Sunday, 26 October 2008
When I know something is going to take all day, I need some kind of spur to actually get on with it! In this case it was the fact that natural dyeing with plantstuff is this month's assignment for Herbology in the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup. So I asked Dave to harvest the leaves from two of the Japanese Indigo plants while I set up the kitchen for the task ahead so that I could get the leaves into hot water as soon as he brought them in.
My sister was here and took lots of photos of the process for me to share. I followed instructions in Rita Buchanan's fantastic little dyeing book 'A Dyer's Garden':
1) I covered the leaves with hot water in Kilner jars and put them in a big pan of water, then slowly heated them up to 160 degress F over two hours.
2) I strained the liquid off, and squeezed as much as I could from the leaves:
3) I added some soda ash to make the solution alkaline:
4) The mixture had to be poured back and forth between containers to aerate it - this apparently releases the pigment, and it did turn a more blue colour as I did this:
5) I added some Spectralite (a 'reducing agent'), then heated the dyebath to 120 degrees F for an hour before putting the first skein in. The dyebath had now turned a greenish yellow colour:
6) I left each skein (I did three consecutively) in the hot bath for 30 minutes. I was thoroughly excited by how the skeins changed from yellow to blue when I took them out, it took seconds rather than minutes, and they went through a marvellous turquoise moment on the way:
The same skein seconds later (though it was less bright than the picture shows):
After hanging the skeins to air for at least half an hour I washed them, then re-skeined them (they had felted a little in the process). This is how they ended up - beautiful soft tones of French blue, grey and silver. The top skein shows the bare yarn I started with - a laceweight lambswool from Texere:
An awesome experience!!
Dave is so enthused by this he has created a raised bed at the allotment just for my dyeplants!
Friday, 3 October 2008
The biggest treat for me was finding a little pocket-sized 'Know You Sheep' book - recently published. It is going everywhere in my handbag because I am indeed a sad little wool addict and really want to be able to identify every sheep that I meet. I've been this way since my teens, and do now know many brreds by sight. I struggle with Blackface and Swaledale and Lonk though - they are so similar. While the Swaledale has only a grey muzzle, the markings on a Blackface or Lonk can take that configuration anyway, and Lonks and Blackfaces of any markings seem indistinguishable. And if I ever come acvroos some 'down' sheep I'll also be in trouble because they all look virtually identical too! Ah well...!!
Marie drove, so I was able to get some knitting done on the journey, and am pleased to report that I have now finished Tom's Hogwarts Socks. I've just to finish writing up the pattern and then I'll publish. Alas, I haven't got a decent photo yet -the flash has made the purple cuff and foot look blue. The text says 'Never Tickle A Sleeping Dragon' - the Hogwarts school motto!!
Monday, 22 September 2008
First off I finished the Quidditch yarn - 300g of BFL spun to 'worsted' weight (roughly aran). I got 350 yards, and was reasonably happy with the results as I have rarely spun such thick yarn before. It turned out more consistent than I thought it would be. An unexpected element was added when I discovered that bonus points were available for metallic looking metal colours. How is Hufflepuff black a metallic colour? Well, apparently black is associated with iron in heraldry. Going with this I felt there was grounds for a hint of gold in the yarn, as 'fools gold' is really iron pyrites, so I plied the singles with some gold filament thread I have. It looked great. especially after dyeing the yarn black - the metallic thread didn't take the dye, so the gold glints really stand out. First picture is before dyeing:
Here is a section of the skeins as they hang to dry, and a full shot of them (sadly the colours don't show well - they are much more vibrant in real life):
Monday, 15 September 2008
The well-read among you will immediately recognise that this is a Weasley jumper. Indeed I knitted it as my Transfiguration 'homework' for the 'Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup'. We had to do something that would be a good learning process - something we hadn't done before, and were supposed to do a Potter-themed pattern to boot. I went for the sweater because I have rarely knitted them - mostly due to hating seaming. Hence this is a seamless, top-down sweater! I love the technique and think I will be doing many more, and learning more about sizing in the process.
