Wednesday, 25 November 2009


I liek bright colours, al the more so at this time of year with the long hours of darkness that trigger my SAD, badly. :(

A few weeks ago I gathered up all my yarn scraps and started working on my never-ending granny-square afghan, using the aran to bulky weight yarns. By the time I decided it was big enough it was a good 6 foot square:


There's all sorts of yarn in there - Colinette Point 5, Patons Diploma Gold, unbranded mohair, mystery yarn... It's lovely and warm. I've now started on another using my sock to aran weight scraps, but this one will be smaller. More of a lap/TV watching blanket I think. I'm aiming for 4-5 feet square this time.

Of course I've been working on projects using my own, Abstract Cat yarn. This is the start of the Arrows stole by Annette Petavy. My version is being made using my Baby Alpaca laceweight (100g/800m). It's going to take a lot of blocking!:

I confess I haven't worked on this since I came back from holiday two months ago - the pattern starts from the middle, but uses the yarn doubled for the starting chain then splits off after the first row. In my ususal style, this means I've got the working yarn and the yarn for the other half tangled, and it'll need untangled before I can continue. I'm sure it'll be fabulous when it's finished. (One of the effects of my SAD is that it destroys my concentration, hence my enthusiasm for mindless projects like the blanket above.)

And another shawl... This time (another) Eva's Shawl by Milobo. I love this pattern, have done it in lace, sport and aran weights and am now doing it in British Bluefaced Leicester laceweight (800m/100g - the most similar colourway I have for sale in this yarn is Taconic). I'm a little further on with now than in the photo:

Sock yarn's not just for socks! I love Alpine Frost Scarf from Interweave Crochet. Again it's a pattern I've made several times in several yarn weights. I'm curretly working on it in Superwash Merino (100g/330m). It feels lovely. The skein I'm using had an accident in the dye-bath (i.e. I forgot about it, started looking at patchwork fabric online and eventually returned to the kitchen in time to hear sizzling - however the yarn seems unaffected):

And finally... socks! 75% British Bluefaced Leicester, 25% Nylon (100g/400m). This is the skein that inspired my Retro colourway, although the patterning will be different in the skeins for sale. The pattern is Ultimate Crochet Socks from Crochet Me:

A couple of weeks ago, my partner and I visited his grandmother. She no longer knits, and presented me with her knitting bag. It's been well taken care of or hardly used and obviously dates from several decades ago. I love it! Here is my cat Shiraz, with the bag in the background - you can just see part of the second granny square scrap afghan sticking out of it:

Finally, I would like to wish American readers a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. I am planning on finding a live internet stream of Macy's parade and settling down to watch it with crochet project and (many) mugs of tea!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Shameless shop self-promotion

Recently I decided to change some of my product photographs. I'd been mulling over the skeined/reskeined photos thing since I started my MISI and Folksy shops. I originally wanted to include photos before and after reskeining in my listings but decided against it on the grounds of additional work and the fact that some yarn comes out of the dyebath looking, well, unkempt. This week I reread some for and against arguments for reskeining and decided that it would be a good idea to include pre-reskeining photos where appropriate. I only like to show my yarns looking their best. It does mean that in ideal cases you will see this:


and this:

but also this:

For some of the older yarns I've added pre-reskeining photos where I actually took them. The reason I reskein? I think most yarns look better once reskeined but it also lets me spot any mill problems (e.g. knots/joins/significant unspun sections) or dye problems (e.g. naked bits).

I've been trying out a few new yarns lately. My favourite has to be British Bluefaced Leicester laceweight (100g/800m). It's a beautifully soft and lofty yarn with a slight lustre and makes wonderful big, bouncy skeins:

I haven't tried crocheting with the British BFL yet but I'm sorely tempted to steal this skein instead of adding it to Sunday's update...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Thursday: Twelve Teal Treasures

I spend far too much time browsing Folksy and MISI eyeing up beautiful things. So today I am sharing some of the things I love in one of my favourite colours: teal! (The photos are in mosaics so you need to click the links below to visit the shops/items.)


