Tuesday, 24 July 2018

time's ticking.... for the Tour de Fleece

.... only a few more days to go and I have the feeling that I didn't spin all that much! the cyclists certainly had a worse deal:) but I did finish the apricot coloured silk - and the handle is lovely. I think it would make a nice cowl or even longer shawl. it only weighs 117 g, but has a yardage of about 750 m! that's not too bad for a single skein and I am sure that I'll find a nice pattern for it - something lacy I think! I'll admit though that the pink of the rose isn't exactly a great match😉

I also dug out two smaller balls of narrow top - I think this must be soy silk, because it is just a narrow band (and doesn't smell like silk when wet)... the silk above was from a brick, much wider and I had much more to spin. both of those together are less than 50 g - and they're already spun and plied! I plied both with a light grey wool/silk blend - but it's dripping wet and not terribly attractive just now! Originally I thought I'd make two separate yarns, 2plies. but it was so little that I know I'd only end up with two balls of yarn that are never used.... as it is I now have two full bobbins of yarn - enough for a proper project.
I am not sure what I'll spin next - first I have to do a small "in between" knitting project as a small gift that's needed on saturday - so today (and tomorrow?) are going to be my rest days during the TdF - after the change of the challenge days there isn't much left of the original structure - I am just spinning away without restrictions... but I think I'll grab one of the chunky skeins of teeswater from the shed again - maybe the minty green tone? more yarns for my Persian Tile blanket.
but before I go (more watering to do, what else?) I should really introduce you to the "new" member of our household - very belatedly! this is Maisie - who has been living here for more than 2 years now. after Dobby died we only had Minnie left (and the cat, of course), and the house felt so empty that we decided to look for another dog. Dobby wasn't able to walk much anymore and I wanted a dog that's fit enough to go on walks with me, so I contacted the local MSPCA if I could come and look. Maisie was about 1 year old, fully grown and scared of people! well, no, not scared, more like terrified. she most likely hadn't been socialised to humans at all, left in a barn or shed to herself, the poor dog.  it took me a good while to gain her trust, but eventually she realized that we don't mean her harm - and after a few weeks she was totally changed! she's still afraid of strangers, but around the house she's happy and carefree - and she loves walks, running around in the bog and playing with Minnie and the cat - happy ending?!  we don't have many visitors, if we do she can hide if she wants to - other than that she fits in so well that we think we picked the perfect dog - for us at least:)

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Second week of Tour de Fleece

I think I might have prepared the TdF a bit better! Maybe I should have prepared small amounts of different fibres that I can finish every day - or at least every second? as it is I have been spinning several days of boring beige alpaca - then only a day each with small amounts, which was fun. now I am back again with spinning days of the same colour - not so much fun! but on the other hand, if I spun only a small amount of one fibre - I'd end up with my usual problem of not spinning the same way for both amounts. the beige alpaca proves the point: my first smaller skein from March is a good deal finer than the main batch from last week:( which means that either I have to use them for two different projects - or I'll have to fiddle about, using the finer yarn for a smaller bit of knitting, and the thicker yarn for the main part. and 250 g of it doesn't leave a lot of choice for projects, where I could use two different amounts:( the woes of hand spinning!

here are the two beige alpaca skeins - on the right. the rest are the naturally dyed fibres that I couldn't find for the last entry.I think all of them were dyed with madder, same dyebath, just different stages - and different temperatures! my favourite is the brighter red on the right - which must have been in the first dye bath, because it didn't get the higher temps of the others. madder turns brick red to brownish, when it gets too hot - and even though they all go well together, the brownish red tones don't suit me terribly well. on the other hand I barely knit woollies for myself, so no worries:) maybe I should start selling my skeins?
 after I finished the alpaca I dug out this sample of camel/silk blend. I think the silk is noil, lots of tiny white slubs - that are not particularly fun to spin. the picture isn't great, but I nearly forgot to take it - and had to use flash inside - or wait until the next day with the spinning... and I did forget to take a picture of the sample of white tussah - which spun up nicely - but was too little to use for a separate project. so I plied both of them together. I had a bit more of the camel - that's the browner part in the skein. it is soft, but nubbly and bumpy at the same time.

This is my latest TdF fibre - either silk or soy silk, I don't know. I think maybe the latter, but either way it spins up into a smooth, shiny single yarn. I will ply it though, as it is it's too fine even for lace knits. I know that I dyed it myself - but I have no idea what the dye stuff was. maybe I should keep better notes???
you can see how fine it is - even with the full amount the bobbin won't be full to capacity! the plying will take forever - I have to be careful not to start it late in the evening - or I'll end up with a late night plying session to prevent the cat "knitting" it up! he isn't interested in the wheel or the fibres lying around, but finding a small ball or the freely hanging plies is irresistible to him. the dogs don't really care, but sometimes they just have to climb to my left side - where the lazy kate stands when in use - which wouldn't be the first time with disastrous consequences....
during our hot spell (over now, back to the normal summer temps of 16 to 18 deg. C:) I dug out my embroidery stuff. after finishing an UFO I made 4 small cards to give away (yes, four, I sent one out too fast and forgot to take a picture). these two were for friends, who needed a bit of a pick-me-up...
... and this (and the missing one) were for birthdays. the other embroidery project in the works is a game board for "snakes and ladders" - which "rested" in my stash for a long time.
I don't know why, but somehow I cannot bring myself to knit much these days. there's a sneaker sock in cotton in the works, but if I can convince myself to take it up, I loose interest after a row or two:( I also have to finish the sleeveless vest for DH - not much missing, but I avoid it like the plague just now. I don't even fancy starting a new project - there must be something wrong with me! maybe I just have to finish with the TdF to find my knitting mojo again?

