Wednesday, 30 December 2009

adventure holidays in ireland?

the times, where we can enjoy the weather are well and truly over! there's no snow left, most of the white has melted in the fields and the garden - but not on the roads:(( unfortunately all the cars that travelled during the snowy times compacted the snow on the roads, then it started to thaw - and then the big freeze arrived. yesterday we had to go to town to get a few essentials such as firelighters, loo paper etc. - and it was obvious that using our bicycles would be a no-no. we took our rucksacks and our toughest boots and went... as soon as we left our gravel road to the house, we saw that the main road was sheer ice... for a while it was ok to "walk" (more like climb, because of holes, grass clumps and bramble shoot footangles:(() at the side of the road, but it became worse the further we got - in some spots I couldn't cross the road to the safer side without scratching some loose soil out with my hands to throw it over the patch of road! we found several abandoned cars along the way and I was very lucky that a neighbour passed halfway and offered me a lift! it took me two hours to get into town, most of it was spent on foot of course:(( the town itself was ok, but when we left the supermarkt it started to rain! I had the idea to buy a 3 kg bag of cat litter to throw in front of me when hitting really bad parts on the road, but halfway home not only did I run out of the stuff, it was also nearly dark at that time! I am not someone who scares easily, but at that stage I feared that both DS and myself would not make it home in one piece - it was bad during daylight, but impossible to walk home further in the dark! it was sheer luck that another neighbour passed in his 4wheel drive - the only vehicles that are still able to get around - and after he passed us and my heart sank - he turned back and picked the both of us up. I can't describe how it felt to know that we'll make it home safely after all! I only really realised that we'd been very lucky when I was in bed later and couldn't sleep, because I kept thinking about our "adventure" and how foolish we had been! that scare taught me a lesson - I'll get some shoe spikes asap - even if it means that they stay in a box unused for the next 10 years! and more emergency supplies for storage! the worst is that there is no relief to come, more bad weather at least until the weekend! and we are lucky! even though our hot water froze (it's back today) we still had cold water, the washing machine ran and of course we get drinking water from the well, so no problems there. we have enough food as well and are all set for at least the next 10 days or more. but we saw on tv that some people are less lucky - the doctor can't reach the old people's home in the next village etc.!

amazing though that the postman (my hero:)) made it on those roads! and he brought me a late christmas present - with a very nice surprise. I don't often receive handmade gifts, probably because people think that I can make them myself? to my great delight I unpacked my first nostepinne (an old-fashioned but very practical wool winder) and an inch gauge - both handmade and both things I didn't own! both were wrapped in a very pretty handwoven bag, in double weave made from handspun yarns, with a lovely handmade cord and mother-of-pearl button.
this was really my only "textile" christmas gift - apart from a subscription for 2010 for "wild fibers" and the back issues of 2009:
I also finished the second bag made from the small cone of texere linen that I bought at the K&S in Dublin. it said in the pattern that it would be enough for two bags, but actually I made one following the pattern, made the second one a good bit larger and added two handles plus a drawstring - and still have a little bit leftover. that was certainly good value for money! the net is extremely stretchy and can accomodate quite heavy loads - and the linen is very tough and hardwearing, but nice enough to work with. it's easy to carry around because it can be rolled together tightly and bound with the handle.
...and rolled up.

I also finished two sets of wrist warmers, which I made from leftover silk/merino in gray, with leftovers of angora yarn in light lilac. I thought they still look a bit bare, so I added some beads and also a few embroidery stitches in darker purple. not the most ambitious project, but they are very soft and warm and are nice to wear, esp. right now:))
after the first set I still had leftovers, so I used the last bit of angora for the borders - I will add some embroidery to the grey part to make it look a bit less bare.... the colour looks a bit odd in the photo, the lilac is far softer in real life.
(I got the inspiration for them here: a german blog "farbenfaden")
tomorrow I am going to start the next "proper" project - I have to dye the sock yarn for Janel Laidman's tree of life socks from "the enchanted sole"... in a hurry, what's new? this will most likely not change for "twenty-ten":))
A happy and healthy new year to all - and better weather for all those in ireland, who can't put a foot out of their door right now!

Friday, 25 December 2009

peaceful days?

yesterday we took the opportunity to enjoy the last of the sharp cold weather - with another trip around the village, sled in tow:)) we were quite late and the sun was going down when we arrived back at the front gate. just at that moment swans were flying high above us (I think they stay on the small river down in the bog) and we caught them on camera...
looking outside now, everything has changed - we had min. 10 deg. C during the night, the coldest night for us for at least a decade - but now we managed to make it into the "above freezing" area for the first time in days. and the lovely fluffy snowflakes changed into wet sleet - which will turn into rain in the next few hours, I am sure. it's only a question of hours now until everything turns to ugly slush - but the next wave of freezing cold temps. is just around the corner or so we are told! peculiar weather - and this has been going on for the last 2 years! well, right now I am happy enough to stay inside in front of the warm oven, with some knitting or spinning - but I am not looking forward to the next few shopping "trips" (more like adventure holidays!).....

