WiP update

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.

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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.

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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.

Anyhoo, I need to return to blanket knitting.

ttfn x

Long time no post

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve had anything worth posting on here but that’s what life is like sometimes. I sometimes wonder if I should just post whatever but then after 10 minutes staring at the screen without touching the keyboard, I give up.

Anyhoo, there is some good news to post.  Idlewood Again has been finished and I love it! I loved knitting it and now I love wearing it! Except that it’s now coming into Melbourne Summer so there won’t be much wearing going on for quite some time.  Here are the details.

After an absolutely gorgeous lunch with Sonia last week, in one of Melbourne’s Southbank restaurants she took some photo’s of me wearing it and here they are…

See how it now fits and I’ve even knit a pocket for it, just one because I think that one is cute. Also, notice the cute skirt wot I made, love the fabric for this skirt but wish the skirt itself was a tad longer. Anyhow, the point is, Idlewood Again is now everything I intended it to be so I’m really glad that I chose to frog it completely (though if I’d have been smart I would have not frogged the cowl as that’s the same regardless of size). Ah, c’est la vie…

It has made me realise that getting the results you want is absolutely worth that extra time re-knitting, which brings me to the socks…

…I noticed that one cable was a row longer than it should have been and it irked me a bit but I continued to knit on.  Then, at knit night on Monday I knit some cables a row too short due to lack of concentration. So now, I’ve dropped the cable row and hopefully will be able to fix the problem. I’m still on the first sock but here it is.

The yarn, Stranded in Oz, Dye…my pretties in fairies in the garden is just delicious and I hope to be back on track again soon.

In other knitting news, I’ve decided to concentrate on just the handspun bee-keeper’s quilt  and scrap the other one. Mostly because the handspun one is more significant to me and also those puffs are larger so it will take me less time to make a decent sized quilt.

This leads me to spinning, oh it seems like now there is tonnes to blog about, what was I thinking?  I have been spinning but a little half-heartedly. Here is what I’m on with…

It’s still the Finn X Corriedale/Romney that I dyed but I’ve decided that I want to N-ply it and I felt the urge to get the spindle out for a Crafternoon I had with some of my Richmond Knitter friends so I’m spindling it too.  Because of this I’m thinking mitts/hat, maybe both but definitely not socks which was my first inclination. As for the half-heartedness about spinning this, I can’t really explain why, it’s just the way I feel.

So, that’s all my news, I hope it won’t be too long again before I have something to blog about.

ttfn Melanie x

Happy Knitting

Yay the knitting love has returned!

My Idlewood has been making me very happy.  I’ve separated the sleeves and I’m about to start the waist shaping.  Despite this being a re-do I am still in love with this project, love the yarn, love the pattern and this time round it’s looking like it will fit as I intended it to.  Part of the love is that I’ve done the raglan increases as per pattern instructions which I didn’t do first time(sometimes I can be really stupid).  I love the results and learnt a new increase method, which I am thinking would be excellent for Sam’s contiguous jumper when I get round to knitting it.  Anyway here’s what I’m talking about…

Neat!

The socks have had less time lavished upon them but only because I have to do the work thingy which I’m supposed to be getting ready for now. Anyway still love them they’ve pooled a bit but I’ve done a pair of increases which will maybe help.

Spinning has stalled but I have Wednesday, Sunday,Monday and Tuesday off due to a public holiday so I’m planning to make an effort to finish the blue Finn.

Anyhoo, off to work, taking the socks as I’m on public transport.

ttfn x

frivolous and studious

Today is the start of wool week in the UK with an event in my old home town of Harrogate which I would have loved to go to if I could, so I’m a bit sad.  International wool week starts on the 3rd of October, I shall be watching for any events in Victoria for that week.

To cheer myself up yesterday I decided to spin up some samples of hand combed fibre I bought on a whim from Hilltopcloud’s Etsy store.  It’s a mixed bag with lots of beautiful colours and sparkly stuff, very frivolous!

