Sunday, 31 October 2010

Knitting & Stitching Show in Dublin

every year we travel to Dublin, either at the end of october or the beginning of november. once there we split up;  DS and DH go to the Botanic Gardens - and I visit the K&S. no use taking the guys, they'd just drive me mad! this year was a bit different for us though - Irish Rail introduced a new very early train (for people elsewhere this is most likely hilarious, but over here in the west of ireland the first train to Dublin left at 8 am - and it takes about 3 hours to reach the other side of the island!), which left shortly before 6 am - which meant that we arrived before nine! the show opens at 10 am and for once I managed to arrive well in time for the opening.
which meant that I was able to demonstrate spinning (and carding, because I didn't manage to card some spinning fodder at home...) - at the stall of the Irish Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers (it also has the nice bonus of being allowed in for free - which saved me from paying 15 euro entrance fee!). our group, the Connacht Textile Crafters, have participated in the last few years by producing some projects to put on show. this is the "blue" display we made (I only realized how small the printing looks, when I took the photo! it looked quite large on the sheet of paper at home....)
we didn't set many specifications - the colour blue of course was to be dominant, and the size should have been max. A 4 (I have to admit that mine was slightly larger, but I wasn't the only one:)). technique etc. was up to the designer. you can see that the designs vary a lot, embroidery, felting, beading, patchwork, dyeing, spinning - a bit of everything. I couldn't decide for one, so I went for the mood board, but I showed that before on the blog. 
 after about 3 hours of spinning and talking to people my shift had finished and I went to browse the stalls (and shop....). one of the first I found on the gallery, where the wsd guild stall is situated as well, was one set up by the Irish Patchwork Society. This showcased a joint venture between the IPS - and the Hungarian Patchwork Guild. normally I don't put up very large pix, but if you like patchwork - or flowers, do enlarge this, it's stunning! the bottom two pix show the two halves of the display, two full quilts with the most fabulous appliqued flowers! the upper three are details. I very often think that a quilt might look grand - but I wouldn't want to hang it in my home. I wouldn't have a problem with either of those!
 of course, if you go to a show like this, it's extremely hard to leave without shopping for stuff! this is my haul - less than before, but I didn't just want to add more to the stash, so most of it is material that I have already planned for projects.
the black behind everything is actually black leather - with a price of just 5 euro I couldn't resist! it's a full calf skin, soft, but not too much so, just right to use it for a bag.
you can see most of it yourself, the red and black in the middle are small bags of merino, which I want to spin into a "Lucious Lucius" yarn, hp inspired:)) there's also some blue embroidery yarn from Oliver Twists, some small bits and pieces for christmas cards, two pots of procion dyes in green, a schoppel zauberball in "shadow" (grey and black) and a small cone of Texere linen yarn. like last year, only dark blue instead of turquoise this time...
this is a detailed pic of the pw panels I bought. I plan to make a table runner for christmas out of those (I have 2 of the same) plus the two reds above. I also have a darker green and a beige/gold still in my stash from last year.... 
this is the piece de resistance - when I saw this hank of dyed viscose yarn on the Oliver Twist Stalls I just couldn't resist! those colours - actually the whole stall is an invitation to take a bath in colours:)) it's extremely hard to resist and I always have to be really careful not to overdo it!! I am not sure weather I'll use this as a fine ply for a handspun - or maybe work it into a very loose, lacy (crochet?) scarf.....hard to decide, but before I do anything with it, I'll face the job of winding it into.... something less prone to tangle!

of course I do knit on the train - but this time with the early start I was too tired to do much already on the way in! I started work on one sock from one of my handdyed skeins - but this is all I have to show for it. I did have to play cards with DS and Ludo, too - does that count?:))

now it's back to normal again, i.e. tomorrow the autumn holiday week is over and school starts again. I'll have to start my christmas preparations in earnest now - I started to stamp some christmas cards this afternoon. the plan is to colour them with watersoluble crayons, because I won't be able to embroider all the cards I need. handmade - just not handembroidered:))

Happy Halloween!

