Saturday, July 30, 2011

There are two possible titles for this post

one is 'Bother' written in small light pale and quiet letters with a sense of patience and acceptance and the other is 'Arrrgggghhhhhh' in bolder, more strident tones.

Right now I'm not sure which is the better one ...
Some knitting projects fly off the needles, leaving smiles and good warm feeling in their wake, other projects demand more attention and reward with satisfaction when the project is successfully completed. Then there are projects that feel like battle, and with any battle there is a decision to be made, how far is too far, how important is it to win - in the sense that knitting is not really considered a competitive sport?

I'm at that stage.
Current progress on the double knit mitten finished just above thumb gusset last night - here -

which left me feeling quite pleased until I compared the mitten on the needles with the one off the needles .... and found -

See that? the missing dotted band that should be bleow the owls?

Still that kind of feels ok until I remember ... that this is the third mitten ... of a pair, which still is not too bad until ...

I remind myself these are double knit so technically each mitten is two knitted mittens !

Which reminds me, perhaps inside out might be the solution since the inside is the negative of the outside?
Nope! Still the same.

And to top it off my long time Knit buddy Yo-yo deserted me, walking right on by.

Not even stopping to see what I had done.

Denial - ?
or disappointment?

Anyway - today will be about frogging ......and laughing ... how could I be so dumb?

take care

Friday, July 29, 2011

Winter brings many things....

Cold, snow, wet, wild weather, blustery days. dark nights, - and crisp clear icy mornings, with clear cold-as bright sunny days to follow. Winter also brings sniffles, and colds and blocked noses and sore throats. Winter brought me all of these things this week, the snow and the head cold.
Last post I was wondering if the snow would last, it did - Monday was a snow day, no work for me - the snow had come to stay. there were no buses running, and if the buses are not traveling on my road - well I figure it is not safe for me to drive on the roads. On would think with a week between posts that there would be lots to report ... but no. Today I can update what is on my needles, in my head-cold misery I went looking for something interesting to knit. You know, something that would be so interesting that I would forget that I had a cold and the knitting would just fly. I didn't quite find a project like that but I did make some progress on a project that has almost been forgotten, and tiny progress on the current sock-on-the-needles. Smallest cub has been more prolific with her knitting than I have, and there was snow ..... lots of snow - well 'lots' for here.

Earlier this year I started a Tam, something inspired by lots of colour-work Tams I had seen, but of my own design. I was all excited at using the Shetland two ply, and seeing all the lovely colours working together. Some where along the line I was distracted by other things on the needles, occasionally I would pic this up but I just couldn't find my place in the chart easily. This past week I settled in to make sense of where I was - and discovered I had mucked up the repeats at some point. I tinked back a round and tried again, no joy, I tinked another round, and then frogged back to the ribbing and started again. This time it all lined up and went as charted. I kept going over a few nights until I had finished that chart ... I didn't want to abandon it again and forget where I was all over again next time.

Last weekend I took my Owls up to dads to knit, smallest bear sat beside me and wistfully reminded me she had forgotten to bring her knitting. I was strong, I was traveling light and I didn't have a spare project with me, and although I felt guilty I resisted handing over my knitting to her but instead made conversation along the lines of 'well, I'll have to remind Dad next time to check you have packed everything'. I wasn't there when she packed, and she had the essentials, toothbrush and pj's, but not her knitting or her iPod. Poor thing. Still - as smallest cub sat beside me looking at the pattern chart for Double, her little mind was working things out. Her first real pattern project was a dishcloth worked with written instructions, but she sat and said 'Oooo, is that another way to write a pattern?' I said yes, and Small-Cub said 'do you knit the black squares with one colour and the light squares sith another colour?'. I said yes ... and there followed a conversation about how she was clever to work that out and yes she could knit something with Owls on it once we were back at home.

Back at home the Owls promise was remembered, and we cruised Ravelry looking for something with Owls. Hoot took her fancy and I showed her how to C4B and C4F. These are the first four Owls, and of course she had to wash and then Block them into the right shape, her idea not mine. This girl has clearly been hanging around knitters far too much. I showed her how to weave in ends and stitch on button eyes on the first one and after that she was on her own.

All the other Owls have been given away to visiting friends this week, so only two remain at home. I guess they migrated to new homes and flew the nest?

Bears new sock grows slowly, only because I've been sitting and drifting off into a world where I imagine no head cold more than I have been knitting lately.