My youngest son will also be the beneficiary of a glove design I am currently working on. I charted the pattern a year ago, intending to knit it to go with the Nordic earflap hats I made for my boys and my nephew and niece last Christmas. Fortunately for this design there is an astronomy class in the House Cup for which we have to do a star-themed knit, and that supported me to actually get on and knit these. They are a combination of Nordic and Yorkshire design, patterned, fingered gloves with names on being a traditional knit in Yorkshire in times gone by. I need to tweak the pattern a little, then I will publish it. At the moment the index finger is disproportionately long:
As well as all this 'homework' I also have Quidditch practice to do because I'm a Beater in the Hufflepuff Quidditch team. The game consists of creating a knitted or crocheted item as a team effort, with the 'Seeker' doing the design work, two 'Beaters' spinning the yarn, three 'Chasers' knitting/crocheting it, and a Keeper doing the finishing! My job is to spin 300 yards of aran-weight wool, then dye it black. Tough call, as I have rarely spun anything thicker than sock-weight! Anyhow, I've spun the singles - perhaps a little overspun - spot the snarls! Tomorrow I shall ply.
And finally, here is the promised picture of the cardigan I knitted for Poppy. The pattern is one I found in Ravelry, based on one Lucy wears in the first Narnia film:
Sunday, 7 September 2008
Without further ado I will introduce the designs I have published this summer. Links to purchase coming soon in the sidebar:
Luna's Moonlight Socks:
The Fleur Tote:
Chaussettes de Beauxbatons:
I've also been doing some other stuff, some my own designs to publish, and a little baby knitting for my new niece, Poppy, born last week! I'll tell more of that in my next post. Meantime I must fly - have to go and pick up my eldest from the railway station. TTYS!!
Tuesday, 17 June 2008
1) What were you doing 10 years ago?
Teaching in a secondary school in Oldham (near Manchester - the 'wrong' side of the Pennines!)
2) name 5 things on you TO-DO list for today?
Knit another motif repeat on first Pink Passion sock
Knit another motif repeat on second Pink Passion sock
Lift clean laundry from floor onto spare bed
Replace black print cartridge
Book train ticket to Cockermouth for Woolfest next Friday (yippee!! - + no guilt cos I have 8 hours knitting time on train!)
3) snacks that you enjoy?
sherbet lemons(fruity eh?)
4) what would you do if you were a billionaire?
Fund social projects for young people in the UK
Have Mum and Dad's home gutted and swanked up for them (don't think they'd want to move after nearly fifty years there!)
Buy a super-eco car (fuel cells?)
Go to S.O.A.R.
Buy a country property for eco-renovation and have the renovation done for the Wigworthy clan to inhabit
5) Name places you have lived.
Easingwold (tiny market town 15 miles north of York)near Raskelf ('middle of nowhere'!)Ulverston (Market town next to the English Lakes)
Lindal- in- Furness (village near Ulverston)
Brighouse (small textile town in south Pennines)
6) what jobs have you held?
Specialist nurse (learning disabilities)
Teacher (religious education)
Lecturer (theology/religious studies)
Freelance writer for AOL
7) Who are you tagging?
Monday, 2 June 2008
I do have quite a few things to report, including a lovely holiday in the North York Moors last week. The highlight was the pirate day at Whitby Abbey, where Tom and Toby got to fire cannons, properly drilled by a lovely old sailor. There were some 'infantry' (re-enactment) there firing real cannons (not the toy ones the boys were drilled with) - the noise was incredible.
On the craft front there has, of course, been a lot of activity. My biggest project has been creating a bag for a design competition that the headmistress at Hogwarts instigated. My entry was my first ever felting project. It's rather cute, and I love the felting. There are some far more stylish and aesthetically effective designs that others have done though, so I don't know how much chance it has. She's planning to select four or five winners. I did mine with very reasonably priced British yarn that I found out about in Ravelry, from New Lanark Mills. Since I finished it my darling twin-sister has claimed it for her own!!
So photos of said project:
The latin roughly translates as 'Never Needle a Magical Knitter' (latin scholars - please don't flame me for the grammar!)
There are several other works in progress, including the Gryffindor Pride socks which I have now almost finished, and should be publishing the pattern in a day or so. Today yarn arrived (from New Lanark!) for some baby stuff for my sister-in-law's baby - she's expecting a girl in August. I'm planning to knit and felt some booties, and knit a fairisle cardigan, and design and knit a skirt (cos I can't find a decent pattern for baby skirts!)
