Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The mitten of extreme awkwardness

This week I have almost been defeated by a mitten, almost but not quite. I think I might be winning now.

On the needles:
Aforementioned mitten is on the needles. Still. After appearing in here for several weeks and despite being no more than a small mitten, in theory the work of a couple of evenings.
I am starting to get the feeling this yarn does not wish to be a mitten:
  • First I ran out of thrum fluff and hibernated the project for a while (ahem, about three years).
  • Having made up my mind to finsih the pair I couldn't find the pattern. Fine, I think, I have the first mitten I can reverse engineer it.
  • So I made the mitten all the way to the top, looked at it and realised it didn't match the first one. No, there should be five rows between thrums, not three. (I actually don't know how I didn't realise this earlier on). RIPPPPPP all the way out. I should tell you, ripping thrums out is not so easy.
  • Restart the cuff, knit happily away, finish the cuff and realise it is meant to be K2P2 not K1P1. RIPPPPPPP.
  • Ok, work the cuff (again), things are going ok, merrily thrum away. Get carried away and work past the point for te thumb gusset starting. Unpicked stitches for a few rows this time.
  • Gusset flies along, error of counting means I stop it too early. Unpick a couple of rows again and work more thumb gusset. 

Which brings us to here. I am almost at the decreases for the top, then "just" the thumb to work and I will finally have beaten the mitten challenge.
I really hope there is some cold weather so I can actually wear these once they are done.

I did do a little casting on as a gift was needed. I used some of the spare mitten yarn to start some Garter Stitch Mitts by Ysolda Teague. A simple but excellent pattern for whipping up mitts in leftover yarn. 

Also a chance to reacquaint myself with grafting garter stitch. I worked it a little tightly on this one. The second mitt will be worked once the mitten is done and I know how much yarn I have left.

The Touch the sky cardigan continues, it has had about four more rows put on it. I really must dedicate a week'd knitting to get it done at some point.

There is a non knitting WIP this week as well. I made some felt slippers last week (you can see the photos of the whole process on my facebook page).

The felting is done but I need to add a sole and maybe a little decoration.

Off the needles:
Once I had made the first garter stitch mitt i decided it wouldn't be right for the gift I had in mind. Wrong colour for the recipient. I had a little stash dive and used some green Debbie Bliss Donegal luxury Tweed Aran to make a green pair.

Much more suitable.
I did a few tweaks to make the pattern in aran weight yarn, you can find them here.

Other news:
Couldn't work out what heading to put this under, but quite exciting anyway. I taught my first fibre class this week. I took a lovely little group of ladies through a little fibre background and showed them the basics of spinning, needle felting, wet felting and peg loom weaving. It was a fun day with more like it to come in the future.

And some other bits from my week:
Some alpacas from work to keep you amused.

The weather has taken a serious autumnal turn this week, it is grey and wet out there. The good side of this is that we had our first fire of the season. I love knitting with the stove going.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

WIPing it up

On the needles:
The second thrummed mitten is under way.

These are fun to make. I really am not sure why I have let this project hang around. Now it is started I suspect it will go quickly, and I will have a pair of the world's cosiest mittens. Pattern is Thrummed mittens, stuffed mittens or fluffies by Joan Janes.

The Touch the sky remains, but I did remember to get a photo this week.

I thought the ball of yarn was getting small, so I weighed it and found there is a whopping 56 grams left. This seems to be the yarn that goes on forever! A pair of rows takes less than 2 grams so I can keep going for a while yet. I will probably stop when the radiating yarn overs meet the front band.
Pattern is Touch the Sky by Elena Nodel.

Off the needles:
Despite good intentions to clear my WIPs I did cast on and finish a hat this week.

Made using 100% alpaca, aran weight, from Town End alpacas. I wanted to trial a hat with pure alpaca to see if it ends up saggy. Alpaca has lovely drape but not a lot of memory or spring. So far so good, I will see if the stretch goes with wear though.