And snow, now in the wider world this isn't enough snow to interrupt life. There are parts of the world where more snow than this falls and stays, and builds up, but in those places there are plans and systems in place to allow life to continue, snow plows, and snow shovels. This was the snow last Monday, and it kept snowing all day ... down to sea level which is unusual as often only the hill suburbs get a light dusting and the flat areas nothing at all. There were no buses running all day Monday, and and the police suggested essential travel only. Work like many other places in Dunedin was closed for the day, which meant I got to stay home, warm and dry and admire my snowflake-gate in a white setting. This gate has been getting admiring comments from lots of visitors this week, which I must pass on to the artists who created it.

Last post I forgot to identify a pattern, so the Grey shawl last week, it is Fountain Pen shawl by Susan Lawrence. I am snuggling it around my neck as I write.

take care

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another Tour de Fleece is over ...

and I managed my unofficial goals. I was a little wary about aiming to high for this years tour, because I knew I would be away for a good 3 days to Wellington sans wheel, and again overnight to visit my Dad and collect the cubs. I kept my goals somewhere between modestly achievable and slightly beyond doable, then there is the new sock, stitches back on the needles and growing well, a new set of Owls, and even a new completed shawl! Some one has been knitting and its not been me.

This year my tour de fleece goals were to spin 160g fibre on the Pipy Saxonly wheel - a wheel that I have not used much at all since the Majacraft Gem arrived 18 months ago. Those goals I achieved, last night - as the tour came to a close I plied the two 80g bobbins onto one Majacraft Bobbin. Whew! I had a wee moment during the day when I thought about how nice it would be to keep the skein unbroken and wondered about purchasing a Majacraft Plying bobin. Those bobbins hold twice what a standard majacraft bobbin holds. But between the wanting to ply while the tour was on, and thinking about I would want to add to my spinning kit should I be spending money - and browsing the Majacraft price list ... well I decided to order an upgrade for my flier to the Majacraft e-system and just ply with what I had. Good move, as the bobbin filled I found that it did indeed hold 160g of plied fibre, and that as it filled it was perhaps a little top heavy for the Gem. I ended up glad I had not ordered a larger bobbin for the Gem. So this is my Tour de Fleece 2011, 160 g 2ply perendale, dyed pinky mauve rose by moi, and 440 wraps of my longest ninny noddy. I'll calculate the final length after I've soaked and dried the yarn.

This week I have been knitting mostly on the new sock, and after making repairs earlier in the week the sock has grown and is well on its way down the leg. Scrunched up like this the pattern is not very noticeable- but stretched out as it will be when worn the baby cables and twisted stitches are pretty - in a very masculine way. This is a boy sock, for Bear, so has to be masculine

I knew that working on teeny tiny twisted stitches and traveling stitches and baby cables might not be a good thing to attempt in a traveling car - so I opted to work on the second (ah hem third) double knit mitten on the way up to Dads and back again. Look progress, much more of this kind of stuff and I'll have to visit my queue and decide what to knit next.

I've even managed to have one of the owls winking! I'm not sure how that happened - I guess a distracted moment perhaps. Eldest cub is quite keen on movies like Indiana Jones and local tv has been having an Indiana Season. Even though I have seen all of those movies many times ... the high action stunt scenes are still worth watching.

Since Thursday I have been wearing a new shawl, this was gifted to me in the local knitters swap. Pale silver grey (I'm told its Vintage Purls Lace Satinless Steel Rat !) and beautiful. I love this, love it, love it, love it! I had moved this shawl up to the top of my queue every now and again ... but just didn't know the right colour to use ... and this grey is perfect. The shawl is warm, stays put and looks amazing (did you see it had nups?), and a little silver feather broach by Peter McKay just suits the lace and colour perfectly. I have a couple of his pieces, Bear commissioned the 13th Metaphysical heart for a wedding anniversary and the feather was bought to fill the gap while Peter made the heart. Thank you H!

Today is Sunday, the cubs and Bear are on holiday this coming week, whilst I have a standard work week. We woke up to what we thought was a heavy frost - but turned out to be snow and hail and all things cold. So far we have swung from cold weak winter sun with soft flakes of snow to wetter hail and wind. Smallest cub keeps heading out to find enough snow for a snowman. A perfect day to keep warm and fondle knits and knit and spin and bake. Did you notice the cinnamon muffins earlier in the post? Part of me hopes for a snow day tomorrow so I can work from home ..... but snow here is a once a year thing and almost never stays for more than a single day so I expect it will be a typical work week come Monday.

keep warm - that is what knits are for.
na Stella

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Look Snowflake!

