Sunday, June 24, 2007

I went to the middle of nowhere...

and after an excruciantingly long bus ride, I ended up at a medieval festival! It was located about 10 towns away, so how could I resist, being a closet medievalist and all. And, as a bonus, the DH willingly agreed to accompany me, what could be a better way to spend an afternoon? I saw lots of great costumes, so I have lots of ideas for what to create and wear next year. I saw lots of capelet-hoody things, such as the back of this one:
on both guys and girls of all ages. They are made from a felt material, and most of them were dyed in earth-toned colors. I also saw a surprisingly large number of crocheted victorian style fringed triangular shawls, like this one.
Ahem. Nuff said. There were lots of saxons...
check out his teeny tiny skull in the left of the picture! It rained A LOT as you can see from the big dark cloud in the picture, so the DH and I spent a lot of time drinking grog and listening to the very cool minstrels...

These kids were a hybrid medieval heavy metal band. They even played 'Smoke on the Water' by Deep Purple, and I don't think anyone noticed except for my husband and these two very enthusiastic spectators. These guys must have made their own costumes because they were quite unique, and very authentic. Unfortunately I got quite tipsy and developed a huge grog headache. That stuff is not weak!

We did some shopping, and while I did not purchase a single scrap of clothing, the DH bought a medieval style coarsely woven linen peasant-style shirt in black (Black! No honey - earth tones! Egad...) . I can't decide if he looks like a pirate or a rock star. Anyways, I came away with a little
soomething for myself...
A pennanular ring - or medieval safety pin. This sucker is perfect for fastening knitwear, but not much else because the pin is so wide. I got it for a fastener for a post-Christmas project I have pictured in my head, but haven't written down any of the ideas for. For next year, I plan on having completed Annie Modesitt's lacy camisole thingie, and with an appropriate dress I think that will fit the bill well enough for these not-too-exact revivalists, because it'll probably be too warm to wear a wool sweater. The DH will wear the shirt, linen trousers, and I'll probably have the time to knit him up one of those hoody capelet things in an undyed wool, with some celtic knot cables thrown in just for fun.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Updates, lots of updates

Between the demands of work, training and completing my first bicycle century and a recent death in the family, I've had the attention span of a stunned goldfish when it comes to knitting. And yes, I've also been neglecting my blogging duties.

Since I needed some easier knitting, I made Glampyre's One Skein Wonder out 2 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cathay I had the stash.
Other than compensating for a different gauge and making the border ribbing shorter than called for in the pattern (I was running out of yarn), I substituted Open Honeycomb stitch for seed stitch on the cap sleeves. What would I do without stitch dictionaries?

The sleeve details show up better in this photo.
Overall, I think the pattern is cute, easy and customizable. The shrug is a little tight under the arms due to the shortness of the border, but will probably stretch out over time. I also used Elizabeth Zimmermann's stretchy sewn bind-off. Other than being a little splitty, Cathay was actually pretty good to work with and I would use it again.

I also started another summer knit in bamboo yarn, also from the stash.

It's a crappy picture, I know. I'll post a new one soon once I finish the waist ribbing.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Knitting progress?

This pretty much illustrates it! I went on a nice little trip to Hannover on a very cheap group ticket, with a knitter/crocheter colleague and a visiting scientist from our research group. I found this cool statue outside the city hall. I have actually made significant progress on a gift project so I can't blog it. Pfft! The old town part of Hannover is very pretty, and we went a bit out of the way to look up a yarn shop.
Me in a yarn shop is like uncaging the beast, or in this case, releasing it from the column.
I came away with a little giftie for Delenn (sorry, no pics, you'll just have to wait till I send it in the mail) and a little something to swatch for a future project, and also knit up into a Christmas present I think. Unless I like it too much, and then I'll just keep it.
It's tweedy, and it's red... it's Garnstudio Silke-Tweed, purchased for about 1/2 the price of the average North-American retailer, which would make it feasible for a large project, like this one. I also saw lots of old buildings, narrow winding streets, beautifully manicured ponds,
and LOTS of ducks. They were easier to photograph than my town's ducks, probably because they're more used to people feeding them.
This guy let me get real close and he didn't even twitch a feather!

Now for the knitting progress...
Tara's coming along, I think I've cleared about 2 feet by now. However, knitting all those SK2P decreases was really driving me crazy, they're everywhere, and it really slows me down to slip a stitch then pass it over the two knitted together. I came up with a better way, to do it all in one motion, and I'll post about that at some future date, when I can get my DH to photograph my hands while I'm doing it, without getting all cranky about it. Here's a close-up shot of my "new way" of doing the decreases
Not bad, huh?


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dyeing just ain't my gift...

