Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Another FO

Another FO! I finally finished my Still Dark tunic/dress after 2 months of knitting. Yay! And I love it. Totally worth the time it took to make.
Just check out those amazing pockets! It fits well and even though the yarn isn't the softest out there it isn't uncomfortable against the skin. At least my skin. Even though it's wool it's quite lightweight and breezy to wear - as I did all day today. However the ease is generous enough that I could wear another top underneath for extra warmth if needed.
The pattern is Still Light by Veera Välimäki. Over 2500 other Knitter's have used this pattern so I would say it's a hit! The yarn is of course from Deep Stash: 2/8 Shetland tweed in "Macbeth" and 2/30 worsted in "charcoal", both yarns held together. I got plenty of spit-splice practice because they both kept breaking. You can't see the repairs at all. Mods were adding more increases at the side seams to add some fluff room and continuing decreases on the sleeves all the way to the cuffs to narrow them more. I used smaller needles for the neckband and cuffs but should probably have also gone down a size for the hem ribbing since it's a little bit baggier than I'd like. If it annoys me I can always pull it out and do it again. But I probably won't.
I also finished spinning up the Mahogany Falklands yarn thanks to a mad push yesterday. I've already started the sweater: Flare also by Veera. I'm obviously a fangirl, aren't I? I do love her patterns. They're clean and simple but not too plain, usually with a bit of a twist that keeps the knitting from being too boring. The construction, at least on the two patterns I've used, is top-down in one piece - my favourite. She has several more I would love to make too.
Unfortunately though sweater knitting for me lately means a lot more work than just the knitting. I have committed to working from the stash in a big way which means...spinning the yarn first. And that means often there is wool prep to do even before I can sit down and spin. Which is just what I have been working diligently on for the past few weeks. I'm trying to finish carding the remaining baby Romney fleece. I swear there is no bottom to that pillowcase I stored it in! 
Oh, and before I forget to mention it, I bought Klaas, my Louët S90 spinning wheel, a present: a new sliding hook flyer. So much nicer than regular hooks and so easy to adjust quickly and to fill the bobbin evenly. The yarn doesn't pop off when plying madly either. It only came in the mail yesterday and I've already put it to the test plying the last 200g of the Falklands wool. It passed with flying colours. (Har-har!)
Klaas is happy and I'm happy too. The flyer had to be special-ordered (through Jane Stafford) since they no longer make S90 wheels. I only knew that Louët had made a limited run of them a short while ago and those had the sliding hook flyer (as does my Victoria) so I knew the thing existed. I was very patient because it took nearly four months to arrive. Just in time. More spinning to come. As soon as I finish carding. Good thing I'm as much about the process as the product, huh?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New Home For An Old Project

I've had this sweater for a long time and really wasn't sure what to do with it. It's handspun from woolcombed Corriedale fleece in a lovely taupe-brown. From my notes (yes, I found them) I finished it in 2000 so that makes it 16 years old. The pattern is called "Swedish Thora" by Elsebeth Lavold from Knitter's magazine 56, Fall 1999.
The photos don't show the colour very accurately. Or the texture since it's mostly seed stitch! Plus it is very large as the oversized style was back then and also knit flat in pieces and seamed. In other words, an awful lot of work! Even though it doesn't suit my body shape I have worn it quite a lot but apart from a little pilling it's still in good condition. What to do?
The solution has presented itself! We had a fambly barbecue on Mother's Day and the wind was rather chilly so I lent the sweater to Milady Daughter. fits her perfectly and is very flattering on her! But wait. I didn't just hand it over. Selfish damselfly could part with the sweater but couldn't part with the buttons on it. 
You see I bought those pewter darlings on our one-and-only trip to the Yukon in Whitehorse at a lovely shop that no longer exists. They are petroglyph sheep! Plus I was two short for the sweater so I had to order them by mail. Precioussss...
Milady Daughter was happy enough to have them swapped out so I perused the extensive button shelves at Dressew and came up with these aged brass ones:
They're slightly bigger and incidentally stay buttoned better. I think the colour works with the sweater better too:
I've carefully de-pilled as much as I can and since I've already washed it recently I can present it to its new owner the next time I see her. The best part is I know she will appreciate the work that went into this sweater and will take good care of it because she also is a spinner and knitter although she's never made a sweater herself. Yet. Meanwhile I can make more sweaters for me! Which I have done. But that's another story.    

