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Yarns:

My Phleep got back from the UK on 22 April and brought me a whole suitcase of luxury yarns! I’ve been buying yarns on Ravelry and elsewhere since January and sending them to his parents’ place in Dorset rather than risking them in the SA postal system (one package already went astray between the UK and SA).

You can see details on my Ravelry stash page, but here are photos grouped by weight.

Posh laceweight:

Most are cashmere/silk but the blue-green one second from the left is pure cashmere.

Cariad laceweight (Cariad is the commercial arm of Posh, i.e only available from retailers):

The turquoise one on the left will be my wedding shawl, a beaded Aeolian. Both are alpaca/cashmere/silk.

Posh 4ply (sockweight):

The 4 on the right are all baby camel, the dark green is Sherwood and the lighter green is Robin Hood :). Phleep has claimed the royal blue one in the middle, I’ll make him a cowl or something. The rest are cashmere or cashmere/silk.

Posh DK and Aran:

The grey/green and turquoise are baby alpaca, the middle one is silk.

Mirasol Miski worsted weight:

Baby llama, destined to become an Ysolda hat. This yarn is so soft and squooshy, I wish monitors came with “fluff-o-vision” so you could feel it for yourself.

Here’s a closeup of the yarn, so you can see the bright green bits in the teal.

Mirasol Qina worsted weight:

Baby alpaca/bamboo. The brown and cream are for these cat mittens (scroll down, 6th from top), the green will probably be a cowl or scarf or maybe a hat.

FOs:

I finished Neil’s lacey squares scarf. Made from 1 skein of Posh Yarn Sophia 2ply (100% cashmere) in colour “Lupin”. He likes it, I think. His wife Karen threatened to steal it, so I’ll have to make her her own scarf. I have one more skein of Sophia 2ply in “Alpine” (top pic, second from left).

Neil’s Encanting scarf:

A close-up of the detail:

I also knitted a hat for Julia. The hat is knitted from just under 1 skein of Posh Yarn Claudia 8ply (100% baby alpaca). I had two skeins, remaining one pictured in the Posh DK pic.

Woven hat:

The awesome shell buttons that I found randomly at a yarn shop. Aren’t they the perfect match?

Spinning:

I’ve been going well with the drop spindle, spinning this brown alpaca roving. I hope to ply it when it’s all done and then dye it green or darker brown.

A close-up of the spun single:

It varies between a laceweight and a sockweight, but it’s really even for a first yarn. I’m very proud :).

I went to a spinning workshop with Zoe where we learned to card and mix different coloured tops. I made two sets of rolags and spun one up on a spinning wheel. I was better than the average beginner, according to one of the instructors, but I think I have a long way to go until it’s as good as my spindle yarn (which still has a long way to go itself).

Barbie and Ken (from a dark blue merino top, a fuchsia merino top and a gold mohair top). Spun on a spinning wheel and then plied together into a 2ply yarn.

I didn’t blend the fibre that well as I wanted to still see the different colours and not create a new colour. I love the mohair, I got some bags of it to bring home.

Here’s the skein before washing and setting, it looks horribly mangled and yucky. I was surprised at the difference after a good soak and hanging with a weight.

As you can see there was a lot of overtwist. I definitely need to practice a lot more to get a smoother flow of fibre onto the bobbin. I don’t know if I’ll get a wheel, they’re very expensive and not portable. One lady at the workshop said that you can spin more in a day with a wheel but more in a week with a drop spindle as it’s more portable. I guess you don’t always find the time to sit down and spin.

I made these rolags to spin at home on my drop spindle. For these I chose colours that actually went nicely together (for B&K I chose colours that were very different so that I could see the seperate colours in the spun yarn).

Sea sprite (teal merino, blue merino and light blue mohair):

I also bought some dyed roving. It’s actually for felting but you can spin it too. I got a nice royal blue, a variegated charcoal and a lighter grey. I’ll make something for Phleep as they’re all merino. I don’t know whether to mix the fibres first and then spin or to spin three different coloured singles and make a 3ply yarn. The possibilities really are endless!

Argh, I missed my monthly update by a day, woe! Here’s my (kinda) monthly breakdown of what’s happening on the knitting front, arranged by category I guess.

