Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Holidays week one

Day One - 
I woke this morning to the sound of water trickling into our collection butts. This can mean only one thing - precipitation. There's lots of it falling from the skies. Right now I'm feeling really rather cheesed off. For the last four weeks the weather has been glorious. Stinking hot, barely a breath of wind and now I look out of my window and I can barely see Penrith because the rain is so heavy. Come on God(s) give me  a break!

I'm waiting for the boys to surface so I can put the washing machine on. The fact I'm going to have to use the drier grates on me somewhat. But while I wait I'm spinning. Just a smidgin of the black merino left. 

Night time now. All hail the met office. I checked out their app and discovered the rain was due to stop about the same time as my machine finished! So 2 loads of washing done and dried. Ironed!? Don't be silly. 
Today has been a cleaning day. I'm battling with the dust from the work Matthew's doing on the house. I think I'm just moving it around to be honest. In my down time I've worked on the merino on my wheel. I've finished the black and started the silver. 
I've also knitted. I'm trying to be a good girl honest!! I've set myself down and made myself knit on Jeans's scarf. Just knuckling down and working for a solid hour has paid dividends. It's growing! I need to continue with this focus and try to get it done this week so that I can get it blocked for her birthday next week. As a reward for being good I've also worked on Neil's socks. I'm constantly marvelling at how huge they are! 

I've spent a great evening catching up with my podcasting pals and reflecting on how lucky I am to have such a lovely group of people in my life. 

Day Two - more rain this morning. It seems to have passed through quickly though. 
I have spent the hour or so before everyone go up watching podcasts and working on the scarf. I loved listening to Mel, Laura and Leslie talk about SSK so animatedly. Everyone seems to have thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm sure there are knitting retreats in the UK, but I can't justify the money and time away from home to go to one. One day, I'm promising myself, one day. 

So, this day is set to be more housework, and I'm taking the kids to the cinema this afternoon. We're going to watch Dispicable Me 2. I've only just watched the first one and loved it. I'm looking forward to seeing this one. I'll take my sock knitting to work on while I'm there. 

Evening time now. I've still not got my kitchen back as the floor still isn't walkable-on! Matthew has laid an American black walnut parquet floor. Is been sanded and oiled, and now I'm waiting for that oil to sink in or dry so that I can work in there again. So far this week I've got a Chinese takeaway in and a pizza. We can't live on take out much longer. I'm sure the boys would be delighted, but my purse and inner happiness are less amused. 

Today I wrestled with a tent. Why you may ask, when we invented hotels am I pitting my muscle and intelligence against a stupid piece of canvas? Well, the boys want to play in it. So I pitched the tent and they've been fighting wars and untold menace ever since. Despite the expletives uttered putting it up (and my creative use of multiple swear words in unusual combinations was something else I can tell you! ) I think it was worth it just to get them away from the Xbox! 

After the tent fiasco I set about the house again. I made some progress, but not a great deal. Then I promised the boys a visit to the cinema. I thought we'd see despicable me. I was wrong. I messed up the timings so we wound up watching Pacific Rim. A bizarre mix of transformers and alien. The kids seemed to enjoy it and I got almost a whole leg worked on Neil's sock! A successful day I think. 

Day Three - 

Woke this morning and the sun is shining! Praise be! Today I get my kitchen back. This morning will involve a deep clean and then I can feel a lasagne coming on. Nom nom. This afternoon wer're off the a local bird of prey centre to watch a display then have tea and scones. Very civilised. Again, I've had a good hour and a half to work on the scarf. I probably won't get to knit again until this evening, but I'm signing up now to work upon it exclusively tonight. I really have to motor now if I have any chance of getting it done on time. Last night I faffed  about on line all night. I'm sure I lost 2 hours on Ravelry! Must not look at electronic devices. Must only look at needles! 

Off to get the day started. 

So, here I am winding down in bed. The bird of prey display was great.
 Shame of it was that it rained. A lot. And did I bring coats? No! In my defence the sun was shining when we left. I'll definitely go back. There was so much we didn't see because we holed up in the tea room and ate scones and drank tea. A wonderful afternoon despite the weather. On the knitting front I have made some progress on the scarf. I have been a good girl and worked exclusively on it. I did a fair amount this morning and then placed a marker at the point I have deemed to be half way. I've placed a second one where I finished tonight. I'm hoping that seeing how far I've come will spur me on. 6 days to go until 'B-day' and counting

Day Four - oh my gosh! Horrible sinking feeling. I worked for and hour and a half this morning on the scarf and produced 3 inches. I think the second half needs to be 27 inches before I work the edging! I need to get motoring! In a BIG way! 

