Monday, 25 March 2013

A Special Spin

The most sumptuous fiber I have yet owned has been calling to me ever since I purchased it from the Hilltop Cloud market stall at Unravel recently.

It is a 50% baby camel and 50% tussah silk 100g hank of pure heaven!

So despite having several WIPs on the go, I just couldn't wait any longer.

To make the most of the beautiful variance of colour and the sheen of silk running through the fiber, I've started this spinning project on my Turkish Spindle.

Being careful to wrap my singles neatly has opened a whole new world to my senses. I just adore the beautiful geometric shapes that are emerging in the process.

I'm so looking forward to seeing how these patterns develop as I build up more and more of the spun singles on the spindle.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mothers Day Yarn Giveaway

It's Mothering Sunday today and I'm spending a lovely day with my little boy. Every day with him is special, but I must admit, I'm thoroughly enjoying having an extra special day to look forward to each year.

About a week ago I began a mothers-day-inspired handspun yarn giveaway on Instagram and Facebook for the pink and green skein pictured above. To enter, people had to write the one thing they thought of or remembered most about their Mother. Each and every entry has been special and moving in one way or another.

I thought I'd share some of these lovely entries with you ... (reproduced exactly as originally written with permission from the author):

By sayralynn578 on Instagram: "Endurance, the word that describes my mother. Diagnosed with Lupus and RA at 18, she pushed through and ran a pre-school for 25 years. Instilled the importance of education which led to me becoming a teacher. Even after becoming permanently disabled, she continue to endure and had devoted herself to my two children. She never complains how her lot, she's grateful to still be able to be in our lives."

By ghosthearts on Instagram: "The smell of lipstick always reminds me of my mum. She was a single mother with two jobs and when I smell lipstick, I remember laying in her bed sleeping and she would kiss me goodbye before leaving for either job and kiss me again when she came home. I would always be half asleep but I'd smell her lipstick and know things were ok."

By knitmesomething on Instagram: "There are many things I think of when I consider my mom, but recently I would say courage tops the list. She had a stroke a year and a half ago, but the doctors were able to save her. She has very decreased mental and physical capabilities from the lack of oxygen to her brain, but has made amazing strides toward recovery since then. She can no longer crochet so I knit for her often. She has even begun giving up cigarettes and coffee for her health. It makes me so sad to think I might have lost her that day, but grateful for her recovery and thankful that I can still speak with her whenever I want to."

By almaluz on Instagram: "My mother always taught me to give away what you love the most. If someone was to compliment her on anything ... it's always, here take it. She taught me to live simple and to give back. The more you give the more you get back in other ways :)"

By nurseknitsalot on Instagram: "Softspoken describes her the best. Always found her in the kitchen, folding laundry or up late night with Johnny Carson. Never complained and never went to the doctor. She died one April, my sister found her. When I was told, the world started spinning and I fell to my knees. That was almost 30 years ago ... I loved her dearly".

By spoospa on Instagram: "My mother has always been my 'crafty' inspiration. I grew up with her running her own crafting business and am in awe of her every day."

By Kimberley Ann Ramos-Lenzi on Facebook: "My Mom is very generous with her time, love and food."

By Maria Mavridou on Facebook: "What I admire my mother for (and wish to pass it on to my children) is her ability to offer all the time the best of herself without making a fuss about it. And by that I mean everything ... from the simple offering of the best portion on a daily basis, to far more complicated things like giving her soul ....."

By daniellenolan107 on Instagram: "My mom has always been really silly and a child at heart! Lol she use to dance all over the house and sing to us while she cleaned and she was always so sweet and kind hearted ... And she still is :)) She's great with my girls as well."

By rijelviolent on Instagram: "My mom's a breast cancer survivor and went through her major mastectomy when I was about 12. I remember being SOOOO worried about her, since I was 12 I had no idea what to expect and thought she was going to die in surgery. Immediately after her surgery, we went to her room and she looked at me and called over with her finger. When I got close enough, her raspy after surgery voice said 'Are you jealous?' And pointed at her new gigantic fake boobs. I will never forget her face smiling when I just looked appalled because that's what she was thinking about when she got out of surgery."

By jwarda25 on Instagram: "All I can say is that ... I only hope I can be like my mum was with me, with my son."

As you can see by how candid and personal these stories are, it was incredibly hard to choose a winner of the handspun mini skein. If I could send some yarn to everyone who entered I really honestly would.

However, I'm afraid there can only be one winner of the yarn ...

So congratulations goes to KATKNITS from Instagram whose outpouring of love and remembrance for her kind and generous Mother has really touched my heart. As a big-hearted Mama myself, I hope and pray that I will be viewed as highly by my son in the years to come.

