Friday, 27 February 2009

unanticipated outcomes

A few days ago I discovered that the Student Union was showing the newest version of Sweeney Todd. You know, the one with Johnny Depp singing. So, since £3 is a good price for a cinema ticket in central London, off I toddled. Lighthearted, bit of a giggle, not really worth owning on DVD to be honest.

Anyway. I think I want to take up barbering. Since I have so much free time! I've been toying with the idea for a couple of months now, thanks to all the reenactment. The generally accepted wisdom is that the accessories make the outfit. I disagree. I think it's the hair that makes the outfit. You can have all the accessories you want, but purple spikey hair is going to kill the outfit no matter what you're wearing. So is the wrong kind of facial hair.

I have to learn to put up my hair, and since I end up trimming my husband's hair and beard anyway I may as well learn to do it properly so that it looks right. I think I'll be practicing using a cutthroat razor on my legs first before trying his chin though!

Monday, 23 February 2009

another jag

I feel like I'm back on familiar ground. The last enormous project I worked on was the Dr Who Scarf, an enormous time-eating fringe-ified beast of a project. About halfway through I suddenly became obsessed with it, working on those rows of garter stitch at every opportunity. Well, it feels like I'm getting that way with this dress. I spent the weekend working on the skirt front and made a good chunk of progress. Spent lunch working on the shoulder straps, which I hope to finish either this evening or tomorrow.

The dress designer seems to expect that anyone skinny enough to need an extra small will be short. Well, my friend is as tall as I am, and I wear a medium or a large. I'll be going over and finishing the straps with her there to measure against so that they're the correct length for her.

It's fun making something so big, in an odd way. I'm bored of it, yes, but I'm pleased that I've managed to stick with it. And she's going to look really good in it when it's done!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Some pretty things

First up, some handspun silk. I am so happy with it! I ended up dyeing it with kool-aid, four of berry blue and one of strawberry. Weirdly, it doesn't smell of fruit like wool does.

And on a totally unrelated note, last weekend the hubby and I went to an event. And we got called up in court and presented with our Awards of Arms!!! Not a major award by any means, but it's the one that means that we can design and display coats of arms.

Hubs', with gorgeous Celtic knotwork:

Mine, beautifully done by the hand of Her Majesty, Queen Fiona (!):

Thursday, 19 February 2009

knitting soon, but first...

This blogger:

is currently running a fundraiser for the Australian Bushfires Appeal. I try not to link to stuff like this often, because I know how much it bugs me when I get accosted by chuggers. Still, it's a good cause. And there are potential prizes.

Monday, 16 February 2009

A knitterly dilemma

I need new socks. Rather desperately, in fact - the last time I bought new socks was about 5 years ago. My favourites have holes in them, and even the ones I don't like that much are wearing through.

The thing is, I knit socks. I love knitting socks. I have enough sock yarn to make myself 16 pairs of everyday* socks, which would be more than enough to get me through all the days of the laundry cycle, especially added to the 5 pairs I already have and wear.

The dilemma? I have enough commitment knitting to take me through until at least the end of April. It takes me 4-10 weeks to knit a pair of socks. But my knitterly pride objects to buying socks when I have so many proto-socks in my flat already! I just don't know how much longer I can continue to wear these poor, shredded rags of socks...

*everyday socks are socks with enough nylon content that I can wear them inside my work shoes without destroying or felting them. Unlike my Posh Yarn socks, which only get worn around the flat after it's been swept.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

An unexpected FO

Thanks to a couple of early wake-ups, I managed to get my shawl finished last night! I blocked it this morning, and it dried quickly enough that I was able to wear it to work today. I love it. And it's perfect timing, because it's started snowing again...



After a day's wear:

(PS - my posture isn't that bad, hubs took the photo from a funny angle!)

Monday, 9 February 2009

Lovely weekend

I had an entire page of things I needed to do, and I got pretty much all of them done! All of important or time-sensitive ones are complete, so I'm feeling happy and productive. One of the goals was working on the wedding dress. I managed to get up to a point where I needed to measure the recipient again, so after finishing that, I spent several hours winding more dress yarn.

Then I worked on my brown blob, AKA the replacement Shetland Triangle Shawl. I've finished all of the repeats of the main chart, so now I just have the 16 rows of the edging, a bind-off and a blocking to complete. I'm hoping to get the knitting done this week so I can block it while we're out at a reenactment event on Saturday. If I'm out while it's drying, I'm less likely to fuss at it.

