Quick change

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Family on April 16th, 2014

Patience is a virtue they say so I will refrain from gnashing my teeth and ranting about the delivery performance of a large internet bookseller. I am poised on the edge of a deep, deep rabbit hole and the one thing that is stopping me from flinging myself into the depths of a new obsession is that I’m waiting for my book on tailoring. I have the idea, the pattern, the fabric samples, a book on pattern fitting, a sheet for the muslin and a waiting husband. What I don’t have is the book on tailoring that I ordered on March 27th. “Delivery in 9-12 days” my eye.

I left the jacket pattern where it was seen by other passing males and things quickly escalated from “you could make one of those for me if you like” to specifying the number of buttons and the colour. I’m reluctant to make things for my son firstly because he’s still growing but mostly because he has absolutely no idea of how much work is involved. I’ve been calling in at the local charity shop in the hope of picking up a suitable sports jacket that I could alter to fit him and this week I struck lucky. I found a lightweight wool suit that I thought would be about the right size, when I got it home it fitted perfectly. The pockets still had the threads where they’d been sewn up when new, there was no wear at the hem where it would have rubbed on shoes and it had the look of something that had been worn twice. The downside was that on one of those occasions someone had sat in crumbs of chocolate and it was the wrong colour (his preference being for purple or lime green). I ignored the dry clean only label and washed the trousers on the wool wash to see if I could wash it without it shrinking because I was hoping to dye it in the machine. The trousers were a 30″ inside leg when they went in the washer and a 30″ leg when they came out so I was confident enough to wash the jacket too. I tacked through all the layers before I did that so that it would come out the same shape as it went in. The chocolate stains came out after a fashion, there were still some faint marks on the back but you’d need to be me to find them.

I had hoped to throw the lot in the washer with a dye designed for use in washing machines but all the machine dyes say that they must not be used with wool. Having already ignored “dry clean only” I would have ignored this too but I watched my machine wash on the wool cycle and I suspect that it wouldn’t have worked well. There’s very little water in the drum and it’s a short programme so I don’t think that there would be enough time for the dye to take or enough water for it to colour evenly. I don’t have a big enough pan for the suit to go on the hob so that was out, to get an even colour it would need to swim in lots of water. Patchy yarn is appealing when knitted but I can’t see a patchy jacket being as desirable. At this point I was stuck and then I remembered the solar dyeing I did for the first pair of stealth socks that I made. After seven years and countless wash cycles that yarn is still orange and yet it didn’t get much in the way of heat. Sitting in a jam jar in the greenhouse worked as well as simmering in a pan on a gas ring so maybe I could get away with using hot water rather than a heat source?

This is where I feel there should be a flashing sign like the ones on the television “Caution, these stunts are performed by professionals under controlled conditions. Do not attempt anything you see here at home” except that I’m not a professional and I was attempting it at home. Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? The suit cost all of £10 and if I learned something and got some nice felt out of the process it would have been cheap entertainment. I dye a lot of wool so unlike tailoring I’m not reaching for the stars from a zero skill base. I knew that the lining and stitching would probably stay grey as they were not going to be silk or wool but I could live with that.

I bought a sixty litre storage tub rather than a barrel because the spare bedroom looks like the wardrobes have exploded so I have an immediate use for another storage box. (Next week’s job – tidy wool room) There was a chance that it might leak so I stood it outside near the drain so that I could empty it easily when I was done. I took the buttons off so the fabric under them would dye evenly, soaked the suit in warm water and then gradually added water firstly from the hot tap and then from the kettle so that it came up to being bath water hot without a sudden temperature change. Many of the dyes you can buy for wool have the dye and the acid combined. That’s not what I wanted for this. As soon as you have heat, dye and acid the dye will start to bond with the fibre and what I wanted was for the suit to become evenly saturated with the dye stock before it started to strike. I added the dye when the tub was about half full and then after I thought the suit was thoroughly soaked in the dye stock and I’d turned it several times I started to add the citric acid solution. After that I just l left it to cool, moving the clothes about every ten minutes or so. The magenta didn’t exhaust (does it ever?) so then it was back in the washer on the wool wash.

