Waking up the turtles.

Yesterday I woke up the handspun turtles and made them into a plying “ball”. That’s when you prewind the two (or three) threads you want to ply unto a nostepinne.
It makes plying much easier then trying to ply directly from loose turtles that will bounce around and divert your attention, as I once discovered:

Plying from the plying ball went easy:


Poor woman’s nostepinne: carton roll from kitchen towels.

Yes, I’m wearing my bright red Deer Bleuet Dress. And my handspun green legwarmers.

During the winding onto the nostepinne one turtle would run out of yarn sooner than the other. But it’s easy to attach the new yarn to the ply:

Now I have 177,5 m of lovely purple lace. In 100% silk. The mulberry kind, my favourite.

Later today we’re travelling back to the city. I’m bringing wool!

Blue Art Deco Cardi is coming. Wollmeise is coming. Green spinning fluff is coming.
The little turkish spindle is coming too, in it’s own darling tin. With some more Mulberry silk. Doesn’t this speak of early Spring?

Weird Wool Wednesday: no sheep here. Deer however…

In the last three days I made this dress:

Red Deer&Doe dress

It has a pocket and a bow in the back!
Red Deer&Doe dress

It’s sewing pattern Bleuet Dress from an independent pattern company called Deer&Doe
I made some adjustments because the original looks like this:

But with my bodyshape (“goblet”, “H”, “V”) I don’t have much need for skirts that are wide in the hip. Wide in the bust is more like it! I did an FBA, a Full Bust Adjustment, on this dress.

The long lines in the front are called Princess seams and they fit a big busted girl beautifully. Me even better than this dummy. The dummy is not satisfactory, although I had much fun making it with fellow knitters.
It’s a paper tape dummy.
I would prefer a dummy made from a plaster cast. Make it out of paper maché, following this tutorial.

Anyway, full bust adjustment. I changed some other stuff too like the collar and the sleeves and the buttons and the pocket. This dress it’s all about having a protective shell to wear and showing off that center panel’s fabric.

It’s deer fabric!
Bought at Atelier Bernadien when I was on that knitter’s trip to Zealand.

Red Deer&Doe dress

Aww.
Using funny deer fabric in a pattern from a company called Deer & Doe makes me chuckle.

I think the wool fumes are making me childish. Or perhaps it’s knitting withdrawal symptoms…
(We can agree that this fabric is hipster, right? “Ironic”. Or what’s that word they use… meaning “over the top”. Clearly not serious. “A humorous hint to a cultural phenomenon or fashionable trend”. Oh, I don’t know.)(The lack of knitting has got me babbling.)

Anyway. I made all the necessary changes to the paper pattern on Monday. Cut the fabric and sewed some seams on the same day.
Went to the fabrics market on Tuesday and bought that zipper and biaisband. Sewed some more seams.
Spend all day today on making a hole that my head could actually get through and getting that biaisband on and sewing that hem just right. Fiddly stuff!

But it shows I’m improving, healthwise. I was able to think my way through the pattern changes on Monday and sit up straight for a bit. I went outside and into town yesterday. And today I sat up straight again and even starting to remember to keep good posture and pull my hurting shoulder back.

So pretty soon I’ll be knitting again :)

But first I’m going to sew another dress. Or two. Now that I have a pattern that fits me well. And canvas sews so easy. No lining needed! I’ve got some green…

I love sewing with canvas!
It’s sturdy and you can give shape to a dress so it suits your bodyshape just right.
When the dress is finished you can live in it, pretty much as you can live in jeans. Nothing flimsy and “gotta be careful, I just had my nails done!
No. Just enjoy your dress and your life and if it’s worn down just sew another!

