Wednesday, 28 January 2009

new books

now that I have finished the black socks (I pulled the thread through the last loops around 4 a.m.) I am free to just do what I want and have fun with it - for a few days at least:) one thing that very often happens to me the moment I have managed to keep a deadline and the project is on its way to the recipient - I am in limbo and start wasting my time. I just sat in front of the finished pair of socks this morning and wondered how many stitches it takes to make one pair. calculater out and off I went... (am I going nuts? I did something similar with the last shawl!). of course size 46/47 isnt' necessarily average, but I guess it gives an idea - if I didn't miscalculate I knitted over 14.300 stitches on just one sock! sounds amazing - and our handknitted socks nowadays aren't exactly knitted with sewing thread yarns. imagine how much work it was to make knee-highs with the extremely fine yarns the elizabethan knitters used! puh... I am quite glad that I don't live in these times - though that's just one of many reasons! I tried to take another pic of the finished socks - but it's not better than the last batch, so I spare you another yucky one!
I didn't just knit during the last few weeks - I also ordered some new books. Vivian Hoxbro is well known by now for her ideas around domino knitting. I had seen a few of the projects online that are featured in "knit to be square". the technique itself isn't new anymore - but some of the ideas in the book appealed to me, e.g. the pyramid-shaped pillow (reminds me of the "cusheens" by Vivian Prideaux), the bucket bag, the tea-cozy and of course the lace-style projects, where the squares aren't finished and thus leave gaps in the knitting. it's quite easy to change the designs or sizes and I think the technique is great fun for all kinds of projects. the book is from interweave, with their usual layout and style.

I also bought "knit one below - one stitch.many fabrics" by Elise Duvekot. this I saw in the "knitter's" magazine, published by xrx. I have several books published by them and do like their style. they always give a lot of "how-to" explanation and the photographs are well done, with close-ups of special areas. of course the technique of "knitting into stitches below" isn't a new technique - but most books only show a few typical brick patterns etc. - if the patterns are featured at all. this technique is very easy to do - but can result in very interesting blends and patterns. you can achieve a very complicated looking blend of colours - simply by knitting with a single colour in each row! no complicated fumbling with several yarns on one finger or twisting of threads needed! the book shows loads of designs, everything from shawls, scarves, socks, kids projects, jackets, afghans and sweaters is covered, for men, women and children. I am sure I'll use this technique in a project or two very soon!

on another note - I am a voracious reader even when I shouldn't, because I have to finish projects. even though I am well past the age to fit into the group for "teenage fiction" - I like reading some of those books. quite by chance I discovered the first book of a new trilogy: the book is called "the poison throne" (Moorehawke trilogy) by the irish writer Celine Kiernan. it's set in a medieval phantasy land and the characters in it are described so lively and well, that I couldn't stop reading the book and finished it in record time. of course I had to look for the author's homepage to find out when the 2nd book will come out (I have to wait a bit longer:(() and was surprised about the very personal way Celine Kiernan keeps in contact with her readers. I also found out about a new way of reading: one reader described it as "inhaling the book" and I thought this described pretty well the feeling I had when finishing this lovely book:))

back to some more practical things - I'll finally be able to start on the pattern "Harmonia's Rings" by Sivia Harding - needles and yarn are at the ready....

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

sock yarn black conscience

I meant to write into the blog for quite some time now, but time has been short - again. if you're not into making presents by hand, you might think I am mad - but not so! unfortunately several present-intensive birthdays follow right after christmas for me, so the christmas madness is followed by birthday madness immediately... but - I finished the lily-of-the-valley shawl in time and the socks are nearly done as well. the shawl is not a normal triangle, but has a crescent shape. it follows old patterns of tie-shawls, which don't only stay put on the shoulders, but can be tied behind the back to secure the ends and ease the use of your arms, e.g. when you are working. the yarn is a blend of silk and cashmere, very soft and warm, but also silky with a little lustre. in a moment of madness I started calculating and ended up with a bit over 40.000 stitches in one shawl:)) it weighs exactly 400 g, but it's fairly large and would fit just about anybody, I suppose. sorry for the grumpy expression on the photo - it's not easy to model and give instructions to the very young photographer (the older one wasn't available just now...).
here a detail of the lily-of-the-valley border - the rest of the shawl is worked in garter stitch.

in the original pattern there is a 2 stitch i-cord (called horse's rain finish) given as a finish after the lace pattern, but no special border on the top of the shawl. I wanted the upper border to look a bit more "rounded" and stable, so I worked an attached i-cord (3 sts) on top and all around and also for the tie bands. the original pattern is available from Dorothea in germany (available in english too!).

