Tuesday, 28 October 2008


I've really got back into knitting large projects lately. I guess it's the cold weather that's making me feel the need for warm clothing, and lots of it! Latest off my needles is a sweater called 'Ingenue' (Rav Project Link here), knitted in Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora yarn.

The pattern's from Wendy Bernard's book Custom Knits. It's a fantabulous book, all the sweater/cardigan patterns are knitted in the round and most of them are made from the top down. I love knitting sweaters from the top, it means you can try them on as you're going, which makes it easy to see when and where you need to make any alterations.

My Ingenue included the alteration suggested by Wendy for making an off the shoulder neckline. It only involved changing the standard neck edging to a stretchy 2x2 rib, but the final effect is quite different from the standard pattern. The original Ingenue has a firm funnel-neck collar that stands away from the neckline, while mine has a neckline-hugging curvy thing going on, which I love. Since the ribbing is so stretchy, it means I can wear the collar differently according to the look I want. So I could have it all demure and tucked up under my chin like this:

Or slinky and off the shoulders like this:

I love a garment that's this adaptable! Currently on my needles in the same yarn (I bought loads of it in the John Lewis sale a couple of years ago), is the February Lady Sweater by Flintknits. It's actually not a sweater, but a cardigan, and, you guessed it, it's another knit-in-the round top-down garment. I'm consistent in my pattern choices at least! :)

In other news, Giles the Ryeland ram has finally achieved his life's goal. He's gone to meet the ladies! Here he is getting a final check-up, looking very dapper in his new tupping harness (which has a marker crayon under his chest so we can keep a tally of who he's been most friendly with).

And here he is is en route to the ewes' field. Sorry the photo's a bit blurry, he was in quite a hurry to get going and wouldn't stand still to have his photo taken!

Sadly, his first introduction to my three ewes was not all he might have hoped. They took one look at him, ran away and hid in a ditch! Not the best of first dates. However, Giles is very persistent, and they seem to be getting used to him now, they are at least grazing side-by-side. No sign of the marker crayon having had much use, but they're all first-timers, so they're going to need time to figure things out. Hopefully, in a few months's time all Giles' wooing will have paid off, and we'll get some lambs!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A very lovely swap

Want to see something very lovely? It's a swap parcel from Jooles, the Spindlefrog! We arranged to do a swap after we found that we kept buying things from each-other's shops. So in the spirit of supporting the alternative economy etc., we decided to forgo the exchanging money part and just swap some parcels of lovely spinning stuff. So I sent her a box of wool batts, a spindle and other goodies, and she sent me these:

It included two of her gorgeous rovings (one in merino and one in shetland wool), two lovely batts of blended fibres, and some very yummy-looking chocolates.

And here are the woolly goodies all mosaic-ified for my Ravelry stash...

I'm going to appreciate them as they are for a few days before making plans for them, although there are some cute little felted accessories with the batts that are already telling me they want to be appliqued over a funky hat or bag made with the fibre. Using this stuff is going to be so much fun!

Oh and the chocolates are proving to be yummy indeed :)

Jooles, you're the best swap pal ever, thank you so much!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Ally Pally and a bit of Natural History

So, what did I get at this year's Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace? Tonsillitis, yay!! Actually, I think it's more likely to have been the crowded tube trains that were responsible, or maybe one of the dinosaurs from the Natural History Museum where we stopped on our way back from the show.

But as well as an 'orrible bug, which is now thankfully on the mend, I did get some much nicer things. Mum and I went on the Friday, and it didn't seem quite as busy as in previous years, so we managed to see a lot in a few hours. I started off by making a beeline for the Socktopus stall, to take the photos that I promised Jooles of her Spindlefrog rovings there.

I've put rings around the Spindlefrog wools. Look Jooles, they're just under the Pigeonroof Studios fibres and to the left of the rovings from Chameleon Colourworks!

I was very very tempted by the Spindlefrog fibres... But I decided to be good as I'm expecting a swap parcel from Jooles soon, wouldn't do to be greedy would it?! I wasn't as disciplined when it came to the tops from Pigeonroof Studios. I see them so rarely for sale, I spent quite a while just staring at them. And then somehow a braid of BFL in 'Caribbean' coours jumped into my hands and demanded to go home with me. I did as it asked, and here it is now:

I did very well during the rest of the show, everything else that I came home with was on my quite minimal shopping list.

On the right is a skein of Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn. It's a much brighter green in real life, my camera didn't like it as much as I do, it's very squishy and hug-able. It's destined for some cabled or lacy socks for me, and I'm going to learn to do them with the magic loop technique so that I can see the pattern more easily as I knit. The ball of red/blue yarn is some Kauni Effect Yarn from the Scandinavian Knitting Design stall, which changes as if by magic through rainbow colours as you knit with it. I'm planning to make one of Cosmicpluto's Simple but Effective Shawls with it. The other packet of fibre is naturally dyed merino from the Natural Dye Studio, gorgeous stuff, it was so hard to choose just one!

