Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Long-time Blessing

A short post today with no pictures, sorry. I hope to have one next time as I finally finished a UFO yesterday after a hiatus of four years! A friend of mine gave birth to a little boy four years ago and I started making a cute little jersey for him for when he was about three-six months old. The weather would have been cooling down by then.

The knitting went fine and it was looking really cute. Then came the sewing up. This is the part of knitting that I really don't enjoy - possibly because I am not that good at it. I have never managed to master the mattress stitch (I wish I knew someone skilled at it who could actually SHOW me how it is done - books just don't cut it for me in this area) and have usually used my own type of stitching. It has never come apart (which is good) but it is not always extremely neat.

Anyhoo, I sewed the sleeves in then pinned the sleeve and side seams. Something was wrong! The jersey is knitted in two colours (pictures next time) and the stripes were not matching up. They were only a few rows out but enough to really, really bug me. I don't like giving a friend something which is not "perfect"! So it sat and sat. I was not about to take out the sleeves - my sewing in is permanent and I was not about to try cutting out the stitches and have the thing fall apart!

In the end I didn't give my friend the jersey. So it sat in the cupboard - out of sight but not entirely out of mind. Meanwhile, my son's partner, Shad given birth to our two beautiful grandchildren - both girls. So the jersey sat some more. While it is not THAT masculine I wanted it to be for a boy. Also, S doesn't handwash. Her decision, but I don't like risking my handknitting in the washing machine so not much of my work has ended up there. Very sad.

Recently, my sister told me that her son's ex-girlfriend (who was now living with another guy) had given birth to a son on Saturday. She is going back down south next week but my sister is really worried about her. She is not quite 19 and will have no family support where she and her partner live. They also have very little money. This area is notorious for its very hot summers and freezing cold winters. So I thought of my little, ill-fated baby-boy jersey. I got to yesterday and sewed up the side-seams (thank goodness wool really is rather forgiving!) and wove in all the ends. It isn't quite perfect but still looks sweet! I will buy some buttons today and put those on and take it round to my sister. I hope the jersey will finally become a blessing to this new little one.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Little of This and That

Eeeek! I see that I last posted on Sunday and here it is Thursday again. Time certainly flies, especially at this time of year. With Christmas nearly upon us there are still several birthdays over the next month. First up is D's (my husband) burthday on Monday. I knew it was soon but had forgotten just how soon - until he reminded me. Nothing like a supposedly grown-up guy who still thinks of himself as a kid! Doncha just have to love 'em?

After that it is our youngest grandgirl's turn to have her very first birthday on 6 Dec. Party day is on 10 Dec. L is becoming such a sweet little cutiepie! Shopping for her present was a pleasure but not easy when you know that Christmas follows so closely.

The other family birthday is for my nephew, J, who will be 21 shortly before Christmas. As he lives in Melbourne, Australia, I didn't think I would be getting him anything but my sister tells me she is going over there for his birthday. I'll think about it. $ are tight all year round but especially at this time of year. And what do you get for a 21yo nephew who seems to have most things he needs?

I did buy another birthday present while I was in town this week. This time it was for our daughter, K. Her birthday isn't until June but she will still be overseas then so I got it now. After all, she will need it while she's away to take all the photos I expect to see! (Have you guessed that it is a camera? An entry-level digital that isn't excellent but none of us a camera-buffs. It'll be fine. For now.)

I have done some knitting this week - I finished the pink wristwarmers and am halfway up the hat. Sooo lovely and soft! I should have finished that hat by now but some days I really can't be bothered to knit and the last two or three days have been like that, even though the weather was quite cool until today. I decided to have a fold-up brim on the hat for extra warm around the ears, and because I think it looks better. I hope to get three repeats of the cable pattern before the decreasing comes in. It should look ok, I think.

I have been think more about a dyeing project than my knitting in the last few days. A little while back I learned of a dyeing method, called "Dartmoor dyeing", for 4 kg of raw fleece where you end up with 48 little piles in various shades and tints of the original 4 colours. But I needed a fairly large, preferably white, raw fleece. And I didn't have one! (oooh, time to get excited - fibre-buying time!)

