Saturday, 28 February 2009

Pimp that competition

I mentioned previously that I'd offered to provide the prize for the Phoenix Knitting Forums first competition so here's a peak at what's on offer to the winner. "Phoenix" and "Spring Greens".For a chance to win one of them, you need to be a member of the group and answer Mongrel's five questions posted on the AY Ravelry group by midnight on Sunday.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

I love heading off to my knitting group, I just wish I could go every week instead of once a fortnight. Still my babysitters are pretty accommodating and you can't have everything. It's something I look forward to as you never quite know who you're going to see and what they're going to bring. I'm sure we all go more for the chit chat than the actual knitting, I know I do! It's always nice when you can make someone's day too and from the look on Caroline's face last night, I delivered on a promise and I might just have made hers. Talk about making me warm feel all warm and fuzzy. So what did make her smile? Well considering I just caused her to splurge on a brand new spinning wheel, perhaps I shouldn't feel so smug. Anyway, having lured her over to the dark side with a trial session on my old traddy, I took home her undyed roving stash and turned it into these.It's all mystery fibre as she got it in a swap from somewhere and three balls of it turned out to be pencil roving. So, here's my very first custom dye order in some of Caroline's favourite colours. She couldn't stop stroking it all night - I wonder how long it'll take her before she has it on her wheel?

Monday, 23 February 2009

What's in a meme?

This meme has been doing the rounds for a while but I confess I filched this from several other blogs including Kate's and Kai's. The tip is to mark in bold the things you have done, the things you plan to do in italics and leave the rest.

American/English knitting
Baby items
Cable stitch patterns
Charity knitting
Combination knitting
Continental knitting
Cuffs/fingerless mits/arm-warmers
Designing knitted garments
Domino knitting
Drop stitch patterns
Dyeing spinning fibre
Dyeing with plant colors
Dying yarn
Fair Isle knitting
Free-form knitting
Garter stitch
Graffiti knitting
Hair accessories
Hats: Cuff-up
Hats: Top-down
Holiday related knitting
Household items
Kitchener stitch
Knitted flowers
Knitting a gift
Knitting a pattern from an on-line knitting magazine
Knitting and purling backwards
Knitting art
Knitting for a living
Knitting for pets
Knitting for preemies
Knitting in public
Knitting items for a wedding
Knitting on a loom
Knitting smocking
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting to make money
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with alpaca
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Knitting with banana fibre yarn
Knitting with beads
Knitting with camel yarn
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with cotton
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Knitting with dpns
Knitting with linen
Knitting with metal wire
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Knitting with silk
Knitting with someone else’s hand-spun yarn
Knitting with soy yarn
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Knitting with wool
Knitting with your own hand-spun yarn
Lace patterns
Long Tail CO
Machine knitting
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Moebius band knitting
Norwegian knitting
Participate in an exchange
Participating in a KAL
Publishing a knitting book
Short rows
Slip stitch patterns
Socks: toe-up
Socks: top-down
Stockinette stitch
Stuffed toys
Teaching a child to knit
Teaching a male how to knit
Textured knitting
Thrummed knitting
Toy/doll clothing
Tubular CO
Twisted stitch patterns
Two end knitting
Writing a pattern

Some of the things I think I've done but am not entirely sure what they mean so I've left them. Anyway it looks like I've done a fair bit already but I still have plenty left to try :)

Sunday, 22 February 2009

New Year, New Beginnings

When I first started looking into knitting online a couple of years ago I googled and came across a fabulous knitting community who welcomed me with open arms. I made friends, picked up tips, shared the highs and lows of life and knitting and discovered my local knitting group who I'd now be lost without. So it was somewhat of a shock to discover last week, with no warning, that the Angel Yarns knitting forums were no more. Not even the moderators had an inkling of what was to happen and the ripples of frustration and fury continue to flow. All the lost links, the depth of information shared, the friendships that had been built all lost at the touch of a button.

Anyway, as with all good things something will always rise from the ashes and so begins the Phoenix Knitting Forums. Built by it's membership out of love for something irretrievably lost and also no longer tied to seemingly dying yarn shop. Huge thanks have to go out to Traxia, Zyle and Peter for stepping up and building us all a lovely new home.

Now that it's no longer tied to one shop, we can also promote other people including indie dyers like myself. If you stop by the (I suspect) soon to be renamed Angel Yarns ravelry group, you can join in their first competition. This week the prize is going to be donated by me and if I understand correctly the questions will relate to my little shop. So for a chance to win a skein of my sock yarn, look out for the questions on Friday. The colour's still a secret but will be on a theme of "new year, new beginnings".

Here's one I made earlier

I have been intending to post about spinning in Australia but to be honest, I have stopped and started the post I'd been writing several times and in the end, I gave up. I did manage to take a snapshot of one of my regular spinning haunts on the veranda though. You can just make out Ashford traddy I got to play with and the pile of fleece I also got stuck into. I've got some more pictures somewhere so I'll have to root them out too. So anyway, as the title says, here's one I made earlier. Yarn!I picked this fibre up from a lovely lady I met at the Atherton Tablelands Spinning Guild Meeting. She couldn't remember what it was but there was 200g and it was green and soft and I fell in love with it. I've still got a bit of the fibre left actually but I also have just under 400m of rather nice yarn and it's a fairly consistent 19wpi. My first ever homespun sock yarn!
This is one that I started before I went to Oz. I was a little worried that the single might have lost a bit of it's integrity having sat on the bobbin for so long but actually, it plied up really nicely. It started out as some of my own dyed Corriedale (above) and ended up like this.100g and approx 315m at 18wpi :)

