Archive | March, 2008

Yarn to Welcome Spring

31 Mar

The lack of knitting means that I’ve had an unusual amount of time available for spinning.  Which is perfect when you have delicious roving that is just begging to be spun up.  Over the course of 3 or 4 days I finished a yarn that just seems to epitomise spring.

I had so much fun spinning this up, I loved seeing the colour changes emerge, sometimes very muted, othertimes quite strong.  I navajo plied it into a sock yarn, which was quite an adventure.  I’ve never navajo plied and it felt more like a battle than plying when I first started out.  By the end I really got into the rhythm.  I’m still battling my problem of underspinning/underplying and there are points at the navajo chains where my plies are coming apart a little.  Seems like I need to set my wheel at an even higher ratio.  No matter, I still love it.  A huge thanks to Karen for enabling me to make such a fantastic yarn!  Colourways like this are worth their weight in gold.

I’m glad I’ve finished this because I really needed something to keep me occupied over the next week in Cornwall.  I can’t guarantee that the weather will be cooperative so a nice pair of spring handknit socks seems to be in order.

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Back from Easter

27 Mar

I hope everyone’s had a nice Easter break, I know we have.  As far as actual Easter celebrations go all I did was make a batch of hot crossed buns.  It’s a bit hard to get in the Easter spirit when it’s still cold enough to snow.  Most of our time was spent at a pottery exhibition David was showing at.  He was able to go down and do some throwing as a bit of a demonstration to visitors.  Both of the items he had for sale sold so it was a good start for him.  I stuck around to watch him get messy with clay and watch a rather scary bit of inferno known as a raku firing.  The rest of the time was spent relaxing and getting down to the needles.

I spent one of my evenings going through all of my handknits and frogging those poor neglected knits.  One was a blue and cream striped scarf of Rowan Polar that I had made David about 5 years ago when I started knitting.  I don’t think he wore it once.  No matter, they make lovely loafers.  The pattern calls for two strands of Malabrigo worsted held together, and I can only imagine how lovely they must be, but one strand of Polar feels beautifully soft and cushy.

I finished them in two sittings over two evenings.  They are easy, quick and wonderfully warm.  He even wears them as “welly warmers”, keeping his toes warm as we splash through the spring mud.  I am so knitting myself a pair out of some purple Lamb’s Pride Bulky I’ve had in the stash forever.

As if knitting loafers wasn’t enough excitement, Karen came over yesterday for a fantastic  day of fiber chat and hanging out at the beach.  She has been dyeing like crazy recently and have made some absolutely lovely colourways based on photos.  I am always stunned by the richness and accuracy of her colours and can’t wait for her online store to open officially.  I doubt she will need much publicity since I am very willing to make myself poor with rovings such as this.

Hay Roving

This is a beautiful roving based on a photo of hay (can you imagine?  Hay!), and I love the subtle colours and mix of greens, purples, oranges, and creams.  It is blue faced leicester so we know it will spin up nicely but I just feel  my spinning isn’t even worthy of such loveliness.  But how yummy would navajo plied sock yarn be in this?  And if that is not enough to be madly jealous about I also got a lovely set of stitch markers.

They are even nicer in person, believe me.  I had been using flimsy little markers I had gotten for free and was even resorting to tying rings of yarn so something had to be done.  These rose quartz stitch markers are beautifully made and have a great weight to them, you just know they will last for years.  I am only too lucky to have such a generous and talented friend, but don’t worry, I’ll be paying her back with plenty of dyeing (and cake making) labour quite soon.

I’ll give you a sneak peak at something big that I have finished but still need to model.  It’s been on the needles for a long time and I am glad that it’s finally over with.  The end result is fabulous though, and I hope I’ll get a chance to take photos before we go on holiday to Cornwall next week.  And for the record, I actually don’t have anything on the needles at the moment!  This is definitely a moment to remember, and no, I have no idea what to make next.

No More Cold Hands

19 Mar

What does a knitter do when faced with freezing cold hands?  Knits some mitts of course.

I am loving these quick knits I’ve been doing lately, they break up the monotony of larger projects and are so satisfying.  These are a free pattern from “Last Minuted Knitted Gifts” and are so ridiculously quick to make that you could finish them in one sitting.  I think the traveling ribs add such a pleasant texture, and make what would be very plain mitts into something just a bit more interesting.

They are knit with my own handspun shetland, my first real attempt at spinning anything thicker than fingering weight.  They are very soft and warm, but I’m always disappointed with the stitch definition with my handspun, it’s all just a bit too fuzzy.  I’m also very tempted to overdye them.  The earth mother in me says to embrace the lovely natural grey, but the fashionista in me says that grey does nothing for me.  If I do it’ll be in a rich green which will maybe turn out a muted, foresty colour.  For now, I am just enjoying the feeling of having nice warm hands to wrap around my favourite mug of tea.  I don’t think I’ll be taking these off anytime soon.

How to Wear a Shawl

17 Mar

So I promised that there’d be an exciting update. Something is different about the Wife, can you see what it is?

