Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Changes to Pattern Sales on Ravelry 2015

You may be aware of changes to EU VAT tax legislation coming into effect in the New Year that affect digital sales in the EU. (If you want to know more, EU VAT Action is the best place to find up-to-date information at the moment.)

So what's going on?

I wrote about the new EU VAT laws for digital products and services in a previous post and, in short, this legislation is causing many issues for small businesses due to the added administrative burden, not to mention the inability to comply for technical reasons in many cases. Because the legislation did not take into account or even inform the many small businesses and sole traders that exist, it makes it impossible or, at the very least too cumbersome, for some to comply. Also, it affects everyone worldwide in one way or another since we all buy and sell globally across borders. 

How does this affect me as a buyer?

It depends on the seller, really. Some knitting pattern designers will stop selling, others will put their prices up to reflect the additional admin involved in complying with the new rules, and others will find ways to stay in business somehow. You may see price increases or products being available only to certain countries unless there is a change in legislation (which many of us are campaigning for).

I'm on Ravelry. How do I buy your patterns?

Having been surprised by the new legislation as much as many of us, Ravelry have worked incredibly hard to make it possible for designers to stay on the site to sell our patterns. (Because Ravelry are awesome like that.) If you are a member, read their announcement here about what will change when you buy your patterns from tomorrow onwards.

You will be able to buy my patterns on Ravelry as before. Nothing changes for you as a UK or non-EU customer. However, if you are a buyer from another EU country, you will be automatically directed to with whom Ravelry has partnered up and where you will need to open an account to make a purchase. Your purchased pattern will then appear in your Ravelry library. You can also buy my patterns directly on LoveKnitting as I have imported them all (just do a search for Abso-knitting-lutely on the site).

I want to help. What can I do?

If you would like to help designers (and a whole host of other sellers of digital products and services), here is a list of things you can do to make a difference.

Thank you and, despite all this sudden upheaval, have a happy and healthy New Year!


Monday, 29 December 2014

A Small Collection of Spindles

It's the end of a year full of knitting and spinning adventures. While I did most of my spinning during the Tour de Fleece, it was all done on the wheel that I use far more often than my spindles. That said, I do love my spindles, but more physical effort goes into them than when I spin on a wheel.

I now have five spindles, each of which has its own advantages. I bought my first two spindles in August 2011 at Fibre Fest. It was my first ever wool fair and I loved it! It is still my favourite even though it never took place again, which is a real shame. The spindle I chose first of all was a tiny one made from purpleheart, weighing only 10 g. I had seen a friend from knit club use it before and was fascinated by its dainty size. This spindle is made in the Netherlands by Spintollen and is also sold by MandaCrafts from whom I purchased it.

I still love it and if I had to choose, it might actually be my most favourite of all, even though it is a very difficult choice. I started spinning on it even before I left Fibre Fest that day! A short time later I even made a video of my early spinning attempts.

The second spindle, also made from purpleheart, is from the same maker and seller, bought at the same event. It is much larger than the first, however, which makes it difficult for me to use. It is apparently a good size for beginners, but I find it hard to use probably because I started out with the dainty spindle. Still, I love the look of it, which is the only reason I haven't sold it. While I cannot spin well on it because I prefer to make very fine yarn, I do use it for plying. It works great that way.

And with these two purchases I was hooked on spinning. It took a long time till I bought another spindle, but I knew that I wanted to try out supported spinning sometime. At around that time I became aware of IST Crafts who make a variety of different spindles in a choice of wood. They are worth every Penny. In the end I got lucky and came across someone selling their Russian spindle made from Mexican rosewood on Ravelry.

The price was reasonable and I still enjoy spinning with it. It is quite a lot bigger than I expected and unfortunately the top end is a little bent to one side so that the spindle wobbles a little when in use. That does bother me a bit, but since I bought it for a good price and second hand, I'm okay with it. In order to use the spindle, it is best to have a spinning bowl of some kind. At first I made do with a little dip bowl, but more recently I found a pretty handmade bowl from the Bath Artisan Market that works nicely.

After three spindles, I was sure I had enough of them and wasn't looking for any new ones anymore. So when I visited Wonderwool in in 2012 and headed straight to MandaCrafts again for some fibre, I really did not expect to be so tempted by her new African bead spindles. They were only £10 so, of course, I had to get one.

The clay bead isn't glued on, but simply pushed onto the shaft where it stays. It spins well, too, and it is quite fast, which I like. I rarely use it as it is quite small and, sadly, the bead did fall of last time I used it. I may well glue it on at some point so it doesn't happen again. For now I have simply pushed it back into place. It is a nice little thing to have and good if you want to try supported spinning for the first time because it is inexpensive, but spins well.