It occurred to me the other day that I keep on spinning and not actually knitting any of it up so now I'm in search of suitable patterns to knit them all into. Suggestions for the slubby earlier yarns are always appreciated.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Water water everywhere ...

and quite a bit of it seems to be in my cellar! Oh the joys of living in an old house in the country, the birds, the animals, the open fields, the flooding every winter. Ah well I guess you can't have it all and what would I moan about if I did? See that lovely reflective surface? Well, that would be the 2 inches of water covering the cellar floor as the pump had "forgotten" to switch itself back on. It normally switches itself on and off automatically and copes quite well but an hour with no pump produces this and it seems to be happening all too regularly at the moment. Cue me running around in mad panic, in my wellies if I remember first, stuffing my hand into the icy water of the sump to fiddle about with the pump. If I'm lucky, it's just an air lock and not a stone and it starts up again. Otherwise it's a screwdriver job and as I'm the one generally at home during the day, I just have to get on with it. Good job I'm a liberated, self sufficient, independant woman. Haha.

I think the pump's trying to tell us it's overworked. You wouldn't believe from the amount of water standing in the fields here that I actually live five miles from the driest place in England! I don't think we'd worry about it so much if the boiler for the central heating wasn't down there. For some reason water and oil don't seem to mix?! No central heating? In winter? Hmm, I think we'd best keep pumping!

Small shop update

Just a quick update on the shop, I made my first sales! Yay. Thanks to Annette who bought some of my sock yarn and Paige who dived into my basket last week before it even went online. I've been updating the shop again this morning and have added the rest the sock yarns and some the first of the double knitting. Here's a quick peak at some of the DK. It's a really versatile yarn this as being handwash, it felts nicely. I've used it several times for hand bags as it gives quite a firm fabric when you knit two strands together. Not only that, there's enough for a pair of socks in each skein. Ok, hard sell over but it is really rather nice ;)

Monday, 9 February 2009

Catching up with the FO's

Like so many other knitters, once New Year comes around again I find myself looking at all the knitting projects I have started, and in some cases finished, over the last year.
Pattern: Shetland Shorty from Knitty
Yarn: Sirdar Luxury Soft Cotton 4ply
Needles: as quoted, 3.5mm/2.25mm circs

As I'm relatively busty (you'd never guess from this picture!), I made the medium but now that it's been washed and worn a few times, I could have got away with the next size down. I also subbed the yarn and in the end only used 2 balls which was less than the quoted yardage even though my tension seemed spot on. Will I make it again? As much as I like it, probably not. Apart from anything else, the weather's not all that great around here to be needing summer cover ups.

Pattern: Fishy from Knitty
Needles: 4.5mm circs & dpns
Yarn: Wendy aran with wool and various aran odds and ends.

I love this pattern, it's such a fun and quick knit - pretty much done in a couple of evenings. I'd intended to make a blue and grey striped fish but was told in no uncertain terms that it was supposed to be a goldfish. Who can argue with a five year old?! A quick rummage later and I found the Wendy aran that my gran had given me. It's far too orange a red for me to ever wear so hey, hats it is then. I'm sure I'll make this one again at some point. I might even make myself one although I'm sure I'd get some very strange looks if I wore it to do the school run.

Pattern: Meret from Woolly Wormhead
Needles: 4mm dpns
Yarn: Stylecraft Life Aran

I have worn and worn this beret, it's so comfortable. I used slightly smaller needles than the pattern asked for and as a result, it's more of a beanie than the slouchy beret it's supposed to be. Still, that's made it nice and dense and warm and as it can be so windy around here during the winter, I wear it almost daily. I'm definately going to make another at some point but make it nice and slouchy.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

New Shop

Yes, I have decided that now we're back into the swing of things, the time is right for me to reopen the shop again. I've decided to leave Etsy behind and am going to stick the the local market for a while so I bring you The Bear Necessities on Folksy. Based in the UK with UK prices (no currency conversion to get my head round and constantly change). Yay all round. I know we should be supporting the free market economy and all that (sorry I've been watching BBC news again) but hey, buy British I say. It's something that I try to do whenever I can and with so many great indie dyers over here, why not?!

So anyhow, today I dove into the fibre mountain and set the dye pots bubbling with some new offerings to be ready for the weekend but in the meantime, I'm filling the shop with all my current stock. Here's a sneaky peak of the sock yarn and 4ply available. I've already added some aran weight that's just ideal for felting or knitting anything else you fancy. I'll be making handbags for the shop again and am hoping to be able to offer some handbag kits in the very near future. It's all very exciting :)

mmm fibre

Lookie lookie, new squishy goodies! Actually, the postman has been really good to me this last week and it's not even my birthday til the weekend. I have a mountain of fibre and yarn to roll in and dye up and lots of new things to spin. This top one is my current favourite and has got to be the next thing on my wheel - if I can stop stroking it that is. It's some of Sara's "Biffle/silk" that I'd asked her to dye for my birthday but then I won her birthday competition too. How cool is that? It's luverly :D She's got a new shop on Folksy if you fancy some of your own and she does some absolutely fab colours.

Also hitting my doormat last week in time for my return from Oz was this shetland humbug from Shunklies. This one's destined to be a rather funky pair of socks as my spinning has finally reached the stage where I can get a more or less consistant 4ply equivalent. Yay. I think it's down to all the practice I got in Australia as with the weather being what it was, we got to spend quite a lot of time indoors. In fact, this is where I got to sit and spin - a bit different from my usual corner of the lounge in front of the tv!