Did you miss me?

Ahem – 9 months or so – that’s pretty poor.  So, new year, new start, and, most importantly, a new laptop – this should mean it doesn’t take me 12 hours to actually get any post online.

I’m going to jump right in with what I’m doing right here, right now, and then maybe trawl back through some finished stuff from 2015 later on to catch up.

Remember the Onion Jumper?  14 shades of yellow, 15 shades of brown and green – dyed with yellow and red onion skins.  I made a start on the knitting during lambing last April, and then put it away to work on other projects… the kiss of death to anything.  Anyway, after the Christmas gift knitting craziness, I always feel the need to work on something just for me, and so I picked it up again at the beginning of this month.  I’m not very good at writing notes (no surprise there then!), so did spend some time trying to remember a few vital details, such as the needle size (3.25mm) and the colour changes (every round for the yellow, every 3 rounds for the green).  I suppose I never really intend to leave a project languishing for this long and of course always feel I’ll certainly remember what I was doing.

Since restarting, I’ve knitted the body from the bottom to the armpits, and I’ve started on the sleeves. onion bodyOh man – the sleeves!  Really starting to regret changing the colours every round for these.  I’m spit splicing all the ends, and that is a lot of splicing!  I’m knitting both sleeves at the same time on 2 circular needles.  Despite having painted the ends of one needle with red nail polish, I’m still beginning many rounds with the wrong needle and having to re-jig everything.  I suppose with the colour changes, the pattern (centred, so not starting at the beginning of the repeat), the sleeve increases, and the constant “help” from our puppy (a post in itself), it’s just too much for my old brain to cope with!  So, I’m finding the sleeves s.l.o.w., and can’t wait to get onto joining the arms and the body for the yoke.onion both sleeveI passed the half way mark last night, so some progress I guess.

I decided when I restarted this project that I’d work it as a raglan.  I completed a couple of top down raglans over Christmas and I like the shape.  It would have made more sense to knit this top down too, but I didn’t.  This meant working out how long I wanted the sleeves, then counting back so that both the colour repeat and the pattern repeat for the sleeves end at the same spot as on the body.   Only time will  tell if the maths has worked!

My hope is that the fairisle pattern will look good with the raglan decreases – I haven’t done any sort of swatching for this, so I’ll have to wait and see on that too.  I could have worked the original pattern as written of course.  Or I could have spun two big balls of yarn with long colour graduations to save all the splicing.  Or I could have knitted the jumper top down.  Any or all of these would have made this knit much easier!  Having got to the stage where I almost always spin with a project in mind, I really should make an effort to design my knitting before I cast on!  The destination would be more predictable, although the journey may not be quite as exciting.

Okay, this didn’t take too long to write.  I’ll show some of my Christmas knits next time.  Maybe it won’t take me another 9 months!

 

Missing in action

So much to report, so little time to write posts!

I’ve been helping my parents with lambing, and it’s been busy.  Lots of work, not much sleep and no internet.

This has been my home this past week

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Yes – it’s as grim as it looks!  Certainly not a Connievan.

This is my view when brushing my teeth.

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These are the ewes that have lambed already.  They lamb out in a field unless they need help, and then are brought into the barn for a night or two so that we can keep a closer eye on them.  When they’re  nicely bonded and feeding well, they are moved into a holding area and let out into another field during the daytime.

It’s a bit labour intensive, but a good, natural way for the sheep. The downside is that my parent’s house is a good 10 minutes drive from the fields so at least one person gets to stay in the caravan for the duration.  I go over for as long as I can to give my parents a bit of a break.  It’s mostly a lot of fun, although not so great in the rain.

Spinning for my onion jumper was completed in the nick of time, and I’ve knitted a repeat and a half.  Photos to follow.

I also had some very exciting results from some lichen dyeing – that’s another unwritten post.

Oh, and I toiled a prom dress.

I’ll get there.  Leaving my family to fend for themselves means an overflowing washing basket and a sharp drop in the already questionable standards of cleanliness in the household, so a bit of catching up is required.