I didn't want to spend the earth on a fleece, either, in case it didn't come out very well. Where could I find a nice, soft but not too fine, white fleece? With sheep farmers all around here you would think it would be a fairly easy task - but not necessarily so. Most breeders I know of that breed for spinning have coloured sheep. The white breeders tend to shear their sheep on an 8-month rotation and send the wool to the buyer. A fleece which has only grown for 8 months is not really long enough for nice, easy spinning.

At the same time all this thinking was going on, I had a spinning wheel on TradeMe (a NZ version of ebay). It sold to a local lady! (Yay, no packing and shipping!!) It turned out I knew this lady. She and her husband breed sheep and she is a spinner. I had been going to ring her about my quest but kept forgetting to. To cut a long story slightly shorter, she brought me four fleeces to choose from when she came to pick up the wheel. I now have two, large, lovely white fleeces in my dining room (I must move them, but where to? Not really enough room in my craft room! I don't want to run the risk of moth-damage in the garage.) one for me and the other for our spinning group. I thought it would be a good group project for our annual dyeing-day in March.

I have already thought of what I would like to do with this wool (once it is dyed and spun, of course). Isn't it absolutely gorgeous?! It is from a Japanese book I learned about on
Knitter's Review. I think that I like every project in this book. But it is all in Japanese!

We do have a member of our spinning group who is Japanese. She spends part of the year here and the rest in Japan. I thought she was due back here in October but so far I haven't seen her. I hope she is ok.

But, back to the book, I think I can understand enough from the charts to be able to work the colour pattern out. My spinning will no doubt be at a different guage to that of the pattern so some tweeking would be inevitable even if it was in English. I think I will start with the hat. That should give me an idea if it will all work out.

Here is a photo of the book in question. I bought it through YesAsia (sorry, I will have to look up the link sometime). It took a while to arrive but was well worth the wait. There are some really nice cable patterns in the book as well as a nice entrelac one. Can you tell I really love the book?

Sooo...that is much of what has been occupying my life and thoughts over the last few days. I wonder what the weekend will bring?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What Flower Are You?

I am an

What Flower
Are You?

For want of a "proper" post this may have to do today! I would have liked to to have been a rose (sigh!) - an echinacea seems so...boring. Not sure that I am all that health conscious either!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A little bit busy...

Isn't it wonderful how life gets in the way and nearly a week passes before you can get back to your blog? Well, that is how it goes with me, anyway.

Last time here I promised photos of some fibre which happened to come home with me. Sorry it isn't a very good photo but it is enough, perhaps, for you to get an idea of them.

The white fibre on the top-right is 100gm of carded polwarth. I have wanted to try out some Polwarth for quite a while but all the previous rovings I have seen had a bit too much vm in it for my liking plus they seemed a little too coarse and scratchy. This roving isn't too bad on both counts so it was allowed to join my stash!

The pale fibre at the bottom of the photo is 100gm of very fine "honey" merino. I think the "honey" they refer to on the bag is the colour - a moorit colour. I don't know what the count is for the merino but it seems to be fairly fine. I just liked the colour!

On the top-left is a darker lot of fibre. This is 100gm of a merino/soy silk blend that is named "fudge". Again, the colour? I could have bought a pure soy-silk roving but felt I would try out the blend first. I have started spinning this into a fairly fine yarn which I think I may navaho ply. I have noticed that it needs a fair bit of twist (I'm not a technical person so I won't even try to say what ratio I'm using or how many twists per inch etc. I'll leave that up to those who know about such things!) which, I suppose, is the merino content.

All of these fibres came from a Blenheim carding firm,
Rotocard. The link is for their email address as I don't think they have a website. They do sell some beautiful coloured fibre. I especially like their wool/mohair blend. The present owners have only had the firm for about a year and have carried on with the past owner's colourways. I am hoping they will maybe bring out some new ones in the future.