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

our christmas will be a little bit different this year - no food shopping, because there's no way we're going to tackle the icy roads on our bikes! it's a good thing that we have enough food in storage, even though I had to change the menu slightly. I just hope that there'll be free roads on monday or tuesday, otherwise we're down on a few basics:)) well, it's certainly different - and it saves me from a lot of cooking anyway:)) and it's my first white christmas in ireland - that has to count for something!
I hope everybody is going to have a peaceful and happy christmas and a healthy and prosperous new year! enjoy the holidays and celebrate - with loads of time for books, textiles - and family, if you have to:))

Sunday, 20 December 2009

White (Pre) Christmas!

will you look at this! we had a few frosty days, but the forecast (and DH insisted on it!) said no snow or only "flurries" for us... well, it turns out that the flurries were a bit more substantial - everything is covered nicely in white! I haven't had white christmas over here yet - and it's doubtful that the white sparkly will still be here next week - but better a few white days leading up to christmas than none at all! I usually suffer from "no christmas feelings" beforehand, but add a bit of snow and everything changes:)) even DS hums along with carols on the radio:))
our road leading to the house looks very pretty like this - but I suppose the main roads aren't exactly inviting. we did receive mail yesterday, but not today (we don't usually get mail deliveries on either saturdays or sundays, but the last two weekends before christmas will see one of each...normally!) and it might well be that the school bus doesn't run tomorrow if the roads turn very slippery.... yay, an extra day of holidays right before the holidays!
of course I never cease to work on something textile, but I am looking forward to starting a new project soon. here's the photo of the felted and decorated laptop carrier - in better shape now, quite sturdy and large enough too. I still have an hour or two left on a small giveaway project later, but after that - who knows? I will have to dye some yarns for the next gifts, but before I do that (not during christmas baking and cooking....) I can start something else:)) to decide for one isn't easy though!
the bag is quite heavy - 900 g of handspun South American top. dyed with acid colour named "green" - which turned out turquoise, but I complained about that already. the celtic deco is from the same dyebath, ie. from the leftover after I dyed the main batch. and the top is teeswater, lustrous and smooth, worked into a fat i-cord over 5 stitches. all the edges are secured and strengthened with i-cords too and the handle (which also forms the narrow sidebands) is doubled up to keep it from "growing"! I hope it keeps the intended recipient's laptop save from bumps and crashes. off to start something new now......

Thursday, 17 December 2009

socks, socks, socks....

I received a parcel today with two (signed) books for my collection: Janel Laidman's two sock books, the enchanted sole and the 1st one, the eclectic sole. a friend in germany (thanks, Uli!) ordered them directly from here, and sent them out to me. I saw a few of the patterns in previews and pretty much liked them all - and when I heard that a 2nd book is going to come out soon, I decided to wait to get both of them together. and I like them - a lot! the patterns are very imaginative, a lot of colour and patterns and even a few beads here and there. DS liked the socks with a small pocket inside them, I like the Galadriel stockings, even though I wouldn't know where to wear them:)) but I think I'll make the "tree of life" socks first - as a present. I have enough sock yarn, but I will have to dye it first. I need two colours for the pattern, one black and one in muted sky colours - but I suppose I could just as well use a very dark blue or purple - and maybe some "sunset" sky colours:)) somehow, when I saw the pattern inside the book, I realised that this has given me an idea for another hp themed sock: a whomping willow with maybe the sign of the deathly hallows on the foot? or a "normal" looking sock - but with a small pocket, which contains a small felted rat? we'll see....
I still have to do a lot of cookie baking - so I'll better stop ranting here!

Monday, 14 December 2009

not all my own work

I haven't been on holidays or lazing about! it's just the usual rush before christmas over here - to finish everything in time some things like blogging just have to suffer:((
but it's not only the time of rushing around and hectic jobs - it's also that time of the year, where lovely surprises arrive in the mail! like the years before the OLG has organized another christmas exchange and I was lucky in my draw for a parter for the second time - I was paired with a weaver again, which is great, because weaving is one of the textile crafts I am not really good at. and especially not this good:
aren't those bags gorgeous? they are made in fine silk in a double weave - the outside has this intricate pattern (here's the star theme), on the inside this is invisible, the fabric is smoothly woven! fantastic work, I wish I was this good! they have two small silky drawstrings to close them - or to use them as loops for hanging them up somewhere. to take the photo I hung them up in a golden yew in the garden - but I am thinking of cutting some nice evergreen branches to bring them inside. I'll hang up those pretty baggies as decorations - our tree is always full and features "one dog from each village" - and I fear that the bags will be drowned out by all that stuff!
this is a kumihimo braid, which kept the baggies together - handmade from silk yarn too!
thank you to my exchange partner Rachel - I love my baggies and I'll find a way to display them for the rest of the year too, not only on christmas!
of course not only do I receive presents, I also make some! this looks like a shapeless flop of knitted fabric - but it's not going to stay like this. in fact it's already travellling around in circles in the washing machine. it's going to be a laptop bag - without the knitting needle for closure of course. I handspun a two-ply from wollpoldi's south american top (spins nicely!), made a large sample to count out the gauge - and knitted a huge, floppy, shapeless thingy - which hopefully changes into the expected sturdy felted bag. one thing already didn't quite work out - the dye was labelled green - but I think it should be called turquoise! it doesn't really matter all that much with this project - but DH was rather lucky that it hit the bag - and not his planned cable patterned sweater! he asked for green - and I don't think he'd fancy wearing turquoise instead:))
well, I'll better go down and check - it might need another cycle, which I won't find out by sitting at the computer doing surfing, blogging and emailing!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

more stitch markers....

