Friday, June 19, 2015

Another first

My son finished his A level exams today, so went out to celebrate with his cohort this evening.  It's the first time I've seen him a little worse for drink!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


As predicted, I finished my weaving within the week, despite working over 42 hours in my day job.  I took it to the woolly day at Twyford (which I highly recommend - the second Saturday of the month - just comment if you are interested and within reach of Leicestershire - I'll get details to you!)

I was bowled over by the lovely comments and support of my fellow fibre fans.  I was encouraged to cut the work off the loom and knot a fringe - do you want to see how it looked?  If not - too late!

Sally wanted us to play with colour and texture - I think I gave it a good go.  I discovered I'm not keen on eyelash yarn or yarns with ends sticking out, but I love the effect of slubby yarns in the weave.  Plies of different colours tend to give a diagonal stripe effect as do random dyes.

Here's the weaving before it came off the loom

and here I am wearing it.  I'm going to wait until I've showed this to Sally before weaving in the ends so she can see the variety of yarns that went into it.  I've steamed it and will trim the fringe to even it up.  Is there anything else I should do?

I'm still pondering what loom.  Do I get something simple to start and then aim for something more for my big birthday next year?  Hubby asked me what I intended to do with whatever I wove, as he knows I like the things I produce to have a purpose.  I think that's a great question.  What do you use your own woven cloth for?

Maybe I need a course or a play day - suggestions for those would be great too and I'd be willing to travel for a weekend away

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


I did a tiny, decent thing the other week.  The smallest act of kindness, but something that anyone could have, would have, should have done.  The only reason I'm talking about it is because of the huge reward it precipitated - the most divinely dyed sock yarn from Verity of TrulyHooked.

She offered me the choice of any yarn in her Etsy, but I had to leave the choice to her as every yarn I looked at I thought 'yes, this is the one', only to look at the next and think 'wait, no, this one'.  The only one I rejected was a chartreuse - so not my colour.  I was thrilled to receive the above in her Antique colourway.    I think it is the shades of fading rose petals - so lovely!

Not another hobby!

I blame Sally.  And my husband.

At the Guild of Long Draw Spinners Sally ran a workshop to introduce novices to weaving  I was unashamedly the first person to sit down at one of the looms and 'have at it' -  and found I couldn't, wouldn't stop.  I didn't have a clue what I was doing, so both Sally and Maggie were very patient in their explanations to me,  The idea was to play with colour and texture, so that's what I did.  Luckily both Sally and Eileen had brought a wide variety of yarns to sample.  (By the way, I really dislike the white textured stuff in the photo - it makes the weaving look like a threadbare towel.  The ribbon yarn above it though, I love!)

My first weave since making a tiny purse at school 40 years ago! 

I did try very hard to leave the loom alone for someone else to have a go, but when I noticed that no one else had done so, I went back.  I wove all day.  Then Sally did something incredibly kind - she lent me her knitters loom for a month!  (It's not her only one I hasten to add).

I took it home, I sat in the kitchen and wove all evening.  When I was madly into papercrafts, I did lots of swaps of yarn and thread samples - I ended up with boxes of small amounts of novelty yarns all wound onto embroidery floss bobbins.  They were ideal for this.  So the weaving went on.

  The next day a friend came to visit.  I showed her the loom and she had a go.  For two hours.  Not the only one hooked then.  When she went, I must confess I took her work out so I could say that the whole thing was woven by me.  And I started again.  And did a bit more in the evening.  And the following two evenings because while I was at work all I could think about was the weaving waiting for me at home.  Oh, and how my shoulders and upper arms were a bit achey.

A riot of colour and textures

I'm not sure if this is an infatuation or the real thing. Only time will tell I suppose.  I do know that I've found myself thinking about buying my own loom and wondering what type I should get.

Sally wasn't expecting to lend her loom out, so she didn't bring all of the equipment for warping up etc.  I'm going to have woven to the end of the warp before the month week is up, so what do I do then? At least there's another woolly day on Saturday (why yes, I am a guild tart, glad you noticed) where I can get advice as to whatever I need to finish everything off, sort out the numerous ends etc. 

I am looking forward to seeing the whole thing unfurled

So, if you've been paying attention, you might be wondering why I'm blaming my husband for this sudden interest.  It's not that I'm looking for interests to take me out of the house and away from housework (never had that problem). The short answer is that he knows me too well.  When I started knitting he predicted I'd end up spinning, despite my protestations.  When I took up spinning, he told me I'd want a loom next.  Maybe I'm a good wife who doesn't want to confound his expectations?!