Row 1:
Lovebird bowl in teal blue by PrinceDesignUK - I love this range of sweet little lovebird bowls.
Teal spot doorstop by Charlotte Macey Textiles - This is neat and I wish I was the kind of clean domestic goddess that could have light coloured things in my house.
Teal and orange striped cat mini print from Illustrations by Amy Blackwell - I'm strangely drawn to this foxy-looking little feline. I also love this Christmas Card, the tone reminds me of one of the cats who lets me live here!

Row 2:
Cotton Kitchen Tea Towel from Taylor's Typographical Art Posters - a selection of kitchen words and fun fonts and with kitchen things. It's great.
Waiting White Cat Print from Eyeshoot Photography - Cat and teal. A perfect combination for me. It's also the kind of photo I always want to take but which never quite works for me.
Mosaic Dichroic Pendant Teal Greens from Mauri Ann - this is just gorgeous!


Row 1:
Lacy bird brooch in porcelain by PrinceDesignUK - I don't normally wear brooches, but this wee bird is so cute!
Nordic Blue Hares from Deebeale - I love Scandinavian-inspired designs, and this is just lovely.
Porcelain Pendant with Glass - Rainwater Craters from Seaurchin - I already own one of Seaurchin's pendants so I can testify to their loveliness. I adore the forms inspired by coral, octopus suckers and crater-forms.

Row 2:
Flower leather purse/wallet from oh!gosh - I wish I could justify buying this, but I just bought a new purse (wish I'd spotted this first)!
Plantlife screenprinted art from Summersville - I love this delightful print - her fabric looks great too!
Urban Bunny - blue from Treaclezoo - this is one of those bizarre but cute things I find myself drawn to, one of those "what's it for? I don't know but I like it!" things.

It goes without saying that everything here is now on my Christmas wish list!

All photos are from the sellers' own shops and are copyright to the individual designers. Please support these creative people!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Home again

I arrived home from holiday on Friday, and in a fuzzy jet-lagged state loaded my holiday photos onto my computer. On Saturday morning I switched on my computer and realised something was badly wrong - no internet detected, and half the stuff in my Start menu missing... my hard disk had bitten the dust. My partner has acquired a new HD and pulled stuff off the old one for me (so far it seems I haven't lost anything vital, and I did back up most of my photos a few weeks ago), but I'm using the EeePC until he has time to set up the new hard disk. I'll be trying out Linux (Ubuntu), as it's three weeks until Windows 7 comes out (no point in buying XP or Vista in the meantime, especially as it's supposed to be much better), and my partner has three weeks to convert me to Linux permanently (it hasn't worked in the past). So shop updates have been delayed - it takes me twice as long to type on the Eee due to the tiny keyboard, have little image editing software and the weather's rubbish for taking photos.

The holiday was fantastic, apart from my partner getting heatstroke and fainting on the plane home. We will be complaining to the airline concerned. He recovered quickly but it should never have happened.

Since I visited my aunt when I was 10 years old I've wanted to make a patchwork quilt. Now I have a sewing machine I decided to take advantage of the fact that in the US fabric is between a quarter and half the price it is in the UK... so a marathon expedition to Joann was done, with a follow-up visit. I'm still annoyed I didn't get two of my favourite fabrics from there - at the time I rejected them as 'too expensive' but now I've been scouring the internet for a source of those exact fabrics that will ship to the UK.I feel bad about asking my aunt after she and her husband driving us around all over the place... I now have a fat-quarter obsession, and have found an eBay shop (in the US) selling reproduction 19th century prints. Even with shipping it works out as a good deal for me (provided I don't go over an amount that might attract a customs charge.

