Sunday, September 29, 2013

Reading list - 29/09/2013

I've had a pretty amazing weekend. It involved staying at a friend's place up north - her partner's just finished building a house and a bunch of us went away to get out of the city for the night. 
It was great to catch up with friends and do a bit of casual sock knitting at the table, and around all this I caught up with a bit of reading.

Frankie's latest issue was my treat for doing Live Below the Line. I couldn't go out and buy snacks, so instead I grabbed a copy to try and distract myself from being hungry. A big shout-out to my team of girlies - we raised over $1200 for Oxfam NZ!

And holy moly. I made an amazing discovery when browsing Twitter yesterday morning.
I've just found Knitsy magazine. It's a free magazine app with free patterns, news and features. I've downloaded the first two issues and I'm loving them, but apparently issue three is available - I just can't find it anywhere on the Google Play store. I'll keep an eye out though, I can't wait to see more.

And Pompom Quarterly arrived over a month ago for me, but she's the one magazine I just keep going back to. I just love the styling and the patterns are simply stunning. If there is one knitting magazine that I feel most strongly represents me as a crafter and my lifestyle in general, this one is it.

It's been great to have a chilled out weekend, nothing like a bit of reading and friends to relax.

Monday, September 23, 2013

On the needles: socks and hats

I've already raved about how much I love my yarn winder. It's not just that it makes a nice little cake of yarn that doesn't roll around and tangle up - look what it does to self-striping rainbow yarn. Holy moly!

It looks so pretty I almost don't want to knit with it. Which is kind of ridiculous. 
I've made a start on my self-striping socks. Thanks Happy-Go-Knitty for the yarn!

I've also made a start on a new hat. Seeing a theme this year? I've knitted five Rikke hats already this year, lots of socks too. There's been a few other bits and pieces, but I've definitely had either a hat or socks on the needles for most of this year. And I'm cool with it.

This pretty thing is the Honey Hat by Lisa Gutierrez.
I'm using my Beau yarn in Slumdog Astrophysicist by Red Riding Hood Yarns, and I'm really happy with how it's knitting up. I had two false starts, mainly down to me not reading the pattern properly and thinking I know better than the designer, but I've learned my lesson and all is going good.

Do you have any types of things you knit over and over again?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My crafty corner

Since moving to the new house a few months ago, I've been planning on taking over the spare room and turning it into a place to contain my knitting. 
Yesterday we completed the knitting containment zone - the craft table arrived!

She's a lovely oak four seat dining suite from one of my favourite vintage shops, Deco 2 Retro
She has a little bit of damage. On three sides, there are little rectangles cut out of the wooden supports under the table top. The lady at the shop suspects that previous owners might have used wheel chairs, and this was the solution to making them fit under the table. 

The best bit though is that it extends to seat six, which will be very handy if we're hosting a bigger dinner party than usual!

I do love having a little space of my own to plan projects and write articles - I find it's much easier to focus instead of propping the laptop on the couch and leaving several half-knitted items strewn around the living space. I definitely think husband and brother will be appreciating me not leaving all my stuff everywhere.

And my yarn winder has arrived! This, combined with the wooden swift I got a couple of weeks ago (kindly fixed by Father-in-Law) might be the funnest thing ever. This has revolutionised my yarn winding! Instead of wrapping hanks around the backs of chairs and taking forever to hand-wind them into a usable ball of yarn, I just turn the little handle and magic happens! 

I may or may not have wound three hanks on Friday night just to test it out...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Living Below the Line for Oxfam

Those who know me know that I love food. I'm a little person, but I eat a lot. I'm always at my grumpiest when I'm hungry, which will make next week very interesting.

Me and four lovely girls at work are Living Below the Line for Oxfam. We can only ear $2.25 worth of food every day - a budget of $11.25 for five days. 

For me, that means no coffee, no sweet treats, no buying lunch, no dining out and there will be occasions of watching my husband eating yummy food in front of me on purpose....

But it's for an amazing cause. $2.25 per day is the bench mark for someone who lives in extreme poverty - that's 1.2 billion people around the world. We're hoping to raise $1000 over the next week to raise awareness and to donate to Oxfam, who work in many countries with extreme poverty.

