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Thursday, July 31, 2008

All done *beams*

Minimalist cardigan - FO

Pattern: Minimalist cardigan by Ruthie Nussbaum, IK Fall 2007
Yarn: Oxford Kitchen Yarns DK, 7.5 skeins
Needles: 4.5mm
Ravelled: here

Although I've had this project on the needles since April it's actually a pretty quick and easy knit, I'm just easily distracted. The fit is fantastic - just the right length and the arms and shoulders are just right.

It's a lovely colour to go with jeans and a white t-shirt and I've even got enough yarn left for a matching hat or gloves.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Block around the clock

The Minimalist cardigan is all knit up and currently blocking on the living room floor. It should be dry by tomorrow morning which means that if I stitch like the wind I could have a new cardigan by tomorrow evening.

Minimalist cardigan

I can't even remember the last (adult-size) sweater I finished *quickly checks Ravelry*, it looks like it might have been the Peridot sweater about two years ago - gasp!

After this sweater drought I've got my next sweater planned already - a striped top in Wensleydale Longwool and I'm v. keen on trying a wrap cardigan in lace weight Misti Alpaca.

Of course I should concentrate on finishing my current works in progress but there are lots of temptations, not least this beautiful sock yarn from the Artful Ewe which Helen brought me from Seattle. It has beautiful tones of lavender fields and heathery hills.

Artful Ewe sock yarn

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Getting there


This is looking rather more like it although I'm concerned that it may be a little underspun. I still haven't really worked out how to work the brake but I've found a very useful site here and I'm hoping that Katie and Megan will have some tips for me tomorrow. I kind of feel that they have an advantage as I'm pretty sure that their (new) wheels will have come with a user guide.

On the knitting front I have one and a half completed sleeves for my Minimalist cardigan.

Minimalist cardigan sleeves

I always seem to slow to a crawl when it comes to knitting the sleeves for any garment but I hope I'll be able to finish the second sleeve by tomorrow and to start making up the cardigan.

Happy spinning

My kilo of biffle has arrived from Wingham Wool Work. Surely I'll have got the hang of spinning on the wheel by the time I've worked through it all!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Maillot grise

Well, there's not really enough for a sweater (except for maybe a baby sweater) but I finished my Tour de Fleece spinning in yesterday evening before the end of the last stage so I think I can claim a yellow jersey.

Grey alpaca handspun

My Tour de Fleece challenge was to spin up all the grey alpaca at a consistent gauge and I'm pretty pleased with the two skeins I've ended up with.

Handpsun grey alpaca: 160 gms/16 wpi/245 metres

Grey alpaca handspun

I got to meet some alpaca from Inca Alpaca and Moonsbrook Alpaca yesterday at the CLA game fair although sadly they'd run out of fleece for sale.


I'm not really into any of huntin', shootin' or fishin' but I had a very jolly time at the game fair. There were lots of lovely dogs as well as the alpaca and even some water buffalo from Napton.

Water buffalo

They were doing a roaring trade in their absolutely delicious water buffalo ice-cream.

It's lucky that I completed my spinning challenge as knitting-wise the weekend has been a complete washout.

This was my rainbow jaywalker sock at around 11:30:

Rainbow socks

Here it is at 11:45:

Rainbow socks

After completing the afterthought heel I tried it on and decided that it was both too long and too tight. The boyfriend, with rather touching faith, suggested that blocking would sort it out but really there's no fun in socks that cut off the citculation.

Obstacles socks

I rather suspect that these will be going the same way for the same reasons. I really like how this stitch pattern looks unstretched but blocked out they look quite different and unfortunately the tops are far too tight. A rethink is in order but I think I'll try knitting the "second" sock before ripping back this one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yarn, Jim, but not as we know it..

Wheel spun merino top

Not too awful for my first attempt on the wheel, though a bit fluffy and bumpy. I was able to get straight to spinning after work as I was prevented from going for my run by the aches and strains I picked up hoiking the wheel around yesterday. I came across a useful picture online of a wheel with the oiling points marked with diamonds - I feel like there ought to be oiling points marked on my right shoulder and forearm, left thigh and lower back. Anyhow, I've got the thing going and it does actually seem to spin yarn.

I'm not too discouraged. In fact, like the proverbial, I'm blaming my tools as I don't find those little coloured tops from Handweavers' Studio to be the easiest things to spin as they're very sticky on the drafting. I'm going to order some more biffle from Wingham tomorrow as that drafts very smoothly.

In the meantime I'm still pedalling hard towards the line in the Tour de Fleece. I got a decent amount of alpaca spun on the bus home from work and had a jolly conversation with a chap who had never seen "anyone doing weaving before". I explained (kindly) that he still hadn't seen anyone "doing weaving" and that in fact what I was doing was spinning.

