Saturday, March 30, 2013

Still here

And even more than that, still knitting. So what happened you ask, why did I wait so long to blog? Well the space between the last blog post and now has been full, almost too full - such that I feel a little like a student who has missed a few classes, catching up is daunting, and so the student continues to miss class rather than face the extra work, just making the situation even worse. The problem is not that I missed class ... But that I added a class and ended up with too much to do. I have been loving the printmaking class on Tuesday nights, but have struggled to produced enough in the way of original images to turn into prints. The class is structured such that the three hours are devoted to using the specialist printmaking supplies, tools and equipment, ones comes ready to etch or print. I haven't been doing that and have felt like I can't keep up.
I have been drawing, and after many pages of poorly planned and ill executed designs I finally realized that for me a design has to evolve, and can't be imagined before it is begun. Once I stopped trying to draw final designs and just drew I had a lot more fun. After announcing in my last class that I was a little over images of the cat, it is the cat where I have found inspiration. Some of these were from life, and some from photos. I think the close up of here face has the most promise as a woodblock print, but I have a lot more development to make that work. I need to discuss with my tutor how one can treat grey areas in a black and white print. My cubs are a great leveler, when I feel so proud for having drawn a cat that looks like a cat, not only that one that looks like my cat - little cub points out that our cat is fluffier than I've drawn. How I ask does one draw white fluff on a white background? The white is where she is fluffy, the black is much less so. I have much to learn, and seems like so little time to do it all in, of course I now that ones dosnt draw white fluff, one draws the background and the white fluff appears - now I have to remember to do just that next time.
The stash enhancement from Unwind, and beyond, sits in the living area reminding me that I need to process it. Some needs matching to future projects, some needs stashing, some spinning ... And it all just looks lovely. The pile teases me in the most lovely way. Most is stash from unwind, two are spinning just completed and wound into skeins.

Some I have processed, the lovely fiber from Maude and Me I thought was a good candidate for using what I learned in Sauerkraut's class. I divided the dyed roving into three piles, lime, blue and a lime blue mix. Each pile made two carded batts - shown here. The next stage is to match this to a shawl pattern so I can plan a series of stripes that will knit up into equal stripes. A bit like the printmaking - that next step requires a little investigation and some planning, so just like the printmaking that is as far as I have got before stalling.
With all that and more going on I thought the best knitting project should be a simple one. Elder cub is now at high school, which in New Zealand means a uniform, for boys standard shorts and long socks. I thought he might need some warm mitts to keep his paws warm on the walk to and from school. Being a boy - I imagined that his requirements would be for the plainest mitts possible, nothing decorated with a tardis, nothing with a superhero or uber-geek reference, nothing to fancy, nothing to colorful, nothing that would attract attention. So he got Beaded Ribbed Mitts in Skeins 8 ply in silver, a goodie bag treat from Unwind. I knit the large size, which took a little over one 50g ball.

I knit the large size, which is generous on me, but perfect for elder cub. The thumb just has its very tip showing when worn, and the fingers can be just out enough to use or tucked away warm inside the mitts. The wrist section is long, generously so, enough to tuck into a coat or pull over a jersey sleeve.
I'm away in Waimate with younger cub, visiting my dad for Easter. i have my pi shawl knitting project to work on ... So who knows there might even be enough to blog in a few days.
Take care, na stella

