Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Book: Abby Franquemont, Respect the Spindle

With spinning so far I have not bothered to "properly" learn it; instead, I simply gave it a go without even looking up anywhere how it should be done. Luckily, it seems as though I haven't made any grave errors, or at least nobody has ever mentioned any. My approach was entirely intuitive and it seems to have been right so far.

In order to find out more about the theory behind spinning (methods, material etc.), I added Abby Frankquemont's book Respect the Spindle to my wishlist recently. Abby's Youtube videos were recommended to me by a fellow spinner and I used them to check how to ply before my very first attempt. So, I thought that getting her book couldn't be such a bad idea either and, lo and behold, Mark's parents gave it to me for Christmas! I have been engrossed in it ever since and it was so frustrating not to have my spinning with me over Christmas. I am sure next time I read a page I will be spinning soon after.

So far, what I don't like about the book is the very basic chapter about physics. It's not really relevant if you just want to spin, and it is far too basic to be of interest to anyone who has ever suffered through Physics at school, in my opinion. Then again, it may only seem irrelevant to me because all principles at work while spinning are intuitive for spinners anyway. We don't think about how the shape and weight of our tool influences what we do, we just adapt to it in the way we work with it. I am not sure anyone who is unable to spin intuitiveley would be any better at it knowing the physical principles, to be honest - I guess we all know that practice and theory are two very different things.

Other than that the book is very good so far (I am almost at the halfway mark now), if a little repetitive. The latter is excusable: having written a book myself I know how editors like to insist on a little bit of repetition since they don't like to assume everybody understands what you are talking about right away. (Why they think readers would have the attention span of a gnat, I have no idea.) Despite my dislike of catering to the thick, the editor has the last word and that's that. But do not let that detract you from buying the book because it really is good and the photos are wonderful too. I especially liked the start of the book in which Abby writes about growing up in the Andes. I would say the book is probably better suited for beginners and those who, like me, haven't read about spinning before. It is a book about technique and history for the main part and an easy read that is easy on the eye too. I suspect, however, that is is not of any use to advanced spinners.

Being a Busy Bee

(Image: Duftoase)

On a train to Reading this Christmas Eve I started my first hexipuff for the Beekeeper's Quilt. 10 down, several hundreds to go!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Woodland Hoodlet

Some time ago, I receoved the Woodland Hoodlet pattern as a gift in the German RAK group and I bought the yarn and needles for it soon after. I used Rowan Big Wool in Hot White, a colourway I normally would not go for. But white is a colour I associate with winter and the bulky quality of this yarn is so cosy that white seemed to be the ideal colour of all the ones I saw in the shop.

I started the hooflet 11 days ago, though of course I did not work on it every single day, so it is a very quick knit. The pattern is easy to read though I did need to get used to now working with a chart. How strange to think that there once was a time when I found charts to be daunting instead! The front cable section is not as complicated as it seems either. The one thing that was new to me was making the tassel, which I love, by the way. It's my favourite thing about the whole hoodlet!

The only thing that bothers me about it is that it does not look great on me. I suspected that might be the case, given that I am a large girl. I would have preferred the hoodlet to be longer, which might improve the whole look. I suppose that blocking it would make a difference, but I have no idea how to block this hoodlet properly, given that it is closed all the way around and I can't pin it out properly that way. I should have blocked it before sewing it up, really (which I thought of, but then did not do so I could finish the whole thing). The instructions do not mention blocking at all.

I made some modifications to the pattern. Firstly, I shortened the back because it would have been too wide otherwise. Secondly, I also shortened the hood although I now think it might have been all right at the original length. I just normally find that hoods are much too big for me. If I knitted the hoodlet again, I might make the cabled front one or two repeats longer. As it is, it looks like it is far too short and the stocking stitch back begins much too soon.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Swedish Fish Socks - Completed

There they are, my Swedish Fish Socks! I started them in October, believe it or not, and I only finished them now because I was so lazy. I never did any stranded socks before so I was expecting them to be more difficult and tighter than they turned out now. In fact, the socks are looser than most of my past ones.

Of course I made the obligatory mistake of knitting the second sock without consulting the pattern since the first had been so easy. That resulted in my having more stitches in the foot section and therefore two additional stripes on one side. Ah well, no one will see them but me (though it irks me that I know they're there!).
The socks are very pretty to look at and I love both yarns. Luckily, I still have loads left of both to perhaps make another pair of socks. For now, though, I am working on a completely different project: the Woodland Hoodlet. More on that another time.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

That's Much Better

No need to wear that shower cap of a hat from my previous post any longer! Woohoo!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Fountain Hat

Sometimes I end up making things that I dislike and that don't suit me.

Saturday, 26 November 2011


Something that has become very popular in the German RAK group is the raffle. Whenever someone has something to give away and they want to give as many of us a chance as possible, they can do a raffle.

