Spinster

skeins

The Jacob Humbug spinning project was finished in April. I’ve got about 125g of a 2ply yarn, of somewhat variable thickness. The singles rested for quite a while before plying, so it was quite tricky to figure out how much to ply. The tricks I learned last year at Wingham Wool work rather rely on the singles being still quite full of energy. Anyway, I went ahead and tried to overply it. One skein is completely balanced and one is very slightly… underplied.

I’ve found some useful nails outside the kitchen, under the overhanging roof, for hanging skeins to dry.  I have no idea what the nails are actually meant for, but they do the trick. They are sheltered enough that, even if it rains, the skeins still dry.

The two skeins are awaiting inspiration for their final destiny. They might be a little too tough to be worn next to the skin. Possibly a cushion cover or tea-cosy?

Next, in the spinning odyssey, I had a birthday and my generous friends and relations added a little more to my spinning wheel fund. I had a look at my bank account and discovered that I had enough to put in an order with Gill at Sanday Spinners. Here’s what happened next (mouse-over for captions):

I began to spin, using some bright red BFL that I bought from Grace and Jacob while they still had a bricks and mortar shop in York.

I managed to spin a variety of thicknesses, just by changing the tension and speed.

samples

I’m not yet at the point of being able to keep spinning the same thickness for more than a few yards, but getting better each time I try.

I spun up a little onto two bobbins, plied it, washed it and set it to dry. Then I knitted it!

knittedp

The two bobbins I had spun weren’t evenly loaded, so I had some left over on one of them, but only a few yards. I thought I might as well have a shot at Navajo plying, having seen a few videos of people doing it. Now that’s fun (I didn’t have much control over it)!

navajo

The next spinning project is to keep doing  a few more samples, aiming for consistency over several yards.

If you remember, I have elected to have spinning as my personal project for a leadership course I’m doing with work this year. The next residential is in a few weeks time so I ought to have made some  more progress to show them.

That’s a wrap

A wrap?

Well, actually, no – not a literal wrap but rather some socks, a strange square item and a blanket.

It’s all about finishing projects this year. I’ve been aiming for one a month and I’m up to date.

April came in a few days late, but the camouflage lace socks are done and dusted, a mere 11 months after their debut on the needles.

finished socks

They really did come out pretty much exactly as I hoped. The camouflage colours have pooled and swirled exactly as needed, particularly on the legs. The feet are almost striping, but not too regularly.

Here’s the nice daylight shot.

the beauty shot

The boring but beautiful garter blanket has been finished, along with a little surprise extra, meeting my arbitrary May finished item deadline, but steaming right on past the arrival of Baby Joshua, who is now over a week old. Never mind, he’ll get it before too long. There were a LOT of ends to sew in, but I think I got the hang of sewing in ends on garter stitch after a while.

blankie

Here’s the strange square object:

squarething

It is the sampler piece for Franklin Habit’s Craftsy class on Heirloom Lace Edgings: four pieces of the same edging attached in different ways: one knitted on, one in herringbone, one in whip stitch and one in a modified version of mattress stitch. It’s been a good exercise, and I could listen to Franklin all day. This item is definitely one to tuck away in a box somewhere: I can’t think of a sensible use for it. I have one more chapter in this class to listen to and work through, then onto one of the spinning classes I bought in the sale earlier in the year.

We got a Google Chromecast earlier in the year and it has really come into its own with the Craftsy classes. I watch them using the Craftsy app on the tablet, then cast the screen to the tv.

WIP update

  • No progress on the cotton square a month blanket
  • A few squares added to the sock yarn scarf
  • The crochet amigurumi project has gone into hibernation – in fact it has gone home with my Mum to be finished. I don’t like the yarn, or the tight gauge needed for stuffed objects and I can’t face making another three elephants. Happily, Mum can.
  • New item: Rachel Coopey’s Greebo socks in the Greebo colourway from Knitting Goddess. This is a same-difference set of sock yarn: one set of yellow yarn with grey bits and one set of grey yarn with yellow.
  • New item: Ianthine: A Curl from Hunter Hammersen’s book Curls. Using lace-weight handspun that I bought from Grace and Jacob when they had their shop in York. There really isn’t enough of the handspun for a full scarf, but I can’t think what else to use it for. At least with a Curl, you just keep going until all the yarn is gone and there isn’t really a right size for it. I tried a few different gauges until I found one I liked. It’s been a while since I knitted with lace-weight.

