Thursday, August 13, 2009

Part 3, Bendigo and Beyond - The Projects

Time to talk projects! When thinking about doing this post, it seemed a bit overwhelming, as I'll be going back as far as the things I was working on before going to Bendigo. It's not really going to be as bad as I feared though, since alot of that time was spent doing just one thing; working on the second "Bustaroony" cardigan.

I finished the back of the project, and moved on, in predictable order, to the left front piece. In this picture, I had finished about half of the left front, but I have since finished all of it.

Right now, I'm working on the right front piece. I'm going to put a button hole in this one, as the "self making" buttonholes the pattern calls for is not on. The stitches are way to tight to shove anything but the tiniest button thru, and this style of cardi just screams for a decent sized button on the front.

Since Bendigo, I've mainly been working on the cardi at home, and taking other smaller projects to work with me. Aside from it getting huge, I have so many small projects I need to finish for Christmas, that I really felt the need to feel like I was "getting somewhere", so I decided to alternate some of the smaller projects with the cardi, to break the monotony and hopefully to soon have finished projects to show for my efforts.

If you will remember, on the same day I bought the Majacraft Little Gem in Bendigo, I bought a superwash merino top from Mandie at Ewe Give Me the Knits, so that I would have something to try it out with. I started spinning on that the very night I got the wheel, and spun quite a bit in Bendigo. There's pictures of the bobbins on my previous post, but below is the yarn on the Niddy Noddy:

And here is the finished skein:

I decided to name it "Albequergue" as the colours remind me of the desert and the theme colours in some of the Navaho art you find there. I managed to spin and ply it quite thin, and decided it would be great for socks, so I started this pair below.

I'm using David's Toe up Sock Cookbook (free download available at this Rav linky), which is my favorite formula for toe up socks, with my usual slight "Widdershinesque" variation at the heel, and I'm adding a few ribs for stretchiness. Of course, they look positively fun and funky colourwise, but also nice and thick and warm. At this stage, I'm just past the heels and starting on the leg section. I've decided these will be my 'at work' project for awhile, as the stitch is a simple one I could do in a trance (which is pretty much my usual state of mind at work).

On the subject of spinning, I also finished spinning up the Shetland I'd gotten from David at Southern Cross Fibre Club. I'd started the first bobbin long before I left for Bendigo, so of course, it was spun on the Ashford. I must say that it was one of the most delightful fibres it has ever been my pleasure to spin. Whether that is just the way Shetland is, or whether it's David's remarkable talent I'm not sure. I had never spun either Shetland or David's fibre before, but from what I hear, it's probably a combination of both. Whatever it was, I now crave more Shetland to spin..when I have the room to store more fibre that is (not to mention the money to buy it).

So here is the lovely green Shetland, which I wound up naming "Verde" on the bobbins:

The finished skein of Verde:

And a bit of a blurry closeup:

It's actually quite soft for a Shetland, which definately broadens my options of what I wind up knitting from it. I haven't made my mind up what though. I'm once again waiting for that special project.

Sortly after I returned from Bendigo, I decided it was about time to buy me a couple of new uniform tops. The pictures I took in Bendigo convinced me that I'm close enough now to the size I want to be that I could buy some shirts that I would be able to wear for awhile. I had never been to the shop that sells our uniforms before, having in the past ordered them. So I got directions and stayed after work one morning to do the shop.

When I was leaving the shop, I realized that I was darned close to The Yarn Barn, and so of course, must pop in. They had started opening lately at 10:00 in the morning instead of 9:00, which made it rather hard on me, so I had started shopping at Needlenook instead. Anyway, here it was almost 10:00, and it seemed a good time to drop by.

Every since I got the Victorian Lace Today book, I have told several people that I would love to knit everything in it. No doubt that would be a monumental task, as I haven't knit even the first pattern out of it yet. Not to be deterred though, it appears I'm trying to buy enough lace yarn to perform the feat. When I left The Yarn Barn that day, it was with this bright red Centavago extra fine laceweight in my clutches.

I was in for a very cute surprise at work after I got back from Bendigo. My coworker, Linda, had seen this cute cup in a store and thought of me. She said she couldn't pass it up, as it was so totally "Me". And it's true. I despise exercise, and whenever I do it, always think I could be knitting or spinning instead. She knows me well, and I absolutely adore the cup.

Last weekend was the annual Mount Pleasant Fibre Fair. I'd missed this in previous years, frankly because I kept forgetting about it. Coming right after Bendigo as it does, I simply had let the day pass by before I figured out that it was on. But with the help of some fellow Ravelers' gentle reminders, this year I finally made it. Of course, I had to go after work, winding my way along roads thru the Adelaide Hills that would make a mountain goat nervous. Ahh, what we won't do for our fibre fix.

It was a fun event. Tiny compared to Bendigo, but the SA fibre community was well represented. Jane, from Moseley Park was there, along with Kathy from Kathy's Fibres, Brenda from Colonial Lake Books, and Spinningwoodie and his lovely wife were there with all their wooden goodie. There were several other stalls set up with sellers I don't know quite as well, and all in all a lovely range of fibres and accessories.

