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.