Sunday, 6 April 2014

Restraint. Not my natural state.

Happy Sunday.

Today you find me sitting at a table in Rheged. I'm enjoying a cup of tea and knitting on something I really shouldn't have cast on last night! 

I've not just come here on a whim. Today Rheged are holding their first Knit and Stitch show. There are about 35 vendors here selling yarn, fibre, buttons, patterns and all sorts of shiny goodness. 

I wanted to come and have a look but was definitely NOT in the market for yarn. Or fibre for that matter. But as I write I'm looking at a bag of alpaca fleece. Oops. But, in my defense, this bag only cost me £2.50. My tea cost me £1.95! I'm not sure if that makes the fleece really cheap or the tea really expensive.  

My fleece comes from Mainsforth Alpacas. More specifically this bag contains the fleece from Xavier and Bolero.

They are a gorgeous blond colour. As I drink my tea, I'm thinking about how to spin this. I toyed with washing and combing it, but it's not like there's huge amounts of muck that I can see, and there's no lanolin to remove, so now I'm thinking I'll spin directly from the locks and wash the yarn well afterwards. What do you think? 

There are vendors from near and not so near. Two of our local craft shops are here - Just Sew whom I mentioned last week, and my LYS Shades of Wool. It was great to see them out and about meeting new shoppers. 


Back home now. I've resisted the urge to spin my acquisition. I needed to crack on in the kitchen. I've made ganache puddings, flapjack and cupcakes. Snag is I've run out of icing sugar, so I'll have to nip out soon and remedy the situation!


And I'm back. I've iced my cupcakes and just sat down to write to you. It seems I've acquired 2 more kids since I've been out. The cupcakes are being eyed up. If they last the day, I'll eat my hat!

Feeling the love - 

A little while ago I re-tweeted a competition tweet. I often do this to spread the word. If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have none at all!  This tweet was from Jen Best of Beaker Buttons. She offered one of her button making kits. And bugger me, didn't my name come out of the hat!?

Jen sent me a lovely package containing the wherewithal to make 3 Dorset buttons. For those who haven't heard of these buttons; they were made from the early 1600's until mechanisation in the mid 19th century wiped out the industry almost completely. Historically the button were made using circles of horn which were stitched around making beautiful patterns 

Jean's kits come with full instructions including a potted history of the Dorset button, 3 brass rings to make shape of your button, a darning needle and a length of hand dyed yarn. 

I was so excited to open the packet and start. The colour of the yarn happened to be SO me - purple and green. The instructions were clear and well laid out, with photo tutorials throughout.

Is it wrong to like the back of the button more than the front?

I can't recommend these kits enough! Check out Jen's website and see for yourself. 

Most of the love this week has been given to my Bah Humbug Piper's Journey. I had an unanticipated day off work on Friday. I had to spend the day on the Paediatrics Ward at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. I'd taken Ben to the doctors on the Friday morning (I slipped out of work so that I could take him) next thing I knew I was given a note to give the hospital and told to take him straight there. I went back to pharmacy and spent 5 minutes ringing around all the folk I knew who were pharmacists and local to get some cover for me. In the end a good friend stepped up to the plate, I told the girls to close the dispensary until the new pharmacist arrived and I beetled the 30 or so miles up the motorway to the hospital. The upshot of all that was I managed to get the last half of the edging done and cast off while Ben and I waited for tests to be run. 

This is an awful photo! I'll take a decent one once it's blocked! 

Never before have appreciated just how well knitting keeps me sane. I sorted Ben out with a film to keep his mind off the fact he was nil by mouth until his ultrasound, but that left me alone with my
thoughts and worries. It was the longest 7 hours of my life. But my knitting truely kept me sane. The edging had just enough detail to keep my mind focused on the task. I still worried and fretted, but it kept me back from the edge!  Ben's fine, home, and back to his usual self and I am truely grateful to all the staff there for all their care and attention. 

There has been other progress, but nothing exciting. I worked a little on the second single of the watermelon merino from Nunoco. I worked perhaps 6 rows on the Peacock shawl. I worked a couple of rounds on my red onion socks.  Oh, and I may have cast on something new on a whim last night. 

I loved knitting using my handspun. I'm wary of 'wasting' my handspun! I'm still in awe of the yarn I create and loathed to knit it incase I don't do it justice. Using my Bah Humbug yarn was great. I'm only sorry I didn't have the courage to keep knitting a bit longer on the body as I have quite a bit of yarn left. I'm ok with it though, as I've re-caked it and put it in my Six'es blanket bag.

I wanted to keep on with the handspun knitting, so I pulled out a skein I spun up in August 2012 for Mel from the Single handed Knits podcast's Sock the Vote. As it happened I managed to turn my 700yards of a light fingering yarn into the barf from hell and I couldn't face untangling it. 
It took a full week of fiddling and a couple of sacrificial snips to rescue the skein by which time I'd found new yarn to knit my Sock the Vote socks. I decided I needed to rescue this skein from stash and as I put it on the swift I realised this yarn was NEVER going to be socks. In my efforts to spin it quickly I made a complete hash to plying it. Some places are barely plied at all! I could have run it back through the wheel again but frankly I couldn't be faffed. That and in my inexperience I'd knotted it in places! 

So any hoo, I cast on a new shawl. It's called the Dragonwheel shawl by Ursa Major Knits. It's an interesting construction. You cast on a frightening number of stitches and work from the outside in. There are short rows to give shape, and garter, reverse garter and stocking stitches to give definition. 
I'm enjoying how the yarn is working up and I love the pattern. It's written clearly row by row with charts if you'd prefer. There are also great photo tutorials if you need techniques explained. All in all a beautifully written pattern. 

You can see my fourth edition of ply magazine in the background. I haven't read it properly yet, so I'll try to think on and tell you all about it next week. I need to make a decision though. My subscription is up for renewal now. It's been a great year with Ply. The magazine is truely an inspiration. I need to decide whether or not to renew though. I've just discovered Mollie Makes. It's a great all round crafting magazine the issue I have now is number 38 and looks at all things spring and Easter. It's a great combination of sewing, crochet, knitting and other crafty goodness. 

I'm torn. I don't have the budget for both. Do I stick with Ply or do I spread my creative wings with Mollie Makes? 

All advice great fully received. 

On the horizon -

In theory I should finish spinning the merino.
I should finish the red onion socks
I should continue to work on the peacock shawl
I should work on Hana Hou (remember that cardie from ages ago?!)

More than likely, however, I'll wind up knitting on the Dragonwheel shawl!

Have a great week guys

Ellen x