Monday, December 31, 2007

a farewell to fankle

sad, sad news... fankle has closed down!! kathleen (the owner) has decided that she needs to make her new little baby a priority, and that the stress of running a business on top of her family committments was just getting to be too much. understandable, but still sad!
i have absolutely loved working at fankle these past nine months - as the job was initially to cover kathleen's maternity leave, i knew it wouldn't last forever, but i was determined to enjoy it for as long as it did. & it's safe to say that it was the best job i've ever had; despite occasional irritating customers, my worst day at fankle was still ten times better than my best day in any other job i've worked at.
fankle was a small wee room of a shop, tucked away up a little close off the main street in troon, packed full of every kind of luscious yarn you could imagine - a quiet, friendly little haven in an otherwise stressful & busy world.
as they say, though, every cloud has a silver lining - although in this case, the cloud is lined with yarn. in fankle's last week of trading (just before christmas), every single thing in the shop was being sold for 40% off - needless to say, i stocked up! at the time, i felt that i was being fairly restrained, but i still somehow managed to come away with enough felted tweed ("treacle", "ginger", and "whisper") for three sweaters, and enough harris tweed aran ("thatch" & "claret") for two more!! whoops...
so, goodbye, lovely fankle - i will definitely miss you!! but never fear - you will live on in my heart (and in my stash, by the looks of things) for years to come...

(& don't worry - i'm not out of work permanently! the knitting goddesses must like me - i start at K1 Yarns in mid-January!!)

Monday, December 24, 2007

'tis the season

happy christmas everyone!!


have a great holiday & i'll see you back here soon, hopefully with some exciting news & some more finished & fabulous knits...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

christmas shopping

the results of all the hard work have been taken in to K1 Yarns in Glasgow - here's a peek of what's in stock!

strawberry beretmice are nicelet it snowgood karmagive peas a chancecherry tart
hat kits - strawberry beret, mice are nice, let it snow, good karma, give peas a chance, and cherry tart


sugarplum fairyneptune's daughter sockmoody blues sockcherry tart sockblack coffee sock 2
& sock yarn - sugarplum fairy, neptune's daughter, moody blues, cherry tart, and black coffee


you can find the hat kits & handspun here, and the sock yarn here - get them before they disappear!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

powering through

the stressful situation, alas, continues. i won't go into all the details here - suffice it to say that it's a family crisis involving folk far away, and there's nothing practical that i can do to help out. i can, however, worry - and i'm doing that in abundance.
there seems to be a tendency in my family towards motion as a way of dealing with stress - that is to say, as long as we just keep moving (we believe), everything will be ok. so i've been powering through things over here.
there's 500 grams of handspun natural bluefaced leicester, destined for hat kits for K1 Yarns in Glasgow, drying in front of the radiator:

bluefaced leicester drying


600 grams of merino dyed & dried ready to spin, also for hat kits for K1 Yarns:

dyed merino for hat kits


and two skeins of laceweight & five skeins of sock yarn dyed & drying in the bath:

sock & lace yarn drying


i've also been powering through some knitting - the chunky cabled raglan for the RSA is done, as is my lovely, lovely malabrigo gretel (i don't have pictures yet, so you'll just have to take my word for it). and the cadenza sweater-in-the-round is up to the yoke (although i still don't know what i'm doing with the neckline, so i'll have to figure that out fairly soon).
the only downside to all this motion is the sheer exhaustion it induces - it's in direct conflict with my other natural tendency this time of year, which is complete & total winter-related lethargy. at least there's a couple of small things to keep me happy when i finally grind to a halt - a big slab of delicious homemade cake (the last piece!) & some strong coffee:


and, of course, a kitten:

kitten & pup hugs


& yes, that is a dog's paw that she's cuddling - she & finn have become great friends, and the other cats even seem to be able to put up with her!

