Friday, January 30, 2009

Matilda's creations and a Country Road treasure.......

Matilda the kelpie has been way more creative than me this week. Look what she produced, seven beautiful babies! Six boys and a girl, a wonderful achievement for a first litter. DH had to crawl under the house to retrieve the little cuties, but once out they were happy snuggled up to mum. Dad Nipper is proud as punch too, but is not yet allowed visitation, Matilda thinks he's a bit too rambunctious for that. She lets us handle them though and is a wonderful mum.

I have frogged another op-shop treasure, a Country Road 90% wool/10% silk jumper. It was lovely, but had a few little holes in it, so it is now destined to become a clapotis. I loooooove the colour, and the silk content gives it a lovely drape and softness. I am hesitant to cast on yet as I still have my Twilight socks and Woodland Shawl on the needles, so it may have to wait a bit. Too hot for large projects at the moment anyway, bring on winter I say!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Some frogging cheap yarn!

As I mentioned in my last post, not a whole lot of knitting has been done here. I have started knitting the patterned section on my Twilight socks and it's great- nice, simple, repetitive school holiday knitting.
I have done some un-knitting, or "frogging". I picked up a jumper from the op-shop the other day, and the Obama inauguration was the perfect time to dismantle it. By the end of 4 hours of presidential fanfare I had 530 grams of yarn. It's 50/50 cotton/ramie, perfect for dishcloths and string bags! I decided that it was too splitty to knit as it was, so I got busy with the spinning wheel and plied two strands together. It's probably about an 8-10 ply (DK-worsted), I haven't worked out the wraps per inch yet, and 150 metres per 100 grams. There's nearly 800 metres of yarn, that's a lot of dishcloths! I used some fabric dye to brighten up 200 grams of it, but I'll leave the rest white for now.

Considering cotton yarn costs at least $5 per 100grams, I have about $40 worth for $2 and an evenings work. Not bad!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Not much to show for myself.....

It's school holidays here so craft has taken a bit of a back seat. About the only finished object around here was the pavlova I made for DD12, and it sure is well and truly finished. Yummo! I have cast on for a pair of Twilight socks from "2-at-a-time socks" using my hand-dyed sock yarn. I have done most of the cuffs and of course knitted the obligatory swatch. I love how the variations in the yarn create little flecks of colour in the fabric. I had to cast on something fairly simple as trying to knit my lace shawl is impossible with three teenage boys, a pubescent girl and a husband all clamouring for my attention. Oh well, there's always the dead of night when I can work on it, one advantage of insomnia! Meantime the socks give me something to do with my hands when watching the box. Although perhaps pointy sticks and a long cable are not the safest of instruments in the hands of an overtired, and overcrowded mother!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My homespun Woodland Shawl.....

I have started knitting the Woodland Shawl with my homespun! This is my first proper lace project so I am taking my time with it. Lace knitting is not something to do when you're likely to be distracted, or " helped" by enthusiastic kitty cats! I have been putting in lifelines so I can frog it if necessary without losing the lot. You can just see one of the lifelines in this pic, one repeat down from the top edge. I'm also alternating skeins so I don't get too much striping in the lace.It's coming along nicely though, and it's fun watching it grow. It should look even better when I eventually block it. Not having blocked anything before I will be interested to see how much the process opens up the lace and enlarges the whole shawl.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Grapeful Dead, a tangled thread......

About a month ago I answered a call on Ravelry by a member who had had a yarn disaster. You can read the details here. She had hand-dyed some very expensive lace weight yarn, only to have it end up a tangled mess. The poor girl could not stand the sight of it and ended up offering it to the bravest masochist out there. I happened to be that masochist! As I received the yarn just before Christmas I made a brief attempt at detangling it and put it aside for a less hectic day. Today was that day. There was no-one at home, the housework was done and it was time. I took a deep breath, and got stuck in. A mere 3 1/2 hours later I had untangled the yarn and hand rolled it into balls. All 1800 metres of it! It is absolutely divine, 55% silk and 45% merino. The colour is "Grapeful Dead". Yummo. Well worth the aching back, RSI of the wrist and the strained bladder. Thanks Irene! Please go to her website to see Irene's lovely hand-dyed yarns, they are absolutely beautiful.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sample socks are done!

As you can see they are made in different colours, that's so you can tell which one is sock A or B when learning the method. If I had more of the yarn I would have made a second pair the same, but alas there was not quite enough left. It was quite a good learning experience making the socks 2-at-a-time on one circular needle. Once I got the gist of it it was no more difficult than DPN's and had some definite advantages. The obvious one being of course that both socks are finished at the same time. But there were other benefits too. For instance the stitches are less inclined to fall off the circular needle, which they tend to do on metal DPN's. It is so much easier to do the first few rows too, especially the first one as the stitches don't get all twisted. I like that the socks are exactly the same size too. I will definitely be making my next pair of socks the same way, maybe using my revived vintage yarn! I got to use my new stitch markers that I received in a swap on Ravelry from "Aussiemummy". I only needed one, so it was hard to choose.I told her she should sell them, they are so beautifully made and displayed. I just love them!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vintage sock yarn over-dyed and revived.....

I recently purchased about 600 grams of lovely pure wool 4 ply from the op-shop. Someone had frogged something, and saved me lots of work!It was in a fairly bland pale blue colour but otherwise was perfect. And for $6, who can resist enough yarn to make 6 pairs of socks? So after some skeining, a long soak..........and a Royal Blue dye-job, 300 grams of it became 2 BIG skeins of lovely "new" yarn. Some for me and some for a swap buddy. The rest has an uncertain destiny as yet, but you can be sure it too will become a thing of beauty......