it's that time of the year again - pumpkin time:)) I carved our "monster" yesterday evening - and only saw today, that the poor thing even has scars in its face... well, being a halloween pumpkin is tough - but all in all I think he looks quite happy for a spookie:)) needs a dentist soon though....
Happy Halloween to all!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

good news - and sad news...

the photo above was taken yesterday afternoon - one of those brilliant autumn days with skies so blue and flaming colours all over! ok, not in that direction, because there are too few trees to chance colour much. but in our garden the leaves turn yellow or fiery red and some berries, late rosehips and even a late rose blossom peek out of the greenery... I love this time of the year!

and inside there's colour too - I've been messing with my acid dyes and sockwool skeins again:)) it's so much fun to do! no need to mix up large batches, no stirring like mad to avoid blotches and if the colour doesn't turn out quite as expected - what does it matter? the second skein from the left was supposed to be more blue than green, but the green beside it seems to have leaked some dye - which was picked up by the blue. this time the colours are truer to reality - only the one on the right is greener than the real one - which is blue to dark turquoise. right now there is another batch steaming away....
and I finished spinning/plying the batch of cotton/wool mix. I have 800 g now, which should be plenty for the project I want to start. first I have to dye it all though - green tones, but with procion instead of acid dyes, because cotton doesn't take the acids too well.
I am also still working on the school sweater for DS (boring....) and the table mat in linen/cotton, which is more fun because the colours change and it has the herringbone pattern in it.

the sad news is that on last friday our old dog Timmy (14, but pretty fit) was killed by the meter reader:(( he drove his wretched car over her - and didn't even stop to look!:(( I know that accidents happen, but nobody can tell me that you can drive over a medium sized dog that slowly - and not notice anything!  it was obvious that she had injured her pelvis as she was barely able to stand on her hind legs. we called the vet and he told us that not only did she have a broken pelvis, but also broken ribs and a punctured lung. we could see that she was very weak already and decided that it's no good to torture her more, so the vet put her down:(( the worst bit (apart from seeing her so badly injured) was that I actually saw the whole thing and couldn't do a thing to prevent it. especially sad is that her sister was killed by a car (someone else, we didn't see it happen at the time) in october of last year - deja vu down to the injuries:(( and esp. this time  we have a feeling (but no proof unfortunately) that it wasn't really accidental. why else would the car swerve directly into the dog's path instead of to the other side??? and there was nothing on the other side to warrant pulling over, I was there and saw nothing (it's not a road with traffic, we're talking about a narrow gravel road in front of our cottage...).

Monday, 18 October 2010

why not purple???

I've been dyeing sock wool the last few days - part of my big (3.5 kg) sock wool cone has changed from snowy white cone into colourful skeins... I am using mostly acid dyes, though the golden yellow was dyed with the last dahlia flowers I was able to pick. dyeing with acid dyes is faster - and I can make semi-solids or paint on the yarn, if I want to. so here are two "reds":
I wound most of the undyed skein around a wooden spoon and only the dangling bit dyed golden yellow in the dahlias. for the upper skein I wound the yellow around the spoon handle and left the rest in the concentrated red. eventually I dropped it all into the nearly, but not quite used up dyebath, so the yellow turned orange as well. (the handle slipped into the pot once, thanks to DS, who "just had to see what's inside"... that's where the funny stripes on the left come from!)
the second one was done nearly the same, only towards the end I left some of the yellow out of the bath (it dropped in as well, but I fished it out quickly, so there's only a slight red haze on the yellow:))
 and this is the purple mystery! I know, it looks blue - but it isnt! really! it's strong purple...
the yellow in this photo is pretty much correct in colour.....
but the rest looks more like this! not even this is purple enough, but I tried every conceivable light I could find, changed the settings of the camera about 1000 times - didn't work. purple doesn't want to be photographed by my camera!
the last resort - trying to scan. and yes, this comes much closer to the real colour - and you can even see the real yellow - and the funny looking blend of yellow plus purple.... the mysteries of photography - why is purple such a no-go? the only way I came close (but not quite) - was to use a red filter.... 
the second skein is purple with some very dark blue areas - invisible here. I sometimes prefer semi-solids, because they show patterns much better.
I also started on christmas presents - this is going to be the table mat. knitted in herrringbone (pattern in B. Walker, and also online in their study group) instead of crocheted hexagons. this pattern is perfect for a table mat: it's not too boring to knit, lies flat without blocking and makes a reasonably dense, but not hard fabric. I am going to use three colours, the dark green, the "brown" (which is slightly more mauve in real life) and some dark burgundy red, nearly brown. when the main part is finished I am going to knit a border around to clean off the edges. it knits up reasonably quickly - but it's a good thing I'll only need two - I think with a larger family I'd be bored out of my mind after two sets:))
and of course there are still some things in the kitchen that need doing: I finished picking everything but chaenomeles and sloes... and I made some elderberry soup, which I love (and have to eat alone, as noone here shares my delight:)). I use elderberry juice, add cloves, cinnamon stick, sugar , lemon peel and some corn flour to thicken it slightly. sometimes I add semolina dumplings, but I have to share those with the men in the household (if you don't like elderberry soup, you can always eat the dumplings with cinnamon/sugar/butter:))  - and I was to lazy to make them and clean up the mess in the kitchen afterwards. elderberries are very good for (or rather against!) colds and infections, so I am sure I'll stay healthy all autumn and winter:)) the white bits of course are dots of cream - I like the coloured spiral - and funnily enough the camera liked to show this purple! should I spread some cream over my purple sockwool, maybe????

