A week with my 95-year-old mother doesn't sound very challenging, but it's amazing how much got packed into my trip to the North Island (including Mum's iPad lessons). It was all family, family family with a catchup with a couple of friends and the amazing Lara Nettle, Auckland Creative Fibre Area Delegate. She was spinning some Barrier Reef over merino when I visited - well, plying actually - chain-plying laceweight.
Tour de Fleece was over by the time I returned, or nearly so, and I concentrated on fulfilling those goals!
Just in from my mailbox - this photo of our Pink Cloud 2015 Grand Prize, sent in by the lucky winner, Sue of Wellington.
Sue, a feltmaker, made the closest guess as to the final number of Pink clouds. She received 200gr of Pansies and Violets dyed over white 20 micron merino, plus 25gr of merino/silk dyed in Empress of India. Can't wait to see what she does with it!
All the other entrants received a 15% discount voucher for their next Heavenly Wools purchase.
I'll be Pink Cloud-ing again next year - all ideas for the next round will be considered!
Things have been a bit hectic lately, and yesterday I felt so lacklustre that I picked up my knitting needle (circular, of course) and cast on this beret. I have had this skein of yarn sitting on the table for a couple of weeks, so it was either put it away or knit it up!
Despite my vows to not start something else this month, I just couldn't help my self. Then I just couldn't help doing a bit more, then a bit more.... you can see where I'm going with this, can't you?
By mid-afternoon I had finished the beret. It's quite cute, but there are a couple of things about it that I would change if I do another:
1. I should have started from the light end of the gradiet - you can't see the leaf pattern in the centre of the crown at all clearly.
2. I wouldn't have thrown away the little bit of yarn that didn't really match all that well. A couple more rows on the rolled edge and enough to cast off comfortable would have been nice!
On a side note - if you're plying and you've got leftovers of a gradient, if you Andean ply the rest it won't match the gradient.
Pattern to follow!
I just found out that wombats have cubic poo...yes, it's really true! And in celebration, I have made up this recipe. And it tastes...nothing like I imagine the original does.
100gr butter or margarine
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
2 medium eggs, beaten
200gr (1 packet) crushed plain biscuits
½ cup coconut
½ cup chopped dried figs
½ cup chopped preserved (candied) ginger
¼ cup chopped almonds
100gr chopped dark chocolate
Cocoa powder, icing sugar or coconut for dredging
Melt the butter or margarine over a low heat. Add the condensed milk and mix in thoroughly. Whisk in the beaten eggs and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
Take off the heat and stir through the chocolate, then the fruit and nuts, coconut and lastly the crushed biscuits.
Spread in a tin and chill overnight. Cut into small cubes and dredge with cocoa, icing sugar or coconut.
Well, what do you know? I finally got a garment off the needles - in this case, one that's been stalled for quite a while.
You know how everyone says that you can't make anything useful out of art yarn? Well, feast your eyes, art yarn aficionados!
The biggest bonus is it's comfortable, fits well and feels fabulous, plus it's nice and warm without being oppressively so.
I wasn't sure about the lace pattern for quite a while (in fact, that was one of the reasons it took so long.) but once I'd mastered it, the knitting went quite quickly until I got to the neck.
Now here's what happened: at this point I began to doubt that I had enough yarn to finish the cowl neck, so I put it away and ignored it for ages. The second factor here was sheer horror at the amount of ribbing (one of my pet hates these days).
Last month I was laid low by a virus and I near;y died...of boredom. So I fished this up out of the depths and finished the knitting.
Next phase...thinking about seaming it. That was quite a long phase, relatively speaking, only ended by my impending trip to Dunedin, famous for providing foul chilly weather at any time of the year. In the end it only took 30 minutes to sew it up. I used a plain matching yarn for the seaming as the garment yarn is very bumpy. Then a light steam blocking and it was ready to wear!
So, of course, Dunedin turned on some very warm weather and I only wore it once! Such is life.
What's a SAL? I expect most of you already know, but just in case, it's a Spinalong. This month and next month, the Heavenly Wools group over in Ravelry.com is hosting a Spinalong/ Knitalong using my wool. There are prizes involved! There isn't an entry close-off date - all you need to do is spin or knit any HW fibre and post pics as you go.
