Sunday, June 30, 2013


The race has begun.  The Tour de Fleece 2013, that is.  Yes, I have entered again this year; my stash has grown to alarming proportions and I thought this might be a good chance to whittle a little bit away as well as perhaps getting myself back into the routine of spinning almost daily, once again.  

Bear in mind, though, wintertime is not the best spinning time for me.  My craft room is usually cold at this time of year (unheated apart from the sun) so I need to move my wheel into the living area.  I don't like spinning in the lounge (because of the way our furniture is arranged I feel as if I'm sitting in the middle of the room) so the dining room it is, but the light is not particularly good later in the day.  Yes, I'm awkward!  Having the wheel so close at hand does have the advantage of it being a constant reminder, though, so not all is bad here.

On to the good stuff, though!  What do I intend to spin this year?  Well, rather a lot, actually.

From the left - 500g Romney from Chilko Fibres; 100g ball of 21micron Merino from Heavenly Wools in Bluegum; 100g braid of 22 micron Merino also in Bluegum (I will be plying these together despite them being from different batches; 100g braid of charcoal 24.5 micron Haunui Halfbred in Barrier Reef shade from Heavenly Wools; and at the front a 200g circular braid of Perendale in Kawakawa dyed by myself.

Day One is now over and after spinning flat out I have finished the first 100g of the green Perendale:

I am quite pleased with it so far.  No felting and the fibre is reasonably soft, for Perendale.  I'm aiming for a reasonably heavy DK/worsted weight.  Let's see what happens! 

I'm also happy with my wheel's performance - I bit the bullet and finally changed the drive belt for the first time since I bought her some 17 or 18 years ago!  The belt was a little stretched then, too.  I have cut a piece out of it at least once, but not bad going.  I thought I have better change it now rather than wait as the join was stretching rather badly and looked as if it could give out at any time.  I carefully unscrewed the joiners at the foot pedals - scary but not at all difficult.  Why did I wait so long?

So...onto Day Two.  Will I be able to keep up my progress?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Shall we the difference?

After my last post I couldn't stop thinking about my sock - should I carry on as it was or should I rip it?

Can you tell what I did?  No, I haven't ripped...yet.  I tried knitted a small sample of the pattern (this time correctly, i.e. including row 3 this time - who knew what a difference that would make!) and found that it was, indeed, slightly quicker to knit and looked a lot better.  More defined.  So, with a huge sigh, I cast on from the outside of my ball of yarn leaving the original sock intact.  Just in case.  But I like the new sock.  In 6 days, or less, I am about up to where I was with the original sock (the heel flap).  When I have finished this one, I will rip the first sock back to the top of the ribbing and reknit it correctly - and be much happier for it.

I'm not certain that I will be finishing any time soon, though.  I am expecting a parcel of wool any day now. Yes, I know, anyone looking in my stash cupboard would wonder why I needed more yarn - but I did!  This is for a special little someone (well two someones, actually) who is having a 4th birthday early next month.  I have decided to knit her (and her young cousin who is turning 2 the following month) an Olearia cardigan with short sleeves and plain lower body.  I think I will be busy!  Why do I always do this to myself? 

The yarn?  The Little Wool Company perendale in cyclamen for the pink-loving older grandgirl and raspberry for the little one.  Crossing my fingers it will be reasonably soft as I haven't used this wool before.  Seemed good value and nice colours, both of which I wanted.  If I bought yarn from a store in town I would've been paying at least twice as much.  Knitting may not have been part of their birthday presents, then.  (please don't say I could have spun the wool - neither child has caregivers I am prepared to give up handspun yarn to, unfortunately.  Why do so many young (and not-so-young) people these days think that hand washing is to difficult/time consuming or not necessary?)

So, as they say, watch this space!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Catching Up...

Even in summer, when the weather is warm (although the weather today is decidedly NOT warm and summer-like), one must think ahead and be prepared for when the cooler temperatures arrive.  For a knitter, this means working away on all manner of warm, woolly garments to keep a body cosy when the thermometer drops.

As my store of hand-knitted socks has been wearing thin, literally, over the last winter I decided that this summer I needed to get working on several more pairs.  Although I enjoy knitting I still seem to be rather slow at accomplishing any results - the yarn for the first pair was wound into a ball several months before even a stitch was cast on.  But cast on I finally did in mid-December and have worked slowly away at the first Nine-to-Five sock (Ravelry link) since then. 

