Monday, 21 November 2011

The girliest project in the world.

You may have noticed by this point that I am not exactly the overly feminine type. I wear skirts and dresses, certainly, but they tend to be black and rather goth. I don't own any make-up, and though I'm nuts about perfume it's always incensey or musky rather than floral. I've been spending my lunch hours recently working on something that's so not me that my coworkers have been asking who they were for:

pink mitts 001

My coworkers are very astute. These are in fact a Christmas present for my brother's girlfriend, who is more-or-less my antithesis in every way imaginable. He came over to visit and remarked that the Bit of Pink Fluff shawl that I knitted over the summer had her name written all over it, if I was ever inclined to knit something for her. Well, it ended up being just too fluffy and pink for me, and I had some of the Kidsilk Spray leftover as well as some matching pink Rowan Pure Wool 4-ply. I figured, why not make a pair of mitts, add them to the shawl and call it a good Christmas present? She's utterly knitworthy, and I think she'll love these.

Ironically, after making them I'm rather in love with the thick fluffy fabric. I may make a pair for myself - in a more sensible colour!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

A weaver's wedding shawl

Today, at long last and after many hours of knitting, I cast off the last stitch of the wedding shawl I've been making for my beloved Weaving Friend.

(Fresh off the needles, before blocking.)

After a false start on the wrong sized needles in February, I cast on for this shawl on March 4th, 2011. The pattern, selected by Weaving Friend, is the Aeolian Shawl, designed by Elizabeth Freeman and published in Knitty. The yarn is Posh Yarn's Miranda Cobweb, my favourite of all their yarns. It's a blend of alpaca, cashmere and silk, and is beautifully soft, with a stunning sheen from the silk. Beads are cream-coloured seed beads. I've had yarn and beads in my stash since early 2008, waiting for the right project to come along.

It's been slow going for the most part. I'm less surprised about this than I was, though - it ended up using 1745 beads! Almost every row was beaded, some as densely as every other stitch.

I made a few minor modifications along the way. Replacing the nupps with beads was the most major, but I also used a different left-leaning decrease throughout and didn't twist the centre stitch.

I ended up only using 495 yards of yarn. I'd expected to use rather a lot more, since the yarn's in 1200-yard skeins, but it's plenty big as it is!


I used 145 pins during the blocking process, and pinning it out took about 2 hours. Of course, after spending almost 8 hours on the bind off, it didn't seem that bad. Definitely need more t-pins though. I ran out halfway through pinning out the edging and had to use my quilting pins.

The best part? I was chatting to my mother as I finished the bind-off, and she remarked that if it was a wedding shawl, it should go through a wedding ring. And it does.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Sock PSA

If your intention is to replace your entire sock drawer with only handknits, it is a very sensible idea indeed to make sure you've knit at least a couple of pairs that match your suit BEFORE you throw out your old socks. Otherwise, you may find yourself layering thin cotton socks in a deep purple over knee-high hose to go with your black suit. Fortunately the sweater I'm wearing is the exact shade of deep purple, so it looks intentional. Also fortunate that I'm wearing long trousers and shoes that cover all but the tiniest amount of my ankle.

Anyone know where I can buy some machine-washable solid black sock yarn?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Mucky sheep

Washing of the Jacobs fleeces has commenced. It's, um, pretty gross actually. Very grubby sheep! I'm washing in slow batches and carding as I go so that I don't end up with an enormous backlog.

I live in a 3rd floor walk-up in the centre of London, so fleece washing can be a bit of a production. I don't have the space to wash an entire fleece all at once, let alone three, so I work in small batches every so often. Once I've done the sorting and skirting outside in the communal garden (freaking out my neighbours at the same time), it all goes into bin bags until I'm ready to deal with it. 6 bin bags, each with half a fleece in, in the case of this project.

I wash fleece in my bathroom, so I only wash as much as I can soak in the bathtub. I'm very lucky that our hot water gets REALLY hot, so I don't need to do much heating or water hauling. I run the tub with pure hot water from the tap and a few generous squirts of Fairy Liquid to start things off. I don't run more than about 4 inches of water in - this stage is about loosening caked-on dirt and melting off the lanolin.

