Monthly Archives: December 2013

Inbetween

Welcome to the funny inbetween bit, the short days and long nights that separate Christmas and New Year. I don’t think many people really know what to do with themselves during this period; if you’re working it can feel like everyone else is on holiday, if you’re at home spending time with family it can start to feel a weensy bit claustrophobic. Some people enjoy shopping or eating and drinking but really, haven’t we all already overindulged? The weather doesn’t really lend itself to walking; the fantasy is a stroll in beautiful frosty clear sunshine, the reality, if you live in the UK, generally involves anything from drizzle and mud to full-on gales and torrential rain.
I love the build up to Christmas (although, admittedly it took a little longer than usual to get into it this year) and I love the sense of anticipation on Christmas Eve, the excitement of Christmas morning followed by lots of lovely food and the sense that the world has paused while we all snooze off some turkey. But by the time Boxing Day has arrived I end up feeling as though I’m treading water until New Year’s Day when I can put away the decorations and forget about the whole nasty business until next year.
Anyway enough of that. I have been using the time to work on projects I want to rather than things I feel I ought to for presents or to sell etc. I ordered a small amount of various British Breed DK from here and had been thinking about what to use it for. Mr Knittingkitten’s Aran jumper has been coming along painfully slowly (like 2 rows a day at best) and I was feeling a little guilty about this so decided to knit him a fair isle hat, a man can never have too many hats…It was a free Ravelry pattern (sorry can’t remember the name, I will put it on my project page later) and was very quick and satisfying to knit. I used Manx Loaghton for the main colour, Manx and Portland blend for the fair isle bit and White Face Woodland for the top (I ran out of the MC and thought I’d give him a ‘snowy peak’). It fits and, for the first time in a while, I loved knitting it.

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I do love British yarn.
I also had a go at overshot weaving. This is a technique that uses two shuttles, one for the pattern and one for the background plain or ‘tabby’ weave. I had a couple of threading issues and had to cut off the first part and resley (rethread) the reed. I’m not really sure what to do with the finished fabric, it’s very light but essentially it was a ‘practice’ run. I learn by doing rather than reading or watching and I have a better understanding of twill now as it’s a variation on that.

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That is the first part on the loom. I don’t think I beat it hard enough as the pattern should be more round and once off the loom and finished it is still a little ‘web-like’ rather than being a firm fabric.

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Looking at the photo you can see the pattern is even more elongated. As a trial run though I’m pleased and it reminds me of the flock wallpaper you used to find in Indian restaurants!

Project update (really couldn’t think of anything more catchy)

I was looming along quite nicely with the ‘Wall of Troy’ teatowel and planned on making two from one warp. The universe however had other plans…I will attempt to explain what happened but bear in mind I don’t know any of the names of the parts of my loom in question. This should be interesting. For those of you who aren’t so versed in weaving once a few inches of fabric has been woven you need to wind on some more warp. The woven bit winds around the front and the warp winds off the back. Sounds simple. I have a table loom which means I need to do this fairly frequently (it’s not as big as a floor loom) and I have to undo the clip holding the cog on the back beam to be able to wind the warp forward (all following me so far?). I’ve found that when the warp is tightly wound, it’s quite really hard to undo the clip. Being me I gave it a good tug and the whole warp unravelled. Arghhhhh. It all tangled, and then tangled some more so the only thing for it was to cut off the very short piece of fabric. I have a very small teatowel that I am inordinately proud of.

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It makes the perfect kettle holder (we won’t mention the fact I have already set it on fire) (what a klutz).
My weaving mojo has most definitely arrived. I have also made a gorgeous (even though I say it myself) scarf from the lovely hand dyed Wensleydale in my last post. I wove it with some Rowan British Breed Boucle to make this:

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The Faux ikat thing didn’t work, I couldn’t get my head around how to wind the warp and maintain the colour sequence but it looks lovely nevertheless. It’s sold already and I hope it’s new owner will love it as much as I do.
Finally, two things. I don’t think I have room for more than one mojo as my knitting one has definitely gone away for the holidays. I feel most uninspired on that front, I’d quite like her to come home soon, I miss her.
Secondly, remember the stupidly fine cotton I had trouble warping before? It has become my nemesis and I decided to give it another go, this time so far, so good. I’m going to try some overshot (more about that next time) in a pattern, sorry draft, called ‘Star of Bethlehem’, I thought it would be appropriate given the time of year. So far I wound 496 ends (clue: that’s a lot) and threaded them, and I hope to weave a little tomorrow.
Anyway enough for now, Happy Christmas to those of you who celebrate it.