I made my final spindle purchase only recently this year. This one, too, is an IST Crafts spindle like my Russian spindle. This was a spindle I wanted specifically because it is a Turkish one, a kind I hadn't tried before. Also, at a length of only 14 cm it is very tiny and light, similar to my first spindle. I agonised over the choice of wood because I just couldn't decide, but I am extremely happy with the English bog oak I chose. It is old with a history and it looks beautiful.

Spinning with this Turkish spindle is a slow and calming process. You just can't rush it. I tend to wind a cop of spun singles onto the shaft and when I have enough I finally wind the yarn into the tortoise shape you see above. It is not only a beautiful way to do it, but it saves you winding your singles into a ball because you can simply detach the parts of the spindle and remove them without disturbing the yarn.

What I have found is that I enjoy spindle spinning only when I want to do something relaxing. I spin for pleasure when I use spindles rather than for the result. If I want to spin something because I am keen on the resulting yarn, I tend to use my spinning wheel instead, which is faster and less physically demanding.

So what will 2015 bring? I hope I will get to make a dent in my fibre stash again, whether with the help of the wheel or my spindles. I am sure I will discover new indie dyers who make wonderful hand-dyed spinning fibre and let's just hope I do not come across another tempting spindle!

Whatever your plans for 2015, I hope you have a great New Year and stay safe and healthy. Here's to another year of woolly goodness!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Yarn Stories Shade Card

Merry Christmas! I hope you are all too busy today to read my blog and are enjoying the festivities. If you do not celebrate Christmas, I wish you a good holiday season. Stay warm, everyone! Fittingly, today's post is related to this festive season, too.

Shortly before they opened, I became aware of Yarn Stories on Twitter. They offer fine merino and alpaca yarns in a range of colours and weights spun in a Yorkshire mill. They have been able to attract a number of known designers such as Amanda Crawford, Jane Crowfoot and Eline Oftedal, just to name a few.

Throughout December, Yarn Stories engaged its social media followers with an Advent calendar giveaway that I took part in as well. While I didn't win one of the coveted yarns, I did win a shade card that displays all the colours of their fine merino and baby alpaca DK.

While I find it difficult to judge the quality and feel of a yarn from a shade card, it is very useful to see the available colours. For me to want to knit with this yarn, there would need to be more colours, however. There is only one colour that I can see myself wearing if I made a garment in a single colourway. There is a fairisle jumper I want to knit one day, but one of the things that is stopping me is that there are never enough shades available in any one yarn. I have the same issue with Yarn Stories, although, when pushed, I might find substitutes among existing colours.

All in all, though, I think that Yarn Stories does have a decent variety for most things. I am just extremely picky! I am not a fan of alpaca, but the pure merino yarns would be interesting to try.

Have you used any of Yarn Stories' yarn? What is your impression?

Friday, 19 December 2014

Interested In Arm-Knitting? This Is How You Do It

Every month, one of the top viewed posts here on my blog is the one about my only arm-knitting project. It was something I tried on a whim and there was no real information available about it at the time in the form of instructional videos, so I couldn't add any. It bothered me ever since that I could not expand on the technique and provide some visual material for you.

Luckily, there is much more information out there now, including this video for arm-knitting by Simply Maggie. I love the idea of such a chunky blanket!

 If you prefer a smaller project, take a look at this video for a striped infinity scarf by Audra Kurz.

The technique is very intuitive (I figured it out for myself in the process when I made my own cowl this way) and the most difficult part was figuring out how to neatly sew the ends together. I like this video because it also shows you how to use more than just one colour.

Have you tried your hand at arm-knitting? If you haven't, are you intrigued by it?

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Countess Ablaze: Nerds Prefer Their Rainbows Darker

More yarn! I have been very good this year and bought hardly any yarn, so I am not feeling too guilty about splurging on this beautiful hand-dyed skein from Countess Ablaze. Nerds Prefer Their Rainbows Darker is a colourway I have been wanting for some time so I finally took the plunge and bought it during a free-postage weekend. That said, all prices, including postage, is reasonable and I recommend this indie dyer to those who love hand-dyed wool. I paid £15 for this, which is a great price.

I first came across Countess Ablaze on Etsy shortly before she closed her shop there. At the time, I fell in love with another colourway entirely: Frenzy in the Tia Merino base yarn. Next time I will definitely get myself some of that!

