Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Just add ribbon!

I was recently drawn to this bold black and off white, printed fabric offcut in my local Sewing centre.

So I finally took my sewing machine out of semi retirement and made myself a needle roll, I used a cotton fabric from an old shirt for the plain piece, as it has a black on black check pattern running through it which made sewing the sections for the needles easier.

All it needs now is ribbon, and then I'm going to make a matching double pointed needle roll.

When I went back into the sewing shop to get some interlining and the ribbon this offcut caught my eye, I'm thinking maybe a handy roll for my crochet hooks and some zip up project bags for small projects.

Don't worry though I won't get carried away, much as sewing can be quite quick to make a finished object compared to knitting, it just doesn't give me the same special feeling I get when connecting to fibre.

Friday, January 26, 2007

As you can see I have finally finished my first glove, and rather than let SGS (second glove syndrome) get a hold I have already started on the second one.

Its been perfect photo weather today, not too bright, but not too cloudy so I took the opportunity to photograph my finished KnittyDirtyGirl yarn.

Many of you left comments on my last post (thankyou!) and in response to what is it going to be when it grows up, since I've only got 100g (4oz)to play with I've been thinking a multi-directional diagonal scarf would probably be the best idea.
I've found a pattern on the web, and I've saved it and read through it, but it doesn't really make any sense, I'm going to have to cast-on and have a go, and see what happens.

My copy of the new Winter Vogue arrived this morning, and there are quite a few patterns I could see myself knitting, usually there is at least one but this time there are at least 4 I really like. I absolutely love Norah Gaughan's muti-directional cabled shrug....again I'm going to have to try knitting a cabled pentagon before making any firm plans because it looks a bit complicated. Infact since I'm on a yarn diet I can forget any plans to buy anything new, oh the torment! Feel my pain...I'll just have to subdue myself with some more spinning.

I've also been working on a banner for my blog, I went off to read up on blogger how to do it, and it looks a bit scary, if anyone knows of a simple idiots guide to doing it on beta blogger please direct me!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This Wheels On Fire

Yay! So I unleashed the wheel last night, I purchased these batts mid November from Rachel-Marie at KnittyDirtyGirl. I was wary of spinning these and making a mess of it, but now that I have so many batts to spin, and I've also just been promised a long time lend of a drum carder too, so I gave it a whirl. The colours may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I love 'em!

I've got the 2 skeins soaking in the sink now, and will leave them on my rack to set the twist. I'm living a bit dangerously leaving it as a singles yarn, more details and close-ups on completion.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I had to get strict with myself last week as the college course that I've been talking about was starting yesterday so no other knitting or spinning was allowed whilst I finished my home work off. These are my cast-ons and cast-offs, we had to do examples of at least 6 of each. There were also some drawing exercises involving some doodles we had done in class.

We started looking at mark making on the art side of things this time, and selvedges, I only need to do 5 samples of selvedges this month, and as you can see I have already done 4, then I need to do a small still life drawing, concentrating on tone and to cut up a black and white photocopy weave the strips to make an abstract design and draw it again. To be honest the drawing side of this course is really aimed at the complete beginner and not at all taxing for me, but I knew this before I signed up for the course, this means I can challenge myself more with the knitting,and it also means that it doesn't take up too much of my time, leaving me free to spin.

I am desperate to get my wheel out from behind the sofa and start on some of the batts that I was making.

No progress on Durrow, I was being so strict with myself about finishing my homework and when there was time for other knitting I got my glove out, as you can see I'm on the little finger. Yes (Kim) this is my very first glove, the pattern is in Vogue Knitting On The Go Mittens and Gloves, I'm hopefully going to end up with a pair soon as the weather is supposed to turn a bit colder this week. There is a glove pattern in the 2001 Summer Issue(come to think of it what are gloves doing in a Summer Issue) of Interweave Knits called Serendipity Birthday Gloves, they are knitted in 50 colours of 3ply tapestry wool, and I absolutely love these gloves, and after a bit of glove practice I will either have a go at knitting a pair with 50 different colours of tapestry wool, or I will devise an alternate plan. The pattern looks like a bit of a challenge as all the fingers and thumb are calling for the Middle East Wrap Cast-on.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

3 Today

Happy Birthday to mummy's special boy, 3 today, can we please wave goodbye to the terrible twos?

I haven't had much time for knitting or spinning this week as I've been trying to get my homework finished for the start of the C & G Handknitting course Sunday, inspite of this my first glove is starting to take shape.