So I did the dye job, followed the instructions on the label and everything, and the yarn turned out purple. Purple! How on earth could a pale blue (not white as last week's image has led some of you to believe) yarn put in a darker blue dye end up friekin' purple? I just don't get it. But I don't hate it either, I think I ended up with quite a good contrasting color to go with the handpaint. Here it is...
all balled up. The dye job came out quite even, almost no mottledness is observable by the untrained eye. I think that I should have "primed" the yarn with vinegar if I wanted the color darker, but it wouldn't have ended up bluer. I tied up the hank with white superwash merino (scraps from the Celtic Knot Project swatches) and they sucked up the dye like crazy (as I expected from reading several handy web resources on hand dyeing yarn) but they were dark PURPLE. Not blue. Oh well... At least this turned out better than my first hand-dye experience which involved 880 yards of Knitpicks dye your own laceweight merino, Kool Aid, plastic bags,
some chopsticks and a turkey baster, a microwave oven, a huge mess my husband was very grumpy about, and a hank of very sorry looking felted up yarn that looked just plain ugly to my too-high-expectations-self. I swore I'd never do it again. How do some people get such fantastic results? Anyways I'm digressing. Here's a detail shot of the main body lace pattern.
Not bad, I think. It wasn't what I had expected, but I drastically lowered my expectations after the aforementioned bad experience, and I think it actually goes better then a random shade of blue would have. It's the same shade of purple as a short section of the hand dye. And the yarn softened up a fair bit in the washing process. It's a DK weight cashmere from
and the price was quite reasonable. I thought it was a bit coarse knitting with it before I ripped to do the dye job, but not scratchy, just coarse. Maybe that has to do with the tightness of the twist of the plies or something, though the yarn itself (composed of several plies, 4 I think) is somewhat loosely plied. I have to look at my knitting a fair bit to make sure I don't drop a ply, especially when doing the double decreases, like, every third stitch in this pattern. I still find it sortof coarse, but a bit less so. Don't get me wrong, it's way softer than a majority of the wools I knit with (except the superwash merino) and dosen't have long fibers that stick out like with Alpaca that tickle me (and my nose) when I knit with it. I guess I just expected something smoother and maybe fluffier. I have never knit with cashmere before, I thought it was too expensive. It's still pricier than most of the stuff I work with, but for a small luxury project (i.e. not a sweater), the price isn't bad.
I think it works...


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Phew! What a trip!

Last week, my husband and I decided to go to Berlin for the long weekend. What a trip! We had a blast, and some interesting weather...
first there was the torrential rain on the first day, Friday.
Then there was the hail on Saturday. In between the rain and hail, we wandered around the cute old streets of former East Berlin, ate at some nice restauraunts, including the best Mexican food I've had since leaving North America, and found a very nice yarn store (Loop) in a very cute neighborhood with a nice open air market where the vendors were selling all sorts of things from handmade baby shoes to candy. Mmmm. I succumbed to the tourist's need to buy something to commemorate the trip...
Dare I say it? It's YUMMY, so yummy. I saw it shining at me in Loop, and it was SO SOFT! I had to have it! I think it's a domestically produced handspun, no label. Another mystery wool... heh heh. I did some research on the internet, and I believe it's a 50/50 mulberry silk merino blend, the weight (100g), stated yardage (300m) and recommended needle size (3-4 mm) and color is very similar to a product I found at a 'natural crafts' site in Germany. Same price too, so there ya go. Now I know, yarn diet, but this is the only thing I bought for me ( I also got one gift for someone) and I'm supporting the domestic economy, so there. That's how I justify it to myself anyways. I think that it will become fetching. I already find it quite fetching in the skein. Heh heh bad joke. Anyways, we had very nice weather on Sunday, here's a shot of Neptune and his maidens.
See that? Blue skies... Now I really want to go back, and have one of the maidens model the Tara Stole when it's done, I got a fair bit done on the train.
The handpaint is Hand Maiden 4 ply Silk Cashmere, and I decided on an Old Spanish Lace Border. The body is being knit from a DK weight cashmere purchased on the net from the UK for a criminally low price because none of my stash yarns were the right weight or texture. I found the right stitch pattern, an alternating small and large bead pattern to go with the small beads in the Old Spanish Lace. Unfortunately, I don't like the way the colors look together, so I'll rip back, put the yarn into 50 g hanks, and dye it a darker shade of blue. Then it'll be PERFECT. I hope.

The hubby and I went to the zoo on Monday before taking the train back, and I ran around like a crazy person snapping photos of the fiber-bearing animals like this bactrian camel.
The fiber is literally falling off him! (Or is it her...?) There were large tufts of it all over the place. Now I leave you with this adorable sleeping baby bear who is not the star, but I think maybe he could be... so cute!