Tuesday, 19 August 2014

it's getting autumnal...

even though the sun is out quite  a lot, there is that autumnal feeling in the air, esp. early in the morning and in the evenings. it's cool (if not downright cold at night! funny, how 8 or 9 deg. C feel mild in spring, after the cold winter, but freezing in autumn, when we're used to summer temps), often windy and I could swear that the leaves of my jap. maple are turning colour already! on the other hand knitting or spinning are so much nicer, when the fibres or yarn don't stick to sweaty fingers:)
I am not complaining, I don't mind the cooler weather, esp. not, when I have to ride the bike into town or work in the garden. the only thing I could do without is cleaning my oven in the evenings, but I am not lighting a fire yet - a month or so still to come without ash and dust everywhere:)
I wanted to test knit a beret, so I needed some yarn. why is it that there's never the right yarn in my stash for a project, even though all my boxes are overflowing?:) I remembered that I still had pre-draft in grey wool/silk and when I dug through some of the boxes, out came a ball of handdyed, handspun soy silk. a fine single yarn that I used to ply the grey with. the colour changes are very muted, barely visible in the hat.
 of course none of the guys was willing to model the beret - so I had to "blow" a balloon into service:) unfortunately the very round face doesn't do the design justice - and my drawing skills aren't much to write home about either. but you'll get the drift....
 the hat is worked in the round, but in hindsight I'd choose a smaller needle for the crown, because the pattern is a bit loose like that. and admittedly the yarn is rather soft for this style, so the beret is quite slouchy. with my non-existent hat face I looked like a baker's boy:)
but the yarn is very nice to wear, so I used it to make a collar out of it, it's called over the moon collar. I think I am going to make one for myself as well - but I'll add at least one pattern repeat and maybe use a slightly thicker needle than for this. in the picture on ravelry the collar is much wider and longer and I'd prefer it to not meet in the middle, but buttoned over like the turquoise one from the pattern...
 this is another lonely sock that was finally partnered:) I dyed the yellow with dyer's chamomile some time back and added the purple by hanging the undyed part into a pot with acid dye. where it met the yellow it turned into a browner purple - and knitted up it looks like a shadow behind a star. the first sock (on the left) had a lovely big yellow "star" on the front leg - but unfortunately I didn't manage to get the same done for no. 2:( which has a yellow blob on the back of the leg part - not at all star-shaped:) it's a straightforward sock, but I purled all stitches that were yellow on the needle (not on the foot of course, where I only purled on top).  
well, that happens, but they fit and they're hidden under jeans most of the time anyway, so I didn't change the toes of the second one.... (oddly enough the 2nd one is slightly larger than the first. I think I must have changed the needles from one sock to the next, because the number of rows is the same)
lonely sock no. 3 is in the process of getting a partner:) no more sad singles in the basket - soon!
embroidering my felted star bowl was next on the list. I put on some silver lined beads as well as 4 little silver bells - looks very wizardlike now:)  the kettle for making the magic brew....
 it seems I have a thing for combining purple with yellow...
 and I finally started hunting for a coat pattern for myself! yesterday it was all my old "verena" and interweave knits mags, today I browsed through the heap of vogue knitting issues. believe it or not, despite all of those, I didn't find a single pattern that I really liked:( same on ravelry! either they're too bulky, have a weird shape, are too short or too long or in a pattern that would be quite complicated to adjust. in the end I started to knit a gauge square in this pattern. it's a brioche type, but not the normal one - there are simple knit rows on every 4th row. I'll try it in 4 mm and maybe also in 3.75 - thinking that with the length of a coat the knitting might distort if knitted up on bigger needles. the idea is to knit a simple straight shape in this pattern. probably with inset sleeves to make it less bulky - and to add a wide rib to the front, plus collar.... a snuggle-upper coat:)

