Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Wednesdays are for spinning

Once again it’s time for a weekly spinning catch up.  Due to the glorious sunshine we have been having we have spent most of our time enjoying the weather with friends and family so I haven’t really done much of anything.  However the forecast for this weekend looks incredibly dreary and wet so hopefully I should have some time to create something worth blogging about.  This week I have mainly concentrated on two projects, the first of which is the sparkly BFL which is now ¾ spun.
 The plying ball is now looking nice and big and I’ve just started work on the last little bit.  You can't quite see but  I have put quite a substantial stop on the top of the spindle, the whorl of this particular spindle is particularly slippery and even with a one strand stop the leader still slips once the cop grows a bit.  I’m hoping that using three strands will do the trick.  I’m thinking I may have to get Stu to cut a notch in it once I’m done with this batch, I was hoping to avoid it but I think it will make things a lot easier.

My second project is a new one, which is exciting!  I got a new spindle, another Enid Ashcroft from this eBay store.
 Of course I had to start a project on it immediately, just to check it spins nicely so I dived into my little fibre stash and decided to try the little batts I got from KarmicDelight on Etsy recently.  I’d yet to try spinning a batt so I felt quite intrepid.
 All in all it’s going quite well, I’ve spun the first batt and have just started the second.  I plan to spin each of the pink batts separately and then ply them all together to make a 3-ply and then follow suit with the purple batts.  Because the batts are a total mixture of fibres and I guess because I’m not used to batts, my spinning is less consistent than it has been.  This is actually really good for me as I slowly learn to embrace the slub!  I’m hoping that this will become a slightly textured yarn with a bit of personality – at this rate I think I should actually find out quite soon – watch this space.  Oh, and the little Easter egg?  I was looking for little balls to wind plying balls around but all I could find was eggs, they do the same job though.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Time off

With a most fortuitous conjunction of Easter, a certain royal wedding and a little bit of annual leave I will be working for only two days until 5th May – hoorah!  I don’t have many plans, but it certainly gives me loads of time to spend knitting in the garden maybe I’ll even take my knitting to the beach.  Tomorrow I’m planning on having a barbecue for all my siblings, both actual and siblings in-law to be, which I’m really looking forward to.  With the wedding so close it seemed like a really great idea to get them all together, particularly as I think it will be really good fun too.  I must remember not to sit and knit my wedding shrug while to barbecue is going though, I don’t need to be going down the aisle smelling of sausages!

Other than that I am going to make the most of being away from here....
 And enjoy a bit of sunshine.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Spinning Wednesday

Just a quick post today as I have done next to no spinning this week.  So without further ado.....
I'm well along on my third spindle full of the sparkly BFL.  After making a plying ball out of the first and second spindle full I've decided to just keep adding to that ball until all the fibre is gone and ply it all in one go.  I did test ply a little bit of it and was really pleased with the results.
It's nice and soft and ever so slightly sparkly (believe it or not!)I'm really looking forward to having it all done.
I've also started spinning the merino/bamboo/soybean I got a couple of weeks back.  I've not done much but it is spinning nicely, it makes a strange sort of sound when I draft it a bit like paper tearing but very quiet.  It's interesting, but not off putting.  I've split the top into four and I'll be making 4-ply with it.

Well that's it folks, next week I should have a new spindle and therefore a new project on the go.

Friday, 15 April 2011

In potentia. Pt 1

The last few days I have been knitting and spinning as usual on several things at once, a few rows of my shrug here, a few rows of my sock there, 5 minutes spinning this, 10 minutes plying that and no real exciting progress to show on any of it.  In addition the weather has become rather gloomy so I can’t fill up this post with lovely sunshiney scenes.  So far, so dull, I wouldn’t blame you if you just stopped reading now!
So, for anyone still reading I thought I’d take a little look in my stash, pick out a couple of my favourites and lay out my plans for them.  This seems like something I can fall back on every now and again when I run out of blog fodder, because I do actually have a plan for pretty much everything in my stash.
Today I’ve picked two yarns, both of which I’ve had for a long time and have been destined to be a few things between them.  I’m pretty settled on what I want to do with them now so maybe they’ll actually get the chance to be knitted soon.
This is Regia Color 4-ply in Papillon which I've had 2 balls of since Jan 2009.  I remember buying it shortly after I started making my Flutterby socks thinking it would be a lovely yarn to use if I ever decided to knit that pattern again.  I’m sure I will knit it again because I really like it, but with so many sock patterns out there I think it will be quite some time before I get round to it, so I’ve decided that this will be the perfect yarn to try out the Skew pattern from Knitty.  I’ve loved this pattern since the day I first saw it and I love that it is not your usual sock pattern.
My second pick today is some Felted Tweed which I bought 7 balls of years and years ago to make Celtic (Rav link) from Rowan 40  I still quite like this cardigan, but years have gone by and I’ve never got round to starting it and I don’t think I ever will.  When I saw Olivia in Kim Hargreaves Thrown Together I immediately realised that this would be a much better use of my Felted Tweed.  Clearly I haven’t got round to casting on for that yet either, but I will.  One day.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Spinning Wednesday

