Thursday, October 27, 2005

Progress is slow

I am getting up before the sun these days. That is not right. It is not the natural logical progression of the world. The sun rises; then me. This is what I saw a few days ago when I got up. Yes, there is a lot of construction going on around me now. The colours are beautiful -- I used to be so intrigued by the various shades of reds and pinks and greys and blues of the sunrises of several years ago. I wanted to capture all that colour and create clouds of wool to spin! I'm working on it.

I've been slowly working on the mystery shawl. I am about a third way through Clue 4, and Clue 5 comes out tomorrow! I am not able to spend enough time on it. It has not been easy! There are lace pattern rows on BOTH sides -- and I really had to struggle with them for some reason. This is not the first time I've done lace. I think I can usually work through any kind of pattern, but this one was really difficult! There wasn't much of a design developing, that I could see, so I had to concentrate on following the charts, and would lose my place a lot! I developed a way of isolating only a section at a time, and then moving that little window as I worked the stitches. It's coming along, and I think it will be looking great when done, but there is not much to see right now. As you know, lace needs to be stretched out when being blocked to show off the pattern. So we will see it at the end! I will include a pic here of what I have so far. Looks good, right?

Remember that bag I was felting? Nothing much happened when I rubbed and scrubbed in the sink by hand. It usually worked when I did smaller things. So I threw it in the maching when I was doing my laundry, and let it go through a cylce. It's better, but not felted much yet. The stitches are still visible and there are a couple of holes where it was stretched too much. I think that another run through the machine is necessary. I'm told that sometimes it takes 3 cycles in a machine before it will felt.

But my shawl is not getting done; more to follow.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Three Down ----

You remember that I've been working on a shawl knit-along. There is a new "clue" released every Friday, and we have a week to work on it, before we get more of the pattern. We are not told what shape it is going to be, how large, what the pattern is. It's all a Mystery!

Well, I've completed Clue 3. I now have received Clue 4, and am going to get started on this next section. Here is a pic of it so far:
And yes, it is now off the needles! It is about 35 cm tip to edge now -- that is about 14 inches for you 'Muricans. It's not finished, we can see that; it is just too small. So we knew there was more in store for us. Today, we were told to bind-off that last row we worked on, and to pick up stitches along both sides of the triangle. Ah, ha!! Now we will be knitting downward to the outside edge! Nice plan! This will allow some of us to make it larger, if needed, by repeating a few more rows, or even to introduce another shade of yarn, if we wanted. I like this idea.

There is some confusion in my mind about how to do the bindoff -- it needs to be firm but yet elastic. However, I did find some good ideas of different elastic ones, and choose one that looks good to me. Then -- how do you pick up stitches? Do you knit them up? Or just pick up loops along the edge? And we have to purl the first row, and then start the pattern, on row 2 as the right side row, which is not the usual way patterns are written. Oh, this is testing my openess to new presentations!! I'll work it out some way; probably have to re-write the pattern to suit me! LOL

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dyeing Day

Today was the beginning of a series of classes for me. And on this day, we did some nature dyeing, which was fun and with interesting results. Sometimes, we didn't get what we had hoped for. And that is part of the thrill of pulling out that skein of yarn, not knowing what will come out.

We had several pots going with beet tops, carrot tops, Bee Balm, marguerita, tumeric, onion skins. There were some plants right outside our door! We used alum as a mordant, and some iron. We aren't going to use any of the more hazardous ones, like copper, tin or chrome.

Most of us got shades of green, or yellow, or orange. We don't have a wide selection of different plants to give us the reds or blues, but enough to get a range anyway. They will look good used together in weaving or knitting. Now, I have to cook up nine more pots of colour with different plants or spices!! This can either be a lot of fun --- or not!

Friday, October 14, 2005

It's a Mystery

I have always enjoyed doing lace knitting, but of late, there are other projects that have taken up my time. I heard from one of the ladies in the knitting guild of a group on Yahoo that were working on a Mystery Shawl -- a part of the pattern was given each week, and you blindly followed along with everyone, not knowing the final outcome until it was all done. So I joined.