Monday, June 08, 2015

Thank you Facebook

I was really pleased that Facebook reminded me of the shawl I knitted for my friend today as I've never got a picture of it being worn before.  I had a beauty shot of it here, but here's Sarah modelling it - doesn't the blue look great against her hair? If you didn't know, Sarah is the creative talent behind Babylonglegs, where you can find lovely yarns and fibres that she dyes in her studio. Sadly for everyone else, she no longer stocks this yarn base, so I'm very privileged to have had the joy of knitting with it

Friday, June 05, 2015

Bounce bounce bounce

Following on from my playing with colour, I spun up the hidden depths batt so that the greens would have something neutral to pop against.

So,there's 238 yards of approx DK.  The green blue pop is at the beginning/end of my yarn and stems from what was on the bobbin before I spun up the green rolags.  I love how it looks in the skein, but I'm not sure I'll be using it at this point

What do you think?  I love the colours flickering in and out and I'm so curious about how it will knit up.  I'll have to decide what to make first though - any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Playing with colour

I went to one of my guilds on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed a mini workshop on Tones, Tints and Shades.  It was given by Pam Austin, who always entertains me.  (She taught me to long draw by smacking my hand when I tried to control everything worsted style - something that horrified me at the time, but amuses me greatly now.)  Pam explained how blending colours with different neutrals changes their appearance and we used hand carders to produce the effects she talked about.  I won't go into too much detail as it's her workshop and living.

So, fired with enthusiasm, I spent some time on Sunday experimenting.  Here are the fibres I used  that were in my bit bag - yellow with a streak of purple that had clung to it, lime milkshake harshness, deep navy blue, natural that somehow looks pink, and grey drier lint (not really, but it was peculiar stuff)

Here's a taste of the shades I carded up.  Look as those airy rolags!

 Want to see some blending shots?
I put a mix of fibres on the card

One pass

The other carder

Action! (very hard to take all of these pictures with one pair of hands and one crappy, very crappy camera phone)  Look how the awful short grey stuff was clumping at this point.

Still struggling to get it blended at this point

But after some more work.....

I am so looking forward to plying this!

And yes, that is a mirror underneath the flyer - this way I can see the nearest end of my bobbin without having to half stand

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Better Beret

So, here's the improved beret, beautifully modelled by my lovely daughter.  I'm not so enamoured of all the pink appearing at the centre where the bobble is as it makes it a bit nippley.  It has led me to save it in my Ravelry projects as the Tit-fer Hat though!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Batt-y goodness

I've been playing with the drum carder and I'm in love with what comes out of it. I'm calling the one on the left hidden depths and the one on the right deep lagoon.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Colouring for Crafty Adults

Colouring books for adults are all the rage.  I've got one and have enjoyed what I've done so far, but there's been a question mark in my mind about it all.  I don't like that it's become a big business opportunity and I've had the niggling question of what the heck do you do with it once you've finished a page.

I have unwittingly found a crafty alternative and it's all due to my friend Brenda.  We've never met and I'm not at all sure how we ended up as online friends - a combination of common interests and admiration for her photography I think. (Correct me if I'm wrong/ if you have a better memory than me Brenda!)  A month or so ago she invited me to take part in a project called the Embroidered Digital Commons which involved embroidering phrases ready to be combined into a definition of the word liminal, which in turn will combine into a larger lexicon.  The link gives a far more in depth explanation.

Here's what I produced (everything was pressed before it went, but excuse my enthusiasm in these hot off the needle pictures)

The action of embroidering turns out to be absorbing and meditative as well as creative, plus at the end there's the possibility of having art you can do something with - what could be better?!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

There's got to be some benefits!

It's been a bit of a month or so in our household.  I've had a long running cold that turned into a chest infection, my son passed his driving test first go and hubby managed to miss a step on the stairs and broke a bone in his foot.  I was away at spinning guild for the day, and fortunately I had my phone turned on (a rarity) and heard it (even more rare),  A rush home and a trip to the Urgent Care Centre confirmed that he had broken a bone in his foot, so we came home with two crutches and a moon boot.