And so far so good with Durrow, sorry for the rubbish photos but we've had nothing but wet gale force winds for days.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

More squooshy goodness, I didn't show you the finished purple sheep batts, they have a completely different texture to the processed tops obviously. As the sun came out today, (probably because the weather man had predicted a week of rain) I made the most of the photo opportunity and grabbed a quick snap of my completed Jaywalkers too, I worked the larger size, and they are a perfect fit.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

While I was drum carding the seaweed shades of fibre, I also got some sheep fleece dyed, I dyed it in the microwave with Easy Peasy Dyes from Hilltop. As you can see I mixed red and blue up a bit to give varying shades of purple. Before you can start to drum card the sheep fleece from its raw state it needs to be teased out first. But once I sat down Tuesday evening (watching Judge John Deed)and got it all teased and ready to go, the drum carder really is a breeze when it comes to speeding through fleece.

Once I'd finished carding the purple I decided to be bold with brights, this pink, turquoise and green are as bright as they look, it was just pure instinct that told me to put them together, I had them split into strips hanging over the back of a chair before I started and I kept worrying whether it was going to be too much.

Of course we're not going to know how it really works until I start to spin it, but I tried not to dull the colours too much by over carding them.

I've finally finished my Jaywalkers, I finished the knitting Wednesday, but didn't graft the toe until last night, not the weather for photos yet, but they've been keeping my feet warm all day!

I'm still making good but slow progress with Durrow, and I've re-started the gloves I had to frog before Christmas.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Carding Crazy

At our 1066 Spinners meeting last Saturday Mary had brought her drum carder in to show me how it worked, as I had been asking about it.
Basically for those who don't know, carding is part of the preparation of fleece or fibre before spinning commences. (There are other methods for different types of spinning like combing but I'm not familiar with them yet.)I have a couple of hand-carders like two extra large dog combs and you comb the fibre through these a few times, transfer the fibre all onto one brush and roll it up into something called a rollag.

Basically the drum carder is just a larger version of this, as you can see it's a basic machine with a large drum and small roller covered in metal teeth. You feed the fibre in on the far left and turn the handle and keep doing this until it's full.

Then there's a metal lip where you gently seperate the fibres and roll the fibre off the drum carder, you are left with a kitchen roll sandwich of fibre
called a batt.
Needless to say I've been going batty, dying fleece and making batts all week.
More photos to follow soon.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Here is the fibre I dyed with Kool-aid last Monday, I finished spinning the last skein of yarn Saturday, this time I have managed to spin all 400g to about the same thickness and I started to knit up a small sample on 5mm needles in stocking stitch with the pink the other evening, just to see what it was like.

I had good weather for photos yesterday afternoon, and the yarn looked so yummy, it was difficult to know when to stop. Maybe it's time I updated my flickr album, or at least got into the habit of uploading my photos on a regular basis.

I'm obviously very pleased with it, the only disappointment is that I only have 100g of the green. I really enjoyed watching what happens to the colours as I spun it. I'm not quite sure what it's going to be, I quite like the idea of knitting something simple like a little girls jacket with a hood, and maybe even lining it with pink fleece, who knows, I'm just too busy spinning to knit anything really.

The colours in the green skeins have been reminding me of a watercolour painting, and I found this in my own archive, it's called Diving Faces.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I Dream of Dreads

I dream of dreadlocks, I actually woke up Thursday morning with a recollection that I'd been dreaming that I had hair with dreadlocks. I like low maintenance hairstyles, and I'm still persevering with growing my hair, dreadlocks though, seem a bit too much like hard work, well just to start with, you have to do alot of pulling and matting and almost felting to get it to work, and to be honest I don't think I could really stand all that fiddling about, but its a nice dream. If my hair gets to a longish length I will probably go and have a very unfashionable spiral perm, I had one of these in 1993, the last time I successfully grew my hair, and the last time spiral perms were the hieght of hair fashion, but its a low maintenance style that I can just wash and wear!

Ok enough of hair, I have managed to spin all 400g of the Kool-aid fibre I dyed Monday evening, but unfortunately the weather hasn't let up for days, so no photos as yet.

Instead I'm going to warble on about books, because I do find the time to read sometimes, usually just a few pages in bed, unless it turns into something gripping which I can't put down, and I have bad memory so I'm going to write down some of the books I read last year, just as a record to remind myself.

I started 2006 with Dan Brown, and worked my way through all that he's written, the best one being Deception Point (this would make a fantastic film), followed by Digital Fortress and following up the rear Angels and Demons. (I had read the Da Vinci Code late 2005) and all these books apart from DC were Christmas presents.They were easy reading and reasonably enjoyable.

From then I went on to read Running With Scissors, which I really enjoyed, and We Need To Talk About Kevin which one of my friends had said not to read so I had to really, it was quite a hard book to get into at first but it had a really good ending which I didn't see coming. I like twists and cleverness.

Somewhere amongst this I read Labrinth by Kate Mosse 'An action packed adventure of modern conspiracy and medieval passion...a Grail gripper [and] elegantly written timeslip novel set in France - The Independant'
which was a slow but enjoyable read.

Then I read Zadie Smith,On Beauty, made it to the end but didn't really enjoy this much at all!