Last night I began on the heel flap as the pattern had it written only to rip it back and replace it with the tried-and-true eye of the partridge stitch as I felt this gave a thicker, more comfortable result.  As I was knitting the first rows of the heel flap, however, I noticed something rather disconcerting.  I discovered that I hadn't read the original pattern correctly.  My sock is pictured above.  The original pattern is below.  Can you spot the difference? would have thought that I would have noticed that the stitch pattern that I was producing didn't, in fact, look anything like the one in the pattern.  Yes, well, obviously I wasn't paying a lot of attention to my knitting!  I DO like the original much better but I'm not frogging half a sock, and three weeks knitting, and starting again.  I don't think.

I recently finished my Red Current Cardigan knitted in Vintage Purls Sock (as is the sock above.  I'm quite pleased with it although it may be a little long.  As it is knitted top-down theoretically I could unpick the bottom and rip it back a bit and redo the ribbing.  Is it worth it?  I'm not sure.  (Can you tell that I'm lazy?)  I don't have a photo of the finished cardigan and I've only worn it for a total of two minutes so I really haven't had an opportunity to test out how much I really like, or dislike, the length.  Yes, yes, you want to see the colour because it really is the best part!

Yesterday I also started working again on my Essential Cardigan which had been in recess for a few months.  This one I'm knitting in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool which I had heard lots of good things about.  I'm not really that enamoured about it.  When I first cast on it felt very similar to chenille; a feeling which is still to go away.  The yarn is also rather delicate and will break with a half-hearted tug.  It also contains a reasonable amount of VM, probably from the silk from the look of it.  I'm not sure that I would buy it again although the colour is rather gorgeous in person.

I had got up to the picking up of the stitches for the front band, a part which I had been dreading for two reasons - one being that the dark purple is hard to see at night when I do most of my knitting, and the other because I really dislike picking up stitches.  I know, I did tell you I was lazy!  But I finally got down to it in the sunlight and picked all three hundred and umpteen stitches.  Now to work out where I want the buttonholes placed and carry on and knit the three inches of broken rib.  Yay!  It's nearly finished!  Yes, yes, here's a progress shot from some time ago:

As if these weren't enough I also did a test-knit for Jussi Turner - a Katie Snowflake Hoodie which will, eventually, be for my eldest Grandgirl.  Again there are no finished photos (I am sensing something that I really need to work on in the future!) but, as soon as I have a suitable model lined up, that will surely happen.  This was a fun knit and should be great to wear when the weather is a little cooler.  I knitted this one out of Skeinz Vintage DK yarn - really nice to knit with and will hopefully wear well, too.
Ooops, I realised that I only have an image of the sample to show you.  Sorry about that but at least it does show that I do sample my knitting first!

Well, that has about caught you up with some of what I have been up to in the last couple of months.  Not everything, but enough of a taste.  Now to go and mutter some more to myself about my sock...

Sunday, January 01, 2012

1 January 2012 - It's About Time!

It is a new day, a new month and a new year and it certainly is about time that I wrote here once again.  Much time and many events have passed since I last sat down and put my thoughts down on these "pages".  I won't bother going over most as they have been and gone - what is the use of rehashing old events? 

But today is a new year.  A traditional time of refreshing and renewing.  Not one in which I make all kinds of rash Resolutions, though.  Not ones which others will hear about, at least!  We all like to think that the New Year will help us to become better and wiser etc, but it takes dedicated and honest commitment to change.  Commitment that needs to last beyond the first few days, or even weeks, of the New Year.  Do I have that kind of commitment right now?  Maybe, but perhaps not to make ALL the changes I would like to see in myself.  So slowly, slowly wins the race.  So slowly even the tortoise may be considered an olympic sprinter!

So, what has been happening chez "Roselea" lately?  Something good happened right before Christmas - I won a giveaway on Amanda's Small Acorns blog!  You can surely imagine how thrilled I was!  See below for the lovely parcel I received:

Aren't they gorgeous?  Everything was wrapped individually in either tissue paper or brown paper and string (how long did THAT take??) when it arrived.  The little packet of pegs and string (bottom right) is now on my wall with Christmas cards (including the one Amanda sent with the parcel) dangling from it.  The bird, mushrooms and heart are all hanging on the Christmas tree (I so love ornaments that aren't the usual mass-produced commercial type) and the little pixie looks so cute propping up a photo on a shelf.  The sweet little notebook and pencil are waiting for just the right inspiration to come before they are used.  Now wasn't that a great parcel?

And speaking of parcels, I also received a very unexpected Christmas surprise (a cute sheep tea towel) from a blogging friend (you know who you are!).  Thank you so much!  I never expect to get presents but it is always nice when I do. :)

Christmas was a busy time for me with all my family here either for a meal on Christmas Day or on Boxing Day (or both).  The weather was beautiful and meant that the little ones were able to get outside and play with the t-ball set and the water guns they had been given.  I love seeing kids, both young and old, running around and having fun together.

