Tour de France, Tour de Fleece!

The Tour de France has started today!
La Grand Depart actually is in Utrecht, one of the cities I used to live in.
The city also where Dick Bruna lives, illustrator of Miffy:

I got in the spirit of things and took some wheels and some wool from the wool room. Just a little bit…

Convenient to have everything out here because now I could make up the guest bedroom in the wool room and sleep there. It’s way too hot in the attic where I usually sleep. We’re having a heat wave in the Netherlands!

Today I sat inside, watched a little bit of tv and spun some wool. Little bits of green.

I even finished one skein!

60 meters out of 20 grams of fauxlags.

But now I’m closing up shop, it’s way too hot in here.
Here’s today’s collage:

Progress Spring Brioche Shawl

I finished the collar:

The shawl now weighs 240 grams and I have 50 grams left of the dark green Wollmeise Twin.

I want to add a lace border at the bottom. I’ve been looking at several options. I want something with “leafs”. And it has to compliment the brioche, so not too open lace. Not true lace either (this has lace stitches on both the Right Side and the Wrong Side).

These are some examples I found in the Ravelry database, searching for “lace edging”, “fabric characteristics: lace”, “photo”, “knitting”, “top-down”, “in my library or free”:

Rosina Pullover – Rosina sweater

Rose Leaf in Four Triangles :

Sea Leaves

Go4Cowl/Halswärmer

pic by Edith58

Hey, two patterns by FadenStille :)

I probably also want to make something nice at the edges. To frame the whole shawl.

Finished: woven blanket

I finished it at the Fair, in the very last minutes before closing time on Friday night. I took it off the loom today.
It’s 2 meters long and 60 cm wide.

I wove it on my rigid heddle loom, a Glimakra.
I put some Lang Yarn Alpace treads through the reets. Because I was going to weave with thick yarn I skipped slots at a regular interval.
You thread the thread through the slots with a little crochet hook, double threads:

Once all the slots are filled you wind up the back thingamajig.
When it’s all wind up and you have a bunch of loops at the front you cut the loops and thread half of them through their appropriate slot.
Then you tie them to the front thingamajig and you can start weaving:

I changed colours every so often. The thick yarn could not go on the weaving stick for many meters anyway. I had 5 colourways that I changed. Often I would weave in just two rows of a contrasting colour.
It was great fun and all in all went pretty fast.

The Alpaca did get caught on something and stretched. The blanket is a bit out of shape because of that.
The weaving police will never know!

Taking about weaving police: a woven cloth is not officially finished until it’s washed. But I have a special purpose for this blanket and it doesn’t need to be washed for that. I’ll show you in time. Also: this wool doesn’t full so I see no purpose in trying to finish this blanket properly.

Besides: I take crossing my finish lines in instalments and celebrate every accomplishments I can. I call it finished!

knitting at the Countryfair 2015

It’s the Countryfair at Aalten 2015!
This year I’m not well enough to sit upright for a few hours a day. But I so wanted to go and be a knitting hostess in the Sheep Tent.
Solution:


“Knitting is such a relaxing hobby!”

or, as a friend from the ME-forum wrote: “You can be there as a horizontal representative of the benefits of Rest–which is highly underrated in the so-called healthy population! Embassadress of Rest, reclining as relaxation itself, an example to all on how to lie back like a Queen and chill out.”

This is us, SnB Achterhoek:

Two cosy tables full of knitting and sweets and fruit and chatter.
Under the table is a very well behaved dog, Noek, a border terrier. She’s a darling. Only don’t mention beagles because she somehow cannot stand the breed…

On the other side of me were the Angora Goats:

With little kids! The ram had a sparkly necklace or crown and was taken for a walk every hour by a woman in Elsa costume.