Yeah, for this kind of lifestyle I’d love to buy more canvas and sew more happy dresses. With another fun printed cotton to steal the show!
Yesterday, I swear it’s the truth, I saw some John Deere fabric. It wasn’t this one but it’s close:

Wouldn’t that be fun? John Deere fabric for my Deer&Doe pattern. chuckle

So Mum if you’re reading this, I love to come and visit and go with you to the Lapjesmarkt (big fabric market with a long tradition, smack in the middle of the historic city of Utrecht).
One Saturday in April perhaps?
I’ll wear my new dress.

Red Deer&Doe dress

Driving through life with wool on the backseat

Life has gotten in the way of woolly things for a while now and today I’m grumpy about it.

grumpy sheep

I can’t knit because first I have to design the green Wollmeise shawl in more detail. And for that I need my brain. Which has been out of commission what with the cat stress and all.
I’ve got all the inspirational pages and notes the shawl open on my computer for two weeks now, constantly. Waiting for my brain to get into gear again.

I haven’t spun since last time I talked to you. Those turtles must be in deep wintersleep by now!

sleeping turtles

I cannot grab some sockyarn for mindless knitting because if I put one more project on the needles one of the others is bound to fall of the disc of my mind.
Contrary to modern theories about the world being a sphere, my mind is still a disc with definitive endings. Projects and thoughts that near the edges too close will sail off the cliff majestetically. They’ll fall down in space, all the way down past all the stacked turtles.

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Just after the kitty disaster was averted I got a major health scare because that’s how my body likes to do things. As a result I had to cancel some really fun woolly things at the last minute. I’m still moping about them!
For example two weeks ago I was to meet two spindlespinning friends for tea in a lovely shop about handmade things in my city. They’ve just opened a tea salon! We were all looking forward to going and then two hours before we were due to meet my body did flop. (It was scary too because the hydrocortisone took no effect and then you know you’re really exhausted and possibly damaging something in your body. Luckily my brain went flop too and I had no power left to worry about things.)

Then one week ago I was going to meet a herd of sheep to cuddle with for Valentine’s Day. In the east of Holland there’s this sustainable herd of land breed sheep and the shepherd generated publicity for it last year when the council thought it’d be cheaper to mow their meadows mechanically.

With big press the herd became visible and the people of the community and the entrepneurs of it made known how valuable a local sheeps’ herd is. Because of historical reasons. Because of Slow Quality of Life reasons. Because of embellisment of daily local life reasons.
The whole thing made me cheer for the shepherd and when I saw his invitation for the Valentine Hug a Sheep Day I wanted to visit very much.

“Come and take a picture among the wool with your sweetheart!

“If you don’t have your sweetheart with you the shepherd may be persuaded to step in.” How fun must that man be! I really wanted to go and say hello.

My alterior motive to go was to see if they had any.. ahum… plans for allll the fleeces once they shear the sheeps? Because… you know… I could give one of them a good home… if need be.

But no. I had to stay at home. Look at the walls. Look at the cat. Get better.

Which I did. I was diligent. I ate the good foods my liver could handle (bland). I took many rests (snoringly). And I was optimistic about the stressful things that now belonged to the past and about all the nice things in the future that was soon going to be here.

I read up about Portugese knitting, what an interesting technique. Might help me to knit more without annoying my right shoulder.
I started to gather some nice blogs to read on Blogloving and if your want you can Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

I did some sewing:
Bleuet Dress by Deer&Doe

This is from last week. It’s a testament that my brain is catching up.
I had done some sewing before this, with the dark blue wool I showed you on Weird Wool Wednesday. I did that while I was stressed out with the cat and let’s say… it turned out a better cat bed than it is a dress. It’s all wonky!
A wonky, silk lined 100% woolen cat bed… ouch

Yeah, it’s the weirdest thing how my brain just bails when I’m under stress these days. Because in my previous life I used to be the cool cucumber leader in any stress sitution.

But for a week and a half now all the stresses have gone and last week my brain function was returning. The cat’s doing fine. My liver is scrambling out of the pit it had fallen into. And I can sit in a chair for an hour a day again. Yay!
Yes, yes, just a couple of more weeks of rest and we’d all be on track again. Do the things we love. Wooly things!