In November we'll be having a mystery Knitalong (KAL) This is my first published shawl pattern, so I'm pretty excited about it! The pattern will be published in full on this website, on Ravelry.com and on Craftsy.com when the MKAL is over. There will be prizes in this MKAL, too, of course!
I'm well on track for the SAL/KAL, intending to finish my spin by the end of this month, then get on to knitting a pair of socks. They'll be toe-up, maybe two at a time, maybe not. Here's my progress so far:
The Return of Shade of the Week!
I'm just about to go into a development phase and produce a few new colourways. I'll be featuring these over several weeks in Shade of the Week (top right of the Home Page) as an introductory offer. So keep your eye out for these new colours, and let me know if you like them! Even if you don't want to buy them right away, I'd like to know your opinion.
So...it's taken me a while, but I'm back to show you not the workshop (too busy to take notes), but the results..and a little appendix.
The first part of the workshop was taken up with drop spindling. Angela (Angela Daish, our tutor) handed round a bag of carded fibre for each of us, and a rather scary-looking rolag/batt (to my eyes, anyway). I had brought my larger Kundert top whorl spindle and some merino - but this was not what Angela wanted us to work with!
We started off with learning to thigh-roll our spindles, something I haven't mastered because I tend to use bottom whorl spindles and turks, and it works better with top whorl spindles. Soon I was spinning away with my usual pin-thin merino...but that was all to end - as Angela wanted us to try spinning thick!
So out came a box of dyed locks, quite a 'gutsy' wool, but still very soft, and we spent a few minutes fluffing them up, ready to spin. At this point, I was using one of Angela's spindles. She'd shown us how to start off so we could just pull our cop off to store or ply it. The aim was to produce textured yarn, so I did just that! Then came the real shock ...chain (Navajo) plying! On the fly! Strangely enough, although I'd done this before and found it very annoying, Angela made it seem very simple and soon we were all chaining away! The photo shows my finished (tiny) cop of textured yarn, and here's the same yarn wound off to show its rugged good looks.
After this marathon effort, it was time to recoup my strength with some lunch and a cup of tea.
After lunch, we were all told to fetch a saucer and a support spindle. Angela had a wonderful supply of different spindles which we were allowed to try, and use during the workshop. I honed in on a KCL Woodworks Tibetan with a glass doughnut insert, which spun like the wind, and for a long, long time. More about this later! I'd also brought another spindle with me, a Russian which I got in a swap last year. I'd struggled with it, and Angela told me it wasn't perhaps a good one for a beginner. More about that to be told in a later post....
Soon I was spinning away, enjoying using the heavier spindle for this rather 'textured' batt!
I spent quite a bit of time on this, just going with the flow of the texture with the support spindle. Although not the yarn I would usually make, it was fun for a change!
During the rest of the afternoon, Angela demonstrated using a hackle and diz (I got hackle envy) and a Majacraft circular loom. I was quite amazed at how versatile a circular loom can be! If you're interested in finding out more, have a look at the Circle Weaving group on Facebook! I would never have thought of making gores for a skirt on a circular loom, for instance!
At the end of the class I drove home (and managed to be there by dinner time, even). The weather was not great for photography, and nthere wasn't a kea in sight. Since getting home, I've now spun nearly all of a little blue batt I'd started before I went, and had a go with Angela's lovely strong carded wool.
This is my 'Texas Jeannie' , a lovely, well- balanced lightweight support spindle given to me by a kind fellow crafter. She's wonderful for fine yarns and spins like a dream. There aren't any listed in their Etsy store right now, but they are available from time to time.
Here's my Kundert top whorl, which was perfect for the weight of this fibre. I usually use it for plying my fine yarns. You can find these spindles listed on Etsy as well as a lot of other fibery stuff!
And the appendix? Well, yesterday I met Angela in Christchurch...and we did a swap - fibre for ...this! Mmmmmmmmmmm. From KCL Woodworks, a very worthy addition to my collection.
No, I haven't had a late career change to folk singing, I've just been on a little road trip to Hokitika for a Spindle Spinning workshop with Angela Daish.
