Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Fiber East Stash Additions

The weekend before last I was volunteering and taking classes at Fibre East. Unfortunately I was too busy/didn't bring a camera and missed out on taking any pictures of the evert itself. Really though a picture wouldn't show the best bits anyway: friendly people, sunny skies, and amazing amount of knowledge going round. And while I didn't get pictures of the bunnies or the sheep to share with you I do have pictures of the new additions to my stash. with some ramblings about my plans for them.

My first purchase was an ashford Flick Carder. It's part of some grand plan I have to spin and knit a hat for Stephen this winter. Hopefully one that he will wear

Then I spent the bulk of my money on this. This is Big Boy from because I wanted to do a birght, bold version of the Stoxa tank from this summer's Knitscene. The yarn is delicious, the colours are fabulous and I'm always happy with everything I buy from Easyknits. I can't wait to cast on.

And on the subject of bright colours I picked up these beautiful little mini skiens in seven colour rainbow from The Knitting Goddess. I made two equally sized magic balls, one running purple to red and the other running red to purple. I'm making socks and I'm already over the second heel. I've been tweeting about their progress but if you missed the pictures they are on my project page.

On the more naturally coloured side of things I bought some angora. I could not resist buying angora. I adore angora but I don't like to buy it commercially and if I'm not certain it comes from an ethical supplier. Buying freezer bags full of fluff from the National angora Club seemed like a good way to get some fibre from a good source.

I bought two natural shades. The grey, confusingly referred to as chinchilla, and the golden white, helpfully referred to as golden. It's so, so, so soft. I'm spinning the chinchilla to get a feel for how it handles and I'm going to blend the white with some BFL I have lying about to see if I can't get the yardage for a hat and mitt set.

I couldn't resist buying something from The Farm Animal Sanctuary but as I was slowly running out of funds I made do with just this small sample of Wensleydale. No plans as of yet.

My last purchase of the day came from Sara's Texture Crafts. It was red and irresistible and I'm spinning it up on my bottom whorl spindle from Abby's class. It's ravelry project page is here.

That was it until sunday when I set off fully intending to buy a tub of samples from Low Land Legacy. Each sample is 20g and I want to spin each up to practise with the breed and then make it into a somewhat random lap blanket with other breed samples I've accumulated.

That was my good intention. Just to buy that tub. And I did buy it. You can hardly fault me that it came with a pack of free buttons.

Or that I found a bit more money when I was packing up. I'd forgotten all about putting my chage into that pocket. I was determined to spend all of it so I bought some more John Arbon fibre to add to my collection. Some broken merino tops.

Then because they are so cute I spent my last few pennies in some of Jack Laverick's cool ceramic buttons. And I felt very, very poor indeed. But with some cool new craft supplies, and isn't that what counts in life?

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Tour de Fleece Wrap Up

 A month ago I posted that I was going to sign up for the Tour de Fleece but as the rest of my month looked somewhat crazy all I was going to set as a target was spin everyday. My month was somewhat crazy but I did manage to spin every day of the tour.

As it was the end of term my Guides took up a couple of my weekends. I spun, for the first day of the tour, on my spindle at Zooom. Zooom was a South West Region event for the Brownie's 100th Birthday and fittingly some of my Brownies helped with my spinning.

I took the same spindle, and the same fibre on holiday with my Guides. The fibre was the North Ronaldsay I bought from John Arbon Spring Clean and admittedly that is a small cop but I did spin everyday.

When I was at home I got to work on The Spin Along Knit Along. I've got 612g of my 1k spun into singles. Pretty decent.

And then my tour ended at Fibre East I spent four days there. Most of the time I was playing on my in hand spindle from Portugal but I also got to play of a great wheel and take Abby Franquemont's All Spindles All Day class. I honestly can't say anything more about that class then you should take it if you ever get the chance. It was fun and I learned so much it was unbelievable. It was the best end of the tour I could hope for.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tutorial: How I Got This Hole Were My Heart Used To Be

So I got the idea for this tutorial at Guide camp when one of my Guides, given a bunch of fabric paints and a t-shirt did this exact thing. It looked so great I had to copy. Forgive me. It's just that they are better at this creativity thing than me.