Evening time.
 Carpet - check. Dining table - fail. Mantle clock - fail. Knitting - check! I've motored today. My dusting has fallen by the wayside, but the scarf is coming along. By my reconning, I've got about 1/3 of the way to go. Could I manage that tonight? I'm going to have a go. 

Day Five

Up with the larks. The kids have an archery session at 9am. Dear lord that's early! But still got a few rows knitted before we needed to set off and then an hour and a half while they shoot stuff! 
The borrowed child is in the foreground. Mine is behind. 

Well today was a day of resignation. I'm not nearly as close to finishing as I'd thought. There's no way on god's green earth the scarf is long enough. I'd hoped to finish before I go away. Now, I'll be lucky to finish on time. I'm thinking happy thoughts. 

Day Six -

Going to pretty much the same as before. Knitting, entertaining, cooking, etc. I think we may have Peter's mum coming tonight. Will be nice to sit and chat. But for now, it's back to the glory that is the scarf. 

Has been a busy day. I've deep cleaned the kitchen, bathroom and dyed my hair (and most if the rest of me too!) I've taken the boys to a fun session at the pool. I sat up in the viewing area and knit while biting my tongue. So many awful strokes so little time! 

I made a delightful chicken lasagne even though I say it myself. I do make Desperate Dan portions, so half of it is now in MIL's fridge for her to finish it. 

Have worked my tripe out on her scarf. Still not quite at the point I can out the edging on. I must confess to giving in and casting on Makai. I'm going to reward myself with it again when I feel I've worked enough on the scarf. 

Day Seven -

Today will be a busy day. I need to pack up the borrowed child ready for him to leave, I need to pack us up ready for our trip to York, oh and I need to pack the dog ready for his stay at Nana's. Such fun. I'm hoping stress levels remain low, but I know in my heart they may start to creep up soon!

So I'll publish this now. I'll start week Two in your tonight. Excited!
Bizarre excited face - NOT constipated! Although I can see how you'd be confused!!

On the horizon -
More scarf
Some Makai
Some spindle spinning 
Lots of fun in York
Lots of fun for MIL's birthday (she WILL be wearing that scarf!!!!)
My birthday! Which will probably involve washing from our holidays! 

Have a great week folks 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Jolly holidays

Here there guys! As the title suggests I'm on my jollies now. Two weeks off work. Bliss. I think my body is more than ready for this as I've got sciatica from hell, a neck in spasm and to ice the cake I also have sinusitis secondary to a cold (sad face). 

The weather has turned. It's now much cooler and it's rainy. For those out there in the UK I apologise, for the next two weeks it will rain. This is because I'm off! Whenever I'm off the weather is atrocious. Unless of course I holiday in another country, at which point the UK usually experiences a heat wave!! Any hoo, just being at home when my time is my own will be a delight. 

So this week has seen me getting T's crossed and I's dotted ready for my holidays. Work is as ready for locums as it can be, the girls are nervous, but I'm sure the pharmacists covering for me will be great. 

Home is still looking like a war zone! Matthews is making steady progress on the kitchen, the ceiling is done, in the old kitchen/new office, the desks are moved, the washer and freezers are moved and new shelving has been put up. He is now on the floor. He decided he wanted American black walnut parquet flooring in the kitchen. While it looked beautiful, I did wonder if it would be the best plan as it's a slow, complicated job. But no, that's what he wanted. So as I am visiting with my mum and dad this weekend the floor is going down. I'm glad I'm not there as work has been VERY slow and I'm fairly confident the air has been blue on more than one occasion!!

Work progresses and it's looking good.

Feeling the love this week - 
I'm trying to be good. Honest! I'm trying to work solely on Jean's scarf. But it saps my happiness and sometimes I just give in and work on something else. 

It is growing slowly but surely. I'm thinking positive thoughts. 

When I'm not being a saint and doing what I should be doing, I've been working on Neil's socks. I making up a vanilla pattern, but I wanted a slipped stitch heel as I'm sure he's hard on his socks. So I'm using Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy Johnson as a guide. This book is great. There are 23 great patterns, but what I like most are her basic socks. They are 3 patterns giving different heels, I use them as the basis of a recipe. I'veused her heel instructions and made up the rest of the sock to fit. A great resource. 

I'm onto the heel flap now, but I'm not sure I've turned the heel right. It's not looking very turned at the moment. I think I may revisit the pattern and check I've read it correctly. 

