Sunday, 24 August 2008

fiddling about with colour, but....

.....somehow it doesn't work! I am still working on the yarn for the baby sleeping bag... I wanted bright colours, so I painted the finished skeins with blue, red, green and yellow... but when I wound and knitted the first skein - it just looked blotchy and overbright (a bit like a parrot, but not as nice). after thinking about it for a day - I decided to overdye it with some Gaywool blue (called musk). I put a small piece of yarn into a very small amount (I still had some dissolved dye liquid on hand) - but of course even a tsp full diluted resulted in a very dark yarn. but I liked the colours that formed, purple, green, blue and some dark teal. so I took the rest of my liquid, added a tablespoon more of the dye and put in my skeins - garnet colours are the result! I love those colours - I am just not sure that they are a good choice for a baby garment! and I have over 500 g - so I'd have enough maybe for a nice moebius wrap or similar. well, I am still not sure; I did knit a small sample - and I started to spin some more of the same yarn! I might keep the woolly white it came in - before I end up doing more colours I don't think fit the project:)

I am also still spinning the small dye samples I did for the OLG workshop in june. the "ball" in the middle doesn't belong, it's schappe silk with wool, a small sample bag I found when sorting through my stash for the workshop. it gives a slightly lumpy yarn as the wool and the silk are very different in length and don't spin evenly. the three balls (white, blue and pink, upper row) are viscose, very shiny. I'll probably add them as a binder to a less lustrous yarn at some stage. the light rosy and blue below are ingeo, corn fibre, which doesn't take either natural dyes or acid dyes well. the stronger red to the left, the white cone and the bigger ball in blue on the left side are ramie, which was easy to dye with both pigments. the greyish purple in the middle is soy silk - dyed with cochenille and some added iron. and the blue cone on the right is bamboo - which does not only feel very similar to the ramie, but takes up dyes in a similar strength, too. which makes me wonder why people don't buy more ramie and go for the more expensive bamboo instead? maybe it's because ramie has been around for a while - and bamboo is still the "new broom" for handspinners?
the weather is still very changeable - very windy and some showers today - but it's going to become warmer every day, which makes it very murky and sticky indeed! but - the forecast gave some hope for the end of the week! of course, by then the holidays are over, which would be totally typical - miserable weather for 9 or 10 weeks in a row - and a nice september, when the kids are back in school:( I have been reading some thrillers from an Icelandic author, Arnaldur Idratson (not spelled properly, I know) - which fits perfectly! not only is the leading detective a bit of a gloomy, not very happy character - the weather in "tainted blood" is just as miserable as it is over here! I do like the style though - thanks to Kristin I pre-ordered all his books in the library. unfortunately she has mentioned a few other books in her blog - and most of them have been available via the local library too, so I have quite a few books still to read on the shelf:) the trouble is that I really have to pull myself away once I start reading - I tend to get stuck to the book, unwilling to put it aside until it is finished! I was told that this illness isn't curable - and I have been suffering from this ever since I joined the library for the first time - I think I was maybe 7 or 8 at that time! I still remember the groans of my mother, when I came home with a huge bag full of books, barely able to carry it up the stairs! or the day when I had visited the library in the town, where I went to school, went on the bus for the ride home (took me more than an hour!), fell asleep in the heat of summer and only woke up again one stop after my usual one! the problem: my bag full of books was too heavy to just walk back - I had to wait nearly one hour until the same bus came back again! the face of the bus driver upon seeing me again was - well, le'ts say, he looked more than just surprised:) and I got a nice earful to boot, because I came home so late! but whatever it takes to get my hand on good books - I'm prepared to do it!
oh yes, Francine asked about the books from holland! they came from holland, because Rachel from the olg had some 2nd hand books for sale. I bought:
Folk Bags by Vicki Square (interweave)
Time to Weave by Jane Patrick (interweave)
Traditional Japanese Crest Designs (dover)
and Traditional Japanese Stencil Designs (dover)
as I said I very much like some bag designs from Folk Bags! the weaving book is one for people without special looms, simple projects, not all with traditional weaving yarns either. both books from dover show black and white designs, useful for painting, quilting, embroidery etc. most of the stencil designs are fairly elaborate, but the crest designs are simple to work with - I definitely will use some for a quilt I haven't finished yet.
but now - back to the sleeping bag yarn. I better finish something soon - it's been driving me nuts for weeks now!:(

