Friday, 28 August 2015

Fibre Friday #29

Happy Friday everyone! Fibre Friday looks a little less grey this week - I made a conscious effort to use more colour! Haha.
Fibre Friday Knitting Slable Hat Woolly Wormhead Stranded Blog
Firstly - I finished my Slable Hat by Woolly Wormhead. I used Madeline Tosh 'Tosh Merino Light' in the 'Charcoal' colourway. Like the pattern suggested, I knitted an extra chart repeat to add slouch - as I love a slouchy hat! This is the first pattern by Woolly Wormhead that I've knit and I'll definitely be making more!
Fibre Friday Knitting Strie Socks Lara Neel Stranded Blog
I've made a little progress on my Strie Socks - the first sock is finished and I've started the second sock. This is a pattern from Sock Architecture by Lara Neel, that I'm knitting out of my handspun. I love the little pops of navy and fuchsia that are coming through the blues and greens. These are going to be put by for a Christmas gift.
Fibre Friday Knitting Hitchhiker Martina Behm Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Hitchhiker Martina Behm Stranded Blog
I cast on for my handspun Hitchhiker shawl by Martina Behm. I'm really enjoying knitting on this - partly because I love using handspun, partly because each little 'tooth' is so addictive!
Fibre Friday Knitting Madeline Tosh Stranded Blog
I have also started swatching for my Pomme de Pin cardigan by Amy Christoffers. I'm using Madeline Tosh Pashmina in the 'Leopard' colourway. I'm knitting an enormous swatch - it's probably 9 or 10 inches wide - because where swatches are concerned, the bigger the better, right?! I need to do a swatch in pattern too, so it'll be a while before this actually gets started!
Fibre Friday Spinning Nunoco Stranded Blog
I spun my 'Oudh' batts by Nunoco in just over an evening - on my Traditional, as the Matchless was full - and chain plied the following day. I got 100yds of a worsted-bulky weight and I cast it on as soon as the skein was dry!
Fibre Friday Knitting Handspun Cocoon Hat Nunoco Stranded Blog
I knit my last Nunoco yarn into a Cocoon hat and I thought the blue-purple gradient of the yarn would make a lovely hat and Christmas gift for a friend of mine. So I cast on for another Cocoon hat by La Maison Rililie - this is the second attempt, as I knit the larger size the first time and ran out of yarn! Fingers crossed I have enough left for the crown decreases this time...
Fibre Friday Spinning Handspun Stranded Blog
I finished spinning my grey practise fibre on the Matchless, and chain plied it - it's a lot better than last week's attempt! Less coiled, less overplied and a lot, lot softer and loftier. I got 146yds of a chain plied 3ply - this probably won't get used for anything anytime soon, so I've tucked it into my handspun yarn stash.
Fibre Friday Handdyed Spinning Handspun Stranded Blog
At this point I was so tired of spinning grey, that I put some rainbow hand painted Polwarth roving on the Matchless. I split the fibre vertically and predrafted it within an inch of it's life. Here's the first half of the fibre on the wheel, in two different stages. This should, fingers crossed, wind up as a chain ply fingering weight sock yarn - I'm hoping that by splitting the fibre lengthways down the middle, that I should end up with two vaguely matching socks! But we shall see.
Fibre Friday Handdyed Spinning Handspun Stranded Blog

It's been a fairly busy week both knitting-wise and life-wise and I'm looking forward to the weekend - which starts tomorrow evening for me! I hope you enjoy the bank holiday if you're in the UK.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Fibre Friday #28

