Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Rockpool Candy - Dark Forest - Handspun

Last December my mother sent me an early Christmas treat in the post - a Dark Forest Rockpool Candy batt.

Naturally enough - being me and being terrified of ruining it - I squirrelled it away in my budding fibre stash with the intention that I would pull it back out when my spinning skills were good enough to tackle it.

Following a brief discussion on Ravelry with the Doyenne of UK Fibre Activists and Sculptresses herself, on how to dampen the libido of domestic mice and keep them from 'getting jiggy' with mice from the wrong side of the floorboards, I confessed that I had one of her batts tucked away.

When I let slip mentioned that I was keeping it until my skills were a bit better, I got just the encouragement that I needed to pluck it back out of my stash and have a go - so I did!

Here is my bobbin showing 50g of fibre spun as a single:



As the batt was made up of a mix of different fibre types with silk fabric 'sprinkles', it made it really interesting to work with - just in terms of how it felt and behaved while being spun. I tried to spin the yarn fairly thinly and as evenly as I could, going with the flow as slubs and fabric sprinkles popped up - I have no idea whether this was the right approach or not!

I am really pleased with the result and here is the final skein, washed and dried to set its twist:

20090428_0789 01

I think that this colour is truer to the yarn than the colour on the bobbins above. It is a two ply yarn with nice, subtle variations in colour and texture. I think, but I am not sure, that the skein is approximately 65m of something akin to aran or a light chunky weight? As you can tell, I am not quite there on the whole precise science yardage and weight part of spinning quite yet!

PS, I finished the Autumn in Spring batch of handspun too and I think that I have about 340m (371 yards) of yarn across 3 skeins. Two of the three skeins seem quite close in weight, I think that they are about 38-39m per oz but the third is about 48m per oz. So I think that I need to split them across two different projects!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Thank You!

A little while ago I was very surprised that to learn that I had won this competition being run by Justine, of Miss Flip Knits podcast fame and guess what?  My prize arrived in the post this morning!  


Just look!  I feel like it's my birthday or something: three books (perfect timing), a Fratello kit and a fabulous Namaste buddy case containing a set of absolutely gorgeous stitch holders.


Now, okay, I should mention that Justine (Marama = Ravelry Link) contacted me with a chuckle when I won because it is well known that I am not the biggest fan of sock knitting.  Also, I have glanced at the knitting instructions and I paled in fear at the following words, 'toe-up', best knitted on 'circulars' and uses some kind of 'crochet cast on'.  

Gulp - I think that I have been delivered a extremely hefty learning curve.  However, the yarn is gorgeous and I think that it might be the perfect colour and pattern for the Fella?  

Um.  So.  If I approach anyone soon, hands overflowing awkwardly with pamphlet, circulars, a crochet hook and ball of handsome looking yarn.  Just trust me, unless you are very patient and enjoy working with adults who get very grouchy when they are all fingers and toes with new techniques, I suggest that you RUN! 

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Autumn in Spring - Louet Northern Lights Wool Top

The fact that I am still spinning and plying the fibre that I started working on last November should give you some idea how far behind I am on absolutely everything right now.  

However, I am doing my best to catch up (the people to whom I owe return messages, emails and phone calls may not think so but I am trying, I promise) and I present this little bit of crafting progress as evidence:

Autumn in Spring DSC_0166 

Fibre:  Louet Northern Lights Wool Top
Colourway:  Toffee
Fondly Known As: Autumn in Spring
Skein 1:  2 ply, 3.0 oz, approx 117 m
WPI:  Not calculated yet but I think that it looks around a DK weight?  
Left to Spin:  1.65 oz
Left to Ply:  approx 1.6 and 1.9 oz of spun singles
Plan of Attack:  Ply singles (3 oz of plied yarn looks to fill a single bobbin).  
Split remaining fibre as evenly as possible over whatever remains on two bobbins.
Spin and ply last bit into a mini skein.   

Also, on the craft front, I have squeezed in a little bit of sewing - just in an attempt to learn how to do it and make a dent in my fabric stash.  In fact, I have signed up for a quilt class that starts this week and runs one evening a week, for the next 4 weeks.  Y'know, just because I didn't think that I had quite enough to do?  

