Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Rip it, rip it

Two fewer WIPs than I had this weekend. I frogged the shawl I was making with my first laceweight (the green mohair) because the yarn wasn't interesting enough to get me through that much garter stitch. I'll do that pattern in some of my Posh, I think.

And I've just ripped out the Rovaniemi mitts I learned how to do at Knit Nation last summer. I wanted to learn the technique, and I have. But knitting anything at that tight a gauge hurts my wrists, and life's just too short to make things that hurt. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the yarn!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Science - it totally works

Weaving Friend came to visit me over the weekend, and we spent Sunday going a little crazy in the kitchen. Not cooking, mind you - dyeing.

I'd found my missing 400g bag of white merino tops* and my dye stash a few days previously, so I weighed the tops out into 5 85g braids so that we could both dye a couple and have enough fiber at the end to make something with.

I've used Kool-Aid for dyeing before, but never for unspun wool. I also had three colours of food colouring that was past the use-by date and wanted to use up.

We started by soaking the undyed fiber in water so that the dye would take.

Weaving Friend taught me a couple of new techniques, including how to set the dye in the microwave.

I showed her how to use the stove top steamer, which is my usual method.

We went with a variety of methods to apply the dyes, everything from "apply carefully with a pipette" to "slosh it all in a bowl and dye your hands blue". Thankfully my kitchen has a stainless steel sink!

We did five very different colourways, all of which have been given rather ridiculous names.

It was that kind of weekend. Weaving Friend's two are Hentacles:

and Mermaid Pubes:

Mine are Shark Week:

and Exploding Blackberry Wine:

And here's the science. Ever do chromatography in science class at school, where you daub some felt-tip marker onto a paper towel, dampen it and watch the colours separate out? Well, Weaving Friend pointed out that the food colouring would probably break into several colours too, so we tested it.

The blue and red pretty much stayed true, since they're primary colours, but the black did crazy things! As it happened they were crazy things I liked, so I soaked the last round of fiber in a bottle of lemon juice (no Kool-Aid, no acid, no colourfastness!) and went to town. We tipped the black over the wet fiber and poured water over it to separate the colours, then filled in the white parts with the remains of the blue. I love the way it's turned out.

Zombie Apocalypse:

*Let's gloss over the fact that I've enough fiber to lose a 400g bag of the stuff for several weeks, shall we?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

And while we're on the subject of spinning...

I'm making plans for the summer. Big plans. Crazypants plans. Spinning and knitting plans.

The Tour de France is from the 30th of June to the 22nd of July. The London Olympics are running from the 27th of July to the 12th of August. Pretty cool stuff, and I'm looking forward to watching both events. Of course, what this also means is that the Tour de Fleece will be followed immediately by the Ravelympics. So a bunch of us are planning to spend the Tour spinning up the yarn that we'll then knit during the Olympics.

Like I said, crazypants plans.

I've got some BFL that I want to use. 415g of oatmeal BFL, 115g of white BFL and 131g of dyed BFL from that brief period when Posh Yarn was dyeing spinning fiber. I want to do all of it into a 3-ply fingering-weight, and then knit it up into an Oranje cardigan.

I'm not planning to spin nearly 700g in three weeks, that'd be ludicrous. I'll spend April and May getting the two smaller bumps spun, plied and finished, and then just have the 415g of oatmeal to do during the Tour itself. Challenging but doable, which is the whole point of the exercise.

In the meantime, I'm working on getting everything prepped so that it all goes as smoothly as possible. I've divided all the fiber up into smaller bumps to fit the bobbins I've got. I'll end up with 2 skeins each of the contrast colours, and 6 skeins of the oatmeal.

I'm also working on clearing all my bobbins so that I've got space to do all the singles at once. I only own 8 bobbins, and I'm going to need 7 for the project. (6 to hold the singles and 1 to ply on.) At the moment I've got two bobbins with WIPs on. Fortunately they are both going to be n-plied, so I don't need to do loads of spinning to clear them! With any luck I'll have time to clear both, but it won't be a tragedy if I don't.

I've just taken a small yarn sample off another bobbin. I'd thought it was a singles, but it was actually something I'd done as a 3-ply. I have no idea what it is or when I spun it up. It's definitely wool of some sort, but it'd make a passable twine. It's seriously over-plied! Pretty even though, which leads me to suspect that it's more recent than I'd initially thought.

I'm also going to spend some time doing wheel maintenance. The whole thing could do with oiling (the wood, that is), and I really need to dismantle the treadles and tighten the screws holding the hinges in place. And I want to sand and seal the bobbins - they keep catching on my yarn!

Monday, 19 March 2012

New yarn!

I finally finished a spinning project! Go me! First of the year, actually

red corrie 001

I'm delighted with it. I was aiming for something a little fatter than my usual sock yarn, and I've ended up with a nicely consistent DK-weight yarn. 177g, 443yds.

Birthday twin (she of the crocheted wedding dress) asked me what I was going to do with it once it was finished. I responded, "have yarn." I'll decide what I want to do with it at some point, but for now I've got plenty of other things on the go. It can just sit in my stash and make me smile.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Weaving Friend got married!

On Leap Day 2012 my darling, beloved Weaving Friend got married to her splendid chap Mr Weaving Friend. They got married in handmade clothing that the bride made herself. And these were not just any old wedding clothes, oh no. Weaving Friend outdid herself with a handmade Victorian corset, a skirt with a bustle and a beautifully lined frock coat and waistcoat for Himself.

The ceremony was perfect, the reception fabulous, the food delicious. I don't think I've ever been to a wedding where everyone had so much fun throughout, and I include my own in that assessment! Everyone went away with more friends than they'd started the day with. Rather fewer photos than I might have wanted, but I was pretty busy helping out.

And of course we had a knitting corner.

Sweetheart, it was a delight and an honour to be your bridesmaid, and I wish you every happiness in your new life with Mr Weaving Friend.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


One of my goals for this month is a completed pair of Vintage Tsocks. I've been making pretty good progress so far. The plain stockinette portion of both feet is done, and I've gone ahead and worked the attached i-cord stems on the toe leaves so that I could get rid of the trailing yarn ends.

I'm all ready to start working the embossed grapes panel that makes up the instep of the sock, but before I do that I'm going to make some more leaves. I've got 13 left, 5 of one colour and 8 of the last. I'd like to get the 5 done first, then I'll move onto the embossed grapes and the short-row heel. After the heel, the last 8 leaves, then the top of the grapes and the ribbed cuff! Then I'll have to block all the leaves before attaching them. Fortunately they dry very quickly, since they're so small.