Thursday, 30 April 2009

Wonderwool Delights 2

One of my friends works for Simply Knitting magazine and when she heard I was going to Wonderwool for the first time, she asked me to contribute to their blog. Pop over if you would like to see it.

Does Wonderwool Wales live up to the hype?

I am feeling very proud to have been asked to guest blog.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Wonderwool Delights

The drive to Wonderwool is like a perfectly crafted sock. With clear roads that are twisty enough to keep you interested but not so complex they taken your full concentration it reminded me of knitting a simple patterned sock. Even the stretch of motorway could represent that small point when you wonder if you will ever finish it.

Anyway, we made great time through the lush scenery of Monmouth and the Brecon Beacons and arrived at our final destination about 10:30, just before the car park started becoming busy.

We proceeded to spend the morning looking at the lovely stalls and, I tried to cover both halls before purchasing anything. I was doing so well and then we went on to Fybrespates' stand. I already knew I was in trouble, based on Jeni's last blog post. Well, it was too difficult to resist and I purchased a beautiful batt containing merino, silk, mohair and sparkles. The colours reminded me of a landscape just as the starts setting. I am looking forward to spinning this as it will be my first batt and seems really airy.

I also purchased this lovely scrumptious roving. Aren't the colours great! I just love the amount of white left in it and hope I can do it justice. At the moment I plan to spin it as a single which should accentuate the splodges of colour although I am finding it difficult to image the finished yarn. (Sorry about the blur but the fibre is shy.)

Also in the hand dyed goodies range is this citrus roving from Kraftykoala. It is a merino/bamboo mix and I love the different way both fibres have taken up the dye. Also, it is not a colour I would normally buy but I am definately falling for coral colours. Maybe this has something to do with summer?

Seen, admired but not purchased from was Spindle Frog, Artistis Palette and several other indie dyers. Unfortunately, with limited funds I had to pass up the tempations on offer from a wide range of stalls. I was specifically looking for spinning goodness so tried to stay away from the temptations of pre-spun yarn. However, a certain special something from The Natural Dye Studio was purchased by Elizabeth and I.

As if the above was not enough to keep a girl happy, I also managed to get the following:

100g of BFL fleece, scoured but still recognisable.
A big bag of Alpaca in oatmeal, caramel and chocolate.
A Manx fleece.
100g grey Gotland top (my cat loved this, she smelt it and then rubbed her cheek against it - and I though it was only me!)

The later came from Hedgehog Equipment who also allowed us to try their range of Majacraft spinning wheels. It was the first time Elizabeth had used a spinning wheel and declared it was more fun than a drop spindle. Soon my conversion will be complete and I will have enabled my Enabler!

I will say that the BFL, Alpaca, Gotland and Manx is due to be shared with my friend Jess as she could not make it to Wonderwool this year.

I made two other purchases. The first was planned (sort of) and comprises of an Earthues five day starter kit from Debbie at DT Crafts.
Why Earthues? During our lovely conversation Debbie mentioned that the outcome with natural dyes is less predictable. This statement finally made my mind up for me. More and more, society seems to relish uniformity and the idea of working with something that is quirky really appeals. I'll just have to see how I get on.

My final purchase of the day was not in my plans but I have wanted one for ages. Yes, it is the regulation Patons & Baldwins beehive woolholder and it is scrummy.

I shall post about other things that caught my eye later.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Fearsome Friday

Today is Friday and I have been in an odd mood. The day did not go as intended and I believe this put me a little off track. The business of the day certainly helped it pass quickly and I have spent a lovely evening working on a mystery project. But I am still slightly off kilter.

However, tomorrow is Wonderwool and a day with friends.

I shall post of my adventures.

Friday, 17 April 2009

A Rye Spin

It has been a horrid week at work because the economic reality hit us hard. However, I have decided to go to Wonderwool. It is very important to support these events over this period. I also want to score some fleece.

At the beginning of the week, the summer top I wrote of was swatched and cast on. I am knitting this in geranium Patons Cotton Top. This yarn has been discontinued for a while but forms the most soft fabric and I kind of like its kinky ways. I am half way through the patterning at the base of the top and have come to a grinding halt. I promise pictures later but daren't pull it back out incase I get seduced!

Don't worry, there is no bad reason for it I just have been asked to crochet a really pretty summer top and need to finish it by the end of this month. I can't tell you anything else about this crochet project for a while, but will let you know about it when I can.

I scored this pattern for 50p in a Glastonbury charity shop. If I was rich and a size 8 I'd make it using an Amy Butler fabric but I'm neither. Next month I plan to visit a local fabric shop and buy some cheap cotton fabric and make my first garment since I left school some (many) years ago. It can't be too difficult, can it?

Last night, I stayed up late in order to spin half a bobbin of yarn and ply it with one I prepared earlier. This was the second bobbin I have ever spun using a wheel and also the first time I plyed. Whilst it isn't brilliant I'm pleased with it.

Anyway, today was meeting day at the Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild in Rode. I was fortunate enough to be trained in the dark arts of carding yarn and spinning woollen using long draw. My trainer was the totally lovely Anne, who is hugely talented and I believe a master spinner. She also helped my friend Jess start spinning on her Frank Herring wheel.

I think Anne has an unusal way of carding, however, it is very elegant and surprisingly easy. Unfortunately, she declared my carders were 'grippy' as I could easily produce rolags and leave a clean carder with hers but not mine. I do have another (as yet unused) set which are curved Ashfords. I shall assemble these and see if they are less grippy than the others.

Anne kindly gave me some Ryeland fleece to card and spin as shorter staples are very suited to the long draw method. This method feels amazing and I am looking forward to practicing it tomorrow on the last 5 rolags of Ryeland I have.

