Sunday, 29 November 2009

Stripey Zauberball

A new knitting project is going on this week,  full of yummy colour - remember this lovely ball of Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball? Tropical fish is the colourway and I just love it. It's just been sitting in my basket and has actually been started a few times but I just didn't like or want this yarn knitted up in anything that didn't show it off to its full yumminess. So, back it went waiting to be knitted, and it has waited, and waited.....:-))

Till last week when I was looking for a bright yarn to knit some armwarmers or possibly long gloves with a bit of pattern altering. Pattern needed fingering weight and I wanted coloured stripes so the tropical fish just jumped out at me and before long was on the needles.

The pattern is 'Armwarmers' by Brigids Hearth and is an easy knit pattern for elbow length armwarmers. I decided to split my one ball for contrasting stripes and I am fully expecting that the colours will merge just when I don't want them to,  just like my noro socks - which still aren't finished:-) For a bit of variation this time, I chose to have unequal widths of stripes - 4 rows of the red and 6 of the blue/green. I thought it would work quite well for a longer length of knitting.

I chose to start striping right from the beginning including the rib cuff. This was maybe a mistake - from a distance it keeps the stripes looking even right to the edge but when you look at the knit close-up, the rib distorts the orange colour band and doesn't look as nice - to me. I decided to leave it but next time, I'll start striping after the rib detail.

Overall though, I love how these gloves are turning out - yes, I think these will be gloves as I can't resist putting stripey fingers on them;-)) I have stopped in this picture where the pattern ends for armwarmers, so you can imagine just how they could look. Nice! I did have a little issue with the colours merging around the yellow area but I was strong and 'broke' the thread, took out a bit of yarn till the colours contrasted enough again and restarted knitting.

(You know how I hate breaking yarn! But if its going to spoil the gloves.... then I have to be strong -but its just so permanent!  - and I like yarn to find its own way usually, that's part of the challenge. But I have knitted my noro socks too many times trying to solve this naturally, that I'm resolved just to be practical and concede it will never work without intervention!!)

One thing that is a major issue is that these are a VERY snug fit. Usually fingering weight gloves have a circumferemce of around 60sts at the wrist. These start at 70sts at the elbow and decrease to 48sts at the wrist. That is quite neat! Feels more like those arm support bandages;-)) I think the best solution for this would be either to knit the exact same pattern with a thicker yarn like sportweight or DK/light worsted weight or stick with fingering weight and alter the numbers for a better fit. I think I will end up trying both as I like long gloves and if I have time may knit more as presents for christmas so I'll let you know how I get on.

Question is, do I keep this rather neat fitting one or rip it back and start again? Zauberball isn't known for its durability and does get a bit fuzzy so will it damage the yarn by taking it back? It was a bit splitty to knit with too. Maybe I'll wear it for a little bit and if the circulation gets cut off on that arm then I'll have to admit defeat;-))

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Black coffee

Not the kind you drink but the kind you spin! Yes, some more spinning is going on - at last! I managed to pull myself away from the knitting to indulge in a bit of spinning. Motivation? Some spun roving as a christmas present - for a certain someone who loves colour and free hand spun yarn:-) But as they are unlikely to read my blog then it's safe to post my progress for you to see.

The roving may be familiar to some of you from a fibre purchase I made earlier this year - february to be exact! I couldn't believe that when I checked my earlier post on this but, yup, that long ago. The colour is 'Black coffee' and the fibre is by Fibreoptic - also where I got the lovely pinky/purple roving 'jelly jelly' that I spun up recently and now use for my blog banner. That skein has been gifted but I still have half of the roving left to be spun.

I learned a lot from that spinning session - like I split the roving too thin and my single was way too thin in places and not even enough thoughout. So,  more spinning practice is needed:-) This time I've not made the slivers quite so thin so I can practice whether I want to draw some fleece out as I go to get a more even yarn.

