The other day my son requested we get a bath mat but being on a tight budget, as in necessities first, I didn’t want to buy one as I think there are heaps of things we need before bathmats. However, I recalled how the very wonderful Sharondoubleknit had made her bathmats so I went stash diving. I came up with some of my very first attempts at spinning and dyeing and thought that they would be appropriate for my first handknit for the house and the colours match the colourscheme in the bathroom. My sons we skeptical, “won’t it get soggy?” “How will you wash it?” Were among the comments made. I reassured them with facts about wool’s amazing properties or at least I tried to.
I was reminded how much I love knitting with handspun yarn. Considering that this yarn was very thick and thin, under spun in parts, overspun in other parts and equally as underplied and overplied it knitted up really well. I think that it was helped by the fact that the yarn was held double and knit on much smaller needles than you would normally, in order to obtain a nice dense fabric. I know a lot of new spinners out there don’t think that their newbie handspun offerings are worth knitting up but I honestly believe you can’t learn about making yarn until you start knitting with the yarn you make.
So how does the new mat fare? Well, deliciously warm underfoot and squidgy and it doesn’t feel cold and damp when it gets wet at all. I think my sons are quite impressed with it, I’ve even had a request for a 2″ x 3″ from Elliott. Not sure about that but I think I might consider getting some more Herdwick and maybe Swaledale fibre for spinning and knitting mitred squares to sew together in a rug, we’ll see.
So after a long flight in which some knitting was done I landed in Leeds with my youngest son Elliott, on the 11th of January. I was greeted by my two sisters Fiona and Teresa, my nephew Jake and my Uncle Raymond.
Flying into Leeds.
I moved into a little house in Hull where my sister Fiona lives and did a heck of a lot more organising and stuff including getting a job. Things are beginning to settle into place, I’ve been reunited with my stash and bought a chair for crafting in thanks to a leaving gift from my lovely colleagues from my Melbourne job. So this is my new crafting space.
The flowery crochet pouffe and cushion were a housewarming gift from my sister, she bought it from some cool website and it’s made from wool of course.
There is going to be a heck of a lot of woolly stuff in my new home but that’s for future posts. I’m currently on knitting leave while I wait for all the formalities to be completed for my new job. Strangly I’m eager to start work and get into a routine but in the meantime I have my stash to keep me happy. Hope you have a great weekend and for my friends back in Melbourne, happy long weekend.
This time next week I shall be on the first leg of my flight back home. I’m very excited, as are my two sons who are moving back with me and my family who are waiting eagerly for our return. Most, if not all of the organizing is done. I’m quite pleased with my efforts in this regard since moving back to the other side of the world is no mean feat. The one thing I think I did badly however is plan appropriate knitting projects. Instead of knitting the several sweaters worth of aran and 12ply yarn into lovely warm sweaters in readiness for the English Winter I am knitting a 4ply sweater at quite a loose guage. Yeah, I didn’t quite think that one through.
The pattern is Reed by Cecily Glowick-McDonald but without the reedlike eyelets. The yarn is Skein BFL sockyarn in Cocoa and Beach Shack, alternating rows.
Hopefully the airline staff will look kindly on my short wooden interchangables.
In other news… My stash and books and other stuff should be delivered to my sister today, as in Friday but in England. Hurrah!
It’s been a helluva long time since I blogged, for many reasons that I will not go into but it’s time to get back on the horse so to speak. I thought I’d do this by looking at what I got up to in a crafty sense last year.
2013 wasn’t a particularly productive year as far as knitting was concerned. There was the ginormasquish blanket that took up half a year (fair does I think) but in total there were only 7 other projects completed. 2 pairs of socks, a shawl, 2 cowls, a scarf and a hat. This does seem like a pathetic effort so what the heck happened?
Well! There was spinning, lots of spinning! 2302 grams of spinning to be exact And you know how they say that practice makes perfect… well I wouldn’t say my spinning is perfect but it has definitely improved a lot.
So mostly, I’ve been spinning and some of the time there has been knitting and of course there has been a lot of the work stuff… oh yeah, I’ve also been organizing my move back to Yorkshire which is happening in 9 days time. *cue soap opera cliff-hanger music*
*Today’s post is photo free due to most of my handspun and projects being in England already and my iphoto library having had a spring clean recently.
**Yes, I have had terrible separation anxiety as a result of my stash being on a ship, floating halfway around the world.