If you said “The hair!” you get a cookie, I got my haircut the other day and decided to go for it and get it really short. My hair is pretty fine and looks so flat and lifeless when I have it longer. This way it looks thicker and has a bit of texture, I’m really pleased with it. I also got in cut hoping that the weather might improve, so far no luck with that.But wait, what am I wearing in that photo? That beautiful bright blue bit of lace?

It’s Ene’s Scarf from Scarf Style, something that’s been hibernating for a rather long time. It feels like I’ve been working on it for over a year, but mainly that’s because it took about 5 goes before I successfully cast on and started the lace. I was originally going to make it in Kidsilk Haze, but casting all the mohair was a nightmare. When I saw four balls of Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4 ply on offer I knew exactly what to make.   It took an evening of watching Predator to finally finish it.  I love love love this shawl, at first I thought ‘when am I going to wear this?’. Answer: all the frickin’ time. It’s about 6 feet long and so versatile, I had a great time figuring out different ways to wear it besides just tying it in the front.

Scarf Style – Just fold it over so it’s about the width of a scarf and wrap it around your neck. It’s super warm, cozy, and makes you feel a bit like a movie star.

Cape – This is so easy, just throw the ends over your shoulders or even bring them back around the front and tie the ends ascot style. This makes it look like a great little cape or capelet, and is how I wear it over my jacket outside.

Shrug – Throw it over your arms and either let it hang or tie it around the back for a shrug look. Great over a sleeveless dress, cami, or just to keep the ends out of your way.

Wrap – This is my favourite! Wrap the ends around your front and tie them in the back. This is very warm and functional and looks a bit like a cropped wrap sweater.

Skirt – Kind of like a sarong, you just wrap the shawl around your waist for a quick lacy skirt. Great over a plain skirt, pair of jeans, leggings or a swimsuit.

Dress – I wrapped one end around my bust and the other around my waist and tied them on the side. I think this would be so cute over a swimsuit on the beach, but if you’re daring then maybe over a minidress or slip.

Who says shawls are for grandmas?

P.S. If you liked this post, you may like my newly added “How to Wear a Shawl Part II”

Link Love from the Wife

15 Mar

I’ve got so many things to report and photos to take but the weather is refusing to cooperate.  Hopefully tomorrow you’ll see a finished object, a fashion guide, and something missing from the Wife.   If you are bored and like ceramics and pottery head over to the Husband’s blog “Off the Hump”  (He refused to call it “The Husband Pots”).

Housework, Planning, and Knitty

13 Mar

Little has been done craft wise the last few days I’m sad to say.  I decided I was enjoying a bit too much time on the old curvature jacket and neglecting perhaps more important areas of my life, namely the house.  I have a love/hate relationship with my position as a housewife and my house.  I love being at home, being my own boss, having time to craft, but am rather bad with doing actual work.  I blame this on the fact that we rent and there’s something a bit unsettling with putting so much effort into something that isn’t your own.  If this was my house there would be a lot of changes and decoration to be done, as it stands there’s mostly just cleaning and upkeep.  I know what I’m supposed to do, it’s just getting around to it that’s the problem (time, for once, is not an issue).  I am a self proclaimed procrastinator.  I finally found an organisation system that seems to work, The Weekly Schedule Task Planner.  I can print it out and keep it in the kitchen or in the office and tick off chores that I need to do as well as plan the week’s menu and make notes of appointments.  I even keep a shopping list on there, so I can take it next time we go to town.  There’s something rather satisfying in ticking off chores that you’ve done, and I find I spend less time online.  It also means less time knitting, but I’ll settle into a routine.

Speaking of knitting, the exciting seasonal event of the new Knitty issue has come.  I think every issue of Knitty is great, whether I want to knit the patterns or not, but there are so many patterns that I love I’m seriously worried about how this housework routine is going to suffer.  Yosemite is absolutely gorgeous with it’s cabled ribbing, neat little shawl collar and cap sleeves.  Honeycomb is a perfect example of sexy school marm chic.  Laminaria, god even the name is gorgeous, do I need to say more?  I am so tempted to just frog all of the hours of work I’ve done on Ene’s Scarf just to make this.  Everything catches my eye, even the unexpected projects like Mosey Legwarmers.  Would they not be adorable in thick handspun yarn?  My only problem is that I will have to buy yarn for almost all of these projects so it’s likely I won’t be able to cast on for any of them until I’ve used up the bulk of my stash.  Still, a girl can dream right?

Yokes and Podcasts

10 Mar

So the storm seems to have passed, though the wind is still pretty fierce. All of our garden furniture was toppled over, some roof tiles flew off and our poor little crab apple tree looks like something out of Charlie Brown. The plus side is I got some crocheting done. I finally finished the never ending yoke increases, so I’ve finally got armholes.

    

I’ve tried it on and it seems to fit well, but think I might make the front edges of the yoke fold over into lapels, they look a little bit funny on me otherwise. I’m just glad I’m not working on nearly 200 stitches a row, it really seemed to drag on. Fortunately those linked stitches are just so cool that it’s hard to get sick of them.