I've started a veritable production line today! I figured that it would make more sense to spend a whole afternoon with this fiddly job and put everything away afterwards than to carry the stuff backwards and forwards, take everything out and back again to make one set a day or only every few days. here is my "harvest" of stitch markers - which took me about 3 hours to make. I have to say that with a bit of practice not only do the loops become more even, but everything works out much faster, too!
the colours aren't true, most of them are turquoise, some with semi-precious cubes, others with glass discs. The colourful ones on the right are clown faces - and I figured clowns go with "bunt" (mixed colours). sometimes I only made 5, because some of the beads came from a mixed bag and only 5 of the same were inside.
this is a set I made for myself. the little blue cubes at the bottom of the markers are lapislazuli - a colour I really like, a strong blue. the other beads are shiny and matte black; six are for knitting, the other four are for crochet. I fixed small safety hooks to those, because with crochet there is no needle to push a marker with ring on! the hooks can be closed around a stitch, where they will remain safely.
another set of clown faces - this time only with blue and iridiscent beads.
those to the left have little rosy butterflies at the bottom, the ones on the right small flower-shaped discs.
send in the clowns! here they come - I figure they might lighten up a rainy and grey day for someone later:)) most of them will go away as small presents - there's only a limited amount of stitch markers I'd need for my own projects. I hope the recipients (not all are spoken for yet, but I am sure I'll find a worthy recipient for all of them eventually:))
I also finished two other projects - but unfortunately it's that time of the year again, where some FO's have to wait until the recipient has received them before they can be shown safely on the blog:))

Saturday, 21 November 2009

stitch markers

the weather has been pretty dreadful again today! it's been raining heavily and I am waiting for more news of flooding in ireland and the uk. it's been so dark inside that we've had the lights on for most of the day! so I took the opportunity and started a project I've wanted to do for some time. I bought Cat Bordhi's sockbook some time ago and read about stitch markers with letters on them. I couldn't find them anywhere close, so I decided to make my own. I found beads with letters on them at everglaze, where I was able to order single ones. I figured that A - Z would only be necessary for an extremely ambitious project, but I bought A - G beads for Bordhi's sock patterns. browsing around I found some more beads I liked, and I did stock up a bit more, when I went to germany (it's much nicer to choose directly instead of via mail order!). I had to stop myself eventually, but I am going to make a few more of them in different designs. I'd like to make some sets to give away, but I figured I'd better make some for myself first. not, because I am in desperate need just now - but I wouldn't mind the minor mistakes that I was bound to make with the first set!
this is my first set:
they aren't black in real life, the beads are purple, but that doesn't matter. what does matter however is that I turned C and D the wrong way round, so that they face into a different direction from the rest:(( something I have to avoid in the future (don't have any beads with letters left right now though:)) I won't wind the wire around the upper loop again either - I'll just bend it into an "o" to put over the split ring. and never put to much pressure on the split ring - or you'll end up with an oval (I rectified this mistake before taking the pic!) I am ok with the outcome - not sensationally beautiful, but practical - and there's always room for improvement with the next lot. I think they would look nicer with the larger beads at the bottom and the smaller ones on top - which would make sense with the weight distribution as well.
tomorrow I'll start dyeing the handspun wool - and once this has dried I can do the knit-felt sample for the bag I've planned. high time too - christmas is coming ever closer!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

everything is grey today....

the weather has been ugly for days, if it's not lashing down, it's stormy (or both!) - or grey and cold! the only nice colours can be found in my wool room right now - or on my window sill! this small, slightly straggly plant is a streptocarpus variety that flowers for ages and ages inside. it is a very forgiving plant, which survived a lot of watering and also too little very well. once it gets too straggly for the pot, you can cut off the tips and put them into water - they'll sprout roots in a few days. its purplish flowers are smallish, but plentiful! the only downside - it has no scent (ok, two really - it doesn't survive outside).
of course I am working on several textile projects, as usual - but I can't show you one of them (knitted)yet, in case the recipient looks at this blog:)) the other one is my spinning - simple white 2ply, quite chunky compared to my usual yarns - made from South American top. I will dye it (dark green most likely) and turn it into a laptop bag, knitted and then felted. right now I think I'll adorn this with a celtic symbol on the flap (like the one on my cardigan, but smaller). either a central circular symbol - or maybe two triangular ones in the corners of the flap. I'll have to do a sample first though - or my laptop bag might only be fitting for a mobile phone cover:))
I also started another exchange project, patchwork this time - and I have done some mending with the sewing machine while it's out. I do have to keep going - there are still quite a few christmas presents to be done on my list and time is flying by! and on friday I have to buy some christmas cards - I'll never manage to do all of them myself and I haven't written a single one yet! why does christmas always come as a surprise?:))

Friday, 13 November 2009

winter is here....