Yarns:

I met up with some Ravelry peeps at Vinni’s (of Vinni’s Colours fame) house for an open day. I dyed some cotton sock yarn!! It was so awesome. I kinda chose colours at random and ended up calling it Melted Barney. It will probably end up as a dress for my niece.

Melted Barney.

Melted Barney.

At the same open day was a lady from a local alpaca farm, I got this delicious Suri alpaca yarn from her. It’s seriously like liquid chocolate, it’s so silky. I also learned that there are two kinds of alpacas farmed for fleece: Suri (which means silk, and is an apt name) and another one (I have forgotten the name – it’s something with an “H” – and the Wikipedia article is very unhelpful). I can only wear the Suri, the other one is scratchy.

Chocolate Suri alpaca

Chocolate Suri alpaca

I met Carlé, who makes hand-dyed sock yarns and gorgeous woven bamboo and banana silk scarves. I bought some blueish sock yarn for Pandasocks.

Blue sock wool.

Blue sock wool.

She also gave me a skein of green sock yarn as I kept picking it up and stroking it. She says to knit a pair of wool socks and try them out as my feet may not be as sensitive as the rest of me.

Green sock wool.

Green sock wool

I received this Posh Yarn Lisette (aran weight 100% silk – non crunchy) in a trade from the US recently. It’s destined to become a cowl. I think a bright flash of turquoise at the throat is just what one needs in mid-winter.

Posh Yarn silk.

Posh Yarn silk.

WIPs:

The purplish cashmere I posted last time is currently becoming a birthday scarf for Neil. The pattern is easy to do and not too complicated so it’s ok for TV knitting.

Neils birthday scarf.

Neil's birthday scarf.

I’m also working on a cabled body-warmer for my niece, no photos as yet.

FOs:

I made some tiny shoes for Scrooblet from the same yarn as the cardi. These are a one-strap version of Saartje’s Booties.

Scrooblet shoes.

Scrooblet shoes.

And here’s the finished cardigan:

Scrooblet cardi.

Scrooblet cardi.

I made a Moebius scarf for Mark. It looks very impressive but wasn’t that hard. It was very boring, though.

Marks Moebius.

Mark's Moebius.

And that seems to be all. My drop spindle has arrived, so hopefully the next post will have some handspun to show you. Also, Panda is going to the UK for a bit soon and will return with a suitcase full of Posh Yarn for me, so I’ll have loads of delicious cashmere goodness to upload as well.

Sorry for the lack of much text here, I’m ill and it’s easier to upload pics than to think of interesting things to say about my knitting.

Xmas knitting finished!

I see it’s been a month since I posted. Well, I haven’t been idle in that month despite the current URTI* (I get it so often I’ve just shortened it to an acronym). I have finished all of my Xmas knitting and started two new projects. And started and finished one pencil pouch.

The finished Xmas knitting

Alexandra’s cardi:

Alexandras blue flower cardi

Alexandra's blue flower cardi

I’m quite pleased by how this turned out. I think Sirdar Baby Bamboo might be one of my favorite yarns ever, so much so that I’m willing to bear the 20% sheep and knit gloves for myself from it. Or a hat. I love this pattern too, it’s very easy and yet very rewarding in its prettiness.

Kathleen’s hoodie:

Kathleens Escapade cabled hoodie

Kathleen's Escapade cabled hoodie

I have added a zip to this and blocked it a bit (by pegging a bowl into the hood to stretch it out a bit). I probably won’t knit this pattern again, the hood came out way too small, although I might incorporate the stitch pattern into something else.

The WIPs:

A cardigan for baby Scrooblet:

Scrooblet cardi wip.

Scrooblet cardi wip.

This is made from Sirdar Snuggly DK, which must be my favorite synthetic yarn around (an honour it shares with Elle Pure Gold Baby DK) and it’s a BHKC pattern. It’s soft and snuggly and not at all plasticky. It knits up wonderfully. Also, it comes in a lots and lots of colours, not just baby pastels. There’s the teal pictured above as well as chocolate brown that I’m going to use for another baby Scrooblet cardigan (a Sirdar Baby Bamboo pattern with maaaad cablz!). Elle PG also comes in lots of non-pastel colours, I have about four skeins of black waiting to be gloves.

