Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 25

It's the 26th here, but a few hours back, on the 25th, a little piece of cuteness fell out of the stars. She landed at my brother's house, so I'm an Auntie again!! Jasmine is very pleased, as you can see, and her Daddy and Mummy are most impressed.

Lyla Kate
I'm sure I shall cover her in knitting (a Christmas dress is planned...) and take some better photos, too. :)

Also on the 25th, the points were finally tallied

And the clever students of Slytherin won again!

(by Slytherknit on Ravelry)

We can't seem to beat those Hufflepuffs at Quidditch, but we're hard workers in class it seems. I got 1305 myself, according to my calculations, which is the best term yet, for me. But it probably had quite a bit to do with the term being extended to include the Ravellenic Games; those two weeks bumped me up almost 300 points.

Well, so as to maintain the illusion that this blog is about knitting, here are the current handspun socks in progress:

Yarn: 10nant. Pattern: Helix from "Favorite Socks". Almost finished second heel now.

Yarn: Callington. Pattern: Scylla. Stopped at the heel to try and work out weird heel instructions :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Handspun sock yarn

I think I've had enough of the carder now. I made my three mixes, and each twisted up little batt here had to go through the carder 3 times. Sometimes 5. Sigh.

So, since I am the dyer and mixer here, I get to name the colors (as the pros who have etsy shops do). This one is 80% Romney and 20% Kid Mohair. I bought the mohair from Kathy's fibres, all pre-prepared, but it was still difficult to make it blend. The mohair fibres are short, and liked to stick to the small roller on the carder. In the end I'd get a handful of wool, spread it thinly, spread a thin layer of mohair over it, roll it up, stretch it lengthwise and then run it through the carder. It was veeeery time consuming. I'd then pull off the batt, split it into lengthways strips, stretch them out, and put them through again. And again. The mohair was white, so it muted the colors a bit, but at least there aren't too many white streaks.

Marius. 210g.

But then I moved on to Tencel. This one is 80% Romney and 20% tencel. Sort of. So much tencel got pulled off onto the small roller of the carder that I can't be sure of the percentages; it just wouldn't stick to the wool, stupid, short, slippery little fibres. The worst thing about tencel, though, is that it's soft and a bit shiny, like silk... just like silk... and I might love the stuff, so I'll probably have to do this again in the future.

ValJean. 174g.

I also can't get over the fact that tencel is made out of wood!

The yellow and natural is purposefully semi-mixed. I put a teeny bit of brown into that green, and a teeny bit of green into that grey-green. And some sparkly Angelina may have accidently fallen into the mix ;) but I think I can live with it.

Then there was the Romney/mohair/tencel one. I was on a roll with my fibre-sushis at this point, though it was still time consuming. I did two batts of the black (now a charcoal grey, I guess) and two batts of the natural. When they were mixed as much as I could be bothered to mix them, I ran them through the carder one more time, adding pinches of all the colors that I had collected cleaning the carder, all the 11 colors. I didn't want them to blend too much. I was thinking "Hundreds and thousands" and got rainbow smudges instead, but I like the effect.

Cosette. 188g.
Today, I finished spinning up the 'fawn' one.

100g of 3ply yarn that's about 20-22 WPI. Thinner than fingering weight, again, but only 304m. I spin densely! Of course, when I say "only 304m" what I really mean is "Squeeeeee!  912m of singles from 100g beats my old record by more than 250m!" I'm a bit pleased with that. Hehe.

BTW, according to my kindle I'm 94% of the way through "Les Miserables".

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to improve a fleece :)

Spread it out on the kitchen floor, and admire all that dirt and grease while you can.

Divide into bite-size pieces!

Soak in some hot water and unicorn power scour, rinse (soak in clean water), and repeat.

Mix some dye in a pot, cook (but don't boil) the clean fleece in it, drain, rinse in some slightly soapy sink water (hot) and then some clean water, drain and squeeze in a towel.

Spread out the damp fleece to dry.

Spread the fleece out thinly and pick out the grass, beetles, felted lumps and dirty tips. Find yourself a slave to crank the carder handle 50,000,000 times.

Stop to compare

Spread the whole fleece out on the bed and take pictures :)

I dyed 11 of the 14 lots, and left 3 the natural color. My 1.4kilo fleece is now down to 982g of good stuff, and it's ready for the Mix Cycle.

Next: Mixing the reds, purple and blues with some mohair. That is, after I see a lady about a loom!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Closing Ceremony

I managed to squeeze in three more Ravellenic Games projects before the end. This one was made from the Handspun Heptathalon yarn, and entered into the Cowl Jump, the SingleSkein Sprint and the Felting Freestyle.

It's Jasmine's, as she claimed the fibre before I'd even gotten home from the post office!

I turned the HandDyed HighDive yarn into a scarf for the Weaving Vault, carefully calculated to get squares out of the places where the warp colors met their weft match. It's not perfect, but I like it. Nice and subtle, three kinds of grey and a hint of color.

I washed it when I'd finished and the threads caught and pulled on something else in the wash! I was so cross; but I managed to pull it flat again, so you can barely see the bad bit. I picked grey and pink because it's for Telly (since she loved my rainbow one) and she also wants a Brain hat ;) so I dare say it will match.

The last project was an attempt at getting bonus points for entering one item in 5 events. So for the Cable Steeplechase, Balance Beads, Colorwork Crosscountry, Syncronized Stashbusting and Bag'nTote Backstroke, I made this little bag

 which fits a cake of yarn into the bottom perfectly.