This was my first time spinning from hand combed fibre and I was intrigued as to how it would compare to the tops and flick carded fleece I usually spin with and the carded fibre I spun with last week.  I have to say I didn’t find it that easy to control the drafting thickness, which is probably my inexperience.  I think I probably need more practice in spinning with blended fibres of differing staples.  The one I found the easiest to spin was the white one which was a long wool mixed with sparkly stuff.  The blue one which I think is maybe a Shetland Merino sparkle blend was also lovely to spin.

Anyhoo, spun up it was rather pretty.

After setting the twist and drying overnight I knit the sample up this morning.

It’s ok, but of the two knitted samples I think I prefer the drum carded one for the shorter staple blended fibres. It did make me think that spinning random colours for stripy socks might be fun though.

Happy Yorkshire Day

Happy Yorkshire day everyone! Today is the day that Yorkshire folk celebrate their Yorkshireness and all things Yorkshire.  I shall be wearing my White Rose of Yorkshire with pride at knit night tonight.

It came in a kit for from baa ram ewe Yorkshire’s loveliest yarn shop.  The yarn is British blue-faced Leicester produced in Halifax West Yorkshire, which kind of makes up for it not being made from a Yorkshire breed such as Wensleydale or Swaledale.

So I thought I would celebrate with posting some facts about my hometown of Doncaster in South Yorkshire as an expression of my pride.

Not a lot of people know but butterscotch, one of my favourite confections (which has no scotch in it but heaps of butter and other yumminess) originates from Doncaster.  It was made by a company called Parkinson’s and even got Royal approval after it was given to Queen Victoria when she opened the St. Leger horse race in Doncaster in 1766.  Now called The Grand St. Leger it is the oldest and longest horserace in history, not that I know a great deal about horse racing though I did once do a stint at silver service waitressing at the St. Leger.  Butterscotch is still being made by Parkinson’s in Doncaster after a recent revival, yay!

Quite aptly as today is Yorkshire day, hubby and I went to see the Grimethorpe colliery band  from South Yorkshire last night, they are touring Australia at the moment.  You may recall that Grimethorpe colliery band were made generally famous through the film Brassed Off.  Brassed off happens to be one of my all time favourite films, not only for the brilliant and emotive musical score and fantastic acting (Pete Postlethwaite, my absolute favourite actor) but because I grew up in a mining town and lived through that era so it has a particular poignancy for me. I have to say they proved themselves not only to be superlative musicians but also humorous entertainers too, we had a fantastic night.

ttfn Melanie x

Sheep-tastic study

The postie has just been, yay!

He brought me 2 parcels from R.E. Dickie containing these beauties.

I haven’t properly unwrapped them yet but I have had a feel and inhaled deep, deep, restorative lungfuls of woolly fumes, ahhhhh!

They are 200g each of Southdown, BFL, Manx Loughtan, Devon, Herdwick, Shropshire, Jacob, Dorset Horn, Swaledale and Massam (this order does not correspond to the picture because I’m just too flippin’ excited to think of things like that).  Obviously I shall be getting more because there are way more British Breeds out there but these will do for starters.

I am planning to spin them and create a British Breeds blanket the design of which I haven’t decided on but I am investigating my options (thanks Ravelry x).  It’s all part of my self education in spinning and all things sheepy.  I have also bought a few more books, The Knitters book of Wool is good, but I want MORE!

So I bought three books.  Beautiful Sheep by Kathryn Dun and Paul Farnham because who wouldn’t want to look at pictures of sheep looking their most beautiful?  In Sheep’s Clothing by Fournier and Fournier which I’m over half-way through, lots of useful information and black and white pictures of staples and sheep, many more breeds covered.  Lastly and not at all leastly because I think this is going to be my absolute bible The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Robson and Ekarius, this is truly a gorgeous book covering not just sheep breeds from all over the world but other animal fibres too.  It’s informative about how to dye, prepare, spin and use each type of fibre and the photos show spun and knitted samples as well as examples of clean and dirty staples.

