Saturday, January 31, 2009

Spinning in the snow

This is what I was doing yesterday
It's my first snowman ever! I've never seen this much snow in London EVER and it's quite scary, the weather all over the world is going mad. Well anyway this meant I couldn't go out and had to cancel all my plans. But fret not, because I have a new toy to play with.
Yep, it's my new spinning wheel! Well, it's not new, but it's new to me. I was carrying it on the bus, tube and train on Sunday to get it home safely. Imagine the stares I got, people were turning their heads and had that "what the heck is that!" look on their faces. Anyway, it's a single treadle Ashford Traveller, and I'm still trying to spin on it. My hands-feet coordination sucks, which is why I never mastered anything that requires it. But I'm determined to be a good spinner. Heck, I can foresee it taking me ages and loads of practice and frustration but no way I'm giving up.
But for now, I definitely won't be starting with these.
The top one is Merino and the bottom one is Falkland. I think I'm getting slightly better at this dyeing thing, and I'd love to dye some more. Problem is, I can't spin the fast enough.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Yes this is a knitting blog!

Yay! Finally some knitting!
Knotty gloves
Knotty Gloves
Pattern source: Knotty Gloves by Julia Mueller, Ravelry download
Yarn: Malabrigo sock
Needle: 2.5mm
Comment: I started a pair of gloves some years ago, but never managed to get them finished. I was pretty convinced that I simply have no patience to knit fingers. Hence the many pairs of mittens and fingerless gloves coming off my needles. But then it gets really cold, and I need my dexterity, and the pattern is so pretty and I had the perfect yarn that it simply was meant to be. I really had to push myself through knitting all those fiddly fingers, but I think the result is well worth it. I made a little alteration to the pattern though...
Knotty gloves
So now I can do this!
Knotty gloves for iPhone
I'm feeling all smug and clever now that I've find a way to not having to take my glove off every time I need to use my beloved iPhone.

About 2 weeks ago I got this book in the mail. Even though I'm not interested in any of the patterns, but the technique was so intriguing that I had to try it out.
I used some yarn I had dyed with kool-aid a couple of years ago. Since I wasn't sure how the yarn would knit up, and I was worried the colour would muddle up, so I paired it with some cream coloured merino yarn. This technique is so much fun and so easy to do! It works really well with those variegated yarns to break up the pooling and create some really cool effects. I can't wait to think of some other way to use this technique.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'd dye happily

First, let me tell you all that my dissertation is DONE! c'est fini. la finito. Thank you for your *ehem* gentle encouragement, I'm just so happy that it's out of the way. Well I have another presentation in 2 days, but this uni thing is really just never ending. Well, there's one thing I didn't share here. Other than knitting and spinning while I should've been writing, I've also been dyeing.
First I dyed some yarn.
Hand-dyed yarn
It turns out quite blotchy, guess I need more practice. The dye I'm using is Sugarflair food dye, the colours are nice and vivid and sticks to the fibre easily.
Then I tried dyeing some fibres, this one is BFL.
hand-dyed BFL
I didn't put enough dye and ended up with a lot of white spaces, but it looks quite nice spun up.
Hand-dyed, hand-spun BFL
I navajo-plied it to a bulky weight, but it's still quite inconsistent, I'm just not used to spinning thick. My original intention was to knit another Wham-Bam cowl with this, but now I'm worried there won't be enough yardage, so I might just do a normal cowl. It's really soft and squishy though, I'm liking it a lot.
Next I tried dyeing some Corriedale
Hand-dyed Corriedale
Then some brown BFL
Hand-dyed brown BFL
When it was wet I couldn't even tell if the colours are there because it's all so dark, but when it's all dry the colours became so much clearer. I'm liking this one, it's so dramatic.
Dyeing is so much fun even though the whole house did smell of vinegar and burnt hair. Thankfully my housemates didn't complain much. I'm looking forward to dyeing some more since I just bought more colours of the dye, but I'll need to buy GALLONS of vinegar first!
There should be some actual knitting progress next time I blog, really!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Knitting Masochist

Is there such thing as a knitting masochist? Because if there is, I must be one. Why else would I do this?
Apres surf hoodie swatch
This is a swatch that I knitted way past midnight 2 days ago. It's for the Apr├Ęs Surf Hoodie by Connie Chang Chinchio. I fell in love with this pattern immediately after it came out last summer. The yarn called for in the pattern is RYC Cashcotton 4ply, and I knew immediately that mine would be in RYC Cashsoft 4ply. Then I saw the yarn on sale on John Lewis' website, and I knew it was meant to be.
And if you're wondering, yes that's the EXACT same yarn I used for Flo. And yes I did say I won't be knitting that kind of project in a long time. Well it's not even been a month yet since I said that and here we are. This is why I don't do resolutions anymore.
In my defense, I resisted the urge to cast on immediately. I'll try to be good and finish at least one of my big WIPs before I start this. And this one has got lace pattern, so it won't be as boring as all stockinette, and let's hope it won't be as endless.