Saturday, May 14, 2016

FO - Woven Tea Towels

Okay then. Posting Trial Number Two. It seems I might have a solution? We'll see if this works.
I have to show off my finally completed towels for the guild exchange. Chances are none of the members of my swap group read my blog (although one never knows) so I might still be able to keep the surprise intact. I just couldn't keep it to myself another whole month! The swap isn't happening until the June guild meeting. You won't tell them I jumped the gun, will you?
Yellowstone Hot Spring Tea Towels
My group decided to go with inspiration from a photo (from National Geographic via Pinterest) of a Yellowstone hot spring:
I took the image fairly literally and used 17 colours of 2/8 unmercerised cotton to "paint" an interpretation of the photo as I wound the warp. Most of these were already in the stash as leftover bits and bobs. I put sticky tape on the first and last pegs of my warping board and arranged the cones on my rarely-used spool rack:
It was kind of tedious but fun! At least all of the design decisions were in the warp so the weaving part could be very simple:
The sett was 24 ends per inch and I thought I had made it wide enough to end up at the 18" minimum after finishing. It was nearly 20.5" in the reed and I used a temple to keep the draw-in minimal. The weave is a 4-shaft point twill and extended twill with a very easy treadling sequence. I got it from the book "Designing Woven Fabrics" by Janet Phillips. I thought it reminded me of the ripples of the water in the photo.
I finished the towels with machine washing and drying, cut apart, pressed and machine-stitched hems and a final press. The final finished size was 17.5" by 25.5" but I'm betting they will still shrink more in subsequent laundering. The hems flared a bit too much but I didn't have anything appropriate that was both finer and the right colour. They are a nice weight and the floats should absorb water very well. I'm happy with them. Glad I wove 6 though instead of 5 even though it was a struggle to squeeze the last one in. The first one was a bit more "interesting" than the rest!
Glad that's done so I can move on to finishing up more of the gazillions of projects I have going right now. Today I'm sewing in the ends of my Still Dark Tunic that just came off the needles and then it can be washed and blocked. Who-hoo! That beast took 3 stinkin' months to knit but I'm very pleased with it. More as soon as I can.
But first, I have to see if this will post properly. The Ongoing Saga continues...  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Bean Rescued

I'm trying again to use a different blog editor. I'm going to need one that can save drafts properly for our big trek later this summer. So far I don't think it's going to work properly so a workaround may have to be found. Meanwhile I have a great story for you. It won't matter if the font is wrong or there are no paragraph spaces, right? Anyway, we were walking along the False Creek seawall down by Science World today and happened on a daring rescue! We watched as the police boat rounded up the yellow bean that had somehow gotten loose from the public sculpture in Charleson Park, much further along the seawall near Granville Island. They had a group of people to help get it up on the new paddling dock that just opened recently. Very exciting!
Then the folks had to figure out how to get it back to its buddies! We left as they were struggling to get it onto a dolly but apparently the bean was returned safely. I have no idea how they accomplished the rest of the journey though! We found out later that some nefarious someone had rolled it down and off the seawall sometime last night. Amazing since it weighs a ton! The sculptor when reached said that he was happy that people were "interacting" with it. Heh. Well, we thought it was a rather amusing incident. More soon. I need to figure this editor problem out. Wish me luck. I think I'm going to need it.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Concentration Lacking