Here in the south of the country we are in the midst of winter, so cold clear days, and 'crisp' mornings. Now 'crisp' is a local term that secretly means bitterly cold, ice and wind straight from the sea that can chill you thru the thickest of hats and gloves. At my house it has been snowing, well not really, as I have just the one snow flake - and a very pretty one. The yarn bombing on my gate has been added to, and I've been updated - this was a birthday gift with lace provided by several people!
As well as the sock today I have a new sock project to introduce and a new sock yarn....together with its pattern.

With a sock off the needles, and nothing in the way of easily portable knitting on the needles I thought it prudent to start something that was portable. Well that was the plan, Bear was next in line for socks so I provided several sock books and left him to choose. Bear choose a plain sock, plain toe, plain foot, plain heel, and 2x2 ribbed leg .... which was perfect, exactly the sort of sock project that I needed. Simple enough to be portable and mindless when I was out or distracted by life.

Except I didn't want to knit that sock. I didn't know that at first, I found a skein of Bears Bunker and converted it from Skein to cake, two cakes each of 50g. made sure it was sock yarn (superwash not vintage sock). About then I was catching up on my blog-roll and I saw the Yarn Harlot post images of exactly the sock I wanted to knit - something with texture and pattern and a challenge and yet something that wouldn't scare a Bear by being too girly or frilly or pretty. The sock is Revival and I'm being very literal in my inspiration, as I'm also working mine in grey. Bear approves - provisionally with a hesitant comment 'its not to much work is it?' Non-knitters just don't get it, sometimes simple and easy isn't enough.

Of course there is a reason I should be working a plain simple sock .... because I'm only a little way into the leg chart and already I'm frogging. The pattern is all twisted traveling stitches and baby cables - easy enough and doubly easy with pointy knitting pins. But ... I managed to mirror the pattern at the wrong point ... so ended up with a bit of a muddle ...... no problem, as I'm frogging down and knitting back up. I have already fixed one section this way .. and this will be done soon. Now that the direction of the chevrons are set the sock should be plain sailing.

This week was the second installment of the Vintage Purls winter sock club 2011 - so surprise yarn. I love this, every month during sock club - a neat wee parcel of yarn and pattern and other wee treats arrives for me to play with and stash. This is Hocken, same name for the pattern and the yarn. Hocken is a traditional name in Dunedin, streets, city fathers and libraries all carrying the name Hocken. The wee extra treat this time is a canvas bag with a sweet bird knitting graphic. This will get lots of use. The sock heel looks particularly interesting, perhaps if I had not already cast on for Revival I might have started this.

Things are quiet and busy, the first week back teaching in a new term so things are never quite where I left them. Friday I'll be teaching kids to knit at the settlers museum ... so if you are in Dunedin Friday from 10-12 - call in and say hi!

na Stella

Saturday, July 16, 2011


and not the wheel and fibre spinning, but the kind that my head does when there is almost to much going on to comprehend.
I got tagged, or bombed, or graffiti-ed, I'm not sure which, but it is fabulous, and I'm honored and surprised and an awe. And I have an answer to a question on how I fill my bobbins so evenly when I have a flier with hooks (spinning terms - that might confuse non spinning knitters)

At our house we have a gate, well two gates and an opening between the end of the hedge and the garage. The two gates are simple ones, a square frame made of bent tubular metal, and filled in with wire mesh. The two gates in themselves are humble, galvanized, so silvery-dull metal in colour, plain and functional. In short the main gate was plain and not very exciting to come home to every day.

Look, now I have a wonderful lace gate, white and yarn-ey, and lovely. This weekend we held our annual mid winter Thursday Night Knitters swap ... and this was gifted to me. Of course I didn't find out about it until I got home - at the end of the evening. Bear drove home and as we swung into the wee private street that leads to the garage at the back of our section ... I spotted something on the gate. A closer inspection revealed yarn bombing, and fancy yarn bombing at that, there is lace at least nine different knit lace structures, and then crochet lace as well. I know there isn't much or even any crochet here on my blog ... but I can crochet, and I do like crochet very much.

and look, every single section of lace was made to fit the grid of the gate, and then laced into place. If that doesn't impress you then knowing that the average temperature in Dunedin the day it was installed was 7.9° Celsius, and that would be 46° Fahrenheit, and Bear tells me installation took a few hours.

