Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Managed to import last night's blog

I don't know what was going on last night but whatever i did I couldn't access this blog so ended up starting a new blog. This morning I decided to have another go at access my existing blog and everything seems to be OK now, I even worked out how to import my blog from last night! I still don't understand what is going on but at least it is working now!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The vagaries of Blogger and Dyeing Yarns

Having spent ages trying to access my old blog (I now have a google account so can't seem to access my old blog linked to my old email) I've decided to give in and start a new blog with the same name as the old one but with a different URL!!

Sometimes I hate computers!!!!

Anyway after all that I wanted to post about the yarns I dyed a few weeks ago. In the workshop I was showing how to rainbow dye with both acid and fibre reactive dyes and also how to paint dye with acid dyes and how to use the plastic bag method with fibre reactive dyes.

This first group of 3 yarns where all dyed with acid dyes using the rainbow dyeing method i.e. the wet skeins where put in a pan with a small amount of water and the dye powders sprinkled over them. Although alt the time the dye seemed quite strong the finished colours are quite muted. The large skein at the top was Norfork Horn wool, the middle skein was 100% soya yarn, Just Soya from Sirdar which was already a stone colour and the bottom skein was 100% smooth mohair.

These next 2 yarns are both bamboo, one tape yarn and one plyed yarn, both have been dyed with Fibre Reactive dyes. The skeins where soaked in water first and then the dyes where painted on with a sponge brush.

These 2 yarns are also dyed with Fibre reactive dyes. The top skein was bamboo and the bottom skein is Just Soya, from Sirdar in a stone colour. I didn't make sure the dye was pushed all the way through the fibres so there are areas of undyed yarn.

It was interesting to compare the 2 skeins of soya yarn as one was dyed with acid dyes (for protein) and one was dyed with Fibre Reactive dyes (for cellulose fibres). Neither of the colours where particularly strong but that might also be due to the fact the yarn has already been dyed once.

These 2 skeins of green yarn are bamboo and cotton soya mix dyed with Fibre Reactive dyes using the plastic bag method. The wet skeins where put in a plastic bag with the dye and chemicals already added. The skeins where 'mashed' for about 5 minutes or so until all the liquid was absorbed into the yarn and then left for about 30 minutes before being rinsed. Both skeins took the colour well.

This skein is cashgora yarn dyed with acid dyes which where painted on. Once the dye was applied the skein was wrapped in clingfilm and steamed for 30 minutes. Cashgora which is a variation of angora goat takes dye in a similar way to mohair i.e. good depth of colour and also has a sheen.

This last picture is of some milk fibre tops which has been painted with acid dyes and then steamed to fix the dye. I haven't tried to spin the top yet so I don't know if the dye process has had any effect on the spinning handling of the fibre. I'll post something about this if I ever get around to spinning it.

It was a good day on the whole and I think the students enjoyed the dat as well.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Felted Knitting and Needlefelting

When I posted on Sunday I forgot I did have some images of both felted knitting and pieces of 3D needle felting. I have previously posted pictures of 2 knitted felted bags that I designed and sell patterns for.

These 2 bags where originally knitted in Elle Merino Brights (Aran weight) felting wool but as this yarn is no longer available I reworked the pattern for Noro Kureyon.

This chevron felted bag is knitted in Twilley's Freedom Spirit and then I decorated it with a needlefelted flower. The individual petals are needle felted from merino tops and then sewn onto the bag with a cluster of beads to form the centre of the flower. The pattern for this bag is now available although it does not include instructions for the needlefelting.

A couple of years ago I was asked to demonstrate needlefelting on the Elle Yarns stand at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace and then to help teach a couple of workshops they ran in conjunction with a couple of wool shops, one in Bury and one in Wells. There where photos of the Wells workshop in Simply Knitting as one of the assistant editors attended the day. Partly in preparation for these workshops I made this little teddy with needlefelting.

He is made in several pieces and the arms and legs are sewn on so they move. He is about 3 inches tall when standing and is made from needle felted merino tops. He did take quite a few hours to make. I enjoyed making him but as yet have not made another.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Talks and workshops

I've just got back from teaching knitting for felting and needle felting to the Kent Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. I did a talk to the Guild yesterday on the subject and then a workshop today.

Despite the heat all the ladies that attended seemed to enjoy the day. They where all very friendly and welcoming (as I find most Guilds and groups are) and I was very well looked after both day.

I'm booked to teach quite a few knitting and crochet workshops over the next few weeks including a couple of new crochet workshops; 'Crochet onto knitting' and 'Crochet circles, flowers hats and bags'. I've also been booked to do a number of talks to machine knitting clubs. People are still finding time to enjoy their craft interests.

A few weeks ago I taught a workshop on dyeing. Once I have got the photos downloaded to the computer I will post them on my blog. I included some 'new fibres' i.e. bamboo and soya among others in the skeins I dyed to see how they would take the dye. If I get five minutes I might try and knit some of the samples to see what the dye is like in a fabric.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Patchwork/domino knitting handspun waistcoat

I've been meaning to post pictures of this waistcoat for some time but just not got around to it until now. I started making this waistcoat about 9 or 10 years ago using yarns that I spun when I first learnt to spin. The lady who taught me to spin kept Jacob and Manx Lockton sheep so I learnt to spin from the fleece initially and then from carded or combed fleece and some drum carded batts made up of a number of fibres.