Monday, January 12, 2009

Some more hand spun and a knitted flower brooch

I finished this yarn the other day. It's destined to become a lacy stole/shawl of some kind, not sure what yet.... I ended up with 419 metres of DK (8 ply)
And I found this great little pattern for a knitted flower and immediately had to make one ( or was that 5?). Great way to use up scraps of yarn. This one is a brooch, but they would be great as hair clips or as embellishments for bags, sandals, hats etc.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Spaced-out, like totally man, seeing rainbows!!!!!

The space-dyeing method I described in my previous post is fantastic for dyeing fleece too. I dyed 250 grams of fleece from my crossbred ewe "Pearl" using Gaywool dyes in Garnet, Mustard and Cypress. I separated them into two lots after dyeing. I ended up with some gorgeous colours and lots of reddish locks because I had to move the pot to change the hotplate and the colours mixed. I'm not sure how I'm going to spin it yet, I might do the rainbow colours as one single, trying to keep the colours separate, and then ply them with the reddish locks. The beauty of using this method of dyeing fleece is that there is no fibre preparation first - just bung the dirty fleece in the pot and the dirt washes out when you rinse out the dye!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Woohoo, I have camera batteries! And some pics I've been dyeing to show you....

Yep, dyeing. I have been playing with colour so much lately, and this is my latest effort. I space-dyed some commercial tops using fabric dyes. So simple, just some water with 1 cup of vinegar and a splodge of detergent in it, chuck in the tops and when it's wet sprinkle on some dye. No stirring!!!!!! I used red, purple and blue. Very gently simmer for 45 mins with the lid on, don't stir at all, then cool and rinse.
Spin out as much water as possible, a salad spinner is perfect for this, and hang to dry.Drool over your beautiful fibre and fantasise about what you are going to make from it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Darn flat batteries! I don't cope when my camera isn't working. I guess after 2 1/2 years of daily use even a rechargeable battery will kick the bucket. I rang the place I bought it from, $69.95 AUD for a new battery! As my camera is out of warranty I decided to go the generic route, and bought 2 for $30 AUD on eBay. Should be here tomorrow so I'll be back in business.

The elephant finally has all it's appendages, just needs stitching and stuffing (my least favourite part). I got some safety eyes for it so it's nearly done. Meanwhile I knitted up my very first homespun and felted a case for my camera, will add pics ASAP.

I just received my copy of "2 At-a-time Socks: The Secret of Knitting Any Two Socks at Once, on Just One Circular Needle!" by Melissa Morgan-Oakes from The Book Depository. The Book Depository is FANTASTIC - ultra quick and cheap, and free shipping worldwide from the UK! I have been busting to try out this technique and had to cast on last night after everyone else went to bed. To use this technique you need a 40" (100 cm) circular needle. I'll show you how to make your own really easily and cheaply from needles with shorter cables as soon as my camera battery arrives.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Can't stop at one (or is that two?)

I have a confession. The elephant is still ear-less, tusk-less and totally unstuffed. You see I had to make another pair of the Ribby Slipper Socks. The last pair was too small and I really wanted a pair so I just had to make them. Someone with smaller feet than I will be receiving the first pair real soon. As with the earlier pair, mine were made from thrifted yarn. I used a speckly homespun which seems to have some mohair, wool and maybe even a touch of alpaca in it, and an acrylic/mohair blend. Please excuse the lily-white legs, not a huge fan of chemical or natural tanning! These fit me soooooo much better and are lovely and cosy. I tend to have chilly feet even when the rest of me is roasting so these will get a lot of wear. I promise I have the wool selected for the elephant tusks and they are absolutely the next thing on my list!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Knitting magazines, how to make DPNs, and some snuggly slippers

Since the knitting bug bit me I have purchased a few different mags. There is a fantastic Aussie one called Yarn, which has a variety of knitting and crochet patterns and lots of info about where to get supplies in Australia. I gave myself a subscription to it for Christmas. Here's the link to their website, they have some great free patterns .
I also got a subscription to Interweave Knits, but not through their website. I had heard that many people in Australia have had trouble with their subscriptions direct from the US, with copies being damaged or going missing. So I have ordered mine through Colonial Lake Books in South Australia. The Interweave Knits site has some great free patterns too.
One of the projects in the Fall 2008 issue of Interweave Knits is the "Ribby Slipper Socks". As a bit of a break from the elephant I'm knitting for Muppet I thought I'd have a go at these. Only problem was that they require a set of 8mm DPNs, and not having any I rang all the local shops with no luck. My brilliant DH came up with the suggestion of making some for me. A quick trip to the hardware store later and we had a 1.8 metre length of 8mm dowel. Enough for 2 sets of 5 DPNs and for only a couple of dollars! DH cut the dowel into lengths, I sharpened the ends with a pencil sharpener and then we sanded them. I added a coat of beeswax and buffed them and we were done. Ok so with the sanding they were slightly smaller than 8mm but not enough to be too concerned.
Two evenings of leisurely knitting and here's the result. Modelled by DS13 they are slightly stretched, but they turned out pretty good! I used op-shop yarn of indeterminate fibre content, two strands together, so they probably cost me a dollar to make. The reason for my interest in this pattern? My SIL had mentioned that she loved slipper socks when we were visiting her for my BIL's funeral. Now I've made the test pair I'll find some nice yarn to whip her up a set. Tassie gets very cool in the winter months and she'll need all the comfort she can get.