I went shopping this morning - so far I've spent $9.10 on the above.
I'm figuring out what else I need or if I should splash out on seasoning.

I'd love your support for this great charity - if you're keen to donate a couple of dollars to the cause, check out my team's page! It will be very much appreciated!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A few FOs... and it's about time...

It feels like it's been ages since I've had some FOs to show. 
And that's because I was knitting too many things at once.

Array is finished! But I cheated - I didn't knit the whole thing because the slowness of the slipped stitches was actually destroying me. Yes, she would've looked much better if she was 12 inches wide instead of eight, but I'm beyond caring!

Next up, Rikke Hat  number five. I really want to keep this one but it's for my sister-in-law. Hope she won't mind that I've been wearing it around the house all weekend...

And finnnnallllyyy.... my Soft Like Kittens Socks! 
I finished these a little while ago but I took my sweet time weaving in the ends.

Now I have nothing on the needles. Kind of freaking me out. Now I have the almost impossible task of trying out what to knit next.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Knitographer interviews... Fibre2Go

When I went to KAN I met some amazing crafters. One of the lovely ladies I met was Lyn Walsh of Fibre2Go. Now, I'm not a spinner, but Lyn's amazing hand-dyed fibres are almost enough to make me consider giving it a go! I instead bought some of her scrummy sock yarn and have since ordered more.
Lyn kindly took the time to chat to me about Fibre2Go.

How did Fibre2Go begin and where does the magic happen?

I was attending a Creative Fibre Festival a few years ago and spotted a trader who was selling hand-dyed sliver.  I’m an avid spinner and liked the idea of being able to buy uncommon colourways, different from what is available in vast quantities from big suppliers worldwide.  Although I liked the idea, I didn’t much like the colours that this artist had on offer but I bought some anyway – as you do, right?  Well, I got home and the germ in my brain had germinated – I could dye my own fibre. Next step was easy – I found a supplier of white sliver and bought some. Then obtained some dyes and started researching dyeing methods and located equipment.  I liked the freedom to combine colours that I liked and was thrilled when others started to notice my colours were brighter, richer and more dramatic than others they had seen. They asked if I would consider dyeing some for them.

The Magic – well, that happens at several stages along the way.  The biggest and best is when I add a new colourway into my range and I see the delighted expressions in people’s eyes and two people fighting over who will get the last chain of that colour.  Sheer magic. Other magical moments are seeing a new colourway come out of its wrap. It’s gone from an idea to an inspiring armful of wonder.

How long have you been dyeing yarn and fibre for, and do you have a favourite to work with?

I have been dyeing fibre for a little under three years, but I only dabbled in yarn after a year or so. Nowsince being to Knit August Nights this year, dyeing yarn has become important too.  My favourite product to dye would be 20% silk/80% merino.

You use lots of very vibrant colours - where do you get your inspiration for your colour combinations, and do you have a favourite?

Inspiration comes from many places. All around us there are gardens, magazines with photos of nature (my biggest and most reliable source) and also other people’s creative art works which might combine two or more colours which bounce or harmonise.  There might be a vibrant juxtaposition of colours which attracts my eye in a piece of dress material or a painting.  Monet is my favourite artist, a technical genius.  His colours are sublime, and beautiful.  What I have to keep in mind always is that the fibre I dye needs to contain the raw colours that later will be visually blended by spinning, felting, knitting, weaving etc, forming, with each process, less intense colours. The have to start vibrant to end up exciting and not muddy.

What is your dyeing process - do you have any favourite tools that you use?

For my sliver dyeing I use a steam-fix acid dye process – I have a steam oven regulated to 95 degrees.  I couldn’t do what I do without this reliable tool.  My yarn is dyed using the same acid dyes but the process is called kettle dyeing and is a full-immersion, low water volume, technique.  The temperature never goes about 85 deg C so crockpots are my tool of choice for this.

When you're not dyeing yarn and fibre, do you have a few personal projects on the go?

Always!  I am primarily a spinner.  I spin to knit, mainly, although I also weave and crochet.  Since taking to the dye pots I find I have less time to spin but it does bring in the money and a great deal of satisfaction – perhaps more than spinning and knitting ever could.

