Sunday, 25 February 2018

Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

It is a bit of a cloudy, cooler day here, but to me that is a welcome relief from the heat!

So I am blocking my sunny coloured shawl today - and it certainly brightens up the room.

I have named it my 'Sunshine On A Cloudy Day' shawl and I cannot wait to wear it on dreary winter days.

The pattern is a free one, the Spindrift Shawl by Helen Stewart. Well, you can either purchase the pattern or receive it for free if you sign up to Helen's free shawl email workshops series, which I found really helpful anyway.
The shawl is a quick and easy knit, but just enough of interest to keep you going. I really love the border pattern and the way it is quite narrow, makes it a perfect scarf-type shawl.

The yarn I have used is my own dyeing. You can find it on Ravelry here. I am planning to set up a shop selling it, so have added some of my bases to Ravelry as well. It is very exciting! I sold some yarn at our local Makers Market and would love to keep doing it. I cannot knit myself all that I want to try dyeing!

I love the tonal nature of this yellow. I never really dye total solids - they always have a tonal, semi-solid nature to them, which I prefer. 

And I am still knitting away at my Azel pullover, only because I have put it aside for a few days. All I need to finish is picking up and knitting the neck. Such an easy, quick knit. Love it! I cannot wait to try some more of Velvet Acorn's patterns! (If you buy them on Etsy, she has 3,7 or 10 pattern bundle deals! So of course I have 10 patterns now!)

What are you knitting today?
Have a lovely Sunday!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Who Wants To See Some Dyeing?!

I have been having so much fun experimenting with dyeing and colourways.
And now I need your help with some opinions!

I purchased some gorgeous new bases from KnitPicks. I use Bendigo Woollen Mills for basic wool bases, but I wanted to try some others.

I have:

 - a 75% fine superwash Merino, 25% nylon and 5% stellina fingering blend - so pretty with the sparkle!
 - 80% fine Merino, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon fingering weight blend.
 - 85% Merino, 15% cashmere DK blend.
 - 70% Merino, 30% silk fingering blend.
 - 70% baby alpaca, 30% silk lace weight blend.
Then I use Bendigo Woollen Mills fine micron wool in 3,4,8 and 10 ply. They also have a 29 micron wool in 2ply. And an alpaca, wool, viscose blend in 8ply.

This gives me lots to play with! Although it is a bit daunting to commit to a colour for the more special bases - very scary!

I love to see all the skeins like this, hanging on the drying rack! Looks so pretty. I am still winding these so will have to post some finished photos of the full size skeins next week.

I dyed 10 mini skeins to try out some colourways and I would really appreciate your opinions. They are numbered 1 to 10 from left to right, to make it easier to identify!

I'll tell you later which are my favourites, so I don't influence you!
Also please let me know if there are any that you think don't really work and if you think they are saleable. Constructive criticism is how we learn!

I am really hoping to, finally, set up my shop. I have been working on a Facebook page, which is still set to private at the moment, until I can build up some stock to post. I would love to hear what you think would be great to sell, both dyed yarn and made up items. I have been prowling around Ravelry to look for all the designers that are happy for you to sell finished items from their patterns. And I am eternally grateful for the generosity of these designers in allowing sales. As I make items up, I will share them here so you can check out all these wonderful pattern designers too!

Friday, 23 February 2018

Podcasts - My New Discovery

Yes, I am the last person in the universe to discover and embrace the world of podcasts!
But now I love them!

So wonderful to have something interesting and informative to listen to and/or watch while I am crafting or gardening.

There are so many genres to choose from, but I will stick to a few of may favourite categories and spread them over the next few days (I'm sure you can already guess what they will be!)


So of course we will start with knitting, which also includes dyeing and other woolcraft.

Woolful is the podcast I started with - and I am still working my way through the episodes. I love this one as there is a different guest each week, speaking about their fibre journey. So far I have listened to an alpaca farmer, a musk oxen fibre collector, sheep farmers and numerous dyers and designers. It is so very interesting to hear all the stories and so inspirational. Audio only, so you can listen in the car and while doing difficult knitting where you can't look up at the screen.