... well, irish winter at least. probably people in really cold areas would laugh at us - but for some people (like my husband) riding a bicycle without wearing a woolly hat at 5 or 6 deg. C (plus!) is icy cold, so a new hat was needed. I had started on a dubbelmossa once before, in 3 colours of alpaca (commercially spun, from meadowsweet alpacas in wales) - but had to frog this, because it turned out to be too large. unfortunately DH has a tendency of "loosing" his hats somewhere - and was down to only one, which shrunk a little bit more in each wash - so the new one was supposed to be warm, large enough, but stretchy and non-shrink, if possible. I had a nice ball of sock wool in my stash - the main colour is a dark burgundy red, the second ply is a multicolor in blue-petrol-green colours (which I just realised is totally invisible in the photo:)) . I started with a normal hat, rib 1k/1p - but on a provisional cast-on. the main part is stocking stitch, with a star-shaped crown. I then put the live stitches on the needle again and knit the same all over again in the other direction. I expected to run out of yarn eventually and had planned to finish the inner part with another sock yarn in solid burgundy - but I managed to do the whole hat with one 100 g ball - and about 1 1/2 yards of yarn to spare:)
a picture shows the end result before fixing both sides together. this is easy (the only thing of importance is to remember to sew in the cast-on and finishing yarn before decreasing for the other side - or you can't reach them anymore:)), just put the yarn end on the inner part through the hole in the crown, pull the whole thing into the other side, come out on top of the outer layer and sew together. if you do this invisibly - you actually end up with a double-sided hat. you could of course make the stockinette part of the inner side from fluffy angora or cashmere - if you tend to get a cold head. but remember that when worn the rib will be made of four layers of knitting - which should be warm enough in average european winters.
this is the hat - ready to wear, only the flash made the yarn more purple than burgundy. I offered my one and only hat (sea green with blue) in exchange, in case DH thinks the colour is "too female" - but no, he's quite happy with it as it is. ok - off to start some new projects now! or to finish some UFO's maybe?
Materials: Funny Strumpf Color Sportivo 100 g (Coats GmbH)
Needle 3 mm, circular and dpn for crown, 73 % wool, 24 %Polyamid, £ % Polyester

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

getting it right the 2nd time

some time back I received a special present: several bags of pre-drafted spinning material (like a very narrow sliver; this is usually used by spinning mills). the fibres are half silk and half alpaca and the resulting blend is a very soft grey tone, warm and cozy. at first I thought I might spin it and make a 2ply - but after a few samples this seemed to be too chunky for myself. after a few more tests I decided to spin a single out of it and ply it with several very fine commercial yarns. one is a white cashmere yarn, the other a very light rosy mohair and I added 2 very fine threads of schappe silk - so essentially this is a 5ply:)) in knitter's I saw a pattern I liked and in this they added a finer extra yarn every 3rd and 4th row, so I plied more of the commercial yarns together, but without the grey blend and the pink mohair.
I then set out to knit a longer cardigan for myself out of this - the top part knitted from wrist to wrist, the lower part vertically downwards. but when I finished this, it turned out to be a long, very heavy coat - which grew even longer and wider when wearing it for a few minutes. this was useless - and I ripped it all apart again, because I'd never have worn this and the yarn was just too precious for a "fly about in the corner" project! I thought about it for a while, but when I saw a new pattern in the "twist collective" that I really liked I started to do it all over again. at first I had planned to use the fine extra yarn for the snowflakes - but then I decided that I didn't want the snowflakes after all. I didn't want the hood either, wanted a longer jacket, and chose a different cable pattern anyway - so essentially I emulated the bent cable edge and not much else:)) this is the result:
again nearly a coat, but far lighter, without buttons, set-in sleeves and the edge is an attached i-cord all around. it's very nice to huddle up inside, warm but soft and so luxurious! I used the fine extra yarn for the inside parts of the pocket, to reduce bulk and here:
instead of the snowflakes I added a celtic spiral pattern. for this I used a "template", printed on paper. I followed this pattern with my i-cord, fixed the crossing points with needles and lifted everything onto the back of the coat to sew it on. it was a bit fiddly at first, but eventually I got the hang of it (I didn't want the i-cord to flatten too much and neither did I want the stitches to be visible from the inside....).
the coat weighs about 1.5 kg and was knitted on needles 4.5 mm; the i-cord on 3 mm.
so now - time for a new larger project. will it be a lace shawl? or another cardigan (not for myself) - or something else altogether? I don't know yet - I am going to hunt through the materials later today:))

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Knitting & Stitching Show

it's that time of the year again ---- first the k&s in dublin and shortly after this halloween! this year we've been luckier than last, i.e. no problem to get a taxi, a grey, but dry day in dublin - and only 20 min. delay on the train back home:)) that's pretty smooth for travelling from the west of ireland!