Well, that is the very little bit of spinning news. I have done a little knitting in the last week as well. I wanted to try out something simple while we travelled north to celebrate our youngest son's 20th birthday. The journey takes about 1 1/2 hours so there is a little time to knit. I thought I would start a pair of Pocketbook Slippers. This link is for the adult sized slippers but when I first found the pattern there was also a pattern for Wee Ones, which are the ones I knitted.

The slippers are so tiny that I managed to knit the first one and part of the second. Not bad for someone slow like me! The colour is rather off on my monitor - it is a really rich, deep red which I really love. I used some leftovers of Naturally Tussock, aran weight. I really like this wool and have used it for slippers before. I guess they don't look a lot like slippers but the foot goes in the space one of the "handles" makes and the ribbing on the bottom stretches to accomodate quite an amazing range of sizes. I intend making a pair in the adult size one of these days.

You may have noticed that I haven't said anything about the lovely wool/angora blend yarn I balled up and sampled recently. That is because I haven't even finished casting on for that yet! I am still afraid that I won't have enough yarn for my size. So I am procrastinating yet again! Yes, there is a story behind my procrastination habit - Many long years ago, when I started high school, I took Latin for the first two years (don't laugh! My mother made me do it - she wouldn't let me take french and typing like I wanted. I had to take french and latin instead). In the week we were expected to cover our exercise books so they would stay tidy. Of course, I didn't get around to doing it in time and had to write out lines - procrastination is the thief of time. Only, I had never heard of the word procrastination and didn't know what it meant. I thought that the teacher had said proscrastination is the theme of time! It has been ever since! Ha ha!

In the meanwhile, I have bought some pale pink mohair to make my daughter some fingerless
wristwarmers from Wendi Dunlap, a hat and a scarf (patterns still to be decided). A bit strange considering we are heading towards summer do I hear? A little, maybe, but my daughter is going on her OE to England in January - going from the middle of our NZ summer to the middle of an English winter! I don't think she really has any idea what it could be like. Being a good mother, I have been a little concerned about her ability to stay warm - hence the wristwarmers etc! I have finished the first wristwarmer and am about 1/4 of the way up the second. Photos later. I must say the first one is lovely and cosy!

On Saturday we will be going back up north for a double birthday celebration dinner for our son and his fiancee. Maybe more knitting will be done in the car on the way up. Time will tell!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

In which I whinge just a bit!

Sorry, folks, if I have been "missing in action" for a few days. Sometimes life just gets in the way, for good or not so good.

Good news is that my youngest darling is now 20! We went up to see him, and the rest of the clan, on his birthday on Wednesday. Nice to catch up with them again. I really don't like not seeing the kids on their birthdays, hence the mid-week journey. There will be a "proper" celebration next Saturday as his fiancee turns 19 on the Friday so both families will have a get-together meal at a venue yet to be decided. Hopefully somewhere a little quieter than last year.

Not so good for me was the following day. It was one of those days where just about everything was (how can I put this politely?) absolute yuck! the last spinning meeting for the year was messy.

After that I had to go do my bit for a local non-profit organisation I have been connected with for the past 12 years or so. I have been the very-reluctant secretary there for the past three (?) years but I have never been happy with this position and have always felt, and constantly warned them, that someone else should be found for this position. I only took it on in the first place as a temporary fill-in.

But, I have decided - no more! I will not put up with public criticisms month after month. Like a stone beneath a dripping tap I have been worn away until I feel that I must put an end to this before my health suffers. Yes, it is a bad time of year to find a replacement (the work and meetings (and stress) carry on right through the holidays) but that will not be my problem.

All this has made for a decided lack in my spinning and knitting so I am sorry there are no photos as there has been no progress. (Oooh, I lie! I have made a tiny pair of slippers but I am not sure where the link is for the baby-size pair. They are really cute but you will have to wait for a photo.) Progress on the wool/angora jersey is halted at present. I am really amazed (and ashamed) at the number of stitches I need to get for my size and the gauge it has worked to for me. I really don't know if I will have enough yarn and I know I will not be able to get any more. So this has stalled before it really got anywhere. Maybe I should wait until I lose some weight? Yeah, right!

