2009-02-22: Facelift

Reviving my neglected blog.

For the past several months, my life has been consumed by a big project, so this particular website has lain dormant, although my spinning and knitting efforts have been toodling along quietly in the background. However, my other big distraction is getting to a point where it might be wrapping up soon, or at leasat it no longer needs all my dedicated attention and blogging energy, so I decided, what better way to re-launch my creative web space with a new site design?

The little girl is me, of course! I'm guessing around age five or six, somewhere along the southern Californian coast, engaged in a very typical activity for young me, which was playing in the ocean.

Let me see if I can re-cap all the stuff I've worked on for over a year now.

Fitted Knits cover

V-neck Pullover from Fitted Knits

I completed my first "real" jumper, the "Cozy V-Neck Pullover with Deep Ribbing" from Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel. Although I've made a couple of jumpers before, they were kind of my own random creations and came out not exactly the way I'd want. For once I decided I needed to follow a pattern and better understand the concepts of shaping and putting together a jumper before going off on my own, and I was pretty pleased with the results. Ironically, it is a teeny bit too big, so I didn't really succeed 100%. But thanks to the Patons Inca I used to make it, it is warm, soft, and comfy, and I wear it frequently to combat the hand-numbing overkill aircon at my work office. If I had any complaint about the yarn, it would be that it pills a bit, but what should you expect from a fuzzy yarn? I haven't bothered to take a photo of the completed item yet, mostly because I'm too busy wearing it to take a photo of it. If you must just imagine the photo on the left with sleeves and a finished neck.

This project was the first step of a bigger idea to include more handmade items in my wardrobe. Shopping for mass produced clothing rankles me on several levels, and I need a new wardrobe, so the idea is to slowly replace items with handmade ones (by myself or others) until most clothing I have is made to fit me, look the way I want, and produced as locally as possible.

I also finally finished the TOFUtsies Sock Club December pattern, only 6 months late! I gave these to a friend who had seen me knitting the October socks at a barbecue. I am a sucker for compliments.

Finished Winterberry Socks
Mr Wiggins Sock

Speaking of both socks and gifts, Mr Wiggins had complained that I was giving all my handknits away to everyoe in the world but him. Now it pains me ever to think he might be neglected and I am usually overjoyed to make him something, so I was excited when we sat down with my stitch pattern book together and picked out some things he liked and I developed a sock design just for him.

Right around that time we traveled to the US and this was my on the road knitting project. We arrived for my dad's wedding, visited a bunch of relatives in between, and then went to San Diego Comic-Con. Here is one of the socks being worked on while we were in one of the interminable queues for panels.


Both Mr Wiggins and I were happy with the finished product, although for some reason I minorly botched the heels. I was completely mentally unable to do my usual short row heel on these socks, and did a very sad imitation of a heel flap from the bottom up, without any good reference material. Subsequently the heels are a bit tight for the boy when he puts the socks on, but they are still wearable and are ultimately keep-my-feet-warm-at-home socks, so the fit isn't a deal breaker. However, I have been inspired to do another pair at some point for him with better planning and execution.

Hugs & KIsses Socks

Next up (I think) was my penultimate pair of TOFUtsies sock club socks — February's Hugs n Kisses pattern. Since I had already worn hols in the toes of the other 2 pair I made for myself (I am really bad about trimming my toenails sometimes) I kept this pair for myself. I used the last yarn and pattern as my Kris Kringle present for the Sydney December WWKIP Holiday Shindig at the Opera House. I also had a go at making a small makeshift lightbox for taking photos of my work. It didn't work 100% perfectly (I need a better lamp or multiple lamps), I do like the way it diffused the light much better and evened out the photo.

There's been spinning too! Oh yes, even a bit of a spinning revival for me. I made my PIF swap partner Jenny this handspun from some of my gum leaf dyeing experiments. I really liked it, although it's very subdued and "natural" looking, so I was a little worried she might think it bland. Fortunately she really appreciated the yarn! By the way, if anyone's still interested in that swap, technically I have 2 more PIF gifts to make for someone in order to fulfil the swap terms.

Dyed Hemp

I also continued dye experiments with some commercial fibre-reactive dyes. I ordered some Drimarene-K from Batik Oetoro and experimented a bit with dyeing non-protein fibre; in particular a bunch of de-gummed hemp I originally got several years ago from Ecoyarns. I found the process really simple but I need more sensitive scales to measure the dye a little more accurately. My crappy kitchen scales don't handle 1g increments well enough. But I like the colour I got by accident.

I decided to blend it with some of the odds and ends of cotton I had lying around and so weighed out different batches of cotton and hemp and began blending them on my hand carders. Here's what I have so far, which is the green-dyed hemp and some naturally (olive) green Pachuko cotton. It's still on my bobbin as spinning has gone back on hold since around Christmas. However, I'm keen to get back into this as soon as it's practical, because spinning long draw finally clicked for me on this project, and whee! Does it fly!

Handspun cotton/hemp blend

I also worked on some really lovely yarn made from roving given to me in the Tea Cosy swap, way back when. I enjoyed this lot as well, since I was really having fun dividing up the different colours to produce different effects in the yarns. I made this into a beret that needs to be revisited, as it's a little too floppy for my head. Once I redo the band (or maybe felt it?) I will get a funky button from All Buttons Great and Small to finish it off.

The last of my completed projects was another pair of handspun & handknit socks. Again the pattern was of my own design. I was thinking about entering them into the Royal Easter Show when I realised that they had different numbers of pattern repeats on the cuffs (not drastically, but enough to be noticeable once I blocked them). Otherwise they were soooo beautiful. Grrr. When I get some motivation I will re-knit the longer one so they both match. I've tried them on and they are the perfect, comfy, lounge-around socks.

Spring Leaf socks

I think that's enough for now! Hopefully more to follow in less than six month's time.

Welcome Back. I love the green socks!

Lara rhubarbandcustard@mac.com 23 Feb 2009

Thanks! The colour's from food colouring & blending.

Andrea roceal@jngm.net 23 Feb 2009