This Nerds Prefer Their Rainbows Darker is wonderfully soft and I love the colours. It also contains silver stellina for that extra sparkle, so it is no wonder I couldn't resist. The yarn base is called Viscount of Spark due to the sparkle, and it also contains 75% merino wool and 20% nylon. Excellent for socks, but the yarn is so wonderful that I am worried about knitting socks from it. I don't want to damage it! However, the yarn is machine washable, so I am probably worrying about nothing. The skein weighs 100 grams and gives you 400 metres of yarny goodness.

I am glad I bought it! I took a calculated risk and went for it after only hearing good things about Countess Ablaze yarns. I can tell it will be a pleasure to knit and can't wait.

Have you tried her yarns, too? What do you think? What other indie yarn dyers do you recommend?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Knitting Swede: Hocus Pocus Self-striping Sock Yarn

This is a Halloween treat if ever there was one! I know, I know. It is nearly Christmas and I am writing about Halloween. That's because I was late and discovered this yarn only shortly before it sold out on The Knitting Swede's Etsy shop around October 31. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw the photos and I wished I had bought it sooner. Hoping there would be more to come - and completely forgetting that this was a Halloween special - I contacted Tanja, the dyer, if she was making any more of her Hocus Pocus colourway. She was so kind as to dye me a skein especially and what can I say: I love it!
The colours are even more beautiful than on Tanja's pictures and I am so happy with them that I can't wait to knit myself a pair of socks. The yarn is dyed in such a way that it will knit up as 3 rows black, 7 rows green, 3 rows black and 7 rows purple. I am thinking about designing a pattern that will have lace in the green and purple sections only, but in the end I might simply knit plain socks because I love the colours so much. As soon as I get knitting, I'll post to let you know what I've decided. (This may take some time because of my current knitting project, Viajante. It is the largest piece of knitting I have ever worked on in one go so I have no idea how long it will take to finish.)
This is my first hank of self-striping yarn. Normally, I am not a fan of it unless the colours really appeal to me, and this is one of the very rare times I love it. The yarn consists of 75% superwash BFL and 25% nylon and comes to 425m per 100g. I recommend you have a look at The Knitting Swede's collection to drool over some lovely yarn, if you haven't already.

Have you discovered any beautiful yarns lately? I'd like to know what you've fallen in love with.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Secret Christmas Snood Revealed

I can finally reveal my super secret Christmas knitting project I posted about in early October. Turns out it is actually a birthday gift, but I had originally considered giving it to my mother at Christmas. However, her birthday is in early December so I changed my mind about the dates. By now she has received this lacy snood whose pattern I found on The Knitter's blog. It is not part of the Ravelry database for some reason, but you can directly get to the pattern PDF here. It's a design by Kirstie McLeod.
I love this snood! I would have kept it for myself if I hadn't started making it with a recipient in mind already. The lace consists of a repeated leaf pattern that is easily memorised after a few rows. The snood is knitted flat so you will have to do some sewing up when you're done. I made it easy on myself and crocheted the ends together, which worked very well and I like the look of the seam on the wrong side.
The yarn I used is ordinary sock yarn that I hand-dyed and it works really well for the snood. I had less yarn than the pattern called for, but it is easy to stop after any length, really, as long as it is after a pattern repeat. After blocking, the snood was just the right size, so don't worry if your ball of yarn is a bit smaller than called for.

Are you tempted?

Monday, 1 December 2014

Changes to EU VAT Law and What It Means For My Knitting Patterns

You may have noticed my regular tweets in recent days about my stopping to sell digital knitting patterns soon. This is due to upcoming changes to VAT law in the EU that greatly impact on sole traders selling digital goods and services. Instead of trying to explain exactly what is involved, I would like to direct you to Ysolda Teague's website where you will find an excellent summary of the changes and how they affect people like me who sell digital goods and services. If you are in the EU and sell digital downloads of any kind, I highly recommend you read the post because the new law affects us all. Of course you can also search for information from the EU itself and HMRC, if you are in the UK.

What's happening?

The new rules are complicated and sometimes unclear in crucial parts. HMRC are working on further clarification as we speak. Since the changes take effect on January 1, 2015, everyone affected by the new rules is currently scrambling to find a good solution quickly. Many micro businesses and sole traders like myself who are under the VAT registration threshold and sell too few digital downloads to make registration worthwhile are concerned we may have to stop selling patterns online altogether. If you have been following #VATMOSS and #VATmess on Twitter, you know how much activity there has been around the topic. It has helped greatly to make HMRC realise exactly how many small businesses are affected - they had no idea.

What about my knitting patterns?

