Saturday, February 27, 2010

Olympic Liesl #2.

Liesl. Finished and blocking. Used almost exactly seven balls of Noro Kureyon 157 for a size 46". Yarn obtained from the York p/hop Yarn Swap.

Modifications.....left out purl ridges in main body and sleeves, added four rows of reverse stocking stitch to neckline, used a purl cast off at sleeves and lower body to give a rolled edge finish. No buttons. I'll never wear it buttoned up so I'm not going to rush off to look for buttons. If some come along one day, that's fine.

I enjoyed knitting this. I've never knitted an entire adult sized garment in two weeks before and I've always struggled a bit with lacy stitch pattens. This was such a nicely written pattern though that I got past my mental block about actually having to count while knitting. I'm very happy with it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Olympic Liesl.

I only have a few rows to go on the second sleeve, plus sewing in the ends, so I'm pretty confident about finishing my Olympic Liesl in time.

Here's a picture of where I was last night...rubbish picture with colour photo shopped to death because it's just about impossible to get a straightforward picture of anything in the grey gloom that passes for daylight here at the moment.

I do like the way that the colour sequence looks very different between the yoke with purl rows, the body and the smaller circumference sleeves. It's not been at all difficult keeping the colour sequence running correctly btw. Kureyon is very easy to spit-splice and as long as you don't mind shuffling the order of the balls around a bit and starting in the middle of a ball occasionally it works out fine. Incidentally it does match up across the's just that I didn't lap the fronts over very neatly for the photo.

Some thoughts on this cardigan. Firstly I don't like the neckline. I opted for the lower neckline and it's just too loose and gappy, plus the weight of the yarn is stretching it. I will finish it all up, including blocking and the buttons then have a think about tightening the neck up. This will probably involve a crochet hook, bah. Don't much like crochet.

Secondly, the sleeves are pretty snug. This is of course because the sleeve is designed to preserve the 12 stitch repeat of the feather and fan pattern and so the sleeve size is not necessarily proportional to the exact size of body you are knitting. But it's worth keeping in mind. I think going up a needle size might work here, or adding a few plain stitches under the arm. In my case the sleeve is on the edge of okay and I'm hoping blocking will give me an inch more.

Fun knit though. Easy, well written pattern, very economical on yarn, minimal finishing. I may make another if I can find something suitable in plain black aran yarn with a bit of drape.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

One for the Wheel Geeks.

Okay, my beloved fellow wheel geeks, something interesting for you today.

Mystery wheel...

Is it a Haldane Orkney, like this one I had a couple of years ago?

Is it an Ashford Traveller? (First picture swiped from the web, second picture from the Guild wheel down in the utility room.)

I tell you, I looked and puzzled. Table of a Traveller, uprights of an Orkney, mother of all and maidens similar to an Orkney, flyer and bobbins clearly Ashford. But it all fitted together with good clearances. So what is it??? Hybrid, made from parts of two wheels? Something different altogether?

Well, after much hunting round the net it turns out to be a Mark 1 Ashford Traveller, made between 1977 and 1979. I did not even know there was such a thing. I thought the standard Traveller had been around in the same form forever. But no, right there on the truly impressive New Zealand Spinning Wheel Index there is a picture, about half way down the page.

Bingo....possibly the only picture of a Mk 1 out there on the web. Till today.

Thoughts though. I still think it looks part Haldane Orkney, especially the upright/MofA and especially one of the maiden adjustments. Lookie....

Haldane Orkney....

Mk 1 Ashford Traveller.

The top of the maiden turns and there is a screw adjustment system inside that tensions the drive band as it stretches with age. Utterly unlike the modern Ashford system of tilting the whole mother of all to tension the drive band.

So... when was the Orkney first produced? Around or after 1979-ish? Anyone know? And did Mr Haldane borrow a few design features from the Mk1, or was it the other way round? The Mk1 almost seems like a common parent, doesn't it? I wish Haldane hadn't gone all quiet about the history of their spinning wheels since they stopped making them.

I do like spinning wheels. All of them, though some I like better than others. I have preferences as to design, material, looks...I don't necessarily prefer old over new or any one material over another, but some spinning wheels just grab my interest and some are terribly ho-hum. I have to admit the two most common Ashfords, the Traditional and the Traveller, both leave me cold as to looks. I hate the flyer and mother of all position on both. Ugly. But they are both amazingly good wheels as to function, utterly reliable, easy to use, sturdy and have lots of accessories available. Good wheels and ones I recommend all the time. But I've never wanted one, oh no.