I've been posting a few of my patterns in Ravelry, and when I have time (Hah!!) I plan to create a section in this blog to link them. My other big news is that I have just submitted a pattern to Lark Books for posssible publication in a book they're planning for autumn next year! Watch this space...
Sunday, 4 May 2008
Thursday, 24 April 2008
The current knitting news is that I have finished the Hufflepuff socks and published the pattern in my new Ravelry Pattern Store and at my Etsy shop:
Friday, 4 April 2008
These are what I've been busy knitting the last 2 or 3 weeks. I designed them after a friend in the Hogwarts Sock Kit Swap suggested that I should do some 'proper Ravenclaw socks'. The pattern is for sale as a pdf in my Etsy shop (which is still named after a nefarious fairytale spinner, despite what Freyalyn told me about the meaning of his name!!). I have designed similar socks for the other Hogwarts houses, yet to be knitted. And I really need to do some spinning - my wheel has been rather neglected of late with all this designing and knitting going on. I shall (commits herself) spend at least an hour spinning silk this weekend.
Sunday, 30 March 2008
The farmhouse was idyllic - it was derelict until the very recent renovation (we are the second tenants the owners have had!) which was commissioned by the estate owner who deals in oak. So there were lots of replacement oak beams, oak internal walls and floors (apart from the slate slabs in the kitchen), and even oak toilet cisterns! The estate has a water turbine so we had an electric aga for heating and cooking, as well as the stove in the lounge which we kept feeding with bits of the old beams!
Sadly I have no photos of my own to share - our camera has become so temperamental it will only take a couple of pictures in between battery changes. Dave is looking for a new one for us. I can however post some pinched photos and links. This is the valley (the 'Tanat' valley) where we stayed - the farmhouse was right at the head, not far from the waterfall you can just see in this picture:
First off we visited a sculpture park and nature reserve at Lake Vyrnwy, where Dave bought me some binoculars to be my birthday present (a few days away now). We spotted siskins and coaltits among the many bluetits and chaffinches feeding near the hide we visited.
Next we visited the Centre for Alternative Technology which has changed a fair bit in the 8 years since last time we were there. Lots more displays, especially about recycling, and even more stuff about alternative ways to create electricity. They've installed a biomass boiler. Dave was disappointed not to see stuff about 'digesters', and I was disappointed by the poor state of the planting areas. Our last visit to CAT was a major inspiration in our own gardening, recycling, and energy-saving efforts. Nevertheless the boys loved the interactive displays. And after our experience at the farmhouse I've got even more enthusiastic about finding a property for our future rural eco-home (our dream) where we could operate a water turbine.
In the lounge of our farmhouse there was a big metal plaque behind the stove with a hare, some oak leaves, and the name 'Melangell' cast into it. We found out when we visited the little church in the valley that Melangell was a 7th century saint in the valley who saved a hare from being killed by the local prince's hounds (it hid under her robes while she was praying). The prince was so impressed by her holiness that he gave her the valley for her own and she founded a religious community there (now gone, all but the church which still has an ancient Romanesque shrine to her - the only remaining Romanesque Christian shrine in the UK apparently). Here's a picture of the shrine and an icon of St. Melangell for you:
The major treats of the holiday for the boys were our visits to King Arthur's Labyrinth (truly wonderful experience) and our ride on the Bala lakeside steam railway. I think my personal favourite was our walk to the waterfall near the farmhouse. The weather was sunny that day, the boys were so much fun to be with on the walk, and the location was like the best lake district fells without any other walkers at all (which never happens in the Lake District, and especially not during the Easter break!).
Monday, 10 March 2008
My sock kit swap partner has now recieved her packages (two in the event, to avoid £10 extra if it was all in one box!) Sadly the rhubarb and ginger jam and pumpkin pickle I made for her didn't make it in one piece - the jars broke on the journey. I may send her replacements. She was very pleased with the rest of the stuff, and as she has now got it I can, at last, post pictures here of the things I've been busy with since Christmas for the swap.
The rules were quite prescriptive regarding the main contents of the kit: sock yarn and a handmade bag in the partner's house colours, stitchmarkers, sock needles, and a sock pattern. Other extras were, of course, permitted.
