Sunday, August 31, 2008

my head is spinning

here's where i've been all week, & here's some of what i've been doing & seeing...

there was a room full of spinners, each as obsessed as the next

& a huge marquee full of fibre, to try as much of as we liked

there was an end-of-the-week display of all the gorgeous yarns we produced

& amazing felted pieces from the felter's workshop

i made some yarn, & even knitted a scarf with it!

& then i came home with this huge bag of beautiful fibre, for even more spinning (cat included for scale)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

gone baby gone

just to let you all know that i'm heading off for an adventure - i'm away this week (monday-friday) for a week-long residential spinning course!! i'm sure that i'll learn a ton, so i'm pretty excited! see you when i get back....

Friday, August 22, 2008

yarn, yarn everywhere...

most of (but still not all!) of the leftover trunk show yarn has been added to the web shop - here's a peek at some of my favourites!!

trunk show yarn mosaic

to see more luscious yarns & gorgeous colours, go have a look here...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

a triumph

juno collar cable

it may not look like much, but it's an enormous triumph of knitterly stubborness over all forms of common sense. it's the start of the huge cabled collar of the juno cardigan from rowan 40 (scroll down). it's a great big intricate cable, with hugely detailed written instructions.... and no chart. (for any non-knitters, a chart is basically shorthand for knitting instructions - instead of using several words to describe a certain stitch, a symbol is used instead, which - for me, anyways - makes the pattern much easier to follow & much clearer to read).
i'm such a chart-based knitter that i can't even imagine having to knit such an intricate design from lines & lines of written instructions, so i hunted about online & found a chart creator - you type in the stitch instructions, and a chart is created for you. & so, i spent most of yesterday afternoon typing in lines of knitting directions, and finally ended up with a fabulous looking chart... & then i realised that the chart creator, as wonderful as it is, had built the chart in reverse. sigh.
undaunted, i approached it anew this morning, fuelled by some very strong coffee, and spent most of the morning working my way backwards through the pattern instructions, so that when the chart was built, it would be the right way round....

juno - charted!

(of course, i then had to knit it to make sure it worked.... that's knitting common sense for you.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

final tally

phew - the show is over!! it was so much fun (once i got past the panic - just ask tangledfrog about that!) & although i didn't sell as much as i had hoped, it was really busy & went really well. there was yarn everywhere - in baskets...

in even more baskets...

& piled up in chairs...

unless, that is, the chairs were otherwise occupied with knitters & spinners...

how much yarn, you ask? well, i'm pretty impressed - victoria got it absolutely bang on, with 254 skeins!!! victoria, please send me a ravelry message (i'm tigerlilith there, too) or email me at info AT oldmaidenaunt DOT com to claim your prize!
& for those of you that couldn't make it through, you'll be pleased to know that there's still a whole pile of yarn left. i'll be adding it to the web shop gradually over the rest of this week - although the show was on saturday, & it's now monday, i'm still completely & utterly exhausted, so i need to take my time! every ounce of my energy for the past few weeks has been going into yarn prep for this, & now that it's over, my brain has simply given up. i'm completely incapabale of anything requiring thought, & am likely to remain that way for some time - thank goodness for things requiring little or no attention! the plan for today? old episodes of america's next top model (via youtube - i should be embarrassed about watching this, but i'm totally not!), & some knitting 101 (hooray for garter stitch)...

(a garter stitch jacket from the parisian silk, loosely based on the february lady sweater)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

last batch

well, somebody up there must like me, because - after days.... no, weeks, of rain! - we finally got another sunny day, just in time for me to dye the last batch of sock yarn for the trunk show. i was so superstitious about jinxing it, though, that i didn't even want to take any pictures or blog about it until the end of the day, when the yarn was brought inside & hung up to finish drying (only slightly damp - it's amazing how much difference a bit of sun can make!).

last batch drying

in the background of the above picture, you can just see the results of all my hard work. here's a better look:

yarn ready to go!

to give you some idea of scale, that's the bottom half of a double futon, fully occupied by bags of yarn, most of which are stacked at least two (& sometimes three) bags high.


