Monday, October 31, 2005

New layout

I thought I should have some kind of Halloween-ish layout and as I was getting a bit tired of my old banner anyway I decided to create one out of a cobweb photograph that I took in the garden around this time of year a few years ago. What do you think?

It will probably not stay like that for long. I'm planning on replacing it with something more autumnal soon.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Lost and Found #3

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It is time for another Lost and Found.

I found this photograph of my mother a few years ago, while looking through her old clothes and making space in the wardrobe, and it now lives on my office desk. It was in an old shoebox with a stack of other pictures of her, my father, and me as a baby, as well as other pictures of friends, some of whom I have never met, and a few pictures of my fathers' old girlfriends, from long before he had even met my mother.

I am pretty sure that the picture was taken in the seventies, before I was born, or if not, then when I was very little. I cannot remember the wallpaper, although I remember the bright orange coffee set well. My father still has the china cabinet in the corner of the room and the candleholders, but the monstrosity of an armchair, foisted upon my parents by my grandmother, is long gone.

I love this photograph, so obviously a snapshot. It captures a moment in time that is irretrievable because of its very ordinariness. Where was the picture taken, what was the occasion? Was it a Sunday morning breakfast or late at night?

My mother died of cancer more than seven years ago, but there is not a day when I don't think of her. One of my most vivid memories of her is seeing her walk through the garden in spring, one day when she was already ill, taking in the changes in nature, and sometimes stopping to gently touch and prise open fresh leaves and flowers, admiring their texture and shape, tightly curled in on themselves, waiting to unfurl. As she got weaker and was not able to venture far, she took pleasure from the smallest things around her, reigning in her attention to focus on the detail of the things we so often take for granted, on the minuscule and the texture and beauty of everyday life.

My mother taught me to see the world around me in a different way, to pay attention and to treasure the small and seemingly insignificant, the magical in the ordinary and mundane.

Friday, October 28, 2005

It is official.

I am on a yarn diet.

Had a quick look through my stash this morning, and I am hoarding yarn EVERYWHERE! This has got to stop! No more buying of yarn before I have used at least half of the stash.

One exception will be buying a few balls of yarn that are suitable for a little baby cardigan for my friend K, who is expecting her first baby around xmas, but apart from that, I have all the yarn I need for xmas presents and for quite few projects for myself as well.

There, I've said it. Are you witnessing this? No more yarn for Iris until after xmas.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Recruit them while they are young...

Sometimes, surprising things happen. Like for example when the ten-year old son of our friends takes to spinning yarn like a fish to water.

Yesterday, after we were all fed, D decided to show our friends how to spin on a drop spindle - with varying success. It didn't help that I had pre-drafted the roving very thinly and D wasn't used to that. Still, everyone had a go and much fun was had. The little seven-year old soon gave up and returned to playing on the playstation, but the ten-year old continued to struggle with the drop spindle long after we had all moved on to talk about other things and eventually he managed to produce some surprisingly even yarn! He then sidled up to me and started asking about the spinning wheel. I showed him and, when he appeared fascinated by the process, asked him if he wanted to try. And try he did.

I'm telling you, the child is a natural! I had to give the wheel a push in the right direction every now and then, but apart from that he was doing beautifully, treading and spinning, and feeding the yarn onto the bobbin. The resulting yarn was a little bit overspun but really not bad at all.

When it was time to leave he was asking me where he would be able to buy a spindle so he could continue practicing, so I let him pick one of ours and gave him a batch of roving to practice on. :)

Apart from this there are no news - no knitting, due to all the cooking, and cleaning, and socialising yesterday.

It also occurs to me that I did not get round to posting a Self Portrait Tuesday series yesterday. I don't think I will have time today either, so instead I think I might post another artifact on the Lost and Found series later.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I'm doing a roast chicken and veg for our friends tonight. I hardly ever do roasts, because of the chopping of vegetables involved, so I'm looking forward to this one. I have parsnips, carrots, and purple sprouting broccoli, as well as challottes and lots of garlic to stuff the chicken with. Hopefully D will do his mashed potatoes, and that should be enough I think.

