Sunday, May 27, 2012

Spinning, spinning, spinning...

Only a little while to go before the Tour de Fleece starts! I know we first have lots of football to endure, but still, you can't look forward to fun things enough.
It was great success last year, I spun up quite a few miles of yarn, and to make sure I don't suffer nasty injuries - such as spinner's knee, which shouldn't be too much of a problem now I've got a two-peddle spinning wheel - I've started practicising hard and heavy...
First, I spun up 300 grams of this yummy goodness, merino with tencel, plied with lock yarn. It's called Damiane...

It is soooo unbelievably soft... I have around 800 m of this, and I'm looking for a project to make.

But first: a swatch, to see what my gauge is... Thank you very much, my yarn enabler, Dutch Wool Diva!

More yarn goodness... The roving by Pass-Partout (merino/silk) has also been spun up, as Pinky Jeans. With n-ply, it turned out at 430 m. Also looking for a project, probably a cuddly toy...

And some more merino/silk, this time in a lovely white, lavender and purple blend... This was gifted to me on  my birthday at the Breidag. I'm giving it a quick rinse and then will see how many meters it is... As I plied it last night, I was too tired to count. But, it is quite thin, I guestimate around 700/800 m...

This means my stash is dwindling... Time to turn some of the fleece I got at spin group last month (Fries Melkschaap and Texelaar) into small batts... This is before carding... 

And with some help from the Batman...

It's now a basket full of fluffy clouds...

And of course, we don't stop there... This week, I got a small ouessant fleece at spinning group. After washing it (it was dirty!!!), it's now hanging out to dry, ready for carding (or maybe combing, haven't decided on that yet)... And I've a fleece coming my way in a few weeks time at the Farm & Country fair...
Enough to keep our wheels turning!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

I was never gonna...

Honestly, forced I was!

There was no free will involved here at all. No bidding by myself on Marktplaats on a small-ish (table) loom, no jealous looks whenever I was over at Giny's place for spinning group, who has a beautiful loom in her living room...
Really, I couldn't help buying it... A 4-shaft, 70 cm loom, to try and see if weaving is for me...

After watching a YouTube video on warps and wefts (once) and putting my thumb up in the air to calculate where to pull the threads through the heddle, I got weaving...

As just starting wasn't difficult enough, I decided on doing herringbone instead of linen stitch. Using a cheap sock yarn (losing quite a few on the sides on the way, as they just rubbed and rubbed and then broke), with my lovely Borealis handspun yarn.

A small scarf, or something to wrap around my hair. Looking good...

And because it's a 30% silk blend, the shimmer is soooo nice!
But look, looms are worse than rabbits...

Blink and there's two in your house... The one on the left is 'a bit' bigger, with smaller shaft handles, and on loan. As soon as I've got the right screws for it, I'll be setting this one up. Where, I have no idea... ;)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fashion in prehistoric times

Last weekend, we enjoyed a few days away, and because I (almost) always get my way, I got to choose the destination. We went to Avifauna (birds) on the first day and the second day was totally dedicated to Archeon. In this park, they have sections dedicated to the Prehistoric period, Roman times and the Middle Ages.
For me, the Prehistoric was just one big salivating trip. Yes, they didn't have electricity, yes, the houses were tiny, they slept with their animals ánd the smoke would suffocate anyone sitting next to the fire, but look at this for a place to spin, weave and craft!
You can see the loom on the left and baskets with wool scattered about, with spindles inside. There was nobody to demonstrate at the time, and I just sat there and breathed in the atmosphere.
They had a fashion show, showing what amazing clothes they could make even before we invented sewing machines and carding drums. Here you can see fashion in chronological order (from right to left): seal and beaver skins, progressing via the first woven outfits from linen to dyed woolen dresses and shawls.
It's hard to see, but that dress she's wearing? A-ma-zing. All handmade, the spinning, the dyeing and the weaving. I just loved it.
In the Roman town, Hannah got a hair make-over. The lady used a needle and thread to make a complicated braid - well, as complicated as you can make it with quite short hair... We also made a fibula and did some mosaicing.
They had quite a display of clothes out, and it was so cool to see how they made the most lovely decorations from simple materials, not only nice to look at, but also functional. During the fashion show, a Roman soldier showed us all the different ways of wearing a blanket. I know that the highlanders were quite innovative when it comes to 'blanket wearing', but the Romans, once they arrived up here, in the cold North, also appreciated the diversity of a simple woolen blanket. The colours started to get a bit more abundant too, with mostly the men wearing hints of red to indicate their 'importance'. The women mostly wore demure brown, as you can see in the next photograph (the lady to the right).
The Middle Ages started to become more colourful and tailoring started to creep in. Imagine what you can do with proper scissors! You're no longer beholden to the square shape of fabric, but can cut things to size, give hats silly long points and lots more.
In the weaver's house, we saw this lovely loom. Of course, Hannah wanted to pose with it a bit.
And what about all these bands? All woven with cards, in the most wonderful designs.
The ladies of the Dutch Spinning Group were also there, to show people what beautiful things you can do with yarn now. Hannah had a go at spinning and continued working on it at home. A few more practice sessions and she'll be as hooked as her mommy...

Friday, May 11, 2012

BRAM

Do you remember that media silence, the months of very little activity here on the blog, because I was working 'on something big'? Well, the boycot has been lifted by the arrival of a little boy: Bram.

I think you can see that I'm actually rather proud of this wee fella. My sis did very well! A superspeedy delivery of a supercute boy.

As is quite normal here, we as relatives make up new-born boxes, with gifts for mother and baby for the first ten days. I wanted to include a few home knits, so the hunt for cool things to make was on. I wanted to make a toy, an outfit and a blanket. The first two were fairly straight-forward, but the last one required a bit more thoughtwork, and time.
It all started with a post in our my Ravelry-threads early February, where someone mentioned she had started 'this blanket with Escheresque fish'. I was immediately intrigued, and without even looking at what it would entail, bought the pattern.
Boy, was I in for some hard work! I made lots and lots of these...

In dark blue, lighter sea blue and off-white, and then sewed them together, first into hexagons...

Then adding some more...

And even more... until I had run out of white and it was 'baby blanket size'.

Then it was time to start trimming it down into a rectangle. And here it got messy. Because instead of reading the instructions properly, I just did my own thing.
It involved sewing...

And cutting...

And then it was time to knit and attach a very, very, very long border... Most if it during a stay on the campsite very close to my sister last week, as we were expecting, and sort of hoping, she would deliver during the May break. Luckily for her, she didn't, because this wee baby was finished the day before the little man was due, and 3 days before he decided to come into the world.

This was his present for day 2, which was yesterday (Day 1 was a Oxfam/Novib gift of 10 chickens to a farmer in Africa). Hopefully tomorrow, when we're going over again for lots of cuddles, I'll make a picture, to see if the two fit together and if Bram thinks the blanket is snuggly enough.
It was a BIG project, and I hope Bram will feel the love that went into it. It really is such an honour to make lovely gifts for the people you love!

News flash, just in!



Project details: 
Pattern: Tiling Fish by Jana (janukke)
Yarn: Drops Baby Alpaca Silk by Garnstudio, in off-white, sea blue and dark blue. I used half of the required amount given for a baby blanket.
Needles: 2.5 mm (yes, I am crazy).
Adjustments: none to the fish. The border was knit over 41 stitches. Make sure if you knit it and don't want to cut away fish (like I did), to sew up two opposite sides to make a tube, sew and cut, and then sew the other two opposite sides together and repeat.