Sunday, February 25, 2007

Needles ... on the move

Dear Readers,

Moving up in the world, I have shifted the blog to my new website which you may have spotted in the sidebar and perhaps even visited!

Please update your links to

Wordpress won't let me import all the old posts however, so a lot of links may still carry you back here while I get it all figured out.

I also welcome a new contributor: Mum has given up struggling with Blogger and as Kurrajong Handcrafts is a joint venture it seemed fitting that we share the blog as well. Watch out for her posts from Sunny Australia B-)

See you over there!

Ciao, Diane

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fibre Pron

Today I have a date with this baby:

It's Polwarth tops from Wendy Dennis, hand-dyed by my mum. I did some sampling last week and it's soooooooo soft and lovely to spin.
Sadly though, I have to go to work first. And a little hint: DON'T get hooked into browsing new spinning blogs on a Saturday morning when you are supposed to be out the door. Yes I did forget the time, and yes I'm probably going to be late now but I JUST WANT TO BE SPINNING. Bring on closing time!


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Don't you love it...

... when something just works :-)

I was sitting around at work today by myself (bad weather = no customers) knitting mindless stocking stitch socks and I realised that a friend is having a birthday next week.

Enter inspiration! I chose some yarn (not hard - isn't it funny how you can make everything out of Koigu lol) drew some charts, knitted a swatch and I was away.

I struck a small hiccup about 2 hours in (solely due to me pretending that my gauge was what I wanted it to be and not what the swatch said it was), but this was easily solved by going up a needle size and down a pattern repeat. Now I'm zooming along with a glass of wine at hand.

That is how I like designing to be.

In complete contrast to my design session(s) on the weekend. Where I swatched, and swatched, and erased, and counted, and drew pictures, and changed stitch patterns and swatched again. After a total of about 4 hours over two days I returned the yarn to the stash drawer with a grumpy face on.

I am faced with the choice of creating a pattern which is more difficult to knit than I intended, or going down a needle size and yarn size for a different gauge, or changing stitch patterns again, or throwing the whole concept out the window and thinking up something else. I think I'm going to let it stew for a while.

BTW, this is still way more fun and easier than supply teaching and I regret nothing.


Oh, and I discovered something new: Splash some Innocent Smoothie in a glass, add generous amounts of tequila and Cointreau and a couple of ice cubes. mmmmmmmmm :-)

What was that? NY resolution to drink less? I don't know what you're talking about. And anyway, it's practically health food, all that fruit juice :-D

Gotta go, there's a birthday present to finish. Is it yours? ;-)


Monday, February 19, 2007

Monday Musings

Pretty and Practical?

Today I had a bit of a play with a new toy. I ordered some spindles a while back from my friend Claire and, on a whim, ordered a Nostepinne to match my spindle. I used it today for the first time and immediately noticed all those positives, such as perfect balance and lovely finish, which I had also admired in the spindle when I first picked it up.
These tools are hand made by Claire and her husband and the attention to detail makes them not only a practical tool but a work of art. And I like my tools pretty.
At a pinch I could probably use a cardboard tube as a Nostepinne (it's not tapered though which is kind of important) and I have often wound centre-pull balls on a pair of ice-cream sticks or folded card. But I firmly believe that a tool does not have to lose its practicality just because it has been made aesthetically pleasing as well.
I knit, spin and crochet because I love to work with my hands and I like to create, and look at, beautiful things. The tools we use can be a pleasure in themselves and add to the overall enjoyment of the creative pastime.
* Some tools I have been drooling over :-)
* and another
* Claire's spindles are here

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Eye Candy

I finished up the laceweight. Not 50g in the end - as the second bobbin looked to be filling up much more so I stopped (in fact there was far less on the first bobbin so somewhere I messed up in the weighing out)

Here's a pic, currency comparison in two languages (have you noticed that a 5p is exactly the same as a dime - I'll only use one in future!)

Stats: Fleece Artist merino/silk hand-dyed roving; 2-ply; 33g/300m (painstaking!)

I'm not completely happy - there are a lot more imperfections than I had noticed while spinning. Not very noticable, but when trying to produce a perfect skein, well ... I'm a perfectionist. I have nothing against slubs if I meant them to be there ;-)

I am very much against the idea of spending another three weekends on this yarn but I think I'm going to need at least another 200m or so to support a decent lace project - unless anyone has some brilliant ideas for 300m?

P.S. I'll try to replace this photo with some better ones if I can - it is hopeless trying to take photos in our flat in winter.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Weekends are for Spinning

And this may just be useful...

I took a long-awaited trip to the Handweavers Studio this morning and this was the result:

Back issues of Spin-Off, cashmere, throwsters silk waste, mohair tops, Wensleydale curls, polyester fibre, and I went a bit silly on the merino caterpillars :-D (they're all such pretty colours!)

I plan to do a fair bit of experimenting with blending some different fibres over the next few weeks, hence the flick carders (which I was surprised were only £10 for the pair). I'm thinking mohair/merino; merino/silk; merino/curly bits; and want to try a tweed yarn. Watch out for 'Weekends are for Spinning' to see what I come up with.

Before all that though, I need to finish the first 50g of laceweight I've got taking up all my bobbins at the moment (I did think of getting more bobbins but thought that might be a bit dangerous), hopefully I will spin the last 15g or so tonight and ply it up before the weekend is over and it's back to knitting.