& now, i can (mostly) relax. the time that each batch of yarn takes to dry, even in the sun, means that i am literally unable to do any more yarn for this showcase - even if i wanted to (which i kind of do!) i just don't have the time. all i have left to do now is label the last batch or two of yarn, print up a couple of little signs, & put together the handspun hat kits - which means i just have enough time for a little contest!!! it's one simple question, requires no special skills, and the winner will get a surprise skein of yarn from my new stock (you can let me know if you'd rather have sock or laceweight yarn).
here's the question - how many skeins of yarn have i managed to dye up for the trunk show day? the more astute among you may try to count the bags in the picture - most of the bags hold one kilo of yarn, which is usually ten skeins. but although that might get you closer to the answer, it won't help you too much, since not all the bags have ten skeins in them (some have more, some have less). plus, there's the yarn i dyed today which is still drying, and there's another batch that's already dry (& hence not on the drying rack) but which still needs labels (& hence not yet bagged up ready to go). confused yet?? here's a hint - i started with 30 kilos of yarn, and despite my best efforts (damn that rain!) i didn't manage to get through all 30 kilos, although i did dye up a lot of it.
to enter the contest, just leave me a comment telling me how many skeins you think i dyed for the trunk show day - easy as that! i'm looking for a number of skeins (i.e. 173 skeins - which is not the right answer!) - not a number of kilos. i'm not including handspun or hat kits, or anything currently in the shop - just the mill-spun yarn that i dyed specifically for the K1 Yarns day. i don't even have an accurate number myself - i'll need to go through & check the bags & add everything up - so i'll give you some time to think about it! i'll keep the contest running until sunday 17th august - so leave me your guesses, and i'll let you know!

Friday, August 08, 2008

every damn day

am i the only one who's getting tired of seeing yarn hanging out to dry?

yarn drying 8th august

the trunk show day at K1 Yarns is getting closer (a week tomorrow, to be exact!!) - & it's safe to say that i'm starting to panic. just a little. i've dyed up a whole bunch of yarn, but i still have a whole bunch more that i want to dye. & there's also the handspun - piles upon piles of roving to spin up, some for individual skeins & some for hat kits (& only about half of it has been spun). i've been dyeing & spinning every chance i get, but the weather here hasn't been cooperating. luckily, it was (mostly) sunny today, so once again, i filled the washing lines with dripping yarn.
i've been working so much these last few weeks that - dare i say it? - i'm almost starting to get a bit sick of the sight of yarn. it seems to be all i can think about - how many skeins have i already done? how many more do i want to do? which colours have i already dyed? & what new colour combinations could i try? i'm thinking about yarn while i'm working, while i'm eating dinner, while i should be sleeping. and to try & relax, i'm knitting (even more yarn!). yarn, yarn, yarn, yarn, yarn - every damn day.
it could definitely be worse - i've had a fair few bad jobs in my time, and this (even on its most frustrating & exhausting day) is easily the most fun job i've ever had (it's so fun, in fact, that i'm not sure if i should even be calling it a job - but since one of the goals is to make a living, i guess it qualifies as a job after all). but the long days of hard work are draining, & now that the trunk show is getting closer & closer, i'm starting to get that feeling that you get when you're about to throw what should be a really great party, & you start thinking....

"what if no one comes?....."

... gulp.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

april, at last

waves in the square full shawl 5

project specs: the "april" project for my 2008 sweater-a-month challenge
started: 6th april, 2008; finished 27th july 2008 (see explanation below!)
pattern: "waves in the square" shawl by sivia harding
yarn: "sophia" 2ply cashmere in colourway "rustic", from posh yarn - i used just under 3 skeins, which is roughly 1200 yards
needles: addi lace needles, 3.75mm
finished measurements: 30" neck to bottom hem; 50" across back panel (bigger than the pattern specs stated, which i'm very pleased about, but i didn't make any modifications to the pattern at all)

it's taken a while for it to all come together, but it's definitely been worth the wait. i was making great progress with it throughout april, but hit a bit of a snag with the yarn, when i went to wind up the third skein & found a small dark dye patch in the yarn! i only had about 20 rows to go, but contacted dee at posh yarn (i'm a bit of a perfectionist, it would seem), who offered to redye some yarn for me. alas, that got a little messed up too (problems with their yarn supply), so i ended up with the original third skein back again, still with its small dark patch (although dee was kind enough to throw in a skein of a new laceweight as a freebie, so i'm not at all unhappy about that!). & as it turned out, it would seem that i delayed finishing this shawl for nothing - in fact, the final 20ish rows of the shawl ate up so much of the third skein of yarn that the section with the "dark patches" only occupies about the last 3 inches of the shawl hem, & you can't notice it at all. that'll teach me to be too fussy - i could have been wearing this fabulous shawl for the past three months instead of having it lay about unfinished in my knitting pile!
& although the last few rows seemed interminable (500 plus stitches per row!!), the only thing that annoyed me about this project was that i waited for so long to finish it - because now that i've finished it, i may never, ever, take this shawl off, ever. i love every single little thing about it...

i love its size - it's truly immense & very cozy, but at the same time, incredibly light & airy.

waves in the square full shawl

i love its wearability (is that even a word?) - you can either simply sit it on your shoulders like a cardigan (& it stays put!!)...

waves in the square detail 2

...or drape it over & around you for extra coziness (& it stays put, without any tying/pinning/faffing about!!)

waves in the square full shawl 3

it even has a little "collar" that sits perfectly around your neck, without any shifting about or falling off (did i mention that the shawl stays put?!?).

waves in the square detail 1

i absolutely love it.

waves in the square full shawl 4