Putting it all together has been quite a journey of creativity for me. It started with the bag, for which I had chosen a pattern (free from a link in Ravelry) even before I knew what house my partner belonged to. I also ordered fabric for lining the bag before partners were announced, as I thought it would work for all houses. After the e-mail arrived with my partner's details (a Slytherin) I hotffooted over to Texere and bought green cotton yarn, and some silver, glittery yarn for the bag. Using my newly acquired i-cord skills, a witches hat button from an e-bay purchase, and my new harmony circulars (:D), I created this:
I had to adapt the pattern somewhat for a different yarn weight to that specified + I used a full cable technique at the corners instead of the narrower crossed-stitch element in the original pattern. The metal eyelets were also my idea - I thought they would balance the silver elements in my version of the bag.
In the same trip to Texere that procured the bag yarns, I also purchased some undyed silk yarn, because the e-mail with my partner's details communicated the then devastating news that she is allergic to wool. Devastating because I had already bookmarked wool sock yarns in all the house colours at my favourite online supply shops. The best-laid plans of mice and men... and all that! So I had me a little adventure in dying yarn. The green I got with little trouble, handpainting the skein with a mixture of greens I created using the acid dye kit I bought at the Harrogate show last autumn. I named it 'Salazar' as that is the first name of the fictional founder of the house of Slytherin at Hogwarts. 'Silver' proved much more difficult though - none of my greys seemed to work with the green I'd created. I remembered reading about angelina in Spin-off and did a little research about it before buying some and carding it with silk to spin some yarn which I then dyed a greeny black and named 'Darke Sylver'. If you click on the picture to enlarge it you'll see the sparkle:
The stitchmarkers were lots of fun - an enquiry on Ravelry gleaned several links to tutorials for making them, which I did using beads from texere and other bits and pieces from ebay. I presented them on a card decorated with the Slytherin crest, and packaged them in a little green organza bag. For the pattern I printed a copy of Durmstrang socks and presented it in a folder I embossed with my partner's name and decorated with the Slytherin crest. Needles I got from Get knitted - Knitpicks Harmony of course (I am in love with them after all!!), and made a case to present them in, again embossed with my partner's name and decorated with the Slytherin crest. I also included a book of sock patterns I got at a reasonable price from Amazon. It has some cute patterns for childrens' socks I think will prove useful as my partner has a 3-year-old little boy.
And that just leaves goodies. What does someone in the UK, a desert when it comes to proprietary Potter sweets, do for goodies in a Potter-themed swap? Make it up! I exploited the fact that the books were written in the UK by a British writer and include lots of references to British goodies to create my own brands! Spotted Dick appears in the books, so I relabelled a Heinz tin of itand added some custard to serve it with. They purportedly come from the 'Hogwarts Kitchens'! I very cheaply bought sherbet lemons, mint humbugs and treacle toffee (all mentioned in the books) from local supermarkets, and repackaged them also as 'Muggle Sweets'!!
Sunday, 24 February 2008
I also learnt how to create PDF files (so I can easily send the pattern via email), and found some free PDF software to do it with.
Already two people have bought the sock pattern, one of whom has posted a photo of the work in progress on Ravelry. It is very exciting and lovely to see my socks knitted by somebody else in beautiful alternative yarns.
At the suggestion of one of my friends in the Hogwarts Sock Kit Swap I've also spent a lot of time this week creating a design for some Ravenclaw socks. I've ordered yarn to knit them with, as I need to test the pattern and create photos of an FO before I can publish.
I'm also researching sock blockers as I plan to make and paint some to sell in the store. I found a lot of posts in Ravelry decrying sock blockers as a waste of money because its not worth using them. What?!!!! I love my sock blockers, and wouldn't dream of giving socks I've made to anybody without first of all shaping them with some. Today I finished knitting some (more) school socks for Tom and took a picture after I'd blocked the first to demonstrate the joy of blockers. The blocked sock is not still on the blocker - it holds its new shape perfectly after steaming and airing on it:
Otherwise my time has been filled with completing the 'kit' for my Hogwarts Sock Kit Swap partner. Extending my creativity still more I made my own card packaging pouches and boxes with Harry Potter font saying 'especially for 'n'' and little house crests repeating all over it. When she has received the kit I'll post some photos of the contents, the final addition being some pumpkin pickle I made on Friday with some of our frozen allotment produce. It's very hot - I burned my fingers chopping the chillies for it!!
