A new spinning wheel

September 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

schacht matchless spinning wheel

Sometimes I think half the fun of crafting is getting NEW TOOLS (well, toys may be more accurate). So I present the newest member of my tool flock, a Schacht Matchless DT! It was made on August 28, 2013 and arrived about two weeks ago directly from the Schacht factory.

I ordered the wheel through my friend’s shop, Woven Art. While spindle spinning is fun, wheel spinning is so much more enjoyable for me, mostly because I really don’t enjoy winding yarn onto the spindle. Also, with work, school, and exam studying taking up so much time recently, I’ve been gravitating to simpler projects where I can just relax and enjoy the process.

So far I am working on just getting to know the wheel in double drive (the way it arrives from the factory) by spinning up plain, undyed fibers. I’ve almost finished spinning 5 ounces of Romney from Maryland Sheep and Wool, and hopefully soon there will be time to ply it.

Quilting: the new frontier

June 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

quilt bindings and backings

I LEARNED TO QUILT!!!!1!!!!!!1!1!!!!!!!eleven!!!!11!!!!!!

The “prints” in knitprints comes from my formerly-secret yearning to be someone who sews. For some reason sewing, or more specifically machine sewing (because I used to have a weird embroidery habit that my sister mocked), has always seemed way more impressive than knitting. To young me, knitting was something you could teach a five-year-old with a short attention span (that would be young me) but sewing was for grownups who could be trusted with expensive, delicate machines that churned out doll dresses, costumes, toys, dresses, and quilts.

Anyway, so I took a sewing class way back in January thanks to my sister and her husband springing for a lesson for me as a Christmas gift (yes, I have since forgiven her for the embroidery-mocking). I think when you’re a kid time works funny because I remember my mom making a quilt in a day, although looking back it actually didn’t take a day and I was probably deluding myself despite constantly trying not to do that because I was hyping myself up.

baby quilts

So I had this grand idea that I could make a baby quilt in a day, so one weekend equals two quilts. Well, it didn’t quite work out like that but after about a week and a half two quilts sit folded nicely, waiting for my sister to hand-deliver them to the twins’ parents. During that ten days I somehow purchased the materials for three more quilts. But at least I didn’t buy yarn? I did start the cutting and piecing for my next quilt and I can’t wait to share pictures soon once I finish the top.

But back to the current quilts’ details: they are fraternal twin quilts for fraternal twins. I used some fat quarters cut into 6.5″ squares, plus some additional yardage to get the required number of squares (also I wanted more lions in the quilt). Then I quilted with teal thread for an additional pop of color. The bindings and backings are opposites. All fabrics are by Robert Kaufman and the batting was the nice 100% cotton made in the USA stuff from the local quilt store (which is fantastic and the only thing I hate about it is that it is so close by, because at least my favorite yarn stores have the decency to be 550 and 25 miles away, respectively).

my first quilts

Woven scarves

March 5, 2013 § 5 Comments

bfl scarf 1

So after a long time, I finally pulled my Cricket out from the basement and successfully wove a scarf on it. Our long standoff has come to an end, and a beautiful British wool scarf is complete. I have no idea why I thought making a plaid pattern was a good idea, but I’m pleased that my foolhardiness did work out in my favor, at least this one time.

I used almost two full skeins of DK weight BFL yarn, both dyed in Wales. The green wool was dyed by Squeaky Elliot on Etsy, and the orange Bonnie DK yarn was dyed by Posh Yarn. They’re quite possibly the same base; the Squeaky Elliot BFL felt a little thinner when weaving, but once I soaked the scarf and let everything sort of bloom fully, I can’t really see a difference. In any case it’s so soft, as one would expect from BFL. Plus it is perfect for the Knit Brit 2013 personal challenge thread on Ravelry, where you can also check out a lot of other wonderful projects using British wool. Currently I have a bulky cardi on the needles using Rowan Purelife British Breeds Chunky, which I’ll share there eventually when it’s finished.

bfl scarf 2

To make the plaid pattern, here’s how I warped the loom:

16 orange (8 slots), 6 green (3 slots), 16 orange, 6 green, 16 orange

90.5” of warp

Then when it was time to weave, I weighed out the remaining yarn for the weft and decided on a 7:3 ratio of green to orange.