Ciao :-)


Friday, February 16, 2007

One-Skein One-Der: The pattern

Big thanks to Jan, who edited the pattern for me into proper crochet-speak, and to Jill who tested it for me as we scribbled down various annotations :-)

One skein Koigu KPPM (50g/175yds)
3.5mm crochet hook

Abbreviations (English terms used)
ch – chain; sp – space; tr – treble; dc – double crochet; dtr – double treble; slst – slip stitch.

Make 32 ch
Row 1: 1tr into 7th ch from hook, *ch 2, skip 2 ch, 1tr into next ch* repeat from * to * 7 more times. (nine spaces)
Row 2: Make 5 ch (turning ch), *1tr into next ch sp, ch 2* repeat from * to * seven times, 1 tr into top of turning ch.
Repeat row 2 until scarf is about 1m long, or you have about a ping-pong ball size worth of yarn left.

Tip: Work ruffle at foundation edge first, then if you think you are likely to run out of yarn unpull a few rows of the mesh before working second ruffle.
Join yarn at corner and work ruffle along short end of scarf.
Row 1: Make 5 ch (turning ch), [1dtr into first ch sp, 1 ch] 3times, *[1dtr into next ch sp, 1 ch] 4 times* repeat from * to * for each remaining space, omitting final ch.
Row 2: Make 5 ch (turning ch), [1 dtr, 1 ch] into each ch sp to end, 1 dtr into top of turning ch.
Row 3: [4 ch, 1 dc] into each ch sp to end, 4 ch, slst into top of turning ch. Break yarn and draw through last loop.
Repeat ruffle at other end, darn in ends. Scarf will increase in length with blocking.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

How much is enough?

Pretend you're at step four. You have lovingly prepared your fibre (or perhaps cheated by buying prepared roving), spun it into a few bobbins of singles and carefully plied it and wound skeins.

Yay, I get to knit/crochet/weave something now!

How does one determine whether the spun yarn will be sufficient for the project? You can take the knit-till-I-run-out option, this works well for triangular shawls and blankets of little squares sewn together. However, if you actually have a specific pattern in mind it is worth getting an accurate measurement of the yardage in your skein.

There are many ways to do this.

The Painstaking
For a perfectly accurate reading, if you have a few hours to spare.
1. Measure the length of your skein
2. Count every thread in the skein and multiply by the measured length
What? Yeah, me neither.

The Clever
NB this works better on non-fuzzy skeins.
1. Measure the length of the skein
2. Spread the threads out into a single layer
3. Measure across and multiply by your wpi

Btw, I picked up this great little wpi-measuring-device (actually it's a pencil) at Paperchase for 50p. Next time I go back I'm getting a whole stack more and, if you spin, I'll send you one :-)

The Ball-Park
Okay, this is actually not very accurate, but quick if you're feeling lazy.
1. Weigh your skein, or even better, guess based on how much fibre you originally bought and how much fluff you left behind stuck to your flatmates' socks
2. Find a ball in your yarn stash with similar wpi
3. Calculate yardage per gram of your stash ball and multiply by the weight of your skein
I did say it wasn't rocket-science

The 'I Married a Millionnaire'
Not strictly economical, but if you sell some skeins maybe you can write it off against your tax :-D
1. Buy one of these:

2. Run your yarn through it

I have to admit to a certain inclination towards method three, with the added safety-net of 'spin an extra 25g or so'. I have also been known to be Painstaking on occasion. Generally, I go for the Clever (well of course!). I am very open to submissions of 'Cleverer' and 'More Cleverer' if you know of any :-)

Happy spinning!

Ciao, Diane


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Look what followed me home...

Sometimes you have to ignore yarn diets. And budgets.

Sometimes you see a colour, the most awesomest colour ever dyed and it has to come home and live at your house. In your stash drawer, or maybe in a vase as a centrepiece.

And if the awesomest colour ever dyed happens to be painted on Koigu, and it happens to be the last two skeins on the shelf, then it would be criminal not to give it a good home. Right?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Monday Musings

I am a ... ?

Somewhere in the last couple of weeks I experienced a subtle shift. I'm not sure when it happened but I'm pretty sure that I am not quite the same person I was a month ago. Right up until last week, if anyone asked me my profession I would reply "primary school teacher" even though I am teaching at the moment about 2 days a month and have not been secretive about my current animosity towards anything under 4 1/2 feet tall.

I knew that at some point I would be able to reply "I'm a writer" but the hard bit is figuring out when. School-teaching has faded into the background and I have articles sitting on editors' desks but I am still not quite ready to make the change.

What makes a writer a writer? Lots of people read my blog (I can see you, I have a site counter) but I feel that's not really quite it. Of the solicited articles I have delivered, none are yet in print and I think that is what I am waiting on. When I see my name in print, right there on the page in a magazine (and incidentally, when I have a cheque in the bank) then I will be a writer. And the world will be my mollusc.

In the meantime, what am I? If it amuses you, leave a comment suggesting how I should answer the question "What do you do?" during my interim period of uncertainty.

Ciao :-)

Last week's Monday Musings


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cute piccy :-)

Remember the Little Red Sweater?

It did get frogged and reknitted and here it is keeping baby Kailey warm in the frosty Pennsylvanian winter!

Isn't she sweet :-D

For more baby pics visit Amanda, don't forget to say hello!


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Et Voilà!

Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark, Interweave Knits (Fall 2006)
Yarn: Koigu KPPM P826 2 1/2 skeins, 4mm needles
Measures: 150cm (top edge) x 65cm (midpoint to tip)
Started Tues Jan 16th, finished Wed Jan 31st
I will definitely knit this pattern again - it was a lot of fun :-)