Friday, March 31, 2006

The Beginning...

...of playing with the new toys. :-)

This is my first attempt at needle felting. I was going to take a pic of the felt before I embellished it but I got carried away, so here is the final product. The first pic was taken with the flash and, as usual, has washed out the colour but it does show embroidery and beads quite well. The second pic, sans flash, is a better representation of the colour but is a bit fuzzy due to camera shake.







On Tuesday I ordered an acid dye kit from P&M Woolcraft which arrived today. These are 'proper' dyes :-) rather than the Easy Peasy dyes I've used before. The kit includes 5 colours: red, blue, yellow, jade and brown plus a mixing cup and measuring spoon. I also ordered some syringes in different sizes, so I feel a bit like a mad crack dealer or something - but be assured they will only be used for dyeing!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sewing For Pleasure/Hobbycrafts At The NEC

I think I spent more than the gross national product of a small country today but it was fun!

I met Yvonne, Sue and Fred who are all very nice people and a great laugh. A disclaimer here - whatever Fred and Sue say about the gentleman who asked to borrow my trousers, it wasn't like that! Honest! It was Ziggy the lucet man if you want to know. If you go to Sewing for Pleasure make sure you find Ziggy's stand and check out his shoe laces! I forgot to take my camera so I only have pictures of what I acquired today to show you, no fellow bloggers sorry. A heads up, unless you are really interested in card making and scrapbooking there is very little point in going to Hobbycrafts. The Polymer Clay Pit is there though so it wasn't completely wasted for me.

First a group shot of the, ahem, acquirements (is so too a word!) I didn't have any real plan for what I wanted to buy today because, other than sock yarn, I didn't expect much in line with my current obsessions. As you can see, I did manage to find enough to make quite a good haul. :-)

First we have the sock yarns from Web of Wool. I got two shades of Fortissima Socka 4 ply in colours 6537 and 6541, these are a 45% cotton, 42% wool and 13% polyamide mix. Also some Regia Silk in colour 0184 which is 55% merino, 20% silk and 25% polyamide. If I tell you that this is to-die-for-soft you'll believe me won't you? I also got some 15cm bamboo dpns in 2.5mm and 3.5 mm. They are nice and short and I'm looking forward to using them. I finally managed to corrupt, I mean persuade my Mum to knit socks. She bought a sock kit with Opal Dreamweaver yarn in it - sadly I can't remember the colour number and my legs ache way too much to go downstairs to check. Its a gorgeous colour though. She started knitting her first sock on the train home. You can see where I get it from can't you?

Next a huge pile of undyed silk. The tops and hankies will be dyed and spun. The ginormous bag of mixed silk bits will be dyed, obviously, and used for a project that has yet to be decided on. Impulse buy? Me? It will probably be a felted and stitched extravaganza of some sort. At the moment, I'm just stroking it...

This is the lucet I bought from Ziggy-of-the-trousers comment. Actually, Fred sold it to me. He and Sue were moonlighting on Ziggy's stand while the Knit and Natter Knitted Garden stand was heaving with people. I really have to blame Fred for this purchase, he was sitting there looking so charming while demonstrating how to use the lucet that before I knew it, a lucet was mine. I did try to convince Mum to buy one so I could use it but she wouldn't. Not fair! I have no idea how to use it yet mind you but it will be fun learning.

Final goodies include a needle felting kit, something I've wanted to try for a while.





A one pound brick of polymer clay, it's white because after its fired I can paint it. This is for making spindle whorls. Beads for the beaded sock pattern I have. Woad seeds! I'm going to grow my own dye!

Lastly, a necklace kit and a dangly dolly kit. Well Dolly looked so cute I just had to have her!

And now I really need to sleep!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Strike!

I'm on strike today - no really! My union has called its members out over an issue with pensions. Our pension scheme is being quite dramatically changed and the changes will apply to existing members as well as new. Ours is the only union this is happening to, all others have the changes applying only to new members. Now I'm not a political animal and this is the first time I've ever been on strike but it is an important issue for me. I'm single with no kids and I live in a foreign country. I have no support network of family here other than my mother. When I'm old and decrepit I will have only my pension and myself to look after me.

Instead of placard waving though, I'm sitting, like Madame La Farge (***edit - it's de Farge isn't it? Oh well!***) at the steps of the guillotine, and knitting. Wonder if she knitted socks? I have been.

