Monday, 11 May 2009

In Which I Unexpectedly Make Lots of Things

I uploaded some text to the blog at work today (during my lunch hour, obviously), and couldn't get it to work at all, so I copied the text into a Word file, emailed it to myself at home, and gave up. Imagine my surprise when I got home to find a comment on the post I thought had been deleted. It appears that I had in fact published it three times. Without any photos. Oh well, let's get this mess cleared up....

I’ve done some sewing! I made some bags using the Teatowel Bags link I posted last time, although I used fabric from stash instead of teatowels. I made three large bags and one smaller one to use up the last of the fabric. Finally, something to use my extensive stash of quilting fabric on! I liked the smaller bag, which was for a forum friend, and I plan to make another one for myself. I have a few more I’d like to make next time I feel like sewing.

I also made myself a linen skirt, for work. I like it so much I’m going to make another one in a different colour.

I’d forgotten how engrossing sewing is, though. You can’t pick it up and put it down like knitting or spinning, you have to have a huge work surface, a sewing machine, an iron, an overlocker….Once I’ve started I can’t stop until it’s finished or I drop with exhaustion. House need cleaning? Family hungry? Sorry, I’m sewing. Come back in a few days.

On the knitting front I haven’t done so well. The socks are still OTN and, although they have progressed, a definite effort is required to finish them off.

I’ve been practising my spinning as much as I can, and try to spin a bit each day.

I’ve spun just under half of my Water Lily and here it is, plied and finished.

I’m quite pleased with it so far – it’s still got some thick and thin bits because I was a very new beginner when I began spinning it, but the later parts are much more consistent. The colours have come out nicely, too, with some long colour repeats and some parts where the colours have blended. I’d like to get the same effect for the second half of the fibre, but as I don’t really know what I did to this half that might be tricky! I think I’ll see what would happen if I split the remaining fibre into two lengths across its width (as opposed to lengthways) and put them together. I think the yarn would make a small size leaf lace shawlette.

I’ve been to another spinning class (and I’m booked up for Superspin 2 in June) and have a bag of sample fibres to try out. I carded some alpaca and made rolags,
which I spun into this yarn,
which I made into a tiny knitted square. It was lovely to knit with, too!

I flicked some polwarth locks and have spun them as fine as I could on a cute little spindle from Jesh. I haven’t plied and finished this yet – I’m hoping for laceweight. I’ve got a bag of Polwarth from Southern Cross Fibres in Cockatoo, and I’d like to spin that as a two-ply laceweight.
I’ve got some other sample fibres to try, including Wensleydale locks, merino silk and silk, which I haven’t used yet.

I’ve bought quite a bit of fibre actually, (she said nonchalantly) and one of them is a braid of Shetland in a beautiful pink and white shade called Apple Blossom. I think it would make a lovely blanket, so my idea is to spin it and then make a three ply yarn with itself and some oatmeal or white natural fibre spun to the same thickness. I’d be aiming for about DK weight. Then I’d crochet a giant granny square with it. I think it would be both pretty and warm.

I’ve also bought a couple more spindles: a Bosworth featherweight and a Wildcraft resin spindle. They’re awfully stashable…

And…I’ve ordered a spinning wheel. I have ordered a Majacraft Rose from P&M Woolcraft. I tried an Ashford Joy at the second Superspin 1 class, and it was so fun! I really like spinning.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Easter Holiday

I'm typing this in bed with a cup of coffee, looking through the curtains at a cherry tree laden with sugar pink blossoms. I have taken the rest of the week off, so it's nice to have some more lovely weather today.

I finished my cabled scarf last week, and very nice and snuggly it is too! It's put away in the cupboard now until next winter.
Over the Easter weekend I have been knitting some socks:

the pattern is an old favourite: Hedera, which is a lovely lacey sock pattern, and the yarn is Lana Grossa Cotton Fantasy. The colours remind me of cherry blossom and sugar almonds. I saw a version of Hedera on Ravelry yesterday with a picot edging instead of a ribbed cuff and it looked so nice I might just have to make another pair to try it out.

I have also been learning to spin! A week ago I went to Diane Mulholland's Superspin 1 class at Socktopus. She had us spinning in about ten minutes, and explained the whole process very clearly. I made yarn right away - and she showed us how to ply it and finish it too. My yarn isn't great, but it is a lot better than my previous attempt!

The class is in two parts, and our homework between the two is to spin a bag of fibre into gold - no wait, into yarn (phew!). I've done half the bag and yesterday I plied it and set it, and here is a little skein of it. I think you can already see the improvement, mainly in consistency.

I rewarded myself with some coloured fibre to spin! I got this from Socktopus after the class, it is Wild Lily from Chameleon Colourworks.

I've ordered another spindle from etsy, and two more lots of fibre. I am finding spinning very addictive, did I mention that? At the next class we are going to try some spinning wheels. I am planning to buy a wheel, so more of that in due course.

Right one more cup of coffee and I'm going to get up and get on with my huge list of projects, which includes gardening, hoovering the car, cleaning the kitchen, finishing my socks, spinning some more and sewing. I fancy having a go at these bags.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Oodles of Cables

It is officially spring here at Purls In the Pool. What a beautiful day it is outside; a clear blue sky and glorious sunshine. I thought it was time to put up a Spring picture in the blog header. This season's picture is of a scene in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand's North Island. I was looking back towards the town of Russell when I saw the tall ship and I just managed to capture her as she sped past with a bone in her teeth.
I must go down to the seas again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship
and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song
and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face
and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again,
for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call
that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day
with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume,
and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again
to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way
where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn
from a laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream
when the long trick's over.