On the spinning front I've nearly finished the black merino on my wheel. I've got about 1/2 an ounce left. I'm trying to concentrate on my consistency. I'm wanting to spin this thicker. I'm aiming for a DK weight or thicker, but my default spinning setting is hair thin, and I keep finding I'm spinning too thin. Must concentrate!

I also finished that iridescent puddle sample from Nunoco on the Turkish. I took the cake off the spindle and hoped to ply from the centre pull ball. Only snag was I couldn't see the start of the single in the ball! I didn't want to ratch around inside too much and end up with barf, so I decided to N-ply it. I tried on the spindle, but it was an epic fail and I lost a few precious yards, so I plied on my wheel. 
I'm happy with the results. I'm getting more confident with the Navajo plying technique. I'm looking forward to spinning a Nunoco batt and keeping the colours true this way. 

It seems I may have anther addiction on the horizon too! This week I dyed some fibre. When I was at Woolfest I bought a few bags of natural top. I wanted to make a tonal braid so I picked a bag of merino/silk blend and had a play. I have 3 dye colours, purple, dark violet and plum. I wanted dark and lihpght shades, so I made 3 strengths of each dye and used all nine dyes on the braid. It isn't go as planned as I used way too much dye for each colour. This meant the colour saturation was effectively the same in each pot. 
This may look like cling filmed innards, but it's my fibre cooling. I applied the dye and used the microwave to set it. It took a lot of rinsing as all that excess dye had to come out. 

I'm so happy with the result though. It's come out great. My good friend Marion has offered to give me a lesson. I'm definitely going to take her up on that and I'm going to buy more colours. 3 shades of purple just aren't working for me any more!

On the horizon - 
This afternoon I'm collecting a friend's child that I'm minding for a week, so next week will be spent entertaining children, but I'm hoping that I should have a fair bit of knitting time too. I must ocu opinion the dreaded scarf. Her birthday is in 10 days! Eeeekkkkk!!!!!! As a reward for knuckling down, I'll work on Neil's sock. I did think I may cast on that second evenstar I threatened to start ll those months ago, maybe if I'm good and finish the scarf I'll cast it on. 

On the spinning front, I'll work on the back/silver merino. Maybe I'll put something new on a spindle.

Have a great week guys!

Sunday, 21 July 2013


Dear lord in all creation its been a warm week. By warm, I mean it's been a steady 30 degrees in work all week. By Friday I was fit to drop. We're just not geared up to deal with heat in the UK. It happens so infrequently!

On the home front Ben has finished school for the year. Next year is his last one in primary school. He's very excited to go into year 6. He's going to be the captain of his house. He's been in Blue House since his first year, and now he gets to lead his house in all their endeavours. Could I burst with pride !?  Hell yes!

In my life, it's been quiet. I'm desperately looking forward to my holiday which starts next weekend. I have 2 weeks off. The first week sees me looking after a friend's kid, and the second sees my mother in law's birthday and mine. Jean (MIL) reaches a noughty birthday this year and has chosen to take us all  out for a lovely meal to a local restaurant. I can't wait! Nothing is planned for my birthday, but needless to say Nunoco has produced some gorgeous batts recently and I'm hoping to find some landing on my doormat soon! Fingers crossed for me guys!

Feeling the love this week -

Jean's bag is finished. I've run it through the machine 3 times, I think it could do with another. I shall give it another go I think. 

Finishing the bag left me with just her scarf and Wisteria on the needles and in all honesty, I didn't really want to work on either, so I cast on another sock. 

I'm using Regia Alaska Color and 3.25mm needles. They're huge! I'm making them for a friend's husband and his feet a massive! Thankfully it's quite a thick yarn so it's knitting up quite quickly. I'm using a ancillary pattern I made up. Nothing flash.

I've also cast on a shawl. Is called Florelei. It's knitting up quite nicely. I'm using Louisa Harding Grace hand painted wool. Is devine. It's 50% merino and 50% silk. 

I'm worried that some of the pattern will be lost with the colour variation in the yarn. But with a good block it may all come right in the end. This is going in the Christmas gift drawer. 

Jean's scarf did see some progress. Not a lot, and definitely it enough, but some! 

On the spinning front, I haven't touched my wheel all week. I've been feeling really rather poorly. It is just a cold, but dear me, it hit me hard. 
I've been spinning on my new baby. It's a Turkish spindle and it spins beautifully. I was looking through my phatfiber box from October last year and found a Nunoco sample I didn't even know was there! It's a sample of iridescent puddle. Mmmmmm love it! I can feel another purchase coming on! 

