Wednesday, June 30, 2010

TARDIS is growing

I've been really ill the last few days. I probibly would have been only moderatly ill, but I keep trusting the doctors. Once I threw up the nasty medicine they gave me, I felt well enough to get out of bed and watch Doctor Who for the rest of the day.

While watching The Doctor, I slowly tatted away at my own TARDIS bookmark.

I don't know how to do the top bit, so I might just do one chain, then cut and do the next.

As a TARDIS, I think it's rather pathetic. But as the very first attempt at doing split rings, I am rather happy with how well it turned out.

...Oh and yes, those are my David Reed Smith tatting shuttles! They are amazing to tat with.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tatting TARDIS Tuesday with anise tea

I've been very slowly tatting my first TARDIS. A week into the pattern and I'm finished the first row of rings.

Doctor Who says that a TARDIS is not made, it's grown and I feel very much that this must be true. Only, it seems to take forever to grow. Admittedly, it is my first time doing the split ring technique, and if you consider that, then I think I'm doing well. I'll just slowly plug away at it and see how long it takes to grow a TARDIS.

In the mean time, I'm looking for some tatting thread to make this with. It looks like a simple enough pattern, but larger than anything I've undertaken so far.

I don't know what size of thread to get. I want it to be close to real life size, maybe for a small adult face or a large child. I don't know anything at all about proper tatting thread. I've been using weaving threads to date, but I want something special to use for this. I hope to enter it into the local fall fair.

I would love to use some hand dyed thread, but I haven't seen anything I like on etsy yet.

Ideally, I would like a dark semi-solid colour, perhaps deep blue and black, or better yet, deep garnet. Some sort of dark jewel colour, mysterious, yet with hints of hidden fire. Greens or purples would be fine as well, so long as it is one colour with different tones or intensities; silk, cotton, or linen; and has the same feeling as the mask pattern - hiding and revealing at the same time.

Also, someone that doesn't charge a ridiculous amount to ship to Canada is a must. If they wanted to exchange for the same yardage of finely handspun silk thread, that would be even better.

So, magical tatters out there. Any thoughts? Where does one find the perfect thread?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Silk warp

I have it in my head to make some entries to show at the local fall fair. I have some yarns that I am particularly proud of that I think have a good chance of winning a ribbon. But I want to enter more than just yarn this year. I want to press myself to see what I can accomplish.

Yesterday, I dug out what is left of my Bombyx silk, just under ten (10) grams, and spun up some yarn. I want it to be thin because the cotton I plan to use for the weft spins up very thinly. Once plied the silk measured 160m. That is ten grams for 160 meters. That's very thin. I'm extremely proud of my yarn.

It's strong, it's soft, it's balanced without needing to be blocked, it has gorgeous hand. It's going to be wonderful warp.

Today's task is to finishing fixing up the loom. Yesterday dad removed the rust from the reed and today I plan to coat some thread with beeswax and floss any remaining roughness from the reed. I don't have any more silk to spin up, so I'm going to do everything I can to keep it pristine. I'll probably floss the reed a second time, this time without beeswax to polish it up. Then I need to check over the heddles and I'll be ready to weave. Well, once I have the weft spun that is.

This is going to be a splendid project to enter into the fair.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

birds nests

I'm a bit surprised at how long the fibre takes to comb. But it's worth it.

The weather is sunny so I'm off to play with the baby ducks outside.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Yesterday I pottered around the house trying to get some of the multiple fibre related projects under control. Actually, I've also been procrastinating from writing the many correspondences I have in my in box. I love these people dearly but I am horrid when it comes to getting back to people. But I'll get right on it just as soon as I finish dressing the loom and combing a few more roovings of this soft, chocolate coloured Shetland sheep. Isn't it soft?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tour de Fleece 2010 - prep.

I'm already getting ready for the Tour de Fleece (ravelry link). I know it's more than two weeks away until the Tour de France starts this year, but I figure that given my challenge for myself, I had best start sooner rather than later.