I've been most housewify theses last two days. Shopping and tidying yesterday. A lot of hoovering, cleaning and cooking today. I have prepared a Raspberry and White Chocolate Trifle for dessert:

It's delicious, and very easy to make:

Sponge fingers
Brandy or other dessert liquor (I used Madeira because that's what we had in the house)
one 500g carton of custard
1 pack of cream cheese
aprox. 300g whipping cream, whipped
150g bar of white chocolate, melted
50g sugar
as many raspberries as you want (I used two packets)

Divide the custard into two bowls. In one bowl, mix custard, 1/2 of the sugar and the cream cheese. In the other bowl, mix custard with the rest of the sugar and all of the melted white chocolate. Then carefully mix about half of the cream under.

Pile the sponge fingers into a bowl and soak them with as much of the alcohol as you see fit. Arrange most of the raspberries on top, just keeping a few back to decorate the top of the trifle later on, then pour the cream cheese mix on top. Level out and add the chocolate mix on top of that. Level out and finish off with a layer of the left-over cream. Decorate with raspberries and chill for a few hours.


I also managed to make some cupcakes, using Nikki Shell's recipe, which was incredibly quick and easy. Here they are, modelled together with my Greek pullover sleeve - not that you can see any more than a black blob of that, but at least the cupcakes are photogenic!

And last but not least, here is the first picture of the Falling Leaves sock for the Socktoberfest. Finally!!

Still a long way to go, but as I can see the pattern emerging it's fun. :)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Slow Mondays....

I'm having a slow, leisurely Monday today. The weather is miserable, but I don't care, today is good. :) I managed to finally finish up a chapter draft yesterday afternoon and have submitted it, so I'm taking today to get up to speed with all sorts of other things that need doing. I've been doing some general research that I have been postponing for over a week now, I'm tidying the house, and I went grocery shopping earlier. Tomorrow we are having friends over for dinner, so I will have to do some cleaning as well, and then there is the food planning - anything that can be passed off as chicken will be OK, though, just so their two boys won't reject it. ;-) After all the PhD angst of the last few days I'm enjoying all the householdy stuff. :)

We went up to Yorkshire to see D's parents on Saturday, and although I shlepped the laptop along to work we had a lovely time. Went to Harrogate for tea and cake, strolled around and chatted. I managed to finish up the front of the Greek pullover and have started on my first sleeve. Almost there!!

Also, I have finally started my Socktoberfest socks! I'm using the Falling Leaves pattern from the latest Knitty and you know, I'm finally getting why people do lace socks - it's so much more interesting! I'm about halfway through the instep - a long way to go still, but I'm enjoying the emerging pattern and the colour of the yarn. I think the socks are getting a little bit too big, but if I make them shorter it might still work out...

I will try to get some pictures of it all tomorrow, but for now I'm off to knit some more on the Greek Pullover sleeve while I watch the reruns of the new Dr Who.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What a dreary day it is today.

It was raining all morning, which meant that the cats were sopping wet and kept trying to gain access to my lap so they could dry themselves off on my clothes. They can learn really fast if they put their mind to it.

But on to knitting-related things. You know that skein winder that I talked about yesterday? Well, it arrived! It's a bit difficult to photograph, so this was the best of the lot:

First I thought that I was right in my assessment that this is quite a crappy piece of equipment. The circumfence wasn't wide enough so the skeins kept slipping off, and I had to be extra careful not to end up with a tangled mess. Still, I managed to wind one of the little skeins of sock yarn. When D came home, however, he informed me that the three 'arms' of the skein winer, which I had thought were just fixed bits of metal, acutally extend. My skein winder is not so crappy after all!

I proceeded to go into a ball-winding frenzy and ended up with this:

Doesn't it look delicious? That's Manos del Uruguay, which you might recognise from my blog banner, and which is one of the yarns that I bought while on honeymoon in New England (which reminds me that I never did complete the report on where we went and what yarn shops we visited...). The yarn is destined to become 'My So Called Scarf' (see link on the left). The other yarn is my natural dye studio sock yarn. Socks, here I come!!

