Verity Shawl

VerityShawl

This is the Verity Shawl from Interweave Knits (Spring 2013), made from Canopy Fingering (The Fibre Company) in Orchid. It’s a sock yarn of 50% baby alpaca, 30% merino wool + 20% viscose from bamboo. Most luscious.

Being a super-slow, oft-distracted knitter, it took a couple of months to get this finished. Finally got around to blocking it this weekend. Am studiously ignoring the row where I didn’t twist the cable. Only on one half of the shawl, mind you. Where was my head? Where?!

As with most lacy knits, some sturdy blocking stretched this piece from just making it round my shoulders, to a more comfortable 178cm (70″), up from pattern’s 62″ as I did another repeat. This magical transformation never ceases to amaze me.

I’d love to wear it right now, but the weather’s getting decidedly warm and muggy, but it will be the perfect snuggly wrap come winter.

Torchon Bobbin Lace

I seem to have become a tad enamoured of bobbin lace. This weekend I hosted Creative Fibre’s first Bobbin Lace for Beginners class – strictly in a support capacity, although I doubt I’ll get away with that for long. Especially as we had 3 keen new students! In fact, everyone was so keen, we decided to start a new club – the Auckland Lacemakers Club. This isn’t in competition with Bridge Lacemakers, but rather augments those people who have an interest in preserving heritage crafts like this.

Once these skills are allowed to die out, that’s it. However, it seems that’s a loooong way off happening. Bobbins are doing a brisk trade, books are still being published, and there are lacemakers all over the world, working away at this exacting craft.

I say exacting, because after this weekend’s efforts, I’m clearly going to have to pace myself and take more stretchy breaks – my neck and shoulders kinda seized up from bending over the board for hours and hours on end. But look what I made! Looky-look!

(Torchon lace ground bookmark; No.8 mercerized cottons)

Tackling Bobbin Lace

Due to a bad case of tennis elbow (or perhaps more appropriately – knitter’s elbow!), I’m having to take a break from knitting and crocheting. Even spinning is curtailed to short bursts. Fortunately, I went along to the recently held Creative Fibre Auckland Area Retreat and seem to have picked up a possible new craft – bobbin lace.

BobbinLace1a

At first glance it seems impossibly fiddly (it is) and the domain of the mad and OCD-afflicted (it is). Yet somehow I find the exacting nature of the work quite relaxing. Plus, it doesn’t exacerbate the elbow injury. The bobbins themselves are also ridiculously cute, and I like cute. Especially cute with bling!

BobbinLace2a

On the last day of the Retreat, I was admiring someone else tackling a very fiddly bit of lace, when somehow I found myself beginning work on a practice piece… and agreeing to go along to the lacemaker’s guild. Not sure how this has happened, not sure how long it will last, but I guess we’ll see how mad I am… or not, as the case may be…

Darjeeling Shawl

ShetlandLaceShawl1

A few months ago, I completed the Darjeeling Shawl (Joan Forgione, Interweave Knits Spring 2013) in my sportweight handspun, Passions corriedale/alpaca from Spunky Eclectic. At last! The perfect small project for it!

The Triangle Body and Lace Panel came together easily enough, but things fell apart when it came to the Lace Edging. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to work the chart. Somehow, it seemed perfectly logical that the chart should be worked across the 193 st of the shawl body, but the math just didn’t work out, and the instructions subsequently became incomprehensible. After pondering the problem for 2 days, including searching the Interweave Knits Forum for clues, the penny finally dropped – the 15 st, 6 row repeat needed to be worked at right-angles to the shawl body.

*sigh*

Why do these things always seem so obvious – AFTER you’ve figured it out?!

Net result – one perfectly constructed Darjeeling Shawl that turned out to be a sweet knit after all.

KAN!

Yes, I’m off to KAN (Knit August Nights) on Friday – can’t wait! I’m frantically knitting up squares for one workshop, getting a WIP off the needles so I can put another one on them (Koolhaas Hat by Jared Flood), making sure my needles and hooks are all in their cases, scissors and what-not are at the ready. Oh yeah – better pack some clothes and stuff I guess.

Oh wait! Photos of the stash-busting blankets. Must remember to do that. Even better, finish the handspun blanket. Jeebus, I can’t believe I’ve crocheted an entire blanket in HANDSPUN FIBRE! It’s been a wonderful winter project though. Maybe just a few more rows to use up those last balls… mind you, it hasn’t made a huge dent in my fibre stash. I foresee a whole lot of overdyeing being done in Spring/Summer. There’s no way I want to wear natural mid-tan alpaca (two fleeces), but it’ll look amazing as a base for orange, red, blue, green. Then there’s that milky-tea show fleece (omg, such a fine micron) which I’m going to have to consult with fibre pals at length about. The horror if I ruin it!

