Saturday, 29 May 2010

four seasons

today it's raining - finally, after quite a long dry spell, so I can catch up on a few "inside" jobs... first of all I have to show my 4 seasons though. I did show two handspun yarns a while back, winter and spring. I had the fibres all out for some time, but didn't manage to do the actual carding for summer and autumn before last week (excuses, excuses:)). but now they're finished, all four of them - plus one smaller skein, where I spun up all the leftovers from the carder....

spring (upper right) is made from naturally dyed NZ lambswool tops, dyed with gorse, gorse plus iron and a bit of light salmon, dyed with madder leftovers. I also added some yellow and green mulberry silk. the yarn is spun slightly slubby and plied with itself.
summer is the lambswool top, dyed with acid dyes this time. I used two tones of blue, and added some angelina in a blend of colours. the first batch was plied with a fine handspun viscose yarn (dyed with acid colours, too), onto which I threaded some mixed seed beads. when I ran out of seed beads, I just used a lighter viscose thread for plying the rest. the second blue batch is plied with a darker blue handspun bamboo yarn, to which I added "fluffs" of cotton top. in the first half I just put the white fibres in horizontally between the threads as tufts. in the second half I spun them in a bit more lengthwise - which fixes them more securely between the threads.
the autumn blend (middle left) is a bit like the spring one, same materials, but more silk - and some stronger madder dyes to make the tone more autumnal. the yellow here is a darker golden tone as well - if I remember correctly I used yellow cosmos flowers for dyeing here. I used a tussah silk thread (commercially spun) as core and spun a finer coil yarn - which took quite a lot of time to do, compared to the other three yarns.
winter is a blend of the same NZ lambswool top plus some baby alpaca in white. I added some white angelina and some trilobal nylon for winter sparkle. the yarn is a two-ply as well, the second yarn is a fine handspun viscose thread.
in the bottom right corner is the "leftover" skein. I plucked out the leftover fibres between the carder teeth and blended it all together. it's tweedy, but soft - and I really like it! maybe I should just take out more of the base colours for the 4 main yarns - and make a larger batch of the fifth? it would be nice for knitting - whereas I have no idea what to do now with the 4 different "main" yarns. I don't think using them together would look great - maybe I should keep them as demonstration skeins - to show people what happens, when you spin up your ideas without considering practicalities for later use:))
and what to spin now? I am nearly done with a small sample, for which I blended baby alpaca with silver fox - but I don't really like it. first of all the fox hair is extremely short, didn't blend all that well with the much longer alpaca. and also the silver grey fibres really only make the white alpaca look dirty:(( I have to try something else with the fox hair! I don't want to mess up more of the lovely and soft baby alpaca. I think I might spin some of this into a fine singles to be plied with a fine silk maybe? sounds good for a lace yarn, even though it won't be the most elastic yarn to knit with.
after finishing this sample I am torn between using the 300 g of honey mohair? or should I start with the black/white jacobs humbug top? choices, choices..... maybe I have some good ideas - after finishing a batch of blueberry muffins with "streusel" topping?:))

