Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Fidelity, sloth and avarice

First of all, thanks to everyone for your useful advice on the magic loop. I have been doing what you suggest and there has been a definite improvement. I found Kathryn's advice on not over tightening the first stitch particularly useful.

Moving on to the business of the day it's been a bit of a funny week. The good news is that I have been extraordinarily project monogamous. I have done nothing but knit away on my sock outside the house, my Honeycomb vest in the evenings, with bursts of pink spinning just to break things up. I would like to say that this is a virtuous development but that wouldn't be entirely the case.

I have loads of things that I would like to do. Plenty of design ideas running around in my head for designs and projects but to be quite honest my working life has been so challenging and stressful recently that all I have been capable of when I get home is to throw myself on the sofa and grab the nearest piece of unchallenging knitting in a pattern that I have memorised.

But look, all this knitting means that I have now finished the back and have started on the front. It's just possible that I could have a wearable garment in a couple of weeks! Crikey... I am enjoying working with this yarn, the fabric moves beautifully and has a lovely balance between rustic and luxurious.

I love the colour and also noticed that it makes a perfect backdrop for this month's Yarn Yard Fibre Club, some inviting Shetland in colours inspired by a blackberry crumble.

This week saw the annual Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. I remember a few years ago that this used to be the highlight of the London Knitter's calendar. I know that I used to spend as much of the four days as possible hanging around, chatting with friends and browsing the stalls. I also remember being frustrated by the crowds and big box commercialism.

Maybe its because we have so many wonderful events like Woolfest and IKnit whose orientation is much more towards the modern, independent supplier and knitter that I haven't been able to generate the enthusiasm for Ally Pally this year.

I am quite fortunate in that I work very close to Alexandra Palace so was able to take a couple of hours off and pay a quick visit on Thursday afternoon. This was quite enough for me. It was quite quiet towards the end of the day which meant I has the chance to chat with stall holders and have a good look at what was on offer.

I know that you might find this hard to believe but I didn't buy any yarn. No, not a shred. I did, however, come home with a little bit of fibre...

There aren't a lot of stalls who have cottoned on to the resurgence of spinning but there was some lovely stuff to be had if you looked hard enough.

This beautiful, natural caramel and cream New Zealand corriedale roving from Black Hills Wool was so soft and inviting I bought a whole kilo. A kilo of combed fibre is a formidable force which needs to be wrestled into two large carrier bags. I must have been a real pain in the backside when I fought my way onto the rush hour tube.

Here is 100g of silk roving from Oliver Twist Fibres whose colours were so inviting I just had to bring it home with me. As a spinner, I am, however, a little scared of it. It plopped out of the bag with the texture of a piece of raw liver, quivered a bit and told me that silk spinning was not for the faint hearted. We shall see.


I had to go and visit Alice at the Socktopus stand as she had promised exciting fibre from suppliers we only ever hear squealed over on Lime and Violet such as Pigeonroof Studios so I had to investigate.

As you can see it is very pretty.

However, Alice is very clever and isn't entirely seduced by hype. She knows quality when she sees it and is keen to support less well known local suppliers. Look at this glorious roving from Spindlefrog.
In terms of quality and price I think it more than gives the Pigeonroof Studios product a run for its money. The colours are gorgeous and the rovings are not just the usual merino and blue faced Leicester offerings with Falkland, BFL and silk amongst the opportunities for new spinners to try. I may have slipped one or two more into my bag but I'll show you them another time.

Finally, here is my pink spinning progress. 50g spun reasonably evenly and finely. I'm now keen to finish the other bobbin so that I can see what it is going to look like plied. I think it might just be pretty.
Have you?

9 comments:

celadon2 said...

Oh that blackberry crumble is next on my spin list:)

Janey said...

I agree with you about Ally Pally, I was really keen for a while but I haven't been for 2 years now and I find that smaller shows dedicated to more independent suppiers are much more interesting for me.

Mandella said...

I too haven't been to Ally Pally for 2 years, and it used to be my autumn treat. I think you can get more of the "rarer" yarns online now and I don't miss the crowds. That and FoQ sucks up all my available cash!

I love your Honeycomb. I've swatched it but found it unbearably fiddly. How are you doing the cables? Also I got a dark olive green yarn and it's sadly not really my colour.

LittleBerry said...

You've got a lovely fibre stash enhancement going there.... the rovings are beautiful and I would have to say the spindlefrog wins hands down over the pigeon roof one...

as for Oliver Twists I have been dealing with Jean for years on the embroidery front and her colours are always amazing... and I get to see them everyday in the shop :o)... I have quite a bit of Jean's silk I've stashed over the years for embroidery but now its earmarked for when my spinning is better...

Your spinning is looking great and no doubt plied it's going to be a pretty yarn....

Kath said...

Love the colours of your fibres - can't quite decide which I like best but maybe it's the calm snuggly caramel that whispers suggestively!
The Honeycomb is looking lovely - great colour too. Don't think I've quite got the patience for such fine work lately!

Anni said...

I think I walked past you at Ally Pally and didn't realise it was you. I walked past and thought I recognise that woman but couldn't remember who it was and I'm pretty sure now it was you. don't rmember which stall it was I spotted you. I didn't buy any fiber at Ally Pally. I must have missed the fibre at Socktopus because hte only thing I bought there was Camelspin. I loved the day but then I havne't been to Woolfest or Iknit yet. Thought it was quieter than last year though.

Anni said...

Forgot to say, gorgeous knitting.

Kathy said...

That Spindlefrog roving is just so beautiful! It makes me want some new roving to pet.

sarah said...

I found you via Diane's blog while procrastinating (what else are Fridays for?). I agree about the Spindlefrog top - some arrived in the post this morning, and it's lovely. Great minds think alike? I also happen to have a slab of Oliver Twist silk similar to yours that I bought at AP last year. It needs a lot of drafting - I think there's still some sericin in it - but I like most of what I'm getting from it. Photos in my handspun on Ravelry (sarahw). I pull strips off the side of the slab (thin ones to start with), then work with my fingers to start separating the fibres in the more solid bundles. Then I pre-draft the strip, 'snapping' the silk quite hard with my hands about 5" apart. Too hard and the strip will separate, not hard enough and nothing happens. Normally I'd just pull on the strip gently, but that just gets chunks of this sliding: the shock of the 'snap' seems to separate the fibres nicely. Good luck!