Friday, 31 August 2012

More Twist Required

Did I mention that several months ago I bought a bag of 'lap waste' from World of Wool to practise my spinning?  I can't remember to be honest.  In the 500g bag of various fibres and colours that WoW make up from left-overs that won't make up a full braid or bag was a good variety and I've used it to blend different colours (for a hat - I think I took a photo of that skein of yarn I made and blogged about it) and used some of it to blend three different colours (pretty sure I blogged about that as well).  In the bag was a clump of something cream-coloured, slightly shiny and rather wispy.  I didn't think it was silk, knew it hadn't adorned an animal's back.  I asked on Ravelry, in the UK Spinners group and we decided that it was probably either soy, bamboo or tencel. 

I started to spin it and it drafted nicely so I continued until it was all spun up into a single and I wondered what to do with it.  Then I remembered I had a small bag (approx 50g) of some natural coloured Jacob fibre, so spun that into a single.  Then I plyed (should that be plied?) the two singles together into this:

100g in weight, 273 metres, which makes it a sport-weight/light DK.

Can you see?  My plying's a bit loose in places; I think it needs a bit more twist.

This morning I shall be winding the skein into a centre-pull ball and then putting it back through my wheel to put in a bit more twist.  Then I'll skein it up again, wash it again, whack it again and hang it up to dry (again).

I think this will become a Squoffle scarf.  Although the pattern's written for chunky yarn to make a short scarf that buttons into a neck-warmer, it'll be easy to cast on extra stitches (it's a repeat of 3sts +2) to make it wider to suit a thinner yarn.

Oh well, off to get out my swift and ball winder - I did think about plying it from the swift onto the wheel, but think that might be a recipe for disaster with child and dog around, so I'll take a few extra minutes to wind it into a ball.

Then, I'll be able to get on with spinning some more shetland top I've got. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Are we nearly there yet?

'There' being the end of the school holidays.

Don't get me wrong.  I love my daughters dearly, but the long summer holidays do start to drag and finding things to occupy DD2 can be difficult.  Her disability means that even going to a  play-park can be stressful as her difficulties in understanding acceptable social behaviour can be challenging (I don't think I'll quickly forget the incident at the top of a slide where she pushed a younger child down because he was dithering and she wanted her turn).  The other day, she tried to use a bike and a scooter belonging to other children who were there, which caused them consternation and resulted in a mini-tantrum when I said that no, she couldn't use them.  DD1 has been away twice with grandparents - the first time for a few nights in Paris and then for a week on a cruise-ship around the northern Med, the lucky girl.  Husband has been working away for the whole month and is gone Mon-Fri, so I've been doing the 'married single parent' thing again.

The result is that I'm weary, fatigued, stressed and, at times, bad-tempered.  It also means that with the seemingly constant interruptions of children requiring meals, snacks, drinks, batteries, etc, etc, etc, my times has been very fragmented and I haven't got a great deal of crafting done.  Naively, I had the idea that I'd be able to get on with things whilst the girls were at home.  Delusional, or what?  I thought I'd be able to finish my Nympheas scarft.  Not a chance - lace + autistic child is not a good combination.  Spinning?  Pfft.  Not when DD2 wants to have a go. 

So, it's been stocking stitch and that's about it.

I sewed the ends in on these socks this morning:

They've been on the needles since mid-July, so I thought I'd finish them off.  They're made from Natural Dye Studio Unicorn yarn - 70% baby llama, 20% cashmere and 10% silk (I think) and they're soft and comfortable and a bit of an indulgence for socks because they'll probably wear out quite quickly.

I've also had the pattern for the Lucy bag for a while.  I'd also spun some natural coloured Jacob fibre and some burgundy merino, so thought I'd use it for the bag.  It only took a week to do the knitting.  It was a bit of floppy mess when I'd finished the knitting part:

Then I slung it into the washing machine with a pair of trainers and put it on a quick, 30C wash to see how (if at all - I wasn't sure if the merino was superwash or not) it would felt.  Then, I put it on a  40C 1hr wash cycle to felt it down a bit more.  After that, I looked for something to shape it round and decided the waste bin from the downstairs bathroom was the right size, albeit not quite tall enough.  I hung it up on the over-door hook between the lounge and the bathroom and left it there while we went off to see my parents as it was my Dad's 81st birthday yesterday:

It's now dried and I'm considering lining it as it's a bit fuzzy (I might put some sellotape over it to take off some of the fuzzy bits). 

The jacob felted down more than the merino did (but it was spun slightly thinner), but I quite like the slight puckering effect that's given the darker stripes.  The felted bag doesn't show it, but from the lowest cream strip upwards, there are the same number of rows.  Alternating the cream and the burgundy, I knitted 12, 10, 8, 6 and finally 4 rows of each colour, which took me up to 120 total rows from the cast on (the taller bag size).  I made the longer strap in burgundy - a little big longer than the pattern stated for the shorter strap - and the short strap in cream/off-white.

I've had a look through my fabric stash and have various Kaffe Fassett striped and plain fabrics that I bought years ago, so might make a lining out of those.  I shall have a think about it.  It might have to wait until after the start of the school year - I don't think DD2 and my sewing machine in the same room together would be a good idea.

I've cast on for my Breckon cardigan and am about half way through the 4" of ribbing.  I think the yarn I'm using will work better on smaller needles than the pattern calls for, so I'm going to be fiddling about with the pattern, using the stitch count for one size, but the dimensions of one size smaller than that.  Hopefully I'll be able to show you a bit more of that next time.

