Crush


I have a bit of a crush on Brooklyn Tweed.  The patterns and the yarn Shelter and now the look book Wool People is out making me fall hopelessly in lust.  So much so I briefly (half a day) considered purchasing 47 skeins of shelter to knit every Brooklyn Tweed and Wool People pattern I have queued.  I didn’t but I am still considering buying 28 skeins for the Autumn Leaves stole, Terra shawl, Guernsey wrap and Seraphine wrap (to start with anyway). Why, you ask considering that they are all shawly wrap type garments and you spin. Well…

The yarn itself is exquisite, woollen spun from Targhee breed of sheep, where am I going to purchase Targhee fibre in Australia?  Because it’s woollen spun and not overly processed it is light and squishy and will be beautifully warm and there appears to be some degree of varying thickness and twist in the ply that I personally feel, gives the yarn some interest. This is in contrast to those rather homogenised mass produced yarns that I have in my stash such as Sublime and Zarina  that I’ve lost the love for since I started spinning, they seem to vaguely resemble wool in the way that Kraft cheese slices vaguely resemble cheese (no offence and I intend to knit with these yarns still, it just won’t afford me the same delight).  Also the tweedy colours are just delicious and have such warm and inviting names like, homemade jam and button jar which are my particular favourites.  As for spinning the yarn myself, I feel my spinning and dyeing skills which, though they have improved would not be nearly good enough to produce enough yarn for all these patterns and I’m not going to never purchase yarn now that I can spin if the yarn is this beautiful. Lastly, Jared Flood is an independent designer who has put his money where his mouth is and gone out to produce yarn that he feels a passion for and I have to admire that (and feel a little bit envious).

As for the obsession with shawls and wraps, well, they are perfect for Melbourne’s varying weather and so much easier to wear than a jumper or a cardigan.  The patterns themselves appear to be both uncomplicated but interesting and well designed.  The Seraphine wrap from the Wool People look book is actually designed by Lucy Sweetland and I surprised myself by being determined to knit this despite it being knit in pieces and sewn together which is usually an immediate turn off.  I can see that this is a necessary aspect of the design so I’m willing to cast aside my usual prejudices, plus I have to have it in my wardrobe!

Because I’m not a complete idiot who goes out and purchases a vast amount of yarn before she has ever tried it, no, really, I’m not! I’m planning to cast on for the Habitat hat by Brooklyn Tweed next, out of the skein pictured above to see how it knits up.  He he, I’m knitting Habitat out of Shelter, which makes me giggle a bit, well you know even non-idiots can be a bit silly.

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Bendigo


Yesterday I went to the Bendigo wool and sheep show for the first time.  I can’t believe I haven’t been before, what on earth was I thinking, missing the highlight of the woolly year here in Victoria, how stupid of me not to have gone before now.  Anyway, that mistake has been rectified and I now intend to go every year.

For those of you who don’t know, the Bendigo show is literally a three day celebration of all that is woolly and pertaining to wool.  There are sheep dog trials, sheep shearing and sheep showing, woodturners creating spindles, distaffs, shawl pins etc and stalls and stalls of fibre, fleece and yarn and everything else a knitter/spinner/felter/weaver could need plus the two big spinning wheel companies from New Zealand, Ashford and Majacraft were here to show their wares.  It’s a bit flippin’ exciting, the sheep fumes and the buzz of retail therapy, the heady, heady thrill of it all!

We made a road trip of it, Bendigo being about 2 1/2 hours away, Julie was our designated driver and Sonia, Sharon and Ursula made up the rest of the posse.  Sonia and Sharon are Bendigo veterans and us three English expats the noobs.

The day before I was panicking a bit, it’s winter here and I needed a warm jumper to wear.  I had intended to wear Owls to Bendigo and since that wasn’t going to happen I decided that Idlewood would be second best.  However Idlewood is short sleeved and it occurred to me it might be cold so at around dinner time I decided I might attempt to make a pair of arm warmers to wear, encouraged by Sharon.  I cast on for toast just before dinner and stopped knitting for the night at midnight.  The next day I started knitting whilst I waited for the girls to arrive and managed to finish just as we pulled into the Show-ground car park, I tucked the ends in as I didn’t have time to weave them in and wore them all day.  I reckon about 8 hours knitting in total, what a knitter can achieve when she’s determined is not to be sniffed at!

As it happens, it was a beautiful day and the sun shone, all day. Before we even set off Sharon gave me a kilo of beautiful brown fleece, that is OMG gorgeous, thank you, thank you, thank you I love it.

Sonia gave me a mini skein of Wensleydale that she spun, which is just beautiful (I’m so spoilt).

So excellent start to the day already! However, here’s my haul…

A darning mushroom, because I’ve lusted after one since seeing Sonia’s.  I don’t know how to darn YET, but I WILL learn.  Purchased from a man wearing a knitted Viking costume no less.