Everywhere but home

Last week was half term week here so we’ve been racing around the country.
First up was some time in Somerset where we helped my parents manage some of their land – felling diseased trees and chopping back hedgerows. I also managed to have a bit of a forage for some (potential) dye plants.
I’m interested in the possibility of using mushrooms for dyeing. The information I have (from books and the web) is mainly from USA or Scandinavia. I’d like to explore the potential of our native mushrooms. I haven’t chosen the right time of year to indulge in this new obsession: mushrooms are at their most abundant in Autumn, but there were still some specimens to gather.
I haven’t had chance yet to do anything more than photograph, pick, and take spore prints of my harvest, and I don’t think I’ve got enough of any species to do anything but the tiniest sample run, but my enthusiasm is high, and I will get onto testing my haul as soon as I can.

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I’m particularly excited about this next one – it was such a surprise to find this bright cobalt blue growing on some dead wood.

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think it’s pulcherricium caeruleum (now Terana caerulea) and if it is I think it’s quite rare in this country.  There wasn’t very much of it, but as I rescued it from the bonfire pile I don’t feel bad for taking a sample.

There was also masses of lichen on fallen wood.  It’s really important to gather lichen responsibly – I’d never pick it from trees or scrape it from stone.  Here, it was again going to go on the fire, and so was also fair game.  I gathered a fair quantity of Evernia prunastri which I will put to soak in a 50/50 solution of water and ammonia and try, yet again, to get some of the red dye it produces to attach to some wool.  I know it can be done, but I’ve not got more than a dirty, fleshy pink so far.

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Home for an evening, then it was off to London.  We caught up with friends and family, and did a bit of shopping.  My children don’t share my aversion to shopping as a recreational activity, and there was birthday money to be spent.

I introduced my girls to the wonders of Foyles, whilst feeling a bit sad that my old stomping ground has become a shadow of its former self.

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I also browsed the Liberty haberdashery department and was cheered to see a table groaning with independent sewing patterns.  I bought the tie kit by Sew Over It, which I’ve been looking at for a while.

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I imagine I could probably draft a tie pattern myself, but this will answer a few pressing questions (which weight of domette should I use?, what is domette anyway?, how do I get that cute little triangle of lining to look neat?).  On reflection, those questions probably show that I couldn’t, in fact, draft a tie pattern myself!

The kit cost £15, and contains absolutely everything needed: fabric; lining fabric; domette; paper pattern; a full spool of sewing thread; instructions; and even a little sewing kit with a hand needle.

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If the first tie looks good, and is not too much of a nightmare to sew, I’ve got a stash of cream silk that I could try a bit of contact printing on.  Could this be Christmas sorted in February?  Unlikely.  I can think of only 2 men on my list who would be even vaguely pleased to receive a handmade, hand printed  tie.  I live with Philistines.

For my train knitting, I took a fairisle glove for my outbound journey.  This is a fairly complex pattern, changing colours on almost every round, and consequently not ideal for knitting in a confined area.  On the way home I decided on an impulse buy at the train station.  I bought a copy of “Simply Knitting” magazine, lured by the kit on the front for a penguin soft toy.  The sealed package said “kit includes everything you need!”.

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This is what it actually contained

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That’s it!  4 cardboard spools of thread.  I needed to add:  needles; darning needle; stuffing and tweezers.  As luck would have it, I happened to have the correct size needles with me, and had enough knitting to be getting on with without needing the stuffing at this stage.  It was a sharp contrast though to the tie kit.  I don’t know what I’ll do with a stuffed penguin.  The back of the “kit” does warn me that there is not only a “strangulation hazard”, but also both a “choking” and an “entanglement” hazard.  It was almost worth the £4.99 magazine price for the frisson of danger that this afforded me.  Almost.

Saturday was guild day.  I’m a member of the Wiltshire Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers.  We had a dyeing workshop.  The saga of my sock yarn is worthy of another post I feel.

So, the half term holiday drew to a close.  I’m back at work this week, and glad of the rest!

Something in the way he moves….

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This was the state of the gusset of my husband’s shooting trousers. The second hole was so big that my darning mushroom kept slipping through!
I’m a big fan of Tom van Deijnen  http://tomofholland.com and did wonder if this could be a bit of a visible mending project. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t really share my sartorially quirky edge, so common sense prevailed and I found some leftover sock yarn in just the right mix of colours (I’m sorry – I have no idea what this yarn is – I bought it in the US last year – it was mostly merino, 10% cashmere and some nylon).
The darning itself was quite fun despite the enormity of the holes, and when worn the darn doesn’t show.  The final day of the season was last weekend, and the report back was that it was eminently more comfortable to yomp around the fields without the icy wind whistling around his nether regions.

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Job done 🙂