Friday, 26 June 2009

Carding the fleece and spinning

It's been a while since you've heard anything about the fleece I was washing so I thought I'd give you a little update on its progress. Some of the fleece has been cleared of all the little twigs and bits that didn't come out during the washing stage but it's such a long, boring process that I'm breaking it up into stages:-) So I started to card the smaller amount of totally clean fleece into rolags - small manageable rolls of prepared fibre - ready for spinning. The idea is to get all the fibres evenly carded in the same direction so when you are spinning it makes it easy to pull out and create an evenly spun thread.

There we are, nice rolags in a row. I don't make them too big or it gets a bit unwieldy on the carders. Better to have lots of small evenly carded ones:-) I've been doing this outside as the weather has been lovely today but after a while I got a bit too hot so I took my little pile of rolags inside and decided to see just how much thread they would make.

This is how much 3 rolags made - not bad. I thought it would take me a little bit of practice to get an even thin yarn but the problem was more spinning too thin! I tended only to get uneven lumps when I had missed a lump in carding so its more the carding technique at fault than the spinning, I'm glad to say. I played around with the tension on my wheel and the more pull I gave it the more likely my overly fine yarn would snap. So I'll stick to a lot of treadling for now until I feel more proficient. As long as I get enough spin in so it doesn't unravel when I ply.....

10 Rolags in and I'm on a roll! My spinning technique is getting better - more even but also generally thinner than when I started. I will have to practice deliberately trying to achieve specific thicknesses of yarn - lace, fingering, DK, aran weight etc. I think I'm thinking once this is plied then it will be twice as thick so don't make the single too thick but at this rate it won't be thick enough!!

The other problem I was having was the fleece was a bit sticky. I read that this is a problem when too much lanolin stays in the fleece so it looks like either using salt doesn't work or I didn't use enough. I deliberately didn't de-grease the fleece as the lanolin was meant to make spinning easier. So either I de-grease the remainder of the undyed fleece and spin it, or I de-grease and dye it now before spinning. I'm leaning towards the dyeing myself as spinning off-white is getting a bit monotonous!! Imagine selecting all the subtle colour variations to spin together! A colour paradise!!

But I am already prepared:-) I ordered some Synthraopol (de-greaser) from DT Craft and Design a few days ago and it fortuitously arrived this morning. Perfect timing, I think.

It may take a few days for me to get the fleece de-greased and dried, dyed and steamed but watch this space:-)

Monday, 22 June 2009

The sock that never was......

Once upon a time, as all good stories start, there was a lovely ball of Noro 92 Kureyon sock yarn wanting to be knitted into wonderful stripey socks. The bright rainbow colours promised a stunning and enjoyable knit. So off we went, knit, knit, knit. Toe done. Knit a bit more and the yarn starts to show how lovely these stripes will be.......

For the first time knitting with noro it's looking good. The colours are strong and are contrasting well as we go. Yum, yum, yum. Worth a close-up look:-)

On we go to the short row heel. Now this should be interesting - short rows and making sure the stripes meet up on the way back and when I rejoin the sock. Thought this would be tricky but it's deceptively easy. I shouldn't tell you that so you can be stunned at my prowess!!! I am mighty proud of my first efforts!

And a close-up of the heel stripes so I can remember how I did it the next time:-)))) I love the little green oval at the bottom! I'm liking these socks!

So on we go, knitting up to the top - the home run.....

Oh dear! I start to run into stripe problems - you knew it was too good to be true, didn't you? It's not so easy to see at the top of the full sock, so have a look at just the top closer up.

To explain my sock predicament. To get two socks out of one ball, you use the inside end and the outside end and alternate the colours every four rows. But if you use this method, the colours run the opposite way from each other. Okay, you say so why is this a problem? Because no matter where I start in the ball, one colour will always meet the same colour coming the other way.

In this case, the green. After the heel, the black is drifting into green but the green is now drifting into black and there is a section at the top of this photo where all stripe definition disappears completely. After such a punchy sock this won't do! So what can I do?