I thought I might take a pic with the photographer wearing the shawl - but it looks a bit like a coat stand with a head:) maybe the shawl isn't suitable in this size for people of less than 5ft3in?

for the black socks I wanted a lovely yarn and a very reduced patterning - in manly conservative colours:)) I don't think knitting with dark blue or wine red would have made it very much easier on the eyes than knitting with black - but I have to admit that I have been knitting with the help of a daylight lamp all along - and my eyes still complain after two hours or so of knitting:(( I think after I finish the socks I need colour - and lots of it, after knitting with just white and black for some time! the yarn is "royal" from austermann, a very soft combination of mainly merino, with some silk and cashmere - handwash only, but the recipient is not only conservative in taste but also very careful with his clothes..... the socks are knitted in my usual way, I just added the narrow band of 2stitch cables to have a bit of understated patterning - let the yarn speak for itself!
I also try to prepare for the next workshop by the OLG, flax spinning - and hope that I'll be able to find more time for this than I managed for the "beads and braids" (which amounted to next to nothing:(() the usual story - to many pots on the cooker at the same time! why should the new year be different from the old? I haven't managed to do any spinning or bobbin lace - but I am hopeful that I'll have some more time after the weekend.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

frosty start

we have had pretty hard night frosts for some time now - but I think last night was the coldest for this winter (so far...)! ok, in russia, romania etc. people would probably laugh at our min. 5 deg. C - apparently the last few days they were suffering minus 25 and less! but for us over here this cold spell is unusual - and I am fearing for some of my plants that I didn't bring in, because the last few winters had been so mild! well, it's my own fault, I know - but it's too late now or they'd die from the fast change of frost to inside temperatures:(( the hedges around the house do
look nice though with the white covering!

and the dogs don't really mind the cold either - well, as long as they can come in again when their feet go too cold:)) this is Dobby - enjoying a bit of sunshine this afternoon!
spinning seems to be a good idea in this cold spell - I've been working on my larger sample of corriedale (the white one) and also on one of the "humbug" backs of BFL. both are really nice to spin, not quite as soft as merino, but with more grip to the yarn. it feels more substantial, crisper somehow - and I do like the natural tones of the yarn. both are 2plies, which of course mingles up the humbug colours a bit - the yarn looks tweedy and lively, but without large blotches of colour. spun as a singles would leave it less mixed, I suppose... at the moment I am working on the first bobbin of merino/possum blend I bought at the K&S in november - but I have to say that I prefer the BFL feeling! the merino admittedly is softer - but it also feels slightly like cotton wool to me! well, after browsing online I found several sources for pure possum fibre, which I could blend with something else if I fancied to. I did like the look of the very autumnal possum yarn in the book "Creative Spinning" - but maybe mixing the fibres into something else would not only be more economical, but also easier to spin, as the possum fibres are quite short! well, I still have a lot to do before I can start on my tabbard/waistcoat/vest.... and I didn't even try the brown BFL yet!
I am also busy knitting a heather shawl with Lily-of-the-valley pattern, which has to be finished at the end of this month. I am about halfway through, looking forward to the more interesting lace border as the garter stitch main part is a bit boring to do - the rows are pretty long now, with well over 400 stitches in one......
tomorrow is back to school day - and DS has been complaining about it for days on end now! I am just glad that I can finally put away the christmas decos - the tree is always in the way and I have to go into my wool room for spinning, which of course means that I am "gone" for hours and have to dash out for phone calls etc.!
a happy new year to everyone - and this is the last time I'll say this! it feels like being in 09 for a long time already - next up is first DS's birthday (we should have christened him Valentine:) and then - Easter! and yes, I already saw an ad for Cadbury's Cream Eggs - so out come the egg cozies, bunnies and carrots:))