Also, during lunch yesterday I finished dyeing the sock yarn that Michelle from the Knitty Board sent me as part of a swap. It is amazing how differently different kinds of yarn behave to dye - this yarn kept on soaking up the KoolAid with very little result. What you see below is the end product of a mix of Pink Lemonade, Cherry Flavoraid, Jamaica an Ice Blue Raspberry, overdyed iwth Cherry Flavoraid and then again partially overdyed with Grape and splashes of Green Berry Rush for the pink skein, and Tamarindo and Orange, overdyed with Orange and again partially overdyed with Tamarindo for the orange skein:

I am quite pleased with the result now. Due to the dreariness of the morning the colours didn't come out quite true, so the orange and brown skein is actually a lot more vibrant and a lot less 'spotty' than it looks here, and the pink is a lovely mix of different shades. I think they are 'Pumpkin' and 'Crushed Strawberry'...

So you see, fun was had, despite the fact that I had quite a late night last night to make a dent in all the work I have to do before the weekend - before tomorrow, that is. Oops!

What isn't so much fun is that the Cashmere sock yarn that I bought from Hip Knits at the Alexandra Palace looks like this:

One. Big. Tangled. Mess. I am assuming that the skein was dropped at some point, because despite how tidy it looks when it is all twisted up it is actually all over the place. Might take me weeks to untangle, but although D suggested I should just bin the yarn I can't do that. It's cashmere!! It can't be thrown out!

I shall untangle this! I shall win!

Watch this space...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Skip North...

Oooh, have you seen THIS? Skip North is an organised knitting holiday from the 24th to the 26th February, in Haworth. Littlelixie posted about it in her blog, and now I really really want to go.

I love Haworth, and I've been wanting to go to Texere and Coldharbour Mill for ages now!! The question is just - do I have £100 spare plus all the money that I am bound to spend on yarn?

Maybe as an xmas present...

I have to admit something...

I can procrastinate endlessly. I know what I need to do, but I get sidetracked by interesting projects, get distracted by shiny things, need diversions...

What do you mean, you knew that?!

I am drowning in work this week. But what I really want to do today is finally start my first sock for the Socktoberfest. I am near desperate to start knitting with that soft, lovely yarn that I bought from ebay, and I am planning on using the magic loop technique, so I'm quite excited about that as well. All day yesterday I was thinking about how wonderful it will be to knit socks without DPNs, and getting cramps in my fingers, but the rickety little skein winder that I bought off ebay hasn't arrived yet. I've tried to get a skein winder for a while now, but they are selling faster than hot breadrolls (that's not really something that is a saying in English, is it?!) and the only thing I managed to get is a very old little winder that, as far as I can see, isn't adjustable... We'll see how useful it will end up being, but as long as it can help me wind those skeins of sock yarn into neat little balls I will be happy.

So, waiting for this event of a lifetime, the arrival of my skein winder, I tackled another project yesterday, which had been in the pipeline for quite some time: D's hat made from handspun. Made from THE handspun, in fact, the first yarn that we spun on drop spindles during our honeymoon in New England. We plied it when we got the spinning wheel, and D picked the KoolAid colours to dye it. It ended up green and orange, which, because of the muted colours that the grey roving produced, looks rather pretty.

D has been asking for that hat for ages, and a few days ago, he helped me wind the yarn - he's becoming quite good at playing skein holder, if I can get him to sit still for long enough. ;-) The resulting ball looked like this:

Cute, isn't it? It's very noticeable that this was our first attempt at spinning - the beginning is very thick and thin, with huge slubs, but the yarn evens out quite a bit towards the end (which is the bit on the outside of the ball). I grabbed a free beanie pattern I found through Google, and my trusty circs, and started knitting. Two hours later, I had completed the hat. It's VERY rustic looking, due to the unevenness of the yarn, but I kind of like it that way. I also think it could have been a bit bigger / longer, but D thinks it's perfect, which is most important. He was wearing it all evening:

And lying flat, so you can see it better:

Can you see how uneven the knitting is at the hem? That's where the really fat bits of yarn were.

Yesterday evening, while watching the new series of
River Cottage and Jamie's Great Escape on tv I started spinning up the Alpaca. It's strange to work with - the fibres are really long and smooth, and spinning it brings out the 'human hair' feel even more. I decided not to pre-draft and spun mainly from the fold, which worked OK. The resulting yarn isn't 100% even, but not actually too bad at all:

I have also decided what to do with the orange roving my secret pal sent me - I will try to spin it very thinly so it goes a long way. Maybe there will be enough for a hat and mittens, or maybe a lace shrug?

