Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Restless knitter....

I don't know if it's just the seasons changing but I can't seem to settle on knitting any projects at the moment. I have a few WIP's that are so close to being finished that a little push would see them done and dusted but still they languish, hidden in their little bags - nice, patterned and stripey bags - but languishing all the same.

What I really feel like doing is starting a cosy blanket or something similar to my crocheted ripple blanket from a few years ago. But something new and challenging that will also be snuggly to knit and keep my legs warm! My first thoughts were crocheting a hexagon blanket in mad, bright colours like this or this or this after coming across attic24's blog site recently - crochet heaven! How didn't I know she existed until now? I've spent quite a bit of time reading her blog backwards - as you do:-) - and she is scarily so like me in so many things. Her choice of bags, colour, bags, flowers - big bright dahlias, did I mention bags? It is uncanny. She also talks about her brain being in a tangle - Oh yes, I can totally relate to that one!! Anyway! Getting sidetracked:-) She also does a great how-to tutorial for joining hexagons as you go so you don't have the huge piecing together headache at the end. You can go direct to it here.

Another project I've been pondering is making a pouffe or pouf depending on how you call it. A total luxury to sit on or rest my feet on while I'm knitting in the evenings. I've been thinking about this for a while and my initial idea was to use strips of fabric like this image I found. I've had it so long I don't actually remember where I found it now but its lovely! I still have quite a few strips of fabric I haven't used for my large stripey quilt so this is a possibility.

But then I saw these knitted pouffes over on Pickles blog. She has designed several using different stitches and sizes. They are pretty much knitted as one long strip gathered or ruched at the ends - which works being a chunky knit. If I were piecing fabric strips, the shaping may be quite fiddly - unless anyone out there knows a quick and easy method that would be robust enough?

And then I found this lovely fabric and crocheted pouffe by Eclecticgipsy - yum! You can see more of her work on her flickr site here as well as on Ravelry.

I think I must be in a crochet frame of mind! But it does look fun, bright and cheerful:-) And maybe that is why I'm drawn to two bright colourful projects now the nights are beginning to draw in and there is a coolness in the air. That reminds me I'll have to hunt out some warm knitted jumpers and boots soon. We're due a temperature drop here in the UK over the next few days. Brrr!

Right! Time to start that crocheted blanket!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The story of the plummy red yarn.....

I've been playing around with the red dyes a bit more this week and spent a bit of time trying to get subtle tones of mid to dark red. They don't look the same on paper as they do on the yarn but if you give them a coat of PVA glue they come up a treat! The brush can drag the dye as well though so a spray varnish would probably be a better idea next time.

I've been keeping colour notes as I go along to go in my dyeing notebook - see, getting organised:-) And having fun playing with tones on a colourwheel too. There are so many online charts you can work with - this tonal version is from Itten's book on colour. Simple and clear tones, easy to read and use. I like this one for its clarity.

And this much more complex version if you really want very subtle gradations of colour. Its a shame my printer has run out of ink as this one is pretty comprehensive to work with. I need to laminate a copy and stick it on my workshop wall - when the shed is ready, that is.

So after my foray into colour, I narrowed my colours down to three tones of reds and three tones of plum purples. Then played with colourwashes:-) The red wash was a lot more subtle before I killed it with glue - sigh! I also had an idea to stop the colour varying on paper and yarn by using thin mini test blanks. You would have had some lovely pictures as they painted up beautifully. It's just a shame I set fire to them in the microwave -BIG sigh!

So, how did I manage that, you ask? Um, well, I chopped up a long knitted length and stapled card on the ends to stop the yarn unravelling before dyeing. What's wrong with that, you ask? Didn't dawn on me that the staples are of course metal until I saw the flames:-) Luckily the microwave still works - god knows how! - if a bit smelly for the next few uses but its all fine now. It took longer getting the burnt smell out the house. Luckily I still have the blowers that are drying the floor in the living room - still! don't get me started on that subject:-) I'm ignoring the fact that the water leak has taken over a month to dry out so far... But the blowers came in handy to shift the burnt smell! (NB - I only use this microwave for dyeing! I never use it for food, so don't worry:-)

But it was worth it as I got a lovely plummy red skein of variegated yarn ready to go. No idea what I want to make from it, I'm just living with it for a while till the right project comes up....

