Tuesday, 30 March 2010

winter and spring

no, this is not a complaint about the weather again - though we've had rain all day yesterday and early today. and the forecast is for wintry showers and cold from tomorrow onwards! but I doubt that it will last very long at this time of the year - and we usually have a cold spell in spring anyway.
I did however manage to spin two batches of my "4 seasons" batts, winter and spring.
winter is a blend of NZ lambswool and baby alpaca top, with some white angelina and a bit of trilobal nylon for sparkle. I spun it a bit nobbly and plied it with a fine handspun viscose thread. fluffy white clouds with a bit of glitz = winter:))
spring is a blend of three naturally dyed lambswool tops, bright yellow, some light green and a bit of salmon. no glitz here, but I added yellow and green silk top for a bit of sheen. the yarn is a 2ply, soft and squishy and I like it - though I have no idea what to use it for - yet. I'll spin up summer (blue) and autumn (leafy colours) first....
I also had the weird urge to knit-felt egg warmers for easter! I own three, one for each of us, but they are embroidered and at least 13 or 14 years old - time for something new on the easter table! I have to admit that I don't normally use egg warmers. when we do eat boiled eggs, they are gone before they have a chance to cool off too much:) they are more decoration than anything.... dito for tea cozies - we usually drink from mugs, freshly made - and if I do use a teapot, I use a "stoevchen" (yes, like a small stove - a brass gadget with tea light inside) for keeping the tea warm! but the plan was to make more for my own home this year - instead of giving everything away - so eggwarmers it is! I took a pic, but I have to felt it all first. I'll show "before-after" pix later... I also crocheted a small square "doily" in matching colours for the egg basket, which will also serve as a comparison to how different knit-felt and crochet-felt behave.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

invasion of species.....

we're being invaded - again! the cat Miss Schindler has moved in more or less permanently, though she still runs off for a day or so every now and then. and a few days ago DS went for a bicycle drive around the village - and came back with two small dogs in tow! now, I really love dogs, but I already have two, who more or less managed to get used to the cat invasion - but they weren't all that happy about two more dogs! I definitely don't want two more dogs, not even such small ones. it's not lack of space and by now the older ladies have more or less given up their complaints, but dogs need vets etc. too and that can be costly over time! we went through our village and the next, but the poor things don't belong to anybody there (that's what they claim at least, but I've never seen them around before either). the only way now is to contact the local radio and put a few signs up in the library shops etc. I have a feeling that they were "inside" dogs, they are house-trained, used to sofa and chairs etc. and they are very well behaved. so my guess is that someone just didn't want them anymore, maybe the owner died and the family didn't want the poor dogs:(( they probably drove somewhere and just "dumped" them here:((

and they are really cute, even though I don't usually like small dogs so much. the brown one is a very lively, funny male, the lighter one with pointy ears is a female, a bit shy and very quiet, but she loves being cuddled and would like to be on someone's lap all the time:)) that's the problem: not getting used to the two cuties:)) of course the men in the house already caved in - so I have to be the voice of reason here! two lovely dogs anybody????
Edit: I was wrong this time - they ran away from their owner, when out in the bog! we gave a note about them to the reg. radio - and 5 min. later the phone rang - the owner, a young guy, who was desperately searching for them! he jumped in his car immediately - and shortly afterwards the phone rang again for the two dogs. luckily not another "maybe" owner, just the father of this one, who heard the message on the radio:)) a few minutes later two happy dogs flew into their master's arms - they nearly wagged their little tails off, when they saw him. no doubt he really was the owner (there are warnings over here that people who "steal" dogs for research labs drive around and we wanted to make sure!) DS was very sad, when he came home, he'd have loved for us to keep them. happy reunion was what we had hoped for - and our own dogs happily reclaimed their sofa minutes later:))

Sunday, 14 March 2010

winter seems to be....

