Sunday, January 29, 2012

Short and frustrated

No, this isn't a post about how I hate not being able to reach the top shelf, I love being short, especially when it makes knitting jumpers so much quicker. I'm frustrated about the shortness of this yarn:

It's the leftovers from Leon's winter set which I spun 4plyish, and got only 290 meters. From 180 grams. Which is not appropraite. But when I look at the yarn, it's beautiful and lofty and reasonably thin, so I cannot work out why the yardage (meterage?) is so short. It also means I can't use it for what I was planning, Romi Hill's Melpomene. I really like this yarn, but it's not long enough to make anything with. Grrr.

In happier news I've started Leon's winter set. This is the first time I've done twisted stitches and I love them. I'm so tempted to immediately cast on a Cookie A pattern that uses twisted stitches, but I think I should hold off on casting on socks, since the sock club comes out in less than two weeks! Here's the hat, on Leon's head.
I couldn't get a picture of it away from the fan, because it's sweltering here, but it's one of those patterns that looks so much better on than off.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Is there a better place to take photos?


We went to Temple Brewing last night, for some eats and some drinks. While we were there Leon took some photos of the finished Kleio (Rav link) being worn.

It's such a wearable, lovely scarf / shawl. I'm glad I modified the pattern. I pinned to out with points, because otherwise it was threatening to ruffle.
It sits well, wrapped around my neck and, on a night that was warm outside, but very airconditioned inside, it kept me cosy. I'd was going to say it made me happy, but that was more about the company, food and beer, than the shawl.

Monday, January 23, 2012

This wasn't an easy decision

I'm knitting the wonderful Romi Hill shawl Kleio from 7 Small Shawls to Knit. I'm loving the way the colours are looking together: the main colour is called McLaren Vale, by Stranded in Oz and the contrast colour is Malabrigo sock in velvet grapes. You can't see it very well here but the SioZ fibre has silver sparkles and the yarns look as if they were made to go together, and were certainly named to be a pair.Anyway, as usual I'm feeling the Romi love. The garter stitch main body was perfect to take with me to the Victorian Beer festival in Ballarat last weekend The lace is stunning, a bit challenging, but worth every stitch, even though the rows are 300+ stitches. The braids are interesting and different. The only thing is, looking on Ravelry I'm not the biggest fan of the edging. It's a fringe and fringe is not really me. So, I'm going to cast off after the second braid. It will make for a sleeker, less fussy shawl, one that I will get more wear out of. Still, choosing to leave off the border feels like I might be choosing not to do the hardest, funnest part of this shawl.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rolags and dye - but not together

I took yesterday off work to do a class at the Spinners and Weavers Guild. I finally learnt to use hand cards properly, and learnt about colour theory, by carding up lots of lovely rolags.

Unfortunately one of things I learnt is that hand carding is a slow and painstaking process, and I certainly won't be hand carding for a jumper anytime soon. All of which rather reminded me that I need to get the drum carder out to process the wool for Leon's next jumper. Maybe Sunday I'll dedicate the day to getting that done.

One of my favourite things about doing classes at the Guild is the opportunity to visit the craft supply. I bought another couple of Landscape dye colours, and, when I got home I used Saltmarsh to dye a 240 gram hank of Patonyle. I'm quite happy with how it came out, but, as usual, I learnt some things:

1) The reason the instructions are to dissolve the dye first is because the pigments are different colours and they take where they strike. It took me a while to understand this and I kept looking at the hank, wondering where the bits of yellow came from.

2) I can get away with things on wool / roving that I can't get away with on yarn. There is no more blending and softening on yarn, what you dye is what you get

3) It's not a great idea to stove-top dye on a 35 degree day. It's an even worse idea to go do the ironing while the yarn is steaming.

4) I love Patonyle. It's soft and strong and generally delightful

I'm going to use some this yarn for the Homin Shawl and the remainder for socks, probably, although I might overdye it.
Now, I'm off to find out how to cook lamb backstrap. I'm not sure what happened, but when I was in the butchers I got flustered and somehow walked away with a cut of lamb that is more expensive than rib eye steak and I have no idea how to cook it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Green, green, green


Here's another green jumper! This one is bigger than the last, and took me a little bit longer to knit. The pattern is Tempest, and it was an absolute joy to knit. I made some modifications, mainly because the pattern is written in pieces, with a great deal of finishing work and seaming. I knit the body in one piece. I used Judy's magic cast on to knit theh ems into the original piece, so I didn't have to pick up the stitches after. Now, I know that everyone else has been using and loving this cast on for ages, but this is the first time that I really got it, perhaps because I watched the inimitable Cat Bordhi's YouTube tutorial. - once I got the hang of it - it was a revelation. Quick, easy and looks flawless.
As you can see I extended the sleeves. My taste is running to full length sleeves at the moment, and I knit them in the round.
Wollmeise turned out to be absolutely wonderful for making light cardigans, and I might try to get some more. It took well under two skeins to make this jumper, with enough left over for a couple of pair of Perfect Striped Socks. While I was knitting it was quite nice, but once I'd blocked it is has come up to smooth, and drapey and even. And, even though I've blocked it twice it still has that amazing, unique smell. Perfect yarn, perfect pattern, this was unmitigated knitting joy.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The tiniest, cutest jumper

This is Baby Sophisticate and it may well be the sweetest thing I have ever knit.
Check out the teeny tiny shawl collar, and the raglan shaping.
How I adore raglan shaping.

