Saturday, 31 August 2013

Magazine Feature: Homemaker

If you haven't yet got your copy of Homemaker magazine, now's the time. Issue 10 is out and, aside from coming with a nifty free notebook, it also features my decorated bamboo knitting needles!


I'm very excited as this is my first feature in print media! I hope to have a few more and of course I will let you know when and if it happens.

Now excuse me while I go and read my magazine.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Spinning: What's on the Wheel Now?

After my stints with unusual fibres, I have finally returned to something more familiar that I just know is going to be awesome. This is very finely crimped 28 micron Falkland tops dyed in the colourway Midnight by the wonderful dyer MandaCrafts. I love her tops and bought quite a few bags last time I went to Wonderwool over a year ago. Finally, I've got the time to dive right into her squishy soft Falkland again.
The material is wonderful to spin. It makes for really relaxing, smooth spinning on the wheel, which is why I decided to try a new spinning technique with it. the UK Spinners group on Ravelry set itself the challenge for August to spin longdraw. Now, this is something I hadn't managed to do before though I tried. Instead, I never got any further than doing short draw, which was a bit frustrating. But as soon as I started on the Falkland, it just clicked! It is perfect for this technique and I am still amazed I can do longdraw after all!

If you want to learn more about longdraw, check out this video:



What techniques are you finding hard to master in your crafts?


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Spun This Summer 4: Milchschaf (Dairy Sheep)

I keep getting introduced to fibres I haven't used before. It started with seacell, camel, banana tops and now dairy sheep tops. A while back a Raveler talked about having just spun some dairy sheep fibre (edited to add: it's an East Frisian sheep breed) and I curious as to what it was because I hadn't heard of it yet. She then surprised me with a 50g sample from Chantimanou that I immediately took to my wheel.

The fibre was dyed in shades of blue and green which has resulted in a lovely colour for the finished yarn. The material itself is very coarse and can be difficult to spin, so I had to pay attention to what I was doing. The finished yarn is therefore a coarse single ply - I still need to wash and measure it and decide what it can be used for.

Another new fibre, another experience! Now I need a break from the more unusual materials and get back to my usual suspects though.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Spun This Summer 3: Banana Tops

As you know from a previous post, I have been spinning banana fibre for the first time, and it wasn't easy! Recently, I finished it and it has resulted in a sturdy, very fine single ply that, to be quite honest, I am not entirely sure what to do with now. It is too firm to be plied with wool, in my opinion, so that's out of the question. However, a friend suggested using it for crochet because it feels so much like cotton. 
Since this is an organic material and rather unusual, I am not sure how long lasting this yarn really is. Also, I suspect I cannot dye it with acid dyes because it is plant material. Might have to get the Dylon out again.

Spinning this was quite an experience and I am glad I gave it a go. What's unusual or new-to-you materials have you used in your crafts?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Spun This Summer 2: Light Rainbow

(Images from Hilltop Cloud)

My friend Verena surprised me with this beautiful rainbow-coloured fibre from Hilltop Cloud on my birthday this year and I couldn't wait to start spinning it up on my wheel! The colours blend really well and I love how fluffy the fibre was. It was carded in a way to allow for very easy drafting so there was no need to prepare it. Perfect!
These 100g of Light Rainbow consist of 70% Shetland Wool and 30% Tussah Silk. Yum or what? 
At first I wasn't too sure about the hazy colours, but I do like the finished skein of my first single-ply lace and I can't wait to knit it up. I already have an idea what I want to make from it, but all I'm saying is that it will definitely be a very lacy shawl.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Spun This Summer: Nearly Autumn

There's been spinning progress this summer! Though I didn't take part in the Tour the Fleece, I did a bit of spinning around the same time. 

What's the Tour de Fleece?

During the time of the Tour de France, spinners do their thing at the same time. They challenge themselves to spin a certain amount or tackle a new technique. A lot of people join teams all over the web, especially on Ravelry.com, to encourage each other and show off their progress.
I am taking this opportunity to show you what I have spun so far this summer, starting with Nearly Autumn.
Since winter, I've had 100g of this lovely fibre waiting to be finished. I had started it, but then it got much too cold in my flat to spin comfortably and I left it till early summer instead. The fibre was a gift an Austrian friend purchased from Easyknits.co.uk. 
Sadly, there was no info about the type of fibre (the original order got lost, so did the replacement, and the next replacement had no information about the fibre at all). All I was told was that this fibre is "much more special" than the original order. Judging from what was available in the shop at the time, I suspect it is Polwarth, but am not sure.
In any case, it spun up really well, was great to work with, and the colours blend well. The final yarn is a 2-ply lace, my favourite, but it hasn't been measured yet. I even had a little bit of my singles left in the end to knit something tiny.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Liebster Award II


Thank you, Ruth from one of my most favourite brands, Blue Eggs and Tea, for nominating my blog for the Liebster Award! This is the second time I have been nominated, but this time there are new questions so this will be interesting to do again. And, look, the badge is new too!

This award is aimed at small blogs of less than 200 followers and recognises all the work and effort bloggers put into making a good blog.

1. What is your favourite bird and why? 
The crow and the owl. I like the owl because it stands for wisdom. But I like the crow even more because it is underestimated. It is not as pretty as a lot of other birds, it croaks and screeches instead of having a lovely singing voice, it scavenges, it has an ungainly gait...  How can you possibly love a bird like that? And yet there is something about it. Its individuality, its loneliness,  its mythical significance in a variety of cultures - it all speaks to me. While studying Creative Writing, I wrote quite a few really good poems featuring the crow. Not a single thing about owls, though!

2. What is your favourite thing about writing? 
To me, there are very different types of writing and I enjoy each one for different reasons. My favourite is still writing poems. I love how you have to condense everything into just a few words in poetry, and how you rely on images that you need to put into words in a way that they evoke exactly the feeling you are feeling at that moment. Poetry makes you see things differently and attaches meaning to simple things we don't usually think about. It evokes much stronger emotions than any other text. A good poem gives you access to something you did not see, feel or know before, and there is power in that.

3. If you could learn one new skill what would it be? 
 Aw, do I have to choose? Well, alright. Then I pick pottery. Yeah, I just can't get way from creative, tactile activities. It trumps learning a new language or an instrument (both of which I love too). The only time I ever did pottery was briefly at school and I don't have any of my creations anymore. Let's just assume they were magnificent.

4. Urban or Rural? 
Somewhere in-between, actually, but more urban than rural. I like living in small cities like Bath where you have the advantages of city life, but everything is fairly close together. I hate places like London that are just too big and crowded. I grew up on the countryside so I appreciate the scenery and fresh air, but it is too far from the things I need. If you need a car to get anywhere, it's probably not for me.

5. If you weren't doing what you're doing, what would your dream job be?  
I always wanted to be a writer. If my muse ever returns, perhaps I still will be. Failing that, a millionaire.

6. Who or what is your biggest inspiration? 
That's a tough question. I only ever encountered one truly inspiring person in my life - normally, I tend not to look to others, but focus on myself and my own strengths and abilities. However, when I was at university, I had a Canadian lecturer, then a PhD student, who was full of joy, life and love of literature. He did whatever he set his mind to and he did it well. It was infectious, and I realised that if he could do this, so could I. He was probably the main motivation for me to pursue a PhD as well because if someone who really loved literature so much could teach it the way he did, then so could I! Ironically, neither of us is working in that field anymore and we have each set up our own businesses in other areas we are passionate about.

7. If you could go anywhere right now, where would it be? 
To the sea. Always the sea.

8. Cat or Dog? 
Cat. My family used to have a dog when I was younger, but I prefer cats because of their independence. Really, though, I am more of a gerbil person.

9. How do you feel about 'trends'? 
I don't think much of them. I have never really been interested in trends because I don't define myself through them, which a lot of people do, and this hasn't changed over the years. We often get told, especially in business, that we must always be on trend and, as we Germans say, "at the pulse of time", but I disagree. If you are just going from trend to trend, you do not develop much of a sense of self; what you do doesn't have personality unless you split off from the trend to do your own thing. Who wants to be just one in a million others who look, think and do exactly the same things?

10. Do you have a motto to live by? 
No. Except perhaps that mottos are for losers.

*
Now, this is the hard part because nobody I know ever wants to do these things! I nominate Gemma from typically.pretty.english for her wonderful blog. I always like to drop by and have a look at what she has been doing.

My questions are:

1. If you were to live in another country altogether, where would you live?
2. What is the most unusual thing you have ever eaten?
3. What 3 words would you use to describe your life?
4. What inspires you?
5. If you were stranded on a desert island, what could you not live without?
6. What is your favourite smell?
7. What do you look forward to at the end of your day?
8. If you could go to university now, what would you study and why?
9. Do you have a favourite material to work with?
10. What new skill would you love to learn?