...on his way out - but he (it?) left a lot of damage behind:(( it's still quite cool, but the weather forecast for this week gives hope for milder weather towards the end of the week. finally! though some of the spring flowers exploded into bloom during last week - crocus in all colours - apart from the white ones, which seem to have vanished. eranthis too - and daffodils, at least the smaller, early varieties! for me spring isn't spring without daffs - somehow they are so cheery with their nodding yellow trumpets.
here are some of the not so nice winter leftovers:(( our agave is in trouble - most of the leaves had to be cut off, because they were rotting, and the stem has cracked - don't know if it will survive - but at this stage I am not too keen on it anyway, because it looks pretty ugly like this. well, it's been the first time that temperatures went into double figures - minus! loads of victims, the NZ hollies look dead (might sprout out again from the base though), my escallonia hedge around the veggie area too.... the nz flax might be gone as well, as could be the nandina and a few other plants, which are not fully hardy:(( if the hedge around the veg area has to go, I am not going to replace it - it took several years to grow enough plants to do it all and I don't fancy planting a new hedge every time the winter is cold and everything dies off! box grows too slowly and if you buy all the plants for a long hedge, you could spend a fortune.
plant damage isn't the only trouble right now - we had several cracks in the plaster, which had to be opened up and redone - and two of the old walls in the front garden needed re-doing and recapping - or rather they are in the process of being redone... it has to be repaired fairly quickly - before "the rainy season" begins again and water can seep through! the concrete mixer has been busy during the last few days....
here are two victims - one gable wall with cracks, to be repaired tomorrow - and one eucalyptus with a lot of frost damage to some of its branches! I do hope that it will survive, but I suppose I have to wait a bit longer to see this for sure.
it's not all work though - we "celebrated" mother's day over here today - and of course, being the only female in the house, I had to make my own cake - what's new:))
this is called Donauwellen, "waves of the danube" translated. don't know why the danube, but the waves are made by cherries that sink through two layers of dough - and there are more waves on top - melted chocolate spread on vanilla butter cream. the cake tastes great - only, it's extremely filling, so I only had a small piece (no bother for the men though - 2 pieces each vanished within minutes:)) I suppose DS shouldn't have had any cake at all - he made me a mother's day card himself - with a gruesome terminator picture and the saying inside: you are terminated! I think I made a pretty good cake despite being terminated:)) well, at least the card wasn't one of those syrupy shop-bought things with "mummy deserves praise" etc.:)) I can't stand them - one of the reasons I tend to make cards myself is to avoid the awful texts inside most of them!
nothing new on the textile front - I am still knitting the vest (if I can find the time) and I am still fiddling about with a very old project that should have been done ages ago: a piece of jewelry in bobbin lace, made from handspun silk. the leaves aren't too bad really, but the tallies tend to pull out of shape and I have had to redo quite a few of them - several times:(( I have to finish it though, it's driving me insane, knowing that it's there.... I do work on my "teas" as well - whenever I have a short break, just good enough for a few cross stitches, but not enough to concentrate on 3 colour knitting or bobbin lace!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

artificial spring

I finally managed to finish the second slouch sock, which took a bit of time, because I am working on the vest at the same time - which I should really finish first! but sometimes knitting with 3 colours is too complicated, when I only check the news or watch something short. I did make up for it tonight, when I watched a german film on tv.... in the photo you can see how the knitting pattern on the leg pulls together - it slouches:)) very comfortable, at least in birkenstocks! I am sure I'll knit this pattern again - but right now I want to knit a different one - I have to do my monthly hp design - and haven't had a bright idea yet.
and yesterday I couldn't resist and bought some ivy, some early daffs (in a pot, the small yellow ones...) and pot with double-blossomed snowdrops. they look so cute, like tiny green and white petticoats:)) I have quite a lot of normal ones, but I'll plant those together with the primulas in my windowbox - where I have their pretty flowers at eye level for some time! I do have to carry the box in each night - because it's still rather frosty and I worry about the primulas!
and this is a photo of "the cat who ate the cream"! we had apple crumble with a bit of leftover whipped cream - and all of a sudden the cat decided to make sure to get her fair share! she jumped on the table and stuck her face right into Michael's bowl - and we had to laugh about it so much, that we "forgot" to shoo her down:)) it wasn't much, but she was very happy and content with her victory afterwards.... that cat is a bit of a free spirit. she comes and goes as she pleases - she moved in at the end of last year, exactly on the day when our dog was hit by a car and had to be put down. we asked around for some time, but nobody seemed to miss her - so I suppose she is our cat now:)) she adopted us as tin openers! you should hear the racket she makes, when she wants food in the morning! Miss Schindler is always hungry, but in the morning she is so noisy that you could think she's close to starving!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