Cat scetchings

Then last Wednesday came rolling around. There was an email. From the lawyer that is fighting for the Cool Food Storage in the field next to where the cabin is. Together we are fighting plans for a major manure facility that the county has planned in the adjacent fields. We’ve already had one courtcase last Fall and another one will be here soon.

The email asked me to produce a technical rapport on the smell emissions for that facility. ASAP.

I’d tell you about my education as an urban engineer and my experience as a science journalist but suffices to say that I’m good in understanding a technical research document and I’m good in rewriting it into a language that’s understandable for any audience of my choosing. (or so I used to be, before I got all brain foggy from the illness)

So when the manure factory and the county government that pushes it produced elaborate research to prove that manure in fact smells of roses I was the one who could get down to the knitty gritty and understand how they had come to that conclusion.
And debunk it.

I had written about it a year and a half ago, when I first learned about the plans. It was a babbling, hazy piece.
Last year I rewrote it but my contribution was thrown out of court because I had not followed the correct procedure. I offered the piece to the lawyer of the Cool Food Storage because they’re still in the running. And I offered to rewrite it because it’s still a bit rambly.

By now we are at the highest tier of the judicial system in the Netherlands, the Raad van State. Whatever this judge says goes. Now is the time to strike with a clear, understandable piece of writing.
For which the lawyer mailed me last Wednesday. He needed it NOW.

I didn’t have it. I had been working on it a bit for the last few months but with all the stresses of the past month it had gone right out of the window. I thought I had time.
I didn’t.
It was due Thursday, 15 o’clock.
And I am the only one who can produce it.

(what are the odds? you’re just planning your nice manure plant in the middle of nowhere and there, in a nearby little patch of forest, sits an urban engineer specialized in analyzing and rewriting technical stuff so lawyers can understand it? Go figure.
And she knows how to make a picture count too? Your day just got shittier.)

Here’s a non-technical picture about how the proposed plant actually compares to the two plants that were used in the research on which the whole permit is based:
bva10x

The report had to be written. It had to be done by me.
So I did it.
I’ve worked very hard all Wednesday. Went to bed at 19 in the evening with a massive head ache. Worked on it on Thursday.
Send the document to the lawyer two minutes before the deadline. It is good. It’s sufficiently good.

But now I’m done.
Totally done.
I have pushed my body and my brain cells beyond the limits they preferred and pleaded with me.
My liver has gone flop again, everything hurts. I’m hungry and nauseous at the same time, all the time. I have not been outside, have not been walking all week.

So now I need to rest up and heal once again.
I’ll have to cancel my wooly plans for the next four weeks.

And they were such fun plans!
The end of March has a big spinners’ meeting in a city nearby, it was so much fun last year!

This year I was to have a little stand there and sell fun stuff to knitters and spinners and weavers. For example I’ve taken up drawing again and I was thinking of a whole range of mugs and cups with drawings on them for wool loving people.
But I haven’t drawn a thing in all those weeks. Only the 3 drawings I did for you today, at the top of this post. Now the practise and confidence is not there to draw on cups and mugs.

And I had plans for an enamelled spinner’s accessory. I have everything ready to go in the city! But I could’t sit up straight long enough to make them.
And in the coming weeks I should not stress about making things and finishing them before the end of March. Only thinking about it brings on a head ache.
So as soon as I post this post I will be cancelling that little stand. And probably the event too, it’s so big. I’m more happy meeting wooly people in small groups, it’s way more comfortable for my excitable neurons and my frayed attention span.

I was hoping to visit a knitters’ fair (Brei- en Haakdagen) in March too. Forget it.
Or reschedule that Tea with Spindle Spun Friends?
It’s all out of the window.

I shall be sensible and patient and do what’s good. I will spend days in the cabin or in the city, just pottering around a bit. See how Spring arrives. Do some drawing for my own pleasure. Sew another dress hopefully. Do some knitting. Spin some sleepy turtles.