Monday, 11 October 2010

halloween madness?

I don't come from a country, where halloween is a traditional feast - but when I moved over to ireland, of course it became one of the festivities to be noticed, esp. when DS was old enough to "demand" it! for the last few years I've made some decorations for halloween each year - only sometimes they don't get ready in time to put up:)) this time though the madness really caught me - my first handmade skull:

it's a free pattern from lion brand and originally it's done in white wool and felted - the result is much bigger in size. I thought why not try the very fine linen/cotton blend with a small needle, so I made it with a 1.5 mm crochet hook. it's not really difficult, just a bit fiddly - but the new idea is: crochet it in the same size, but in fine wool this time and give it a shrink in the washing machine - to add to a freaky halloween handspun:)) the felting would shrink it and make it a bit more stable (at least it should) and if I made 4 or 5 like this plus a few metal skulls, dark beads etc., maybe with a few silver bits, it would end up a nice "harry potter" themed yarn - fitting for Lucius Malfoy maybe? I know, don't say it, halloween madness is taking over:)) or I could call it "deatheaters":))

the other thing I realised is that I don't really want to flatten out this 3D effect on my crochet hexagon! which means it's not ideal for a table mat - but I think it would look quite nice on a blanket/afghan! I have plenty of large cones of the same yarn, but in different colours, so material isn't a problem.
maybe a knitted herringbone pattern would be better for the table mat, it gives a dense fabric and lies flat, too. I think I'll go for a striped colour effect and add a border in a single colour all around. which cleans off the edges, but isn't too thick to make glasses wobble!

off to do some gardening work, while the sun is still out - and this evening will be spent with winding fine yarns off cones on my ball winder.....

Saturday, 9 October 2010

mixed colours?

