The right sort of a carrot

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Wensleydale, Wensleysweater 1 on September 23rd, 2015

After all that moaning I did about the boring, boring sleeve I managed to knit my way through the whole ball of yarn by Sunday. I am still out of yarn, I’m working on the combing but realistically a ball of yarn a week is all I can manage and that’s if I actually pull my finger out and get on with combing. If I pushed myself I could find the time to comb 100g a day but that’s a bad idea because when my attention starts to wander I find myself combing my left hand. Wool combs are sharp and pointy and you swing them about – it’s a painful combination that means that it is a really good idea to keep your mind on what you are doing. The house rule is to stop when you draw blood,  I’m aiming to stop before then which is why I’m only aiming for 50g a day. I don’t dislike combing but there’s some set up and clean up that I’m not too enamoured of – it’s always easy to say that I’ll skip it today because of [reason]. I’m hoping to have another ball of yarn by the start of next week so that I can finish this sleeve and probably start the next.

Clearly something happened to make me knuckle down and get on with the boring sleeve and it’s not snowed so it isn’t that. I found the right motivational tool in the purchase of a new pattern because there’s nothing like the promise of a new start to make me get a move on and push through the boredom. This is the very start of a Dale of Norway pattern, it’s a Geilo in the twelve month size. I’m doing the sweater rather than the cardigan because the neck treatment will be new to me. The black edge will be only half that length, there’s a picot turn hiding in the middle of the hem and when I’ve sewn it to the back it will stop rolling up so I can actually see what I’m supposed to be knitting. This is the centre of the front or maybe the back, you can see that the diagonals of the pattern are reflected around that central blob. The next pattern doesn’t do this and I can’t wait to get there because I am not coping well with this reflection business. Maybe at some point my autopilot knitter will figure out that there’s an intentional change in the centre but at the moment she’s screaming ERROR when what I’m counting doesn’t fit into the space that I have. There are only a few rows left in this section, I don’t think I have enough time to get the hang of it before the pattern changes.

Sometime this side of Christmas I will need a gift for someone I don’t know very well, I’ve seen a photo of her but that’s all. I’m running with the idea that everyone has a neck (I’m certain she does, it was in the photo) and that you can’t go wrong with soft and fluffy. What I thought I had in the bag was a hundred grams of cashmere but when I came to open it the label (in my handwriting, there is no excuse) said 30% cashmere, 70% merino. I wasn’t expecting to get it all on the bobbin but a positive mental attitude (also known as “stubbornness”) did the trick. There are about four hundred yards here which will certainly be plenty for a little neck thing. I have to decide whether it’s going to be a beaded thing before I decide what colour it is because I have bags and bags of beads that I’ve bought for projects and then not used. I’m going to shop the stash and then dye the yarn to match the beads.



Countdown part two

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Spinning, Weaving, Wensleydale on September 23rd, 2014

THREE cushions. The cushion pads are 18″ square and the covers needed to be a bit smaller than that to make a plump rather than a flat cushion. There’s a difference between “a bit smaller” and “too small” and the width of the cloth put me very firmly in the “too small” camp. Had I started with a grand plan then the purple cushion would not have had the silk inkle trim but that was the one that I made first. I needed something to cover the join in the panels and I had a length of silk tape left from something else so that’s what I used. It would have been better if I had used the same purple wool trim that I used in the other two cushions, that would have tied the three together.  After I’d finished the first cushion cover I had to think about what I would do with the join on the second. There wasn’t enough of the silk inkle left but then I remembered the thin purple wool fabric in the top of my wardrobe. I’ve been surprised by the number of times that my son has worn the jacket that I transformed with dye but he didn’t want the trousers and after he wore them for the photo I put them away with the idea that I’d use the fabric for something. It made the ruffle in the second cushion and the tape that covers the seams in the third one, it’s fine enough to use with the smallest bias tape maker so I can see that the rest of it will find a use too. You’re not getting a close up picture because the checkerboard was sewn with child labour (they’re his cushions after all) and they’re best seen from a distance.