The result is evenly coloured, it’s still suit shaped because of the tacking and the added bonus is that the zip on the fly and both of the linings took the dye as well. The stains on the back have vanished altogether and the inside leg measurement is still 30″ so there was no shrinkeage. I forgot to take the buttons off the trousers as my focus was solely on the jacket so I know now that it’s not worth trying to dye the buttons. I will be consulting over button selection, I need eight small ones and three big ones so there’s a chance that it will double the cost of the jacket. I don’t expect him to ever wear the trousers and I doubt he’ll wear the jacket more than twice but then I will have proved beyond doubt that he’s not a jacket wearer without the effort of making him a jacket or the expense of buying one.

I am beyond pleased with the results and would certainly attempt this again although I would not be saying this if I’d done the dyeing inside because the storage box did leak. I’ve looked on Ebay and light coloured wool jackets are cheap and plentiful so if he does wear it there’s a good chance that I might do this again some time in the future. I think I struck lucky with this in that it’s a very light weight wool, I think that a thicker fabric would be harder to dye evenly and it would certainly take more drying.

There will be modelled shots once it’s dry/I’ve pressed it/it’s got buttons.

 

 



Spot the spinner

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters on March 23rd, 2014

If you’ve been here a while you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of making up. Once I’m done knitting, I’m done. I’m much better than I used to be, I used to stuff bags of knitting in the bottom of the wardrobe and ignore them for decades and I don’t do that any more. You could look on it as a sign of maturity, it’s partly because I recognise my weakness in this area and look for patterns that don’t have a lot of sewing up. You can’t get away from the finishing though, it just comes around in a different form. That’s ok because it’s sewing seams that I avoid, I can sew facings and pick up stitches with the best of them.

I started with the easy bits of sewing, there’s a facing on the body and on each of the sleeves but there’s nothing that shows on the outside so it doesn’t need to be perfect. After that I ran out of knitting and sewing because to do the button bands you need to do the collar, to do the collar you need to have joined the shoulders and before you can do that you need to cut into the sides. Everything was dependant on me getting out the sewing machine out and stitching down the sides so that’s what I did. The lines of stitching look wobbly because I used a shallow zig zag so that the knitting can stretch without popping the stitching. I’d marked the side seams as I was knitting (you can see the the orange threads on the previous photos) but the unknown was the depth. I measured the sleeve twice, cut once but I was prepared to cut twice if needed. I could make the openings deeper but not shallower so I cut just a smidge shorter than I thought I needed. I then ignored the sleeves altogether, sewed the shoulder seams and knitted the collar. It now looks much more like a sweater than it did before. Next up are the front bands and then finally the sleeves. I can’t kid myself with that, it is genuine sewing but it will be the very last thing I need to do to call it finished (apart from the buttons but they don’t count)

This also looks like a sweater because it is, buttons and all. I’ve knitted this several times before, it’s great fun and forgiving on sizing because garter is stretchy. This is DROPS b14-27 in undyed sock yarn and a two ply handspun superwash bfl and nylon. As before I changed the sleeves to eliminate any sewing up (no surprises there then). Instead of casting on at the start of the sleeve, casting off at the end and sewing it up I started with a provisional cast on and did a three needle cast off with the live stitches at the end of the sleeve. That means there is no sewing up at all, the only thing you need a needle for is to weave in the ends (and a different needle for the buttons).

The stretchy drive band for the wheel is over seven years old now and you can see that it’s yellowed and is full of tiny cracks as well as the big crack at the join. It stopped being stretchy a long time ago but it’s been doing the job. It’s hanging on but only just and when it parts it won’t be worth sticking back together. I’ve spun one bobbin this week (my excuse being that it’s been a busy week on the parenting front) and depending on the arrival of the post, there may be a gap until I get to the second bobbin. This is not the most relaxing fibre to spin, the combination of chaff, hay and second cuts means that it’s all stop-start. I like the colour and I knew that it was full of VM when I bought it (why yes, it was cheap as it happens) so I’m happy to plod along with the remainder.