Around this same time I learnt about Patchwork/Domino knitting and made a couple of large shawls using the squares unit. Having made a couple of shawls and a cushion I thought I should try to make a garment and decided to use my handspun as patchwork is a great technique for using up small amounts of different yarns.

I made the back in 2 panels with the squares facing towards each other and joined them with garter stitch. The original garter stitch section was marled on one side and white on the other making the centre panel look unbalanced but it stayed that way for quite a few years. I decided to turn the squares to look like diamonds for the front panels and again made both front up to just below the armhole point, and that is how the knitting stayed for quite a few years.

I teach workshops on Patchwork knitting so it was a work in progress sample which was pinned onto a fabric waistcoat shape to show students how to put garments together. At the end of February I was teaching another squares workshop so before the class I decided I should really try to get this waistcoat finished. I reknitted the garter stitch panel at the centre back which looked much better and then went back to working the squares on the front panels.

A square was knitted on one front panel and then the same square was knitted on the other front panel so they where mirror images. I worked on both fronts at the same time to make sure I had enough of the same yarn to work the square on each panel. I was originally going to change to smaller squares at the top of the fronts but when it came to actually knitting the top sections I kept the squares all the same size and changed the neckline to fit with the squares.

I joined the front and back panels at the shoulders with garter stitch and included some short row knitting to give a shoulder slope. The back and fronts where also joined at the side seams with garter stitch panels and all the edges where finished with garter stitch bands. all the pieces where knitted together so there was no sewing up once the garemnt was finished.

Although the garment is a bit bigger on the shoulders than I would like on the whole I was pleased with the end result and all the colours seemed to work well together even though I didn't plan the colour scheme at the start although I did use the handspun Jacob throughout the garment and the other handspun yarns in different parts of the garment.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Catching up and Top down jumper

This last month and a half seems to have flown by. March started off with a machine knitting exhibition in Bournemouth that went very well. There seemed to be more people attending the exhibition this year which is encouraging.

It was also the Swanage Blues Festival that weekend which we also attended with some friends on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. I managed to get some more sock knitting done while listening to various groups.

I was booked to teach quite a few workshops in March as well as the usual City and Guilds class and then the first weekend in April was the Nottingham machine knitting show. After a slow start we had quite a reasonable day at the show although there weren't as many stall holders as in previous years. Before I left Alan Hunt asked me to see if we can encourage some hand knitting yarn suppliers to attend the show next year so I will be looking into this possibility in the next few months.

In the last 2 weeks I have done talks to 2 Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guilds. Last week I went to the East Sussex Guild to do a talk on knitting with handspun and this weekend I went to the Sommerset Guild to talk on knitting with beads. Both talks seemed to go down well.

In between the talks and teaching I finished another design for 'Knitting' magazine which is schedules to be published in the July issue. The May issue of the magazine arrived last week and has my article on blocking and pressing knitwear. The June issue should have my article on sewing up knitwear using mattress stitch.

All this hasn't left much time for any other knitting but I have done some more work on my top down jumper. Although I was using 2 balls of yarn and knitting alternate rows with each ball the yarn has continued to pool. After knitting quite a bit down from the armhole I did try the jumper on and decided that the pooling looked OK once the jumper was on even though it doesn't look that great laid out flat.

Since taking these 2 photos I have actually finished the body section. I've added a moss stitch border to the bottom of the jumper as I don't want it to pull in. I'm hoping to get back to finish this garment fairly soon, after I have finished another garment for the magazine, a bias knitting waistcoat in Mille Colori Lang yarn and a jacket in the Lang yarn that Kareen at the InterKnit Cafe has asked me to design!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Unravel event in Farnham

I very much enjoyed the Unravel knitting and fibre event in Farnham last Saturday. Unfortunately I didn't get to have a very good look around the show myself as I was busy either sorting out knitting problems for people in the knitting surgery or helping my husband on my stand. However I did manage to catch up with lots of friends and knitters who have attended my knitting workshops.

I also forgot to take my camera to take photos of the stand so I must try and remember at the next exhibition to do so. I understand from Kareen (who owns the InterKnit Cafe) who was quite involved with organising the show that the people at The Maltings where very pleased with the attendance at the show and have agreed to run it as a 2 day event at the end of February next year. Lets hope it continues to be a success.

I'm booked to teach a number of hand knitting workshops over the next month and the 'Machine Knititng Live' Exhibition at Bournemouth is on 7th March so I better get back to doing some more work!

Friday, February 06, 2009

A bit of crochet for a change

A few weeks ago I was showing some of my students a felted crochet bag I designed. It is a bucket shaped bag and one of the ladies put it on her head as a hat for a joke. It worked quite well apart from being rather deep; a good hat for Marge Simpson! but it did give me an idea.

