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I have been having the most fun!

Since throwing myself head first into the idea of knitting British I have had nothing but fun and joy seeking out local grown, spun or dyed wool.

JEWELS

Have a look at just some of the utter jewels in the British Wool crown that I have stashed so far….

 

IMG_1527

“Seeking out” is perhaps a redundant term as there is just so much British fibre out there, just yearning to be used.

And it isn’t just our sheepy friends either, I can’t believe I have been buying alpaca wool imported from South America when there is an absolute wealth of yarn grown from flocks (packs?) all over the UK, even here in Shetland!
My wishlist is continuing to bust! I really hope Santa thinks I have been a good girl this year. Currently I have coveting this sumptuous green UK Alpaca sock from John Arbon! It just yearns to be squeeshed!

 

I will introduce more of the yarns in more detail as time goes on, but needless to say it is all wonderful stuff and I am really looking forward to working with it.

(I have just realised I have included all dyed in that picture. There is lots of natural too!)

HOW MUCH?

I know there will be some people out there who will simply disregard yarn because of the price. We all like a bargain, especially if you are a prolific knitter! But I am quickly beginning to realise that I would rather pay a little more for a quality item produced here in the UK.

Before I really began to knit with hand-dyed wools, I would baulk a bit at the prices, but look at this beautiful British BFL from The Yarn Yarn …no really, have a good look…

The Yarn Yard BBFL

It’s not a very good photo, but I am sure you can appreciate the different nuances and how each colour plays with the light. Can you imagine how lovely this will look knitted?  You will never buy a ball of wool from your LYS that has detail like this unless it is hand-dyed. I feel this is the epitome of an artisan craftsmanship.

The wool is was grown on the back of a happy British bred sheep and the wool was dyed by a wonderfully talented British based dyeing artist. There is no comparison really.

HAPPY COINCIDENCE?

And as luck would have it two wonderful British designers have just brought out beautiful pattern collection books all made in British fibre!

Ann Kingstone had been releasing patterns in what I can only describe as  salivatory manner;  drip feeding beautiful designs in Yorkshire wool on Ravelry, which lead up to the launch of her book Born and Bred in conjunction with BaaRamEwe (my new favourite online store). I certainly cannot wait to knit this!

Hild by Ann Kingstone

 Kate Davies has published her first collection of patterns Colours of Shetland, all Shetland inspired and using Jamieson & Smith wool. I am a sucker for a yoke and just look at this glorious example.

Puffins by Kate Davies

I am just giddily excited to be knitting with all this home-grown loveliness. If you are on Ravelry head on over to the Woolsack forum. JaneKAL has started a new forum where you can discuss your own ideas for projects knit in British wool.

I’d also (eventually) like to host giveaways, perhaps a blog tour or two and have a gallery of your own projects, if you care to share them.

New website going live soon  so all will be revealed in good time and due course, but needless to say, like Christmas, it will be here before we know it!

Ann Kingstone’s book, Born and Bred, is available from Baaramewe & is priced £12.99

The Colours of Shetland, by Kate Davies is available via her website priced £14.99

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Here is Etterscabs. The last item I will make in non-British wool for the next year.

back yoke

The design is Aftur, by Védís Jónsdóttir and I knit it out of two necessities. 1) I wanted a lopapeysa style yoke jumper and 2) I had a lot of Drops Alaska in my stash that, while a wonderful wool, it was taking up too much space in the stash. Stash space that is needed for British wool for 2013!

I am so delighted with this jumper, as you can see! I haven’t done a lot of colour-work, and I did struggle a little bit with working with only 2 colours (ye gods! should I knit a pattern that requires more!) but I am so pleased with how it turned out.

PD4A0579

I altered the yoke pattern from the original and I made the sleeves a little longer and added just a little waist shaping (as I always look boxy in jumpers) my only slight regret is that I didn’t allow for more…ahem…movement…in the bustular area. But one needs to feel snug in this cold weather.

I really don’t think I have been so happy with a creation in a long time. It had been blocking for over a week (I bent every single pin I had! But Dear Mother is going to lend me my Nannie’s jumper board for the future!)

I can’t think of a nicer project to close the chapter on one knitting year and embark on another.

More news of my 2013 adventures in British Wool soon…very soon. Meantime Lovely Fella – not content with dodging showers this morning to take my picture at Scalloway Castle –  is in the process of KnitBritishing up  a new web-space.

So exciting developments aside, I am about to go and marinade the lamb for dinner!