I may have to stop selling my patterns as digital downloads for a short while as I get things set up. Ravelry announced on 26 November that they are partnering with Love Knitting so that those of us who can't or don't want to register for VAT can still sell their patterns. Love Knitting will remit VAT to the EU so unregistered designers don't have to worry about it. That is fantastic news! Ravelry has worked very hard to find a solution and the outcome is so much better than I expected. I just registered with Love Knitting the day before the announcement so as to move my patterns there instead. From 1 January 2015 (or shortly after, depending on what needs to be done to activate the changes) I will be able to continue offering my patterns to you on Ravelry where they've always been and they will also appear on Love Knitting.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Hello Homemaker Readers

If you have found Abso-knitting-lutely in the current issue of Homemaker and made your way here: hello! Thank you for having a peek. I hope you have a great time exploring my blog. Feel free to comment on any posts that you enjoy. I look forward to getting to know you.

If you like, you can follow via RSS, Bloglovin', email and various social media. Just look for the relevant icons to the left and right of this blog.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Rodney the Reindeer Kit from Let's Knit

(Image from my Instagram)

This month I have been on a surprising toy knitting binge. It's unusual because, normally, I do not knit toys at all. They are too fiddly and I have no space for them in our tiny flat. Besides, I am not sure how our vast number of resident teddies would feel about any further additions.

So what started this sudden toy knitting craze? I blame Let's Knit magazine.

While I am not a regular buyer of knitting magazines, I will get sucked in by an interesting pattern or knitting kit once in a while. So when Let's Knit published its issue with the Rodney kit, I just had to have it. Look at that little reindeer! Isn't he sweet? I am amazed he actually turned out the way he was meant to. Quite often, the result does not look like the picture, which is frustrating. This time, though, Rodney the reindeer came out perfect and I love him.

Eric, the teddy, is particularly thrilled. He is Rodney's biggest fan, as you can see. He even has the onesie to match! 

How do you feel about knitting toys? What's your favourite knitted toy so far? Let me know.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Spikelets Cowl: Knitted With Handspun Malabrigo

This yarn was destined to be a lovely warm cowl! It is soft and squishy and perfect to wear on skin. I used the Spikelets cowl pattern by Victoria Groger on Ravelry to make this wonderful cowl and it will definitely keep me cosy this winter. I never made a cowl before and wasn't sure I would like it, but the result is perfect. The colours are great as well and just what I look for in yarn.
I followed the pattern instructions and used 4 mm and 5 mm needles. The cabling is easy to do if you have worked with cables before and there is still a lot of mindless knitting involved on most rows. I ran out of yarn towards the end, unfortunately, so my cowl is about 8 rows shorter than it should be. However it is high enough, it turns out, and would have been too bulky had I knitted the full length. I had a look at other people's versions on Ravelry and it looks like I am not the only one to have a shorter cowl. So I am happy with it as it is!
Image: Instagram

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Addendum: Bed Socks for Oma

A while back I posted about the bed socks I knitted for my grandma for Christmas. I thought they looked a little boring since they didn't have any patterning at all, so I picked them up again and added a little bit of cross stitch along the sides. I tried to make snowflake shapes on the foot at first, but that made the socks much bulkier, so I undid it again. The stripes aren't particularly fascinating, of course, but at least they break up the plain socks a little bit. Who knows what else I might add before Christmas!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Dragon vs Moth

After 7 years of knitting, I suppose it was bound to happen. Moths.

The scourge of all knitters found my bag of hand-knitted socks and decided that my hand-dyed Smaug socks were the tastiest treat this year. I discovered the damage on one of the first cold days this autumn when I delved into the bag and pulled out these bright red socks that I only wore once before. They were a pleasure to knit and I love them. The first sock was fine, but when I put on the second, I spotted a number of holes along the foot and leg. Nooooo!

(Image: Instagram)
Parts of the sock were unravelling and I knew there was only one thing left to do: I'd have to start over. Luckily, it is only one sock that sustained any damage so I've ripped it back completely and started over. Since I dyed the yarn myself, I really hope I have enough of it to finish the socks. In some places the yarn is very thin and I also have a few short lengths I need to incorporate somehow towards the end, should I need them. In fact, I am thinking now that I should probably knit the socks all over again in a different yarn because this is just too fiddly. It would be a shame, though, as I dyed the yarn particularly for this project and won't get the exact shade of red again.

We'll see. I'll keep going for now, but if I do run out of yarn, there's nothing for it. I will have to start from scratch. Although I usually don't knit the same socks twice, these Smaug socks are fantastic and as a fan of Tolkien's work I simply need to have them. If all else fails, the 13-disc Lord of the Rings audio recording from the BBC should get me through this.

