Up Knit Creek

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Spin, spin, spin

Still not a great deal of knitting going on here in the Creek, but there is a bag on the needles as we speak. I have already re-started three times so whether it stays on the needles remains to be seen.

I have been busy though thanks to my newly-acquired Landscape dyes.
When I first got my wheel, I also bought some blended wool roving for practice but, to be honest, I very soon became bored with spinning sheep-coloured fibre all the time so on Sunday I had a go:

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first-ever hand-dyed rovings

I spun this into pretty fine singles

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pretty singles

which I then navajo plied

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finished article

Approx 100 yards (59 grams) of 12 wpi yarn (roughly DK/light aran) in pretty colours which I have no idea what to use it for. I have another 60g of rovings dyed in the same colours but slightly lighter which I will just ply together as a 2-ply to see how the different plying techniques affect the final colour. I really enjoyed this experimenting as it has made me realise that I can make any kind of yarn I want!

Speaking of experiments in spinning, take a look here. Diane has started up the Sunday Spin-a-long and the first instalment was "crinkle cut" yarn. I dug out some pre-dyed merino tops that I had bought for felting some time ago and found that I had used up all the nice colours so I picked colours that I thought would clash horribly and used them for the thick yarn. For the thin yarn, I used just one colour but added a strand of silver rayon embroidery thread (it was useless for embroidery as it kept tangling up in the machine so it needed to justify its existence). I then plied the two together as Diane instructed, et voila!

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crinkle-cut yarn

I love spinning!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

All stitched up

and slightly more room inside my abdominal cavity. The troublesome and excruciatingly painful gall-bladder is no more, it is an ex gall-bladder that has shuffled off its mortal coil and can no longer turn me into a shivering, feverish, nauseous lump of green goo, incapable of speech or ... anything really.
The operation was a success, the nurses were lovely and overall the experience was as good as these things can be. I have a couple of stitches to be removed provided the nurse can decide whether they are dissolvable or not (I'm guessing not as it's now 10 days post-op and they're showing no signs of disappearing) and then I should be back to normal. I haven't tried driving again yet but will give it a go over the weekend probably.

I managed to finish a pair of socks during my hospital stay and the few days afterwards
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Tofutsies yarn, my own pattern. Note the beautiful, sexy T.E.D. stockings

but apart from that, my knitting mojo seems to have deserted me. I have cast on one or two little things and finished off a few bits and pieces but nothing is really shouting "Knit me! KNIT ME!" at present. Obviously, since the op I've had a bit of time on my hands so it has been really frustrating to find myself in the midst of so much knitting time with nothing to show for it.

So, what to do?

Spinning, that's what. The knitting mojo may have gone, but the spinning version is back with a vengeance.
First up, my first ever laceweight:

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It's a bit over-spun as I was originally going to ply it but then it became a game of "let's see how fine I can go with this and just how many yards I can make". The result is approx 200 yards of 25wpi yarn. The fibre was a free sample of Suffolk fleece, about 40 grams, kindly donated by Rachel in return for answering a few questions about the fibre and its results. Not bad, eh? I started to knit a lacy neck-warmer with it but couldn't get the stitch count to add up so it's been frogged, to await the return of (hopefully) inspiration.

Second was a little experiment that had been bubbling in the deepest recesses of what passes for my brain for quite a while. About 18 months ago I bought some extremely fine commercially-spun cashmere yarn, thinking that I would fashion all manner of wispy, floaty gorgeousness from it. Needless to say these plans did not come to fruition as the yarn was overspun, prone to breaking and, frankly, too much of a strain on my poor old eyes. I then hit on the idea of navajo-plying it so it would be a little thicker, a little more robust and therefore easier to knit with. There were several unsuccessful attempts at this that mainly resulted in howls of frustration and an almighty tangled mess needing to be surgically removed from the flyer on my wheel. This time though, the spinning godesses were smiling favourably in my direction and the navajo plying worked. Unfortunately, the resulting slightly-thicker-but-still-laceweight yarn was still unusable for knitting as it just didn't "gel" somehow. Next part of the experiment was to try plying it with some merino-blend singles that I had spun whilst at my parents' house the other weekend - this time, Houston, we have lift-off:

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We have approx 350 yards of cashmere/merino/other wool yarn at about 15 wpi. Oh yeah ... the colour ... well, that was the other problem with the cashmere but that will have to wait till I get the new dyes I have ordered.

Lastly, Mollie would like you all to know that she has been "doing her bit" to aid me in my convalescence.

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Why can't I just lie here all afternoon? What do you mean, there's a patient to be looked after?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pesky Cat

... she always has to poke her nose in other people's business; I should be grateful, really, for her help in keeping this blog going and for her wonderful way of "tensioning" the yarn I happen to be knitting with (some might use "sabotaging" in preference to "tensioning" but I know she's just trying to be helpful).
Anyway, thanks Mollie.
We spent last weekend with my parents, just the two of us as the girls had prior commitments (in Lucy's case it was work; Bethany had been invited to the party to end all parties).

Both mum and dad had been unwell the week before so it was uncertain right up to the last minute whether we would actually be going but luckily they rallied round, only for me to go down with a stinker of a cold on the journey up there.
We had a very relaxing weekend, joined on Sunday by my brother, his lovely partner and their respective daughters for a lovely Sunday roast. I love my mum's Sunday roast even though I'm not much of a meat-eater; yorkshire puds, roast potatoes and lots of gravy - I'll never tire of it. Oooh! And custard pie! Mum makes the best custard pie in the whole world, I've really never tasted better.