The Tour de Fleece is a communal self challenge where you, simultaneous with several hundred other individuals, set a challenge for yourself which is spinning in nature. I suspect it has something to do with the way non-spinners use the term spinning to mean cycling. The goal of this particular yarn sport, is to accomplish this challenge during the Tour de France. And, if you like watching cycling, all the better.

Having a group of like minded individuals all trying to accomplish their personal spinning challenges in a limited span of time, with the occasional prize (ravelry link), makes this my favourite online yarn activity of the year.

It's lucky for me that we can join more than one team, unlike in the actual Tour. I recently acquired a dark chocolate coloured Shetland fleece. Yes, I know that I have other fleeces waiting to be washed and spun, and I am working on them. But, honestly! A Shetland! I love Shetlands. How could I pass that up?

So, I'll be spinning this chocolate Shetland for the Tour de Fleece. Since it is a Shetland, a good portion of the fleece will be spun lace. Which lead me to join the Sprinters 2010 whose focus is for fast spinning of fine yarns.

Then I thought why not make things extra challenging and set the challenge that I spin up the whole fleece (or just about - I might leave the back for felt making). This qualified me to join the Climbers 2010. Climbers is a group for people who are setting a big personal challenge like learning to spin for the first time, or in my case, crazy over commitment of spinning an entire fleece.

Which is why I qualify for the group, Hopelessly Over Committed. I think the name says it all. Let me just mention that I don't just intend to spin the entire Shetland fleece. It also needs washing and either combing or carding depending on which section I'm spinning.

I've started washing the fleece already to get ready for the Tour. I even carded up a little sample which spun up very nicely.

I'll do as much washing, carding and combing as I can before the race begins, but I think there will be a lot left to do during the Tour.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Charkas from India. Oh, how I want one.

How terrible of me to steal a photo of another person's blog, but I couldn't help myself. I'm filled with excitement of actually having the chance to see one of these in person.

Knotty By Nature posted about their new charkas that came all the way from India. I've decided that it is now my goal in life to one day own one of these lovely devices.

It's perfect for me. It spins lace. It's portable. It's beautiful. And most of all, it has such a wonderful history about it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Victoria Fibre Festival 2010

Given the extent of my sniffles - and yes, they actually have gotten worse despite my thinking things were about as sniffley as they could get - I keep worrying that I will miss the climax of the Victoria Fibre Festival this year: The Knit Out at Saxe Point.

I missed it last year thanks to my health and I am determined to make it this year.

Thinking back on how much this one event has changed my life over the years, I realize just how important it is to me that I go. Think about it. I leaned to spin. I met the most wonderful people like The Kittens (do you still read this? Give me a call if yes). I got to help out Shelley of Fun Knits who was the major sponsor of the festival for several years. We had our first glimpse of Knotty by Nature (this years major sponsor) before their shop even opened.

This fibre festival has given me many of the things that keep me going through these difficult times.

I am grateful.

A couple of years ago I wrote about the festival and today I decided to dig up the old entries and have another read. Here are the entries I like best:

Fibre festival and Friends (honestly not the same post as above)
And simply, Fibre Festival

I have hope that the sniffles will be gone by Sunday. I'll be with the spinners and weavers with my wheel for at least some of the day. I might bring some tatting too, but only if I can get the courage up.

Please come and show your appreciation to those who worked so hard to make this all possible.

Tatting Tea Tuesday with lemon and ginger tea

I think it's a little more than Hay Fever. I think I might actually have a cold. Needless to say I'm miserable company. It's the first cold I've had since Feb 2007.

And for that reason, today's tea is honey and thinly sliced fresh lemon and ginger. I make a big pot of it and drink some of it hot, and leave the rest to steep throughout the day until it's just too spicy to take. With luck this might subdue some of my sniffles and sneezes and get me well enough in time for Saxe Point next Sunday.

Good thing it's raining today; I don't feel so bad about staying inside wrapped up in a blanket, tatting and knitting - and possibly weaving.

Yesterday my new tatting shuttles arrived in the post. They are two wood shuttles made by the famous David Reed Smith. Photos later. They are so light weight and the perfect shape and size for my hand. The wood makes them feel lovely and warm to use. The only complaint I have is that I find myself admiring David's craftsmanship when I mean to be tatting. A wonderful investment and something I would buy again given the chance.

