Thursday, 3 March 2016

Hold on to your (knitted) hats

I have a lot to share today, partly due to be disorganised and having missed a couple of weeks.
Last week I was doing some holiday cover at work, which meant no blogging, just a  little knitting but lots of this:

And plenty of cuddles:

On the needles:
I am currently an almost monogamous knitter! Ignoring the hibernating WIPs and long term blankets.
The second sleeve was begun and they are both now well under way. I am about at the elbow point and this works up quite fast, so hopefully onto the yoke by next week.

Working them at the same time makes it feel like a long time per sleeve, but you get to the end and boom! Two sleeves! More importantly if I make a mistake on the increase spacing the error is the same on both sleeves.

Off the needles:
The petal sock in Regia 4 ply is done.

I wasn't sure about this at first, I found the lace panel a little large to memorise easily but had it by the time I made it to the foot. Overall I am quite pleased with them.

Some of the leftovers from the socks were made into a barn raising square.

Spinning around:

Random, unknown blue single has been navajo plied to give a three ply of about sock weight. 

Next up on the bobbins is a recent purchase- merino and silk top.

Divided into three to make a three ply. It is underway as a fine single.

Out and about:
Yesterday saw and exciting day trip in the company of three other lovely spinning ladies. We visited Wingham wool work in Wentworth, where you can try out the tools and fibres they have for sale.

Four wheels were tried.

I had a go on an Ashford kiwi and learnt that the amount of noise my own wheel makes is perfectly normal.

I did feel bad wearing shoes while I was using a wheel, but the treadles showed that this was the norm here and it was way to cold to go barefoot.

Fibre samples from the British breeds shed:

I tested them all on the wheel and with needle felting.

Needle felted balls made from each fibre. The superwash wensleydale is missing and there is a bonus Ile de France at the bottom. Obviously i didn't pick evenly sized fibre samples!

There was cake too (purchased at the local garden centre and brought back for tea time).

Of course, there was shopping too. No photos but I picked up a sweater quantity of Portland, 100g of first clip Corriedale and 100g of Ile de France (favourites from the sampling) and some pretty blended tops (see above on the wheel, couldn't wait!).

What ya listenin' to?:
I have had some podcasts on the go as I ahve been working. Current favourites are Craftlit- always good, working through the Counte of Monte Cristo at the minute.

Also recently discovered Lore podcast. One for the fans of creepy movies!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Today's colour is green

On the needles:
My owls sweater is languishing (I got a photo this week though), I need to start the second sleeve so I can work them two at a time and get the decreases matching up. I keep getting distracted and losing track, at least that way if they are a little uneven they will both match.

Did I tell you I decided I would steek it after all? I joined it into the round and added a few extra stitches once the ribbing was finished.

I have been working on my February sock for the UK sock Knitter British actor KAL. This month is Helena Bonham Carter, I have picked the Petal Socks by Rachel Coopey from Knitting Wizardry (getting good mileage out of that book).

Yarn is a plain green Regia 4 ply from stash. The picot hem was a new thing for me, I usually stick to ribbed cuffs so it was nice to try out a new technique. The sizing has come up large though, I had to rip out and start again in the smallest size to get a good fit.

The cap full of caps is still waiting for its ends to be sewn in, some when :D.

Spinning around:
The green merino has been plied up, a nice squashy three ply of about aran weight.

I was fairly pleased with my attempts to spin this one a little thicker and quicker.

The turquoise alpaca is still on the go, I have done a little more of it and have found some chocolate brown alpaca fleece that I think I will spin up to ply with it. The brown fleece is really very grubby though, I may have to wash it first, or at the very least take it out for a good shake.

No progress on the blue spindle spun as the alpaca is occupying my wheel.

Fibrey goodness:
This exciting bow of fibre arrived this week. It is for the shop, but still an exciting delivery, it will soon be on its way to become dyed fibre. Some plans for it which will be revealed in the next few weeks.

Plans for this afternoon are pattern photos now the rain has stopped and possibly a little yarn dyeing.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Cold weather crafting

Because cosy knitwear and chicken soup is just the thing for when the temperature drops.

On the needles

The Owl sweater is coming along nicely, I have worked the body almost to the underarms and started the first sleeve. I am not sure if I am happy with the wrap pick ups on the short row bust shaping so the body is having a bit of a time out while I decide. The sleeve is coming along, considering working the second one to the same point so I can work them at the same time. I keep miscounting my increases, so at least they would be the same for both sides (my camera ate the photo of this one, will get  a picture for next week).