Where do you see Fibre2Go progressing to in the next 12 months?

I have several trading opportunities coming up over the next year. People are hearing about me and my products and I am being sought out to sell at trade fairs and craft gatherings all over the country.  I do not intend, at this stage, to get “too big for my boots” though.  I work from a craft room in my house and have no ideas of requiring a “factory space” any time soon. I see myself, for now anyway, as an “indie” dyer,  happy doing small quantities of fibre and yarn so my products remain exclusive and sort after, not available in stores – yet.

Check out Lyn's Felt shop full of beautiful fibre here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Auckland Vintage Textile Fair

Last Friday I was lucky to find out that Auckland has a Vintage Textile Fair - and I hadn't missed it!
Apparently it happens once a year - this year's was at Alexandra Park - and I spent Sunday wandering around the wide array of stalls looking at fabric, craft supplies, clothing and bags.

If I'd known about it last year, I would've been able to buy all the picnic blankets and decorations for the wedding in the one place. Not to mention wedding dresses - some vintage stunners.

The pictures are better descriptors of my adventure - I'll stop rambling. 

I can't wait for next year - I'll have time to save up and go nuts.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Crime lit, yarn and vintage patterns

I was pretty excited to discover that Penguin Books have started publishing green Crime Popular Penguins. I'm a big fan of the orange Popular Penguins, so it's great to add to the collection with a slight variation on the theme. And when you buy two, you get a free matching tote bag! That'll fit a few knitting projects in it.

I've spent a good chunk of the weekend sorting through my vintage patterns for a magazine article (all will be revealed soon!). For me, the highlight is always flicking through the old magazine pages. The ads, surprisingly, are kind of similar to the ones we get in magazines today. There's ads for miracle creams and supportive underwear and convenience meals. The only thing that wouldn't be so in-place today is the ad for cigarettes. Making smoking super glam!

A couple of parcels arrived in the mail this week. After my KAN weekend, I somehow convinced myself that I needed a swift or something similar for winding yarn. I found this awesome antique one on Trademe. The little brass hooks slide the length of the arms for different hank sizes, and the base spins really well.
It definitely needs some TLC though - a good clean around the base and the arms need a polish. Sadly one of the hooks snapped off, but Father-in-Law says he can fix it. 
Luckily I still need to get a wool winder before I can really use this bad boy - I'm keeping my eye out for one.

And lastly - more Skeinz Vintage! I'm in love with this yarn - currently using some of it in my Array cowl - and I've got a plan to do make my own pattern with this. After the other projects are finished though - I need to do a fair bit of planning first!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A newbie's report on KAN #4 General coolness

I had an amazing time at KAN - I can't wait to go again next year.
Here's a few of the things I enjoyed the most in pictures.

Thanks so much to Maree who organised it all - you do an incredible job every year and I know everyone who goes really appreciates it!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A newbie's report from KAN #3 Classes

Before KAN, I'd never been to a knitting class before. I guess I always felt a bit intimidated. After I'd learned the basics from my Mum and YouTube videos, I didn't feel the need to go to any beginner knitting classes. I definitely didn't feel confident enough to enroll in a slightly more advanced technique class. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough skills to keep up. 

I decided to get over my fears at KAN so I signed up for two classes.
The first, on the Friday, was the Return of the Ten Stitch Blanket by Susan Hagedorn.
Basically by using ten stitches, short rows and working in a spiral, you can knit an entire blanket.
The class was so popular last year that the organisers decided to run it again, and I'm so glad they did.
Not only did I master short rows, now I have the start of a squishy cream blanket that I can work on between other projects.'

Blankets were definitely the theme of my learning. 
I also enrolled in James Herbison's Introduction to Modular Knitting class.

The class consisted of making small squares (modules) and joining them together to eventually make a blanket. It is a great project to stash-bust leftover bits of sock yarn.

Here's James - he gets points for wearing a kilt.

And here is a beautiful example of a more completed modular knit blanket.

The effect is amazing, and a great way to remember they yarns you've used on different projects and keep a little record of it.

I have definitely learned some great new skills in the classes at KAN, and I'm looking forward to being braver an signing up for more technique classes when I can find some in Auckland!