Sunday, 31 August 2008

All Gone!

Well, that was fast 'n' furious!
All eight plaits have found new homes over on Ravelry, I'm well chuffed 'cos I get to see what you all spin with it!!

Roll on Monday, I've got so many colour ideas I want to develop so lord knows what colour my hands'll be whan I've finished ;-)

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Wanna win some free fibre? Scroll to the bottom...

It's been a fab weekend, today, for the first time in I don't know how long, we had a proper day to ourselves and the energy to go further than the local area so I spent oodles of money in...

In typical jammy fashion, we turned up into the only car park with a farmers market on the only day of the month when it would be there and found yummy cup cakes (sorry, they got eaten too quickly!), an incredibly expensive but unfortunately disappointing pie, a selection of wild mushrooms, some speciality breads and a fibre stall! Not to forget the two craft fairs, the deli with its fab cakes (we sat here and ate them)...

...and also our time-honoured favourite, homity pies from Bloomers!

It must be ten years since we drove there yet they still stock our vegetarian favourite even when we're now no longer veggie's.

And there was a craft shop where I purchased wool I hadn't seen anywhere else...and...

...This fantastic scarf I picked up on a craft stall. It's based on a Japanese wood print that I know and love and colours I love too so I just had to have it. We got a new set of home phones too as our old ones are on their last legs, an expensive but wonderful time was had by all!

Anyway, earlier in the week, I finally got around to the promised dyeing, here's where I ended on Tuesday...

That's 500g of English Wool blended with Viscose neps. It wasn't expensive and still quite soft so I was happy to play with my least favourite Ashford colours and blend them to shades I DID like...

Don't they look pretty all braided up? I had a fab time and learnt one hell of a lot. And yes, they've reduced some, that's where the giveaway bit comes in, see?

As I've dyed these in a test to check shading etc. I'd like to offer you the chance to spin a plait for yourself. As most people who read this blog are on Ravelry, you can PM me there (I'm chrispindle) with your name and address and the first 8 will get a random plait. For entries in the U.K. I can stump up the postage but unfortunately non-U.K. postage might be a tad expensive so if you really want some, I might need to tap you for postage, your choice.

Any non-ravelry entries can still be in for a chance if you put your e-mail in a comment on this post. For security, I'll delete the details as soon as I contact you so you don't get unwelcome e-mails!

The weights vary from 25-40g so there's enough to have a play with and wash. It will produce an interesting textured yarn because of the neps but I'd love to see what other people do with it. I'd welcome any comments, I have washed them but if you have any dye loss, let me know or even just to tell me about your favourite colours.

I had another fab day on Wednesday too...

...This is all I can show you 'cos there's some I'm spinning up for my swap pal right now and I don't want to spoil the surprise! I am seriously loving the colour combo's, you know that kind of feeling when it's all plaited up and you go "did I do that?".

The long skeins are actually 3 short lengths plaited together. I saw this fab painting in a restaurant and the colours stuck in my memory. It was an orangey goldy brown 'n' black sunset piece with the oil really ladled on with a palette knife. The blues have a seasidey quality to them and the other three remind me of the vibrancy of spring flowers, daffodils, bluebells, all sandwiched between layers of green.

Next week I've got full 100g+ skeins to dye, I'm starting with Wensleydale which has fab sheen and I may be revisiting a colourway or two, you'll just have to wait 'till next time!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Endings and new Beginnings

To say it's been a frantic week would in no way cover how many balls I've been juggling (and dropping!) but I'm still here, I've just watched the closing ceremonies at theBeijing Olympics so I'm taking a short while to write my blog in between engagements.

What I forgot to mention (well, duh!) last week was that those ebay items were finishing on Sunday. They did very well, I did notice a familiar name or two in there along the way and now I've got my funds to cover the wheel repair plus a few pennies for luxury fibres which have already been purchased ready for the dyeathon come Tuesday. So if I arrive at knitting group with interesting coloured hands, you know why!

What was slightly more annoying was the two days I spent hunting for a book that basically didn't exist as I'd sold it on a previous auction and the consequent frantic e-mails to the poor irish buyer to assure her that a) I'd put the wrong book details in and b) the replacement book I was sending WAS the correct book for the yarn! I blame the rushing to list when I found out halfway through the day of half price fees and the general pace of things that I didn't catch the mistake before the listing ended and PMT for being so bloody minded in my tearing the house apart for two solid days that I didn't stop to think that maybe it might not be there!