I have been swatching for a new design too, this is not the yarn for the pattern, it is some leftovers I have been trying out stitches with.

Off the needles

Well, off the knitting needles. The cap full of caps is knitted, I skipped the band of white on the final hat. A lot of ends need sewing in before I can officially call this done.

I think a pompom is needed too.

Spinning around

The mixed blue spindle spun single is done, there was just a little left to do, I will use my wheel to ply it with itself.

At the minute the wheel is busy. I have started spinning the alpaca I dyed a few months back. This has been picked open by hand for spinning. It is coming up quite thin, and not quite as even as I like but I suspect it will ply out, I may aim for a three ply, perhaps different colours for each.

What's cooking?

Chicken soup! Made from roast leftovers, definitely cold weather food.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Lots of crafting

I guess in part because I missed last week, but it feels like I have a lot of crafting goodness to share with you this week.

On the needles:
For Christmas I received a copy of Knitting Wizardry, the UK version of the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine. Lots of lovely patterns in there, I had been coveting it for a while.

My first cast on from it was the Cap full of caps by Kendra Nitta.

Sock yarn leftovers are combined with short rows to make a single hat that looks like a pile of five hats on top of each other.
A clever pattern but the sizing comes out huge. I fiddled with the stitch counts to get a size I am happy with. Currently stalled as I have stolen the needle for my next cast on and I need to decide if I want to include the colourwork stripe.

From the same book I have the Owl cardigan by Mari Chiba on the go.

I needed the 3.5mm needle from the hat for the ribbing.

The yarn is a gorgeous teal that is not coming out well on the screen, it has a mix of blue and green fibres, giving a multi-tonal effect.

I am toying with the idea of switching to working in the round once I get past the ribbing and steeking the cardigan. I am not a huge fan of purling as I find it slower than the knit stitch. Sewing machine is currently out of action and I don't entirely trust a crochet steek so still weighing up the options here.

I have also has my long neglected sock yarn blanket out of hibernation and added six squares to it. Need to do this more regularly or it will actually never be completed!

Off the needles:
Just one off the needles. My somewhat edited version of the Elementary Watson Socks by Sherry Menton is done.  

I altered the cables and had to adjust the heel to make the numbers work.
Yarn is a standard Regia 4-ply sock yarn.

Designer business:
The pre-release publicity for the Yarn in the City's Crafty Guide to London has begun. You can read my interview and see the sock pattern I designed for the book on their blog.

In a spin:
A lot of my crafty activity has been spinning, it has just grabbed my attention this week.

I started with plying the drop spindle singles I had made at shows over the past year or so. A navy plied with a blue/grey mix. The leftover navy singles were navajo plied to give a three ply yarn. 

Once that was done I started the green fibre that I bought at Fibre East last year. I think it is merino but forgot to write it down.

Having done the first bobbin (fibre split into three for a three ply yarn) I realised I was out of bobbins. I needed to skein up my plied yarn to free some up. 

Since I was on a plying/bobbin clearing mission I made the decision to ply the linen/merino and alpaca singles that I was unsure about too. The end of the alpaca was handy plied to give a two ply yarn.

Really pleased with the alpaca linen/merino yarn in the end. It is pretty chunky and textural. Suspect it may become a single skein cowl.

A complete set of free bobbins meant I could motor on with the green fibre. Trying to spin a little faster and thicker without too much compromise on evenness. All three singles are now done (this morning) and are resting in preparation for plying.

These will most likely be plied tomorrow as I have a big pile of fluffy alpaca fibre that I am keen to start spinning up.

I have also had an old drop spindle project out, this was most likely also a demo piece, but it was so long ago I don't remember. There is just a little fibre left to spin so I will try to get it finished up this week.

I had forgotten how HUGE this spindle is. It is the Ashford one I started with.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Just a little

Not much crafting this week, but a couple of bits to share.

On the Needles:
I am taking part in the UK sock Knitters British Actors KAL on Ravelry. Each month you pick a sock pattern you can link back to a particular actor and enter it. The links can be pretty tenuous, so you can more or less make any pattern you fancy. There are suggestions too.

For January the actor is Benedict Cumberbatch.

I have chosen the popular Elementary Watson Socks by Sherry Menton. The first is done.

Some edits, because well, when do I ever not? 