But a Mark 1 Traveller is a wee bit special. Different. And it hasn't got that offset mother of all either. I quite like this wheel. Also, I feel sad for it. It has a lot of rust, paint dribbled on it, it needs a good dust and oil and the footman connector is broken but you know what? I bodged up a footman connector last night, put some oil on the crucial points, put a string drive band on it and it spins like a dream. Judging by the dirt layers, the squeaks and the filthy, mouldering yarn I pulled off the bobbins no-one has spun on that wheel for the last twenty years or so but ...that wheel is a real old trouper, a class act. I tell you, it's possibly the only Ashford I've ever really wanted to own.

Got to give it back though. (It belongs to a friend who I'm trying to lure along to The Spinners.) Eventually. Once I've cleaned it up. And spun a bobbin or two on it. And taken it round to meet my other wheels. Might even take it to spinning group next week....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Liesl and The Herbs.

More allotment.

This is Bed M1(a) when I'm writing up my allotment notes. Yes I'm anal enough to have kept a yearly Plotter's Diary for the thirteen years I've run this allotment. The science training must have stuck somehow. And as I have twenty-six raised beds of various sizes on the allotment it's easiest to number them. M1(a) means Main Plot Bed One, and as a few years ago I split this into two shorter beds I now have M1(a) and M1(b). These two beds are both 4' wide by 8' long so are still decent sized beds but easier to fit into the crop rotation. I've got eleven this size, plus a couple of smaller ones and thirteen 4'x 16' ones if anyone is interested.

M1(a) used to be the main herb bed but it got taken over by two very thuggish lemon verbena bushes, a couple of dozen feverfew seedlings and a generous sprinkle of couch grass so really, it was due for a good clear out.

The three tiny survivors up the top end are a couple of oregano plants and a small patch of chives. I used to have a chive border right round this bed but the recent hard frosts have killed most of it off.

It's a nice sheltered bed (it's next to the hut) so I decided to put my collection of ancient cold frames on it this year. Scruffy? These all came out of various neighbours' skips, must admit. I don't bother using the lids as they just blow off in the windy allotment. The environmesh is just as effective and I don't have to vent or water the frames in summer. I'll let the soil settle here for a couple of weeks, skim off any new weeds and plant up some early carrots and salads in these.

Found some real treasure when I was digging this bed. Yes, two minuscule potatoes. Normally when I find rogue potatoes I roll my eyes at not digging out the potato crop properly last year, as rogue leftovers harbour disease. But these are not any old potatoes. These are Mr Little's Yetholm Gypsy can tell by the two-colour mottling on the skins.

I haven't grown this variety in what...eight years? Not since the whole lot got harvested and eaten by mistake by one of my summer plot-sitters. They are special spuds though. The variety is a really old one, dating from 1899 and it is (or was) the only tri-coloured (red and blue-black mottling on a white skin) potato variety in existence. It was thought lost for many decades until a few years back when a a handful of tubers were found in Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, growing in a compost heap. The tubers were taken off to the local agricultural labs and propagated using micro propagation techniques in order clean them up of all the viruses they were carrying. For a while they were only available to the home grower as micro propagated plants and I remember buying three of the plants for some silly price at the Borders Potato Day. I coddled them on in pots for a year, then grew them as an allotment crop for a couple of year, then they all got scoffed by accident and I didn't have the heart to start over again with them. So coming across these two tiny survivors are like finding buried treasure imho and I'm pleased at the thought of growing from my long lost original line again. Only a fellow vegetable grower would understand why this is so thrilling though!!!

Liesl is coming on well. I have got to six inches below the armpits. I decided to omit the garter ridges after the armpit divide and you can see below how this changes the look of the knitted fabric a lot. I do like Noro + Feather & Fan.

(Excuse the vile effect of Princess's dressing gown under the knitting. I needed a tailor's form to show the shape of the knitting properly and she was the first thing handy!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I recently took part in a Scraps Swap over on the UK Spinners forum on Ravelry. Basically twenty or so of you send in 100g or 200g of painted tops each, and then you get the same weight of fibre back but made up of small pieces of each fibre sent in.

Quite dazzling, isn't it? I'm now in the process of deciding what I want to do with it all. Usually when I'm deciding what to do with a new yarn or fibre I let it sit on my desk for a couple of weeks so I can look at it and mull things over but in this case, 200g of loose fibre + 2 cats is a recipe for disaster. Hence I'm putting the photos here to look at instead. I am inclined to think though I may make a "pudding" yarn, where you pull all the scraps down into even smaller bite sized chunks, mix them up together in a handy basket or bucket then basically spin the colours at random by shutting your eyes and pulling out the next section of fibre from the basket.

I'm trying to get away from always spinning in the same way ie fine and smooth and to get out my comfort zone when it comes to being consistent and planned, yawn. This year I've already tried spinning thick-n-thin yarn (what a mess...!) and even knitted something out of this, urgh. I'm also attempting to re-teach myself long draw using my right hand rather than my left, given that the Harris is a right-handers Saxony wheel. This last is not going too well either, got to admit. Pictures of the "yarn" produced may be forthcoming if I feel like putting up a humorous blog post one day!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Soup Plot.




