Green Tunic: finishing touches

Now the green dress is really finished. I added a little pocket and a green satin bow. The pocket to keep my ear plugs and hydrocortisone (instead of in my bra) and the green bow to keep the empire waist in place.

I picked up four stitches at the bottom and worked garter rows, picking up additional stitches at each side.

I also made a dress to wear under it that has shirring (elastic gathering) at the waist. This shows off better the fitted knitting than the store bought dress I wore under it earlier.

Again, it’s all about the curve in the small of my back. And about concaving under my breasts. That last thing is well illustrated by Eddie Izzard in his tour Sexie (in the transcript, it at the end of the paragraph called “Origami Wizards” but it’s better seen in the video of his tour Sexy)(NB Eddie Izzard uses explicit language)

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My dress is just a tube with some smocking in the middle. I found out my circumference at bust and hip are about the same, when they have their wearing ease added.
And waistshaping like this in the middle omits the needs for darts or a zipper. Easy sewing!

It’s made of an adorable printed, soft cotton batiste:

Oh look, French seams and a finely rolled hem. Such style! (those are embroidery scissors, for scale)

Here I am not wearing it at the Countryfair:

This was on the Friday, when it was too cold for sheer batiste. And I still had to finish the biais band around the neck line. But I wore it on the Sunday, the cotton dress and the green tunic. It worked very well, the shirring and the fitted knitting.

In the picture I’m spinning Long Draw. I’ve tilted my wheel to the left. I’m also turned to the left. Not very ergonomic, I’m sure, but my right shoulder loves it and I’m very relaxed spinning this way so I just enjoy it.

Talk about enjoyment, today I’ve had complaints that I ought to be fixing the rainy weather instead of knitting sweet little pockets on green dresses:

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Finished: Blumen in Brioche Cowl! And my drooping eye.




I’m very pleased with it!
The colours, the technique. Very pleased. It was great yarn to get, it knit up nicely, the colours made me happy and so does the Brioche stitch.

About that last picture: I look tired. Worn.
That’s accurate because I’m very tired and worn these days. This picture is actually the best of the lot. I don’t mind that I look the way I do, it’s an honest picture. And you know that tiredness does not prevent silliness. Or happiness.

I’m still tired from attending the Countryfair last weekend and the Knitters’ Picknick the weekend before that. I’ve been in bed and on the couch for every day since. My tummy is out of commission too, which always complicates things.
Yes, I’ve still got ME/CFS. I don’t mind showing it.

But the one thing I want to remark upon is my drooping eye… that’s not a wrongly timed shutter click. It’s there. And it’s worse when I’m tired.
The optometrist wants to test me for Myasthenia Gravis. It’s likely I have something from that particular potpourri of afflictions, what with the sudden double vision I acquired two years ago and all the holes I discovered in my production of hormones and neurotransmitters.
But I cancelled the appointment I had with the eye dr. back in February. Back then I was depressed which was more acute than a wonky eye and whatever it may indicate.

Then in May I suddenly got a foothold on my ME/CFS. (I’m actually healing from ME/CFS. Yes! Did I tell you? Probably not, I’m still scared I’ll loose it all again. But I’m also proud of how I solved the puzzle. Here’re some ramblings how I did it. ME is a personal puzzle though, I’m not sure my solution would help any other sufferer. Apart from digestion, stress levels and insulin. Those are turning points for all of us. ME or not.)

The thing is, I want to explore and enjoy my newfound health. While I do so, I don’t want to deal with eye medicine. I don’t want to think about it, research it, test out theories and project scenarios into the future.
I just want to enjoy life for a bit.

I think this is a reasonable approach. I’m not shying away from medical information. It’s that I find it more important to spread thin the stress in my life. I try to have only one thing to fuss about at any time.

May was “I cannot believe this!”
June was “Meet happy knitters”.
July is for spinning. Tour de Fleece!
August is for making things. Artisan things like shawl spelds. Emaille, enamel. Paper arts.
September is back to adult responsibilities. I’ll go see the doctor then.

(btw, I think fully healing of ME/CFS will take me a year. At least.)

So today: Summer!
Summer with wool!

This was me, checking if the previous picture was any good:

That’s when it hit me:

Happy EWOK in Brioche!

Weird Wool Wednesday: the Dutch Mountains




This is my house today.

1. The carded Heideschaap, ready to be spun in a sturdy yarn.

2. This year’s Hampshire Down, freshly washed. And by “freshly” I mean I pulled it out of the bacterial fermentation it’d been stewing in for three weeks. It stank! There was orange biofilm. Award shows were being planned.
I spend yesterday hosing it down and washing it with clean water and wool detergent. At 22 hr. at night I was getting rid of excess water in the laundry centrifuge. I’d put lavender oil under my nose.

