Thursday, September 28, 2006

greedy

i've been spinning for most of the afternoon - unfortunately for the resident sock appreciator, mistakes made by those on high at work meant that she had to stay late this afternoon to sort out other people's problems. the upside (for me, at least - i'm pretty sure there's no upside to it for her!) is that i had more spinning time (selfish, eh?). the problem with spinning is it's more of an anti-social hobby for me than knitting - while i'm knitting, i can carry on a conversation, watch a movie, etc. but i can't yet manage that & spin at the same time; not to mention that if my wheel was plonked down in the middle of the living room, the pup would have far too much fun investigating things ("mmm!! smells like sheep!! must... eat... it..."). so my spinning time is mostly limited to when i'm home alone.
i've been desperate to spin for the past couple of days; firstly because i am in dire need of some more of this:



the merino/silk from hipknits, that i've been using to knit "icarus"... i'm about 15 rows from the end of the shawl, and i've run out of yarn. gah.
and secondly, because i received an order from scottish fibres of a sampling of fibres i haven't tried yet (shetland, gotland, and blue-faced leicester in undyed natural colours) and i was itching to try them out.
i have since discovered that i don't like spinning with gotland - it was a real struggle, and required a technique far different from my usual spinning. i found it simultaneously slippery & grabby, which made it very hard to draft, and i wasn't too enamoured with the (rubbish) single i produced. maybe more practice with it would help; i don't think i'll be buying any more in the meantime, though.
this, however, is a far, far different story.

it's the "black" shetland roving, spun into a single & waiting to be plied. it will be (hopefully) a heavy worsted weight 2 ply with a little bounce to it; something sturdy but soft & ideal for an aran-style or cabled winter hat. it's not actually black (which may be slightly hard to tell from the photo) but a deep, deep chocolate brown/black, with gray & white bits running through it which give it a fantastic depth of colour. it spun up beautifully - sleek & soft and wonderfully easy to spin. i'm feeling incredibly greedy... i want to spin it all day. i want more of it than the 100g i ordered; much, much more. i want huge piles of this roving, enough to spin myself & the resident sock appreciator & the whole world a sweater, or simply to spill out onto the floor so i can curl up on it & fall asleep.
clearly, i'm delirious from watching the wheel spin around & around... or perhaps i just need to get out more.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

the socks of doom approacheth...

i just got an email from my assassin, asking for my address & foot size for the sock wars socks of doom. i guess yarnmonkey still hasn't got things up & runnning after the big power & IT outage, since a lot of people still don't seem to have their dossiers (i lucked out & got mine on saturday, unfortunately for my target, who's now dead!). as much as i don't want to help in my own assassination, it only seems fair to give her the info. from looking at her blog though, she's US-based, so at least i have some postal time to prepare for my inevitable doom!
sigh... nothing like knowing your assassination is imminent to bring down your morning! luckily the resident sock appreciator found baklava at m&s last night... maybe one of those with my coffee would cheer me up?...

edited to add: i just heard back from my assassin, and she's only to the gusset on the first sock... not only that, but her assassin has already mailed finished socks of doom to her, so my unfinished socks might get passed down the line, giving me more time! there may be hope for me yet...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

there's no sparing my blushes...

... not when there's a sock yarn contest going on!
crafty fox (which i came across from stariel's blog) is having a contest entitled "remember when i loved...". the idea is that we 'fess up to our most embarrassing childhood crushes, including the best (and by that i mean so-good-it's-the-worst-thing-you've-ever-seen) picture you can find of your ex-crush from a google image search. so here i go...
...remember when i loved... corey feldman? (i know. let us never mention this again.). i was about 7 or 8, totally geeky (only a couple of years away from the glasses/braces/slightly chubby combo that ensures you get no dates until you're at least 16). i loved books more than anything, and always got picked last for team sports in gym class. i also had a big crush on a boy at my school (who shall remain nameless, in case he someday googles his own name & this blog comes up!) - mainly, because he had the corey feldman hair. the best (worst) picture i could find:


yikes.* (that's got to be embarrassing enough to win).
i also had a brief thing for george michael, once the corey feldman phase passed, but let's not even go there - clearly, i didn't know about the whole gayness thing yet (his, or indeed mine, as it turned out).
i still like leather jackets, though.