There should also have been a picture of the final result, but unfortunately soup made with both curly kale and red lentils in it goes an unfortunate shade of greeny-gray so I have not bothered to take a picture. Tastes good though!

The allotment looks pretty grim at the moment, doesn't it? Actually it's not too bad for mid Feburary, apart from the seasonal aura of weedy and decaying dankness that hangs over it. The ground was soft enough on Sunday for me to plant up one bed with three varieties of garlic and some Grisette shallots, and half of another bed with Aquadulce Claudia broad beans, which are a variety that can withstand a lot of frost. I also picked up my seed potatoes and will put them in trays to chit sometime this week. I have International Kidney, Charlotte, Pink Fir Apple and Desiree for this year. It's still early days in the allotment just now but in another six weeks or so the planting season will be in full swing and the weeds will be growing like crazy. Must finish getting the beds prepped up before then!

Liesl (Ravelry link)is going well, apart from one mistake I had to frog back four rows for and another mistake so far back I've decided to ignore it. You'd really have to be looking to see it anyway. I'm enjoying knitting it, but I'm now wishing it had a couple of rows of garter stitch at the start of the neckline to make it look more finished. I may do the sugggested crochet edge instead, despite being a bit phobic about crochet.(Can do it but....) I'm definately enjoying the colour runs of the Noro Kureyon though. I can report with hand on heart that in the three balls I have used so far I have not found a single knot, piece of vegetation or lumpy/thready section. Plus I have been able to spit-splice straight onto the start of the next (carefully chosen) ball and keep the colour continuity going. I know some folk hate Noro but I don't seem to get many problems with it, really.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nutty Knitters.

Or rather, Knutty ones. And Knutty crafters. This a group that meets in a local church hall once per month for a day of any sort of portable crafting, lunch and gossip. Very informal and great fun. I enjoy it particularly because I usually go to fibre craft groups....knitting, spining, crochet, felting etc. This lot do quilting, embroidery, sewing and other exotic things too. Very interesting to get involved with discussing and looking at crafts other than your own, I think.

Yesterday we also had a guest speaker/visitor, The Yarn Yard, who brought lots of her latest yarns to coo over. I see Natalie's gorgeous yarns and fibres in the flesh regularly enough to feel that I don't need to stock up for the next year every time I see her, so it's always fun to sit back and watch the (fairly polite) scrum round the table all cooing and squishing and sniffing and lusting over the new colours, lol. But I've got enough YY fibre to keep me spinning for a year tbh. Did I show you this I bought from her in York?

Superwash BFL, a one off braid dyed with excess dyes from a Clan dyeing session (Clan is her latest lovely 8-ply sock yarn) so a sort of colour chart of gorgeousness. Don't know what I'm going to do with it but there's some things you just have to own, you know?

I took a wheel to the KK but only spent half the time spinning. (YY club fibre from a few months back, merino/silk, orange/grey/black colourway.) I put in a couple of hours on my Olympic Liesl too. What with yesterday and last nights knitting I've almost finished the yoke and will divide for the sleeves in anothe couple of rows. It is a fast knit. I've only had to frog it back once as well!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Knitting Olympics.

Yarn Harlot is organising the Knitting Olympics again. I did this last time, back in 2006 and it was really quite exciting given that I'd only just learned how to knit socks. In fact I think I blogged daily about my progress, lol.

This time round I've decided to make Liesl (Ravelry link)by Edinburgh based designer Ysolda Teague. I've met her briefly at a couple of local events and really, it's about time I knitted something designed by her! Also I've been feeling the need for something a bit more crafty-looking than my usual black to wear at spinning demos and Liesl looks like it would be nice and airy to wear over a (black??) t-shirt, no?

I suppose if I'm intending to wear this to spinning events I should have spun the yarn for it? Aye right. Actually I would have done but the idea only occurred to me yesterday and the Olympic opening ceremony starts 2am GMT on Saturday so not much chance of that, oops. Maybe for the 2014 Olympics. Instead I've decided to use this...

...which is the Noro Kureyon I got in the p/hop swap at York two weeks ago. Ah, I've not blooged about that yet, have I? Sorry. There's an article here, and some good pictures on The Yarn Yard's blog, here and here.

Anyhow. I know at least one depressingly fast knitter has managed to make Liesl in four days. I can't knit that fast. I'm a very slow knitter and what's worse, for ten of the seventeen Olympic days my kids are on half-term break. So it will be a challenge to knit this in the time allowed. But that's what it's all about, yes? Challenges?