It’s a bit Derby Road

Our heating has broken down. During one of the coldest spells we’ve had so far this Winter. Humpf. Hence the title of today’s blog, for my readers who aren’t fluent in Nottingham rhyming slang, ‘Derby Road’ means ‘code’ or in the Queen’s English ‘cold’. Brrrrr.
However, fortunately I have an abundance of warm hand knits, cosy blankets and the odd shawl to keep us from freezing. Living in Caithness, we also know our neighbours (unlike in the big city where we didn’t even speak to our next door ones) and have a local friendly builder in the village so hopefully won’t be spending Christmas Day shivering.
Now today I will be sharing a very clever sewing tutorial put together by one of my friends from the spinning group. It shows you how to make a pretty tote bag, perfect for your WIPs (you can never have too many knitting bags) or shopping, from a pillowcase. Enjoy. I’m off to eat make some mince pies.

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click for pattern here

It’s still a wee windy…

But in other (more interesting) news, I have been busy weaving and dyeing. For those of you who follow me on twitter you may have already seen many of today’s photos as I seem to have had a bit of a social media outpouring today.
Since the loom came to live here, I have wanted to make some teatowels, indeed, before the loom arrived I bought some 30/2 cotton for this end. Now for those of you who don’t understand weaving yarn weights (including myself) this basically means it is very fine and for a beginner far too ambitious, well for me anyway. I just ended up with a sore arm from winding a ridiculous amount of ends only for it result in a tangled mess and me feeling rather dispirited.
Thankfully that feeling didn’t last and having done some proper research (there is a brilliant weaving group called ‘weaver’s cafe’ on Ravelry) I bought some more cotton (close your ears Mr Knittingkitten) that is 8/2 so much heavier (when I say heavier, compared to laceweight yarn it is still finer). I wound a warp a couple of days ago and then it all had to be put on hold for matters I cannot mention other than to say it has something to do with Christmas but I was finally able to get it onto the loom today, all 302 ends of it. This is the most I have warped, possibly (I’ve just remembered the doubleweave which I never blogged about).

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I chose a twill pattern called ‘Wall of Troy’ as someone recommended this for tea towels and managed to get started on this part today as well.

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I also dyed some Wensleydale yarn to use as a warp. I love the look of a technique called faux ikat (there is a great post that describes it much better than I ever could) and thought I might try dyeing some yarn for this. I’ve used some Wensleydale as a weft before and it looked lovely.

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I’m not sure how much warp it will make and whether the colour spacing will work or whether it will work with my 10dpi reed but we shall see…
Anyway, enough for now, I hope you all survive the storm or whatever the weather brings in your part of the world.

Ooh it’s a wee windy…

There’s a storm a brewing today; we are forecast 80mph winds later today. Mr Knittingkitten and I are taking bets on how long certain parts of our fence will last, whether we will find half of it in the field next door tomorrow.
This is fairly standard winter weather in Caithness and I am pretty much used to it now. When we first moved here, just over three years ago, I spent many nights lying in bed waiting for the roof to blow off, listening to the wind howling and the house creaking. We were warned about the wind before we moved here but I didn’t quite appreciate what living with wind would be like. We had one evening last year when I drove home from work with my windscreen wipers on the fastest setting, not because it was raining but because the wind was blasting the water from the puddles on the road into the car. When I got home it took both of us to shut the gate against the wind.
I’m a bit of a drama queen and part of me enjoys extremes of weather so it suits me. We don’t get nearly as much snow as you would expect for somewhere so Northern but apparently this is because we are on the Gulf Stream (? I might have this wrong, I know it is definitely some kind of stream) which warms us up. I was most put out when the first two winters here England had way more snow than us.
Anyway, windy weather means great knitting time, there nothing better than being snuggly at home when it’s blowing a hoolie outside.
I am definitely getting to grips with winding a warp and I started a nice little project this week which may become a Christmas present, it depends how it looks once it’s off the loom.

