Weaving At Last

Green Man ProgressI can’t believe how long it is since I last posted here. Life has been non-stop this last month or so with little time to indulge in handicrafts. Since the middle of last week however I have had the pleasure of some time to myself and I decided it was time I got on with some weaving. I confess that having undone so much of my Green Man weaving previously my confidence has taken a bit of a bashing and I have been avoiding it. But I have now been telling myself “you can do it” and although I still undo sections from time to time, it has progressed a little. I  keep reminding myself not to worry too much about the fine details in the cartoon but just to use it as a guide. The photo shows the result so far.

Some time ago I mentioned that a friend had given me some fleeces. They came from relatives of his who were new to sheep keeping and the fleeces had not been stored very well. I think also our friend must have left them in his porch during a spell of wet weather before delivering them to us. When they arrived they were quite wet, in fact two of them were absolutely soaked. We spread them out in our barn to dry but some time later it was obvious that the two soaked ones were beyond redemption so these were thrown away. The other two are now dry and waiting to be used. In the bags with the fleeces were also the ‘daggings’ and I decided to salvage what I could of these in order to practice spinning with a spindle again. They were very dirty so I washed them first. They are also quite felted but there are a lot of useable bits.

Fleece Daggings & RolagsMy ‘Lord and Master’ has been away for a few days, hence having time on my hands, so yesterday I decided to watch the Canadian Grand Prix on his behalf, but not wishing to be idle I got out my carders and the fleece daggings and started to make some rolags. By the time I had had enough for one evening the basket in the photo was full, but I still have plenty more to go at. The rolags are a bit lumpy and still have a few bits of straw and other rubbish in them but I think they will be good enough for practising. Now where did I put my spindle?

I have not done any knitting for a while but I recently bought a large cone of cream lace weight wool from a charity shop, it is a lambswool/angora mix and I am trying to decide what to do with it. The first plan was to make another lacy cowl like the one pictured in my last post but I think now that, as there is quite a lot, it might be nice to knit a lacy shawl or wrap. I have discovered a wonderful knitting resource website, which I highly recommend, at http://www.allfreeknitting.com, which offers lots of free patterns and I have printed one off which I think I will use – more of this another time. First I must finish my Green Man!

 

 

 

 

Still Knitting

Since my last post I have been continuing with knitting projects and still avoiding weaving!

First I knitted a lacy cowl which I sent to my cousin in France for her birthday. I have never knitted anything so fine before and it caused me one or two problems; trying to undo such fine yarn to rectify mistakes was a nightmare. The pattern was supposed to be suitable for a beginner and came with the yarn as a free kit with a knitting magazine that I treat myself to occasionally. I’m no beginner but I found it tricky so I can’t imagine how a newcomer to knitting would have managed! Part of the problem was that the needle size given was quite large for the thickness (or should I say thinness) of the yarn and I used metal needles which caused the stitches to slip quite a bit and occasionally drop off. I think perhaps it would have been better if I had used my bamboo needles. Anyway I was pleased with the result, even if a couple of mistakes did slip through the net, but as these would not be noticeable to the casual observer they didn’t spoil the overall effect.

Lace Cowl

Next my eldest son asked me to knit second pair of fingerless gloves for his wife as the first pair, which I pictured in my last post, were a great hit. So I found some sparkly blue acrylic yarn (she is allergic to wool) and set about adapting a pattern for a plain pair knitted flat rather than in the round. I used a twisted rib stitch all the way up the back of the hand:

Twisted Rib gloves

My daughter-in-law was most surprised and delighted when I turned up with them! I had thought she had requested them herself but apparently my son had used his own initiative. In turn she asked me to knit some for her sister and even supplied the yarn. I thought it would give me something to do in the evenings while we were away in Spain for a couple of weeks so I agreed, again knitted flat, adapting the original plain pattern. This time I used a leaf lace design up the back of the hand. On returning home and having plenty of yarn left over I also knitted a cowl/headband, adapting yet another pattern but this time knitted in the round on a circular needle so that the design went upwards to match the gloves:

Leaf Lace gloves and cowl

Finally I knitted a couple of flower broaches, which I haven’t photographed and one of which I have sent to my youngest son’s girlfriend in Germany. The other I shall keep for myself. Maybe I will get around to posting a picture some other time. I might even post the instructions for the fingerless gloves too.

While all this was going on I missed a recent meeting of the Midlands Branch of the British Tapestry Group to which I belong. The date clashed with a charity event in aid of The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice Trust which I had agreed to attend to sell copies of my poetry books including my book of verse for children ‘Barking at Nothing’, which was produced to support that charity. You can find out more about the books and the charity from my  Silverburn Publishing website, listed in the blogroll. I understand that at the Tapestry Group meeting the possibility of holding another exhibition was discussed and we are now searching for an appropriate venue. Time to get weaving again I think!

Resolution

Here I am, procrastinating again having done no weaving lately. My excuse is that it is hard to find the time with all the Christmas and New Year festivities going on. My resolution for the New Year is that I will get on with my Green Man weaving just as soon as I have finished the current project.

Can Can Glitz Scarf in progressYou see I have not been totally idle; amongst my other gifts Santa gave me a ball of Rico ‘Can Can Glitz’ yarn for Christmas. For those not familiar with this yarn, on the ball it looks like any other yarn (see photo) but when you open it out it has a mesh-like structure and you use it to knit a frou-frou scarf for which the instructions are printed on the inside of the label, in three languages, in small print, very brief and rather vague!