Carolyn's alpaca, when I finally get the carding equipment sorted, is also going to be spun very thinly, so the practice will be good for me. :)

Talking about carding - do any of you avid spinners know where I can get carding cloth for a drum carder? I wanted to order it from
Wingham Wool Works, but apparently they don't have it anymore... Or else, do you think that it is possible to cover a drum carder with pieces of carding cloth for hand carders? How would you fix the cloth? Is it just glued on!?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Secret Pal parcel!

Look what I was able to collect yesterday - the first package from my lovely secret pal!!

Isn't it fabulous?

That is a ball of beautiful and soft 100% wool yarn that you can see in the upper left-hand corner, handspun and dyed, from a co-op in Uruguay. I love the colour and feel of this! I think it might be destined to become either a hat or another Flora...

And do you see that orange roving? That is Corriedale top in in my current colour obsession - burnt orange. *drools* I'm already contemplating how to spin this...

There is also a book - Crosswords to boost your brainpower. A boost in brainpower is something I could do with right about now, so this is great. ;-) And after I had taken the photograph I realised that there was another tiny prezzie, which had been hiding inside the book. It's a very cute little frog stitchmarker!

Thank you so much secret pal, I'm over the moon with my parcel! :)

Self Portrait Tuesday - Self Documentary Series #3


We collect things. Our memories are given shape by objects, artefacts, keep-sakes, souveniers. It is only when an object looses its personal meaning and has no other purpose to perform that it becomes clutter.

This morning I took stock of our belongings. I dragged D's magazines out from under the bed and sorted them into neat piles for him to look at when he gets back tonight.

There are no monsters under our bed - only dust, old newspapers, and the bit of the floorboards that we forgot to paint...

I am in no way better in keeping my room tidy. My desk is too full to work. I can' think when the objects around me start cluttering up my brain.

I need space to breathe. But where will things live after they get moved from their temporary homes?

What is there to do when the bookshelves are full?

And so are the yarn drawers?

There is a balance between clutter and minimalism. Our home will never become a minimalist haven, and nor would I want it to, but some calm and empty space is necessary for the mind to rest and to stretch.

Other series are in the Self Portrait Tuesday Blog

Monday, October 17, 2005

Knitting and Stitching Show - the haul

I'm not going to say all that much about the show at the Ally Pally, simply because other knitters on my reading list have already given accounts of the show, but I thought that there is an obligation for every knitter to at least show their new stash aquisitions. As for the show, suffice to say that I had a great time and I loved seeing all the beautiful yarns and visiting all those places like Get Knitted, HipKnits, Colinette and Texere that I frequently order from online up close.

I went down by coach, which was pretty easy and stress-free, and arrived at the Ally Pally around 11am. I spent most of the day at the show, met up with a friend at 4.30pm at Covent Garden for some tea and cake, and took a train back home at around 7.30pm. I was quite tired by the time I got back, but it was definitely worth it! Also, D had cooked some delicious food with some of the late courgettes and pattypan pumpkins he had found in our vegetable patch, so that was just the thing to pick me up again after a long day. :)

On to the shopping then!! I thought that, if I say so myself, I was quite restrained. Not that I didn't spend a fortune as it was, but I could have bought SO MUCH MORE! As it is, I came away with some lovely silk from HipKnits, which will be a present:

And when I passed the stall again later, I couldn't resist the temptation of some cashmere sock yarn after all... And that after I'd been so good the first time round:

Apart from that, I bought some needles from Get Knitted and treated myself to some lovely and soft Alpaca fiber. N, when I met up with her at Covent Garden, stuck her hand into the paper bag and noted, a touch disturbed, that it felt just like hair. ;-)

And last but not least, I got 800g of carded fibre from Texere:

This is going to become the yarn for this:

Yes, I am making my own 'Big Wool' - it will cost me about a 5th of the price the yarn would have cost me. Now, wish me luck that I'm actually able to spin this at the right weight. :)

And that's it. No more purchases! Although I was sorely tempted by a good few yarns and books, in particular the pretty hemp yarn that I found, and the pattern booklet that went with it. Unfortunately I just didn't have enough cash by the end of the show, so this will have to wait.