The Raveler kabine was giving away some items from the yarn stash and I won her merino lace yarn in purple. It is lovely! Nice and soft and it's a huge cake of yarn! No idea what I will make from it yet, but it will definitely end up as a shawl of some kind, I'm sure.

Trying Ebay

I do like the times Ebay (UK, that is) allows you to list items for no fee. Last week I tried to sell a set of cake stitchmarkers I made ages ago, but I set the price quite high and wasn't surprised that nobody bought them. This weekend I am giving it another go and have relisted the cake set, the ninja set, a cute sheep set, and a maritime set complete with mermaid, crab, sea shell and starfish. I hope some of them do sell, particularly since the are available for up to less than half price. Tempted, anyone?

Thursday, 24 November 2011


A quick knit that will be the perfect Christmas present for a very good friend. I used Rowan Drift (again) in green and I love the subtle colour changes in it. The main image shows the colour best. I want to have a hat just like it now! In fact, I have cast on some Fyberspates Scrumptious Chunky to make a grey version for myself now. Let's see how that turns out.

Pattern: Shroom (Knitty.com)
Needle size: 10mm
Yarn: Rowan Drift
Size: small

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Margaret Atwood Knits

One of my favourite poets (though I seldom like her novels).

Taken from the National Post:
Ms. Atwood's stitched contribution to the upcoming exhibit at a London gallery will be displayed alongside scores of paintings, sculptures and other depictions of vanished bird species - including the dodo, passenger pigeon and Hawaiian crow - by prominent artists, musicians, writers and other celebrities.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Fish and a Wrap

Quite a bit of knitting has been going on lately even though I don't have that much time for it at the moment. I was given the pattern for the lovely Swedish Fish Socks that I instantly fell in love with. That very same week I bought some undyed sock yarn from Bluefaced.com and finally found a good use for another multicoloured sock yarn I was given from a German RAKer.

I've not knitted with more than one colour before, at least not properly, so I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out. Luckily, the pattern is very easy and you don't need to have it with you while knitting the shaft. Just repeat what you've done before, and if you're unsure, check what you did in a previous repeat without needing to consult the printed pattern. Now I will be moving on to the heel and that's where it might get tricky because heel and sole also use both yarns.

On another note, it's been so freezing cold in the office that I decided I really need to knit more jumpers and wraps. So now I have started a buttoned shoulder wrap whose pattern instructions are annoying, to say the least. You have to guess a lot as to when you are meant to do what, and it drives me crazy. It will look good when/if I ever finish it. Thankfully, using Rowan Big Wool means it won't really take long. However, the bit you see in the image below is what I have to unravel again because I forgot something important about short-row knitting.

Of course it wasn't ever mentioned in the pattern and now I have some huge holes in there. Well, I might start from scratch and CO a smaller size anyway. I don't even want to think about how much yarn I might need for this. I bought all 6 balls of yarn that were in the shop that day and the image shows almost a complete ball already. That's not a lot of wrap for that amount of yarn. I should do it soon - preferably before I catch a cold.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Big Knit 2011

This year, I only knit 17 hats for The Big Knit as opposed to the 80+ from last year. Admittedly, I didn't even make them this year because these were hats I started right after last year's The Big Knit. Somehow I didn't feel like making any at a later point, so I could only hand in these 17. At least they are fun ones, most of them with googly eyes like the one above. I look forward to seeing all the little bottles with hats on in the supermarket next month!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Refuge Blanket Squares

(Image: Simply Knitting)

Alice, a knit club member who works at Future Publishing, brought in a few balls of wool last week for anyone who wanted to help knit blanket squares for Refuge. Quite a few of us joined in an we all managed a few squares that made it to The Knitting and Stitch Show in London this weekend to be sewn up. I didn't take any pictures of my squares because I made up random patterns as I went along and there was hardly anything too interesting there. Had I known that there was actually a collection of patterns for this purpose, I would have had a much easier time of it! Still, they may come in handy some other time.

Mark's mother went to the show and she said she would try to take a picture of the blankets if she sees them. Who knows, I might recognise mine.

My First Jumper

I started knitting at the end of 2007 and, oddly enough, I taught myself to knit socks from the start. Some would say that is rpobably the most complicated thing to begin with and everything else is a breeze. For some reason, though, I never knitted a jumper and it was only this year that I found a pattern that I thought I could try: Rowan's Tender with Rowan Drift in the shade "Fire".

Of course it was impossible for me to just go ahead and knit according to the instructions. I don't know why I always keep changing stuff! However, in this case it was a good idea. I put the ribbing a little higher (seeing the picture below I would even like to have put it up a little higher than that to begin right under the bust) and lengthened the jumper. I also increased stitches in the lower section to allow for wide hips.