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Stripey noros - again!

Remember these? Yup, I've pulled out the stripey noro socks out of the pile of hibernating projects and decided its time to sort them out! If you remember, I had a few troubles with the variegated colours merging and then after fixing that, I knitted this knee-high and the increases were all wrong and the colour changing wraps were in the wrong place as well as hard and lumpy. So, it needed ripping back completely but after those trials and tribulations, I had a cooling off period and stuffed it away:-)

But now its back! I think I have cooled off enough now to rip this back with total indifference to the amount of toil and trouble that went into the first knitting of this:-) I had to get back into stripey noro headspace - good thing I keep a blog to remember what I should and shouldn't do again! So, yarn colourways were already sorted - check. Fix the changing of the colours and move to back of sock - check. Get a pattern to follow increases for knee-highs - check!! So, in theory I should be sorted and this should be a painless knit, but I don't want to tempt fate:-)

Knitting away, I have now cast on (judy's magic cast on), shaped the toe, knitted about 6.5" of sock foot so far with the colour changing at the back and there is no hard 'rib' feel to the change. I don't know why I thought I'd have to trap the yarn every row to carry it up the sock - overkill really - as all it did was make a hard ridge. This time all I did was pick up the thread after knitting four rows - no wraps, twists of any sort. Easy and no bumps.

I was also thinking of trying out a new method of short row heel - apparently I said so on my earier blog post. Unfortunately I can't remember just where that wonderful new technique is. Should have written it down on the blog, I know:-) So I'll just go back to my tried and tested method until it turns up again.

Or, I could look in my new sock book! I got this a wee while ago but forgot to blog about it. It gives you all the basic information you will need to knit a sock of any type; toe-up, top down, heel flaps, short row, knee highs. So this is the book I'm using as reference for the increases on those knee-highs. Maybe it will have a better version of the toe-up short row heel.

Well, that's my evening planned - a bit of light sock reading and turning a heel, while watching some good television, of course:-)

Monday, 21 September 2009

Buttons for Veyla

At last all my buttons have arrived for my green Veyla mitts. It's quite hard to gauge online whether the greens will accentuate or get lost in the lace detail and some that seemed small enough on paper, now seem a bit too big for the cuff. I got a mixture of plain and funky - well, you can never have enough buttons;-)

These first ones fit the buttonholes well and are solid but relective in colour. I quite like these as they are small enough but the shine keeps them interesting. Subtle for me, I know but with these the lace is more dominant.

Next up, not so subtle nice, bright daisy buttons. They are certainly funky and not too big for the cuff but they don't lend themselves to an elegant feel:-) These would have to be decorative only as they get caught in the buttonhole but I think I can slide these mitts on without undoing the buttons anyway.

Next up, these lovely apple buttons. These are super funky but a bit bigger. I can only realistically get three on without squashing them up close together. Again, these would have to be decorative rather than functional. I'm thinking the paler green colour isn't working and the lace is obscuring the apple shape too much to make everything gel.

Ah, the green flower/star shapes. These are a no-no straight away. Gorgeous buttons though but the green flower is totally lost and the sparkly centres look like little dots. Waste of a lovely button on these. I have enough to use them on a larger project so no worries.

Hmm. I like these buttons a lot but they are a bit bigger again - maybe verging on too big? Enough pattern without killing the lace and the right tone of green though. Running near the top of my list these.

These lovely buttons arrived late and are a lot bigger than I thought but lovely. Looking at them on the glove, they are maybe a bit too busy or weighty/heavy looking for the cuff. But they are so nice... Maybe I should keep them for a funky cardigan, or something instead.

The last idea I tried was to move away from green altogether and try white. Although they are more pearlescent than in the picture, the white is just too bright and has too much tonal contrast to work, I think.

So, that leaves the little green buttons in picture 1, the bigger green buttons I liked, the japanese ones and the green and white daisies..... What do you think?