Managed to knit another few inches on the Greek Pullover on the train back home, so I'm up to the armhole shaping on the back of the pullover now. And I have yet another knitting project that needs to be finished before xmas. How could I forget that my friend K's baby is due around xmas?? She is going to have a little baby boy, and I finally get to knit some baby clothes! Must search for patterns later...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Spent most of today tidying the house, mowing the lawn (hadn't been done for months! Can you imagine what hard work that was?!), researching sky and cable tv deals, paying bills, and doing laundry. Some knitting on the Greek pullover, but not enough to warrant a photograph. No work on the thesis so far, but at least I feel like for once I'm on top of the domestic work. This, I hope, will provide enough justification to enjoy my trip to the Knitting and Stitching Show at the Ally Pally tomorrow! I can't wait!!

I'm going via coach, at 9 am, and will come back in the evening. Hopefully I will also be able to meet up with a friend of mine while in London, so I will probably not take the coach back but get a train a bit later...

I'm currently writing a list of things that I might get while I'm there. If you are not going, anything that you'd like me to get and send on?!

Friday, October 14, 2005

This morning, I was woken up by a gentle kiss on the brow bestowed on me by my dear husband, while he whispered sweet nothings in my ear.

Well, not quite. Rather, what he whispered was: "the cat's been sick in the kitchen - it's all over the counter and the floor. Bye then, see you tonight!"

Romantic, huh? ;-)

When I staggered downstairs shortly afterwards to get my morning cup of tea I could see that indeed, one of the cats had been sick during the night and indeed, had managed to be sick over the floor AND the counter. What fun I had, cleaning all that up before I even had breakfast.

Oh, the joy!

Now, obviously the culprit could have been either of our cats, but I am fairly convinced that it was Kipper, our black cat. See, I gave them some different cat food yesterday evening and, as with everything that is different, Kipper was immediately all over it. His brother didn't even get a look in while he was wolfing down the food. When he came into my office later on, I thought he was moving rather slowly and cautiously and he looked a bit peaky all evening. Upon checking the bowl, I saw that he had managed to eat the whole lot.

Somebody told me once that cats, unlike dogs, don't overeat and know exactly how much food they need. On the whole, I tend to agree - we leave dry food out for our cats all the time, and they just help themselves when they feel hungry but don't tend to eat very much of it. They eat some canned food as well, which they get in the morning and the evening, but they pace themselves. Neither of them is overweight. When there is different food to be had, however, Kipper at least tends to forget himself a bit. As he as a kitten had a quite unfortunate and dangerous accident involving a tub of diesel oil (we still don't know HOW this happened but dealt with the consequences at the time) and has since that episode had a rather delicate stomach, he tends to get sick when he does that, which is gross. What is amusing, though, is his continued enthusiasm for new food and his apparently complete inability to learn from past suffering. If there was different food ever day you could imagine his internal monologue as something like this:

"Oooh, new food! Got to eat it all, quickly!"

"Bleagh, don't feel so good"


"That's better... My stomach feels rather empty now, though."

"Oooh, new food! Got to eat it all, ...."

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I'm sure there is some kind of lesson to be learned from this - something about not biting off more than you can chew maybe, or something about learning from past mistakes, which I could stretch to apply to my life and my knitting plans until xmas but ... let's not elaborate, shall we? And as I don't seem to have any clear idea where I am going with this post, let's move on to some knitting content.

I have finished the Hourglass sweater. It isn't blocked yet, but I had to show it off anyway:

Is it not pretty? Here is another picture:

Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Lang Yarns - Fantomas Superwash. Aprox. 6 or 7 balls (can't remember)
Needles: 4mm circulars
Time: started at the end of August 05, finished on 13th October 05.

The only gripe I have with it is that the neckline is a bit too wide; the sweater almost slips off the shoulders at times. If I knit another one, I'd make sure to change the neckline a little to make it a bit deeper and a little less wide. Also, currently the sleeves are a bit short, but the blocking might still change that so I'm reserving judgement.

This means that I was able to start on the Greek Pullover (IK, Fall 05):

I'm only half-way through the increase section, but I can already say that I LOVE Rowan Kid Classic. It's soft and lovely to knit with and the knitted fabric has a pretty haze to it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Big knitting plans for the next few months.

I'm planning on finishing the Hourglass today. There are 2 more rows to knit, plus all the seaming, but it will be just the thing to do tonight, while watching a bit of tv.