Skill Level: Splattering paint, using an iron
Time Taken: Fifteen minutes, plus drying time

  • A t-shirt that fits
  • coordinating fabric paint ( I use the dylon stuff) 
  • an old but still flexible brush
  • Freezer paper and an iron. Or if you can't get the magic American freezer paper that irons on look for something that lies flush with the fabric, weight it down and be careful. We used craft foam on camp.
  • Newspaper, to prevent mess

Let's Do This Thing!

First draw and cut out your shape. It's going to be a negative image so something simple and bold works best. 

Iron on your negative, lay the t-shirt on newspaper with a couple of sheets of paper separating front and back. This will (hopefully) stop paint from getting where you don't want it. 

Begin splashing colour over your negative.

Layer on all your colours, splattering them all down. More is more here. More spats create a better image. Let the paint dry. It may take longer than normal because of the size of the splashes. When it's dry remove your shape and set the paint, if you need to, by following the manufacturers instructions. 


Monday, 7 July 2014

Adventures In Gift Knitting

A friend of ours in joining the merchant Navy and I knew I had to send him off with a knit. He was sceptical though. Right until he tried on the mitts - the Men's Hand/Wrist-warmers from Last Minute Knitted Gifts - felt how warm they are and got really excited.

There is nothing better than a good pair of wrist warmers to keep you warm and I hope these keep him safe too as he goes off adventuring.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Commitment Issues

As I've barely had time to blog the last couple of weeks it may come as a surprise to you that I've got myself signed up for a few things. It may not. You know me.

 My first sign up came as a surprise to me. I had my shetland fleece on the bobbin and my Zwartbles, Exmoor Blueface and North Ronaldsay ready to go. I had absolutely no time or fibre to take part in the Knitmore Girl's Spin Along Knit Along right? No time to spin and knit an entire jumper.

Well actually after the Shetland was off the bobbin everything turned out to be much faster to spin. Not entirely a surprise as I'd spun the shetland straight from the lock and in it's closed up state it was much harder to get through then well behaved rolags. So, okay I have space on the wheel but the fibre? Well we may have ordered a kilo of Exmoor Blueface roving.

That's a kilo alright

Spin along, knit along here I come. I really didn't think I'd be able to use it as a Tour De Fleece goal though. The first day of the tour is a large scale Guiding event which I won't be able to take my wheel too. The last days of the tour I'll be at fibre east. But I have a spindle for a reason so I'm officially signing up to spin every day. A more manageable goal given my commitments.

My Exmoor Blueface spun from the scoured fleece 

And with that first lot of Exmoor Blueface off the bobbin I have to do something with it... as it averages at a light fingering/lace weight why not dye it green, buy some black beads and a specific kind of dental floss and knit the Heart To Heart Beaded Scarf for the Knitmore Girls's Summer Of Lace and Beads. A knit along for knitting beaded lace, why not?

I think I have some kind of commitment issues.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Strawberry Harvest

With the mud still on 
This year our allotment has really kicked into gear. I'm not sure why to be honest. it's as weedy as ever and I've been slacking on my propagating.Allotment/Clare relations have actually been pretty bad in general. I feel like I don't do enough on it. I feel like it needs too much doing on it. I feel like I'm just not a good gardener. Of course this means I'm less enthusiastic, feel like I have to be dragged there, don't do as much as I should and the cycle continues.

In a jar 

So I feel like these strawberries appeared despite my effort rather than because of my effort. Our first bowl, pictured in post allotment bliss, weighed 1kg and since then we've got another similar amount. The first lot I made into a lower sugar, barely set strawberry jam ready to fuel cakes and biscuits.