Grey alpaca

It's nice to think that I was that guy's weird thing that happened to him today. My own weird thing for the day was attempting to help catch a stray racing pigeon which had fluttered into the courtyard at work yesterday and couldn't get out. Aliki and I didn't have much luck as birdcatchers - more Papageno* than Penelope Pitstop. Luckily our colleague Sara seems to have a way with pigeons and was able to get him contained ready to be sent back to his owner in Taunton.

* He's always seemed like rather an inept birdcatcher in the productions I've seen.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Free wheelin'

It may be the last week of the tour, but I've got me a new bike!

Wee Peggy

Idly glancing at Ravelry around 4:30 this afternoon I spotted a post in the Bluestockings group proclaiming that there was a spinning wheel for sale for £80 in the window of the Red Cross shop on the High Street. As soon as I'd finished work I hared across town on my actual bike, checked it out, bought it, said "no thanks" to the three sacks of somewhat mangy fleece accompanying it, and hauled it off to the pub to meet the rest of the Bluestockings.

Wee Peggy

Back home (eventually - turns out I did miss my bus due to my watch having stopped, I thought the evening was going slowly) I engaged in a little detective work ("You know my methods Watson, apply them") and discovered that the wheel is a "Wee Peggy" made by John Rappard who made spinning wheels in New Zealand in the 1970s and 1980s. Judging from the number on the underside of the wheel I think that mine was made in 1983. Some of the parts could (I think) do with a bit more finishing such as the bobbins and the front and rear maidens (I'm on a crash course in spinning terminology) - there are some beautiful dark varnished examples online - but for now I'm just eager to get spinning.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Open crochet

If cycling means spinning then golf must mean crochet, yes? After a slowish start when I couldn't quite recall how to make a half treble crochet decrease and a couple of shaky places where I ran out of chains before I'd made enough stitches I've been zipping along on the Marakoopa scarf whilst watching the golfer's battle the elements at Royal Birkdale. It's one of those annoying secret projects so there'll be no bloggage but it's Ravelled here.

I've felt somewhat shamefaced when reading everyone else's Tour de Fleece posts since I've really not been recording my progress. Still I have continued trundling along towards the back of the peloton and yesterday I wound just under 100g of alpaca singles onto the bobbin (getting halfway through the fibre at the two-thirds stage is not perhaps a great sign). It was going to be a round 100 but when the yarn broke for the fourth time I took it as a sign and quit.

Grey alpaca

Grey alpaca

Having an empty spindle meant that I could have a quick go at spinning up the samples of Shetland humbug and camel from the Handweavers' Studio. The Shetland spun up beautifully. I split the top into cream and brown and spun it into a single with all the cream first, then all the brown. Then I Andean plied it, one ply of cream, one of brown. I was really chuffed that I only ended up with 1 foot of all cream yarn at the end.


The camel was much more tricky. It's very soft and fine and an absolute arse to draft without getting lumps. Still, at least it doesn't spit at you whilst you're doing it and like everything it looks much more impressive when plied.

Camel and shetland

I've now tried spinning eight types of fibre (silk, mohair, camel, alpaca, merino, shetland, suffolk and blue faced leicester) and I have to say that for ease of spinning and sheer loveliness the biffle is still my favourite. I can't wait to order some more from Wingham and get started on my giant blanket. I've just got to get through that other 100g of alpaca first.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

As my whimsy takes me

Having dashed into Port Meadow on the way home for some variegated sock yarn for a pattern idea* that I had to start on right away I then spent much of my knitting time this weekend working on a completely different pattern with an entirely different yarn.

Obstacles sock

The lace pattern is "Obstacles" from the Harmony Guide volume II. This photo doesn't really give a very good idea of what it looks like, but it has given me an idea for another pattern stitch (maybe this time in the neglected impulse buy yarn). The yarn is by Oxford Kitchen Yarns in light plum - it's delovely and knitting up remarkably quickly (yay). Happily for my progress on this sock I've managed to reconcile knitting with my current Dorothy L. Sayers kick (four books this weekend, stop me, please) by learning how to hold the pages down with my elbow.

The homespun shawl got its first outing today and I badgered the boyfriend into taking some pictures. Luckily there's no shortage of scenic backdrops in Oxford.

Homespun shawl

Homespun shawl

It's blocked out to quite a decent size which gives me to think that with a kilo of fibre spun to around the same thickness and knit in a similarly lacy pattern I could have quite a decent sized blanket. Cosy and not hugely expensive or time consuming either.