Once the stuff in the tub has had a good soak, I pull out a basin-full at a time and scour it. Slightly cooler water this time - I wash by hand, and thanks to a rubber-and-latex allergy I can't wear gloves when I'm scouring. More Fairy Liquid into the basin, and this time pretty much everything coming off is lanolin. If the water in the basin is clear enough that I can see the plug at the bottom, I call it good and rinse out the Fairy Liquid. Otherwise it gets a second wash.

After the fleece has been washed and rinsed out, it dries on my tapestry frame, which I've stretched cotton string across to make a flat rack.

As an aside, this tapestry frame? Best thing ever. My husband won it for me in an auction a few years back. I've never used it for tapestry weaving, since I really don't need another hobby, but I use it for fleece drying and embroidery, and when I'm doing neither of those things it stands upright behind my couch and does duty as a shawl rack. Couldn't do without it.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Found it!

Look, look, I found my mojo! Turns out it was hiding in my Ravelry queue.

Pattern - Calorimetry
Yarn - Colinette Prism, 56 yards
Mods - Cast on 96 stitches instead of 104, knit fewer repeats to make it smaller.
Finished size - ever-so-slightly too big, but it'll be good once my hair grows back out.

Only took about 6 hours of knitting time, total. I'm delighted with it. The perfect antidote to long-term project doldrums. You can't really see them, but I ended up making knot buttons with leftover yarn. Would you believe it, I did not have a single red button in my button box!

I've also finished a Christmas present for my beloved enabling grandmother, but that'll be revealed after she opens it on the day. :)

Sunday, 23 October 2011


... my knitting mojo. Has anyone seen it? I've looked under the bed, behind the couch, in my stash, all the usual places it might be hiding, but no luck. I just had a whole week off work for knitting, and hardly knit anything.

I'd planned to finish Weaving Friend's wedding shawl. Knit 4 rows. Planned to finish Grammy's Christmas present. Knit 1 repeat. Planned to make chutney. Ok, I did make chutney. A lot of chutney. About 7 litres, in fact. And I washed some fleece, did a wee bit of spinning on the froghair and carded some of the Jacobs fleece. So the week wasn't a total waste.

See, I spent most of it sick. Not badly sick, just enough of a headcold that I couldn't breathe whenever I laid down and so didn't really get much sleep. I'm better now. Today I cast on for a Calorimetry with some very well-aged stash yarn in the hopes that a quick FO will respark my interest. I've knit about half of it this afternoon. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic. Mojo had better resurface soon, because Weaving Friend's coming to visit at the end of November and I'm handing the shawl over then, come hell or high water.

Friday, 21 October 2011


I have today been informed that at some point Blogger ate my settings and was only allowing people with Blogger/Google accounts to comment. Sorry about that. I've fixed it now and you should all be able to comment now.

Thank you, Alison, for letting me know!

Saturday, 15 October 2011


I finished spinning up my sparkle roving, at long last, and I am absolutely thrilled with it.

inner child yarn 001

The roving was Fyberspates Sparkle roving, long since discontinued. They don't even seem to sell roving anymore. It's a blend of some sort of wool, silk and silver filament. There may be nylon in there as well, but I won't swear to it. From the smell of it when it was wet I'm pretty sure that the wool was BFL.

I bought this roving last summer at Knit Nation. It's been maturing in my stash ever since. The arrival of the fleeces is inspiring me to spin up some of the older stash, so watch this space for future developments!

Once I'd opened the bag of roving, I realized that it was actually four or five different colourways that had been bagged together. Not a problem, since the colours worked together well enough that I hadn't realized they weren't supposed to go together until I examined them in detail. I arranged the bits of roving so that the colours were mostly evenly distributed and then spun them up into a worsted singles. Worsted-spun, that is, not worsted-weight.

Inner Child Yarn 001

I'd pondered keeping it as a singles, but Weaving Friend convinced me that something plied would be more useful. So, having established that all 80g would fit onto a single bobbin, I set off plying. I'd forgotten that plied yarn takes up more space than singles - it was a bit of a job getting it all onto the bobbin!

