Hello friends! Welcome to November and a beautiful spring day here in the southern hemisphere. The weather is finally behaving in accordance with general spring rules with some temperatures up near the summer level. It has been quite windy though, and we’ve also felt the impact of the fires up north near Port Macquarie which is over 450 km away. The photo below shows how the smoke is hiding the other side of the bay and the sun is a hazy orb. On Sunday and Monday, I was still in Canberra, participating in two more workshops. I got to wear my Millie sweater, shown below in an awkward pic at breakfast on Sunday morning. There are better photos shown later in the Workshops section. On Monday morning I managed to find a way down to the Cotter River which is part of the catchment feeding into the Cotter Dam. It was misty as it was about 3 degrees Celcius but the day did warm up.
I had one successful bike ride this week, the second ended in a walk home from where I meet Julie to start. We ended up having coffee at Vincentia and then I walked home as she proceeded on a ride alone. You can see a happy pic of me just before I realised my front tyre was flat. Yesterday, I participated in a spinning display at a small church fete. It was a very quiet morning as it was a small affair but I did get some spinning done. Last night I caught up with a few girlfriends for dinner at our local Mexican restaurant while our husbands were away on a golf weekend.
I’m still plodding along on my Starflake shawl/Westknits MKAL. I did get a fair bit done but, at 600 stitches of knitting per row, it’s taking FOR.E.VER! I have 4 more rows to knit and then an i-cord bind of which will take forever too. Until now, I have followed the pattern as instructed but I’ve made one modification to this last section. Rather than have the border all one colour, I chose to make the one non-garter row in the contrasting main colour in the style of the other lace rows, though the colours were reversed there. I can’t wait to get this shawl blocking as it is quite stunning. Unfortunately, you can’t really tell from the pics below. Last week, I showed the shawl on two cables and still wasn’t able to spread it out properly. This week I haven’t bothered adding more cables for the photo but all will be revealed next week. I hope. My calculations indicate there are still 4,200 stitches to go!
The body of my Ranunculus top has grown and I’m not far off starting the ribbing. I have an extra-long cable on it at the moment so will be trying it on today to see how much more length I need.
New Cast-on: Caroline said I could! Friday 1st November was the start of the 2019 Blame Dunderknit Along. In this Make Along, Caroline, better known as Dunderknit of the Knitting Vicariously Podcast, has offered to help enable everyone and absolve us of any blame. This yarn has been in my stash for several months now, waiting to be cast on as the Turtle Dove by Espace Tricot. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry and I had hoped to make it during winter. As that didn’t happen, I thought it would be a good candidate for this make along as it uses bulky (12 ply) yarn and 7.0 mm needles. I haven’t spent much time on it and it’s already a good way into the yoke. The yarn I’m using is the Knitpicks Wonderfluff in the Wellies Heather colourway. This yarn is 70% baby alpaca/7% merino/23% nylon and is so light and fluffy. It is quite obviously black but could rate more like a very dark charcoal with the slight heathered look of it. It’s the same yarn I used for the Sunday sweater I made earlier this year.
I’ve made some more progress on my Lunae shawl with only the two end sections and one small colourwork section to go. As the number of stitches is decreasing every second row, it will only get quicker. It will need some serious blocking once it’s finished as the star stitch pattern is quite tight and draws in at the sides. As I’ve mentioned, I may be struggling with yarn chicken so I decided to get some more yarn that I can use – not the same colours as they aren’t available, but something that goes with the colour palette. I think I have enough of the blue and white, so more for the colourwork sections. I talk more about this in the Acquisitons section.
Planned knitting: As part of the #BlameDunderknitalong2019, I thought I would knit up some of my handspun yarn, specifically the Ixchel batt that I spun up recently. I have caked up one skein in anticipation and I think I have settled on the Songbird shawl. The aim of the #BlameDunderknitalong2019 is to cast on anything and everything that you’ve been itching to start and I have really wanted to get onto this one.
