Wednesday, 27 March 2013

not again....

I think blogger doesn't like me.... I tried to add the latest books to my list. first time no luck. second time no luck (yes, I did click on save and it showed the books both times) - third time... you get the drift. ok, at least all the books are visible in the entries. I'll leave it at that for now - maybe they are still flying around in the www and land later, when I don't watch?
anyway, I'd like to show you some more books (yawn:) - but this time they are not knitting books. I do bobbin lace as well and last christmas I took the opportunity to put some on my wish list. and those are the three that magically made it over onto my shelves (or rather into a book box, because there's no shelf space left.... maybe I should ask for more shelves, but then I'd have to ask for an extension to the house first!)

this is a ring binder with loose leaves. it doesn't look very inviting from the outside, but it's the best I've seen so far to teach torchon lace. this is supposedly one of the easiest bobbin lace varieties to learn, that's why many beginners start with torchon. Ulrike Voelcker publishes really good books, but most of them are a bit more advanced. this is a series of 3 parts (the 3rd one comes out this spring), so far I have no. 1 and 2 (looks the same, just red background). it's in german and english, which seems to be the case for most bobbin lace books nowadays. makes perfect sense, because bobbin lace books aren't sold in huge numbers, so authors/publishers have to try to reach as many readers as possible (the books are still quite costly, compared with knitting books).
the first part of the "book" covers all aspects of learning to do torchon lace, though you should know the very basics moves of "how to". with clear photos and descriptions, the first chapter shows the same pattern in lots of different yarns together with percentages of how to copy the pattern in the right size for each yarn. there are many patterns available - but the 2nd part is the really interesting bit if you're out for nice patterns! colourful scarves, the usual (and not so usual!) doilies, curtains, samplers .... enough to keep me occupied for a very long time! unfortunately I haven't found a good preview for the book (as is the case for many bobbin lace books. and amazon offers hardly any of them!). I took the liberty to take a photo of one of the scarves just to show you that bobbin lace is well past the look of granny doilies and old-fashioned bits! I hope the author forgives me, but maybe they should start to show more of them in those lace shops that sell the books!
the good thing about the loose pages is that you can take out just the page you need, without the need of copying etc. and you can buy each part separately. if you already know how to do it, just go for the patterns! I am going to get the 3rd part too, when it is published, though it is supposed to help understand the lace in depth, rather than give many more patterns for it....
 the second book I received looks rather boring at first glance. no patterns, just pages and pages of text/lists. but for a bobbin lace maker this is a small bible! it contains (probably) all available yarns for bobbin lace, exactly measured and compared, so that the lace maker can see at first glance how to replace a yarn for a certain pattern. I should really have bought this ages ago, because I always have to guess the thickness and have done quite a few false starts with that. the only "complaint" I have here is that the cover should be a bit sturdier - but I solved that problem myself by covering it with
rhino book covers:)
this is one of the few bobbin lace books that has a preview available on amazon. the downside is that the text is french - but from good photos and diagrams the patterns are still easy enough to follow. because I'd like to do a small bobbin lace gift here and there I asked for the book - just to find out that most would probably still take too much time to qualify for a quick/small gift:) but the patterns are still gorgeous, I just have to plan well ahead!
 and before you fall asleep from all the book reviews: this is the first deluge sock - with a few adaptations. it fits well enough, though as I said - I cannot really see the point of going through the trouble with the specially formed left and right toes. knitting is so stretchy that the simple ones fit well - unless you have extremely oddly shaped toes that is...
I had a bit of a problem to get close enough with the zoom and still end up with the whole foot in one pic -but missing one row of rib should be ok, nothing exciting to see there:) at least you can see the rain drop pattern, though the pattern in the foot is barely visible. I like the colour better than the one I am knitting with now, because it's less blue and more grey - but on the other hand more grey would fit perfectly with the name of the pattern?:)
 maybe I shouldn't mention the word spring anymore - hardly a blog where there's no moaning and groaning about spring - or rather the lack thereof! but if there's none to be had - I make my own! lots of greens, a bit of yellow and some white - I spun myself a snowdrop yarn! only, the snowdrops to take a photo are gone by now...one skein comes with small beads, the other one is the same, just without them. it's all merino (only the yellow is corriedale) and I plied with a commercial viscose thread. which had a live of its own during plying, that's why I had to break the yarn with beads on one - it became so kinked that I just couldn't get it apart (story of my life just now:)... all the fibres apart from the viscose are from derryaun crafts here. all in all I should have enough for a medium sized project - it's just that I have no idea yet for what. nothing unusual in that, I have to admit:) it'll go as a show & tell to the spinner's meeting of our group, the Connacht Textile Crafters this weekend, and after that it can hang in my room for a while - until the real spring arrives and I have to make another yarn. maybe one with a lot of grey and very tiny specks of blue this time - for the real spring we are having??? as you can see from the header - the fluffy clouds and blue skies are gone here! 