Now I’m finally getting around to actually doing some knitting I’ve decided to just dedicate Wednesday’s to talking about my spinning.  Because I have so many projects on the go I very rarely actually finish anything so I think just one weekly update is quite enough.

So what’s been spinning this week?  Mostly I’ve been concentrating on a second spindle full of the sparkly BFL from FeltStudio UK.  I could see the end of the section of fibre coming closer and close and with 2 staple lengths left to go – disaster!  The piece of yarn that I use as a stopper when the spindle has no notch (tutorial here if anyone’s interested) snapped and I discovered that the edge of this spindle has no grab whatsoever and I could not get spinning at all.  I’m sure someone more experienced knows what to do for the best here, but because I’m planning on chain plying this I’m just going to wind it off as if it were finished and ply it as it is.  I’ve got another 50g of this to spin so I’ll add the last little bit to that and try to stop twitching every time I think about deliberately making one skein bigger than the other.  Yes, I have issues (don’t even ask me about people who purposefully wear odd socks!)
Other than that, I am making slow progress plying the first 50g of the merino tencel from FeltStudioUK.  It turns out that plying bores me so I have to do it in small batches.  I’m thinking that chain plying will go faster for me because it’s a little bit more involved.  I’ve started chain plying this black/white/grey merino but I’m going slowly because my toilet roll middle got all squished and it’s making things a little difficult.  I think I may have to pinch the toilet roll holder from the bathroom and see if that helps a little.
And, finally, because I just can’t keep myself away from Etsy I now have some new batts to spin.  Look how pretty they are.
These are from Karmicdelight found here.  They are lovely little batts, each around 0.5oz with loads of interesting stuff in there.  Alison is an absolute pleasure to buy from and showed a genuine interest in what I was planning to do with her batts.  I can’t recommend her highly enough.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Lucky old me

Stu and I both took yesterday off work and had a lovely long weekend, spent mostly outside and it had been glorious.  Apart from a brief shower of rain yesterday the weather has been unseasonably sunny and warm and we very much took advantage of it.  On Friday Stu picked me up from work and we went fishing.  Well Stu went fishing and I sat and knitted next to a lake.
On Saturday we behaved like good British people and went to some garden centres.  We got lots of flowers and six different types of strawberry plants and I got myself a lovely pink knitting lounger so I don’t have to sit on the steps next to the tumble dryer any more!
Sunday saw us risk causing a break in the good weather by buying a barbecue, but we didn’t actually use it so the sunshine continued unabated.  I took advantage of this by knitting while Stu worked...better than television.
Yesterday, while everyone else worked we went and hand delivered a load of wedding invitations before taking a little trip to Ikea and then coming home and doing some knitting.  I decided to take a break from the wedding shrug and finished off the first of my hand dyed socks.
Once that was done and ends sewn in I immediately cast on for the second one (if I don’t it will never get done) before putting it aside and casting on again for the second of my first ever toe up socks.  As I have documented recently all was going swimmingly with this sock the first time I started it until I noticed that I had been knitting the lace pattern all the way round, including on the bottom of the foot.  I’ve now knitted the toe again – great practice for short rows – and now all I need to do is find my fifth DPN and I’ll be off and running again.....about time too.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Phones, smarter than me.