Ah well, these things are sent to try us, especially when time's been tight trying to Lambanana spot before they disappear on the 26th. I finally managed to squeeze in a roam via public transport on Wednesday to bag an extra 7 though it's been frustrating when some are missing, relocated indoors or are back at the "vets".

Still, it HAS got me to parts of outer Liverpool that I haven't been to ever or in years and it makes me realize just how much the whole area has patches of new community buildings, some of the grungy areas are considerably less so and how really pretty certain areas are.

Anyway, I digress. I headed first to Liverpool one for 2 Lambananas (1 gone, GRRR) and to buy a prezzie for hubbie's mum and then back to the town hall to re-take the mayor. Look what I found at the side?

And no, I haven't the foggiest what that was all about!
Anyway, despite a very crowded foyer, I got a better shot...

...and headed off to Moorfields to go further afield. This got my attention...

...In a what the...? kind of way. Basically, it's a circular chunk cut out of a derilict building that rotates...but it does so much more than that. It rotates on a complex angle so it sticks proud of the guilding and hangs in open space as it moves, truly bizarre!

I spotted a news item about revolving trees in a different part of Liverpool which I will have to check out one day and also the metal art along the strand that's been increasing. Liverpool is certainly making a name for itself ;-)

Anyway, after my marathon trundle (you really don't want to know how many trains and buses you can fit into a 2 1/2 hour window) plus picking up of dog medication, we decided to do a little catch-up this morning....

I didn't manage to get everything, here are a couple I would have liked to see...

...But I have enjoyed what I have found. Even in the car, it's far better to see them in their proper context and even the more garish ones look better in the flesh. We might do a leisurely meander tomorrow and visit a few of the sites where the Wirral lambs are but in a way, I'm quite glad I don't need to spend further hours capturing the stragglers. Great fun though!

In Ravelympics news, despite the lack of time, I still managed to hit my initial target i.e. two batts per day by Friday. The mini-mountain looked like this...

Since then, I've managed a further 4 batts, there are 6 batts ready to spin and perhaps 2 batts worth ready to prep but I have oficially spun a whole fleece in 14 days! I am pleased with my progress though I'll admit to being a mite relieved to wind down from the punishing schedule of late. The wheel will go on the back burner for a week while I enjoy myself dyeing and then perhaps I'll slip in a day a week spinning to clear the last of it.

Ah well, time marches on and I'm off to yet another engagement. This time, it's a meal to celebrate the MIL's birthday on Tuesday, yesterday it was a meal at my ma's, on Friday we had a meal and a movie, I can see a diet looming in my future but not tonight....

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Time is running out!! Tick tock, tick tock.....

hence, not only have you had to wait more than a week for me to blog, I can't ramble on in my usual manner (which may be a blessing!) so this one will be shorter than usual.

The main reasons for my full schedule right now are the somewhat more punishing than originally anticipated timetable to get my fleece drumcarded and spun before close of play next Sunday. I will tell you more about that later.

The second reason has been me taking whole days to track down these blighters...

Given that my time's limited on this one, I've chosen a few of my favourites so far, but as they're disappearing after the Bank Holiday, time's tight to get as many as possible before they do.

Plus, there's the awkward ones like this one which really need re-shooting, too many people, not enough time before the bus home arrived!

Still, it's been great excercise and with a little luck, we'll take to the car this afternoon in order to get a few of the more inaccessible ones leaving me with an all-zone Saveaway and an interesting itinerary on Monday to grab a few more. There's the potential to mop up any extras on Friday but hopefully I can forego that for a movie instead, still eats into spinning tome though!

I know there's still the rest of the week but as that includes a trip to the RSPCA (long wait), you can see how my time becomes a little more crucial.

Anyway, in Ravelympics news, here's the scoreboard as of last night where I managed a herculean 4 batts in an attempt to take the pressure off.