Yes, I will be patient and sensible and get healthy again.
But by golly I will gripe about it every now and then!

while turtles sleep…

All the silk is spindle spun into turtles.
Now they need to rest for a while, while the twist sets.

Not one to twiddle my thumbs idly, I delved into a dreamy misty green elfenbatt:

Soft, silken, sparkly.
It’s the prize I won at the last Tour de Fleece. It’s a custom made batt by the fantastic Cjadam:

Spinning it is a delight. It made me hungry for more meters so I grabbed a wheel and had a fantastic evening:

Spinning and purring

We’ve all arrived at the cabin and we are all purring and spinning and relaxing and leaving all the stresses behind us.

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I made the cat on the mug in the background, do you like it? I don’t but I’ve come to accept that feeling as a natural companion to anything I draw. I do see that it’s a nice start however. And I’ve got more mugs!

Lillepoes has gotten grey on her nose and chin in the previous two weeks…

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She’s still weak and sleeps a lot. This episode has taken one of her nine lives I think.

I’ve fallen ill too, in the good tradition that owners should resemble their pets. Grey, weak, sleeping? Check, check, check.
For me it’s back to only doing two things a day, with an inflamed liver. It’s a classic after-stress-reaction, as described by dr. Selye.
There’s nothing I can do except rest and heal. But I’m pretty annoyed because of all the plans I cannot execute at the moment. One of them drawing cats on mugs. But again, there’s nothing to be done. Eat, sleep, spin.

Poekie is a big help and advocates snacks to help counter the stress:

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Weird Wool Wednesday: cat bed

Our cats have gotten a present: an interesting cat bed. An original design!

It’s a double layered base, placed on my cushion for added confusion. The base is woven out of handspun which was dyed with plant dyes. It was woven on a triloom, one of those looms where you weave continiously, not separated in a weft and a warp.

It has intertwined strips on it (knitted on a fast knitting device, they are tubes) and the idea is that a cat can snuggle under them and be protected still can peer out in any direction:

Of course this is how our cats treat innovative designs:

More swatching in two toned brioche

I completed the leafs on the end of the previous swatch and was decidedly not satisfied with the loose, messy look of my Brioche stitch. So I went down a couple of sizes and started knitting in 2mm needles instead of 2,75mm. I would have preferred 2,25 mm but I didn’t bring that one to the city. Here’s the result in light green:

I like this fabric! This is the organized look I’m looking for. Crisp. I love the solid colour too.

I tried a bit of two coloured stockinette stitch brioche but in my Double Dutch Technique it drew in quite a bit.
So I left it at that and proceeded to single rows of colours to try and play with slipped stitches:

The slipped stitches were alright, especially when I figured out how to increase properly. The increase on the top left a big hole and that’s why I learned to increase in the stitch below and use both loops of that stitch, not one.

I strongly dislike the resulting colour of this part of the swatch though. One row one colour meshes the colours too close together, it gives too much of a speckled fabric. The slipped stitches/traveling stitches do not stand out enough.

Then I thought about stockinette stitch without the Double Dutch technique. Just the old fashioned way: do one row in one colour, slide the fabric across to the beginning of the needle and do the row again with the other colour. Turn work and repeat.
So that’s what I did. I liked the fabric it yielded so I decided to try the slipped, travelling stitches again. I aimed for diagonals:

The travelling stitch stands out, especially the lighter one.

But knitting like this shows my current concentration problems, with all the slipping the knit stitches back and remembering which colour to use next and guiding the travelling stitches around. That’s why you see a big hole where my travelling stitch came together with a k2tog while at the same time I cabled the same column behind the green slipped stitch line…
I also sometime forget to keep the YO properly at the back. And tension is all over the place. What can I say, my knitting shows my level of concentration abilities. And as I’m having a health set back it shows. But I’m not in full blown ME brain fog, luckily.