Yesterday I wore it for the first time and it was nice and snuggly warm. It will definitely come in handy in my cold office. Originally, the jumper was meant to fit very loosely, but I knitted size M which made it just the right snug fit. Mind, the chunky yarn has a lot of give in it.

I love the jumper! To me it doesn't even look like something I made myself, which is a good thing. I am very proud of it.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Fun with Numbers


Press ctrl and F, type in 9 and select "highlight".

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Arm-knitting a Cowl

At last night's knit club, Laura demonstrated arm-knitting with yarn from Adriafil called Magia: metodo faidate. It looked like a lot of fun and instead of buying it just for the sake of giving it a go, I thought it would make a nice Christmas present for a friend of mine. (There are two video tutorials for arm-knitting a cowl and even a chunky blanket.)

It's really easy and fun to knit with your arms, and it is quick too. Within a few minutes I knit the cowl five times, testing how many CO stitches look best. In the end I opted for 5 stitches and just knit till i had just enough yarn left to weave in the ends.

Voila! The perfect gift.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

A Challenge

I am knitting my first ever jumper and am a third of the way through already. It's knitted using very bulky yarn, so it's a fast knit and shouldn't take me very long. I only started 3 days ago (with needles the lovely Alice lent me).

Watch this space!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Spinning Video

This is my first Youtube video and of course things went wrong in the process. It was fun though, so enjoy the finished product!

Apparently, Youtube in Germany doesn't allow you to watch videos with some copyrighted music, so here is a slightly longer German version:

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Fibre Fest 2011

When it comes to Fibre Fest, Wool Fest, and Fibre East, I am a complete novice. I never went to any such craft fairs before and didn't know what to expect when Helen, her mother and I headed down to Devon last Saturday to spend a day at Fibre Fest. It was a two-hour drive, which is perfectly fine, especially compared to how long it would have taken me if I had taken the train and bus instead. I was glad that Helen offered to give me a lift.

Having been directed to the car parking area by a number of cadettes with flailing arm, we then made our way to the area where the action was. Near the entrance were stalls selling mainly fleeces and there were a number of llamas and sheep. Knowing my tendency to be spat on by llamas, I kept a bit of a distance just in case.

One sheep in particular impressed visitors and was dubbed Emo Sheep by one of the passing men due to its fringe. It was a very nosey sheep, too, always turning to where the camera was. It must have been a celebrity among sheep.

A bit of shearing went on later in the afternoon and I was surprised to see they actually tied the alpaca (that I first thought was a sheep till a Raveler corrected me) to a stick to keep it still and stretched. That's a kind of shearing I have never seen before and I am not sure I like it either. Apparently, it is a good way to sheer them though and the alpaca didn't seem to mind. In the end, I didn't stay to watch for long, but it was interesting to have witnessed even for a little bit.

Due to the pouring rain during the first half of the day, some of us took shelter inside one of the buildings of Bicton College on whose grounds Fibre Fest took place. Luckily, the rest of the day was beautifully sunny and warm. It was just right for a bit of a rest outside with a pot of mysterious seabuckthorn ice cream. Some people described the flavour as similar to mango - it certainly has the same colour. Never having tried or even heard of it before, this was the flavour I just had to have. I was surprised by its sweetness and loved it!

It is amazing how wonderfully relaxed I felt while I was there. Though they aren't words I commonly use, blissful and serene is how I felt. Just walking around the place, looking at all the yarn, fibre and tools, talking to stall holders and random visitors, all of whom were incredibly lovely and in an equally good mood, was an amazing experience that exceeded my expectations by far.

The beautiful surroundings did the rest. Could it be any different in Devon? This was only my second visit to the area and both times I have loved what I saw. The south west of England is certainly a beautiful part of the country.

One of the three marquees was reserved for an exhibition of an entirely knitted coastal landscape complete with underwater tunnel. It may well have been the most amazing thing I have ever seen. There are more pictures of this exhibition in my album here, including all other photos taken that day.

The exhibition was in aid of the RNLI and I am sure that many visitors who saw this stunning work gave a little of what they had.
In the marquee next to the exhibition, visitors had the chance to try out drum carding with Jill aka Wrigglefingers whose workshop had been cancelled. I was immediately intrugued because I had never even seen a drum carder and had no idea how it worked or what you can do with it apart from obviously carding fibre. Jill taught me to create my own unique batt in the colours of my choice and I had a great time! If I had the space, I assure you I would have bought a drum carder then and there.

In about 20 minutes I made a 33g pure merino batt that I started spinning only a few minutes later. I named my creation Under the Sea. The colour is gorgeous and I love it. No idea what I am going to knit with it yet, especially since 33 g aren't a hell of a lot, really. However, I am spinning it very finely on one of my new spindles so I am trying to get as much out of it as I can.

