Sunday, January 20, 2008

Excitement in the Roselea Household!

Another finished pair of mitts - this time another pair of Fetching. A friend's birthday was coming up and I wanted to make something for her. We had agreed not to give each other Christmas presents (cost, etc) but she didn't say anything about a birthday present! I used a ball of wool I had already had in my stash for quite some time so I didn't think she would be able to complain too much!

As you can see the wool I used is an 80/20 blend on merino and possum fur in DK weight from Furlana. The colour is a dark aubergine not too different from the photo above (on my monitor!). It is so beautifully soft and very warm. My friend lives on a small farm and looks after the stock very diligently while her husband works. In winter she is often outside checking on the sheep as they are lambing, shifting the electric fence, feeding out etc. I would imagine her hands would get quite cold so I thought she might appreciate these mitts. Perhaps not very hardwearing but very warm.

You may notice that I extended the top of the mitts a little by putting in an extra cable. I also cast off normally instead of using the picot cast off as is written in the pattern. I wanted the top to be a little closer fitting. It was better, although still not perfect, but maybe they will fit my friend better than me as she has larger hands than I.

I have also been washing up some of the kilo of Hampshire Down fleece I bought recently.

This wool will be quite a challenge to me as the staple length is only about 5cm! I have been hand carding this, on my Ashford fine handcarders, into rolags which I will eventually spin woollen using the long-draw method. I have only played around spinning like this and, combined with the short staple, I have this feeling that no-one will want to be around when I try it out! Or maybe I won't want to try it when anyone else is around would be fairer to say. I have only spun cotton once and I'm not in a hurry to try it again. The one rolag of this wool that I played around with reminded me very much of that! I needed a lot of twist to keep the thread from breaking. I am used to not putting in a lot of twist. As I said before -a challenge!

But my biggest excitement this week is that my darling daughter is arriving home from Britain tomorrow morning!!! One year to the day that she left to go on her big OE. We will be leaving here reasonably early (7.30-8pm) to get up to Christchurch in time to see her plane land. I can't wait! She doesn't intend staying longer than about 6 weeks (sigh!) but it will be still be good to have her home again. To keep up her cash-flow she intends working while she is here so it won't be non-stop visiting but it will be enough. A family dinner is on the cards sometime too, the first time we will have all been together since Christmas 2006. Yes, I realise that this is not long by many family's standards but for me it is a looong time! So, all going well, there should be 11 adults and 3 children at our table soon. I think I'm crazy, I hate cooking food for a crowd!

But that is not all the excitement that is due this week. Oh, no, not by a long shot! Our third grandchild/grandgirl is due on Friday!!! Mmmm, I think my cup runneth over at the moment!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I Totally Forgot!

I guess it was due to the hour being so late when I posted last night, but I totally forgot to include the photos I took of the fireworks at New Year on Caroline Bay! So here goes:

Not the best photos, I guess, but what can I say? They only lasted 10 minutes this year (last year it was 30 minutes long but I think the Bay Association is holding back some of their fireworks budget for a big bang for their 50th anniversary in two years) and it is hard to watch the fireworks at the same time as struggling to take a halfway-decent photo of them! Anyway, they were fun while they lasted and they were free! I really love fireworks, especially the really loud ones that echo around the cliffs surrounding Caroline Bay. I love thunderstorms, too, but that is another story!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Time to Catch Up

Well, this year is already almost two weeks old and I am only just writing a post now. Bad blogger, indeed! I'm sure there are a lot more like me out there who may have the time to write but don't always have the inclination. So many times I have written a post in my head only to have it flee completely the moment I get in front of the keyboard. Never mind, I am here now.

So, what has been happening? Hot weather, that is what has been happening today! Even now, at well after 10pm it is sooo hot inside - over 24C. For me, that is really quite warm. It was a lot warmer than that today, too. Outside it has cooled down but inside is a different story. A really tough day for my eldest son, his partner and our two wee grandgirls to be driving home from holiday, but they did it. They called in here on their way home and picked up their Christmas presents. Too bad D wasn't here to see them, but it was the car/truck racing this weekend. He has been looking forward to this meeting for such a long time that he couldn't miss it. We'll see the girls in just over a week when we go to the airport to pick up our daughter who is coming home from England for a month or so. (I knew there was a reason I don't have the windows open with the lights on - I was just dive-bombed by a large moth! Not my most favourite experience!)

