Tuesday, 30 December 2008

I'm back!

What a neglectful blogger I've been...in my defence, I have been busy banging my head against all kinds of virtual brick walls in an attempt to get the shop up and running online. Payment gateways, SSL certificates...merchant accounts, FTP sites...but hopefully soon you'll be able to buy some of this lovely stuff:



Hmm. Sock yarn. Lovely. Doesn't try to confound me with gibberish. Hasn't got a payment gateway to get up and running. Doesn't understand HTML. Lovely, lovely yarn! Yarn is my friend!

Of course in the interim, Christmas has been and gone, and I hope yours was a lovely one. Mr Yaffle and I spent some of ours in Glossop, just outside the Peak District National Park.


This amazing view was just outside the flat we stayed in. It would've been positively churlish not to go and see what was at the top, so we did. Now, my idea of walking is as follows. 1. get into the car with dog and wellies. 2. drive somewhere pretty, and flat. 3. get out of car with dog and wellies, and walk for a bit. 4. drive home, unexhausted, dry, and not aching. So this was a departure. We climbed a bit, and found a 'clough' (no, not that kind of clough) which I think is a kind of ravine:

View of clough

and right at the top we found lots of these!


We told him about the sock yarn and everything, but he didn't look too impressed.

Sheep back

Main surprise of the festive season was that I did. NO. KNITTING. whatsoever! Unprecedented. I spent Christmas watching this, this and a bit of this. And then I got incredibly twitchy and yesterday couldn't resist casting on a new hat, and trying to start the sleeves of the Big Purple Endless Cardigan of Dullness. So that'll see me to the New Year and beyond...!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Dyeing to spin

Mine's a pint, landlord!


What a good night out that was. And it resulted in a pile of dyed roving, strangely enough.

Jug of roving

The colours were inspired by a gorgeous scarf in a copy of Spin Off Magazine which my pal Rosie kindly gave me (thanks Rosie!!). The pattern is Morning Surf Scarf which is designed for handspun yarn. Even handspun yarn with lumps, bumps and dog hair in it. 

Roving and mag

I've made friends with my spinning wheel again (we had a chat about the Itchy Yarn Incident and agreed to put it behind us) so here goes...

Roving and wheel

Monday, 27 October 2008

Watching skeins dry

The inclement weather at the weekend forced my skein-drying activities indoors, so the radiators were festooned with colourful hanks of wool (makes a change from smalls, eh?)

Skeins drying 

I've been experimenting with some paler shades although from the pictures you'd think I was my normal, neon self! It's hard to get the proportion of dye just right for pastel shades but some have turned out quite well.

Skeins finished

After watching all that yarn dry, it was time to do something more interesting, such as knitting the Cardigan of Staggering ComplexityTM. You know, the purple one with the inconceivably complicated pattern of (gasp) knit one row, purl one row. It's reached the limp, curly waistcoat stage, so I'd better carry on and knit the sleeves. Before I do that, I'm mucking about with the idea of adding a different colour:

Cardigan plus wool ball 

No, not greensleeves (how we laughed) - it's for the edging when it's finished! I've been crocheting up a sample to see what it would look like.

Cardigan plus swatch

Turns out it looks like a frilly purple anti-macassar. If you're short of one for your settee, do let me know!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Through a lens dustily

Dog and I popped out this afternoon to take some Through The
Viewfinder shots with a new (old) toy. You strap a cumbersome old camera like
this one


to your digital camera (mine's a cheap point-and-shoot
affair) and you take pictures through its viewfinder to create vignetted
images. It's the photographic equivalent of having an ipod, but hooking it up
to a recording on 78 rpm vinyl, and then listening to everything through the
scratchy track, next to a whirring food processor and if possible, on a tractor...but I think it's pretty.


Here's some of my latest yarn batch (hmmm...dusty black bits through the lens, on my yarn!!)


And some trees on our walk

Ttv trees 

Enough already! More, and better, can be found here.
I'm off to listen through my ipod to a spectacular mono LP recording of some
fireworks from the BBC Sound Effects department circa 1967...

Friday, 17 October 2008

Rippling yarns*

Thanks so much for all the votes and suggestions about the stripes! I had no
idea so many of you would like it. When you're working alone and only have the dog as a focus group (one woof for 'yes', two woofs for...oh, there goes a squirrel, forget it) it really helps to have some input from you all! I'll dye some stripey yarn up and stock it in the
Laughing Yaffle shop when it's up and running. Not long now, just a few
tweaks to the website, and some of yer actual yarn for the shop and it will be ready!