Friday, 18 September 2009


Well, I didn't manage to get around to sewing buttons on the green veyla mitts last night because I was busy trying to finish this lovely snapdragon beret. The design is by Ysolda and as you can see it is gorgeously intricate with complex cables and petal shapes. I love how her beret patterns always flow to the centre without looking as if the pattern has been squished to fit:-)

I never really intended to use a bright sunshine yellow - not really my favourite colour to wear - but when I saw the original knitted up in this colourway, I had yarn to match and just had to cast on. The pattern is written for worsted weight and I think you could get away with a DK yarn too but my yarn was a bit fine being fingering/4ply sock yarn so I decided to double it up as sock yarns are usually rather generous in length.

This yellow is Schoppel-wolle's admiral ombre colourway 1959 and I knitted it with two strands. Each ball has 420m per 100gm and this was just enough to knit the medium size. I emphasise 'just'! In retrospect, although I even tested the gauge, this knitted up a bit big so the small size would have been a much better idea - and I would have worried less as the yarn was fast disappearing towards the end there! A very close thing!

I do like the variation the two strands gives the beret, not too much variegation but not a solid colour either. I think I'd like to try this again using a thinner yarn, maybe in a bright magenta! The pattern is easy to follow and very enjoyable and knits up very quickly once you get going. A hand spun yarn would be really good for this too. Shame I've already plyed the bright pink jelly jelly roving as it would be interesting to have used it with this design. But then again, it may have had too much colour contrast. I'll have to have a rummage through my stash and see what I can find.... :-)

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Red door!

I couldn't wait till tomorrow to show you the red door:-) Flame red!! I've only painted one coat so far and will give it another coat tomorrow. I was going to paint the door surround red too but I think it may be better fading into the background a little. That means I'll have to get some more white gloss but I'll need it anyway to paint the windows and door on the inside.

Sigh! isn't it striking?! A little bit oranger than I thought but the reflective light is very bright and the paint is still wet. All I need now are some red planters attached to the windowsills;-)) Okay, maybe overkill! I do need to sort out the last bit of the outside though - the fascia. Problem is no-one delivers it and it's way to long to fit in a normal car. Still working on that one.....

It is a little bit darker red in real life, but not much! After painting, I turned round and saw my lovely bright red Dalias. The sun keeps bleaching out the depth of their colour as there are very subtle tonal variations going on.

I've been trying to capture those red tones today in my dyeing experimentation. With red being a primary colour, you can't mix it and have to use the bought tub of dye. Only problem is, that this red seems more vermillion and has an obviously orangey base. Adding magenta to take away the orange cast moves it very quickly into cranberry/plum tones. I'm wanting to run the strong red into deep crimsons but the red base just isn't going there. I know I have all the colours in the range of acid dyes but I really need a crimson red base.

Maybe its because I've painted the door:-) but these just don't seem very 'red' to me. We have orangey-reds, blue-reds, plum-reds, purpley-reds, browney-reds but not crimson red. Oh, they are all lovely in their own right and I'll probably use a lot of these soon but it's not what I'm looking for right now. I'll try again tomorrow or else look for another supplier of acid dyes........

Making progress...

Last week I left you with pictures of the shed before much had happened to it. As promised, we have some progress pictures. We did actually get 4 very sunny days - in fact we are still having the end of an indian summer now, although maybe not as warm as over last weekend. Boy, was that sun hot! and has been the major factor in me not being around to post. I worked so hard to get the outside sealed before the weather broke, that I exhausted myself and managed to give myself sunstroke - typical! So instead of a couple of days work, it was more sporadic when-I-can over the last 5 or 6 days. And, of course, I didn't want to post until I actually had some progress to show you:-))

But here we are! The outside walls were wire brushed to get rid of all the moss and muck and then painted a nice, clean bright white. We did find some traces of the shed being painted once before but it must have been a long time ago. The windows have already been primed with grey undercoat and awaiting some gloss.