* (nobody's ever going to read my blog again after that, are they?)

alive & kicking... so far

well, i haven't been assassinated yet... i think i've managed to strike it lucky so far as there was a local holiday here yesterday for the postmen, so there were no deliveries being made. when i came home from my walk with the pup this morning, though, there was a "you missed delivery of a package" slip... eek. i couldn't resist going to pick it up - the mail-related curiosity was greater than my fear of the socks of doom - but luckily for me it was this:


my order from scottish fibres! clockwise from the top: black shetland, , oatmeal blue-faced leicester, moorit (brown) shetland, and gray gotland. (there were no labels, so i'm guessing, but i'm pretty sure i'm right).
so far, i've been spinning only merino or merino/silk blends, so i thought it was time to try something new. alas, i don't have time to start spinning any of these up today (or tomorrow either, probably) so i've only been able to fondle the little bundles of roving, but so far the black shetland is my favourite - super-soft, and more of a brown than a black, almost like green & black's dark chocolate (also a favourite) & with incredible depth of colour. the blue-faced leicester seems even softer, but the gotland feels a bit scratchy in roving form, although who knows how it will spin up. i've signed up for the spin-to-knit swap so i definitely need some more spinning practice before december!
as far as sock wars go, here's as much as i can figure out at the moment. i've killed my target, but not before she sent her socks to her target, who lives in the states. from the looks of her target's blog, she also seems to have finished & sent her socks, although i don't know where. so does this mean (provided that i stay alive) that i should get sent the socks of my target's target's target??? my brain hurts...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

presenting the socks of doom...

bow before them - the sock war socks of doom are finished!!

pattern: the "socks of doom" for sock wars 2006
yarn: debbie bliss cashmerino dk, nearly two skeins (i have about 15g left)
needles: clover bamboo dpns, 3.5mm
time to knit: about 8 hours total!! the shorter leg helped, as did the thicker yarn. not to mention a lot of coffee, a few glasses of wine, and some delicious chocolates thoughtfully provided by the resident sock appreciator - after all, an army marches on its stomach, or so they say.

i can't put them in the post until tomorrow morning though, and it seems that an awful lot of the people on the forum were already done & had their socks mailed yesterday!! that's some crazy fast knitting - and here i thought i had been really speedy. fortunately for me, my target is uk-based, so provided the royal mail does their stuff i may still have a chance to assassinate at least one person before i get killed myself (it's good to have small, achievable goals, i think).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

battle stations!!

the pattern has been released for sock wars & i have received my dossier with target details. i don't know how much i can reveal about who they are... i don't want to keep them too updated on my progress (on the off-chance that they stumble across my blog) as i'd prefer to sneak up on them & kill them before they know what's happened...
i can reveal that i'm halfway through the foot of the first sock, but i don't know how much they have to fear at the moment as i can't post anything till monday anyways. my target is uk-based though, so hopefully royal mail won't let me down!!
i've assembled my arsenal - yarn (debbie bliss casmerino dk), bamboo dpns, coffee, chocolate, wine (for later - don't worry, the war hasn't driven me to drink this early in the day!) and lots of dvds. wish me luck!
whoops - i just noticed that on yarnmonkey's blog there is a list of assassins & targets, so my target may already know who i am... in that case, thomasina, i'm coming to get you!!!

p.s. my target works for the OED - how cool is that? i'm thinking maybe if i promise not to kill her, she can get me a job...

Friday, September 22, 2006

(im)patience is a virtue

i couldn't wait to see what the dyeing experiment would look like plied up, so as soon as i had spun a bobbin full i wound it into a centre-pull ball (hi kathleen, i still have your ballwinder that i borrowed about six months ago!) & plied it. the result?


it's lovely. although it's getting gray here & there's not much natural light left, this gives a good idea of the colour, and the shimmering silk bits that run through it. the slubby bits are so soft & squishy, and so much fun to spin - after my previous spinnings being experiments in how fine & even i could get the yarn, spinning thick & slubby feels a bit like making mistakes on purpose - very enjoyable! this skein is about 70 yards & 44 grams, and i've still got about 66 grams left to spin, so i should have more than enough for the secret prototype project.

the experiment continues

the results of the dyeing experiment are finally dry. the wool (merino) is underneath, and the silk is on top... wow.


i'm loving the colour of the silk, and it's even shinier in real life. alas, i have discovered since the dyeing that it is in fact the silk that smells and not the sheep - and boy, does it smell bad. it's been stinking out the bathroom all week while it's been drying, and it was no picnic to card, either. i'm hoping the smell will go away once it's spun & washed.
here is what you get if you card for two hours...


luckily i had a feature-length taped episode of poirot to watch (itv3, i love you) so that kept my mind occupied while i struggled with my first carding attempt. it's hard work - my arms are killing me! and here's the start of the spun yarn...


i'm spinning this very roughly, thick & thin with lots of slubs. i want it to be a very textured yarn & about worsted weight or slightly thicker. i have the beginnings of an idea for handspun knit kits to sell online, so this is the prototype - i'll see how it works out & what the response is, and decide from there.
can't give too much away, spies everywhere... *

