December 22, 2009

Silk Roads...well not really

I've been spinning up the silk I dyed and I have to say it looks GORGEOUS! Yes, even if I do say so myself. Here are some photos of it as singles and plied with a strand of pure merino. The finished yarn is around 33wpi (maybe more as I havent actually done a wpi test) and in the first skein I got 323m from only 26g of yarn. Thats pretty good meterage as far as I can tell.

bobbin full of single ply

Merino/silk 2ply yarn - 'Mermaids Cove'

In the last week or so I have also been buying fibre and books and sending off Christmas pressies and, well...generally having a good time.

I met (well - Vmet)a lovely lady on Ravelry who has been such a sweetie. She breeds gorgeous Angora rabbits and sells the most delicious fibre (and yes, I HAVE joined two of her fibre clubs for the NY). She made me a custom funky bunny batt that arrived last week which I totally love. I also purchased a very cool drop spindle from her which she was kind enough to send off with some lovely fibre for me to try on it and it arrived in the mail yesterday which was very exciting.

Funky Bunny Batt comprising of;
angelina, glitz, angora bunny, angorino, silk,
milk protein fibre, sari silk, yak, alpaca,
Australian heritage mohair & optim top.

My awesome drop spindle:
budgeroo whorl, myrtle shaft

Since this awesome lady is so nice and as she's going through a tough time right now I thought I'd send her a comfort Christmas present, which she received yesterday. It included an original, one of a kind, handmade bear that I designed and sewed in 2003. The bear, which she has named Natsili (Navajo for rainbow) won a second place ribbon in her category (synthetic bears) in the 2003 Bear and Doll show at Coffs Harbour. Also in the care package was a jasmine scented bath bomb and soap, some yummy swiss chocolates and a set of Swarowski Crystal stitch markers that I designed and made especially for the recipient. Thankfully the gift package was received in the spirit in which it was intended so I can call it a huge success. YAY!

The care package
photo courtesy of IxchelBunny

'Angel Heart' - Swarowski Crystal
and glass bead stitch markers

About two weeks ago I ordered a book off Amazon that I've been itching to buy for a while. I wasnt actually expecting it to arrive till well after January but, surprisingly, it arrived yesterday and I have to say, it was WELL worth the money I spent on it. Its totally brilliant and I cant wait to knit something from it.

I also received some fibre I purchased from EGMTK yesterday. 200grams of merino/silk blend and 200g of pure merino a little baggie of the cutest angelina fibre. I have joined another fibre club with EGMTK for the NY which I'm looking forward to immensely.

200g 22micron merino - colourway: Sapphire blue

200g silk/merino blend - colourway; Damson

5g angelina fibre - colourway; butterfly blue flash

All in all I'm calling yesterday an awesome start to my Christmas week.

December 8, 2009

Fun with fibre

I have been having a great time getting organised to start my next big project. I received my mulberry silk and angelina fibre in the mail and have finished spinning up the last lot of merino that I talked about in 'spinning around'. I'm SOOO excited about the silk that I got...its been transformed since its arrival and will be hitting the bobbins some time tonight. But more on that later...

I decided to ply my super fine 'vintage' merino with some commercial 2ply kid mohair blend that I had in my stash. I ended up with just over 900metres of incredibly soft and fine 3ply yarn that will make a really lovely (albiet; huge) shawl one day. I havent decided which pattern I will knit it into yet, so it's going to spend some time marinating in my stash till I do.

Hand dyed merino top - 'vintage'
from EGMTK

Vintage singles

Plied with kid mohair blend

As I mentioned in my last post, I have
BIG plans for the silk that I bought. So far I have dyed it a lovely variegated turquoise green/sea blue/white colour to match the 'under the sea' merino that I purchased a couple of weeks back. I have also blended the silk with half of the under the sea; giving me a total of 200g of unblended under the sea merino and 200g of under the sea merino/silk/angelina blended fibre. I will be spinning the two seperately so should end up with singles in straight merino and singles in the silk/merino blend which I then intend to ply together giving me a fine yarn that is 25% silk/73% merino and 2% angelina. I'm very excited to be trying this as I have a gorgeous (enormous, circular and intricate) shawl pattern already purchased and downloaded to knit it into. I hope to get at least 2000 metres of yarn out of my fibre. That should keep me busy for quite some time huh?

200g Merino top - 'under the sea'
from EGMTK

100g Undyed Mulberry silk top
from EGMTK

Silk dyeing in oven

Dried silk

Silk/Merino/Angelina blend

November 29, 2009

I'm spinning around....

I've been spinning madly every day since I finished the birthday cape. I finished my first spinning effort and am already knitting it up into a pretty lace shawl for myself.

I started spinning my second attempt but have had to put it on the back burner till next week as I'm waiting for some other fibre to arrive. I've ordered some Mulberry Silk top and some Angelina Fibre that I intend to blend it with before plying it.

I finally got around to re-carding the corriedale fibre that I dyed and blended it up with some cute little mohair curls that I had in my sculpting kit and some gold tinsel. I spun it all up thick and thin and then Navajo plyed it, which I'd never done before. Having tried it I cant say I'm a huge fan of Navajo plying but it did make an interesting looking yarn. Its very chunky and reminds me of a bubblegum flavoured icecream made in NZ called goody goody gum drops. I decided to enter my yarn into this months spinning challenge on a Ravelry group that I'm a member of. The theme for the month is Movies or Sweet Tooth. As my yarn looked like icecream I decided to enter it...suitably named 'Goody Goody Gum Drops/Bubblegum Paddle Pops.

Tonight I started spinning another batch of fibre that I have here. I have only 100g of this fibre so I'm spinning it as thin as I can manage in order to get as many metres as possible. I want to knit something really delicate and lacey with it for myself.

November 22, 2009

Birthing the birthday cape

I finally finished the Birthday Cape! Not only that, but I actually finished it on time for my friend to wear it out to the theatre this weekend. I hated that cape towards the end and the last two days worth of knitting were a monumental effort, finishing it almost felt like giving birth. When I finished blocking it out on my bed I was almost overwhelmed with the swift cycle of emotions that I went through just looking at it. I was awestruck by it (look at the pic below, you'll understand why), filled with a sense of achievement, completely drained/exhausted by the effort of getting it done on time and of course, relieved that I was finally finished and could now work on other things.

So the birthday girl swung by after she finished TAFE and happily; she LOVED it! Which is of course very gratifying considering the time and effort that went into making it. Also the surprise shawl pin to go with it was met with excitement and joy. All in all I'm calling this a major WIN.

Now that I'm finally finished with that I am working on other stuff that I started a while ago. I'm also working on my spinning technique. I found this awesome blog post that gave me heaps of great tips on spinning really fine yarns and a lovely lady on Ravelry has given me some awesome advice as well, so I'm well on my way to making real lace weight yarn. Here is a pic of my attempt at using the laced flyer technique. My result is quite a bit thinner than my first attempt at spinning without the laced flyer technique (the blue).

I ordered some more fibre from Ewe Give Me The Knits last week and am eagerly waiting its arrival so I can get spinning. If you love fibre you seriously need to check out the stuff on that site. Their prices are awesome and the fibre is just delish.

November 18, 2009

A Learning Experience

Earlier this year I started out wanting to learn how to knit lace. Little did I know at the time that this would lead to a whole year of learning.

Undertaking the task of lace knitting required learning many new techniques and knitting stitches, learning how to knit with beads, experimenting with new yarns (and learning which ones are NOT appropriate for a first lace project), learning from experience that there are simple ways to avoid disaster and developing the patience to stick with projects that required a great deal of time and effort, especially once I got to the rows that had 680+ stitches.

My delving into the world of lace knitting also opened my eyes to some new and exciting hobbies that I wanted to learn, for example; spinning.

Recently I made a post about making a drop spindle. Since then I have learned to spindle spin very fine yarn. I made a second even lighter spindle upon which I can spin yarn fine enough to ply into a 2ply laceweight yarn.

About a week ago a very good friend of mine loaned me her Ashford Traditional spinning wheel and I have been spinning for a couple of hours every day since then. My goal is, of course, to spin super fine laceweight yarn that I can use to knit my lace projects. I have been buying fibre and practising a lot and hope to improve my technique fairly quickly.

Looking back, I'd say I've learned a great deal this year. It's had its moments of extreme excitement (spinning my first bobbin of single ply) and absolute devastation (discovering the destruction of my cap shawl) but all in all, I'd say its been an enjoyable experience. Armed with all my new knowledge and a plethora of new ideas that have been inspired by new hobbies, I look forward to next year being another year of growth and discovery in terms of knitting and spinning.

October 22, 2009

A hard earned sense of achievement

I have finished a couple of projects this week. Actually one of them I also started this week. Firstly; I finished my Aeolian shawl. It turned out huge. I measured it across the top and its pretty much two metres wide. Holy cow. I have such a sense of achievement for having finished this project for so many reasons. Not the least of which is that it is my FIRST finished lace project since I decided I wanted to learn to knit lace. Zomg! Another reason I'm so proud of it is that I was originally sure this pattern was beyond my skill level. But as it turned out it was easy as pie...maybe easier....I've never really had a lot of luck making pie.

The other project, which I started just a couple of days ago and finished yesterday, is a drop spindle. I've been wanting a drop spindle for ages but I haven't had the cash to buy one so I figured; what the hell, I'll just try and make one. I just happened to have a whole heap of polymer clay in my poly-clay sculpting kit (who'd have thunk) so I found myself a mini CD to use as a template for size and bought a piece of dowel...hey presto, a day later I had me a cutes lil laceweight drop spindle. Now all I have to do is get my grubby mitts on some fibres and learn to spin with it! Woot!

October 21, 2009

Derby is NOT about sex!

I read this incredibly narrow minded article/forum post today about the movie Whip It that annoyed me for a couple of reasons.