There are 21 batts worth there, and 2 finishing points. When I hit 32 batts, I'll call it finished as my original goal was 2 batts a day. However, there are another perhaps 10 batts, 2-3 of which are still to be prepped to be spun before I'll have completely spun that fleece PLUS the carrier bag of Portland, you can start to see where the pressure comes in!

Still, it was my choice, I have no further plans to join knitalongs/spinalongs/sockalongs or anything else this'll be xmas knitting next anyway and the following week will be a more gentle but fun dyefest so I'm not a total masochist!

On the knitting front, I am a little further up the back of the Wendy pure bamboo yarn...

...Considering the only time I get to knit it is Tuesday knitting groups, it's not bad PLUS I've been following the pattern despite it getting somewhat wrecked with the terrible weather on the Saturday a couple of weeks back.

However, my plans for a sock knit during Ravelympics has been well and truly scuppered. Aside from the spinning, Lambanana'ing and knitting groups, there's one other thing...

...But I'll have to let you know about them another time. Suffice to say, I was meant to be knitting a square a day but ended up doing these in the car yesterday. Inspiration took hold and I've decided the right-hand one (which should be on its side- damn blogger) is raindrops falling down a window. That's all I can say for now.

Right, back to the wheel, on your marks, get set....

Friday, 8 August 2008

Hopelessly Overcomitted? You Betcha!

Well, it started on Monday when I went Lambanana hunting. Four hours later, I'd managed 43 and incredibly achey feet so I went home happy. Want to see a few?

I particularly like the lit one, it was very effective but difficult to photograph. Well, you don't want to see them all at once, do you? It'd be a pretty photo intensive blog! Never mind, you can wait for the next installment, particularly as I might bag a few more on the weekend.
I was also getting stuck into my drumcarding target, despite my excursion, I still managed a creditable 5 batts so I could still break even by carding 3 on Tuesday even with both knitting groups and the fact that I was worn out after Monday.
Wednesday was a little more complicated...
I'd had an e-mail from the Co-op the night before giving a 3 hour timeslot for delivery of the new washing machine. It was 5pm in the afternoon so I had the freedom to get my lunch and start to clear the way in the afternoon without having to rush. About 3pm, I realized there was a snag...the old washing machine needed not only disconnecting but also moving all the way through the house and out the front door so that it was not blocking the way for the new delivery. Problem. I knew it would be payback big time, but what can you do? It needed doing so I pushed, pulled, dragged and heaved the damn thing all the way, put my back into it to get it over the 2 " doorstep (that was a beggar!) and out onto the concrete front. That worked out quite a sweat, I can tell you! Of course, there's the draining of the water hoses, the last of the water in the drum, disconnecting the waste pipe from under the sink even before the damned thing could be moved as well as cleaning round after it.
It was a good thing I DID move it too, I got a phone call around a couple of minutes after I sat back down (I was still huffung and puffing!) to say they were in the area early and could they deliver in an hours time. Anyway, delivery went without a hassle, they even tried to take the old one away (which I hadn't paid for) but as I knew a local scrap merchants would take it for free, and they would have been penalised for doing so, I warned them and they left it. Funnily enough, the next day, some blokes in a white van knocked on the door and asked if they could have it so I didn't even need to pick up the phone!
Anyway, I made sure they took away the packaging then I needed to plumb it in myself. A few little problems but by Thursday, I had it doing a pre-wash check and its first washload. I don't know if you can really call it exciting, it is only a washing machine but it is nice to have an infinitely superior machine that washes cleaner (even if longer) and spins better than the old one. Fingers crossed to a few years hassle-free service! At least, being a Bosch, it's got a very good reputation and good customer service if things do go wrong.
That was the good news, the bad news was that the exertions of the previous day were catching up with me. I knew I was in for a doozie as the pain took 48 hours to start kicking in so I'm walking at a snails pace and achey all over but it'll pass.
Finding out yesterday afternoon that it was a half price listing day didn't help either, I spent so much time getting listings and descriptions together that I missed the deadline to sign up for the Ravelympics teams! I thought I'd already posted a message about the Handspun Heptathlon but aparrently not. Whether anyone will take pity on me I truly don't know but I've also asked to be on team Hopelessly Overcommitted...apt, don'tcha think? I can always spin along anyway, even if I don't get the official button and support those who are in.
So, did I find any time to card the rest of the batts?