Designer business:
The colourwork mitten pattern is all written up, I need to get some good photos for it next though. I think the pattern will work as a hat too so that will be the next project.
The amazing sock blank from Truly Hooked has been made into a pair of socks. I am very excited about them but they are not ready for release yet, watch this space :)

Felted goodness:
This lovely bag of fibre has been worked into a felted piece. Unfortunately it is still wet so the colours are not showing up, I will keep the reveal for next week.

I tried combining the Merino and Cheviot fibres this week to see if I could make the backing for felted pictures out of cheaper fibre. They felt noticeably differently but with plenty of friction will work together. It may not be the best combination.

Non fibre crafting:
I have even ventured away from fibres this week. A huge pile of t-shirts from scout camps etc. that was hogging cupboard space has been reduced to a small pile of neat squares.

They will be sewn together to make a patchwork blanket. There is a lot of jersey fabric so I might need to add some stabiliser of some sort to avoid the squares stretching out of shape.
The rest of the fabric has been recycled and a lot of space has been created.
Sewing up will have to wait a little as I need to give my sewing machine a thorough clean and service.

Sing a little song:
Browsing YouTube recently we found the group Postmodern Jukebox. They do superb vintage style versions of modern songs. Particularly like their cover of All about that Bass (I do like that song anyway).

 Also good try their covers of Thrift store, Gangster Paradise and Wiggle (actually pretty much all their stuff).

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Accidental stash enhancement

That is totally a thing, you can be planning to not obtain any more yarn/fibre and then do so entirely by accident :). We will get to how in a bit.

On the needles:
The touch the sky cardigan continues with its oh so long rows (I will remember to take a photo of this for next week). It is very pretty but I just want it done now. Unfortunately by the time it is done it will be winter and too cold to wear a 4ply weight, very lacey, open front cardigan. This may be affecting my motivation.

I have been digging through my WIPs and pulled some thrummed mittens out of long term hibernation. The first was finished about three years ago, then I stalled, I think I ran out of fibre for thrumming, which is a rubbish excuse because I now have plenty of fibre to choose from. 

Hopefully my gauge will still be close enough that I can make the second mitten and call it a pair. These are to finish this week.

I also have a couple of blankets in my WIP pile, both sock yarn blankets, they are long term hibernators that get the occasional bit of attention, I suspect they will be WIPs for a long time to come.

This lovely yarn is also on the needles, I am working on a pattern to go with it, so just yarn pictures for today.

Off the needles/designer business:
The mittens I have been working on are done, the ends have just been sewn in and they are currently soaking in the sink. Colourwork is one of the things I always block, it really needs it.
Writing up the pattern is on my to do list for this week, so it will hopefully be making an appearance soon.
(I found the before photo, so here it is)

In a spin: 
The same blue/grey fine single is sat on my wheel, I haven't spun at all this week. Would like to get that one finished as I have some new fibre I want to get going on.

Stashy goodness:
First up, I had a major stash tidy. It was not behaving itself, with balls and skeins snuck in odd bags and generally looking messy. I pulled it all out of the two tubs where it is meant to live, sorted a few bits that are for sale and stowed the rest away in a much neater fashion. I have plans to work through some of it asap. It is also now sorted vaguely by weight, which should make hunting for specific yarn much easier. 

Now, on to the accidental purchasing. I went on a yarn shop crawl with a couple of friends from my knit group. We made it round five of the local shops (Threads in Keyworth, Knit Nottingham, Yarn loft in Nottingham, Yarn in Beeston and Knittiquip at Breedon on the HIll). Much fun and giggles was had by all, we also had amazing paninis at the deli next to Knit Nottingham.

Italian chicken and mozzarella and salami with halloumi. So good! My advice- go there! And then go next door and buy yarn from the lovely Eleanor.
Also cake from Beth's Kitchen at Breedon on the Hill, also delicious (it may have been a food tour as much as a yarn tour).

I bought a couple of skeins of alpaca as I want to try a pattern with pure alpaca. I want to see if it will hold enough shape to work as a hat or if the drape will be too much and lead to sagginess.

The brown was a bargain bin purchase to trial some aran weight patterns.