Last week I thought I would play around with this crochet idea and designed a chullo hat using crochet and Rowan Colourscape yarn. The hat design is very simple as i started at the crown with a ring of chains and then increased out until I thought the centre crown section was big enough. i then changed to a shell stitch pattern for the rest of the hat working in a circle initially and then back and forth for the ear flaps.

I tried the hat on as I went and had to undo some bits a couple of times before I got what I felt was a well fitted shape but I was quite pleased with the end result and it only took a few hours to work out.

With the success of this first hat I then went on to crochet a cap which was in fairly basic stitches, double crochet, trebles and chain mesh stitch

It is crocheted in Rowan Colourscape again which gives the gradual colour change and is worked from the centre of the crown outwards. Again I kept trying on the hat while I was making it to see how well it fitted. I did have to undo some chain rows but as crochet is very easy to undo it didn't cause any problems and again only took a few hours to make.

Having got into the swing of things I had another go at making the cap with mesh stitch edging but using a DK yarn this time. i happen to have some Elle Escapade so decided to use that although generally I don't like using acrylic yarn but it did work up very easily so here are some more pictures.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Top down raglan

I recently started making a top down raglan V-neck jumper for myself! I am knitting it in Rosarios 4 Capuccino which is a 60% milk fibre, 40% Australian wool mix and is about an Aran weight. It feels like a smooth good quality wool to knit with and as you can see from the picture this particular colourway is variegated.

I decided to start with a crochet provisional cast on as I prefer to have 'live' stitches when picking up around the neckline. The top section with sleeves is knitted in rows until the neck shaping is completed. I decided to use a left and right 'make 1' increase for the raglan seams working the increase just before the stitch in front of the stitch marker and after the stitch after the marker to give me the raglan seam. I also worked the neck increases 1 stitch in from the edge to give a clean line of stitches when picking up the neckline to knit the band.
Once I completed the raglan increases I divided the stitches up into sleeves and body and continued knitting in the round. One problem I realised with using the variegated yarn is when I started to knit the body section the yarn colours have started to 'pool'. I did unpick the body back to the beginning of this section and started knitting rounds with alternate balls of yarn so the 'pooling' isn't quite as bad although it is still happening in areas. I think this is a problem I will just have to live with in this particular garment.
I'll post another picture when I am near the bottom of the body section.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sock knitting workshop

Yesterday I was teaching at The Knitting Habit in Alton, Hants. It was a sock knitting workshop. I teach several different sock workshops and yesterday was knitting short row heel and toe socks. Although this is not the most commonly used sock technique it is the method I have used to make my own socks since I learn how to make them this way from an article in Interweave Knits written by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts in 2000.

Both the heel and toe are shaped with short rows and the socks are knitted on 5pd (stitches divided over 4 needles and 1 to knit with) so there is no need to rearrange stitches when you come to shaping the heel. The socks also finish with an unusual 3-needle cast off which gives a seam on the top of the foot at the base of the toes, very much like commercial socks, but you don't feel the seam when wearing the socks. Casting off this way means there is no grafting of toe stitches so another big advantage over other methods.

Some of the students found knitting on 5pd took a bit of getting used to and the short row shaping proved a bit of a challenge to some but by the end of the day most students had nearly completed their mini sample sock. Hopefully they will give this method of sock making another try as it is very easy once you have learn the short row shaping.

If you are in the Alton area do go and visit The Knitting Habit. It is in Alton town centre in the street that goes up a hill near Boots. The owner Marion is very friendly and helpful and I will be teaching more one day workshops there througout the year. For details of when and where I'm teaching look at the Events page on my website.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I have been knitting

I was pretty busy before Christmas with work for Knitting magazine but I did manage to do some other knitting as well. I designed this cream lace scarf to be knitted in Knitting4fun Alpaca Aran yarn. It takes 1 skein of 100gms to make the scarf. I used a diamond lace and an extended diamond (pillar lace) lace pattern which work well together. In the last repeat of the pillar lace pattern I made a slit in the scarf so the other end of the scarf could be threaded through it. I just need to write the pattern for it now.

The next 2 scarves I knitted as Christmas presents (so I couldn't post this before Christmas - at least that's my excuse for not writting anything for agaes again). The taupe coloured scarf (described as burgandy by the yarn company) is knitted in Rosarios4 Silk4milk which has been naturally dyed. Silk4milk is 60% milk fibre, 30% silk and 10% cashmere and it is a lovely yarn to knit with. I used the fern lace pattern and in order to make sure the scalloped edges matched I knitted the scarf in 2 halves. I knitted the section arounf the neck in k2, p2 rib to make it thicker and warmer.

This 3rd scarf is knitted in Adriafil Carezza which is a 70%angora yarn and again feels lovely to knit. It didn't seem to shed to much either. I used the horseshoe print lace pattern for this scarf but knitted it from the same principles as the Silk4milk scarf.
When I have a few spare minutes I will get down to writting the patterns for these 3 scarves.