First it tells you that the yarn has a right-side and a reverse, but it doesn’t tell you which is which. Then you have to tie a knot in the end as the yarn is prone to laddering and pick up stitches along the edge with the reverse side facing you – OK but which side is that? It then tells you to carry on knitting to the required length, but it doesn’t actually tell you how to use the yarn. There are some small illustrations but I couldn’t make much sense of them either. Maybe I’m a bit thick. So I ‘googled’ Rico Can Can Glitz yarn and found an excellent U Tube video demonstrating how to proceed.

I began to knit, but at this time of year my hands are quite rough and I found I was ‘catching’ the yarn  from time to time despite rubbing in lashings of hand-cream. After I had done about a quarter of the scarf I came across a hole in the mesh, about two to three inches long. I had three options: 1) Take the yarn back to shop it came from and complain – this seemed pointless as it was several miles away, I would have to start again with a new ball which might have the same fault somewhere along its length and it wasn’t the shop’s fault anyway. 2) I could try to stitch up the ladder and 3) I could cut out the  length of yarn with the hole and knot the ends.

No. 3 seemed a very last resort as the knotted ends would show at the side of the scarf so I decided to try to stitch up the ladder. I thought this would show as well but if it didn’t work I could try option 3. In the event, after I had carefully stitched up the hole and knitted a few more rows I discovered I couldn’t find the repaired mesh, it didn’t show at all. A little wary now of my rough hands (not that they were the cause of this particular hole) I decided to try wearing rubber gloves, or at least one on my right hand – I hate rubber gloves, which is why I have rough hands.

After ten minutes I was feeling irritated, after fifteen minutes I just had to take a break, progress was going to be slow. I changed the rubber glove for a cotton one, better for comfort but thicker. Have you ever knitted in gloves? It’s a bit like one of those silly party games where you dress up in coat, hat, scarf and gloves and have to unwrap a parcel with a knife and fork! Gradually I got used to it and knitting was on track again. The scarf has moved on a pace since I took the photo and is now nearly finished. By the time you read this it probably will be and it will be time to act on my resolution.

Interestingly I took another look at the label illustration and gradually realised that what was depicted was Continental style knitting, which is different to how we knit in the UK. It will be familiar to ‘fairisle’ knitters as it is often used to hold a second colour so that two colours can be easily interchanged, the yarn runs through the left hand instead of the right and you sort of hook the needle through it. I can knit like this but it isn’t second nature to me.

Having solved my problems with this scarf and now being fully aware of how fragile the yarn is I’m tempted to treat myself to another ball and have another go – after I have finished my Green Man weaving of course.  Meanwhile I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Christmas Stockings

Cutlery StockingMy much travelled Green Man weaving went with me all through France and Spain but I have to admit that I didn’t touch it at all! However it wasn’t an entirely craft free holiday.

More of that later but first let me explain the Christmas Stocking – this is a fun knitting pattern that I found in the Christmas issue of ‘Landscape’ magazine – I mentioned this magazine before, a lovely glossy magazine that I have only recently come across. The little stocking, done in double knitting wool, has a cable pattern that you can barely discern from the photo and is intended to hold cutlery for each place setting at the Christmas table. The recommended wool was quite an expensive one but I had some cheap acrylic red sparkly yarn in my stash which is just perfect and I bought some cheap white acrylic yarn for the tops, so each stocking works out at quite a reasonable cost! Since I am hosting our family Christmas dinner this year I thought it would be fun to knit at least one for my Grandson Tom and if possible do enough for everyone. There will only be six of us sitting down to dinner and I am on stocking number three so fingers crossed I will get them all done. They take me about two evenings a piece.

Handbag for RuthBack to the holiday; while we were touring down through France I decided to knit this little handbag as a gift for my cousin Ruth who lives at Villefrance de Rouergue near Toulouse and who we were visiting for a few days on route to Spain to visit our daughter. This is in chunky wool so was very quick to knit. To avoid doing the lining by hand I lined it with some pale yellow check fabric that I had taken with me for the purpose once we got to my cousin’s, using her sewing machine. The pattern did not require the bag to be lined but it seemed to me to be a good idea to stop it stretching. The handles are looped through the cable pattern at the top and can be pulled up to make it into a shoulder bag if she wishes.

While visiting my cousin I went with her and a friend to a textile craft exhibition and sale in the local town. There were many stalls with knitted, embroidered and woven items for sale (though no tapestry), people were demonstrating spinning and there were items made from hand spun wool as well as lace making, tatting, quilting and other skills on show. For a small local event I was most impressed. Unfortunately my French was not quite up to conversing with the crafts people other than in the most simple of terms!

Ruth’s ‘thing’ is card making and she makes most of her own Christmas cards with great artistic flair. This made me feel rather guilty that I just buy them, so this year I have made a few, including one for Ruth and her husband, which is nowhere near as good as hers!

Now that I am home again I have all the catching up to do to prepare for Christmas so it seems unlikely that I will be doing any weaving for a while.

This will be my last post until the New Year but just maybe I might have some weaving progress to report then. I wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year as you celebrate in your own way and look forward to your company again in 2015.