I know I should probably start with thicker yarns but I just seem to gravitate to thinner threads. Well, as long as its even, I can ply to get a heavier yarn - for now. The perfectionist in me will insist on mastering this yarn thickness issue sometime soon in the future, but for now, I'll settle for a smooth, even yarn. I've read up so much about tension, ratios and the right bobbins for my wheel that I'll be dreaming of it!! Now to the spinning where I hope some of that research has paid off!

This is the roving single using half of the fleece. I think it is a bit more even than before and seemed to spin up quicker this time but still a thin thread:-) I do like the colours and how they merge together. The light has been so poor that each photo made the yarn look a different colour palette! So I've include a couple of images to give you a better idea overall.

I've also been thinking a lot about how to use the roving - particularly how to get the best from the colours.  If I split the roving into lots of little slivers, it won't draw out much longer than the staple length so the colour sections will spin up pretty much to the length shown on the sliver. If I don't make slivers at all and spin straight from the full roving, I will be able to tease a lot of fibre from each section of colour before moving on to the next section. This will produce a completely different yarn with much longer colour gradations.

As I want to learn as well as produce lovely yarns:-), I've decided to try out both techniques. I had already slivered my first 4oz of roving (yes, I got two as it was so scrummy!) and had started spinning before this idea about colour occurred to me so I have to make a decision about how to proceed. I could start the second roving and ply the first sliver single with a full roving colourway single to get a play of short and long colourways meeting when they are plied together - nice - or I could have one skein of two short colourways together and one skein of two long colourways together to show the more obvious colour contrasts in technique.

Maybe I'll do a little more reading before making the final decision but I can't take too long as christmas won't wait for me!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Red Ripley...or 32 days till christmas!

So, we're back to monday again - did you have a nice weekend? The weather here has been pretty awful - lashing rain and gales howling outside with very dark days:-) - so just perfect for snuggling inside with your knitting!

I had a bit of a mini crisis when I read a blog this weekend that blatantly stated 34 days to christmas -34??? Well, today's count will be 32 if you include christmas day. And then I started thinking about all the things I am intending to make as presents and then I started thinking how long each of these would realistically take to make and then I had a mini panic!!!

So, the result of this was, my new red ripley hat - tada!

Quick, easy and looks good when finished = christmas solution:-) This is knitted in chunky/bulky yarn - Paton's solo mohair mix, which I think I can safely say is discontinued as this came from my stash and I remember having a very warm batwing top knitted out of this in the late 80's:-))

Anyway! Moving swiftly on:-) The pattern is another lovely one by Ysolda called 'Ripley' which is part of her new 'Whimsical Little Knits 2' collection. (Both the green veyla mitts and the snapdragon beret patterns that I've knitted are from that collection too). Its meant to be knitted in heavy worsted or aran weight but I had this chunky yarn to hand and loved the colour so I just made a size bigger than stated. In hindsight I maybe should have knitted the large instead of the medium as it is a bit neat on me but it will fit someone else with a smaller head  I'm sure;-)

The pattern itself is very cleverly constructed but simple to make. The initial band can be plain or lace. I chose the lace which is knitted sideways with the slipped stitches picked up along one side to knit the rest of the hat in the round. This construction idea is the same as in the velya mitts so I found it familiar and easy.

The next lovely detail is the extra pleats. In the picture above, I have just finished one pleat just above the lace border - a large tuck created by picking up some stitches from further down and I still had two pleats to go at that stage. This really helps shape the slouchiness of the hat so it doesn't pool messily at the back of your head! A clever way to gather the extra fabric and make it a design feature.

I knitted the less slouchy version and I think it still gives a nicely fitted hat without having that stretched-over-the-head look:-) But the extra slouchy version looks good too and some people have added a pompom!! So, all in all it's a very festive hat indeed;-))

So, 32 days to go and one present down..........

Friday, 20 November 2009

Birdie decoration

A little crochet project I finished over the weekend - when I had hammered my thumb and couldn't knit:-) This little birdie decoration is courtesy of Lucy over at Attic24 where she has written out a tutorial to help you make it - cool! In fact, it's two tutorials as the first is to crochet a circular base which can be used for bags, cushions etc. and the second for the actual bird assembly.