Monday, November 12, 2007

soft as a kitten

it's been a trying few days over here, what with one thing & another. i won't go into it at the moment, but things have been pretty exhausting, & i've been relying heavily on the small pleasures in life to get me through the day.
unfortunately for my WIP basket, this has meant starting yet another knitting project!! it's turned cold here, literally overnight, and it occurred to me that i don't actually have a winter hat (my old noro hat was chewed by the pup the winter before last, and i still haven't replaced it!). so i cast on for this:

gretel hat


it's the gretel hat, designed by ysolda, in malabrigo merino worsted, colourway "velvet grapes". i've never knitted with malabrigo before but it has a lot of fans & i've seen a lot of online hype about it. & now, i understand why - it's probably one of the nicest yarns i've used, & is as soft as a kitten!
there's only one other thing in the house at the moment that is as soft as the malabrigo...

nyx
(right, a skein of malabrigo; left, an actual kitten)

yes, the kitten has arrived! she's 10 weeks old & her name is nyx. she's been here since the end of last week, and she's going to be a handful - she's pretty clever, and very brave! she's still getting used to the whole knitting thing'but is learning fairly quickly that yarn & needles are not toys, even if they're waving about enticingly. she's getting on fairly well with the rest of the menagerie, & has decided that her favourite place to sit is up on the back of my armchair, with her bum on the chair back & her front paws on my shoulder (which is pretty cute at the moment as she weighs next to nothing, but may become less cute once she gets bigger!).
luckily i have these small things to entertain me while i wait for everything else to get less stressful - it really is the little things that make life worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

oh, dear...

... i've gone & done it now.

majacraft little gem 1


i spent saturday driving up to fife, to visit a mythical & glorious place, that i have oft heard of (from india) but never visited. when i came back home, it was with this in my back seat...

majacraft little gem 3majacraft little gem 5majacraft little gem 4


it's a brand-new majacraft little gem II spinning wheel - isn't it gorgeous?? it's a portable wheel that you can dismantle & pack up into a padded bag the size of a largeish sports tote. but although it's quite teeny, it's incredibly stable & solid to spin on, & so smooth to use - i'm completely in love. i can't stop spinning on it - i've been using it non-stop since i brought it home on saturday night. i've already spun up a full bobbin (& the bobbins are huge - they hold over 100 grams of fibre!) & started a second bobbin - i'm totally addicted.
here's what's on the wheel right now - sock hop superwash merino roving from crown mountain farms in "secret agent man".

majacraft little gem 2


the first batch of this roving that i spun up on my old wheel worked out at more of a DK weight than a sock weight. but this wheel is so easy to use that i'm spinning finer & finer singles on it, & i think that this might manage to be an actual sock-weight yarn (we'll see!). i'd like to blog more, but i have to go spin now...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

day off

ok, it's up - lots of lovely new stuff in the shop!!

black coffee laceweight


some fabulous new colours of handpainted yarns, lusciously squeezable handspun hat kits, and a couple of new handspun skeins. there's still more to come - i have a few undyed hanks of yarn hanging about, and lots of fibre still to be spun. but i've given myself a well-deserved day off today to watch films, drink coffee, and knit. i've been working pretty hard on all this new stuff (apart from a couple of days off for puking) & i definitely need a little break!
i'm off to twist fibre on saturday to look at a new spinning wheel (the majacraft little gem) - i'm looking into buying a wheel that's a bit more portable than my old workhorse wheel (an ashford traditional), and thought if i was planning on dropping over £300 i should go have some hands-on experience first! i'm sure i'll get sidetracked into buying even more fibres & dyes to play with, so i should have even more lovely new things to add to the shop soon. but for now, i'm off to put my feet up...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

sweet nectar of the gods


aaaahhh... coffee. this was my first cup since friday morning, what with being ill & all, and i enjoyed every second of it. i'm not a huge caffeine addict, but i do insist on starting the day with one good cup of coffee. the RSA makes it in a little stove-top espresso pot before work, drinks half, and leaves half for me to heat up when i get up later. & i'm pretty sure that without my first cup of coffee in three days, i wouldn't have been able to organise all of this:


a huge pile of lovely new handspun hat kits, some individual skeins of handspun, and some newly dyed lace & sock yarn, all to be added to the shop soon! my caffeine for the day is starting to wear off now though, so they probably won't be up till thursday, if you can hang on till then.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

sick as a...