Inner Child Yarn 002

I am completely besotted with this yarn. The little voice in my head of my inner child says "OMGOMGIT'SPURPLEANDGREENANDPINKANDITSPARKLES!!!!!!" My sensible adult self is rather pleased at discovering the capacity of her bobbins and is looking forward to seeing how the finished yarn stripes.

Vitals: 80g, 395 yards of n-plied fingering-weight yarn. With sparkles.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

In memoriam

Once upon a time there was a lady who was a knitter, and that knitter had a cat, and that cat's name was Darcy. Darcy was really a kitten, but he was already a prince among cats. He was a Maine Coon Cat, and his ear-tufts stood up straight as a pine tree. His feet were great white snowshoes, and his ruff was the envy of mighty lions.

His coat was grey and white, and his toes and sandpaper tongue were pink. But it is not enough to say that, as it would be insufficient to say that the sunrise is red. Darcy's coat was the grey of the soft ash left from burning incense and the white of clouds and fog. His tongue and toes were the soft pink of rose petals, freshly picked and awaiting the perfume press.

The knitter loved Darcy, and Darcy loved the knitter. And, generous soul that she was, the knitter shared Darcy with other knitters. And those knitters loved Darcy too - and who would not? Was he not a prince among cats?

Day after day, the knitters would flock, eagerly demanding new pictures of Darcy. And the lady would provide them, and all were happy.

Darcy had scrapes, as all kittens do, but cats are blessed with nine lives, and Darcy was no exception. He would find himself hurting, but the kind knitter loved him very much and would always take him to the clever vet. The clever vet, who also loved Darcy, took very good care of him, and Darcy always came home feeling better, if a little sorry for himself.

One day, however, Darcy got sick. This was a bad kind of sick, the kind of sick that clever vets cannot fix however clever they are. Sometimes cats get better, and sometimes they don't, but no-one can say which will.

The knitter was sad, and she told the other knitters about Darcy and his sickness. The other knitters loved Darcy, and so they did what they could. The ones who prayed, prayed. The ones who were superstitious crossed their fingers and held their thumbs and sent mojo. The ones who did neither sent best wishes and love to the knitter and Darcy. Some of the knitters who lived nearby went to help. Others, who lived far away, sent what they could to help the clever vet and the knitter, because clever vets have to be paid, even when they are generous and help sick cats for less than they might.

One of the many knitters who loved Darcy was a dyer with magical powers. One day, she took her dyes and worked a magic spell to turn plain old wool into something amazing - wool that looked like Darcy. She saw the results of her magic and thought, "I wonder if the other knitters would like to buy this wool? If they did, I could send money to the clever scientist who is working on a cure for this bad sickness, and then even if it won't help Darcy, maybe it will help other cats."

So the dyer showed the wool to the knitters, and they loved the wool. Those who knit bought yarn, and those who spin bought roving. And the dyer sent all of her profits to help the clever scientist with her research.

Alas, there are some things that no amount of love can cure, and Darcy died. The knitters wept, but nothing could bring back this prince of cats. The knitters held close their cats, and dogs, and rabbits, and all manner of creatures, for knitters love animals without question, and though they were sad that Darcy was gone, they had hope that other cats would be spared his fate.

And so I sit before my spinning wheel, looking into a basket full of spinning fiber. There is a roving that is the grey of incense ash, the white of clouds, the pink of rose petals and toes and sandpaper tongues. When I reach into the bag, it is like stroking the softest of kittens.

I cannot yet bring myself to spin this roving. Someday I will, and I will make it into a beautiful thing, in memory of another cat, much missed. For now it is enough to look upon it. It was dyed to honour a prince of cats. His name was Darcy, and he was loved.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Fiber pr0n

A sample of my current spinning:

Cochineal-dyed silk thread



SW Merino/nylon

SPARKLEE singles

SPARKLEE after plying

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

On sheep

Once again my flat smells of sheep, for I have once again acquired vast quantities of raw fleece! This time it's three entire fleeces.

