Saturday, 8 January 2011

new year - new projects

but first I have to finish some old ones. this is the end result of the fluffy embroidery with madeira lana:
I will back and frame it with some patchwork fabric, so that it can be washed properly if necessary. I bought the aida fabric a few years back for the stash - not visible in the photo, but there is some glitter on the upper side, just right for a "starry night" feeling. I found the pattern in a cross stitch mag from the uk some time back and was waiting for an occasion to make it. I'll add the name under "sleep tight", but didn't want to spoil the surprise in case the recipient reads the blog....
a short while ago I received a package from germany, where these locks were used as packaging material. my Louet was standing empty at the time and eventually I just couldn't resist the locks and started spinning them as they were. but it was hard on the hands, because the tips stuck together and there were a few double cuts as well. so I put them to the side....

...until today. I combed them with my dog comb -to get rid of some dirt, the short bits and some VM that stuck to the fibres.

this is the end result: a box of fluffy fibres, which I will spin later tonight. I don't know the breed, but the locks are of medium length and have a nice crimp - and rainbow colours. fluffed up like this it looks like a large amount, but it won't take much time to spin it into a yarn. I plan to navajo ply it - but maybe I'll ply it with a single colour after all - to end up with a bit more yarn to play with. I have no idea what to use it for (yet), but I am sure I'll find a project once I know how much yardage I have.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

advent KAL and other things

the new year is already a few days "old".... time to show some finished objects. I finished the KAL scarf shortly after christmas, only 3 days late:)) I also added the starter pattern at the end, because it creates a wavy edge, which I wanted to be the same on both sides. I should really have turned over the pattern as well - but if you don't look too closely you won't see that it faces the same direction... it still gives a wavy edge though. this is it in full length - I am not sure a piece of knitting 38 cm wide and 2.8 m long can still be called a scarf?:)) maybe it's a sharf - shawl/scarf? or a scawl, could work both ways:))
husband and son avoid taking part in my photo ops whenever they can - so I had to use the wall to lay the scawl out to see it in full. it only weighs about 200 g all in all, cashmere is very light and runs far and the added 2 fine silk threads are so fine that they add barely any weight. they do give a slight sheen as do the few clear, silver lined beads I added in each spacer....
it's too long to show the patterns in more detail in one picture, so here they are, from left to right the first pattern and a new one for each day of december up until the 24th. all of them are estonian patterns. none of them were terribly difficult, though some had a bit more bite than others. I don't mind knitting nupps - they take a bit more time, but at least you don't have to turn the knitting several times for each nupp - unlike some patterns for bobbles...  
most of the patterns (the instructions came with charts and written out!) have a clear build-up, but some are confusing at first. it takes a few rows with those to make out a pattern - I found those intrigueing to knit - it makes it more interesting, when you can only see the full pattern after blocking! some of them were more dense than others, but it blocked out reasonable well in the end. 
some of the patterns are quite well known not only in estonian knitting, e.g. I have knitted the second pattern from the left as fern lace a long time ago - before I had ever heard about estonian patterns. others are quite specific, esp. when 5, 7 or even 9 stitches have to be worked out ouf three in the base row! a bit fiddly at times, but with a bit of counting and care no big problem. and not a purl tbl in WS rows in sight:))
huh, I just realised that I put the photos up in the wrong sequence, this should be the starting pattern, because I worked the lily-of-the-valley nupps on day 2!! there is a similar looking pattern at the other end, but without the nupps. all in all it makes a nice pattern sampler - but is very wearable too. nice and soft and though large, not too big to wind around the neck. or maybe I should use it as a wallhanging instead?
I also started a small cross stitch pattern - which will be a gift to the parents of a littly baby boy. I saw the pattern in a magazine - and wanted to try this particular one, because it used material I haven't worked with before. Madeira produces a wool embroidery yarn (Madeira lana), fine, half wool, half polyester (it's also available in a few multicolours). it can be used for machine embroidery also and comes on bobbins like sewing thread. it was difficult to find, but eventually a friend of mine in germany found it in a sewing shop in her hometown. there are plenty of colours availabe, but I needed "rabbit colours", off white, light and medium brown. this is how it looks after stitching. there is no body yet, because this is worked in floss. the "hairy" part has to be worked first, then it's fluffed and then the rest is added.
these brushes can be bought where the yarn is sold - there is a softer one for light fluffing and a harder one for stronger effects. (I think they could be used for fluffing up areas of mohair knitting, too...).  
and this is the after - I know the pic is a bit blurry, but you can see the  raised fluff of "fur".... I am nearly finished with the project, I just have to add some more back stitch before I can show you the rabbit in full....
there is another small "toy" I want to knit - a little frog. I had some darker green, but needed a second, lighter colour. I was too lazy to dig out all my acid dyes etc. so I just grabbed a bottle of food dye I had left from christmas bakery. this time I only added about 1/4 of the bottle, but it was enough for a small skein of sock wool. the green on the left is from the first batch. but this is not the reason I am showing you the greens. (the flash makes the green a bit stronger, it's not quite as biting as this!). there was still colour in the pot, so I added another smaller skein of sock wool. and discovered that apparently the yellow pigments of the dye take up easier than the blue (or there was more blue than yellow in the blend and none left for the 2nd skein?). the second skein is more turquoise then green - not right for a frog, but I can always use it for some sock inlays. I always find it interesting how dyes work - surprising, but not often disappointing, at least to me.
and yesterday I had to go to the county capital, Castlebar, to see the dentist... I am not afraid, but I don't know many people, who actually like to go there:)) anyway, I was rewarded for my "suffering", because I found a stone pestle and mortar on offer! I've been looking for one for quite some time, but either they were so large and heavy that I couldn't take them at the time, or they were quite expensive. this one is medium sized - but still weighs over 3 kg! it stands on its own because of this weight, unlike my old small marble one, which I have to hold with one hand when using the pestle. it works effortlessly and I am quite happy to finally have a good one! I'll keep this one for kitchen stuff - and use the old one for occasional "smashing" of cochenille.... I did receive an electric mill esp. for this purpose several years ago, but somehow this ended up in the kitchen, too. probably because I had just bought a bag full of ground cochenille and didn't need the mill for this at the time. I am nearly out of this now, but I still have a plastic box full of unground "lice" in my stash! some elbow grease will be needed to transform this into fine powder - soon:)) I'll have to mordant more yarn/fibre first though - cochenille is one of those dyes, where endless batches can be dyed after the first one!