Monday, April 26, 2010


OK, i am back now from officially teh_best weekend evah!!11! It's hard to summarise the total awesomeness of the Wonderwool Wales vibe in concise blog format, but I will attempt to do this. With the aid of some fairly ropey photos from my mobile phone. Look! Slightly pixellated daffodils!

black sheepwhite sheep
Some very handsome sheep, with pretty awesome indie hair
The world's fluffiest angora rabbits
antique loom
Beautiful antique looms, being actually really used to make beautiful real cloth. Clackety clack... clackety clack...
real bobbins
Bobbins, real ones!
more bobbins
An actual Bobbins magazine mini-stall! I hadn't been organised enough to manage to book a slot beforehand but the lovely organisers let us have a little table next to the bag creche. It's being looked after in this photo by my lovely friends Rob and Amy. That's my knitting bag and flask of tea on the right of the picture. (Surely the least hard day's work out of any day that's ever been loosely categorised as 'work'.)
Skeins stand
SOOO much pretty yarn... I slowly squidged my way round the entire perimeter of the exhibition with an inane grin on my face.

But, impossible to show in these pictures and yet utterly central to the whole experience was the unbelievably friendly lovely atmosphere. Everyone you saw had a smile on their faces, and would chat with anyone about anything - knitting, yarn, the keeping of livestock, spinning, the unexpectedly lovely weather, the food. There were people just sitting, knitting and chatting, all over the place. Everyone you saw was draped in beautiful handknitted, hand-dyed, unique and lovely garments, and would love nothing more than to stop and discuss their construction at length with strangers. This truly was the best possible way to spend a Sunday, and I bloody loved it. I can't wait till next year! In the meantime, anyone for Woolfest?!


Friday, April 23, 2010

adventures in Walesy-land

Soo, tomorrow I am off to Wonderwool Wales! I rarely go on adventures of such magnitude, and am rather excited, so I felt the occasion demanded a new handmade t-shirt. Except I haven't had a lot of spare time lately, so I downgraded its demands to a new shopmade t-shirt with handmade embellishments. It still took rather a long time though, as I have discovered I am utterly hopeless at sewing cotton jersey. My sewing machine manual suggested a ballpoint needle (yes, I really am that much of a nerd that I read mine). I can see why they suggested this, as sewing it with a normal needle is kind of like walking through a swamp in stilettos. (I should point out I have never actually tried this, I am just guessing, I don't own any footwear of this nature). The ballpoint needle does at least get you from A to B, but mine just left a load of massive holes in the fabric along the way. So any sort of backtracking had catastrophic consequences. My attempts at applique look sort of ok if you squint, but peer too closely and you will see the Swiss cheese like nature of the underlying fabric.

There is a 'back print' too, but I can't show you that because I haven't finished it yet - it will quite possibly be finished by hand in the car on the way down. I'm getting a lift down from a lovely local lady, who knows the roads, so it will be a race against time to get it done on the motorway before we hit the windy lanes of Wales at high speed and I add a special vomit-splatter effect to the fabric. At least I should be fairly recognisable, so please do come up and say hello if you're going too. It's going to be my first night spent away from my small child since his conception, so I will probably get a bit carried away and spend it halfway up Mount Snowdon annihilated on lovely Welsh beer and drooling with a pile of roving for a pillow.


Monday, April 19, 2010


gazpach.. Oh.
Random jumble random jumble random jumble MASSSSIVE POOLS OF COLOUR random jumble random jumble. Is what my proto-cardigan would say if it could talk.

I am beginning to change my mind here... after a bit of Pooling Maths and investigative onward knitting, I feel action has to be taken with the cardigan weirdness. Possibly, with such a confined area of bad yarn behaviour, I could get away with ripping it back to the start of the pooling and replacing that particular bit with a stripe or two of another yarn... am pondering.... I feel I have to act swiftly before I get distracted by another new project and meander off down a woolly avenue of novelty. If I can find a similar solid colour yarn in a suitably matching hue, it might do the trick.