After enjoying a nice night knitting away on my wedding shrug on Tuesday, I sat down last night to do the same again.  Assembling all my bits and bobs I quickly spotted a flaw in my plan.  I don’t need much, just the project, both needles, my notebook which has a simple breakdown of the bit of pattern I’m on plus a tally of how many pattern repeats I’ve done and my phone which has the row count on it.  Except I managed to leave my phone on my desk at work last night.  Marvellous.  Smart phones are a super idea, so many things you can do with them .....and so many things you have to do without if you leave it somewhere.  Mine also has my bus ticket on it.  Extra marvellous.  Luckily it is lovely and sunny here at the moment so a 50 minute walk to work this afternoon wasn’t actually all that bad.
Compare this to a picture of the same view in November.  Slightly different eh?  Because the weather is so nice I headed out into the garden with my sock this morning.  I found myself a nice sunny perch next to the old tumble dryer and knit away whilst dreaming of sunloungers and thinking that maybe it’s time we took that old tumble dryer to the dump!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


If it seems like I haven’t  really been knitting much lately then you are not at all mistaken.  I don’t really feel bad about this, I’ve always had phases where I prefer one craft to another and spinning is all shiny and new to me so it’s not surprising that I’ve been favouring it.  But I kind of miss knitting and feel like I need to set aside some time for it.  Spinning is a little more physical than knitting, requiring me to either sit up straight or stand (I prefer to ply standing) whereas I can knit curled up in a ball with very little movement whatsoever.  In fact it’s not even strictly necessary for me to have my eyes open!  Yesterday’s weather was grey and miserable after a lovely sunny weekend so a night of the sofa with my knitting cheered me up no end.  Despite really wanting to work on my lovely, bright, cheerful hand dyed socks (blogged here), the first of which I have left so tantalisingly close to being finished, I did the right thing and spent all evening working on my wedding shrug.
 This is now around 20% finished with 58 days to go to the wedding so I think I will have to pencil in a few more evenings to work on it exclusively.  At least if I focus on worrying about getting my shrug done on time it might stop me panicking about the wedding itself.  How’s that for a diversionary tactic eh?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Before Blog Week started I figured that with a week off from talking about my current projects that I would have loads to share once normal service resumed. This was always going to be wishful thinking, but that is my favourite kind of thinking. Due to my seriously irritationg, but all emcompassing need to be working on all the things at once I've made baby steps of progress on everything, but finished nothing. Except for this:
It's the pink sparkly yarn which I proclaimed was nearly finished here back in february. This was not entirely a lie, I did in fact finish plying the yarn, I skeined it and washed it and became the very proud owner of some incredibly squiggly yarn. I think to describe it as a wee bit overplied would demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the word 'wee', so another go around the spindle was deemed necessary. Obviously I had to wait a couple of weeks, just to make sure it wasn't going to magically unply itself a bit, but eventually I just got on and did it myself. Even now this yarn is still very tightly plied, but I don't have the heart to stick it back on the spindle a third time so it will have to do. There is just over 100m there, not sure on the weight yet.
Other than that, I have just begun to ply the first half of the merino tencel. I'm plying this a lot more loosely than the pink stuff and have no doubt that this will therefore be totally underplied. Hopefully by lowering my expectations this will turn out better than I hope!
And because I don't have enough on the go I have also started spinning some new fibre I got from World of Wool last week. It's an intriguing blend of merini bamboo and soybean, which I have to say looked way more purple on my screen when I ordered it, but apparently the world wants me to spin green yarn and who am I to argue.

Monday, 4 April 2011

So what have we learned?

Having enjoyed Blog Week as much as I did, I thought I’d stretch it out bit a wee bit longer by doing a bit of a debrief now that its over.  So what have I learnt from Blog Week?
  1.  That I like people reading my blog.  Until now I mostly assumed that I was really talking to myself, my sister and the odd friend dropping by.  Knowing that actual people will be reading made me think a bit more about what I was writing ( I think certainly rambled a bit less.)
  2. That having topics to write about was really good.  I enjoy my blog, but when I’m busy and don’t have much time for knitting etc I feel like I don’t have much to blog about.  Times like these would be perfect to have a topic unconnected to my current projects.
  3. Being given topics was really helpful and one I really liked was the one about where old knits are now.  I think I’m going to run with that one and try and pick an old project every month to follow up on.  It’s all well and good showing off shiny new knits but if it fell apart two months later or turns out to be completely unwearable I think that is worth mentioning.
  4. Reading other peoples blogs has been great, there are a few I’ve read regularly before but I have discovered loads more.  Lunch breaks will never be long enough for all the blogs I want to read now!
  5. That it’s a miracle that any colourwork is ever knitted.  So many people wrote about it being the skill that they aspire to that anyone who is actually doing it now looks even more fancy.
  6. That cats wearing clothes is a total winner!
  7. All in all I’ve just reaffirmed my knowledge that knitters and crocheters are an interesting bunch.  Loads of us all talking about the same things for a week has been fascinating.  Thanks all!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Your knitting and crochet time