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The colours are pretty and it’s being woven in a twill pattern again, I am liking twill at the moment.

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I’ve also been enjoying some spinning. I carded some more Jacob wool and have nearly finished two bobbins of singles, once plied it will become part of my Jacob Humbug sweater.

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I finished knitting the body of the sweater last night but I’m not happy with the last couple of inches. I decided to add some decreases before the ribbing with the idea that it would make the body part a little ‘blousey’ (I’m not sure that’s a real word but I know what I mean), however after having tried it on it just makes my tummy look larger than it is, not flattering in any way, shape or form so I plan to rip it back. But for now this is how it looks.

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(Slightly) better photos

I am ashamed of the poor photos I posted earlier in the week. I have to admit that photography is not my strong point, nor do I wish it to be. It does cause problems though when you are writing a blog and are inspired by others who take gorgeous photos of their projects as well as making marketing goods online difficult. I get rather frustrated with it and try my hardest but, sigh, I’m simply not motivated in that direction.
Another issue for me is that I get so excited when I finish something and just have to put it online immediately that I don’t take the time to wait for good light or to set the scene properly. Hey ho.
On that note, I have taken some very slightly improved pics of the scarf I wove earlier in the week, they still don’t do it justice but at least I feel a little better about showing them off.

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I also wove another scarf yesterday, just to experiment with twill and using lots of lovely sock yarn left over from previous projects (socks, no less) and some handspun North Ronaldsay/Manx Loaghton. It is for sale in my Etsy shop colouredinCaithness, again it does look better in real life -honestly!

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Small business Monday

I think the Christmas spirit is slow to get me this year, largely because, due to M.E, I’m finding it difficult to think clearly about things and can become a bit overwhelmed by it all. However, by taking it a little bit at a time it is beginning to look more manageable and we have begun to make headway into sorting out Christmas presents, cards and I’m even contemplating putting up some decorations!
It’s times like these that really bring home how affected I am as pre-M.E. we would have pretty much done all this; certainly the tree would be up, most of the baking done and cards written.
We’ve also just got in from posting some parcels and buying the grand kids presents, a relatively easy job in Caithness, but even this has left me completely wiped out and sore.
Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind, I strongly believe that despite my condition I am very fortunate to have a warm, dry home, live safely and with love. It is how it is. If the Santa post fails to deliver our Christmas card to you, the M.E brain fog pixies are to blame…

Moving on, I thought I would share with you a couple of brilliant places to find your last minute, oh-my-word we forgot Grandma/Aunt Fanny/Cousin It (delete as appropriate)’s gift. Firstly we have some beautiful jewelry from CranBeatha by Anne, I love the way she puts together natural colours and materials to make items with a subtle elegance – perfect for a gift or to treat yourself.
Next I’d like to introduce you to picturebothy, a local photographer from Caithness who produces stunning pictures and cards, I think you could find an ideal present for that tricky-to-buy-for man in your life here.

Both of the above have things for a range of budgets and I personally vouch for both of them; I believe in supporting small businesses for lots of reasons, not least because you can find something completely unique and individual – much better than spending your hard earned pennies in a big company with poor staff morale (mention no names).

Finally, this year I have tried to make as many of our presents as possible. I finished a scarf for my sister-in-law last night (I don’t think she reads this but if you do STOP reading right now missy!).

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Apologies for the bad photos; it’s woven with semi-solid purple and black mohair in a twill pattern. I’m planning to make another one for my Etsy shop at some point, the fringe needs tidying up and I’m going to bead it to add some glamour but I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out.
As for Mr Knittingkitten’s sweater…let’s just say there’s a long way to go.