Friday, 22 March 2013

not just books

I don't only read books - sometimes I even make things I found in a book:) this is a sock pattern I found in the book of the last preview. It's not difficult to knit, the only row, where counting is necessary is the change of direction, I think in row 8. on the other hand - I think I prefer the look of the wrong side... but it's a pair of socks, not a garment that is visible from all sides, so I don't really care all that much about that.
 the pattern would look nicer if blocked I'd say - but I was keen to put them on and skipped on the finishing:) the pattern on the right shows RS out, but somehow I prefer the structure of the left....


 the finished socks, out of thicker sock yarn, I think the name is Regia "fjord". this time I put in an afterthought heel, because I always end up having holes in the heel part below the foot! easy to undo - and because the yarn comes in 150 g balls, there's plenty to change the heel until the rest falls apart as well:)
 this one on the other hand is the first "deluge" sock. you can see the right foot shaping at the toes. there is a bit of a pattern along the foot, and then "rain drops" along the lower leg part. that's the part I like a lot. I also like the v-shape on top of the drops, but I skipped most of the patterning above, because I lacked the yarn. and I agree with another deluge knitter on ravelry, that putting pattern into the rib as well was just overdoing it a bit with the pattern. also the tbl rib doesn't stretch as nicely as a normal rib. so I changed the sock (no photo yet, weather dysmal) - I frogged to the uptter part of the v, started the pattern, but only lead the "shamrock" pattern into the rib, which runs along both sides of the leg. the rest I did partly with tbl ribs, where they continue from the pattern between the v - and partly simple k and p stitches to give a bit more stretch. the sock is wearable, so I'll make the second one at some stage. I know I'll have enough yarn because of the frogging. but I also started the pattern again in another yarn, with simple toe-up and a change in the leg part... to be continued - the never ending deluge story (very fitting for our weather just now:)
 this is the proof that it is possible to untangle the mess! just don't look at the hours of fiddling it takes me....
  and I finally did start on my version of the Fia. this will be the border of the kimono style "cardigan". double knit in pure pima cotton, dark blue and lime green. it's fun to knit, as long as nobody starts talking and you can count your stitches in peace... I'll be busy with that one because DK knitting takes a good bit longer, but the main part will be quicker, because it's knitted in stockinette and not DK. the downside is that it isn't exactly portable knitting, too many balls plus the pattern (the yarn is very fine, I have three threads of the lime green and four of the blue - not for the impatient, because it's not plied and a mistake is very visible, when the needle splits the yarn! but so what - I know that I'll wear that one for decades, so it's worth the time).

not much to tell on the garden front - wind and rain and cold means that I don't do much outside. but the little lemon tree is nice and snug in the glass house - and has produced the first ripe lemon! and 5 more to come in the next few days.... the scent  is gorgeous, we are going to eat the first one raw to get the taste! if I don't blog for some time I might have to unscrew my eyes after this experience:)

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

two more....

two books that is - and two more purple skeins untangled:)

I've always been a book fan - even as a child my favourite christmas and birthday gifts were books. as soon as they were unwrapped, I became silent and started reading! nothing has changed, I still ask for books as gifts - and here are two I received for christmas (or at least bought with money I received for christmas:):
this is a weighty tome of a book - well, it has to be because practically everything about knitting is in it. I thought the price was very reasonable, though the book does not contain any colour pictures, just drawings. it really does cover pretty much anything you could look for - and it has been totally revised and chapters were added. but I still prefer my smaller "dictionary" written by Montse Stanley. it might be out of print, but is available very cheaply - and well worth it!

another "bible", albeit a small one. it does however contain everything you'd need to successfully knit socks, and all in one small book. the spiral binding keeps it open nicely and the smaller size fits easily into my "knitter's corner". I am sure that I have all the different heels, toes and insteps explained somewhere else, but if I have to start hunting around for them it tends to take a while to find the stuff I want - and also I get waylaid far too easily, when I start to leaf through books and mags! the one downside - it's not exactly cheap for the size of the book - at least compared with the one above!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

second in line....

