Thursday, 22 October 2020

Chopping Fairisle

So just a quick post to show what I ended up doing with this colourwork sweater, after I decided I really wasn't happy with the first two pattern bands. I chopped it up! 

The first round of each pattern band is a plain row of one colour (these are the only rows in the entire patterning that are just one colour). So, with good light and without my glasses, I carefully ran a 2mm circular needle through about 20 stitches of the red row then unravelled/snipped the stitches below, then another 20 or so picked up and unravelled below. Eventually I got back to where I started from and the entire bottom section had been removed.

At which point I reknitted the live red stitches onto my working size needle (3.25) and reknitted the ribbing downwards. In orange. I just about had enough of that gorgeous heathered orange to do a long enough ribbing, then cast off (using a very stretchy cast off) in the brighter plain orange. 


As you can see, the colours look much more planned and logical now. There are a three more bands above this now (I meant to do this post a week ago) and it all looks much better. 

I didn't get any done over the last weekend as it was Britspin, but it was picked up again last night and off we go. Mind you, I have several other projects that are bumbling along in the background, or about to be picked up, so it may not grow as quickly as I'd like. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Knitting from Fair Isle, and how to get colours wrong. And right.

Just a few comments on the latest thing on the needles. The other day a long awaited book arrived: Knitting from Fair Isle, by Mati Ventrillon. Lovely thing. And I've been meaning to do something about my stash of pretty random Jamieson & Smith 2ply jumperweight yarns. These have been collected for a while, picked up from sales baskets or left over from previous projects, and I really wanted to do something about lowering the pile. (If you look in the picture below, you can see they are in a lovely wood cabinet. I can remember this from my grandparents' home in Devon when I was growing up, then in was in Mum's house for years until she gave it to me. I filled it with yarn - obviously. 

I pretty much cast on colours at random, and the bottom two pattern bands (Mati has an interesting version of 'traditional' Fair Isle patterning, clearly based on her machine knitting - deep bands of 24 stitch repeats) were just knitted as they came, with the only proviso that the pale colours were the patterning and the darker the background.

Then I realised it just wasn't working. I thought about the colours for the next two bands, grouping first orange/reds and then greens, and you can see how much more clearly it shows that the patterning is actually in bands and not just generic pale squiggles.

So I will do another band, in purple/blue, and then unpick the row below the first red row and knit the ribbing downwards from there. 

So this is an example of how random colours just don't work unless you have a carefully curated group of colours to randomly pick from first. This selection of yarn is interesting anyway; there is lots of green (no surprise to anyone who knows me) but surprisingly little grey or blue. No pink, naturally. I have now started pulling the six colours I need for each band out before I actually start the band - three pales and three darks/mediums, making sure that the contrast colour properly contrasts. It'll be interesting to see what's happening by the time I get to the top of the body.

I'll probably do the sleeves together with steeks between them, just so I make sure the yarns match and I don't run out of any.

This was cast on 30th September, ribbing on 2.5mm, and the body on 3.23mm (I've already broken one circ (the nice carbon-fibre one) and I'm back on the ordinary but reliable Addis).

Saturday, 26 September 2020

So much stuff is on now!

 The world has drawn in on itself with the virus sweeping through us. Or you'd think.

But so many things have opened up as we've all gone online and looked outwards, away from our immediate friends, family, and usual visits. We haven't seen much of my mother this summer, as she's split her time between her home and her 'gentleman friend' who is about five miles away in a very nice house with a tiny swimming pool. Which of course we haven't been able to use. Mark's parents have kept themselves to themselves, so we've been over there occasionally, without going in of course. I've been working from home or on furlough since April - and to be honest, have loved not having to actually spend time with people. 

Shetland Wool Week isn't happening as usual this year. Of course not. (Like all of Scotland, and especially the islands, people are torn between wanting visitors to keep their economies going, and not wanting visitors for fear of overloading limited medical facilities. But it's gone online this year, and some excellent events are happening in the next week. I signed up as a supporter earlier this year, and then forgot to use the discount at the various businesses until it had expired. 

Lambtown Wool Festival is one I'll never get to in person, what with it being on the other side of the US, but this year it's gone virtual and I've booked myself on three workshops! Possibly not the most sensible idea, as I'll be finishing very late on Sunday evening and getting up early for work on Monday morning. 

Yarndale is live this weekend. Wonderwool Wales was the first big wool festival (here in the UK) to be cancelled this year, so they took it online and made an excellent success out of it. Every wool show since has built on that, putting more events on, allowing vendors a little live slot... I shan't be taking part as I didn't book for Yarndale, but I'll be watching to see what happens. It will be very strange not being there; I'll miss it. 

Not much dyeing happened here over the summer. I was at home on furlough for four months from April, but my oven broke down at the same time and I didn't really want strangers in the house to replace it. (Our hot water also conked out at the same time, but our shower heats its own water so that wasn't so vital). We had three rings on the hob working, and I have a remoska for baking, but I dye in the oven so that wasn't happening. We have a new cooker now, but of course it's a fraction smaller so my dyepans don't fit! 

