Monday, 28 January 2013

A quick word from the shop...

We are down to the last 20 hanks of the beautiful undyed ice grey Gower Wool from this batch! There are plenty of ready dyed colours in the shop, but I won't be able to dye any more until we get the next batch back from the mill in a couple of months time. Get them while you can!

In the meantime, I will be concentrating on the gradient yarns for spring. Still British wool, of course, but on commercially spun bases. 

Well that's much better!

I guess I didn't really make friends with willow for basket weaving last week....too many joins, too easy to snap, too big a difference in thickness from one end of the rod to another. Cane, which comes in long, even coils, sounded like it might be easier.

and it was:

It's a bit more expensive to buy, and rather less home grown and local, but so much more satisfying to work with.
But then sometimes Nature gives you a home grown and local present too good to resist: a very large branch had broken off a willow tree in the village, probably under the weight of the recent snow, so there, on the ground, good for noone apart from passing basket weaving scavengers, were lengths and lengths of fine, bendy fresh willow.

Welshman included for scale

It was still a little trickier than the smooth cane, but since it was still fresh, it was a lot less prone to splitting and easier to work with than the thick willow I had before. I used it to make a slightly smaller basket for a change, and I'm very pleased with the result. It will be interesting to see how it changes as the willow dries out and sets.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

New colours

A couple of earthy tones in the shop today

 Cinnamon - deep reddish browns with marroon and purple undertones              

                                   Wheat - golden ochres                                                                                     

                                                           Teal Dream - lovely bluey greens  

Because what I need is another hobby...

Soooooooo, I'm trying my hand at basket weaving right now. I got a kit over the holidays and that went rather well, a little wonky, but on the whole, quite basket-like.

So then i ordered in some more willow to try and have another go. That didn't go as well....the failed result is currently in the garden waiting to be burnt. But by then I just wanted to make a basket that day come what may, and we had been out earlier foraging for basket weaving materials of which there are many in the area (none of which I know what they are...)
Here's a lesson that probably goes for most crafting: DO NOT attempt to make something in anger and frustration. This is what you will be left with:

 The hideous wonky basket of doom


It's not pretty. or round. but it works!

I am trying to learn from my mistakes though, and have some different materials on the way now, hopefully I will get on better with those.

Helsinki part 2

I know, I've been terribly slow in telling you about the rest of my Helsinki yarn shopping, but this last weekend in the snow, I managed to spend a little time spinning and finished off the single ply that I was making from some gorgeous Finn wool fibre from the very clever Nea at Lanitium Ex Machina . I had looked her up before my trip and whilst she doesn't have a bricks and mortar shop, she very kindly invited me to come to her home and have a root around in all her gorgeously dyed fibres.

This is the yarn resulting from the first top I've tried:

And here are the tops I still have to play with, the sexy Sarcasm (grey and lime) in Merino for me, and the beautiful Polwarth Fragment that my mother picked out for me to spin for her and which several people have already tried to steal from my house, saying it reminds them of Northern Lights.

One of the first results that come up if you search for yarn shops in Helsinki is Menita . The website doesn't tell you very much, but several other blogs refer to it as the "main" shop to visit and in terms of a proper yarn shop, it certainly is. They have a great big range of commercial yarns including Rowan, Istex Lopi, Drops and many many more, along with the great wall of Finnish produced yarns, which was the most exciting part for me.

This was a colour choice clearly influenced by Marimekko (100% Wool):

This is a rather lovely lace weight in wool and silk with the addition of jojoba oil, aloe vera and vitamin e. I'm not sure what that does for the yarn, but it sounds nice :) I picked up a few of these for christmas presents as well:

And finally, I got swayed by a snazzy sock yarn colour way:

Monday, 21 January 2013

Snow day!!

I . love. snow.
I've discovered that I crave snow in the way that some people crave sun and sunny holidays. And we finally got a proper amount on Friday, a proper, beautiful, couldn't-get-to-work-even-if-I-wanted-to, foot deep layer of snow. Snow has the ability to make everything look soft and breathtaking, even the big cities, so out here in our valley, it really made it a winter wonderland.


And what better way to spend the afternoon after a walk in the snow than curled up indoors with several cats, mugs of tea and woolly knitting? Since I had been distracted by mittens and legwarmers last week, I finally got a chance to make a bit more progress on my Celestarium - nearly through chart E now! only GIGANTIC chart F to go, and probably a 1200-stitch-per-row border, but lets not worry about that now. It is terribly pretty though.