The main pain in the butt has been this door. It had been sitting out so long that the paint was flaking away and the door was wet through. Easy, I thought, it will all peel off quickly. Nope. Of course not. Make life easy?! We have slogged over this door for days! Inside and out, it has been very stubborn. Wouldn't sand off easily so we ended up having to use knives to scrape it off. I know, not the best method and tends to gouge the wood when you hit a wet patch, never mind knacker your hands with cuts and scrapes. Maybe it is best not to dwell on how I felt 4 days later when someone suggested using a heat gun - DUH!! I have one, I've used it for jobs just like these, so why did it not occur to me now? And save me all the cut fingers, sunstroke and sheer effort I've poured into this door?!!! Sometimes I wonder where I left my brain - I think it went on vacation last week when the sun arrived:-))

Anyway, the door does have some redeeming features;-) Its had an old ornate handle at some point with this lovely plate. Its a shame I don't have the actual handle now but I do have the latches and bolts from the other side though and they may come up a treat with a bit of tlc.

So, we have cleaned and painted the outside walls, painted the windows white, scraped and sanded the door, and then primed all the wood with grey undercoat. You know, I was wanting a nice bright colour for the door like emerald green or pillar box red but I quite like the grey too. A little more subtle and understated. But don't worry, I'll get over that soon as I've already bought the red gloss paint and anyway, I have to make a bit of a statement and stamp some personality on it as it is going to be a dyeing workshop working with colour:-)

Today though is all about experiments for dyeing and maybe even catching up on some knitting. And my buttons have arrived for my green veyla mitts so I may even get them officially finished! Of course, this is all procrastination as I know I still have the inside of the shed to do! But I think a few days knitting will recharge the batteries a little and give the shed a further chance to dry out before more wire brushing and painting. Fingers crossed! - I may have to sneek out and paint the door red though:-))

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Fixing up the shed

When we moved here, one of the main pluses for me was the fact there was a decent sized shed at the top of the garden which was shouting 'workshop!!' A big minus was the fact that it had no door, was really damp inside and was full of junk left from the previous owners. The big question was could I get it dry and keep it dry enough to put yarns or fabrics in without ruining them? This is still the big question I want the answer to but I just won't know till all the work is done.

The first thing we did was to seal in the roof as it's asbestos. Safe enough when sealed but I'd rather not take any chances:-) so its been sealed with waterproof ply. The most major thing was to get the shed weather tight as soon as possible. Summer should be a good time for drying out and DIY but we haven't had the driest summer here in the UK so its been a bit challenging;-)

As you can see, there is no door and this window wasn't held in by much. When it was time to take this out, one little push and it parted company sooner than was expected. I've been trying to keep the rain out from the missing panes with polythene which worked somewhat but mostly dribbled down the wall and soaked the floor on a bad rain day - sigh. But now they are gone and new windows are in place. Progress pics tomorrow:-)

Now the inside. To the left of the door, under the window, there were some mouldy old woodwormed kitchen units - I took great pleasure in ripping them out! And when we cleared a lot of junk away we found this little enclosure for compost on the right. I never even knew it was there. No wonder the shed smelled so - earthy! But its now nurturing my plants in the garden although it took a lot of trips to empty it completely. Then we had to knock down the wall with a sledgehammer but I still have to get rid of all the stones - added to the ever mounting pile of rubbish needing to go to the dump.

On the right side, There is mostly rubble bags under the window - outside now - and the chimney sweep brushes have found a new home as I don't intend to use them when the chimney sweep man has a hoover thing to do it a lot more efficiently - with no mess! But I don't use the open fire much - too messy.
The shelving unit is mine and is storing my knitting machines and tables. The tables have suffered a bit with damp but are still useable. Very annoying but I just didn't have room inside for everything and I didn't think the shed got as damp as it obviously does.

On a parting note, see the little wet patch? Yes? Well, that was a present left by my cat who, we've found out, has been using the shed as her inside toilet!!!!! Yes, a lot dryer than outside but I hope she can tell the difference between manky old shed and nice, clean new workshop. I don't want it being christened, thank you very much!

Tomorrow, I'll take some pics of where we are now - the windows, ceiling and door. It still needs a lot of cosmetic work visually but once I can get the walls dry I can get the paint out and make it look more like a workable space - fingers crossed. But its taking a long time.........