As for the Fleece to Feet project, I've made 90% of the first sock (sock 1 of 12) and carded up nine lots out of 14. It's taking me about an hour and a half per lot, but now that I have no other projects for the next 2 weeks, I should get it all finished.

Monday, August 6, 2012


In the Harry Potter books, a NEWT is an exam that you take at the end of 7th year. In the HPKCHC game on Ravelry, it's a big project that you set yourself, based around the prompts they've set up for different classes. I've done four OWLs now, which are projects that are expected to take you 8-12 weeks. A NEWT is supposed to be the equivalent of two complex OWLs which relate to each other in some way.

One of the things you can choose for an Arithmancy OWL (which I did with my first one) is make 8 of the same thing. For my OWL, I made 4 pairs of mittens. In a NEWT, you need to make 10 things, just to add work :)

One of the things you can do for a Potions OWL is prepare raw fleece, wash, card, dye, spin.

I decided to combine these two, and make some handspun socks. I've been looking enviously at Pacasha's pretty handspun socks, and wanting to try a NEWT since starting this game. Before you can do a NEWT, you have to have 4 successful OWLs under your belt, so it took a while, but I finished my 4th one a few days before the end of July.

The Plan: get a Romney fleece from Bendigo, wash it, dye it, and card it. Then make three batches of fibre mixes as an experiment to find which mix makes nice strong sock yarn. Make three 150g batches, one with romney/mohair (80/20), one with romney/tencel (80/20) and one with romney/mohair/tencel (80/10/10). Spin these three batches as thin as able and make three big fat skeins of three-ply sock yarn. Then use it to make three pairs of socks. Because three pairs is not enough for the Arithmancy part, I'll take some other mixes that I've previously spun (a BFL/mohair, a merino/nylon and a BFL/mohair/merino/angora) and knit three other pairs of socks.

Basically, fleece to foot.

The three month term doesn't start until September, but NEWT students are allowed to start in the break month. So my NEWT was submitted first thing, Jessica (AKA NaturallyKnitty) gave me the ok, and I started washing!

1.4 kilo Romney fleece, a faded moorit color AKA 'Fawn'
Divided into 14 100g-lots and soaked in unicorn scour, rinsed and then soaked and rinsed again. (Some in the bath, but mostly in the big dye pot after this)

and one by one, dyed with Ashford dyes. (Kept three the natural 'fawn' color)
This lot has taken up the kitchen space over the last week, so Nathan will probably be happy that the dye pot has gone away again! Jasmine has been helping me, too. She "did" the orange, yellow and dark blue.

The next job is to card them all. Each lot is down to around 80-90g now, so I should be able to get away with two batts each. There is still grass to pick out, but that's easiest to do when it's clean and you're spreading the fibres apart to card it (I think that's called "picking"). When I have all my wool carded, I'll mix and match some batts for socks. The current plan is to make one with reds/purple/blues, one with the greens/browns and one with the black/natural. We'll see where the whim takes me :)

Then I have lots of spinning to do. Should be, hopefully, about 1500-2000m of skinny singles to ply.

Then I have 6 pairs of socks to knit.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Game

I think there were only two skeins of the Tour de Fleece spinning I haven't put here, yet. One was a handful of fleece, which conveniently fitted into the Potions class in the HP game, too. The prompt for the class was

Exhibit two or more stages of turning raw-off-the-sheep fiber into handspun.

Since I'm doing something similar for my NEWT, I thought a trial run would be great helpful. I found my small bag of fleece from back when we shore Barley in 2010. She's the one who died this year and left us Kissy to raise I soaked about 100g in hot water and my new Unicorn Scour. (First time I’ve tried scour; it’s great!) After half an hour or so, I tipped it into the sink, catching the wool on a biscuit cooling rack. Then I repeated the scour.

Back into the pot it went again, this time with vinegar and dye. I added a fair bit of green and dark blue, but it didn’t take a lot of the dye for some reason, and ended up a nice grey-blue.

I squeezed out the water with a towel and dried it on the biscuit rack. Time for carding! This time, I stretched out and spread out all the small bits of fibre before putting them in, pulling out the felted bits of short fibres and the grass I found. It worked so well that I only needed to card once, making two fluffy batts that totalled 87g.

I took it to Mum's place. (The electric wheel is very light and portable, about 2 kilos). I had to pull out a few more bits as I spun, but it spun much better this time. In the end I had 82g of navajo plied yarn.I think my spinning from batts is improving slowly.

Then I spun the second skein of Callington (BFL and mohair).

The one on the left ;)

So in the end I didn't make my goal of spinning the same number of meters of singles as the number of kilometers in this year's Tour de France. I got 3352m out of 3497! So close... :) But I had to work on other things. Slytherin needs all those points. Hehehe.

As soon as the Tour de Fleece finished, we began the Ravellenic Games (we got in trouble for calling it Ravelympics, so we had to change it; still feels weird to call it something different after all these years.) So far I've entered the Handspun Heptathalon

More spinning, if you can believe it. :)

...the Hand-dyed High Dive

...the Mitten Medley

(which Jasmine immediately turned into her Oven Gloves and started making biscuits)

and this one is in both the Hat Dash and the Baby Dressage

which is for my new niece or nephew coming in *only a few weeks*! We had a baby shower tonight, so, naturally, I decided at 9pm last night that I needed to knit one.

I have Telly's scarf on the loom, using the handdyed stuff above, for the Weaving Vault. That's next.

Well, I'm dyeing more fleece and about to watch the diving while weaving a bit more. Stay tuned next time (hehe) for Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test fun!

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