of course I can never go to the show without buying bits and pieces - though I was pretty good this year. I didn't buy a single book - none of the new spinning or weaving books I wanted were available (amazon, here I come!) so - here's what I got:
I bought a kit of procion dyes, also some separate pots, urea and soda ash. 4 oz of guanaco from texere, tiny silk neps from OT (I am going to card those into fibres as "tweed"). I found a lovely sea-blue linen yarn from texere to make one of those extremely stretchy shopping nets (the yarn supposedly makes two of them - so one is going to be a present eventually). this yarn would make a very nice weaving yarn, the colours were beautiful and the yarn has a nice feel.
I also bought some handdyed reels of silk from OT - the solid colours were half price as special offer = hard to resist:)) there are also three in multicolour (the quality was very nice to use in my miniature embroidery - I think I am going to make another project like this in time). two hanks of "once-offs" and a pack of gorgeous purple mixed beads are from OT, too.
I got a few shisha mirrors, some tiny bells in silver and gold (xmas is coming closer:)), some pliers for making my stitch markers (I've had the materials for this for a while, but couldn't find my pliers anymore:(()
there was one stall with "folk" supplies for cross stitch etc. patterns like bent creek, heart in hand etc. plus suitable materials. I bought a small piece of rustic aida, three small patterns (which include a few buttons or charms) and a small bag full of different brass charms (which led to major delays, because the people manning the stall had written a really tiny price list and had problems in figuring out the prices for the different charms - they didn't find it remotely funny when I asked why they didn't just sell them by weight!:))
there was a stall with "zauberball" sockwool from the german company "schoppel" - which I had seen online, but didn't use yet. after seeing a scarf done in two colours with this yarn here, I thought I'd give it a try. unusually for sock wool this is a single ply yarn - and I think I'll try to see how this can be dyed before I knit with it - I can probably dye my own in a similar style, which might be a sensible thing to do with at least part of the 3,5 kg cone of sock wool I recently ordered:)) the colours in blackberry and blues are really nice and I am looking forward to knitting with the yarn.
this is the linen yarn from texere, called C4 (it's a 10ply!).
and this the guanaco - looks like ordinary camel fibres:)) it's very soft, but also extremely short, so I might have to blend this with something a little bit longer before spinning it.
also, the group "Connacht Textile Crafters" participated in the show on the stall of the Irish Guild of WSD - our group project Miniatures is shown here:
unfortunately the spot on the board wasn't ideal for showing miniatures, where details are the most interesting - they were hanging behind the large table, so that people couldn't easily come closer to check out details or descriptions - which is a pity, because a lot of work went into making those projects. if I ever manage to get the blog of the group going (bad conscience, I haven't managed to do anything about it for ages, even though I set it all up some time back) - I'll upload larger pictures of all the projects to see in detail!

so, with halloween nearly over and the show behind me - it's time for christmas preparations again:)) but first things first - before I start anything in this area, I am off for kitchen duty:))
Happy Halloween to all!!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Miz Frizz

let me introduce you to: Miz Frizz!
this is her - a little feisty felted lady in purple - she looks a bit like me - though I need a few more years for my hair to turn this white:)) the general tendency to a frizzy hairdo is there, though - as is the roundish body shape and the strong affinity to all things purple:))
the story how she came to move in with us:
a little while ago I saw a pink girl on Guzziesue's blog. I thought she was very cute and asked if I could have one in purple... (which was meant as a joke!) and crazy enough - she sent me an email that yes, I could have one in purple! and here she is - she's hanging right in front of me at my place at the kitchen table (cum workspace for me...). she must be cute - if even DS, who doesn't usually make comments about things like that, likes her:))
other than that we are using the brilliant sunshine for more gardening work - and I am in the last stages of finishing my winter cardigan. after that I think I better start with spinning and knitting for the christmas presents - only 10 more weeks to go (and less for those things I have to send by post!). and lots of things to do - what's new? I also have to re-pack part of my spinning stash as I was digging around in a rush yesterday... I hope I'll find some suitable yarn to finish the domino knitting - if not, I just have to spin and dye some stuff instead!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

my finished miniature

Celtic Spirals

this is it - my entry for the k&s show in Dublin - as part of our group's "miniatures" project. the only "rules" we gave was the size - not larger than 6 x 6 inches (though that's handled flexible:)). materials, techniques etc. were a matter of choice.
mine measures this exactly, but only because I had to frame my embroidery. I do want to use this piece as part of a hand-made bag, but of course leaving it without a frame would have looked silly, as outside of the embroidery the white silk gauze would have been visible. so I added black silk (plus wadding and cardboard) as a provisional finish. I played around a bit with other colours, but fuchsia took away too much of the design and silver somehow had too much contrast. I don't know exactly how the bag will look afterwards, but it will certainly be more elegant than my usual "sacks" (which might mean that it'll go to a new owner once finished:)).
the technique is simple - half cross stitches, which meant that I didn't have to worry too much about iffy colour blends in the coloured part. the silk yarn is hand-dyed silk from Oliver Twists, the black yarn simple stranded cotton. I used just one thread, which worked fine, though I found out that the silk yarn is more suitable for this as it is far stronger than the cotton yarn, which frayed and fluffed easily.
the silk gauze is rather fine, 19 holes to the cm, which meant that good lighting was essential (I don't have a magnifier for embroidery). I would change part of the work if I did something similar again though: I made up my chart by using my cross stitch programme - but it would have made the work a lot easier if I had just put the black and white design under the gauze and marked it on the canvas! the silk gauze is quite tough and could easily be drawn on with a felt marker or even a pencil. this would have saved me a lot of counting, which isn't all that easy with those fine holes and black yarn! well, lessen learned and all that:))
now all that's left to do is type up the descriptions of the other participants and pack it all up safely - to send it out to the member of our group, who's going to the k&s show early to set up the display! and if I ever get the Connacht Textile Crafters blog up and running properly - you'll even see the rest of the entries:))