Then I'm starting the Greek Pullover. Finally. I've been meaning to knit this for ages, but what with the missing copy of IK it wasn't to be until now. Still, I have all the yarn - bought it months ago - so all I have to do is cast on! :)

Also, there are more socks in my future. As you can see from the KAL button on the right, I've joined the Socktober Fest 2005. I loved the name - reminds me of living in Munich and the Oktoberfest (Beer Festival) - and I think it might be just the thing to make me knit a little quicker. Also, it means that the beautiful soft sock yarn that I bought from the Natural Dye Studio (ebay) will not sit around for too long:

And a close-up:

Is it not pretty? And it's so soft. Apparently it's merino yarn.

There is more, but I haven't taken a picture yet. :)

But back to the plans for the next few months:

I desperately need to have some kind of bag for my laptop - I carried it around in my backpack yesterday and it's already scratched. Oops! ;-) Might attempt Satchel (knitty) soon, as D was asking for a felted bag anyway.

I have also promised to knit him a hat from our first-ever handspun New England yarn, so I will have to squeeze that project in somewhere.

And last but not least, I have bought a batch of Amy Butler fabric and am planning to make some bags for various friends for xmas.

Do you think I'll get all this done before the end of the year?! What are the chances? ;-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Can you guess what just arrived in the mail?

My missing copy of Interweave Knits, Fall 05.

It's only 2 months late.

*falls over*

Things I want to do...

Someone on my friends page on LiveJournal posted a list of things she would like to do. Following her example, here is my list:

• Finish my PhD.
• Go on a road trip across the US.
• Run down a hill in open country.
• Write a novel.
• Dance wildly and sing at the top of my voice.
• Take a photography class.
• Lie in a cornfield, looking at the blue sky.
• Live by a river.
• See New Zealand.
• Start playing the piano again.
• Sit quietly and feel no guilt about doing nothing.
• Learn to play the violin.
• Read all the books I own.
• Get. Things. Done.

If you feel inclined to post a list of things you want to do I'd love to read it! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Self Portrait Tuesday - Self Documentary Series #2


My morning routine -- getting up; drawing the curtains back; showering; getting dressed; making tea; sitting down in front of the computer.

Other self documentary series are HERE

Monday, October 10, 2005

Oh well...

I have frogged the decrease section on the Hourglass after all.

I'm no good with mistakes that I know about, never mind that most likely nobody else would have noticed.

Yesterday we found a HUGE spider in the bath tub. This happens every once in a while, although I'm a bit confused how they always end up in there. Are they somewhere in the house, fall into the tub, and then can't get out again? Or do they crawl up through the drains during the night and then are too stupid to leave the same way?! Anway, thinking that for once the cats could make themselves useful, I lifted them both into the tub so they would dispose of the spider:

What happened next was.... nothing. They both crouched in the bath tub, looking bored and, after prodding it once or twice to make it move, mostly ignored the spider.

I don't know how often I walk into the kitchen in the morning to find some kind of battlefield involving all sorts of animals. I have also often seen them kill and eat spiders. Just another proof that if you want cats do do anything they will immediately refuse.

On to more knitting-related topics - Here it is, finally, the finished mini-project from a couple of weeks ago:

It is, of course, Knitty's Flora. The flower in particular was a lot of fun to knit, and I'm definitely making another mini scarf like this. I used Jaeger Kathmandu, which is long discontinued but sooo pretty, and I am already contemplating buying more of it, since the LYS probably has the last stash in existence. I wouldn't mind making some gloves to go with the scarf...

Spinning news: Yesterday, D spent some time making a Niddy Noddy for me. Yay! It looks great and, as you can see from the picture, it also works a treat. I love it!

The yarn wound on it is Romney, handspun but not plied yet. I am pleased with it, because it is spun quite fine and evenly - I'm learning how to pre-draft properly and it shows. I am planning on handpainting the yarn before I ply it so the finished yarn is a mix of colours. :)

I also managed to do a bit of spinning last night, while watching Lost on E4:

This is a freebie that I got from Scottish Fibres. I ordered a spare flyer and some bobbins from them and there was a delay with the delivery so to make up for it they sent me a bit of roving. Nice, isn't it? Initially I wasn't too convinced about the colours (three different types of purple/lilac) - it looked far too brash for my taste. I decided to pre-draft the fibre very thinly and to always combine two shades when spinning, which worked very well in softening the colours. I was going to ply this but I spun it quite thickly so I might just leave it as a single if it isn't too badly overtwisted.

