It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m still here, still knitting and spinning but mostly working, working, working to get funds to get my life back on track. Whilst, I don’t consider myself overly materialistic, I have no cravings for a flat screen telly or anything there are some things I need. My preference is to buy second hand where possible and as I’m highly aversed to anything synthetic if it’s not second hand then it has to be made from sustainable materials. Yesterday, I got the chance to buy some second hand pieces to make my home a bit more homely and support a wonderful charity at the same time. A win all round really.
I was on my way down Newland Ave, which is in a trendy, studenty area of Hull to buy some milk and veg for dinner when my eye caught sight of a beautiful sewing stool in the Dove House #87 charity shop (Dove House is our local hospice). I had been on the lookout for something to put my WiPs and notions in for a while now so course, I had to go in and have a good look at it. While I was there I spotted several other beautiful pieces that were on my list of things I need for my home and so I ended up with quite a haul.
All in all I spent, £164 on a sewing stool full of goodies, a gorgeous brass work lamp in full working order, a beautiful floor lamp stand that needs the electrical components and a shade, two mirrors, an old Quality Street tin full of sewing bits and a Mason Cash mixing bowl. I can’t quite believe my luck. All the pieces are in beautiful condition and the sewing box was full of the most beautiful sewing threads, darning thread and needles, linen carpet thread for mending carpets and rugs presumably, hosery mending thread for darning sockings and tights I’m guessing, a darning mushroom, two linen trouser pockets and assorted other haberdashery supplies.
I keep wondering about the identity of the lady who owned it before me it would be lovely to be able to chat to her about crafty stuff and her life, it looks like she has a similar taste in colours.
It’s Good Friday and I am loving the Spring weather and the new foliage on the trees so much as peopple who follow me on instagram will know. I have Good Friday and Easter Monday off work but they are sandwiching 2 very long days at work so I am cramming as much crafting as I can into today. I have a loaf of bread proving in the kitchen and while it does it’s thang woolly crafts beckon.
I currently have 3 projects on the needles, a pair of handspun socks for my sister Teresa, a pair of socks for my son Elliott and my Follow Your Arrow shawl which has been stalled due to lack of yarn.
I’ve done both clue 3’s with 3 repeats of 3a and I’m planning to do both clue 4’s so I have clue 4a and then 5a to do. The yarn is a 2ply, fingering weight, woollen spun yarn grown and spun on the island of North Ronaldsay where the beach dwelling sheep feed on seaweed for most of the year. It is a very special yarn and has a wonderful rustic quality that I adore. I wanted this shawl to be huge, because I’m loving the yarn and the pattern, hence running out. As I couldn’t get any more yarn in the light grey colourway I decided to purchase 200g of the roving in the light grey and spin a replica-ish 2ply yarn to finish my shawl.
It smells so wonderfully sheepy and feels so divine I will have to get more and make an entire jumper.
The idea of spinning a replica yarn is making me a bit nervous so whilst the roving was in transit I decided to spin the second braid of a Thylacine BFL top to practice. I had finished the first yarn towards the end of last year and I’m currently spinning the 2nd of the 3 singles. The finished yarns will become socks for me.
I’m hoping to have this yarn finished by the end of next weekend so I can start spinning my North Ronaldsay yarn. Better crack on then! (Appalling egg pun totally intended) ;)
Since I last posted, I have started my new job, finished two gift knits, started spinning for a gift knit, started another gift knit and come to the conclusion that non-superwash yarns make better wearing socks. The follow your arrow project is hibernating until I can buy more yarn sadly.
As for the superwash socks, I have mended a sock using this method, I maybe need more practice and to use a contrasting yarn and then duplicate stitched an area that was becoming worn but not worn through rather poorly too. My Zauberball socks have worn beautifully since they have felted in areas where they have a lot of wear. It could just be this yarn base but it coud also be the superwash-ness. The only way to find out is to knit more socks, yes?
The other day my son requested we get a bath mat but being on a tight budget, as in necessities first, I didn’t want to buy one as I think there are heaps of things we need before bathmats. However, I recalled how the very wonderful Sharondoubleknit had made her bathmats so I went stash diving. I came up with some of my very first attempts at spinning and dyeing and thought that they would be appropriate for my first handknit for the house and the colours match the colourscheme in the bathroom. My sons we skeptical, “won’t it get soggy?” “How will you wash it?” Were among the comments made. I reassured them with facts about wool’s amazing properties or at least I tried to.
I was reminded how much I love knitting with handspun yarn. Considering that this yarn was very thick and thin, under spun in parts, overspun in other parts and equally as underplied and overplied it knitted up really well. I think that it was helped by the fact that the yarn was held double and knit on much smaller needles than you would normally, in order to obtain a nice dense fabric. I know a lot of new spinners out there don’t think that their newbie handspun offerings are worth knitting up but I honestly believe you can’t learn about making yarn until you start knitting with the yarn you make.
So how does the new mat fare? Well, deliciously warm underfoot and squidgy and it doesn’t feel cold and damp when it gets wet at all. I think my sons are quite impressed with it, I’ve even had a request for a 2″ x 3″ from Elliott. Not sure about that but I think I might consider getting some more Herdwick and maybe Swaledale fibre for spinning and knitting mitred squares to sew together in a rug, we’ll see.