My aunt gave me a wonderful crafty thing - a cork with about 18 crochet hooks stuck in it. They're mostly very small hooks for lace making (with tiny hooks that are quite sharp, hence being stuck in a cork).Apparently an old lady of 90-odd died and my aunt was invited to pick something from her belongings. She thought the crochet hook cork was interesting and chose it, though she doesn't crochet and no longer knits so she thought I'd like it.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Actual non-shop-related content inside (as well as shop content, of course)

I finally got round to doing some more sewing. I'm still rubbish, but I managed to take up the legs on a pair of pyjamas - I usually put up with too-long pyjama legs, but I've hardly worn these one because they're so so so long, and a pale colour - and I wanted a pair of 'cropped' PJs. Anyway, the legs are the same length even if the sewing is extremely squint. And with the bits I cut off I made a wee drawstring project bag, big enough for sock crochet or similar:


The yarn in the photo was dyed last year and was the inspiration for my 'Retro' colourway, currently for sale on Folksy - it's not identical but very similar. This ball of yarn will become socks, starting sometime in the next week. I realised after I'd finished the bag that I'd used the fabric upside down and had more upside-down cats than right-way-up cats. Oops. In the interests of recycling, the inside is lined with the fabric from a shopping bag that had a broken strap (and yes I could have fixed the bag but upcycling it was a far more appealing idea).

Shop content. Updates and such
My copper leaf necklace is in the MISI Autumn Gift Guide
Small steps, but I'm very happy about that.

It finally stopped raining so I got photos done and will do a small update hopefully over the weekend. I'm really being drawn to autumnal colours so here's a taster of a small but seasonal update (Folksy and MISI all mixed up together so you'll need to check what's where):
autumn mosaic

On Saturday 12th September I'm heading off on holiday to visit family in the United States. I haven't been over for nine years, and haven't had a 'proper' holiday for seven years, so I'm feeling excited but apprehensive. Anyway, my shops will be closed from about 2pm on Thursday 10th until Sunday 27th September - by which time I'll hopefully have recovered from jet-lag.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

New shop

As of yesterday afternoon, my MISI shop is live. A small sample of what's available:


Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Shop update

I've been busy rephotographing yarn and jewellery, and making more of course! Yarn updates will be a little slow for a while as I'm almost out of base yarn. Anyway, a taster of what I've put in my shop:


Lots of jewellery to be added, but since sunshine forms an integral part of my photographic 'studio' that won't happen until the weather gets better.

Hoping to get my MISI shop set up this weekend, but don't hold me to that!

I'm feeling bad because I haven't had time to play with my sewing machine. :(

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

New shop

Some months ago, I decided to make stuff I could sell online. This was partly borne out of job-hunting frustration - nobody seems to want to employ a slightly neurotic but conscientious woman with three degrees. The low point was being interviewed for a job where it becams eobvious that the panel was not responsible for shortlisting; they were just there to read from a script and transcribe my answers. I may as well have been shut in a room with a list of questions and a tape recorder.

Anyway, after months of making, and almost as much time procrastinating I have started loading the shelves of Abstract Cat, my Folksy shop. I will open a shop on MISI soon too. I currently stock hand-dyed yarn and handmade jewellery, but will be stocking a wider raneg of products in the future. I ahven't set up international shipping yet, but unfortunately I can't sell to the USA or Canada due to insurance restrictions.

Here's a taster of items for sale, and things to come:


My logo got a little chopped up in the mosaic. Hmmm.

New toy

A few weeks ago I bought a sewing machine. I hadn't used a sewing machine for 17 years, since Home Economics at school - an experience that totally put me off. Until now. I'm less than five feet tall, and sick of only being able to buy trousers that fit exactly (which is hard as I'm too short even for most 'petite' ranges), and too mean to pay someone to take trousers up for me. As ever I have a head full of crafty ideas and no way to execute them. After a lot of humming and hawing I bought this:


A Janome 419s. It's great. I'm still rubbish at sewing and it's going to take a lot of practice before I make any of my grand plans but I did manage to make this, a wee bag for storing buttons:

The seams are squint, and the best that can be said for it is that the fabric is pretty, and it's useable, certainly more useable than the pastel pink cushions we had to make at school.