Then there’s a fine Gotland fleece in for washing and carding at the moment. I’m going to experiment with that. I foresee something utilizing the natural shine of that fibre, but in DK weight, loosely knitted so the garment has some drape. There will be much to discuss at KAN… and beyond!

Carding, Crochet and Cooking Clay

It’s been a busy couple of weeks at Chez Westie, as I work my way through a bunch of crafty projects that have been languishing unstarted for… um… some months. Well, you know how it is – there’s always something else demanding your attention that takes you away from other things demanding your attention.

Anyhoo…

Last weekend was spent washing a lovely, fine Romney fleece that I got over a year ago. It’s been sitting nice and greasy in a bag, minding its own business while I periodically fretted over whether or not to wash it myself or send it off to the pros. All for fear that I’d felt it by just showing it hot water. In a fit of STOP PROCRASTINATING FFS!!!, I got out my brand new laundry bags (also purchased over a year ago for just this purpose) and filled them with greasy, finely crimped locks. It only took 3 hot soaks in Martha Gardener Wool Mix and 2 cold rinses, and I had me a squeaky clean fleece.

Next challenge was using my drum carder for the first time. I’d never actually used a drum carder before, so after I rolled some really nasty batts, I figured I was doing something wrong. YouTube to the rescue. Turns out that the small roller was turning in the same direction as the large roller, presumably because the pulley cord is a fibre cord and has insufficient grip. It was put on by the previous owner and was clearly a No.8 wire job. I’ve since ordered a replacement pulley band. In the interim I’ve helped things along by manually providing the necessary traction to turn the small roller in the opposite direction.

That was one hurdle, but I was still getting lumpy batts. Back to YouTube for another look at those clips. Solution: put the batt through again (and again if necessary) to get a well-combed batt. I am SO looking forward to spinning this floofy loveliness!

While those freshly washed locks were out in the sunshine drying, I tackled some polymer clay. These are just fun experiments with leftover clay to get me enthused… I have a larger plan in mind.

In between cooking clay and my first foray into prepping raw fleece to spin, I’ve been destashing my beautiful collection of hand-painted fibre, mostly from Southern Cross Fibre (David’s stuff is so good he’s always sold out, so you need to join his fibre club, or sign up for shop updates – and be a speedyfinger!). As there’s only so many scarves, hats, etc that I want to make, what better way to preserve these beautiful fibres than in a snuggly blankie? Once blocked, it’ll be wide enough to cover my queen-size bed.

Let’s look at that fibre a little closer (and there’s still heaps more to be spun and included).

I’ve also been learning new songs on the guitar, experimenting with minor chords (ye gods, a song may actually get written!), and stepping perilously close to COUNTRY MUSIC! Gah! Ok, so I’m drawing the line there and going as close as alt-country/blues, but I thoroughly enjoyed going to see Ryan Adams on Thursday, opened for by the equally talented Jason Isbell, whose latest album (Here We Rest) I have since purchased. I may love-love-love hard rock and heavy metal, but it doesn’t mean I completely exclude other genres. Being musically well-rounded is a good thing, although that can dent my credit card pretty deeply sometimes – there’s just so much great music out there!

And for my birthday…

…I got this! It was a present to myself. It’s a Takamine D51SN – solid spruce top, mahogany sides, rosewood neck, at least 5 years old, so it’s really got its tone on. And boy, it can kick out some volume. This is my first steel string acoustic guitar and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.

My Epiphone is feeling a little neglected, but it’s not being completely ignored. Have I said lately how much I’m loving learning guitar? Well, I am. It’s also causing a general reinvigoration of my musical education, such as it is, insofar as I’ve been contemplating getting another piano – acoustic, not digital though. But NO! There is no. more. room. I must be sensible. Yes.

Finding new music

My guitar tutor has put me onto this chap – Ryan Adams. Different to what I normally listen to, but this is usually how I come across music that I end up loving. Adams’ sound is a blend of rock/country/folk/blues, he’s got a great voice and is really prolific in his album releases. I’m now thinking of going to see him play at the Civic on 8 March. This video is off his latest album (Ashes & Fire) which he’s currently touring behind. I’ve just bought it on iTunes and I think Gold is about to follow suit. Take a listen…