I know I promised a longer post but this isn't it. I realised that one of the reasons that I have had trouble creating more detailed posts is that my mind has been as scattered as the projects I've been working on. Thoughts are drifting around in my head too much to pin them down. I keep waiting for some definite results to focus on. Somehow it just isn't happening yet.
However I do have a very small Finished Object to show. This month's Spectrum meeting ended up just being two of us. My dear friend Kirsten shared with me a piece of her fish skin leather that she bought as a souvenir from a trip to Iceland. She had both salmon and wolffish. (Ugly beast, isn't it?) She worked with the salmon and I chose the thicker wolffish leather and we made scissors cases. Here's mine:
The button is deer antler and has been in my stash forever. The edges of the flap are the natural edges of the skin but I sadly had to trim off the too-long point. I also glued a patch of leather in the toe of the case to protect it from scissors poking through before stitching the sides with strong thread. Then I waxed the finished case with neutral shoe polish to protect it and bring out the grain. The results are kind of funky rather than elegant but I like the rustic look. And at least now my super-sharp scissors won't puncture me or my knitting bag!   According to the Atlantic Leather company's website, they are utilizing skins from the food fishery that would otherwise be wasted and their processes use renewable energy. Sounds good, eh? Icelanders used to make footwear out of the wolffish skins back in the day so they are really continuing a tradition. Today fish skins can be dyed in bright colours and used for products like wallets, handbags, interior design items, clothing and jewelry as well as more fashionable shoes. Very cool.
In other crafty news I'm well into the fifth tea towel and the end of the warp is in view. One more to go! The Still Dark Tunic has about 6" of a sleeve left to knit. The Mahogany Falklands wool has one more skein to spin and some plying. And the Arcott/baby Romney blend wool is proceeding. I have about half of the Romney left to card before I can weigh it all out and blend equal (or almost equal) parts. All projects moving along but it feels like they're doing so at glacial speed.
Otherwise I'm still plotting out big cross-continental trip. We need to start making some reservations very soon even though there's still nearly three months before we leave. Have I mentioned how much fun the research is? Really. It's like I'm already travelling in my head. I'm going to be very well prepared this time, I'll tell you! It seems the more prep I do ahead of time the smoother the experience. Especially when driving something like 15,000 kilometres! This likely will be the last opportunity to do something this extensive so we want to make the most of it while simultaneously knowing that we can't go everywhere or see everything anyway. Just looking forward to a fun time.
Off to get a few things accomplished today before the fambly tide rolls in. Apparently it's another one of those Hallmark Holidays? Any excuse for a barbecue I say!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Eleven Years!

Just a quick fly-by (we're babysitting the Littlest Grandbeastie) to say that it is my 11th Blogiversary today! Amazing, isn't it? How time flies when one is having a good time! Who knew I could keep it up for so long? Back in 2005 things were somewhat different out here in the cyber-universe. Blogger had only been around for a few years and personal blogs were becoming popular with the Cool Kids. Words were still as important as pictures. I have always used this forum as a way to document my makes, talk about my interests and slip in an occasional personal opinion. The opinions are still there but somehow I discuss them less! And I'm slipping a little more than I'd like with the posting frequency recently. No apologies, just busy but nothing to present quite yet.

Anyway I just couldn't let this milestone go by without a mention! Also Happy May, May Day, Cinco de Mayo, Beltane and the onset of summer (at least in this hemisphere). Bigger post soon. Hugs to you all!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fibre Friday

As you might be able to guess from my prolonged absence I've been a little busy. My usual damselfly activities of flitting from one thing to another plus a whole raft of family visits seem to have eaten my life! I've even been out in the garden finally after avoiding my usual spring duties apart from harvesting the early produce. Much more work is needed but I have to build up to it slowly. I prefer nibbling away at it anyway rather than go all out and risk hurting myself. Self-preservation becomes ever more important as we age, doesn't it?

One of the nibblings has been the Arcott/Romney blend wool that I'm prepping to spin. The Arcott has been teased and carded into batts and now I'm onto the baby Romney. This is a fleece I bought ages ago and washed in locks carefully in little net packets. I think I was planning to comb it. However now I need to card it to blend equally with the Arcott. The cut ends are matted enough to make it harder to tease in the normal way and the tip ends are a bit dirty still. So I hit upon the best way to deal with this - flick carding. First I pull the bunches into smaller locks:

The small sections are much easier to hold and flick. In order to avoid pulling off too much waste I put a twist in the lock and grip that with my fingers. Flick the tip end:

It looks so pretty all fluffed out!

And check out how much dirt falls out! Flip the lock around (hanging onto the twist still) and flick the butt end:

The whole lock is now open and runs through the drum carder like a dream.

My flicker is a Woolhouse and I've had it for at least 25 years. I used it during many a sheep-to-shawl competition! It has held up very well considering the amount of wool it has processed over the years. The plastic lap board underneath was recycled from something or other and saves damage to clothing or furniture. Here's the little bit of waste left after flicking the lock. Short bits and neps that you don't really need in the yarn.

I still have plenty more of this fleece to process but the carding and blending will go quickly once I'm done.

What else? I'm weaving on the third of the six tea towels. Nearly halfway there and I'm very happy with how they are turning out. The Still Dark tunic has a sleeve and a half to go. I'm knitting in more decreases than the pattern calls for since the sleeve seems wider than my skinny arms prefer. This tunic is a relaxed fit anyway but I don't want to swim in it. And the Falklands wool is about 3/4 spun up. I'm going to need it for my next sweater so I'd like to finish spinning it soon. Though I haven't been working on it as much as I should.

Never a dull moment around here! And it's always Fibre Friday. And Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as well...