New Year's Eve was spent going to Dunedin to help our daughter move her larger, heavier furniture into the flat she will be living in this year.  As it was another beautiful warm, sunny day we took the "long" way home by going on a tiki tour - first of all around the Otago Peninsular...

I didn't take many photos yesterday but this one is looking down the Otago Harbour from about halfway along the south side of the Peninsular.

At the farthest tip of the northern side of the Peninsular is a lovely little place called Aramoana, made famous because of a rather unfortunate massacre there in 1990.  The above photo looks across one of the lovely beaches at Aramoana towards the soth side of the Peninsular.

Once we had travelled both sides of the Peninsular we headed up the Northeast Valley and over the old road up Mt Cargill bypassing much of the motorway.  Coming out at Waitati onto the main highway we then turned east a few kms further north at Evansdale and followed the coastline going through Seacliff and past where the old mental hospital was.  Beautiful seaviews all the way along the windy road which crossed the railway line so many times I lost count.  We turned back to SH1 once more at Karitane, where my parents lived when my sister was born many moons ago.

We stayed on the main road then, stopping at Hampden for their famous fish and chips which we ate on the beach watching the waves and the camping folk busily building a campfire for their New Year's celebrations.  From there we headed straight home, happy but tired. 

Traditionally, we go to Timaru to watch the fireworks at New Year but this time we were too tired from our travels (are we getting old?) and so stayed home like a boring old couple.  Oh well, maybe fireworks next year?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Broken - Not Beaten!

I'm sure that you will all know that Christchurch was devastated by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake at 12.51pm on Tuesday 22nd February. Although not as strong as the September earthquake, this time it was even closer to the city and, at only 5km deep, it apparently bounced off the volcanic basalt rock, upon which Christchurch is built, with disastrous consequences to the already fragile buildings. Five days later, already the death toll has risen to 146 confirmed deaths with many more people missing. A national state of emergency has been declared, mainly so that what needs to be done is able to be done quickly. Many countries have quickly come to the aid of New Zealand sending rescue workers, police and other forms of much needed aid.

Local people have also rallied to help those in need - an "army" of university students have formed and are helping to shift the estimated 100,000 tons of silt brought up from underground which now blocks streets and footpaths as well as surrounding homes. Bottles are being collected far and wide and filled with safe drinking water to be distributed to those who have no safe water. Food is being cooked and taken to suburbs who have been without electricity and water and sewerage for five days (and who are likely to not have these facilities for some time to come). Homes around the city, and indeed the whole country, have been opened for those who now have no home - or who have no faith in what they used to call home. Prayers are being prayed worldwide for the many who have need of them at this time.

All are in agreement that Christchurch will never be the same. But New Zealanders are a hardy, determined people. We come from pioneering stock and don't give up easily. Christchurch, like the phoenix, will rise again.

A couple of days ago my youngest son pointed out that Cher's song from Burlesque was very suitable for Christchurch at this time. I listened to the words and found that he was right. I don't have the knowledge, or the technology, to combine the music with the slideshow (the photos of which I shamelessly have stolen from countless places across the internet. Please forgive me! I don't live in Chch and I don't intend to go there at the moment and get in the way just to take photos - even if I was allowed.) but if you can, listen to the music while watching the photos. You certainly haven't seen the last of this great city!
(NB - the date on the video is the upload date, NOT the date of the earthquake!)
From Videos

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Something Old, Something New...

No, there's no wedding around here but I do have an (relatively) old project to show you as well as a new one started.

Which first?  Perhaps the old one...the CPH Sweater.  Progress, while not huge, is being made.  The fronts have been completed, the shoulders joined (three needle bind-off) and the sleeve is in progress from the top-down.  I put off the sleeve for a few days, as I do quite often.  I like to think things out, mull things over, rehearse in my mind, before actually doing.  Works for me!  Anyway, once I started I sat down with my knitting in front of the computer and turned to Paula Ward's YouTube clip on top-down sleeves.  I found this to be an excellent resource.  Very clear and easy to follow.  I made one change in that I wrapped every second stitch on my way around the sleeve, rather than every stitch.  I read on Ravelry, somewhere, that this makes for a better angle of the sleeve.