Tired from all this fiddling about I was curious about stripes that are not one but two rows high. And if slipped stitches can travel over them:

They can. But it’s not very pretty. I didn’t even try to make them travel diagonally. Brain says no.

So I ended with a few rows of just striped fabric, so I didn’t have to think too hard. Tension problems cleared up significantly. Thank you, brain.

Having found a good way to make horizontal stripes I wondered about vertical ones. To play them off each other.

Stockinette Stitch Brioche gives strong vertical stripes. So I ended the swatching session with the brilliant thought of doing stockinette stitch brioche but with alternate k and p stitches in stead of all k stitches. And in the regular non-double-dutch technique that gives me an even knit fabric:

Right.  I just re-unvented two colour brioche stitch. sigh

It is the kind of fabric I like. And the kind of stripeyness I like. And I know this is the kind of stitch that does well with cabled patterns as I previously knit in Frost on Leaves and Proizd hat. And I love the solid coloured block this swatch started with. And I’ve noticed some fun things to do when transitioning from one kind of stitch to another. So I have plenty to think about now and hopefully the next think will be a small mock up of the shawl I want to knit.

I’ll leave you with a look at the backside, as shown on my favourite model:

More swatching in green brioche

I’ve started another swatch for the green brioche shawl, this time in the yarns I’m going to use: Wollmeise Spinaci and Zarte Knopse.

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Pretty soon I found out the two colours look very different in different lights and when they are striping. Sometimes they are outright ugly.
I did some stockinette stitch brioche with leafs in two different colours:

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I think my brioche stinks. It’s way too sloppy.
That’s why I reversed to plain stockinette stitch, in stripes, with slipped stitches. The original stitch for the look I wanted.

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I think the slipped stitches look better on top of garter stitch.
Still sloppy knitting but the garter stitch is more forgiving in that aspect. Should I go down a needle? This is already 2,75 mm which is when regular knitters would use a 3,5 mm.

I like the leaf with the light stem and the dark interior.

I was getting annoyed with the stripes though. Sometimes it made the light green really ugly. And it reminded me firmly that I don’t like stripes on a good day.
So I inserted a block of solid colour, see if that would help with the ugliness. And, why not, do it in brioche.
It pleased me. It pleased me so much that I got the brainpower to combine brioche and slipped stitches:

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It’s not stripes. It more or less blends the two colours. I’ll look at it some more because I don’t know how much I like it yet.
The slipped stitches work, I can make a leaf like this.
But oei how loose that brioche fabric is!
Not too sloppy though, apart from the stem and the start of the leaf.

I’ll study some more. Do I want the shawl to be so loose? Do I like the stretchyness? Can I come up with a design that satifies my longing for crisp graphic elements?

The backside. The brioche leaf at the top was knitted on this side, instead of the right side, and it has a better 7 st increase than the other one (with a big hole).

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swatching for Green Brioche stylish leafy wrap shawl thingie

I’ve been swatching.
Trying out different kinds of Brioche stitches so I can make that Wollmeise Slipped Stitches Shawl I had in my mind in Brioche.

I started off in stockinette stitch brioche, a stitch I did not know existed. You just knit all the stitches in k from the right side. It’s so evident that I feel a bit silly for not having thought of it myself. Discovering it freed up my mind to play around with brioche.

So that’s what I started with, at the bottom. It does have a tendency to curl so it would have to feature in a section that has a border that counters that tendency. Love the crispy look!

Then I tried different kinds of increasings to create leaf patterns. I taught me to think about what kind of increase stitches to chose. And think about how the shape expands over neighbouring columns: cable or k2tog/ssk?

Thirdly I noticed that the stripey background of the st. st. brioche needs to be colour treated so that the contour of the leaf gets more pronounced. Frost on Leaves hat shows a good example, where the light green vertical stripes stop before the light green leaf shape feathers out.
She knits a k st together with a p stitch. One could also just alternate the colour and put a k st in the p st colour, this would leave the tip of the column vertical.