... but the first in my opinion:
 if you only buy one new knitting book this year - I'd go for this one! it's full of basic instructions for beginners, but also shows brilliant ideas even for the advanced knitter and covers everything about colour knitting that you could imagine - even double knitting and entrelac instructions are to be found. stripes, intarsia, stranded knitting, colour basics or knitting with multicoloured yarns (you need tips to use up all those multicolours that look awkward when knitted into anything but socks? here they are!) all included... and all for the measly price of less than £ 9!! there are also design tips and finishing techniques - and a few projects, but I wouldn't buy the book for those (not very exciting - I have no idea why they were included). this is by far the most useful book I've bought in the last years, and I wouldn't want to be without it anymore!
 Nicky Epstein must be one of the most prolific knitting book writers around. I like some of her ideas, but have to admit that quite a few are way over the top for me. but the book is full of good ideas - and all of the given patterns can be toned down either by using less colour or fewer styles in one garment. the different chapters show anything from circular lace patterns to colour work and cables - and pretty much anything in between. there are basic ones about "how to knit a circle" - which can be used in lovely colours - or decorated with i-cords, leaves or flowers.
there are also full garments with instructions, all either completely made from circular designs or at least decorated with circles. many not necessarily my style, but I didn't really buy the book because I wanted the garment patterns - the ideas for simple circles of all kinds were what I was after! and they don't disappoint - plenty of choice to use in my own knitting....
and this - has nothing to do with books at all. this is my latest and most desperate project:( my machine dyed silk-viscose blend yarn - that ended up in a huge tangled ball... and yes, I know how to tie skeins before dyeing. there were three ties on every skein and to be on the safe side I added 2-3 more for each. didn't help one bit though - somehow the very smooth yarn managed to get tangled viciously anyway. I somehow untangled one skein by leaving in  on the table and going over and under for endless hours until I had several balls wound... but I cannot usually spend at least half a day without moving from the table - so I decided I needed a different setup for the next 6 skeins. I took out all but one tie and tried to finger-comb out as many kinks and knots as possible. then I fixed a clamp to the table to put the skein over it - before removing the final tie. still going over and under for hours, but at least I can leave my place and come back to it later! this skein is halfway done - only another x hours to work on:( but I will manage - at some stage! possibly not before next christmas, but luckily I don't need the yarn for an urgent project:)

Friday, 15 March 2013

quite a few new books

way back I promised to show you a few new books that found their way onto my shelves (haha, or not, most of them are still in boxes or on heaps, because the shelves are bursting:). but somehow I got distracted by other stuff. but today's the day - or rather one of several, because I am a book nerd and can't help myself when it comes to textile craft books (or cooking ones, another one of my sins....). so here it goes - followed by a new one every or at least every second day (don't nail me on that one though:):
the first one is by a very well known knitter, Deborah Newton:
at first I hesitated, because I already have two "bibles" and tons of other knitting books. I was sure that everything I need is covered already. but I found that it is very handy to have a specialized book just for finishing! once you've done all the knitting, you (or at least I:) want to finish quickly. I tended to not bother to look up other possibilites and used the same techniques I've used for years. there's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes the finish would have looked nicer and more professional if I had used a different technique! and while reading the book (or rather parts of it - so far) I found many ideas and tips I never even thought about! yep, there's a reason why she's famous in knitting circles and I am not:) ok, she's also a great fan of sampling, something I often tend to skip, esp. if I work on projects for myself. but she doesn't just work a 10 x 10 cm square! she makes larger samples and tests other project ideas around the edges of the sample, such as collars, pockets, edgings etc. brilliant idea - I should really try this out myself!
the book is a hardback, quite big, with large, very clear photographs - you can check out a preview on amazon or look at the patterns included here. it contains everything from simple seaming or blocking down to edgings, putting in zippers, buttons etc., but also special finishing such as felting, lining, steeking - and even using old knitting for something new. in contrast to this book by the same author
it also contains patterns for the project in this book. I also have this book by Newton, which is very good (well used by now:) - but the downside here is that the patterns are not included for most of the projects on show! which means that one day I'll have to make up my own for the gorgeous picture sweater with a silver moon and cherry blossoms:)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


