Monday, 26 July 2010

And now for something completely different.

I have this friend. Weaving Friend. She's a fiber-arts nut too, but has tended more towards weaving (obviously) and costuming while I've been more into knitting and spinning.

Weaving Friend came to visit me yesterday. She has been wanting to learn to spin, so I found my spindle and some pencil roving and she spun. Took to it like a duck to water - by the time she had to go catch her train home, she'd already filled the cop with a very consistent singles! I dug out some dyed roving for her so she wouldn't run out. :)

Of course, spinning lessons weren't all we did yesterday. After all, trading skills is practically the basis of the reenactor economy. We also did this:

Can't guess? How about now?


She taught me how to weave! I have made a Thing for practice and getting the hang of the Knitter's Loom, and after Weaving Friend deemed me ready to go we cut the Thing off the loom and I warped it up for a tabby-weave scarf made of sock yarn. Those of you with good memories may remember the yarn as my very first foray into Kool-Aid dyeing. It was never going to knit up well, but I love how it's working on the loom.
(Here's my Thing.)

I've already figured out a bunch of stuff, if/when I finally succumb to the weaving bug. First, the Knitter's Loom is not for me. It only has heddles as small as 12.5 dents per inch, and I want to be able to weave laceweight. It's also not quite versatile enough because one can only use two heddles on it at a time. I like texture patterns more than colour patterns, so something with more heddles would be better. Still, I'm seeing a great deal of stash-busting coming up in the immediate future - this is a great use of variegated sock yarn!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Still not a spinning update

I am spinning, honestly. It's just that all of my yarn is so appealing right now!

This month I've crocheted three snowflakes of twelve. My lovely grandmother gave me a booklet of snowflake and angel patterns for thread crochet, ages ago, so I decided it was time to make some. (The fact that I finally found my missing crochet thread may have influenced the decision also...) I have no pictures for you because it is apparently impossible to buy laundry starch in the UK. One can find spray starch everywhere. However, powdered or liquid starch, suitable for soaking and starching lace? Nowhere to be found. Woolworth's used to stock it, but they went out of business. Boots and some supermarkets used to stock it, but according to the shop manager I spoke to the other day there just isn't enough demand for real starch. I could buy it from Amazon, but the minimum purchase is 750g! Somehow I doubt I'll use that much for twelve snowflakes and a handful of doilies.

Sometimes I despair that people of my generation have lost their ability to care for their posessions. Ironing, starching, mending... I have friends who visit and bring buttons and shirts to be rejoined because no-one ever taught them to wield a needle and thread.

Maudlin musings aside, I am quite pleased with my knitting this month. I've knit most of a sock, (Monkeys again, of course) and expect to have the first finished and the second well started by the end of the month. I've made progress on my various WIPs. I've also cast on for a new triangle shawl, this time using some sockweight silk I bought years ago. It's quite lovely. Of course, close examination of the shawl pattern I've chosen reveals an alarming similarity to the shawl I just knit for G. Ah well. At least I know what I'm doing, right?

Other news, other news. I have a garter stitch scarf on the go again. This one is slower than previous projects. I frogged the feather-and-fan number I was knitting with my shiny Rowan Lurex Shimmer because it was making me nuts. The garter stitch scarf is to use up the pre-cut fringe and remaining yarn. The impetus for this is thanks to a Ravelry feature I discovered recently - it's possible to sort one's stash according to the date one added it. The Lurex Shimmer is one of my oldest yarns, bought back in 2004. I think it's been hibernating quite long enough!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Not a spinning update.

I'm making stuff for myself this year, but I decided back during the planning phase that once-in-a-lifetime events got a dispensation. Well, after seven or so years together, one of my good knitting friends is now engaged to her lovely chap. The wedding is in September and I have knit her a shawl. But wait, I hear you say, surely if she's a knitter she could knit her own shawl? Well, she could, were it not for two things. First, she's submitting her Master's degree thesis just days before the wedding. Second, she's having a bouquet of knitted flowers that she's busily knitting herself, assisted by our knitting group!

So I knit a shawl. :D

Pattern is Leaf Lace from Evelyn Clark's Knitting Lace Triangles. I knit 14 repeats of the lace and added beads to the points at G's request. I'm quite happy with the results. So is G, thankfully!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Taking Fifi Touring

The Tour de France starts on Saturday, which means that the Tour de Fleece starts too! The point of it is to challenge oneself to spin as much as possible during the race, ideally doing something special on the day of the highest climb and taking rest days when the real Tour does. This year I've decided to participate (since I was busy WIPs-Wrestling last year!), and I'm setting myself a real challenge.

I'm going to spin Fifi.

Possibly* not the whole fleece, but as much as I possibly can. The skirted, unwashed fleece weighed 2.35kg. I have finished washing the whole fleece and divided it up into gallon-sized zip-top bags to keep bugs out. It takes up 20 bags, and each bag is crammed to capacity. Once carded, each bag trebles in volume.

Carding and other preparation is allowed before the start of the Tour, so I've been carding frantically for the last couple of days.** I've currently carded 2 bags, or 10% of the total fleece. My plan is to continue carding until the Tour starts. Then I'll spin my rolags until I run out, then I'll card more. I'll continue the card/spin cycle until I run out of bobbins, at which point I'll take a break to ply and wash what I've finished. I'll just keep repeating this cycle until I've done all of the fleece or until the Tour finishes. Wish me luck!

*Yeah, ok, probably, but I did take 4 days off next week so that I have more spinning time.

**Did I mention that I'd planned to spin something else entirely and only decided to do this the day before yesterday? I could have been carding for weeks!