Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pin after Pin after Pin...

In the lack of more fun photos, I thought I could give a little teaser photo of the blocking of Branching Out, demonstrating just what a ridiculous number of pins I used. I had planned to use the string I use as a drive band, but when it came down to it I realised that that string would be far too thick to fit through either a darning needle or the stitches... Of course, only after the pinning did I realise I had some thin crochet cotton. I think I could probably have stretched the lace out more, but I had no wish to move all those pins.

(yes; one of those pins is a needle. I always remember my mum being shocked when she asked for a needle and I said to check the pin box - doesn't everyone else get needles mixed in with their pins?)

We move in 2 days. One day? In two sleeps. (So Thursday morning). I am incredibly worried that the movers have no idea how much stuff we have. Luckily we have this place until next week and we're hiring a car, so will be able to drive back and forth numerous times if they really can't fit everything in (and since we only have a 2-bed flat they really should!). In our new house I shall have a corner of the solar ('sun room' just didn't sound like a me-type-word) as my sewing place. With a dedicated table and everything (for the past 18 months any dressmaking has been done on a coffee table. This is why there has been very little dressmaking).

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Camera Obscura

Sadly no photos, since Mr Bee took the camera away with him this weekend, and has left it at a friend's house. We won't get it back until next Friday - and that's only if he remembers. Frustratingly I took some good photos of my present, but didn't have a chance to take them off the camera. Oh well.

In other news I dyed the remaining undyed fibre I have - less than 2 ounces of grey Jacob top. I used 3 sachets of blue Kool Aid, in the hope of getting a dark blue shade. It hasn't quite worked - it's more a mix of light-grey-dyed-bluey/green and dark grey, but I'll have to see how it spins up.

Oh, and I asked for information the other day on SpinList about Haldane Lewis wheels. No one else appears to have the same wheel as me (although others know others with one), but there are people with other Haldane wheels, and one woman with an earlier version of the Lewis, which has lots of exciting twiddly bits.

I also decided to contact Haldanes themselves to see if they had any bobbins. When I first got my wheel (in Feb 2006) the Haldanes website listed spare bobbins and whorls for the Lewis. I decided to buy 3 more bobbins and all other whorls when I finished my thesis. By the time I'd finished they'd sold out of both (they're discontinued)! Doh! But Haldanes have been very nice, and are selling me 3 'modified Ashford' bobbins, which should be fine, plus another whorl which they managed to find.

Because I'm in the middle of moving I'm having them shipped to my parents' address, so it will be March before I can pick them up...

I've had to move my blog over to 'new blogger'. There don't appear to be any changes except it's added 'GB' under my name. If it wishes to list my location, I'd much prefer 'UK'*, since GB is rarely used nowadays, except on car stickers. I can't actually see where it got 'GB' from either; probably my time zone.

I do want to try the labels/tags thing though. I may wait until I have a other-types-of-hand-movement free day to spend going through my old posts and adding them.

* 'Great Britain' is England, Wales and Scotland (i.e., the name of the actual island on which I live); the 'United Kingdom' is Great Britain plus Northern Ireland (full title is the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'); the 'British Isles' is the geographical term for everything, including the Republic of Ireland.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

A little update & a new plan

I was recently asked if I thought I could ever go back to normal, that is to be able to use the computer and knit and write and type and -- well, be normal. To be honest I don't know, I doubt it. This past week I've had quite a bit of pain, mainly the outer side of my right wrist and forearm. This is the pain that I'm not sure how is caused, and it's a bugger to get rid of. So this week I've been back to my old self -- that is, doing absolutely sod all and hoping that the pain will go away.

I think it may be possible for me to continue knitting, but I probably need to do a lot less than I have been. On Saturday I did the most amount of knitting that I've done so far -- about 600 stitches (20 rows of 30 stitches each) over the course of A Knight's Tale. I haven't knit since then though, but I don't think that necessarily caused the pain. I was working on my Leaf Motif scarf -- since I finished Branching Out last week (photos shortly!) -- as I had planned to finish all my WIPs in order to free up all my Denise needles.

The problem is though, that the Leaf Motif scarf, well, it's just not doing anything for me. If knitting is going to break me again then dammit, it had better be for a good cause.

So I've decided that instead of finishing my WIPs just for the sake of it, I'm going to do something that I want to. Although ironically, I've decided to finish Tempting first. Tempting is, as far as I believe, using around 4 Denise cables, plus end buttons, connectors, and of course a pair of needles. As far as I can remember Tempting only has around 10 rounds left to go. Admittedly each round is 200 stitches, but I'll maybe go back to 20 stitches a day.

Once Tempting is done, I'm going to make a start on using my handspun. I think I may go with some skinny lace scarves.

Right then, I've been dictating this to Dragon for ages and it is beginning to do my head in! I just got a new microphone today, and maybe shouldn't have bought the cheapest on offer. Hopefully it will learn from all these corrections (!).