Reading update

I did pick up Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell again. I started from the beginning and got about two chapters further on than I did last time before getting bored. I will try and finish it, but I really don’t care much what happens to the characters. I’ve got the new BBC dramatization recording, so I would like to finish the book before watching that. I got sidetracked into a complete re-read of The Earth’s Children series by Jean M Auel.

Biographies are always part of my reading life: perhaps the only non-frivolous reading I regularly commit to. This spring I’ve really enjoyed Rowan’s Rule: The Biography of the Archbishop, by Rupert Shott. Now I’ve moved onto Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. The biography of Rowan Williams was very interesting from a work point of view, since it analyses events and trends from the recent past. Looking back, it puts a different perspective on it than it felt living through it at the time. I’m rather enjoying the mathematical bits of the Alan Turing book. So far, it’s a good general introduction to the state of mathematical thinking at the beginning of the 1930s, as well as a horrifying view of the lack of respect for scientific education at the time.

I also finished the complete re-read of the Yarn Harlot’s blog just after Easter and very much enjoyed it. It’s like spending time with someone you know very well. Bizarre, this blogging thing, isn’t it? The number of people whose blogs I’ve been reading for years without them knowing the first thing about me.

Spinning update

That needs a whole other post I think. There is yarn.

He is risen. I have fallen… asleep

When you are a vicar, Holy Week is a really big deal. This year I’ve upped the number of services slightly, plus we’ve had a big theme of exploring creative prayer during Lent. I’ve loved pretty much every minute of it, but it has been full on.
Today, after two services and a home communion, I kicked my email inbox into a bit of shape, did some planning ahead for the next two weeks then, at quarter to five, I stopped. I relaxed, snuggled up on the sofa with the girl, and let things go.
It turns out that I’m quite tired and have been running fueled on adrenaline for quite a while. It feels very good indeed to relax, although now I have no motivation to make anything happen. I’ve sat in a chair all evening reading about knitting, (yes, still the yarn harlot; yes, I have a problem; no, I am not stopping because I’m at 2012 now, so the end is in sight), unable to make decisions about what to knit, drink or watch.
Of those three things, the only thing I managed to sort out was what to drink: whisky and ginger wine. To my knowledge, it’s the first time I’ve tried that combination, but my Dad drinks it. I think he calls it a Whisky Mac. I’m fairly sure that Mum doesn’t let him use the decent whisky for it, but I’m a whisky snob so there is no poor whisky in the house, just the nice bottle of Tobermory I got in December. I spent a happy couple of minutes tasting various ratios until I got something that was sweet but with a good kick.

On the knitting front, since I last posted I have been creating more stripes on the baby blanket: boring, garter stitch, still lovely colours, nearly at the halfway point.

I’m hoping for a decent amount of actual knitting time this week, but now I’m going to head for bed with a book. I’m wondering about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I bought it when it first came out because it was such a beautiful book, but got distracted about a third of the way through. I’m inclined to try again and if it doesn’t suit this time then it is going to the charity shop. That tome is too big to be purely ornamental.

Daylight

It really is true that you get better photos of knitted stuff when you take them in daylight.

image

That’s more like the intensity. Observant readers will notice that I haven’t actually knitted any more, just turned it over to photograph the other side.

We had a little trip to A&E yesterday. It turns out it was nothing to worry about, but the nice people on the 111 line couldn’t be sure without me taking the small person in to be seen. Do you know how long we had to wait?

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Three rounds of a lace sock.
That isn’t long at all and we were by no means an urgent case. I love the NHS.

In other news, the Easter holidays have started. I have escaped upstairs for some quality alone time.

P.S. I’m onto 2007 in the great Yarn Harlot reread.

Colour

Today I am enthralled by colour, the brighter the better.

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This is quite possibly the simplest knitting that I have ever attempted, but the irregularity of the stripes is keeping me interested.

That’s not actually the colour that really has me gripped. No, that would be this:

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Only of course I’m blogging late at night so the colour looks nothing like that. It is a towel of the the deepest, brightest magenta and belongs to my three year old daughter. She told us she was too big for baby towels, (she had a point: they only reached her legs if she curled up into a ball) so Phil let her choose her own towel at the supermarket. She picked this one… and now I have towel envy. It has that fluffy new towel softness going on as well.
In other news, the camouflage lace socks are coming along. I now have one whole sock and a cuff. This finishing off of knitted stuff is gripping, (for me at least).