This evening I finally took some pictures of other recent 'FOs' - hats for the boys, knitted a couple of weeks ago (just in time for the snow, and then the hard frosts this week). I've posted pictures of ones from the same pattern before, the difference is that I've knitted the boys names into the border near one earflap on these:
Friday, 15 February 2008
After much deliberation I have decided to see if I can sell the pattern. I have been thinking for some time of opening an Etsy store as a little enterprise that I could make work with being a fulltime housewife and Mum. Having seen on Ravelry that the socks are well-liked, I think it is possible that some folk might actually be willing to part with some money to get the instructions to knit them. If I'm going to open an online shop I need something to sell in it, and thought the pattern would be a good start.
My thoughts on the store have progressed quite a bit since the first notion. I have thought of a shop name ('Rumpelstiltskin'), and have made a list of things I could make to sell, including handspun (got to have this in a shop called 'Rumpelstiltskin'!), hand-dyed yarns, small knits, my own patterns, painted bits and pieces, stitchmarkers (learnt how to make these from doing the Hogwarts Sock Kit Swap), my lavender spinning wheel oil, and other handmade spinning and knitting accessories. If any of my readers have ideas/ comments/ feedback to offer this would be most welcome.
Friday, 8 February 2008
I have managed some knitting though - two hats, one for Tom and one for Toby, with their names knitted into the border. I used the same Danah's earflap hat pattern that I've posted about here before. Pictures will follow when I have a little more time.
My package for the sock kit swap is nearly ready. I've dyed some silk yarn a varigated green mixture for a lucky Slytherin who's allergic to wool. I've also spun some silk blended with angelina to make a 'silver' yarn which I've dyed black. It contrasts nicely with the green, and the silver highlights work really well (pictures will follow after my 'spoilee' gets her package). For 'goodies' I've exploited my English location to provide some of the muggle sweets mentioned in the books - sherbet lemons, mint humbugs, and treacle toffee. I've also put in a tin of spotted dick, and some custard! Then there's my home-made jam, and I'm planning to make some pickle to put in too. And I must stop there because I'm already wondering what the postage will be on that lot!
Off to Dave's parents this weekend for a family get-together to celebrate his mum's 80th birthday. A meal out is proposed. Yummy!
Thursday, 24 January 2008
" 'Ann Makarovna has finished her stocking,' said Countess Marya. 'Oh, I'm going to have a look at them,' said Pierre... Pierre went into the children ... 'Now, Anna Makarovna,' cried Pierre's voice ... 'when I say three you stand here ... Now, one, two, three!' 'Two, two!' cried the children.
They meant the two stockings, which, by a secret known only to her, Anna Makarovna used to knit on her needles at once. She always made a solemn ceremony of pulling one stocking out of the other in the presence of the children when the pair was finished."
"The maid's pattern is still a secret. How Anna separates the two stockings is still uncertain. the quotation makes one wonder how many knitting details and fine points have been lost during the years."
And then yesterday I came across this. How exciting! Mystery solved! : two socks in one
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
I can tell you about my non-swap projects, and there is a little to report here, despite how much time I'm spending on my Hogwarts homework. I have reached the heel on Durmstrang 2, and the adjustments I made to the pattern have resulted in a very good length that should be alright for all but Hagrid-sized legs. When it is finished I will post a picture for you to compare the two (Durmstrang 1 and Durmstrang 2!).
'Vesty thing' and 'Aidan's scarf' are only just simmering on the back of the knitting stove where I occasionally give them a slight stir!
I have cast on in black sock wool for a mobile cosy for my friend, Varsha, who celebrated her 40th recently and hasn't yet received the present from me that she truly deserves for being a wonderful, supportive friend. I'm going to knit some I-cord in a metallic silver yarn for the trim and a drawstring on the cosy, a technique that Lesley kindly taught me at the last Bradford Spinning Guild meeting. I'm also going to line the cosy and incorporate a pocket in the lining for a handsfree kit.
In and amongst all this I must make time for my French homework and, of course, some ironing!!!
Monday, 7 January 2008
I've modified the pattern because while I think I can get away with the shortness of the sock on my dwarfish pins (I'm only approximately 5' tall!) I'm sure it really would look too short on Miss Average, and positively half-mast on Ms. Tall. I've also taken account of the aesthetic improvements I made to the first sock as I knitted it, and I've improved the way the charted pattern commences. I haven't typed up any worded instructions as yet, but here is a teaser chart for anyone who's interested: