Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Better than Gold Dust!

Its been a busy weekend, Saturday was the SpinDyeWeavers monthly meeting and Sunday was Unravel - so a fibre full weekend of joy!

This was my second visit to Unravel and it is well worth the journey and certainly lights up an otherwise dreary month.  Also in the week I was lucky enough to get two balls of the St Kilda Laceweight Yarn a special blend of Boreray and Soay!  I must admit that I did gulp a bit at the price, but when you considered that the Boreray had been collected from the shepherds and sorted by one person and then de-haired mostly by hand, an absolute bargain at £20 a ball!!  See the full story here.

This is purest Boreray lace yarn available at the present.  The next batch included Shetland in the blend to make the rare Boreray go further.  Boreray is on the critical list, which means that there are less than 300 breeding ewes in exsistence so anything that makes the keeping of this ancient breed going should be supported IMO.  Apparently the fleeces had been thought worthless and burnt - sacrilege!
At Unravel I was able to obtain two more balls of the next batch of St Kilda Lace avec Shetland


Liz Lovick (Northernlace on Ravelry) has designed a shawl and a scarf particularly for this yarn based loosely on the shawls worn by the women on St Kilda.  I waiting not very patiently for the pattern to be released which should be any day soon! It requires three balls, so I have the choice of dark centre and light edge or vice versus but which that is the question.

My other purchases at Unravel were fairly modest, some other rare breed yarns for the SDW stand and more natural British wool for my soon to be revealed sheep wreath.  Plus some Jamieson 2ply sweater yarn and some T-shirt yarn for baskets.

I did have a spin on a Schacht Matchless and I have to say that I would sell some of my wheels to get my hands on one of these beauties, pure spinning heaven.  I am seriously considering the single treadle version - I could pick it up at Wonderwool if I ordered it next month..................

Yesterday, I went to a certain large out of town craft store in search of stick on eyes for my felted sheep key rings (another on going project yet to be revealed) and while there I happened to notice an expensive fibre, not the mind boggling £817 a kilo vicuna! 

But a very basic felting fibre, probably Corriedale, sold in 10 gram packs at £1.29 or £129.00 a kilo - not a bad mark up when you consider that you can buy a kilo of Corriedale for £16 or dyed Merino tops at £27 a kilo!  This fibre is more expensive than the elusive gold dust, which can be purchased on the black market at £28 a kilo - and no before you ask I didn't indulge myself!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

One too many.........projects on the go perhaps?

I have far too many projects on the go and/or planned!   An attempt at a spot of tidying up has revealed this fact to the world at large.  The tidying up was spurred by some February sun on the dust and a seriously cluttered work space.....

February is nearly as bad as December as far as my winter blues go.  February is not winter, but it isn't spring either, it might be the shortest month, but it seems to form the barrier between winter proper and the hope of spring!  Perhaps if the clocks went forward in February rather than March, the days would be brighter and appear longer.  Another reason that I don't like February is that at the end of the month I will be another year older and again I wonder where on earth the last year went.  Agreed, 2012 was a busy year - the Paralympics took up quite a lot of time, so Mr S and I spent quite a few weeks in London which was fun, even if the Underground isn't that wheelchair friendly!  Then there were the Fibre Festivals - beginning with Unravel (which is next weekend - so considered to be a birthday treat), I missed Wonderwool, but it was cold, and Woolfest (that was wet and cold), I got to Fibre East, which was the wettest weekend ever, even the worms gave up and drowned.  The North Somerset Fleece Fair was cold but dry, and the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show was again rained out!  There was a three hour monsoon which left me sitting on a little island of green amid a sea of muddy brown slush - but all good fun! Hopefully this year all the festivals will be sunny and warm - but all this is procrastination - works in progress.............

1. Started July 2009 - a sock blanket, started with the aim of using up all those odd balls left over    from, strangely enough, socks...
2. A, to be felted bag, started in March 2010, still on the needles, although I have used most of the yarn spun for it on other projects - perhaps I should just frog this one?
3. Started in March 2010 and still on the needles and in its own specially felted work bag, a Shawl  using some of my first lace spinning!
4. Started in September 2011 and still on the needles is my Woodland Shawl - a knitalong, long over!
5. Started January 2012 and still on the needles is my Star of Atlantis Shawl - a design project!m

so those are the long time projects still to be finished, but currently I have

A weaving project, a scarf with some sale yarns in my colours........... loom warped....
A colourwork project, which started out as a scarf, but had to be frogged, so now destined to be a carpet bag.
A quilt, for my second Lloyd Loom chair, the material is currently being stored in the chair...........
A test knit for my Strawberry Thief Shawl.............. now at the last chart stage so nearly there!
My Winter Green Shawl - another knitalong, waiting for the next clue..
Another Shawl, this time by Lilygo, the Princess and the Pea, using some of my gradient dyed yarn, just finishing the second clue....
A Tapestry weaving project - bought last September at the Threshing Barn, 5% done....
Crochet Baskets, two done and two to go - one is probably destined for the raffle!
Samples for the SpinDyeWeaver's display board - three down five or six to go..........
Sheep Key Rings - Mr S made me a beautiful wooden sheep (the one on the left) inspired by a child's toy - but ideal for key rings, don't you think?

A sheep wreath - this is a real work in progress, so no spoilers for now............... but I have the willow soaking..............!

Also there are three fleeces currently in the washing and combing stages, one Bowmont, one Polwarth and one a merino cross - notice that I am not mentioning the 11, yes 11 fleeces stored in pillow cases in the loft!

Spinning Fibre - well there is more than I care to list, but it definitely comes in the SABLE category, and growing!  Well a girl has to treat herself now and again, doesn't she?

Forgot to mention the three bags that are cut out just waiting to be sewn up and the handles attached!

Last week I acquired this beauty from Southern Cross Fibres (BFL and Silk) nice or what?  Could you have resisted temptation?

Next weekend is, as already mentioned, Unravel at the Farnham Maltings, who knows what I will come home with?  But I must remember my resolve not to buy dyed top or yarn that I can replicate myself - well unless it is really special.........................................

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Kolourwork Krazy

Its Woolly Wednesday and I have to admit that there is a black hole in my knitting knowledge and that is colour work or as I knew years ago fairisle. 

The last time that I knitted anything that could be classed as colour work was probably back in the late 1960s when I made a sweater with a fairisle yoke.  I can remember at the time forcing myself to knit a pattern repeat a day (that was 10 rows on 300+ stitches) boy was I glad when it was finished.  The last time that I can remember wearing said sweater was on a pot holing trip down Swildon's Hole - no proper waterproof clothing required, just turn up in something old was the brief..........................

Having discovered that shawls are not and never were really the lacy creations that I had thought I found through further research that shawls were garments made for warmth and generally worn by working women.  You have to wait to the late 19th century for coats to make an appearance in the wardrobe of women, until most women wore cloaks or shawls - make sense when you consider the long skirts and petticoats.  The lacy creations popular in the early 19th century were the reserve of the upper and gentil classes - think Cranford Mitts!!!

After much searching I have decided that I love Kate Davies Designs particularly as I feel an empathy with her, having suffered a migraneous stroke in 1997. (one week to the day after the General Election) Like her I have turned by life around, but unlike her I am not an expert at fairisle knitting. But this, like the stroke, can be overcome! 

So colour work shawls............... First I thought I would dive straight in and make a colour work shawl with steek - well the works really!  Then sense prevailed and I thought practise first, shawl later!  Besides the chosen shawl - Eliza is a big project and I have two shawls on the needles already

Winter Green which is a KAL

The other is a test knit of my Strawberry Thief Shawl which I can't hibernate as I am charting the pattern for a friend who is also testing the pattern

A smaller project seemed more appropriate - so a scarf knitted in the round (which I have been told is the best way to knit fairisle as you only ever do knit stitches!)  So I purchased a ball of Kauni EFFEKT and a contrast in grey.  Its a bit of a cheat really because you only used two yarns, but get the effect of more.

Couldn't find a pattern, so turned to my Alice Starmore's Book of Fairisle Knitting and sorted out a suitable design! 

All the books on knitting with two yarns suggest using the technique of Continental knitting with one yarn and English throwing the other!  It ain't easy - and I have gone back to holding both yarns in my right hand and using both my index and middle finger - it works for me!

But I have just discovered that I twisted the first row.................................. &*&()(*^%$*)()^%$£&(*&^%$! 
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