rime of the ancient middle-aged knitter

Projects Projects every where nor any a pic to show. Sorry Coleridge.

I’ve been working on a lot of pretty unbloggable stuff lately. I’ve started the Irtfa’a lace shawl for my dad’s partner Pam for their wedding – so far I’ve spent hours on it and there’s barely anything to show and what there is looks like the cat got a hold of it – such is the joy of unblocked lace knitting! I’m using white Baruffa Cashwool, the only thing I could afford/get hold of in the massive quantity required (although it’s actually quite nice yarn) – the plan is to dye it to match her dress when she knows what she’s wearing (and when the wedding is!).

My ‘take along to Knit Club’ project is the Seaweed Socks from Wendy Knits (free pattern pdf here). I’ve done one and am halfway through the second – trying to leave it for Knit Club only though!

seaweed

It's more purple than this IRL - hard to capture the colour!

I’m using Dream in Color Smooshy (my favourite sock yarn ever) in Purple Paisley. It is gorgeously purple but there are other colours in there too – I wish I knew how they dyed their yarn! I’ve heard they use a technique they invented called ‘veil dyeing’ but I have no idea how that works. I feel a dyepot experimentation session coming on…

I can’t tell you about the awesome baby stuff I’m knitting. Or the fabulously gorgeous sock yarn I’ve just dyed.

I’ve started the Daybreak Shawl but as yet there’s not really enough to take a pic of! I like the shape of this shawl because it’s shallow and long rather than all pointy, like a cross between a shawl and a scarf.

The pattern includes lots of M1Ls and M1Rs and they caused me a real headache – for some reason about 50% of them created holes, but not the other 50%, and I couldn’t work out why. I frogged and started again and have just been using KFB at the edges and M1Ls (which I find much easier) fo the rest and it looks fiiine. There’s some stuff on increases here if you’re really dying to read more.

I’m using dark purple cashsoft 4 ply left over from some gloves I made my sis a while back, and some pink/green/purple variegated cherry tree hill sock yarn. So I’m destashing too!

That’s about it really! Am taking a well-deserved break from the spinning so no news there.  More pics will follow no doubt once a certain couple of upcoming birthdays are out of the way!

cor!

Oooh – my lovely spinning prize arrived from the States from moonlightbaker!

They are much, much prettier in person, and I love how each one was individually wrapped! I’ve no idea what I want them to be yet – either I’ll spin them very fine for something lacy (but I have a lot of laceweight already), or maybe ply with some very similar bamboo/merino I have to make them both go a bit further.

prize_batts

And I finally made it to Knit Night and picked up my handspun, £5 prize and rosette from Annie! She also treated me to a cuuute little fluffy alpaca toy and her old coffee maker which she was throwing out ’cause of her fab new kitchen. Thanks again Annie, it felt like my birthday!

paca

I’ve called him Makka Pakka after my favourite In The Night Garden character (what? you don’t have one?).

the finish line

Phew! with a sigh of relief, satisfaction, and a big ouchy groan as I rub my aching legs – I have calves of steel now! – the Tour de Fleece is over.

My final yarn, the CMF BFL/dyed merino 3ply, cam in at a stonking 580m. Now wonder it felt like such a mission to spin! It’s still drying so my pics of it are unwashed & whacked:

purple people eater

purple people eater

The plying of it felt like it took almost as long as the spinning! I do like the end result, in my book you can never go too far wrong with aubergine, but with hindsight I wish I’d picked out a sagey merino to ply it with as I think the aubergine dominates too much.  But then I had aubergine in already and didn’t have sage so that would have meant I couldn’t spin this during the TdF and I really wanted to – I have no patience!

I got the finished yarns together for a final piccy:

all

I’m so pleased with what I’ve managed, I feel I’ve learned a lot (that bunnies really are evil, for one) and that my spinning has really improved.

I challenged myself to:

  • spin a luxury fibre I was scared of: camel/silk – check!
  • spin a low twist singles yarn – check!
  • spin up some angora/merino I was scared of – umm, ok, not check but not really my fault! turns out I was right to be scared!
  • get more confident spinning from batts: use up stashed ones I had made or been gifted – check, check, check!

Final stats: 2758m plied yarn, 6381m of singles. It’s a lot less than some people have spun on the tour, but about as much as I could do, wrists, legs and (oh yes) life allowing. I’m so pleased I took part, I feel a lot more confident about my spinning now and am looking forward to next year already!

For now though, I think I need a mindless knitting project…!

prize-tastic!

I can’t quite believe it, but the last lot of TdF spinning – green 3-ply and sparkly black – won a prize! I posted the pics in the daily TdF photo thread on Ravelry and 111 people clicked on its (love) button (that last bit sounds really dodgy if you’re not on Rav…). I’m so chuffed!