I havent actually seen Whip It yet, but as one of the co founders of Newcastle Roller Derby League let me tell you that this supposed psychologist couldnt have gotten it MORE wrong. He theorises that 'this game is a metaphor for sex' and that the movie indulges in lesbian fantasy. According to brainiac over there, the movie whip it is about roller blading. WTF? He obviously knows NOTHING about derby. If he did, he would realise that inline skates are a no no for starters. His hypothesis and his language are both very anti-feminism. He claims to be a heterosexual male but lines from his post like; 'almost as "bad" as being a lesbian', are screaming homophobe to me. This my friends is a prime example of academic brilliance (and I use this term loosely because it should in no way, shape or form be applied to the 'academic in question) not necessarily being equated with intelligence.

For one thing, what is 'bad' about being a lesbian? Whats more, what is bad about being a lesbian who is involved in an all girl sport that is specifically directed at empowering and supporting women and designed to encourage acceptance and a sense of sisterhood that you just dont find in mainstream society (and don't even get me started on THAT one)? Ok, yes, there is a definite following of derby by members of the lesbian community. But I'm fairly certain it has less to do with sexual fantasy than it does with acceptance and empowerment and a love of the sport in its own right. Of all the homosexual women I have met through derby (and to be honest, there hasn't been that many, I've met more walking the streets of my neighbourhood), not one of them has seen the sport as an outlet for their sexual fantasies. They all seem to share the same view that it is just a nice change to be part of a sport and a community with other women who aren't judging or fearing them because of their sexuality. It would seem to me that not only is 'acceptance' the word of the day here but it is also a word that our friend the psychologist should perhaps learn to embrace.

Also, what about all those hetero women (who, by the way, are in the majority in derby) who are finding themselves as individuals and building life long friendships with like minded women through derby? All those mums and young girls in warm, functional, hetero relationships with men who dont feel threatened in the slightest by all those other women being athletes?

From reading between the lines of this so called Psychologist, it is clear to me that the concept of women banding together in an effort to become stronger, both physically and psychologically, is something that frightens him. God forbid that women should develop a sense of pride within themselves for becoming a tight knit community of athletes who just happen to enjoy having a good time as well. How dare they? They obviously should be back in the kitchen making sure they're popping out crotchfruit every other year and pandering to the delicate egos of men who clearly feel threatened by women with a sense of self.

I'd also like to know; how is the game of derby a metaphor for sex? He talks about weaving in and out of formation and some kind of 'cat and mouse' game as if derby is about playing tag. Derby is about playing tag as much as it is about doing your grocery shopping...which is to say; not at all. It annoys me that this man, who is apparently doing his doctorate, didnt have the intelligence to actually research the game he was tearing to pieces. If he had done so perhaps he wouldn't have so obviously jammed both of his feet in his mouth and embarrassed himself quite so completely.

Seriously, the suggestion that derby is about sex, is just laughable. Honestly, if that idiot ever bothered to actually go to a derby bout he'd realise that no derby girl is capable of even thinking about sex while on the track...hello???? For a start, you try skating around a track at top speed for a couple of hours and see if you have the energy for sex. Secondly all those sweaty knee pads and stinky quad skates and gigantic ass bruises? Oh hell yeh, that turns me on. Pfft.

The other reason this made me mad? I have friends who are psychologists. I studied psychology at Uni myself. And this guy, who clearly has a SERIOUS Freudian hang up, makes me ashamed to admit that I once wanted to become a psychologist. I will be the first to admit that I am in no way an academic, hell I dropped out of uni, but...even with his apology...Oh. My. God. What. A. Collosal. Fucktard.

For what its worth, Shakesville said it so much better than I did.

October 14, 2009

Everything is better when its free

Ive decided to make a short list of what I consider to be some of the 'nicer', free lace patterns on the net to share with all my readers (yes thats right, all three of you ;oP). The list is just a few of the free patterns that are available out there, thousands more are available if you look around. The ones with an asterisk are the ones I intend to day.

Tree of Light Shawl *

Print o' the Wave Stole

Gail (aka Nightsong) *

Candle Flame Shawl

Cheshire Cat Stole

Pacific Waves Stole

Panache Stole

Rectangle Lace Stole

Estonian Lace Shawl (Nancy Bush) *

Seascape *

Firmaments Lace Shawl

Floral Fantasy Shawl *

Shipwreck Shawl *

Flowers and Frills Shawl

Gold Nugget Shawl

Gossamer Garden Stole

Interlude Lace Wrap

Juno Regina


Lacewing Shawl

Aeolian on...and on....and on....and....

I've been knitting my Aeolian quite furiously and am now up to row 15 of the edge charts which means I have 31 rows to go and she's FINISHED! Gawd I cant wait to finish it. Its gotten so huge and is a bit unweildy to knit at the moment....dont even ask me how many stitches there are, over 500 is all I can tell you. I seperated it onto two 100cm long needles the other night, before I started the edge charts, so I could take photos of it. I'm loving it. Comments welcome!

Im loving this pattern so much I've decided to link another free gorgeous lace shawl designed by Elizabeth Freeman called Laminaria.