Mooncup update
Female squickiness coming up!

I'm currently giving my Mooncup a trial for real. Maybe it's beginner's luck but it's going perfectly. I'm using additional protection while I get used to it but so far no leaks, no discomfort (other than usual period ickiness and mild cramping) and I actually feel cleaner. Emptying the Mooncup is frankly gross, but the yuckiness is over in a minute or two, and that two or three times a day is a vast improvement on five days of feeling disgusting continuously. It's not a procedure I'd like to perform in a public toilet though - I don't have the confidence to do that yet. The additional protection I'm using is the washable sanitary pads I bought before. I still think it's a shame to deliberately bleed on the pretty fabric, but that's what they're for.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Remember these?

coffeetime browncafetiere

Well, I finally wrote up the pattern. I can't guarantee it's error free as I'm the only person that's tried it and it's written in a way I can understand. It's very quick and easy (took me less than an hour). I used Pencil Roving from The Yarn Yard but I'm not sure Natalie's doing Pencil Roving anymore, so you may need to substitute with another pencil roving. I think something like Colinette Point 5 or One Zero might be interesting, though maybe a little too thick and thin. The cafetiere cosy/French press cover is designed to fit the eight-cup Bodum cafetiere. A larger/smaller cafetiere will require significant pattern jiggery-pokery.

British crochet terminology used throughout

Version 1 - loops (orange in photo)

100g The Yarn Yard Pencil Roving
9mm crochet hook
sewing thread
2 1-inch(ish) diameter buttons
sewing needle that fits through holes in buttons.

ch. 25
row 1 - dc in second ch from hook and in each ch across (24 dc) ch.1 . turn.
rows 2-11 - Dc in each dc (24 dc) ch 1. turn
row 12 as row 2, but do not ch 1 at end of row. Turn
Shell edging - skip 1st dc. *3 tr in next dc. sk next dc, slip stitch in next dc, sk next dc (first shell made)* repeat from * to end of row, ending with a slip stitch in final stitch (6 shells made)
Work 1 dc in each stitch along 'short edge' of work (12 dcs)
As previous shell edging row.
Turn, work 1 dc into each stitch along short edge (12 dc). Fasten off.
At two equally spaced points on one short edge join in yarn, ch 9, rejoin with sl st to st where yarn joined - forms button loops.
Sew buttons on corresponding points on other short edge.

Version 2 - buttonholes (finished size approx. 30cm x 15cm) (blue/brown in photo)

ch. 29
row 1 - dc in second ch from hook and in each ch across (28 dc) ch.1 . turn.
rows 2-11 - Dc in each dc (28 dc) ch 1. turn
row 12 as row 2, but do not ch 1 at end of row. Turn
Shell edging - skip 1st dc. *3 tr in next dc. sk next dc, slip stitch in next dc, sk next dc (first shell made)* repeat from * to end of row, ending with a slip stitch in final stitch (7 shells made)
Along short edge, 3dc, ch 2, sk 2 dc, 2dc, ch 2, sk 2 dc, 3 dc
As previous shell edging row.
Dc along final short row. Fasten off.
Sew buttons on short edge at corresponding points to buttonholes on opposite short edge.


Monday, 29 June 2009

The journey (or, my sterilisation story)

Non-crafting, very long, personal, me me me post.

Warning: this post deals with matters relating to female biology, including menstruation, and contains one photo (work-safe) that some may find icky. If you are squeamish, or don't wish to read about such things, please come back later when I'll have a crafting post or two. And thank you for visiting. :)

I am childfree, not childless. I don't want kids, never have done. I was always an odd child and I sought out adult company, and was horrified if I was expected to play with other children beyond my very small circle of friends. I have photos of me as a young child clearly trying to avoid being made to 'hold' my baby cousins. As a teenager, years before I entered a relationship, I became acutely aware that I could become pregnant, and wondered if having a relationship was worth the risk. At the age of 24 I entered my relationship, but one contraceptive failure/morning after pill event had me researching and then running to the family planning clinic for an Implanon implant. I had a hard time persuading the FP doctor that I wouldn't want to try to conceive in the next three years - "I'm in the first year of my PhD" did the trick.