Saturday, 10 October 2009

more squares

I am still working on some more squares for the domino knitting workshop. I thought that the sock yarn might look better if I left out the solid colour and just used the multicolour. the first square (bottom left) was ok and I was quite pleased after the second one (upper left), when it turned out to be single colour. only, next was the bottom right - and the yarn went on with more of the "flecked" light and dark colours. I didn't fancy two of the same side by side, so I snipped the yarn (what's two more ends to weave in with all the rest?:)) and started the square when the next solid colour thread came up. worked well for a short while - until I realised that this solid colour part is shorter than the first one:(( I wasn't prepared to snip off another part of yarn, so I just finished it like this - but I won't be continuing as I dislike it even more than before....

instead I went hunting for another yarn I could use - and came up with a ball of one handspun ply of lambswool, dyed with leftover easter egg colours - and one ply of tussah silk. I was rather surprised about the outcome of this dye batch! the easter egg colours were extremely bright - but the wool has very pleasing (at least to me!) changes of soft greens, blues and slightly rosy tones - just like an Aubusson carpet! I already made one set of Spirogyra out of the yarn - but gave them away, because they were a bit too long up the arm for my needs.

when our tutor gave us the instructions to make a 3corner shape, I thougth I might give this a try - and I quite like the outcome. I think I'll try to see how many shapes I can make out of the ball I have (I'll weigh one shape, then the ball - to calculate the approx. number...). if it is enough, I'll make a funny-shaped short scarf. if not I might go fishing for a suitable 2nd yarn in my stash - and maybe make a pillow out of it!

Monday, 5 October 2009

patchwork after all!

I didn't do much patchwork with fabric lately - but today I tried another form - domino knitting! that's patchwork done with yarn - does that count? not for christmas though - the online guild of wsd is doing a workshop about domino knitting this month and even though I don't have huge amounts of time to spare right now (who does?), I wanted to try it out properly. I do have the first book by Horst Schultz, also the Domino Knitting and Knit to be square by Vivian Hoxbro (I prefer the latter two), but I didn't actually knit anything out of either of the books yet.
so this morning I went off to dig around in my stash - and grabbed two balls of sock wool, one (the dark purple) a leftover from knitting an aran cardigan a few years back (and socks) - and the other one a ball with mainly reddish-pink tones and some lilac. I didn't really fancy the colour combination, but it was in a special offer of 5 balls, the other 4 long turned into socks - just this "oddball" left. it knitted up pretty quickly and I didn't have any problems following the workshop instructions - but when I started the upper left square I must have shifted the take-up of stitches a bit - it's a bit off kilter in the middle and there's a small bump on the left side.
also - I don't think the multi-colour sock yarn was a good choice - the two longer runs of colour are ok - but I don't really like the flecked looking parts, where there are short bursts of dark and light colour in the yarn! it might have looked better if I had knitted each square in garter stitch only and one colour - but at least I learned a valuable lesson: no jacquard sock yarn for domino knitting - at least not for me! the third lesson I learned was that it might have looked better if I had knitted it with 2.5 mm needles instead of 3 mm. well, it's done now - my next piece will incorporate these lessons - and will hopefully look much improved:))

Sunday, 4 October 2009

not knitting....

...but patchwork! well, patchwork and apparently some embroidery too...

if you like embroidery, patchwork, sewing etc. - and christmas, have a look here:
several australian designers got together and started a blog, where they show a new "christmassy" patchwork design every monday during october and november. for free! yes, really... and the first was put online just today - go and have a look for yourself.
it's unlikely that I'll find the time to do all the patterns to come - but in a time, where so many people are in it to make money out of every small bit I really like the idea of giving something away for free. I'd like to thank the ladies behind the blog - and hope that many people enjoy their projects - and maybe in time follow their lead!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