Saturday was a red letter day, one of those very rare days where I have no responsibilities to small dogs or children. It doesn’t happen often, the son and heir had a two day rehearsal that included an overnight stay and my mother took the dog for the day. The two of us slipped away for a day out at Pemberley Chatsworth, I’ve been around the gardens many times (funnily enough always when there’s been a brass band playing outside) but the last time I was in the house was in the summer of 1976. This was the second set of Fates I found on the ceilings, I looked for them because if you’ve a ceiling bigger than a tennis court to fill with mythological figures then the Fates are likely to creep in somewhere. (as with all the photos, click on it to see it larger) The trio in the Painted Hall were sporting the usual combination of spindle, distaff and shears but this set won hands down in terms of equipment because they had a niddy noddy. I don’t know how many years you get on a two yard niddy noddy (that’s what it looks like) but unless it’s fifty years a turn someone there is about to get cut off in his prime. They’ve clearly worked out how to keep fibre from clinging to their clothes, the rest of us use an apron but I suppose this works as well.

 

 



Out and about

Posted by Caroline in Family, Weaving on September 15th, 2013

I didn’t put the sewing machine away when I finished the bunting because I knew that I’d be needing it again straight away. Dan is now playing with a group that needs its players to bring their own music stand so now it gets to leave the house occasionally after years of living under the settee. Neither of us realised that it was going to be so difficult to carry, the top section has a tendency to flop about and poke people in the legs. When he got back at the beginning of August I said that I’d make him a bag for it before he needed to carry it anywhere again. I’ve spent the summer thinking about a doubleweave pick up creation with a musical motif but realised that this was silly for two reasons, firstly because there are only three days where it needs to be carried and secondly that at some point he’ll want a more serious looking (=black) stand rather than the bright red one that was the best choice for a seven year old. There was the other consideration that he needed it for Saturday and I didn’t start cutting out until Thursday.

He would have managed with a plastic bag and an elastic band but where’s the fun in that? The fabric was the result of some selvedge and speed experiments back when I first got the floor loom. My beaming wasn’t as good as it could have been and that made a fabric that looked like a scarf but had more skips in it than I fancied fixing. It was the right width to make the bag and I have about 8″ of fabric left from the length, enough for a pocket on something. This is the first bag I’ve made with a zip, it was straightforward enough although I’d have made a better job of it if I’d have taken the time to find the zipper foot for the machine. I think there may be a run of zippered bags coming up soon now I’ve worked out what I’m doing.

The result was fit for purpose, you can see that the stand was under control and had no opportunity to flail around and he had a free hand for opening doors. I learned about inserting zips into lined bags and got rid of a substandard scarf so all in all it was a total win. I need to buy a few zips, find the zipper foot and then see what fabric I have that is waiting to become bags. I also need to sew the sleeves into the cardigan body, zips are much more exciting than sewing up.



Single and double

Posted by Caroline in doubleweave, Family, Knitting, sweaters, Weaving on August 7th, 2013

The weather has cooled off to the extent that I can think about touching wool again and so I’ve been back to knitting and weaving. I’ve now finished the back and both sleeves, not as big a job as you might think because it’s a short sleeved cardigan and I think I had to knit less than four inches before I started decreasing. I had planned to knit both fronts at the same time because it would make keeping track of the waist shaping much easier but I thought it would be sensible to start with just one front until I’d got the hang of the pattern panel. The pattern is mirrored on the other front and I thought it might be asking too much of my overheated brain to start off knitting both. I’m struggling because the pattern is written rather than charted, I did think of looking for the graph paper but the stitch count changes and it was too hot to think about graphing anything with “no stitch” squares. I would like to say that I’ve now got the pattern nailed but that’s not yet the case.

This might look like a rug but it’s really a sample. I once bought two kilos of yarn on ebay that was poorly photographed and poorly described. Not surprisingly there was only me that was interested in buying it and I bought it for not much more than the cost of the postage. It is very rough and definitely came from a carpet sheep but that’s fine because every sheep has a purpose. This is my doubleweave experiment, the rug is about 29″ wide which is just a bit wider than my loom. I wanted to see whether I could weave two joined layers without making a total hash of it and whether I ended up with a very obvious fold line.

The first piece of good news was that I managed to not join one side of the V to the other except at the edge so it did unfold into one wide piece as it was supposed to. You can see in this photo that the fold was much more visible as the piece came off the loom and I did wonder whether the magic of wet finishing would work this time. Now that it’s been washed and dried it looks much better, the fold is running along the line of the knitting needle in the first photo and I can see it but I doubt that a man on a galloping horse would. I have enough wool left to make two more this size and sooner or later that’s what I’ll do with it, something in orange, ochre, dark brown and navy would look better under the dog because then I’d be able to see him.

