Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Spinning a Yarn (not original I know!)

As I promised I will tell you about my spinning exploits. Mum had borrowed an Ashford Traditional from her local guild and so I thought it would be rude not to visit her with my fleece and get her to show me how to spin it up. And so she did.
I was really surprised how much difference using different fleeces made. I tried with one of her e-bay fleeces (Cheviot possibly) which was in her words s***ty and it truly was a pain to spin with as it didn't seem to want to flow or spin with ease at all. So we switched to another fleece and the difference was noticeable straight away - more lanolin on the wool (Mum did say she may have washed the other fleece too much) and easier to draw out (using technical terms - I think!).
My fleece is a shetland merino cross and is a lovely deep chocolate colour and is full of lanolin and lovely to spin with. I was going to photograph my attempts but I'm sorry - after Mum-in-law said "What's that? Is it meant to be like that?" I'm too shy to show it to the wider world. It is rather rough and slubby but don't let all these spinners fool you - it isn't that easy to get a perfect yarn especially if you've only got a duff drum carder to card your fleece with meaning that all the knots and grass etc is still in the fleece as you try to spin it into some from of hand made loveliness.
And in connection to this I've just had a call from the Ranger at Tam O'Shanters Farm offering me half a fleece!! Have a look at this! This is my fleece, or at least the type of sheep it comes from but none of the sheep at the farm have four horns - too young perhaps? There are pictures here of the yarn knitted up as well. Will wait to see what state the fleece is in, hopefully no beasties or too much muck, after all these are sophisticated urban sheep we're talking about here!!

On the knitting front I've not had a great week. I borrowed a friends Colinette pattern book and it has a pattern for a tie front cardigan in Giotto and it only takes 3 hanks, just the amount I had in the stash pile. So I eagerly cast on and flew through the knitting up - a day for each front and back. Then came the sleeves. And worryingly the pile of yarn left was looking dubiously small for 2 sleeves. Anyway I cast on and knitted up the 1st sleeve realising that there was not going to be enough yarn for the last sleeve let alone sewing the thing up.
It was a lovely colour knitted up - such a lovely autumnal curry colour. Double checking my tension found that mine was out by an extra stitch and extra row. But still it must have been a close call to be able to use only 3 hanks - unless the yardage is not quite the same in the sale room yarns. So now do I:
a) try again on the same size needles;
b) try again on larger needles;
c) knit something else (even though I now really fancy a cardi in this colourway) or
d) try to get another hank that matches?

Answers on a postcard to.....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

FO's as promised!!

Here we go - Emily's little dress has been completed and Emily duly wore it today when we visited Tam O'Shanters Farm near us. It a lovely Urban Farm which is lovely for little ones with sheep, rabbits, goats, ducks, hens, pigs, donkeys and ponies and is run on a charitable basis. I will show you the photos of the dress in a moment but first I'll tell you about their sheep (keeping the knitting theme going!) - there are lovely Manx Langhorns which have a lovely chocolate brown fleece. I asked the ranger what happens with their fleeces as I was a spinner (well - I didn't tell him how badly I spun!) and would be interested in the wool. So he took my number and is trying to find the fleece that he thinks is around somewhere for me!! Just think, wool from Birkenhead's finest (and probably only) sheep!

Anyway back to the knitting. Here we have the dress as modelled by Emily:

As usual she will not sit still for her photos but here is the dress again (well one done from the same pattern) but this time modelled a few years ago by myself!

Other FO's on the catwalk? Here comes Odessa as modelled by our model of the month Emily. Note please how she is about to yank the hat off and throw it on to the floor. It was this or a boring photo of the hat on the floor!

Right, I will tell you all about my spinning and show you my attempts but it has taken me so long to get these photos up on blogger that I really am feeling too tired to type more tonight. Besides DH is itching to get back on the computer to play! So for now this is it and I will report on the spinning soon, hopefully with news of the Manx fleeces!! Fingers crossed there is still one around or its a long wait until next July when they're sheared again!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Honest, I have been busy!

I've only just realised that I haven't posted for a while. And really I have been busy and do have some FO's to show you all.
Firstly Odessa is finished. The colours look great and the pattern is lovely but I'm not sure about how it looks on - which is no bad thing as really it's not for me! Thats hat number 2 done for Christmas! Hat number 3 was underway (another Madge in Colinette One Zero) but I was having one of those days when my lace was just not working so I frogged it in impatience, plus Mum did want her needles back so will have to ask Hubby to get my Christmas present (small circular needle set) early in order to be able to make more Christmas presents!
Current WIP is a Pinafore dress for Emily and it's an old pattern I found in my Grans house after she died and it is one that I wore when I was a little girl. Once it's done I'll try to post a photo of me in mine and Emily in hers!
Anyway am determined to finish the dress tonight so will sign off and post again tomorrow hopefully with photos of the FO's and of my spinning effort!! More on that later as well!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wednesday Weather.

Well, OK, not really weather but it was a great sunset that light the sky wonderfully! And I can't believe how slow I've been to update the blog, I have been busy doing nothing it seems.
If you've read Artis-Anne you will have already heard about our little trip to the Trefiw Woolen Mills and their Spinning and Weaving House which was very inspirational. Needless to say I did come away bearing fleece - one an un-dyed Shetland Merino cross in a lovely deep chocolate brown, lovely and soft and full of lanolin; the other a bag of dyed unknown fleece in moorland shades of greens and heather purple flashes. Both bags will need carding before their spun - when that will be I do not know as I really would need to prefect my technique first. It was just the temptation of buying bits of sheep to play with (without meaning to sound rude!). Then my car broke down due to wet weather (?) and I had an extra night of knitting and nattering at Mum's but my mind was not with it for knitting. To clarify I started another of the little Colinette Tagliatelle vests for Emily with some yarn Mum had left over and totally got confused over the measurements and did the measurements in inches rather than centimeters eg 12" rather than 12cm and did not question it even though it looked enormous. This has since been frogged and corrected but not photographed yet.

As far as knitting seems to be going at the moment I feel as if I'm in a bit of a rut. The Tank Girl top from S'n'B Nation is so simple it's boring (the pale blue rib body); Odessa (variegated blue shades) is growing too slowly for me right now and I suppose I have a bit of Cast-on fever - happy to cast on new projects but it's difficult to motivate myself to work through them. Admittedly the photos are a bit old and the back of the tank top is done and Odessa is marginally bigger but I don't really feel excited by these projects too much (I do like Odessa but it's a potential present so has the air of a chore about it).
Ah well, I'll just keep plodding on and I'm sure I'll feel better about them once their finished.

And as for Emily - well, she liked the spinning at Trefiw as she got to feel bits of different fleeces and I think it's given her ideas! I'm sure it won't take her long to figure it out!