In the freezer

Our second harvest I froze up for pies and smoothies. It's probably not going to last me all year but it will do for a start. There is something satisfying about stocking my cupboards and freezer with home grown goodies but don't worry, it didn't stop me from sampling some on the way to the chopping board.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Baby Hats and Knitting Practice

I'm taking the Craftsy class Improve Your Knitting. It's pretty cool, you learn to knit in all sorts of different styles. I've been practising ways to get my English style faster and more efficient and now I'm trying to learn continental style. It's frustrating, trying to get my hands working in a whole new different way. To practice I made a little baby hat using the Umbilical Cord Hat pattern. I'm not in love with my technique but I do love this pattern.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Lerro and a Giveaway

I was lucky enough to get to test Lerro, an awsome new shawl by Lee Meredith. It's a striped shawl that takes advantage of slipped stitches to create cool patterns. The base pattern is in fingering weight with lots of cool patterning but there is also a simple variation - the one that I knit - that can be made in any weight.

I got to test it in aran weight and chose the so soft, so fluffy Artesano Aran. I think I'm slightly obsessed with this yarn actually. There was a little moment at the yarn shop where I couldn't decide which two colours went best together, had a staff member come over the help and after the tenth minute of the chin scratching my Mum just picked up two colours that had been next to each other the whole time and I went with them. Inchard and Walnut.

The knitting was so much fun. The construction is modular so you work on the top edge, then the body then the bottom edge. You cast on 18 stitches and bind off 10. It's delightful. Even I can count to that.

Off the needles it's amazing to wear. I know not everyone sees the practicality of an aran weight shawl But I like to throw them on instead of a jacket when it's just not warm enough to go around with your shoulders bare. Perfect for breezy evenings or when I just can't resist going into the water.

So onto the give away. Part of my reward as a tester was a coupon code of $6 off any Leethal pattern. Lee has allowed me to share this with you. It's enough to buy a copy of the Lerro which includes the pattern for both the simple and full variation of the shawl but you can use it for anything Leethal.

Really simple conditions of entry. One entry each, contest closes midday (BST) on the 25th June and a name will be drawn at random.

All you need to do is post your Ravelry name below (so I can send you the coupon if you win) and if you're feeling up to it tell me which Leethal Pattern you'd like to knit.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Zwartbles, fresh from the bobbin.

My Dad came to visit a few weeks ago. He stayed in a rental cottage and I went to hang out with him. I took my wheel and the 113g of scoured Zwartbles I got from the John Arbon Textiles mill sale back in April.

If you ask the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook (and I always do) it will tell you that Zwartbles is coloured - much like my fading hair right now - brown to black, with a disorganised crimp and 'unarguably springy'.

I decided I wanted a woolen spun here and teased my fibre into lovely rolags. On the wheel it felt like a struggle to get the singles fine so I didn't bother. Made into a three ply it's DK weight, although it would benefit from being knit as an aran and allow it to bounce out into that space. The spring makes it feel alive. Give it a quick cuddle and it will spring back as quickly as possible.

It's not soft but I think I could wear it against the skin. I'm not terribly sensitive. I think I'll make a hat though. something plain to say 'behold my handspun'.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Socks, Pair Six

I'm back, my digestive system is back. Let's rock.

I haven't been eating an array of exotic foods during my unscheduled break from blogging so we'll start with knitting. I have been knitting up a storm. Starting with these socks.

This is my sixth pair of the houdini socks worked with a plain cuff. You may remember that I'm trying to knit seven plain pairs of these. Its a resolution that has been working out really well for me lately: slipping wool socks on as I come out of the sea, taking them camping, wearing them as I hose things down and pressure wash. I love that even when they are wet (with sea water or welly sweat) they keep my toes at the right temperature.

Pair six then is knit out of the fabulous, lovely Exmoor Sock that I bought back in April. Onto pair seven...