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Wow, last weekend was the 2013 Unwind fibre retreat, and it was amazing, bigger and better and just the same as 2012. I know that can't make sense, to be better and the same, but there was the same kinds of people, many of them the same people, and the same kind of amazing fibre love and sharing as before - just more of it.
  Little cub was part of all of it, even to manning the swap shop table. Here she is waiting for the first customers. Swap shop was popular, this was the table mid way through the trade in day ..... one the huge pile of stuff had been mostly cleared away by impatient swappers. Josie wanted to arrange the table by colour gradient - and I must admit while it was a wee bit of extra work, it did look good once done.
 Unwind swap shop has its own currency, Swap dollars, which are earned by trading in unwanted stash yarn. I thought I had high standards for my own stash, with it mostly restricted to natural fibres in lovely colours - but some people traded in baby lama and cashmere, and Indie-dyers yarn. I'm told little cub was a stickler for the rules, and insisted that only baby alpaca was worth two swap dollars for 50grams, ordinary alpaca was only worth one.
 I attended the class by Frances Stachl aka Sourkraut called colour control which was all about planned use of those amazing dyed rovings that many spinners collect. We explored various methods and approaches to not spinning them as they present, instead dividing the rovings into colour groups and thinking about the shape of the shawl or whatever was being spun for. Several kinds of manipulation were explored faux-rolags, dizing to blend, and drum carding. Bear was amazing - and delivered a Drum Carder mid class following one of those 'would you be a dear(bear)' phone calls.
Even though I had attended a class that covered creating ones own colour gradient from a dyed roving - and in theory I could make one myself - I had to bring this lovely roving home, 160 grams of fibre love. Bright sunny daffy yellow fading to deep purple - from Spinning a Yarn, what a magic combination.
The best thing about a traders hall is the variety, all sorts of thing jump out and catch ones eye. This is another example of a fibre that just had to come home, dyed by Maude and Me .... just one of several amazing bundles on her trade stall.
Of course when one is at a three day retreat one goes around and around the trade hall and each time something new is noticed. I was a tad slow on this one - The Grey Scale - mini skeins by Spinning a yarn.  All friday people stopped me and asked if I had seen Jessica's Mini-skeins. Oh yes I said, thinking of some small skeins I had noticed on her stall. Then at the colour control class Frances pulled out a tidy package of mini skeins to show how clever some indie dyers were in planning a colour way that would produce even stripes on an ever widening shawl. I finally understood the potential of The Mini Skeins and more than that - I realized there were only a few and they were in one of the nicest ranges of grey I had ever seen. I was lucky in that Jessica had one left and when asked happily put it aside for me - even though I wasn't free to  buy it until the next day. I am so looking forward to using this.
This was my wee score, the swap shop had what I would consider a few real vintage treasures on it. One was 10 oz of soft ballet pink 3 ply yarn, marked in pre-decimal currency so sold before 1967. I told little cub if the pink was there when I looked then it was meant to be ours, another local had a similar idea and I'm happy to say the ballet pink is in a queue to become a ballet cardigan sometime soon in Dunedin. Another treasure was a bag of deep forest blue green vintage yarn from the same era, and a third was this - a 'separates pack' by Munrospun. I wasn't quick enough to get the green - but did score the Munrospun - (with a little help from M of Vintage Purls).
The separates pack consists of a enough beautiful soft tweedy singles yarn to knit a cardigan or sweater, complete with fabric label and buttons. I love how the instructions suggest that the skirt be made using  'Vouge' or other well known pattern house, whilst the yarn be knit into a stylish garment using one of the many Munro knitting leaflets. The fabric and knitting yarn are beautifully matched, and everything is clearly labled 'made in Scotland'. The colour way is Morning Haze.
A previous owner had started to knit something, but only got half way up the back. I do like their choice of cabled rib - and might have to do something like that myself. Half the yarn has been wound into balls - and half is still skeins with those amazing pure wool made in Scotland Munrospun labels. I'm not the only blogger who now has one in stash, and it came in a beautiful bold blue (here),  - spot another here, and read about memories of one here. the yarn even has entries on Ravelry (here), and with 12 projects linked to it (none are coordinating separates - sadly) and 30 instances of it in peoples stashes ... how wonderful! I feel inspired and obligated to do something clever with it or pass it on to someone who will.
The box is every bit as amazing as the yarn, made from a thick textured card, imprinted with a woven linen pattern and printed with all sorts of ruins. I admit some seem more Greek than Scottish but given how the Greek and roman ruins were often shipped to the UK or copies made to decorate gardens I guess the places depicted could be Scottish. I have 10 ozs of yarn and 1 yard of 54 inch fabric - enough for plenty of options. If only I could decide. I am slightly worried this will be just added to the stash and become too-good-too-use, but knowing that I will try and plan something that uses it.
Yoyo was only slightly interested, but much improved and looking more like her perky self. When we arrive home she fair gallops and bounces along almost tripping us up and racing up the stairs to be first. I like that our cat has her bounce back -  that is a good sign.