* if that sounds a bit paranoid, put it down to the start of sock wars today. somewhere, someone is plotting my doom....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

smells like wet sheep

the latest experiment is with dyeing & blending rovings. i loved the feel of the hipknits blended merino/silk handpainted fibre, so i ordered a few different kinds of rovings & tops (silk, angora, cashmere & merino) from texere as well as some dye, with the idea of trying to do my own dyeing & blending of different fibres for spinning. i only bought small amounts to start with, since i have zero experience in dyeing fibre & very little experience in spinning it - so far, i've only been working from bought lengths of roving & haven't even tried carding yet, let alone blending different types of fibres.
so here's the first experiment: 75g of merino and 25g of mulberry silk, plus one tin of dylon dye in "cherry flame" (who thinks up these names? i want that job!). a "before" picture on the left, and the fibres cooking on the stove (safely contained in a mesh laundry bag, hopefully to avoid any felting!).



i have to let it cool down before i can rinse it out & see what it looks like. what i'm hoping (with no knowledge of whether or not this is how it works!) is that the silk will take the dye differently than the merino (sounds logical, right?) so that when they're carded together & spun it will give the resulting yarn a slightly variegated look - all in the same colour, but with the slightly varied shades giving it a bit more depth.
the resident sock appreciator will be pleased to know that the kitchen has escaped unscathed (unlike during one of my kool-aid dyeing experiments, where i poured purple koolaid all over the white cabinet doors & it took about half an hour to scrub it all off). this dye is a bit more permanent, so i was very careful not to repeat that incident!!
the kitchen does, however, smell like a wet, cooked sheep fleece. hey, nobody's perfect, right?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

lucky me

welcome to another installment of "lucky tuesdays"....
today, i am lucky for a collection of reasons. i'm lucky because i got to go into glasgow today (i don't get out much!) to have coffee & catch up with an old friend who's been away in england for the past few years, so my chances to see him have been few and far between. he's off to north uist for good in just over two weeks so it may be a while before i see him again (but at least i'll have somewhere to stay when i finally get around to exploring the western isles!).
i'm also lucky because while i was in the west end i met up with jo from stellamystar, who sold me a fantastic charm bracelet inspired by "twin peaks".


i've wanted a charm bracelet since i was about six so i thought it was time to indulge my inner child & finally get one. i'll admit, i have never watched twin peaks (although now that i have the bracelet, i'll have to give it a try) but the charms on this were too good to pass up, even for a not-as-yet-fan of the show. check out the "lost"-inspired bracelet on her etsy shop - it's incredible. she'll be at the next miso funky market in october so go buy lots of lovely things from her!!
then, i was lucky because i managed to find this at the oxfam bookshop for only £4...

...bargain. i've got plans for a few sweater designs in the works (that is to say, percolating in my brain with no visible evidence of their imminent arrival, although i'd like to have them knitted before winter ends!) and the immense variety of stitch patterns in this book will definitely help inspire me. also, i've signed up for the "grandmother purl" knitalong - for anyone who reads crazy aunt purl's blog, her gran isn't very well, so knitters from all over are each making a square to make grandmother purl a blanket to keep her cozy & cheer her up. i love it that this wasn't purl's idea - it was a collective response from the people who regularly read her blog when they heard her gran was ill, which says wonderful things about the internet knitting community (that they're generous and kind, as well as a bit peculiar). i like the idea of a knitted squares blanket so much that after i'm done my grandmother purl square (probably using one of the stitch patterns from this book!) i may just keep going and work my way through the book until i have enough squares for a blanket for me as well. all in all, it's been a good day.....

.... lucky me.

battle preparations

in order to get ready for sock wars, i first had to clear the current sock work in progress, the basic toe-up koigu socks for the resident sock appreciator. we had been planning to go away for the weekend, but recent health problems combined with my current inability to drive put those plans on hold. given that she's had to put up with a lot lately, what with everything, i decided a pair of nice socks were in order.


yarn: koigu kpppm in colour p313, 2 hanks
needles: clover bamboo dpns, 2.5mm
pattern: basic stockinette toe-up using a similar construction to knitty's baudelaire with a few modifications

and, i have assembled my arsenal in preparation for the release of the sock wars pattern on friday. beware, my target, for i will assassinate you with cashmerino, and the knitting bag of doom!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

the bluebird of happiness, part II


merino/silk blend fibre from hipknits, colourway "bluebird"; spun on an ashford traditional wheel
2 ply yarn, approximately sock weight (17 wpi)
112 grams, 475 yards

i wanted to try a slightly different technique, using a looser spin & a tighter ply. the resulting yarn is loftier & lighter, with more "bounce" & softness, although it did have a tendency to break while plying as the looser spun singles had less strength.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

whoops

i slipped, and fell on the "order" button...