I was even more pleased when I found out I could pick my prize from a selection donated for the Tour, and I got to pick from moonlightbaker’s shop on Etsy – I love her stuff! I picked some beauteous green merino/tencel batts called ‘Sea Glass’ which I can’t link to because she’s taken them out of the shop to send to me! Muahahaha! Mine allmiiiine!

In TdF news, I’m working on another 3ply from some CMF pencil roving – am going to be really upset when this is gone as it’s the last lot and I really doubt I can afford any more! So I’m trying to eke out all the yardage I can from it by spinning 2 bobbins CMF, one plain aubergine merino. The roving is BFL in ‘Stonehenge’ – my favourite of their many gorgeous colourways I think.

collage9

Druids go mad for it

I’ve also made a start on spinning up some Corriedale fleece which I started washing a while back but hadn’t spun any of. I’ve got just over 8oz and haven’t lost too much in the washing/carding process so think I’ll be able to get enough for a project out of it. This is 25g, 2ply and approx 70m I think – it’s hard to count the wraps on this teeny niddy-noddy!  I haven’t measured the wpi but it seems to want to spin reeeeally fine. It’s really lovely and squooshy and hasn’t even had another wash yet – it’s still a bit greasy so will have to see what happens when I wash it again. It’s all a learning experience!

mmm, bouncy

mmm, bouncy

finito!

My 3 ply Corriedale is finally finished -  actually I plied it a couple of days ago but it’s taken so long to dry after washing & whacking that I hadn’t wanted to take pics of it yet!

3ply CMF Corriedale in 'Eire'

3ply CMF Corriedale in 'Eire'

I’m very very pleased with it – it’s so even and I love the way the colours have merged and blended. To me it shows a marked improvement in my spinning, which is one of the things I wanted to achieve by doing the Tour de Fleece.

5p for scale!

5p for scale!

Talking of achieving – I won a rosette at the weekend for the first time in about 20 years! The Singleton Show was on at the Weald & Downland Museum, and I’d spun up a couple of entries and posted them in a while back, thinking ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, and then more or less forgotten about it. I wasn’t feeling too great on Sunday so in fact I ended up not going to the show, but Annie called me from the show to tell me I’d won a FIRST in the Novice Spinners class – how cool is that?!

handspun

Le Proof

bunnies are evil

One of the challenges I set myself for this Tour de Fleece was to spin up some gorgeous white merino/angora blend I’d got ages ago – I didn’t feel skilled enough to spin something so amazingly fine and soft at the time I got it, and it’s been marinating in the stash for nearly a year.

I was so looking forward to spinning this luxuriously soft fluff, I decided to spin a heavy laceweight with it and knit something really special.

I’m not really allergic to anything much but I do get a slight itchy rash because of hayfever sometimes, so when my hands started to feel itchy & sore that’s what I put it down to. However after a bit longer they started to feel properly painful, like ant bites or bad sunburn or something and I realised I must be allergic to the bunnies! Anya was right!

So I regretfully stopped with the bunnies (the worst of the itching stopped when I stopped spinning but I still had to have a shower to cool down the soreness!). I have found a new home for the bunny fibre so it’ll still get used, at least.

So innocent looking, yet so evil...

So innocent looking, yet so evil...

So – onwards… I started spinning up some CMF Corriedale pencil roving in ‘Eire’ (green, unsuprisingly). I wanted to make a 3ply sock weight yarn. I’ve finished it now but it’s drying so the only pics for now are of the first 2 bobbins – I’m very pleased with it!

bobbinscopy

More pics when it’s done!

tour de fleece ’09 – my first batts

The last couple of evenings I’ve been spinning yarn from my very own handmade batts, made on Peri and Annie‘s drumcarders (don’t yet have my own, despite wishing for one on a regular basis. Wishing alone doesn’t seem to do it though, who knew?). I made the paler duck egg blue ones first, then the greeny ones a month or so later, using leftovers from the first plus some darker greens. I haven’t got very good pics of the batts, as the colours are so hard to photograph without looking a bit washed out.

tdf5

115g homemade batts: merino, alpaca, silk - 273m - 2ply - sport/dk weight

collage6

Duck egg - 90g homemade batts: merino, alpaca, silk - 165m - 2ply - sport/dk

These colours are just so lovely and watery and gently greeny, I love them, and I love the way they go together. So far they’re placing the rest of my Tour de Fleece in jeopardy by making me want to knit them!  I’ll definitely use them together in a project, am just not sure what. There’s a total of 438m – I wonder if that’s enough for another Swallowtail… or maybe I’ll be brave and design something of my own!