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...