Jenni - you are amazing! I love you and your knitting, and I love what you did to my gate .....

and there are other things that made my head spin, I've been away at two day workshop that focused on alternative approaches to pattern cutting. Pattern cutting being the term used to describe the art of generating shapes on cloth that can then be cut and constructed into garments. The workshops, there were several options, brought together at least four 'zero-waste' designers, and offered workshops to allow participants to understand their different approaches. Zero waste is a new term in the fashion area, and refers to a goal of making garments without wasting fabric or other resources. The figures for fabric waste vary by garment type but are usually quoted at an average of 15%. So for every 10 tee shirts, or 10 pairs of jeans made and sold, enough fabric to make another one and a half is dumped. Consider the clothes in an average house, or shop ... and extrapolate that to the amount of waste fabric that is generated by the manufacturing process and the volumes get quite scarily large.

Holly McQullian's approach can only be described as holistic, considering not only the fabric, and the fit, but also aiming at a cutting scheme that has beauty as a flat graphic. An example can be seen in the Yield exhibition page for her work, which shows an image of her cutting plan - it is the image that 'isn't a dress' (yet) and sort of has a monkey face at the top. Inspired by her approach to zero waste - spent the first few hours playing with half sized patterns to see how they could be morphed into something that made full use of the fabric. Its not perfect yet, I can see potential to tweak the cutting lines to make the garment sit and fit better, ... but there is only so much one can do in 6 hours when the ideas are new and jostling in ones head.

That pattern when cut out and lifted and stitched in a few places turns into this dress. I was working in calico (in the USA - Muslin) - which is stiff, cream, inexpensive plain weave cotton, so allows all sorts of experimentation without worry about wasting expensive fabric. Now this design is shaping up I see it being executed in a more fluid fabric, and darker. At the back there is a hint of a hood, but one that falls from under the arms, and hidden in the side seam are pockets, constructed by swinging the 'waste' fabric from the armhole down and around, and folding it back. I'm going to keep playing with this idea .. and see if I can't polish it a bit more ...

On Saturday I attended a workshop with a different approach to reducing waste. Jennifer Whitty presented a workshop that looked at new garments that are relegated to waste before they are even sold. This happens for lots of reasons and happens surprisingly commonly, in scary amounts. Jennifer provided new unworn 'waste' garments and asked us to pair up and collaboratively design something from this often ignored waste source. I paired up with Anne-Marie who I had only just meet, and we had 40 minutes to create something from two generic dark polyester shirts. The shirts were 'work-wear' uniforms, and the care label had me in stitches - giggling like a little kid. Hand wash - warm water , Line dry in shade! Really - after spending a day in the kind of job where you have to wear a dark polyester blouse - the wearer is to go home and lovingly hand wash it .. and hand it to dry on a line? Polyester ? the most robust fibre known to human?

This is our 40 minute dress - I am amazed and think we worked really well together. Ok it does have a bit of a toga feeling to it, but it has pockets and a back button closure that works, and we even worked the sleeves into pockets that sit inside the dress at useful points.

Not only did we use all of the two black polyester blouses, but we even made use of the care labels and two buttons from other projects in the same room. I think we should call it the 40-minute zero plus dress!

I thought that if I sorted this all into a blog entry ... well my head might spin less with all that has happened in the past few days. But no ... a little clearer but still buzzing with ideas and pleasure at the lovely gate at the end of my front path ...

so I'm off to finish unpacking, write few messages of thanks .... and make a cuppa tea, and I'll leave you with Holly's update on the event, venue and Exhibition that was held at the end of the workshops.

na Stella

And the answer to a spinning question posted recently

Woollyprimate asked recently in a comment on a post "May I ask how you fill your bobbins so evenly when you have hooks on your flyer? It looks like you used a woolee winder. "
Well it has to do with the arrangement of the hooks. The flier on this wheel has hooks that are offset - rather than exactly opposite each other ... and the arrangement of the orifice and design of the flyer allow the yarn to be strung from both sides of the flier. I hope this photo shows how the hooks on the top arm are not lined up with the ones on the lower arm, but are instead between them. Effectively the hooks on the top arm allow the yarn to fill in the valleys that the hooks on the lower arm create. Two or three of my vintage wheels have this feature, and I think it shows that the wheel maker was considering how the wheel would be used, and perhaps was a spinner themselves. My modern Majacraft wheel has a sliding hook that allows me to achieve the same effect.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Oooooo - finished

Another project off the needles, which leaves ... maybe two on the needles. Off the needles is Fling One (Heart of Glass), currently blocking. On the needles is a seemingly abandoned Tammy, and the third and final Double knit mitt. I also have knit wisdom to share, and yes I am still spinning on the Tour de Fleece (no photos today). I am also reading, I am nearly done on a book that is making me both nod in agreement and think, and I have a new-old book to start.

