March 27, 2010

Ready for Easter break

Filed under:Batt Club,Finished Objects,Shawls,Spinning — Aileen @ 18:10

It has been a long, busy month. I had a lecture recital exam at the beginning of the month. Then Dublin Feis started and between participating in my own competitions (won one, second in the other) and working for others, it’s been very hectic. Unsurprisingly, I came down with a cold in the middle of it all! Everything finished up yesterday for Easter break. Even though I am working for Sligo Feis the week after Easter, it is still good to have time to myself to regroup and get back to normal.

I have been mostly spinning. I got 215g of Falkland fibre from Laura Hogan and gradually spun it all up into a DK 3-ply.

I spun it using a backwards long draw; it drafted really easily and was easy to keep smooth. I plied it using my jumbo bobbin, which worked out great. I was able to fit about 100g on a bobbin. This just would not have been possible on the regular bobbins.

The 3-ply turned out really spoingy, I am very pleased with it and quite curious to see what it will be like to knit up. I’ll have to see what sort of yardage I have – I was thinking of making Frost Diamonds with it.

Speaking of bobbins, I was so excited about the jumbo flyer, I just had to try out some sort of crazy art yarn. I swung by Beads and Bling on my way home one day and picked up a pile of feathers. I had a fair bit of leftover undyed Wenslydale so I spun one ply quite finely. The other ply, I didn’t spin at all. When I plied the two together, I stuck the feathers into the thicker, unspun ply and let the fine ply wrap itself around it and secure it.

Overall, it was successful and a heckuva lot of fun to do. Maybe I overdid the feathers a bit… but really, can you blame me?!

I was thinking about knitting a hat with some of this, if only to say that I have many feathers in my cap. (Sorry.) (Who am I kidding? I’m not sorry! It’s worth it!)

I haven’t been doing a huge amount on the knitting front, mostly because I simply haven’t had sufficient brain space to concentrate for any length of time. I did, however, manage to finally finish off that mohair Swallowtail shawl. I got through a few rows of those nupps – and if you’ve ever knit this pattern, you’ll know what I’m talking about – which involve many, many ‘purl 5 togethers’. It was literally sucking the life force out of me, so I ripped it out and replaced the nupps with beads. Far, far more fun.

I haven’t it blocked out yet but that gives you an idea. I just used green beads because that’s what I had lying around but I really like the combination with the colour yarn. I think when I have it blocked out properly, I will post more detailed photos.

What else have I got for you? Oh yes, my March batt club (also from Laura) arrived on Wednesday. I didn’t see it until I got in from what was a very, very long day and let me tell you, it was a lovely thing to open. (Especially since my other post consisted only of yet more music!)

There were three in my package but I have already spun one up. The colours are so varied and so contrasting, I figured the best thing to do was to chain ply it on itself. I haven’t set the twist in it yet but when it’s dry, I’ll show you. It’s pretty crazy looking but I have to say, I just love that hot pink!

I hope all of you are having a hot pink weekend and are looking forward to the Easter break as much as I am!


March 8, 2010

A trip to Craftspun

Filed under:Spinning,Travel — Aileen @ 10:26

On Saturday, the Lilienthals and I went for a trip to Craftspun. They recently opened a new bricks-and-mortar shop in Johnstown. I had heard lots of good things about it but never managed to get down to visit the place. Anyway, a while ago, I ordered some new parts for my wheel and last week, Warren (the owner) called to say that they had come in. I had an exam as well as a recital on during the week so we made a date to go down on Saturday.

It was really easy to get to. We took the M50, came off at the Red Cow for the N7 and drove until we saw the sign for Johnstown. It was Junction 7, I think. It took about 35 minutes. Once off the motorway, we drove through the village and there it was. I didn’t get a very good picture of the shop front because there were a lot of parked cars but you get the idea!