In other knitting news, I actually have an FO!
Wham Bam
Wham Bam!
Pattern: wham bam thank you lamb! neckwarmer, found over at Ravelry.
Yarn: Rowan Big Wool, leftover from my Alpine Shrug
Needle: 8.00mm
Comment: This is such a simple and clever pattern, and supposed to be quick. But somehow it seemed endless to me. Somehow that 20", 30 sts of garter stitch took me over a week to knit. That's pretty much how knitting has been for me, endless.

Spinning, on the other hand, I've been doing a lot of that.
Thick and thin
This thick and thin yarn was harder to spun than I thought, I'm not very good at being sloppy, I guess. But it's ooooh so squishy, I'm having fun thinking of what to knit with it, any ideas? Oh this is more roving from Jo at Lime Green Jelly, it's super soft merino and I think the colourway is Union of The Snake. While this one only took me about 3 days to spin, my new spinning project will take a while.
BFL & Silk heaven
This is BFL and silk roving from Shunklies, and as you can see I'm spinning it very thin. I think my spindle is too heavy for this, so I just bought a new, lighter spindle, can't wait for it to get here! So then I can have my only spindle back and spin some more thicker stuff.

The dissertation is still not going, which is a really bad news, at least for me, because I only have 4 more days to finish it. And I also have to prepare some concepts for my final project, which I want to be about knitting. But what about knitting? I have no idea. See, I knew this is a bad idea, ugh. But while I'm procrastinating, I've not only been knitting and spinning, but also listened to a lot of back episodes of knitting podcasts, and browsing around the net for pretty spindles to buy. They get quite expensive and I'd love to be able to afford them. I was also seriously considering buying a loom at one point, which is just ridiculous and is probably a cue for me to stop or otherwise this procrastination thing will ended up costing me a lot more than my grade.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Dissertation? What dissertation? Give me fibre!

I've been spinning a lot lately, instead of writing my dissertation, of course.
This is my finest (in term of thickness) spinning to date.
3-ply Navajo plied BFL
The fibre is BFL, colourway Bohemian Rhapsody, from the amazing Jo at Limegreenjelly. I followed this video to navajo-ply it, thanks for the link Jo! Since the video is for navajo plying on the fly and I've already spun my singles, I had to kinda wing it, but I think I got it right, at least I have 3-ply yarn as a result, so I can't be far off. This was a lot of fun to spin, even though it took me ages. But I did enjoy spinning this while listening to Bohemian Rhapsody, one of my favourite songs ever.
After spinning such thin yarn, I needed some instant gratification, fast. So I spun this.
Falklad 2-ply
The fibre is Falkland by Spindlefrog that I purchased at Socktopus. I love spinning with the fibre! It's soft and squishy but not as short stapled as merino.
Next, I'd like to try spinning thick and thin slubby yarn with some merino I've got. This will be challenging, I think, since it goes against the little perfectionist inside of me.
Knitting has been slow, and I doubt there'll be any FOs for show anytime soon. But I do have something to share
first darning attempt
It's my first darning attempt! I found a hole at the bottom of my Hedera sock. After overcoming my initial shock and fear of moth attack, I decided this is the perfect time to learn how to darn. Hopefully this is not a skill I'll need often in the future.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

First of the year

Happy New Year everyone! Can you believe it's already 2009? And the 4th? I can still hear the new year's eve fireworks in my years for goodness sake.
I feel like I haven't had a proper holiday, mainly due to bad company. But it is the new year and I'd like to start positively. Well, having to squeeze out 5000 words in 11 days doesn't sound like a good start, I know, but maybe I'll start my year in February instead.

Despite a not-so-pleasant end to the year, 2008 had been a great year for me. Especially travel-wise, I've been so blessed and got to visit Switzerland, USA, Australia and Scotland all in one year. Which is a good thing, since I don't think I'll have the time and financial means to travel as much this year.

I'm excited and scared at the same time to face this year. It'll be a turning point in my life since I'll be graduating (or at least I should!) and will have to take the first step towards "real life". And I don't know what the heck I want to do with my life. But hopefully I'll be able to figure it out eventually, fingers crossed.

Every beginning of a new year in the past couple of years, I've made it a habit to write a resolution. Last year I shared my knitting resolutions here,
1. Do at least one colourwork project. Ivy League vest, still a WIP, almost a UFO.
2. Get rid of stash yarn that I don't even like. Complete failure.
3. Stop buying yarn I'll never use just because it's on sale. Yeah, right.
4. Blog about ALL my projects. I'm sure there's an unblocked cardigan lurking around somewhere...
5. Deal with UFOs. .....
6. Actually wear my FOs. I did manage to wear a lot of my hats and scarves lately, I even wore my Henley Perfected yesterday and loved it!
7. Attend a knitting meetup. Yep!
8. Do more designing/thinking in my knitting. Didn't happen last year, will carry on trying this year.

See? Mainly I don't stick to resolutions. And that's not even my resolution in LIFE, which if I remember correctly had 52 in the lists las year. Let's not go there, shall we?
So this year I'm giving up on resolutions, no matter how tempted I am to start making a list (because I love lists). I'll just go with the flow, learn as much as I can, enjoy life, and see where I'll be this time next year.