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

it just doesn't stop!

it's raining - again! it started in the early hours of the morning and hasn't stopped since! and I don't mean drizzle, nope, it's coming down in buckets! ok, we tend to have a lot of rain in ireland, even in summer. but this year must be one of the worst at least since I came over (12 years now!). if it doesn't stop soon, we'll add some more to the 40 shades of green - mouldy blue-grey-greens, -not the grassy stuff that's normally abundant in the fields here!

well, I'll look on the bright side - gardening is impossible (don't want to drown on the way to the polytunnel:) - so it's back to textiles! anyway, it doesn't feel like summer, so knitting and spinning are a good way to pass the time without becoming depressed. I still use the borrowed Lendrum to spin up lots of small samples in fine gauge - this viscose is a bit more purple in reality, but it spins up nicely and I started some blue late last night to try it out in a chunkier version. I think the fine yarn might be suitable to add some shine and also stability to a soft singles, maybe in wool or alpaca; something without much lustre. maybe a wrap yarn, we'll see. if I ply it tightly on it's own, it becomes pretty stiff and hard; too hard for embroidery, never mind for use in knitting!

this is a mixture of 70 % superwash wool and 30 % silk - very soft and smooth and silky and easy to spin to boot! I bought it with no project in mind, but I am going to use some of it now to dye and knit it up for the baby "bag".... the very colourful wool I tried first wasn't to my liking; it was soft enough - but to "loud" in colour! I am going to use some Gaywools to paint "dots" onto the skeins of this yarn, so that the basis is still white - with blobs of colour! I have about 2 kg in all, plenty for more ideas to come. I think I'd also like it as a finer yarn (single maybe?) for a lace shawl.... I still have the Lily-of-the-valley Heather shawl by Dorothea on my to-do-list - this might be a good yarn to knit it! in white though - no dyes necessary.

on monday I received some new books in the mail - I was rather surprised, because the packet took very long indeed from holland! no wonder, when it arrived it was taped shut with an imprint by the customs office! I didn't know that EU parcels are checked - but know now why it took so long to arrive! must be very disappointing for a customs officer to open a package (maybe containing drugs, who knows?) - just to find 4 textile craft books - and nothing else:))
anyway, I was quite happy with the contents - esp. with the book "folk bags", which contains several patterns that I like and at least 2-3 projects that I'd like to cast on for immediately! so - if it keeps raining - I'll tuck into my stash and keep knitting! there might be some presents in the making.....

Thursday, 7 August 2008

another scarf

I finally finished another scarf, the "dark mark scarf" (a must for every hp fan:) - the middle part took me a long time, because it wasn't so interesting to knit! but the "shadow" part is fun - and the socks in gryffindor gold and red with a lion are to follow immediately! I hadn't done fringes for a long time though - and I had to actually look it up to remember again how it is done! how embarrassing is that? well, Montse Stanley to the rescue and off I went. the knotting is easy - I should just have counted the cut threads properly - if I had I wouldn't have had to cut more green ones - and be left with a heap of useless scraps in black now! I still have nearly 3 black balls leftover and a little bit of the second green one - enough for a hat, maybe only with a small dark mark in embroidery with the green.
tomorrow is "shopping day" for us - so I better finish now. but I saw earlier in the garden that the yellow cosmos and also the coreopsis started to flower. more pickings for the dye pot!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