* pattern idea is still quite cool but needs some work on the maths side.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sheep to shawl

Biffle shawl

Biffle shawl

Pattern: Constructed as per Kiri with diamond lace pattern
Yarn: 400g handspun Bluefaced Leicester
Needles: 8mm circular

My first serious piece of knitting from my own handspun is currently blocking on the living room floor. I can't quite believe that I got all that done with just a drop spindle. Right now it's perfectly evoking a summer day in the English countryside in that it's wet and smells rather of sheep. However, when dry it's going to be beautifully soft and snuggly and brilliant for combatting the rather overenthusiastic air-conditioning in my office.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Spin, ply, knit

I finished spinning up the sample of Suffolk on the bus home after the AVF (much to the interest of the other passengers), plied it yesterday evening and soaked and hung it up with the 400g of BFL I finished on Friday. I love the smell of wet sheep in the bathroom.

Although I enjoyed spinning the wool (lovely long staple) I decided that it really was a bit too scratchy for me to wear (and I am not a wuss when it comes to wearing wool next to the skin).

Tea cosy

Luckily I knew someone in need of a woolly jumper who wouldn't complain.

Tea cosy

It was even happy to try on the WIP.

trying on

Mistake rib tea cosy

Tea cosy

Pattern: my own
Yarn: handspun Suffolk (grey), Rowan Felted Tweed held double (blue and brown)
Needles: 4.5mm dpns

Alternative Village Fete

The first stage of the tour de fleece turned into a bit of a tour of London. I started off at Paddington, headed up to Walthamstow to pick up fibre and a niddy noddy, then caught the tube to Waterloo for the Alternative Village fete in National Theatre Square.

The niddy noddy is lovely and a darn sight more comfortable than winding the stuff round your knees.

Niddy Noddy

On the fibre side I bought samples of Shetland humbug (left), camel (right) and Suffolk (not shown). The bundle of loveliness in the middle is 200g of grey alpaca which I've started to spin up for my TDF challenge.

Three bags full

The single is coming out at 25 wpi under tension and I'm going to try to stick to that average.

25 wpi

I didn't think the AVF was going to be a great place for spinning alpaca for the first time (too much danger of dropping the spindle on wet astroturf) so I started on the sample of grey Suffolk. More on that tomorrow.

The AVF itself was great although the fact that I kept glancing up from the morris dancing to see red London buses overhead on the Waterloo bridge was rather surreal.

Wild Hunt morris dancers

The morris dancers were great - rather like uruk hai with bells on. The leader of the troupe took the stick clashing very seriously - I thought it was only in jousting that you got points for breaking a lance.

Between the knitting and the spinning I checked out the vegetable sculptures..

Vegetable sculptures

.. and the animals from the Vauxhall City farm ..

Vauxhall farm bunnies

.. and ate a tiny wee fairy cake from crumb doilies.

Crumb doilies

I had a very jolly time at the iknit stand putting faces to some Ravelry names and knitting a swatch for the great british sheep. Mine's the brown one.

Great British Sheep stand

I think I'm slightly scared by the sheep, but at least there's no room in there for Edward Woodward.

Great British Sheep stand

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Three bags full

Or at least a shoebox full.

Plied Blue Faced Leicester

Just under 400g of Navajo plied blue faced leicester which I finished up last night freeing me up for my Tour de Fleece challenge.

I'm still a pretty newbie spinner so the challenge I've set myself is to spin a batch of fibre into yarn with consistent wpi from beginning to end. I'm really pleased with the blf yarn but the thickness varies rather throughout and this does complicate matters when thinking about gauge for a knitting project.

I'm kicking off le premier etage by heading off to the Handweavers' Studio in north London to buy materials. One of the challenges of this year's tour is to spin from stash but I don't have a fibre stash (yet). Actually I'm planning not to acquire one (mutters of 'I should think so' from the boyfriend) and to spin what I have before acquiring more. Then it can go sit in my yarn stash!

After the HWS I'm heading to the other side of London to the Alternative Village Fete at National Theatre Square for the monthly iknit spinning morning (or rather afternoon) so I'd better go and get ready, especially as my plan for an early night was completely scuppered by Dorothy L. Sayers' fantastic Gaudy Night. Although you know it's a good read when you look up from your book before bedtime to realise it's one in the morning!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hyperbolic knitting

I had planned a Messy Tuesdays post but decided that, as there was no way that I could compete with Felix's kitchen ceiling*, I'd better just do the washing-up to make room for some photography.

I hadn't realised that in knitting the baby surprise jacket I was actually knitting a mathematical construct but when you lay the BSJ out 'flat' it's definitely a hyperbolic surface. Obviously EZ was a mathematical as well as a knitting genius!

Baby Surprise Jacket

Baby Surprise Jacket

The boyfriend came home with a Times article on Daina Taimina's hyperbolic crochet and pointed out the similarities between that and the BSJ. Luckily for those of us who are now getting requests for knitted mathematical models (the boyfriend now wants a mobius and maybe a Klein bottle) there are plenty of patterns on Ravelry. There's even a pattern for the pair of hyperbolic pants mentioned in the Times article!

* yes, I know it's not meant to be a competition!