A few FOs, Sock clubs and sundry items

I mentioned that i had finished Fay and I have now taken photos of it too!

Finished Fay

It’s really really soft and lovely, but I’ll be honest when i say it’s already a smidgeon big, but i HAVE lost quite a bit of weight since i started it. I don’t mind though – it’s not swimmingly large or anything and it means i can wear it over a few layers if i need to (which i might this winter!). To recap, it’s knit from Pear Tree 4ply in Damson and the pattern is Fay by Kim Hargreaves from Precious.

I also have finished photos of Livia, my May socks

Livia socks

These are my first socks in Jitterbug and I wore them yesterday – very warm and comfy! A few people have mentioned they find this a bit ropey on the soles of their feet, but i can’t say i noticed. I very much enjoyed this pattern (except the cuff. that annoyed me) and LOVED working with this colour. It’s so delicious! The pattern is from Twist Collective.

Speaking of socks, my May/June installment of the Rocking Sock Club arrived and i realise i didn’t post about the previous installment…

Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

When I opened the March/April installment i didn’t quite know what to think. I love it from a design/intensity/vibrancy and sheer COOLNESS of it sense, but what to DO with it?! Well, all i can say is that the designers for the RSC earn their keep. The two sock patterns for this yarn work perfectly and I’ve seen a few other uses on Rav that are pretty awesome – namely a woven scarf where the weaver lined up the colour pooling and used a dark yarn to tone the whole thing down. I’m a bit in awe of that scarf and if i didn’t love how cleverly the sock patterns work with this yarn (and therefore want to do one of them) I would do that instead!

This month’s installment is probably the most ME so far, though a bit muted for my usual summer/winter tones.

Maia

I love reading Tina’s Dyers notes. Her stories are well told and interesting (though i want her to finish the story she started this time!!) and her reasoning behind her colours and names are insightful and give extra special  meaning to the yarns. It really does make you feel a part of something. My other favourite thing about the RSC installments is the little words inside the ball band. Maia has been named after the Goddess, in honour of spring (which it is on that side of the world) and the replenishing of life that goes with it. The inside of the ball band says Elektra – any guesses as to the theme?

I have been spinning and weaving as well and also dyeing… I overdyed the yarn i dyed for owls and will hopefully have some photos next week. I only have one (bad) photo of the colour i managed to make it – not at ALL like my test mini-skein. i think Bloodwood is a colour that is very different depending on the level of heat applied. But more on that later…

The weaving was the completion of a giant mohair wrap. no photos yet! I warped up in March but was a bit daunted by the whole thing so it fell by the wayside. Well, the final product is GORGEOUS and so WARM! photos to come!

The spinning I can’t show yet! it’s a birthday present for someone who DOES read this. I hope she likes it!

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Knit Camp 11 – Daylesford

where to start, where to start?!

How about with this: If school camps had been this fun i would have WANTED to go!

Tasma house

Tasma house - photo thanks to Katie @ Knitting Pretty

I arrived at Tasma House in Daylesford at around 12.30 and was one of the first non-organisers there. I was lucky enough to be staying in the main house, so was shown to my cosy room, made a cuppa and settled in to knit! Jules, Amy, Nandie, Katie and Chelsea, our organisers were all about and people began to drift in… There were some familiar faces – Jackie, Sarah, Emma, Kris, Jen – some I’d seen once or twice at bendi – Mel – and a lot of knitters i’d never met – One wasn’t even on Ravelry!! The atmosphere was great, everyone willing to jump in and help out, share their knowledge and expertise and listen to other’s stories and experiences.

Jules was pretty quick with the handing out of Goody Bags, and imagine my surprise when the first thing handed over was a set of blocking wires! with more and more handspun wanting to be shawls, these were just the best present! The other serious highlight was the complete skein of Skein Merino/Cashmere in the most Jen colours!

Goody Bag - calico bag, blocking wires, badges, highlighter tape, skein yarn, ixchel yarn, soak wash, colour shade card and patterns from Jennifer Adams!

"Sea Salt"

Friday afternoon saw most of us head off to the Creswick Woolen Mills (even though they process as much Alpaca than wool these days!) . We were greeted by these food-oriented Alpacas! (Photo courtesy of Mel via Flickr) They unfortunately were not the sort to be patted by strangers (though happy to test us as edible with a little nibble!). I will aim to find some decent photos of the mills themselves from the few i took on my phone. can you believe i forgot my camera! We were given a little talk about the processing at the mill – from raw fleece to singles and then had the chance to shop (socks for papa!) and have a bit of afternoon tea.

We then headed over to Tailored Strands Alpaca Farm, where we got to feed some gorgeous (slightly more friendly) alpacas, and feel up some beautiful alpaca yarn (some of it maybe fell in my bag). The alpacas were adorable and one was a particular greedy guts and ended up spitting up on Jules’ foot! good thing she was wearing crocs, but it was a bit gross! still Narelle (the alpaca) went in for more food! The yarn was far safer for us city knitters, and there was a beautiful selection of 4ply, 8 ply, 12 ply, boucle and brushed alpaca in a range of colours for us to purchase at a slightly discounted price!

