I have been busy "doing" stuff since I last wrote so here is a little insight into what has been going on in my life recently - the knitting part, at least!
Yes, the Tomten Jacket is finished at last! It was sitting around for several weeks until I finally picked it up again and wove in the threads and sewed on the buttons. No photos of it on little T but there is a closeup of the buttons I put on. Suitably cute for a little one, no?
A few weeks ago I needed a small project to work on in the car so I looked around in my stash and came up with a couple of balls of Sock It To Me yarn I bought from Elann a couple of years ago. Kiwi knitters will realise that there is a real shortage of nicely coloured sock yarn in our LYS's, although the selection is a little better now than it was. This was why I bought some sock yarn from Elann - good price and pretty colours! It is maybe not quite as soft as Opal yarn but maybe it washes up softer. I'm not sure, yet, as the only socks I have made from the skeins I bought were gifted. This is the first pair I have made for me from them.
I am knitting these socks using the Wildflower Socks pattern from Fawn Pea. I quite like it in the colour I'm using but I think if I knit this pattern again I would knit the socks toe up instead of cuff down - I like the little "flower" pattern better that way! Still cute, though. A closer look at the pattern is below although I still don't think you can see the pattern clearly. Sorry!
I have also made another pair of Maine Morning Mitts from Clara Parkes' book A Knitters Book of Yarn. A nice, easy pattern when you need a gift quickly. Which is what I knitted these for. A gift for a friend. She likes them!
So she should, too! These were made in Cleckheaton Vintage Twist which is a very softly spun, and plied, 100% woollen yarn. One ply is spun in a series of colours and the other in one co-ordinating colour - very easy to emulate for spinners. It knitted up very softly but I did have to be careful. I normally use a long tail cast on with my thumb, a very easy and versatile cast on. However, this cast on slightly untwists yarns which have been plied Z as this yarn has been. (I have just had a closer look at the yarn and it seems that it has been both spun and plied Z! No wonder it is tender!) Because of the very soft spin, the yarn began to untwist and drift apart, not what you want for a cast on edge. When I discovered this, I got out a crochet hook and cast on over the needle with that (like a provisional cast on), very carefully. It worked and, as I had done it loosely, it was a nice stretchy edge. I also used two circs to make these but only one at a time as I only had one ball and didn't want to tie myself into knots using both ends at once. I was very happy with the resulting mitts.
Spinning has also been carried out recently as our group is taking part in the Creative Fibre fleece challenge this year. The fleece being showcased in 2008 is Corriedale. Our group was given a 2.5kg fleece to use for the challenge. A bit more than we had anticipated (we were thinking of making a couple of items of babies clothing) but it seems we are the only group in our region to participate so we got the whole fleece!
I have washed about half the fleece so far. Some members may prefer to work with the wool in its greasy state so I won't do the whole lot. I'm not sure if that is a good idea, though, as it may be too much like merino for that. As it is, I think it really needs another washing as it still feels a little, well, not squeaky clean! I always wash the yarn when it has been spun up, so it isn't a problem for me so I'm not going to worry too much about it.
I have prepared and spun up a couple of samples so far and would like to get one more done before the next meeting on Thursday. The first sample I prepared using my Majacraft minicombs and spun the wool in a 2 ply worsted style. The last bit on the bobbin I navajo-piled. This sample (photos next time, maybe) is soft and controlled-looking. Looks how I expected it too.
The second sample I prepared on my hand carders and spun up using a long-draw woolen style (well, as close as I could get. I'm not too comfortable with this style, yet.). It has come out beautifully soft and puffy but, perhaps, could have had a little more twist both in the singles and in the plying.
I would also like to try carding a little on the drum carder and see if there is any difference between this preparation and the hand cards. There's nothing like playing around like this to put off the decisions of what I will actually make! But it is fun, and a great learning experience.