28may07


yep, i've been sick as a dog, all weekend! i don't think i've ever been this ill before - i'll spare you the gory details, but there was a LOT of puking. eventually, i had to phone NHS 24, who thought i sounded so ill that they sent an on-call doctor out late last night with some marvellous drugs to stop the puking, and i feel a little bit better now.
to distract us all from the yucky sickness, here's something pretty:

uptown boot socks


pattern: "uptown boot socks" from favorite socks
yarn: colinette jitterbug, unknown colourway (one of the mill-end bargains from the trip to the colinette mill shop)
modifications: deliberate modifications included making the ribbed cuff longer than written, and doing an eye-of-partidge heel flap. i also reversed the cabling on the second sock to make it a mirror image of the first. accidental modifications included a couple of cables on the second sock being twisted the wrong way, and the second sock somehow ending up about an inch longer than the first! (i may have accidentally worked an extra cable pattern repeat on the leg).
hopefully that will tide us over until i'm feeling better - luckily, i finished them on friday, since i'm even too ill to knit (& that's how you know it's serious!)

Monday, October 15, 2007

mondays are for spinning

handspun in progress


so are tuesdays, wednesdays, thursdays, and every other day of this week & last! they're also for plying, and dyeing, and skeining, and reskeining...
sorry i've been so absent from the blog lately - it's been hectic. most of my last batch of handpainted yarn sold out quickly, so i've been dyeing up some new colours which will be going up for sale soon. & i've also been spinning up a storm lately! it suddenly occurred to me that it's now autumn, and the winds are getting chillier & chillier, which makes it perfect weather for handspun hats. but i've only got a couple left for sale, and i'm not 100% happy with the ones i've got left. so i've been busy working away at a new kit - i'm halfway through all the spinning, and will be knitting up another prototype hat to test a new pattern. which not only means that there will be lots of new hat kits up on the old maiden aunt site soon, but that all the old ones will be going on sale to make room for the new ones... keep your eyes peeled!

Friday, October 05, 2007

taking stock

i'm beginning to feel a little... overwhelmed. it's not an unusual state of affairs for me; having aspergers pretty much guarantees that i'm nearly 100% stressed, nearly 100% of the time. most of these stresses are from outside influences, and are just something i have to live with. but the current stressor is definitely self-inflicted...

works in progress - 5 oct 07


my ever-growing pile of works in progress. clockwise from top left, they consist of the shetland triangle in some mystery spanish yarn, a cabled raglan sweater in rowan scottish tweed chunky for the RSA, a plain drapey sweater in colinette cadenza with contrast hems for me, a pair of plain stockinette toe-up socks in wollmeise "zenzi", also for the RSA, and the uptown boot socks in colinette jitterbug, also for me. also currently in progress, but not pictured as it's living at work to be knitted there, is the tangled yoke cardigan in rowan felted tweed. & in case you weren't counting, that's a grand total of one shawl, two pairs of socks, and three sweaters.
part of the problem is that i'm making a couple of the projects up as i go along (the chunky sweater & the cadenza sweater), and have reached a point where i need to sit down with a measuring tape & a calculator & work out what i'm going to do next. & part of the problem (a big part) is simply that i'm far too impatient.
why would i want to do math & measuring (yeuch) when i could be knitting? why would i want to keep knitting away at this same old project when i could cast on something new & fabulous? & why, oh why, would i want to wait to try the just-arrived, oh-so-beautiful, wollmeise yarn when i could cast on with it immediately??
well, it's all getting a bit out of hand. time to buckle down & finish something.
or maybe, i could just cast on for these...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

disappointed

just popping in quickly to share this, as it has stirred my wrath!!!
one of my very favourite blogs (where i lurk regularly, but never comment) is yarnstorm. if you've never been there, take a minute to visit her (i'll wait here till you come back). her writing is fantastic, and her photographs of her various creations (knitting projects, crafty things, and oh, my lord, the baking) are stunning. i wish with all my heart that she would pop round one day & bake me a cake!!
her work is so beautiful, in fact, & she has so many fans, that she has now published a book about craftiness - which, apparently, is proving to be very controversial, and provoked this article here in the telegraph.
sigh.
it's been a bit of a thing with me lately - i'm so sick of women putting other women down. we seem to have forgotten about feminism; or, we have forgotten how to hold each other up instead of trying to push one another down. i do it as well - i catch myself making catty comments about someone's outfit, or thinking bitchy thoughts about someone i don't even know. so i'm trying hard not to be mean, in the hopes that maybe, eventually, other people will start doing it too.
so, if you're a reader of yarnstorm (or if you're not, but you went & took a look & liked what you saw) take a few seconds & leave her a nice comment. given the hideous article that was just written about her, she'll probably appreciate it. & maybe, if you're lucky, she'll bake you a cake... & you'd share it with me if she did, right?

