Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oh no, faux fur!!!!!!

Yup, I caved in and started knitting the dreadful stuff. I have had this in my stash since the late nineties, it is hideous to knit and almost impossible to count the stitches. In my madness I once hoped to make myself a cardigan out of this, actually completing the back and one front piece. Finally I chucked it in a bag, which is where it stayed till my latest knitting resurgence and a stock take of my yarn. Being the naturally frugal and realistic person that I am I could neither throw the yarn away or believe that anyone else would want it. Then it hit me. Cats don't know much about fashion but they sure know about softness. So I'm making a cat mat! It's just plain old knit, on big needles with two strands of yarn at once. If I drop a stitch and can't find it, or make one accidently the cats don't care. Cinnamon has been product testing and can't understand my dislike for the darn stuff.... One enjoyable aspect of this project is that I get to use my funky vintage bag I picked up at the op-shop last week, isn't it cool?
Oh yeah, I've done a bit more spinning, this is some of the wool top I dyed a while back. It's a bit lumpy, the drum carder damaged the fibre a bit so I had lots of pilly bits, but it's lovely and soft. Here it is having a bath to set the twist.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Some FO's (finished objects)

The socks are done, Ta Da!!!!!! Mum is coming over tomorrow so she can take them over to Dad for a very belated Father's Day pressy. Now I am free to cast on something else, but what? I'm a bit over socks at the moment but not game enough to make a jumper yet. It's going to be summer here in a week so I don't want to start something too big or it will be too hot to work on. Gloves and scarves are small but wouldn't be used for ages, and I have a heap of bags. I want to make something for me, but what? Hmmmmm, back to Ravelry to get some ideas......
Remember the fleece I dyed with the jelly? Here it is all carded and ready to spin.

I spun it in separate colours and Navajo plied it to maintain the distinct colourways.I thought I was spinning it very fine, but once plied it became a super bulky weight, about 6 wraps per inch. Not sure what to do with it yet........

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man!

This deserved a special post all of it's own. I have been using my rather dodgy swift I rigged up from coathangers. It worked, but let's just say it isn't the most stable of contraptions. While I was out today my darlin' whipped this beauty up for me.

To say I am thrilled is a huge understatement! DH used some recycled red box timber he had lying around. I love it's rusticity, the wood has so much character, and with that solid base it's not going to wobble in the slightest. With a coating of linseed oil it even smells good.Please excuse the crappy yarn, it's purely for demonstration purposes. Aren't the adjustable pegs sweet? DH doesn't even own a lathe, he rigged up some contraption involving a drill, a vice and a chisel to turn them. What a clever boy. Of course we took it for a whirl, and it spins like a dream. Just gotta make some more yarn so I can put it to use!

Out with the new and back with the old.....

You may have noticed I've been playing around with templates the past few days. For some reason all the ones I pick chop off the right side of my pics. I've tried resizing them and changing my settings but in the end I gave up. So we're back to the good old scribe template.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A knitting bracelet and my homespun handbag....

These knitting bracelets are great. They work like an abacus, you use them to keep track of the rows you've done. Mine reads 12, the green beads count as ten each and the red count as one each, you just loop the little circle of seed beads over the others to mark your place. So they can record up to 99 rows! I used glass beads to make mine, I recycled them from some necklaces I had from many moons ago. The little heart charm reminds me where I started from.This bag is what I used my first homespun for. You can find the pattern here . The pattern was surprisingly quick, and I had just enough yarn to make a cozy for my mobile phone. I found a leather belt at the op-shop for a handle and added the brooch for a bit of bling. Must dash, CSI is on and there is a bottle of port with my name on it lol.....

Monday, November 17, 2008

I like Aeroplane Jelly, Aeroplane Jelly for me.....

I like Aeroplane Jelly,

Aeroplane Jelly for me.

I like it for dinner, I like it for tea,

A little each day is a good recipe!

The quality's high, as the name will imply,

It's made from pure fruit - one more good reason why

I like Aeroplane Jelly,

Aeroplane Jelly for me!

When the company first released the jingle for Aeroplane jelly in 1938 I wonder if they knew just how useful the product could be. Not only is it a favourite treat for young and old, it is also a great way to dye wool! I'm not usually a fan of these colours but even I can't resist their pure deliciousness.........

Here's how I dyed my wool. I did about 120 grams of each colour and I have 2 more colours of jelly to go. The kids are horrified that I would "waste" the jelly like this but I had so much fun!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A new toy.....

I needed a new hook for my spinning wheel and a few other bits and pieces so I used that as an excuse to get myself a new toy. Gotta make the most of the postage right? The folks at Ashford Australia are so helpful and the delivery is so quick it's amazing! Here's my treat to myself.

Yup, I got me a spindle! Isn't it cute? I had so much fun trying it out yesterday. I studied up on the technique via my favourite craft instruction source , so it didn't take long to get the hang of it. Now I can spin anywhere I want!

Spindling is a very cheap way of getting into spinning. Lots of people spin for years on these before they get a wheel. Some very co-ordinated people even hike while they spin! My fine motor skills are much better than my gross-motor, and using both at once is way beyond me, so you won't see me doing that soon. Can see myself spindling at a lookout though, maybe a trip to the mountains is in order?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My first "real" yarn....