So I raced through The Devil's Feather by Minette Walters. I have read quite a few of her older novels many years ago, this was a compulsive book, with a few surprises I didn't see coming , and enjoyable.

Finally I read Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys, which was thoroughly completely enjoyable.... so much so I am about to go on a Neil Gaiman bookfeast.... with Coraline and Stardust, just for starters! I will probably work my way through them all if I'm not distracted by something else.

Ok the other reason I'm doing a book themed post is I've tagged myself with a book meme which is doing the rounds at the moment just because I like the element of surprise it brings with it, it's a bit different to the norm! and some of these little dips can make books that I might never have read seem interesting, although I'm always susceptible to suggestion and easily distracted.

First, grab the nearest book, post the book's name and author's name on your blog:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman. [this is his first book for children,(the Independant said 'Delicate and extraodinary, it reads like Alice in Wonderland crossed with Steven King')]

Next turn to page 123, go to the fifth sentence on that page, now post the following three sentences....
oops it's an illustration should have checked first!

We'll try Stardust
It had seemed so welcoming when seen from high in the sky.That was before. Now she hated everything about it, except the unicorn; and, saddle sore and uncomfortable, she would have happily spent time away from the unicorn.

Last, tag three others: Okay I'm going to tag Kim at Fiber Cafe, lets see what she's reading, hmmm...
Melissa in Oz, probably too busy soaking up the sun, but still and lastly Silvia at Fromthesheepsback as she is the most recent edition to my very long blogroll, infact my blogroll of knitting blogs in my favourite sites has got so long I have actually started a new one, but I just love to follow a random journey, I find a comment on somebodies blog from someone with an interesting name and well you can end up all over the place but it's such good fun to keep expanding you horizons.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Art Escapes Me - Developing My Art Habit

Yesterday I found an illustration on Carolines blog from a book called Art Escapes. (Carolines review of the year is a fantastic read as is her blog but if you want to ff to the picture it's under November).

I have been following Caroline's blog and her journey on The Artists Way with interest, and almost pulled my own copy of Art Escapes off the bookshelf at the weekend. This is my version of the same exercise.

My artistic nature can be quite temperamental, it always has been, when I sat my art O'level I was also entered into the CSE exam as the O'level involved a timed still life drawing and there was always the possibility I could have got cross with my drawing and walked out or rip it up, not much has changed but after tearing this up I salvaged it by painting the background and stitched it back together, and written sideways on the blue line is the profound statement...art escapes me.

The book contains ideas and exercises to develop your creativity into a daily habit, to make a little art everyday, it encourages you to create a page in your journal everyday for a month, as research show that if you do something consistently for a month, it can become a habit.

Unfortunately last time I tried this I managed 10 days, and although I have followed other creative paths since then my sketchbook has been left untouched since May 2005. My main problem is time management and lack of discipline, so this year I'm going to make more of an effort. I have also ordered a copy of The Artist's Way.

So today I doodled......

I often wander through blogland and followed a trail from Mariyarn's blog, to Steve's blog and Carolines, and the one common link between all three apart from creativity was the Camel Exchange a free for all doodle swapping blog....looks like fun and here is my 1st entry from Carolines Christmas Present I have made Butterbirds!

Teency bit of digital wizardry and I've altered the colour and buttonised it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dye Dabbling!

New Years Day I decided to get right on with it and soaked some fibre from my stash ready to dye. This is white English wool tops with viscose nepps.

I have dyed 400g (about 16oz) with Kool-aid, I want to do alot of dying in 2007 so I had to start somewhere.

This second photo is one of my handpainted snakes as Neo has been calling them, as you can see being a messy person I use a large deep tray to keep my stuff contained.

I used 8 sachets on the first 300g (instead of the recommended 1 sachet per oz) as this was a recommendation for yarn not fibre, although its not that I think I need less dye for fibre, infact, I'm not sure, the thing with the Kool aid is that it can be quite unpredictable so I wasn't sure what to expect, part of the fun with this sort of dying, and the thing is with fibre, from what I have seen so far, well I wasn't too worried about the final results, because it will start to change as you start to spin and you can always overdye if you're not keen on the results.

The last 100g I dyed with a slightly different mix, although with a shake of 'mad scientist' and 'magic twist' kool aid I still wasn't sure what to expect, I used the full 4 sachets on this 100g, just to assess the strength of colour.

As you can see these are the greener two 'snakes' coiled onto the tray to cool. They look a bit like a Walk in The Garden....what do you think Marianne?

I cooked all of them on full power for 10mins in the microwave 100g at a time.

They've been left to dry overnight, and I'm hoping to start spinning some later today.

The best effect which I thought would probably happen, and which I wouldn't have got with an acid dye is the viscose nepps hasn't taken any colour, so this is going to be a nice effect as I spin, (hopefully).