last post before christmas!

My blog rate has totally slipped. Partly because I’ve been very caught up in thoughts of Christmas this year – last year’s severe weather made me anxious to make sure I got things like presents for the children sorted early. Since my last post I’ve also had a trip down south to visit family, during which the aforementioned photographer’s gloves were handed over – they fit perfectly, and hopefully are now saving my brother-in-law’s not-so-tiny hands from freezing.

PICT0643

As you can see, I abandoned my orginal idea of putting flippy-tops on the thumbs and forefingers – to be perfectly honest with you, whichever way I tried this, they just looked *wrong*.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

Since coming back, my christmas knitting has consisted solely of a pair of Fetching mitts for my sister, on request. I finished the Laminaria off before this – the casting off took me a while (mostly because finding the enthusiasm for that eluded me), and I still haven’t blocked either that or the Aeolian I finished a few months ago, so a mass-blocking session is in order in the new year.

I’ve got about halfway along with my dad’s first sock, so it’s looking likely that he’s not going to be wearing them on christmas morning, sadly. I chose a 4ply wool/nylon blend (Jura by Texere yarns) which I’m knitting on 2.5mm needles, so my progress isn’t terribly fast, and unless I get them done by thursday I’ll have missed the last post. The yarn was held up in (presumably) the christmas post, so it was a couple of extra days before I managed to start on them, and then I had a couple of false starts till I got the right needle (a smaller one than that given by both the manufacturer and ravelry).

Progress has also been slow with the silk I’m spinning – I think I’ve done about 8g total at this point. I’m not sure really how to progress with it, whether to try and do as much as possible as a single skein or whether to stick to more manageable amounts – last time I think I stuck to a maximum of 20g on the spindle per single, so I expect that’s probably what I’ll end up going for this time.

As well as the usual Christmas distractions, I’ve recently enrolled on an Open University course – my course materials arrived last week – and this week we took the plunge and decided to invest some of the money we were given as a wedding gift in a quite honestly magnificent Kenwood kitchen machine (and icecream maker, though that’s had to go back to the shop as it wasn’t the right size one – replacement due any time in the next few days).

It’s all go.

scuppered!

Yep, I’m out of action again. Not my back this time, but my upper arm, which currently has a hottie bottie tucked under it. I think I pulled a muscle in it at the weekend, shifting luggage – it’s not shockingly bad, but I’m not risking making it worse by attempting to knit or spin just right now.

(This is good news with regards to me getting some blogging done, it would seem.)

My dyeing is all done – has been for a week or so but I’ve been a tardy blogger, which isn’t terribly wise when it comes to record keeping as I’ve now got to try and remember details that are not quite as fresh as they might have been.. I did at least make some notes (both on ravelry and, y’know, on your actual paper).

PICT0514

I’m pleased with the end results – I did initially have trouble with the yellows, as the one I ordered turned out to produce something much more mustard coloured than I’d hoped for but I guess that’s the risk when choosing colours online. In the end I reverted to food colouring for the yellow, and used the first two attempts with the Landscape dye as bases for my green and orange, overdyeing them with the Landscape blue and red.

I pretty much followed the instructions that came with them, at least with the primaries. The colours above are made at as close to their recommended full saturation levels as I could manage – the skeins are only small (25g-ish each) and my scales only measure 1g increments, so I had to estimate 2.5 grams and hope. They came out really quite saturated indeed, good news as I have plenty of remaining dye for future projects (particularly if they’re to be multicoloured and/or more muted than these).

I haven’t started knitting with them yet, as my other unfinished projects still aren’t completed, though I’ve started a pair of ‘photographer’s gloves’ (gloves with flippy tops on the the thumbs and forefingers) for my brother-in-law to keep him cosy on those winter photo shoots.

PICT0579

I have started a new spindling project though. More mulberry silk tops, so far I’ve managed 4g at about the same weight as the last lot –

PICT0572

PICT0569

And as you can see from this picture, I’ve also managed to give it a proper bounce off the kitchen floor. It doesn’t seem to have affected its spin too much, but it does feel a bit weird, so I think I’ll glue it back on – though I think I’ll at least wait until I’ve emptied the spindle, it seems like asking for gluey trouble otherwise.

stocked up!