I brought my Rockefeller shawl and the Karmaknus blanket for people to see. One lady wanted to buy the shawl and when I told her it wasn’t for sale she wanted to buy the blanket. When I told her it wasn’t for sale either she proclaimed indignitally: “Why are you here then?!”
:D

I only went the one day. I had planned to go the whole three days but I’m just not well enough. It promises to be a fantastic weekend though, just like last year. The Fair is also today, Saturday, and tomorrow, Sunday. Today are the national spinning championships! Lots of my friends are there, with their wheels.
But I had a wonderful day yesterday and chatted with some lovely visitors and vendors.

These are the things I bought at the fair:
Buit Countryfair 2015
(Weirdly positioned hand of my husband to prevent book from sliding down. I swear he’s not sitting Pippi style upside down on the couch, he just has this weirdly long limbs that can bend even weirder.)

A high quality Gottland Pels hide. For reclining in style.
From Mary’s Schaapproducten. Mary is in my Stitch ‘n Bitch group but we don’t often see each other because our frequency of visiting seem to syncope.
Buit Countryfair 2015
Buit Countryfair 2015

A second yarnbowl, bigger than the one I bought a previous year. Handmade.
Buit Countryfair 2015

An intriguing book with sewing patterns from the brand Merchant & Mills that aims to get sewing out of the flowery corner into a stylish craftsmanship lifestyle. The emphasize is on quality fabrics such as linen, natural cottons, silks and wools. From British mills, preferably. I love these kind of fabrics.
The vendor in the Netherlands is Stik en Stof in Leiden, nextdoor from Yarn shop Ribbels. Stik en Stof is a brand new shop and sells fabrics and notions from Merchant & Mills. The owner wears her handsewn garments and radiates the lifestyle wonderfully.
If architects made a sewing book, I imagine this is what it’d look like.
Buit Countryfair 2015
Buit Countryfair 2015
Buit Countryfair 2015
A linocut from Pamela Marttin who also sells handspun

Sharing a stall with Marttin is Monique Berger who made this wonderful felted wall pocket.
Buit Countryfair 2015
Buit Countryfair 2015
Buit Countryfair 2015

I had a wonderful day and will spend the rest of my weekend reclining and enjoying my purchases.

Weird Wool Wednesday: rhubarb pie

I made some rhubarb pie ….

… it made me want to knit:

This yarn is 50% silk, 50% merino. So soft and so gleaming!
It’s fingering weight, 350 m
handdyed by me.

This pie is 200 gr rice flower, 500 gr yoghurt and so fluffy!
It’s for a picknick, in a 350 year old park
pre-tasted by me.

Recipe for glutenfree rhubarb pie:
500 ml yoghurt
200 grams of rice flour
16 grams of baking powder (1 sachet, for 500 grams of flower)
bit of salt, lot of pepper
vanilla powder
one egg plus one yoke
800 grams of rhubarb (or 3 pears or 500 grams of strawberries or other fruit)
zest of half a lemon
add some sugar if you must.

warm the oven to 160 degrees Celsius
prepare fruit
mix all the dry ingredients
mix all the wet ingredients
line a large flat baking tin with butter (I use a glass one)

In a big bowl quickly mix the wet and the dry ingredients. The baking powder will start to sizzle immediately. You wan to keep this phase as short as possible so all the sizzling will happen in the tin in the oven, not now in the bowl.

put a layer of batter into the tin
add all the fruit
add the rest of the batter, make sure all the fruit bits are covered

bake for one hour on 160 degrees Celsius. Rice flower doesn’t have to turn brown like wheat flower does.
The yoghurt may keep the middle soggy, that’s ok. Otherwise: longer on lower temperature.

Eat while knitting. With friends. In the park. Having a picknick.

Brioching hard.

This is how far the Brioche shawl was:

I’m working on the top part in two colour stockinette stitch brioche, knitted in Double Dutch technique. With decreases for some shoulder and neck shaping.
The shoulder shaping is no longer visible because I frogged it. I made mistakes that could not be remedied. Better to frog it and reknit.