Despite gaining three stone in weight (42 lb) within the first year of having the Implanon (I also started anti-depressants during that year, which contributed to the weight gain), my periods stopping and the reliability of the Implanon trumped the fat and misery. Was my depression also caused by the Implanon? I don't know.

I was finishing my MPhil (no longer a PhD sadly, due to circumstances largely beyond my control) when my Implanon was up for removal/renewal. We had decided two years previously that sterilisation was the best option, however with the stress, my on and off depression, an impending house move and knowing no-one would take me seriously if I asked to be sterilised because I was only 28, I went to student health and mumbled a request for my Implanon to be replaced. It duly was, and the weight I'd finally managed to lose in the third year of my previous Implanon went straight back on although I continued with the same diet and exercise regime.

A house move later and with rising weight, depression and anger, I decided that when the second Implanon 'ran out' I wasn't going to bottle out of asking for sterilisation. It took a lot of plucking up courage as I have several medical phobias thanks to previous bad experiences, some worse than others - the worst are needles, cannulae and loss of control, but I also have fears of gases, tubes and doctors . The coil also sets off a deep disgust reaction as in my mind it too closely resembles the fish hooks I desperately tried not to impale myself on as a fishing teenager. And having no children is a red flag for requesting sterilisation. My partner and I went to the GP to get the referral. Here I was really lucky and I wasn't patronised or told I'd change my mind. My pre-prepared ten minute monologue of my reasons for why I wanted sterilisation proved largely unnecessary as my GP said I seemed well informed and we had clearly thought it over in depth. Since this was so important, we were running out of time (6 weeks to end of Implanon), I had researched local NHS waiting lists (possibly a year) and we were able financially, we decided to go private. This confused my GP somewhat but I gave her the list of consultants at the Spire Hospital in Edinburgh, and she recommended one as 'very good' and 'socially, the nicest.' I couldn't believe it had been that easy as I've heard numerous stories of women pestering their GPs for years just to get a referral.

19 days later, I was sitting with my partner in the consultant's office explaining my reasons, providing a medical history etc., a phone call was made and I had a surgery date for the following week thanks to a cancellation! I spent the rest of the day in a state of disbelief, then the anxiety set in - firstly about undergoing surgery then about after effects of the anaesthetic. Thankfully a week wasn't much time to get stressed, and soon it was the big day.

I couldn't believe it was actually going to happen, even when I was shown to my room in the hospital. The anaesthetist put me at ease and certainly seemed to know what he was doing (my medical phobias have been enhanced in the past by painful cannulation and a physically painful, psychologically bad anaesthesia experience that ended in me becoming enraged and aggressive when I woke up, and still haunts me with nightmares and flashbacks). My surgery was scheduled for noon and the only delay was the consultant arriving late, racing into my room with the consent form, getting my signature then rushing off again.

And then it happened. Changed into undignified surgery gear (yeuch itchy paper underwear), led to the theatre ante-room (I refused to hold the nurse's hand - hate being touched by strangers), up on the table, felt like drowning in the gas, crying out, briefly (and feebly) struggling whilst my voice seemed to become detached from my body, heard someone shout 'someone from theatre!' then... hearing people talking, being aware of a slight ache in my lower abdomen, then at the feeling of a blood pressure cuff inflating my eyes popped open and I had a panic attack followed by feeling irritable but relieved. The mask and IV were removed and I was given a beaker of water. I immediately demanded to see my partner and was told that I'd be taken back to my room in a few minutes and could see him.