So now there are empty sock needles, really and truly empty, that means that I should probably knit a new sock, or at least begin thinking about what the next sock could be. I have hand spun sock yarn to use, and the new Vintage Purls Max Sock yarn ... and a whole drawer of yummy choices besides. What I do know is this my next book, Stella's Cup, written in 1890, by May Elsdale, N found and thought of me, especially when she saw chapter VI was titled Tiresome Toby. Tiresome - that is exactly the word that describes parenting that boy some days! I'm glad there are more days that are not tiresome than are. It should be a 'golly good read', and an insight into what people were providing in terms of children's literature 120 years ago.

So here are the finished socks, cast off and blocking. Details
  • Started: April 28 2011 Completed : July 13 2011
  • Yarn: Vintage Purls Sock
  • Pastel Mist,
  • Pattern Vintage Purls Heart of Glass
  • Needles, 2.25mm.
  • Modifications : I added eye of partridge stitch to the heel - just because I like how it fits and hugs the heel, and the way it looks in a soft semi-solid yarn.

This came my way this week from K, a money box with multiple knit themed sayings. Subversive knit sayings, like this scarily authentic Government warning.

I'm also reading To Die - Is Fashion Wearing out the world For by Lucy Siegle. I read Claire Regnault's review in last weeks Listener and decided this was a book I had to buy and read. I'm not sure how to best describe this book, its not fun, and if I was the kind of person who did a lot more shopping then this would be a slightly uncomfortable read. I love fashion, I love design, but I've never spent most of my money on it, I've always tried to buy 'quality', things that were made and cut to last, so often I reject the very thin cheap clothes on offer at discount places. I'm also not to naive about the impact of production, and processing for fashion, or really any product or service, even so this book is honest to the point of being brutally at times, it contains information that is hard to read. What does Lucy say? Well I've not finished the book yet (page 266 of 337), but so far she presents a very coherent and well defined argument that in the last 60 or so years our attitudes to clothing have shifted away from more sustainable attitudes that were traditionally in place when the production was more linked to the consumption. Where does this leave me? Well buying quality, considering the way and place and materials involved in the making of anything, and what will become of my 'stuff' when I no longer want it. As I said uncomfortable - but in a good way.

Take care, I'm off to The Cutting circle workshops tomorrow, should be fun as I get to be the student not the teacher! I'm back Saturday just in time for the Knitters study group mid winter dinner. My plane gets in after 7pm, so I'll probably arrive late ..... hope they save me some of the yummiest stuff, it is a pot-luck, or as we say in New Zealand 'bring-a-plate' and some of those knitters can cook as well as knit.


Saturday, July 09, 2011

Oh my - I am one lucky birthday gal

I sure am, yesterday was my birthday and there was cake, and a lovely family dinner and lovely things to open and enjoy. I headed out to the KSG (Knitters Study Group) where I provided an old fashioned pound cake, with orange zest, vanilla innards (what is the name for the bit that you scrape out when you use pods?), and cloves. The best thing about having hobbies is that when people want to give you things they tend towards things that fit the hobbies you have. When friends are also into the same hobbies and activities .. well the gifts tend to be of the most amazing kind, the kind that really fit into what you want to do and use. Right at the end of the post is a new video, which I hope is of little or no use to most knitters, and of great use to a few in temporarily or permanently in special circumstances.

So ... first, is a pen - yes I know it is a knit-blog, but the pens have been creeping in of late and there appears to be naught I can do about that. The pens, and inks, are part of my life now, and we both have to adapt to that. Remember back in 2009 when I was knitting Owls in collaboration with Suzanne, well this pen called to S and reminded her of that collaboration. I knew there was a pen in the parcel - customs forms make a point of listing what is inside, in this case 'pen and ink'. I thought there might be a Tswbi pen, as was a firm favorite in her collection. I never expected a Sailor 1911 Maki-E Owl by Pen by Kosen Oshita.

