Monday, 22 September 2008

Advancing skills?

At last all the children, including my sister's children, are in full-time school. Instead of using the extra time this frees up for housework I have, of course, been doing more spinning and knitting! It really is addictive, and I am well and truly hooked! Especially as during the last week I have been doing new things - styles and techniques I've never or rarely tried before.

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:

Handspun 003

Handspun 007

In order to free up bobbin space for the Hufflepuff yarn I also plyed the singles I spun at Alston Hall from some dyed roving I bought from Freyalyn - her Wisteria colourway. I decided to Navajo ply because I wanted to maintain lengths of solid colour. This felt very brave because my last go at Navajo plying was very bumpy!! However, this time the yarn does not have bumps where each chain meets - those points are barely discernable. I thought I had overplyed as the skeins twisted so much when I took them off the niddynoddy, but after an intersesting discussion with Penny Leonard at Guild on Saturday I found that the yarn did indeed relax so much after washing that the skeins no longer self-twist. Perhaps my last Navajo-plyed yarn was so bumpy because it was underplyed?

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):

Handspun 018

Handspun 021

And finally, my new knitting craze - I have been learning double-knitting. This is not in this case a yarn thickness, but a knitting technique that creates double-sided knits. I first came across the technique when I saw an article about double-knitted socks which solved the mystery from 'Knitting in the Nordic Tradition' about how the nurse in War and Peace knitted two socks in one. Then a friend of mine knitted a two-colour double-knitted bag, and I realised the possibilities double-knitting affords for colourwork. I wondered if this would resolve my problem with Aidan's scarf, knitted as a fairisle tube, which was turning out far too thick. So, I researched the technique and cast on. It works!! I am knitting a scarf that has a design on both sides, yet only uses two strands of yarn, and is a perfect thickness. The biggest win was getting the name (this one is for my middle son, Tom) to read properly on both sides. The scarf so far:

Double-knitted scarf 020

Double-knitted scarf 023

Clever eh?

Monday, 15 September 2008

Made it!

Ok - I'm a fast knitter! I am regularly accused of this in Ravelry due to the rate at which I add finished projects. This week I managed to knit a whole jumper in just five days! Before you faint with exhaustion at the thought I'd better add that it was for a child - it started life on my needles as a jumper for my middle son, and came off the needles a better fit for my youngest, who now owns it. What I'm proud of is that I've finally mastered my Mum's skill of knitting while watching T.V. (or in my case, while reading the computer screen!) - I feel like I have 'made it' as a knitter!

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.

Tom's jumper 010

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:

Star gloves 004

Star gloves palm

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.

Handspun 002

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:

Vesty thing and Poppy's cardigan 003

Sunday, 7 September 2008


This is it - from now on I will post here at least once a week!! As this is the 'website' I have given to Lark Books to go with my profile I really need to start using it properly again, instead of focusing solely on my Potter blog (which I love!). So - I'm going to tidy up: Re-organise the buttons. Put some links to my online pattern sales. Give details of new designs I am working on. And I will ramble on about the events in the life a a small-town housewife from Yorkshire! Some posts may be brief, some may be very long - I make no resolutions there. Most will include pictures and/or links for added interest.

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:

Luna's Moonlight Sock front for etsy

The Fleur Tote:

Poppy's Cardigan and Fleur Tote 014

Chaussettes de Beauxbatons:

Chaussettes de Beauxbatons cover

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!!