TWO big skeins of Wensleydale, the surprise here (to me at least) is that they are not the four ply I set out to make. Once I’d got my six bobbins full I made another sample of the four ply yarn and a three ply just to see what it looked like. I liked the three ply better. If it had been frosty then I might have leaned more towards a thick sweater but just now a medium weight one seems like a good idea. It doesn’t actually matter seeing as I didn’t have a pattern in mind, I can either find one that works with the yarn that I have or alter one that I like the look of. These haven’t had their beauty bath yet, I’ve been waiting for a fine day where I can hang them out to dry (which as you can see from the lighting might be today). There is 400g of yarn here so another two skeins should do it. I need to start up the comb-spin-ply cycle again.

ONE new project. I felt that I deserved a break from spinning grey so I turned the bright braid from the last post into bright yarn. This is another Ulina (the first one I made is here), it starts with a provisional cast on at the centre back and works outwards from there to the cuff. The wide black stripe was my insurance policy because at that point I wasn’t certain that I would have enough yarn to reach the cuff. I thought that if I added a wide stripe early on by choice then if I needed to add another to the sleeve from necessity it would look less obvious. When I was half way down the sleeve I weighed the remaining yarn, worked out how many rows were left in the ball and knew that I was in the clear. I didn’t even get as far as the purple in the ball.  I split the top into four and made two balls of two ply yarn so hopefully the second side will look similar to the first. I’ve learned my lesson with this one, I’m only putting three buttonholes on it rather than five so that I can use buttons that I already have. I’m also putting buttonholes on both fronts so that I can choose which set to use once I’m done (sewing on the button closes the hole that you don’t use so it’s not obvious that you were indecisive).

It’s a lovely sunny day here so it’s time to soak the Wensleydale and hang it to dry. Now I know what yarn I have I can start looking at patterns.

 



Countdown, part one

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, Wensleydale on September 19th, 2014

SIX bobbins of Wensleydale. One may turn out to be slightly different to the others because my sample card went walkabout for a couple of days. I’m not all that worried, these are going to become a four ply yarn so hopefully the difference in one ply won’t be all that noticeable. I’m going to start plying now, I decided that six bobbins would be the perfect number to kick off a four ply yarn. The first skein will leave me with four part bobbins, the second one will be made from the two full bobbins and the four part ones left from the first skein. There will be a significant amount left over but that’s fine because two skeins isn’t going to be enough for a sweater.

FIVE – buttons on the cardigan. I bought the first set of buttons while the knitting and I were on holiday. In my mind they were perfect but I don’t know whether this is true because they never got near the cardigan. I’ve worked out how I came to lose them, they were in a small paper bag in my handbag for weeks before they mysteriously vanished. I remember sitting with a coffee and clearing out all the shipping receipts, shopping lists and till receipts that I stuff in my handbag. It’s more than likely that the small paper bag went in the bin with the rest of the rubbish. I’m now at the stage where I want this finished (because last week I met a baby that it could be given to) so the button tin that originally had nothing suitable now has something that meets my newly lowered standards. I understand that not-matching-on-purpose is a thing these days. The pattern is Butterfly Net, it’s knitted bottom up in one piece with the sleeves picked up and knitted down. It would be a good use of leftover bits of sock yarn because the overlay would make the background stripes less prominent. I thought I’d be knitting one after the other but one was quite enough.

FOUR – socks from the sock blank. Yes I know I’m stretching it a bit here with the numbering but I have a theme and I’m running with it. I don’t have four of anything else but I do have four finished socks. That’s not quite true, it seems that I have a lot of buttons in fours which is telling me that I should stop making buttonholes in fives. It would have been simple to start at the top of the blank and knit until all the socks were done. I didn’t do that because of the sunset in the middle, the second sock would have been very much more yellow than the first. My second sock was knitted from the other end of the blank so both missed the sun. This was a good idea, bonus marks to me for thinking ahead and planning, except that I then went on to make the second pair exactly the same as the first pair so really I needn’t have bothered. I probably could have knitted as it came and paired socks one and four together. The leftover sunny yarn will go into another pair of school socks when I feel like it, for the moment I’m done with black topped socks. We’re entering the season of grim, grey days and I don’t appreciate spending dark evenings trying to count rows on a black sock.

Do I have a three, two, one? Not yet but I’m working on it. I’m sure by next week I’ll have something that I can force to fit the theme.



