Sunday, May 31, 2015


We have a cat, those of you who have been here before will already know this. Her name is Yo-yo, named because early on she wanted in, she wanted out, she wanted in, she wanted out, so much so that Bear asked her 'What are you? a yo-yo?". The name stuck, it was better than the name she came with, Chairman Meow. Nothing wrong with that except the previous cat was called Moses, or Moe for short, and Meow was a little close to Moe. Anyway - we have a cat, she came to us a little over 15 years ago, as a stray. She had tried to adopt friends of ours but they were not at a stage to commit to a cat, and they knew our beloved Moe had died - so matched us up. At the time the vet pronounced her a 'few years old' so we took that as about 2 or 3 and began our life together. Recently she has been different, jokingly we have called her 'elderly and confused', she has been more vocal, less interested in food, sleeping more, thinner, and thirstier. Whenever she took up or got some where she paused as if trying to work out what she wanted to do, it is a little funny as we have all been there.We took a trip to the vet - who gently let us know that an 18 year old cat was about the same as a 90 year old person, elderly, and that elderly was frail, and less interested in the world, and maybe a little shaky on her feet, and things wouldn't work as well as when she was young.So we went home a little sad, and a little pleased, there is nothing really wrong, and she has all her own teeth and at her age that is a good thing. We bought her a heated cat pad, and she discovered it within hours. Since then she has either been sleeping in the sun, or on the heated pad. We figure if Yoyo is an elderly and confused cat, at least she can be warm and comfortable.
Meanwhile I spin, I have some lovely Miss Babs fibre - bought some time ago, a blend of Blue Faced Leicester and tussah silk. Its beautiful to spin, the staple length is long, a little longer than the local fibre seems to be. I am spinning it on my Wendy, it makes a little more noise than my newer wheels but I love the action of the mermaid treadle - both feet at once in sync. 

I also love the very fine adjustment possible with the screw title mechanism of the flier frame. I was thinking a three ply - but this is spinning up so fine i might see if i can manage a nice two ply and something lacey like a small shawl or scarf. Besides was so anxious to begin i didn't stop to weight out the fibre into halves or thirds - so i will finish the singles with a single bobbin and sample a two ply and a three chain ply then before deciding.
This last weekend - we meet my dad for Fish'n'Chips' in Hampton, a lovely sea side community with a traditional fish and chip shop. The specialty fish of the south island is Blue Cod - and when fresh and battered and hot is is deliciously creamy and wonderful. The occasion was little cub turning 13 - nearly all grown up. Before we left we browsed the local second hand shop, where they have opened up several new rooms. Amongst the wonders we found a vintage pen - in reasonable condition so bought it for the princely sum of $10. Back at home I cleaned the pen (ultrasonic cleaner and warm water for several cycles) and filled it with ink. A quick Google (actually DuckDuckGo) turns up the information it was made by The Opal Pen company in Japan in the 1950's or so. The nib is probably plated, the body plastic, and the entire pen assembles by screw threads. It works, the nib is fine (as Japanese pens always are), and stiff, and it holds and lets out ink nicely. The cap is worn, but has a lovely clip - I don't mind the worn - it means the pen was used and appreciated. I won't know for a day or so if there are any leaks is hoping not.
The cardigan grows, I've finished the body, and begun the sleeves. I love the shaping of this, with garter side panels (think this is upside down in the image).
The sleeves I am working two at a time, because there is nothing more boring than a second sleeve ... This way takes longer but means when the sleeve is done - both sleeves are done. After that the sleeves are joined to the body and the yoke and collar are knit.
Update soon promise

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Tight not loose,

Winter is coming, not in a GofT way but in an old house in Dunedin way. Over summer my felted slippers died, just wore through in a way that could not be mended. Previously I had extended their life by darning and embroidery - and knitting inner-soles but finally there was nothing left to hold the mending. So a few months ago I made new slippers - but because I only make felted slipper every few years , I forgot that the template resulted in slipper a little to big. So those slippers ended up fitting bear. This last week - we felt the need to put on the heater - during the day, so it was time to make slippers for me.

I started with this, a darky died halfbred wool from Heavenly wools, in the shade Landscape-charcoal. Her fiber is interesting, some of the colourways are over dyed naturally dark wool - making for interesting shades - maybe more interesting than is possible with standard white sheep a fleece.