I am overwhelmed by sheepy bliss!

In other news…

…I did a gauge swatch for Owls yesterday but I must have had a sudden rush of excrement to the brain because I knit it flat and I washed it without measuring it first. D’oh!  I was so determinded not to end up with a jumper that grows in the wash and doesn’t fit again.  Anyhow, I have cast on a sleeve as a gauge swatch, (thanks Sharon) and I shall compare the two.  I’ve decided to frog and reknit the Idlewood  as I want it to be closer fitting but that can wait for a while, I need to get up the courage first.

ttfn Melanie x

Three colours Shetland

This weekend I finished spinning and plying 3 of the 5 Shetland sample tops from Jamieson and Smith. They were utterly gorgeous to spin on my spindles and I love the finished hank.  I spun the singles simultaneously but making sure that the lengths of the different colours were unevenly matched so that I had an marl type overlap when plying as advised by Binkaboo Jen.  In hindsight I should have been a bit more precise about this and made sure that the overlapping/marl lengths and plain lengths were more or less equal but I’m chalking that up to experience, I’m sure there will be a next time.  It’s still a bit damp so I haven’t weighed it or checked wpi but I will be adding it to my Ravelry stash page tomorrow.  It is dry enough to take a photo of though and because I’m excited to share here it is…

Anyway, a little factual something about Shetland that I have learned since I began spinning with this wonderful fibre.  Shetland sheep are a primitive breed like Icelandic and Finn and Jacobs with a fine inner and longer coarser outer coat.  Traditionally it has been used to make exquisite lace shawls, Fair Isle jumpers and carpeting so clearly it’s a very versatile  fibre anything between 12-40 microns.  It is an excellent steeking wool which is handy considering that’s an integral part of Fair Isle knitting, hmm what came first?.  It also comes in many different natural colours, one day I plan to knit a Fair Isle jumper from all the natural colours, but before then I shall have to learn Fair Isle, which I plan to do this September.  I’m planning Endpaper mitts and to spin the fibre (Shetland of course) for them myself, it seems silly not to really.

According to Clara Parkes “knitters book of wool” it’s best spun “woollen” for Fair Isle purposes as the fibre then blooms and this conveniently hides the yarn that is carried behind.  As my fibre came as combed tops and I don’t have a drum carder (yet) I spun this hank semi-worsted.  Given that Shetland is a low lustre fibre though means that there are no losses in the lustre department with spinning woollen.

I’m beginning to see that spinning from combed tops has it’s restrictions when it comes to learning about different breeds and their fibre.  I realised this the other day when admiring a friends recently acquired fleece how much of the character of the fleece is lost, this is probably down to all the processing the fibre has undergone which makes for a very homogenized fibre.  Unfortunately as I live in Australia I cannot import unprocessed fibre for my spinning adventures so I guess for now I shall just have to suck it up.  I’m definitely not put off and shall continue to purchase combed tops of British breeds because it’s fun but will just have to save and plan for a spinning holiday around Britain in the meantime.  Something to look forward to don’t you agree?  Speaking of something to look forward to I have purchase a wheel now that I’m completely hooked on spinning.  It should be in my possession in 3-4 weeks because of the public holidays, I’m soooooooooo excited.

ttfn xMelanie

Black Welsh part 2

I finished spindling and plying my Black Welsh yarn and I’m even more in love with it.  I think it’s the best I’ve spun so far and I’m even more determined to buy a wheel this year and spin a jumpers worth for Idlewood.  Here it is…

It’s 90 metres long and 100 grams between 7-8 wpi so aran to bulky weight.  It’s squooshy with a bit of scratch, just how I like my yarn.  I’m madly in love with it.

Next on the spindle will be some BFL beautifully dyed by Serenknitty, woot!

