Sunday, May 25, 2008

More Spinning BFL

1yarn 002

OOOOoooooooooh I loves spinning. I wants a new wheel I wants fibres, ooooohhhhhh I does, spinny spinny spinny, I's in lurveeeeeessssss. Yum, yum yummmmmmyyyyyy

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Time to play catch up ... or what I did last week ... or then there was some more spinning :)

I got this lovely pencil roving from n at yarnyard. it does make spinning even singles easier but the merino tops I plied it with was a bit lumpy :) I ended u with 200g and 80 odd yards (emphasis on the odd).

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yarnfibre2 011

yarnfibre2 010

yarnfibre2 008

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As the fibre stash has begun to grow cough, I have had a stock take of the yarn stash, cough cough, and decided I need to do, cough, some knitting. So I cast on for a forest canopy shawl but I didn't want a triangular shawl so I am adding an extra panel of leaves to make a half hexagon.


I have also done a little on the woodland shawl scarf/cowl/shrug which hasn't decided what it is going to be yet LOL not got much yarn left for that one.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Got that spinning bug Spoiler Alert for Yarn Yard's Fibre Club

Don't look any further if you haven't received your fibre club parcel yet and still want a surprise.

Before I learnt to use my wheel (began to learn) I joined Natalie's Fibre Club. This may seem like the wrong order to do this in, but it was the incentive I needed to get spinning. I have had my wheel for over a year and never tried her. I think I was scared I wouldn't be able to do it properly. Knowing that the fibre would soon start arriving meant I had to get going.

Yesterday the first installment of fibre arrived and it is gorgeous. A lovely pinky blend of colours, not at all 'me' but still lovely. For me one of the advantages of belonging to a club like this is that the choices are made for me. I like purple, did I tell you? :) so I play safe and I choose purple. But in a club you get the club yarn and some months there are fibres (or whatever) that you would not normally choose. This may be why some people do not choose to join clubs. I can see how, if you have a very strong negative reaction, you would feel that you had wasted your money. Of course it could be the favourite colour of a friend or relative so you'll have a use for it anyway. But we all like to open our parcels and say "oooooh how lovely". For me it's a way to push myself out of that purple comfort zone.
I try colours I would never have thought to buy for myself and I find I like them more than I imagined.

Anyway Natalie has been very kind and has sent me a gift with my club fibre of something guaranteed to please. This is, she says, to practice on! Too good for that. I will spin it very carefully, for those wondering about the club colours this was the last club fibre before this months. This months is a Merino Tencel 50:50 blend, LOL, I have no idea what that means or what Tencel is but it is very pretty. I am having a wonderful time discovering new things and learning new techniques.

Along with the club goodies and the lovely gift (thank you again Natalie) I also ordered a fibre sampler pack which contains a little each of
Merino pencil roving, merino top, BFL Superwash top and 50% merino/50% tencel. All a lovely clear shimmering white and all perfect for 'having a go'. Great idea - a try before you buy - for sampling before buying larger quantities.

I also joined Anni's Lace Club and the first one of these lovely laces arrived yesterday too 55% silk 45% cashmere and 800 yds to 110gms and this time it is purple. The base yarn is the same as Posh Yarn's Eva and there is another Posh Yarn Sunday Sale at 6pm tonight. I wondered about telling you this :( maybe, as a devout Posh fan, I should not point this fact out. But I looked at their yarns and decided that the dying makes a huge difference, both yarns may start out the same but each artisan adds their own unique stamp with their dying choices and methods. Anni's yarn is not Tony's yarn and Tony's yarn is not Anni's - both are wonderful in their own way. I know there are people who are frustrated by the limited supply of Posh Yarn so maybe those people would prefer Anni's etsy shop format where you can buy at your leisure without the fierce competition that Posh has for it's products. There is, judging by the 'Sold Out' signs going up after 5 minutes over at Posh, room for both of them. Btw there is a great Posh Yarn Group over on Ravelry, join us :)

Now that I have seen it 'in the flesh' I will defiantly be buying more of this from Anni's etsy shop. I also received a little hessian bag and a pattern designed by Anni as part of the club..

The clubs are about the yarn/fibre for me. The extras are nice but not essential. It's nice to have a new pattern but I don't think i will use this one for this particular lace :) I emailed Anni with a question and received a speedy response even though she is out of the country at the moment. How is that for customer service? Thank you too, Anni.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Promise not to Laugh?

It's my first handspun 2 ply and I lurves it! I will keep it forever and ever, but hall i knit it or wind it into a ball or just reskein it?

When is a day with no knitting a good day?

When it's a walk in the countryside day.

Tuesday was warm and sunny with a gentle breeze, it felt almost like summer. K was off school as she'd been sick the previous day but she was feeling ok so a little fresh air seemed in order. One of the good things about having little or no sense of smell is that I don't notice traffic fumes, one of the bad things is that I can't distinguish 'a little fresh air' but nevertheless I know it is there.

The North East of England is the birth place of railways. This means that now there are lots of disused railways which have become part of the National Cycle Route/Network and many local councils maintain them as public footpaths.

There was gorse of course :)

We headed up towards Consett, industrial heritage all but disappeared under a carpet of green and a lovely quiet way to spend the afternoon meandering. Flat enough for the buggy (that baby's getting heavy!) and no particular place to go so K could explore. We wandered.
K and Daddy looked for creatures and spotted a water boatman,

on closer examination that blocked drain by the side of the track bed had become a deep pool where we saw these.

Smooth Newts, this one is an adult with his spotty sides indicating he's on the look out for a lady friend :)

On the way back to the car I noticed these green shoots poking through the brown of last years ferns.