I've been working on the ubiquitous ripple blanket this week. I pick it up during the winter months as it's at least 30 degrees warmer underneath it, so it's impossible to work on even in the English summers...

Ripple 1

It's one of the patterns from the Jan
Eaton Ripple Book
and I'm using up yarn from my (shameful) stash. It's
mostly DK yarn leftovers from other projects, plus some really soft Sirdar Blur which
makes the blanket really comfy and fuzzy (and no itchy and scratchy in sight).

Ripple closeup

 Oh. And let's not forget the 1% dog hair content. Wouldn't be quite the same without it!

*PS if you haven't seen Ripping Yarns as part of your Great British Comedy education then you must. Them's the rules.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

To stripe or not to stripe

There aren't enough pairs of DPNs in my house to accommodate all the 'sock' swatches I'm knitting! (I say 'socks' - I dispensed with ribbing pretty early on in the show and now I'm just knitting truncated tubes. Handy for all those occasions when you just can't do without a truncated tube!) It looks like a nasty bout of startitis, I know. But I'm testing out some of the skeins I've dyed (honest), just to see how they knit up.


It's really surprising and exciting to see how they turn out (did I mention that I don't get out much? And anyway, it's a welcome relief  form of procrastination change from the mono-colour cardigan).  I think these are my favourites so far.



I experimented with stripes, too. First I tried making a really long skein, like in this tutorial, only I got into a terrible tangle. I had to tie one end to the back of a 376 bus in order to wind the impossibly long skein, for starters (I'm assured that this is how Opal have done it for years. What's that bus doing, Granny? Well, dearie, it's winding yarn into special stripes!) On its return, I eventually managed to hoik the hank off the bus, down the lane, and straight into the bin, cutting out the middle-step of dyeing it altogether! Clever, eh? Hmm. Maybe self-striping yarn isn't the way forward... I stuck to the smaller skeins and tried to get some semblance of stripe into the yarn that way, instead:


(Do not adjust your set...)

Would you knit with this yarn? I mean, if it was in a different colourway, more to your tastes, would single stripes be something you could live with? They start to overlap a bit at the back (the pink and blue go purple and it zig-zags a bit) which is the nature of most hand-dyed yarns. But if that wasn't a problem for you would you knit it into socks? Here's your chance to vote one of the members of Yaffle Yarn out of the Yaffle House...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Yarn Yawn

Whoever coined the phrase "I'll be glad to see the back of that!" clearly never knitted a cardigan.


It's the one thing I'm never glad to see the back of, because knitting the back of a grown-up sized cardigan is an activity so unremittingly tedious it's a wonder I ever go on to finish the rest. And this explains why there are so many WIPs in my stash. And crazy cardigans made of frightening, self-striping (but so very interesting!) yarn in my wardrobe.


Mile after dull, purple mile of stocking stitch. With no prospect of an exciting colour change on the next row. In fact the only. Relief. From the tedium. Of the back of this. Cardigan. Is the occasional

Dog hair 

Dog hair. Debbie Bliss Cathay. 50% cotton, 35% Viscose Microfibre, 14% Silk, 1% Dog Hair.

PS. The camera also thought this cardigan was dull so it is displaying it in three different shades for your viewing pleasure!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

The itchy and scratchy show

It seemed like a good idea at the time. To dye some roving that was a wool/nylon blend, then spin it up into lovely, strong sock yarn (just like the real thing!) Such a great idea.


And all the while I was dyeing this, and spinning it up, there was this weird, soundtrack-like background noise. A bit like a foreboding, sinister Bernard Hermann score. I couldn't work it out. When I stopped spinning, it stopped. And when I started spinning again, it carried on. I oiled my wheel, turned the telly up a bit and put it down to over-tiredness and too much wine. And then after the sample was all plied up and ready to knit with, it dawned on me as the yarn revealed its true self (and the soundtrack reached an alarming crescendo. Or it could've been the same moment the dog chose to knock the vase off the window-sill, not sure).


Horror-yarn that has all the softness and light fluffy texture of a used Brillo Pad. I can't spin fast enough or give the yarn enough twist so that the nylon lies flat. It just pokes itself out and sulks, refusing to make friends with the wool. Big machines can spin so fast that this doesn't happen, presumably, because the manufactured 80/20 I've been dyeing is perfectly soft and lovely! You wouldn't want to knit anything apart from a hair shirt with what I spun yesterday. Anyone know of a 'Knit Hair Shirts for Lowly Ascetics and Bald Hedgehogs' campaign I can participate in? argh!!!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Season of socks and mellow knitfulness

My yarn dyeing turned all autumnal and dropped off a tree this week. I dyed up a red and green combination after glancing over the wall and seeing Mrs Virginia Creeper in a back garden.