The parts I’d ordered were a few extra bobbins, because my wheel only came with three, and a jumbo bobbin. When I was spinning an aran weight for my next project, my bobbins kept filling up really quickly and my skeins were tiny – about 40m to 50g. I figured if I went with the jumbo bobbin, I wouldn’t have such a problem and I’d be able to spin some funny art yarns as well. I haven’t tried it out yet but I’ll let you know when I do!

Anyway, Laura and I had a great time chatting to Warren and looking around the place. He was so generous; he gave me some fleece samples from fleeces that had been dropped into him in the shop. One was from a freshly shorn lamb – it’s very fluffy but will need a wash. Another was from a cocoa-coloured alpaca that had been shorn with a scissors. I will show pictures of both when I get a chance, and talk more in detail about them. I got some ‘regular’ Wenslydale tops to keep me going, as well.

Truly, it is a fibre enthusiasts shop with samples of felting, weaving, spinning, knitting, crochet lying all around. It is so nice having a supplier of natural fibres in the area! By the time we were finished, it was lunchtime so we went on to the Kildare Outlet Village for a bite to eat and a mooch around the shops.

All in all, a fruitful expedition that I had looked forward to all week (exam and recital both went reasonably well, thankfully!). Thanks again to the Lilienthals for accompanying me!


March 5, 2010

Margot and Me

Filed under:Batt Club,Finished Objects,Spinning — Aileen @ 11:04

This week has been a bit nutty because I had a lecture recital exam on Wednesday and was playing for another recital yesterday. So I have been working on some small spinning projects. I can’t remember if I told you but I decided to join up to Laura’s Batt Club! Exciting stuff! I got my first installment on Monday.

It’s a mix of blue faced leicester, merino, alpaca, fawn alpaca, mohair and angelina (I think!). It’s a colourway I would never have picked myself but I quite like it and am really interested to see how it spins up. Laura also sent me a really delicious sample – 45g of fawn alpaca and hand dyed merino, carded twice.

This was so beautiful that when I got home from my exam on Wednesday, I set to and spun it right up.

It is delicious! I spun a fairly fine single woollen style from wee rolags and then navajo-plied it into a 3-ply. My navajo plying has left a lot to be desired so I posted a question on the Irish Spinners Group board on Ravelry, wondering how I could get the lumps and bumps out. Laura responded with a really good youtube tutorial. I tried it out last night on some other stuff I was working on yesterday and it works a treat.

Remember how I ran out of fibre last week before the end of the Ravelympics and didn’t know how I could continue with daily life? Well, when I was looking for something under the stairs I found a lone bag of forgotten fibre under the hoover (which will tell you how often I hoover…). In it was some Fleece Artist I picked up in New Jersey about two years ago which immediately became this…

50g of a 2ply sportweight, 100% merino. Love the dark colours. I think maybe I’ll make it into mitts. I also found a lot of what I think is a blend of merino and silk. I picked it up in Chicago two years ago too.

It’s about 100g of double knit. It’s a little over-plied and I have to say, I don’t like it very much. It’s not as soft as it was before I spun it up, which doesn’t make any sense to me. Maybe it’s because it’s a bit overspun.

Anyway, I have a very nearly finished Stilwell jumper and a garter stitch shawl that made a lot of progress last night while we watched War of the Roses. Tomorrow, I’m off with the Lilienthals to Craftspun to pick up some spinning supplies and generally have a day out. Have a good Friday everyone, and a lovely weekend!


February 20, 2010

Ravelympics: Day 10

Filed under:Finished Objects,Knitting Olympics,Spinning — Aileen @ 16:13

So. This Flying Camel event. It seems to have started something quite unstoppable. This is the first of my Ashford merino-silk batches. Remember how I was telling you that I spun the second bobbin in contrary motion to the first? And how I only realised when I was plying them together? This is what I ended up with.

The really small skein at the front there seems to have responded well to being washed and stretched out. The other skein was maybe a bit too big; some parts in the middle seems to have been unaffected. I am considering re-washing and re-skeining it to see if it can be redeemed. Kind of a rookie mistake, though, that I was determined to avoid with the next batch!

