Wednesday, 30 April 2014

New Hand-dyed Sock Yarn in Teal

The main reason I was looking forward to the Knitting & Stitching Show last March was that Tall Yarns 'n' Tales was there and I love their range of undyed yarns. I stocked up on some sock yarn for future knitting projects, though I would have loved to get even more. In the end I bought three skeins, two of which are sparkly!

I have never used sparkly yarn myself. I did once dye sparkle lace in my first dyeing attempts years ago, but I sold it to one of my first Etsy customers instead of using it myself. Thanks to Tall Yarns I got busy with the dye pots again and set out to make lovely teal skeins for a new shawl. 

I userd the last bit of my teal Ashford dye and added some blue-turquoise Luvotex dye as well to make sure I get good coverage. Really, I needn't have done that. I could have gotten away with using far less dye, which annoys me now because I used it all up. Ah well. Anyway, both skeins are variegated just as I had hoped and are nicely saturated.

There was a bit of an issue with colour bleed at first. While washing out the yarn, so much of the dye kept coming out that washing for two days straight didn't stop it. In the end I heat-set the yarn a seconf time, which helped. Luckily, neither the washes nor the second round of heat-setting made any difference to the colour of the yarn.

The colours are fantastic and just as I had hoped! Sadly, my cameras can't cope with teal and show it to be far more blue than it is. Picture it a bit greener than it shows. The sparkle comes through very well and I really can't wait to knit my Imagine When shawl.

So now there is one undyed skein of non-sparkly smooshy yarn left that I intend to dye in a deep magenta for socks. I plan to use it on my next new design.

Friday, 25 April 2014

A Knitting Pattern Gift

(All images from Joji Locatelli)

It's my birthday and, weeks ago, I got an early present from a friend in Germany in the form of a knitting pattern I had had an eye on for quite a while: Imagine When by Joji Locatelli. I especially love the shaping of it and it would look amazing in a squishy 4-ply. My dream yarn for it would be something from Indigo Dragonfly in Canada, actually. 

Instead, I plan to dye two of the sparkly skeins of sock yarn I bought at the Knitting & Stitching Show last month. They will either be magenta or teal in the end, I haven't decided yet. I am tending towards teal, but it mainly depends on how much dye I have left. I am also tempted to add beads. Of course. I may be a little obsessed with beads right now.
I imagine the shawl has a lovely drape, given the type of yarn used. It also looks like a good size though I have come to learn that even if something looks large enough on a photo, it may turn out tiny in reality (see my Kyna shawl which is disappointingly small and thus only wearable as a small scarf).

Once I finish my current project, I will probably get started on this and I am really looking forward to it. Maybe I won't be able to wait that long and will end up casting on early.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Desert Island Knits

If a knitter were going to a desert island and only allowed to take five things with them, what would they choose?

(Other bloggers have joined in a similar exercise: read more at Triskele Designs and The Knitter's Handbook.)

4 basics & 1 luxury item

This thought intrigued me and I wondered what exactly I would take with me or what I would want to have if I ever got stranded on an island and had to stay indefinitely. So I gave it some thought and made a list of what I consider to be the most important items for such an eventuality.

A sheep

The island would have vegetation, I assume, otherwise survival would be impossible in the long run. I could probably find some plants that I could knit with instead of using yarn, but I think that I just like the smoothness of wool and, assuming it isn't scorchingly hot all the time, I would rather knit with wool than vegetation - at least until I figured out a process to extract plant fibre. So the first thing I'd take along with me is a sheep, probably merino. I could shear it and use its wool while having a bit of company at the same time.

Drum carder

Obviously I'd need a drum carder to process the fleece from my sheep so that is definitely an item I must have. Working it would probably give me a bit of muscle too so that would help with life on the island. I would produce nice spinnable batts and be sad that nobody but Mable the sheep would be around to admire it.

Spinning wheel

I guess you can see where this is going. Once I have nice batts of Mable's wool, I'd need a spinning wheel, so that is my third item. I have a nice compact Ashford Traveller, so I'd take it along after having replaced the rather rickety mother-of-all and perhaps adding a lace kit just in case. I'd rather have the wheel than my spindles because it is more relaxing, less taxing and faster to work with.

Knitting needles

Of course, I will need some decent knitting needles. I think I would only take circulars with me because I can use them instead of straight needles and DPNs. That gives me lots of flexibility and I could knit all sorts of things. With time, I could whittle my own needles from wood on the island, I suppose.

Luxury item: acid dye kit

My luxury item really isn't something that is absolutely necessary, but I love colour and would probably get tired of only having white yarn after a while. (Sorry, Mable.) So I'd choose a good acid dye kit to add a bit of colour to my knits. I am not keen on dyeing with plants, though that would definitely be something I'd try on the island, but for ease of use I'd opt for acid dyes.

And with that, I think I'd be set for years! I'd have everything I need for making something from sheep to garment. What would you choose? I look forward to hearing what your desert island choices would be. Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Where I Like to Buy My Roving

I am an occasional spinner so I tend not to buy my fibre in bulk like many people do. Instead, I usually pick out very specific small batches that appeal to me, mostly because the colours are amazing. I haven’t tried many different types of fibre yet either and will eventually remedy that with time, but since I only buy my fibre once in a while, I tend to go for what I know I like.

Though I have tried a few places by now, I have two favourites I’d like to introduce to you.
The first time I fell in love with hand-dyed fibre it was because of Mandacrafts. Her space-dyed Falkland tops is fluffy and amazing to spin up. You need to put very little effort into drafting and the result is always beautiful. I have made some nice, fluffy yarns with Amanda’s fibre and will definitely make more. Her stall is always the first place I head to at Wonderwool and other shows.
More recently, I discovered Hilltop Cloud. I particularly like the undyed wool and tempted to get some, but when I friend of mine gave me a rainbow-coloured braid, I was hooked. Now I understand why some of my fellow-spinners kept raving about it! My braid was incredibly fluffy and prepared to make spinning a breeze – and it was! I hardly had to do anything other than make sure I had just the right amount of twist in my yarn. The fibre was so light and easy to handle that I was pleasantly surprised. At the next show, I will definitely have to have a look around Katie’s stall too.

Have you got any tips for great spinning fibre? Let me know!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

A Return to Knit Club

I recently returned to my local knit club. Hard to believe it had been three years since my last visit! 

Previously, the meetings had been held in the new local wool shop, which was great at the start: it was a cosy place to be, surrounded by all that wool, with tea and cake and biscuits for everyone. There were only a handful of us at the time and we enjoyed spending a few hours on a Wednesday night together. 

But then things changed as word spread about our little group. With every week, we got more and more members and less and less space. This was a serious problem because we ran out of chairs at one point and had to start moving the furniture around just so people could sit. Gradually, knitters from an older, well-established knit club joined us too and the shop was full to bursting. What’s more, we could no longer come into the shop early and I spent a few winter evenings standing outside in the freezing cold.

At that stage I realised I was no longer looking forward to knit club at all. Due to the lack of space, I often ended up sitting far away from people I wanted to speak to and because there was no room to move anymore, I couldn’t get to them either for just a short chat. There were a few more things that I disliked and so I decided to leave. From that day on, I didn’t knit except in my own company, which is a shame because knitting with others is a lot of fun and a great social activity.

It was only recently that I thought about returning. I read that knit club had moved to a bar not far from my place and I thought it might be interesting to see what it’s like now. I think not having the connection to the wool shop anymore might be very helpful in making the group more open and relaxed too. So I packed my knitting bag and headed in over to the bar.

I was early and the bar is quite big, so I had to ask around till I found that the knitters had been banished to the basement that week. I was the only one there at that point and got out my knitting and waited. It took a while for the first two to arrive, both knitters who had only joined recently. It took even longer till some others came down and we were a mix of oldies and newbies. I was glad to see they still remembered me. I was surprised, though, that there were only 6 of us that day. They did tell me, however, that it had been very busy the week before.

I must say, the knitters were very tame, ordering tea and lemonade while I went for a caipirinha instead! I do love a nice cocktail. It was a fun evening catching up with old members and learning more about new ones. I will definitely return and perhaps it will become a regular thing again. Now I just need to find a knitting project that doesn’t require too much concentration. My lacy, beaded shawl is definitely staying home!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Yarns and Fibres I'd Like to Try

So I've already written about my top 5 favourite yarns and now I'd like to show you some of the yarns and fibres I would really like to use some day. Let me know which ones are on your wish list!

(Image source)

One of these is silk brick from Oliver Twists. I first came across the company at Fibre Fest in 2011 where Oliver Twists was situated right opposite the entrance to one of the large tents that held the show. The colours were amazing and all that silk looked so stunning that even today I could still kick myself for not having bought the deep yellow silk I spotted there! The following year at Wonderwool I found them again, but the last yellow silk brick went to a little old lady who was much fast than me. I did, however, get my hands on an undyed silk brick that still resides in my stash, waiting for the day I feel confident enough to tackle spinning silk in the wheel. This could be a while.

(Image source)

A yarn brand you have probably heard of is Malabrigo. There are two reasons why I want to try them: 1) Their yarn looks fantastic whenever I found it in shops and the knitted items always look great too. 2) Malabrigo now also sells spinning fibre! One day I will have to give them a go. A lot of knitting patterns I like recommend Malabrigo so it would be nice to knit one of them with the yarn that has been tried and tested.

(Image source)

Schoppel-Wolle's Zauberball has been on my wish list ever since it was first made available. Schoppel is a German brand that I like and whose sock yarn I have used a few times and they are quite durable. I would like to give Zauberball a go, either as a fingering or lace weight, because I think the colour gradients will look great in socks or shawls. I have seen a few finished projects from knitters on Ravelry and there are a few colourways that I can well imagine using for my own.

What would you like to try? Is there yarn or fibre you have been wanting to buy for ages, but never actually got? Tell me in the comments.