She gets into a lot of back gardens round here. We had to get an injunction out on her to stop her getting into our shed through the roof felt. Anyway. I dyed this.


Still life with apples, yarn and more stuff off the ground! The apples are Red Devils from our local farm shop (the best farm shop in the world because it has a fibreglass cow coming out of the building).They're pink inside too, which because I am pleased by small things, pleases me immensely...


And now for something completely different.

That's Terry Gilliam's autumnal animation from The Meaning of Life. (any opportunity to crowbar in a bit of Gilliam. Apologies). Moving swiftly back to knitting:


I think the Foliage 'n' Fruit combination's a winner. Watch this space for colourways inspired by: Spotted Laurel and Banana; Filbert and Pineapple Chunks (on a bed of wilted Daphne); Mugwort and Cling Peaches...or maybe you have your own favourite fruit'n'foliage medley (don't we all, folks?) you'd like to see expressed via the medium of knitting? Answers on a tin of fruit cocktail to the usual address...

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Entertaining Mr Trebus

The ghost of Mr Trebus lives on. Through me!* This time, it's worse than just a routine root in a charity shop with the resulting hoard of fashion-backward fabric. It's the irresistible urge to collect bits of stuff off the ground.


Some of these china shards (sounds perfectly acceptable if you say, "china shards", doesn't it? Almost curatorial) come from the knee-grazing slag-heaps of Stoke-on-Trent but most of the stuff hails from our garden, or from walks with the dog (who has perfected a withering look for such lowly activities as china-hunting). In order to justify this weird behaviour I tell myself that I am scrabbling around in the dirt and putting bits of it in my pockets in order to make something like this:


It's a Table Mosaic, by the amazing Candace Bahouth. Do have a quick look at her website, if only to see the fantastic mosaic shoes she made...One day I'll be able to retreat to my mosaic-covered grotto in my own china-encrusted shoes, shouting blue (and white?) obscenities at the council officials knocking at my door waving their notices...*sigh*.

I was playing with pots of a different kind at the weekend. This is completely out of character as usually the only time I do anything that could be described as gardening is when I run out across the lawn shouting and waving at the dog to stop eating Mr Yaffle's plants.


They didn't come with instructions, but I suppose that if I a) remember to water them and b) remember where I've hidden them so I can water them, I should have some hyacinths by the spring. Or earlier. Or the whole exercise might just turn out to be an extremely fancy way of rotting some bulbs. At least I can cover the pots in bits of broken china while I'm waiting.

*and a number of other crafters, for certain!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Nip and tuck

Have a look at the Wardrobe Refashion blog. I think I stumbled upon this via Needled's blog (let it not be said that I spend all my time reading blogs! Nay!) and it's a great idea. You take a pledge to stop buying new clothes, and instead repair, re-fashion or just poke more holes in clothes that are languishing in your wardrobe or that have been 'pre-loved'. I'm starting with these second hand things which have been sitting in my Mending Pile of Doom* for a while now.


From top to bottom: untidy skirt; broken skirt; shapeless sack of a dress. In the case of the sack-dress: I couldn't resist the fabric. Love the fabric, don't suit the dress. But I thought I'd get it anyway and see if leaving it on a pile with other, ill-behaved fashion objects would make it think about changing its ways.

After, oh, about six months, this hasn't happened, so I'm going to make a belt from some ribbon, and nip it in a little bit to make it look like I'm not 4 months pregnant back and front. Which is what it looks like at the moment. With any luck I might end up looking like I'm wearing a cassock instead. This just in from Vague Magazine: "Cassocks are the latest news in separates this year! Clerical is just the hottest look for AW/08! You need a key piece like a surplice (try this one from Reiss, £399) to accent your look, or if you want the ultimate in ecclesiastical, snap up an embroidered chasuble (this one from Whistles, £429), and ensure you're the high priestess of fashion this season!"

The skirts just need a bit of TLC where the previous owners have spilt things on them (red wine? paint? hmm, I'm getting notes of creosote from this stain) and/or trodden on their hems and the seams have come away. Easy, right? Won't take six months? The best mending job ever? You've got it! If you spot some ecclesiastical-looking vestments in your local charity shop in the next few months, you know where they have come from.