The real accidental purchasing came when we took a trip to Doncaster to collect some car parts. We ended up coming away without the bits we went for and I had a sudden flash of inspiration that Wingham wool work is "north" (ok, so my geography leaves something to be desired). On the off chance I Googled it, expecting it to be many miles away, and found it was less than seven miles down the road- total win!

A short detour later and I found myself there, they very kindly let me in, even though I had managed to hit lunchtime. This place is a wonderland of fibre goodness!

There are a few of different buildings, the first has books, exotic fibres, bobbins, yarns and various miscellaneous bits. Up next is the coloured merino shed (not easy to photograph):

over 125 different colours of dyed merino that you can choose from. You take a bag and go at it pick and mix style, choosing as much, or as little of each. It is weighed up for price as they are all charged at the same rate.

Shed three has different breeds in natural colours. Not pick and mix this time, but you can choose the amount you want of each and bag it.

Shed four is the rainbow room:

Multicolour blends of merino. The ones on the right contain silk. There are also giant carded batts and other goodies in here.

I didn't make it up to shed four, which contains equipment and the workshop room as I was trying to keep my visit short.

Definitely going back, next time I will drag some fellow spinners along and go for the day!

And finally, my purchases:

I was fairly restrained :)

The turquoise blend at the top is a merino and silk rainbow, I really want to get this on my wheel! Got to finish the blue/grey first though.
The small bag of white is natural Corriedale. I wanted some cheap feltable wool to make backings for felted pictures rather than using up loads of merino for bits that can't be seen. We will see how the two breeds felt together, it may all go pear shaped if they felt at very different rates.
The two multicoloured bags contain a selection of dyed merino. I had a couple of felted pictures in mind when I was there, so chose colours that are needed. I am going to card some of the colours together to get multi tonal fibre to work with.   
The large bag of white is undyed Bluefaced Leicester for the shop.

Time to block out those mittens and get writing on the pattern.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Wool mountain

Last weekend was the Bristol wool fair, which meant the previous week was mostly spent labelling, bagging and packing ready for the show. 
It was a lovely show, at a new venue for its second year. We had a great time meeting lots of people and being surrounded by crafty goodness.

There were animals to meet too, Onix and Caesar are very friendly alpacas from Cotswold alpacas.

And the Valais blacknose sheep are almost certainly the cutest sheep I have ever seen!

Now I have to finish tidying all the stock and stall bits away!

All the show prep limited crafting time quite a bit, but I have been getting a few bits done.

Off the needles:
The let love grow blanket is done, just in time to take to Bristol with us.

On the needles:
The Touch the sky cardigan has been picked back up. I discovered I had already worked the sleeves on it, which was a nice surprise. The rows are long and not overly exciting now though, so it just gets a little done here and there. Quite good for knit night now though as not too much focus required.

Designer business:
I also fancied a quick knit so grabbed some leftover aran from other projects to make some colourwork mittens. Couldn't find a pattern I like so dug out the colourwork chart books and have a new pattern in progress. One hand is done so I need to write up the chart and check it as I work the second hand. Then do the thumbs, I always avoid thumbs and leave them right until the end.

In a spin:
During the show I was drop spindling some blue and grey wool/silk blend. I needed to take it off the spindle when I got home so have transferred it over to my wheel. About half of it is done, a fairly fine single which I will ply with some fine navy blue singles that I have already spun up.

Ok, on with the tidying, hopefully more projects to share with you next week. I feel some stash diving coming along.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A busy week

This week has managed to feel both quiet, and yet very, very busy at the same time. And annoyingly I can't share all I have been up to, because the main part of my week has been grading a pattern that has been submitted, so it has to stay secret until I get a yay or nay.

I do have quite a bit to share though, between spreadsheet wrangling I have been doing crafty bits to keep myself sane!

On the needles:
I have a rather neglected Touch the sky in some beautiful alpaca/silk/cashmere. I had a bit of a wobble on this, I am past the sleeves and heading down the body but then couldn't decide if I really like it. In spite of the garter stitch on the edging it rolls under and I couldn't decide if I should frog it. 
In the end I have decided to keep it, but it is having a bit of a hiatus while I work on other things.