Tailored Strands 'ecostrands' 8 ply naturally coloured Alpaca

 

Tailored Strands Alpaca 8 ply in teal (surprise surprise)

This little country jaunt saw us head home in time for our first catered meal – the most delicious curries – vego, chicken or beef – with either brown or white rice. Chelsea provided all the food from her place of work Appetite. It was all incredible! (My diet went out the window for the weekend, but to be honest, apart from more carbs than usual, everything was pretty much on the list. ok, maybe not the cookies, but they were homebaked. and delicious.)

The schedule for knit camp was pretty relaxed. As the first camp, there were no ‘outside’ teachers or guest speakers, it was all guests sharing their knowledge. Saturday morning saw us over in the barn with Kylie of Ms Gusseting yarns and Heather talking about natural dyeing. Given we’d woken up that day with no water (it was off to three or four blocks until 3!) there was no dyeing ourselves, but Heather had fantastic info about natural dyeing, particularly with Eucalypts, while Kylie gave us great insight into her chemical dyeing processes. We also got to fondle a bunch of yarn and fibre that she’d brought up with her to dry in front of the pot-bellied stove!

Impression of Eucalypt leaves on Silk (It used to be white!) - photo thanks to Jules.

After a delicious lunch of Pies(!nom), we were treated to a demonstration of Portuguese style knitting. I didn’t even know this was a thing! I really like it and i think that if i want an alternative to English style, this might suit me better than continental style, especially for colourwork. I intend to try it out with my next stranded project! The trick will be stranding the floats LOOSELY! Thanks Amy for the demonstration!

Speaking of colourwork, Sue (riotousassembly), designer and wollmeise lover, shared with us her extensive experience working with colour. she even provided notes! the best bit was seeing her examples of different kinds of colourwork, some mocked up especially for us, but some from her knitting life. Inspirational!

Sue's colourwork pieces - Photo thanks to Jules

On saturday night i had to head back into Melbourne (which at least meant i could feed the cats and save on boarding!) so i missed two significant events (and that’s not including dinner)! I was absent for the Stash Swap, which was by all means quite exciting not because knitters were keen to GET stuff, but because they wanted to give stuff away! I also missed Katie’s trivia night! which you can probably imagine left me feeling very miffed! I do love me some trivia!

Sunday was lovely and relaxed (my errand being over!) With very informal chats/talks from Katie and Sue. Katie talked us through all her beautiful shawls she’s been churning out, discussing construction styles and yarns and things to note. Sue talked to us all again, this time about her experiences of pattern writing. Great info and again really inspirational! lunch was delicious soup, warm and hearty and the day was spent chatting and knitting. People started to pack up and drift off throughout the day, some wanting to make sure they drove while it was light, others wanting to get home to family, but it was pretty clear everyone could have happily stayed for another day or ten! At 4.30 I hopped in the car and was home just after 6 to be greeted by 2 very sooky cats.

I’m just checking everyone is happy for me to post the group photo here… so check back in a few days to see everyone there!

It was absolutely fantastic and my only regret is that i couldn’t completely relax due to commitments back here in town. I would definitely recommend going (and might go myself depending on where i am) next year. It was so lovely to meet people who expected nothing of you except that you had a good time, and were so willing to share, help and listen. Thanks to everyone there for making it awesome and especially to the lovely organisers for making it happen!

 

The Summer of Spinning

Last summer was the summer I discovered Blue Faced Leicester, Wensleydale, Camel and Cashmere blends. It was the summer I plyed using a prespun laceweight for one ply. It was the summer of the three ply. It was the summer I spun exotic singles and bought from Spindlefrog and Exclusively Linda Lee,  my favourite International crack fibre suppliers. Here are some of my spins and you can see the improvement from previous spinning posts!

you know how when you get a box of chocolates you eat your least favourite first, even if you love all of them? well it’s a bit like that when you’re a newbie spinner choosing from your stash. So even though I LURVE this fibre, I chose it as ‘not my most precious’ and spun it up when i arrived in Adelaide.

Gumnut Magic Angorino from Ixchel: 14wpi, 86g, 204m of 95% 18micron merino, 5% angora, which makes it a sport weight of yum!

Then my first package from Spindlefrog arrived. I couldn’t resist the colours of the Mermaid BFL and was so curious about this raved about fibre it was instantly on the wheel

don’t you just want to dive into it! It’s not the most even yarn, varying from 13- 16 wpi. but it’s a good little heavy fingering (that sounds dirty) weight yarn. great meterage too at 365m from 119g.

So I took part in a dye your own swap, and working in my parents house, with curious cats and a clumsy dog around, I chose to dye with jelly and food colouring. I have a great technique where I do a standard jelly dye (simmering the fibre in jelly with a bit of vinegar) and just dribble some food colouring in of a similar colour to give a semi solid effect. I dyed up a batch in green, blue, pink, purple and red-pink for my swapee, but there was a little pink and purple left over. YIPPEE! so I spun a single with that, just to see what it was like after the dying process. At about the same time, this optim/seacell blend from the incomporable Mandie at EGMTK arrived in a slightly more vibrant colourway than i was expecting. but, low and behold GENIUS struck me and I spun it up as a single and plied them together… the result?

