Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Xmas and all the best for 2006 to all of you.
May the new year be a good one.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Spinning again...

BlogRolling is playing up again. For weeks now I have only had the occasional notification that journals have been updated. When I move my mouse cursor over some of the blog links, the little information window tries to convince me that these blogs have not been updated since the beginning of February, despite the fact that I *know* that they were updated three times a week for the last two months. What's going on? And this is for journals for which I've had plenty of updates before.

This means that despite BlogRolling I'm back to checking each and every one of the blogs on my regular reading list separately. *grumbles*

But enough of that.

Do you remember the delicious burnt-orange coloured corriedale roving that my SP6 sent me a while ago? Well, to make it go further, I decided to ply it with some yellow merino. The result is this:

I love the way the colours compliment each other. The warm orange and the warm yellow make such a cheerful combination. Yummy looking, even. Juicy! And I ended up with not only one skein of it either. Rather, I have five:

I am very much hoping that it will be enough for a sweater or cardigan. Maybe if I have shorter sleeves?

In an attempt to get back into a more crafty lifestyle than I have had during the last two weeks I also treated myself to an X-Files marathon on FX the other night, followed by a new episode of Lost on E4, while I was spinning some of the merino that I brought back from my trip to Fibre Paradise (aka, Wingham Wool Work). My plan was to make a chunky 3-ply with 2 strands of white merino and 1 strand of grey Jacob's fleece, and to use the resulting yarn for some Rowan Big Wool sweater or cardigan pattern. The result of one evening of spinning is this:

I *quite* like the look of the yarn, and the softness of the merino counteracts the rougher fibre of the Jacob sufficiently. What I don't like particularly is how dense and how heavy it consequently is. I think I may have to abandon my plan of producing enough of this yarn to create a cardigan - it would weigh at least 1kg and I'm really not sure that I want to carry that on my back!

Instead, I have started using the merino to spin an approximately sock-weight single to be plied with some brown Blue Faced Leicester. I want to use this yarn for Norah Gaughan's pretty pretty side-way ribs cardigan from the Fall/Winter issue of Knitscene:

I *love* that cardigan!

When I researched the yarn, it turned out to be a German handspun. It's a single ply, but I have decided to use a 2-ply yarn anyway - I imagine it will pill less that way.

I spun a single from the white merino, and have started preparing the roving for the second single - merino and just a trace of brown BFL:

And finally, look what I got yesterday!!

I am doing a swap with Donni from Mog's Blog. She promised to weave a scarf for me and I will knit her some gloves in return. I have a bit more time to do my part of the swap, because it's summer right now where she lives (Australia), so I will get to that after xmas and New Year.

Isn't the scarf beautiful, though? It's a Suri Alpaca Handspun, woven in with 'Flame' from Crystal Palace Waikiki. Here is a close-up so you can see the texture better:

Thank you so much Donni, I LOVE the scarf!! It will get worn a lot this winter. :-)

ETA: Thank you also for the lovely little notebook and the yummy Australian sweets you sent with the scarf. I wasn't able to take a picture of the sweets because they are already eaten... ;-)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Checking in...

It occurs to me that I have been quiet. Very quiet.

Part of the reason for this is that life is busy around here recently. And not with xmas-related things either. I have been working rather hard, and we have been visiting MIL a lot, and somehow the days are flying by. Also, I have been reading rather a lot recently. Don't get me wrong, I always read, but I sometimes go through phases of almost obsessive devouring of anything printed and fictional that I can get my hands on.

The other reason why I haven't updated recently is that there hasn't been any knitting to show for... Well, maybe not no knitting at all, but very very little. The day only has 24 hours, y'know? ;-)

Anyway, as you can imagine, holiday knitting has gone right out of the window. There will be no River Stoles that are given as presents to amazed elderly relatives, no hats or mittens for MILs and no scarves for dads. None. I have given up on the whole idea of holiday knits.

However, there will be baby knitting. I may not have a lot to show for right now, but I have been working on a few baby knit related things for my friend who is going to give birth in the next few days. I've left it rather late, so I decided to make the Angora Baby Booties for K and her xmas baby. The simple design of the patterns in Last Minute Knitted Gifts always appeals to me:

Also, I have finally been introduced to the wonder that is double-knitting! Isn't it amazing? You knit and slip and knit and slip and then you divide the stitches onto two needles and you realise you have knitted in the round - on one pair of needles!