You see, one of the side effects of reenacting is that people tend to offer reenactors stuff that might be useful. Sometimes it's a box of buttons, or some fabric, or some scraps of leather. Other times, it's a gigantic bag full of Jacobs fleece. In this case, a distant relation of one of our members has a flock of Jacobs sheep and gave her this bag of sheepy goodness. At present I'm the only handspinner in our branch, so I get the fleeces. We are, however, plotting and scheming with a major long-term project, since I obviously need more of those in my life.

This friend, Cooking Friend, is a rather splendid embroideress. And Weaving Friend, of course, is quite brilliant at weaving. And I am a spinner. So, we are going to take this lovely fleece and between us turn it into a set of three hoods. I shall wash, prep and spin the fleece. Weaving Friend will weave it into cloth. Cooking Friend will sew and embroider the hoods. And when all of this is done, we shall enter our work into an Arts and Sciences competition. A&S requires documentation, so I shall be photoblogging the whole process with an eye to eventual process write-ups.

Today was nice and sunny, so I hauled the whole lot out into the garden for skirting and sorting. I wasn't initially sure how much fleece there was, or whether it had been skirted and/or washed. The bag itself weighed about 6kg. Contents included one solid chocolate fleece which I'm pretty sure is actually a cross, since Jacobs sheep are chocolate-and-white. This fleece was very coarse and may not be worth the trouble of spinning. There were also two entire Jacobs fleeces, both well-shorn but poorly rolled so the body shape was not intact. Distribution of chocolate fleece and white fleece was about 50/50 on both fleeces, and both colours had consistent crimp, staple length, and texture. It would seem that all three fleeces had already been skirted, since I found almost no dags. One of the Jacobs had dye markings in a small area. Probably washable, but I decided to chuck it rather than fight with it. It wasn't very much of the fleece. A fair amount of plant matter in all three, though it's chiefly straw and not brambly stuff.

I've separated out the white and chocolate sections of the Jacobs. Since I couldn't see the outline of the fleece I made no attempt at sorting it beyond that. Very little freckling, which is fabulous. At this point, I'm going to wash a couple of handfuls of both colours from both fleeces and spin up a sample. There's more grease than I was expecting, so we'll see how well they wash up. I'll also need to liaise with both of the ladies to see what the eventual plans are. I'll definitely keep some of the white separate for turning into dyed embroidery thread, but I'm not sure whether we want black-and-white hoods or something blended.

Weaving-wise, it'll be a 2-ply for certain. I'll need to get Weaving Friend to tell me the desired weight and the amounts needed. I'll probably spin it up into something semi-worsted. The staple's long enough for combing, but the finished fabric will be nicer if it's a bit fluffier.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Full-Cupboard Sunday

I don't remember where I first read the expression "full-cupboard feeling", but I've loved it ever since. It's the sensation of knowing that your kitchen and pantry are stocked and in order. Today I am having a day of feeling like that!

I spent yesterday yarning while the spouse was out at an event. The loom is warped, at last. I ripped out some things that I wasn't enjoying working on. I did a bit of cross-stitch, a bit of spinning, a little bit of this, a little bit of that.

Today, my projects in order, I decided to hit the kitchen. We did a big grocery shopping trip and then I settled in to cooking. Although I love cooking, I do very little. The nature of spouse's work means that he is often home, so he does most of our cooking. I am in charge of batch cooking, to make sure that we always have things in the freezer for packed lunches and quick suppers.

Today I have prepped 1.5kg of carrots (half shredded for my lunches and half chopped for stir-fry), baked three-and-a-half dozen banana muffins for breakfasts, and I'm making a big batch of rice to freeze. I'll line the rice compartment of my bento box with cling-film, pack the rice in, then freeze the resulting parcels. They can then be popped in and microwaved from frozen at work, along with whatever else I decide to put in my box.

Tomorrow or Tuesday I shall be dealing with 2.1kg of beef mince. I'm planning to make portion-sized meatloaves, Swedish meatballs and cabbage rolls, again all to be frozen.

Tonight, however, I shall be updating my clippings cookbook, spinning, and watching yesterday's Doctor Who.

Socks for the Spouse!

On Friday I finished up another project - some heavy winter socks for my husband. With all of the SCA events we go to, we both need bedsocks to wear when we're camping. It gets cold in the UK if you're camping! These are made of some lovely DK-weight wool that Mum gave me for Christmas, knit into the Thuja pattern on 4mm needles.

