wrap material in whatever colour is desired.... another addiction for the next few months?:))

Friday, 11 April 2008

from easter eggs to aubusson?

when we dyed our easter eggs (the ones to eat, not the painted ones!), we had some leftover dye in the mugs and I decided to use it up by painting some nz lambswool tops. I wetted them well, spread them on some clingfilm, sprinkled over the dye with syringes and hoped for the best. well, the colours were quite strong at first and mixing all 5 (blue, green, red, yellow and orange) in one top seemed a bit daring! but after steaming them (rolled up in the plastic on a sieve) it turned out that even though none of the dye washed out, the colours were more pastel than intense.... no easter egg garishness - rather aubusson faded colours! after I spun it into a singles, I wanted to ply it, but not on itself.... I looked through my stash, mused about spinning another yarn in either black or dark blue - but decided eventually to use up some naturally beige tussah silk (commercially spun!) I received from a friend some time ago. the fluffy soft singles yarn and the non-elastic silk make for an interesting ply, because the wool blooms and the silk stays smooth! when I saw the "spirogyra" pattern (gauntlets or wrist warmers/fingerless mitts) from the latest knitty I figured that my yarn in soft colours might go nicely with it. and it does, at least I like the way it knits up so far! the beige silk doesn't give a harsh contrast and I think the gauntlets will go well with all kinds of other colours.... the pattern is very simple to knit - at least it would be if I didn't constantly try to add another yarnover right beside the decrease:) I figure that by the time I'll finish the gauntlets - I will remember - just to do the mistake viceversa with the next lace project! only one thing to do about it - pick another pattern where yarnovers and ssk aren't directly side to side:) but maybe I should just get down to it and do the blocking of the "pretty as a peacock" first?

and when I thought that I could calculate the next project - kilcarra in red for a leafy sweater - the latest spinoff arrived - argh, why do spinners invent new interesting things all the time? the core yarn is so tempting, that I am glad that my wheel bobbins are empty just now - I might give it a try tomorrow!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

spring - finally?

I think we are out of the woods - where snow and ice are concerned. at least I hope so - I have been sowing stuff that doesn't like the cold, so it'll better be warming up soon! temperatures aren't too bad - and even the sun is peeking out today!

I have been busy finishing shawls. the "spring in the woods" is all done up, including blocking. it's a bit smaller than expected due to my fiddle-up with the smaller needles, but it turned out nice and soft, even though I'll probably end up giving it away. it's too small for me to wear it doubled up and too precious to use as an afghan on the sofa (with dogs and sometimes pig-like DS!).
the "pretty as a peacock" is finished too - I just have to do the blocking! which is giving me a bit of trouble due to the large length of the upper part - longer than two metres means it doesn't fit on any of the beds:(( I'll have to do it in two halves - not ideal, but it can't be helped.... but I already know that I'll keep that one - it's one cosy, fluffy cloud to wrap myself up in!

because I had nothing special to knit close by (desperation as you can imagine?:)) I finished two single socks. not something I'd normally do, but I needed something for a train journey a while ago and didn't want to fiddle about with the heel, so I started another ball. fittingly named, the colour ways are called alaska and ayer's rock (shouldn't that be Uluru now, to be politically correct?). nothing special to talk about, my usual way of knitting. I just doubled up the wool for the small square right underneath the heel - to try to make them last longer in that area! didn't try it out yet, so I don't know if it'll help.... now I just have to do the other socks - or I'll end up wearing two different colours together!

when I did the lace demo at the meeting, I realised how long ago it's been that I have been working bobbin lace - and somehow the bug bit me again. but I have to be tough - I want to finish my celtic spiral collar before I start any larger new project! not such a big job, I just have to find my way around the pattern again. after this I think I'll try my hand at a scarf in silk! or maybe cotton - I tried the "found" sea island cotton on a lace border, but it turned out to be too thick.... but it's nice and soft and might be ideal for a scarf!

we also talked about a new project for our group - we would like to do a book totally out of textiles. each of us will design one page in A 3 - no other restrictions, apart from the obvious one that it can't be too thick or it wouldn't fit into the book later! at first I didn't really have any ideas what to do - but now that I thought about it a bit more, several things come to my mind! a while ago I borrowed a library book about old irish houses and castles.... I do like old brickwork or rather stonework and I'd like to do a tapestry weaving. maybe one of the old round towers? or a ruin with large, irregular stones, covered in lichen? maybe with a bit of green in the background?

another idea I've been contemplating for a while is trying to show the striata and structures found in canyons such as the grand canyon. there was a photo in one of the last "National Geographic" issues that showed fantastic red and rosy tones - and I think madder dyed wools and silks would be perfect for this! at the bottom the dark blue-green river can be seen - I do like this colour combination, topped by a brilliant blue sky! maybe another tapestry? or freeform? or felting? no, felting is just not my thing, but I think I don't have to worry about lack of ideas! rather lack of time - the deadline is the meeting at the end of september!