Wednesday, 18 February 2009

another year over!

no, I didn't fall asleep during january and just woke up to discover the new year! but when you have kids you might just as well measure the years in how they grow:)) DS is 11 now, easy to remember his birthday (can a mother forget her kids' birthday(s)?) - because he just made it in time to be born on valentine's day! and every year I have to "invent" a new cake. a few years ago it was a graveyard scene (inspired by one I saw in a book about fancy cakes), the year after it was a wizard's castle (dito - and a huge cake to boot - we ate castle for days afterwards:). we also had a hp cake - but this year it was to be the kids series "avatar - the last airbender" as inspiration. now, as I admitted before, my drawing and painting skills are nothing to write home about - so painting an avatar on top just wasn't a good option. I had planned to fill some coloured buttercream into piping bags and draw the signs for the 4 elements onto the cake - but the powdered food dyes (red for fire, blue for air, greenish-blue for water - and natural cream for earth - because I accidentally had used up all the chocolate one:)) made the buttercream separate, so that wasn't a good idea. eventually I drew the lines onto baking parchment, melted some chocolate and drew over those lines. this was reasonably easy to do, so I just used the slightly funny looking coloured cream as a base and put the cooled chocolate signs on top. bingo - son was happy, the cake was a bit more managable than the giant castle and it tasted good as well. I added some of the melted chocolate to the buttercream inside the cake. I wonder whichever fancy will take him next year....
enough about food. I did some knitting as well. I finished another "harmonia's rings" - but this time I changed the pattern slightly. I only worked 5 rows of pattern for each repeat, but the main change was, that I finished the upper rim with an attached i-cord with "loops" (= a few rows of unattached i-cord) instead of adding beads. and I finished the lower part with an attached i-cord instead of the rolled-up purl rows - which makes a nice rounded edge at the bottom. this one I'll keep for myself (at least that's the plan:)), very soft and cozy, but not too warm. both are actually the same blend, 70 % superwash wool and 30 % silk, handspun, 2ply. the dyed one was knitted with needle size 5, the white one was more tightly spun and plied and I worked it with needle size 4, albeit with a few more stitches all over.
this is a larger pic with details of both borders - the one with the "holes" could be used on another garment instead of button holes?
tomorrow we're off to Dublin for a visit to the zoo - so I better make sure that I have a small knitting project at the ready to get through the train journey without major boredom attacks!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

harmonia's rings

when I browsed Kristin's blog a while ago and saw the picture of her "harmonia's rings" (pattern by Sivia Harding) - I really liked them and couldn't resist buying the pattern (well, ok, letting someone buy it for me:)). it looked so cozy with the folds around the neck and I knew that I had some nice yarn to use for it in my stash.
so I started the knitting with a blend from soft wool and silk - the one that I first dyed in the parrot colours and then overdyed it with blue to tone it down again! I also bought several small bags of bead mixes to add them on the upper rim - but now I think those might have been more visible if I had stuck to just one shape and colour for those! somehow the different beads vanish in the colour mix....
when I finished the pattern I had a feeling that maybe I had added one twist too much when casting on for the moebius - but I had a look again at a new pic from Kristin and found that mine does in fact look the same as hers! so - off I went, dug out a new batch of yarn (white wool/silk)and started it all over again:)) it's not difficult to knit and I could think of several people, who might like a cozy "scarf" like this - the next batch of present making will be full of "rings":))
this is a detail - with a green bead right in the middle (well camouflaged:)

I also worked the sample for my "knitter's" jacket - this is how it looks with the undyed yarn. it's soft, but not too loosely knit and feels very nice and warm. what I find surprising though: in the pattern rows 3 and 4 are knitted with a second yarn held to the first - but it's barely visible when knit up! I'll do two yarns so, the first is the 5ply, 4 fine yarns and the chunky single - the second one is much thinner, with only the fine yarns, but 2 instead of 1 ply of fine schappe silk.