Catch up with you soon, and keep coming with your British wool suggestions. What breed of wool do you prefer to work with?

Ohh! Before I go, the name Etterscabs. Are you wondering? I don’t think it is an actual word. It was a word chosen  by a writing group I attended as a theme for the following meeting. It was chosen from this book. It was during the course of this meeting that I realised I am not someone who can write something on a time limit and procrastinating this was the most creative thing I had achieved in the allotted time. Hence, Etterscabs.

PD4A0591

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I think I have been in a time warp peeps! I cannot believe how long it’s been since I last allowed myself the time, between lectures, essays, revision, exams and life to blog!

 Well, I suppose to catch you up, the last year has been a bit of a whirlwind, but I’ll try to keep to nutshell proportions.

 University: after having two years off, due to having as much motivation as a small, wet square of toilet tissue and a period of fragile mental health, I was absolutely chomping at the bit to get back to my course.

 My courses for my final year included Scotland and Heritage, Cultural Revivals and Traditional Drama and I was pretty fired up about all of them, until my old adversary Doubt came creeping in.

 ME (Gleefully): Revivals and Drama and Heritage, oh my! Revivals and Drama and Heritage, oh my!

DOUBT: Do you really think after two years you can do this?!

ME (positive): Aye! After what I’ve been through I can handle anything!

DOUBT: Are you sure? Really sure?

 ME: …er… yes!…I think so!

DOUBT: What about finding time to study in a shared house? What about working to pay the bills too? (in a creepy evil voice) What about your 10,000 word dissertation?????

 ME (frowning): Oh!

Doubt laughs evilly as I ran and hid in the corner for a little while.

Yes, whatever I seemed to undertake, Doubt was there, pointing and sniggering. But you know what? I did it. And I couldn’t be happier with the marks I’ve got this year and the progress I made. I think in first year I was thinking, “Right! Got to work for a first!” and to be completely honest I don’t care if I get third class honours. I did it, and I’m very proud of myself – if it’s a sin, I don’t care about that either! (unless God’s reading, in which case, Sorry!)

 My final marks are posted on the 3rd of June, so I am going in with my two pals Mojo and Mighty L for moral support!

Right…What else…Oh yes…

Knitterly: Truth be told, I thought I would do a lot of knitting to help me relax during revision, but I quickly found that I couldn’t focus on a pattern after staring at books and a computer screen. So in order to unwind I began to wind. Spinning was a completely brilliant way to still be creative, but also relax. I found a great website for combed wool at really good prices, I bought a few bags of merino in delicious colours from knitshop and that really kept me going.

As soon as my last exam was finished I started on my first lace project which was also my first shawl.

The Mezquita shawl  is a lovely, and very quick project.

I ordered some nice lace wool from Jamieson and Smith, but wanted to try it in a thicker wool first to practice. I had some Artesano 4ply. It is so soft and I have hardly been without it on these blustery spring days.

I like the practice one so much (with my own little mistakes…can you see?) that I am using my J&S wool for an Anniken Allis shawl, which is on the pins as I type.

 Lately I have been trying my hand at felting, just a couple of wee samples really, but I seem to have go Mojo interested in it (maybe she’s only humouring me to shut me up!). She had her new kitchen put in and is thinking about designing a wall hanging or several small pieces to frame.

I have a lot of odd wee samples of wool so we have decided first to dye and hand paint the combed tops. I am not sure how we got on the the subject of plant dyes, but last saturday we went for a walk along the old Rosewell railway and picked a wee selection.

I should add that we only picked or cut flowers that were either blown over (what a wind it has been recently!) or horse trampled, or on their way out, so that the vergesides were kept pretty and blooming for others to enjoy.

When we got back to the kitchen we laid them all out, and realising we didn’t know the first thing about producing dyes from plants we did a bit of googling. Obviously all yellow flowers will not produce a yellow dye (in fact dandelions produce pink!) but we decided to put all our lilac and blue flowers together to see what our experimentations would produce.

  

Most hits on google said that the microwave method was quickest, so we picked our petals and bruised them before covering them with water in a bowl with a teaspoon of vinegar.

The method we used was to cover the bowl with cling film and blast for 2 minutes on high, then take out and bruise again with a pestle, and repeat this until your water begins to colour and the petals seem drained of colour.

This is the end product on banana fibre!

We were quite please with that and set about with our yellow flowers, which produced a sort of new baby’s nappy green colour. But after testing the colour with yarn it produces a lovely lime colour! we were quite gobsmacked. We felt a bit witchy, or at least ancient domestic goddess-like!

