Saturday, 26 September 2009

Washing the Balwen


A couple of days ago I set about washing the first batch of Balwen yarn. It was spun unwashed, in the grease, so had plenty of lanolin in it. After the first wash, it dried with a slight stiffness as there was still too much lanolin, so I washed it again. Now it's softer, but still has lanolin. It does shed quite a bit as the staple length isn't as long as other fleeces, and it has coarser fibres mixed in, plus a bit of kemp. So as you can see from the above photo, it's not what you would call a "smooth" yarn.
Still, I like it, and the depth of colour is fantastic. Some of it is a little overspun, until I got used to it, but it plied really well. It also doesn't seem to felt - after two times round the washing machine, most of the strands, except where they were tied in the skein, were still separate.

So, what to do with it? First I need to spin a lot more. But I think this yarn will be great for large knits where you want minimum stretch and a robust fabric - skirts, tunics. I have my eye on a couple of tunics with a fair isle yoke, also have loads of skirt patterns, so I think this will be my new year project. I think it might also make hard-wearing socks, so if I have some left (think I will have with a whole sackful to go at!) I may make some socks with it.

Before that I am about to embark on my Christmas knitting. Actually, I started in June with a sweater for my SO. Just as well I did, because I had offered to knit something for a relative and she has taken me up on the offer. Then her SO looked at the pattern book she bought after our knitting consultation and he would like a cardigan. Then my Mum saw a fair isle pattern she loved (she can't stand knitting fair isle) so asked if I would do it for her. So I have three garments to do for Christmas. Oh, and I also have to work for my living. Never mind, I'm sure I will find enough hours in the day as the nights get longer...

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Bootsocks done!

Tonight I finished my 2-needle bootsocks. The yarn is one of my handspun, but I ran out so the toe of each is done in a swaledale. The pattern isn't too bad, but there is no repeat on the leg part so you do have to keep track. The stitches decrease towards the ankle, shaping the leg. I hadn't done a short-row heel before, so that was fun, but it did create little holes which is a hazard of short-row heels, I think.

All in all, a satisfactory project, but the seam is under the foot and that would be uncomfortable for prolonged wear, I think. A good pattern for bedsocks, where that doesn't matter. From "Easy Knitted Socks" by Jeanette Trotman.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Sock progress

I haven't had a huge amount of time for knitting this week as it is a busy time for work. But I have managed to finish this sock - a knee sock using some left over yarn. It's shaped by using different needle sizes, which I think (having done both methods) is better than actual shaping in the knitting.
It has a butterfly pattern which I have never seen before, but which is pretty easy and also performs a function, preventing excessive stretching of the fabric.
My other sock project is doing ok, but I think I may be short of handspun to finish them. So I stopped at the toe on this sock - have started the second and then I will need to find some yarn from my stash to finish them off. This is a sock on two needles with a lace pattern, a bit complicated to knit as it is non-repeating, but I've never done a sock on two needles with a short-row heel, so it has been interesting. These socks are destined to be worn with a pair of boots which are rather big.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Project Raphael

I finished this today, it's taken a month. It's a bit big, I might try to shrink it, but if not, it will be a comfy warm layer for the cold winter months. I have been thinking about dying it, but I'm not sure.

Full project details are here on Ravelry. The crochet edges are lovely, but just look at the length of that hem! They took a lot longer than I expected.

It's a lovely yarn, and I have lots left, need to think about what I use it for.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Winter Nightwear

As winter approaches, my thoughts turn to cosy nightwear. I've long wanted a nightie made of brushed cotton - nothing nicer on a cold night! A couple of months ago I found a brand new brushed cotton sheet in a charity shop - it cost me all of £3 and so today I finally got around to making it up. I used an earlier nightie as the size model (you can just see it on the left). Unfortunately as I cut it out on the floor the cat who really, really likes clothes (especially on the floor - I often find him on my laundry pile) decided to take up residence. He viewed the scissors as some kind of metal mouse and chased them around for a while.
Here it is - not sexy, just practical!