Did moths ever get a hold of one of your finished pieces? What did you do?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Christmas order deadlines 2014

We are gradually nearing the end of the year and, of course, the start of the Christmas season. Yay! I love Christmas. It is important to make sure all orders you place at Abso-knitting-lutely get to you in time for the festivities and I have set the following deadlines for Christmas orders:

UK: 18 December
Europe: 8 December
Rest of world: 24 November

Any orders past these dates may not get to you by Christmas, especially if you are ordering from countries outside Europe.

Enjoy your holiday shopping and let me know if you have any questions or would like to place a custom order.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Hinagiku Hat in Handspun Malabrigo

When I spun up this yarn using Malabrigo Nube, I intended to turn it into a cowl, but it turns out it was better suited for the Hinagiku hat pattern I found on Ravelry. I loved the star stitch pattern that makes up the body of this hat and the long rounds of ribbing at the bottom are perfect for me. If you are looking for a slouchy hat pattern that is great for autumn, I recommend giving this one a go. It's free, too!

The colourway I used was Indiecita and the stripes are beautiful. Even though I usually prefer slightly darker shades, I do like this yarn a lot. I think a change away from my usual colour scheme is a good thing. The knitting instructions call for needles sizes 3 mm and 4.5 mm for the ribbing and the body, respectively. I went up to 5 mm for the star stitch instead  due to the weight of the yarn. 4.5 mm was just a tad too small and I found it hard to knit the star stitches, which are a little fiddly anyway. I could probably have gone up in size for the ribbing as well, but I do like it to be tight, so I am happy with it as it is.

After binding off, the hat was very snug and not at all slouchy, so I gave it a bath and blocked it. This is something I have never done before for a hat. Even though I tried not to stretch the ribbing, it is looser now, which is a shame, but the body is just right. It now shows off the stitch pattern much better and makes me wish I still had long hair to bundle up in it a slouchy hat. (At least until I remember just how practical short hair is!)

And might I just add how much I dislike taking photos of items I have to wear to photograph them? I took so many pictures and none of them came out well. I hope that I can take some photos outside with the help of a friend someday so that they show off the hat better and from all angles.

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Abso-knitting-lutely Wish List

We are slowly nearing Christmas, there is no denying it, and I have started doing my Christmas shopping. While I am thinking about what others might like, I am also looking at other knitters' wish lists and finding lots of good ideas for myself. That's not the way this is meant to work! Since I love looking at what other crafters would like, I thought you might fancy a peek at my own wish list. So, in no particular order, here we are!

1. Clover mini pompom maker: While I was knitting all those hats for The Big Knit, I was really wishing I had one of those small pompom makers to embellish them with. If only for that. They would come in useful every year.

2. Yarn bowl: Not just any yarn bowl, but this particular one! Sadly, the seller is in the US, which is why I haven't ordered one since discovering it two years ago. I love this bowl because of its colours and the design. The twist, the holes, the slit for the yarn - it is all just beautifully executed.

3. Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal: The yarn, not the book. I recently saw the book in my local wool shop and had a look at the actual yarn and I love it. There was a lovely teal I could imagine myself using as well as the gold from the cover photo. And the green. And the purple. And...

4: The Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook: This book has been on my wish list for a long time. It isn't a book I ever thought I would like, but now that I have been spinning for a long time, I'd like to learn about the different types of wool. It would be a useful resource.

As we crafters know, of course we cannot possibly narrow down our list too just four items, so here are some more items my wish list cannot possibly be without:

5. Storage cases for all my needles and hooks: Even though my needle collection is lacking in sizes, I do have quite a lot of circulars, DPNs, interchangeables and a few pairs of straight needles. I would love to have one single case or storage system that allows me to put all needles in it in an organised fashion. So far I haven't found a good solution to this.

6. Medium or large project bag: I love those little pyramid bags for my sock projects, but I need a nice project bag of medium or large size for shawls and jumpers, ideally with a little notions bag. There are lots of people making nice bags on Etsy and it is hard for me to decide which I like best.

7. Drumcarder: This is a big wish and at present I have no space for it, but one day I will have a drumcarder! At the first wool fair I visited, I had the chance to play with one and blend my own batt. I loved it and would really enjoy combining my own colours. 

So what's on your crafty wish list? I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Koi Rama in Wollmeise

Three years ago I was gifted the pattern for the beautiful Koi Rama shawl that I had had my eye on. It took another two years before I actually cast on to knit it on Christmas Day 2013. After a few false starts, I finally got into the pattern and enjoyed knitting the shawl. I made the smaller size since that is all I could knit with one skein of Wollmeise Twin (colourway Mango), but when I blocked it, it grew quite a bit. With some more aggressive blocking, it could be a really good size, actually.

