Monday, March 30, 2015

alpaca polwarth excitement!

These days I have so many favourite things that I can't seem to keep track of them all. Here's the latest! It's a yarn that my lovely friends at John Arbon Textiles have spun for me. 70% Polwarth, 15% natural brown alpaca and 15% white alpaca. When I worked at the mill, I couldn't get enough of the yarns we spun with some naturally coloured fibre in them. There is something unbeatable about the little flecks of brown or grey that pop up. Every time I found myself skeining such a yarn I wanted to KEEP IT ALL and turned into insane yarn hoarder lady (I spend much of my time in this mode).

Naturally, when the time came for me to request a yarn of my own, I wanted some of the naturally coloured goodness that I love so much. I am SO pleased with the way these colours have come out. Totally different from the super slick merino bases that are more commonly available. The soft and airy texture that this light 2-fold yarn has makes it almost weightless. Each colour is subtle, soft and delicate, and the beautiful natural brown alpaca shows through each one!

The yarn is a light 4-ply weight, and these are just the first few colours I've been experimenting with - more to come, whoopee! I'm so pleased with the light and delicate quality that this yarn has as well. I often find that alpaca gets a bit too heavy, but the high polwarth content of this yarn has made it almost weightless. I am dreaming of a giant shawl - pattern research has already begun!

Whilst I am waiting, planning and selecting the perfect shawl pattern to knit (suggestions welcome, of course) I have contented myself with knitting this little swatch. It's just a hodgepodge of stitches. Ah knitting, endless fun!

Monday, March 23, 2015

fibre a comin'

I've done a lot of rediscovery since returning to dyeing and Canada. Rediscovering my own yarn stash (whoa, so overwhelming!) rediscovering techniques I liked to use (and NOT) rediscovering how etsy works (that was scary considering how technologically challenged I am - most days I'm amazed when I manage to log into my e mail). Lots of rediscovering is the point. At the forefront of my rediscovery has been fibre dyeing!

I discovered a bunch of fibre tucked away in a safe hiding place about a month ago. Dyeing yarn has always been my preference - but I couldn't resist the chance to put more colour onto something, so I set about dyeing it all up. Well, I have also rediscovered why I don't dye fibre very often, I make a right old mess of it! 

Some utterly brilliant (I think) colours emerged, but they are not the tidy tops that I stuck into my dyepots. They are perfectly spinnable, however. SO, what I have decided to so (after a brief period where I considered being very greedy and keeping it all for myself - so bad!) is to offer what I have, but make sure that everyone knows to expect a slight mess. 

Some tops have broken, and I will state that in their listings. Some are just a bit lumpy. For this, I apologize. I will offer all of these tops at a hearty discount, to compensate for their slightly tufty and unkempt state. But if you are anything like me, you may enjoy tidying those oddments of fibre chaos into a lovely handspun delight!

 Without further adeiu, here are just a couple of my favourite colourways. There are plenty more for the update (data and time TBA)...

superwash merino in white caps

merino top in sunset

merino/silk top in liberty

 I delight in nothing more than turning odd bits of things into one beautiful finished product, so in case you want a bit on inspiration, here's a look at what I've been spinning. I took 3 different hand dyed tops (2 superwash merino and 1 corriedale...very different, I know, but I decided to go there). I've spun each superfine and with lots of twist. Am now thoroughly enjoying folding them together into this beautifully bonkers marl. The finished yarn is a light 4 ply weight. I'm chuffed and can't wait to cast on something in my 'crazy tiger' yarn...that's what I'm calling it!


Saturday, March 21, 2015

a finished jumper

It's about time that I finished this little jumper up. I started knitting it at the beginning of the summer, almost immediately after I bought the yarn. I always feel so smug when I cast on yarn that I've just bought, it lets me pretend (just for a minute) that I'm one of those people who knits really quickly, finishes projects and doesn't accumulate more yarn than they could ever dream to knit in their own lifetime. That person is obviously me, but at least this little jumper let me pretend I was someone organized for a moment. 

The yarn is from Unwind. I tagged along with John and Juliet who were there with socks and yarn golore. It was SUCH a fun time, but I'm much too late to tell you about Unwind because all the organized people have already talked about it. 

I visited the Old Maiden Aunt stand late on the last day, and loved 3 colourways that remained only as single skeins. I love the challenge of making lots of little bits work, so I instantly decided to knit a bitty jumper combing all 3 colours. As soon as I arrived back to my North Devon home I set about planning the little jumper. And this is what I got...

 I love seed stitch. I love knitting it and I love the way it looks, so that was an easy choice! I also knew that I wanted to keep the shape simple, so there is a very slight 'A' line shaping in the sides of the body, and a super simple drop shoulder. I picked up stitches in the armholes and knit the sleeves down to the cuffs. Ran out of yarn at the elbow of the second sleeve, so there's a little bit of Viola merino fingering in Slate to finish off that last sleeve. 

I've been wearing this all over the place, and absolutely love it! It's inspired another crazy garment experiment...

....Which is this cardigan. I'm doubling Viola mohair lace with a 4 ply 100% alpaca yarn. Knit entirely in 1/2 brioche stitch, this crazy cardigan is going to have really deep batwing sleeves (in a different colour, because once again I have run out of yarn!) Shall keep ya posted on the mental mohair progress. Lots of great knitting going on these days!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

the Store

I've been back in Canada for 4 months now. Time has passed quickly so far, although it still feels like I left Devon yesterday. Strange how that goes. Canada sure has been busy over these past months. Spending time between  two homes - good ol' Toronto and the new house in Mooresburg. My parents bought the house just over a year ago, and I have been enjoying as many visits as I can fit in. The house itself is beautiful (of course, I seem to have forgotten to take a photo of it...too distracted by sticks and snow). It used to be a general store, and is filled with beautiful old bits and bobs. Spending time there feels like stepping back in time slightly; cooking on the wood stove, entertaining ourselves without the internet (gasp!). Long walks and lots of wildlife. It's lovely!

So here are just a few of my favourite photos from my time at 'the Store'. The Mooresburg General store, that is...

Spilled potatoes by the side of the idea...

The Amish schoolhouse. Brave folks were using the outhouse when winter reached -35!

Lucy the dog having just lost a precious stick in the snow. She was not happy.

There is a river running through the property. This is one of the many surprise bogs (that's what I call them) that I continuously seem to be walking into. Lucky it's all been frozen over recently

If I had been missing snow whilst in England, this winter in Mooresburg certainly made up for it. It's been seriously beautiful.