(image copied from the posh yarn website to hold me over till the real thing gets here; hope that's ok!)

posh yarn is having a sale... the above picture is 2 skeins of "camilla", a pure cashmere laceweight which is normally £18 per skein. this one is on sale because the dye didn't work out (it's meant to be a solid colour, but i actually like it better like this) - £10 per skein. yum...
get to the sale page quickly, before everything is gone!!

p.s. if the resident sock appreciator is reading this... it was free yarn, honest. didn't cost a penny. i just said it cost £10 because i didn't want everyone else to know about the free yarn. yep, that's right, free. i didn't spend any money...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

lucky me

i feel like i've been complaining a lot recently. although i've got a lot on my mind lately, and a lot of irritating & stressful things to deal with, sometimes i feel like i should try to focus more on the good things that i have (because despite my current trials & tribulations, i am still lucky enough to have a lot of good things in my life). presenting "lucky tuesdays".... *
today i am lucky because i managed to catch the pup in a brief moment of adorable cuteness. he's a rescue pup, and is only about 18 months old - we've had him since last summer, when he was found in glasgow as a six-month-old stray. when he came to live with us, he only weighed eight kilos (for reference, he weighs 14 kilos now & is still a lean & fit pup) and you could see all his ribs; he was dirty & bedraggled; he wasn't housetrained; and to top it all off, he had kennel cough (which meant he was up all night coughing, so none of us got any sleep!). i'd never had a dog before, although the resident sock appreciator had, and for the first three weeks or so, i was in tears of exhaustion & frustration about 85% of the time. now, although he's still a work in progress, he's healthy, happy, and (mostly) well-behaved.
i'd never seen a dog "dream" before (although i had heard about it) and had no idea just how cute and funny it was to watch. so today, i watched a dog dream....

.... lucky me.


* hopefully this will become a regular feature on my blog, and i'd love it if the (few) people who read this will take inspiration & start doing the same thing - i'd love to see what makes you lucky, and maybe in the process we can cheer each other up.

Friday, September 08, 2006

the bluebird of happiness

it seems that although i metaphorically have the blues at the moment, i've got them literally as well, with everything in shades of blue. i've been working on spinning up the "bluebird" colourway of the hipknits merino/silk fibre, and have about a quarter of the fibre left to spin. this fibre is making me happy - admittedly i don't have a lot of spinning experience, but it's a dream to spin & the colours are beautiful.


i've also managed to finish the toe-up cashmere socks, using the leftover yarn from arisaig (also from hipknits - can you tell i'm a fan?). since they were knitted toe-up, i decided to just keep going until i ran out of yarn, resulting in nearly-knee-socks that are the softest socks i've ever felt, and almost too good for my feet (or anyone's feet, for that matter!).

and last (but definitely not least!) the wonderful nell-nell from knitty, in response to a post about my regrettable lack of sewing skills, has made me a beautiful case for my double pointed needle collection (which, with my ever-increasing sock obsession, was getting a bit out of hand).

so it's a blue week - some of it bad (stress, worry, general bleah-ness), but it's been balanced out by the good stuff (cashmere, spinning and presents).

Sunday, September 03, 2006

absent in more ways than one

i've been away from blogging for longer than i had intended. i posted earlier about mental health - because i have a condition which is ongoing, it's easy to assume that when i'm feeling bad (physically or mentally) it's just because i'm going through a particularly low period, and not look for another explanation. now, however, it seems as though there may be something else going on as well.
i've spent the week being shuttled back & forth between a few medical professionals, although more specialists still need to be seen, & have gone through many pleasant tests, the results of which still need to be confirmed. but the general suspicion so far is that i may be having "absence seizures" - apparently, it's quite common for people on the autistic spectrum to also have or develop epilepsy (super, eh?). i've been signed off work until this can be fully assessed & in the meantime, i'm not allowed to drive. this, especially, is really annoying - because of the other aspects of the Asperger's, using public transport is something i can only manage on my good days (too much noise, bright lights, and scary people) so this means that my prospects for getting out & about are seriously restricted. obviously, i understand why it's not a good idea for me to drive at the moment, but it's still a pain in the butt.
as a result, i've not been feeling up to doing much lately - partially because of the physical symptoms i've been having (constant dizziness, fatigue & headache as well as "blank" moments) but also because i'm so worried about the whole thing that it's hard to tell where the "real" physical symptoms end & where the stress takes over!
on the up side, at least i have more time to knit, and i've still been spinning like a fiend. i've finally finished the merino/silk for the rest of "icarus" (which is good, as i'd stalled in the knitting at the beginning of chart two - just where it was starting to get interesting! - because i ran out of yarn & hadn't finished plying the rest of it yet!) and have started spinning the merino/silk from the same hipknits order in a colourway called "bluebird", which is a gorgeous dusky blue/grey with flashes of a brighter, deeper blue throughout. this fibre is so enjoyable to spin that i'm seriously tempted to buy up all the other colours as well.
now that i have so much time on my hands, i'll try to blog more, knit more, spin more, and not allow myself to sink into the swamp of sadness. hopefully the testing & assessments won't take too much longer...