I didn't manage to follow the one colour a week regime - but today it was a very typical autumn day for us: the forecast was for sunny spells, but in fact it was overcast and hazy - so I decided to walk around and take pix of our autumn colours. and one of the neighbours lit a turf fire; we could smell it - the famous "typical irish" countryside scent for autumn and winter! though most people now use oil/coal for heating,  a few, esp. older people still burn peat. actually you can buy small clay/china cottages in some places together with very small pieces of peat - to burn them, a bit like incense!
so here are some of my autumn colours:
a lot of plants still carry fruits/berries; yellow and red raspberries, medlars, flowering quinces - and also potatoes. some of the late ones are quite small, but usually I use them as seed potatoes, so that is fine. the very small ones are scrubbed and fried in some butter to be eaten immediately - one of the special joys of autumn:)) the blue ones (middle left, at the bottom) are a real treat - they are purple inside and out!  the pink ones only have a coloured skin and are yellow inside.
of course not all are edible - I don't trust the fungi that pop up here and there (I know a lot of wild plants, but I am very careful with fungi!) and some of the ornamental trees do carry berries, which are not edible - or at least not nice to eat. the blueberry has phantastic autumn colour - but no berries left on it. elderberries on the other hand are one of my favourites, maybe especially so because the trees here don't carry much most years. you have to pick what you can in a good year - like this one. 
I also love the red dahlia - this is the one that gives such lovely orange dyes. didn't try the asters though. the japanese maples turn a fiery red now - the leaves are very pretty pressed and dried for collages and other arty things.  
I started with christmas presents - I want to do tablemats in crochet and tried two hexagon shapes. very similar, only the white starts with simple sc in the middle and fewer chain stitches for the "holes". the fabric looks a bit denser than the green one - might not be a bad thing for a tablemat?
the green one looks more open - actually without blocking it has a funny swirly 3-D shape! it springs up along the chain swirls and lies flatter in between. I will have to block it to stay flat, though I still have to decide which one I am going to make. the green one has a pretty center with little clusters of dc's. I also have to dig out the other colours, though I am not sure yet which ones will work best with the dark green. off to open the treasure chests (aka suitcases filled with cones:)) to have a hunt around....

Friday, 8 October 2010

time for textiles

it's official - autumn is here! a sure sign is that the leaves of my ornamental acer turn a deep red! this is not a sad time for me, I love autumn - and esp. the fact, that time in the garden decreases and time for my textiles increases....
it seems I am in a finishing mood - I am nearly done with the "dress sweater" (a long sleeveless vest in a simple lace pattern) - and also with the scribble lace shawl, which I started ages ago, when I didn't know what else to do with my first coil yarn - which was thin and quite evenly "spun" (should really be called plied?).
I used a thin 2ply mulberry silk (handdyed) for the fine base yarn and added only single rows of the coil yarn. I started with coil yarn plus some beads for the bottom (and will have enough to finish the same on the other end) to add a bit of weight to the scarf. the main picture shows a right mess of squiggles - but once the scarf is stretched a bit the rows become more visible. it's narrow, but feels very soft and silky - which is fine for me as I don't need very bulky warm stuff around my neck, even in winter. this will definitely be a keeper for myself!
this is the rest of the coil yarn I spun a few days ago for the "blue" project. it's much chunkier than the one for the scribble lace and only the core yarn is tussah silk (because it's so smooth), the wrap is a lambswool singles. don't know what to do with it yet - I might add a few rows to some knitting project - or maybe keep it to use it for weaving? the skein looks big, but there isn't a lot of yardage on it - most of the singles yardage is lost through wrapping it around the core. definitely more an accent yarn than something for a larger project! I like the "jeansy" colour though!
this is the "chiengora" - the light marbled grey is from the AKITA breed - extremely short fibres to spin. the brown and black is from our own two dogs and the fibres are a good bit longer and softer in the end result! the akita felt extremely soft when I spun it - but now in a navajo ply it's not quite so soft anymore. I am going to try the fibres in a 2ply before I work with it, but I thought the fibres might shed less if I spun it up tighter. not much good though if the yarn turns scratchy instead! on the other hand - DH doesn't mind the sweaters slightly scratchy - and the dog wool wasn't for me anyway:)) the dogs were very interested in the yarn at first - but after washing they weren't keen on sniffing anymore - which means to me that the wool would be safe to wear - without having all the dogs in the village follow the wearer around:))
at this time of the year I tend to develop a bad habit - I fall for magazines in the shop! well, ok, I do buy some knitting mags on a regular basis, but not usually embroidery magazines! with christmas coming closer the mags offer free bits to make cards though - my biggest trap, I have to admit. I have plenty of patterns, yarns, fabrics, blank cards - but every year I increase my stash with those freebies instead of using up some of it! yesterday I came home from the weekly shopping trip with this batch - plus the magazine it came with, of course. simple and quick designs, I just have to add the fabric - and the time to make them. which seems to be the biggest stumbling block! I remember the years, where I made all the christmas cards by hand. about 25-30! all different, no fun in making several in the same pattern! then I started to dye, to spin and to weave.... and suddenly I didn't manage to make more than maybe 4 or 5! and every year I look for simple patterns, that are quick to make - but somehow the number of finished cards doesn't seem to increase by much. well, it's still some time to go to change this weird pattern - I'll show results - but only if I manage to better my results:))