But you aren't here to read all this drivel - you want the lowdown on what I have been doing lately. First up:

Yes, I have finally finished spinning, and plying, the coloured sliver I've been working on for months! The photo shows almost all of the kilo of the yarn which I intend knitting into a jersey for me, someday. I am quite pleased with the way it turned out but I'm hoping that it isn't too busy when knitted. No, I haven't done a sample square, yet, but I do intend to some time as I will need to experiment a little. A closeup? Of course!

The yarn isn't shiny as it seems in the photo but I think the colours aren't too far off. I was pleased to see that the plying evened out fairly well. It is always wonderful to see how a wash improves the look of the skeins.

Now that that wool is out of the way I am back working my way through the Gotland fleece I bought quite a while ago from a young, local breeder - Hamish Black of Chocolate Wool NZ. I am spinning this one up for D - I think it is time I made him another jersey. Maybe it will be ready for his birthday near the end of the year?

As this is a lovely open fleece, I am separating the locks and combing them with a metal dog comb. That's right, I am not washing this fleece! Gasp, shock, horror! It is a method which has been used by countless spinsters over the years and if it is good enough for them... Really, there is something about working with a raw fleece. (No, not the odd thistle stuck in your finger! Although that has happened to me more than once, not in this fleece. It is a particularly clean, well-carded fleece.) I rather like the feel of the lanolin on my hands and seeing it shining in the sunlight. I even like the smell of the raw wool! Shoot me, I'm a country girl at heart!

I'm not sure if the photo shows it, but the butt end of the staples are a very pale grey which gives the spun yarn a bit of a tweedy look to it. There are a few guard hairs (?) in some of the locks but I usually pull these out before I comb the lock. I'm not being too anal about it, though, as this jersey will be for a guy and will be outer wear.

As you can see my spinning here is kind of rustic-looking (let's face it, none of my spinning would be mistaken for being commercially spun) but I that is what I want for the jersey. I want it to be more every-day wear than a fine jersey for best. As this fleece is spinning up fairly fine, I am 3-plying it to make the yarn a reasonable weight. It is about a fine DK weight, I guess, when washed. There isn't a lot of bounce to the yarn when it is spun. Gotland seems to be heavy and silky, almost like mohair.

But that isn't all I have done!

Ta da! A pair of Maine Morning Mitts from Clara Parkes' book "A Knitter's Book of Yarn". I happened to have a lovely skein of Noro Silk Garden in my stash and thought this may be just the place to use it. Don't they look nice? I had bought the yarn a while ago as I wanted to see how it was dyed. Noro is too expensive, here, for me to make anything substantial with it so these little mitts were just the thing! Now I'm waiting for winter to come to try them out!

Even though summer is going really strong this year, I have cast on for another pair of Fetching mittens. This time they are for a friend, K, who is having a birthday this month. No photo, yet, as I only finished the first mitten tonight, so be patient. I'm using a skein of aubergine Furlana (80% merino 20% possum fur) I had in my stash so they are rather warm to make even though they are small. why am I giving them to someone in the middle of summer? Because K lives on a small holding which she looks after while her husband goes to work. It can get pretty cold in winter when you are outside feeding out bales of hay, shifting the electric fence or checking on lambs etc, so I thought the possum mittens might just come in handy for her.

Well, I think that is about it for now. I'll try not to leave it so long until I post again - but you never know! So I'll leave you with a little bit of whimsy I found on Robin's blog:

What Kathy Means

You are a seeker of knowledge, and you have learned many things in your life.
You are also a keeper of knowledge - meaning you don't spill secrets or spread gossip.
People sometimes think you're snobby or aloof, but you're just too deep in thought to pay attention to them.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life.
You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.
You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.

You are truly an original person. You have amazing ideas, and the power to carry them out.
Success comes rather easily for you... especially in business and academia.
Some people find you to be selfish and a bit overbearing. You're a strong person.

You are a free spirit, and you resent anyone who tries to fence you in.
You are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising.
You may miss out by not settling down, but you're too busy having fun to care.

It isn't all true but some is spot on! Strange, isn't it!