Which I’ve done. It was a drag to pick up all the stitches in brioche but I did it. I’ve knitted a few rows now, remembering to put in those back decreases.
But now I’ve forgotten to put in the shoulder decreases…

Shaping at the neck:

In the front I decrease one stitch every row at each end. This gives this shape, vertical fronts:

But this was how it was. Not only had I forgotten to start the shoulder decreases, the decreases at the neck are not positioned right, they are not centred. They are two dark green lines off centre. I couldn’t fudge it, I would always see it.
So I’ve frogged half the top part to reknit it. And place the decreases in the middle. And remember to start shoulder decreases.

This is the second time I have to reknit the top. I have a hard time counting correctly the past few weeks…

starting my linen top, take two

Wisened up that I only have 900 meters I did a search for patterns people made with my yardage.

Ravelry has an advanced search query you can play with.
I chose to search for actual patterns people used for their projects, rather than just look at projects people made with this yardage. This way all the self designed tops are discarded and I don’t have to think as much once I start mine.

What I do is look at actual projects instead of patterns because then I know the yardage is correct. (patterns usually give a range, from the smallest size to the biggest and then I get them showing up in my search query and I get all happy but can’t knit it because my yardage only fits their size “garden gnome”)

once I find a project I like I look at the pattern that was used. I’ve already narrowed the search to free patterns so I’m sure I can get my hands on it if I like it.

I look at all the projects made from that pattern because this shows me how the pattern behaves when handled by real, normal people using normal yarn and normal bodies.
It tells me how well the pattern is written, how the shaping is and with a bit of luck I’ll see someone with a similar body shape like mine and I can see how this pattern would look on me.

Bonny by tincanknits is an example where the pattern picture is gorgeous:

but the projects tell me this would probably look a certain way on my body that would make me feel self conscious most of the time.

These are the patterns I picked up from my project search:
Bottoms Up by Alice Bell:

I really like this, for obvious Art Deco reasons. It also has some nice projects in linen so that would work well with that fibre. But twisted stitches hurt my shoulder. In the favourites-bin it goes. Maybe for another day.

This is Silken Straw Summer Sweater by Purl Soho:

An example where I would not have looked at the pattern if a certain project hadn’t looked so good:
 pic by deejw
I love those ridges. They are an add-on and are not in the original pattern. I don’t usually post individual projects but deejw’s take on the pattern is so much better than the official project photos

Gemini by Jane Richmond yields some impressive projects too. The pattern picture is allright:

It’s a dense fabric, I could get away with just a bra under it.

This is Petrie Shell by Beautia Dew:

I like the shaping, the play with formality.

This is Tulip Tank Top by Purl Soho:

gorgeous details but bare back at the precise point where I want coverage: adrenal region.

Gosh, the details are well done!

This is 107-8 top with lace pattern by DROPS design:

Using lace to keep linen in check. No need for neat plain stitches.
But more importantly: “is this top white or blue?! And that wall, is that white or gold?

and a paid-for pattern that I have in my library:
Linum Tee by Bristol Ivy

It’s difficult to see but the lattice work is asymmetrical at the front. The projects from this pattern show me that I would probably get a semi-sheer fabric and that neat stitches are to be preferred in the final look. can I produce neat stitches? it would demand a constant tension for all the stockinet stitch section… can I do that? No I cannot. I want some mindless knitting, not an exercise in execution. I need some designed tricks to lead the eye away from irregular knitting.

Once I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of patterns I look at the pattern specifics. Are they top down or not. Gauge. How accessible is the pattern (is it in a magazine or online. Is it a down load or do I need to sign up for a website)
For example, Silken Straw thingie from Purl Soho is from the website Purlbee.com. I had troubles navigating that site some years back. I need an extra carrot to go and check out whether it’s better now:
 pic by the Purl Bee: Bunny Hop Bunnies from Knitting at KNoon

Tulip Tank Top is such a carrot, with its beautiful details. Even though its lower back is bare. It’s also a purlbee pattern and would make me check out that web site again and dive into it a bit deeper than just browsing.
But first I take a closer look at the projects made from the pattern. Are people glad with the pattern or are there many frogs and complaints. And why.
Also: fit.
Hmm, looking at project pictures of Tank Top it would really be ill advised for me to make a garment with a bare lower back.