Piles of grey

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, Wensleydale on August 25th, 2014

I put the Wensleydale away before we left on holiday but before that I had grey wool piled up in various formats. The first stage pile is a messy one resulting from me pulling individual locks from the mass of wool and opening them up. The fleece was muddy and two soaks, two washes and a rinse wasn’t enough to get all the grot out. If I don’t open up the locks I need another combing step and that means more waste. It’s easier to open them up by hand using paper to catch the fine dust that falls out. When the pile threatens to topple over I put the bag of washed wool away and get the combs out. What comes off the combs is lengths of smooth roving with no sign of the original lock structure, all ready to spin. I’m putting those in a wicker basket (lined with a silk scarf to eliminate snagging) and when that pile starts fighting its way out of the basket I spin it. There is exactly the same amount of wool in the photo on the right as in the photo on the left, all of that big pile of fluff went onto one bobbin. So far I have four bobbins full of single, enough to start plying but I’m not going to do that until I have another three bobbins full. This is not going to be a quick project, the majority of my time is spent in fibre preparation, the spinning and plying are the last stages of a time consuming process.

The other fibre that comes off the combs is made up of shorter wool together with any tips that have broken off the locks and any second cuts. This is the combing waste although it’s only waste if you don’t use it. I’m throwing it into a carrier bag and then in the evening I sit and spin it into something thick/thin and lumpy. In the morning I chain ply it and by the evening the yarn is dry and there’s just enough to knit what looks like a small hat. Once it’s had a vicious hot/cold wash the lumps and bumps all vanish into the thick fabric. I want five of these little bowls, one for each weekday. The husband needs cash each day for the station car park but as a household we use plastic more than cash and so don’t generate many coins. We’ve had little piles of change lined up on the kitchen counter but they get knocked over so I’m moving to the five pot system. After that there will be a matching but larger pot to organise the free range rechargeable batteries that have multiplied and are running out of control across the breakfast bar. Only then will I be generating proper combing waste or maybe slippers, depending on how the mood takes me.

I don’t have a pattern lined up for the yarn, I’m not even sure yet whether I’ll be making a cardigan or a sweater. I have plenty of time to consider my options because I worked out that there’s about four hours work in a bobbin of single which means that there’s about 48 hours more work before I have enough yarn for a sweater.



TdF week three, return to Wensleydale

Posted by Caroline in Spinning, Wensleydale on July 23rd, 2014

Last week I combed the last of the Oxford Down and said that I had no fleece in the garage. At the time that was correct but it isn’t now.  This is Wensleydale, the left hand side is the original chocolate colour, the top right corner is what it will end up as when washed. It’s seasonally hot this week so a good time for wool washing because it dries quickly. I’m still working out the best washing strategy, my first batch had a cold overnight soak, one hot wash and two rinses but that produced a finished product that was still too sheepy. My second batch had a cold overnight soak, two hot washes and two rinses and that resulted in acceptable fibre but I’m going to see if a second cold soak will substitute for one of the later steps. The reason for this is that I have two big water butts full of rainwater that I can run off for soaking and the resulting bucket of very brown water can then go on the border plants. It seems a shame to use lovely drinking water for washing wool and then pull the plug and have it vanish down the drain. This is going to be a long term project and I can guarantee that the blog will be seeing it again at different stages.

The Tour de France is still on and I’m still spinning. I’m now on the third bobbin of what will be a three ply yarn, the last bobbin looks remarkably like the other two which is something that pleases me greatly. The bobbin on the left has more of the burgundy, the right one has more of the green and the third has equal amounts of both. It’s superwash bfl and nylon so will be good for baby things or socks, should it meet my exacting quality control standards it will end up as shop stock but if it’s “too” something then it will have to stay at home. Oh dear, what a shame that would be.

I had a trip out on Monday to deliver the heir to his first summer music course, had I taken a photo it would have been identical to the one I took last year so let’s just run with that. He’s at the same venue, assigned to the same room and he bagged the same bed. This year I had no worries about turning him loose with his peers, last year the pastoral care was excellent, the accommodation was good, the food was good, he enjoyed himself and he wasn’t out of his depth musically. Habits are hard to break, it’s day three and I’m watching for the school bus going past in the afternoon and walking about at night as if he’s in his bed.