I dug out the template from Machiko's felting class and drew a smaller shape to cut in bubble wrap as the resist. Then I did a bit of googling and found this tutorial - while I was intrigued by the shape I was to brave enough to try this time, after all I've already had one pair of slippers not work for my feet. Once I have slippers that fit me I am keen to hunt down some fiber and try that shape.



After the initial wrapping of the form, I began to wet felt by rolling the slippers in bubble wrap - but then I gave up and headed out to the garage. I dug out the detail sander and used to to finish the flat felting. I was amazed at how fast the process went using the sander. I placed the flat shapes on a layer of bubble wrap, then another layer over the top (bubble side out) and ran the sander sans sandpaper over the plastic repeatedly until the felt firmed up. Once it was firm I cut the foot opening, removed the bubble wrap resist and fitted the felted slippers over the polystyrene forms I've acquired. I bought these a few months ago from a seller in the west coast of NZ, but they were part of her clearance sale and so I can't direct you there, I suspect they are similar to the ones at Wingham Wool Works, which come in several sizes to match feet.

I continued to wet felt, rubbing, sometimes using the sander with a layer of bubble wrap, and sometimes rubbing with bubble wrap until I thought the slippers were done. Then I was brave - when I bought the foam resists there were kind of cheap - and came with instructions to finish the felting in a washing machine. I worried doing so would batter the foam - and thought I wouldn't risk them, after all they were brand new and I damaged. After a few hours I decided to risk the washing machine - and followed instructions to encase the foam and slipper inside a title tied pantyhose leg. I can't say the washing machine process changed the felt much - I ran the top loader on heavy 'soil' and hot but every time I lifted the lid the foam forms were floating and bobbing about on the top of the waves. I set the slippers on the foam forms aside to dry overnight.

This morning I realized the felt had puffed up and wasn't tight enough to make durable slippers, so I trimmed a nice neat opening and began to reflect the slippers. The previous opening tilted from front of foot to back - and wasn't a clean finish. I re-wetted the slippers, added soap and worked and worked the felt again, I focussed on the trimmed edge, and smoothing the heel close to the foot. I remembered to flip the slippers inside out so both surfaces were equally tightly felted. I rubbed and rubbed the sole, the toe, and the heel - as well as the cut edge - trying to make the felt as tight and firm as I could. I used the ridges on the stainless steel sink drainer as well as the ridged glass on the vintage washboard I have. This took another hour or so, I'd work one slipper then put it down and work the other until it felt the same. In the meantime the first slipper would seem to relax and pull away from the form so I would begin to work it again. I added in shocking the wool, so alternating very hot and very cold water, but as we only have one sink I cheated. I held the leg of the form as I ran it under hot tap water and then cold - several times. I have no idea if it tightened the felt but I thought it couldn't hurt. The forms made working the felt to a foot shape much easier than plastic bags over ones own feet, there is only so long that one can rub slippers whilst wearing them, and working 'feet' at sink height is much nicer than bending to work slippers at floor height. Plus I'd never shock my own feet from boiling to cold water.

Once these are dry - I will blanket stitch the top edge and add a leather sole ... Then I won't care if winter comes because my feet will be warm.

Na Stella







Sunday, May 03, 2015

Camp 2015

Every year a small group of U.S. local knitters head off to knit camp. We rough it at a girl guide camp about an hour out of town, rough it being sleeping bags and no ensuites, the upside is the food is amazing and pretty much all catered by the organizer -veggies from her garden, home made breads, vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free ... This year the pastry was made with ground cashew nuts.

Any way, the project was sewing in zips, so a small group of us knit Tom of Hollands Sanquar pencil case. Before camp I asked Tom if we could use the pattern and he had a group rate for his pattern. Tom was lovely and said given I had asked and that so many wouldn't - he would give persmisson for the group to use the pattern at a really discounted price. There were thirteen at camp - two had it erupted progress - and one didn't make the photo (two of these are mine - the rest camp knitters). Aren't the colour amazing? And the words too. The pencil case has a name plate, two of us went for 'CAMP 2015', several for names, one for a family ancestral home, and one for some thing more contemporary.

We arrived Friday night, hung out with take always, and started knitting Saturday, by Saturday evening most were cast off and blocking by the camp side fire. The dish rack was the perfect holder to provide airflow.

Sunday we lined the cases, starting with a tissue paper pattern made while the cases were still on the blocking forms.

It was fun, lots of fun, There is something about hanging out with knitters for a weekend that makes the world a better place.