Monday was a Bank Holiday and Simon, Dad and brother all went off to Donington to watch a load of noisy cars drive recklessly fast around a circuit so we girls took the opportunity to visit Calke Abbey - a lovely, dilapidated country house in beautiful parkland (plenty of wool in the making sheep and deer grazing, a lake, a church - you get the picture). There was also a craft fair in the grounds, including a Weavers, Spinners & Dyers Guild stand. The ladies there were very enthusiastic spinners and were happy to talk spin for ages until I was dragged away. One of them had the most beautiful, hand-carved wheel I have ever seen, gorgeous curves and very organic - I have tried to find an online photo to link to but without success.

Quite a bit of knitting took place (two pairs of baby/child socks from stash yarn) and some spinning. I hadn't touched my wheel for over a month but the spinning mojo reappeared with a vengeance, I'm happy to say, and I have a bobbin of finely-spun merino-mix awaiting its partner-in-ply and a skein (approx 200 yards) of variegated lace-weight Suffolk singles. The Suffolk fleece came from Rachel who was kind enough to send out fibre samples in return for some feedback. All I need to do now is take piccies and send them off to her with my comments on how it was to work with etc.

That was the good parts, now the gutty part:
There is a fairly strong chance that I may lose my job by October, or at the very least, have to re-apply for it. I know this could be a golden opportunity (and the kick up the butt that I need) to start seriously trying to make a living from knitting/spinning etc but my mortgage is just tooooooo big and I'm too scared.
Gutty part two:
On Monday, I'm going into hospital (as long as my cold has receded somewhat) for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Yep! I've hijacked this blog because I'm fed up with waiting for "she-who-thinks-she-must-be-obeyed-but-should-really-obey-me" to get on and write something. She's become really slack of late and I think it would be a shame to lose the loyal reader(s) just because she can't be ar**d.

Allow me to introduce myself: I am Mollie.
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Obviously, I'm in charge around Up Knit Creek and a good job too or nothing would ever get done.
I have a very relaxed style of management round here but can be tough when necessary (and believe me, it is often necessary), preferring, where possible, to issue my orders requests from a supine position on the sofa, window-seat or bed. My needs are few (warmth, food, comfort and total sensory indulgence) but you'd be surprised how often the humans round here fail to deliver the goods. Last night, for example, I had to raise my voice for several ear-drum splitting minutes before my evening repast was laid before me, and even then, it was not the freshly-killed small furry creature that I had requested; no, it was some *shudders* muck from a sachet! Can you believe it? A Sachet! I have to point out that life in the Creek was fairly comfortable (not purrfect, obviously, but tolerable) until she-who...etc, etc started on all this knitting and spinning mullarkey. Meals are no longer served at my every whim, the amount of stroking and tummy-tickling has decreased dramatically and she seems to be determined to encourage Lucy, my favourite, to be out of the house as much as possible - something to do with "college" and "part-time job", whatever they may be. Huh! Doesn't she understand that to maintain myself at this peak of physical and mental purrfection, I need constant attention from my slaves humans?
I am not the only one to notice this gradual decline - just the other day, I overheard some of the younger Creekies bemoaning the fact that dinner is served later and later and that they are, like, totally fed up with the refrain "just one more row".
I won't even mention the extra hazards that have appeared all over the house - the sharp pointy sticks, the vicious spiked objects in the spinning bag, and the ever-increasing amounts of tangly stuff that keep taking my rightful place on the sofa or armchair - don't get me started...

Actually, I think this blogging lark could be quite fun as long as it's not all about her - I'm a much more interesting subject.
Let me tell you all about me me me.
I used to be called Merlin (huh? what the...) and I used to live with an old lady a bit west of Up Knit Creek but she died (I think) so the people next door took me in. Of course, I could have looked after myself, but if they were willing, well, it saved me the bother of looking for another place. Unfortunately, these people did not realise that I had lost my cherry to the tom along the road (a whole other story, for a whole other time) and were not at all pleased when my girth increased considerably so they took me to a rescue shelter. It was here that I became a mother to three (or was it two?) adorable little kitties who were the spitting image of their mother - how could they fail to be adorable? They were soon snapped up by humans who realised that a house needs a cat, but I was left alone. I missed the kitties at first but knew that they were better off in their new homes. They never send me cards or presents at Christmas or on my birthday so I guess they're getting on with their own lives now. Anyway, one day in January 2002, the Creekies (well, three of them) came to visit. I was very aloof but I could tell they were smitten. I had to have an operation to stop me having more kitties and they poked some techno thingy microchip under my skin (how demeaning!) and a week later I was put in a basket (the indignity of it!) and taken back to Up Knit Creek. I was left alone to explore my new surroundings but there was always a friendly hand to stroke me if I wished and food was readily available so I decided to stay.
I don't get on very well with the neighbours (dogs are sooooo stupid) but then, I only go out when nature calls or if I have to defend my territory so that's not really a problem.
I know I've moaned about the situation here, but my criticisms are all meant to be constructive in order that standards can be raised to my level. On the whole, it's not a bad place to live, and if I'm honest, I have to admit that I quite like all this fibrey stuff - who knew that unspun alpaca fleece would make such a cosy bed...