Phleep’s jersey:

Phleep cardi wip.

Phleep cardi wip.

This is a Pingouin pattern, knit in Elle Elite DK (50% wool and 50% cotton). It will be a SA-weight jersey (as opposed to the Aran that I knitted him that he can only wear in the UK in mid-winter). It seems like it’s going quite slowly but I have to remind myself that as I’m knitting it in the round I’m knitting the front and back at once so it’s not actually progressing as slowly as it appears. Circular knitting ftw! I hate seams.

And finally, the pencil pouch for Sudanese schoolkids:

Sudanese pencil pouch

Sudanese pencil pouch

I knitted this from about 3kg of cotton DK that Vinni (of Vinnis Colours) gave me. I don’t think I’ll be knitting many more than the three I can get from one 300g ball of yarn as the tight tension (DK on 2.75mm DPNs) is making my RSI worse.

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I seem to have fallen into the luxury yarn trap after discovering Posh Yarns. They make delicious hand-dyed cashmere, silk, bamboo, merino, angora and alpaca yarns. The colours are absolutely amazing. The problem is that the site only goes live every two weeks with whatever they’ve dyed in that fortnight for sale. Everything is usually sold out in about 5 minutes, so my hopes of ever ordering anything from them directly in the colours that I want are slim to none. Thank FSM for Ravelry trades! I have already acquired some gorgeous cashmere/silk laceweight, with some 4-ply cashmere/silk waiting at P’s parents in Dorset for me. I am still expecting a package of 4-ply cashmere and some Aran silk (plus assorted bamboo goodies, apparently) from the US.  I see myself with lots of single skeins of luxury goodness. Oh well, lots of scarves/hats/gloves :). I’m even considering buying a skein of wool/angora/cashmere just because it’s such a stunningly foresty green. My hope is that the Poshness means that the wool won’t be too scratchy and I can use it for a hat or gloves. Or just look at it and sigh. I am a slut for the greens, srsly. Ravelry’s advanced search (search stashes for Posh Yarns for sale or trade, without wool, in green) makes fix-fulfilment way too easy.

My lovely silk/cashmere laceweight:

Glade 2-ply

Glade 2-ply

I suspect it will be a lacey scarf or something.

I also got this pure cashmere laceweight. It looked more purple in the photo, but it’s a bit too pink for me in real life. Neil has expressed interest, so I might knit a scarf for him from it:

Lupin 2-ply

Lupin 2-ply

In spite of all the luxury Posh acquisition going on above (or perhaps because of the scarcity and difficulty in obtaining what I want) I have also decided to learn to spin with a drop spindle. I plan to spin only luxury fibres (alpaca, angora, cashmere, silk) and to dye it myself. Eventually I might try to sell it, if I can get it right sufficiently. But it looks like it would be fun to create exactly what I want. The only handspun, hand-dyed stuff available here is sheepy :(.

To this end, I have ordered some cashmere roving and baby camel roving from Etsy. Zoe has a huge bag of softest alpaca cloud fluff that she’s already given me some of, with the option to get more from her. Now if only my spinning book would arrive! There are instructions in it to make a drop spindle from a CD with which to practice, so I’ll try that before I rush out and get a $60 Bosworth drop spindle (apparently the best on the market, spins for aaaages). I have also contacted a friend who is wood-turning with pics and instructions in the hope that he can reproduce a Bosworth for me. There are loads of lovely spindles on Etsy, but I want one that is rim-weighted so that it spins for longer and those seem to be hard to find. I fear I might spend lots of money on beautiful roving on Etsy. Obviously I need an alpaca of my own (at R120k a piece and you need at least three otherwise they are sad and lonely) and a small herd of cashmere goats (it takes one goat three years to produce enough for a sweater).

Zoe is spinning her (giant Canadian half-wolverine) cats’ hair. I wonder if I can do the same with Puff? Is the loss of fingers worth the potentially beautiful yarn? Pff, silly question.