The quantities that we made we will use for hand-painting the wool tops before felting.

Today I am trying my hand at kool aid dyeing on a 2 ounces of different natural shades of Shetland wool. What great fun it is!

I bought the drink mix (this stuff is actually called Mixade) on ebay ages ago and forgot about it. So today I thought I would give it a go.

For anyone who hasn’t tried it, I recommend it! You can dye hanks of wool as well as the combed tops and for each wee sachet of drink it will dye roughly and ounce of wool.

There are varying methods but I prefer the stove top method.

Firstly you soak the wool in some tepid, soapy water (I use handsoap) and you prepare your pot (soup pot, Tattie pot, anything that is large enough, but use an older pot, just in case any colour is left on afterwards).

Half fill the pot with tepid water and add your sachet/s. I used two sachets of Tropical Punch Mix-ade…oh! A tip! Don’t go by the colour of the drink on the sachet. The Tropical punch shows a bright pink drink, but I would say the water was more orangey.

Give a wee stir to let it dissolve and then give your soaking wool a squeeze and add it to the pot.

You will need rubber gloves, unless you want brightly coloured fingers…like me! 🙂

Turn the heat up and let it get to almost boiling and then switch off the heat and let the water cool.

Get your gloved hands in every now and again turn the wool so that it dyes evenly.

 In this case I am not too fussed if it doesn’t dye evenly as we will be hand-painting it at some point too.

Give it 30-60 minutes standing on the hob – with no heat under it – to absorb the dye. If after an hour the water is not clear (or almost clear) , you can turn the heat on again and bring it to almost boiling again and let it cool for another 30-60 minutes.

 I have just rinsed mine, which should be in water that is a similar temperature to that in the pot, so that you don’t felt the wool and this is the result!

The reason I wanted to use the different coloured natural Shetland was to see what colour variation would be like with the dye. It is unfortunate that my camera doesn’t pick these up so well, because the Shetland black has gone a dark aubergine colour, while the fawn and brown have gone almost heathery tones and just look at the white!

 

 

I have just rolled them in a towel to blot them dry and I’ll probably leave them there to dry for a while.

 I have to say that the pot was left with a pink tinge, but I used a bit of salt on cloth and it went away with a light rub.

So anyway, I think I have filled a yaking and maaking quota for one blog. I hope everyone is awful well, I have thought of you often, even though I haven’t been blogging!

Next time hopefully I’ll have wool hand-painting and felting news as well as results getting and boyfriend arrival…more soon! 😉

 

 

 

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Well it’s been another fruitless job search week, but I haven’t let it get me down too much!

On Sunday I went to Glasgow with three of  my friends to see Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Road Show which was filmed for the BBC! It was a great show, our sides were still sore the next day and not to mention the aching jaws. He had five guests including the brilliant Kevin Bridges. 19 year old Daniel Sloss was also a guest, a very funny wee fife laddie who we think will go a very long way.

i had a wee break on Monday…and needed it as we were knackered after all the travelling and laughing! but on Tuesday I headed through to North Berwick with Mojo and Dr Dudders to Fringe on the Sea to see Eddi Reader! After, or course,  Fish and Chips on the beach! The concert was excellent (even if we were packed in like sardines in the speigel tent!) and we went home singing!

Mirlinlass is down this away at the moment…hope your having a good holiday honey!

So! To the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

The winners of the second great Knitcircus giveaway are as follows 🙂 Thanks to www.random.org the winners of the knitting pattern collections are Nan, Rachel Crosbie and Jill! Very well done girls I will be emailing you your pdf very soon. The winner of the Sunvalley yarn is maj! very well done haj. I will pass on your details to Jaala Spiro and she will be in contact with you re: where in the world you are and when you will receive the lovely wool!

Congratulations to all 🙂

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Well that’s me back in Auld Reekie!

Ok, not quite, but 6 miles outside is close enough for now!

I’ve been down a couple of weeks, trying to find a job…but no luck as yet! nevermind though, something will come up soon!

Absolutely no regrets about coming back either…this is where I’m meant to be.

And to celebrate that I’ve got a giveaway for you 🙂

Knitcircus’s Fall issue is out and I have three pattern collections to give away to you! I’ve had a sneaky peek and it’s well worth leaving a comment to be in with a chance.

So leave a comment before the closing date, Friday 13th August, and I’ll get someone to pull your name out of my hat!