...how half of europe is covered with snow - but not us! ok, during the last two days we did have a few sprinkly showers, but I wouldn't even call them flakes and they melted on impact. today we've had a few rain showers, but it's lovely to be outside and feel the sun on your back - for most of the time:) I hope my remarks about being snowfree aren't premature - but I think I am not alone in saying that we've had enough of winter by now (and over here we really didn't have all that much!).... slowly but surely our garden is waking up:
 the buds on my blueberries are opening - in different stages, because all are different varieties. one of the fruits that provided pickings last year, despite the miserable summer weather
easter is coming closer, and the daffodils are trying their best right now - at least the smaller flowered varieties are. the large ones take a bit longer, but there are feisty buds all over the garden!
spring is a good time for new plans - not only in the garden, but also where textiles are concerned. I would like to make a grandmother's flower garden quilt in the future - with all kinds of purple/lilac fabrics. not in a hurry, I still have to collect a load of fabric, but yesterday I received the first instalment - more by accident than by design, but I am going to keep those for my future project:) I have a few leftovers and a larger piece or two in stash, but I want it to be a big quilt and with lots of different fabrics, so I'll collect for the time being. btw, if you like hexagons, have a look at this
 remember the oddly shaped "sock" I showed you earlier? this is the result.... a pincushion granny:) when I saw that design on ravelry, I knew that I had to make one myself. a friend of mine loves nicknacks like that, so I made one for her birthday. the knitting isn't really difficult, the design runs over 24 pages, but it's very detailed and you can mostly work a whole page in half an hour or so; the body is done in one piece, with a lot of increases and decreases (even the nose is knitted in like that!), only the arms are done separately. the garments are a different story - it's quite fiddly to pull everything together and I took the liberty of changing some of the works. in the original the sleeves are knitted with the arms inside, which means that you don't only have to battle your dpn, but also the rest of the granny:) I decided after one sleeve that this won't do and knitted the other sleeve from the bottom up (see below) and fixed it by sewing it to the top. actually this was far easier and it looks just the same....
 of course it's not nice to have pins in your bottom, so the granny looks rather dismayed:) it was great fun to make her bun (handspun samojede dog's hair), to crochet a lace collar and the lace on the dress - but the best bit was making the glasses from wire! maybe that was because it was the last thing I had to do?
anyway, I think at some stage I'd like to make another "autsch" - but next time I'd make the base larger, choose nicer yarns for maybe a period dress design, maybe even make the lace in bobbin lace instead of crochet. we'll see - another future project:)
as you can see working the sleeves was fighting a hedgehog - the needles are 1.5 mm - and unfortunately rather too long for this tiny project. if I did do another granny I'd buy more suitable short dpn for this!
 I also worked some wearables - this is a collar by Andrea Delhey, done in crochet, in black handspun merino. I changed the size slightly, but the pattern is the same - you can find it here
 detail of "baroque collar"
 when the winter grey was at its worst, I decided I needed some colour for a perk-up, so I grabbed all the reds I could find, corriedale, throwster's waste, merino etc. and spun it all up whichever way it came.
the plan was to make a 2ply in exchange for the "poison" wollmeise skein I received as a surprise mailing ages ago. I read in Kristin's blog that she loves red, so I thought that it would be perfect to cheer her up a bit after an operation she had to have. I spun the leftovers into a second skein, but there wasn't enough silk left, so the 2nd one has less sparkly in it. the problem was to catch the right colour - no luck in rain or sunshine... the slightly fuzzy one on the left shows the colour changes better, but the right one hits the colours! traffic light red:)
when I sit down for a tea break at the table I need to have a small, simple project on hand to work a few rows here and there. after collecting a weekly mag incl. a small ball of yarn for a long time, I packed all the yarn into a bag and forgot about it for a year or two. it was meant to be a knitted afghan, but I didn't like knitting the squares much, so I decided to make a granny square blanket instead. the yarn is sheer poly, which I would never ever use for a garment - but I think it'll do for a simple blanket (might end up in the dog's box though:)
I've also done several pairs of socks in the meantime, I am working on a "fia" (with lots of changes:); I have to start on several gifts soon - and of course gardening is starting in earnest now. but I'll still be able to make a hexagon here and there I think.... off to swing the needles:) oh yes, and I have to finish my 2nd "deluge" - I love that pattern, but I am going to knit the next pair without the fussy different toe shapes (for left and right foot).