  

Monday is my most productive day in housekeeping too, I feel recharged after the weekend. I downloaded a load of podcasts to get me through the daily toil and am surprised by how good some of them really are. I’ve just gotten into Brenda Dayne’s Cast On podcast am love it. It’s so well produced and with some truly interesting segments, interviews and great music. I’m going to have to slowly make my way through the archives since I’m so late on the bandwagon. Crochet Cast and Yarnthing are pretty good too, and certainly helps me get my knitting fix while scrubbing toilets and the like.

In non-knitting podcasts I’ve finally gotten in the Archers after 5 years of avoiding or half listening to the programme, and thank goodness it’s only about 15 minutes because a huge chunk of my life would be gone listening to it. Now that I’m hooked I have no idea when it’s going to end so this is kind of a life long committment. But maybe my favourite podcast of the day was Earth and Environmental Systems podcast, which is really just a series of lectures for the Colorado School of Mines. I’ve only listened to one lecture but they are so well researched and produced that I find it engaging and educational without getting too overwhelmed. Perfect for the science geek in everyone because he does such a range of topics, but favours geology. I’d love to hear your favourite podcasts (knitting and otherwise) as I can see myself becoming quite an addict.

Fiber Day!

9 Mar

This weekend has been both busy and fun.  Yesterday I went over to east Dorset to hang out with my fiber partner in crime, Karen.  It was her birthday on friday and I gifted her with treats of chocolate, cake, fingerless mitts, and of course, yarn.  I gave her a ball of Twilley’s Freedom Spirit, in a gorgeous red colour.  I was able to meet Giles, the newest member of her family.

Giles

A gorgeous Ryeland ram, he is such a sweetheart.  I couldn’t believe how tiny he was and just loved the cuddles and attention.  Of course to be fair he wasn’t alone.  Splodge, the big texel ram, was with him to keep him company.  At times they even look like they’re best of friends, but I know better.

Giles & Splodge

I can’t wait until next year when there’ll be little ryeland cross lambs bounding about the fields.  Their fleece is truly amazing, it’s so downy and impossible to felt, perfect for socks.  I was supposed to come over to do some dyeing outside but the weather thought otherwise.  All was not lost though, it was a great excuse to go to hobbycraft.  I have to admit I was quite naughty there and bought some yarn, of course having another knitter shopping with you does no good for the self control.

Siena Cotton Yarn

I got 5 balls of Jaeger Siena cotton in a steely blue, thinking I’d find some cute crochet pattern.  So far I’ve had no luck, but I may make Adorn Mag’s cropped jacket.  It’s different gauge but I think it’ll work, and who couldn’t use a foxy little bolero to cover up vest tops in the summer?

All in all we had a great, though exhausting day, it’s always a treat going to the farm (even if she gives mestrange liquorice sweets!).  I fear for the citizens of Builth Wells last week in April as we’ve already booked our accomodation for Wonderwool Wales.  There’s been talk of bringing the sheep trailer for the tonnes of yarn that will undoubtedly be bought by two crazy ladies.

Today we went down the beach and had a fun time watching the weather go by.  We were lucky to completely miss the rain and managed to get into the car before the next downpour.  Batten down the hatches everyone, tonight’s going to be a stormy night.

Storm

This is what happens when you use Ravelry

6 Mar

You’re just innocently browsing Ravelry when suddenly it hits you, a gorgeous little pattern, that you just HAVE to make.  Now.  Fortunately I knew exactly what yarn I wanted to use and within a matter of hours I have a new hat.

Puffy Slouch Hat

It is crocheted using Twilleys Freedom Spirit, which is pretty soft, but it’s the colours that draw you in.  My favourite part are the colourful rings in the centre of the hat.

Puffy Slouch Hat

Delicious.  It’s so quick to hook up that I want to make it in a dozen colours, a  hat for every day of the week, for every mood.  You can see why I get so little done when little things like this crop up in the middle of my day.

Survived and Conquered

5 Mar

Last night I was up until the wee hours of the morning, totally unlike me, struggling with my beautiful Fyberspates yarn.  I say struggle because as I was winding it the yarn became an awful, tangled mess.  I have no swift and it’s tricky winding yarn (via the Lego Winder) and carefully getting the yarn off the skein at the same time.  Usually there’s no problem, but last night I was doomed to failure.  Everything was okay until about the last 100 yards or so.  I must have been daydreaming because the next thing I knew I had a huge knot (and I mean the whole damn skein) at the end of the winder.  This is my personal hell.  I would rather be trapped in a room full of huge deadly spiders than have to untangle yarn.  After much cursing and crying, this is why we need hard liquor in the house, I finally got under control and slowly managed to untangle the yarn, a process that took me over three hours.  Three Hours.  We shall never speak of this again.

Cinnabon Yarn

I’m just glad that this yarn is truly lovely because any inferior yarn would have gone straight to the bin.  Yes, this is how much I love it.   I’m also renaming it Cinnabon because from the top it looks rather like those delicious cinnamon rolls I remember from trips to the mall.  I just hope my mother appreciates the pain I’ve been through to make her socks.

In much more pleasant news I found a patch of daffodils growing in our garden.  I didn’t plant them so they were quite a pleasant surprise.  They are the happy reminder that spring really is coming, even if the weather thinks otherwise.

Daffodils