Ngg, I know, it could be Autumn again by the time that I finish work on this fibre.  No, no - you are absolutely right, I still haven't managed to write or send invitations for our wedding celebration event in July.  Nor have I spoken to the venue since we booked in it January. Nor have I managed to write all of the thank you cards needed for the 1st March.  Nor have I managed to edit the video that we took of our wedding to send to my family.  Nor have I posted that cardigan to France yet.  Nor have I managed to return a number of messages, emails and phone calls.  Nor have I booked or been for a medical that I am supposed to have as a part of my residency application for Canada.

I would start to hyperventilate but it wouldn't be productive - so please excuse me while I nip off quietly to chalk a few key things off my 'To Do' list!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Photography: an evolving theme

Just to add a little more pressure to the period of time when I was coming to the end of my Masters Certificate studies and organising my wedding, I took a ten week Introduction to Digital Photography course.  

In fact, things got so busy here that I did not blog very much about it but I have used a fair number of the photographs I took in blog posts recently:

Term 1 Mosaic 

Um, if work is extremely slow today and you would like to view my Weekly Top 10s as a full set: please click here!

Actually, I enjoyed my course so much (both content and the people that I met) that I have signed up for two further courses this term: Intermediate Photography and Introduction to Photoshop - one course to develop my picture taking skills and the other to help me deal with any glitches in output!

This term looks more structured in terms of its learning objectives and I think that it is going to be a really good challenge. (Please feel free to remind me that I said this when I am still up at 3am trying to sort out images, the night before class at some point later this term!)  Also, I think that it will be a lot of fun - for example, this is last Monday's class in session:

Week One - In Class

See what I mean?!  Four of the 8 (or was it 9) people on my course, all took the same class last term.  We get on really well too which really took the sting out of 'firstdayawkwarditus' on Monday!  

Also, instead of a random 'Weekly 10' homework project - this term's homework is a single project of my own choosing.  I do have an idea but I am not confident that I have the skills yet to really do it justice - eeep!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Maybe Baby Kimono Coat

It has been blocked and seamed: 


I have added button loops and sewn on buttons:


I have even added a picot cast off to its bottom edge:


Believe it or not, it is ready to dispatch to my gift recipient in the south of France.  

It really did only take five months to get my cast off knit to this point too - yes, I know. I present yet another clear piece of evidence that I am not a completer-finisher.  I am not proud of this fact but it seems to be confirmed that I am the kind of knitter who thinks that a garment is complete the moment that it is cast off.

I am not sure why it happens but I seem to lose motivation as soon as I reach this point.  It is very strange and completely incomprehensible to me that my actions seem to tell me that I am happy to risk the waste of a lot of hard work and good intent by not finishing and dispatching something that I have made, on time.

Do you suffer from this and how do you deal with it?

In this case, my gift recipient is a little girl in France, who should have had this top for Christmas or for her first birthday in February.  I have finally managed to nail this knit as I feel embarrassed to have missed both deadlines.  In addition, I am worried that it is running very late for both her size and for the weather in the south of France... really, I just hope that her parents like it, that it fits and that she gets some wear from it before the weather becomes too warm?



Pattern Notes


Alpaca-DK 'Raspberries', Rabbitworks Fibre Studio, British Columbia


Kimono Coat, #606 The Second Little Sublime Hand Knits Book


Hearts, Three Bags Full, Vancouver


5 return rail commutes per week between 22/08 and 29/09 2008 (26 commutes).  Then, occasional knit nights in Vancouver and a good sit down (after telling myself off) on Saturday 4th April.

Pattern Modifications 

I chose this pattern as it was a sideways knit and I was working with variegated yarn - I wanted any striping, flashing or pooling to be vertical, rather than horizontal.  Like so:


I swatched for this knit as I wanted to check gauge and see how my yarn worked with the rib pattern.  My swatch was encouraging but when I started to work the sleeve, I did not like how the rib and my yarn were turning out.  So I ripped back and reworked the pattern in plain sticking stitch (stockinette). 