Sunday, 23 May 2010

spinner's meeting and summer in ireland

yesterday the Connacht Textile Crafters had their may meeting - one week early, because the Museum of Country Life invited the group to demonstrate at the Feile na Tuaithe. this is an annual event, where people demonstrate all kinds of crafts, sell their goods, show animals of all kinds etc. it's always well received, esp. as there is no entry fee, which can be quite high, esp. for families with several kids. the one downside of this event is the lack of parking space, but as demonstrators we were allowed to park in the grounds - which was a good thing esp. for those, who brought a spinning wheel, a loom etc.
I got a lift from another member and we left pretty early to make sure to get a parking space. the sun was up, the birds were singing and it was nice to be outside - until about 11, when it became pretty hot (for ireland anyway, I know that other people would smile about our complaints at around 25 deg. C in the shade:)) but we're simply not used to this.... the picture above shows our area at 8.30 in the morning - pity that you can't hear the birds singing - and the cuckoo calling!
of course we didn't only demonstrate (all kinds of textile crafts: knitting, (irish) crochet, patchwork, weaving, embroidery, peg loom weaving, tapestry weaving, rug weaving, spinning, carding...) and show a few finished pieces - we also went out to browse the stalls. plenty to see! one marquee was full of food artisans, anything from homemade breads, jam, honey, organic meets, smoked fish etc. there were two plant suppliers - one of which I was hoping for to find some nice plants for the garden. frogswell nursery offers rarer plants and I bought four, mainly for shady areas.
one of our members, Suzie from Derryaun Crafts had her usual stall again - and I just had to raid it for some gooddies... you might know "fibre greed" - it tends to hit me when I see nice colours!
those bags in the background are filled with merino or corriedale. I just couldn't resist the gorgeous colours, though I haven't planned anything in particular for them - yet. but the project for the next Knitting & Stitching Shows is "Blue" - so I thought it might be a good idea to stock up on those (well, ok, there are others in the bags, too:)). not all of the fibres are from this stall though - Susan, who gave me the lift, went to Wonderwool Wales a short while ago and managed to find a few bags at the show: 400 g of Jacobs top "humbug", 100 g of RPB (recycled plastic bottles) - and 300 g honey coloured (not dyed!) mohair top. and one Schoppel Zauberball in blue... I also found two bracelet bases in metal, which can be decorated in all kinds of ways - I saw some examples that were covered with sari silk or narrow fabric strips. but it could be felt or bobbin lace as well....
I enjoyed the day, but was quite glad to be home again afterwards - it was very humid and warm, which I don't really like (did I mention this before?). I took it easy today, because it was even warmer, but from tomorrow onwards the very warm spell will be finished again. good thing too, I just can't face gardening work in this heat, esp. not in the veggie plot in the full sun! I know, I am a sun wimp:))
oh, I nearly forgot our new family member! they had a lovely pygmy goat on show, but unfortuntely I couldn't take it - might go haywire with our plantings! I did however take home another animal  - not named yet, any ideas? his perch looks rather precarious - but I like frogs and couldn't resist this one. Suzie makes glass beads and ornaments and offered very cute animals and figurines on wires - which can be put into pots or plant boxes as decoration.
I did go for a browse in the garden earlier this evening - plenty of columbines in all colours, the lilies-of-the-valley in full flower, the oriental poppies have fat buds already - and the clematis is doing its best to cover the old gate:
and this is another highlight, for me at least. it's a peony, which took 4 years to establish well enough to flower. last year it had 3 or 4 buds, but they didn't open. this year I stopped counting at around 14 or 15 of them - and all opened! they don't last very long - but I just love the colour. the trouble is - I will have to move it, when we're digging the pond - or maybe I'll manage to work around it, otherwise it will pout again and sit in the ground for years without flowers. primadonna in the garden:))

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Committing to blue

blue is the colour of this first week in the project "commiting to colour". and since the week is more than half over already - I better get cracking! in my mosaic you find the bluest blue - the sky (well, part of it:)) over ireland a few hours ago. and no, I would be cheating if I told you it was that blue all over - on the left you see a more realistic picture! but it has become warmer over night and is supposed to g even warmer towards the weekend. sure, it has to - I am off to our meeting cum craft market in Turlough House - and of course it goes muggy and warm, just the way, I don't like it:))
also in the collage are two flowers from the front garden, some forget-me-nots that "moved" there by themselves - and a nearly fake looking primula in one of my window boxes. on the upper right there is a batt I just made - in summer colours. two blues with some sparkly angelina - and I'll ply it with some blue viscose handspun, to which I add colourful seed beads - for me summer = colours, lots of them! and on the upper left side - you see the badge of DS's school, dark blue on royal blue ground. I don't even know which colour comes next week - but there's still loads of time to check.....