Write about your typical crafting time.  When is it that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys?  What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorettes baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords?  Do you always have snacks to hand or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn’ kind of knitter?

After a full week of blogging, a complete first for me, I find myself a little stumped at the final hurdle.  I've really, really enjoyed blog week but today I just don't have anything interesting to say - clearly I've used up all my inspiration for one week.  I'll give it a try though. 
The view from my usual knitting spot.
Essentially though I don't have a typical crafting time, no particular rituals or stipulations.  If I'm in my house with nothing else to do with my hands, I will fill them with knitting or a spindle or maybe even some cross stitch.  If I'm watching something on TV which requires a little concentration then I'll make sure I work on something simple, but other than that I just pick up what I feel like when I feel like it.  I'm sure there is probably some deep subconscious reason why I choose a certain project at any given moment but I sure as heck don't know what it is. Maybe I'll give it some thought, it could make for an interesting study....or not!

So that's it, I've managed to end my blog week on a total low.   Hopefully there are lots of much better posts out there written by all of the other blog week participants.  I've come across some really wonderful blogs this week which I know I'll be keeping up with in the future and I hope I can keep this blog interesting enough that a few people come back too.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Something to aspire to

Before I start I’d just like to thank everyone who commented on yesterday’s post.  As you can see I made it through the night without any feline retribution!  My little stars, Billie and Izzy, are the most compliant kitties I’ve ever met, they’ll even go to the vet without a fuss, so I will continue to balance knitwear on them for as long as I can!
Couldn't resist one more silly cat pic!
Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant?  Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft?  Maybe the skill or pattern in one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do.  Maybe it is something that you think you will never be bothered to actually make but can admire the result of those that have.

As I mentioned the other day, if I want to make a pattern and it includes a skill I don’t have then I generally throw caution to the wind and just try it.  There is, in fact, one exception to that so far and that is colourwork.  In general there are not that many colourwork projects I am drawn to, but there are a few patterns I really like and so far I have shied away from them.  One reason for this is that I have decided in my mind that it will be fiddly and awkward and will take far more concentration than I can usually muster up while I am knitting.  This doesn’t normally stop me though, I’ll happily sit and knit in stitch patterns and cables both of which do require at least a modicum of attention to be paid to them.  I invariably try to have some sort of simple project on the go so that if I have to concentrate on something else I have something to knit which requires no thought.  So just what is the hold-up with colourwork?  After much thought on this matter I have to conclude that it is because I am tight.  That's right, because I am too cheap to go and buy yarn in 5 different colours when I may actually only need a quarter of a ball of each.  However, I finally feel like I am ready to stop making excuses and dive in to colourwork and I have a 5 point plan to ease me in.

1.  Learn to spin.  In order to save myself the cost of all that different coloured yarn I will be able to spin small amounts and avoid wastage.  I will ignore any comments which point out how much I have spent on spindles and fibre in this process!
2.  Test the waters with a slip stitch pattern, such as the Patterned Mittens (all Rav links today folks) from Knitting 24/7.  Only one colour per row seems much more doable.
3. Up the ante slightly with a 2 colour pattern such as Eskimimi's Snowbaby Hat  The bonus of this is that I can buy two colours and then make a second hat with the colours inverted.
4. All being well I can stick with 2 colours but move on to a more intricate pattern, these gloves should be perfect.
5.  I should be a total pro by then and ready to take on as many colours as a pattern can throw at me.  I think I'll try and prove this by knitting something like these Cupcake Mittens, as long as I've managed to spin enough yarn by then, of course.

Friday, 1 April 2011

And now for something completely different.....

This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create

And so without further ado I present a piece of photographic 'art' I like to call Catwalk Models!