The Savvy Girls is an audio podcast by two Canadian sisters, now living in New York. They talk about knitting, of course, as well as their travels, music, etc and some interviews.

Knitting Pipeline is called 'the knitting podcast with a Celtic flair'. If you love the bagpipes, this is the one for you. There are videos and audio podcasts. I enjoy this one as there are so many crafts shared - knitting, quilting, needle felting, embroidery. You will get so many pattern ideas from here, you will never keep up!

Yarniacs is another audio podcast that will give you hundreds of pattern ideas. There are lots of pattern links on the website, so you can find them all on Ravelry.

Now for some video podcasts, which are fun for your TV knitting time!

Fruity Knitting is a fun video podcast, always in gorgeous settings, with interviews and some amazing knitting. The first episode featured Andrea's Alice Starmore knits and if you have ever seen some of Starmore's designs, you will know how much work they entail! This is my kind of knitting and I love that her husband knits as well. Andrea is an Australian, living in Germany. I think you will love this podcast - I am still working my way through the episodes!

Inside Number 23 features gorgeous yarns and I love Katie's quirky sense of humour. It would be great if the shot was wider so you could see more of the garments, but still well worth a look.

The Woollen Homestead is the podcast formerly known as Knittin' From The Mitten. Knitting, dyeing and some other things thrown in as well.

The Charm of It - Eva started her podcast as she had no local knitting friends and wanted to find someone to talk knitting with (I know that feeling!) She is so lovely and shares some gorgeous projects.

A Wooden Nest is a new podcast, five episodes so far. Lindsay lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares her knitting, botanical dyeing and other projects. I love it so far!

Rose Hip Knits - I've included this one, even though there have been no new episodes since last August as it is an Aussie podcast and there are not that many local ones (let me know if you know of any other Aussie knitting/dyeing podcasts!) Lots of lovely yarns here and a trip to Bendigo. I really want to go to Bendigo (Spendigo) one year!

The Dyer's Notebook - this podcast is done by the owner of Gynx Yarns. There are knitting projects here but also some fantastic dyeing tutorials as well.

90% Knitting is a podcast by the owner of Fibernymph Dye Works. As the title suggests, it is mostly about her knitting projects, but it also includes regular shop update videos. These are worth watching just to see the gorgeous yarns she dyes.

And so many more! My list to watch is growing every day!

The Gentle Knitter

Sweet Sparrow Knits

Hey Sister

Fairy Little

The Fawn Knits

Wool Needles Hands

The Girls in the Yarn Café

A Homespun House

OK, stop, stop! I could go on forever! We all know how easy it is to fall down the rabbit hole of the internet - knitting podcasts can take you there very easily!

Of course, I have not watched all these episodes. I have been dipping in and out and it would take me SO long to watch them all. But it is like knitting with some friends while watching these and it is always handy to see what other people are making and picking up some tips and ideas that you didn't know.

Do you love knitting podcasts too?! Let me know your favourites and I can add them to my ever-expanding list!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

On My Needles, Reading and Watching

What have I been up to lately?
I'll share a little here, although I seem to be spending a lot of time running around like the proverbial chook! I need to spend some serious time on setting some routines and planning more efficiently.

Watching - last night, I watched a fabulous movie. I just loved it! Maudie is the story of Maud Lewis. a Canadian folk artist who lived almost her entire adult life in a tiny house in Nova Scotia.

Sally Hawkins as Maud

Her paintings are just the type of gorgeous folk whimsy that I love.

And I would love to paint my house as she did; just adding flowers, butterflies and other images to the walls until one day the whole house ended up covered in them! Her house is now on display in the Art Gallery of Novia Scotia.
Look how tiny it is! Most people would call that a cubby house for kids!

And the pathos in the movie! Oh my, Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke were unbelievable as Maud and her husband Everett. Maud and Everett were so restrained and down to earth that the actors had to portray so much emotion in just the tiniest looks and movements. It was simply breathtaking to watch, certainly some of Ethan Hawke's best work. It is not a movie that is a blockbuster and I know my hubby would have been bored to tears waiting for something to 'happen', but it is a gorgeous record of a life lived simply. Let me know if you watch it - I would love to hear what you think!