Its also very cool as I learned a different way to join rounds. It means you have to cut the yarn and knot it, which I don't like doing much but its hidden and has less of that 'jogging' effect I had on the mitts in the round. But its all good and another method I can use when I need to.

Anyway, back to the birdie:-) Isn't he nice? I think he's just perfect for a christmas decoration and I have the idea - but maybe not the stamina -  to make lots of mini birdies for the christmas tree this year.

The tutorial made little flowers for the top of the hanging loop and I had to try lots of colour variations before I got one I liked. But now I have a little garden of crocheted flowers left - which need to find a home. Maybe I can make them into a garland and use it on the christmas tree instead of tinsel:-) They don't take long to make either. I like crocheting flowers and finding new templates to use. I think Lucy has a different flower tutorial on her site too which I must check out soon.

The only thing I'm not sure about is the legs - bless, they do dangle just a bit and look a bit spindly:-) Maybe I need to shorten them, and add a tail the same colour as the beak. I saw a version of this with a tail and it seemed to balance the birdie well. And as soon as you think 'tail', you look at it and think something is missing. Either that or I leave it without legs! It still has to be padded to give the final 3D look but its almost finished.

Now to try some mini birds and flower garlands.....

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Knitting testers

I've just finished knitting up the little yarn testers to show you.  Did you think this was how they would knit up? For some reason, I thought there would be more room between the stripes so I'll show you bigger bands next tester session:-) I always think it's amazing how so highly contrasting colours like the purple with the coral and orange can knit into something much more subtle - contrasting stripes but overall they blend well.

The one pinky/orange semi-solid I knitted using the cornflower cable pattern from Karen's cowl pattern I've been knitting. I'm due to test knit this pattern as socks so I thought I could have a tester here first. Now I just want to carry on and make me some bright pink cabley socks - yum!! So now I'll have to get some more yummy yarn dyed for me to use.

I also promised to show you the two skeins of silk I dyed as well. These were dyed with the same tones as the supersock yarns but they have come out a lot paler with more subtle colour variations. Despite that, I do like them but I think I'll need to practice with the silk base a bit more to get a feel for the yarn as well as getting the colours I intended:-)

You may have noticed a few blogless days here this week but I'm glad to say it's all been towards a very good cause - electrics in the shed:-)))) How happy has this made me? Happy, happy dance!! We have spent the last two days working on this and I now have power and lights - well, one light but another two to come soon as we ran out of natural light to get the job finished today. And we were so lucky to get two dry days in a row too. But we are all soooo tired!! Running a cable the full length of the garden wall and having to remove years worth of clinging ivy is NOT a fun job. But, it's all worth it, it really is:-) Now I can get the inside of the shed properly dry again after the flood and seal the floor and the walls. So not quite finished but a huge step in the right direction!!

I'll also be able to set up my hot plates and get some kettle dyeing done too! Oh, it's all exciting:-)

I've also finished a few projects - gasp! - and I've started some more spinning too so I'll tell you  all about it this week. Just need some decent light for pictures!!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Stripey mitts - part 2

For such a simple project, these stripey mitts have taken quite a while and I'm still not quite finished them! It all started after I had crocheted both squares ready to sew the seams. I was on a roll and feeling all was nice and stripey with the world until I started to sew the seam....... ARRGH!! Very ugly seam alert!!!

Because it's so rainbow in colours, there was no real way to hide the stitches - quite an ugly join, I must say. I tried a different colour above the pink edging for the thumb - in pink thread - and it looked better, but still not brilliant. Not good. No, not good AT ALL!

Pink thread joining - better colour but still really visible.....

At this point, there was a lot of unhappy mumblings and grumblings, a lot of trying different stitching methods to get more invisible stitches, and then after still feeling unhappy with my once happy mitts, a lot of ripping back - as in both squares right back to the beginning.