Well, I'm four off my target and with a little luck, I should scrape through another two before the opening ceremonies in a couple of hours time. I still have one pile of fleece so I will continue to card one batt a day during the olympics and if I manage to spin everything in the 17 days, I will award myself a personal gold. Even though the last week has been hideously busy, I'm hoping things will calm down a bit during the competition. At least I'm more prepared this time!
When I'm not spinning (and checking my ebay items), I might get the chance to knit a row or two of this...
Sorry about the lousy photo, better one soon! It's Wendy Pure, a bamboo tape yarn and I'm actually enjoying knitting it even after the usual frogging events so there's hope that this one might get finished! I've not entered the WIP wrestling so any progress on this one will go in the Hopelessly Overcommitted thread.

I had to show you this one...

I don't get as many good pic's of Biscuit but this one was a bit special, particularly how she managed to get spittle quite there on her nose!

For anyone that's interested, my ebay i.d. is chris_cheats you might find yourself a bargain or two!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Spinning, snoring, heat, knitting and sleep (or lack of both!)

Well, we're getting there on the sleep front, it's certainly improved with the slightly cooler weather and the nasal strips seem to have reduced although not quite beaten hubbie's snoring yet so things are definitely on the up.

The weather today is definitely grey, I could blame it on the fact that I picked up some bamboo yarn yesterday and forced my befuddled brain through a simple slip stitch pattern. It's early days yet (and I know I have a dozen other things on the needles) but I would like a cooler sweater as a cover-up for the summer. Pity every time I cast on or knit the dratted things, the weather turns foul!

On the knitting front also, I've had another setback on the Pampas coat. After another frogfest, it's been put aside for a few weeks 'till things are a little cooler and I've a little more brainpower. So, from Wednesday I've been doing a bit of mindless spinning...

...From the left there are the two skeins spun in the dying hours of the Tour-de-France, 2 small 25g piles of handdyed tops from Raw Fibres in Robin Hood's Bay. The third skein is another batt of Sockstuff from my swap with Mel, unfortunately spun a little finer than the other two so I'll have to be careful with the last one. It will make fab socks though I'll need to swatch to check needle size as I'm (relatively) new to the knitting with handspun thing. I'm currently spinning up that wonderful Merino Silk top that I showed you last time, it's a joy to spin and I'm taking my time (for a change!) and just working when I have the energy.

Speaking of spinning, fool that I am, I've set myself another goal!

I need to prep 34, yes thirty four batts in order to spin a skein a day every day of the Olympics. I'm up to twelve so far but I'll need to pull my finger out to get the majority of them prepared before Friday. I do have a back-up plan in case I don't hit target but that'll be another fleece cleared and I DID say I'd take a month off spinning and never got around to it so the combination of the TDF and Olympics will make another dint in the fleece mountain.

I'd like to take the opportunity to knit some of my handspun during the event too but no pressure, if I get the time before to swatch and do the maths, fine, otherwise it can wait for another day. I do have another little project on the go too....

It's a design I concocted myself, towards the Christmas present knitting. I'm making it up as I go along but I'm deliberating ripping it back to the rib and re-doing the cables. I'd love to finish these by the end of the Olympics which would also be my one and only entry into Summer of Socks as the other plans have gone so badly.

They're being so prettily displayed on another of Mel's swap items, sock blockers. I can't remember whether I've shown you all the stuff she gave me but it was a really well put together and thoughtful selection so thanks again Mel!

I had another spot of luck this week on my return from afternoon knitting group, a needlework cabinet/box on legs that I spotted in a second-hand shop. It had been there a month or so and had been reduced that day from £20 to £10. I had seen under it's hinged lid and noticed there was stuff inside but didn't know the full extent. Anyway, I had to unpack the thing in order to lug it home and guess what was inside?

Aside from vintage packs of sewing needles, some knitting needles and vintage '60's and earlier patterns, there were these 2 old biscuit tins, one crammed with vintage buttons! I bet it was some grannie's pride and joy so maybe she'll be happy that it's now residing in the house of a true craft-head. I can remember my own grandmother's comprehensive button box, in fact I think that's where my love of buttons comes from.

Right, better get drumcarding, see you next time (but don't hold your breath!).