Reading - as usual, I seem to have three or four books on the go, but the one I am mainly concentrating on at the moment (as it is due back at the library tomorrow!) is Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins. The book was first published in 1980, but I have never read Tom Robbins. I am only up to chapter 9 (lucky I'm a fast reader!), but so far I can see why the Amazon reviews are so varied. There are lots of either five star or one star reviews. Some call it quirky genius, other verbose and pompous. So far, I am leaning towards quirky and clever but we will see!

On my needles - as you can see, yet another dishcloth! You can never have enough of these stashed away, and they make great TV/movie knitting. I love this colourway, called Sunflower. I may have to try dyeing something similar.

Also on my needles is the Azel Pullover by Heidi May at The Velvet Acorn. I love all her designs! I have never been one to knit with bulky or chunky yarn - in fact, this is the first time I have ever knitted with it! But I am loving how quickly it is knitting up. And as I am hoping to make some of these patterns up to sell, that is definitely a benefit.
I didn't have any yarn in my stash so I am knitting two strands of 8ply together. It is a bit of an experiment to see what size I get!

It is Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8 ply - one in Plum, one in Smoke. What do you think of these two colours together? Yes or no?

And I do apologise for not replying to recent comments on my blog. For some reason, I cannot access commenting on my computer. Obviously some setting that I know nothing about, being totally techno illiterate! I am hoping to borrow my daughter's computer so I can get into commenting again!

Hope you are getting lots of crafting, reading and watching done - especially those who are having snowy, cold weather!

Monday, 15 January 2018

Taking The Time To Throw Candy

I have just finished reading a book called Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. And I can tell you, this book had me in tears so many times. Shauna may as well have been writing my thoughts and feelings.

The older I get, the more I feel that I have wasted so much of my life on what Shauna calls 'hustling' - making sure everything is perfect, working hard as a way to prove my worth, never taking a rest as if you are not working you are just being lazy. It was all about the output, the end result. If I had nothing to show for my time, I wasn't proving my worth. It was like I had to justify the space I was taking up on this earth.

The quote I am including here really opened my eyes. I read this and thought, 'oh my gosh, that is me and it sounds just terrible.'

The candy throwing referred to here comes from a trip Shauna went on, where it was a tradition that every time kayakers from a nearby camp passed by your dock, you threw candy to them. Just because.

'I used to throw candy, right in the middle of it all. I used to throw candy no matter what. I used to be warm and whimsical. I used to believe in the power of silliness and memory-making and laughter.
And then I became the kind of person who threw candy as long as nothing else was going on - as long as it didn't get in the way of being responsible. I threw candy at approved and sanctioned candy-throwing time, after all the work was done and things were safe and lunches were made.
And then I got so wrapped up in being responsible that it was never the right time to throw candy.
And then, the worst thing: I became the kind of person who made fun of candy-throwers . . . please - who has time? What is this, kindergarten? I've got a list, people, and a flight to catch.
What a loss - for me, for my family, for our community, for all the joy and laughter and silliness we missed out on because I was busy being busy.'

I read this passage (and many others in the book) and was horrified. It WAS me! I've become so bogged down in the details, so mired in the belief that only I can do things right and if I didn't do everything it wouldn't get done, that I was missing everything. I had become the party-pooper, the boring voice of reason and fun-squashing.

There was another passage where Shauna talks about self-care and says that she used to think people who took time for 'self-care' were babies and self-indulgent. I have had those same thoughts. When friends have talked about having a massage or going to a day spa, I have thought that's all right for some but I could never do something like that - what a waste of time and money. When I think about the self-righteous thoughts I have had along these lines, I am totally ashamed.

SO, to cut a long story short, I am going to use 2018 to re-train my mind and soul, to learn to throw candy again. I need to remember that God will accept me as I am, as He created me - I don't need to prove myself to Him other than to follow His commandments and to live by His word.

Throwing candy - that is my prayer for this year.