My false start indicated that I was going to end up with significant pooling, rather than the striping that I had in my original swatch, so I worked with two skeins of yarn from that point onwards.  Just to try to keep the stripes going that I had seen in my original swatch.  In truth, I think that my final result is a bit mixed on that front! 

I used a picot cast on, cast off and as already indicated, I added a picot cast off to the bottom edge after I had seamed the top.


In terms of gauge and size - my gauge was off (as usual).  So, to obtain the correct garment dimensions for a 1-2 year old, I used the 9-12 month size number of stitches and followed the row instructions for the 1-2 year size.

With the exception of the back section - here, I added another inch of width as I was worried that the garment would be a bit narrow.  The impact of this change is that the front panels did not overlap fully.  


However, I like the effect this created - the buttons now sit inside the line of the neck edge, rather than over on one side towards the sleeve.

According to my measurements, my blocked garment has turned out correctly for the 1-2 size.  However, a lot of people have told me that my top looks like it will fit a 3-5 year old.


As I have no access to a child of the correct age to test this on, I will dispatch it to my gift recipient, keep my fingers crossed and hope for a photograph.  If everyone is right though, I can relax a bit as there may be hope that this top will still fit - even though it is very late?!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

It's my anniversary and I'll donate if I want to...!

Now, I thought about marking my 2nd blog anniversary by running a competition.  

I thought long and hard about what it should be, so long in fact, that I missed my blog anniversary altogether - typical!  So I have decided to do something else to mark the occasion.  Instead of paying my thanks back, I have decided to pay it forwards instead.  

With this in mind, I have given some money to charity, both here in Canada and in the UK.  In addition, I am donating two brand new books to Wenat, one of the Yarnfloozies,to be used as raffle prizes - just in the hope that this will encourage more people to enter and support her fund raising efforts!  Here are the books:

"It Itches" by Franklin Habit

"My China - A Feast for All the Senses" by Kylie Kwong

Wenat, is running this raffle to help her husband, Tony, raise money for cancer.  Tony is going to do Ride2Survive, which is a 400km cycle ride (in a single day) between Kelowna and Vancouver.  Amongst other things, her prizes include a skein of Wollmeise and a skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk.  

(At this point, I should confess that I am not just helping out a blogger that I read, I am still a complete slave to yarn.  The charity that I have donated to in Canada, um, also enters me into this raffle!)  

The details of the raffle, why it is being run and how to enter are all explained on her blog - so please go see!  In short though, you get an entry for every CDN$5.00 that you donate.  Plus, if you donate $40.00+, you get a chance to win a pair of socks, hand knit especially for you by Dotty, the other Yarn Floozy - not bad, eh?  

So, Happy Anniversary and thank you for sticking with my blog for the past two years - it's been a lot of fun and I look forwards to seeing what the next two years bring us all!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Vancouver Yarn Tour

On Monday 9th March, an orchestra landed in Vancouver to start a three week concert tour across North America. 

In its midst were three, very switched on musician-knitters intent on taking in as much of the local knit shop culture as possible within the constraints of their schedule (Tuesday 10th March).

So, being a Project Manager by profession, I thought it best to get organised. In Vancouver (the city itself rather than suburbs or surrounding area), there are a number of places that I have found to trawl for yarn and fibre:

  1. Sweet Georgia Yarn Studio, 4th & Main (Open Tuesdays and Wednesdays)
  2. Birkeland Bros Wool, Main
  3. Three Bags Full, Main (Closed on Tuesdays)
  4. Urban Yarns, W10th
  5. HomeCraft Importers, W4th
  6. Maiwa Handprints Supplies, Granville Island
  7. Silk Weaving Studio, Granville Island, primarily weaving but some hand dyed knitting silks too – this is a new addition to the list!

I have created a Google Map to show you where these places are (approximately). If you are passing through Vancouver, you should be able to print out a printer-friendly copy of this map to wave under your tour guide or cabbie's nose.  You may need to zoom out to see all of the placemarkers!

View Larger Map

Just as a small disclaimer I have not listed these places in any order of preference - they all have their own unique style and merit - and this list is not guaranteed to be complete!