In the meantime, while there's still just under two weeks of school holidays left, I might wind some Lorna's Laces into balls and start another pair of vanilla socks.  I don't think there's going to be much else I'll be able to do without much frogging and swearing!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Short-Sleeved Cardigan showing off

It's finished, and it took less than 300g of yarn (it weighs 273g including the buttons).

Back view:
Side detail:
I'm particularly pleased with the buttons:
They match very well, don't you think?

There was slight pooling just above the waist, but that only lasted for a few rows:
The pattern was quick and easy - top down construction so minimal finishing.  My only criticism is that the whole pattern's on two pages, so it's a bit squished up.  I missed out the instructions on the top ribbing after the first buttonhole because it just said "work 2 rows even" in the middle of the line, but by the time I realised I was halfway down the yoke and decided I wouldn't rip back.  I did make the sleeves a bit longer than the pattern stated because DD1 asked me to as she doesn't like cap sleeves.  I think the pattern says to pick up the stitches around the armhole, work one row and then go straight into the sleeve ribbing, so I did ten rows stocking stitch after picking up the stitches from the waste yarn and then did five rows of ribbing.

Would I make it again?  Yes, but I might do garter stitch instead of the ribbing at the neck and around the sleeves and on the button/hole bands as others have done.  I think it's a pattern that could be modified to make it longer, perhaps leaving out the reverse stocking stitch triangles, or adding a stitch pattern.  Overall, I'm very pleased with this and think it's something that DD1 will get a lot of wear out of, especially on her forthcoming cruising holiday with Granny and Grandad (lucky girl!).

Since finishing this, I've been spinning.  I finished some burgundy merino which I'm planning on making into a Lucy bag.  I'm not sure yet if I've got enough, or if I'll have to add some other yarn in as stripes.  Once I've done some housework and ironing I'll wind it off onto my niddy noddy and work out how many metres I've got.

I also started spinning some yarn for a Colour Affection scarf/wrap, but more about that next time.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Like a woman possessed

I've been knitting away exclusively on the short-sleeved cardigan for DD1 that I started last Wednesday.

Because it's mostly stocking stitch, I've been able to knit whilst watching the Olympics so it's been a quick knit and - look - last night I cast off the bottom and picked up the stitches for one sleeve from the waste yarn (it's a seamless construction).

For the sleeves, the pattern says to pick up and knit one round (picking up two extra stitches at the under-arm), then knit five rounds of ribbing, decreasing the under-arm stitches on the first ribbing round, before casting off.  However, I talked about it with DD1 yesterday and she'd prefer the sleeves to be a little longer, so I'll do an inch or so of stocking stitch before doing the ribbing.

On Monday, while DD2 was at her holiday club, DD1 and I went into Colchester to do a bit of shopping (she wanted a new game - another Sims add-on I think) and on the way back to the car park, we popped into Franklins, the local yarn/haberdashery shop to look for buttons.  I didn't have my knitting with me, so I was going by eye, but I spotted these:

They're an excellent match, if I do say so myself.  The buttons are slightly larger than the pattern calls for, but I prefer to have to stretch buttonholes a tad rather than having buttons that risk slipping out of the holes.

DD1 and I also went into the music shop to have a look at clarinets and she was able to have a try-out of the two models that her music teacher had suggested.  Of course, the one that she preferred was the most expensive one, so I now know that it's going to cost me just over £800.  The full price is a bit over £1000 but because she's a full-time student, there's a scheme whereby the purchase is made via the county music service and the VAT's deducted.  I've now got a bit of a dilemma as I was speaking to my mother about it and was saying that I should be able to have the money saved by the end of October so that DD1 can have her new clarinet by the time she takes her Grade V exam in November.  When I got back from the supermarket a little later that afternoon, the phone was showing that my mother had phoned again while we were out, so I called back and my parents have offered to pay for the clarinet and I can pay them back over the next few months.  Other than my wedding when my parents allocated a certain amount towards the cost, I've never borrowed any money from them, so I feel a bit odd about it.  I messaged my sister about it via Facebook and she's basically told to me to not be silly and to accept their offer because, in her words "they've got the money and they want to help".  I haven't broached the subject with hubby yet - he can be a bit funny about things like that.  Maybe I should just go ahead and tell him afterwards - it's doubtful he'd even notice that DD1 had a new instrument anyway!

There's not much else going on round here, to be honest, but I will show you these:
I gave DD2 the Next catalogue last week so she could look through and see if there were any clothes she particularly liked.  There were - I ended up spending just over £100!  Some of them are part of her birthday present (her birthday's at the end of August), including these shoes.  As I've mentioned before, being autistic, her speech isn't very good and she struggles to convey what she wants, but with these shoes, she pointed to them and said very clearly "Mummy, please may I have red glitter shoes, please".  She's worn them every day since they arrived, from when she gets dressed in the morning to when she puts on her PJs in the evening.  She's also got a new dress, two new skirts, various pairs of tights and some new long-sleeved t-shirts (she doesn't 'do' short sleeves).  I might have to buy a pot of red glitter though as it's already starting to flake off.

I'm off now to do the first sleeve of the cardigan and, if all goes to plan, I'll be back tomorrow with the finished thing (or Friday - depending on how long it takes to dry and if I can persuade DD1 to model it).