OOOH! update! Knitcircus Editor Jaala has also kindly gifted another prize! One person will win two skeins of Sun Valley Icelandic DK in cream and moorit!

And I’ll have lots to tell you when I do announce the winners, next week I’ve got Wee Micky McIntyre, Eddi Reader and maybe even a trip to the Ravelry weekender in Stirling 😀

x

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Good Morning my lovlies!

And just see, see what I have brought you!

A great crafty and knitterly magazine has recently been brough to my attention. It’s called Knitcircus, an independant quarterly magazine which has recently gone over from print to digital format.

It is a gorgeous collection of  knitting AND sewing patterns AND recipes AND interviews and it’s like picking up a favourite book (well not picking up, cos is online) as you’ll re-read and re-read.

Jaala Spiro is the editor in chief of the Wisconsin-based Knitcircus and in order to promote the new format, and bring Knitcircus to the attention of us craft lovers over the pond  she’s giving away a one year  subscription (PDF) to the full magazine and five PDF pattern collections of the summer issue, which is out on Saturday 1st May.

Jaala has sent me some pictures from the forthcoming issue, and if you need tempted further take a look at the website.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a fanbloomingbrilliant offer so here’s what you need to do… There are no set questions so lets have a bit of fun instead ;D

Leave a comment following on from mine below and lets write a little story! The first person to comment after me please put #1 at the begging and everyone else follow suit. I’ll then take the numbers and pick at random that way. The story is just for my amusement!

So, come on EVERYONE! Even if you don’t knit, craft, cook, read i’m sure you know someone who would!

CLOSING DATE  SUNDAY 2nd May: so comment quickly, as many times as you like (although not directly after your own comment) I’ll post the winners on Monday!

Look at my blogroll and catch up with the Knitcircus blog too! AND DON’T FORGET TO CHECK BACK TO SEE IF YOU’RE A WINNER!

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Hot off the pins is a cute hat to match the owl jumper i knitted for my new wee pal, baby Suilven.

I had a few problems sizing down the pattern from 9 months, think i got it down to about a roomy 6 month size (…no?…oh alright then, i think its still 9 months!)

It needed something to match it though so i adapted the cable pattern into a hat, (which is made for 3 months +, so no before you say it, he probably won’t strictly be able to wear them both at same time, but hey! its the thought lol)

and…since it’s my own pattern (and the cable pattern has been adapted from the vest pattern) I don’t see why i can’t give you the pattern. I was dead chuffed with the end result… and if anyone tries it suggestions please!

I used Paton’s Fairytale Colour 4 Me , as its baby yarn (wool from babies???!) but any DK would do….cotton would be lovely!

4mm dpns or circular needles

Size = about 3 months

Cast on 80 and join in round, place marker. begin with 2×2 rib for 6 rounds then join main yarn (if, like me, you’re using a different colour for rib) and commence with the owly cable as so….

Round 1 and 2 – P2, K8 to end
Round 3 – p2 C4B, C4F to end
Round 4-10 – repeat round 1
Round 11 – p2 C4B, C4F to end
Round 12 – P2, K8 to end
Round 13 – p2, k1, p2, k2, p2, k1 to end
Round 14 – repeat 13
Round 15-16 – repeat round 1
Round 17 – repeat round 3
Round 18 – repeat round 1

…I’ve not done much cabling, but it’s nice watching the pattern form…

after round 18 continue in stocking stitch for two more rounds before decreasing. til 6 inches. errata

Decreases:
1. K 8, K2tog to end (72 stitches)

2.  (and every other row) Knit

3.  k 7, K2tog to end (64 stitches

5.  K6, K2tog to end (56 sts)

7. k5, k2tog to end (48 stitches)

continue decreasing in pattern after k1, K2tog (16 stitches) and last round K2tog all round.

Break yarn and thread throught the remaining stitches and weave in ends.

I handwashed (although fairytale is machine washable) with a little wool detergent and dried flat.  I was glad how soft it was as the unwashed ball was a wee bit jaggy- suffice to say a wee wash was all it wanted as it is gorgeous and snuggly now.

ABBREVIATIONS

P = Purl

K = Knit

K2tog = knit two together

C4B = slip the next two stitches on to a cable needle and hold at the back of the work, knit the next two stitches and then knit two from CN.

C4F = as C4B, but hold the stitches on CN at front of work.

COPYRIGHT.: THIS PATTERN IS MY OWN. FREE TO USE, BUT DO NOT SELL THE PATTERN OR SELL ITEMS MADE FROM THIS PATTERN

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