Last week I had three FO's and this week I have none! Instead I was too preoccupied with casting on all the things after Stash Dash - and looking at everything here, clearly it was the Week of Grey (no Fifty Shades jokes please, this is a highbrow place! :p )
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Slable Hat Woolly Wormhead Madeline Tosh
Last week I talked about wanting to cast on for a Slable hat by Woolly Wormhead - which I started this week - out of Madeline Tosh 'Tosh Merino Light' in the 'Charcoal' colourway, that I picked up when I was in New York City about 18 months ago (from the lovely Purl Soho). I'm onto the second repeat of the cable chart and I love how it's knitting up so far - the stitch definition is beautiful. I think I'm going to knit three repeats of the cable pattern before I start the decreases, so it's nice and slouchy.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Lara Neel Sock Architecture Knitting
I cast on for the Strie socks from Sock Architecture by Lara Neel. I'm knitting the toe up version, out of some hand dyed sock yarn from earlier in the year. I changed the heel to a short row heel, as I was knitting it on my lunch break at work and didn't have the instructions for any of Lara's fancier heels! This will be the third project knit from a book I own, which was a 2015 Knitting Resolution. Only 7 more things until I'm done(!?!). This particular pair of socks is going to be a Christmas gift for a very good friend of mine.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Yarn Madeline Tosh Pashmina
I had a bit of a low moment the other night, when I realised that despite being an avid knitter, my Old Romance cardigan is the only knit sweater I have that actually looks decent on me. My body shape has changed quite a lot of the past two years and I'm very much a rounder person, not quite plus-size anymore, but there is still plenty of me to go around, if you get my drift! So lots of the jumpers I've knit in the past just don't work for my figure.
What I'm really trying to do here is justify that I spent over a £100 on Madeline Tosh Pashmina yarn to knit a Pomme de Pin cardigan by Amy Christoffers. I'm at a stage where I think cardigans will flatter me more than big sweaters, and the Pomme de Pin has been in my ravelry queue for a long while now, so I'll be swatching for that this weekend. The colourway I went for was 'Leopard' - as grey goes with everything!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Handspun Yarn Spinning
I've caked up my Little Owls Play Sweet Music handspun from last week, which is going to grow up to be a Hitchhiker by Martina Behm - and may also be a Christmas gift, as pinks and purples aren't really colours I wear a whole lot!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Spinning
Spinning wise - and get ready for a laugh folks - I chain plied the singles I'd been spinning on my Matchless - using mystery grey fibre from deep stash, that I think might've had some alpaca in it - and wound it off the bobbin yesterday. I spun and plied this in double drive, which is the first time I've ever used double drive, as my Ashford Traditional uses Scotch tension - and goodness me you can tell I had no idea what I was doing. It was a nightmare to ply, the singles were like corkscrews and it's full of hard lumps where I couldn't untangle them and it's incredibly over-twisted (see below). The result is very, very curly rope. It hasn't been soaked and I haven't counted the yardage, because it will never get used! But it was practise and practise is never a waste. I have however, converted my wheel to Scotch tension, which was remarkably easy to do, and I'm spinning another bobbin of the grey 'practise' fibre - which will hopefully work out better! I don't have any photos of it, as it looks identical to last weeks spinning at this point! Haha.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Spinning
So - a very grey week of knitting and spinning, but it does feel good to start new projects. I have four days off this weekend - a rarity in retail - so hopefully next Friday I'll have loads of things to share. Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Stash Dash 2015 Finish Line

Stranded Blog Stash Dash 2015 Knitting Spinning
So Stash Dash finished for another year on Friday - and if you follow me on instagram then you saw my slightly panicked posts in the run up to Friday as to whether or not I'd get my last three WIPs finished. This in itself was slightly ridiculous because I was already well over my 5km goal - but I do love a challenge and I was adamant I wasn't going to finish with more projects on the needles (or bobbins) than I started with! I stuck to a very tight knitting schedule last week, but everything got done in time!
Stranded Blog Stash Dash 2015 Knitting Spinning
In the weeks between May 22nd and August 14th, I finished: 1 adult cardigan, 2 adult hats, 8 baby hats, 11 pairs of socks and spun (and plied) over 2,250m of yarn. I ended up with 7460.5m of yarn under my belt and I'm ridiculously pleased. If you're interested in the details of the projects I finished - you can find them here.

I still have a couple of projects on the needles - a shawl that needs to be frogged and another that has around 400m of knitting left on it, but I knit through a lot of the yarn that I've been hoarding - which is a great excuse to buy more, I think ;) I'm currently in that happy place where I've finished a lot of projects and am free to cast on whatever I want! So expect to see a handful of new projects in Friday's post...

I can't wait for next year's dash - I'm going to aim for 10km I think - go big or go home! In the meantime, I think I need a new arbitrary goal...

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Fibre Friday (on Saturday!) #27