On the horizon - 
I really have to knuckle down and get Jean's scarf done!  I'll work on Neil's socks, and on the shawl. I'll finish the Nunoco sample on the Turkishand get it plied hopefully. I should really get a wiggle on and spin the black merino on the wheel. My main focus is to get back to posting on the Tour de Fleece boards. I've just not had the energy this week. 

So, I'll see you next week guys

Sorry about the lack of hyperlinks. I'm using the blogger app this week and it seems hyperlinks can't be inserted! Harrumph 


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Wish me luck - I'm going in!

..... And it's not going to be pretty!

This weekend sees an epic deep clean in my house. The dirty work on the kitchen is finished so I will start on the dusting. Also I need to sort out Ben's bedroom. As it stands you can't see the floor. While this isn't unusual for a 10 year old's room, we do need to have a major clear out so we can fit in another child. Not mine! Don't panic! We're borrowing one for a week soon and he'll need somewhere to put his stuff! Ben and I have had a chat and he knows there will be bin bags involved. I hope we can give some to charity, there are some toys in there which have lots of life in them yet.

Also this week I've been slowly cooking at work. The weather has been glorious, in the high twenties every day. The heat has been building in the pharmacy all week. Despite buying an air conditioning unit it still reached 30.2 degrees! I've been surprised by how tiring it is working in such heat.

Feeling the love this week -

Knitting has pretty much taken second place this week. I've only really worked on the rejected socks because I really wanted to get them finished.
Ta Da!

 I want to take some time to talk about single ply yarn. There seems to be a lot of it around at the moment, and while I do like it, there are drawbacks to it.
As a spinner I know that you put twist into fibre to create a strong single. You ply singles together in the opposite direction to that which you spun the individual singles. This takes out some of the twist and energy from the singles; creates a strong round yarn, and balances the yarn. This is what I mean -

The silver grey yarn is the waste yarn from the afterthought heel around the back of the sock. Now, as you can see, as I've knitted past that point the waste yarn has crept around to the front of the sock by a few stitches. My stitch count on each needle has remained the same, and I've not increased or decreased at all. I've just knitted in the round. This twisting is caused by the nature of the single

You can see the 2 colours barber pole as the colours change - this twist causes the problems
If you notice the direction of the twist, it's the same as the twist in the fabric. In a larger, more open piece, this will be exaggerated meaning a cardie or jumper won't hang straight. In these socks. I'm hoping that it won't make much difference. Knitting with the yarn has its challenges too.

The stitches are very flat on the needles, this makes it easily split and I've found myself catching just a few of the fibres when I'm making a new stitch. On the wholes this singles malarkey has pros can cons. I do like the fabric they generate, the feel and look of the yarn is lovely, but it's a faff to knit with. I definitely did the right thing rejecting this sock for my midnight walk! You need to watch what you're doing. Maybe lace might be better for it? You're going to block the project which might help with the twisting and you need to watch what you're doing. I'll try it out with my other ball.

Spinning has been my main focus. Week 2 of the Tour de Fleece is finished and I've finally finished the cornfield polwarth.

I got 1226yds of 2-ply laceweight. I'm delighted with that as its the first time I've managed to break the 1000yds barrier. I'm a little disappointed though too. I also got 184yds of N-ply heavy laceweight. I thought I'd spun consistently but it's obvious now that I'd spun the first single significantly thinner than the second. If I'd managed to spin evenly I could have spun enough for an Evenstar! But still it is what it is.

 On the wheel now is merino. I've 2 colours I'm going to ply together. I'm trying to spin thicker. I'd like to get a worsted/Aran weight. I've spun about half an ounce and realised I've still got my lace flyer on the wheel so I think it's going to be rather over spun. I'll swap it over and hopefully it'll even itself out

On the horizon -
Next week I'll be battling the settling dust so my house doesn't revert back to being a midden! I've got guests visiting at the weekend so I'm not sure how the blogging will pan out.
On the fibre front I'll still be spinning my heart out, I'd like to finish up Joan's bag and crack on with her scarf. If I'm really good I'll treat myself to casting on new things!