The project taking up most of my time is a sample knit. The Let love grow pattern has been out for a while, but I have always planned to make a blanket sample to go with the cushion. The yarn has been sitting waiting for a long time so I finally got to casting on. It is well under way, five and a half squares down out of nine.

Off the needles:
Hmm, nothing really unless I can count the blanket squares, but they are project bits, so I guess not really.

Designer goodies:
I mentioned my big project above, it has finally been submitted so now I just have to wait on that. 
Much more excitingly I have a freebie released this week. Affogato is a speedy aran weight mitt pattern designed to use up leftovers.

In case you were wondering about the name, it means "drowned" in Italian, but is referring to a type of coffee that has a scoop of ice cream (or gelato) covered in a shot of espresso. I don't drink coffee, but the coffee fans in my knitting group get very excited about it. 

Other crafty pursuits:
This week I have been wet felting, trying out some colours to see how they felt together.

From this:

To this:

I also made my first attempt at a wet felted picture, inspired by the aquatic theme of the piece above I went for a fish.

A couple of details were needle felted on afterwards, overall quite pleased with how this came out.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Catching up

Hi everyone!

I hadn't actually realised how long it had been since I last posted, but it is good to be back. Work sort of took over and I was finding I didn't have time to read blogs, or do much crafting, which meant I had nothing to blog about so it just fell by the wayside.

Things have changed a bit round here, so I am hoping to be back on a regular basis and share some fibrey goodness with you all.

I got a new job in the spring, now I work with these guys:

This is Dylan, Thorn, Jasper, Renaissance and Jonny. The others were having the day off and were hanging out in the field when I took the photo. 
I teach people about the alpacas and take them for a guided walk around the farm (It is Charnwood Forest alpacas if anyone wants to see more)

I did both jobs for a few months, but had to stop working at the stables after a while, it was just too much to do it all. 

At the minute I am working part time with the alpacas. The rest of my time is spent catching up on some overdue jobs, like pattern writing and dyeing yarn. I have a couple of shows to prepare for in the next few months.

The website has had an overhaul too and I have relaunched the Etsy shop, more to go up there in the next few weeks, hoping to take photos of yarn today. The Facebook page (A Little Bit Sheepish) is getting some more love and I have joined the world of Instagram as well (also as alittlebitsheepish, unsurprisingly!).

Pattern writing wise is always difficult to share news of, it generally has to stay a secret until publication. I have been making my first forays into the world of garment design though and hopefully will be able to share some things with you soon.

Having a bit of extra time has meant I can try out a few new crafts too, there are going to be some new crafty pictures to share with you as well as photos of knitting, spinning and dyeing.

Here is a little felty teaser:

Needle felted using merino, not bad for a first attempt.

Speak to you all soon 


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Snip snip- seeking

I have been working on a cardigan for a couple of weeks. Since I am not keen on purling and have been wanting to try steeking for ages this seemed like a perfect opportunity.
I added seven knit stitches to the front of the pattern and joined it to work in the round instead of flat.
Once the body was worked I figured I could do the steek before the hood and sleeves, so if anything went wrong I had wasted less knitting time and yarn.
The internet, as always, was my guide for this. I had planned to do machine stitching, but reading up on steeks online I liked the finished edge of a crochet steek. I worked the crochet chains in a black sock yarn.
The chains didn't seem like much to hold it all together, so I dragged out my sewing machine, which was for once compliant- usually I end up with huge tangles of bobbin thread. Today the sewing went well, I tested it on a random swatch and if fed through fine, so onto sewing the cardigan! I added a line of small straight stitches either side of the crochet chain. You can see them on the photo below in blue. They don't actually show up on the cardigan because the whole thing is much darker than the photo shows it (flash! ah ah!).
Finally it was snip time. I used the smallest pointiest scissors I could find and worked up the ladder of stitches between the crochet chain.


Henceforth all cardigans might be made like this, because it is awesome. Totally works, leaving a nice neat edge. I haven't got up the courage to yank it about, but it does seem secure, and will be further stabilised when I put the zipper in.
Next adventure- putting in the zipper! I love learning new skills.