Oh wow, you probably know all about yarn-porn, delicious photos of yummy yarn and fibre, here is some some pen-porn. The pen is predictably a fountain pen, a rather special one.

Maki-E is a traditional Japanese technique of decorating using layers of lacquer and precious materials, in this case gold and shell. This pen has the signature of the craftsman artist, and is absolutely beautiful.
Even the nib is amazing, 14ct gold with some of the prettiest engraving I have ever seen. This is a Japanese Medium nib, equal to a European fine. The pen if filled with Noodlers Summer Tanager Ink, a lovely burnt pumpkin shade. I am not at all disappointed that is was not a Twsbi as this is a pen in an entirely different league.

I was also gifted the spinning fibre, Morag shared some of her limited edition hand dyed cashmere-merino-silk. She said the colour choice was a no brainer, cool blue with a hint of grey .... and the wee notepad with button detail just reminded her of me.

Then Zoomer provided samples of her new button range, sweaters and Jandles (only Aussies call them thongs). I am going to have to knit lovely cotton summery things just to make use of these .....

I have been knitting, and rediscovering that if I pick a project and work on it for a few nights that considerable progress is made. I finished the first Heart of Glass sock, and cast on the toe of the second one on Thursday at knit-night. By Saturday night I had made it almost thru turning the heel!

And I am still spinning, so far 80grams spun, and 80 grams to go. Bobbin one is now done, and about to be put aside. I hope that when I ply this on the majacraft those bobbins will be large enough to make an unbroken skein.

The second half of the fibre is soft, and pink and predrafted al ready to spin. Monday night is spin night at my house .. so I will be able to spin more then. I am trying to spin at least 30 minutes most days, but that cuts into my knit and pen time.

And I am planning the next project,sewing. I am on leave this week. Supposedly the whole week Monday to Friday but effectively Monday to Wednesday because of the Cutting Circle workshops which came up after I planned my leave. Usually if I have a few days leave I plan to sew something, and this week is no exception. Global fabrics have just opened a store in Dunedin so I thought I should 'test-their wares'. Here is a lovely pure silk which all going well should become a nice simple dress. The plain purple brown fabric will be the lining and the paler brown knit is for a long sleeved tee for smallest cub. Global has so much to choose from that I very nearly went mad and selected more than this. I wisely thought that I could sew this Monday and then return to see what else I could sew Tuesday and Wednesday?

As it is still the Tour de fleece, I'm off to spin some, and then play with a special new pen and ink and pet some fibre ... and even knit some.
Take care - enjoy the rest of your weekend - where ever you are.

Post Script
.. a few weeks ago Bear and I made an new instructional video. How to knit with one hand, the left ... for a special wee boy who wanted to learn. I was sure there was a way and yes there is, based on lever knitting. Over time I hope to add in a few more showing how to increase, decrease and yarn over ... or cables (those I can't quite get my head around how to do those yet).

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Seeing clearly

These past few days have been really blurry. Sunday I lost a contact, really truly I did. the first one lost in over 30 years of wearing them, somewhere in the kitchen ... and despite a long search and being very careful .. it appears gone. Now for most contact wearers that is not a biggie, they simply take another disposable and pop it in and keep on going. Not me, I wear good old fashioned hard lenses, gas permeable, the kind that are cleaned and reused again and again. I asked my Optician about soft ones and disposables and his opinion was that hard ones corrected my 'astigmatism' in a way softs would not. My rigid lenses last me on average 8-13 years ... so the cost is really really low when averaged out. Now a replacement lens is usually only a few days away, note that usually. Right now the replacement rigid lens factory is operating in a quake damaged Christchurch so I must wait longer maybe two weeks. The edges of my world are blurry, and to be honest I miss my crisp contact lens corrected vision. Still I have been knitting, and spinning, and for the first time in ages there is a frog report! Plus I'm away next week, technically on leave but work is paying for me to attend a workshop that is quite exciting .. so if you are in Wellington and interested in new ways to patternmake - consider the Cutting Circle.
Spinning, so far I have spun every day for at least 30 minutes, sometimes more. As a result the basket empties .. and the wheel feels more like a friend than someone I barely know. I am remembering why I love this wheel .... just a little more and then I can start the second bobbin, and then there might even be plying before the tour is over.
Now - Adriene asked about pre-drafting roving, and if I always did or sometimes did, she spindle spins and had not thought wheel spinners would pre-draft. Well I do pre-draft all of my roving to some extent, usually just a slight tug to loosen up the fibers if they have been dyed after being prepared. When the fibre is dyed or natural and in a top or bat that is fresh and lofty - I just spin. Mostly I do just open up the roving a little but sometimes if it is special fibre that I want to spin smooth and fine I will pre-draft thru a diz to make the roving consistent - I need all the help I can get to achieve fine and even some days.

