Thursday, December 25, 2008

Day after

Christmas here, a fine warm sunny day, unlike yesterday which did include rain. Christmas was good, quiet but good, we are off to visit my dad tomorrow, and will catch up with my brother at the same time .. so this year it was just us here for Christmas. Calm and peaceful - well as peaceful as a day with cubs and new toys can be. The cubs had a good day, new toys, and books and the only rules we made was there would be no tv on Christmas day and if it causes arguments - we will remove it for a while. I did a few responsible adult things to get ready for Christmas, we all had a clean out and sorted out some good quality toys and the like to donate to the local opp-shop. I'd like to think at least 2 kids who otherwise wouldn't have got bikes that used to be the cubs. Toby and Poppy also spontaneously selected other toys to gift - and I was doubly pleased, pleased that they each were left with less in their bedrooms to get messy and pleased they were pretty generous. I was booked in to donate at the blood bank Christmas eve morning - which also felt like a good deed.

I might need to point out in New Zealand blood is donated, not paid for, so instead of the down and out and dubious selling blood, the middle class and middle aged make up the bulk of the donor population. True, I'm the other side of 40 and I feel positively young when I go. It makes me sad that there is a higher need for blood at this time of the year, between increased driving accidents and domestics and such - but it is such an easy way to help out - and its a good check on my iron levels.
On the knitting front, I'm still knitting on the huge blanket, so far 18 of the 24 'squares' are done. I'm on the second half of the second of the largest pieces - so well over half way. I did check at the half way point how my yarn supply was - and it seems that I should have just enough to finish it. I weighed the half way point wheel of yarn, the 6th wheel, after completing half the blanket, the remains were 118g, and the wheels weigh 227g, so by my reckoning I had over half a wheel left. I have 11 wheels, and used just under 5.5 on half the blanket - I should have enough. after all by my calculations I should have 9g spare. I'm being super careful - not leaving long tails when I finish one wheel and start another.

The two sections I have completed fold up to a tidy pile 7.5 inches high - and that is only half the blanket.

This is the most realistic progress shot I have, I delight in colouring in each square as I complete it, juvenile I know but fun, and motivating.

I have just begun to knit from the 3rd to last cheese or wheel of yarn, with these two left. At the moment I have managed to knit a wheel a day, which amazes me. I had expected the novelty to wear off, to have some sort of startitis fever to set in with a desparate need to start something new, but not so far.
On another note I'm also aware that this is probably not a very politically correct yarn. I suspect its a hold over from the 1980's and is the last of old stock. The notion of Cowichan yarn made in New Zealand for knitting Cowichan sweaters when the design of such and the manufacture of yarn to knit them are most certainly IP of the Cowichan peoples is quite at odds with current thinking. I can't imaging any one knitting or wearing sweaters from yarn this thick - honestly at 2.5 stitches per inch and near a centimeter thick - but I guess when living in old style housing in cold climates anyone would be pleased by the warmth of a garment that thick.

The other thing that is keeping me busy is washing raw fiber in preparation for spinning. This is something new, that I've not done before. Earlier this year I visited Southern Alpacas, where Bear and the Cubs were whisked off for an impromptu tour of the alpaca and their babies, whilst I was toured around the fleece and fleece products on display. I had heard rumors of this happening, and its a great marketing ploy, it worked as I left with amongst other things 300g of raw cria, which is so soft it feels like air. But being raw alpaca is full of vm and dust and debris.

I was waiting for the warm weather to wash it (one reason I'm knitting the blanket now is the warm weather will make drying a mammoth thing like that much easier, I'm thinking I will peg it outside to dry). I used the instructions in knitty.spin
by Beth Smith, and so wrapped the dusty fiber in long netting parcels secured with safety pins. I could not quite identify the 'locks', I'm not even sure Alpaca has locks like sheep do, but I piled it in in small bundles as if it was locks. Then I filled the sink with hot soapy water, and soaked it, lifted it out, squeezed it gently and dunked it in rinsing water. Pretty much I followed Beths very clear and simple instructions.

... and have it pegged to a drying frame outside. I like this method - fairly easy, fairly quick, and painless. The fiber is now white, not optical but soft white - which shows up all the vm in it. I was hoping to send it away for carding and blending with some perindale for bounce and angora for fluff. I am realising that like most things its a case of good preparation is every thing - so now I plan to spend some time over the next month removing the vm, and flick combing and drum carding this before sending it off to blend with the perindale and the angora. I think I have to send it away as the angora is to fine to successfully blend with my drum carder. My friend M reported her efforts with Angora - and I'm happy to send it away - but it needs to be clean first. Rubbish in is rubbish out.
And Christmas, well there was the usual perfume, and luxury eats (dark dark darker chocolate) and the offer of a shopping spree at a store online or actual of my choice. Amazon has been visited and Beth Brown Reinsel's Knitting Ganseys is on its way here, as is a back issue of Peicework, Jan Feb 2008, a knitting special issue one that was just before my subscription started. This one is out of print but Knit Diva has some copies in stock, and rushed around Christmas eve packaging and shipping it to me and emailing me progress reports. Bear got domestic things, a potatoe ricer, a salad spinner (yes really, and I did fear he would go and buy one himself before the day, as he kept talking about them), and a domain name - strangely his surname was still available!

so - I'm off out of town to the Waimate Rodeo for a few days, and I'm not sure if I can take the large knit with me or a smaller project like my current socks in progress(Honey) or needles and swatch for the next sweater, yes I do have a plan for the next sweater ... you will just have to wait and see what that is.
take care
na Stella


Angelika said...

I'm currently working a cardigan with 4.5mm needles and fogot how fast knitting can be on this scale. Nice. I'm sure the blanket is going to be super warm, which you might need in you summer. Can't wait to see what the alpaca will turn into. You are so multi talented.

Knitting Linguist said...

That alpaca looks gorgeous! I can't wait to hear how the cleaning and carding go -- I bet it's going to spin up a dream. And now you've got me wondering about the sweater. Good luck with the blanket -- it looks like you're almost there!