Now this stuff turned out well. It’s a fairly consistent 2-ply double knit. To be honest, it really didn’t look very good but when I washed it, it fluffed out and settled nicely. I have about 100g of this. For both batches, I spun them worsted-style with a forward short-draw (well, I think I did!).

And do you remember the batt I showed you mid-spin? Since it was only a 40g batt, I only filled half a bobbin. I figured I should challenge myself to learn something new so instead of andean-plying it back on itself as I would normally do, I decided to chain or navajo ply it. It’s a little funny but it works really well, even though I ended up over-twisting some parts. I don’t mind too much though, it was just for a bit of fun.

I got a massive kick out of spinning this, as little as there is in it. It was my first time spinning from the fold and using a long backwards draw. There will definitely be more mixed batts in my future! This one was called Clara and (I found the wee composition tag under my mountain of handspun…) it’s made up of merino, bluefaced leicester, angelina, tencel and bamboo. Mmmm.

When I ordered that batt from Laura, I also got two plaits of roving with this in mind. Altogether I had 240g of bluefaced leicester. It’s the first time I have ever spun alot of something with a sweater in mind and I figured it would take me ages. In fact, it only took me a few days.

The biggest drawback was that, when I was plying, my bobbins kept filling up very quickly. This also explains why my skeins are pretty small! This is the first batch that I spun, plied and washed. The second batch – three more skeins – is on the line. Like the Ashford stuff, I spun it using a short forwards draw. I ought to have enough for the sweater but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

My problem now is that… I don’t have any more fibre to spin. I found a wee ball of roving that I bought in Chicago two years ago and have gotten a bobbin of lace weight out of it that I am going to have to ply back on itself. I am trying to eke it out, though, and frankly am feeling a bit bereft at the thought of no spinning next week. Of course, I am drowning in handspun… it never rains but it pours!


February 16, 2010

Ravelympics: Day 5

Filed under:Hats,Knitting Olympics,Spinning,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 10:21

…Or Knitting Olympics, or just plain knitting-while-you-watch-the-olympics… whatever you want to call it, I’m doing it! The whole idea is to set yourself a challenge and try to complete it within the olympic window (17 days). As I said before, I set myself the challenge to finish off my Minimalist Cardigan. Needless to say, I haven’t even touched and instead, have launched myself with full gusto into the Flying Camel spinning event.

Remember the red stuff I posted at the weekend? It’s all plied up now and drying on the line. It turned out lovely and I can’t wait to knit with it. Yesterday was a bit of a struggle for me because I wasn’t feeling very well. Luckily for me, I remembered that I had a mixed batt from Laura Hogan sitting in my stash. I promised myself that if I did all my work and got through my lesson in the evening, I could start spinning this up when I got home.

You can’t see it very well on the bobbin but it is a mixed batt of regular merino dyed green, white and bright pink with blue silk mixed through it and some creamy, fluffy, silky bits through… AND some blue sparkly bits too! The sparkly bits tend to show up out of the blue (I’m so funny!), which delights me no end. Of course, the whole point of the Knitting Olympics is to challenge yourself. I’m using this batt to teach myself some new things: I’m spinning ‘from the fold’, I’m using a long draw drafting technique and I’m planning on Navajo or chain plying the bobbin when I’m finished. If you’re not into spinning, all this means is that I’m hoping to end up with a fluffy, light yarn as opposed to a smooth, dense yarn (which was the way I spun the red stuff).

Of course, I couldn’t just procrastinate on the Minimalist on one front. I cast on for a balaclava on Saturday, too, for the Hat Halfpipe event.

It’s From Russia With Love. Doesn’t it look snug? I’m using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and so far, have already used nearly two balls for just the neck part. Just as well my head isn’t very big. I hope everyone elses’ projects for the Olympics are going smoothly!