Monday, September 18, 2006

Taking a break from Orcs and Goblins and Dwarfs and High Elves to jot down a few random knitty thoughts and surf the web.

I swear that I heard on PlanetRock the other day that scientists were now looking at ways to make wool from chicken feathers. Apparantly it'll be softer and provide more warmth. That'll be an interesting one to see happen. Having learnt a lot in recent weeks about the importance of length of fibres I wonder how this will work given the really short length of feathers.

One to watch methinks!

Hmmm! Now shall I go back to the Dwarfs. Nah! More surfing it is then...

But then again I feel a WoW sesh in the offing! Must get up to Level 41 before tomorrow.

Oh my god!

If you haven't checked out the stuff being sold on Ebay by the-mohairknitter, then you must go to it straight away. I didn't know whether to laugh or cheer! Well done Mohair Knitter, you're an inspiration to us all.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Knitting and Stitching Show review
Well, I went yesterday and to be honest I was disappointed. I was hoping for some more knitting stuff there but it was more like a general craft show. There were events like the knitting fashion show and about 10 or so knitting stalls but the event didn't strike me as being any different to some of the craft events I'd been to at the NEC before. I know it was a stitching show as well but that was just the same guys from the Festival of Quilts again.

But I did go to the silk spinning class (101 how to be a spider!) and enjoyed that. Here's my effort.

Not bad! Having done the drop spinning class a couple of weeks before and practiced a bit has definitely paid off. This will now be the fourth drop spindle in the house. It's about half the size as a normal spindle, is a top whorl, and what you do with this one is twist it horizontally rather than let it hang. Our tutor did show a way where you twisted it vertically, trapped the spindle between your knees and then let go of where you'd pinched the silk but to be honest the horizontal methods was more comfy.

I saved tonnes of money and just bought some emerald green Tussah silk tops from the gorgeous Mulberry Silks stall to practice with.

I'm starting to get a bit practical regards my spinning wheel and saving for it so the thought of buying a load of stuff didn't appeal much. Plus the thought of lugging it onto the train to Nottingham was not my idea of fun especially when I know that I can order it over the t'internet and sent to me.

I think I'm probably going to buy an Ashford Traveller. I saw one being used at the show and just loved the look of it. I have thought about getting the Ashford Kiwi but there's something about it I don't like. Maybe it's that it's made of MDF and just doesn't look all that robust. Never mind. The order's going in this week. A Traveller I think it is.

In the meantime, here's what I've been up to whilst watching a tv fest. This lot took me through most of The Return of the Mummy, part of Look Who's Talking and one and a half episodes of The Day of the Triffids.

The first piece is meant to be black but I had flash on and it reflected off the white paper. It looks a bit sci-fi to me so gets the thumbs up. I definitely have a casting off problem on the purple one - it looks too much like a banana but that'll get sorted when I do the piecing together for the blanket.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Must resist... Must resist... Keep telling myself that there are only two days until I go to the Knitting and Stitching show and any money I spend on knitting/spinning before then is less money I can spend at the show. I've seen so many things I want to do in the past few days and my will power is struggling to resist having a go at them. It's tough but I think I can manage it!

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Less than a week to go before the show. Can't wait!

I'm keeping up with the spinning and I think I've gotten ten times better this week.

Definitely going to buy a spinning wheel though, all this hand spinning is killing my shoulder and the last thing I need is rsi.

I'm also creating a blanket at the moment for the cat to lay on at the end of the bed. My plan is to use up some of the yarns I've got lying around before I buy a load more. The squares will be a mix of cool fancy yarns and patterned plain yarns, all in different shades and colours. The squares will also be in different sizes - the only thing that'll be the same about them is I'll use the same pair of cable needles throughout. My plan is to join them altogether with crochet. Here's what I've done so far in the past day.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Had to order some more merino today to make sure I don't run out over the weekend. I've been buying it off a seller on Ebay called Needlework's Pleasure. They have a wide variety of stock and colours and I've not had any problems with anything they've sent me. I'd definitely recommend them.

