Thursday, 26 August 2010

Some FOs, at last!

I haven't been slacking in the stash knitting, despite my recent acquisitions. In fact, I've even finished a few things! First, a batch of crocheted snowflakes. After a period of unsuccessful searching in the UK, my lovely grandmother mailed me a box of laundry starch so I could finally block these.


There are patterns for 12 different snowflakes in the book I'm using (also courtesy of my grandmother), and I'm planning to make one of each to go on our Christmas tree this year. I'm really pleased with how they turned out, especially since I've not done much thread crochet before.

I've also finished yet another pair of Monkey socks. My sock drawer is getting pretty full - perhaps it's time I tossed some bought socks?


Sunday, 22 August 2010

Knit Nation, days 2 and 3

The second day of Knit Nation was my free day for meeting people and shopping. I met up with the Posh knitters, easily identified by the pink Posh mailing bag someone had cleverly brought along! We had a lovely chat over tea and cake, then two of us went over to the raffle drawing. Every time one spent money in the marketplace, the vendor gave a raffle ticket. I hadn't really started shopping yet, so didn't have any tickets. One of the Posh knitters gave me her one ticket, since she didn't feel like standing in the crowded hall listening to the draw - and I won with it! A gorgeous Zauberball, which is a fingering-weight singles yarn with very long colour sequences. I'm told I squeaked in an entertaining fashion when they called my name. :D

I headed into the marketplace after that for more shopping. I bought... more Wollmeise. Shocking, I know. This time it was two matching skeins for which I have a plan. Ages and ages ago I managed to acquire a single skein of black Wollmeise in one of the website updates. Also ages ago Knitty published a pattern for a stripey cardigan in sock yarn. After consulting with several people who've knit Tempest with Wollmeise, I concluded that three of the 150g skeins should be enough to make a cardie for me. It's going to be fun!

Day three was the best, by far. And given how amazing the first two were, well, that's saying a lot! On day three I had a full day's class with Judith MacKenzie. Wow. Incredible. First, I've never seen another person spin before. I had a 5-minute lesson when I got my wheel, but other than that it's been entirely books and figuring things out. It was a shock to suddenly be confronted with a room full of spinners! I found it reassuring that I wasn't the slowest or clumsiest in the room - heck, I even found myself helping people out a couple of times. I guess I'm a real spinner.

Anyway, the class. It was a 6-hour class on how to spin yarn for socks. We started off talking about all sorts of technical stuff that I'll do another post about later. We then got a sheaf of dyed merino tops and spun singles. Judith had us all pick 5 colours of the tops so we could practice changing the supply fiber while spinning - she's got a real fetish for the perfect worsted join! We spent the morning spinning up singles on three bobbins, since she wanted us to try making a 3-ply yarn in the afternoon. She also gave out some gorgeous silk tops to be added to the singles in any way we wanted. I decided to have my third bobbin of just silk, since I didn't really like the sensation of spinning silk and wool together. Then we broke for lunch.

I spent lunch with C, a Ravelry friend who came down all the way from Scotland for the event. It was great to finally meet her! We had a mini gift exchange - I'd brought goodies from L'Artisan du Chocolat for her chocoholic partner, and she brought me this enormous ball of corriedale/merino fiber! Isn't it gorgeous?

After lunch and a good gossip, we hit the marketplace. And yes, I shopped more. Only a little, though. I bought this beautiful braid of top, because the colours were just too perfect to pass up. Mostly I played the role of the minion and carried bags while C shopped, since she hadn't yet been to the marketplace. It was fun. :D

In the afternoon we talked about plying. A lot. I learned more about plying than I thought possible! This was where having a teacher made the most difference for me. I was managing just fine on my own, but seeing how someone with so much experience holds her hands, moves her body, tunes the wheel... It was a revelation. My yarn came out just fine, and it's the finest yarn I've yet managed. The larger skeinlet is the 3-ply, and the smaller is a 2-ply I made with the leftovers from the two fuller bobbins:

Just for the hell of it, I also absconded with this little bit of boucle that Judith spun as a demonstration of why we don't do a particular thing with our hands when plying. It was pretty cool.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon trying out different fibers, including cashmere, cashmere blends and several other kinds of wool. At the very end of the class, Judith handed everyone huge zip-top bags and told us to take fiber home. She'd brought it all over and didn't want to have to lug leftovers home to the US! So, here's all the fiber I came home from class with:

And here's everything that I acquired over the whole weekend:

Knit Nation was amazing. If they do it again (and I surely hope they will), I'll spend the whole time taking spinning classes.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Knit Nation, Day One

On Thursday morning I got up alarmingly early (for me, that is!) and schlepped across London to get to Imperial College. At 8am I registered for my classes at Knit Nation! The first day was an all-day session with Nancy Bush learning about Estonian lateral braids and wrapped nupps. It was amazing. We learned a braided cast-on that took about two hours to learn, five different lateral braids and practiced working wrapped nupps over the course of 6 hours. I'm quite pleased I managed to finish the sample, since the needles I brought weren't working with my yarn and I had to borrow some. I wore my sage-green shawl, which Nancy seemed tickled about - it was one of her designs! She's a fabulous teacher, and I hope she comes back to London some day.

I had also indulged in a trip to the marketplace preview, where there was an entire stall of the fabled Wollmeise yarn! I've never seen so many amazing colours in one place. Foolishly, I left my camera behind for the weekend, but here are pictures of my two skeins of yum.

I also hit the Fyberspates stall for some spinning fiber and came away with this bag of roving. One of the fibers they produce is a blend of wools, silk and sterling silver filament called "Sparkle". They had 100g bags of ends of rovings in a mix of colours, perfect for sampling and making a special little something.