The name Koi Rama indicate what the design is about: the open lace in the body of the shawl resembles Koi while the edging is meant to depict butterflies (rama). These stitch patterns were competely new to me and I love them. They are the reason the pattern appealed to me as soon as I came across it and I just had to knit it.

I am not sure when I actually finished knitting Koi Rama in the end. When I cast off, I wasn't happy with how the last few repeats had turned out. I must have made a mistake along the way because the fabric seemed to bulge and pucker for some reason. So I put the shawl aside while I mulled over if I wanted to undo the rows and reknit them. Then other projects came along and I never got back to this one.

Then this month I finished a few other projects and had nothing else to knit. I saw my shawl lying there, waiting for me to finally get back to it and I could no longer put it off. In the end, it took me longer to find the pattern than it did to reknit the last bit of the shawl! The mistake was made somewhere in the last 5 rows or so, so it was easy to rip back and start over. I have no idea why I went wrong because I had no problem knitting this bit again. Now the shawl is finished, blocked and waiting to be worn. Can't wait! I hope to take some better pictures of it when we have a bit more light.

Friday, 24 October 2014

My First Wollmeise Lace

It is ironic that I should find out about Wollmeise only after leaving Germany to live in the UK. I was  a knitter for a few years before my move, but I had never heard of Wollmeise before and I was completely unaware of all the hype.

Once I became aware of the brand, I, like many others, loved the many colours and was keen to try the yarn for myself. Since Wollmeise is so popular, it is hard to get your hands on it, especially in the online store. I was lucky enough to receive a skein of their Twin yarn years ago and I will be posting photos of the shawl I made from it soon. I was happy with the Twin, but I didn't think it was anything particularly special. The colour was lovely, but the yarn felt unexpectedly rough.

The yarn I really wanted to try was Wollmeise lace. I once nearly bought a skein from a fellow knitter from my knitting group, but I was disappointed that it was a solid instead of one of the multicolour skeins and the roughness of the yarn put me off as well. So I declined and didn't think much about the yarn for a while.

Then came the release of Viajante, a pattern specifically designed with one skein of Wollmeise lace, and I was intrigued. I thought about substituting the yarn with another, but for a change I wanted to knit with the recommended yarn just to make sure the result is as close to the original pattern as possible. Now, Wollmeise isn't cheap and I spent quite a while saving up for it, enough so I don't feel bad about splashing out. Then I searched people's stashes on Ravelry to see who was selling any and I was lucky enough to find three skeins of interest. two were blue, but things got in the way and the sale didn't happen. Then I came across a lady who sold the Ruby Thursday colourway which, just by chance, happens to be the exact same yarn I nearly bought from my knitting group friend years ago! 

Yesterday, the huge skein of red lace arrived in the post and I love the colour. It is such a nice, deep red - just what I like in my favourite colour. I still think the yarn should be softer and nicer to the touch than it is, though, so I do not subscribe to the hype. It is a good yarn, but probably a bit overrated. I will be casting on my Viajante as soon as I finish my next project. I think it will come in useful in these colder days and I am really looking forward to knitting and wearing my lovely red Viajante.

I'm curious as to what you think of Wollmeise, if you have tried it. Do you think it is overrated or that it lives up to its hype? What have you made from your Wollmeise?

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Little Abso-knitting-lutely Website

While I am saving up for a full-blown website with all the bells and whistles, I have set up a small site here to showcase my work and direct visitors to my stores. Let me know what you think of it and if there is something you would like to see. 

One day I hope to have a site using Wordpress, with an integrated store and blog so customers won't have to keep jumping between my current three shops, blog and little site. For now, this will have to do.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Spinning Malabrigo Nube - Indiecita

I have some more woolly goodness to show you: my finished skein of Malabrigo Nube in the Indiecita colourway. it is lovely and squishy and the colours are beautiful too. They are slightly paler than my usual colours of choice, but I already have plans for this skein. Once I finish my Christmas knitting, I want to turn this yarn into the Spikelets Cowl for colder days. I think the yarn would go really well with it.
As before, this braid of fibre was difficult to draft and spin, but I was prepared for it this time and it made for a more pleasant experience. I spun longdraw and chainplyed the singles to make a yarn slightly thicker than my usual choice. Because I had a short break while spinning this fibre, I ended up with one bobbin full of a slightly finer single than the previous one. At a difference of 1 - 2 WPI, it shouldn't make too much of a difference, I hope.
I can't wait to start knitting! My first skein of Malabrigo is earmarked for a hat to go with the cowl, so I will be busy knitting for the winter soon enough. Both hat and cowl will have gradual colour changes and result in nice stripes in the fabric. They'll go well with my black winter coat, which is in desperate need of some colourful accessories.
Are you spinning anything at the moment? Do you have any idea what you want to knit or crochet with it in the end? If you have any pictures, I'd love to see them.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Secret Christmas Knitting with Knit Pro Cubics

This is a bit of a mysterious post today. I am knitting a Christmas gift and don't want the recipient to see what it is, but I couldn't resist posting about it either. So I am not going to tell you what it is, except that it is lacy and made from my own hand-dyed sock yarn.