I’ve not got very much further with any of my projects recently, due in part to a week spent with downright wicked back pain (totally unable to knit, misery), and also to the fact that I just didn’t have the stuff I needed to continue with them. Firstly there was the issue of not having enough beads for my Aeolian, just a row and a half from the end. I turned to the cardigan I’d been knitting for my youngest and finished both fronts and seamed the shoulders only to find, when it came to picking up stitches around the armholes for the sleeves, that I had neither double pointed needles nor circulars in the same size as the straights I’d been using up to that point.

I also completed the final skein of the shetland for her *other* jumper, but had no dye to move to the next stage of the project.

I’m terrible for overdeliberating when it comes to spending money, but faced with the prospect of beginning yet another project (I don’t like to have too many on the go – I can hear them nag me), I knuckled down, opened my purse, and bought my much needed supplies.

First up – the beads. Now the packet of beads I originally bought had no code or description of any sort (other than their size), so I had to resort to peering at photos on the internet, and crossing my fingers. In the end I ordered a pack of noir-lined crystal, as they seemed closest to the clear-with-iridescent-lining ones I already had. Here they are in my little pot –

PICT0460

and here they are on the knitting –

PICT0469

The two beads in the top left of the picture are the new ones. They’re a little more vivid, with a tad more of a blue tinge to them, than the new ones. Not wildly so, but as the changeover happens just *one* repeat from the end of the second-to-last row I suspect I might find myself wanting to tink back to the beginning of that row and replace the lot.

Here’s the cardie, with the armhole picked up using a 2.5mm circ I had lying about (it’s next to useless – a cheapy £1 needle from Lidl that I bought on the offchance, it has a horrible grating quality and a too-short, barely flexible cable), and my new 3.25mm Addis from ebay –

PICT0466

As far as the dyeing project goes, I threw out the idea of using natural dyes. The dyes themselves maybe natural, but the exhaust left behind (containing the remaining mordant) is fairly toxic. There were other considerations too, but long-story-short, in the end I decided to go with acid dyes – asking about on ravelry, it came down to a choice of Kemtex, Landscape, DebbieT’s Hue and Dye range or – as I’ve used previously and have since been assured they’re pretty colourfast – food dyes.

In the end I went with Landscape dyes from Wingham Wool Works, as I only needed a very small amount and they were the best value for money. Nice colours, too –

PICT0478

I picked a red, a yellow and a blue – the 15g packs will dye more than I need anyway, so I think I’ll be able to make some attempt at blending – a green, and then possibly an orange and a purple if necessary. (I succumbed to a 100g bag of mulberry silk tops while I was at it, as it was such a good price…)

I still need to do my sums in terms of figuring out what amount I need of the various colours, so at the moment I’m doing that, trawling ravelry for inspiration, and dividing a few of my skeins into 25g ones.

And seeing as it seems I’m never going to get round to giving my wedding veil a proper post of its own, here we go –

DSC01644

My hubby’s sister took this photo, it’s a lovely view from the back. And our professional photography was done by my sister’s hubby, Daniel, who took these –

383Duncan

740Duncan

751Duncan

This was our venue, incidentally – Blair Castle, in Perthshire

066Duncan-2

More specifically, our ceremony took place in the disused church in the grounds, St Bride’s Kirk –

027Duncan

It has no roof, no windows and no door, but fortunately Scottish law allows outdoor weddings. (We did have a backup rain plan, inside the castle, and very nearly ended up using it!)

almost there…

I’ve just finished plying skein #6, which leaves one to go! I didn’t quite have 100g left for my last two skeins, so I’ve divided what I did have into two – this skein has come out at around 45g/102yds. (Skein #5 was 52g/110yds.)

PICT0457

I’m just away to start #7, so I need to start thinking about how I’m going to dye them, and then order some dyes – I don’t think I’ll be using food colouring as I have with all my previous efforts, as I want to be as confident as I can be that the colours are fast (particularly as I have a stranded project in mind, it wouldn’t do to have all the colours run into one another the first time I washed it!). I’m just not sure what route to go down – I quite fancy having a bash with natural dyes, which will mean a fair bit of reading up, not to mention sourcing of bits and bobs. I do at least now have a spare saucepan that I can solely dedicate to dyeing, as we got a set of new ones as a wedding present!

