Up Knit Creek

Monday, July 23, 2007

What's in a name

This post nearly didn't happen at all - I went outside to set things up for a little photo-shoot and turned my back for a minute only to return to find Her Royal Mollieness in position:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Would you argue with that?

Then, when uploading the pictures to the computer, we had a power-cut that lasted an hour and a half. Now, I know that that's nothing compared to what people in the Gloucester area are having to contend with at present but it was still pretty annoying. It happened about 8pm as the light was starting to fade so I had to be pretty ingenious to carry on knitting. I never realised that those clip-on book lights could clip onto a bra and be angled to throw the light onto your busily-knitting hands.

Yesterday we went to the Rare and Traditional Breeds show at the Weald and Downland Open Air museum near Chichester. There were, as the name suggests, lots of traditional breeds of sheep and goats on show as well as pigs and cows, but as far as I know, you can't make yarn from pigs and cows so I wasn't very interested in them. There were also some alpacas and ducks, geese and chickens, organic food, country crafts and lots of fibrey goodness for sale.

The first purchase of the day was some baby alpaca fleece from an alpaca named "Strawberry Shortcake" - who could resist with a name like that? (Not me, obviously).
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

These alpacas are from the same flock as Strawberry Shortcake and are all one-year-old males. I think the black one may need psychiatric treatment as he seemed to show an inordinate interest in his own pooh!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Next purchase was a whole fleece of shetland wool from a sheep with the original and interesting name of... wait for it... "Lamby"
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Lamby herself wasn't at the show but I did spot other Shetland sheep:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Next up was some Wensleydale, a rather stunning mix of colours that kept calling to me every time I walked past so I had to buy it
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

As far as I know, the animal that provided this fleece did not have a name, but I thought "Curly" would be appropriate, what do you think?
We saw a fine example of a Wensleydale who had won first prize in its class (he may or may not have been called "Crimpy"):
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

(Bethany admitted later that she had been wondering why I was talking about curly Wensleydales - and how on earth curly cheese is produced!)

Purchase #4 was 100g of bamboo fibre (no picture this time) - I can only assume that the plant it came from was called "Grassy" or maybe "Panda-bait".
How much longer can I spin out this dreadful "joke"? Well, not much longer now, I promise.
Next up we have Bobby the bobbin and Katie the lazy-kate:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Plying will hopefully be much easier now as this lazy-kate has a brake to stop the bobbins over-running - I had terrible trouble when I was trying to do some "Turkish Knot" plying which is why there are no photos. One big turkish knot would be a better description. I'll have another go now though, so watch this space...

Finally (hurrah!) we have Rosie the rosette:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Second prize in the novice spinners' category (just don't ask how many entrants there were, OK?)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Finally finished

This is the birthday present that has been keeping me occupied (and not a little worried) for the past few weeks. It was actually completed last Friday but I've only just got round to taking a picture. The intended recipient doesn't even know that I have a blog so I feel quite secure in the knowledge that posting it on here will not spoil the surprise.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yes, it's another Argosy but I just love this pattern. It's so simple but so effective and can easily be adapted. This version is knitted in very fine merino (although the colour I used doesn't seem to be available now) on 2.5mm needles, increasing to a total of 11 "blocks". It took about 300 metres of a 1500 metre skein, so there is plenty left for me to play with. This is the third version I have done, the others being a silk wrap-sized one for my mum and another lace-weight one in wool and silk for my brother's lovely partner. I may even get round to making one for me soon.

I've also done a bit of spinning, this time using a blend of Norfolk Horn fleece and some soy silk fibre. The soy silk is so smooth and, well... er, silky and has worked very well with the wool. Norfolk Horn is a bit rough for next-to-the-skin use but the soy silk has softened it nicely and made it much more strokable. The two fibres take dye quite differently so the final effect is rather heathery with subtle colour changes - maybe I should spin up some more and make a chunkier Argosy. That pattern works well with just about any yarn, even a home-made one.