Made from 100% BFL, this yarn is great for more than just socks, which is why I am making something lacy from it. I dyed it with ultramarine, turquoise and emerald acid dyes and so far there has been no pooling in the knitted fabric, which is great. At just under 400 m, I may run out of yarn before the pattern says it should. Luckily, it probably won't make much of a difference, so I will just keep knitting till I run out.
The pattern itself isn't listed on Ravelry, which surprises me. It is available on The Knitter's blog, however, if  you would like to go on a hunt for my mystery knit. If you follow me on social media, you will have seen a link to it in the last two months. I know this all sounds frustratingly mysterious, but I will post all the details once Christmas is over.
The exciting thing about this project is that I had to buy new needles! I have a fairly small selection of sizes and this pattern called for 4.5 mm needles that I didn't have. A great excuse for trying out the Knit Pro Cubics made from Rosewood. I was curious about them because I know people who absolutely love them, but I also know some who absolutely hate them. 

Luckily, I like them too. They give me slightly better grip than rounded needles, which is perfect given this size. I can imagine that the edges may be uncomfortable on larger sizes, but at 4.5 mm it feels just right. Having been a fan of Knit Pro's wooden needles, I am also fond of the Rosewood range now. It looks a little bit more grown-up than the colourful Symphony, which was my favourite range for a long time. 

I have heard from a few people that their Cubics broke very easily, so I am hoping mine won't do the same. Rounded needles are generally stronger. (Physics, don't ask me why!) If you are a tight knitter, these may not be ideal for you. However, there are Cubics made from metal as well, in the Nova range, though I couldn't find them in British shops when I last looked. I am sure they'll be coming soon though.

Have you tried Cubics yet? I am curious how you are getting on with them. Let me know!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Using My Turkish Spindle

I've been using my new Turkish spindle from IST Crafts ever since I received it. It is the perfect spindle for long, slow spinning that is more for enjoyment than quick, productive spinning. I started on a braid of Australian merino, probably at least 100g, so this is going to take some time to get through and I am in no hurry.

The spindle is a pleasure to use and I love it. There is an art to winding on the yarn just so. I have learned that this ball of yarn is called a tortoise - you'll see why if you have a look at the photo. I really enjoy winding the yarn onto the arms of the spindle in just the right way. It is as if you are creating a work of art, like the spindle itself.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Oma's Christmas Bed Socks

This year, my grandmother put in her Christmas wish early. In June she told me she would like a pair of warm bed socks because she always has cold feet at night. So I got to work right away - and then got distracted by knitting for The Big Knit instead. 

Once I reached my goal, I returned to my grandmother's socks with all sorts of fancy ideas for elaborate patterns. As you can see, I abandoned those ideas - and some already knitted frilly edges - in favour of a simple pair of socks with ribbing. I figured these would be the warmest and they wouldn't come off that easily in her sleep. 

I used a mystery yarn that I previously used for a shawl for my grandmother last Christmas too. It is a DK weight or perhaps slightly heavier. Because of this, it was a really quick knit. My grandmother has quite small feet and I hope the socks fit and aren't too floppy. It's still ages to go till Christmas, but now that these are done, I can work on other Christmas knits. I won't be able to post about all of them here since some of the recipients are also readers of this blog. Once the holidays are out of the way, I am sure I will be able to post pictures.

Have you started your Christmas knitting yet? What are you planning to make? Or have you decided not to give any handmade gifts at all this year?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Big Knit 2014 - Goal Achieved