I removed the small cable to reduce the stitch count to 64. I also changed the direction of some of the cables. I actually made a slip up here, the front and back of the leg don't match because I didn't think ahead. Never mind, it makes a nice cable anyway.

This is the first time I have tried the Fleegle heel. I rather like it. It gives a gusset on a toe up sock, no wrap and turn required and is simple to work. I had to mess with this a bit to get the stitch count I wanted coming out. I worked more plain stitches at the base of the heel, a total of ten instead of the usual four. I couldn't find anyone talking about this online; so if you are wondering, it appears to work just fine with the wider base.

Yarn is a plain blue Regia 4 ply from stash.

Off the Needles:
I do have an off the needles, blocking my sink as I type, but I can't do the reveal yet as it is a new design. 

Proof that I have sewn my ends in!

In a Spin:
The plying continues. I have filled one bobbin and now need to start the second. It should all fit on two.

I have shortened my drive band, but the wheel still doesn't want to turn smoothly on anything but the largest ratio. I need to do some investigating but think I will finish the plying first as I am reluctant to change anything mid project.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Finishing blues

Not in a sad way, it just seems that everything I have been working on is blue. There has, as the name suggests been a bit of finishing.

On the Needles:
Not a lot this week due to a bit of a finishing session. I have a sock design half way through construction, hopefully will get it done this week. This means I get the excitement of a stash dive and new project.

Off the needles:
Lots to share here, although some you have seen in an almost done state before.

These just needed the ends weaving in. And would maybe benefit from a blocking to even out the colourwork.

The fox and badger scarves for Christmas got their googly eyes.

The badger looks a lot like Badger from Bodger and Badger. They seemed to be well received and there have been several mentions from adults that they want one, so next year's list might be sorted!

To use up 6 ply leftovers from my parent's Christmas socks I divided the blue stripy yarn in half, used the navy for heels and toes and worked a basic toe up sock with short row heels. 

Just the pattern that lives in my head worked over 48 stitches. They are a little shorter than usual, but perfect for walking boot socks. 

My big project off the needles is my driftwood 

Quite a few tweaks to the pattern (different yarn weight, needle size, altered the neckband, sleeves). I am counting it as off the needles, but it is not quite done yet- ends are woven in but no suitable buttons. Will go on a button hunt this week.

In a spin:
My wheel went away to make room for the Christmas tree (small house). Now it is back I am working to clear some bobbins so I can start a couple of new projects. 

The two fine singles from show demonstrations are being plied to make a barber pole yarn.

This is taking a while as I need to shorten the drive band on my wheel. It will only work on the largest whorl, which makes for the slowest spinning. A lot of treadling is required to get the twist needed for the plying. It is a stretchy drive band, so a bit of a faff to shorten, needs cutting and melting back together.

Designer business:
I have finally got my first sweater pattern up on Ravelry.

Other crafting:
While I was visiting my parents I had a go on my Mum's embellishing machine. It is basically needle felting, but with lots of needles and a machine to make them go up and down. It is faster by far. 

Not sure how it would work with loose fibres, I used felt cut outs onto poly cotton fabric backing.

Even my socks are blue today!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

A quiet week

Well, quiet on the crafting front. Work has been busy, with two craft courses and the start of the Christmas themed walks (I dress as an elf).

The boys dress like this:

That is Deedee the Suri at the front, he likes to pose sideways for the camera to show off his handsome profile.

So, not much time for crafting, but there has been a little.

On the needles:
The seamless sweater is coming along nicely. I have got past the interesting bit now and it is stockinette down the body for ever more (slight exaggeration). Not overly exciting but perfect for knit night. 

I worked the neck band shortly after separating for the body. I couldn't decide if there was too much fabric across the back because it was curling so I figured I would do the band and check. It seems to be fine.

The checkered wrist warmers are off the needles, just need the ends sewing in now so I can't quite call them done yet.

Felting fun times:
There has been some felting this week as part of a gift project (so not too many details, just in case).

This fluffy pile

Became this after felting. 

The dark blue stands out more than I was expecting, although I imagine it will lighten as it dries. There is also a little bit of sparkle in there too.

No before shot for this next one, a combination of purples and hot pink.

I will show you what they become after Christmas.

And that is it for this week, no spinning as the wheel has been moved out of the way to fit the Christmas tree in. Looking forward to getting in some crafting time over the holiday between elf shifts.