So after a long flight in which some knitting was done I landed in Leeds with my youngest son Elliott, on the 11th of January. I was greeted by my two sisters Fiona and Teresa, my nephew Jake and my Uncle Raymond.
Flying into Leeds.
I moved into a little house in Hull where my sister Fiona lives and did a heck of a lot more organising and stuff including getting a job. Things are beginning to settle into place, I’ve been reunited with my stash and bought a chair for crafting in thanks to a leaving gift from my lovely colleagues from my Melbourne job. So this is my new crafting space.
The flowery crochet pouffe and cushion were a housewarming gift from my sister, she bought it from some cool website and it’s made from wool of course.
There is going to be a heck of a lot of woolly stuff in my new home but that’s for future posts. I’m currently on knitting leave while I wait for all the formalities to be completed for my new job. Strangly I’m eager to start work and get into a routine but in the meantime I have my stash to keep me happy. Hope you have a great weekend and for my friends back in Melbourne, happy long weekend.
This time next week I shall be on the first leg of my flight back home. I’m very excited, as are my two sons who are moving back with me and my family who are waiting eagerly for our return. Most, if not all of the organizing is done. I’m quite pleased with my efforts in this regard since moving back to the other side of the world is no mean feat. The one thing I think I did badly however is plan appropriate knitting projects. Instead of knitting the several sweaters worth of aran and 12ply yarn into lovely warm sweaters in readiness for the English Winter I am knitting a 4ply sweater at quite a loose guage. Yeah, I didn’t quite think that one through.
The pattern is Reed by Cecily Glowick-McDonald but without the reedlike eyelets. The yarn is Skein BFL sockyarn in Cocoa and Beach Shack, alternating rows.
Hopefully the airline staff will look kindly on my short wooden interchangables.
In other news… My stash and books and other stuff should be delivered to my sister today, as in Friday but in England. Hurrah!
It’s been a helluva long time since I blogged, for many reasons that I will not go into but it’s time to get back on the horse so to speak. I thought I’d do this by looking at what I got up to in a crafty sense last year.
2013 wasn’t a particularly productive year as far as knitting was concerned. There was the ginormasquish blanket that took up half a year (fair does I think) but in total there were only 7 other projects completed. 2 pairs of socks, a shawl, 2 cowls, a scarf and a hat. This does seem like a pathetic effort so what the heck happened?
Well! There was spinning, lots of spinning! 2302 grams of spinning to be exact And you know how they say that practice makes perfect… well I wouldn’t say my spinning is perfect but it has definitely improved a lot.
So mostly, I’ve been spinning and some of the time there has been knitting and of course there has been a lot of the work stuff… oh yeah, I’ve also been organizing my move back to Yorkshire which is happening in 9 days time. *cue soap opera cliff-hanger music*
*Today’s post is photo free due to most of my handspun and projects being in England already and my iphoto library having had a spring clean recently.
**Yes, I have had terrible separation anxiety as a result of my stash being on a ship, floating halfway around the world.
I’m over 1/3 through my ginormasquish blanket and still in love with the project. I’m making steady progress and I can’t wait to be able to snuggle underneath it. However, the thing with big projects like this, is that you really do have to be completely monogamous and diligently knit away at it otherwise it will loiter on the needles FOREVER!
Monogamous that is, with the exception of a portable project because let’s face it, this blanket is sooo not portable and PT without knitting just doesn’t bear thinking about. So, in time honoured tradition I cast on a sock.
How pretty is that yarn? The deep, deep, deep blue with it’s subtle variation of tone. It was dyed by my amazingly talented friend Ursula. If you recall, it was Ursula who helped me turn the ancient bra handspun yarn into the beautiful ocean blue yarn. She has been dyeing for a while now and selling her wares to the Richmond knitter’s who greedily buy it all up. We know beautifully dyed yarn when we see it!
Here’s a picture of my most recent episode of yarn gluttony.
My photographic skills do not do them justice at all! They are all semi-solid BFL skeins but the red one is a BFL/nylon blend. As you know, I love knitting socks out of BFL, once washed they are every bit as soft as Merino but because BFL is a longwool it’s so much more durable and with a much better stitch definition than Merino.
Balanced. low twist singles are something that I have believed for a while to be a thing of magic and completely unattainable by mere mortals. I’ve tried and failed on several occasions to spin them and always end up with either, too much twist and a curly mess that ends up being wound up and plied to balance it out. Or, end up with not enough twist and the singles fall apart every 10 inches or so.
Yesterday I tried again and only the first few yards on the bobbin were of the drifty apart kind. I washed and finished the yarn last night and hung it up to dry.
This terrible photo was taken in the bathroom which has no natural light but it’s the only place in the apartment with a wall mounted hook on which I can show you the yarn in all it’s balanced beauty.
The yarn is a combination of 2 indie dyed tops that because of their composition were a bit felted and hard to draft especially when you have been spoilt by hand blended combed tops. As they were of similar colours I blended them together.
Again, apologies for the poorly lit, iPhone photo but it’s the only one I have of the tops to show off the colour graduation.
It’s a Merino/silk/camel/angora blend and it looks like this now it’s done.
Needless to say I am very happy with it. I have no knitting plans for it as yet though.