Sure enough I was taken back, and couldn't see him straight away. I'd been conned! "Where's Sam, I want Sam!" Of course he was promptly retrieved from the visitors' lounge. By this time I was shaking uncontrollably, especially my legs (I assume some side effect of the anaesthesia). I was very hungry and thirsty, so sandwiches, tea and water were brought. After about 30-45 minutes I'd stopped shaking, and having eaten felt much better. I got up, used the toilet and got dressed. By 3pm, the nurse and anaesthetist thought I was good to go and after the consultant approved my discharge at 3.45 I was heading home... until I fainted outside the hospital whilst waiting for my taxi. Sam got me back inside, nurses were summoned and I had a seat and glass of water. Taxi was reordered, although the nurses were hesitant at letting me go - it turned out the roads were congested with people heading to the Oasis concert at nearby Murrayfield Stadium.

The trip home proceeded without further incident and I was home by 5pm. I sat on the bed with the EeePC and managed to check my email and Facebook before falling asleep listening to Morphica (a former flatmate of mine is one of the 'voices' on some tracks). After pizza and a good night's sleep I felt much better. I had been equipped with loads of painkillers, but I didn't feel I needed them. I took the ibuprofen for the anti-inflammatory effect - almost because I felt obliged to. Then I sat and waited for the shoulder pain to begin (with this kind of surgery, the abdomen is often inflated with gas, and unless it's very well removed at the end of the surgery, it can irritate the diaphragm and cause shoulder pain), but it didn't. It was almost an anticlimax, although I'm glad I didn't experience it.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had a remarkably pain-free recovery. I did have some strange pains I wasn't expecting, and until day three post-op laughing was painful, then I got hayfever for only the third time in my life - and the sneezing, that was SORE!!! 13 days postoperatively I still get odd twinges which can be very painful, but mostly I'm pain free. Just have to be careful not to overdo things. I'm immensely relieved that despite my medical phobias, the experience hasn't exacerbated them as I've had no flashbacks or nightmares and I felt my phobias were handled sensitively. Sam noticed within two days that I seemed much happier in myself. I can't decide if this is because I no longer feel like I'm at war with my body, or because I confronted my phobias and had a positive outcome, or a mixture of the two. I have two incisions, one in my navel (see pic, ten days post-op, cunningly disguised as a vertical crease, right next to an actual crease - the faint right-left diagonal line is the loose end of the stitch) and one on my lower abdomen (no pic, that would be verging on pornography):


I could still be the unlucky one who has a failed procedure (1 in 200, to 1 in 500 depending on who you believe), but that's unlikely. I have no doubts I made the right decision. Of course, I was also very fortunate to be in a position where we could go private - but this also meant so much to me and I have had a terrible NHS experience in the past. Being sterilised is not an option to take lightly, particularly if you have any doubts, or the slightest inkling that you may want children in the future. Although type of procedure I had - laparoscopic sterilisation with Filshie clips - is reversible at a high cost as the NHS won't cover it, the chances of conceiving after a reversal are extremely variable, depending on damage to fallopian tubes, the age of the woman and so on.

The only hesitation I had in my mind about getting sterilised rather than getting another Implanon was:

The Return of the Period

Periods are yuck. I haven't had one in five years thanks to the Implanon. I was sent home from school several times as a teenager due to severe period pain (doubling up in pain, turning grey and almost fainting, having to be half-carried to the school nurse's office etc.). It settled down a bit in my early twenties, but periods are a source of nastiness for me, and together with the accompanying stomach upset it's all pretty grim.

However, with my post-sterilisation happiness level I have decided to take the plunge with a Mooncup and reuseable pads. Due to spotting after my surgery, I had to venture into the feminine hygiene section of Tesco for the first time in years, and it was just plain confusing - pads for thongs, regular pants and shorts, blue gel filled pads, with 'cotton', with 'silk', scented (?! That can't be good for the ladyparts)... - how it's changed in the last five years. I recycle, buy organic local and fair-trade, try to minimise packaging, grow my own veg as far as possible, compost etc. so I definitely shouldn't be using disposable sanitary products. I used to think mooncups and reuseables were disgusting, but now I'm willing to give it a go and thinking about it, disposable tampons and pads are horrid. My Mooncup and reuseable pads arrived in the post this morning and I'm impressed. The mooncup isn't as big and scary as I'd heard, and the pads are really nice - seems a shame to bleed all over them. I don't think it's smelly hippyish at all, though yes sometimes I think I was born in the wrong decade, and yes I sometimes smell of patchouli, so draw your own conclusions. But really... all that plastic and fibre ending up in landfill or the sea, plus the energy, resources, bleach etc used to make disposable sanitary wear; definitely time for a change. I'd much rather have a layer of nice fuzzy fabric next to my skin than that plasticky disposable stuff that gets hot, sticky, lumpy and scratchy.