Sockapaloooza! One completed thereof. (Sorry about the shadows in the pics - we have sun!) I really like the way this has worked out. It looks crazy because the lacy rib pattern really pulls the leg in, so you have this skinny leg with a ginormous foot at the bottom. I can't show a modelled shot because my sock pal has teeny, tiny, skinny legs compared to mine. :-( I knitted 5 rows in ordinary 4x3 rib at the top and knit into the front and back of every stitch in the last row. This gives a ruffled edge and also gets around the problem of casting off too tightly. The close-ups show the lacy rib pattern stretched and unstretched.



I've also done most of the first of Meg's Opal Flamingo socks. It's just a long tube with toe shaping at the moment because I'm doing an afterthought heel. The purple strip in the second pic shows where the heel will be inserted. I like this technique already because the striping is not interrupted at all on the front of the sock. I'll be knitting the second sock before doing the heels so it will be a while before I blog my thoughts on afterthought heels.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Spindling

Ms Diva is finished. She's about 5' 6" long and was knitted on 5mm needles. She's very light and stretchy so I think she will grow a bit longer with wear. I really like it. Mum says 'the colours are all wrong but they work!' This pic is taken without flash so hopefully the colours are a bit closer to reality.

Instructions can be found here to make an ultralight spindle using a paper clip, bamboo skewer and cardboard, very Blue Peter. Of course, I had to have a go and here is the result. The spindle spins quite well but it took me a while to get the hang of a top whorl spindle, both of my bought ones are bottom whorl. The tops are Wensleydale, originally dyed an eye burning nuclear orange which I overdyed in a very weak blue. The colour is now more of a burnt orange - still bright but you're safe from retina burnout. I've got 50 gms to spin up. I love Wensleydale and I must buy some more soon.

I've got a very short week at work, I've got Thursday and Friday off and will be going to the NEC, Birmingham on Thursday to the Sewing for Pleasure/Hobbycrafts show. I can't wait! I'm not expecting much knitting or spinning stuff but it'll be a good opportunity to stock up on other supplies like beads, fimo and and and...

Can you tell I'm looking forward to it? Oh and I'll be wearing Ms Diva so if you see her walking around please say hello!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Blogiversary

Spinning Sue, the blog, is one year old today (sadly I'm much older)! Happy Blogiversary to me!

First post showed this:








Second post, a day later, showed my first attempt at spinning.





Third post, another 3 days later, showed a marked improvement.






Shortly afterwards, knitting took over almost completely although spinning was, and is, still happening. It's been a fun year which has had me learning new techniques, discovering the joys of self-striping sock yarn and proving to myself that I can complete a project to a deadline.

But the best thing about blogging is the new friends I've made. Most will remain 'virtual' friends and we'll never meet, but that doesn't mean the friendships aren't real. Thanks to everyone who has joined me on my blogging journey. I hope you stick around for the next year! I have no idea what it will contain but it'll be interesting to see where I am in another 12 months. :-)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday Is Update Day

***Edited to upload photos - at last!!***

I have started spinning (finally!) for Meg's scarf. She says she likes the colour although I think it's a bit light. I will probably need to spin more so I will dye the next lot a bit darker then ply the two different lots together. Well, that's the current plan anyway!

Ms Diva, the garter stitch scarf, is growing. I love the way the colours are striping but are not quite consistent. The needle is a 5mm, 35cm long (nearly 14 inches) and I included it for scale as much as anything. There is enough yarn to make a decent length scarf, not miles long though. I think it will be more of a decorative scarf to wear rather than for warmth.

Finally, another pic of the sockapaloooza sock - it is longer but that is about as much as I can say. I'm fairly certain that extra stitches won't be required but I still haven't decided if I will need to go up a needle size for the calf. I think they will be okay, though.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sockapaloooza

Not much progress to report seeing as I had to rip out most of what I did last weekend. However, I do have a completed foot and have started on the lacy rib and I like it!

I've used a short-row toe but changed my mind about a short-row heel. Instead, I used the instructions on Chery's blog to do a heel flap and gusset style heel but working from the toe rather than the top-down. It's quite easy to do and looks good. The instructions are written for 2 socks on 2 circs but I had no trouble using 5 dpns.

I'm not quite sure yet if I will need to add in extra stitches or perhaps go up a needle size when I get to the calf. My pal's legs are much much skinnier than mine :-) so I will see how the socks look on my porky pins before I decide.