My last post ended with my son being away from home for a week – it all went well, he came home with all the clothes he went with and he had a great time. The only thing that he was missing turned out to be a tennis racquet and to be honest that was never going to feature on my packing list for a music course even if he did actually own one.

 



Hot and not bothered

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, sweaters on July 25th, 2013

I thought I’d do so much this week. This is the one week in the year where I’m freed from meal preparation and I’m alone through until 10pm so I can leave my toys out all of the time. My son is away on a residential music course and my husband is out all day on a different music course so it’s just me and the dog between breakfast and bed time. My dream was that by now I’d have the carder on the table and a rug on the loom but so far there’s no sign of either thing happening. It’s still too hot for me to even think about wool so I’m passing up the opportunity of my own personal wool retreat in favour of lazing about with a book. I’ve not been totally idle, I managed to come up with a packing list to send a teen off for a week away on his own and seeing as he hasn’t rung me up yet to complain about a lack of vital supplies I must have done that right.

Some evenings have been less sticky than others so the cardigan has moved forwards a little. I was all prepared to moan about how long it was taking then I had one evening with a perfect combination of decent tv and a cool breeze and I found myself well on the way to the shoulder. I started the back first because I knew that it would be big and boring and that if I left it to the last I wouldn’t want to do it. The sleeves are tiny and the fronts have a pattern so it is just the back that has tedium written all over it. I have knitted an adult sweater on 3.25mm needles before but that had a pattern and variegated yarn so even though this one is smaller it feels much bigger.

This is my son’s room for the week, with four teenage boys in it I suspect that it’s less tidy than this right now. I needed to spin a pile of wool to see me through his audition and I knitted a hat to get me through the wait for the results so I expected that I’d need plenty of wool therapy when it came to the time for him to go away for the week. The longest he’s been away before is two nights so five nights is a bit of a step up. I thought I’d spend my days worrying about the food, the accommodation, how he’d cope being in the middle of sixty strangers and whether he’d manage to listen to a single thing that was said to him. To my surprise I’m not missing him at all which is a good thing seeing as it’s too hot be consoling myself with wool.



Awesome hat (or so I’m told), duff cake

Posted by caroline in Family, hats, Knitting, Weaving on March 24th, 2013

This is the first year that we’ve seen snow on D’s birthday. I’d like to think that in years to come we’ll be trying to remember that one freak year where there was snow on the ground because I’d hate for this to be a regular thing. I thought that this was maybe down to the curse of the thrummed hat and that if I finished that then there would be no more snow this year. I’ll let you know how that one works out for me. It’s taken so long to finish because knitting thrums has the same appeal for me as adding beads with a crochet hook, it makes knitting into a stop-start process and is no fun at all. I might have stuck it out if I had thought that I’d look stunning in it but I don’t care how cold it gets I’m never wearing it. This does not matter as it was immediately taken from my hands and adopted. I did try to take another photo showing the flaps up but that resulted in a continuous cry of “coldearscoldearscoldears” so I gave up on that one. It’s not entirely finished, I still have to trim the fluff bits and then bash them with a brush to encourage felting. Should you want to knit one of your very own it’s the Cocoknits fleeced earflap hat except that I knitted mine top down in doubled handspun with a blatant disregard for the stated tension. As an aside – see how much lighter the thrums look than the sweater – they are both from the same bag of fibre.

There was a setback with the cake. I’d planned to make a square cake then cut it and reassemble it into the shape of a creeper. The key element to this was the purchase of green and black ready to roll icing but the only colours I could find were white and pink which made the whole thing a non starter. This required a fast switch to Plan B which I’m calling “Minecraft Inspired”, the translation of which is “bears no relation to that thing that you were aiming at”. It was a chocolate and mint sponge cake and tasted very good even though it didn’t bear much resemblance to grass. We had a major icing fail, the plan was for the three shades of green frosting to emerge randomly from the icing bag but that didn’t happen, if I could turn back time I’d have frosted the top and covered it with the same crumbs as the sides thereby making it a dirt block cake. The good thing that came out of this was that I learned that freezing sponge cake makes it much easier to cut into shape and to frost and that if you bash chocolate coated chocolate chip biscuits they make a beautifully textured coating. The trick with freezing the cake is something I wish I’d known years ago – how could I get to my age without knowing that?