Well done if you got to the end. I didn't intend this to be my memoirs, it just got longer and longer and longer... These are events as I interpreted them, and events around anaesthesia may differ slightly from my memories of them.

Don't ask me why the text formatting went wonky after the photo. I have no idea. Weirdness.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Several updates due after a long hiatus

A crochet pattern, a non-crafting (but possibly quite personal) post and a crafting post are all overdue and will appear in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

More yarn dyeing

I bought myself a big jar and had a go at dyeing mercerised cotton. I wanted sort-of peacock colours, and proceeded to pour in a variety of shades of blue, green and purple but was alarmed when my jar looked like this:


(Photo taken with flash - without flash it looked like a jar of black.) The yarn wasn't emerald green as the colour suggests, but a mid blue, with the dreaded pale spots (interestingly these were mainly purple). So the yarn got slung back in the jar with more blue dye:

This yielded a better result, though it killed the purple. The excess dye was a real pain to wash out - it never seemed to stop coming. Due to messy skeining round the back of chairs (no niddy noddy... yet), I would it into cakes as soon as it was dry:

But my 'cakes' were more like... donuts...?

Mercerised cotton, it seems, doesn't collapse so readily in on itself after being removed from the wall winder.

The colour ended up as variegated turquoise/blue. Not as bright as I would have liked (who says fibre reactive dyes work better on plant fibres - the dilutions were about the same as I used for the kettle-dyed sock yarn in the previous post). The yarn is currently being made into Elizabeth Myers' Feather Stole. Oh, and my hands haven't turned blue so maybe I'm just being paranoid about the amount of excess dye.

Finally, a real yarn cake (2-ply merino laceweight, dyed by me and in the previous post but one):

Thursday, 23 April 2009


Overdying the skein that had naked patches worked, and I'm really pleased with the result.




Admittedly I reskeined it in an effort to be a bit fancypants, and it's in two mini skeins now because I did something silly when I opened the knots holding the skein together. Anyway, I'm really pleased as the ugly naked patches are no more. I could get into this... Now I have to work out what to make with it.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Pssst.... could it be AN UPDATE?!

Well, I promised one... eventually...

Quick rundown of recent projects (clicky for bigger pics):

Wavy Scarf using the Pink Waves Scarf pattern by Emily J. Miller. The Yarn is Posh Yarn Lei that I bought at Wonderwool Wales last year, I love the texture in this scarf and I think the yarn was perfect for the stormy sea feel.



Alpine Frost Scarf from the Winter 2008 issue of Interweave Crochet using one and a half skeins of Araucania Pomaire that I bought in HK Handknit's closing down sale last year (dunno what I'm going to do with the other one and a half skeins mind - they're the same colourway but very different from each other):

Christmas Barrel Scarf from a nineteenth century pattern for a mourning shawl. Why the name? Nearly every winter I re-read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. At the end of the book, when the trains start running after six months of being cut off the Ingalls family receive their Christmas barrel, complete with a turkey that has stayed frozen all winter due to the cold. One of the items in the barrel is

The most beautiful thing - a shawl made of silk! It is dove-coloured, with fine stripes of green and rose and black and the richest, deep fringe with all those colours shimmering in it.