Once I finished picking up all the stitches and started working in the round, the sleeve looked really good; I was so pleased with myself!  Much better than struggling with trying to make a neat job of sewing a seam.  Time then to calculate the number and rate of decreases.  Then it hit me.  There was supposed to be a cable right down the centre of the sleeve!  Bother didn't quite hit the mark!  A decision needed to be made - did I really want a cable?  Yes.  Yes I did.  Ok, I had to bite the bullet.  (Fainthearted folk needn't worry, this part was not photographed!)   Ripping was involved but only the 18 stitches of the cable panel.  That was enough.  Right back to the pick up seam.  Sigh.  I then worked each row back in pattern until I had all 24 rows worked up complete with cables in their (hopefully) proper places.  time will only tell if my maths was correct on that one as well.  Cross my fingers that the cable ends in its proper place at the end of the sleeve!

All is well in the meantime, though.  I am now happily working my way down the sleeve cabling and decreasing when I should.  Stitch markers are in place to show when these were last done, in case my written records let me down.

Now for the new project!  Did you know that I could, barely, weave?  Did you even know that I owned a loom?  No?  Well, yes and yes!  You probably didn't know that, though, because weaving is not my most favourite pastime so doesn't feature highly in my life.  Now and then, though, it pops up and this is one of those times.

A couple of years ago I saw an advert for a small, 4 shaft collapsible table loom.  My table loom was larger and more awkward to take to spinning/weaving meetings and I had been looking for something which would be more suitable.  So I bought it.  This loom had belonged to Anne Field (a well-known fibre artist) who was trying to make room in her studio (even the professionals have that problem at times!).  She even sold it complete with a warp for a scarf on it.  However, once home, this poor little loom has sat around waiting for me to weave up the warp that was on it.  Finally, I have started on this scarf!

As the warp was a light yellow cotton, it seemed to me to be destined to be a summer scarf.  In my stash I found some multi-coloured cotton/linen boucle which I thought should look quite good with the yellow cotton warp.  I don't think it is too bad.  It is hard to see my beating in the photo - it looks a bit looser than it actually is.  I'm not sure what it really should be like for this type of yarn/project as I don't have a lot of experience with weaving but I think it is ok.  I know fibres like wool will full after they're off the loom but I don't think this fibre will.  Time will tell, but I'm having fun in the meantime and that is what it is all about. 

I hope that you're having fun today, too!

PS - Thank you for all your encouraging comments, last time, about knitting the cardigan!  The purchase of yarn is in hand and, provided the colour is suitable (hard to tell on the computer monitor) there may be yet another project underway chez RoseLea!

Monday, January 03, 2011

FO and decisions

Today I have a finished object (FO) to show you and an idea that I am mulling over.  Usually I like it when I'm thinking over something in advance, working out little details and dreaming of the finished article.  Not so much this time.  Why not?  Read on...

I promised you an image of the felted bag I made for one of the Grandgirls so here it is -

Not perfect by any means, but I was fairly pleased with the results even if the hastily taken photo doesn't do it justice.  The inside of this particular bag was a deep, but bright, blue which I also used in the strap.  The flap was purposely placed off centre.  The bag is totally seamless, made using a partial resist.  Not showing up in the image is the sparkly firestar (? - I don't think it is that but I can't think what it actually is) I put over the last layer before felting.  All little girls love a bit of glitter!

As for the idea I'm mulling over, I need a lightweight cardigan-type top to go over a long dress which I bought, and wore, for my son's wedding in 2009.  It is a long, silk dress in a rather unusual dark purpley colour with lighter, more french pink, floral panels front and back.  I wore a pale pink-purple top with it for the wedding but that is too formal for normal wear.  It is a dress I could get quite a bit of wear out of (although I'm not normally a dress-wearing gal) by dressing it down a bit.  I probably wouldn't find anything in the right colour down town to go with it, though.

My question is, do I bite the bullet and buy some laceweight yarn (I think I know of some fairly locally which may be the right colour) and knit myself a top?  I was thinking of Simplicity (Rav link) which, I believe, should work fine with the dress.  Any opinions?

I hope the dress still fits as I haven't tried it on lately.  I've lost weight since the wedding so I may need to look into altering it a little.  Shouldn't be a problem as I know someone who would probably do it if I feel it's too much for me.  Bother it, I'll also need shoes, too, as I wore boots to the wedding.  I don't think trainers would quite cut it, would they?  It would be nice to get some more wear out of the dress, though, as it wasn't exactly cheap to buy.  Either that or I'll need to think about selling it.

I didn't really intend to start buying any yarn quite this early in the year as I do have plenty to knit up.  That is why this type of decision, for me, is rather annoying.  But, when there is nothing in stash that is suitable what can you do?  Will I really get it knitted up, though?  That is the point.  Lots for me to think about.