Friday, 16 September 2011

State of the WIPs, September edition

Shockingly enough, I am currently at only four active WIPs. These are:
  • Weaving Friend's wedding shawl, which is currently half-done and waiting for me to start the edging chart;
  • A new pair of camping socks for the Spouse, using some of the yarn my mother gave me for Christmas;
  • The crocheted neverending granny square bedspread;
  • A laceweight shawl made from the green mohair which was the first lace yarn I ever bought.
I also have three projects hibernating - a cardigan, the mitts from the Rovaniemi class, and my Vintage socks. All things which are fiddly and therefore unsuited to portable knitting. Of course, now that I have my brain back I am anticipating making much more progress on these!

There are, of course, spinning WIPs now that I have enough bobbins to allow such a thing. I'm working on:
  • The huge bump of corrie/merino Vet Friend gave me last year, which will be a worsted-weight 3-ply;
  • BFL/silk from Juno Fibre that I bought at Knit Nation last year (n-plied sock yarn);
  • Superwash merino/nylon from Easyknits that I bought mumblemumble years ago (3-ply sock yarn);
  • Experimental Shetland cabled yarn;
  • Crazypants spindled silk thread (2-ply).
The last is my current spindle WIP. I bought 25g of mawata at TORM last year, thinking I would knit it up into mittens. Then I decided I'd rather spin with it. I'm currently getting something ridiculous like 40 wraps per inch and have spun less than a gram of it. I work on it periodically, doing maybe 6 yards in a sitting. Sometimes I'll work at it for longer. I'm not really in any rush, it's just a nice mindless thing to work on. Eventually I'm going to make it a 2-ply and give it to Mum for embroidery.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Knit Nation, part the third - socializing!

I only took one class this year, since last year I was so tired from all the learning that the social part was a wash. Not this year! The marketplace opened for the preview on Friday night, and from Friday til close on Sunday I was chatting away and shopping.

The preview was an absolute zoo. I didn't even bother with the camera, as I was busy minioning for Vet Friend while she braved the scrum for Wollmeise. She is a braver woman than I, I'll tell you that much. I only went in to buy my Juno fiber, which was thankfully well away from the crazy and not too crowded. After I got fiber, I headed outside with Weaving Friend to sit and chat with people while the shoppers filtered out. There was a brief librarian-ish moment - a classmate wanted to buy some yarn that lacked a proper label, so I borrowed an iPhone to open Ravelry and look it up for her. Reference librarian to the rescue! She ended up scored two sweaters' worth of yarn for £12.50!

On Saturday I had a good lie-in before heading in to meet the ladies for lunch. Lunch this year was made possible by my mother, who gave me an awesome bento box for Christmas last year. It kept me well fed, and sparked many conversations with other attendees who had never seen a bento box before. We had to retreat inside for lunch, though, as Saturday and Sunday were absolutely filthy with rain. And cold. Vet friend sent a message that she needed an additional bag for a non-knitting friend, so I spent the afternoon minioning again. I also had a chance to meet Ysolda Teague, designer of the Ishbel shawl, and to try on some of the sample garments she made for her books. The Vivian cardigan is amazing. It's incredibly flattering, and I've purchased a copy of the pattern so I can make one of my own now that I've finished the dissertation.

The evening was a charity bingo session. No prizes for anyone in our impromptu group, but it was hysterically funny. The MC was the 15-year-old son of one of the event organizers, and he was amazing! He had a fabulously dry sense of humour and a knack for banter. It was really lovely watching people win prizes, too. Everyone was really happy for the winners, even the ones who got multiple prizes.

I spent Sunday in the cafe with endless cups of tea and cake, gossiping with assorted new friends from the bingo. It was amusing watching people come upstairs from the marketplace. I saw so much yarn being purchased! Weaving Friend and Vet Friend had an all-day spindling class, so I just curled up with my knitting and relaxed while they were doing their thing.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend. I got to catch up with old friends and meet new, learned lots, shopped lots, and had a jolly good time. Sadly there is no Knit Nation next year thanks to the Olympics, but I can wait until 2013. Maybe I'll even have used some of my purchases by then...