Ok, I know I already posted my efforts with the black fleece, but this time it almost looks like proper yarn! I did one bobbin with all Pearl's fleece and another with some of Billie's mohair and then plied them. I dyed the skeins and this is what I ended up with.
I love the colour, it's actually more teal green than it looks in the pic. I got about 150 grams and 190 metres of yarn in about a 10 ply. I think I'll make a bag out of it so I can have lots of use out of it. There's lots of overspun and underspun sections but I love it anyway!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My fibre babies

I took some pics of my fibre babies today and just have to share them. I love them to bits! I have gushed about them on my other blog but this blog has been decidedly fur-baby free. Like any proud Mum, I can't miss an opportunity to show off my darlin's so I have justified this as a craft-related show and tell.
This is Pearl, who came to me on a stormy night after being rejected by her Mum. A friend was grazing his sheep on our land and my DH found her alone and very mournful two years ago. Pearl is a crossbred and is such a sweetie. She loves sleeping in her old packing crate!
Victor came to us around the same time. He is a Saanen goat and is not a fibre animal but is part of our little family so he gets a spot here too. Victor was one of 8 orphan goats hand reared until he was weaned by a lovely elderly man. We answered an advert in the local paper and brought him home.
Louie was found in the middle of a road at a few days old by DH. She was totally alone with no sheep for miles around. We surmised she had been left behind when a farmer moved his sheep and gladly took her home. She is a Merino and has the most plaintive call that we just can't resist.
Billie came to us via an ad on a simple living forum I'm part of. She is a couple of years old and is an escapee from an angora goat farm. She was running wild in a farmer's paddock when she was taken in by a kind family. When they could no longer keep her we adopted her and she has become a much loved part of our family.
Mannie is another little Merino who was found with the remains of his twin after a fox attack. His Mum didn't come forward when he has shown to the flock so he was given to us to hand raise. He is such a cuddler, and still has a bottle twice a day.

Now you can see why fibre arts have become a natural part of my life. With all these little darlin's what else is a girl to do?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Spinning group, socks, a lace headband and a massage.

Yesterday was my first visit to the local (39 Kms away) spinning group. What a lovely group of ladies, and such a wealth of knowledge. They are all between 25 and 40 years older than me so I felt like a real spring chicken! They were all so encouraging and made me feel a lot more confident. One thing they insisted was that I need more than two bobbins for my wheel. At $40 a pop to have some made I explained that it was just too expensive. So they dug around in the cupboard and found me these. A school had donated them years ago and no-one had a wheel that they fitted, so I got them for $10 for the lot. A little knocked around but they'll do the job.
When my Dad spotted the socks I made for myself he decided he'd quite like a pair too. Out came the 8ply pure wool yarn my aunty had given me and this is sock numero uno. The heel turned out great, but I needed a break from socks for an evening. Second sock syndrome has reared it's ugly head! A quick search of
Ravelry turned up the pattern for this headband and shortly after that I was wearing it.
This is my first attempt at a lacey pattern and my first experience of yarn-overs so it's not perfect but it's all part of the learning curve right?
Cinnamon understands the physical exertion a crafter goes through. Last night when I flopped exhausted on the bed she was straight up there with a soothing massage..... Ahhhhhhh........

Thanks Cinnamon. I'd better go cast on for that other sock now.......

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A very official title indeed......

A wonderful tool for spinners is a drum carder. Problem is they are very expensive (about $500 AUD) which makes them beyond the reach of most of us. But I got one! No I have not suddenly changed tax brackets, I just got lucky. I phoned up the craft co-op in my little town to see if I could borrow one. "Sure," they said, "There's one in the cupboard that hasn't been used for years." So for $10 joining fee I have a drum carder. I asked when they needed it back and the lovely elderly lady winked at me and said "You are now the Official Caretaker of the Drum Carder." How good is that?
These beauties make processing fleece a dream. A few passes through and the fibres are tangle free and aligned in the same direction, ready for spinning. They produce lovely batts like this one.
Pearl's fleece looks good now! This huge batt only weighs 27 grams. I split it into four lengths and rolled them into donuts.
Then it was time to spin. I think I'm getting better, what do you reckon?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Some clumsy plying attempts and luscious alpaca

I have been practising my spinning which I definately need to do. I spun some black fleece that I was given, it was supposed to be merino but isn't as greasy as the merino fleeces I have and is so much easier to clean. Merino is a pain in the bum! I have tried every which way to get my merino fleece clean and I think I just got a particularly grotty one. The fibre is gorgeous but it has so much vegetable matter in it that i just can't get rid of.

The black fleece however is a pleasure to use, so I spun some of that and had a go at plying. My yarn is very lumpy bumpy and I have trouble getting it to grab onto the leader but once I'm on I'm ok.

I haven't got a swift so I rigged up my own out of coat hangers, curtain rod, electrical tape and a bottle. Works great and didn't cost a cent!

I have been busy sorting and washing Pearl's fleece. Pearl is my bottle reared crossbred ewe, my first baby. Being a crossbred her fleece is not as fine as merino but is easy to use so it's good for a beginner like me. I am spoilt for fleeces at the moment, I have 3 wool fleeces and my aunt gave me 3 alpaca fleeces. A fellow she knows was going to chuck them out!
I have a few small bags of coloured alpaca as well, and of course Billie the angora goat's mohair fleece. I washed some alpaca yesterday and it is divine, so soft and gorgeous. I love the variations in colour, so pretty.....There's a bit of vegetable matter in it but it comes out easily. I have to touch it every time I go past it, it's so yummy. I haven't a hope of buying an alpaca while I still have all this fleece so I think I'd better go spin some!