The booties were completed in less than 2 hours and I'm very pleased with my choice of Cashcotton DK. It's soft but not too fuzzy, and it's machine-washable, which I think must be essential for any kind of baby knitting. What I am not so sure about, however, is the booties themselves. Sure, they look cute, but they seem to me rather on the small side, even for a newborn. Is just over 3 inches in length enough? I'm also not sure they are not a bit too tight to actually pull them over a baby's foot... should have paid more attention when I was binding off, but I was watching Bleak House at the time.

To make up for it I started the bunny from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I'm using Patons Washed Haze DK for this one, because it's also machine-washable and, even though very soft, does not have any kind of haze to it:

Only the Umbilical Hat to finish after that, then the present can be sent off to K! Phew!

It never ends, though - yesterday, another friend rang me to announce that she is expecting her first in June next year. Is there such a thing as summer knitting for babies?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Holiday Secret Pal parcel

Apparently our electrician is trying for a repeat of the no-show saga of last week. Although he turned up yesterday and did some of the work AND promised to be here by 8.30am today, there is still no sign of him. It's 3.25pm now... something is telling me that he won't turn up today.

On the plus side this meant that I was able to go to the Post Office to pick up some parcels and see what I got:

Isn't this amazing? I am absolutely speechless. Thank you so much Holiday Secret Pal!!

There are two balls of Regia Sock yarn in a very pretty red white and grey colour, which is called 'Norweger Ringel Color'. Then there are two more balls of sock yarn, this time Patons Kroy Socks in a lovely muted shade of grey and brown. I love both the Regia and the Patons - socks, here I come!!

Then there is one ball of Bamboo yarn in a delicious rich red colour. This is from the South West Trading Company. The difference to wool is so interesting - although this yarn is very soft it feels totally different. Where wool is warm to the touch, this is cool and smooth. I have wanted to try Bamboo yarn for a long time now, so I'm absolutely thrilled by this.

Then there were two bags with the most delicious samples of roving. I think you can just about make it out on the picture - one is a blend of purple and pink and the other a blend of different shades of green with a little bit of purple thrown in. It feels very soft to the touch - I wonder what type of fibre this is?

But this is not all there is. Next I found a very cute lamb tape measure. I ended up pulling all the limbs before I found where the tape measure was actually hidden (its one of the 'arms') - it really made me laugh! This will be put to good use, I promise. :-) Then there is a set of Clover bamboo needles (4.5mm). I love knitting with bamboo needles, so this is great, and 4.5mm is such a useful size. There was also a set of sock-shaped point protectors (so useful!) and a little something that I assume is a stitch marker. It has little beads all the way round and looks very cute. Last but not least, there was a pattern for a lacey cardigan - 'Sweet Mary Jane' from KnitPicks. This is definitely going on my to-knit list for this summer!

Here is another picture of all the yummy yarn and fibre close up, although you may not be able to see the little stitch marker very well. Will have to take another picture of it tomorrow...

This was such a fantastic parcel, I don't know how to thank you enough!! Thank you Holiday Secret Pal, this really made my day!

Self Portrait Tuesday - Reflective Surface #1

Our bathroom cabinet has three doors with mirrors inside and out, so when I open them I am able to see the sides and back of my head. I insisted on having a mirror like that because my hair has a will of its own and even when I can see what I am doing when I pull my hair up I sometimes look like something has tried to nist on my head. I dread to think what it would look like if I tried to do this without the help of my trusty three-way mirror. :-)

Other entries to the theme of reflective surfaces can be found in the Self Portrait Tuesday Blog.

Monday, December 05, 2005

In Spinner's Heaven

I'm back from the weekend with MIL in the wild north (aka Yorkshire). All in all, this wasn't a bad weekend. It is noticeable that we are all gradually re-establishing some kind of routine and it helps to find normality returning to our lives. D and I went to the pub on Friday evening, something we hadn't done in a while, and on Saturday we took MIL to York for some shopping. I had plans to check out the LYS that I had located in 'The Shambles', but in the end we didn't have time to do that. Maybe next time...