Weak

Yesterday I started another read-through of the Yarn Harlot’s blog. This is a really bad idea for many reasons, mostly linked to my responsibilities as wife, mother and office-holder, plus the undesirability of prolonged sleep-deprivation, the twitchiness of my left eye and the lack of any real plan for work tomorrow.

Still, here’s a lovely box of wool that is gradually turning into a blanket. The colours are much more vibrant than this in real life.

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I also have a deep urge to cast on something big and complicated in laceweight wool.
It is possible that the Yarn Harlot’s attitude to life and knitting is somewhat catching. I’m hoping the read-through won’t be a complete one. It was ok the first time because she had only been blogging for 4 years. Now it is 11 years.

Spinning around

The spinning has made progress today. I now have two full bobbins of singles of the Jacob humbug fleece, so they are ready to ply. However, I only have three bobbins so, before I could ply, I needed to clear the third bobbin. On the third bobbin I was halfway through spinning a selection of rolags using long-draw so today I finished the spinning. It was some time since I last tried long-draw and there was a bit of a learning curve to get back into it. Anyway, I ended up with this:

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Remember how I only have three bobbins and two of them are full of Jacob? At the spinning course last year I learned Andean plying, where you wind the singles round your hand and fingers, then ply from both ends. Easier with a ball-winder.

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Then I plied.

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I nodded and nidded, then washed the skein. It’s not balanced, so will need another run through the wheel to add some more twist. Still, all good practice.
There is another WIP on the needles: a millamia baby blanket for a baby that is due really quite soon now. I’ve not seen my friend since she became pregnant, so the imminence has rather passed me by. Still, what baby needs a wool blanket in high summer? It will be done by autumn.
This week I’ve been rereading one of the Yarn Harlot’s books, following this post which made me both laugh and shed a tear. (I made DH read it too, but he only laughed: I don’t think he gets as emotional about knitting as I do). In fact it has been a week for thinking of excellence in writing, with the news of Terry Pratchett’s death. Pterry and the Yarn Harlot are two of the writers that I read in awe at their facility with language. Stephen Fry is up there too in the list of my favourite writers.

Two finished items

Last week on my day off I spent most of the day sourcing items for the boy’s world book day costume: he went as Asterix. Here’s the hat.

asterixhat

I had to buy a hot glue gun to make the wings. Now that is an awesome new toy.

Later in the day, I sat down with some yellow yarn and a crochet hook and came up with this:

tache

A good addition to the dressing up box. I fixed pipe cleaners to the ends of the tache, so it works rather like glasses hooking behind the ear.

In order to complete the World Book Day costume, I had to compromise on the deadline for the Fish Lips Kiss Socks, but they are done as well now, even if they weren’t ready to be opened on the significant birthday for which they were intended.

fishlips

I only have four WIPs at the moment: that must be the lowest number for some time. I have new projects all set and ready to go whenever I feel like it, but I keep being drawn to finish up the old ones. This is almost unprecedented, but I’m going with it.

I’m getting out all my WIPs today. I will sit in my chair catching up with all the tv I’ve missed this week and alternate them. The project I really want out of the way is the Amigurumi project, which I started on a whim and swiftly got bored with. I’ve a lovely crochet project waiting to go, but I won’t begin another crochet project until this one is finished. I suppose that means I had better go and work on that, since knitting and crochet projects get finished much more quickly when you work on them, rather than looking disapprovingly at them and wishing they were done.

Day off with the kids

Ah, half term. A day off with no school run, but two small people to entertain all day.
T took control of the tablet this morning and did some major work on his mixel collection, creating some really rather creative Lego bits and pieces. J has discovered scissors, so we spent some time clearing up many scraps of paper from around the living room.
I was determined to do a bit of spinning, but the kiddies weren’t really very supportive.
We went out for a walk, fully kitted out in waterproofs. J spectacularly face-planted twice, getting covered in mud and scratching her brand new glasses.
This evening, after a plateful of courgette fritters, I managed a decent amount of spinning, nearly filling the first bobbin of some Jacob tops.

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This is the first step in my spinning project: to have two full bobbins to ply, then knit something out of it to see what it is like.
In knitting news, I’m nearly at the top of the first Fish Lips Kiss Heel sock. Oh, and a large box of Millamia yarn arrived today, ready for a secret project.