Orange yarn remaining for weft: 43 grams (31.6%)
Green yarn remaining for weft: 93 grams (68.4%)

Striping pattern:

14 green 6 orange

Orange yarn remaining after scarf is complete: 21 grams
Green yarn remaining after scarf is complete: 40 grams

After finishing the scarf (soaking it for a half hour in Soak wool wash and then rinsing clear, and letting it air dry), the dimensions were 75” long, plus 4.5” of fringe at each end, and 6.5” wide. It turns out that our dining table, fully extended, is the perfect warping length for scarves for people of my height. Yay!

The total scarf weight is 136 grams.

bfl scarf 3 « Read the rest of this entry »

The monster mash

February 12, 2013 § 2 Comments

It’s been pretty quiet for the past few weeks, thank goodness, since before that I was swamped with an awful cold/flu/both? that really sucked the life out of me for about two weeks in the middle of January. I was so sick that even picking up knitting needles seemed exhausting. Then of course I spent a few days trying to get organized before school started again, which it (ugggggh) has. However, I did accomplish a few of my goals for this year, or at least got moving on them.

First, I got all (ok, probably most) of my charity knitting done for the year. I made four monsters for the 600 Monsters Strong project on Ravelry. Actually, I technically made 5, but the first one was too short to make the grade. And it also wouldn’t fit in the priority mailing box I sent out today. Maybe it’ll be a baby gift or something? Or I might just keep it since it’s so cute.

Anyway, the monsters are all made from STASH YARN! One of the skeins even dates back to 2010. Some of them are made from fingering or sport-weight held double, which I really like for variegateds since it seems to blend the colors really well. The pattern is Iris the Gourmet Monster by Rebecca Danger, which you can purchase on Ravelry now – it was originally released as a kit, though perhaps it may still be available that way too, through Lorna’s Laces. There were a few mods to the pattern to meet 600 Monsters height requirements; I lengthened and widened the torsos though the limbs are still the same.

It seems silly, but while intellectually I understood that yarn is sold by weight, not length, for some reason it seemed like cheating to use the yarn held double. Then when faced with the option of buying yarn to knit monsters, or using up single skeins of variegated that are, frankly, perfect monster colors, I finally caved. Nothing like an idea working out well to inspire happiness and even more multiple-yarns projects; I’m knitting a cardigan with worsted held triple to make super-bulky.

I also got going on my scarf of the month project, though naturally I fell behind in January. Made from 100% British BFL wool, this scarf is really soft and hopefully going to meet my expectations, which are admittedly pretty high since it looks so good on the loom. (I say that because the last time I tried to weave, it went really well until it really, really didn’t, and I had to cut everything off the loom. We needed some space after that.) (Also I figured ou that using strips from a paper bag are what caused my warp to mess up, since the bits of paper on the bottom of the bag probably tangled the warp. This time I used brown craft paper from a roll, except not straight from the roll since it’s reused from its first life as packing materials from drugstore.com.)

The yarn is Posh Yarn Bonnie DK, in orange/tan, and Squeaky Elliot BFL DK in green. Both are from Wales, actually, now that I think about it, and both companies I found through Ravelry, which has been both a curse and a blessing for my stash!

Crafting resolutions 2013

December 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

 

Not sure why I bother, since I am about as capable at keeping resolutions as I am at turning into a cat, but it’s worth a shot right?

1. Craft more! Which is to say, stop wasting time on Ravelry looking at things I want to knit and JUST GO KNIT THEM.

2. Knit more for myself. I’ve got so much in my queue that I want to make and frankly, not everyone needs a hand-knit gift every Christmas. Make it more like a rare treat they treasure, not something they expect – or simply put, make sure demand is higher than supply! However, I did make a few handmade gift items, just things that were a little faster to make, such as my sister’s new card wreath.