Hi everyone. I promise Fibre Friday won't be posted on a Saturday every week, last week I fell asleep at my computer, this week I was hampered by technical difficulties! Anyway, I managed to get a fair amount of knitting done this week - in time to count yardage for Stash Dash!
Stranded Blog Knitting Seaweed Socks Wendy Johnson Fibre Friday
The first thing I finished were my Seaweed Socks by Wendy D. Johnson. Last week I was only a couple of repeats into the foot of the second sock, but the lace pattern knits up fairly quickly and they're quite short socks so it didn't take too long to get them done. These were knitted out of yarn v
by Hand Dyed by Kate in the 'Midnight Sparkle' colourway - you can't really see here, but the 5% Stellina content gives them such a twinkly effect in the sunlight.
Stranded Blog Knitting Socks Fibre Friday
I also finished my affectionately named 'Hot Coals Socks', I put the second afterthought heel in last night and kitchenered the heel closed at just gone 10pm British-Summer-Time. I always forget that afterthought heels take so much longer than I think! These were knitted out of Fortissimo Mexico in the colourway '252'. I'm hoping the yarn will soften a little after washing, as it's very sturdy and hard at the moment, but even if it doesn't, I think these socks will wear like iron!
Stranded Blog Knitting SpillyJane Mittens Colourwork Fibre Friday
You can be forgiven for not noticing any progress on the Prickly Thistle Mittens by SpillyJane - I put four rows on the first mitten in bed this morning, as I finished everything else last night! These are being knit out of Eden Cottage Yarns - the Oakworth DK in the 'Midnight' colourway and the Bowland DK in the 'Steel' colourway. Now that Stash Dash is over, these will be getting a lot more love.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Yarn
Speaking of Stash Dash being over, I'm currently in the mood to cast on ALL THE THINGS. Haha. I've pulled yarn and needles to knit a Slable hat by Woolly Wormhead - more details when it's cast on, but I'm excited to use my KnitPicks Caspian needles for the first time!
Stranded Blog Spinning Fibre Friday Playsweetmusic Little Owl Crafts
Spinning-wise I monogamously worked on my Playsweetmusic-Little Owl Crafts 2ply this week - I finished spinning on Monday, started plying on Tuesday and wound it off and counted yardage on Thurday. I got 685m of a 2ply fingering weight, initially I was planning to knit a Baby Surprise Jacket out of this fibre, but I spun it too thin (the perils of spinning so much sock yarn!) so it'll probably be a shawl.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Ysolda Teague Ishbel Shawl
This morning I decided to start re-blocking some of my older shawls, starting with the Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, that I knit last summer out of a skein of Treskilion Yarns. It'd got so tiny over time that I didn't wear it anymore, so blocking should remedy that. My mum's seen it on the mats in our living room and claimed it for herself, so I guess that's one thing less to put back in the wardrobe!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Shunklies Stash Enhancement
I also did a little bit of stash enhancing this week - obviously I need things to spin on my new wheel! Above there's a braid of Merino from Shunklies (and Joanne was nice enough to include 50g of rainbow Trilobal Nylon as there was a shipping mix up with my order). And below there's two braids from Spin Pretty, the blue is a 50% Merino, 25% BFL, 25% Nylon blend (perfect for socks!) and the pinky-red is a 50/50 Merino and Baby Camel.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Spin Pretty Stash Enhancement

Right. I'm off to cast on my Slable hat and fetch my blocking Seaweed Socks in from the garden as it looks like rain! Again, apologies for the delay. I cannot wait to have a working laptop again!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Technological Hitches...

Things might be a little more sporadic around here than I'd usually like - my (very old and temperamental) MacBook Pro decided that right after I'd spent a tonne of money on a new spinning wheel, was a good time to die on me. I'm lucky enough to have an iMac desk top - upon which I'm typing this now, but it hasn't got any photo editing software, and the majority of my files are stored on my MacBook. 

I'm not entirely sure what's wrong with it - only that it turns on but won't start up, so I'm going to make an appointment to take it to the geniuses at the local Apple store (which -silver lining- happens to be near a knitting shop I really want to visit!) and get them to do a post mortem on it - but I feel will end with me dropping another large amount of money on a shiny new computer. Luckily I have rainy day money for this purpose - although I was get a big hit of guilt when I dip into it! 

Anyway. I need to decide what to do about my editing software situation - I'm a photoshop girl through and through, and maybe it's time to suck it up and renew my creative cloud subscription - but that's neither here nor there. I should hopefully have sorted something out in time to post my regular fibre recap on Friday, but if it's late - then I'm blaming technical difficulties!*

Obviously the thing I'm most annoyed about is how much of my yarn funds this how debacle is going to cost me! But hey ho. I guess I have enough to last me a little while yet ;)

*one of which is, I don't have a desk at my parents house - my iMac is on a shelving unit as there's not enough space, so I usually just use it for netflix viewing. I'm currently typing this with the keyboard on my lap and it's not ideal! Haha. 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Fibre Friday (& Saturday!) #26