Apparently the answer is to have the colour sequences running in the same direction. I do wish I'd known that before I started and knitted such a perfect heel! So to resolve this problem there is only one solution - rip it all back and start again. I paused first and lived with the sock for a day or so before doing this as maybe I would decide I could live with it, but no. This is a present and I do want to get it as good as I can, so rip, rip, rip. I rewound the yarn back into two balls, both going the same way, ready to begin again.

But another problem lurks now. Both balls start at blue - no contrast! So I wind off a chunk and move the sequence on two colours - the only option that will leave enough for a full pair of socks. And then I can start again.

Sorry for the poor photo. I just snapped this quickly in artificial light before ripping it out in disgust. The red which looked so lovely contrasted with the blue now looks vile next to the green. The photo doesn't do the grossness of the clashing colours justice - thank goodness! So what was a lovely sock experience is deteriorating into a fiasco. There is no other way of winding the yarn without taking off too much to get a better combination and its just NOT NICE. I won't knit that. Nope, No way.

So what is a girl to DO? Buy more yarn!!:-)

If I can't get one ball to give me a stripey effect, then some people have used two contrasting colourways to great effect. And you can get 4 socks out of it! The problem buying yarn online is you really can't gauge whether it will work with the colour scheme you have. So I bought two just in case. The top purple one is prime candidate to work well with the blues and greens. And the pink I thought would be lovely with the lime colourway - knee highs? Magenta and Lime. Yum.

So, the ending of this tale is our little sock is now no longer with us but it is happy being reincarnated alongside some purple noro to be the little sock that could!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Giveaway winner!

Well, the rug giveaway has now closed and the lucky winner is....... Glowgirl! The rug above is the rug of glowgirls choice and isn't it lovely? I didn't find that on my search. Just goes to show just how many rugs there are on the CSN rug site!

Glowgirl, an e-mail is on its way to you now so we can get the rug to you as soon as we can! I'd like to thank everyone for taking part, the choice of rugs was really interesting and I wish everyone could have won! It's been good fun to run a competition and I might have more giveaways from now on!

I have my second blogiversary coming up in a month or so, and I think to celebrate I may have a yarny giveaway then - sock yarn dyed in your own colourway? And maybe some dyed fabric for the quilters and collagers out there. Still thinking. What would be your ideal prize to win in a competition? I think there should also be more than one winner:-) Three is a nice number and spreads the happiness around! And worldwide! I'm happy to post anywhere :-)


Thursday, 18 June 2009

Last Day for Giveaway!

Just a little reminder that the rug giveaway is finishing tomorrow, so if you are a US reader, don't forget to enter! The winner will be drawn at random and I will post at the weekend to let you know who has won. If you are the lucky winner, I will e-mail you ASAP!

On the knitting front, the Adriafil Baba yarn has finally arrived. All that time waiting, I'll have forgotten the urchin pattern. But it is very simple so it shouldn't take long to get back into. But I must finish the front panel of the wicked vest first so I don't forget where I am in the neck decreases. Nearly there! Soon, only the last front panel to do and then sewing up! I really hope it has a lot of stretch as it's looking on the small side. Sister dearest, it may well be winging its way to you if it doesn't fit!! But I know you'll like the fushia colour:-)

It will be good to get two WIP's finished and then I can catch up on the forest canopy shawl and the sunflower scarf - remember them?

It has been a while:-) And then there are the noro socks.........More on them tomorrow!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Irish Cottage Knitting

Thanks to a lovely suggestion, I have been looking into Irish Cottage knitting as a way for throwers to speed up their knitting style. This video makes fascinating watching. Look how fast Yarn Harlot knits!!! No wonder she produces so much knitting as well as writing books, going on book tours and lectures:-)

I'd heard of a Shetland style that held one needle still under the armpit - sometimes using a little holder - but I never knew what it was called or seen it in action.