Achoo! Achoo! Achoo!

Next I look at all the projects from all the remaining patterns. I’m looking at fit, sheerness and how the knitters liked the pattern.
The DROPS pattern makes a feature of the sheerness that linen provides. That’s a fresh approach (to me).

Can’t find out if Linen Tee is top down or bottom up. Have to trawl projects for in progress pics. That’s one negative score for the pattern.
Ah, it’s bottom up.

Petrie had me a bit worried with its boat neck:

I like the back of my neck covered… The project pages show this to happen more often than not. Good.

Lots of happy Petrie knitters, I find myself reading more and more project notes.
I like the community feel these project pages gives.

This way I get to know the pattern better. I look at most helpful projects. At frogged projects.

This pattern has a prominent front neck line and people play with it. You can either make it dressier by having it a bit stiff. Or make it drapier. People play with it and share their modifications in their project notes. Ravelry has the feature that you can tag projects you find helpful, they are easily accessable from your own project page.
Even, at the bottom of the overview of projects of this pattern, there;s now a little message: “you’ve tagged 3 projects as helpful”. Ravelry is smart that way.

Gemini makes use of its raglans in the neck treatment:

Clever. But the project pages do not give me the same enthousiasm as the Petrie.

Between DROPS, Petri and Silken Straw I’m going with Petrie. It’s bottom up and seamed so I’ll have to keep to gauge.
I love deejw’s Silken Straw but the pattern itself is just a round yoke and a bit boring.
Drops is a drops pattern which are written super condensed. I don’t feel like reading that right now.
In Petrie someone mentions brainless knitting, that’s what I want.

It’s a Knitty.com pattern from Spring/Summer 2010. Free.



Oh. It’s for DK thickness!
The project that got me into it had the fingering weight held double.
Oops.

Now to chose: hold yarn double myself (yardage?!) or rework the numbers to fingering weight (bit of math)
Ha. Gauge is 20 st/10 cm. That’s what I get with fingering weight, no reworking required. Sigh of relief.

I’m having one more look at project pictures because of the two diagonal lines in the front. Don’t want them to become pointers towards my prominent features.
Nah, I’m good. The lines are not too visible in dark yarns and the neck line attracks the eye.

Some tips I found helpful:
– size should be chosen with 1 to 2″ of negative ease.
– Add waist shaping.
– Sew up with thread instead of yarn.
– Sew a piece of 1” grosgrain ribbon inside the front neck facing if you want it non collapsable.
I’m putting the pattern in my Ravelry queue and copy the tips in there too. When I cast on from the queue it will automatically revert to a project page and bring with it the notes and the yarn I chose.

Now I’m going to make some tea and think it over a bit more. Pet that linen some more. Read the pattern from beginning to end. And if it all feels good we’ll get this show on the road!

the vegan argument

The other day I was at this lovely place, HAP, in Den Bosch. It’s run by two young idealistic people and they have an array of fresh foods and chocolate.

I went to check it out and ooh-ed and aah-ed at their display of organic breads and animal friendly foods. The seating area has a wonderful atmosphere, yes I see myself sitting here enjoying a tea and a cupcake:

this is their facebookpage

I had a lovely chat with the owner and tried to connect by showing my Sprig sweater that I happened to wear. Handspun, handknit! Fleece straight from the petting zoo, where we showed children spinning.

The young man was very friendly but said he preferred second hand wool. I didn’t understand because all wool is second hand, if you ask a sheep.

He explained that vegans see the use of wool as disrespectful to the sheep, as a violation of their rights actually. Therefor he uses wool that has been used by another human first. To be precise: he gets his woolen blankets and jumpers from the thrift store. And he needs wool because he lives in accommodations without heating.

 pic by Michael & Christa Richert

We touted the qualities of wool and agreed there is no alternative for it when you need warmth. I thought of the fur that’s traditionally used up at the Pole circle. But where we all live, we can survive easily without fur.

