June 19, 2014

A dress and some spinning

Filed under:Dress,Finished Objects,Spinning,Stash Down — Aileen @ 18:23

Ah, summer is here! I would have posted before today but – weather. It’s been so lovely here that I have only left the house to go to the supermarket. My week has run a little like this: practice, coffee in sun, practice, water in sun, chores, tea in sun, practice, fruit in sun…rinse and repeat!

I have been sewing, too, though that has come to abrupt halt. More after I tell you about this:


I made this yesterday in about an hour. I used my favourite-so-far t-shirt pattern, the Alexander pattern on the Tessuti website. It’s a download and what I love about it is that it comes with a petite size! No futzing around for narrow shoulders! I adore the fit so I decided to extend it into a dress, using the shape of another dress as a guide for the general shape and length. I forgot to include extra for the hem so it’s a bit shorter than I intended.


The fabric I got for mega cheap from Minerva fabrics, I think about £4/m. Seriously, if you’re looking for cheap jersey (why is it soo expensive here?!), check them out! I was hoping it would be more like a Ponte but is a touch more like a sweatshirt fabric, it’s not quite as elastic. However, it does the job and will be really cosy come Autumn, too.


So… Right as I stepped away from sewing my hems to press them, my sewing machine suddenly started to sew at top speed of its own accord. It was both frightening and spooky in equal measure! I dashed over to switch it off only to be met with a long, slender snake of smoke coming from the foot pedal. I disconnected everything and left it be. It still works fine, though I can still smell something when it’s running so I’m not inclined to use it in its current condition. I don’t want to damage the main motor.

Upon further internet reading, ‘foot failure’ is common. It is possible to replace the capacitor that has failed but as the pedal is a closed unit, I either need to run the risk of breaking it while trying to open it or pay to have it serviced. From what I could find out, they tend to be just replaced as a unit. As I know that my service man charges a set fee to investigate anything (and I thoroughly dislike dealing with him), I decided to cut out the middle man and sourced a new replacement online. I should have it soon.

Anyway, have you all been enjoying the world cup? I’ve been using it as a good excuse to dust off my spinning wheel and start working through my modest, but beautiful, fibre stash. You may recall that I participated in two fibre clubs a few years ago. Some I spun up immediately but others have had to wait their turn. I started spinning up a silk hanky a while ago – I finished it earlier this week and decided to cast on with it immediately.


Wow, I was not expecting silk to be so challenging to spin. I’ve heard others describe it similarly. I thought, ok, maybe it’s slippery? I can deal with that. Turns out that silk is super, super sticky. Almost grimy. Not only that, but it is really hard to draft evenly in any way. It’s very stiff. It was an interesting experiment but I’m glad it’s done. Needless to say, it is not my finest example…but I do like how it’s knitting up.


Here’s my latest project. It’s a beautiful superwash merino from Laura Hogan. It practically spins itself! I’m spinning this as fine as I can control with a hope to making socks. We’ll see!


May 15, 2012

In the background

Believe it or not, I still knit. The funny thing is that when people say, oh, you’ve stopped knitting, I tend to agree – even though I have knitting in my bag, I knit on the bus, the train and in the evenings…! My knitting has slowed down to pretty much the most mindless projects. This is indicative of my life generally; I’ve been in some sort of post-wedding fuzz for the last six months and am only now waking up properly. Anyway, this is what I’ve been working on.

Some crochet kitchen things – a towel and some cloths.

I made these mostly to just try out a new crochet cotton This is Knit has started carrying, DMC Perla. I got the medium weight one, I think it’s ‘3’ and used a 3.25mm hook. It’s really nice to work with – not too shiny – and can you believe I got all of these items from just one ball? I came across a really pretty crochet scarf here and am thinking about using the lighter weight (‘8’ I think) to make it. Scary as Japanese patterns may seem, the crochet diagrams are usually extremely clear.

Another yarn I wanted to try out, though it’s not very new by this stage, was the Rialto 4-ply lace. What better than yet another Kiri shawl. I pretty much have it memorised by now so it’s about as close to mindless lace as I’m going to get. The yarn is lovely, good value for money, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it blocks out.

I have been very, very slowly chipping away at Bedford. Lately I’ve stalled out because I need to look at the instructions for the neckline.

I wouldn’t mind but it is about 3″ from being completely finished. I’m not even waiting to knit sleeves or anything. I should just finish it.

What else? Oh yes, I found this when I was tidying up.

Handspun! Really nice, consistent handspun that I obviously made but have no recollection of whatsoever. I found other handspun, too, that I know I must have made in the last six months but don’t remember at all. It’s kind of depressing but on the upside, it’s all new again to me! The mittens are kind of important because my old ones finally bit the dust.

Aaaaannndd… I’ve been sewing. Sewing, even when it seems slow, is pretty quick. Here are two Wiksten tank tops. The first is out of some soft voile cotton that I found in the bargain bin in Hickey’s a few months ago.

It is quite light so I had my usual problem of a ‘lippy’ neckline.

Considering that I will probably just end up using this as a pyjama top, I don’t mind too much. I’m not getting any hopes up for a hot summer, let me put it that way. But it was a fun and quick pattern to make so I made another!

This time using the beautiful quilting cotton I picked up at Pippa Blue. Love!

Again, a bit lippy but it will have to do. I even followed a tutorial to avoid such a result. Other sewing has included a pair of Clover pants – sort of a wearable muslin as the material is very light and was extremely cheap, a Violet blouse, and fixing the hem on my failed proper attire skirt. I have had just about the WORST luck on all three of these projects and they all involve making a hole. The one on the blouse was spectacular. I won’t lie: there were tears. I’ll tell you about it again sometime…


January 31, 2011

Many fingers, many pies

Things have been busy: I got a job! I am now a part-time music lecturer and accompanist, for this semester anyway. I have three hours of lectures and three hours of coaching. The coaching is kein Problem. The lectures… well. I had a week’s notice and a very vague outline of what I was supposed to cover in the term. Luckily, I have some friends who lent me some materials and after a few days of panic/photocopying, I had something to start off with. I think it’s going to be fine. I’m only in until Easter, after which I play for everyone’s exams and then I’m done. So these days it’s very much a case of making hay while the sun shines.

And, of course, it never rains but it pours: I have two recitals in February, competitions in March, two recitals in April, exams in both Maynooth university and the IT where I’m working in May. Of course, I have my own recital exam, thesis, wedding and errr, I’m trying to put together a concert series with my friends from college for June. Don’t worry, it will all be fine. Here, soothe your soul with some knitting.

This is a very bedraggled-looking Harvest Moon. I am trying to knit my way through the various stratae of my stash. This is very old yarn (oh God, 2006!). I tried to turn it into a jumper but all I ended up with was one of those Frankenstein moments. I denied its very existence.

I think this reincarnation is much better. I love the collar: you work a stockinette edge on one side and it makes the curve all by itself. Then you just pick up all along that edge and continue on in the round for the yoke. I had reservations about picking up along the collar because I don’t know about you but I always find it nigh on impossible to get the number specified in the pattern. With this you couldn’t go wrong; it was simply pick one stitch for each row.

The pockets were a good bit of knitting but I think they’ll be worth it. Check out the hem there. It’s a 4-stitch i-cord cast-off. I’m still not sure about it. I know it’s lying flat in the picture but when I pick it up, it rolls up at the back. I think I might take it out and put in a garter edging instead. I did it with the first cuff and I think I prefer it.

I really needed some mindless knitting the other night – I had some very long days last week – so I cast on for a Hap Blanket. This was entirely thanks to She Knit Up That Ball, who cast on for one in a flurry and sucked me in while she was at it. Again, this stuff is deep stash from our 2007 trip to Donegal. I had such a good time there I couldn’t bring myself to knit it up.

The cream is leftover Tivoli Celtic Aran superwash and the whole thing is surprisingly soft. I know it looks a bit small but there’s a gigantic border to go around it. It is fantastically soothing.

I have been chipping away at my Ishbel shawl and it is growing exponentially.

…and for some reason, the urge overcame me to dig out a very old WIP. A crocheted bathmat. Very easy but there are a lot of ends.

Last week was really very trying. Between two half days of lectures, I had six extra hours of vocal coaching because I filled in for a singing teacher that was sick. With all the stash knitting I’ve been doing, I thought I deserved something special for a change… and what could possibly be more special than something from Hedgehog Fibres in Cork. Beware: therein lies a rabbit hole of the yarn equivalent of chocolate cake.

I got some Wenslydale roving for a hat…

…and some mixed fibre batts – mostly merino and alpaca I think – which I think will make a nice, simple, garter moebius.

Sincerely hoping that this week will be more straight forward and I get some time with Margot (my wheel).


January 16, 2011

Hibernation and WIPs

I went into total hibernation this week and really got stuck into some work. I’m sort of paying for it a bit this weekend but it was worth it. I’ve been working away on some things, like my Austin hoodie.

This is coming along really easily. I’m nearly finished the front now and from there, I’ll be just two sleeves and the hood from a nice, wearable spring garment.

I did some tidying up and while I was at it, I found some handspun that was too nice to ignore. I had a huge pile of silk-merino singles from the summer. What better way to use it than for a shawl – Ishbel, another Ysolda classic.

I’m pretty surprised at how… normal… it is knitting up. I always have the impression that the yarn I spin is completely unknittable, but apparently not.

Yesterday was a truly attrocious day, with howling wind and rain from morning ’til night. Despite getting some work done, I felt like I never woke up properly. In that spirit, I cast on for just about the most mindless, chicken-soup-esque hat I could find.

Thorpe (pdf link) has been on my wishlist for a long time. I knit this on and off yesterday evening so that’ll tell you just how speedy a knit it is. Here are the specs!

Needles: 5.5mm dpns and then 40cm circular.

Yarn: Leftover Twilley’s Purity from my Heather hoodie (1 ball) and Debbie Bliss Soho (long discontinued, 1 ball). The Soho was the very first yarn I bought online along with the Denise Interchangeable needles. I got them for Christmas. I remember they were delivered on Christmas Eve and I was absolutely dying with a cold at the time. I’m going to hazard a guess that this was in 2003? Definitely time to use the yarn.

I made the medium size and it fits fine. I’m going to use the remainder of the Soho and Purity to make another in reversed colours. I will probably make the small for a snugger fit.

It was a lovely sunny day today and so nice to see such a stretch in the evenings already. I took advantage and got my resident photographer to take some of those modelled shots I was talking about. Stay tuned!


July 6, 2010

Mystery fluff

Le Tour de France kicked off on July 2nd and, in what has become an annual event for spinners across the world, so did the Tour de Fleece. Much like the Knitting World Cup, Knitting Olympics and the Knitting Winter Olympics, you set yourself a goal and try to complete it by the end of the event. So not only do you have something to pass the time while you tune in, you have something to talk about at the end of the day when you’re too knackered out to do any more knitting/crocheting/spinning!

On my last spinning kick, I managed to spin up what I thought was my entire fibre stash. When I returned from Italy and got stuck into spring cleaning (past tense? I sprung cleaned? let me know), I found a truly gigantic bag of undyed mystery fibre at the back of my wardrobe. It is 575g of dark cream deliciously soft roving with an average staple length of about two inches. I don’t know anything worth mentioning about sheep breeds so answers on a postcard, I guess!

I filled up a bobbin between last night and this morning. I suppose I might as well confess that I wasn’t watching the Tour but I don’t think it really affected my output. But who knows? The only way to find out is to do the same again today while watching. TG4 has untiring and often amusing coverage go h-iomlán BEO – those guys really know their stuff and use wonderful language like ‘rothar galánta’.

But I digress. My plan is to try and extract a 2-ply double knit weight, hopefully enough for a short cardigan. To aid in the eking-out process, I have this:

‘Marvellous’ doesn’t come close, people. It is May’s installment from Laura Hogan‘s batt club (psst! she’s got a 15% discount sale on for the Tour!). There is about 100g altogether which, if spun similarly, should help me if I use it for a colourwork yoke. See? I have a plan.

I also have a plan B. Yeah, I haven’t been practising so much recently.

I have no idea what it is because I lost the label. I know it too came from Laura and that it contains soya and probably merino. I am also unsure how I can make it my plan B but I think I will figure that out if and when I need to.

Now, definitely time for a mug of tea. Thanks so much everyone for all your warm wishes and congratulations! It is turning out to be a lot more fun than we expected it to be 🙂