I've never done quite as much natural dyeing as I'd like, though I have read wide around it and always have the basics in. This is a rather lovely website I've found recently: Maiwa's Natural Dyes

I've knitted more than a few tiny bunny sweaters over the summer, but no socks. And apart from a plain gansey in June and July, no large projects have been on my needles. I've cracked my rigid heddle (literally and figuratively; just before lockdown Goblin knocked it down and broke off a part, which I managed to replace but then promptly lost, but it works without and I've been churning out lots of strips of fabric from handspun yarn.) None of which I've photographed yet.

It's still dark outside (Mark's just left for work), although it's cold and clear and not raining outside. But it's only going to get darker from this point onwards. The current Week in Politics blog post gives us something to think about - short but to the point. 

It's just before 6am, and still pitch black outside, Venus is glowing brilliantly but nearly washed out behind the overly-bright streetlamps that were put in in 2012. Yoga's another thing I've been doing this summer, so I'll set myself up and do an hour while the sky gradually lightens. It's a very different feel, doing my practice in a dark room as the dawn barely begins, to the brilliant sun I had only a few month ago. Goblin and Sirius often participate. 

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Summer of Gansey kal

All the ideas I had for the next blog post. I have photographs and yarn and bits for one of different types of spinning from top, but it's still not sorted through in my mind, so I'll continue to look at the little skeins hanging up on the creel for a while yet.

So - there's a gansey kal going on this summer, over at the Guernseys, Ganseys and Knit-frocks group on Ravelry. I have more than a few things already on the go*, but I joined in.

I discovered the Manx gansey a few years ago - there's one example in the Isle of Man museum, and when I contacted the museum for more information, they very kindly send me a scan of a pattern for the gansey. I've subsequently (with permission) uploaded that to Ravelry, as the book is long since out of print.

The pattern itself is slightly more elaborate than the photograph here, from the museum. This image shows a very plain gansey, mostly knitted in navy gansey-tytpe yarn, which looks to be naturally-dyed with indigo given the variation in colour. The sleeves are grey, which along with the repairs and hard-wear to the gansey itself, make me thing they are replacement sleeves when the original ones were worn and fraying.

There is ribbing from the upper waist upwards on the body leading straight into the neck, and for the top few inches on the sleeves. The cuffs, welt and collar are all in double rib, finished with a few rounds of stocking stitch.

I can't find an example of the pattern knitted up. There is some difference between the gansey photograph above and the pattern - there is no welt to the body, just straight into stocking stitch. The ribbing starts much higher on the body and there there are a few horizontal ribs between the stocking stitch and the double rib on the body and sleeves. I have found myself wondering if there was one another gansey in the museum once, which would explain the differences.

For the gansey kal I thought I'd knit this pattern exactly as written, insofar as it makes sense. The pattern gives a tension but no needle size or yarn. But 7sts to the inch/28sts to 10cm is a good gansey-type gauge, and would give a sweater of about 38". I'm planning to do a slightly looser gauge, which will be easier on my hands, a bit quicker, and give a bigger finished sweater.

This is my stash of gansey yarn (part of the general reorganisation shortly after I was put on furlough from work):

This is what the two smaller cones of the Frangipani Herring Girl Pink turned into:

I don't do pink. I got these four cones of pink Frangipani cheap a while ago, as they've been stored in daylight at some point, and faded. So on Thursday I wound it into four skeins of about 180g each and spent the afternoon layering up navy and teal-green to give me this sea colour. It would probably have been easier to dye the white up, but I did buy the pink to dye anyway, and I thought the pink would add a nice warmth under the blue-green, which indeed it has done.

It's after nine on Sunday night. I shall put the colourwork shawl in Millarochy Tweed aside for the time being (but not for long, there's a lot to do for it and it has to be finished soon) and play with needle sizes tonight.

Quick update on Monday morning - swatch to see how the 3mm needles work. This swatch has been washed with soap and cold water, dried and measured, and then chucked in a 30 degree wool wash with a sweater. It's snugged up slightly, and the new gauge will give a final sweater size of about 42". Which will of course go smaller with a hotter machine wash. Nice easy fabric to knit too.

*Things on the go: Mark's peacoat, which only needs sleeves and lining and buttons attached, but it's hot and he won't need it for months; aforementioned colourwork shawl for a Kate Davies Design challenge; weaving that needs to be finished and off the rigid heddle loom so I can put something else on it that i've been asked to do, but there's 300g of spinning to be done for that other thing too.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Virtual Wonderwool - bunnies in jumpers!

These are all my lovely little bunnies in their handknitted jumpers. The bunnies themselves are safe for children with embroidered eyes and no hard parts, though they do squeak if squeezed. 

All are £20. Again, message me on FB or email with your email and I will respond with a final price  including postage and Paypal invoice. 