It looks as if the purple gradient yarn will indeed show a gradient once on the loom, this is the wound warp with the weft yarn sitting across the top. It’s been sitting on top of the loom for a couple of days now and it is showing no sign of threading itself so I suppose I’ll have to do it. It’s not made it onto my to do list though so officially it doesn’t exist.



Put that marking pen down

Posted by caroline in Family, Knitting, Weaving on March 14th, 2013

My knitting time has been much reduced this week, someone here has a birthday coming up soon and I’ve been spending my evenings doing extensive present research. I could confidently represent my country on my current specialist subject of refilleable pens for the left handed. I have researched rollerballs that run on fountain pen ink, the drying speeds of various inks and the most suitable fountain pen nibs for the left handed underwriter (an underwriter meaning that you have your hand under the script, nothing at all to do with insurance). I didn’t have to research the effect of paper on drying time because when you’re at school you write on what you’re given so paper selection doesn’t come into it. I think I’m done now, decisions have been made and orders placed. The deciding factor in whether junior could successfully use a fountain pen without inking his hand was having him test drive my old fountain pen. It’s been neglected for at least ten years but a quick rinse and fill restored it to perfect working order. You will notice the lack of smudges in his writing which means that I think he will be fine with a fountain pen of his own. It was pronounced to be “less smudgy than a gel pen” which sounds fine to me given that I’m the one that buys gel pens on an all too frequent basis. My timing is spot on seeing that he has homework this week on being ecofriendly, the example of disposable gel pens versus ink balls versus fountain pens is rather more interesting to the twelve year old male than consideration of nappies.

I had fully intended to rip the Victorian Christmas stocking but when I came to take a final photo to document it the camera said that it didn’t look as shabby as I’d thought it did. It was regraded to “meets expectations” and promoted to main project although this may have had something to do with the only alternative knitting being the thrummed hat. The stocking is ok but the two sock yarns I’m using are a little thinner than the yarns I used when I made this before and the knitted fabric is on the thin side of acceptable. The red is a bit too bright and I’m not sold on the beads so overall this is not shaping up to be my most favourite thing ever. It will make an acceptable stocking but I could have done better. I know it doesn’t really matter because the only time anyone gets a mark for knitting is if it’s entered for competition but I know that it’s never going to be the best it could be. The real reason that it doesn’t really matter is that this will be leaving the house and I won’t have to see it again so it won’t have the opportunity to bug me.

I scored better with the socks and scarf from the last post. It has turned cold here and there have been mutterings in the school bus queue about how cold it is, some people are wearing two pairs of socks in an effort to keep some feeling in their toes. Those people wearing hand knitted uniform socks have toasty toes and have been very appreciative of that, so much so that I would immediately have knitted him another pair if the memory of what long feet he has wasn’t so clear in my mind. The blue scarf went off to school, I had a thank you card and a letter come home so full marks there too. I’m less thrilled with the second version, if I’d stuck to the same draft (pattern) as the last one then I think I would have had a better result. This is a more complex pattern but you’ll have to take my word for that because the warp is too busy for you to be able to see the diagonal moving the other way. I thought I might pull off the multicoloured warp by using a plain yarn for the weft but it looks like it is not to be. It still has the chance to magically redeem itself in the wash but I’m not holding my breath. I may have the fallback of making it into a bag but because I failed to write down the length of the warp I’m not altogether sure about that, it may have to end up as a rather plain scarf. Again, it doesn’t really matter because there’s only me that knows what I intended it to look like. I have learned something, produced a useable object, used some yarn from the scrap bag and enjoyed the process. “Failure to meet expectations” isn’t so damning if your expectations were unreasonably high to start with.