Anyway. I should have photos for tomorrow of Branching Out and/or a lovely gift I received. I'm off to go and skein up my latest spinnings (and if Dragon doesn't stop putting the fricking caps lock key on I swear I'm going to cry).

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Chapter Three Yarn

My chapter three yarn was, unsurprisingly, the carrot which I used to make me write chapter three of my MPhil. Again, this was Cheviot top which I dyed with Kool Aid, and then couldn't spin until the chapter was finished.

I only used two flavours of Kool Aid this time. I'd used three for the chapter two yarn, and those three yielded a huge range of different colours and shades. Unfortunately, the two colours for chapter three (Changin' Cherry & Roarin' Raspberry Cranberry) only really made Changin' Cherry and Roarin' Raspberry Cranberry colours (light blue and orangey-pink). So this yarn is either all blue, all pinky, or one ply of each. There are variations in shade, but it doesn't have the sheer depth that chapter two does.

However, the good thing about me liking, but not adoring, this yarn is that I'm much more likely to want to knit something out of it! And at 200yards it's more likely to be a usable garment. I'm envisaging some kind of open rib scarf. I want to do something more interesting than a plain knit, but I think cables or lace would be too busy, what with the colour variations and the occasional thick'n'thin bits.

Breed: Cheviot
Fibre prep.: Commercial Top
Colour/Dye: Natural white fibre dyed in the mircowave with Kool Aid (Changin' Cherry & Roarin' Raspberry Cranberry)
Weight: 100g
Yardage: 200 yards
WPI: c. 14
Method: Wheel spun on Haldane Lewis
Spun: Can't remember!
Plyed: 2-ply, using 'Lazy Kate' #2

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Chapter Two Yarn

My chapter two yarn was the carrot I used to make me write chapter two of my MPhil, back in late summer (yes, this photos are a long time coming). This was my first attempt at using Kool Aid to dye with; I dyed the top at the beginning of the chapter, but wasn't allowed to spin it until the chapter was finished:

I absolutely adore this yarn. The skein looks a little tatty because I ended up just sitting and petting this yarn for nights on end (yes, I need a cat). I've always thought people who stroked yarn were a bit doolally, but I understood it with this yarn. It was comforting to just sit and hold this beautiful item that I'd created.

I love the way there are so many different colours, and each inch of plyed yarn is a new wonder. I have no idea what I'll knit with it since it's less than 140yards long. It's so beautiful in the skein, I don't know if I want to spoil it!

Breed: Cheviot
Fibre prep.: Commercial Top
Colour/Dye: Natural white fibre dyed in the mircowave with Kool Aid (Grape; Tropical Punch; Swirlin' Strawberry Starfruit)
Weight: 2 oz/ c. 60g
Yardage: 139 yards
WPI: c. 15
Method: Wheel spun on Haldane Lewis
Spun: Can't remember!
Plyed: 2-ply, using 'Lazy Kate' #2

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Skeining around

I've just spent a merry afternoon skeining and measuring and photographing my handspun (PhD? What PhD?). I just love the feeling of yarn that I've dyed and spun myself flowing through my fingers. Mmmm... Makes me want to knit with it right away, but I am attempting patience.

One spinning tool I do not have is a niddy-noddy. I'm quite sure that it will be incredibly easy to make one out of an old dining chair, but since I have no old dining chairs, nor any recourse to getting an old dining chair right now, I have not done so. Luckily, the high street near the house we're moving to is full of antique shops and junk shops and house clearance shops, so I am truly hopeful that I shall soon be able to avail myself of an old dining chair.

In the meantime I'm making do with whatever objects I can find that will allow me to make a fairly large skein (which I think looks nicer than a short wrist-elbow one). Today I hit upon using my upturned desk chair which, until I get hold of an old dining chair, worked fairly well as an impromptu niddy-noddy:


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Is this thing on?

I am writing -- well actually, speaking! -- this post with the aid of my new voice recognition software! I am attempting to do the whole thing only correcting it vocally, so please ignore all the wacky extra spaces and stuff.

This is relatively old software, Dragon 6 (they are up to 9 or 10 now), but it still works with me using the in-built microphone on the keyboard. It is not that great for my posture, and it doesn't like working when the fan is on - and the fact I'm hunched over and speaking a tad too loudly is not good for the vocal cords - so I will have to get a proper mike ASAP. However, it is pretty impressive. (Thanks again Hope :) )

Actually what would be more interesting would be if I left it without the corrections (it thought 'impressive' above was actually 'Guinness'). I remember being at University in a computer science lecture, with a lecturer talking about voice recognition; she forgot to turn it off after the demo and so it wrote a lovely story during the rest of the lecture.