I have listed these places in a suggested order of viewing. Just in terms of what might make a logical yarn crawl day out in Vancouver. How much you can pack into a single day though is really down to your own individual pace and endurance!

Here is how the day panned out for us - timings are approximate and include travel between woolly venues.

10:30:  I picked up Klozknitz, Flautogirl and E from their hotel downtown

11:00: Sweet Georgia Yarns

Sweet Georgia Yarns

The day that we were there, Felicia was sorting out one her Fibre Club parcels, I believe that the colourway is called Gum Drops.  okay, so I may have come away with a bit of sparkly carded roving!

12:00: Birkeland Bros Wool

Birkeland Bros Wool

Birkeland Bros is well worth a visit, even if it is just for a glipse of the huge carding machine at the back of the shop! From the look of that swift in action, I think that a canny knitter or two may have snagged themselves some skeins of bargain Fleece Artist and Handmaiden yarn?!

13:00: Drive past 3BF as it is Tuesday and they are shut. It is a must if you are in town on any other day (selection of yarn available and the lovely people who work there)

13:30: Lunch at Burgoos.  Yummy and conveniently across the street from Urban Yarns!

14:30: Urban Yarns

Urban Yarns

More yarn, project and book fondling plus purchases ensued!

15:30: Photo Opportunity on Spanish Bank

Photo Opportunity at Spanish Bank

Can anyone spot the odd knit blogger and Facebook user amongst my tour party?!  

15:45: Skipped Home Importers - I estimated that jetlag was starting to take its toll!

16:00: Maiwa Handprint Supplies

17:00: Bridges Bar and Restaurant

Inspecting the Spoils at Bridges

There's nothing quite like a good end of tour drink and drool over stash before heading home!

The full slideshow of the photos from the yarn tour are here on Flickr!

It was a really excellent day out in fabulous company. Actually, at that point, Klozknitz was the first person from home (sort of) that I had seen since I arrived in Vancouver. It was just so good to see her and chat about things that we both knew, without needing to give any additional explanation e.g. I-Knit - shop, days etc. It really underlined how much I miss everyone from home.

Klozknitz has documented her travels on her blog, if you would like to see how 3 musician knitters can squeeze 21,445 miles, 11 flights, 14 concerts and 14 yarn stores into a three week orchestra tour! 

My apologies to my tour party for taking so long to post these pictures plus their poor quality – I have done my best to recover them in Photoshop. When I got home and reviewed the images from our day out, I realised that I had a serious problem with my camera and its lens!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Wedding: Act Two - The Celebration Dinner

This will be a very short post as I am up with a bout of insomnia and so I am not feeling desperately articulate*.
I married the Fella a month ago and I am still trying to catch up on everything that has happened since we tied the knot.  Slowly, slowly, I am getting there but it is taking time to iron things out - but really, can anyone tell me: just where has the past month gone?! 

Okay, on the 14th March, we celebrated our wedding with the Fella's family, my father, my stepmother and our friends from the Vancouver area.  I think that this will sum the evening up fairly succinctly:

Wedding Celebration Dinner Mosaic 3

Now, do you see the person who keeps cropping up in the above photos with the lovely smile?

Well folks, that's my friend from knit night, Ms Ting.  Without whom, I can honestly say, I would have been wearing a pair of jeans and an old, black hoodie-fleece on my wedding day!

Now also, do you see the lovely flower table arrangements in the pictures above?  There were four of them.  They were absolutely stunning and they were the perfect height for our table as everyone could see them as well as chat freely over them.  These flowers were done for us by Alyria, another of my knit night friends and the de-stash recipient of a certain sea canoe (kayak)!

Now, if you put the above together with bitchnstitches' broach loan plus ChrissytheGreat's invaluable help and moral support when I needed to shorten my wedding shrug sleeves, I think that there is really only one conclusion that it is possible to reach:  knitters are good people.  

Just take my case, for example:  I have ended up 4500 miles from home.  I am a very long way from all my family and UK friends.  I have found myself getting married in a country/city that I do not know.  My new knitting friends stepped in and they really helped me to sort things out.

Thank you all ever so much,  I would have been extremely lost over the past two-three months without your help!

End of Wedding Act Two:  The Celebration Dinner