A shawl and a wedding dress would be good progress for the shortest month, I think!

My friend was really happy about the way the dress is turning out. I still can't quite believe how skinny she is...

Saturday, 7 February 2009

All photos, all the time

If only. Here are some recent highlights!


Silk singles

An evil eye medallion, strung on some handspun

Posh Yarn Claudia 4-ply

Vintage sock kit

Friday, 6 February 2009

mmm, silk

I promise it's not just spinning going on right now, but my two active projects are, respectively, a large green blob and a large brown blob. Lace doesn't photograph well! The plan is to have both done by the end of the month.

So, spinning. Last night I was too tired to focus on counting a lace pattern, so I decided to spin. A sensible person might have gone with the BFL that she'd already spun with, but no, I decided to spin tussah silk. It's very special silk. I bought it last June at a reenactment event - my very first fiber! It's been marinating in the stash ever since, waiting for the day I was ready to try my hand. The filaments are so long, it's amazing. I played around with drafting for a little while, then oiled Roy, tied on my leader and got started. This silk just wants to be laceweight! It's crazy! I've never spun a single so fine before. I divided the silk in half before I started, so I spun up 25g of it last night and this morning. Those 25g took longer than spinning and plying 90g of merino, just because it takes so little fiber to make a sturdy single. Of course, I'm now having to take a break from it, because the silk is so slippery. In order to control the twist, my left hand has to pinch extremely hard. Too much pinching, as I've learned from sewing, leaves my forearm and shoulder very painful. So, I stretched, I took breaks, I had a soak in the tub and I'm resting before I tackle the second bobbin's-worth. Judging from the plyback I made, it's going to be worth the wait!

Things I've learned about tussah silk:
  • It sheds. REALLY sheds. I had no idea fiber could shed so much. I need to get a lint roller if I'm going to take up silk spinning full-time. Also, cups of tea near the pile of roving is a bad idea if one doesn't like choking on silk filaments.
  • It likes being laceweight. With wool and alpaca, I've been starting thick and learning to spin more finely; with silk it's the other way around.
  • Silk can have a halo, and I love the way it looks. I didn't strip the roving into lengths before I started, so I've got places where the ends are fuzzy. I can correct this for future silk spinning, but I'm ok with it for now.
  • A little goes a long way. 'Nuff said.
  • I need to take breaks so I don't injure myself.
  • Spinning is easier if my hands are warm. Not hot and sweaty, but just warm enough that there's some traction between my skin and the fiber. I've always been lucky to have very smooth skin on my hands, so I think lotion would be counterproductive!
  • It's also easier if I'm not wearing my wedding rings. They are enough bigger than my finger that I can't manipulate my hand comfortably. I've not noticed this with wool, but I'm definitely noticing it now!

I can't wait to see how many yards of yarn this produces! It's undyed now - any thoughts on a colour for later?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Spinning is fun!

I finally got the hang of Navajo plying. All it took was realizing that the lady on the Youtube video I found was lefthanded - I swapped my twist hand and drafting hand* around and magically it started to work! I plied both bobbins of singles and am pleased with both. I've learned that I'm overspinning my singles, so I'm going to try to relax when I do my next batch. Of course, the next thing on my list is something I want to ply normally as a 2-ply, so we'll see how that goes. Photos will follow, probably at the weekend when I've recovered from having my shifts messed up this week. Applying some DIY tension to my lazy Kate helped too - I tied a string round the bobbin and the opposite bobbin-spike. It worked wonderfully.

In other spinning news, I have very nearly run out of fiber to spin. At least I had, until Weaving Friend sent me a text asking whether I wanted anything from the Handweaver's Studio, since she was going! I asked her to pick up as much BFL as she could get for £10, and she brought me back a bag of 805g for £9. I've no idea how much yarn that'll spin up into, but I hope to be able to get a decent project's worth out of it!

My current dilemma is figuring out what to make with my handspun. Lots of people say that beginner's 'art yarn' is a desirable thing that I'll regret losing the knack of, but I don't like art yarn very much. Unless I'm having one of my garter-stitch-scarf moods, I don't knit with anything slubby or thick-and-thin. So now I've got a pile of yarn ranging from a little slubby to SLUBTASTIC!!! I'm thinking a scarf and possibly a hat, but who knows?

*Is it still called the drafting hand when one is plying? I've no idea. In fact, I've no idea if the video lady was spinning lefthanded or if I am, because the order I have my hands in doesn't seem to match any of the book photos either.