This week marks six months of Fibre Friday posts - which is a landmark I think, for me, if no one else. When I started this blog I was struggling with both my knitting mojo and my ability to stick to schedules of any kind, so some progress has been made! This week I have a lot of socks - including a finished object that I completely forgot to mention last week... Oops! Scatter brained.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Prickly Thistle Mittens SpillyJane
Firstly, I started a non-sock project. The Prickly Thistle Mittens by SpillyJane have been in my ravelry queue for about a year; I picked up the yarn for them from The Knitting & Stitching show last October, and it's been sitting in the stash ever since.  This week, I finally downloaded the pattern and cast them. Incidentally, SpillyJane has some wonderful colourwork patterns for sale on ravelry and throughout the month of August they're all $3 - which is about £2.38 including VAT, so I think I'll be stocking up on a couple more of her designs before the month is out! The colourscheme for these has been shamelessly purloined from the pair knit by Helena aka IgnorantBliss, as I think it's beautiful! I'm knitting these out of Eden Cottage Yarns in Oakworth DK in the 'Midnight' colourway and Bowland DK in the 'Steel' colourway. I very rarely knit colourwork patterns and I'm not really sure why this is - I'm really enjoying them so far!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
On to the socks and my handspun 'Autumn Rainbow' socks are finished! Made with fibre dyed by Taylor Made Yarns, these are the best pair of handspun socks I've made yet. I love the colours - I'm really glad I decided to Navajo ply the singles as it's kept the colours much more clean and crisp. They don't match, but I think matching is overrated!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Budleigh Rachel Coopey
The project I completely forgot to talk about last week are my finished Budleigh socks by Rachel Coopey. These are from her book Coop Knits Socks, and knit out of Skein 'Top Draw' in the 'Blackcurrant' colourway. I love them, aside from the above handspun socks, these are my favourite (and probably most accomplished) of all the socks I've knit so far.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
I also finished my second Austermann sock, knit out of Austermann Step in the 'Aubergine Easy' colourway. A simple vanilla pattern meant I knit almost an entire sock (bar toe decreases) last Saturday at a friend's barbecue. Nothing to write home about, but another pair for the drawer!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
More socks - and I got two pattern repeats done on the toe of my second Seaweed sock by Wendy D. Johnson. I'm knitting them out of a Merino/Nylon/Stellina blend from Hand Dyed by Kate in the 'Midnight Sparkle' colourway. I'm hoping to get these done in time to count them for Stash Dash - so this week they're going to replace my mittens as my 'At Home Evening Knitting'.  Because I need categories for all of my knitting!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
Finally on the sock front, I cast on for another pair of vanilla socks - to replace the Austermann socks as on-the-go knitting. The first sock aside from the heel, is done!  And I've cast on for the toe of the second sock - I wound off a colour repeat of the yarn so I could start the second sock in the same place, so hopefully they'll match! I'm knitting them out of Fortissima Mexiko in the colourway '252'. This is the first time I've used this particular yarn and I'm not very impressed - the colours are fine and there aren't any knots so far, but for a 75/25 superwash wool / nylon blend, it's so stiff and scratchy. I'm not someone who touches wool and says 'Oh it's too itchy, I can't wear it!' (Truth be told, I scoff at these people and leave them to their acrylic - unless they have an actual allergy or something, then I feel immense pity for them. Imagine not being able to wear wool?!) but this yarn sure is sturdy. It'll probably wear incredibly well, but I think I'm going to soak my socks in some conditioner to try and soften them up a little, when they're finished.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
On to spinning and I've finished spinning the braid of Polwarth/Baby Alpaca/Nylon from Playsweetmusic - after spending the whole of Sunday afternoon spinning out on the patio in the sunshine!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
I've started spinning some Merino in a variety of pinks and purples, that I picked up from Heather at Little Owl Crafts at the Knitting & Stitching show at Ally Pally last year. I love Heather's fibre (and Heather herself is a darling) and this will eventually be plied with the above bobbin of Playsweetmusic singles, to hopefully have enough yardage for a Baby Surprise Jacket!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
This is how it's spinning up so far - I'm pretty happy with it! Just need to sit down and finish it...
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
I talked about the reason I haven't made much progress on any other spinning, in yesterday's post. My Schacht Matchless arrived this week! I've only had one day to spin on it so far (I find this whole 'Having A Job' thing takes up way too much of my time!) and I love it. I'm using some mystery fibre - probably Merino, from deep stash, to practise on and I'm really happy with it so far! The double treadle is fabulous, and I'm trying to get my head around spinning in Double Drive as opposed to Scotch Tension (the Matchless does both, but I wanted to try out DD).
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Nunoco Spinning
After Tour De Fleece, I've realised that my fibre stash is looking a little depleted - so I think there maybe a bit of stash enhancing happening over the next few weeks! This week I ordered these gorgeous batts from Nunoco in the colourwary 'Oudh'. They're Merino, Silk and Silk Noil - the same as the 'Wild Wood' batts I spun a couple of weeks back, and I'm putting them aside to spin on the Matchless!