rich pickings

when I looked into the porch today, I found a giant box in it - my fibre order arrived from germany today! it's always great fun to unpack stuff like that - you can delve into fibre bag after fibre bag - and think about all the lovely things you can do with it all! it was hard work to carry it all out into the sunshine to take pix of it!
the first batch shows a huge cone with sock wool for dyeing, some ramie, dye stuff - lanaset dyes, some cream of tartar, hemp top (the beige stuff on the right in the back) and some yarns, one kg in grey superwash wool and silk - a pre-drafted yarn. the other one is a two-ply in viscose/silk in white. I already bought a kg of this some time ago, but it's quite heavy and I was afraid I might not have enough for the project I have planned (a vest in a dark, inky blue).
the large roll on the right is a carded woollen fleece, which Gabi from Wollpoldi dyed and carded - and gave to me:)) it was inspired by the naturally dyed and knit-felted bag "Bertra Beach" I did some time ago and I am looking forward to spinning this - though I still have to figure out how exactly I'll do this to make the most of the colours.
this shows the second batch (it looks quite small on the photo, in reality the table was full to overflowing with fibre bags:)) - one kg of akita fibre (chiengora - the name fits, it's supersoft and more like angora). 1 kg of superwash merino, 2 kg of south american wool top, also 1 kg bourette silk, 1 kg silk bricks, some polyamide, 1 kg baby alpaca (supersoft!), 1 kg mohair top, 150 silk hankies...
some of it is planned for birthday or christmas presents, some of it is for myself - and some of it was ordered just because it's nice:))
all in all it's about 18 kg of fibres and dyes - enough to keep me occupied for the winter months. which is a bit of a joke, because there are still heaps of fibres of all kinds stashed away in my room! but I wanted to make the most of the postage - and if it's the same for a little over 10 or nearly 20 kg - no question what I'll do about this:))
I am one happy bunny now - I also received a packet full of "adult licquorice" from a friend, so I am well cared for on all accounts!:)) I forgot to take a picture of two stitch markers I received - but they'll keep till the next entry.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

colour sessions

I have been dyeing during all of last week, but today will be the last day for a while; hard to believe, but I am running out of stuff to dye! I picked another lot of alder buckthorn berries and had even darker colours than last time - silk in the middle, viscose on the right - and wool on the left. even though the blues are accurate - the "green" is not! it really is a green tone, not this yucky muck colour! (I put some samples of the first blues into the window to test the lightfastness - after a week in pretty bright daylight no visible change...)
same for this pic: I picked fresh fuchsia flowers (the red-purple ones that grow wild everywhere in the west), because I read that you can achieve purples and reds... this is my umptiest trial, I had everything from beige to biting yellow on wool - and as you can see, I had another very light yellow - though in reality the tone is far more golden yellow than beige. the silk however did turn pinkish - neither purple nor red, but not yellow either:))

this is the result of my dye sessions of the last few weeks. I assembled everything on the patio table, waited until the sun wasn't quite as high in the sky anymore - and still the colours look totally different in real life:(( I dyed loads of green tones, which hardly show up. pretty much all the colours look different in reality, far more autumnal, not as bright as in the photo! I tried changing all kinds of settings, but if the reds are ok, the greens are not etc... weird, but at least I have enough choice to keep me busy with the wheel and the knitting needles for some time:))
the plan is to blend some of the fine lace yarns for a shawl in autumn colours, yellow, green and reds. I am already spinning some of the blue tones into a lace yarn, though I am not sure whether to ply with a blue silk or with another blue-green woollen yarn. the two petrol blue skeins of tussah silk on the upper right side are going to be knitted into a lace scarf and I think I am going to spin a yarn with "glacier" colours from some of the lighter coloured viscose and silk, maybe together with a small amount of angelina and some white, either silk or wool (silk might be more fitting for a "cold, sparkly, icy" yarn?)
off to work a bit more on my miniature, while dinner is in the oven.....

Sunday, 13 September 2009

dyeing obsession

we are still having glorious weather - but unfortunately the forecast has mentioned drizzle for tuesday and a decline in the weather from midweek onwards:(( we were just getting used to a bit of sunshine.... but to make the most out of it (a typical irish saying:)) DS and two of the dogs went down to the bog with me. this is one of Stefan's favourite pasttimes - and the dogs love it too, because normally they can run around in total freedom. even the old girls go totally nutty, roll around in the grass, run down to the small river to drink and take a bath every now and then. not today though - because the second we rounded the bend along the bog road - there was a huge racket going on. three donkeys against two dogs, on the one side mad braying, on the other mad barking! of course we had to take out the leads and the donkeys watched the dogs suspiciously during our stay. other than that it was very nice - apart from the heaps of rubbish some of the neighbours throw into the bog - instead of the rubbish collection, because it costs money there:((

to cut a long story short - the pickings of blackberries were so measly, that I dropped the idea totally. I am rather careful and look at every berry - in case it is "inhabited".... a lot of them were and the rest looked so ugly that I didn't bother. I did however manage to pick 175 g of reed flowers - in the hope that I might get another nice green tone for my autumn colour collection. the mean part about this is that there are reed flowers as far as I can see - and I can't reach most of them without running the risk of ending chest-deep in a bog hole or worse:(( I could only pick along the small concrete brick and as far as I dared stretch across the river.... a canoo might be helpful - I could try to stake into the reed like the native americans, when they collect wild rice:))
well, anyway, the plan is to collect some yellows, gold, greens, oranges and reds to spin some lovely autumn coloured yarns - and also to dye some of the fine lace yarns I bought last year for the same purpose. it was a funny coincidence to read the article about the autumn leaf shawls in the fall issue of the spinoff - exactly what I thought I'd be doing with those colours! I also saw on another blog a nice idea - one multicoloured singles plied with one singles coloured in brown, to draw it all together. I still have some woven fabric (commercially done) in those colours and always had the plan to make a vest or something similar, part knitted and part commercial fabric. my usual complaint here: I wish I had more hands and/or more time:))
back to my reed flowers now - hoping for the lovely slightly smokey green I got last time!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

not so small miniature....