I thought of silk which is warm and strong and cool. But for that all pupae have to die. That’s worse than bothering a sheep for its fleece yearly.

The thing is, sheep need their wool removed. If you do not shear a sheep, it will not be able to survive long. So shearing a sheep is not a bad thing in itself. What the trouble is is that we bred a species that needs shearing. Original sheep just shed their fleece, the same as horses, dogs and cats do. There’re still a few breed around that shed or that need to be “plucked” because the fibre has a yearly breaking point in it, just like tree rings.

This treat of shedding has even been reintroduced and is marketed now as EasyCare Sheep or self shearing sheep. “Back to nature! Full circle!” you might think but this breed is developed for meat and the wool is viewed as an accompanying nuisance. We couldn’t get further from the vegan view where animals are not soulless products.

But I didn’t talk about Easy Care Sheep. We kind of both sighed at the state of the world as is. Then I bought some chocolate.

Two bars from fair trade company Chocolatemakers.nl who sail their cacaobeans straight from the farmers in the Caribbean to Amsterdam. With a real sail ship!

Volunteers help bring the cargo ashore and to the factory, all with CO2 neutral transport. By rowing boat, bike, horse and carriage. Anything! Everyone helping gets a bar of chocolate and a glass of rum. Look at pictures from last year here.

Ahh :)
Vegan people and fair trade people are such NICE people and they have such good and fun initiatives :)

A next time I visit HAP I hope to talk again about shearing sheep and then I hope share the experience of being mammals during shearing.

Sheep friendly shearing starts with you nudging your own body against that of the sheep. Making contact, animal body to animal body. Using body language, the way cattle do. Nudging, resting a hand or a head against the other, manipulating a body mass using your own.

And harmonious in speed. No hurries. No panic. Everybody breathes easy.

It’s a wonder to experience how you’re allowed to manipulate another animal if you approach it like that. A sheep allows you to sit it on its behind, to lean over it, to guide its head around, move its legs.

 pic by Joe Zlomek

To lie it on the ground, to pin it down (in a friendly, non threatening way). The mutual trust and the way the two bodies communicate is one of the true treasures in life. Respect.

(With it comes responsibility, of course. You cannot pin a sheep too long to the ground, it will faint or its intestines might knot up. You have to know what you’re doing.)

Weird Wool Wednesday: an 8 minute wool fool

Today I have something special for you!
I turned on the camera of my computer and I recorded 8 minutes of spontaneous podcast for you. Yes I did. You get to see me in motion!

Thanks to Dutch Wool Diva who has hourly podcasts (in Dutch) and makes it look so easy.

I hope you enjoy! Please leave comments here, I won’t be reading them over on YouTube. Please beware of some nasty noise when I move the camera around. This happens twice.

Here we go!

I’ll never record another podcast like this again. It’s great fun to do! But I’m sure I don’t want this kind of presence on the internet. You cannot just upload something, you have to log on and log in and share all kinds of private information. There’re a lot of Google-Facebook-Twitter-interconnecteness-unrequested-services from Big Internet. Who knows where they spill all their info?

And I have a weird face.
(really?! Is this what the world sees when they look back at me, looking out from my eyes!? What a …. peculiar face I have. And it moves so much…)
(I hope you enjoy it, my face, because from this side of the skin I wouldn’t have guessed that this is what I look like.)
(I feel like someone from the 1800’s now. Never seen my own face in motion. Is this me?)

Anyway, this was fun to do!
All I did was:

  1. flip on the camera
  2. stammer for a few minutes
  3. try and make iMovie talk to YouTube
  4. wait 1.5 hours for this little thing to upload (I’m at the cabin, internetsquirrels are slow here)

(Do I really look like this?!)
also: you’ll see how I tire after just a few minutes. I lose words. That’s the illness. It’s a drag but it is what it is.