It all started when I bought three whole raw fleeces at the Cotswold Farm Park in about July. That is a whole lot of fleece which makes it feel like a good opportunity for learning and playing.
I bought three different types of fleece; portland and kerry hill are both fluffy and soft, and cotswold which is the curly topped sheep you see in the Cotswolds. So far I’ve just been spinning the portland which is fairly easy and very satisfying.
The dyeing technique I have been learning about is using a dye bath of water and vinegar on the stove top. I bought several colours of commercial dye to experiment with.
First up was a silk fibre that was an extra treat for me when I spotted it on sale recently. Initially I dyed it green but it was a bright emerald colour which wasn’t what I was after. Turns out the first thing to learn is to not use too much dye at once. So I added some brown and made a nice olive. Not sure what I’ll make with this. Myrtle wanted to get in on the action, so together we dyed some red. We were kind of aiming for pink (at least, Myrtle was aiming for pink) and I painted bits of brown before submerging the yarn in the dye bath to get a tonal effect. Really pleased with how that came out. It has turned into a wide headband with owls on for Myrtle. Seems a habit of hers to be Not Sure for a few months, before she loves to learn things I’ve made for her. So maybe I’ll get a photo in a few months time. Another thing I learned was to use gloves.
…which I finished ages ago, and he really loves. And I really love him, so this makes me very happy…
My husband is about to go on a “business trip”. With his company that means going to a really cool place and doing things like sky diving, white water rafting and mountain biking.
So here’s my guide to being a tourist in a place and finding a yarn store. In my opinion, this is what you should buy your hard working and lonely wife (no subtext here, it’s all very much overt!):
1) Definitely buy something. Do not leave a yarn store empty handed. Ever. Especially if your wife is at home with the children and you just jumped out of a plane. It would be like jumping out of a plane. Without a parachute. Really.
2) Buy something that comes in a skein, rather than a ball. It’s a good sign that it’s something nice.
3) You pay for what you get, and you’re on a really fabulous trip, whilst your wife is not. I am not at all bitter about this. At all. But even so, you should buy some expensive yarn.
4) Variety is the spice of life. You should buy several things.
5) Choose something you can’t get anywhere else if possible. Locally produced, hand dyed, that kind of thing. Then it really is like a souvenir only it’s also useful.
6) Try to get both yarn and spinning fibre. That would go down very well.
7) If possible, visit more than one yarn store and follow all of the rules above (yes, they are rules, not just suggestions..).
8) There are several yarn stores in Utah. Some of them look really nice.
9) Have a great trip
We went to Holland and stayed in a wooden igloo. It was at Easter which is ages ago, but life caught up with me for a while. Enough people noticed I had stopped blogging to make me think I would like to start blogging again. Thanks.
There were tulips.
And Noah’s ark.
And lots of other nice things including a really nice wool shop called Knotten. I bought some undyed Dutch Shetland yarn in four of the six colours in which it is made. The kind of thing you can’t easily get outside of Holland and just the right souvenir.
In the shop window was a blanket sample knit up in all six colours.
It’s Kate Davies Rams and Yowes blanket. The pattern calls for Jamieson and
Smith Shetland yarn which comes in 9 natural, undyed shades and I think it is stunning. Looks tricky too! Colour work knit in the round to avoid tricky colour work purls and then steeked. Don’t know what steeking is? It means cutting, yep, cutting your knitting. Wow scary stuff. Something I am really keen to try. I can see why Shetland yarn would work well; it’s got a kind of stickiness to it that would I think mean the whole piece would just sit tight before you sew it up rather than falling apart but I bet it would be a tense moment or two while you cut. Definitely something I’d like to try. And the rewards would be worth it for sure.
At the outset of this post, I acknowledge that English knitters traditionally call this stitch stocking stitch. I call it stockinette, probably mainly because I’ve learned a lot of my knitting skills from American knitters on YouTube. However, I also feel that ‘stocking stitch’ sounds so boring and a lot of knitters think that fits. I don’t.
I’m currently knitting Red a cardigan all out of stockinette with stripes of colour and stripes of black and it’s been one of the most enjoyable and simple knits I’ve completed. Stockinette makes such a great fabric for showing off beautiful yarn. If the yarn is beautiful it doesn’t always need the embellishments of lace or cabling, lovely as those techniques can look, and as much as I enjoy using them. With this knit there has been real pleasure just in the emergence of beautiful knitted fabric. I’ve noticed it features quite a bit in illustration at the moment, with that collage style using textures to make the picture interesting. I’ve even spotted stockinette stitch on a cereal packet recently.