On Sunday we decided to finally pay a visit to Wingham Wool Work. I had identified this shop a while ago as the only seller of replacement card cloth for drum carders, but before I was able to order the cloth, the owner informed me that the producer had decided to stop manufacturing the cloth! I searched everywhere and eventually resigned myself to having to order the cloth from the US. This would have somewhat defeated the purpose of a self-built carder, because the price of shipping something that heavy from the US to the UK would have been so expensive that I propably could have ordered an Ashford carder for only slightly more money, but because I am in love with the carder D built for me I would have been prepared to do it anyway. Then, however, the owner of Wingham Wool Work contacted me again with the news that he had decided to purchase the equipment to produce the card cloth and that he would be able to make a strip of cloth to meet my requirements!! Needless to say, I was over the moon. :)

Anyway, that was about 2 months ago and ever since then I had plans to go to Wingham Wool Work. As you can see - this Sunday was eagerly anticipated.
We decided to go there on the way home to the Midlands - it is a bit out of the way for us, so it adds about 1 1/2 hours to the journey, but it was well worth it. Wentworth is a lovely village so it is worth a visit on it's own (and I think I would like to go back at some point to spend a few enjoyable hours in a tea room there), but the shop.... ooooh, the shop!

It was quite tucked away and consisted of a collection of old sheds, all filled with fibre goodness. As promised, the owner presented us with a piece of card cloth to match the specifications of our carder (which, to D's delight, was much admired):

We then got chatting to the owner and he showed us round and gave us a demonstration of the old 1920s industrial size carder he had in one of his sheds. What a machine! It was fascinating to see the process of carding on such a large scale - all those drums, separating and fluffing up the fleece and turning it into a cloud of downy soft fibre. This tufty cloud is then fed into another machine which combs the fibre so it is turned into the neat roving that is available for buying.

Looking into one of the other sheds, where he had another machine, not set up yet, which will be able to turn woollen fabrics back into fibre, I spied something else, totally non-knitting related, which I had been coveting for quite some time - a potter's wheel! Asked about it, the owner shrugged and asked if I was interested in it. Was I ever! Guess what my xmas present from D is this year? It's a big electric wheel, so we will pick it up the next weekend we are up in Yorkshire. I will take pictures then. It looks like my little workshop / studio in the old garage is coming along nicely. :)

After that, I ventured into the shop, which is to say, into the various sheds in which the fibre was stored and where you were able to choose and pick (aka fondle) the fibre. It was a self-service system, so I got to select just as much as I wanted. With the certainty that we would return there very soon in mind I managed to only select a few things: Some orange and yellow Merino to complete the burnt orange Corriedale I got from my Secret Pal. I bought 100g and then another 100g of orange Merino in case I want some solid colour after all:

There isn't as much of the yellow Merino because I have already spun some of it.

I also bought a whole lot of white Merino roving - about 800g of it - to spin up some bulky yarn for some Rowan Big Wool pattern:

Further, I purchased two more bobbins, although I already have my eye on a jumbo flyer for my Ashford Traditional... It would make spinning bulky yarns so much easier, and more space on the bobbins is a good thing in any case! No picture of the bobbins, though.

Talking to the owner I also found out that he had a whole selection of spinning wheels set up in his conservatory, so I asked him if I he would mind me trying some of them. They had a selection of Ashford and Kromski wheels (and one Louet) and I ended up spinning on a lovely little Kromski Mazurka. What a compact and pretty wheel, and spinning on it was so easy! It made me realise that my Ashford still needs some adjusting to make it run more smoothly...

We stayed in shop until it closed at 5pm, then drove home. Coming home, I immediately set out to try my new Merino and managed to spin up some of the yellow roving while watching Lost on E4 last night. I think it will go very well with the Corriedale.

Also, here is a (not very good) picture of my orange hourglass. I finished it on Saturday and even though it needs blocking I have been wearing it all day Sunday and I am wearing it again today. It's keeping me warm rather nicely, despite the fact that we have an electrician round today who has disconnected the electricity (and with it the heating it seems) so he can work.

I may have some better pictures after blocking...