And for something slightly less intense, I cast on yet another Daybreak , possibly my absolute favourite pattern of all time. I think this is the 7th I've just works so well with so many yarns. This was actually my first attempt at dyeing fibre, and one of the very first yarns I spun when I got my wheel last year - I think it's BFL fibre, or possibly merino. Knitting with hand spun feels completely different: the yarn is constantly changeing and the texture is something completely different, it's really exciting!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Cardiff Office Wear, Winter 2013

In my mere-mortal day job, I work as a designer in the office of a joinery. The building is unheated at night until someone comes in and gets the wood burner going, and it has an amazing capacity for holding the cold in! As a result, I usually end up putting more layers on when I arrive than I had on in the car!
This is my "First cup of tea in the morning" look:

Nonetheless, this all serves as a fantastic justification for my knitting, and yarn buying. The other day I realised that there was a freezing cold gap between the top of my socks and the bottom of my leggings under my jeans. A little bit of stash-busting and much 2x1 ribbing later:

Improvised Leg Warmers in Colinette Hullabaloo...I think the colour might be Fushia, there are a few that look similar.

I now have the warmest ankles this side of the Severn Bridge. And I'm quite impressed with how much I'm managing to knit from stash at the moment too.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Keeping warm

We're having a little cold snap here in Wales. Or rather, the media think we're having an ARCTIC FREEZE APOCALYPSE when in fact we're having....January.
Nonetheless, it was a good enough excuse to play with my Christmas present yarn.

Optimistic Mitts in Cascade Pure Alpaca Worsted - about 2/3ds of a skein

Buttons from John Lewis. I really wanted to use some of my many retro green plastic ones, but they were nowhere to be found! They're probably in a safe place so that they don't get lost. hrmph.

Alterations: worked a thumb gusset for a better fit and extended both top and bottom cuffs. Top cuff covers my little finger completely, leaving just the tips exposed.
Really easy pattern though, the mitts look really "finished" with the straps and the buttons even though it's simple to make.

Monday, 14 January 2013

When yarns grow up

I really love getting mail from customers showing me what they've made with the yarns they've bought.

Over Christmas, the wonderful Elsa, a lady of great lace-knitting skills (and a talented painter, too, check out her beautiful greeting cards here ) shared her recently completed linen wrap with me.
This was the original yarn, 100% Linen in Raspberry Crush:

And this the resulting wrap:
 Beautiful, isn't it?

Some of the Gower Wool roving has grown up too! The quite excitable IrellaVent nearly strangled her postman waiting for her parcel to arrive, but it did, and now it is beautiful yarn! I still havent had a chance to try spinning this myself, but seeing these pictures, I just can't wait!

In the immortal words of Basil Fawlty: Happy customers? We ought to have them stuffed....

Monday, 7 January 2013

Holiday knitting

I didn't of course just cook and run around after the cats picking up baubles: there was knitting to be done to all the musicals on telly!
I had saved one very special project to start on in the holidays: the quite mind-boggling Celestarium
There is currently a major KAL on ravelry for this shawl at the rate of 200 new messages a day, and I knew I had both the yarn and the beads for it in my stash!
The yarn is Wollmeise Lace in Old Blue Jeans, with some chunky silver beads, meaning that I can leave out the yarn-overs from the original pattern. Every single stitch in this shawl is charted, and I have reached chartS E, of which there are 4. Sello-taped together, they take up the width of our giant coffee table! Nonetheless, it's a perfectly easy knit as it is all stocking stich with the occasional bead to attach, and it is just stunning to watch it grow.

I also needed something demanding a bit less concentration, so I started reworking a Noro blanket I'd begun a few years ago and never got very far with as it consisted of large, dull, garter stitch squares. I was inspired by the Pop Blanket but too lazy to deal with the short row shaping, so I'm now doing centre-out squares in Noro Kureyon with a frame in Texere Troon Tweed that I have left over from my Sunrise Circle Jacket . I know both of these yarns will felt beautifully, so it should make a lovely proper blanket. This was my prototype, I have made a few more since then, and found some purple tweed from another project, so hopefully, this will turn out to be another entirely stash project!

I am a little behind!

... having mostly spent Christmas in a Quality Street induced coma.

So here is wishing that you have all had a wonderful, restful and joyous Christmas and a good start to the New Year!

We had knitted decorations, as I was concerned about glass baubles in a house with a new kitten

This backfired somewhat as it turned out that the only thing more fun than pulling baubles off the tree is chewing on straw decorations.