2 skeins of Stranded in Oz sock yarn in ‘Fairies in the garden’ colourway yummy or what!

Pear Tree had a clearance sale, 1 kilo for $40 of mixed skeins, I went halves with Sharon.

700g of Polwarth roving from Dennis Polwarths, they look like different colours in the photo but they are both the same colour the one on the left being the most accurate colour.

1/2 a coated Polwarth fleece from Andyle.  I’m a bit in love with Polwarth which is a breed from Merino crossed with Lincolns, I’m also a bit in love with Andyle fleeces, they were all so gorgeous, choosing was a very difficult task.

I also bought stuff like dyes, stitch markers and wool scour, wash and rinse from Unicorn, posh scented moth repelling thingys and a spinners control card from Spun Out but I won’t bore you with a photo of them.  I made two carded batts using an Ashford drum carder with the help of Richard Ashford himself who was utterly lovely. I was allowed to keep mine (below) and Sonia was given the second.

The day couldn’t have been more perfect, we bumped into other knitting and spinning friends which was fantastic. We ate lunch whist watching the sheep dog trials with Debs, Susanne and Raoul and compared acquisitions.  I have to say that all of the stallholders were so genuinely friendly and passionate and not at all pushy or insincere which was wonderful because I’m allergic to pushy, insincere salespeople.  I am so looking forward to next year’s show.

ttfn Melanie x

 


It is a truth universally known…


That is, universally amongst knitters, that sock yarn does not count as stash.  In the case of talented dyers, I believe it doesn’t count as stash because it’s art.  This week I received four exquisite skeins of art that I’d ordered from Skein.  However, previously my attempts to photograph yarn from Skein has been “a little bit shit”.  Yesterday, in an bid to rectify my poor photography skills and do the yarn justice I asked for advice from Sonia’s lovely hubby, Damian Young.  I’ve often admired Damian’s photographs when I’ve visited their home and he very kindly gave me some hints and tips.

Here goes…

The four skeins are, from left to right, Quill, Opaque, Industrial Age and Dolce, they are all BFL sock (of course).  I like the colour saturation of this one but the shadows on the corners I’m less happy with.  Then I took some close ups of individual skeins.

 

So thanks Damian, I’m quite happy with these last four and hopefully I will continue to improve.


Sheep-tastic study


The postie has just been, yay!

He brought me 2 parcels from R.E. Dickie containing these beauties.

I haven’t properly unwrapped them yet but I have had a feel and inhaled deep, deep, restorative lungfuls of woolly fumes, ahhhhh!

They are 200g each of Southdown, BFL, Manx Loughtan, Devon, Herdwick, Shropshire, Jacob, Dorset Horn, Swaledale and Massam (this order does not correspond to the picture because I’m just too flippin’ excited to think of things like that).  Obviously I shall be getting more because there are way more British Breeds out there but these will do for starters.

I am planning to spin them and create a British Breeds blanket the design of which I haven’t decided on but I am investigating my options (thanks Ravelry x).  It’s all part of my self education in spinning and all things sheepy.  I have also bought a few more books, The Knitters book of Wool is good, but I want MORE!

So I bought three books.  Beautiful Sheep by Kathryn Dun and Paul Farnham because who wouldn’t want to look at pictures of sheep looking their most beautiful?  In Sheep’s Clothing by Fournier and Fournier which I’m over half-way through, lots of useful information and black and white pictures of staples and sheep, many more breeds covered.  Lastly and not at all leastly because I think this is going to be my absolute bible The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Robson and Ekarius, this is truly a gorgeous book covering not just sheep breeds from all over the world but other animal fibres too.  It’s informative about how to dye, prepare, spin and use each type of fibre and the photos show spun and knitted samples as well as examples of clean and dirty staples.

I am overwhelmed by sheepy bliss!

In other news…

…I did a gauge swatch for Owls yesterday but I must have had a sudden rush of excrement to the brain because I knit it flat and I washed it without measuring it first. D’oh!  I was so determinded not to end up with a jumper that grows in the wash and doesn’t fit again.  Anyhow, I have cast on a sleeve as a gauge swatch, (thanks Sharon) and I shall compare the two.  I’ve decided to frog and reknit the Idlewood  as I want it to be closer fitting but that can wait for a while, I need to get up the courage first.

ttfn Melanie x


A hive of activity and new loves


My wheel arrived on Monday and I would have posted earlier but I was on my way to knit night with the Richmond knitters when I got the text and then I was at work on Tuesday and so yesterday was the first day I had to get to know Owen.  So called because that’s the name written on the underside of the wheel “Owen Poad”, maybe the guy that made my wheel, I don’t know, I would love to know though so if anyone can tell me I’d be grateful.  Two other friends that have Little Gems have Andy Poad and Jemima Poad, I’m sure we shall be having many a spin-in together which will be heaps of fun and the whole point of a Little Gem, you pop it in the bag and go and spin with friends.