I’ve stalled on my Aeolian shawl, with approximately three and a half rows to go, as I have realised that what I feared has come to pass, and I’m not going to have enough beads to finish. I’m searching about now for some replacements, but to be honest, I was finding the constant beading in these last rows a little less than satisfying, so I’m having a break anyway. I just can’t get a rhythm going, you know? I have to say, I’m short by about 40 or so beads, which is at least the amount that must’ve been lost due to various mishaps along the way. Oops.

Anyway. I have, instead, turned to working on the cardigan I started for my youngest absolutely aaages ago (luckily, when I started it I knew this would happen, and cast on for a size considerably larger than she was at the time).

PICT0455

It’s an on-the-fly top-of-my-head pattern, so we’ll see how it turns out – the yarn is lovely, it’s a 4ply RYC cashmere/cotton blend in ‘Carrot’, which I bought from John Lewis in one of their sales a couple of years ago. There were only 5 of them, and 5 in ‘Wheat’ – I’d originally considered a stripey sweater for my eldest, but being unsure as to whether I’d have enough even with the 10 of them (and unsure of how the stripey thing would be received), I’ve decided instead to go for a couple of smaller, one colour projects with the yarn.

I’m still in the process of uploading our many, many wedding photos to flickr (being as far from the telephone exchange as we are, and in a no-cable zone, my upload speed is pitiful) – but once I have, I’ll fish out the best veil pics and post them – hopefully that’ll be my next post!

a little lesson

Four skeins in!

Well, that’s four under my belt now, I should really be further along than this but for two things – firstly we were away for the whole of last week, visiting family (and collecting wedding photos, including some corkers of my veil, but I’ve still to organise them so they’ll have to wait till my next post) – and secondly, the week before that, I spent about four days battling a blinding headache that just refused to go away.

I did a little bit of spinning when it was starting to ease (it morphed into neck/backache), and the resulting fourth skein is, I have to say, not terribly good. It’s not massively noticeable when you look at it, but it’s a good few yards shorter – it’s definitely not as lofty, either. Weighing it, measuring it, and doing the maths, 1g measures about 2.1yds, rather than the 2.4 I’m aiming for. That said, skein #2 came in at 2.6yds/g.

Skein #3 made me happy, it’s bouncy, and 120yds/50g.

Thankfully, the wpi of all these skeins seems to be very close, which is something. I’ll just have to see what happens when I swatch.

(You may have noticed I’m the proud owner of a cobbled-together niddynoddy. It cost me something like 5 pounds in total courtesy of B&Q – not counting the couple of quid I spent on a hacksaw, but I needed one of those after my last one fell to bits. A bit of googling and gleaning from various diy runthroughs and I ended up with this. The attractive stripey insulating tape is there to provide a bit of extra grip on the pipes, as they’re the sort that – presumably – you’d have to glue together. Without it they just fall out, ha. It does still dismantle should I need it to, this way.

It should come as no surprise to learn that it does work much better than wrapping my yarn round the pouffe.)

steady progress

Two down, 4 and 2/3 to go...

First two skeins under my belt, and I’m quite happy so far! Skein #1 came in at c.120yds/50g, and skein #2 is c.135 yds/52g. They’re both around 12wpi.

The single behind those is the first third of skein #3 – if I carry on at this rate I could be knitting in a couple of weeks, and who knows, she may even get her jumper for this winter…

…I’ve still not blocked Laminaria, and I’m 12 rows from the end of Aeolian, so that could end up being a blocking party.

catching up..

…and hopefully from now on, keeping up!

First up, not a photo of my own knitting or spinning, but a photo-of-a-photo of my husband’s granny Betty, and her sisters, dating from somewhere around the mid 1930s. The last time we visited her she showed me this photo and gave her blessing for me to blog it. I didn’t do it immediately on my return, as I wanted to blog my shawl first.

PICT0002

That’s granny on the far left, aged somewhere around 19 or 20, with her younger sisters Margo, Jean and Iris. She tells me it was a ‘promotional photo’ for their local yarn shop in Banff, Aberdeenshire. Their sweaters were all handknit by themselves, in their own patterns (if I remember right), with yarn purchased at the store – and the owner, having asked them to get the photograph taken at a local studio, proudly displayed it in her shop. While I like lace knitting, and admire the skill clearly involved in her sisters’ garments, I like Betty’s top most of all.