I know, I know! I'm a perfectionist! I could have had an okay pair and started a second better pair, but I couldn't just leave these mitts so poorly finished. But I did have a plan:-) Stripey mitts - round 2!

And in the round these literally are! And what a difference:-))) Happy again! When I first saw these mitts, I thought these would be best made in the round to avoid ugly seams but I kept getting the first row all twisted - tired, I suppose - so I gave up and just went with the happy crochet flow that was the flat stripey square. I really should have presevered as this time round, it worked perfectly - go figure;) The seam is a little jogged but a lot more asthetically pleasing than the ugly stitched version. I can live with that! 

I also changed the colour of the thumb edging from pink to yellow and took one row of orange out as the mitt was a little over long and the orange was a bit over heavy at that point. Of course now I have, I would prefer it back in:-) BUT, the perfectionist part of me can live with that! I think it could also do with some shaping - a few decreases for the wrist, then back out again would do the trick - but maybe I'd best save all these changes for the next pair!!

First though, I have the second mitt to fix......

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Coral pinwheel flowers:-)

I've been up in my shed doing a little dyeing of testers and these cute little mini-skeins are the result from yesterday. Yesterday was a coral pink day. Since I've been asked for a skein of coral yarn, I thought I'd investigate and play with this colour - who knew coral pink could have so many tones? I love pink but I tend towards the magenta/purple pinks myself so this was an exploration into pastures new:-) If you type coral pink into google images, you get the full gamut of orangey pinks to pinkier coral tones, from pales to deep rich colourations.

So if you asked me to dye you a coral pink yarn, which tone would you mean?! My first impressions of what colour to dye just widened dramatically!! The world of colour seems to grow the more I really study it - it's fascinating and I'm glad I've moved out of my colour comfort zone to explore a new palette of colour.

I'm loving this rose - look at the tones of pinks and orangey pinks, just lovely. I'm wanting some of these for my garden now - although I didn't think I was a rose girl personally. But then since I've had a garden of my own, I've discovered I tend towards big and blowsy flowers like Dalias and Peonies:-) So this one is very much in keeping - and it's very bright and in your face!!

My first attempt at coral went a lot orangier than I wanted so I overdyed with a pinkier tone to get this deep orangy coral. It matches the heart of the rose perfectly! And it definitely comes under the coral colour umbrella;-) But is it the right tone of coral for my request?

I also dyed a test skein of 100% silk worsted weight using the same dye colour which came out a lovely soft crab pink/coral - you can see it at the bottom of the pinwheel garden pic at the top! But the light failed today as I was photographing so it would be best if I waited to do the yarn justice - it's just so gorgeous and soft with a lovely sheen - yum! Hopefully I can capture it in better light tomorrow.

I used the mini-samples to explore the differing tones of coral, from orange tints to more pinkier tones in a cross range of semi-solids, subtle and strong variegateds. So, now I'm going to knit them up and see how they turn out and maybe they will make it into my shop as a new colourway - we'll have to wait and see.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Stripey crocheted mitts

I've been meaning to get around to starting my hexagon blanket for the last few weeks now and the balls of yarn are just sitting there, patiently asking to be used..... but I want to have a nice block of quiet time to spend crocheting away on the hexagons without any interruption - which just hasn't happened yet. (quiet rant about wet floors, insurance claims and five days clearing the whole downstairs of furniture....yada, yada....rant over:-)

So, to get my quick fix of bright colours and crochet, I decided to rustle me up a pair of stripey mitts, inspired by Attic24 and Henhouse. Oh, the pleasure of crochet! I forget how quickly it grows compared to knit and how theraputic it feels just to be crocheting away happily in the corner, with nothing more pressing than choosing the next colour in my bright rainbow.

See how it grows in just in one evening? To be fair, it's not a massive square:-) only 34 chains wide and crocheted using a treble stitch (or double stitch - US). But its good to feel like you are getting somewhere quickly!