I bought the spindles from Amanda of Manda Crafts and they are beautiful things from the Netherlands. I had seen them online before and was so glad they were available at Fibre Fest. The stall was very crowded when I got there, with most people going in and grabbing bagfulls of fibre almost at random, it seemed. I must admit the colours were wonderful, so I couldn't resist taking two with me as well. However, the main thing I wanted was a small 10g spindle I had seen Helen use at knit club. By the time I got through to where they were, only one was left and I grabbed it and made sure not to let it go again! I also went for a 30g spindle to replace my learner's spindle though I suspect it is heavier now and I prefer thin yarns. We'll see. So far I have not tried the new larger spindle yet.

And here are my purchases from that Saturday. It was a good thing I took a separate bag with me just for all the things I was going to buy. In the end, my large tote was full to the brim with fibre, yarn, spindles, and finally a proper pair of scissors that actually does the job. As I mentioned, I got two bags of tops from Manda Crafts that day, but that's not all. These are my treasures: the red is Spin a Rainbow (Manda Crafts) micron Falkland tops; orange is also Spin a Rainbow (Manda Crafts) Merino and Mulberry Silk tops; the blue above is a handcarded batt of Corriedale with angelina, silk, sari silk and rayon thread (Laal Bear); the plait is a Merino and silk blend (Krafty Koala).
So my spinning addiction has been fed, but I also bought three skeins just because. Oliver Twists and Artisan Yarns had such beautiful silk that I just couldn't resist. Mind, I did come to Fibre Fest with the intention to buy some silk, at least as a blend with other fibres. I just wish now that I had bought the lovely mango-coloured silk bricks for spinning from Oliver Twists, but I wasn't sure at the time if it would be easy to spin silk and decided against buying it. What I got instead are Peacock in merino and silk, Lacey Lacey in pure silk (both from Artisan Yarns) and a purple pure lace skein from Oliver Twists. Heaven! No idea what I will do with any of it, but I am sure there's something out there.

So my first craft fair of this kind was a complete success and I loveed every minute of it. Everything about it was wonderful and I didn't even mind the rain we had at the beginning. So I shall leave you with the words of a lady I met at Fibre Fest and say, "Goodbye, and may you have your very own craft shed one day!"

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Heart-shaped Pom Poms?

Yesterday at knit club Laura gave away a few of these pom pom makers because they apparently don't do what they are meant to do. Instead of heart-shaped pom poms, she said, you get ordinary ones. Since I still need to make a large pom pom for a hat I knitted almost two years ago, I bagged myself one of them.

So last night I tried making two pom poms, the first of which worked okay (but not great), resulting in a vague heart shape. The trouble is you still need to trim it into the right shape afterwards because you do not get a true heart shape out of it. A little pointless then, I'd say. The second one I made fell apart because I seem not to have tied it properly. Ah well. I guess if you want to make pom poms, a normal round one would be best, really.

I will use my pom pom maker when I need it even though it won't be too often. Though it's probably a good decorating idea for parties, Valentine's day and weddings.


Here is a video showing how to use the pom pom maker. Far too much trimming involved, if you ask me. Also, some things weren't even mentioned in the instructions that came with the tool.

Bachforelle Reloaded

In the end I had to frog all of the original Bachforelle I had begun because the fish just didn't show up in the Noro yarn at all. It took me quite a while to decide to start all over again so I am not very far yet. Instead of Noro, I am using my favourite Fyberspates Scrumptious lace yarn, this time in teal. It looks lovely and the beads I used in it look like actual air bubbles. I look forward to the finished product even though it is going to take some time.

Thanks to Wendy, who already made a readable chart earlier, I now also have a chart for my own Bachforelle which is twice the normal width. I am rather math illiterate (or just plain lazy, really) and didn't figure out how to make such a chart myself, so I am very grateful to Wendy.

Both of us are knitting the same shawl though she will finish sooner than me simply because hers will be smaller than mine. I shall try my best to keep up!

Monday, 8 August 2011

New Stitchmarkers For Sale

My obsession with tiny little polymer clay things is unabated. I am quickly running out of ideas of what to make. The latest idea were the fried eggs and bacon with toast that turned out much better than I had expected. Oddly enough, the matching coffee mugs I wanted to make didn't turn out well at least even though they should probably have been the easiest thing to do.

My sheep sold out very quickly on Ravelry so I made a few more. Luckily, they are easy to make even though they take a long time. These ones here have flowers and a four-leaf clover on them.

Finally, the macaroons were an experiment that turned out all right. they took a bit of practice, but they helped me get to grips with some thing that will help me make even better-looking cakes in the future.

These cake need sponge layers that actually look like they are fluffy sponge layers. Now I know how to to that, I think a few more slices are in order soon. Other than that I have no idea what else to make that I haven't made before. I have started keeping a list of ideas that I just need to try out sometime.

Anyone interested in parting with some spare cash (via Paypal) for these polymer clay markers or the ones from a previous post can contact me on Ravelry.