Frost on Leaves, pattern by Midori Hirose

I did a bit of regular brioche to gather my thoughts about these things and play with my tension so leading yarn and following yarn would have the same, creating true Brioche instead of that bulging white “coral” I made in my hat/cowl/mitts.

Then I played a bit with gathering stitches, to learn about how I could fill in the leaf shapes:

From right to left: slip stitch brioche (only on the right sight/blue yarn); Double Knitting (DK); stranded knitting (str.kn.).

The stranded knitting really draws in! And the DK too. I will need to compensate for that in stitch numbers if I chose one of these for the leaf interior.

The slipped knits bring nothing interesting to the table. I was hoping to use the elaborate line elements slipped stitches form on regular knitting (st.st. or garter) but that’s not going to work here.

Elaborate lines in slipped stitches on regular knitting (could be st.st. or garter):

This is pattern Summer Travels by Cindy Garland

Above the gathering stitches I went into regular brioche once more. Changing the colours (called syncopating, where blue stitches get white on top of them and vice versa). I did so because in regular knitting slipped stitch patterns need horizontal stripes to work and I was thinking to try this in Brioche.
But fiddling around the colours and the yarns around like this was too much for my brain. On the right you see some …thing… where I lost the plot and also alternated k and p stitches.

Alternating k and p stitches on top of each other is a good way to Brioche. Nancy Marchant shows multiple variations over on Briochestitch.com
For example Moss Brioche Stitch:

But I don’t want that. My Brioche knitting always looks a bit sloppy. Even with these round yarns (and the Wollmeise yarns are beautiful round too).
To be honest, “sloppy” is not what I want from my Wollmeise shawl. I want crisp. Clear lines. Clear blocks.

But I also want to knit the shawl now. And my shoulder does not tolerate regular knitting, it has to be Brioche. (the stress with the cat has made me hunch over and hurt my shoulder a couple of times. Recovery has been set back a bit.)

So I’m going to compensate on the crips outlook of the shawl but not too much: st. st. brioche it is. And if I don’t like the shawl in a couple of months I can always frog it and reuse the yarn.

The last leg of the swatch:

Stockinette Stitch Brioche and three ways of making the stems of the leafs. From right to left: 2 st DK, 1/2/3 st stranded and 2 stitches cabling with the white stranding behind.

I had thought the stranded knitting would draw in, making the blue stitches bulge up. Almost like an i-cord. But it doesn’t (because the rest of the fabric is so loose, the white brioche stitches have yarn to spare to share with the back of the stranded stitches?).

The cabled stem looks promising. I would love to have it more distinct from the background though. Perhaps 2×2 st cable?

I also remembered to put in a white stitch before starting a blue stem in a blue column. I had to think about how that one blue stitch transfers into the multiple blue stitches needed for a stem.
If I go for a 2×2 cabled stem I’ll need to make 4 stitches out of 1 and I don’t know a pretty way to do that of the top of my head. There probably needs to be another swatch…

At the top I killed off the middle stem and made the other two into leafs. I paid attention to the neighbouring columns, switched colours around so the leaf contours would not cross blue columns.

I played around with ways of increasing, differing the rows in which the increases are from the rows in which the cable/k2tog is that makes the contour feather out.

And I remembered in time that I wanted to make the leafs a different colour from the contour, just like the leafs in Catkin:

The right leaf is done in DK, the white leaf is stranded.
The good thing about double knitting is that it’s reversible, just like Brioche is. You’ll get two shawls for the effort of one!

But then I couldn’t do the st. st. brioche…. or I could just accept the way the back of st.st. brioche looks.
But then I need to think of another stem because the cabled stem doesn’t turn up on the back…
It seems I need to make another swatch. And I ran out of white yarn. And I need a good name for this shawl… any ideas?