Back to my own knitting – I’m 28 rows from the end of my Aeolian shawl, plenty of yarn left, and I think I’m doing okay for beads. I do seem to have quite a lot of yarn spare – though we’ll see, top-down triangular shawls being one of those things that eat yarn in their final stages. I’ve used 32g of yarn so far, and have 25g left (I think I had around 600yds of yarn). The original pattern gives a yarn amount of 500yd/57g, and my yarn weighed 56g, so is obviously finer, which is why I went for a larger needle (the pattern calls for 3mm)… actually, looking at it – the stitch count almost doubles in this last chart, and there are a fair few nupps… I wish I hadn’t thought about that now, it’s made me nervous!

PICT0044

I have to admit to nearing the end of the Final Agave chart and having a proper brainfart – I spent a day or two thinking I’d finished the pattern, and wondering what on earth had happened as I had only used around 15g of my yarn, and half of the beads… confused, I put it to one side for a day or two. On returning to it, it took something like a 3-second look back at the projects of others for me to notice that, uh, my ‘finished’ shawl really wasn’t. Which cheered me up no end, as I’d been faced with being left with loads of my yarn unused, though possibly not enough to be useful.. honestly, what was I thinking?

And finally, spinning. In the past couple of weeks I’ve promised my youngest daughter a sweater, and while I’d intended just buying the yarn, it seems she just assumed I’d be spinning it and then knitting it. Once she suggested the idea, I realised that’d be the just the thing to do with the large bag of shetland fibre I’ve had sitting about for a couple of years now.

I had started an attempt at spinning a laceweight with it on my spindle, with an eye to making a traditional Shetland baby shawl (I’ve already collected Shetland Lace by Gladys Amedro from the local library!) but I’m not liking the way it’s going. The single is coming out sooo wiry and hairy, and it’s hard going, rather than enjoyable spinning. I suspect it’s not the finest shetland fibre, as parts of it have quite a short staple length. So. I’m thinking I might order a bag of Jamieson & Smith’s Superfine fibre instead for that particular project. It’s going to require a couple of thousand yards of yarn, and will, I expect, take me several months to work through – so I really would rather enjoy the experience.

The fibre is still relatively soft, and I’ve started spinning it up on the Louet into what I hope will become a 3ply sport or DK weight yarn. I’ve already got the first single done, 16g or so wound off onto a tp roll, as I’m thinking that the best thing to do – particularly as I want to go for a fairisle or stranded knit – is to spin 50g skeins. I’m going to dye the skeins after spinning, keeping some in the natural white and then (possibly with the help of youngest daughter, if she’s up for it) dyeing the rest to suit. I think she’d be up for it, particularly if she can choose colours, as she’s generally up for messing about in the kitchen with me.

The first of 24 singles...

Doing my usual estimating (counting winds on the tp roll as I go, having measured the circumference of it, and then measuring the circumference of the wound-on wool and finding the average, multiplying the two numbers together and dividing by 36… uh, like a loony), I think there’s around 135-140yds of single, weighing just over 16g. Looking at yardages for similar commercial yarns, this seems likely to come out in the sport/dk ballpark, though if I veer towards either 4ply or aran weight I won’t be distraught. We’ll see, anyway – I’m going to have a crack at getting the other two singles done by tomorrow afternoon, the weather here’s pretty miserable at the moment, and I’ve not got a lot else on. Shouldn’t be too long before I have my first finished skein, anyway.

I think breaking up the spinning into smaller skeins like this will make the whole process feel like it’s moving along quicker, as I’ll have lots of ‘completed’ stages, though I’m not sure whether to save the dyeing process until I’ve done all of them (I’m thinking 8 should be plenty). I could have just spun a couple of massive skeins and then divided it into balls I suppose, but this way seems less work.

The other thing that we need to do, of course, is find a pattern. The little ‘un enjoys browsing ravelry patterns with me, and I think I may have found a candidate. I could, I guess, have a crack at knocking one up myself, too – I’m tempted to buy myself a copy of Sheila McGregor’s Fair Isle book.

(Um, I’ve still not blocked my Laminaria, incidentally.)