And in not-so-fun knitting news: Saturday night, while watching The Cider House Rules (which I love so much - have to read some more John Irving soon), I was knitting along on my Hourglass Sweater. Both sleeves are completed now and joined to the body of the sweater.

I had completed something like 10 decrease rounds when I couldn't deny it any longer - I was convinced that there was an error in the pattern. After some searching, I came across a list of errors in Last Minute Gifts, and sadly, I was right. The pattern, as printed in LMG reads:

Decrease round: *Ssk, k1, k2tog, knit to next marker; repeat from * 3 more times. 8 stitches decreased.

The corrections are:

Decrease round should read: *Ssk, k1, k2tog, knit to within 2 stitches of the next marker; repeat from *

Now, it had occured to me that the pattern directions were strange, as the decrease virtually shifts the decreases by 2 stitches all the way round. Also, and this is not even on the list of corrections, by not doing a reverse of the decrease (as in SSK, k1, K2tog ... K2tog, k1, SSK), the decrease doesn't look even. Still, I thought that since this is my first attempt at this pattern I should refrain from going at this with too much independent thinking and just follow the pattern... Just goes to show that sometimes you should follow your gut instinct.


After a good deal of swearing and self-pity, all witnessed by a bemused D, I decided to ignore the mistake. I'm feeling stubborn and I can't face frogging the whole decrease section right now, so I will carry on regardless. So there! *looks mulish* Hopefully it will not end up being too noticeable and if it is, well, I could still make up my mind and re-do the section.

Also, I have already decided that I will make another Hourglass with the yarn below, so I can make sure to do it right the second time round:

Pretty pretty Jaeger Shetland Aran in my new favourite colour - spicy orange!! Hmmmm. :)

In other news: I managed to play a little with the knitting machine yesterday, but I am still having problems. We changed the sponge bar, but the knitting still gets stuck on the carriage. I know that not many of you are machine knitters, but any suggestions what I could try?!

Oh, and an update on my search for un-dyed sock yarn! I have ordered some 4-ply from texere (thanks for the suggestion, Jess!), which should arrive any day now, and Steelbreeze suggested I try BSK, so I also ordered some superwash 4-ply from them. Will keep you all updated what the yarn is like!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Work can really get in the way of things.

I didn't manage to go to the knitting group meeting tonight, because I felt that I ought to work. Of course now I am sitting here, knitting on the Hourglass Sweater instead. Which is going well - I'm about a third done with the second sleeve. There are no pictures, though, because I am lazy and also, one-armed sweaters with the needles still attached aren't particularly photogenic, so I will just wait until the second sleeve is done and the whole thing can come off the needles.

This is no excuse, though, for still not having posted a picture of my quick stash-buster project. Must take one tomorrow. You may have seen from the 'Finished Objects' list to the right that it was Flora from Knitty, which was very satisfying, quick, and fun to knit. It also seems to be one of the knitted items that I wear a lot - it is just perfect for autumn weather. I might make another one with some different yarn...

When I had a break from work to have lunch I also managed to wash the rest of Carolyn's fleece and Kid Mohair, and I even have a few pictures:

Dirty fleece:

Washing the fleece:


Currently all the rest of the fleece is all spread out on the dining room table to dry:

Going through the whole process of preparing it makes you appreciate it even more, makes you learn about the texture of the fibre and the feel of it. I can't wait to start spinning this stuff!

Other than that, I have been working. And working. And working... Hopefully it will all be worth it.

I am going to treat myself though - it looks like I will to the Knitting and Stitching Show at the Alexandra Palace in London on Sunday 16th October. Apparently there is a coach, but as I didn't go to the knitting group tonight I will only find out the details tomorrow. I do really want to go though, so even if I have to take the train I think I will make my way there. Might even go on the Saturday and visit my dear friend Nicole while I'm in London...
Is anyone else going to the show on either the Saturday or the Sunday? Could be quite fun to meet up!

And totally random, two questions:

1) Do any of you know if there is any place in the UK that sells sock yarn that I could dye myself? You know, like the dye-it-yourself sock yarn that KnitPicks sells in the US?

2) The last few days I seemed to have problems with my BlogRolling list - all the *updated* signs disappeared. They seem to be back now, but did anyone else have that problem?!