Saturday, 14 January 2017

Yarn to Dye For

Rooster merino yarn introduced by Absoknittinglutely

A quick scan of my blog will show you that it has been lacking posts about dyeing recently. It's been a while since I played with my dyes and I have been itching to give it a go again. I have been especially tempted ever since Laughing Hens sent me this gorgeous hank of undyed superwash merino. Just look at the photos: it's sooo squishy! I don't think I have ever dyed such luscious yarn before, so I look forward to seeing how it will take to dyeing.

I can't stop touching it. Before I choose a colour, I will have to make up my mind about what to knit this wool into. It is too nice for socks and as it is pure merino, it wouldn't hold up very well to being worn on my feet. This 4-ply would make a great hat or even gloves. It's a good thing I have been thinking of knitting new gloves lately, especially now that we have had a few very chilly days over here. If you have any other ideas, let me know! For your information, I have 400 meters of this yarn, so that is very decent.

I am tempted to dye this differently from the way I usually work. Maybe I'll first knit something and then dye it. I would love to just partially dye the fingertips of gloves, for instance, or the top of a hat. So many possibilities! Also so much potential for disaster, but that makes it particularly exciting. I remember an attempt at speckle dyeing going very wrong... If I feel brave enough to give it another go, I would like to pre-dye the yarn in a lighter shade first and then try speckle dyeing over it in a second round. One day I might actually get a hang of this!

What kind of dyeing technique to you like in the yarns you buy or dye yourself? Do you have particular colours you return to again and again or do you like to be as diverse as possible? I've noticed I tend to stick to the same colours and really need to branch out a little. Perhaps this lovely yarn will be something completely different! I shall report once it's done, of course.

Friday, 6 January 2017

#Craftblogclub Secret Santa 2016: Part 2

You have already seen what I made for my #craftblogclub Secret Santa swap partner, so now it is time to reveal what I have received.

When the package arrived before Christmas, it was a bit of a mystery. The address was German, but I knew it was from my Secret Santa. I thought I was the only German person taking part in #craftblogclub on Twitter, so I couldn't think of who this would be. It threw me because of my own connection to Germany, too. 

When I opened the handmade card that came with the package, it was even more mysterious. It began in German and then continued in English with an apology for the bad German grammar. It wasn't bad at all so I thought it was a native speaker at first. And then it finally dawned on me that I had spoken to a lady who lived in Germany, but was originally from the UK. Mystery solved! I quite enjoyed that conundrum, I have to say. Thank you, Rosie B from Craftbotic!

Rosie filled the package with all manner of handcrafted Christmas decorations that went on our tree straight away, I especially liked the yarn ball baubles, holly and clay reindeer. The gifts reminded me of how I always say I will make my own decorations one day and yet I never do... Rosie has used such a variety of techniques to make her gifts to me and I love it. 

And this is why I love Secret Santa. It can go a bit wrong sometimes, but usually the surprises are great fun and the excitement that comes with it is the best part of it. You do your best to find something your partner will like, but you can never be sure until they receive it and say something about it. You receive a gift as well and learn something about your Secret Santa, their preferences and skills, too. It's a lovely thing and I have enjoyed being part of 2016's #craftblogclub Secret Santa once again.

What are your experiences with Secret Santa? Do you love it or loathe it? What was the best gift you ever received from your swap partner - or has it ever gone wrong? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

A Woolly Engagement - With Photos!

A woolly knitting engagement k2tog

I'm not sure what happened this year, but it has seemed like the shortest year of my life. It has probably also been the worst year for a lot of people for various reasons and while we look forward to 2016 coming to an end, many of us are very likely worried about 2017.

The only good thing, it seems, to have come out of this year for me is our engagement. After 9 years, Mark and I are fairly sure that we like each other so we are making it official now and getting married next year. 

Wool and engagement ring

The proposal was not at all how I expected it (and I didn't know it was going to happen then and there), but it was better! We were on holiday at the seaside in Torquay, out in a garden, all by ourselves. Mark was so nervous that I had to put the ring on my finger myself because he was afraid he'd drop it. And of course I said yes, as if there was ever any doubt.

And being a knitter, of course our engagement photos had to have a woolly theme. After all, what encapsulates the love between two people better than k2tog? May life knit us together for many more years to come till our yarn is cut short.

Engagement ring photo
(Photography: John Barwood)

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Opal Advent Calendar: The Final Six

Opal Advent Calendar 2016 on Absoknittinglutely

Hello again! I hope you are enjoying the Bank Holiday today and had a wonderful Christmas. Are you like me at this time of year? I have no idea what day of the week it is or the exact date because Christmas was filled with a lot of excitement, rest, mindfulness and a distinct lack of routine.