Here's a close-up.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Wool And Sticks Of A Different Sort

My little sleep-deprived Ebay purchase arrived today. Of course, I had to have a go straight away. It's quite easy to stick weave and produces very quick results!



I made a few mistakes at first in wrapping the yarn around the sticks which you can see in the close-up but I did get better as I went on.

I'm going to use some of my handspun next.

All of the progress I made on my sockapaloooza sock had to be frogged. Sleep deprivation and even stitches don't seem to go together in my world - oh well!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Diva

Housekeeping first - I've had to turn on word verification thanks to porn spam. It seems that my 'From Germany With Love' post title was an invitation to some sicko to post a spam comment with loads of porn links in it. Twice. So I deleted it and turned on the verification. It's a pain but I don't want that crap on my blog.

On to the good stuff!

Ms Woolly BFL is a bit of a diva. Did she want to be lacy like feather and fan? No. Stocking stitch? No. Wrist warmers? No. Mittens? No. Okay Ms BFL, what do you want to be?


Yup. Garter stitch. A garter stitch scarf. There'll be no upstaging Ms Woolly BFL the superstar thank-you-very-much!

The stats: cast on 20 stitches on 5mm needles and I'm trying to knit it quite loosely. Once again the colours are much brighter in the pic than in 'real life' thanks to the flash. Would you believe this is my first ever garter stitch scarf? When I started knitting many (eek!) years ago I started straight in on sweaters. I only knitted my first scarf last year, talk about doing it all backwards! Oh well, I suppose I'm lucky in that I've never had someone telling me I can't do something because it's too hard.

I woke up at 4 am this morning and, as a result, ended up surfing Ebay. I bought these. Oops! Must. Not. Go. On. Ebay. When. Sleep. Deprived. I eventually want a proper loom but the sticks will give me something to play with and will do for starters. Other good things to come out of the insomnia: I've turned the heel on the sockapaloooza sock and Ms Diva is now more than twice as long as in the pic. Oh, and I also bought tickets for Sewing For Pleasure/Hobbycrafts at the NEC, Birmingham at the end of March. Mum and I are going on Thursday 30th March. Anyone else going?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sockapaloooza


Here is the beginning of my Sockapaloooza socks. The yarn is Opal Uni #18. I'm doing a plain foot with short-row toes and heels and a lacy rib pattern on the leg. I'll probably be using the pattern from my olympic cardigan because it looks good and is easy to remember! The sock looks a bit skewed around because I'm knitting one stitch off the next needle to stop ladders. Badly put but I think you'll know what I mean... I hope! I've really got to get going on these socks as I want to have them finished in plenty of time to send.

Monday, March 06, 2006

From Germany With Love

Cue the James Bond music and please excuse the poetic licence in the title!

My sock yarn has landed. Oops, more paraphrasing. At least I don't need to say 'Germany, we have a problem'. Okay enough of the bad puns and yes I am sober, you cheeky monkey!

At the top of the picture are two balls of Opal Uni colour #18 for my sockapaloooza socks. My pal has said they'd like knee high socks so I got 200gms and I'm sure I'll manage to find a use for any leftovers. The bottom row is for me! On the left is Trekking XXL colour #100. I've seen Trekking yarns on so many blogs and I love the way this looks knitted up. In the middle is Opal Acapulco colour #1306 also seen on blogs and loved. Okay, okay so I'm easily led, what can I say? :-) Finally on the right is Opal Acapulco colour #1304, just because. Ordered from Martinas Bastel- und Hobbykiste 1st March and arrived today and included the little packet of Haribo sweets in the pic. Yum! I would recommend them even though the emails they sent were in German (must learn!) but Google translation tools helped a lot.

So now I have a serious sock yarn problem - not as bad as most but there is a definite glut.

Moving quickly on to spinning! I've finished spinning this. The twist is set and I decided to leave it as a single ply because I like the way the colours look. The flash has made the colour much too bright in this pic. This is a better representation of the colours. For those who like to know these things, its 50 gms blue-faced leicester dyed by me and spun on my drop spindle. Its about 210 yards/190 metres. I haven't decided what to use it for yet other than to stroke and admire it. :-)

Everytime I spin something now I can see the improvement and I always seem to be saying 'this is the best I've ever spun' but that's better than going backwards and doing worse!