Done, done, and done.

In order of finishing, of course:

My dissertation is done! This also means, of course, that my MA is done. Now for the dubious pleasure of waiting a few months for the examiners' meeting so I can get my final mark. The finished dissertation was 86 pages long, and I am rather pleased with it. Hopefully the examiners will be, too.

Next up, some Innocent Smoothie Hats. I started these last year, thinking I'd have them done by the October 1 deadline. Yeah, not so much. Classes and coursework got in the way. But they are done now. I've posted them off already, and am doubly pleased because they also got about 60g of scraps out of my stash.

Finally, a full-size hat for me. I like to have a new woolly hat in the autumn, it makes me feel all snug. Given the horrible weather we've been having of late it's just in time! This used up two balls of Debbie Bliss tweedy aranweight that's been lurking in my stash forever. It's a bit scratchy, but nice and warm. I used the Karlchen pattern again, since I'm a fan of top-down hats.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

More Monkeys

In the tweaking, expanding and editing phase now. I proofread best on hardcopy, so printed out what I've got done and sat with a pen and my socks. Got to the end of the draft and realized I'd only got the toe left of sock two, so I took a wee break and finished off my socks!

Monkeys, ten pattern repeats and Regia sock yarn on 2.5mm needles. Did a slipstitch heel instead of the stockinette suggested by the pattern. They're in good time, too - it looks like our crappy summer is now over and turning into an even crappier autumn. At least I have lovely red socks!

Monday, 15 August 2011

We interrupt this craziness to bring you a FO!

As I suspected, yarning has rather fallen by the wayside during dissertation-writing. I've been doing the odd round of a Monkey sock here and there (and am nearly to the heel of the second sock), but mostly it's all writing all the time. Yesterday evening I had a wee incident with a chapter that was not fun. Rather than continue to get worked up, I decided to do some crafting for mental health.

My first skeins of handspun have been lurking in the stash waiting for me to find something to do with them. I tried out a hat, but I'm never going to wear a thick-and-thin neon pink beanie. I have some taste. So I frogged it.

Last night I didn't want pattern or thinking, so I got out a 6.5mm crochet hook and went to town. Chained a couple of stitches and started making a big flat circle with the vague intention of turning it into a basket. Well, once I realized how much fabric I was getting for my yarn, I decided to keep going and make a small rug.

rare books 018

It's about 14 inches in diameter, and used up every scrap of my oldest handspun. And mum wants it for her bedroom in her new house. Yarn out, mum happy. Everyone's a winner!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Knit Nation, part the second - class!

On Friday I had a full-day class with Lene Alve, Finnish knitter extraordinaire. It was a 6-hour class, and at the end of it I was so full of new information my brain stopped functioning. Seriously. I asked Himself to get me my phone from the "couch", where couch is spelled a-i-r-m-a-t-t-r-e-s-s. I could not make sentences.

Ok, so first there were samples. Lots and lots of samples, both mittens and non-mittens. Lene very kindly allowed me to take some photos of her samples, as well as letting all of us try them on! Then we had a wee chat about yarn (sticky wool is good) and gauge (the tighter the better). After the chat, she had us cast on for a sample. The sample was painful - I have never tried to knit heavy worsted on 2.5mm needles. For comparison, that's the needle size I normally use for Monkey socks, and they are considered tight. I ended up borrowing some 3mm needles from my charming seatmate so that I could finish the sample without cramps in my fingers.

I should have sucked it up and stuck with the smaller needles. The gauge on this is way too loose, which is why the colourwork is so sloppy. Still, it'll do perfectly as a coffee cozy - my wrists are so small that it'd never do as wrist warmers.

In the afternoon Lene judged us all reasonably competent at the technique and set us off on the wristlets while she talked about modifications to the technique and applications. Here's the beginning of my wristlets - this is fingering-weight yarn on 1.5mm needles. No, that's not a typo. Fortunately I had needles small enough in my collection!

