Saturday, 16 June 2012

odd things happen....

I finally dug out my carbon fibre "sticks" to do some blocking. yes, I know, it's necessary, I just don't like doing it all that much. it wasn't so bad for the Kringel shawl, I folded it in half and it fit the jigsaw mats nicely.

as I said I changed the fringe slightly. in the original pattern they are added one by one, which means that you have to sew in lots of threads. I didn't fancy that, so I worked them all in a row, just chain stitches and working back along those with slip stitches. they don't look quite as airy and light as the original ones, but this way I saved all the sewing in:)  maybe I should skip more than 7 stitches next time though, the little circle at the end of the fringe is barely visible....
the "in the pink" however wasn't as accomodating as the Kringel! whatever I tried, I couldn't fit the whole shawl onto my mats in one go. eventually I decided to work from the middle to one wing, block that - and do the other wing separately. the good thing about the CF sticks is that they keep the round shape, even if they are only pinned down here and there. you can jump across a short bit without mat, no problem. I do like the very original shape a lot - so much so, that I am going to make another one at some stage. it's too small for me though, so I plan on making one much larger than this.

shouldn't be that much of a problem. first I'll enlarge the circle and then I can work the wings from there. I esp. like the feather-like looking side parts and the wide bottom border. which of course could be used on many other designs. all in all I have to say that the shawl is far easier to knit than it looks at first - as a matter of fact the blocking was the most fiddly bit of all:) thanks to the designer for such a nice pattern!

this here shows a little visitor we had yesterday... during one of the (very short!) breaks in the rain a little rabbit came in by the front gate and started to explore the garden in front of the porch (where my chilli peppers are starting to set fruit). it nibbled here and there, until it found some nice daisies - which it beheaded mercilessly:) he (or she?) must be a flower-power rabbit - because today I saw that it had actually eaten all the nice dark purple viola flowers as well (see header pic)! now, I do find rabbits cute, but I don't want them to eat all the pretty flowers in here! but then I'd say it was only a short visit - having Dobby, the rabbit-eating (in her dreams, they are much too fast for her:) dog monster following you can't be such a nice feeling.... I left her out all day today to keep patrolling the entrance - and anywhere else in the garden - and hope that mr or miss rabbit won't come back any time soon! this is the odd thing I mentioned - at first I was stymied about the sudden disappearance of my pretty viola flowers in the stone trough...
this is another newcomer in my garden. we have loads of interesting plants down in the bog and because there were literally 1000s of them, I transplanted a pinguicula into a pot up here. they don't look like much most of the year, but the blue flowers are very pretty, I think. but there is far more to it than being pretty. they are actually a carnivorous variety! unlike sundew they don't have petals or leaves that trap insects through movement. they excrete a sticky substance on their leaves, which makes small flies and insects stick to them.... as they grow on very poor soil they can improve their nourishment with this. I find carnivorous plants fascinating - must be the morbid side inside me:)

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

a few finished projects

at the moment I have to try and cram as much gardening time into each day as possible - lots to do and the weather often doesn't want to play:( it's not great to stand outside in rain or even just drizzle and pot and prick out etc... of course that means that time for textiles is cut short accordingly! I did finish a few things though.
this is the finished "Kringel" scarf. in real life the purple is darker, and right now the scarf is being blocked - but I think it should be finished by tomorrow. couldn't resist the see-through effect though:) this is the one I tried in silk yarn first, which was too slippery and didn't result in a nice "round" kringel. I love the colour way and would like to try to do something similar on fibres for spinning. it's purple, but with a bit of madder red and some green here and there. I did change the fringe of the pattern very slightly - more about that, when I'll show the finished scarf! 
I also received a nice surprise in the mail from a "fibre friend" in wales. a long piece of a handspun "coil" yarn, doubled up like a cord. the idea was to use it as a necklace (very long) or belt (don't wear any). but when I dug through my bead box I stumbled across the base for a bracelet. it's made from metal and somehow I couldn't get the idea of a "woven" piece out of my head. eventually I used fine cotton crochet yarn in green to crochet around the edges and the small middle bars. but I couldn't just weave the yarn through or the bracelet wouldn't have looked rounded, because the yarn would have drawn in between the two short bars. eventually I used two more yarns in pink and yellow plus the green and crocheted chain stitches as "short rows" between the outer bars. could have saved on the effort of using three colours, because the coils are so soft and chunky that the "warp" is nearly invisible:) I do like the result though, it's soft but strong enough to be worn a lot - actually I think this could be the base for another adapted wrist watch!  the bracelet base is open and bendable, so one size fits all.... I hope the spinner of the coil yarn likes what happened to her gift:)
this doesn't really belong into the "finished projects" section - it's only halfway done! those are four of the five bases for my fairy-tale yarns. I'd say they are self-explanatory, the green-brown one on the bobbin is meant for the dwarf, the rest are rose red, snow white and the prince. they'll look quite different once I have them all finished, right now they are just colour blotches on balls - not really very enticing:)