I made a little scalloped edging on both ends, just cause it looks nice:-) Now, all I have to do is make another one the same and sew it up  - leaving a space for the thumbs. I'm so glad I learned how to crochet in the ends as you go as it means there is no daunting sewing task at the end. Bonus!

I may decorate mine with buttons like Henhouse's version but I'll wait and see how it looks when finished - but I think I might:-)) Any excuse to embellish!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Knotty sweetgrass

Oh, its been a bit busy this week -unfortunately not as much making as I'd like but then sometimes, somethings gotta give:-) And this week, it's been more about stripping wallpaper and lifting floors than dyeing yarn and watching films knitting.

But last night, I put that right and sat down exclusively to knit and watch a film. Just knit. Nothing else for a little bit. And I managed to get something done to show you.

I've been meaning to knit up some of my variegated yarns to see if they are too 'busy' for cables and lace. Some yarns, like this one, Sweetgrass' are very subtle with the variegations so I was thinking it may just manage a cable if the pattern is definite enough. And these Knotty gloves by Julia Mueller (Laris on Ravelry), are just the thing to test this out.

When I first started in 2x2 rib, I was thinking 'nope, this is just too bitty and broken up,  no flowing lines of colour, but I'll just knit a little bit more, just to see....' Then I got to the cable, made a mistake watching Poirot on tv, ripped it back, fixed the mistake, carried on. Got to end of cable chart and admired my handiwork. 'Nice', I thought. This could work.....

Then oops! Was so busy following the chart I forgot to follow the instructions for the thumb gusset back at row 29 - rip, rip, rip. Thumb gusset now included. Really shouldn't watch tv when I'm tired and knitting something more than stocking st. I really should learn, it's not as if I haven't made that mistake before:-)

And I am now knitting away on st st!! Hurrah! I can just go round and around for a bit until I get to the fingers. And I do like the yarn in st st. The gloves are about 60sts circumference so it's easy to imagine this knitted up as a pair of socks too.

I modified the pattern slightly as I know from knitting gloves before that I need the pinkie lower than the rest of the fingers (stripey tonks). I knitted the pinkie and then knitted about 8 rows till I divided the remaining stitches for the final three fingers. And once the maths was worked out (and re-checked:-) just in case!), I sat down last night and watched 'Pirates of the Caribbean' - the first one - and knitted round and around the fingers and thumb till each finger fitted and then cast off.  

Still have the ends to sew in but technically one glove down, one to go......

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Ultraviolet Yarns!

The Ultraviolet Yarn shop is now open for business!! At the moment, I have supersock fingering weight yarns for sale - both semi-solids and variegateds, as well as some stitch markers:-) Each skein is individully painted so if you are looking for more than one of any colour, just let me know as I can paint up a 'batch' for you.

I also want to introduce a wider variety of yarns such as silk blends, 100%silk, and worsted weight 100% merino as well, once I get my new yarn order in. But for now, there is a selection of yarns in the shop and tomorrow I will be adding more.  Hopefully it will be brighter day for photographs because today was a bit of a washout and all my pics have had to be dumped:-(

So, hopefully tomorrow you will see all these yarns in the store. Please do pop in and have a browse around and tell me what you think. I'm just finding my way around Etsy right now and I'm sure I will tweek the shop appearance and blurb as I go but, to be honest, I needed to take the plunge or I'd be 'tweeking' till this time next year:-)

Til tomorrow.... yawn.... time for some shuteye........

Update on shop:-)

Working really hard to get the shop up and running by today - sometime! It may be close to the wire though:-) But for now, I can give you a sneek peek at some stitch markers I've been making. These are specifically for smaller needles and are perfect for socks and shawls. I do intend to offer larger ones in the shop as well - as soon as my larger funky beads arrive.

I am listing a small range of semi-solids and variegated yarns in the shop to start with and will add more during the week. So if there is anything you wanted to see that's in my flickr yarn gallery but not in the shop, just let me know 'cause I'm still dyeing......:-)

Back soon, hopefully with the shop open for business..... see you later!


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