messing about on fabric

our group, the Connacht Textile Crafters, usually meets up every second month. we started out as "mayo spinners and weavers", but after a while it became clear that our members do all kinds of creative stuff and we wanted to be a bit more inclusive. we have our meetings at the "Museum of Country Live" in Castlebar, which graciously lets us have the room for free - and even gave us funding for an extra workshop. we decided to do some "textile painting" and after our hunt for a tutor proved unsuccessful due to extremely high fees - we decided to DIO - do it ourselves. this workshop took place last saturday - and I think it was great fun for everybody. granted, the preparations were hampered a bit by lack of suppliers and we could have talked a bit more about who brings what (we didn't lack anything but space and an extra sink, but had quite a few hair dryers and irons on offer:)), but other than that all went quite well.

one of the topics was marbling on fabric. I had done it before on paper and fabric and prepared all the stuff necessary for marbling. it's not really difficult, as long as the size/medium and the paints are well prepared. all that's needed is some alum treated fabric (cotton, blends or silk work best), some flat trays, size, paint and later plenty of water for rinsing. you don't need any drawing or painting talent - the results are non-repeatable anyway and can be a bit unpredictable. but trying out all kinds of patterns is great fun and with a bit of experience you can make a whole range of fabrics.

here are some of my "adventures"

this was the first batch - I tested the paints at home on wallpaper paste. it worked ok, though I hadn't done it for a while. the first sheets were a bit pale - you have to dot the paint blobs closer together to get stronger colours (they won't spread as much = stronger colours). you can run combs, picks, nails etc. through the paint - different tools and/or directions result in different effects.

when you drop the paint on it starts spreading - and one "cut" will form heart shapes - useful for mother's day cards maybe?:))

because we only used cat litter trays for the medium our fabric size was restricted. I tried to make three pieces that can be used together, despite the differences in pattern. I used the same three colours, just changed the sequence of applying.

another way could be to use one base colour (black) and similiar directions for "cutting" the paints - just add one other colour and they should go together - maybe in combination with a solid colour?
I had great fun - even though rinsing out the size can be a bit messy. I am sure I'll do more of that in the future - it lends interest to solid colours in patchwork, but bits and pieces can also be embroidered, beads could be attached or smaller pieces can make pretty cards. of course you could go over the top and add rub-on fabric paints etc - but I think the marbling patterns are effervescent enough as they are.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

new yarn, new knitting, new books

I have been spinning lace yarn for some time now - it took me a while to fill one small bobbin each of mulberry lace and lambswool top. I spun fine singles and plied, nothing to write home about. the fibres were dyed with alder buckthorn berries; both are sage greens, a muted colour, but the yarn is very soft and would make a nice shawl to wear close to the skin. I have enough to do at least two, if not three more skeins - so I suppose I can plan ahead for a reasonably large project.... eventually! any ideas?
I also received two knitting "books". ok, the knitting traditions from interweave is a magazine, but a thicker one and with loads of info to boot. the contents are from old publications of piecework and cover a wide range of knitting projects, anything between turkish socks, twined knitting to orenburg scarves. there is a project for each topic, but also some history around it. I only managed to read the first bit - I'll have something to read for a good while!
the other one isn't as widely advertised - but I found it quite interesting nonetheless. Crazy Lace is not a book for people, who like to follow a lace pattern to the dot - but it's perfect for people like me, who like to make up their own projects. you do get the basics about how lace knitting works, how to read charts, how to do basic shapes - but you also get a good push to let go, to just knit without charts, without much thinking - to knit crazy lace as the title suggests. I am sure I'll do just that - I find the idea of just knitting YOs and decreases or increases whenever I fancy quite fun! if you can't find the book, esp. in europe - I ordered mine here. you can of course order it directly from the author herself here. even if you don't want to order her book - have a look at her gallery, you'll find some inspiring stuff there.

first I do have to finish the vest though - no lace knitting yet, be it freeform or traditional. I managed to finish about 1/3 of the project - I knit all three pieces in one, so there'll only be shoulder seams to do at the end. I do have quite long rows though and I have to be careful in those rows where three colours are used. actually I finally learned the english method of knitting - and use it, whenever I have to work a 3rd colour. I keep the two main colours on my left finger and the 3rd one doddles around on the right somewhere until I need it. and all this only because DS started to learn knitting in school:))

back to kitchen duty now - more about "messing with colour" soon....