By katknits on Instagram: "I remember my moms big giant generous heart the most. And her laugh. It rang through the hills. She collected cats, or they collected her. She left this earth in '99. She was an organ donor and ended up saving the lives of 2 women and another regained her eyesight. Generous to the end. Miss her every day and night. We were great friends and did art together ... Mothers Day is a hard one."

 A portrait of Kat (taken with permission from her IG feed)

A photo of Kat as a baby with her Mother (taken with permission from her IG feed)

A huge thank you to everyone who took part.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Birthday Knitting ... My Son Turns Two

My wonderful boy turned two years of age at the end of February, and it was so bittersweet. How can it be that two years have passed already? He has changed from a baby to a boy child before my eyes.

Their growth spurts seem so overnight and final. I could swear he looks a little more grown up and bigger each morning, with limbs lengthening, feet spreading out and his face gone from round and cherubic to more oval and boyish. The baby time is over.

On to the next phase ... and don't I know it. As if he knows his timing to perfection, his second birthday happened at the same time as he truly learnt the true meaning of the word 'NO'!

Still, it's wonderful seeing his character develop and his likes and dislikes take shape. I am astounded daily by this little soul. He is an inspiration and I am proud and honoured to be his Mama.

I wanted to make him something for his birthday, as I knew he would have plenty of toys and books from family and friends. In my opinion, there's nothing quite like a nice warm baby or child in hand-knitted outfits. I endeavoured to make more, but time is always my enemy.

So with the cold icy winter wind still plagueing us, I decided on the Lyalya Hoodie pattern by Natasha Schaffer on Ravelry.

This is just the sweetest little pattern that looks so toasty warm, and harder for the hat to come off (or be pulled off) as it comes right down onto the neck and shoulders.

I used James C Brett Marble Chunky yarn in MC31 colourway, and am really happy with how it turned out.
First of all I knitted the baby pattern with size 5mm needles and it came out too small for my boy.

So on my second attempt I followed the child size pattern with the same needles and it fitted to perfection.

And the good thing is the baby hoodie will make a lovely gift for a friends little one :)

A Mystery Spin ... My First Spinning Commission

An Instagram friend (@amberweinberg) recently contacted me to say she had a mysterious lot of fiber that she didn't know what to do with, and didn't want to spin it for herself.  She went on to ask whether I could spin it for her but this was a tricky request as it was an unknown weight of fiber of an unknown origin. Needless to say, I was intrigued and excited all at the same time. I had never been asked to do any spinning for someone else before, and I didn't know how to answer any of her questions such as how long it might take or how many balls of wool it would make.

After a few to-ing and fro-ing of emails, we decided I would give it a go without many of the decisions being made, as I would have to weigh and feel the fiber first to see what I had to work with. Amber requested that I attempt to make a sock weight yarn with the fiber, and I agreed to give it my best effort.

Within a few days I received a lovely fluffy delivery in the post. Here's the reveal photo ... seconds after opening the parcel:

It was a lovely naturally coloured ball of fiber which weighed 262 grams. I could tell it was sheep in origin from the smell, and it looked pure and not blended with another type of fiber. The staple length was longish (about  4-5") and the crimp quite relaxed. It felt and looked almost like fine hair in comparison to say merino fiber where you can't distinguish the individual fibers due to the fluffiness. This was an unknown entity to me, as I had never spun fiber like it before.

Even after a little online research, I couldn't isolate the breed of sheep this fiber was from. So I decided I would just have to wing-it!

Putting down other WIPs in eagerness to begin this new project I decided to do a test spin that evening to see how it would behave.

After posting this early progress pic on Instagram, someone suggested that the fiber might have some Angora in it. Although it looks this way, it just wasn't nearly soft enough to contain any.

Backing some of the spun fiber up to see how it would ply, I took this photo for Amber to see:

It looked like it would produce a lovely fluffy looking yarn of fairly even consistency.

Here I am, mid-draft!

Quite a few evenings later, I finally had two full and contented bobbins all ready for plying:

And here is the first of four skeins pre-bath and set.

So the yield from this interesting mystery spin was:
  • 2 large skeins

  • 2 small skeins

  • approx. total yardage: 371 (or 339 meters)

  • sock to DK weight 2-ply
I was very happy with the result, as it washed up beautifully to become even whiter and even more lofty.

What's more, Amber was delighted with her new yarn. Here's a photo of the yarn back with its rightful owner (courtesy of Amber's IG feed):

I would be grateful to hear from any spinners who recognise this fiber and can tell me the sheep breed it might come from.

All in all, a very enjoyable and satisfying spin :)