Anne also gifted me with a handful of Manx Loghtan which is a pretty caramel colour. I really want to spin this long draw as well but want to make a thicker yarn. This will be a challenge as I have a tenancy to try to spin a fine yarn.

I just want to say that sheep are really cute!

Today, I also purchased an apron: working with raw fleece is a bit dirty and gently coats the knee with lanolin, something I would prefer not to do.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

It's Easter

This morning I woke up to find an envelope by my bed.

The envelope contained a pretty card and clues for an Easter hunt. Such fun for a Sunday morning.

After a bit of hunting, I found bunny number 1.

Then bunny number 2.

Bunny number 3 proved to be very comfortable and took some coacing before it would join its friends.

They then had a party with some primroses.

Have a great Easter.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

It really is a frog

I am not happy, not happy at all. For several evenings I slogged my way through 5 inches of 2x2 ribbing and had just spent the last couple of evenings working on fun stuff.

Now, I know it is probably criminal to admit this but ribbing is not my favourite pattern in the world. For some reason it feels clumsy and slow. Yes, to me it feels slower than purling does and I have to keep my wits with me as I find it easy to adjust the pattern by a little k3,p2,k2,p2 action.

So, it was with increasing dread that I worked 2.5inches of colourwork before deciding to take the project off the needles and try it on for size. Well, my guage was telling me the knit should have been smaller than it was in reality. Also, it was not just an inch too big, no it wasn't. This baby was nearly 6 inches too big.

There was nothing to be done but to frog.

I do like this pattern and really will knit it but I am tempted to start a summer top in geranium pink.

What to do??

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Snug and Warm

Tonight I feel very snug and warm. This may have to do with being tired but a large proportion of the snugness is caused by seeing the dull weather in the garden while sitting next to a gently humming radiator. The sound of the Decemberists is floating up from the kitchen where Iain is cooking dinner and all I have to do is plan tonights entertainment (and tidy the kitchen, of course).

Shortly, I shall make my way downstairs and make a pot of tea. Smoky earl grey tonight seems appropriate. I shall serve it in Darwin 'I think' mugs and enjoy blowing the steam away.

When driving home this evening, I really fancy knitting in colour. Realistically I have a choice to make. I can knit on my lace project which is peach and mint and rather attractive. The soft pink of the hexagonal storage box goes so well.

OR I can knit on these lovely colours.

Unfortunately, they both projects require the use of 3.25mm needles and stupidly I only have one pointy set of circulars this size. The other 3.25mm needles I have would be usable for my lace shawl EXCEPT for they are too blunt. This means I will need to remove the lace from the needle. This is something I shall do and the Spindrift has been calling out to me for several days now and I really fancy some colourwork madness.

We had a new person join our knitting group this Tuesday and she asked me to teach her how to knit. I am so happy, not only does she want to learn but I got to teach her. It was a pleasure and she has been practicing. So I could demonstrate stitches to her, I felt it was important for me to take a project using big yarn. OK, it is Aran weight yarn but trust me this is big for me. I seem to be knitting on laceweight, 2ply or sock yarn most of the time.

So, on Tuesday night I cast on Mitred Hanging Towel by Cristina Bernardi Shiffman from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines and finished it off yesterday evening. This was knitted in Peaches n Creme, which is a joy to use.

Also finished is Cecily by Amanda Perkins, which was lovely to crochet and was done in her sock yarns. You can also see my new haircut, which I love. Please forgive the slightly mad stare but it is really difficult to take good self-portraits.

Finally, a picture of my spearmint arrows. Finished at last.
The pattern is a short version of Latvian Socks by Nancy Bush and they were knitted using Natural Dye Studio's Darling sock yarn on 2mm needles.

Have a great weekend.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

A Bit of What You Fancy

I have had a great time recently. The Komedia opened in Bath and it has proven to be a great venue for live music. Iain and I have been going alot and have been to see the following:

We also have tickets to see Sheelanagig & The Pete Roe Band, Seth Lakeman and Half Man Half Biscuit. As part of the Bath International Music Festival, we shall also see The Handsome Family in the Spiegel Tent. I am so pleased DH and I are really embracing live music again.

We haven't yet decided on our festival of choice for this year and so it may end up that we don't attend one. Of course Latitude looks good and would give me a Nick Cave fix.

I also enjoyed some yarny goodness with the knitting group at Get Knitted on Saturday. I was so good and nearly only purchased the things I had planned. I will admit the skein of Cascade 220 Heathers was not on the list but the colour is gorgeous and it is destined for a moebuis basket.

Of course, when I arrived home the only reasonable thing to do was to cast on the basket. As you can see by the picture showing it unfelted, I did not use the yarn I purchased specifically for the project but instead raided my stash and used up the last of my Garnstudio Eskimo. The unfelted basket doesn't look too promising but once it has gone through the wash with a pair of jeans, I do hope it looks cute. I'll post before an after photos later.

Also, I finally finished my spearmint socks. I knitted these using Natural Dye Studio's Darling, which has been in my stash for a couple of years. As is often the way with handdyed yarns, I ran out before I could finish the toes and they have languished in my knitting bag while I tried to find a close colour match. Recently Amanda started selling collections of mini skeins. Of course, I couldn't resist their loveliness and I found a really good match for my socks.

Some of the other mini skeins are being turned into a moebius neck warmer, I think it looks really beautiful. The pattern was published in issue one of Inside Crochet magazine. I took out a subscription for this as crochet has caught my attention and I am really pleased with the first issue.

Sunday morning was spent watching the grand prix whilst working on Fairy Moon. Not long until I finish her hair.