"Sea Fever", by John Masefield.
I'm knitting a warm scarf at the moment, which is a bit out of kilter with the seasons, but because of how long it takes me to knit things (on account of having to go to work mainly) this often happens to me. Last winter I was still knitting my Queen of the Waves shawl, which is why it is an unfinished item on my Finishalong list. The warm scarf is knitted in Sirdar Click Chunky with wool, which is a very nice soft yarn to knit with, and it uses the cable and bobble pattern I mentioned previously, which I was given on my textured knitting workshop. I'm really pleased with it so far, although it is taking more yarn than I expected so I think I will need to buy a couple more balls. It's the closest I have come so far to designing something myself, as it is a combination of the cable pattern I was given and Aknita's DD's Scarf.I have also finished my Cable Sweater. It is still qute cold in the mornings and evenings so I am wearing it quite a lot. I love it!

I have just purchased a copy of Wendy Barnard's Custom Knits. This is a lovely book which is very reasonably priced on Amazon at the moment. After reading through it I feel inspired to design some of my own knits. I felt the same after reading the Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, and yet have never gone on to produce any of my own designs, for some reason. Wendy suggests using existing, shop bought sweaters as a starting point for creating your own copies of them, which I think is a great idea. As I'm knitting several other things first it might be a few months before I start the first one, but I'm thinking about it now and the design process is beginning, I'm getting some ideas already. More of this in due course. Wendy is also the designer of a fabulous cardigan called Something Red. I gotta have one!

Monday, 16 February 2009

In Search of a Nice Warm Sweater

Fallen Angels:
In case anyone who reads this blog has lost the Angel Yarns Knitting Forum and doesn't know what has happened to it, this is to tell you that the forum has been shut down by the owners; however a new forum has been set up here. If you are a Ravelry member, you can also visit the Angel Yarns group to find out more.

I'm feeling creative at the moment, and I have a strange desire to knit lots of really warm sweaters. First up is my Bergere de France Cable Sweater, which I have been faithfully knitting since the beginning of January. I am blocking the finished sections at the moment.
The back

The front
and the sleeves so far
It's a lovely design, a very pleasant knit, and the Berlaine is soft and luscious.
That said, it must be one of the worst written patterns I have ever come across, and quite frequently does not make sense, but it is usually easy enough to work out what needs to be done.

Although I'm not knitting anything else (yet!), I have acquired four balls of Tofutsies and some Click Chunky (to knit a scarf - warm, see); and a pack of DROPS Karisma to knit a Must Have Cardigan, which I have just fallen in love with (it looks warm doesn't it?). I could really do with some more warm socks, too, as it happens.

Last weekend I spent the day in a workshop on textured knitting. I was very pleased to find that the workshop was led by Alison Crowther-Smith, the author of Shibori Knitted Felt, whose fun and creative felting workshop I went on last year. I noticed that she had a needle case with a felted cover, and in a flash of inspiration I realised that one of my felted samples from the earlier workshop would also make a lovely needle case. I had to buy a ball of Scottish Tweed to make the inside of the needle case, and as I was choosing it I saw some KSH in a lovely hot dark apricot colour, so I got some of that too. I believe it's quite warm.

We made a square with a lace and beaded heart, did some cable samples with bobbles and I learned how to do a bobble in a contrasting colour, which looks really fun. I have a new idea for my warm scarf, involving bobbles and Kid Silk Haze. There were quite a few people in the workshop doing the Debbie Abrahams Mystery Blanket, and I must say that the squares looked beautiful and fun to do. The only thing I do not like is that they are all in cotton, and I think I would prefer a wool blanket.

Finally this week my Great American Aran Afghan book arrived, and I have been ooohing and aaahing over the squares. I have a vague plan to knit it in the autumn this year.

Then the weather was so beautiful yesterday that I started thinking about knitting summer garments. I think cardigans is the way to go for a bit!

Monday, 2 February 2009

A Snow Day

At 6.00 a.m. we had two possible strategies. I thought that our journey was not essential and that we should stay at home, and Braveheart thought that we should leave as early as possible so as to get to work on time. We got up and had breakfast while we thought about it, and then were lucky enough to watch one of the neighbours trying to get his car out. The road was as you see in the photo, in fact the tail lights you can see in the far right are those of the neighbour in question. He cleared snow from the roof of his car, and that allowed me to see that there were about 12 inches. Hmmm, I thought.

He took 10 minutes to back out of his drive onto the road and get stuck in the snow. Then he took 20 minutes, a shovel, two pieces of carpet and five neighbours to get his car back on the drive. His wife stood in the doorway saying "you'll never make it". We watched from the window and took photos discreetly.

Braveheart decided that our journey was not essential and we should stay at home.

We measured the snow depth outside the back door:

and outside the front door:

The garden is a winter wonderland.
Kino and her three friends left for Africa a few weeks ago. She'll be gutted to learn that she missed the best UK snow event for 18 years! She is travelling over there until Easter when she is home for a week before returning to continue her trip around the world. Kino has her own blog, and you can read her articles (and look at some stunning photos) on Curiouser and Curiouser.

A day after her departure I received an email to say she had left her yellow fever vaccination certificate in her handbag and could I send it on by Global Priority mail. Unfortunately, there was no vaccination certificate in her handbag and after a lengthy search of her belongings I concluded that we did not have it. A difficult email conversation followed, as she was absent for days at a time and I had to travel to Paris and had no internet access, but the upshot of it all was that I phoned around her doctors in the last five years till I found the one who had done the vaccination, and then they issued a new certificate, which they posted to me and which I have now sent on to Kino at a youth hostel in Kenya. Here's hoping it gets to her alright!