There’s something about the rhythm of stockinette which is so relaxing too. Zooming backwards and forwards (or just forwards if you’re knitting in the round) with such repetition of movement that it becomes a clicking tattoo of needles.
My point is not that I only ever want to knit stockinette. It’s just that when I knit stockinette I always think “wow, that looks nice”.
Last summer Myrtle didn’t wear clothes. Not really at all. We went camping for a week and the only dirty clothes I brought back for her were night clothes as I wasn’t risking getting woken up by a chilly one year old.
That all changed the week she got chicken pox. Having had to insist at least on her wearing clothes outside our home suddenly she was resolute about wanting to wear clothes, and being very clear about her tastes. Maybe it made her scratch less but it didn’t seem like great timing.
She may never be the kind of child who wants to be all bundled up though so when thinking about what I was going to make for her before starting on something for Red, promised him when they both chose yarn for me for my birthday, I had to bear in mind that she wouldn’t want to be too hot. I had thought maybe a skirt but she assured me she wouldn’t wear it. At least I knew that before starting.
My mum had bought me some yarn on holiday last summer and it took me a while to decide what to do with it. Partly perhaps because it was Manos del Uruguay which, though beautiful I have had bad experiences with.. It was also a variegated colour way I don’t think I would have bought myself, which actually made it even more fun to knit with if a little more tricky to settle on a pattern for.
I eventually decided on a body warmer which I designed myself, using the Manos yarn edged with plain black. I had hoped to give it a hood but couldn’t make the single skein of each stretch that far. I knitted it top down with simple cabling down the front edges. It went really fast. Myrtle assured me she liked it and was excited about it. “This is for me” she frequently told me.
Alas, I got it on her briefly for a very quick photo but she has made her pronouncement. “I am Not Sure”.
All is not lost. Red is going to love his jumper. Of that I am sure!
Red is one of my most grateful knitwear recipient and a holiday to Holland provided some good knitting time as well as some exciting inspiration which I will describe another day.
Whilst suspecting Myrtle might not be keen on her knitted body warmer I was sure Red would be really excited about his jumper. We spent quite a while talking about how we’d like it to look. I had some clear ideas about the design I wanted to create. Red had bought the yarn for my birthday: highly variegated greens, browns and yellows in a fingering weight yarn. Not really enough for a jumper. Plenty once I’d added some black of the same weight.
My concept for this was to knit the jumper from the top with the coloured yarn as the main yarn, but to introduce stripes of black that gradually got thicker whilst the coloured stripes got thinner until the black was the main colour. Red was really excited about the idea, and more excited with each fitting, although he did comment the last time that it still doesn’t look that much like a jumper. But it soon will…
One of the big advantages of spinning your own yarn is you can make it how you want it. Sometimes it’s hard to know though. What would you do with this?
I really like the combination of colours, and it seems to me there are several options. These are two 50g batts so I could divide the fibre into sections and spin it to make it stripy. Not sure. Or I could spin one batt and then the other, doing the colours in three big sections. Or I could combine them into one big skein of yarn with all the grey together, then the white and then the yellow. What would you do? And what project is this perfect for?
The Rocky Coast Cardigan is complete and it was just about one of the most satisfying projects to knit. I loved the yarn (from wool bothy on eBay) and the pattern made perfect sense both in terms on construction, design and instructions. Altogether it made for the kind of project I’ll miss making, if only whilst I’m not wearing this cosiest of cardigans
We have a problem at our ecclesia. No one is quite sure to whom which tea towels belong. The room we meet in is used by a whole other load of people. We just can’t keep track of the tea towels. It’s a big deal, obviously (it’s obviously not, actually but, you know…).
Here’s my solution. This week I bought 20 tea towels and am busy embroidering references from the Bible onto them. I’ve never done embroidery before but it’s pretty fun and I feel there is progress in my skill. The verses I’ve chosen are either ones that have something to do with washing up or getting clean (e.g. Matt 23) or might generate interesting discussion during the washing up or are ones I like (Isaiah 55:13 and Jer 17:8 are part of why we named our children as we did).
I have about ten verses picked out so far. Anyone have any suggestions?