I think this will take a bit of practice to get the hang of but I won't be bothered by miles of st st patterning again if I can crack this!!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Wicked Eyelet Rib Vest aka Wicked fushia

While we are still waiting on the yarn for Urchin - I know, a week waiting already - I've been getting on with a few projects, this lovely eyelet vest pattern and pair of stripey socks with my new noro. The noro socks are a whole story in themselves which I will save for another day but its fair to say there have been trials and tribulations with those socks!

So back to my wicked fushia. It's a lovely pattern with twisted stitches mimicking cables which develops into twists and eyelets up the ribbed section which flows into lovely eyelet detailing on a st st background. It's a simple pattern to follow and each pattern section is charted clearly. Once this is blocked the eyelet detail will be more obvious and as this is a 35" size for my 36" it will be stretching a bit anyway! I plumbed for this size as its meant to be a neat fit and the next size was a 39". Well, if it doesn't fit, it can always be a present!

But this is such a me colour! It will already be fitting well with most of my wardrobe:-) I don't usually wear shirts but this style does look nice on the model. I'll wait to see if I can carry it off!

I've got a little further than the photos show. The back panel is complete and I have started the first front panel. It knits up relatively quickly and the pattern is easy to remember so this is an excellent tv knitting project. So far, I have watched Sleeping murder - miss marple - and Star Trek Insurrection. Now I'm about to start the Lord of the Rings trilogy - extended version. Well, that's a good 12 hours of knitting right there!

See you later!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Rug Giveaway!

Today, I've got some good news for you! I'm hosting a rug giveaway!! The kind people at CSN Rugs are offering one US reader the chance to win any rug from their extensive collection up to the value of $55.

The rules are very simple. To enter, just pop over to the their website, look through their extensive range of rugs and choose your favourite rug up to the value of $55 but not over, and come back here and leave a comment saying which rug it is you like. Do make sure you leave an e-mail address so I can contact you if you are the lucky winner.

The competition runs until next friday 19th June and will end at midnight (GMT) where the winner will be drawn at random. So plenty of time to have a good look through the rug collection.

They do host a very comprehensive range from soft florals, geometrics, art inspired, contemporary, traditional, oriental, designer, stripes and natural styles so there should be something for everyone there.

Unfortunately the offer only applies to US readers at the moment. I hope we can hold another giveaway sometime in the future that will include more of us as it's a lovely opportunity!

So, remember to say which rug it is you like, leave your name and your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. And the winner will get their chosen rug sent to them absolutely free! This is so cool! I love presents in the post!

So, off you go! Have good browse and let me know what designs you like. I look forward to seeing what you choose!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Noro kureyon sock yarn

Today my lovely yarn arrived in the post - not the Adriafil baba for my Urchin however. That is still somewhere on its way. But this lovely sock yarn for some stripey socks. I was smitten by some mad greeny/blue stripey socks I saw knitted up and although I tried to get the same colourway, it was all sold out. But to be honest, all Noro is lovely! I don't normally treat myself to the very expensive yarns but I really wanted to try this sock yarn out.

From the front, these yarns look muted, as if they are all subtle colours and tones but look inside the end and it holds a full spectrum of yummy colours. Much more rainbow like. I bought these two colourways seeing a knitted swatch at Pavi yarns but I also saw some knitted socks in these colourways too so it gave me a good idea of how these are going to turn out. The top one is colourway 92 and the second, colourway 95.

I also discovered to get the lovely stripes I want I will have to knit one stripey band using the outside end of yarn and the other from the inside end. That way the stripes will always contrast. How I will then match the socks to each other will remain to be seen. I imagine I won't have enough yarn to be totally accurate so maybe I should just go for deliberate inaccuracy! Or use the yarn for a shawl - there are some lovely stripey kureyon sock yarn shawls. Too many choices! You'll have to wait and see what I decide.

Now one of these balls is for a present and one is for me. Can you guess which one? To be honest, knowing that I love all colour and especially all bright and contrasty together, you may be tempted to go for the first one - but no! I am actually preferring this more subtle limey green with hints of fuchia. I do appreciate tonals and complementaries too. In fact I just love colour.

