Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hiccups And A Preview

Oh my goodness, I wish I wasn't always "she who dives in head first" and I actually stopped and read directions.  I mean, after all I am a responsible adult...right.  I always read food labels, always, always read and follow the directions on medications...so why do I find it so hard to look for and read directions for other things!?

So, here's the deal....on Friday I was all geared up to put my wee booklet of 4 knitted patterns on Ravelry, easy peasy, right!  Well it would have been easy peasy if I'd actually read the instructions instead of doing it all back-asswards (ya, that's a word).  So now I have to wait for the good (and busy) folks at Ravelry to delete what I've done so that I can start over, not a big deal but it means I will probably miss my self imposed deadline of releasing the patterns in October.

This was the plan:

  1. Release 4 patterns on Ravelry,
  2. Announce it on my blog with pictures,
  3. Celebrate it on my blog with a fifth and free pattern for a warm squishy cowl, making it available to everyone, as a gift with or without purchase (hey, that's just the way I roll).

That said....I'm going to skip 1. for now and proceed with 2. and 3., just so you know that I haven't been pulling your leg and to let you all use the 5th and free pattern if you so choose.

Introducing:

Sweet and Condensed Knits,
 4 Deliciously Quick Knits For Her
by Chantelle Jelley


Sweet and Condensed Knits, as the title says, is a wee collection of 4 accessories for her.  All 4 patterns use 1 or less, 100g skein of yarn making them both affordable and great stash busters (hand spinners might find this useful as well, I don't know about you but I always seem to spin small quantities).  So let me show you the patterns....

Berry Stained Hands:  Cute little fingerless mitts, complete with tasty berries (bobbles) just to keep them fun.


Sweet Cherry Pie:  A very sweet cabled hat with a nicely domed crown that makes it a very comfortable fit.


Deliciously Thick Ribbed Socks:  comfy, warm, ankle socks fit nicely to the foot with simple 2x2 ribbing from cuff to toe.



Nutmeg:  A spicy little hat with cabled brim and smooth domed crown....reminds me of the comforts of warm custard pies.



I hope you like this little collection.  It was so fun for me to do, and comes from my passion for the knitted stitch.  It will be available on Ravelry as soon as I fix my....ehem...mistakes in trying to upload everything.  Until then I hope you all will enjoy this little pattern....

Spellbound


Worn doubled over with purl side out.


Scrunched up, full length with knit side out.


Worn pulled up as a hood.

(please excuse the poor photos of spellbound, I took them myself at work in poor lighting)

  I used an entire skein of Briggs and Little, Softspun, Colourway: Black Magic
5.5 mm double pointed needles or small circular
stitch marker
Gauge:  4 stitches to the inch
Finished measurements:  24 inch circumference (slightly pulled), 13.5 inches long

CO 96 stitches and join for working in the round being careful not to twist stitches, place stitch marker.  *Purl 1, Knit 3, continue from * until end of round.
Continue working in this 1x3 ribbed pattern until you have 3 yards remaining, Bind Off.

Thank you everyone for visiting and reading my blog, and please enjoy this pattern.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More Wooden Goodies

I already told you about all of the wonderful wooden stuff I bought on retreat weekend.  What I didn't tell you about is how I thought about getting a supported spindle, but didn't, and ended up arriving home wishing that I had.  So I contacted the folks that had made my other stuff and asked for one and this is the picture I just received of the finished product.  It's mine, made to order especially for me.  The bowl and shaft are made of maple, the whirl is apple wood....two of my very favourites.  Thank you Mrs. T and Mr. G for doing this for me, it's made my day and I cannot wait to give it a whorl.





Monday, October 22, 2012

Hedgerow Gifts

This weekend I was given about 20 litres of concord grapes, that's with the stems on.  Even after washing and stemming....that was still a whole lot of grapes.  Concords taste very similar to Sovereign Coronation grapes (which are the kind we grow) but the differences are that Concords are less sweet eating out of hand and they have seeds.


The seeds aren't a problem, in fact they're very good for you, but they don't jam very well so I had to seed the grapes to be able to make jam out of them.  This added a bunch more work (but who am I to turn down free hedgerow food).  To make jam with seedless grapes you just throw them in a pot and mash, but with seeds you first have to squeeze out the pulp, cook the pulp separately from the skins, then sieve it to remove the seeds, add it to the pot with the skins and cook some more.  The end result however was very, very nice.


Out of all of those grapes I was able to make a batch of regular jam, a batch of 1/2 sugar jam, a batch of regular jelly and a batch of very low sugar jelly, that was 22 250ml jars all together.  To make jams and jellies with less sugar, I used "Bernardin, no sugar needed pectin" and it worked very well.  I could not believe how much sugar went into making jelly.  For the regular recipe I used 4 cups of juice and 6 3/4 cups sugar!!!!  That's not grape jelly...that's grape flavoured sugar!!!!  With the next batch I tasted the juice and realized that it didn't taste THAT tart without sugar but I did want a little, so I added only 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of juice.  Wow, what a difference...now that's grape jelly!  I don't think I'll use full sugar recipes ever again, I'm so happy with both the 1/2 sugar jam and the low, low sugar jelly.

