Back to the spindle

The last few months have been (as you might imagine) a bit of a whirlwind. My stash and I are currently on opposite sides of the world (both the small stash in Maine and the larger stash in the UK), and it’s currently 35 degrees C where I am, so there is a conspicuous lack of holiday crafting going on.

What I have had with me in the last couple of months is my lovely 3D printed Turtlemade spindle (a gift from Alli via Cat & Sparrow) and a bit of Porpoise Fur fibre that had been languishing in the unsold stock pile for quite a while.

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The fibre is 70% Bluefaced Leicester/30% trilobial nylon. It spins like straight BFL, but the nylon adds some sparkle in interesting ways - it isn’t a fully mixed blend, so there are streaks of nylon in the top that shine, a bit like a silk blend.

So over the past two months I’ve slowly worked away at this 100 g, and this week I finished the singles and the plying! I managed to fit all the singles onto my not-very-large spindle in a monster cop,

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wound off on an improvised niddy noddy,

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and ended up with 164 yd/150 m of lovely, perfectly balanced (!), DK to sport weight yarn.

It is very well timed that I’ve finished this yarn now, as I’m about to head off to Cairns which has a dearth of yarn shops. Now I have something to knit with, the question becomes what to make with it? Suggestions welcome!

Green Mountain Holiday

We've been at my in-laws in Himself's home state of Vermont for the last week, and it has been the epitome of New England summer. Instead of trying to describe it in words, I'm just going to share some photos of what it's been like.

We head north and east today to coastal Maine, and another set of adventures that involve good friends we haven't seen in a long time, family celebrations, lobster, sailing, swimming in the ocean, and proper sweet corn. I suspect another photo essay will be upcoming next week. 

A bit lost in translation

Having spent part of February wandering around northern India in a completely overwhelmed daze (the colors! the textures! the smells!), I spent part of the weekend trying to transfer some of that inspiration to fiber.

My first source of inspiration is the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur - a towering edifice of pink sandstone with cream accents, all silhouetted against a brilliant blue sky. Something like this.

The Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

The Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

This was the women's palace, and all the carved stone screens were to enable them to look out at the world without being seen. What's really funny is that the building is now flat up against a busy street filled with small shops and carts selling fruit and veg. It's not quite as isolated and majestically quiet as the pictures seem to imply!

I spent a lot of time playing around with oranges and pinks, and I think I've finally got the balance right. We'll see how things go tomorrow.

Ideas

My brain has been going off on little tangents over the past few months on things I'd like to design. Sweaters, in fact, that I'd like to make. It's a somewhat daunting prospect, seeing as the only things I've designed so far are a kid's sweater (using the EZ percentage system, not so hard), and a couple of pairs of socks. For whatever reason, the idea of A.Whole.Sweater. is both intriguing and terrifying at the same time.

I've got two ideas bouncing around in my head. One was inspired by a number of things, the most striking being a hike we took up Dunkery Beacon in Somerset while we were in the UK. It was the first time I've really seen heather. As in heather on the moors. Real English moors.

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I was totally amazed at the colors - purple and lilac and shocking pink and yellow, blending with dark reddish green and brown, and shading off in the distance into straw. And I started mulling over the idea of making a sweater, starting with the fiber and dyeing it myself, then spinning it up and knitting my own design incorporating all the colors of the heather (except for maybe that bright yellow, which I don't really care for).

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About this same time, I was being overwhelmed by Adrian's Fantom Bohus, which she designed herself. And then last month, That Laurie did several guest appearances (first few posts at top of the page) on Stephanie's blog showing some absolutely incredible sweaters she'd done with yarn she'd dyed and spun herself.

So now I have it in mind to create this incredible handknit, handspun (at least partly) Bohus inspired sweater type thing, that might instead have a handspun yoke with a slipped stitch pattern and long color repeats winding up the chest. I even bought Poems of Color with my birthday gift certificate specifically for this project. Phew. Maybe when the kids go off to college I'll have enough time for this puppy.

The other thing that I've been mulling over for a while, and is much more likely to happen in the near future (given the copious spare time I have in which to design, dye, spin and knit an entire wool sweater for myself while I live in Houston*), is a sleeveless sweater vest dealie that I could wear over something when it's "cold" and wear alone when it warms up on or before March 1. I've even got the yarn for it (left over from the Peapod cardi, which only took 1+ skeins out of a bag of ten),

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so all that remains is the swatching/designing part. No big deal, right? I made a sketch of said vest during a seminar yesterday: empire waisted, with ribbing on the body, a garter stitch or reverse stockinette band to separate the bodice, and a small all over textured pattern on the top. Wide scoop neck. Narrow sides. And I can start right after I finish all the C$#)^)$# knitting.

* Note: it was 50 degrees when I left the house this morning, so I was able to actually wear a handknit sweater. Yippee! It was this, in this, which my MIL bought for me for C$#)^# several years back. Mmmmm...Mountain Mohair....

We're baaaack

We have finally returned from our excursions across the globe. Ok, only just across the pond, but when you get on a jumbo jet for 8+ hours with two small children, it does feel a bit like taking on an epic journey on the order of an interstellar expedition. Here is the short, photo-less account of events.

The wee ones did terrifically well on the plane rides - on the way over, Boo fell asleep in her lovely bassinet ten minutes after taking off and stayed that way until an hour before we landed. She promptly made up for this remarkable feat by refusing to sleep longer then 2 hrs since, but hey, she's only six months old. There's only so much we can ask for, right? Devil did well too - she didn't get nearly as much sleep, but she was quite happy to entertain herself with stickers and food and such (my apologies to the cleaning crew in London who had to unpeel seventy-gazillion stickers from her environs). We were picked up at the airport by our soon-to-be-married friend and went off our first staging area, the very lovely town (village?) of Esher.

We spent three days in Esher going to the wedding and reception (very very nice), and various other wedding-related events, as well as checking out the local playground. We then picked up a car (gasp!) and drove out to Somerset to stay with our friend's new inlaws, who, despite never having laid eyes on us before, were extremely gracious about offering us a place to stay for the week. Plus they ended up being perfectly lovely people, and we had a lovely time with them. Typical tourists, we romped around the southwest, looking for fossils, riding steam trains, climbing beacons, all the while marveling at the lovely, extremely "un-English" weather (meaning it didn't rain once while we were there and was mostly sunny and beautiful, if a bit cool for our now delicate southern blood).

The worst part about the whole trip, aside from that pesky driving-on-the-wrong-side-of the road thing (and the fact that our street at home is the equivalent of a two lane road in the UK), was having to come home. I always find the trip back rougher then the trip over - besides being an hour or more longer on the plane, you don't have the excitement of the vacation to look forward to. But we made it home in one piece, and I managed not to fall asleep until past 7 pm, which is pretty good given how little sleep I was getting during the trip. When we've got the pictures uploaded, I'll post more details.