When it first arrived though, I thought I'd made a bad choice for my first noro purchase. It looked so bland and I had to check that yes, these were the colour numbers I ordered. No pink anywhere and today being a dull day here, not much oomph in the colour department either. Until I looked inside. Aaah. Now that can keep a girl happy:-)

Oh happy day! Tomorrow I can be knitting some stripey socks:-) I might even have to put a hold on Urchin and I was loving knitting that. Watch this space...... If I don't return in the next few days, I've been sucked into noro sock world. Will I ever escape?! Do I want to? :-)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


Some knitting has been going on this last weekend. In fact I'm in the middle of two new projects, Urchin and the Wicked fushia vest:-) Today, I thought I'd bring you up to date with Urchin, a lovely super chunky knitted hat designed by Ysolda. It's designed sideways so you are knitting the wedges of a pie with short row Wrap & Turns (W&T) - which are more commonly found in short row heels for socks.

Have a closer look:-) the first time I saw this I thought, that yarn looks familiar, I'm sure I have something similar in my stash that would be perfect, but couldn't find it at the time so put the pattern into my file and forgot about it for a while. Recently though, I saw some lovely finished examples on Ravelry and thought hmm, yes, I never did start that, I'll see if I have any yarn that would work. And this time I did!

My first choice was Paton's blue super chunky Symphony. I used this a lot for some crocheted cloche hats and slippers a few christmases ago and I was experimenting with the chocolate colourway for my chunky glove pattern last christmas. I knitted a swatch to get gauge and it just would not work. When I reached gauge, the knitting was so loose that it was virtually lace! So back to the stash I went. Rummage, rummage. I pulled out a range of all thicknesses for this and eventually I got gauge with this super lovely Baba yarn from Adriafil - very yummy!

Yarn found, I plunged right into knitting the pattern. As usual, a lovely pattern that is very enjoyable to knit. I was steaming away with this and then realised that one ball was not going to be enough. Nope, not even with a very close margin! 5 wedges out of 8 knitted and the inevitable happened - yarn gone.

The problem with a stash is sometimes balls lose their labels and this one was label-less and bought 'somewhere' online. I thought it was a hopeless case and it was time to rip it all back and start again with another new yarn but the next day, I woke up and suddenly remembered what shop I bought it from. I had no idea the brand or how long ago I bought this, although I was estimating about three years ago? The way fashions and colours change, I wasn't expecting to be lucky but what do you know! There it was, Adriafil baba in multicoloured reds. Whew!!

So one multi-coloured red urchin can soon be finished when the postman decides to deliver my yarn..... Come on, come on! I didn't want to stop knitting this and I can't wait to start it again!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Vintage embroidery

I've been meaning to show you these hand stitched vintage textiles I picked up at a car boot a few weeks ago. (It's weird to call something vintage that is only about 50 years old!) There was loads of old style linen, quite a collection, and a few caught my eye because of the stitch detail. My favourite was this apron with hand stitched flowers in a variety of soft colours and a lovely cross fastening of the straps on the back.

Someone must have spent a lot of time sewing away on these pretty flowers and they have paid close attention to the placement of the colours too to get a good balance overall. I love the little dots and dashes that make up the flower heads! I've just noticed the flower on the left has a yellow stem when all the rest in this section are green. I wonder why?

But they are yellow on the pocket and yellow at the top so maybe it was to stop a total green band at the bottom to soften the feel. The pocket is a little damaged and it needs a wash too but it all adds to the charm of the piece! You can just see in the top left of the picture where the strap joins the apron with a button fixing.

A little close-up of the pocket stitching....

I found quite a few long runners I will show you later on but I wanted to show you this small sachet. It has been very prettily embroidered and it seems like it has been loved and cherished in its time. It's sad to think this was someone's collection of prized belongings that are now sitting in a car boot sale for any and everyone to rummage through the essence of their life. Any sentiment, meaning or memory is gone.

This is looking a bit worse for wear and it's yellowed along the top fold but it still suggests secrets safely hidden or maybe it was more prosaic and held tissues:-)

But still, someone spent time and effort making and decorating this and I shall keep it and start building new memories for it to hold.


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