Three days later and he decided he wanted to go to work.  On the train.  To Birmingham.  Without any medical aids.  Wearing walking shoes.............  Men!  Anyhow, I did what I could and offered to take him to the station, and pick up if required.  At this point I realised that his train leaves our station before 6.45.  Hence I had a lot of time to enjoy the morning before going to work myself.  I had a leisurely breakfast, hung out the washing, looked at our sleeping rats and still had time to enjoy the morning sunlight with a bit of spinning - total bliss!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Spinning my winning

At the pre Christmas meeting of the Guild of Long Draw Spinners, we had a free raffle where I was the lucky winner of a shoe box full of gorgeous poonags. They were soft, wormy and not my usual colours, but oh so beautiful. I had no time to spin them before Christmas, then a shoulder injury took care of the first 6 weeks of 2015.  It was frustrating to say the least.

Finally I was healed enough to open the box and spin!  I had a jumbo flyer and maiden for my Sonata for Christmas, so I decided that I'd try it out and attempt to wean myself away from the fine spinning that is my default.  (I attribute this to parsimony - so many more hours of pleasure from fluff if you spin it small!).  I realised half way through that I hadn't taken pictures of the poonags in their glory, so here you can see a few with the singles that flowed from them/

Here's the singles caked up - still not particularly chunky, but going in the right direction

I didn't know what to ply it with at first.  Then I remembered that years ago I was gifted a wrap with permission to unravel it.  This proved to be a game in itself until I realised the cunning way in which the wrap had been put together.  As the unravelling breakthrough happened so late at night, there were no pictures and I would feel mean about revealing too much about the wrap - both who it came from and what pattern it was.  Suffice to say, the two ends of colourmart silk matched beautifully with my singles

I decided to play on the differing fibre contents and experiment with a spiral ply.  I found it a bit hard to start with, but eventually cottoned on to what I needed to do. Initially I thought I would ply the silk around the singles, but it looked a lot better the other way round as it allowed the handspun to poof at will.

You can see the fun I had with spiral plying!  (Sorry for the off colour - definitely not so orangey in real life!)

It's not very even throughout the skein - you can definitely see my progress as I learnt what I needed to do.  This is before finishing.

My daughter had a doll with hair like this

Are these glasses ageing?

All washed, relaxed, skeined and twisted into skwooshy beauty.  Look at those shots of orange, the lemon and the mushroom gill shades

Caked into 146 grammes, 322 yards of DK squish!

I could pretend that the start of the cake is flat to aid cast on, but it's where I was getting to grips with the technique

I've yet to decide what to knit with it.  Plus, as these are so not the colours that suit me, I am toying with the idea of over dyeing the whole thing.  Would it be rude to do so?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beret Annoying

As I wrote yesterday, I knitted away on my beret and was waiting for it to dry before I made any remarks.  It has probably dried by now, but Snotticus - the god of colds and coughs - has descended on our household with a vengeance, so I had no chance to poke the beret's inert form last night.

From that, you can probably detect that I was non too happy with what I produced.  Truth be told, the damn thing was so huge that I had nothing large enough in diameter in the house to block it over.  I'd tried it on, unwashed and unblocked and it drooped down over my shoulder. So, I spread it out on a towel, like a deflated something.  What that something was I have no idea, but it just looked limp and lifeless and somehow discarded.  This has played on my mind for over 24 hours.

Something had to be done.  Finally it dawned on me to investigate what others using this pattern have done and tada! - there are ERRATA for the book, including the blooming tam!  So, I merrily decreased every other row as per the book and it should have been every row. No wonder my top was huge,  So much wasted yarn, effort and time.  Gah!  The moral of the story is, of course, to check for errata.  And listen to your inner wisdom.  

Now I've got to find the end that I buried in my icord top knot and pull back to where the decreases started.  Then I get to play with the yarn all over again - yippee!  Maybe this time it won't take about 70g of yarn.......

I promise I will take a pic of the big ass monstrosity so we can compare it to the item of loveliness that will eventually spring forth from my circ (I am determined if not delusional), but for now, it's just words

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dyeing to have fun

I spent a very happy Sunday afternoon last month with my friend, the inimitable Knitting Mongoose where she taught me a bit about dyeing.  I don't know what came over me as I'm not usually a brights person, but obviously my subconscious desperately needed two rainbows

Dried and wound, the cakes of yarn look very different and I thought I would knit them up into a pair of socks

However, I decided that I really needed a big, multicoloured beret so off I went, following the instructions in the Knitter's Handy book of Patterns.  It's currently at the finished, bathed and drying stage, so you will have to wait for the finished result and my commentary.  I will say no more at this point!