Bunny left wearing a rainbow sweater knitted from Shetland jumper-weight yarn NOW SOLD 
Right bunny is wearing a sweater knitted from natural-dyed bfl sockyarn. SOLD 

Both these bunnies are in handspun sweaters - on the left is my Away Wi' the Fairies SOLD, 
on the right is Northern Lights over dark grey Shetland. 

Both handspun again - on the left is cashmere in natural pale grey and dyed green, 
on the right is a yoke in Summer and the sweater in a Manx blend wool SOLD. 

Both these sweaters are knitted from handspun merino d'Arles wool dyed green and embroidered with Shetland yarn. 

All handspun again, a scrap of yellow wool and grey Shetland on the left, 
and indigo-dyed blue and madder orange on the right SOLD.

Slightly bigger bunny this time, but still child-friendly. This one's sweater is in my Flamingo colourway sock yarn. 

Virtual Wonderwool - fibre

All fibre in 100g braids unless stated otherwise. Postage will be calculated on total weight - please message me on FB or email, including your email, with the fibre you'd like and I will email you back with a total price and a paypal invoice. 

Northern Lights, Polwarth/merino blend, £16 SOLD 

Full Circle (300g), white bfl silk, £48

Away Wi' The Fairies gradient, oatmeal bfl, £15 NOW SOLD 

Away Wi' The Fairies, oatmeal bfl silk x 1, £16 each  BOTH SOLD 

Away Wi' The Fairies, pale grey Shetland, £14 SOLD 

Away Wi' The Fairies, white bfl silk x 1, £16 each  ONE SOLD 

Dryad gradient, oatmeal bfl, £15

Dryad, grey Shetland £14, white bfl £15

Falling Leaves gradient,
 pale grey Shetland £14 NOW SOLD
 Exmoor Blueface £14 SOLD 

Pinewood, top Manx £14
(lower one sold)

Apple, oatmeal bfl x 1, £14 each  BOTH SOLD 

October gradient,
pale grey Shetland NOW SOLD
 oatmeal BFL, both £14

Spring Green, white Shetland, £14

Birchbark, white bfl, £14

Oakleaf, top Merino d'Arles NOW SOLD,
left Devonia blend, bottom Arbon sock blend, £14 each 

Oak King, oatmeal bfl and white bfl, £15 each  BOTH NOW SOLD 

Oak Leaf, Manx, £14

Thistle, left gradient Dorset Horn £14, right Suffolk £13

Sea Glass, white Polwarth, £15
grey Polwarth, SOLD 

Sea Glass gradient, oatmeal bfl, £15

Faerie Spring, left Zwartbles blend, right oatmeal bfl, £15 each 

Faerie spring gradient, white Polwarth, £15

Fine alpaca, £9 each 

Fine alpaca, £9 each

Fine alpaca £9 each 

Baby alpaca, £10 each 

Grey alpaca (lovely fibre, slightly felted) £8 each

 Fine Shetland fleece, £8

 Kerry Hill fleece, £7 each ONE SOLD 
Jacob shearing fleece, £8 each TOP TWO, BOTTOM RIGHT SOLD 

Down-type fleece, £4

Littleheart gradient, pale grey Shetland, £14 SOLD 

Kingfisher, left white bfl silk £16 SOLD , right Devonia blend £14

white bfl silk £16 SOLD 
pale grey Shetland £14

Full Circle (each 300g), oatmeal bfl silk £48 SOLD , Exmoor Blueface £42

Hellebore, lower left Devonia blend £14

Fisher Blue, white bfl, £15 (lower one is gradient)

Festival, top white bfl silk £16, lower oatmeal bfl £15

Northern Lights
 top Romney £13 SOLD 
bottom Arbon sockblend £14

Copper, Southdown, £14

Macaw, pale grey Shetland £14

Vivien, top oatmeal bfl £14 SOLD , bottom Dorset Horn £13

Goldmine, Exmoor Blueface, £14

Solstice, bottom Dorset Horn £14

Selkie, left oatmeal bfl £15 NOW SOLD
right Dorset Horn £14

Rivendell, page grey Shetland £14

Pinewood, Dorset Horn x 2, £14 each 

top oatmeal bfl SOLD 
lower right pale grey Shetland £14
lower left Exmoor Blueface £14 

Peacock, oatmeal bfl, £15 each 

white bfl silk £16 NOW SOLD 
pale grey Shetland £14 NOW SOLD 

Solstice gradient, oatmeal bfl, white Shetland, £14 each 

True, top oatmeal bfl silk £15, left oatmeal bfl £14, right page grey Shetland £14

Goldmine, one gradient, both Exmoor Blueface, £14 each 

Gold, white Shetland, £12 each ONE SOLD 

Dewi, white bfl, £12

Festival, white Shetland £13

Vivien gradient, oatmeal bfl, £14 NOW SOLD 

 Macaw, white bfl, £14

Dragonfly, white bfl silk, £16 SOLD