Monday, September 24, 2007

out of the doldrums

well, my last post was a little bit whingy, wasn't it? it just seems to have been that sort of week, & it carried on into the weekend as well. but i'm determined to do better this week.
and, perfectly timed to help me cheer up, this arrived in the post from germany...


what could it be??


ooooh.... lovely, lovely wollmeise sock yarn (left to right, in colours drachenblut, dani, zenzi, lowenzahn, and poison no. 5). i've heard great things about this yarn, and as soon as i unwrapped it i could see why. it's soft, strong, & squooshy with a nice tight twist, and the colours are amazing!! definitely as good as (& possibly better than) some of the other high-end sock yarns kicking about, and waaaay better priced. plus claudia (the wollmeistress) is very helpful & friendly.
i haven't wound any up yet to cast on for anything - i'm a bit overwhelmed by the state of my WIP basket (which, at the moment, consists of a shawl, two pairs of socks, and three sweaters!) so i need to clear at least one of those projects before i start anything new, but the RSA has already requested that a pair of "zenzi" socks be the next in the queue.
& in the spirit of having a cheerful & energetic week, i've managed to get two new skeins of handspun up on the old maiden aunt site...

bad pennylavender blue


"bad penny" (left; 70% bluefaced leicester & 30% silk, 100 grams & 330 yards) and "lavender blue" (right; 70% merino & 30% silk, 85 grams & 225 yards). "bad penny" was especially difficult to photograph - it's a changeable colourway, depending on the light, with shades of purple, pale blue, and coppery lights. "lavender blue" is a bit simpler - pale blues, silvery silk, and deep purples. there's still 200 grams of this colourway waiting to be spun, so if you're looking for more yardage for a bigger project, drop me an email & reserve it now!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

my days are numbered

number of loads of laundry i managed to wash & hang out before work this morning: 2
number of mental back-pats i gave myself for being so "organised": 1
number of minutes i ended up running behind, directly related to that second load of laundry: 20
number of miles per hour i averaged above the speed limit in an attempt to make up the time: 10
number of minutes i was late for work: 5
number of customers whose requests involved searching through eleventy-billion patterns & pulling twenty-seven types of yarn off the shelf: 14
number of above customers who then left the shop without buying anything at all: 14
number of sweet wee ladies looking for knitting to keep them occupied while their husbands were in the hospital, & who were so lovely that they made the entire day completely worthwhile: 1
number of stitches i knitted on my newly cast on tangled yoke cardigan: 2500
number of inches of sweater that translates to: 1
number of times i wished i was knitting something other than garter rib on 3.75mm needles: 8
number of times i had to hunt down my ball of yarn, which had, unnoticed, trundled off to some hidden corner of the shop while i was knitting with it: 7
number of times i wished i had taken the time to wind the yarn into a centre-pull ball, instead of starting to knit it straight from the ball as sold: 7
number of minutes wasted on yarn-hunting: 25
number of minutes it would have taken to wind a centre-pull ball: 3
number of expletives that this day has involved: 342
number of these that i have actually uttered out loud: 9
number that have been uttered within hearing distance of another person: 0
number of cups of coffee drunk in an attempt to fortify myself: 3
number of hours of sleep i can expect to get tonight, as a result of over-caffeination: 3
number of strong alcoholic drinks drunk in an attempt to fortify myself: 0
number of strong alcoholic drinks wished for: 4
number of completely random & bizarre questions i have been asked today: 1 *
number of times that i thought, "i should have just stayed in bed this morning": 27

* american tourist: "wow, how come you speak english so good??"
me: "um... i'm canadian".