I am still busy with dyeing - which has been much easier the last few days because we have brilliant sunshine and temperatures of over 20 deg. C during the day - late summer or what? but it means that I can hang the dripping tops outside without leaving colourful drips on my tiles inside. also the drying is much faster of course. above the results of dyeing twice with "tibetan" madder (not sure if it is really tibetan - or just normal madder, from india though). I used alum as a mordant and no after-treatments. the two balls on the left side are nz lamb top, below the 1. bath, above the 2nd. on the right side the brownish top had been dyed with a beige before and with madder in the 1st bath. half hidden above a ball of silk top, dyed in the 2nd bath; the barely dyed stuff is viscose top and the ball above silk again - but from the 1st dyebath.
the funny thing is that normally madder shouldn't be boiled, so I only barely simmered the first time. it's not a red, more a dark salmon that fixed on the fibres. the second time round I boiled quite vigorously and the colour became much stronger, but not really a rusty shade. hm, maybe it's "tibetan madder" after all? I am not sure whether or not to do a 3rd bath - I don't really use those colours for myself, would fancy a more blueish red from brazilwood myself.
on the other hand maybe I should leave those dried dyestuffs alone for the moment - I had a look outside and there are many more ripe alderbuckthorn berries ready for picking! sometimes I think it would be far better if I didn't have to spin all the dyed fibres as well - and could just buy in more and more fibres for dyeing:))
I am also still busy working on my embroidered miniature - which takes an aweful lot longer than I had anticipated:(( I am in doubt whether I'll manage to finish in time. it's not only the black pattern - I have to fill all the background with the multicolour yarn as well! slow progress... and I can't do it longer than maybe 90 minutes without a break; despite the daylight lamp I use it does strain the eyes! I couldn't resist doing a little bit of the multicolour yarn though - and once the black pattern is finished, at least the counting of stitches will stop. should I do another pattern like this - I'd skip the counting and would draw the basic pattern onto the silk gauze and just fill in the outlines! lesson learned:))
I am also waiting for two orders - one is from the US, a few berocco patterns and the swirl shawl from jojoland, which a kind soul, a fellow knitter in germany, ordered for me - and the other a huge box full of fibres from germany! I couldn't resist the baby alpaca and silk bricks etc. - and also ordered 1 kg of Akita (dog) fibres... looking forward to spinning this - though I wonder how our three dogs will react, when they take a sniff? I think I am well prepared for those autumn and winter days, when there's no chance of going out! weird thought - with the sun blazing outside just now....

Saturday, 5 September 2009

dyeing with alder buckthorn berries

I finally found a dry spot to pick the first batch of my alder buckthorn berries. quite a few ripe ones had already dropped, but I managed about 1 kg of ripe, black berries. the stuff is sticky beyond belief; after picking for half an hour I had trouble pulling the fingers of my right hand apart! I put them into cold water over night - and simmered them lightly for about one hour the day after. when they had cooled, I strained them through an old fabric nappy and pressed them out well.
this is how the dyebath looks with the first batch of fibres inside. well, the photo is taken with a flash - the real colour is more purple, less blue. unfortunately the yarn/fibres don't stay the same strong colour....

these are the tops after rinsing (simmering for an hour and letting the dye bath cool). on the left is nz lamb top, in the middle mulberry silk and on the right viscose top. all three had the same alum mordant treatment! the wool is slightly greener in reality, but the other two shades are pretty close! this was the first time I dyed anything but wool with the rhamnus berries - and I was rather surprised at the result! though it's not uncommon for dyeplants to result in different colours on wool and silk.
this is a larger pic of the wool top - which took the dye rather blotchily (which I don't mind, as it makes a lively colour in the yarn later); this happened with the rhamnus before. don't know why though as I stirred regularly and don't have that problem with other dyes (on the same material!). the colour is stronger in reality, even though I took the picture outside. but with the grey weather over here even natural dyes look slightly depressing:))
the real winners are the silk and the viscose top though - I love purples and blues and though the dye wasn't taken up totally evenly on those two fibres either, I am still looking forward to spinning the batch. I put more silk and viscose into the dye bath, because it was still very dark - we'll see how this lot turns out.
I am also working on a large fibre order from wollpoldi. lots of new stuff and my greedy ordering finger is ticking wildly:)) but if the postage is the same for 11 or 12 kg - or up to 20, it would be stupid to waste the "empty space"?:))
back to working on my miniature - which is close to impossible to see without a daylight lamp even when the sun comes out for a few minutes...