No wonder I am late showing you what I found in my Opal Advent Calendar the last 6 days. In the past week, the calendar felt noticeably lighter and I held on to the hope that a mini-skein of red sock yarn would be somewhere in there. Well, there is no really red skein, but I did get one that was close. I now have 26 little skeins of yarn that I can't wait to cast on even though I feel I should probably get back to my jumper from last year... One little skein won't hurt, though, I'm sure, and besides: I haven't knitted a single stitch this Christmas. I am looking forward to seeing how they all knit up. It is hard to tell because they are multicoloured and I don't think I have used Opal yarn before. 

Once the calendar was empty, I couldn't help but take it apart to see how it was constructed. The yarn was held by 4 cardboard shelves with little cubicles arranged around a hollow centre. The printed sides all slotted together and I noticed that the calendar was made in the German town my grandmother is from. What a nice surprise!

Opal 4-ply sock yarn

I am already looking forward to whatever calendar I choose next year. Maybe it will be a woolly one again because it was a lot of fun and the contents are useful for some of my projects. Or maybe I will go for something entirely different, who knows? Luckily, there is lots of time to decide.

Enjoy your last days of the year!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

At first I was going to show you the last mini-skeins from my Opal Advent Calendar, but it's been such a wonderful day full of Christmas goings-on that I simply want to wish you all a merry Christmas and happy holidays, whatever you celebrate at this time of year, regardless of faith or lack thereof. 

As I tweeted earlier today, seeing how much I love Christmas, you'd never guess I was a born Muslim turned atheist. This season is such a wonderful time for me for a variety of reasons: the decorations, the twinkling lights everywhere, the atmosphere, strangers being more friendly and charitable towards others, choosing gifts for the ones you love, baking cookies, making your home feel even more cosy, crafting seasonal decorations, the food... There is so much I enjoy about Christmas and I hope that you do, too. 

This year Mark and I are spending the holidays by ourselves and the days are filled with music, films and food preparation. I cook, he bakes, and currently the flat smells so wonderfully of lemons because of Mark's first baked cheesecake that's cooling in the oven.

Today we will have a traditional German Christmas Eve dinner of potato salad and Frankfurters, but tomorrow I am making our usual German/British Christmas dinner. (The German bits are potato dumplings and caramelised sauerkraut.) 

I wish you all a fantastic time, peace and good health. See you after the holidays!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

More Opal Advent Calendar Yarn

9 more days have passed, 9 more mini-skeins of Opal yarn have jumped out of the Advent Calendar to join my stash.

There is an array of colours, many featuring blues and greens as well as purple. At the start I wondered if all Opal calendars had the same colourways in them, but now I am not so sure. I have seen other people's mini-skeins and they are quite different. To be honest, I am still hoping for a nice red skein similar to one I saw another knitter get. I am a bit bored of the greens and blues of my own calendar now. Still, I do not regret buying it and would do it again in order to get a move on with my Beekeeper's Quilt.

Even though it is the 18th already, I haven't started knitting any hexipuffs. So the yarn is waiting patiently in my stash till all skeins are out of the box. There is no chance I will knit all of them in one go, so the quilt will slowly grow as it has done over the past 5 years. There's no rush after all.

The mini-skeins have me wondering how a pair of socks would look, made from random colourways. I think it would look very nice, actually. I can also imagine knitting a jumper in this way, but I suspect you would need a few more calendars to get all the yarn together!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

#craftblogclub Secret Santa 2016

knitted Cecelia Cowl

A little while ago I treated myself to my first hank of pencil roving from Countess Ablaze. This is wool that's been loosely spun to the thickness of a pencil. You can either spin it into yarn or knit it as is. Originally, the plan was to spin it. Originally, the plan was also to use it for myself, but you know: The best laid plans of mice and men...

Last year I took part in a Secret Santa organised by the ladies of the #craftblogclub Twitter chat and it was so much fun that I am joining in again this year. I was assigned my swap partner and then it dawned on me that I had no idea what to make! Of course it was going to be something knitted. (I briefly considered other crafts, but let's be honest, nothing comes close to knitting.)

Cecelia cowl

Since I needed a project that would knit up quickly, I decided on a cowl and searched for suitable patterns. In the end I went for the Cecelia Cowl, a free downloadable pattern. The yarn used there is chunkier than pencil roving, so I cast on more stitches and, frankly, hoped for the best. It went well and the cowl turned out wider than in the original pattern. The top photo of this post shows it folded in half. 

I love how the colours pop and I am considering buying more of this roving in the Psychosocial colourway to knit something for myself. Luckily I do have quite a bit left over, so I may get a hat out of it. Well, it may be a game of yarn chicken, but you never know. Worth a try.

Countess Ablaze pencil roving psychosocial

I hope the recipient loves it - it's so squishy! After some online stalking of her blog, I think it will suit her.