Special delivery

The postie came yesterday, hurrah hurrah!   I know several knitters doing the postbox hover at the moment, the anguish and anticipation is horrendous and I hope they are all very soon to be united with their purchases.  This is my last purchase of 2010 and it’s a good one, I’m  so excited to show you my new acquisition and I wish you could squish it too because it’s full of woolly goodness.

It’s North Ronaldsay fingering weight wool in light grey undyed and for those who might not know, the sheep on the Orkney island of North Ronaldsay live most of the year on the beach and have adapted to be able to digest the seaweed.  The yarn is entirely produced and handspun on the island and therefore quite rare and special.  As a new spinner, I love that it is handspun as it shows me what I’m aiming for with my own spinning.  Ah, to be able to spin so beautifully, hopefully with more practice I might one day.  I bought it with Jared Flood’s pattern Celes, in mind it’s a gorgeous lace scarf/stole and I think they would marry very well.

I also got Verity Britton’s Yorkshire Rose kit, because, as you know I couldn’t possibly resist a knitted Yorkshire rose.  The little box contains a pearl button and the brooch pin.

ttfn

Melanie x

Coraline

Yay, it’s 10/10/10 which feels very auspicious and in this household it is, for at 1am this morning I completed Coraline barring attaching buttons/fastenings but more on that in a bit.

Firstly, pics of the lovely Coraline blocking

So about the project, as you all know she’s made from Wensleydale Longwool 8ply that I bought on my last holiday to England at baaramewe.  I absolutely adore this yarn it’s so pretty with a lovely sheen and bloom, great stitch definition and lovely in the hand.  In fact, last Thursday at Kensington SnB hostess Katie asked if we had to choose one yarn and only knit with that one yarn for the rest of our lives what would it be? I chose Wensleydale, I’m that in love with it, I can’t wait to  wear  this cardigan and knit with the yarn again.

As for the pattern, I cannot praise that high enough either, Ysolda Teague is a knitting genius, I believe the Elizabeth Zimmerman of our age.  It’s so clever and yet so simple at the same time.  I love the way the shaping is incorporated so seamlessly.  I wish I’d knit it sooner, it looked like a complicated pattern and I used a few techniques for the first time knitting this, but really it is simplicity itself to knit.  I love the smocking stitch, I love the icord cast on really despite previous frustrations, I even managed to kitchener the last 6 stitches on the neck quite well, I think the secret is to pull quite tight each stitch as you drop it.  I love the icord edging, for a while as I was knitting it I was worried as the cardigan edges seem to curl and not sit straight but blocking has cured all of that.  I also love the hem and the pleat effect around the sleeve ends and the icord cast off, it all just makes the cardigan look so neat and professionally knitted, an absolute joy.  I’m actually thinking about making another in some Zarina I have or perhaps buying some more Wensleydale, they do a lovely Aubergine and a really pretty Teal colour too.As far as mods go, I didn’t knit the short rows for the neck in the end as when I tried it on I thought the neck sat quite nicely and I prefer a wider neck. Otherwise I knit the cardigan exactly as printed.

The style of this cardigan is one that I find very flattering. I’m generally a pear shaped woman with good childbearing hips but also a fullsome bosom, so maybe a cello or vase or something, Trinny and Suzanna have me a bit confused on that score.  Anyhoo, this is the third cardigan I have knit in this style the first being Moch cardigan which I neglected to blog about, bad blogger! But here’s a photo

This is also a favourite pattern by Gudrun Johnston the Shetland Trader that I am also planning to knit again.  This one was knit in Pear Tree 8ply and gets lots of complements every time I wear it.

Anyway, back to the Coraline, the fastenings I am undecided on, either the broach in the pic and some discrete hook and eye fasteners along the smocking edges or three of the buttons or new buttons entirely.  I’m swaying more to the broach which I would site either at the top or bottom of the smocking detail.  It’s really pretty swarovski crystal and enamel from Accessorize eons ago when I lived in Harrogate and I have earrings in the same swarovski to match.  What do you think?