Wednesday, 29 October 2014

test driving… yarn

I don’t usually torture you with gratuitous shots of yarn.  Partly because my stash enhancements are documented in detail on Ravelry.  And because some of you are not in a position to buy all the yarn, and that would be like putting a large plate of brownies in front of a dieter.  Also, is there really any point in showing things here that I’ve not tryed yet.

Today I wanted to show you some of the things I hope to talk about in the next couple of weeks.  A teaser so to speak.  To pique your interest.  So that you continue to read my ramblings at least until I get round to talking about these things again.

The first item is a thing that I needed, but didn’t intend to buy right now.  One of those items that throws you over the no postage threshhold without being as much as postage.  Remember Drops?  That brand of reasonably priced yarn that I like to shrink.  Well they also make reasonably priced needles.  These were ordered for the Woolly Wormhead Mystery Knit-A-Long next month.  I shall return at the end of November to tell you if they were inexpensive, or cheap.  (BTW:  I can enthusiastically endorse the Woolly Wormhead Mystery Knit-A-Long.  I plan my whole knitting year around this KAL, and she’s not paying me a penny to say it.)

Our state-side chums will be really familiar with this next item. Cascade 220 is as common as mud in the US, but I seem to remember it costing a lot more when I first spotted folk selling it here.  Recently it’s become reasonably priced yarn for us in the UK.  Metre for metre the price is comparible with Drops Alaska.  You know how I love to test inexpensive yarns, but you’d think one would only need one skein to do it.  I wanted to see how these particular colours looked in person, and buying five skeins was cheaper than going to visit all the colours at a bricks and mortar shop.  That’s a road trip for a whole other day.

So there you have it.  Stay tuned to find out how my adventures with these beauties turns out. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

spinning wheel demo - woolmaker bliss

This week Kieron Pegg dropped by my YouTube channel and asked me to make video showing Woolmakers Bliss in action. So here it is for your viewing pleasure. (I feel like there should be a musical number here, but I'm certain that singing and dancing is not why you drop by.)


Saturday, 25 October 2014

the cycles of knitting

Recently I've had a really good bout of finishing all the things. Maybe not all the things, but a lot of the things that had been lingering. One long term unfinished thing even came out from under the bed, sniffed the sun light, and has gone off to sewing school for completion. The 3/2 rule went out the window, because it was all about the finishing. It felt like I could ride that wave of finishing glory forever.

Then came the SPAKAL sweater. The yarn is chunky, so it was really just a matter of hunkering down, and cracking on. I'd swatched, washed, measured, and planned; so even the knitting wasn't really traumatic. I cast off one evening last week, left it out on the foot stool, and tootled off the bed. It has been on the foot stool ever since.

The following morning I just started one of the projects that I'd packed into a bag with all the nations, and the pattern. All the satisfaction of finishing from the week prevous had evaporated. And this week I am starting all the things. Socks, sweaters, spinning, Christmas gifts, and of course Woolly's KAL.

For the next few months I'm going to forge forth with this new current of startitous unreservedly and unapologetically. And when I reach that stagnent pond of half finished things I'm sure you'll ride along with me for another bout of finishing glory.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

finishing glory - new look 6356

This shirt was cut out in May to be sewn together over the summer. You see, I had a break from my weekly sewing workshop to do out door summery things. And it seemed like a good idea to treat myself to some wonderful Liberty lawn to make a wonderful summer top. Something simple, that would only take a couple of hours on a rainy day. It was a good idea, but it didn't rain much this summer, so not much sewing.

I've made this pattern a couple of times now. Actually I've made Simplicity 8523 and New Look 6356, but if you lay the pattern pieces on top of each other they are the same. I love this pattern because it lets a stunning print do all the talking. And I can wear these shirts on formal occassions, and as everyday wear. The previous versions are starting to fade, which just shows how often they are going through the washing machine. I had thought about saving them for 'best', but came to my senses and treated myself to the one metre of fabric it takes to make a new one.

The problem with the previous versions is that the hem tends to sit on top of my bottom, so that they look wrinkled around the waist. This time I added some extra space at the hips. The front piece fitted well; so I took the back piece, and added 1 cm on the side seam and 1cm on to the centre back seam at the hips. This gave me a total of 4 cm extra width around the rear. The shirt still tends to ride up a little over my bum, but not as badly as it used to.