It took a couple of weeks but I finally finished the black(grey)/red/white spin from some merino top that I dyed. I wanted to do this one with a chain ply to maintain the integrity of the stripe. To that end, I spun up about 100 grams of the plain merino that I’d use to dye the black/red/white and chain plied it reasonably successfully (photo on the right). I think the undyed chain ply was a bit overplied but still OK. I chain plied the dyed single and it turned out quite good. This is going to be a gift beanie if it turns out OK. I need to decide on the beanie now.
As there was nothing on the wheel, I had to choose what to spin at the church fete yesterday. I settled on a lovely pack of Wren & Ollie mini batts (115gm). As shown below, this included 5 mini batts in a gradient. I started with the dark blue and you can see that on the bobbin on the wheel. The photo showing the mini batt before spinning doesn’t show how much teal and yellow there is but you can see it clearly on the bobbin. I haven’t yet decided how to ply this one. Initially, I was going to chain ply but I don’t think I’ll be able to get the 5 mini batts onto one bobbin. I’m now thinking of doing half on one bobbin and the second half on another and plying as a barber pole. I think that would look really good. The colourway is Zing and the fibre includes both tussah silk and silk noil, bamboo, merino and a good amount of angelina fibre. I started spinning from the whole mini batt but I found this amount awkward so I divided the batt into 3. For the middle batt, I’ll need to split in half so I’ll do that one into four. I find it much easier to spin skinny and long sections of fibre. I also learnt yesterday that you get a much softer spin if you draw back while drafting the fibre, rather than pulling forward so I’m practising that.
I was wondering how I would keep track of what each skein of my handspun is and all the relevant details. Of course, I have all of my handspun skeins on Ravelry but I needed something attached to them to give me a quick summary of what I was looking at. So, I ordered some tags from labelsandribbons.com.au. I’m not sure yet that I have all the information but it’s a good start.
Sunday – The Appreciation of Neutrals with Gaye Nieuwenhof: For this class, we used “humble materials such as calico, muslin, brown paper, magazine papers, charcoal, ink, coffee and tea staining, string, embroidery cotton and white ceiling paint to magic into being some organic tactile pieces. These can be further deconstructed and reconstructed to realize your vision.” And that is exactly what we did. I really enjoyed working with neutrals but found it difficult at first not to want to reach for colour. As with the class we did on Friday, this one was very busy as we worked on several pieces at a time which allowed us to wait for some to dry. Photos of Karen and me are care of Gaye’s posts on Facebook.
Monday – Monotype Magic with Gaye Nieuwenhof: In this class, we explored printmaking using rolling and cutting machines such as the Cricut and Fiskars ones. These help provide the pressure onto the ink and item used as a resist. For these prints, we ventured outside to find several plants to use and you can see below the results. The main photo shows the original print (top right and bottom three left) and the others are the ghost print when a fresh piece of paper is rolled through for a second go.
This week has been dye-heavy! I finished dyeing the minis for the advent and you can see the set of 12 here. Each solid/tonal mini has a speckled mini to tie in the colours before and after it. I had a lot of fun doing these and can’t wait until the 1st of December to start on them. Last year, I dyed 12 also but did these as the 12 days of Christmas, starting on the 13th December. I found it a bit stressful to get each section done in a day. This time, I think one every second day from the 1st will be better, allowing 2 days per mini. I haven’t decided on which pattern to use this year but I’m looking at Ambah O’Brien’s latest advent project, the ADVENTuring scarf/wrap. With only 12 skeins it will be the scarf. Last year, I did her Adventurer cowl.