I also, finally, for the very first time, met Sharon, a fellow expat American and Ravelry buddy who I had been posting back and forth to for years but had never had the pleasure of meeting. She was there with her lovely family, and it was so wonderful to finally get to meet her. We shared a few Americanisms, like our "sticker shock" when first arriving in Australia, and other tidbits only another expat would understand. I'm looking forward to meeting up with her again sometime when we get the chance.

I also made a few purchases, although it can be successfully argued that I didn't precisely "need" anything so soon after Bendigo. But in the interest of supporting the local artists, I just forced myself (hrrrumpphhh)...yes...forced myself, to buy a few things.

From Jane at Moseley Park I got this royalest of all royal blues crossbred top:
Mt Pleasant MoseleyPark Blue

She obviously didn't want to get rid of it, as she had it hanging way way up on her fibre racks, but I tricked her by getting her handsome hubby to help me get it down ;).

And from Brenda at Colonial Lake Books I found two books that I had been wanting. I bought Spin Control by Amy King, which is, of course, about adding more control to your spinning. I've read about halfway through it already, and I love the techniques it talks about, and the instructions are very clear and concise. It's an excellent reference and technique guide.

I also bought Sculptured Knits by Jean Moss, and lucky me, it was in her bargain box! I'm a big fan of "coffee table" knitting books, the kind with the dialouge and the beautiful pictures. Each project is inspired by an artist of some sort, from painters to playwrites, with a little bio of the artist. The patterns themselves are very artistically bent, some to the point that I'd never dream of wearing, but there are actually a few usable patterns in it too. Just an all round lovely book.

Back in May at the Littlehampton sale, I'd bought some lovely soft camel coloured alpaca locks from Indulgence Alpacas. They were set up in Mount Pleasant as well, and their prices are so very reasonable that I decided to get another bag of the alpaca locks, this time in a darker brown that will compliment the first colour I got nicely.

And last, but certainly not least, I got several things from Kathy of Kathy's fibres. I got a bag of hemp. I've never spun with hemp, so it's more a novelty than anything else. I also go another top in the Red Flowering Gum colourway. I have two skeins in that colourway already, called Navidad, and thought another on would really give me enough to do a decent sized project with. I do love that colourway so much. I also got another top of the Timber colourway, plus a silk roving, also in Timber.

The Timber requires a bit of an explanation. After getting the Magacraft home, and finishing the skein of "Albequerque" shown above, I wanted something fairly simple to put on the wheel that I could spin up at work. I decided merino would be best, and chose a top I had gotten previously (again, in Littlehampton) from Kathy, as the fibre she dyes drafts very easily. Now the Majacraft has much larger bobbins than the Ashford does, but I spun two with the top because I intended to ply it. I split the top and did half on one bobbin, half on another, which was fine, but the bobbins were only half full.

I finished spinning the second bobbin Friday night, so it was fresh in my mind Saturday morning at Mount Pleasant. On a whim, I thought I would just buy another top, spin that on top of the bobbins I'd already done, creating two full Majacraft bobbins of the Timber wool, making one gigantic skein after I ply it. Then I bought the silk in Timber as well, thinking I would then ply it with silk.

My hubby, Chris, left Monday morning to take his year 11 geography class on their annual camp to the Flinders. I had a few days off while he was away, and I spent a good deal of my time spinning that second Timber top.

I'm now spinning the silk.

It's obvious I'm going to have to buy more though. How much more I'm not sure. I plan to either ply the two wool bobbins together with one silk bobbin, making a wool and silk 3 ply, or I'm going to ply the wool singles with the silk. I just haven't made my mind up yet.

While Chris was gone I made myself very comfortable, with my knitting strewn everywhere. Here's my knitting corner of the couch, complete with laptop open to keep up with my Twitter friends.

Yes, it's a mess, but it's fine to be messy when the hubby is away. It was sort of like my own personal camp right here in my own living room.

Also during this past week of husbandlessness, I was determined to finally use my "Earth's Pallette" dyes while I had these few days of peace, frivolity and fibre fun. As I looked to the stash, the organic was the smallest actual amount of white I had, and it was perfect for the cold dye technique, as I wouldn't have to worry about heat damaging the delicate fibres. So I pulled out the dyes, mixed them with the fixant, and for some reason decided to go for a nice shade of purple. Purple? Me? I don't even like purple. Even so, it's a nice purple.

With Earth Palette Dyes, you mix, then dye, then wrap in plastic and leave sit for at least 24 hours.

Then you wash it to get any excess dye out:

And then dry, which is where I'm at right now. It's almost dry. One more day on the rack should do the trick.

The last project I started this week, and probably the one I'm most proud of so far, is the fair isle socks I'm making as a Christmas gift. I haven't done Fair Isle or any sort of colourwork knitting in years. When I'd done it before, I didn't like it much, but now, strangely, I'm finding it a bit addictive, watching the pattern grow.

That's just the first little part of the first sock, so I may change my tune before it's over. I'm doing the technique of holding the MC as for English knitting and looping the other colour over my left index finger and knitting it as if doing Continental style. I have little or no control in my left hand where knitting is concerned, even though I am left handed. It's still very fiddly, but getting easier.

Well, that's it for this time. That finally get me caught up to the present on activities, purchases and projects. Till next time, Happy Knitting!

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