Monday, February 28, 2011

Spinning berries

Remember the berry braid?


After leaving it to linger on the wheel since October, I finally finished spinning it up!


Thanks to my eager-beaver dyeing attempt, the fibre was quite felted, although thankfully not unsalvageable. It did mean lots of pre-drafting though, and I’m not sure whether it is because of this or something else entirely, but it has spun up quite fine.


It’s not very even, and some parts are woefully underspun but I love the colours. It’s a measly 24 grams, and it varies somewhere between a fine laceweight in places, and a heavy 4 ply but it is oh so soft.


I really have no idea what to make with it. I have about 7 or 8 skeins of handspun in my stash now, and I’ve never actually knit with any of them. I would have loved to have made a shawl with this, but it’s such a tiny amount that I don’t think it would go very far. Perhaps I could stripe it with something, or make some other small accessory, but for now I think I’ll just pet it.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

FO Parade part 2

Continuing on from yesterday’s FO post, a little show and tell of my FO’s so far in 2011.


Holden Shawlette by Mindy Wilkes

Yarn: Skeins Superwash Merino Laceweight

Ravelled here.

I was a little unsure about this shawl as I was knitting it, it seemed a little too frothy and frilly, and yet too plain at the same time. However, it’s blocked out beautifully and I have decided that it’s light and airy and delicate and warm, and like most things I knit to gift, I wanted to keep it. But it was a birthday gift for my boyfriends mother, and off to her it went.


The pattern was written for a slightly heavier weight yarn, so I modified it slightly by knitting a larger stocking stitch portion and more repeats of the lace pattern. More details are on my Ravelry project page, if anyone is interested. The lace pattern was easily memorised, although a little bit dull after so many repetitions. I did pull the yarn snug after every repeat, but it still seems to have laddered between the repeats, which you can see in the photo above. This annoyed me at first, but then it struck me that the laddering was faintly reminiscent of a stitch pattern I’d seen in an old stitch dictionary of mine called “Eiffel Tower Stitch”:


and so I decided to tell myself that this was an intentional design feature :)

I was intending to dye the yarn, but then my boyfriend told me that his mother had been hankering after a cream shawl she’d seen in M&S, so I decided to leave it as it was and she seems quite thrilled with it. After seeing it his sister asked if she could have a shawl for her birthday, which is quite handy since I was going to knit her one anyway!


Mongolfiera Socks by Corrina Ferguson

Yarn: Zettl Valbella

Ravelled here.

These are the November/December Mystery socks for the SolidSocks group on Ravelry. They took a bit of a back seat while I tried to catch up on all my gift knitting, but I managed to finish them by the end of January.


Mongolfiera, says the designer, is the Italian word for hot air balloon, and these socks are so named because she designed these socks to look like a hot air balloon! From the basket at the foot, to the strings that attach the canopy, and finally to balloon itself with beautiful diamond brocade and lace “swags”. I love the attention to detail that has gone into translating this concept into a sock pattern, and how it really does look like a hot air balloon! It appeals to the child in me, and I find it endlessly amusing :)



Filey by Ingleside Belle

Yarn: Woolcraft Superwash Sock Yarn

Ravelled here.

These are the latest socks off the needles. Aran inspired cables and diamond brocade for the boyfriend. I mirrored the cables, but I think that was the only big change I made, although I did somewhat stop following the pattern towards the end, finishing off the foot and toe in a way that suited my fancy. In fact, I did change the toe to make it more rounded. So that’s two changes. And I twisted the single knit columns in the ribbed cuff. Three…


This yarn is quite sproingy and elastic, which makes for quite a snug and cosy fit. It’s very much a budget yarn, so it’s not particularly soft, but it’s not too hard on the hands and I actually quite enjoyed knitting with it. I’ve used the lighter colour of this yarn to make a few socks for me, and I think I much prefer knitting with the grey as it seems slightly softer, although I think that both are a bit too rugged to use for anything other than socks. P1080529

I’m not entirely convinced that it was the right yarn to show this sock pattern off properly though. It’s quite a dark charcoal, and the pattern ends up bit lost in it all. The boyfriend seems happy with them though, and I suppose that’s what matters.


So that’s me all caught up with my finished projects!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

FO Parade part 1


I’ve been remiss about blogging lately, partly because I’ve been ill but mostly because I just wasn’t sure where to begin again. I was initially intending to scatter in a few finished project posts here and there, to catch up on those that I haven’t blogged about over the past few months. But then I started feeling reluctant to post about shiny new projects when there were so many old finished ones that were still lingering. And then of course, some of those new projects turned into finished projects, and the mojo just stalled. All those FOs evolved into a big bloggy yarny white elephant in my mind.