I took my new shuttles, sat outside in the lovely summer weather, wound on some thread and tatted a bookmark, or at least I tried to. I didn't get very far because I also took the baby ducks out of the brooder for their first outing. They are just so cute and given that they think I'm mummy, they want my constant attention. That's ducklings for you.

Yes, apparently water is for sitting in, heaven forbid one should stick to just drinking it. I set up a larger 'swimming pool' for them which they just loved. Next sunny day, I'll do it again.

Now that I've finished my bookmark, I think I'll have another go at Jon's foldover bookmark. It uses two shuttles which should help me get my confidence up enough to tat the TARDIS (pdf).

Friday, June 11, 2010

ug swatches

I've been an absolute buffoon when it comes to needles, shuttles and yarn these last few weeks. I don't think I should even be allowed near stockinette stitch. Garter stitch, maybe. But anything more complex than that and I keep having this trouble where my brain thinks it should participate and starts telling my fingers to do the wrong thing. Stupid brain.

I blame tiredness. Lack of sleep after a week of stress (good stress - we had visitors).

I've put the tatting aside for a few days due to too much brain hindrance. I thought some nice simple knit swatching would be just the ticket. I think I like Cardigan for Arwen best of the list from yesterday. I don't know if it is for certain what I want to knit, but if I can swatch it to my liking, I'll head down to the yarn shop to see if they have a few more skeins. Also, I think I want it at a looser gage, which means more math, but only a swatch can tell.

As for the pattern, I think that I would change several things about it anyway. For one, I would make a closure, perhaps bone toggles. I currently have a high desire for bone toggles and I think I saw some in a shop recently. If not, I have several deer skeletons in my back woods (I don't know why, I think it's an animal grave yard or something - 3 to 5 deer seem to go there to die each year) which I suppose could be converted. Also, I think I would like to modify how the hood attaches to the sweater. But I'll leave that 'till later.

What went wrong with my swatching? Aside from me getting super frustrated and hushing everyone in the house, I just couldn't get the cable chart to knit up. I couldn't get my head around it. No matter that I tried seven times. No matter that words so unladylike escaped my lips that they could never be repeated here. What happened is this: I read the chart wrong. It's been so long since I've had to read a chart back and forth that my brain wouldn't remember how. I knit in the round so much these days that the concept of reading the chart one direction for one row and the other direction for the other row was completely impossible. Only after vowing to give up knitting and going to bed early did I figure out what was happening. Maybe today will be better.

But just in case, I'm sticking to my gtst shawl and my stst socks for the next little while.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Something green

At the closing sale of a local yarn shop, I bought some Berroco Peruvia yarn with the intention of knitting another Eris pullover.

Eris is a pattern by Girl from Auntie (who's site seems to be down for the foreseeable future) that I knit several years ago. Actually, it's the sweater that the Yarn Harlot pet when I meet her briefly at my very first Victoria fibre fest. I love this pattern almost as much as I love wearing this sweater. It's my comfort sweater, you know the kind one wears when one needs an extra big, day long hug. But, it was actually my dad who suggested that it was time to knit another one. I don't know if he said this because it looks so good on me, because I really enjoy knitting it, or because this one is wearing out. I suspect it's all of the above.

So I bought the yarn because it was on sale and I haven't bought yarn (at least not that much in one go) since the last time I knit an Eris. I brought it home, admired it, then knit a swatch.

I knit my swatch on 5.0mm needles and got a gage of 4 sts per 1 inch or 16 (or17) sts per 4 inches. The pattern wants 5 sts per 1 inch which means I would have to go down a few needle sizes. Only... the swatch is already stiffer than I would like. I would not want to wear fabric any stiffer than this except in cases of emergency or winter in Ontario.

I could alter the pattern but I'm not interested in dealing with the changes to the cabled yolk. Why mess with perfection? So Eris will have to wait.

I have 7 skeins of colour 7150 which is a muted jewel green which adds to 1120m of yarn. What shall I make with it?