The fluffiest Puff, just begging to be made into yarn:

Puff-fluff.

Puff-fluff.

Wow, long post, I’ve been typing this for two and a half hours. That’ll teach me to leave it so long :). Now I’m going to watch trashy TV and work on the Scrooblet cardi. I know I said I wanted to work on things for me this year, but I’ve recently sorted my stash into lovely tubs and the baby one is too full. Also, P’s going to the UK for Easter and I want him to take a package for Scroob, so I have a bit of a deadline. Also also, P’s sister-in-law is in a delicate condition and I’ve threatened lots of baby things, so those need to be ready by Xmas when we go to visit. I have lots of suitably non-pastel yarns, since they’ve requested “no pink or blue froo-froo”. I wish people would update their mental images of knitted babywear. There are some lovely non-pastel yarns out there and lots of very hip and non-froo patterns.

Oh, almost forgot: I also need to start knitting some cat toys with my remnants for the SPCA. Must buy catnip for stuffing tomorrow.

* Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

I’ve finally finished my green lacey scarf in Popcorn. It went very quickly once I actually spent a chunk of time on it (it was my party project). It’s very soft and looks good, but the yarn didn’t block very nicely. Next time I wash it I will try to stretch it further so that the lace pattern is clearer. I wonder if it’s a feature of vegetable yarns that they don’t block well.

I’ve started on the last of my Xmas gifts: Alexandra’s lacey flower sweater. It’s going really quickly, thanks to the lovely yarn and small size. I’m knitting it while watching my Xmas present (the collected Star Trek: The Next Generation). Mmm, knitting and ST combined with boyfriend and cat snuggles. Paradise :).

My Hempathy yarn from everymoment finally arrived, via red-headed glamazon in lime green sequinned high heels. It’s so lovely and the colour is perfect. I was going to knit this DNA vest but have since decided to knit this dress as a tunic instead. I’m not sure why, really. I think the lacey panels of the vest will stretch horribly over my expansive bosom and just look ugly, and I don’t like the high rounded neck. A deeper v-neck is more flattering on larger chests. I might still knit the vest, but once I’ve lost a bit of that Xmas weight. The dress pattern has a cross-over bust, which is much more flattering to those of us blessed with huge tracts of land. I also wanted a top that was a bit smarter, that I could wear for smart-casual occasions in summer. The vest would require another top underneath. I am slightly worried that I won’t have enough yarn for the tunic, so we’ll see how it goes. I might need to make it less flared to save yarn. When I asked for 8 balls I was going on the yardage of the vest. I might need to get creative :P.

I also bought some cotton sock yarn for my bf’s socks. I plan to knit “Diamonds in his shoes” and “Ladder of life”. If all goes well I might get some Elle sock wool as well. I am starting on toe-up socks so that he can try them on as he goes. Once I have an idea of how to adapt patterns to fit his size 11.5(UK) feet, I’ll try cuff-down patterns as well.

While I was wandering around in Woolworld, I spotted this Escapade. It’s the same yarn I used for Kathleen’s cardi, but in shades of green. I just had to buy a bag, it was my colour! I don’t know what I’ll use it for, I’ll have to see how the striping comes out in the larger width needed for me. Possibly a vest or something.

I can’t wait til finish this lacey sweater, I want to start on the bf’s ribbed sweater (no link, I’m afraid, it’s a paper pattern and I can’t seem to find it online). I have also promised some pencil cases for schoolchildren in Sudan. It’s something small that will make a difference, instead of seeing the carnage on TV and just saying “ag, shame”. If anyone else has a couple of hours free to knit one (or many) please let me know.

That’s all from the knitting front, stay tuned for progress reports.

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Ps: do readers prefer that I post the pictures or the links to the pictures? Other knit-blogs that I read have the pictures in-post, but it can slow down my feed reader.

While we were staying with Scroob in London, I coveted this delicious camel/silk yarn in colourway Nova Scotia. Alas, at £25 a skein it was a bit beyond my meagre budget. My bear (who I love millions) remembered* my coveting and 2 skeins recently arrived for me as a late birthday present, via Scroob’s mother-in-law who had just been there for a visit. I must say that this is the most beautiful, softest, warmest yarn I have ever felt and if I had loads of monies I would buy 20 skeins and knit myself a cocoon. I added it to my stash on Ravelry and was aghast to see that some people were knitting jerseys out of it! A jersey takes at least 10 skeins. Some people have too much money. I will probably make a cowl from it.