Okay. I think that's covered everything! This post is going up slightly later than planned, as I had to abandon writing it halfway through - as I fell asleep at the keyboard! Haha. Anyway, I'm going to a local wool fair today, which should be fun. I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Serious enhancement of the tool cupboard...

Stranded Blog Schacht Matchless Spinning UK Three years ago I bought a spinning wheel on a whim, it was a secondhand Ashford Traditional that I won in an eBay auction for £170. I realise now that I could probably have got the same wheel in slightly better condition, for slightly less money, in a Ravelry destash, but I was young and foolish  wasn't a big Ravelry user then. The wheel then sat in the entryway of my flat for over a year, because every time I attempted to spin on it, I couldn't make it work and ended up getting ridiculously frustrated and angry!

I eventually got a half an hour spinning lesson from my good friend Kim of Alterknit Universe, who tweaked my wheel and made sure it was set up correctly. And then I was away - making slubby singles from commercially dyed merino! I spun on and off for a while, but didn't pick it up properly until the Tour De Fleece last year, where my goal was to spend an hour a day at my wheel.

Since then, I've spun a fair amount of yarn, knit with some of it and started to outgrow my Traditional. I've been interested in upgrading my wheel for about a year and I had my heart set on a particular wheel - one that was sadly out of my price range! I promised myself I'd buy it when I finished university, as a graduation present to myself. But things happened and I got sick and I couldn't finish my degree. But sometimes you need a treat. Especially when so many of your friends graduated with a First Class degree and are starting out in exciting new lives. So I saved up money from my retail job, and last week I ordered my very own Double Treadle Schacht Matchless.
Stranded Blog Schacht Matchless Spinning UK
Schacht are a US company based in Colorado - a long way away from my seaside town in Sussex, England - and their products are hard to get hold of in the UK - there's only two distributors of Schacht wheels, and the price difference between the US and the UK is crazy - you American folk are so lucky!

Anyway, at just over £1000, I'm pretty sure it's the most expensive thing I've ever bought and I know I could've bought an Ashford or a Lendrum or plenty of other wheels, for less - but I believe in saving up for the things that you really, really want. If I bought a Lendrum, I'd still want a Matchless further down the line.

I haven't had much chance to spin on it yet - work has a habit of getting in the way of valuable knitting and spinning time! But I've been playing with it this afternoon and I love it. It's going to take a while to adjust to, from my Traditional - which is essentially held together with string, but I'm looking forward to breaking it in and I'm already window shopping for accessories for it!

If you're interested - I bought my Matchless from Loch Ness Spindle - based in Scotland. They're a relatively new Schacht dealer but I didn't have any problems with them and Olga, the owner of Loch Ness Spindle was very helpful when I emailed her. The only other UK dealer is George Weil - but they're selling the same wheel for an extra £300 - which I think is really bad business practise.

I just need to finish up some spinning on my Traditional and then my (currently unnamed) shiny new wheel can have pride of place in my spinning corner!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Lately In Pictures #7 - The one with the camping and the piggies

Stranded Blog Amy Edwards Green Life
Stranded Blog Amy Edwards Green Life
Hanging out by the seafront after work and one of my favourite photos of my parents.
Stranded Blog Amy Edwards Green Life
 Photographing cones of yarn to (eventually) destash on ebay.
Stranded Blog Amy Edwards Green Life Stranded Blog Amy Edwards Green Life
 An impromptu camping trip to Knepp Wildlife Safari Park and toasting marshmallows over the fire pit.
Stranded Blog Amy Edwards Green Life Stranded Blog Amy Edwards Green Life
 Enjoying the campsite - it's the prettiest campsite ever - and modelling my swish new yellow raincoat. From Topshop if you're interested - I never thought I'd fit in to Topshop clothes, but apparently I do now! Yay.
Stranded Blog Amy Edwards Green Life Stranded Blog Amy Edwards Green Life
 Spotting Longhorn Cows and Tamworth Piggies. Yep. Piggies. You can't say the word 'Piggy' and not smile. Try it.
Stranded Blog Amy Edwards Green Life
And spending too much time untangling skeins of yarn with my mum. Her yarn, not mine. Mine rarely gets this tangled! ;)

It's been a pretty good couple of weeks. I've been working lots and knitting lots, with driving lessons thrown in here and there. Tomorrow I'm going to the cinema for the first time this year - I don't know quite how that's happened, but it's really hard to get to the cinemas from my parents house, compared to where I lived in London! So I'm as excited as a child that's been promised a day out - there's going to be popcorn and pic'n'mix and all sorts. Living the high life! Haha.