So, a little bit about the technique. It's a bizarre and freakish amalgam of stranded colourwork and intarsia. There are 11 bobbins of colour on this mitt, one for each column of colour in the pattern. They are mounted on the long straight needle in such a way that they are centre-pull butterflies. Mounting them means that it's impossible to tangle them if you are knitting the mitts correctly. A tangle is actually really useful for spotting problems. The technique is based on decreasing and increasing simultaneously in the same stitch. It's marvellously simple once you've seen it a couple of times, but I can't really explain it without knitting in my hands. The oddest part is retraining oneself not to weave in the floats as you go along, because the technique does it for you. If you try, you'll get a tangle.

For once my unique method of manipulating my working yarn came in handy. Part of what you do involves dropping the working yarn every single time you change colours. The knitters who are used to stranding with both hands had a hard time with this, but I already drop the yarn when changing colours.

I'm looking forward to finishing my mitts (hopefully in time for Christmas) and seeing what else I can do with these patterns. I'm envisioning some fabulous sock shaping, for a start. It'll be great!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

You know you knit too much when...

... a friend emails you the day before a knitting event because she needs yarn for a class and doesn't have time to get some and could you help her out? And you just so happen to have the perfect skein in your stash, even though you never knit with white.

... your mother offers to buy you some cute summer dresses and you choose the ones that match yarn in your stash. It's wedding season after all, and we can't have all that cleavage on display in a church!

Pattern - 198 Yards of Heaven
Yarn - Rowan Kidsilk Spray, discontinued
Needles - 4.5mm circulars
Modifications - none.

The original pattern calls for worsted or aran-weight yarn, but given how much halo the kidsilk has I decided to chance it. It worked really well. The shawl only weighs 16 grams! It's shockingly warm, as well, which is good given how cool the summer's been.

Only problem now is figuring out to do with the 80 yards of yarn left over.

Knit Nation part the first - shopping!

Let's just be sensible and get the fiber porn out of the way first, shall we? The marketplace was fabulous this year. I could've gone with a budget of £10,000 and spent it all! My budget was of course not nearly so expansive, though I did do a wee bit of shopping.

First up, non-fiber. I bought a gorgeous shawl pin, made of stainless steel, from a charming chap whose business name I've forgotten. (Weaving Friend, it was the place to the left of the Loop stall - who were they?) It's lightweight and tiny, perfect for all manner of different shawls. I got the very last one! Isn't it pretty?

Next, the one and only skein of yarn purchased this year. I have a lot of yarn, I didn't really need anything else! This is Juno Fibre Arts Buffy Sock in the colourway Parched. Yarn is 100% superwash BFL and deliciously bouncy. There was a surprising amount of non-merino sock yarn available this year. It seems that the knitters have spoken!

The rest of what I acquired this year was all fiber. Yummy, squishy, pettable fiber. First port of call was Juno Fibre Arts, from whom I bought a braid of BFL/silk last year. This year I went knowing that I wanted ALL THE FIBER, so bought several things. This is 105g of angora/tussah silk, a 50/50 blend, in the colourway Emerald Light. It sheds like crazy, but is the softest thing I have ever felt. Had she had more of this in colourways that weren't shades of baby pink I'd have bought the lot.

Next up is a 100g braid of oatmeal BFL, colourway Rockpool. I love oatmeal BFL as a base, it does fabulous things to the dyes.

Last braid from Juno is BFL/sparkle, colourway Plum Sparkle. I don't normally (read - ever) go in for sparkles in my fiber, but this was so pretty I couldn't resist.

Another planned purchase was a second kilo of raw Gottland from Well Manor Farm. This will be combed and added to the kilo from last year and eventually turned into SCA garb.

This beauty is Old Maiden Aunt merino/bamboo, colourway Nothing Like The Sun. Also 100g. Also yummy. Also the only orange spinning fiber for sale in the entire marketplace!

Last purchase of the weekend was this braid from Sparkleduck - BFL/nylon, no colourway name. But lovely nonetheless.

But wait, there's more! As per last year C, hereafter Vet Friend, came down from Glasgow for knitting fun. I brought chocolate for her partner, she brought me gorgeous silk. Just over 50g of mulberry silk, which I will be hoarding and petting before I decide what I'm doing with it.