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. :)