I was also able to do something this weekend that almost never happens....I was able to sit at my wheel and spin for a couple of hours, catching up on shows that I'd missed and waiting for a hearty stew to bake in the oven.  That was very nice.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Retreat Goodies

As I was telling you, I picked up a few cool things while I was away.  These beautiful wooden tools were all made by the same guy and round off my existing stash of knitting/spinning tools nicely.  From left to right there is a turkish spindle, nostepine, orifice hook, a diz and wraps-per-inch gauge (together), and 3 sets of double pointed needle protectors.



As a participant, there's always a goody bag waiting for you too, this year we received a measuring tape, note pad, kumihimo disk and ribbons, fibre, wool wash, a diz, needle gauge/ruler and some chocolates which are not pictured here but were very good:)


Can't wait until the next retreat, they are so much fun.  It's so nice to be with 70 to 120 people, all weekend long, that share the same interests.  It's the one weekend a year that I am not weird and nobody glazes over when I speak of the virtues of merino wool.  I always leave having learned something too, this year was all about the turkish spindle for me, thank you S.P. for doing such a terrific demo and de-mystifying the technique.  I've been spindling like crazy since I got back and I love it.  I love it so much that I've been researching other styles of spindles and have decided that I'll be getting some more.  I didn't realize how fast a spindle could actually work, you just need a little practice.  OK, it's still not as fast as using my wheel, but it's way more portable as well as being some of the oldest forms of yarn making.

Ehem....to the people who read my blog, who's gift giving list I'm also on....some day I would also like a French Supported Spindle and a Navajo Thigh Spindle.....just sayin':)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Of Nests And Spindles....

One of the beautiful handmade wooden tools that I bought at this year's Spinning Retreat was this Turkish Spindle.....


It is an absolute dream to use.  The spindle is beautifully balanced and with such a wide centre of gravity, it spins for ever.  The fibre in the picture is a blend of greys and purples that I received in my goody bag to make a "bird's nest" and enter it into a contest.  We were taught to blend colours using hackles and a diz, which I used for the first time and this is the roving that I came up with.  I love the colours and am spinning it into a 2 ply yarn (on the Turkish Spindle) that I will knit into something small like a cowl to take to next year's retreat.  I think the fibre is Merino wool, which is a dream to work with and so, so soft...it should make an incredibly warm and comfortable cowl:)

Retreat

This weekend I participated in the Annual Maritime Handspinner's Retreat, which took place in Mirimichi, New Brunswick.  It was fantastic.  We were around 70 spinners in total, all of which came kitted out with a spinning wheel and a goodly basket of fibre and spindles and knitting projects.  There was also a nice handful of vendors that came equipped with all manner of spinning and knitting supplies.  I was so restrained in the vendor's room this time by NOT dragging home bags upon bags of fibre (my stash is still quite impressive so I thought I'd better spin some of that first), I did however leave a few dollars at one vendor's table....Mr. G. is a hobby wood turner and the husband of one of our spinners.  Mr. G. had some of of the most beautiful wooden tools for spinning and knitting that I have ever seen and I will post about them later when I've taken pictures of my pretty things.

I've never seen so many prizes.  The prize donations are always generous and it's really nice to win something, but we never expect that we ARE going to win something, it's just an added bonus.  This year there was something for everyone!  With a lovely donation from The Flair Witch, I was able to add two wire shawl pins to the prize table and I ended up going home with these adorable earrings:


This is how generous the vendors and participants were:


The room was so full of spinners and their stuff that you needed a map, compass and emergency beacon to not get lost, this picture was taken before everyone had arrived so it still looks quite tame.


And this is what a room full of professional, grown people get up to on a Saturday night:)  This is the end result of a four part, 3 team contest to hackle, spin, knit and dress a dolly.  The kicker being that the wee scarf was knit with a cocktail umbrella and a plastic sword.



Oh shoot, I broke the rules......"What happens at retreat weekend, stays at retreat weekend", sorry folks:)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Comfort

So Mr. Homesteader informed me the other day that he was in need of more padding for his work boots.  What better time of year to make a few new pairs of thick, wool socks for the man you love.  Today marked the first day of scraped wind shields too, so wool socks are definitely on order.  I grabbed a couple of skeins of 2 ply MacAusland's yarn and cast on for "two-at-a-time" socks in a lovely natural oatmeal colour.  I've used this colour before as I ended up buying a feed sack full of it and I absolutely adore it.  It is a good dense yarn for socks but still soft with a little sheen.


I think Mr. will find these much more comfortable in his boots.

I also acquired a new book on the weekend....yay.  The only thing I like more than a good book, is a good book about knitting.

BOOK: Pure Wool: A Guide to Using Single-Breed Yarns


This is a beautiful book which discusses single breed wool and it's appropriate uses, I love it.  It's useful, helpful and has gorgeous patterns in it, a few of which I think I need to make for myself.

This weekend also saw us Canadians celebrating Thanksgiving.  This is one of my favourite weekends of the year.  It seems to mark the true beginning of my favourite season and is full of the bounty of summer's toil.  The colours and smells this time of year make me turn inward, wanting for warmth and home comforts.  Mr. and I usually lie low on Thanksgiving weekend because it's our Anniversary, but this year we were invited to share the feast with family.  We enjoyed a beautiful chicken dinner with all of the season's trimmings.  It was wonderful.  Thank you to my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin for making it a lovely day.