I think I'll have enough to last me until the show and then I can buy as much as I like. I just wish that there was somewhere in Nottingham I could visit that sells fibre for spinning. Maybe it's the commercial lifestyle I'm used where I can just go into town and everything is available in the shops. Who knows, with all the interest in all things crafty that seems to be building up in momentum currently, there'll be more places to visit and buy from in the future.

I'll admit I do go through periods where I'll buy loads of magazines and the renaissance in knitting, sewing, etc, has recently appeared in all of them. Personally, I love knitting, etc, because I like learning and being creative. Other people do it out of nostalgia. But whatever the reason, having a new generation of craftspeople can only be a good thing because then new ideas are developed and old methods evolved.

I was searching through the web today looking at the different types of wool you can spin. I'm don't think I've ever had an end product in mind whenever I've thought about spinning. I think my interest was raised more by the idea of playing with colours (that reminds me, I still must try out the Kool-Aid dyeing) and also learning a new craft which I hadn't had a go at before. Having seen some of the different yarns that people are making out there, I'm astounded by the creativity that can go into it. I was looking at one site today where the owner had spun and attached pieces of netting, skulls and flowers to her yarn. I'm in two minds with this. It made a lovely pile of yarn but I couldn't quite picture how it would all knit up. So I'm not sure at the moment whether I'm spinning to knit or spinning to make yarn. Time will tell and in the meantime I'll have fun experimenting.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hmmm! Things did not go to plan on the knitting front yesterday. After a few failed attempts at trying to do the first square in the Afgan book, I gave in. The instructions were terrible. Definitely not a book for beginners! The first square was a fairisle - a simple pattern by the looks of it. Just a main colour dotted with two others every few stitches. It looked simple but boy was it anything but. The chart to follow was tiny - we're talking postage stamp here - and the colours they had used on it were the worst choice ever. The main colour was mid blue, one of the secondary colours was dark blue and the other secondary colour was marginally lighter than the background - infact it took me a while to spot the third colour because it was that close to the main colour. The little squares as well were all about 1mm so that didn't help either.

On top of that I wasn't quite sure how to keep the different strands of wool tidy whilst I was working and also so that they kept up with each other between rows.

So, that book has been resigned to the bookshelf for another day!

Next I looked at the Noro book I'd bought on Saturday but then realised I didn't have the needles or a secondary colour. But I wasn't expecting to start that for a few more weeks so that was okay.

There was nothing else for it but to get out the drop spindle and start practicing, and I'm pleasantly pleased with the result.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Just found this new web magazine for spinners (Spins & Needles) and think it's great!

It's very well put together and written, and has loads of info for beginners, mixed with great instructions and inspirational pictures. I was originally searching for how to make different styles of yarn and their description of how to make Bushfire yarn (basically a marl yarn) is really informative so I might give it a go over the next few weeks. The step-by-step photos explain everything and there's even a pattern for a jacket to make from the final yarn. A decent jacket as well, not just one that looks good as a photo but you'd never wear in public.

There's also a guide on how to tell what weight a handspun yarn is using the inch wrap technique. I heard about this in the drop spindle class yesterday and now I've seen it, it all makes sense. It's one of those... Oh yes, I get it now... pieces of info you'll keep referring back to.

As a first issue of a magazine, I couldn't really fault it for its contents. The formatting is a bit off and perhaps some of the fonts are a bit too large but I think that's more so you can read it properly as an online magazine.

Well done guys at That Spinning Place. Keep up the good work!

PS: Take a look at the pretty fern stitch shawl. I'd never wear a shawl (that's one world I don't inhabit) but I think the stitch would look great as a blanket or throw.

Today's knitting endeavour is to finish off the first square from the 200 Knitting Blocks: For Afgans, Blankets and Throws. I'm trying to teach myself a load of new techniques so I thought that this would be the best way to do it. I'll update you on my progess later today.

My next project after that is probably one of the Noro jumpers from the Noro pattern book I picked up yesterday. I love all the colours and the way they work together so I'm going to have a hunt around for some Noro wool or maybe see if I can use some handspun if I can find any that's suitable.