But hopefully - the threat of voice nodules not withstanding - using it will mean that I shouldn't have to pick and choose so much between computer use and fibre arts. I don't intend to use it all the time (certainly not without a proper microphone), but it will be great for taking notes (so that I can just talk, and then correct it afterwards from the text I'm reading. If I try to just talk while dictating I have to keep stopping all the time to correct it, otherwise I have no idea what I was trying to say).

And in knitting news... Ta-da! I've finished Branching Out. It is incredibly short, so I think the combination of short, varigated yarn, and lace, might be a bit too much, but I got the yarn in a sale in Germany 2 years ago, and so I'm unlikely to be able to procure any more!

Photos will follow shortly...

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Whaddid I miss?

Poor November. Poor December. Poor January. I can't believe I let them go by unposted. I'll have to fake something so they don't feel left out. I didn't realise that I hadn't posted in such a long time.

So, news.

I finally finished my MPhil, and handed it in in December. That end-of-September-2006 deadline? Turns out that it was actually end-of-September-2007. I kid you not. The MA students had a September 2006 deadline, but the MPhil students are supposed to spend a year researching, and then have up to a year to write up the thesis. I only discovered this when I asked for an extension and discovered that technically my course hadn't ended.

However, since I'd been under the impression I had to be finished my September, I'd applied to start my PhD from October... So I had to finish my MPhil relatively quickly to fulfill the conditions of the PhD.

As I was finishing my MPhil I realised that the 'only' pain I was getting was a constant burning in my right wrist. The reason why it took me about a month to realise that my elbows and forearms were feeling better was because this burning pain has no cause that I can divine, and no cure. Ice doesn't help it; anti-inflammatories don't help it. All I could do was go to bed and hope it had gone in the morning.

After I handed in my thesis we went away for a week, so I did no intense hand-movements at all. When I came back I was relatively pain free! Then I only had a couple of days at home before we went to see our parents for Christmas - so again, no hand movements. By the time we came back I'd been pretty much pain free for most of December, BUT I hadn't been doing anything.

So I was pretty much too scared to start doing things again, because being pain free, finally, after over a year, was too nice a state to be in. So now I'm just taking things slowly, trying not to overdo things. I've been attending an exercise class in the physiotherapy department of the general hospital, working on strengthening my body (I've become very weak this past year), and I've also restarted yoga. But - as the weekly physio lectures stress - I also have to pace myself, and not overdo things. Now I've been relatively painfree for two months I probably underdo things too much, since I'm so wary of setting off the pain again.

I have been knitting and spinning, and - tada! - I've finished one of my WIPs. I've finished the Lace-Up Opera Gloves, but need to get ribbons for them. It took about 2 months to finish them (I'd already knit one last year) - I did a maximum of about 4 rows a day, and I didn't knit daily. I keep a note of what I do each day, partly so I don't overdo it, and partly so that I'm always sure where I'm up to - when you can only knit about 100 stitches a day, you don't want to waste hand movements unknitting!

I'm currently working on Branching Out. This is the piece that gave me tennis elbow back in the summer, so I'm taking it really carefully. And I only knit if I've been painfree that day, and I try not to knit too much on days that I type a lot. I'm doing around a maximum of 10 rows a day (ie., a full pattern repeat), but these are spaced out throughout the day. I'm a little concerned I may run out of yarn, but since it's a scarf that shouldn't be too dreadful - it's already neck warmer length.

Spinning wise, I dyed my final 100g of white Cheviot top with Kool Aid - I went with some of my blue and some of my yellow, mixing them in the middle to get green. One of the reasons why I prefer my Chapter Two yarn over my Chapter Three yarn is that it has more colours and shades mixing together. The Chapter Three yarn is basically blue and pink, whereas Chapter Two has pink, purple, blue, white, red... Each inch is a new delight of colour combination, and so this is why I used three colours this time. I spun the singles last weekend, and will probably ply them this weekend. It may be garish, and heavens know what I'll do with it, but it's all fun.

I also spun back in December, when we got back from our trip. I spun and plied all in one evening - I'd stop every now and then and think 'No pain! Keep going!' That's my secret spinning, from my secret dyeing, and so won't be revealed just yet.

In non-fibrey-new, our landlord has said that he is going to sell the flat, so now we're in the process of moving and will be out by the end of the month. We'll be moving to the city that I go to university in (right now I have a 45 minute train ride), and we've found a lovely house. Unfortunately, it's also for sale so I have a horrid feeling we're going to have to move again in 6 months. But 6 months in that house should be nice, I hope. Now I'm just spending most of the time sorting and packing and clearing, and trying not to overdo things!

And finally, today my postman delivered some voice recognition software, courtesy of Tauret (Hope - thank you so much :) I'm so sorry I haven't sent my half of the swap out yet). I haven't tried it out yet (this post has used up most of my typing time for the day!), but I'm hopeful that it will allow me to do a great deal more in future. We'll see :)

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