3. Destash more.

4. Weave more. I love my loom and I want to actually, you know, have those scarves at some point to wear.

5. STOP BUYING YARN.

6. If I do buy yarn, make sure it’s actually a sweater’s worth, since I really want to get cracking on sweater projects this year. Over 75% of my queue on Ravelry is sweaters/jumpers/cardigans/other garments.

7. Keep branching out to more crafts. I’ve started cross-stitching recently and really like it. I received a sewing class from my sister and my new brother-in-law for Chrismukkah. Should be fun to finally learn how to machine-sew. I also got a book on crewel, since I used to love embroidery as a child.

8. But try new knitting things too. I’m taking a class at the end of January with Nancy Bush on Muhu knitting traditions from Estonia. Even better, it was paid for through stash I sold off in November and December.

9. Finally get around to publishing some designs. Still learning how to use my new camera and then I have to learn InDesign and improve my Photoshop skills, but otherwise everything is ready to go.

10. Save up my pennies for a knitting machine and a spinning wheel. My boyfriend keeps saying he wants to go to New Zealand, and maybe I could get one there if we go this year? As for the knitting machine, I think it would be fun to learn another knitting-related skill. Also, I have visions of it using up stash that I’ve accumulated for simple stockinette pullovers, which I hear knitting machines excel at doing.

Campaign for Wool with the British Wool Marketing Board

October 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

About a month ago on Ravelry I discovered the British Wool Marketing Board was having a giveaway to celebrate the Campaign for Wool and Wool Week. To spread the word about the benefits of British wool and breeds, the BWMB is giving away 100 copies of their fantastic book British Sheep and Wool and 100 packs of felting wool.

The book, at least in the US, is only available from a few retailers, so receiving it for free is really an exceptionally generous offer. The book describes briefly over sixty breeds of sheep that can be found in Britain, with gorgeous full-color photographs.

Many UK Ravelers of course entered, but no one really knew if it were possible for someone outside the UK to receive a copy of the book. With nothing to lose except a few moments of time entering in my contact information, I went for the book option.

Sure enough I got an email saying that my book was on its way, and in 22 days (the estimated time for UK entrants was 21 days, so I was impressed) my book had arrived, along with some excellent sheep-y goodies with which to spread the word about British wool.

I received not only the book, but also a great promotional kit that also included an adorable sheep notebook, a pen, a postcard of Dorset sheep on the move, a bumper sticker, and of course more reasons to use British wool than you can shake a sheep at (or, uh, a knitting needle is probably more realistic).

Coincidentally at work on Monday I’d been reading studies using Dorset sheep, so the postcard was quite timely.

As of today, I think there are still a few more felt packs and British Sheep Breed books to give away, so do click this link to claim one for yourself, as it is the first hundred for each who receive the pack. I didn’t receive anything for this blog post, I just wanted to pass on the knowledge that those in the US (and I suspect elsewhere outside the UK) can in fact receive at least the book! Update, 4 November 2012: the books and felt kits have all been claimed! I hope you were able to receive one if you put your name in.

(If you would prefer the felt pack, check before ordering it if wool products can be imported to your country. In my experience, clearly-labeled customs forms should allow commercially processed wool into the US, Canada, the EU, Australia, and New Zealand, but I can’t make any promises.)

Is it November yet?

October 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

So so so ready for this month to be over. Not that it hasn’t had its highlights — my sister’s wedding was gorgeous! — but my goodness was it  a lot to get done. Working 11 hours a day for way too many days and then also madly knitting a shrug? WORST IDEA EVER.

(The picture above was taken a week after the wedding, because it was night and the pictures in the reception hall came out exceptionally dark with my poor little point-and-shoot.)

However, I was really pleased that I did manage to finish it, because it got quite cold in the reception area. Kidsilk Haze is warm, even with big lacy holes in it, which I added on Friday night when I was panicky by the end and switched to US 11s for the “lace” edging. It turned out really well I think, since as a general rule I don’t really wear lace, though I admire the skill that goes into it.

Still, I think I’ll be happy to never repeat this experiment again, because even with really slippery needles, Kidsilk Haze is just not very quick to knit. It wouldn’t hurt to not have major work and school deadlines at the same time too!