Now that it’s drying the smell is going away but it had to dry outside last night because it was terrible.
I’d rather have moths in this fleece than have that smell in my house. That says something a lot!

3, 4, 5 and 6. One of the best fleeces in the whole country! Nearly 17 million people and only 17 fleeces or so to go around. I’m a winner!
It’s Wool Merino, bred solely for its fleece. The sheep are tended to throughout the year for their fleece quality: good food, good health, a little jacket to keep the wool from getting dirty and a shearer who shears for sheep and fleece, not for speed and money.

It’s so soft!
With amazing crimp. And already sorted: on the left the best parts, on the right second choice (still excellent! picture 5 is of this part)(!!!)
I’m actually intimidated by this fleece and will spend a few months petting it and pondering before dare prep it.

7. Last year’s Hampshire Down rolags still to be spun. On the left the rolags are too tight, they won’t spin well. I need to fluff them up until they’re as airy as the wool on the right.

pet pet ponder ponder (Some of unwashed Wool Merino, straight from the bag):

“doing wool” at the fair

I got a lot done last weekend, whilst sitting at the fair.
I worked a little on the Rockefeller but I got nasty tingling in my right arm so I changed it for some shoulder friendly Brioche:

It’s nearing completion and I’m already thinking what to do next in brioche stitch.

As we sat at out table chatting, it was an excellent opportunity to give these mitts new thumbs. The old ones were too tight and prevented me from wearing these.
New thumbs:

Old thumbs:

Before they had better matching colours, the thumbs. But after a year of waiting on new thumbs AND weaving in all the ends, I think these are great.

I also got a lot of spinning done at the fair:

That’s one big bobbin full of singles and some of it is already plied onto the bobbin on the left.

As this is Long Draw spinning and I spin turned to the left side I was a perfect demonstration spinner at the fair. Sat sideways along the path and making those long arm motions I got a lot of people fascinated.

Men were particularly interested in the wheel. It’s a modern all round wheel with at least 25 gears and a lot of ball bearings and good balance which is important when spinning at the great speed Long Draw requires. So there was lots to talk about and show and explain.

The back of my wheel, with all the gears.

Here there’s only one green belt attached, it’s in single modus. In the other picture you can see that at the moment I have another belt attached, to engage the second pulley. But it’s still on a medium fast capacity.
When I spin the singles of this Hampshire Down it’s on yet a different configuration and will be on one of the fastest ratio.
The fastest gear is used when I spin non-sheep short stapled fibres in Long Draw such as yak or baby camel. Or cotton. These fibres don’t have interlocking scales on the individual strands such as sheep wool does.
They need lots and lots of twist and virtual no pulling on the thread by the wheel.

The many children were mesmerized by the magic happening in my hand: a cloud of sheep wool turning into a thread, right before their eyes!

And they wanted to know where on the wheel Sleeping Beauty had pricked her finger.

Farm- and Countryfair Aalten 2014

This weekend I’m at the Countryfair in Aalten. On Friday and Sunday I’m a host in the wool-tent, hosting the knitters’ table of our knitting group.

On Saturday I participate in the national spinning competition for a consistent thread of a certain thickness. In the morning we spin sockweight, in the afternoon aran.

I made an album on Flickr.com for you to enjoy.
If that link does not work, just click on one of the pictures, please.

Here are some highlights:
Countryfair Aalten 2014

Countryfair Aalten 2014

Entrance to the wool tent. “Beware, goat blessings come from above”:
Countryfair Aalten 2014

Clomps around handspun socks. I want clomps like these, they are traditionally made in Eenrum in the Groningen but I’ll have to go there myself because they won’t sell online because they want to guarantee perfect fit.
Countryfair Aalten 2014

Fierce contest in the S-factor:
Countryfair Aalten 2014

best coffee on the fair:
Countryfair Aalten 2014

Taking the cow for a walk. This breed, Brandrood Rund, is old and very friendly.
Countryfair Aalten 2014

a steam punk pop corn maker!
Countryfair Aalten 2014

collection of old lawn mowers:
Countryfair Aalten 2014

Rockefeller in progress

This thing knits itself!

We don’t mind at all that we haVE to spend a lot of time on the couch, recuperating from that knitters’ picknick last weekend.

To wash out the cat’s snoring I’m watching selected BBC interviews from the last century: Richard Feynman, Buckminster Fuller, Dali, David Nevin and Jacob Bronowski.
It’s wonderful to look back and recognize points of view, ways of thinking and era atmospheres.

All the while stopping the video to count stitches or to think or to just admire my knitting. Here I am, halfway trough cue 2.
The colours are amazing!

A finished skein, a purple shawl and a Little Yellow Duck

Without further ado:

The finished skein Happy Go Lucky. 512 m of DK weight, 200 grams. (512 m = 600 yards)
2 ply in soft BFL/Silk mix.