Post unwind there are all the events of iD Fashion week here, so it seems like it will be next week before things even begin to return to something normal.
Take care

Saturday, March 02, 2013


Hello, sorry for the absence, it has been what I can only describe as bumpy around here. Two weeks ago we had one of those weeks where everyone in the house took turns with a heavy sniffly cough and chesty cold. First wee-cub, then Bear, then elder cub. At one point all three were at home miserable whist I was at work getting ready for the first week of classes. I knew the drill, either I would get the cold or I would not - lots of hand washing and keeping my distance - but deep down I knew the cold was inevitable at some level. Sure enough last Monday I had a cold - while those around me were all much much better.
Little did i know the cold was just the beginnings of the week happenings. I was off work Monday & Tuesday, and back to work Wednesday. Not fully functioning but knowing that the longer I was off the more difficult making up for missing first classes would be for both me, other staff and the students. Bear dropped a bombshell on me Tuesday night, he said there was a company wide compulsory meeting at 10am Wednesday, the General Manager was flying in to head the Dunedin meeting, and the other branches would be online for a live streaming of the meeting. I guess someone dropped the bombshell on him Tuesday. Wednesday afternoon I learned that the company was planning to walk away from several of its interest areas, result was some branches closing, others having staff numbers heavily reduced. Bear has a job - for now, but 21 of the 31 at his work do not. Wednesday night was quite but little cub went on and on about how Yo-yo's face was rounder until we paid some attention. She was right, so Wednesday night we added one emergency trip to the vet, and we now have a cat with several infected injuries on her head, necessitating vet visits every two days for treatment. The poor thing has a reverse mohawk hair cut, so no photos until she looks like her usual fuzzy self. She is a rather gentle cat with people but a proud matriarch about her territory - woe betide any cat (or small dog) who dares to cross her path. Trouble is - at fifteen or sixteen years old I suspect Yoyo is not as able to defend her position as she thinks she is.
At breakfast Thursday elder cub complained of a sore wrist, he had fallen the day before. It was a little swollen so Bear decided he would be the parent and after dropping younger cub and I off at school and work respectively, took elder cub to the urgent doctors clinic. Here in dunedin A&E is reserved for life threatening injuries or events. So far the jury is out on if it is a tiny fracture or a strain. Apparently the injury acts like a break - when pushed a certain way elder cub yelps the right way, but no one can see any damage on the x-ray - so like the cat he is on a two day cycle of trips to the clinic until they are sure it is healing ok and doesn't need plaster.
Amidst all that my cold faded to an occasional cough and I managed to finish my merino possum merino silk cardigan - all done, blocked with buttons (not pictured) and ready to wear. The contiguous shaping was so much fun, and fits well - there will be another quite soon. Sans buttons this weighs 175g and feels like it will be super warm. I've also got 99.9% of the prep done for my unwind classes this weekend.
So now it is Sunday, and Yoyo is due at the vet in an hour, elder cub is packed for school camp - wrist brace, painkillers, a large bag with three days of teen boy snacks and a wetsuit. Something in that sentence doesn't quite make sense but he is keen to go. My head is clearer ... and I'm absolutely positive the next week has to have less in it, how could it have more? The only thing I am thinking of wishing for is a slight turn from the super warm weather we are having so I can wear my new cardigan.
How was your week?
Na Stella