ps. the donkey above grazes down in the bog, together with 3 other adults and 4 baby donkeys. he (she:?) seems to be the "whinger" of the group - he keeps braying, when he sees people, when he doesn't see people, during the day, in the middle of the night, no reason not to?:)) even when they all broke out a few days ago and went for a trip up our road (and back down again, when a car passed on the main road) - he was the only one to bray! I admit it's not much fun to stand in a field all day every day (with growing hooves, because their owner doesn't look after them very well) - but why is it always him to make the racket?

Monday, 4 October 2010

I give up!

nothing special happened! I just can't find the time (or inclination?) to put stuff into my blog just now. I think it's best to give up on trying the colours once a week - I'll just show you what I have done and if I find a nice colour - I put it up as I find it....
I have done quite a few things in the meantime. I finished my "green monster" - the spring leaves shawl
 both pix show the scarf still with the blocking "wires" (actually they are made from carbon fibre) in. I haven't worn it yet (we have about 15 - 18 dec. C at the moment!), and didn't manage to take another photo of it either....but I am quite happy with it, even though the green is quite strong and luminous:))

I also knitted several dishcloth - this one is the starfish, the last one with this leftover cotton yarn - which used to be a baby cardie before:)) I like the pattern; it's pretty - but I am not too sure about the practical side: the main area is quite small and the starfish "arms" a bit in the way, when in use...
then there is the "blue" project for our spinning group. somehow I couldn't decide on just one project - so in the end (to get it finished in time!) I made up a mood board with handspun and handdyed yarns. the upper "cloud" yarn was inspired by a blue sky with fluffy clouds. the yarn is a two ply; one lambswool and one (fine) viscose thread, and when plying I trapped short pieces of cotton fibres in between.

then there are 4 yarns inspired by "sayings". the upper one is "send in the clowns", lambswool, plied with sewing tread, on which I threaded small pompoms. the second one is "midnight blue", blue lambswool with black alpaca. the third one is "blue plus" - several lambswools blended with some angelina and a second ply with added beads. the fourth one is my favourite: like a bolt from the blue. dark blue merino with flashes made of silk and viscose.
the last samples are inspired by the different blues of the sea - I spun and dyed blue tussah silk and some bourette silk in blue/turquoise. I then made 5 samples on the weavette loom, where I started with pure tussah and added some more bourette in each sample; the last one is pure bourette.

 those are some samples that didn't fit onto the board anymore. one is a coil yarn, tussah silk as the core and several blue lambswool tones as the coil.
the second is a royal blue corriedale, simply navajoplied.
and the third is my beloved "bolt from the blue" yarn again - easier to see on the light background. I'll definitely spin some more of this for a project!
 yesterday evening I finally managed to finish the last batch of the blue coil yarn - not all that much yardage, but plying takes up quite some time!
I also navajoplied my first batch of "chiengora", but the photo was so blurred that I have to take another one. the fibres come from the Akita breed, naturally a melange of nearly white to light grey. as I also had a box full of combings from my own two dogs, part of it is "foxbrown" and black:)) it's not washed yet and both "suppliers" were very keen to take a sniff!

of course being autumn means that there are still quite a lot of "pickings". the rosehips are done by now, but we still have tomatoes left in the porch, some "white" cucumbers from the polytunnel, lots of runner beans and the last batch of blackberries. I also juiced a lot of elderberries - which I am rather keen on as I just love the taste. and they're healthy too! we haven't had a good elderberry year for some time, so when I saw the trees this year I just had to collect each and every one of them!
we also have a few small cape gooseberries on most days - and very soon the sloes should be ready for picking too. this would be it, the sloes are always the last to pick!

of course I started a few new things here and there - but that'll keep until the next entry.....