And the delightful buttons, which I don't remember buying, but were right there when I opened my button box. Absolute knitting perfection.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

what I've been doing

I have, as previously blogged, been busy spinning. I spun up the rest of the blue from last post. It's very nice, but I got 205 meters, rather than the required 400. I'll make mitts to match the hat, rather than the shawl. This has led to a great deal of thought about spinning, thickness, lightness and so on. And some attempts at maths, always a painful and unfortunate occurrence. My current project is the rest of the Merino / silk, for Leon's mitts for his winter set. I'm planning for 500 meters from 180 grams, at about a fingering weight. This should be enough for Leon's knit and a shawl for me. Hopefully. I'm sure its achievable, and if I can do that, I can make Ysolda's Cria jumper, from Little Red in the City from 500 grams of alpaca / silk I am going to card up.

That's the other thing that has been taking up my time. Last Friday I got the vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard, to clean up all the bits of blue fibre all over the floor, and realised how much unwashed and unprepared fleece I have. I washed a little baby alpaca that I was randomly given by a friend - we think he was seeing a woman who lived on a farm, but that is pure conjecture. Anyway its very pretty, but only about 300 grams of alpaca. I've got 200 grams of silk, I'm going to card them together and spin it fine for Cria. I'm also prepping some merino for a jumper for Leon. And there is another fleece I haven't started washing yet. And a bag of alpaca. I should try and get it all washed before the end of summer - if summer actually ever starts.

I've also been doing a little bit of knitting. Tempest is currently blocking - I've decided to block it before I do the button band as well as afterwards, because my swatch grew quite a bit. Have I mentioned how much I love the smell of Wollmeise? Even after being soaked on a bucket with Soak, it still has that magic smell. Hopefully it will dry in time for me to do the button band tomorrow. Either way, I'm starting a baby jumper for a work colleague tomorrow. Here's hoping I'm back with FO photos in the next couple of days.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dying for change



I've been a bit restless of late. Before the Christmas season everything was starting to feel a bit routine. My weeks were feeling fairly repetitious, and even the things I love were getting a bit drab. I've sort of accidentally been trying to shop my way out of it, which never works, but at least I have a couple of new braids of pretty fibre in the stash.

It's hard to enact change or respond to this restlessness when everything is pretty much on track. There are no major changes that I'd want to make, but some small changes are making all the difference. One thing is I've started running (again). Now, I can't guarantee it will stick, but I've at it for the last two weeks, so it's looking strong. I'm training for Run for the Kids and am loving the new challenge.

I've been thinking about dying fibre to spin for some Romi Hill shawls for quite some time. Two things have been holding me back, laziness regarding hand painting and not being sure what colours I wanted. Last night I kettle dyed two lots of fibre: This is Mosley Park bfl / silk. I was aiming for a yellow with orange bits, and when I realised that wasn't going to happen I went for bold orange, which I feel I achieved.

This second lot, which is Polworth achieved my original vision.

I really love both of them. They came out fluffy and not at all felted, and I'm really excited to be making colours that are very different from my usual palette, satisfying my desire for something new and novel. Hopefully everything else will fall into place too. Maybe its just a matter of choosong yellow and orange, instead of pink and green. Hopefully...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spinning for a hat and a shawl

I didn't do a lot of spinning during the break, partly because I was working monomaniacally on Bitterroot, partly because I was having some issues with Rosie the Elephant. Near the beginning of the week, when the weather was warming up, she started to moan like a haunted house. This usually started about 20 minutes after I started spinning. I also noticed treadelling was harder than usual. I discovered that the metal parts at the back of the wheel were heating up. Add to this that the fibre I'm using is not well prepared and there was not much incentive to spin.

A note on the fibre: It was dyed by the very talented Stranded in Oz and is two lots of her fibre club, a light blue merino and a dark blue alpaca and a whole lot of Angelina. It was carded by me and that's where the issues are coming from, the original fibre was wonderfully prepared.

I had a really good look at the problem yesterday and identified where it was rubbing and have (pretty much) fixed it, it turned out I just had to adjust one of the rods at the back. Now spinning is flowing again for me, and yesterday I finished the singles.

I was on such a roll that I plied it immediately and got this:

It's almost impossible to see in the photos, but the Angelina gives the fairly matt yarn wonderful glints of light and movement when it is in the light.

This is 205 meters / 150 grams of what was a sport weight before I washed it, but is now probably a double knit weight. I'm going to make Gudren Johnson's Norie hat. I'm a little under yardage, but the majority of people seem to leave of the final repeat, so, if necessary I will do that. Then I'm going to spin up the rest of the fibre lace weight and make the Homin shawl from her Shetland Trader book. I've got 90 grams of fibre left and need 435 metres, which should be fine (no pun intended) as long as I spin it thin. I'm a little nervous about getting yardage, but I accidentally managed more than that when I spun the rainbow yarn on my Turkish spindle, and that time I was aiming for sock weight. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

All good things must come to an end


Today is the last day of my 11 days Christmas Staycation and it's been a blast. I caught up with loads of people, drank wine, ate amazing amounts of wonderful food and knit Bitterroot. While I was initially concerned that I wouldn't be able to leave the house while knitting these charts it turned out to be fine to knit in public. Even the beads were not too challenging. The first rows of beading I did in a bar and the middle rows of beading I did at the cricket. It was the perfect project for a nice long break and, like the break, I am a little sad it's over, but also a bit excited about what comes next.