I also tried using french seams on this shirt. They are a little on the chunky side because I was nervous about enclosing the raw edge. For a straightish seam with a thin fabirc this makes a beautiful finish, and is no more effort than overlocking both edges to press open. I did try french seaming the sleeves. It was a complete disaster. I find setting in a sleeve challenging. I'd forgotten that, and french seaming them was just a thing to far for me. In the end I seamed them in normally and overlocked. Unfortunately I'd lost some of the seam allowance through my french seaming endeavours. There are still some annoying wrinkles round the top sleeve, but I'm putting those down as a learning experience.

The pattern calls for a facing at the neck, and a keyhole opening at the back of the neck. I can get the shirt on easily without the keyhole opening, so I used bias binding to finish the neck and the sleeves. Taking the time to hand stitch the bias binding rather than top stitching was really worth while. I love the finish. The hem shaping was drafted by hand, and finished with bias binding too.

Mostly I'm really pleased with this, but I have made a mental note to take my time next time I do a set in sleeve.

What sewing techniques challenge you?


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

majacraft little gem - all the accessories

Are you the sort of person who gets a gadget, and wants all the accessories to go with it? I'm not. I don't bling my phone, or buy loads of fancy gizmos for my tablet. And I hate dangly things that don't do anything, especially keyrings. I prefer simple gadgets with all the functions I want built in. In that respect Little Gem has been perfect for me. It does most of the things straight out of the bag. Why then do I just want all the accessories? Maybe not all the accessories, but definately all the flyer kits. The only thing stopping my ordering every flyer and whorl, is that they will be SO much cheaper to buy when I'm actually in New Zealand. We're talking about 25% cheaper, so worth the wait.

This has actually been a great rationaliser. Rather than just buying the whole lace flyer kit, complete with bobbins, I've really thought about the parts I need right now. The fast whorl was the first thing I ordered, and it has lived on the wheel ever since it arrived. But spinning finer yarns has created another problem. They tend to catch on the standard sliding hook that comes with the delta flyer. I was tossing up whether to buy the lace flyer kit, or the fine flyer kit, when I realised you can get the ceramic insert e-hook all on its own.

Mum very carefully packaged this little gizmo up, and posted it over to me. It seems to have solved all my fine spinning problems. To the point where I'm wondering if I need all the accessories after all.


Friday, 10 October 2014

finishing glory - needle work

I Instagrammed the other day, that this was the first thing I'd embroidered since Brownies in the eighties. Then I wandered into the spare room, and spotted the sashiko cushion. Has there been some other needle work in the last three decades that I've forgotten? Perhaps I just have needlework amnesia.

If you fancy one of these wee creatures for yourself go and check out Kiriki Press. The gang over there are so delightful, you'll probably want one of each. All the kits are clearly labeled with a skill level. This kit was skill level two. At first I wondered if I'd been a bit ambitious, but those needlecraft lessons for Brownies eventually came flooding back. The instruction sheet that comes with the kit has all the basic information you'd expect. There is a comprehensive guide on the Kiriki Press website. By comprehensive, I mean that a beginner could get going without any other instruction.

I'm actually quite excited about all kinds of needle work at the moment. What should the next challenge be?


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

finishing glory - carridale flax experiment

After all my swatching with these yarns, I wanted to see if the difference between these yarns would be obvious in a stitch pattern. The short answer is no, it isn't. I alternated yarns for each row of this hat, and put both in the pom pom. I can't tell the difference at all.

I am very happy with the hat though, so here are the details about that.

The pattern is Barley by Tin Can Knits. Well, that's where the numbers came from anyway. My guage was 22 stitches over 10cm on 4mm needles, and I used 50 grams of yarn. This is in the toddler size.

The 2x2 rib is knitted on 3.5mm needles, and I followed these directions for the tubular cast on. The slip stitch pattern on the body of the hat goes like this:

Rows 1 and 3: Knit.

Row 2: Purl 1, slip 1 wyib.

Row 4: Slip 1, purl 1

I just carried on the slip stitch pattern till I was bored with it. I love the hat, but really can't think of a recipient who's parents will appreciate a hand wash only garment. Oops.

The model is the terrimundi we keep in the bathroom to collect all the foreign coins that come home in the Hairy Man's pockets.