Monday, 4 August 2014

back to normal

after all the excitement of our trip - we're back home and back to normal as well. hm, nearly back to normal... our luggage went missing on our trip out and we're still waiting for the airline to do something about it (i.e. refunding our emergency shopping...). but other than that we're in summer holiday mode = taking it easy, where we can:) the weather isn't too bad either. after a few very muggy, uncomfortable days at the end of july we're back to our more "normal" summer weather: sunshine, showers, temps less than 20 deg. C and only light winds. I've become used to that kind of summer weather and the hot and windless weather in germany made me feel slightly suffocated and breathless (and sweaty:)....
luckily our luggage was brought to us later - luckily, because the flower hexies quilt was in it! never mind my clothes, I'd have gone crazy if all my work had gone lost! irreplaceable really, because nobody would pay a decent wage for craft projects like that if they did go missing! anyway, we got it back and the recipient seemed happy enough about her gift:) I will start another one soon, but not yet - I have to finish at least a few of the projects I started, but didn't finish because of all that hexiemania! first on the list are a few single socks that need partners in life! I finished a pair of socks on the trip or rather the second one of the pair after we came home:
they're nothing special, my normal socks really. I did start with double the amount of stitches as cast-on, because I wanted a wavy edge. I worked 1 k, 1 p and 1 k row, before I cast off half the stitches, ie. I k 4 sts, cast off 4 etc. the rest was plain stockinette, apart from one 3/1 cable, just to keep awake while knitting:) barely visible in the photo. the sock yarn was dyed by me last year during the dyeing demo in our textile group. I used gooddall's food dyes, which is astonishingly stable during the wash! no change whatsoever at 40 deg. C wash with normal washing powder! 
the edge is wavy enough - but I should have turned the whole thing inside out, because the edge turns down slightly.
there are several other "singles" in the stash - one of them is the purple/yellow then "starry night", the mottled green "jungle leaves", the deluge etc... if I manage to keep at it, I should have several more pairs of finished socks in the box in 2 weeks time:)
during our trip we did a workshop about wet felting here. I knew the theory of wet felting, have done one flat "picture" and a few small felt balls. but I hadn't done a hat or bowl before. so that is what we did during our 3 hours, first a "star" felt bowl and then a small treasure stone. obviously everything purple in the photos is mine:) the plan is to adorn the bowl with a few tiny silver bells, a bit of celtic embroidery and maybe a few silver lined glass beads... material is at the ready - I just have to start:)
of course the garden turned into even more of a jungle during our absence. luckily we had some rain here during that time - (most) men aren't really to be trusted to water flower pots very well:)
this is the dahlia "bishop of llandaff" - with lovely red flowers and very dark reddish leaves. I love the simple blooms, which stand up much better to our wind and rain than the gigantic cactus dahlias, which need staking for every single bloom:(  
the fuchsia with the very small red-pink flowers is doing very well in the container, together with lovely lobelias (I couldn't find pure blue ones, there were only mixed palets on offer:().  
I forgot the name of this pelargonium, but I like the oddly shaped single flowers - and the bright pink/rose colour that really sparkles in the sunlight:) 
my alltime favourite for containers and windowboxes is this though: sanvitalia procumbens. it's sold as an annual, but they survive the winter easily, as long as they are sheltered from hard frosts! one dose of fertilizer in spring and off they go. they seem to flower for months on end, never drop spent blooms and look so sunny and friendly, that I have to smile every time I look at them! like tiny little sunflowers.... did I write that before?:)  
we also put up window boxes along the wall between coal shed and studio. I planted tagetes, sanvitalia, fuchsias and put in seeds of nasturtium, all of which are growing away nicely. but I also put in some wildflower seeds here and there - and very pretty they are! I love poppies, but there are never any wild ones around in the fields here. they go so well with cornflowers and corn-cockles...  
and I also have some felt flowers for inside now:) the workshop during our last CTC meeting was about making a wreath with summer felt flowers. we wound chunky yarn around a polystyrene base and added flowers, made from felt and beads. thanks to our tutor Susan Basler we were able to use some lovely leftovers of her handmade felts, which gave the flowers a much nicer look than shopbought felt could have done. I only finished half of the flowers and had to do the rest at home.... I didn't sew or glue the flowers to the base, but used pins only. which means that I can re-decorate my wreath with autumn leaves, holly and berries for christmas etc...
btw - did you notice? only a bit more than 4 months to go - and it's christmas again! hard to believe with the sunshine and exuberant flowers outside... time to get the mind geared towards gift-making:)