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Green Veyla Mitts

Over the weekend, I've been knitting up these fingerless mitts by Ysolda. The pattern just came out friday and I've been just dying to try this pattern since we got a sneek peek of the mitts on her blog. The mitts are knitted up with fingering weight yarn and only use up to 185yrd/170m of yarn. This worked out overall about 28gms of yarn!! Amazing! These green mitts are knitted up using a 50gm tester of semi-solid green supersock yarn. I think I dyed it at the same time as the green stripey for week 2's giveaway.

The pattern is a very cleverly constructed glove with a lace cuff knitted flat then cast off. You then pick up the stitches for the 'hand' of the glove from the side of the lace. Very neat and elegant. You can see in the cuff close-up the lace is now sideways. There are meant to be buttons for fastening and added detailing as you can see in the top picture but I didn't have any that worked very well, so I had to hunt on Etsy and Ebay to find some I was happy with. Problem is I'm still waiting on them to arrive. I really thought today was the day but, no. Maybe tomorrow.

To knit both mitts only took me a weekend, and not solid knitting at that. Visited a car boot with high hopes of quilting material or books but only found a few little things this time - a long bright burnt orange skirt and some nesting dolls, which are lovely:-) I'll try and take some photos of the dolls to show you when it brightens up a bit. But we have been promised 4 days of sun!!! 4!! No cloud, dull days or rain - apparently! So if that holds true I can get on and get my shed transformed into my dyeing workshop.

This has been an ongoing saga this summer:-) and I have some progress photos for you but as we haven't made that much progress, don't expect the Ritz or anything quite yet! I'm just really pleased we have a door and windows for now! It still needs electrics, dried and painted inside and out but this will just have to be as and when I can afford each step. But it will be weather tight and the rain will be back soon, I'm sure!

So, there may not be quite as much knitting going on with all the DIY needed this week but I am hoping to squeeze in some dyeing experimentation for new colourways so I'll keep you posted on those and you can tell me what you think:-) HA, see? I've now committed to a deadline:) Best way to keep my ass in gear!! See you soon!

Monday, 7 September 2009


Well, today is the day to announce the final winners of the week long giveaway. So straight to it, again all names have been selected totally at random:

The winner of the Peacock yarn is............. Ertanthes

The winner of the Butterscotch yarn is............ Rachel G.

The winner of After the storm is ............... Jersey

The winner of Calm Horizons is ............... Carla

and the winner of commissioning your own yarn is............... EJ!

Congratulations all! If you could get in touch with me at and give me your posting details, I will endeavour to get these to you as soon as possible. EJ, you will need to get your thinking cap on now and think up your own special yarn, now it's for real:-)

Thank you so much everyone for taking part in the giveaways this last month. Its been really fun dyeing the yarns for you all and hearing all the lovely suggestions that you could knit with them. I'm sorry not everyone was able to win something but do stick around as I think I will be holding more giveaways in the near future.

On the knitting front, I actually made some progress and should have some pics to show you tomorrow of my bright green Veyla mitts - design just out by Ysolda. Still waiting on some buttons so I can't really call them finished yet. But loving the pattern so much I've started another pair;-) See you tomorrow....

Friday, 4 September 2009

Commission your own yarn

Today being the final prize in my giveaway month, I have something a little different for you. Yes, it's a blank skein of sock yarn, just waiting for the winner to tell me what colours they'd love to have this dyed in, and how they would like it dyed - sock blank, scarf blank, variegated, big or small stripes etc.

Over the past month we've had strong variegated yarns like tootiefruitie and deep fuschia, stripes like the emerald green and the firestarter socks as well as semi solids and more subtle variegations like lavendar blue. You may have a specific colourway in mind or maybe you would like one similar to those that have been up for offer this month.
This skein is the end of a cone so there is a little extra yarn - about 116gms in total -which is perfect for that extra little bit you wish you had when you are getting to the end of a big shawl or scarf :-) I wish I'd had that last night - I got to the edging of my nightingale shawl and read on ravelry that this section needs about 24gms. Weighed my yarn left - 24gms. It's going to be verrrry tight!
So, if you have a small project in mind from all our wonderful pattern suggestions this week, maybe you can win your own commissioned hand dyed yarn to knit it with. I look forward to hearing your suggestions!

ETA: competition closed.


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