Maybe tomorrow I will be more in the mood for taking some photos of the latest fibres to come home with me. They aren't very exciting to look at but at least it would be something. Mind you, I guess I should be attending a working-bee at the above-mentioned organisation tomorrow. I'll see how I feel about them tomorrow.

So, until next time (when I will try very, very hard to be in a better mood!), cheerio folks!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A finished object at last!

Firstly, a huge thank you to all those who have left your kind comments here! I really get such a thrill that you have taken the time and trouble to wade through my ramblings. Being new to the blogging game, I am uncertain on the etiquette for comments - whether to answer each personally, off-screen or on. I have chosen not to answer individually (it is my blog after all, and I can set, or change, the rules!) but please know that I do read them all and appreciate each and every one! If this contravenes any unwritten blog-law, please let me know. I am, or try to be, a law-abiding citizen after all!

I haven't been totally non-fibrecrafty lately. No,
I have actually finished my long drawn-out Embossed Leaves Socks by Mona Schmidt
They have taken me a fair while, not because they were difficult, but because I didn't feel like knitting much of the time. Not sure why, just couldn't be bothered. I'm sure you get like that sometimes, too. Anyway, here they are. I knitted them out of Opal sock yarn - Petticoat 1290. I'm not sure if I really like the colours myself (I tend to prefer blues, reds, pinks and purples) but I think my daughter, K, likes them so she may be the recipient. We have the same sized feet which makes it really easy to knit socks for her!

I am now playing around with a gorgeous, hand painted wool/angora blend yarn by Marnie Kelly of Touch Yarns here in NZ. It is soooo soft and really nice to knit with. I bought it at an Open Day held by another spinning group about 18 months ago. Marnie had a jersey (sweater/jumper/pullover/whatever!) on display with the pattern and yarn as a kit. But the pattern doesn't include a picture of the jersey! I can't really remember what it looked like apart from liking it. So this could be a rather wonderful journey for me!

I don't think the pattern sizes are quite large enough for me (no, I'm not HUGE - just a tad overweight :) ) so I was a very good girl and tried out a gauge swatch yesterday. Yes, I know, the cable on the left is wrong at the bottom - I wasn't reading the pattern correctly - but it is good enough to give me an idea if I can use this pattern. It calls for 300 gm of this yarn (see - it is sooo light and soft!) and I have 400 gm. Enough for some size leeway, do you think? I will give the sample a little bath and check the stitches per inch after that.

This pattern also calls for knitting the jersey in pieces. It shouldn't be too difficult to translate into the round. I really dislike seaming if I can get away with it. I may change the sleeve pattern, too, not too sure at this point. Will there be anything left of the original pattern? Probably enough that I won't claim it as my own, never fear!

I still have a pile of white mohair fleece I washed last week, along with another pile of black huacaya alpaca I washed as well, sitting in my "craft" room waiting for me to do something with them. Still heaps more to wash too. The mohair was a little disappointing - rather short and smelly, as only goat can be! I thought that maybe I could rainbow dye some and card it with something else. Wool of some kind, probably. I wonder if this would work? Kind of make little blobs of colour in the spun yarn.

I thought I would card up the alpaca with a little angora (I've had this sitting around for ages and after knitting with the Touch yarn I really want to try it out) and some sort of wool. I will try out a test batt, anyway, and see what I think about it. I have plenty of alpaca hanging around here to that I can "waste" some sampling. Boy, was it dirty, though! Must have really been having some good dust baths. If I didn't know better I could have sworn the dye was coming out - but it is a natural black colour!

One last thing, perhaps someone can tell me (a person with very little blog/computer knowledge!) how one goes about writing with a line through the letters (strikethrough). There doesn't seem to be a button or shortcut here. Just curious, and you never know when the knowledge may come in useful!