Monday, 17 May 2010

all kinds of everything

I have been busy diddling again. the vest is nearly finished - I am knitting the rib along the middle just now - or rather the last bit of it after adding the buttonholes. I just have to sew in all ends and fix the buttons - there is no seaming to do, because it's all knitted in one piece. the shoulders were knitted together with a 3 needle cast-off! I hope the recipient likes it - in this photo it looks like a table runner, but when it's worn the pattern runs horizontally of course....

I still have quite a lot left of the blue and red and some grey, too - I am thinking of using it for a large shoulder wrap in form of a wide moebius....
I am also taking part in the workshop of the OLG - "eat or dye" - using kitchen stuff for dyeing. a few results:

the yellows are from saffron, 1st and 2nd bath (the second with some added potash) - no difference visible on the silk hankies, but a little bit on the superwash wool top. the light brown in the middle was dyed with a mix of spices, mainly cinnamon and cloves - the smell is great; I'll keep it for spinning around christmas:)) the olive greens are dyed with red onion skins, 1st and 2nd bath. I always wonder, when I read in dye books that people got yellows with red onion skins - never happened to me, I always get olive tones or moss greens, without any iron! I usually use contact baths for onion skins, because the result is livelier, not totally even. it gives a slightly heathery effect after spinning.
the light green is not a food stuff! I just had to try ivy berries and this is the result.

I also used my easter egg cum alpaca blend - I liked the crochet pattern "Queen Anne's lace" a lot - but not as a short "collier":)) this crochet border will be used to remodel the old Aran sweater, for which I used the purple alpaca yarn originally. I didn't wear it much, because it was too warm as a sweater. the plan is to cut it open steek-like - attach the crochet border on both sides and some at the bottom of the sleeves - and use it as a cardigan afterwards.

and finally (before you ask, yes, I seem to suffer from acute starteritis - again....) - I started to knit with the sock wool I dyed a few days ago with the leftover dyebath from the "spring leaves" yarn. my first idea was to use one ball from the outside in (this one) - the other one from the inside out. but then I stumbled across a pattern in one of the Laidman books and decided to use the Traveller pattern - slightly changed. I like the small flecks of colour and the darker upper rib - and decided to use it in my Harry Potter socks series - and call it Grindylows:)) it looks like the dark lake from under water - and the cables are the snaring fingers of the creatures - just waiting for unsuspecting victims. of course it helps that they are supposed to be from ireland and uk - it looks a bit like celtic patterns, too.... I am going to root through my bead stash and might attach a few of them - water droplets maybe? if I go over the top - I might as well go the full hog:))

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

progress in some areas

I did promise some photos of my latest textile endeavours - here they come.
the first one is a big, fat skein of yarn in the colourway "shell seekers" from Gabi in germany. some time back I knitfelted a large bag and added shells and pieces of beach glass to it. Gabi liked the colourway and I received a large (1 kg) batt of handcarded wool in those colours as a thankyou for agreeing to let her "use" the colours (even though she didn't have to do this - after all I am not the designer of beach, sea and cloudy skies - but I was happy nonetheless:))
I divided pieces of the batt widthways and spun quickly (and a bit uneven, but not too bad). while spinning I thought about plying this and how to go about it. I am not the greatest friend of navajo plying, but I didn't just want to make a 2ply without considering the colour changes. eventually I gave this a try anyway - but whenever I was close to running out of the suitable colour on the smaller bobbin, I took the surplus off the larger one and wound it into small balls. then I continued plying. eventually it evened out - after 2 skeins of wool I have no small leftovers, everything fit nicely. I washed and dried the yarn and I am quite pleased with the result - the yarn is squishy and it looks nice to knit with. I think it's going to end up as a nice afghan - in time (just not right now, I still have 2/3 of batt to spin and I don't want to start knitting before I am finished with the spinning).
I also finally dyed the three pre-wound balls of sock wool. when I saw a leftover jar of red dye on the windowsill, I decided on a whim to use this - before it spoils! I put the three dry balls of wool plus the dye into a deep baking tray and left this over night. the next morning pretty much all the dye was taken up. so I just grabbed another jar - blue - put it into the tray, turned the balls over and let it soak. after 30 minutes in the oven - I have sock wool for three more pairs! and only when I wound the balls into skeins (still damp, for faster drying) it occured to me that even though I used a different method, the outcome is pretty similar to the yarn I dyed for the "tree of life" socks. duh, I used the same colours - what did I expect? there's one difference though - because the inner part of the ball took less dye than the outer - the whole colour scheme shifts from light to dark in one skein! is it just me or does the colour scheme look "american"?:)) (you know, blue/red and white)
there's also progress on the spring leaves shawl - in the very green food dyed sock wool.... it's not blocked properly, I just pinned the knitting to a felt board to make it more visible. it'll take some more time, I am only 1/4 finished.... but I will add some "leaf beads" in green glass on both narrow ends of the scarf; they are already in the box for finishing. a lucky buy when I was hunting for some simple black rocailles. the scarf came into my mind - and into the shopping trolley went the leaf beads; 50 in all, because I did it on a whim and wasn't sure how many I will need (I am still not sure, I just wait until I am ready to knit in the beads - I don't want to add too many or the scarf might pull down with their weight!)