It would be very true to say that Owen is my new love, he is so pretty and very eager to put twist into fibre.  It’s very exciting this new love affair as I’m learning how to spin with him, it’s quite a different feel to spindling but knowing that we have a lifetime of making beautiful yarn together makes me so happy.

I haven’t lost any love for my beautiful spindles though so don’t worry. Anyway, pardon my waffling on.  Pictures are required, so without further ado, here he is…

Isn’t he gorgeous?  I’m spinning the BFL/Tussah silk Wintry walk on Filey beach that I dyed first and it’s looking very pretty.

On the day that Owen arrived a parcel of fibre that I ordered from Spun Out also arrived, It’s New Zealand Polland which, is a blend of Polwarth and Gotland.  Polwarth is a fibre I have spun a taster of before and Gotland has been on my must spin list for a while now.  It is a primitive breed from the Island of Gotland and their fleeces are supposed to be a handspinner’s dream, as fine as Merino and as lustrous as Wensleydale, how could I resist?  I shall wait until Owen and I are much better acquainted before I spin it I think, as I want to do it justice.  Also, I need to start thinking about spinning with a purpose and not just randomly spinning things because I want to, so I shall have a ponder. Here is a picture of that lovely fibre…

On the knitting front, I turned the heel on the first sock, yay socks!  The BFL sock yarn is lovely, soft and shiny-pretty in my favourite colours, if you haven’t tried BFL sock yarn do it!  You must experience the soft, shiny, prettiness, though the silky sheen isn’t all that apparent in this poor photograph.

Although David’s toe up sock cookbook could well be my all time favourite sock pattern, particularly good for handspun socks, oooh, handspun socks, drooooool.  I have purchased two more toe-up sock books the first arrived today.

It’s true to say there isn’t a sock pattern in this book that I don’t want to knit so while I waited for the book to arrive I dyed some BFL sock yarn to knit socks with, I particularly wanted some solid colours for the intricate cable patterns because I think they look stunning in solid colours so here’s the outcome.

Not bad for a beginner I think.  I shall dye some more soon, I have another 6 undyed hanks but need to have a think about colours first.

Well that’s all my exciting news for now.  As life isn’t all about the fun stuff, I have to leave it there, essential housework needs doing unfortunately, then brownie baking at the boys’ insistence.

ttfn Melanie x


Work’s not all bad


I have a nice view from my office/the set up area…

I’m enjoying the autumn colours whilst I wait for the anaesthetists to do their thing.  My colleagues thought they’d take photo’s of me hard at work.

Autumn is so very beautiful.  The reflections from the iphone spoil it slightly but I could see right into the trees how the outer leaves were deep red-brown and then they get yellow further in and the leaves closest were still quite green.


Knitting library additions


I have some new additions to my knitting library this week and I’m very excited to read them.  I bought them online and have only scanned them so far but I thought I would give you my first impressions.  As I have next week off work I shall delve further into them as well as spend some time knitting, spinning and hopefully sewing.

The first is Hand dyeing yarn and fleece by Gail Callahan.   I’m hoping this book will enable me to improve my skills and knowledge in dyeing somewhat before I begin to add colour to the Wensleydale/ Teeswater/silk tussah tops and the Blue-faced Leicester-silk tussah tops because they are a bit special and I don’t want to spoil them. That said I haven’t yet decided whether I’m going to dye them before or after I’ve spun them, I am a bit rubbish about making decisions really.   A plethora of dyeing techniques are covered by this book and by the time I’ve finished this book I hope to have a decision or maybe I will be even more undecided.  This seems like a really easy to understand without being too basic book and it’s full of insider tips too.  At the end of the book there are some nice patterns.

The next is Spin control by Amy King which explains different spinning and plying techniques and how to create different types  yarns. It also has chapters on different types of fibre and how to spin fibre depending on what you want to do with it.   Maybe it will give me an answer as to what to do with the 5 natural shades of Shetland tops I have.  One thing I’m sure of is that it will take me one step further in my spinning and enable me to apply a little more thought into what kind of yarn I actually want to create.

The third book I am very excited about as it is The knitter’s book of wool by Clara Parkes.  Oh bliss, a book about wool and wool from different breeds at that!  The book begins by looking at the anatomy and attributes of wool and then looks at different breeds classifying them into fine-wools, medium-wools, long-wools and primitives, it doesn’t cover all breeds, at first glance I notice black Welsh and North Ronaldsay aren’t included.  There is a chapter on blending with other types of fibre which looks interesting as well as some knitting patterns with suggestions as to which breeds are best and why, a helpful glossary and information on the care of wool.

I’m going to make a cuppa now and decide which one to read first.

ttfn Melanie x