First - the trip!
It's not that far to Hokitika from where I live - and the weather was beautiful as I took off, although it did change once I got to the alps (more later). I took a few photos on the way through from Porter's to Arthur's Pass, just to show my overseas readers what the country around here is like. This one is just coming off down Porter's pass towards Castle Hill.
Rock forms on Flock Hill Station - site of scenes from various movies such as LOTR and the battle scene in Prince Caspian
Very little snow for this time of year - it's been a warm, dry winter.
About ten minutes later I came under a cloud blanket, and photos were pointless as nothing could be seen.
Once over the pass, the road drops steeply after you cross the amazing viaduct. Out of sight below me the road passes under a channelled waterfall and a rock shelter, which is there to prevent you from getting knocked off the road by falling snow and rocks. this place is called Death's Corner, and used to be part of the highway, but is now a lookout much haunted by Kea, one of New Zealand's native parrots...read on!
I was worried about my car, as these guys are famed for their vehicle dismantling abilities.
He eyeballed me and tried to assert his dominance...successfully!
This was not taken with a telephoto lens! I had my camera resting on the roof of the car, as well as my arms. He obviously was staking ownership.
Even when I got in the car, he wasn't going anywhere. He had to come down and have a peek to see what I was up to, though. After about another 5 minutes of tooting the horn, waving, shouting, clapping my hands and yelling, he finally hopped down off the roof and huffily went about two paces from the car. I had to very gingerly watch out for him as I slowly drove away. But he had the last laugh, as he swooped down the hill and across the road, landed right in front of me (luckily it is a very low speed part of the road) and sauntered away slowly while I waited.
You'll be wondering why I didn't just drive off? They will cling for ages and lots of them have been killed when drivers take off at speed. There are so few of these guys now that any one killed could spell the eventual end of their existence in the wild.
Keas are the world's only alpine parrot. They are intelligent, inquisitive and destructive. In the past they've been blamed for killing lambs and this is still controversial as many people believe this. When I was a child there was a talking Kea at the Auckland Zoo.
The actual workshop deserves a blog of its own, I think.
Well, of course, after spinning, comes knitting! This is the start of my Akimbo by Stephen West of Westknits. I'm not quite sure I'll have enough yarn to finish it, so as well as making it smaller, I might have to attempt to dye some merino to match. I'll wait until I'm SURE I don't have enough, though.
I'm using the Falkland wool for the main part of the scarf, and I'll be patterning with some Dark Brown Haunui Halfbred from my stash. Akimbo has an amazing 'Spiderman' border.
I should explain that this year I'm destashing my unspun fibre into yarn - so it will be quite a lot of spinning (especially as I can't resist swaps, which always seem to result in upstashing)
As I'm still recovering from my recent surgery, I've spent quite a lot of time at the wheel over the last few days.
I had started spinning this Carousel/ Light grey halfbred before the TdF. I had 50gr on the bobbin, so this week I finished the second 50gr and plied both bobbins, then spun up another 50gr of long repeat dyed halfbred which I had left over from a coils experiment. Amazing that the same fibre can produce fine fingering yarn and bulky coils! My plans for this yarn are going to have to change, as I WAS going to make a shawl out of both yarns, but unfortunately spun the second yarn much finer so I doubt if that will work. Maybe a knit shawl with a crochet border might still work?
And the third yarn to be finished was the rest of the boucle from the TdF. I still had the silk to spin, and the remaining mohair to prepare into batts and spin.
Previously I'd just drum carded it, but got much better results by flicking first, so this is what I did with the second batch. I still have quite a few mohair locks left over to practise lockspinning with!
So, all in all, a satisfying week on the spinning front! However, not so satisfying as far as dyeing is concerned. I'm happy to say, though, that I'm back in the shed now, with no ill effects, so I think 'work as usual' will prevail from now on.
Just wanted to share some photos of the Birdsfoot Fern shawl in its blocked state!
I'm being super cautious about freeing it from the pins because I want to be sure it's thoroughly dry first.
The complete project is here
Kate is a semi-retired photographer and craft dyer who lives in Southland, New Zealand.