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

to re- or not to re-

re-skein, that is. i'm talking about re-skeining yarn after it's been dyed, to "juggle up" the colours. i know a lot of dyers don't do it - even a lot of big name dyers - and when you buy a skein, you get it as the dye was applied - that is to say, with distinct sections of the different colours.
personally, i'd rather see a skein that has been rewound - i think it gives a better idea of how the yarn will knit up, as you get to see smaller sections of each colour blended together throughout the skein. plus, it looks prettier. want an example?
here's one of the new old maiden aunt laceweight colours, before re-skeining:

hello. i am blotchy.


and after re-skeining?

neptune's daughter


see what i mean?
the only problem with this is that it means re-skeining all the yarn i dye, by hand. with the sock yarns, that's not too ardous a task. but the laceweight? oy. 1600 yards of fine merino laceweight, wound round a niddy-noddy by hand, takes quite some time. which is why it's taken me so long to update the shop site. i wound the last skein up today, so all the new yarns are up - have a look & see what you think!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

a good day to dye

it was a perfect, sunny, brisk fall day today. autumn is definitely here - leaves fell overnight & the air suddenly became crisp & cool. it's my favourite season - jeans & sweater weather, not too hot, not too cold, and sometimes, like today, it's even sunny.
with the sun & the cool breeze, it was perfect drying weather; which means, perfect dyeing weather! & with the arrival this morning of a new little shipment of sock & laceweight yarn, it was perfectly timed.

new yarns!


a productive afternoon - three skeins of lush, soft, merino laceweight, and four skeins of smooshy superwash merino sock.

merino/silk roving


and, a pot full of roving - 300 grams of merino/silk blend, to be spun up later this week! after all that hard work, i deserve a reward... a glass of wine sounds good right about now.
check the shop site for an update in a few days!!

Monday, September 03, 2007

shut-in

there were a few things i was going to do this afternoon, all of which involved leaving the house. alas, my plans were foiled...
...by the fact that when i went to go out & do said things, i discovered i was locked inside my house.
yes, that's right - somehow, i've locked myself in.
i'm not entirely sure how this happened. the locks were fine when i went out this morning with the dog, and fine when i came back. then i locked the door behind me, did a few things in the house, and when i went to unlock the door to leave, it just wouldn't (unlock, that is). & despite my well-known hermit-like tendencies, i can assure you, i haven't done this on purpose!!
luckily, the RSA has been able to arrange to leave work early, & should be home fairly soon - hopefully she'll be able to work the lock, or failing that, call a locksmith!
& in the meantime...



the newly purchased colinette cadenza (from my bargain-filled trip to their mill shop) & one single, beautiful skein of handmaiden silk/cashmere that has been hibernating in my stash for ages. the handmaiden is so lovely i've been afraid to use it, plus i only have one ball of it & it's been hard to find a project for it. but i think i may have figured out how to use it - contrasting hems (neckline, sleeves, and body) for the cadenza sweater i'm planning.
so since i can't go out, how about a dvd, some coffee, some biscuits, & a few swatches?

Friday, August 31, 2007

new knits, old knits

i'm back - did you miss me??
for most of my absence, i was sequestered at home, knitting away, trying to finish some things up. i did make it out of the house for long enough to visit the RSA's family in england, with a side trip to the colinette mill shop in wales & some great stash enhancement.
the bee shawl is finished, & it's beautiful. the mini maiden is such a gorgeous yarn, and the pattern is fabulous. i'll try to take some proper pictures of it soon, i promise!
the "boyfriend" socks are also done:

boyfriend socks


i knitted these on 3mm needles from my own handspun - a gorgeous superwash merino from crown mountain farms in colourway "my boyfriend's back". it turned out a little thicker than sock weight, so these will be super-snuggly winter slipper socks for the RSA. i just used my standard toe-up pattern, & modified slightly for the thicker yarn & bigger needles.
the sunrise circle jacket is so close to completion - although i've run into a little problem! i knew that my row gauge was off, so i should have predicted this, but i didn't - the side seams of the sweater (from underarm down to the bottom of the sweater) are a good couple of inches longer on the front pieces than on the back!! and, i'm running out of yarn... whoops. so although i'm only about 5 rows away from finishing the last piece of the sweater, i'll need to unpick the bottom hem of the back piece and knit downwards for a couple more inches (or until the yarn runs out!). all that aside, it should still be finished next week.
& now that there are so many finished & nearly-finished projects, new knits are starting to appear! there's a thick, cabled winter sweater for the RSA in rowan scottish tweed chunky - i'm basing it loosely on elizabeth zimmerman's raglan sweater formula, and adding a simple cable twist on the front. it's knitting up quickly - i'm not used to chunky yarn & 8mm needles, so i was amazed that my few days of holiday knitting have resulted in nearly a whole sweater torso!