360m of AWESOMENESS. It was so SHIMMERY, which is of course how it got it’s name – Fairy Princess –  since it reminded me of luminescent fairy wings and it was just so damned GIRLY! My friend ended up buying off me and knitting a morning surf scarf for her good friend’s birthday. it looked amazing 🙂

Before heading to Adelaide I’d gone to visit Charly  (aka Ixchel) at the Sunday Arts Markets and not only had i bought far too much fibrey goodness, but she sold me a skein of laceweight cashmerino to experiment with plying. It was a perfect match for one of the braids, and so I chose that at my next adventure, using a couple of defaced coathangers and a champagne bottle as a swift!

It was my first time plying like this and it took me quite a while to get the hang of it, but where it works I love it! the colours were a great match, i got a CRAPLOAD of yardage – 537m –  and a whole pile of angorino left over for later… I called it Ocean Shadows, after the name of both the braid and cashmerino and it sits at about a sport weight.

So I was feeling pretty confident about now and my first pile of deliciousness had arrived from across the Pacific from Linda Lee. She specialises in exotic fibres and I’d ordered 2oz of Camel/Silk in the Syrah colourway – it seemed like kismet having grown up with a cat of that name! It was divine to spin. I got some advice from LL herself on rav which really helped to make it a simple if time consuming spin. I kept the yarn as a single to maintain the colour and to gain maximum yardage (210m) from this delicious fibre. It sits at a light fingering, perfect for a lacy cowl…

 

Continuing on the ELL adventure, I ordered two different fibres in the same colourway – a cashmere silk and a cashmere baby alpaca in Crushed Cranberries – with the intention of plying them together. When the second lot arrived, I buried my face in it, spun them together! this is the most beautiful skein i’ve spun and it’s sooooooooooo soft and squooshy. If i were to sell it, it would be for about $100 because of the fibre content and the love that i have for it. But there’s no way i’m selling this. Come Autumn it will be draped around my neck in some lacy concoction and whenever I feel blue I will bury my face in it, like i did the day it arrived.

I got a fantastic 375m from the 4oz and it’s a fingering weight, so will create a lovely drapey fabric.

Hey remember that gumnut magic angorino? well I only spun about half of it, since Charly’s braids are a whopping 150-160g (6oz) and I had this fantastic idea that if i spun it with a creamy white, it would look like snow in the australian mountains (not that i’ve SEEN snow…). So of course i did exactly that. Charly advised keeping the white/cream ply really thin and if i were doing this again, I would do it as a three ply, with 2 of the main colour, one of the cream. But still it’s an interesting effect and i’m curious to see it knitted up.

I called it Snow on Blue Mountains and got just under 300m of light fingering weight out of it.

i had ordered some custom dyed machine wash merino from miss Mandie at EGMTK for my birthday, and since that was always going to be destined for sock yarn, i thought it time to experiment with three plys. The challenge at EGMTK for the month was inspired by a song, and this merino and tencel fibre, with its shimmery moody blues, made me think of Regina Spektor’s Lady (sings the blues so well, as if she mean it…)

I still can’t get over the shine of ‘Lady Toko’ and want to do a beret in it. I should have enough at 250m of DK weight!

I wanted to try a new fibre next, so i turned to another Spindlefrog creation – Wensleydale in the Unicorn colourway. wensleydale is hard to get your hands on in Aus. It’s not an overly soft fibre, but it spins like BUTTER!

It wasn’t a lengthy spin though, only 165m from 100g at a DK weight, but it will find a purpose somewhere!

Before I get to the last spin… you guys remember this yarn?

well, as per the deal with Miss E, it became this

It’s based on a simple shell lace pattern from the Harmony Guides Lace Stitch Dictionary by Erika Knight. The buttons are kinda retro and there are a gazillion different ways to wear it! Miss E loves it and apparently wore it all the time i was away over winter!

 

One last spin to tell you about. This is the custom colourway from Mandie, that I named Roses for Jen, being on a account of my sending a bunch of pink rose images to Mandie and her dying the yarn for me. I wanted socks. so a three ply it was. I did a sort of variation on a fractal spin, so one strip was spun as it appears in the braid, one was split twice and one about five or six times.

I got 340m of heavy fingering 3ply out of 140g of fibre.

And, just last week I finished knitting my socks from them! My first pair of handspun socks! I was sooooo excited. The pattern is Firestarter by Yarnissima (ravel it! go on i dare ya) The yarn was a bit thick, realistically. I actually broke a needle, working cables on 2mm wood needles! I didn’t use a cable needle, since they were all twisted stitches. I loved the construction and watching the yarn variegate as i knitted was totally exciting! I have about 100g of yarn left too I think!