Wednesday, 22 February 2017

What a week!

Last week was the half-term holidays for schools in our county, which meant I had both girls at home.  I hadn't made any particular plans, but thought we might do 'something' on a couple of days, just to get out and about.  Unfortunately, the best laid plans, etc.....  The Friday that the girls broke up from school, I went off to Friday knitting group as usual and had a very pleasant couple of hours with our little group, then came home.  I had some lunch and then took Jess out for her early afternoon walk and then sat down.  Half an hour later, I started to feel awful.  Hot, then cold and by the evening, my throat was very sore and all I wanted to do was go to bed.  Fortunately, DH works from home on a Friday, so he cooked dinner while I flumped on the sofa.  Saturday morning, my throat was feeling better, but I'd obviously been hit by a cold virus.  I did go to work on Saturday and Sunday (mainly because it's very difficult for the management team to get cover at the weekend, especially at short notice) but wasn't functioning at full speed and came home feeling very tired after each shift.

So, to cut a long story a bit shorter, I felt full of cold and not up to much all of last week and am only just feeling more like my usual self.  Having a cold impacted to some degree on my crafting, so I haven't felt up to knitting my Na Craga sweater and, although I've started the body cable pattern, there's not a great deal to show and it hasn't been out of the bag for about a fortnight.  So, over the last couple of weeks I've mostly been doing a bit of spinning and knitting easy, straightforward things.

Some of the ladies at Monday knitting group are currently knitting hats, mittens, gloves and scarves which will be going out to Nepal with a volunteer one of the ladies knows as there are still many people without homes following the 2015 earthquake.  I went into my stash and pulled out a ball of Cygnet aran I'd got and made a ribbed hat using The Boyfriend Hat pattern, although I modified it from the original, using 3.5mm needles and casting on 120 stitches.

I then got out my bag of plain coloured Drops Fabel and, holding two strands together (I chose taupe and cream), made the same hat, but knitting in stocking stitch for the body of the hat and the crown.  I won't do this again though and will do a different decrease sequence as the hat's a bit ruffly at the crown (but looks ok on, so I won't rip it back).

I also finished off my plain vanilla socks using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Zombie BBQ colour:

There's nothing special about these socks, except for the pooling that occurred when I increased for the gussets, which is a bit bonkers!

I don't think I've shown the next thing off before (not sure why).  A few months ago I felt the urge to make another crocheted Neat Ripple blanket (Attic24 pattern), using Caron Simply Soft.  I'm using a 5mm hook and the blanket's 140 stitches wide (10 pattern repeats).  I used the weighted random stripe generator from Biscuits and Jam and am about two-thirds of the way through the stripes.  If I decide the blanket's not long enough once I get to the end, I might just start again at the beginning.  This is a project I pick up every now and then when I don't fancy doing something else.

Obviously, despite my best intentions, I haven't sewn in the ends as I go, so that's going to be a bit of long job once I've finished the crocheting as most of the stripes are one row wide!

I'm hoping to get back into the swing of my Na Craga cabled sweater in the next day or so, but having felt so rubbish last week, plus having DD2 at home, I'm behind on housework, so need to get on top of that as the lounge and hall are starting to look like a spider hotel!

I'll be back soon-ish.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Spinning Round-Up : 2016 and January

I've decided to post at the beginning of each month, logging my spinning progress during the previous month.  I'm hoping by doing this, it might spur me on to be a bit more consistent in my spinning and improve my yarn-making skills!  As this is the first one, I'm also including a skein I made last year, which I haven't talked about on here.

The skein of yarn below is waiting to be made into something that I can wear with fond memories.

It weighs 79g and is 241 metres in length (approximately sport-weight).  The background behind it?   I go to two knitting groups.  Monday morning's is held in a local village hall and all are welcome (we get between 7 and 16 people each week).  Friday morning's is much smaller.  There are 8 of us in total if we're all able to make it and we meet in a local pub.  Up until last summer, there were 9 of us on a Friday, but then we lost Joan, a lovely lady in her 80s, who had been battling cancer for some time.  Joan was skilled in many forms of needlework and had amassed a sizeable stash of crafting materials, which one of the other ladies sorted through and then brought to one of our Friday get-togethers.  In amongst the stash were various small bags and packets of dyed wool locks, bits of silk, etc, which we think Joan had used in her embroidery work.  I took those little bags of 'bits' and carded them up into a batt, which weighed 34g.  I spun the batt into a single of yarn and I then found in my stash some fibre that was steel grey, dark blue and rusty brown and spun that into a second single, before plying the two bobbins together to make the tweedy yarn above.  I just need to find a project to knit the yarn into.  Possibly a hat as it's not next-to-skin soft.

So, having spun that yarn, I pulled a new 'bump' of fibre from my stash and started spinning that.  It's a 70/30 merino/silk blend from World of Wool and is called Phoenix.  My plan was to spin a 3ply yarn with a fairly high twist to knit into socks and I'm pleased with the result:

I'm still not able to spin a 3ply yarn as thin as I'd like, but I think I just need to keep going and practice more.  Anyway, this is nice and soft (probably won't last too long as socks, but that's the beauty of making things oneself; more can be made!) and is 97g and 261 metres.

That's finished handspun, so now onto WIPs!

On my wheel:

Some Exmoore Blackface (I think - I was sure I kept the label, but I've misplaced it at the moment).  The fibre was bought from Hilltop Cloud and is a mix of greens.  So far, I've spun two bobbins:

and once I've spun the last bit of the fibre onto the third bobbin I'll play the three singles together and see how much I've got.

the cloud of fluff on the left is what's left to do!
I was hoping to spin this for socks, but my plans may not work out as I don't think I'm going to get the metres I need for socks (we'll see - maybe!) and, at the moment, the yarn's not feeling overly soft, \although that might be because I'm comparing it to the merino/silk of the blue skein.

On my spindle:

Autumn 2015, I bought two basic spindles from Hilltop Cloud, hoping to get DD2 to use them.  She hasn't shown any willingness to spin herself, but I have found that, with her sensory issues and input requirements, getting her to watch the spindle going round and round can have a calming effect on her, so I decided to try and be ready in the morning five or ten minutes before her taxi is due to arrive so that I can get her to watch the spindle, thus setting her up for her school day (and it does seem to help).  Spindle spinning is, for me, a very slow process and so far, this is what I've wound off (yes, onto the cardboard tube from inside a loo roll!):

40g of grey merino.

To go with that (which I'm trying to spin thinly), I've now got some claret red merino on my spindle:

This has gone a little bit more quickly simply because I'm trying to do some every day and I'm about halfway through the red.  Once I've finished that, I'm going to spin another 40g, but of a light spring green and then I'll ply all three together and see what I end up with.

I also started watching the Wool n' Spinning vlog/podcast towards the end of last year and have recently watched the episodes from last year where Rachel (the blog/vlog owner) started using a Turkish spindle so, of course, now I want one.  Will I give in, or will I be good?  I'll let you know next month!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Norby Scarf - Finished

Hurrah!  My new scarf is finished.

I think the top photo shows the colour best.

After blocking (which I did using my wires) it measures just over 6.5" and is approx 6' 6" long, so can be wrapped around my neck twice, or folded in half and the ends put through the loop.

I'm pleased with it.  In fact, I might wear it this morning when I go out to knitting group.