 

 



So much green

Posted by caroline in Family, Knitting, socks on February 16th, 2013

It’s been a funny week, more beef products unmasked as horsemeat, snow closures and the non-appearance of the school bus again. Mr WFB has been in Paris all week and my original plan was to open out the loom on Monday, bring the carder downstairs, ignore all the housework and play with wool until I was sick of the sight of it or until he came home on Friday. I still can’t see any flaws in that as a plan but it didn’t happen at all. I got as far as combing 20g of Oxford Down before it all went wrong

This is a photographic record of my achievements for the week. There’s no Ophidian, no Victorian Stocking, no carding, it is altogether a total failure when measured against my grand plan. What I do have is a pair of stealth socks and a freshly decorated dining room. I’d planned to redecorate the dining room after I did the kitchen in September but I kept putting it off until suddenly the Christmas tree went up. I never intended to be painting this week and I can’t work out now how it was that I came to fall into doing it. At least it is a chore that stays done, unlike dusting or ironing, so although it was a big job I can now forget all about it for another mumblemumble years. I managed to avoid painting the dog, it was a close thing and it took a volley of “nononoNO” repeated at least twice a day for him to get the message that there was nothing interesting to be found in the roller tray. I wouldn’t have minded him getting paint on his nose except that he would have immediately wiped it off on the carpet which would have been a bad thing. He seemed to think that I put the dust cloths down for him to hide his breakfast dog biscuit under, the hiding was fine but I could have done without him digging it back up again while I was above on the ladder.

I have enough black and green yarn (originally from the creeper mitts) to make another pair of band socks which is lucky because there was some serious begging being done and I have promised to make a similar pair for the junior bandsman before next Saturday. All I’m saying is that you need to love someone very much to be knitting black socks in February. I ordered some more black sock yarn (it was on sale, I was weak from the paint fumes) but I’ll be saving it for the summer when I can actually see it. This is not such a big purchase as it looks because they are 50g balls so you need two balls for a pair of socks. If you’re knitting stealth socks then you only need one ball for a pair and that’s what I’ll be doing with the black. I have a lot of leftover sock yarn to use up and I’m hoping that six pairs of socks with contrasting feet will make me feel like I’m winning the battle with the leftovers.

The sock yarn wasn’t my only reward for my week of being chained to a paint roller, I got a new sock knitting bag which came free with some very high class artisan macarons (being French they end with a ron rather than a roon). I believe that the macarons cost about the same as the sock yarn, the sock yarn will last longer but it’s nowhere near as indulgent. My favourite so far has been the white one in the right hand column, the filling was a chocolate and hazelnut paste that was unbelievably tasty. They are not something that I’ve ever made seeing as they fall under the heading of “too much messing about” but I’d be tempted to make plain ones and sandwich them together with Nutella and chopped nuts.

I have the carder out now, instead of having wool week I’m having a wool day. I’ll enjoy it much more now that I’m not looking at what needs to be done and feeling guilty.
 



all from stash

Posted by caroline in Family, Knitting on February 9th, 2013

I’m through with plain grey stockinette for a while so I had a poke through the stash to see what I had that was most unlike a sweater. This is another Victorian Christmas stocking on the left and another Ophidian on the right. I was hunting for the red beads when I found a full packet of brown ones so it seemed a good idea to look in the sock drawer to see if I had yarn to match. This is all from stash, the red beads came from a ripped project but I have no idea what I originally bought the brown ones for. Yarn selection had to wait until I was finished with this week’s big event, the one that had been derailed by my unplanned sweater finishing on Tuesday.

I’ve come clean before about my boxes full of quilt tops and at the time I did say that I thought that there were more of them somewhere. Whatever number I have, I now have one less. These are four inch paper pieced log cabin blocks made from the scrap boxes. I have two plastic boxes that live near the sewing machine that collect all the leftovers, edges trimmed off quilt backing and odd shapes straightened off yardage. I usually have to add some lights to the mix because there’s never enough of those in the boxes. You can add the theme from Jaws yourself, the shadow at the top left tells you that Something Is Coming (da dum, da dum, da dumdumdum)

It was a small quilt top so I was finished before the approaching menace inched close enough to drop his toy on it. On Monday I got about half of it quilted and on Wednesday I finished the quilting and sewed the binding on. I took the time to clean the machine properly, taking the bobbin race out and chasing out the fluff mice and it was time well spent. It’s needed cleaning for a while but because I sew for ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there it never seems worth the effort. Sewing is more of a pleasure when you’re not having to ignore the noises that the machine is making, the ones that shouldn’t be there that you don’t want to hear. Quilting this was a trip down memory lane because I kept seeing fabrics that I recognised, spotting the little pieces of fabric reminded me of the original project. That’s probably why it seemed to take no time at all, that and the fact that it was less than a quarter of the size of a full size quilt.