I am going off now to spin some grey marled yarn - which will end up as the second ply for the dwarf - to represent his long beard, which gets stuck in a piece of tree trunk in the tale.... decision time: will I trap some bits of silver fox fur in between the plies - or not?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

rain, rain - go away....

for once the forecast has been right - rain all day, sometimes very heavy! yep, you could say that - if there were a few dry seconds today, I must have missed them. and more to come for tomorrow. together with 12 deg. C it doesn't exactly give a summery feeling - more like end of october and winter at the front door.... the good thing is that I don't have a bad conscience sitting at my spinning wheel! I did a spinning demonstration in Ballyhaunis (the small town close to our village) last sunday, where I (or rather we, all the participants alike) were very lucky. it was quite cool, but the fine drizzle stopped later in the morning and it dried up nicely. not much in the way of sun, but better than nothing. anyway, last year I had to hide in a shop entrance to escape the rain. this year I asked for a small stall and got one. I only demonstrate, I don't sell, so the guys who put up the stalls took the "table" board down and fixed it to the back of the stall. I knew from last year that it can be quite gusty (the stalls are on the parking "lane", along the town's mainroad), so I bought a cheap shower curtain, which I tacked to the stall and weighed it down with the little bags I normally use for my garden tablecloth. not perfect, but better than no wind shelter at all! I strung up some of my handspun skeins for decoration, put my wheel down, a basket with fibres beside me and off I went. I spun for seven hours - and managed to fill two (large) bobbins on my Louet. I've had the idea of spinning "fairy-tale yarns" some time back and finally put together some mixed bags for this. the fairy-tale is not very well known in english speaking countries, I think it's called "Snow-white and Rose-red". there's only one dwarf in it, and a mean one at that. but of course there has to be a bit of drama and a prince, too:) snow-white and rose-red are two nice girls, who live with their mother close to the forest. one winter night they hear a knock at the door. when they open, there's a bear standing outside. he asks for shelter from the cold and they let him in. he comes all winter, but in spring he has to leave. he tells the girls that he has to go and find his treasure, because a dwarf stole it all. the girls meet that dwarf in the woods several time, and even though they help him out of trouble several times, he is very mean and curses at the girls. (no red hat for that fellow!). when the girls meet him for the last time, the bear comes too and kills the dwarf, because not only did he steal the bear's treasure, he also told him that he should eat the girls and not him! of course, the bear isn't really a bear; the dwarf cursed him - he really is a prince! and because every fairy-tale has to have a happy ending, the happy prince marries snow-white - and as luck will have it, he has a brother, who marries rose-red. and of course - they all live happily ever after:)

to make a long story short - I put together 5 bags full of fibres, lots of  white of course and "rose reds", brown and wild for the bear, blue and gold for the prince and lots of earthy colours with grey for the dwarf. I plan to ply them with beads and gold etc... but so far I've only finished three, so pix will come, when I've done all yarns. not sure what I'll use them for - I just liked the idea to follow the characters of a story and make a yarn for each of them.

I also received two new books:
this one is very inspirational - and comes with a dvd to show how to spin those fabulous art yarns. it's not very hard to tempt me into making more yarns, but even a friend of mine, who barely spins these days, got itchy fingers to try some of the yarns out:) thanks, Uli, for giving this to me!

this is a german book about basket weaving. I wanted to try this out for ages, but I esp. like the book, because it shows how to use lots of materials, not only willows. we do have a lot of stuff growing here, such as iris leaves, blackberry vines etc... which can be used for making all kinds of baskets. now I just have to find spare time to try out a few of the new ideas!
this is a felted dog I received from a friend. when I saw the title of a british magazine (mollie makes) I told her that I'd like one of those dogs shown on the cover. I didn't expect to receive one, but here it is - Dobby with a purple hat. our real dog Dobby doesn't like this dog, she seems to think that it is competition for her:) she did try to chew on the felted bone, though...
before the rainy season set in here, I managed to pick a few flowers in the garden. blue geraniums, and white, frilly aquilegias. very pretty, though they tend to shed their petals everywhere at the lightest touch. I do hope that they spread out a bit more - usually they self-seed everywhere (not always in nice colours though, some tend to be rather "wishy-washy"). the rose is the highlight though - it fills the whole kitchen with a heady scent - lovely, even though the variety doesn't have a very pronounced rose shape.  and if we do get hungry, we could even eat the sweet cicely leaves I put in:)             
I hope there are a few flowers left after all that rain, but in the meantime I'll go back to my knitting and spinning. but before that - I have to start baking a bread, because we ran out of that - and who knows, if I can go shopping tomorrow - maybe I should invest in a rubber boat?