Off now to cast on for sockapaloooza.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Silk Part II


I've spun the first two hankies. It's very nubbly and thick and thin but I think its gorgeous!

It spins up completely differently to wool and to me seems like it is harder to spin. I think it's because the fibres are so long that a completely different drafting technique is needed. On the first hanky I basically spun it like wool and quickly ran into the problem of not being able to draft properly. The length of the fibres meant that they were already caught in the spun section and didn't want to budge. Tugging on the roving made me realise just how strong silk is! The second hanky went better because I pre-drafted it almost to the point of not needing to draft while spinning.

Its a very seductive fibre to spin. I was so caught up watching the sheen on the fibres and the colours slipping past each other that it was a bit of a shock to hear the 'CLUNK!' as the spindle hit the floor at the end of a much longer strand than I ever get to with wool. That's not to say that my thread broke. Oh no! I've discovered that silk can spin gossamer thin and still be very strong.

So begineth my silk adventures. There will be more. I think I have a new addiction. I'll be getting some silk tops to work with next I think.

Silk

The dyeing was a really useful experiment. I used the same technique as I do for wool dyeing with quite different results as you'd expect! I squirted alternating lines of red and blue across the hankies and wrapped them up in cling film. Then I smooshed (another technical term) the package around to mix the colours and steamed it for 30 minutes. When I do this with wool the colours blend quite a lot but, as you can see, with the silk they remained quite distinct. I like it!

The silk dried overnight!! Wool always seems to take forever. Mind you, this is only 10 gms of silk hankies soooo...... :-)

I peeled off a layer(or layers it's a bit hard to tell!), stuck my finger through the middle and started to stretch it out. I wasn't sure if I was doing it right as it seemed quite tough to do. As it stretched though it got easier and began to resemble roving. Phew! Now it's ready to spin. It's quite neppy but I don't mind that, it is my first attempt after all. I will try to pick out the bigger ones though. I'm not going to try to spin it too thin because I think my only two spindles are too big. Something I've discoverd already is that silk catches on everything! Smooth hands? Not according to silk. Smooth worktop? Nope. Smooth fabric to work on? Nope, nope, nope. It's going to interesting if nothing else. Pictures of the stuff spun as soon as I spin some.

As an afterthought, this is Ruffles in all her acrylic glory. :-)

The colour is quite washed out. It's actually a lot more intense than this. The light greeny blue is actually quite a vivid teal. And I have a long way to go.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Been Shopping...

and I can't show most of it because it's for my SP7!

I'm waiting for some sock yarn to wend it's way from Germany and I'll be able to show that because some is for me and some is for Sockapaloooza. :-)

Here's what I can show you:

The completely non-matching green yarn I bought in the hope of making mittens and possibly a hat to match my ISE2 scarf. As the photo shows - way off! The yarn is 100% wool so I'm thinking of dunking (that is so to a technical term!) the mittens in some yellow dye to see if I can make it look slightly more of a yellow-green. :-) If not, I have managed to find the same yarn as the scarf on a US website.

These are silk hankies I bought on Ebay which I'm going to dye and spin. Bought Friday morning and arrived this morning - great service! Well, that's the plan - I haven't spun silk yet so it could be... ummmmm... interesting. The silk is having it's pre-dyebath soak at the moment and it will be going in the dyepot as soon as I get this post finished.

I've restarted Ruffles from Scarf Style too. I wasn't feeling the love for hairy version I was making so it took a trip to the frog pond. The yarn I'm using now is a random dyed acrylic (shhhhhh!) that I got at the same time as the mitten yarn and bought just because the colour called me. :-) I didn't start it until it was too dark for a decent picture so photos will have to wait for tomorrow.

Right! Off to murder, I mean dye, some silk then!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What A Lucky Girl I Am!

My scarf has arrived from my ISE2 pal, Bonnie.

It is the most-est beautiful-est scarf ever knitted! It's 80% alpaca 20% silk! It's green! It's beaded!

I am so, so spoilt and so, so lucky!

I wish I could get a decent picture of the colour because it is a really lovely shade of green, slightly more yellow than a sage green. Bonnie included a label from the yarn so I'll know how to treat it right. I had to laugh when I saw the label because the brand name is Queensland Collection! How appropriate for an Aussie!

Anyway, I'm stoked! Thanks for making me something so gorgeous, Bonnie, you're the bestest scarf pal a girl could have!