My last job on Wednesday night was to make two batches of muffins and then I could think about playing in the yarn drawers. It may not be a croquembouche but in some respects it is better because it will freeze and so you don’t need to eat it all at once.

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New Year, new project

Posted by caroline in Family, Knitting, socks, sweaters on January 4th, 2013

I like starting the New Year with nothing on the needles and an empty loom, I don’t always manage it but this year I did. I made another pair of the Either/Or mitts, this pair I made a little smaller now that I can see which bit goes where. The first ones were a tiny bit long over my knuckles, once I’d knitted them I could see that it was the first part of the pattern which is knit in the round from the thumb that determines the length so I stopped that part a bit earlier. That affects the width as well so I added a few more rows in the middle garter section in the second pair because otherwise they’d have been shorter and narrower rather than just shorter. I could knit these from the scrap bag from now to the end of the world (whenever that falls this year)  except that I need to refer to the pattern for establishing the increases and the set up rows when the knitting changes direction. I didn’t print it off because it was very long which means I’m faffing around turning the computer on and off and that’s not what I want in an evening’s knitting. I did try writing out the bits I needed, twice, but seeing as I immediately lost the directions (twice) that wasn’t particularly successful either.

This was the husband’s New Year’s Eve project. It had potential for disaster (first choux pastry, first day with hot sugar syrup) but he pulled it off. We bought him a croquembouche mould for his birthday because we’re subtle like that and this was the first opportunity he had to use it seeing as it needs more than three people to eat it. The small one is built inside the mould, so it ends up being worked top down, and that means that the caramel is at its best right at the top where you don’t need its structural properties quite so much. Next year he’ll making it on the outside of the mould, bottom up, which should make it more stable and also bigger which is good because there wasn’t quite enough of it to go around. It leaned a bit from the outset and that crack on the right hand side got progressively larger which meant that it was put in a bowl in case the whole lot went over. It was still standing when we came to eat it which counts as a win in my book.

The caramel used to hold the choux buns together was his second use of hot sugar, building on the experience gleaned from his first ever sugar project an hour earlier. I’m all for using leftovers and this marshmallow used the egg white that was left over from the creme anglais in the choux buns and the gelatine sheets left over from the packet I used to set the jelly in the pork pie. That was a reprise of the brown sock incident – I made the stock earlier in the year, strained it, reduced it until it stood up by itself, congratulated myself on planning ahead and then the smugness fairies spirited it away. Somewhere in the freezer was a bag labelled “pork pie stock” but I had two sessions looking for it without success. (I found it on January 3rd while looking for something for dinner) I am told that the marshmallow is perfect, I poked it with a finger and it is as fluffy and bouncy as shop bought but for me it ranks alongside candy floss under the heading “things I can’t bring myself to eat”.

I’m at the stage of planning to knit, this sketch is about as far as I’ve got. I weighed the fibre I had (it’s what I used to knit my Celtic Dreams) and there probably isn’t quite enough to make Dan a sweater so I’ve ordered more. I can’t start spinning the first lot until the second batch lands because it’s although it’s the same fibre from the same supplier there’s no guarantee that it will be exactly the same colour. The next step is to write the child’s measurements on the sketch, spin and knit a couple of yarn samples and then convert the sketch into something more resembling a pattern whilst at the same time making a pile of yarn. I’m hoping that the rib means that he’ll get some wear out of it, if he wears it at all of course because it could fit perfectly and not be right for some reason only discernible to a twelve year old.

In the meantime there are always socks. I’ve been looking at the overflowing sock scrap bag and feeling guilty even though I’ve recently made a pair of socks and two pairs of fingerless gloves out of it. I should have been knitting another pair of socks from the scraps but I wanted to play with the new shiny yarn that I found under the tree. The guilt lost out this time, these are Apple Laine Apple Pie in “Best Friends”. It’s 65% wool, 20% mohair, 10% nylon and 5% silk and I have the yarn for another two pairs of socks after these. The first pair is going to be toe up so I can see just how much less there is in a ball, after which I may revert to cuff down. The sock yarn bag will be meeting the loom just as soon as the tree comes out of the space where the loom should be, that way I get to knit the new stuff and still feel good about catching up with the scraps.