On Thursday, I decided to dye up some skeins I had leftover from some dyeing I did with my school girlfriends when we were away at Kangaroo Valley in May. And while I was at it, I dragged out my remaining sock blanks and final mini skein. From this session, I now have three repeatable colourways. From left on the top row, I’ve called them Rusty Boats, Blue Lagoon (finished colours shown at the bottom) and Spring Bouquet. So now I have two 100gm skeins of 100% merino DK in Rusty Boats, a 100gm sock blank in Blue Lagoon, two 100gm skeins of 100% fingering weight in Spring Bouquet and an 80gm sock blank in Spring Bouquet with a coordinated 20gm mini for cuffs, heels and toes. I took them to the church fete but this was not the right place for them. I am thinking of maybe a market stall or maybe I’ll just use them myself because I love them all!
This photo shows the week’s dyeing results in one lot, apart from the handspun skein further down.
I had some dye stock leftover so I thought I would use it up on my chain ply handspun yarn and it turned out beautifully. I’m looking forward to knitting this up for some project though I have no idea what yet. There are only 186 metres in the skein so it would be good for a beanie at least.
Finally! The Snow Days quilt is finished. Sigh….. The sigh is only because I seem to need several machines to do all that I want and I only have room for one at the moment and I don’t like changing settings too often. I’m really happy with the result. Since I last posted, I had to remove the interfacing that I’d accidentally attached to the back, stitch in the ditch in these areas, stitch in the ditch on three more rows, cut and piece the binding and, lastly, attach the binding. It’s now ready to go to its recipient. I still have two other quilts to finish off and would like to do a couple of others, though the recipients may be too old when I get them all finished.
As I mentioned earlier, I may need some more yarn for the Lunae shawl. The yarn I’m using is Drover and Classer and it’s not always available in all colours, or that’s how it seems. I chose three yarns from Mulberry and Flax – ordered Wednesday and arrived on Friday! Wow!! The three yarns are a mix of 8 ply (DK) and 5 ply (sport) and all would work but I’m either going to use the Faded Rose from Cowgirlblues or the Paddock from Drover and Classer. The latter is showing a bit yellow in the picture and is actually more green – not lime or olive, but something in between. I also received a mini of 50% alpaca/50% merino 5 ply – Quokka tails from Great Southern Yarn in the Stormy Sea Wave colourway. Thanks M&F!
I had also purchased some fabric from Spotlight on my way to the Retreat the week before that I forgot to show. I was there purchasing art items for the Retreat and, of course, I had to check out the remnants. They also had a 40% discount on all dressmaking fabrics – it was hard to decide but I only wanted to buy one. I ended up with:
- Organic cotton in a honeycomb pattern – 2.0m
- Sateen Spot, mustard/white – 0.6m x 127cm (remnant)
I want to make a skirt with the spot remnant and found the Mindi skirt by Style Arc. I like the idea of the open-end zipper but I’ll make the first one without pockets as they have zippers on them and I don’t think I need them here.
Last week I mentioned that I’d started the Robert Crais book Wanted (Elvis Cole series) and I finished it the other day. I also finished the latest one called A Dangerous Man. I have been home alone for the weekend and I binge listened to the second one! It’s so convenient to listen to books as you can do almost anything else at the same time. I’m up to date with Peaky Blinders on Netflix – it’s not fair only having 6 episodes for a season! Nothing else on Netflix is calling me at the moment.
On Tuesday this week is Melbourne Cup Day, with the race known as the “horserace that stops the nation”. It’s an excuse for people to dress up in finery and hats and join in with the hype of the race, at the race in Melbourne or at any other place in Australia. I’ll be enjoying the race with Evie on Tuesday as it’s my turn for babysitting this week. I’m sure we can find some horsey activities to entertain us. My dressmaking projects have been waiting patiently while my machine has been set up for quilting. I think this week will be focussed on this sort of sewing, aside from Tuesday and Wednesday when I’m in Wollongong. I haven’t had the opportunity to get to my Georgia dress from Seamwork – all cut and ready to go so I will start there. I may even print the Mindi skirt pattern and get that cut out too. Along with the usually knitting along the way.
When I started today’s blog, I didn’t realise how much I had to talk about! It’s high time for me to stop talking and start sewing so, until next week, I hope you have lots of opportunities for your creative pleasures!