I made a start on the second (technically the third) double knit mitten. The pattern calls for a long tailed cast on and increases every stitch to create the front and back layers. I worked the first mitten that way, the second I worked using a modified Judy's magic cast on .. and I liked it so much I cast on this one the same. I cast on the total number of stitches using Judy's magic cast on, using a strand of each colour. One strand formed the stitches on one needle, the other strand formed the stitches on the other needle. Then I worked two rows (not rounds) on each needle in the required colour before transferring those stitches alternative to a needle. I have worked a tubular cast on other ways before but this seemed less fiddly than waste yarn or the twisty one hand one needle technique I have used from Montse Stanley's amazing book.

Here is my sock in progress, much of the lace on the leg was frogged and reknit over the past two days. When I began the lace section I was at knit night, and I did not have my beads with me so I just purled the beaded stitches and told myself it wasn't that important. That was way back weeks ago .. and subconsciously I think the lack of beads was haunting me. When I finally picked the sock up after a long break what I had on the needles and what saw in the chart didn't match (I blame the glasses - it was fine when I was wearing contacts). I frogged a row, still couldn't make sense of it, so I frogged back to a point in the chart ... but still I was confused. Then I frogged back the heart lace and started again. When I knit up to the B in the chart, B indicating a bead, I thought Bead! This time I was a home, and so I found beads .. and added them, subtle, tiny and sparkly ... and much much prettier.

Today I spent much of the day marking the hand knitting projects, which was fun. Everyone learned to knit in 3 weeks, and all learned to independently cast on, off, rib, knit purl, cable and make holes deliberately as well as shape with increases and decreases (paired no less). I am proud of them, and of me, it was busy but fun. The projects ranged from the ubiquitous long scarf, hat with pompom, some sort of looped cowl or scarf ... and oversize sweater. Yes three people swatched, and designed and planned full size garments like sweaters and cardies, three started them and one nearly finished. That I am the most proud of, on hand in day she was beginning to knit her sleeves, top down, pick up an knit in the round with a shaped sleeve cap - whoa! I didn't expect that. I also had a lantern constructed of balsa and paint dipped knit, a coin purse, and a few scarves with hoods. I did talk one young man out of knitting a barbie outfit, she is just to fiddly for 9mm needles - which were his favorite. I had the foresight this time to let them know that they only had to hand in evidence the knitting was done, swatches, samples, and practice pieces, together with research and plans. My cunning plan was to reduce the volume of matter around my desk and let them continue to knit their projects over the break. If you stop a beginning knitter in full flight .. with a hand in and take their work away for weeks .. well they might never return to their projects again.

so I'm off to deal with the cubs .. I hear sounds of a disturbance in the force ... in the kitchen where they are supposed to be drying dishes calmly and without fuss. Why do I set such high expectations of them, really without fuss? What was I thinking? Both have been off school with heavy head colds and coughs ... and have been very very good and patient while I marked, they were quiet and calm, mostly reading .. but now are either hungry, tired or getting better.

take care
keep well

Saturday, July 02, 2011

A big weekend all round

When you have younger people in your life, birthdays are significant events. I can understand that, when you have only ever had 11 birthdays, and I'm pretty sure the first few are kind of fuzzy and the memory is probably only the photos in the family album and stories you have been told, the number 12 is significant. Tomorrow my eldest, Toby, aka 'the toad', or 'tobe' turns 12. We try to be responsible parents, no first-person-shooter games, no playing with matches, and making a point of not letting go of what is on offer unless the please and thank-yous are said. That said kids develop interests that plain confound me, The littlest cub is into ballet, so I find myself doing ballet-hair, a bun, twice a week. The eldest cub finds WWII planes fascinating - who knew? That is all part of this weekend, then there is the start of the Tour, not the tour de France, but the tour de Fleece, with all the preparation and false starts that go with that. This weekend and there are knitted objects that relate to the tour, and knitting objects that might even be closer to being finished than they were a few days ago!