The great thing about having so many people doing the exact same thing is how different we all approach it. Some have used light yarns, some dark. Some have used fuzzy yarns, some multi-coloured, some lace-weight, and some worsted. It doesn't matter. That is one of the things I love about lace -- that you can do the exact same thing over and over, using different yarns, and it will always look different. We don't have to worry much about gauge, since it needs only to be large enough to cover the shoulders of the wearer. Some of us wanted a warm shawl so are using heavier wool, and others wanted only the experience of working with a lace chart and are using acrylics. No matter.

I was spinning up some luscious Merino/silk for this project, and was behind by two weeks. But the yarn came out too fine (I tried to spin thick!) for this project, so I will use it for something else. I searched through my somewhat ample stash and found this sock yarn that I won't be using for socks, and it would be perfect for a shawl. It is 75% wool from Scheepjes in a strong rose purple. I think it will be fine. (That's a shadow across the shawl)

Well, I have just started on Clue 3 -- it just came out an hour ago! -- and this next section is going to take some time. This thing is now getting larger and there are so many more stitches to do! It ends with four rows in garter stitch -- now I'm curious to know what is being planned for the rest of it. Hmmm ---

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Shrinking Bag

There is a lady at work that has shown some interest in knitting, and we have done a couple of projects together. She has completed a pair of mittens, which her daughter grabbed for herself almost before they were off the needles, and she is now working on a pair for herself. I have shown her a wonderful thrift shop that has needles and sometimes some good yarn. We have been looking for some wool to work with, and she told me the other day that she has some on hold at the store. I went with her to the shop, and to look around myself.

She didn’t have just some wool on hold. She had a huge bag of 100% unspun wool rovings!! I had made a purchase several months ago of 14 wheels of the stuff, and she had even more! What a lucky girl! Of course, if I had found it first, I would have snapped it all up immediately!

So we have decided on doing some felted bags with it. I started working on one myself first, to show her how it would work. I don’t have circular needles large enough, so have to use my straight 10mm needles. As you can see, I wanted to work it in the round, so I had to do some double knitting. For the most part, it is rather easy. I am using three strands of the unspun rovings -- they come apart easily with a bit of tension, but I'm learning to loosen up. There is only one little mishap, but easily fixed. I threw in some colour and may dye it later on for something more. I haven’t decided yet if I will knit a flap for it and if I will make any handles or not. I also don’t know how deep to knit it, because I don’t know how much it will shrink in the felting process. I have done a small bag before, and shrinkage was a factor, but not a lot.

I am still working on those socks. For some reason, I am having a lot of trouble with the heel flap. That is because I ventured off the well-trodden path and was determined to use the Eye of the Partridge heel – for some reason, it is not working right for me. Oh, well.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Mallard Cloud

Several weeks ago, one woman on a list I am on, advertised that she was clearing out older stock for the new lot coming in. So after a few emails, we settled on the colours and the amount. The real killer is the shipping!!

I got 6 bags of fluff! It is Merino/silk and is Oh so Soft! I have only one bag of Mallard, a kind of green with specks of yellow and maybe blue. I took it out of the bag, and unrolled it… and then unfolded it. It was a large carded batt of the softest wool and silk blend! I had to spin it immediately!

I wanted a soft twist, which is very hard for me to do. I like my yarns spun quite firmly and very fine. But I did it, a small skein, and it is so soft. That is what everyone says when I show it to them.

I tore off a strip off the batt about the width of a hand. I then pulled it out into a roving to make spinning easier. Those that spin will know what I mean; those that do not should know that preparation is everything! Spend time to prepare your fibres well, and your spinning almost happens by itself.

I am spinning this very fine, but with only enough twist to hold together. I will then ply it together, and hope there is enough twist to do this right! It may be too softly spun.

I have joined a Yahoo group that is doing a shawl Knit-A-Long (KAL). The owner of the list sends us a Clue about once a week. It is part of the pattern… we don’t get to know anything more than this. So we are all knitting it, bit by bit, speculating on the outcome, anxiously awaiting the next set of chart, learning a lot along the way. I haven’t started my shawl yet, because I am still spinning the yarn! I tried a sample, but don’t think I have the right needles for it. Oh, it’s all so exciting!

The sock? No, it’s not done yet; it is on hold for now. There are just too many other things to do!