Are you knitting yet? I have been busy! The deadline for The Big Knit has been pushed back to November and I have just finished knitting and crocheting my lot. My goal was to make 100 of these tiny hats and my final total is 105 because, obviously, I can't count. I only used leftover yarn I already had, both 4-ply and DK. Towards the end I discovered I had bits of cotton yarn in my stash as well, so I crocheted a few hats with it too. Crocheting them is so much faster, I might used that technique more often next year.
Making so many hats does get a little boring at around 70, which is why I slowed down a bit and went a few days without any knitting or crocheting whatsoever. Not good, but it was necessary. I found myself wanting to get on with my Christmas knitting, which I had had to put on hold till the end of the Big Knit. Luckily, though, these hats are quick knits and a pefect accompaniment for TV nights, radio and waiting rooms. They got me through a 2-hour wait in hospital last month, so that's something.
This year, I had particular issues with pompoms and quickly gave up on them. I should really invest in a small pompom maker since I am sure I will be knitting these hats again in the future, and they just look better with little pompoms on top, don't you think? In the end, following my discovery of the cotton yarns, I learned to crochet little hearts that I attached to the top of some hats. I really love how they turned out and enjoyed making these hearts. You can find the free pattern here.
This year some of my hats have intarsia, fairisle, stripes, textured, and some are simply plain. My favourites are the strawberry hat as well as the intarsia and fairisle ones because they just look the most interesting and were fun to knit. To my surprise I really love the crochet hats as as well, which is all down to the little heart tags. Normally I dislike the look of crochet.
I didn't use any particular pattern for the crochet hats and just winged it. I experimented with double and triple crochet, which was fun and fast. As for the knitted hats, at first I knitted them in the round to avoid sewing, but in the end I changed to knitting a flat piece and sewing it up instead. It doesn't take long at all despite the extra step and you are only using two DPNs instead of four or five. Always a bonus!
So here they are, all boxed up and ready to go to my local Age UK branch. How are you knitting your hats? Are you using patterns or making yours up as you go along? Tell me what you're doing.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Bristol Wool Fair 2014

(All photos taken by Mark)

You may have heard of the first Bristol Wool Fair that took place early in September. When I first heard about it, I was very excited because we do need another good wool fair over here in the Southwest. I like going to such events and don't have the chance to do so very often. I don't think I have particularly high expectations of wool fairs, but I do expect good organisation from start to finish. In this repsect, the Bristol Wool Fair was a mixed bag.
My own experience with this particular fair before the event even took place was anything but good. I like to have as much detailed information as possible so I know what to expect and how to get there. After going through their website, social media, and Ravelry group, I was unsure whether to go or not because there was hardly any interaction and too little information - some of it conflicting, some of it wrong. Questions were either answered superficially or not at all and the answers that were given made it seem like the event was not what many had expected it to be. Reactions to constructive criticism was met with hostility by some supporters so that it put off a lot of people, including me.

In the end, I didn't need to make a decision at all because I was ill that weekend and had to stay home. However, Mark and his mother went as planned and supplied me with these photos and feedback about the event. I have to point out that Mark isn't into wool fairs at all and this was actually the first time he went to one. His mother has been to many such events and enjoys them, including her visit to Bristol.
The fair took place on the Clifton Downs, and as you can see from the first photo, there is a lot of space with seemingly very little going on. Mark and his mum were there from 11AM - 3 PM, roughly, and noticed that none of the live music (maybe because the duck herding was late) took place during that time. I am wondering if the knitathon and drop-in lessons took place in the Big Tipi that Saturday, but since I wasn't there myself, I have to rely on what has been relayed to me. Also, there were no owl demos as announced. There were three marquees with vendors, some food stalls (sadly, just one offering savoury food), animal pens and a stage for the sheep shearing demo.
It looks very much like a pleasant event, a nice day out for the family. In my opinion, the entry fee is too high compared to other similar events that have much more to offer. There was a programme with all the details about the fair, vendor list, site maps and 3 or 4 free patterns designed by vendors themselves. The full £1 goes to charity. Visitors were encouraged to bring with them or make on site some knitted, crocheted or felted flowers to decorate a sheep made of willow branches. Sadly, I have no photos of it. However, the picture of the yarn bombed spinning wheel/sheep looks fun as well!
Mark was very interested in the Sheer Sheep Experience. It was a half-hour talk and demo giving information about sheep and shearing. This reminds me a lot of my favourite wool fair and was a nice touch to the event, I think.
The duck herding must have been fun to watch in person as well. I had expected sheep herding, so this was something quite unusual. I would have loved to see that!
It looks like the audience is having a good time watching the spectacle, too, despite the lack of wool involved.
I would like to visit next time, if there is a next time, because some aspects of the fair remind me of my first ever wool fair. I know that a lot of vendors I follow on Twitter had a really good experience throughout the weekend as well. I hope the organisers take to heart the criticism that was voiced elsewhere, particularly since most of the necessary changes, especially to the website and general offering of information, would have been easy to implement on the spot. With more experience in all aspects of event organisation and online presence, I am sure things will get much better. The arguments and accusations that arose amongst potential visitors due to the lack of response became very uncomfortable and put some people off going altogether. I am sure the day itself is great if you know what to expect and what not to expect.

Did you go? What did you get up to? Let me know.