silk scarf with hiccups

when the latest issue of spinoff arrived, I remembered a pattern called "seafoam" I had seen on the net somewhere a while ago... there were several scarves with a similiar pattern in it - though in wool, not in silk. I had wanted to make a scarf with this, so I started with two small balls of handspun, handdyed silk (dyed when using cochenille for the workshop in the olg). it is bombyx mori, 2ply, which I knitted with needle size 3.75 mm. I used some iron as aftertreatment and the yarn is a bluish purple, slightly "variegated". I started out with the yarnovers given in the original pattern (2/3/4/3/2), but I didn't like the very loose threads - the wool "fills out" better than the smooth silk! so I changed to just 1/2/3/2/1 yarnovers. the rest is very easy, just knit and purl rows - though the colour of my scarf is more "blueberry foam" than seafoam.
the finished scarf is 188 cm long and 23 cm wide - I had a summer scarf in mind, but somehow it feels quite warm and is maybe a bit too wide just for decorative purposes. but it feels very nice and I was happy how it turned out. that is until I started to block it! when I had laid it flat out - I suddenly realised that there was a mistake in the pattern! for some reason I must have started to knit the right-side pattern on the back after about 10 cm of knitting! now that's a new one for me! I've been known to be in such a hurry to finish (usually for deadlines or birthdays or christmas), that I ended up setting sleaves into sweaters wrong side out etc... but usually such obvious mistakes in the pattern stand out so much, that I do see them before I finish a garment! well, I put it down to the length of the scarf - the faulty end was too far away:) of course it happened on the cast-on side, so I couldn't just frog a few rows and knit them again. I debated if I should just leave it - but even though I am not too fussy with other people's work - I can't stand leaving obvious mistakes in mine. it just annoys me no end every time I look at it! I decided to take up the stitches from where the pattern is correct and take off the faulty part. easy, I just had to pull a thread, cast off again and do the the 2 rows of crochet for finishing. I think it's still long enough - though now I have to find a new idea for the bit of leftover silk:) I started a hairband with the first small ball - but now I have a second one I hadn't planned on! maybe I should rip out that hairband and do something larger with the two of them? mulberry silk is so precious that I don't like wasting it.....
I was contemplating buying a new spinning wheel for a while - and was quite glad when a member of the "Connacht Textile Crafters" allowed me to borrow her Lendrum Upright! there isn't all that much choice here to try wheels. most people use ashford - which I don't like at all. I already have the Louet S51 - and I wanted a wheel that can spin fine yarns well. after a lot of asking and reading about wheels I decided that the Lendrum is probably a good choice for me. it is not too expensive compared to other wheels and there is a wide choice of ratios - with different flyer heads too. those are very easy to change, just a twist of a knob and off it comes. the borrowed wheel has the normal set-up and an additional ply-flyer, which has very large bobbins and can also be used for designer yarns or very chunky ones. I could of course buy a fast flyer and an extra-fast flyer - though I think the latter wouldn't strictly be necessary for my favourite yarns. so the evenings during the last week were spent spinning very fine yarn from bamboo top (dyed with gaywool "musk"). I am not sure yet whether I should ply this and use it maybe as embroidery yarn - or leave it as it is and ply some softer, chunkier cotton with it. but the wheel comes with 4 bobbins, so I'll leave it for a while - and just start on another bobbin. thinking about how long it took me to fill the bobbin - I guess I'd rather set some time aside for plying - there is quite a bit of yarn on it!
I didn't do much dyeing in the last 2 weeks - the weather wasn't too good, but ok for some gardening chores, so I spent some time in the polytunnel and garden. but my dyer's knotweed has been growing well and I think I will have a go at picking leaves, chopping and kneading in the not too far future! some of my red dahlias finally started flowering as well (who can blame them - I wouldn't like to put on my best dress - if all I got in return was rain and wind!) - so I can deadhead the ones past their best soon - for dyeing of course! I don't hold out much hope for the Maximiliani sunflowers - the weather is just too cool and grey for them to flower nicely. but the autumn raspberries have been setting nicely and I am picking cucumbers and "cyclanthera" fruit nearly every day! those are funny, like tiny melons, but covered in spines! they have to be scraped off before eating and the fruit have to be picked small or they develop hard seeds and some mealy fluff around them - but they taste quite nice, very slightly bitter, but more aromatic than the normal cucumber. the plants are, well - vigorous doesn't quite describe their growth habit! they are on a rampage - even though I try to tie them up all the time, they escaped into the asparagus green, off to the cucumber poles and even into the pumpkins low on the ground! and they cling - the tendrils have to be either cut off or carefully unwrapped from the "host" (unwilling as it may be) plant!
the other new climber I tried out this year was a "hyacinth bean" (dolichos lablab) - which seems to be a more reluctant grower (at least outside, where I train it up the house wall on the south side), but has nice dark green leaves and dark purple shoots. and now purple flowers as well! the "beans" that form are edible - though they only just started flowering.
there's no end to the drizzle in sight - so I'll be doing some more housework and cleaning up maybe..... nothing interesting to tell about that! who would want to hear about ironing and dusting?
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