I want a classic design with a low neck but not too low. Loose or V neck would be nice. Probably a pullover. At least something with long sleeves. I don't want to spend money on a pattern just now. I'm saving up to buy some yarn that will actually knit a Eris. I want something interesting, but not too complicated. Too many purl sts bother my arthritis, so something knit in the round is best. Also something that will suit my rather scrawny figure, is imperative.

After bumming around Ravelry, here are a few thoughts from patterns I have or have access to:

  • Dickinson Pullover - in which case I would need more yarn. Also a bit difficult on the hands. I would rather just a few cables instead.
  • Aquitaine Pullover - I like the texture of this and it looks comfy, except for the shape of the neck. It's too wide on the shoulders and too high on the front. I don't think it would sit right on me, which means I would have to edit it. I have the skill to do that, but it would mess with the beautiful yolk pattern and I think, take too much brain.
  • The Cardigan for Arwen - I love this and have had my eye on it for ages. Only, not a pullover and would require buying more yarn. Still, it is absolutely gorgeous! It's classic and it's warm.
  • Amused - I like this. The neck is too low for me, but easy enough for me to raise up. Still, is this right for my shape? I'm a bit busty, but otherwise scrawny. I also think I would like longer sleeves, again easy to do.
  • Banff - A wonderful hug. I've been keen on this for a while. It looks so cosy. But, then I look on Ravelry and find that it's not very flattering. I'm tired of knitting things that I only wear around the house.

Victoria Fibre fest 2010 and the TC

The Victoria Fibre Fest has made it into the local paper. For some reason it feels a bit later than normal this year, but still, it's a good article.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A late tatting tea tuesday

Believe it or not I didn't have any tea yesterday. I didn't even realize it was Tuesday.

It was sunny and lovely outside, so I weeded the cutting bed with a chicken lounging next to me. I'm still recovering from the adventures of the last week or so, and I didn't manage to do much else except play with the critters and pick away at a bit of knitting.

As for tatting, I had several goes at a pattern to use as a tea tray mat, that was shared with me by a member of In Tatters (a tatting community).

I kept making mistakes. Actually, I kept making the same mistakes over and over again. For some reason my brain simply would not count to four. So I thought I would leave off for a while and maybe try it again later.

I did tat a bookmark for my dad. I tried to make it more manly looking than my previous ones and I quite like how it turned out.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Twist Collective

I love online knitting Magazines. I know they don't have the same tactile quality as a printed one, but they are so much more accessible.

Knitty is the first dependable online source of knitting patterns that I came across. It's actually Canadian which always makes me smile. They provide free patterns, articles and even spinning information via KnittySpin. The only problem I've had with Knitty is that they are too popular. When a new edition comes out, half the world seems to flock to their site, slowing it down for those first few days. It's a lot like trying to shop on Boxing day: a task better left to the professionals and the highly dedicated. I usually leave it a few days and unlike boxing day, the patterns are still there in all their glory for everyone to enjoy.

Then there is the Twist Collective. They combine the online magazine idea with the paper magazine format. That is to say that it's viewed online but you flip through the pages as if you were reading a magazine. It's lovely. There are articles, question and answer sections, and direct links to where one can buy the suggested yarn for each pattern.

Also, they have something that I think is a very good idea. It is an excellent idea when the patterns are not free. Unlike Knitty, the Twist Collective charges for their patterns, but unlike a magazine, they only charge you for the patterns you want. With a magazine or book, you have to buy all the patterns even if you only like one of them. With the Twist Collective, you only pay for what you want. This way, I imagine, they can give the designer their fair share.

Right now I'm working on my second Lissajous Sock first published on the Twist Collective. I've actually been working on this for some time. According to my Ravelry project page, I started it last October. It's a complicated pattern and half the battle is getting past the diamond at the cuff. The pattern itself is in depth, easy to understand and with large print charts that are easy to follow. The pattern was bought for me by a friend who lives in a far off land (another advantage of the online knitting magazine) and knit in Knit Picks Gloss, colour: cocoa.