*abandon hope all ye who enter here...

Saturday, 20 September 2008

No sense of UGH!

Oh dear. I've been rummaging around the charity shops again.



I seem to lose all sense of 'UGH' when I go in there though. I mean, look at this.


It's an UGH, right? But behold! Add Photoshop electrickery and ugh becomes...


...a bit less ugh? I couldn't resist buying it though. It's the ugh-blind bit of my brain. That same part of my brain which says 'one day, the boffins will invent Real Life Fabric Photoshop and then I CAN change the colour! and world fabric domination will be mine!' (Seriously, there's a bit of my brain that is rattling about saying things like that. The nurses say I should take meds to stop it, but why bother when you can have so much fun?). And so it is that I now have a fabric stash (yarn stash later. Trust me, that is just too upsetting pre-watershed) ...which looks like this:


In the spirit of Felix's Messy Tuesdays concept, here's my Messy Saturday. Except it's like this Monday to Sunday. I've tried being tidy and ordered, but it goes against all my instincts. I like to see fabric in its natural state, not in ironed piles inside a cruel duck-egg-blue cage! Orderly bores me. As would ironing the sodding lot of it, too. So there it is. Can I find stuff? Yep, course I can, it's in here somewhere! Is it an ugh you're after? No, wait, don't go, come back! I know it's here somewhere, honest! Wait a minute, I know it's here...

Friday, 19 September 2008


By popular request... in the spirit of Lolcats and LolVogue here comes Lolknits. There's more where this came from. It deserves a whole blog to itself really. Oh, come on, it was asking for it. Srsly.







Thursday, 18 September 2008

Cabling. Ur doin it wrong.

I've become well-acquainted with my charming inner knitter this week. I've been knitting this lovely hat which features lots of cables. Lots.


My inner knitter is having a good go at making this hat, despite all the odds stacked against her.  My imagined knitting self is a glamorous, fashionable woman whose elaborate, yet easily-cabled hand-knits make people swoon when she walks past. "Oh, this old thing? Whipped it up it in a day!" In reality, my inner knitter is actually Julie Walters in this sketch. "Two Purls? right away, sir. Cables? I'll just go and check...um...nope...I've forgotten." Honestly, I can't hold a pattern repeat in my head. If it says p2, C4B, p2, you can bet your life I'll go and p3, C4F, p5. And that's on a good day.

An evening's hat-knitting chez Yaffle goes something like this:
7pm purl, knit, purl, cable etc, drop stitch.
7.05 in fixing dropped stitch, realise there are other errors further back, go and fix those.
7.35 chuck dog, blankets, throws, cushions, knitting and self off sofa in attempt to find cable needle.
7.50 go upstairs to find alternative cable needle.
8.00 go back downstairs and put sofa back together. P2, cable a bit, p4. cable some more, purl, cable.
8.05 get glass of wine.
8.15 woohoo, look at me, I'm cabling! this is so easy. p2, cable, p2, cable, p3, cable, p2, cable, p5, look I am cabling like never before, just look at me! I could do speed cabling, me, I am great!
8.35 top up wine glass to celebrate. This cabling malarkey is hilarious.
8.40 start new round, purls and knits. Easy.
8.45 hmm, the purls and knits don't seem to be matching up here. hmmm. what happens if I knit 2 together, ah that's better, that matches up. purl, knit etc, whoa, that's not matching up either. Hang on.
8.50 look at progress. weep.
9.00 pour more wine and un-knit previous four rows.
9.05 get dog, blankets, throws, cushions, knitting and self off sofa in attempt to find cable needle.
9.10 find two cable needles, a pound coin from Gibraltar and an old rawhide bone chew. Put chew in knitting bag and give dog a cable needle.
9.15 put dog, blankets and cushions back on sofa. find knitting partly unravelled underneath a cushion.
9.20 Despise knitting. Howl. Laugh maniacally. Weep. Stuff knitting down side of sofa cushions.

Can't wait for this evening's instalment. Personally I'm hoping for more loot from down the side of the sofa (as is the dog!).

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Fun, with added procrastination!

When Knitter's or Spinner's Block (or any other kind of Block for that matter) takes hold, fear not! Try making a Wordle. Nothing will be as important for the rest of the day. Here's one I made earlier. I'm upset by the prevalence of the word 'sausages' - I had some airy notion that I was more erudite than that. But if tubes of processed meat is where my career's headed, so be it...thousands of clever talking dogs could be thinking the same?