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Years later.....

... I had planned to write posts many times, but there was always something more urgent to do... but of course I haven't stopped crafting; I think you'd have to cut my arms off to keep me away from fibres and yarns! I did take photos most of the time, but if I listed all of them now, this entry wouldn't be finished any time soon...
so I decided I might show pix here and there from things I made during the last two or so years, but only if the projects were "special" - no point in showing you the umpteenth pair of ordinary socks etc.
for now I only changed the header - as you can see summer is in full swing here! actually, we haven't had a summer like this since I first came over! we had no rain whatsoever for practically a whole month (luckily we had a massive "downpour" - for an hour - on the 8th of june, which filled all of our tanks!) - and we had several days with well over 30 deg. C - extremely unusual for us! there is a hosepipe ban in many areas now and tourists are gobsmacked, when they come with raingear and wellies - and need shorts and sunscreen:)  
I am not a fan of high temperatures - I am happy enough with 20 deg. C,  or even less when I have to cycle! so I try to work outside before 10 am and after 8 pm - otherwise I might just melt:( but I have to admit that everything that I do water grows well just now. it must be a warm summer here - as I discovered this evening, a rare artemisia plant, which only ever flowers in very warm climates has set its first flower bud! I've had that plant for at least 15 years, if not more - it's never flowered before, so I am looking forward to the result:) pity that my Dictamnus died a few years back - or I might have been able to see for myself that during great heat the ess. oils of the flowering plants can ignite!
anyway, enough of the catching up - the main thing that convinced me to start blogging again was the TdF - the Tour de Fleece! I have never taken part - but I thought I might give it a try, seeing as I can't work outside during the day anyway. not that I wouldn't spin otherwise - it's far to warm to knit anything woolly - so I have been spinning practically daily - and here is proof:
the batch on the left is teeswater top - I had to use up this years' batch of easter egg colours and when I saw the fibres I couldn't resist spinning them up. I think eventually I'll make the "Persian Tiles" blanket with some of them - but for now they've gone from the fibre stash to the yarn stash....
the softer colours on the right are teeswater as well, but dyed with natural dyes a good while back. I have no idea, which colour goes with what plant though, but it doesn't really matter anyway. the white hank in the middle is ramie - and the beige skein on the right of it is a naturally beige alpaca I was given a few months ago. it was named top, but I am quite sure that it isn't. it's soft enough, but contains a lot of short fibres and looks more like a batt stripped lengthwise? when I started spinning it the weather was grey and cold - and after one bobbin full I couldn't face beige anymore - that's when I started with the vibrant easter egg funk:)  
 teeswater top is nice to spin - for a while. after all those hanks in the 1st picture, I needed something different though, so I started to dig around in my stash - and found a large bag full of naturally dyed tops. I had forgotten about those! we did a dyeing session in our craft group a few years back, but we had way to many fibres prepared, so we divided them between the members - and I think this lot was south american top. it's not as cottony soft as merino, has more grip - but the yarn is soft enough to be worn close to the skin. I have no idea (again, recurring theme.....) how I dyed, but looking at the picture I realize that I must have put quite a few madder dyed skeins elsewhere... and there was some yellow, too. never mind, but as you can see - I've been spinning regularly during the last few months:)
I decided not to buy anything new for the TdF - plenty of fibres in stash to use up! first of all, while I am still full of drive, I'll finish the beige alpaca. if I don't dawdle I should manage that in two or three days! I can always reward myself with something more colourful afterwards:) I'll spin more "default" yarn, 2ply, not too chunky, so that all the yarns could be used together eventually.
this was my spinning spot outside for today - it was bearable under the parasol, but I might have to move back inside again if it gets any warmer. because I spun the first skein of alpaca on the old Louet I'll keep using it, so that the yarn comes out the same (without thinking about it, I am sure I could fiddle around with the Lendrum to make it match, but I am too lazy to do that:)
 and this is a close-up of the alpaca - as you can see it's quite "flat" and more batt-like than like top? of course tea and cookies are needed for fortification purposes:)
so I am going to try to post at least every few days - maybe once the fibres are finished and I start something new again. I haven't decided yet what to do on the "challenge" days - I wanted to try boucles again, but I think I don't have suitable fibres for that. maybe cotton or even hemp? not sure yet, but there's still time to dig something "challenging" up for the monday after next. I'd rather spin nettles - then cycle the mountain days the cyclists have to face:)
are you spinning the TdF as well?