So I’ve decided to post them all now, and start afresh.

Let’s start with the 2010 projects, and the loooong overdue Christmas FOs first:



French Press Felted Slippers by Melynda Bernardi

Yarn: Texere Yarns Troon Tweed in Cranberry

Ravelled here.

A Christmas present for my boyfriends sister. I love these. The colour is so rich and beautiful, and I dearly wish I could have kept them for myself, but surely that makes a gift all the more worth giving. The only thing I changed was to make LilyKate’s ruffle mod instead of the strap in the pattern, and I think they’re all the sweeter for it!

I dillied and dallied over making these. I knew I was going to make them for her for months before hand. I even bought the wool in September. But if you glance at the project info on Ravelry you will see that I didn’t even start knitting them until Christmas Day! Tut tut.

The knitting was quick enough. I started them in the late afternoon, after Christmas dinner, and they were cast off and sewn up by bedtime. This was my first real experience with hand felting, and I wish I’d taken a before photo. They looked like boats! I started felting these the next morning, and it took f o r e v e r ! I tried doing it in the kitchen sink to start with, agitating them it very hot, soapy water and then shocking in very cold water, but it didn’t really seem to be doing much and I was getting fed up of having to constantly reheat the water, so I got my crockpot out and started agitating in that instead. They finally shrunk down, but it was hard work getting there! I think I must have worked off my Christmas dinner by this activity alone, although I confess I did have to get the boyfriend in to take over for a bit and give my arms a wee rest. I always thought that wool would full quite easily, but it seems not so much! I quite fancied a pair of these for myself, but after all that I think it’s going to be a long while before I hand felting another try…



Quick Cable Slouch Hat by Azure

Yarn: Stylecraft Ethical Twist 70/30
        Stylecraft Ethical Twist 85/15

Ravelled here.

For some reason, despite all the energy, sweat and swearing that went into the making of the ruffled slippers, I decided that the slippers alone were not enough of a gift, so I quickly raided that Ravelry pattern database and decided to knock out this hat.


The pattern required a bulky weight yarn, but I couldn’t find a suitable one in my stash, so I used two strands of Ethical Twist DK. The yarn is scrumptious. It’s soft and silky and beautiful. They do two different blends: a 70% organic Falkland wool 30% alpaca, and an 85% organic Falkland wool 15% baby alpaca. The 85/15 is ever so slightly softer than the 70/30, but there’s not really much between them. I couldn’t decide which of the two to use, so ended up using one of each, and even though the colours are different (85/15 is “Cream”, the 70/30 “Natural”) the difference is negligible.

The pattern is simple and straight forward, and more importantly for last-minute Larry over here, it works up super fast. I started it in the evening, finished and blocked it the next morning.

One thing though, this yarn grows like crazy when wet. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am swatch-averse. I only really swatch for projects when absolutely necessary and under duress, and the number of times I've actually washed and blocked a swatch before starting a project can probably be counted on one hand. So I did slightly panic when the pre-blocked normal sized hat grew to epic proportions as soon as it hit the water, and chastised myself for not steam blocking instead of wet blocking. I hovered over it as it dried, tszujing it into shape now and then, and thankfully it dried back to a normal size, but this is probably something I should bear in mind the next time I use this yarn.


Top Down Bonnet with Anime Character by Adrian Bizilia

Yarn: Sirdar Country Style DK

Ravelled here.

Apologies for the abysmal quality photo, but it was taken in December darkness before rushing off to gift it. This is the last of the December FOs, and was an embarrassingly long time in the making! I started it back in April, and got as far finishing the hat, attaching the i-cords and one ear, and then it stalled until December when I finally pushed myself to knit on the other ear and finish the face. Needless to say, it doesn’t fit the intended child any more, but it seemed a shame not to gift it anyway, and it is now perched rather fetchingly on the Teddy by the child’s bed.

I was going to use felt circles for the eyes, but I didn’t have any on hand so I chain crocheted them on with white acrylic, finishing it off with a little black acrylic for the pupil, and embroidered the nose and mouth on with the same black acrylic. It is an adorable pattern, and I wish I’d finished it on time, or made a bigger size so I could see my Godchild wearing it! I have had a request from the boyfriend to make him a man sized one, although I’m a little dubious to see how a 20-something year old man will look in such an adorable hat. It might have to be on the proviso that he doesn’t wear it in public when I’m around!

I think this post has waffled on for quite long enough, so I’ll stop here and carry on tomorrow with my FOs of 2011 so far!

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