It took a bit of “Andean Plying” to use up all the singles.

Technically it’s not really finished. It needs to soak in water first, to set the twist. But I postphone this a bit. You see, I got this roving at half price off because the turqoise dye did not grab the wool very well. It will bleed.

Turqoise is notorious for doing so. I think this is because the dye particles are rather big and the woolfibre needs to open up and let the particle in before closing up again (due to cold and acid). Which is a bother, often.

Anyway. As soon as I soak this skein it will loose some of its brilliance so better admire it a bit longer before I do so.

Thing the second: got my skein of intense purple yesterday!

Wollmeise 100% Pure Fliederbusch, one of the most sought after colourways.

I cast on Rockefeller and this knits like a dream!
I was watching some Firefly and suddenly I had 10 wedges done. The yarns are great together! Both in feel and in colour. (btw: love Firefly! watching it for the first time.)

With this project I do have to pace myself because this is shoulder-endangering-knitting.
A nice chance to practice absolute relaxing while knitting 🙂
And stop as soon as something tingles or tightens up or starts to nag. There are too many people I know who have sore wrists or shoulders… we are doing something wrong. We are too persistent or take on too much worries or grabbing the needles too hard. I don’t know. Be careful.

Thing the third: The Little Yellow Duck Project.

I am crocheting some little yellow ducks for The Little Yellow Duck Project.org.

These ducks are to be left in public places with a little tag attached, inviting people to take home the duck and go online and pin the place they found it on a large virtual map.
Doing this the project hopes to raise awareness of the importance of donating blood and organs to help other people. To help kids.

A worthy cause. Donating stuff you can miss and that will save the life of someone else is a good thing to do in ones life.
It’s a random act of kindness.
As is making these ducks and giving them away.

As a woman with skills I usually don’t participate in these kind of events. Too often people think too casually about the time, effort and skills that are involved into making things for free. Not too mention the cost of yarn.
For example, making one duck takes me 2 to 3 hours. And that’s crocheting, which is a lot quicker than knitting. It’s also very fiddly and makes my hands (and shoulder) hurt.

Usually people assume it takes a whole of ten minutes to whip something up. Anything from a little duck to a hat to a sweater.
And it is always cheap because: “you have the yarn lying about anyway!”
Or: “You’re always knitting, your house must be full with things now. Time to give stuff away! Don’t be selfish!”
I could go on.
But I leave that to Ravelry group Selfish Knitters and Crocheters, they have many many examples of people not understanding or appreciating how we chose to spend our time and skills. We also learn collectively to say no to requests. Because “no” is a legitimate answer to a request. And it needs no justification.

The Little yellow Duck project understands that making a duck and giving it away is a random act of kindness, an act that takes some investment from the crafter.
As does donating blood, bone marrow or organ parts. That takes a (considerable) investment from a person and it gets donated to a stranger. Pure acts of kindness.

That’s why I’m participating for one reason, because I want to give a little bit of kindness to show appreciation for the big bit of kindness donors give.

There are other objections though. One is about efficiency.
One crafter = one duck = one finder who will maybe go online and maybe read the site and maybe get more aware of how much difference a donation of blood or tissue makes in life.

That’s a lot of maybe’s for a crafted project that only reaches one person or family. Not’s a very efficient use of my time.

The third objection is that my ducks will lead people to an American site. Should they get interested and wanting to know more about donating themselves they have to do additional searches to find my national organizations. Assuming they are comfortable in English to begin with.

Overall this seems this whole project is more about the volunteers and crafters feeling better than about actually getting new donors…

but that’s ok. That’s worthy too, in a way.

It may not be efficient nor effective but I’m making a couple of ducks to show support anyway.
In doing so I march to the battle cry of the Selfish Knitters and Crocheters Group:
“We make what we want, when we want and for whom we want!”
I’ve put the Dutch organizations’ url’s on the back of the ducks’ tags, should people want to know more.

The pattern I use is Crochet Duck by Frankie Brown. She’s an inventive designer! I’ve enjoyed her patterns before.
She makes her designs free and in return asks you to consider to donate to another worthy cause: the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation. I’m trying too. As soon as I have figured out how to do so without a credit card (I don’t have one). The site says they accept Paypal but I can’t find a button…
update: I talked to Frankie, the designer. The site only accepts Paypal from within the UK.

Plying Happy Go Lucky: building colours

The singles are done. I’ve started plying them.

I have to build up this bobbin in layers, otherwise it will abruptly halt when I wind it onto the windmill-thingy later on.

Here’s what I was afraid of: all barber poling. This will give mottled coloured fabric when knitted up. Not my favourite kind of knitwear.

I maaaay have started smuggling a bit after that and encouraging colours to match up a bit better. I do this by taking out some sequences and putting it back in later.