Have a great week guys.
Ellen x

Monday, 8 July 2013

Post Woolfest Blues

This week has mostly been idled with indecision. What to do with my shineys!?  As promised, here's a photo of my haul.
Now, those of you who've been with me for a while will notice the problem with the picture. I had originally said that I'm not buying fibre this year. And 4/5ths of this photo is fluff! I bought 5 skeins of yarn and 2 balls of uber-itchy natural brown wool to dye and make a bag with (that's the black hole in the bottom left of the picture), and the fluff arrived because I needed to spend my Christmas gift vouchers from winghamwoolwork. I know what I'm doing with most of it, so I'm not too bothered.
Not included in this photo is the lace flyer that's currently on Whenu, a gorgeous African ox horn shawl pin, Ben's spindle and his fluff. As shopping spree's go, I'm happy with that

As for the rest of the week's happenings, they have been few and far between. Friday was the re-run of Ben's sports day. It was washed out last month, but Friday was glorious and I once again went home with my one-sided sports day sun burn! Needless to day, I sat cheering Ben on while I knit!

 Well, it would be rude not to would it not!?

Also this week Matthew has suddenly decided to make some progress on my new kitchen. Let me first describe the word 'new'. By new, I mean 3 years old! When he put the kitchen in he also put a Velux window in, since then he's been deciding what to do with the ceiling. This week work started. I came home on Friday and nearly cried. My whole house is covered in a not so fine film of plaster dust. It's everywhere! I can't say anything because my kitchen is being completed, but still it breaks my heart when I look around and see the mess. I'm not the most house proud of folk, but still. Happy thoughts. It will be great when it's done.

Feeling the love this week -

Don't die off in shock, but Wisteria saw the light of day again. I'm working past the underarm down towards the waist shaping. There's not a lot to see hence no photo, but I enjoyed working on it.

My rejected socks also saw the action and I'm now very near to putting the waste yarn in for the heel. It's definitely not going to be at the same point in the colour repeat. It's not going to be that far off, and I'm still confident they'll look fine once they're done.

Jean's scarf has maybe had 2 drop stitch repeats added to it. I not feeling it at all. I think it's the needles that are my problem. I just don't like the feel of the straights in my hand. At the moment her birthday is far enough off that I'm not feeling the time pressure to get it done either which isn't helping.

I have cast on a new project. As I mentioned earlier I bought 2 balls of pure wool from Woolfest. It was a natural brown heathered colour. When I saw it I knew it had to be one of my felted bags.
This is the result from my first attempt at overdying with food colouring.

The dying wasn't a great success, but I think it did unify the colours of the 4 skeins.  So this time round  I used  Colourcraft dyes I used purple and plum. I skeined the yarn and soaked it overnight in a water and white vinegar bath. I used the plum dye first and them the purple. I'm really happy with the tonal variation and it's knitting up beautifully

Ok, today I'm thinking happy thoughts! It's 4.15am Monday morning. Been woken by the boy who feels sick. So before I try to go back to sleep I decided to do my usual check on my phone. You know, Facebook, plurk, emails, ravelry and the blog. My phone says this week's blog is still a draft. I'm sure I published it yesterday. So I pressed publish and then went back to check how it looked only to find half of what I'd written yesterday is now missing!!! Sob!!!!  

So here we go again! 

This is how my dyed yarn is knitting up. I love how the little undyded bits are popping up every now and then. They're caused by the fact I tied the skeins too tight. A happy mistake I think

This Saturday saw the start to week 2 of Tour de Fleece. I decided to carry on spinning the polwarth. I finally finished the singles on Saturday night and started to ply Sunday morning. 
My progress this week - I worked on the second single and also I spun a little on the ragged robin batt 

The nunoco fibre is spinning really thin. It's truely gorgeous to work with. 

Ragged robin on my home made spindle. 

Finished singles and the start of plying. It's going to be a lace weight, maybe a heavy lace in places. So far in happy with the way it's plying. The barber poking is much more subtle than I'd hoped. Only the blue on yellow really pops, the other shades seem to just read as yellow. Maybe when it's knit up I'll be able to see more. 

On the horizon - 

I'd like to say I'll work on wisteria and Jeans's scarf, I know I need to, but it's just a matter of finding the motivation. I'm sure I'll work on the rejected socks - maybe even get to the cuff (!?!?). I'd like to get my handbag done too. Here's hoping because while that's all happening the spinning is still in full swing. I'll finish off the polwarth and stash dive to see what's next on the wheel

As an aside, I've done a new YouTube video as requested by suncountry on plurk. She asked me to do a tutorial on how I make my spindles. Ask and thou shalt receive! I don't seem to be able to embed the video from my blogger app on my phone (I'm still in bed, it's now 4:37!) so I'll edit this post later to include the video

So, for the second time I hope you all have a great week. 

Ellen x