And have you spotted the first ever issue of Sew Hip magazine amongst the goodies? It looks like a great magazine, can't wait to see it in the shops like the issues of Yarn Forward that I saw in my local newsagent's this morning (yay for that!!). I've not done any sewing for ages, but some of the projects in the mag are calling me to dust off my sewing machine and delve in to my fabric stash again.

Then, on the way home, we stopped by at the Natural History Museum (one of my all time favourite places) and saw these...

Cute stuffed critters:

A creepy but pretty cool neanderthal skull:

This, OMG why do they let kids see it, huge animated dinosaur (it's blurry because it was moving towards me, and because I was running away, it was that scary and realistic-looking), I swear it was following me:

These familiar-looking fossilised shells (they came from the same area of the UK as the ones I've put in my fossil spindle)

And this set of bones from a Somerset Ichthyosaur, which made me squeak and bounce excitedly because they look very like the vertebrae bones I've found at Charmouth :)

So all in all, a very good day!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The dark side

I have a confession. This week I have mostly been shopping for perfume oils, BPAL oils to be precise. Yes it's true, I've turned to the dark side. Those teeny tiny bottles of scent have been calling to me for a while now, and I have finally succumbed. Look what arrived this week from Posh Brats, the only shop in the UK that stocks them.

It's a bottle of a scent oil called 'Wezwanie/Hold' and it smells amazing - like hazelnuts, oranges, honey and cocoa - all rolled into one. Delicious! :) I am now, I confess, completely hooked on finding new oils to try from independent perfumers. I'm expecting some more BPAL samples to arrive this week, and I can't wait!

But don't worry, I've not allowed the new sniffies to distract me from my woolly interests. In the last couple of days I've also been spindling this alpaca fibre from Spindlefrog...


...into this singles yarn

The spindle's a new shape that my mum's been testing out, in walnut. I like it, so we'll be making more in this style. But the fibre is the star of this story, I'm loving the way Spindlefrog's colours are spinning up. I think this will become a two-ply yarn for a shawl or a scarf, it depends on what yardage I get. And, there's more! Or there will be soon, as Jooles of Spindlefrog and I have just posted our parcels to each other for a mini fibre swap. I made her some batts from wool from Willow (one of my sheep), and she's made me a surprise batt. I can't wait to see what it's like!

I've also been sent on a super-secret Spindlefrog mission (well it's not so secret now that you lot know about it, there are a few on Ravelry who've heard about this too...). I am charged with the task of going to The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace this week, and taking photographs of Jooles' fibre on the Socktopus stall. And if I happen to buy some, or maybe get lured in by some of the other goodies that I know Socktopus will have there, then I'll just have to consider the purchases to be collateral damage resulting from such a difficult mission.

In other news, I've been dyeing wool like crazy over the last few days - all for the Wildcraft Shop. I've done a really big batch this time, which I'll photograph and upload in several updates over the next few weeks. As well as the usual range of fibres, I've done a new kind of fibre, which is specially aimed at beginner spinners. It's a super-easy spinning English wool blend, dyed in random unrepeatable shades. It'll be offered at pocket-money prices (although today's pocket money seems much more than I got as a kid!) and is intended to be used up, rather than to loiter in stash. I'm keen to encourage spinners who are new to handpainted fibre to dive in and try spinning some without worrying about the price, or about ruining the fibre.

Next post will show the spoils of Ally Pally. My credit card is already hiding, but I know where it lives :)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Not such a little horse now

Inara's been growing really fast lately, she's starting to look much more like an elegant young horse, rather than a gangly baby foal.

She's not turning grey yet, although the vet seems pretty sure that she will eventually. Her mane and tail have a peppering of white hairs, but I haven't seen any through her chestnut colouring on her body. I'm hoping that she'll go through a stage where she has a pale mane and tail and a dark body. One of the things I like about grey horses, is that it's as though you get several colours for the price of one as they go through different stages before they reach their final colouring.

While I was out in the field taking Inara pics, I also caught some nice shots of cobwebs and other autumny things...

I love how the light's been split into rainbow colours over this one:

Brr..., it's making me chilly just to look! Autumn's definitely begun around here. Time to return to some cosy knitting...

Lately I've started work on a top-down sweater for myself, from Wendy Bernard's Custom Knits book. I'm knitting Ingenue, which is a top-down funnel neck sweater, only I've adapted the neckline so it'll be an off-the shoulder version instead. Here's how far I'd got with it few days ago:

It was really sunny the day I took the photo, and the colour wouldn't capture correctly, it's a much darker burgundy in real life. The yarn's Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora, which is lovely to knit with, very soft. Since the photo was taken, I've knitted down to the part where the sleeves are separated off, and started the body. It's all plain stocking stitch, which is mindless knitting - excellent for doing while I watch all the great new TV series that have started up again. Like Heroes Season 3, only half an hour now before it begins! :)