This is my 'birthday boy', with his new toys. I am thankful that Bear has insight into the tings that this 12 year old boy likes - as I never would have guessed that teeny tiny miniature planes that are used with a board game replicating the movements of World War II airplane engagements would the perfect present. Me, I supplied blank comic book drawing pads, A3 drawing paper and blocks of A4 210gsm cartridge paper because he is always wanting to use my supplies. I also provided a FC Tk9400 2mm clutch pencil, nice soft black lead refills and a Fabre Castel lead pointer. His sister supplied a vintage style slinky, and an environ science kit. If that boy even hints he is bored in the next few days .... I can't even imagine my surprised reaction. Equally how he will fit all that new stuff into his already full and tiny bedroom is a mystery that only he can solve.

This year I am again on tour, the Tour de Fleece, spinning along with the Tour de France, resting on rest days and trying to challenge myself. This is pink combed perendale that I dyed last year. This year I am spinning on my vintage Pippy wheel, I've not used this much since the two new wheels arrived and every time I visit the back room I admire it and think I shouldn't be ignoring it. So Friday I rearranged the family room, gave the wheel a dust and an oil (silicon spray really), and pre-drafted the fibre.
In any event of the size of the Tour (france and fleece), there are bound to be false starts. My participation started disappointingly. The Pippy and I had to get reacquainted, for I thought I had her all adjusted and drawing in nicely ... but in truth I forgot that treadling with one treadle is very different to treadling with two. Of course any coach will stress how important it is to train with your competition equipment so you are familiar with it, and I didn't. My first 11 grams were thicker than I wanted .. but I have 160g to use. So I thought about it overnight, and decided to sacrifice the 11 grams, and start again. The second start was much smoother, the wheel and I are not quite one, but my hands and feet are more in tune with my spinning and the wheel.

In prepareation for the Tour I spun up the lovely cross breed that KathyR gifted me. I was aiming at lace ... and I'm closer than I have ever been to lace weight yarn. And I do think this my spinning is becoming more even. Once I was compelled to spin three ply yarn - only because I knew the averaging out of three plies would even up my yarn, now I happily spin two ply knowing that my control is improved the point that there is not as much difference between the thicks and thins. Details, fine fingering, 2 ply, shifting from pale to darker over its length, 115g, and 550m. I am still thinking of a a shawl or blanket that uses the transitioning shades to add drama, with the dark as the final outside lace edge. Thank you again Kathy!

With the tour looming I felt the need to knit up some of my previous tour spinning. 2010 I spun 3 skeins of texel fleece into a sweater weight of yarn. This year I plan to turn that into a simple sweater for Toby. He has outgrown the gansey I knit him way back in early 2009. Time for a new one, and as he is a boy with boy traits peer fashion dictates it be plain and simple and serviceable. Bang goes my idea of embellishing the front and back with Barbara Walkers spider or some such crazy motif. The things we knitters do to hold back for the ones we love, like knitting a plain sweater when a patterned one would be so much more fun to make. So I have swatched a gansey edge, a few rounds of garter, then a 2x2 rib, followed by another garter band and three sections knit on needles increasing in size from 3.75 to 4.5mm. I think I like the 4mm best now the swatch is washed. I tried to hide a slip stitch chain pattern along the top ... but I'm not sure it will stay in the final design although in the photo it looks tidier than the garter bands.

And lastly I have finally finished the tip of the second mitten, only of course as I won't be using the first mitten this is technically the first mitten. This will be the third time I have finished this tip ....... only a thumb and a whole n'other mitten to go and I will have a matched pair. I assume that there are other projects like this out there, in terms of the frogging and the redoing and all? The thumb is looking a little puckered as I have a knitters safety pin holding the stitches. I do like the evil owls more than the running dogs ... and the double knitting chart reading has become much much more fluent.

So I'm off to complete other computery things, upload photos and tidy up things that need tidying up. I submitted my second article to Entangled this last week, but I still need to prepare and send thru the images. then there is some long overdue correspondence to catch up on, a pen or two to prepare to send away for repair, two favorites. There was a good frost this morning, which means a sunny clear crisp day - a good day to work thru things inside - before returning to the wheel for more spinning.

take care, if you are touring, may your wheel fly, and your fibre flow, if not please cheer on spinners and cyclists in your circle of crafters.