cable raglan detail


there's also a new shawl in the works (the shetland triangle from "wrap style" - i'm finally using the gorgeous, flame-red wool/silk blend yarn that elaine brought me back from barcelona ages ago), and a new pair of socks - the uptown boot socks from interweave knits "favorite socks" book in colinette jitterbug (a bargain purchase from my recent trip to the colinette mill shop in wales & their £4 per 100g sale room).

uptown boot socks 1


the pattern is great - just challenging enough to be interesting, but simple enough to be tv knitting. & as soon as the sunrise circle jacket is fixed & finished, there's another sweater in the works for me, from another colinette bargain purchase - a pile of soft & squooshy cadenza (dk merino) in a deep, saturated blue, for another simple cabled-raglan-in-the-round...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

teaser

bee shawl 1
bee shawl 2bee shawl 3

i see, you see
ain't no more honey from this bee
i see, you see
i'm stung, you've got a hold on me
(the noisettes, "count of monte cristo")

Thursday, August 02, 2007

hiatus

i must have been sleeping when you called
i'm not feeling well at all (cough cough)
i've got this thing that's been going around
called "please pretend that i'm out of town"
(le tigre, "finer")


i'm taking a small break from blogging - just pretend that i'm going out of town for a while. i've been feeling a bit bleah, a bit uninspired, & a bit lacking in creativity - i think i just need to put my head down & do some serious work on my various projects-in-progress.
when i come back i hope to have many, many things to show you, including a finished bee fields shawl, a newly-sewn skirt, a sock or two, and maybe even a finished sunrise circle jacket. in the meantime, talk amongst yourselves... i won't be gone long!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

aha!!!

finally...

bee shawl detail


we have ze bee.
the first few rows of the "bee in field" section of the bee shawl is finished, & i can finally see the big bees!!
& believe it or not, these five rows took me about four hours...

i'm off for a lie down now, i think!

piles of presents

hurray for birthdays!! i love it when people give me presents...
- loads of hello kitty gifts:


a tray from my mum for afternoon snacks, all the way from korea, as well as some little kitty charms to hang from my various bags (although i forgot to take a picture of them!). and, a teeny tiny bento box from my friend in tokyo - it has two little compartments, a lid that clips on, and even matching chopsticks in a little chopstick box, as well as a cloth bag that everything goes in (again, i didn't take a picture of that bit!). i've been using the bento to take my lunches to work & i love it (although i'm reliably informed that little kids in tokyo use these for their lunches - is it perhaps a bit immature for a now-31-year-old?).
- my very own stash weasel from the RSA, as seen on the yarn harlot's blog:

stash weasel


this was a complete surprise as although i did mention the stash weasels to the RSA months ago, i had completely forgotten about them!! the stash weasel is the guardian of the yarn stash, & is happiest when surrounded by luxury yarn, so he's currently getting acclimatised to his new surroundings (& recovering from his international travels) by snuggling up in the knitting bag that holds the bee shawl.
- a posh yarns gift certificate, and the pattern for rogue from elaine (a not-so-subtle hint that she wants me to do a rogue mini-knitalong with her!). and an amazon gift certificate from india, which i used to buy the new harry potter (sadly, she hates harry potter with the fire of a thousand suns - sorry india!!).
- and last, but definitely not least:

cherry tree hill merino laceweight


a HUGE hank of cherry tree hill merino laceweight in colourway "blueberry hill" from (blogless) lynette - 8 ounces & 2400 yards of gorgeous lace yarn. i'm thinking i might use it to make the "three cornered shawl in clover pattern" from victorian lace today - there's a good picture of the shawl here. i'm pondering reworking the pattern & knitting it as a square shawl instead of the trianglular version, since i have such huge amounts of yardage!
but first, i have some things to finish up - this afternoon will be spent with the bee shawl (& you can now pre-order kits for this shawl here!). i've had a break of about a week & am dying to spend some time on it again, so hopefully substantial progress will be made!