I’m over 1/3 through my ginormasquish blanket and still in love with the project. I’m making steady progress and I can’t wait to be able to snuggle underneath it. However, the thing with big projects like this, is that you really do have to be completely monogamous and diligently knit away at it otherwise it will loiter on the needles FOREVER!
Monogamous that is, with the exception of a portable project because let’s face it, this blanket is sooo not portable and PT without knitting just doesn’t bear thinking about. So, in time honoured tradition I cast on a sock.
How pretty is that yarn? The deep, deep, deep blue with it’s subtle variation of tone. It was dyed by my amazingly talented friend Ursula. If you recall, it was Ursula who helped me turn the ancient bra handspun yarn into the beautiful ocean blue yarn. She has been dyeing for a while now and selling her wares to the Richmond knitter’s who greedily buy it all up. We know beautifully dyed yarn when we see it!
Here’s a picture of my most recent episode of yarn gluttony.
My photographic skills do not do them justice at all! They are all semi-solid BFL skeins but the red one is a BFL/nylon blend. As you know, I love knitting socks out of BFL, once washed they are every bit as soft as Merino but because BFL is a longwool it’s so much more durable and with a much better stitch definition than Merino.
Balanced. low twist singles are something that I have believed for a while to be a thing of magic and completely unattainable by mere mortals. I’ve tried and failed on several occasions to spin them and always end up with either, too much twist and a curly mess that ends up being wound up and plied to balance it out. Or, end up with not enough twist and the singles fall apart every 10 inches or so.
Yesterday I tried again and only the first few yards on the bobbin were of the drifty apart kind. I washed and finished the yarn last night and hung it up to dry.
This terrible photo was taken in the bathroom which has no natural light but it’s the only place in the apartment with a wall mounted hook on which I can show you the yarn in all it’s balanced beauty.
The yarn is a combination of 2 indie dyed tops that because of their composition were a bit felted and hard to draft especially when you have been spoilt by hand blended combed tops. As they were of similar colours I blended them together.
Again, apologies for the poorly lit, iPhone photo but it’s the only one I have of the tops to show off the colour graduation.
It’s a Merino/silk/camel/angora blend and it looks like this now it’s done.
Needless to say I am very happy with it. I have no knitting plans for it as yet though.
Before I do though, people who know me should be prepared as neither of them are duck egg blue, or even blue green. Yikes!
The first was originally meant to be 3 separate colours striped. I had it in my mind that I needed a yellow, grey and cream shawl or cowl or something and I had 3 Shetland tops in exactly those colours.
I started to spin the yellow and to me it just looked flat. So I got my hackles out and blended the 3 Shetland tops together to make something more pleasing to my eye. The finished yarn is about a 10-12ply.
The next yarn was a custom blend top from World of Wool. A gorgeous burnished orange BFL. Both BFL and Shetland have to be my two absolute favourite fibres to spin though they are quite different in character. But I could no more chose between them than chose between chocolate or salted caramels.
I don’t know what either of these yarns will become as yet but I think I need to spin a dark grey yarn to stripe with the orange.
I’ve been kind of busy with stuff which is why I haven’t blogged for a while.
Anyhoo, some crafting has been happening but not much, I finished a pair of ankle socks yesterday. They were my usual toe-up in a really beautiful Skein colour way “Industrial Age” I just cast off as soon as the heel was completed to give them a cute curled edge look. Here is the obligatory FO pic.
The cast off was the purl 2 together pass stitch back onto the left needle cast off, I don’t know if it has a proper name or anything. Sonia helped me pick the yarn out of my stash for them and she has excellent taste as you can tell.
I’ve also been working on a squishy blanket that’s going to take FOREVER! Actually I hope it doesn’t take forever because I might need it at some point this year if it ever gets cold. I am sooo very over this hot summer we’ve been having.
The pattern is Stephen West’s Garter Squish Blanket and I’m knitting it in Cascade Ecological and Eco+. I seriously can’t wait for some cold weather to snuggle under it.
So the ugly ducking turned into beautiful swan and everyone, lived happily ever after.
Incredibly, this beautiful shawlette is the fugly ancient bra handspun. Now a gorgeous shawlette made from the hitchhiker pattern. Rav link.
Needless to say. I’m very happy with it as a beautiful garment, a reminder of fun, crafty times with friends and a measure of how much my spinning has progressed.
Talking of transformation and progression, the end of 2012 was very trying with a major life change, brought on by me but 2013 is emerging as a year of positivity, possibility and progression. Sadly, my Etsy store has closed for the forseeable future but my fibre will be popping up for sale elsewhere so stay tuned!