Am also working on a commission at present - 8 pairs of plain, knee-high socks. Fortunately, the deadline appears to be quite flexible which is just as well given that I had to undo the first sock completely as it would have fitted an elephant with dainty feet! I decided that some shaping was needed for the calf area of the sock but had underestimated the amount of stretch in the knitted fabric so even with what I thought was a generous two inches of negative ease, the sock was very, very loose on my rather rotund calves. Never mind, only 15 and a bit more socks to go ...

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Birthday MeMe

Saw this on Sheepish Annie's blog (amongst others) so thought I'd give it a go.

November 23rd:

1869 - Dumbarton, Scotland: the clipper Cutty Sark is launched and is now the only one of its kind in existence, despite being badly damaged by a fire on 21st May this year.

1990 - the first all-female expedition to the South Pole begins. I don't know if they made it...

2005 - Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf becomes president of Liberia, the first woman to lead an African nation.

1887 - Boris Karloff (actor)
1718 - Edward Teachor a.k.a Blackbeard the pirate

Kinro kansha no hi Japanese labour thanksgiving day

If you want to have a go, just type your birthday (minus the year) into Wikipedia and then choose three notable events, two birthdays and one holiday.
Simple, entertaining and educational!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

UFOs and FOs

This is a little UFO that has kept me occupied and amused over the past week:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This little seagull chick arrived in our back garden a week last Friday and has been there ever since. I didn't expect him/her to last the weekend given the number of cats that live near us, but he's still here and appears to be quite well. His mother or father visits regularly to bring food and he shelters up by the house, in a corner, in the evenings and when it's raining. The RSPCA website advised putting abandoned chicks on a high surface like a flat roof, but our flat roof gets full sun (huh! that's a joke at the moment) and a chick died of dehydration up there last year, so I decided to leave him where he was and let him take his chances. I expect he'll fly off soon. I'm guessing that he fell out of the nest - a height of at least 25 feet - so it's pretty amazing that he survived at all.

The FO of today's title does not, unfortunately, refer to knitting but does apply to some sewing that I have done recently and could, in a less obvious way, refer to a much more long-standing project, namely Bethany. It is debatable whether she is a project that will ever be finished, at least in my lifetime, but I'd say she was well on the way to becoming the person she will eventually be. Anyway, the FO in question was this:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

her prom dress. I have shown pictures of the dress before at varying stages of completion, but this is it in all its glory, net petticoat and all. Bethany was very pleased with it and received many compliments, which was a great relief. It's so long since I made any clothes that I did wonder whether it would pass muster, but my worries were thankfully unfounded.
The prom was on Thursday at this hotel and a jolly good time was had by all, as far as I can tell (though obviously, mothers are the last to know).
Bethany was accompanied by her friend Misha, who had rather wonderfully co-ordinated his accessories to Bethany's dress:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A striking couple! (Bethany would like it to be known that she and Misha are not, in any way, shape or form "a couple" and never will be OK? They are friends, just friends, nothing more, so don't start...)
There were some lovely dresses on show at the prom but I have to admit to feeling very proud of the fact that my girl was the only one wearing a home-made dress, shrug and necklace and still looked every bit as stylish as the others (more so in some cases, but now is not the time to start that discussion...)

In other news, there has been some knitting (still on the birthday present but it's slow going at present) and some spinning (an experiment which has not turned out as I envisaged) but nothing interesting enough to merit a picture so you'll have to make do with this gratuitous picture of Mollie.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Edited to add:
Shortly after writing this post, I noticed that the seagull chick was limping quite badly so I contacted our local wildlife rescue who came to take a look. The chap decided that given the number of cats around and the fact that a chick died on our roof last year, he would take our baby away. The parents did not like it one bit and tried to attack quite viciously.
I feel a bit sad, but I'm sure it's for the best.

PS In reply to Peri's comment, Mollie is too tired for a blog takeover at present; after all, she's spent all day hard at sleep work and needs plenty of rest.