I hope I'll manage to do the pattern before all kinds of other jobs start creeping up on me again...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I didnt' lie!

honestly, I only forgot to upload the picture of our eucalyptus tree! it's not totally in focus, but recognizable as such. I could only show the tip - otherwise you'd see the snow on the lower trees and shrubs underneath:)) it's amazing that a tree from a totally different climate area could do so well in cool and muggy ireland, but it's only 13 or 14 years old (grown from seed!) and already the highest plant in the garden - apart from the ashes on the border of our patch - which are well over 100 years old! and it has given me leaves and bark for my dyeing experiments to boot, even though I didn't end up with reds. I had everthing from yellow to light brown and light rust, so I think I should not complain. it's a good plant really, because the trunk on the lower part is free and it's easy to underplant, because it doesn't throw dense shade either. and I just love the rustling of the leaves in a breeze - a tree for all senses?:))

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Irish spring? not really....

we have "palm trees" in the west of ireland! and we are already at the height of summer - as you can see from the very blue sky! well, ok, not really, but if you didn't see the rest of the countryside, you might be mistaken by the agave and the eucalyptus tree....
look at that! we are well after St. Brigid's day - and we have snow! I do like snow, but at that time of the year I am already planning the gardening and wouldn't mind to do at least a few scores outside! well, never mind - at least the sun is shining again and tomorrow we're supposed to go back to wind and rain, so we might as well make the most of it. it's not enough for the sleigh or snowballs, but at least it looks nice.... and it's not as if I'd be bored staying inside!
when the winter issue of "knitter's" arrived I really liked the cardigan on the cover. ok, the original yarn is way beyond what I'd consider usable - I just hate knitting with extremely chunky yarns! the pattern gives size 10 mm needles and I figured half of that would still make a nice outside cardie for me. but which yarn to use? I wanted to put some of the fine yarn on cones to use, i.e. some schappe silk (very fine), mohair (light rose), some cashmere and/or some fine, soft wool. and I also wanted to use the light grey fibre blend of silk with cashmere that I received as a gift some time ago! it's very soft with a slight lustre, but not too much. so I spun this up first and then plied it with 4 of the other yarns. never did a 5ply before:) it worked very well though, the thicker single of grey silk/alpaca fluffed up a bit and the 4 fine yarns stuck together, so it looks more like a 2ply... this is how it came out after washing. it looks nice after knitting it up, too - I just have to decide whether or not to dye it all. if I do, I'd dye the yarn in skeins, not the finished project. I was hoping that the different fibres/yarns take the same dye slightly different - to end up with a heathered yarn. but I'll give it a try on a very small scale first, I don't want to ruin the whole lot!
it feels very soft and cozy when knitted up and I like the raised simple cable pattern too, even though they don't show up quite as strongly as in the photo - with only half the yarn diameter. the pattern uses a second yarn for the two rows with cabling - and I decided to give that a try too. I plied a finer yarn with the commercials only, but used two instead of one very fine schappe silk thread. it's barely visible colourwise, but it does give a bit more definition to the cable, I think.... of course, I'll probably finish this cardie in summer or at least late spring - by which time I hope I won't need it for a few months at least! but then you never know how warm (or rather: cold!) the irish summer is going to be. if the coming one is anywhere near the last one - I might be better off by knitting old shopping bags into a raincoat!!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

spring (stash) clean

after I bought a few more packets of mixed beads at our spinner's meeting on saturday, I decided to start my spring cleaning by sorting through my bead stash. I know I should have tackled the larger fibrey and yarney bits first, but somehow I felt like digging around at my leasure and the nice colourful beads looked so appealing! I do like the mixed bags I bought from Suzie, because even though each comes in one colour group, there are lots of sizes, shapes and shades in each bag. apart from yellow and orange (I like those colours in nature, but not necessarily in textiles, at least of the wearable kind that I mostly produce) I have all colours covered now - and I couldn't resist showing my new way of storing them. a while back I found "boards" (shrink wrapped layers) of small glass containers at the creative resource center - I think they are used in laboratories and hospitals for samples of some kind - but of course they were brand new - and I even found rubber stoppers that sit nice and snug. they could be slightly larger, but I took plenty of them, so I was able to fill a second one if one wasn't enough for each kind of bead.
when I had finished repacking all of them - I had a small army of grey-capped soldiers in front of me:
should I send this pic to one of those shows where participants are asked to identify an object shown in a photo?:))
this one shows a bit of the contents too, sorted into main colour groups. given that I am not usually a jewelry maker or someone who uses beads very regularly on all kinds of projects - I think this stash is large enough now! I did collect a mix of them for my harmonia's rings - which I am going to attach to the cast-off border tonight! I hope this is a good enough reason (or excuse?:)) why I just had to buy a few more beads - the other colours didn't fit the yarn well enough:))
back to a slightly more conservative way of (spring) cleaning - even though that's far less fun....