The current issue has a lovely sock pattern with a recommended yarn by a local artist. The sock is Amaranth and yarn is by Indigo Moon. Way to go Trish.

Although, I must admit, I really have my eye on the Azami pattern. It looks like it would be fun to spin something up for it. Perhaps make a wool and silk blend. But I have so many other projects on the go at the moment that I think I'll leave it a while yet.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

June yarn

I always forget how much yarn there is in June.

First there is the Victoria Fibre Festival which has all sorts of wonderful events: a fashion show, yarn crawl, knit in public events, classes, spindle walk and of course, the ever popular Knit Out with shopping. I think I missed out an event or two, but there is just so much yarn fun packed into the two weeks that the festival goes on for. You will just have to click on the link if you want to learn more.

Second, I found out this morning that one of the long standing local yarn shops is closing it's doors for good and there's only 8 days until the end. The Beacon Yarn Studio in Sidney will Close on June 15th, 2010. Which means that sadly, they won't be part of the yarn crawl for the fibre fest this year. However, I am told by the owner that they will be at the Knit Out in Saxe Point on June 20th with the last of their stock. They will maintain an online presence in the yarn community, and with luck they will return to Victoria for future knitting events.

I gave up on having a relaxing day in my PJs to go and visit the shop. They have some very nice deals on to clear out their inventory. I know, terrible of me to go there without telling you all first, but I can be selfish sometimes. And, it's not just that I wanted to get my hands on some sale yarn before everyone mobbed the joint - I also wanted to confirm the rumor (is that spelt rumour? Did I spell "spelt" right?) with my own eyes. It would be terribly irresponsible of me to post about something as important as this without supporting evidence. Wouldn't it?

Well, I did buy some yarn; Berrocco Peruvian. I want to knit another Eris. I had spun some yarn from cat fibre (matted cat fibre, yuck) for a friend of my G'pa's and used the money she paid me to buy enough for the sweater. Yarn thus transforms into more yarn.

Third, my guild has it's buy and sell this month. Gulp! I hope there isn't anything there I want.

Twenty nine crib hand

How often does this happen?

For those of you who don't play crib, this is a twenty nine hand and the most points you can get in the game in one hand. No one in our family has ever seen it happen before.

My Uncle got the hand, but I think that G'pa should get the credit because he dealt it.

I'm off to buy a lottery ticket.

The blog

I just found out that I had several un-moderated comments on this blog. Sometimes I get spam comments encouraging us to visit some sex shop or something like that. If I leave the blog open to comments, a person or computer program goes and comments on twenty or more posts all in the same day. Since this blog tries to stay open to all ages and avoid a PG rating, I don't feel that Enlargement adds are keeping in the spirit of the blog.

So, I have things set up that I can moderate comments before they show up on the blog. It's cut down the attempted spam by quite a lot. It also means that sometimes my email filters forget to send the email to me saying that there are new comments that need moderating.

I just found several lovely comments waiting for moderating, that should have been allowed but I didn't know about at the time. I apologize if I was slow at approving your comments.

Today is a grey day with the heavy mist/light rain that is so common in this part of the world. I'm actually glad for the weather because I've had such busy days lately. Today I am determined to stay in my PJs and play with yarn. It's the perfect weather for it.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Another tatting tea Tuesday

This Tuesday's tea is green. Just simple, green tea from Japan. There isn't even any English on the package. About once or twice a year, some very good friends of mine send me a few packets of the most wonderful Sencha (I think that's how you spell it). It's actually the same colour as the tatting thread.

It wasn't as difficult to sew the Tatting onto it's permanent home as I had feared. I thought it would take me about the same amount of time to sew as it did to tat. But lucky for me, I found these needles in my Grandmother's sewing kit. It's gold plated near the eye of the needle which somehow makes it slide smoothly through the fabric instead of getting all grumpy. Very nice. I wish they still made needles like this.

Anyway, here it is on my soon-to-be everyday bag. I sewed this a couple of years ago to replace my current bag. But I never quite perfected it. I still have to take up the strap a bit but now that it's not so boring, I feel far more motivated to finish it.