I have recently finished Simon’s cardigan. I still need to put a zip in (the original has buttons, but zips are easier for little boys). I am very very tempted to put antennae on the hood :). It looks a bit big, but fits the measurements everymoment gave me. I’ve got this mental image of a toddler Simon, barely able to walk straight, last time they visited. He’s obviously grown lots since then. I must admit that the never-ending stocking stitch was driving me mad.

I started Kathleen’s cardigan this week, it’s going quite quickly. The baby cable rip stitch is pretty easy, and not too boring. I’m knitting it in 3yrs size, just a bit bigger than her current measurements. Hopefully without her evil tonsils she will grow into it more quickly. I love this pre-patterned yarn, it makes lovely stripes with no effort from the knitter :P.

I’ve been wanting to try felting as well, so I got some pure wool from Orion. The colours are lovely, and I’ll probably make this felted bag as my skin doesn’t like wool so anything else is out. I wanted to make an entrelac bag but I think it would be better for the entrelac stitches to be visible, so I’ll probably make a bamboo scarf in various shades of green and blue.

* He forgets a lot of things, yes, but remembering a yarn that I coveted and then organising to get it here from London earns him a whole whack of brownie points.

So, you can get RSI from knitting. Who knew? That puts a serious damper on my mad Xmas knitting. I was hoping to have it all done by the end of November, but that doesn’t look likely now. I’ll have to restrict myself to an hour a night, as opposed to the current 3 or 4 (and more than that on weekends). I’m thinking of starting yoga, there are stretches you can do to prevent RSI. I wouldn’t have thought that the small things I was knitting would strain my wrist, but apparently they are. I need to find a better knitting-posture, maybe get one of those big balls to sit on.

My wrist is sore as I type this. Considering my minor head-surgery last Tuesday, I’m glad I’ve got these super-Myprodols to take. I don’t think I could take head-wound-and-wrist synchronised throbbing. At least I know it’s not a heart-attack, the pain and numbness in my forearm/wrist were a little worrying.

Don’t expect any FOs for a while :(.

Well, more like 2.25 down, 2.75 to go.

I recently finished both Sarah’s lacy flower sweater and Riley’s sun toy. Sorry for the links, I can’t seem to make the image embedding work :(.

I’m really chuffed with both projects. The sweater is very sweet and was an easy knit. The bobbles were a challenge, but since finding this easy tutorial on bobbles I think the second one for Alexandra will be easier. The toy sun was really easy and came out so cute. I bought a huge bag of stuffing, so I see many more toys in my future. The .25 is this cardigan for Simon (it has doubled in length since that pic). I’ve called it Simon the Bee, due to the black-on-yellow stripes. I hope he likes it.

The Yarnpath is an awesome blog with tutorials on all sorts of things (there’s a list halfway down on the left – some of the links are broken but will give you a redirect address). Three needle bind-off looks like just the sort of thing for me. No more seaming on shoulders! Now if only there were a way to eliminate other seams. I suppose I could just knit everything in the round :P.

At this rate i hope to have all my Xmas knitting done by the end of November. Then I can work on my other sleeping projects (my cabled jacket and the Cheshire Cat stole). I also need to knit Phleep’s man-sweater before next winter. After the Xmas knitting and finishing the other gift items in my queue, I’m going to concentrate on knitting for me. Things for me are usually waaay down on the list of priorities, so it’s time to be a bit selfish.

I’m really keen to try entrelac, I’m thinking of making a bag and then felting it. I’m really keen to try felting too but I can’t wear wool so it will have to be a gift or something that isn’t next to my skin.

What do other people do while knitting? I want to download some audiobooks so that I can at least “read” while knitting and not watch so much TV. I could, of course, learn to read and knit but that looks really hard. I’m not a fast reader, I get easily distracted, so I think looking up from my reading every now and then to count stitches or whatever would be frustrating.

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