There have been other projects in the meantime, some small gifty things, like these cute baby socks in Green Eyed Monsters yarn. They are really very small, 32 stitches around, so they're exactly half the size of adult socks, to fit a 6-8 month old baby. Sort of made up, based on my notes from these ones last year. So the stripes in the yarn came out two rows wide rather than one. It all worked out quite lovelyly in the end. Sometimes, hand-dyed yarn can be your friend!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

pool party

tempest back view
So I've made a bit of progress with my unstripy Tempest now - I'm halfway up the back, and it is going quite quickly. It's 4ply weight yarn but on 4mm needles, so quite a flimsy lightweight thing - ideal for the british summer (when worn over 17 underjumpers).

But when I got to the top of the waist shaping, something rather odd happened... pooling! OH NOES!!1 I was totally caught off guard here. For some reason, the possibility of pooling just hadn't occurred to me at all, even though I've encountered it before as a phenomenon, and this yarn is hand-dyed. I really can be quite remarkably thick sometimes. I think because the colours are quite similar-ish and quite short repeats, the pooling warning neurone in my brain just failed to fire.

And then an even weirder thing happened... I decided I didn't actually mind. I mean, everyone knows pooling is the enemy. And I generally agree, especially when combined with clown-barf-esque swirly garishness. But here, with the lovely warm hues of Woolmisery in my hands? I actually quite like the little almost-stripes of colour. What's happened to me? Either I've lost all my taste and good sense or I am high on Strickheroin. Or possibly both.

I am, however, slightly apprehensive about what the front parts / sleeves will turn out like. Am considering counting the stitches across in the pooled area, dividing by the number of stripes, and looking for other parts of the pattern where the stitch count is an exact multiple of the Pooling Factor. Is that a bit nerdy?


Sunday, April 04, 2010


garter stitch
Ok, so the picture on the left here wasn't intended to be a swatch, it was supposed to be the Ten Stitch Blanket, but I abandoned it at this point. The yarn is a lovely present some friends brought me back from South America, some sort of mysterious brandless hand-dyed chunky weight fibre that feels like pure wool and screams that it wants to be a blanket, but the pattern just wasn't working for me. It's weird, I mean even though it's a bit old skool I really like garter stitch for its cheery bouncy warmth, which is what you want in a blanket really. I like the simplicity of this pattern for mindless tv knitting. It knits up super quickly, but the spiralling construction is interesting enough to stop boredom setting in. I even liked the way that the colours of this hand-dyed yarn lined up so nicely in neat little stripes. So I zoomed happily along for a bit. Then something bad happened. When stopping to admire my progress, I would look at it, and get an overwhelming feeling of My First Knitting Project. I think the combination of garter stitch, simple pattern and chunky yarn just wasn't right. I could see dropped stitches in it, even though there weren't any - my brain just filled them in because it thought they ought to be there. Hmm, not a good sign.

my so called blanket
So I started again. I spent some time looking at patterns but just couldn't find anything else that grabbed me. Blankets are so infinitely wingable though, and in the end I copied the stitch pattern from My So Called Scarf. I'm much happier with the result - the criss cross pattern breaks up the pooling of the hand dyed yarn, and the fabric is super dense and warm and blanketty. It's slightly slower progress than the garter stitch effort but it's still such an easy pattern that you can pick it up and do a row whilst chatting before you've even properly noticed what your hands are doing.
The red swatch lies at the other end of the brand notoriety spectrum. I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but I woke up the morning after the Bobbins launch party with fewer magazines in the front room, a bit of a headache and some Wollmeise. I've managed to resist the Woolmisery / StrickHeroin / Fairy Farts hysteria until now, but frankly you can't help but be intrigued by a yarn with so many street names. I didn't know whether to knit with it or roll it up and smoke it. But I'm rather liking this colourway - 'Gazpacho'. It's a bit of a photograph fail, the bright streaks are much more vivid red IRL, not the tomatoey colour they appear here. I have 2 skeins which I am hoping will be enough for Tempest in a solid colour. It's knitted on big needles so is quite summery and drapy and hopefully could be accomplished in less than seven lifetimes.