oh yes, did I mention that I need to separate the two threads again with all three of the red/blue/white skeins? sometimes I think I am my own worst enemy:))

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Show of colours again....

after being invited again to show some colour on my blog - I wasn't so sure at first. so little time and so much to do! (and no, I didn't receive big parcels with my stolen time - yet.....) but on the other hand I find that "hunting for certain colours" makes me take more notice of things around me! and this time it's only one colour a week - over 30 weeks.... that's not too bad, even though with my painting and drawing skills it's likely that I will stick to photos! the whole thing is called "Farbe Bekennen 2010" or in english "Commit to Colour". it's just started and if you fancy a go - here is the link to sign up. it only starts in mid-may and the colour sequence is already up - so I can start to hunt for a suitable blue:))
of course I did some other things too - but I didn't take the camera up here, so be patient until I have time to upload stuff, please! tomorrow maybe....

Saturday, 1 May 2010

it's may already????

incredible - who stole my days? how can it be may already? it seems to be only a few days ago that we had ice on the roads and no leaves on the trees - and wooosh, now it's may, everything is green again - and I have heaps to do in the garden!! is there someone, who steals time away from me - to give it to someone else maybe? well, if so - give it back to me - and pronto!!!
the weather has been rather wet or at least showery the last few days, so I managed to finish bits and pieces. here is another pair of slouchies - for which I used up the leftover of the handdyed sock yarn from the Yggdrasil socks. I added one more pattern sequence to make the leg a bit longer - and no, they are not short and wide, they are size 42 and fit snuggly - but the pattern makes the foot shrink, when not actually worn.
comfy, but I won't wear them yet - I need a few sample patterns for the sock workshop in september! don't want people having to handle "used" socks:))

I also finished the main part of the 3coloured vest in silk/wool blend - but I still have to knit the ribs around the arm openings and the middle/neck. nearly done though - and it looks as if it fits (slightly too short and a bit too wide on DH means that it should fit the recipient:))
and here is a better pic from the small bag and stitch markers I received together with the "poison no. 5" wollmeise sock yarn. they work very well in the knitting, they don't get stuck in the stitches and aren't too long or too heavy. (sorry for the blurry photos, I seem to be having problems with the focus lately:(() I also made 3 of those small bags as weights - if I finish the rest until tomorrow - it might be just in time; we are promised better (but cooler) weather next week!
of course I had to finger the surprise yarn and thought about suitable patterns. maybe it's a bit batty, but somehow I thought I should find one that fits the name of the yarn:)) I looked through a few pattern books and stumbled across this one in one of the Walker pattern books:
Faun's eyes - and don't they look a tiny bit evil?:)) I am not sure this will be visible in the dark parts of the yarn - but I'll give it a try anyway! if it's no good I might try (poison) arrows....