Well, I took some liberties and found a merino/tencel blend from Krafty Koala and never mind that the mourning shawl pattern was from a good quarter-century earlier, I made my Christmas Barrel Shawl:

Christmas barrelshawl

Ellie Cardigan from Inside Crochet Magazine for my cousin's 4 year old daughter (second cousin once removed? - the extended bits confuse me). I don't normally do kids' stuff and usually flick past such things in magazines with irritation, but this really caught my eye. Mine is a little lumpier than I would have liked, and I modified the pattern so each motif was crocheted to its neighbour as I went along as I couldn't bear the thought of sewing together 120 motifs. The yarn is James C. Brett Kool Kotton (utter bargain at about £1.20 a ball - I'm thinking of getting some for myself for the River Road pattern from the same magazine). Sorry about the fuzzy photo, I don't quite know what went wrong:


I never want to crochet another blimmin' circle again.

I also made a scarf for my mother's birthday but didn't photograph it. Although I got a new camera for my birthday (a Canon EOS 450D) I've been remarkably sloppy about photographing my projects. I'm trying to hold off on the startitis and get some projects I started ages ago finished. So I'm finishing two cardigans (one started last summer), and I will give my crocheted socks another go - I was put off when I started a top-down pattern, did the cuff and realised there was no way it would fit over my high instep! Then the yarn snapped when I was frogging it which made me very grunpy as it was self-striping.

There has also been yarn dying. Semi-solids seem to be the in-thing with indie dyers right now and I'm not in the mood for them! When I was looking for them before I couldn't find any I liked. I like semi-solids for more intricate things where a variegated/multicoloured yarn would kill the stitch pattern, but whilst I'm not a fan of clown-puke I do like different colours in my yarn. Oh, and I only like pastels for about two weeks in December - if I'm nuts enough to buy any they sit in my stash for months. I'm very pleased with these though:

The right hand one was kettle-dyed, but came out with naked patches so I overdyed it and gave it a good stir in the pot. Lo and behold it still had patches screaming "we'd rather go naked than wear dye." I took the photo and hummed and hawed before finally chucking it back into a pan of dye today. The naked bits are now grudgingly wearing dye whilst the rest of it has lovely rich tones of blue, green and a little purple. The conclusion is "we need a bigger pan." I love dying yarn and am trying to hold off ordering more undyed yarn, and blue and purple dye which I use more of than any other colour.

For once my yarn diet and food diet are going fairly well - 7lbs lost (and 28 to go...) and although the yarn isn't going down, it's not rising rapidly either (but like most dieters I have 'sock yarn doesn't count' moments) - and I've got several projects from stash in progress.

And finally, some pretty spring pansies (or more correctly, violas). I bought these a couple of years ago as annuals, but this is the third year they've flowered, and the ones in the photo are from a stray seed that's landed between the flagstones - and I couldn't bear to pull them up, especially as they're in far better condition than the original plant, which appears to be providing a feast for the resident slugs.


Monday, 26 January 2009

A few days turns into a few weeks...

So much for blogging more frequently...

After all the crochet I did before Christmas (which was very well received and admired) I've been doing a lot less. This is partly because I've been working on new crafty projects, and hope that I may be able to open a Folksy/Misi/Coriandr shop. Etsy's too scary and I can't say much about what I'd like to do as it's in a rather drawn out embryonic stage at the moment, but Etsy's somewhat saturated with items similar to what I'm doing. Also I want the whole CPSIA hoo-ha to die down a bit - not that I'll be anywhere near ready to open shop before it comes in on February 10th. (CPSIA is a new Act being introduced in the US that is supposed to protect children from lead and pthalates, but which hasn't been thought out properly and could potentially put thousands of small businesses out of business. Although it wouldn't directly affect me as I'm not in the US and am bound by Scottish/UK law, it may potentially affect any US buyers of my products). Hmmm. I can't get on with my project as quickly as I'd like due to lack of funds to invest - so it's being drawn out rather painfully as I pay for things in bits and pieces - I've also been given a little help to buy things I need. And it could all come to nothing as I'm terribly underconfident.

Well, better get on. Prototypes won't make themselves! ;)