I love the shapes these make as they are ready to unfurl. Pity I couldn't do some time lapse photography on these. So I guess it must still be spring after all.

Gratuitous photograph of a field :) and just in order to be picturesque, there were tumble down walls ...

and sheep.

This one wont be giving any more wool :( and why it was balanced in a tree I have no idea :)

That brings me to my latest obsession, er, I mean, interest. I have started learning to spin. I got my wheel a year ago but only recently started to try and spin with it. Last night I was up until 1.30am because I was plying my first proper singles into yarn. It's very 'art yarn' LOL very think and thin. But it's getting better and it's very pretty roving so very pretty coloured yarn.

I'll show you when it's dried if you promise not to laugh :)

PS does this

remind you of this


or is that just me :)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Swallowtail Shawl

Swallowtail Shawl

Posh Yarn, Eva 2 ply lace weight, 1 skein 50g 400 yds, (13g left), Captain.

size 3.5mm needles

blocked size 48" x 24"

Blocking Swallowtail

As a good number of the Ravelry KAL people are doing swallowtail as their first lace project I thought it might be helpful to do a blocking run through. Once you know how to do something it seems very easy (and it is) but the first time can be a little mystifying. Remember your first time? Ah hem coughs moving right along ;)

First sew in any ends but do not trim them yet. Soak your finished lace in a cool water with wool wash added if the lace is dirty from handling. Soak for at least 20 minutes, an hour is better if you can make yourself wait. I usually use plain tepid water but this time I presoaked overnight in a 10% vinegar water mix as the yarn had bled a little during knitting. This morning I rinsed with several changes of water until the rinse water was (almost) clear. I am impatient :)

Next squeeze out as much water as you can by hand without rubbing or agitating the lace - we don't want it to felt! Wrap the damp lace in a clean towel and then squash the towel (I stand on mine) to remove the last of the excess water. If you are blocking a large shawl you might want to leave it a little damper than this as it will start to dry whilst you are blocking.

I use foam mats from ELC as my blocking surface but you can pin out on a bed or on a clean sheet on your carpet (Or you could hoover!)

I like the mats because once pinned out the lace can be stood on it's side, the mats are interlocking so you can add more for a larger surface and when using heavier yarns being able to move the blocking to another room is a big advantage as it may take many hours to dry. This project is in a 2ply laceweight Posh Yarn Eva so it'll dry quickly.

For blocking you also need some pins (T shape are easier but any rust proof pins will do), blocking wires (not essential but make life a lot easier) and a tape measure.

Thread the wires through a suitable place in the lace. Shawls often have a nice series of holes along the neck edge, in fact if the pattern doesn't have them I now add them as it makes inserting the wires much easier. The other wires run down the points of this design an the YO holes make it easy to line up those points, the blocking wires mean the points are easy to stretch to the same length. Without wires you pin the points out to the desired stretch. For the neck edge you can thread a length of yarn or fishing wire along the top edge or you can pin it out with a million pins.

After the initial stretch and pin by eye the tape measure helps to finish the job.

Starting at the centre work along the edges pinning as you go, use the tape measure to ensure both sides are symmetrical. Let the yarn stretch a little and you can move the pins out again until you are happy with the dimensions.

Try to get the centre spine to lie straight by smoothing the yarn with your hand and adjusting the pins again. Look at the spacing of the points, are any of them closer to each other than the others? Are they balanced on each side? You can get really obsessive with the tape measure here or you can do it by eye until you are happy. When you wear it no one will notice a millimeter here or there :)

When you are happy with the size and/or fear it will snap if you stretch it any more then you need to leave it to dry. If you can't wait, set a fan to blow across the surface to speed up the drying time. Provided the yarn was damp and you have a good proportion of natural fibres in the yarn, the shawl will block and hold it's shape (a little shrinking back when you take out the wires is to be expected) and will be considerably bigger after blocking. The lace pattern opens up nicely and is revealed in all it's glory.

I love blocking :)

Pre blocking size on this shawl a tiny 34" x 15" during blocking it pins out to 48" x 24". Now we wait ...

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

Sometimes a casual word here or, in this case, on Ravelry brings a very unexpected response.

I mentioned last week that some scum er naughty boys had nicked the lead off our roof at the back of the house and the lovely Yarn Collector has sent me a replacement :) LOL

These precious mini skeins are from Natalie at the Yarn Yard and I need to thank her too, not only for dying them in the first place and for thinking of the miniskein idea, but also for telephoning Annette when I happened to order the same mini skeins later the same day (I guess we can safely say that Annette and I both have very good taste) :) but also that Natalie takes her customer service very seriously - she changed some of Annette's order (with her consent) so that I got no duplicates. Isn't that lovely?

This brings me to thinking about internet friendships and the value to me of people like Annette. Having someone at the end of an email or who responds to a blog post is a special thing. I am very lucky to know people like Annette. It also reminds me to wave to Belle whom I have neglected but who is also special to me. But today is big up Annette day, so pop over and share the love. Thankyousoverymuch, honey, you made my day :) I have no idea what I will make with them but I am enjoying their yarny goodness and stroking and petting them and drinking in their lovely toning colours.
A week or so ago when I was being naughty with the credit card I ordered this lovely shawl ring from Rocki Dee over at Posh Yarn mentioned a shawl ring she'd received a while ago and I coveted it :) so I treated myself before I even needed a treat.

Rocki also sent me some much needed Arizona sunshine and the sun is shining here this morning. Amazing how a little sun can lift your spirits and the postman helps too. :) But the unexpected gifts of a stranger who has become a friend are beyond price.