Sunday, 23 May 2010

Blog is moving - please change your links

Well it's time for an announcement - my blog is moving.

I've set up a little business called Kooky Kat Kreations - after our crazy kitty. As mentioned in a previous post I'm going to be selling handspun, handknits, patterns... anything that springs to mind.

To this end, I'm in the process of creating a whole new online identity, that I want this blog to be a part of, and so it's moving with me.

I'm still going to be Azzy, or AzzyWazzy, depending on where you know me from - my main email address won't change, and my Twitter and Flickr and Ravelry accounts will stay as they are - because they are about ME. But for patterns, selling, and blogging about crafting, we're going to move over to Kooky Kat Kreations.

So for anyone who subscribes or follows me, please adjust your links to point to http://kookykatkreations.wordpress.com/ as I will no longer be updating here. At some point soon I will purchase a domain and the address will be: http://www.kookykatkreations.com/blog - so you might want to bookmark that address too, to ensure you catch it when I update.

See you on the other side!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

First handspun singles

Been doing some more spinning this week! Managed to complete another project in the space of two days - this time it was 4oz of Spunky Eclectic Club Fibre. It's the December shipment, which was Wensleydale in the colour way Cold Front:

Spunky Eclectic - Cold Front

Most people seemed to have more blues in theirs, particularly dark blue. Mine is a much lighter selections of greens and sea-blues.

There's been a lot of people spinning this up as singles - due to Wensleydale being a longer staple fibre, you don't need much twist to hold it together. It's also a heavier fibre, which means that you wouldn't get massive amounts of yardage if you plied it. So singles make sense.

I split my fibre into 3 bits, lengthwise, to try and give as many colour variations as possible. I was aiming for somewhere between laceweight and fingering weight, and wanted to try and fit it all on a single bobbin. Here's it while I was spinning:

Spunky Eclectic - Cold Front - FO

My concern with singles, is that when I took them off the bobbin, that they'd be a curly mess - all twisty and crazy. After I'd skeined it ready for it's bath, it did twist a bit, but the main thing that amazed me was the crimp:

Spunky Eclectic - Cold Front - FO

So it's more curly, rather than twisty - you can almost imagine the sheep, with loads of massive curly locks. The hope was that "finishing" the yarn would fix this. To finish it, I ran a sink of very hot water and a bowl of very cold. I then proceeded to dunk and swoosh the yarn around, alternately in each bowl, squeezing the water out before changing bowls and finishing with a hot bowl.

Put it in a towel and squeeze the water out, smack the wrapped yarn-towel against the bath, take it out, and then put my hands inside and snap the yarn tight, to even out the twist.

The result was a yarn that hung perfectly open in a loop - with a gorgeous fuzzy halo. Behold the finished skein:

Spunky Eclectic - Cold Front - FO

Spunky Eclectic - Cold Front - FO

Pretty happy with this - they've got enough twist to hold together, and the yardage is reasonable. I've got approximately 440 yards of fingering-lace weight singles, which would be enough for a scarf or shawlette.

Full specs:

Singles: approx 16-20wpi
Spun: sort-of long draw
Plied yarn: not plied - kept as singles
Finishing: light fulling - hot/cold/hot/cold water shocking, whacking & snapping
Finished yarn: approx 16-20wpi, 440 yards, 116 grams

Spun on: Kromski Mazurka
Started: 17th May 2010
Finished: 18th May 2010

This is a skein that I think will go up for sale, rather than be kept - the colours aren't very me and it's a bit itchy for me personally. That makes 3 finished skeins ready to go up for sale - I'd better get a move on with the store!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

To change my blog, or not to change my blog?

I've come to a point where I need to make a decision. I've decided to start up a little venture where I'm going to sell handmade items - be it handspun, hand knits, dyed items... patterns... no idea.

To this end, I've set up a new email address on Gmail and created some cards I can hand out and attach to items I'm selling. I may also buy the domain name and set up an Etsy store... all things to think about! What I can't decide is what to do about my blog. I quite like this blog. I've had it for a few years now, and even though it isn't all about crochet anymore (hasn't been for a while really), it's quite representative of who I am.

I need to figure out whether I want to leave this blog here as it is, or port it over to the new name. Never mind the whole hassle of hosting...

Advice? Tips?

Monday, 17 May 2010

Preparing for Winter

It might seem a little counter-intuitive for me to be having a blog post with this title in the middle of May, but due to how cold this house is, I've been getting a move on with some projects that will help once the weather begins to turn.

I've recently started on Ysolda's Hap Blanket. I've just finished the centre square and have started on the edging. I'm making it using some yarn I bought from Baa Ram Ewe - I have the biggest 400g ball of yarn I've ever seen in the grey.

Hap Blanket - WIP

It won't be the warmest blanket as the yarn is mostly acrylic, but it'll be a nice extra layer when the weather turns.

Last weekend I finished another Ysolda project - the Icing Swirl Hat. Was making this from a random 100g of bulky yarn I had laying around. I bought it on a whim about 2 years ago and have been desperate to use it up for ages. It's in a colour that doesn't suit me, and it contains alpaca, which makes me itch, so it's a funny one.

I got about 2/3 way through making the large size of the hat and felt pretty sure I was going to run out of yarn, so I frogged back. It's a good thing I did, as I bound off with about a foot of yarn to spare - and that was despite missing out the final knit row.

Icing Swirl Hat - FO

Icing Swirl Hat - FO

The colour of the hat in real life is actually much darker than this, but it gives you an idea of what it looks like. Not sure what I'll do with it long term - probably gift it to someone.

Frustratingly, all this winter knitting and spinning and using of thicker yarns means I've made zero progress on the socks for Trev I started a month ago.

Stripy Gusset Socks - WIP

I'm a few rows short of starting the gusset on the first foot, but I'll pick them back up soon. I have another Knit Love Club parcel arriving at the end of the month and I haven't knitted up the last one yet, so I need to get my skates on so as not to fall behind.

There's amazingly another FO! I've finally got around to knitting myself a pair of Fetchings. I've knitted so many fingerless gloves and I've only ended up keeping one so far (Vintage Endpaper Mitts). So I had some leftover yarn from knitting the Ribbed Baby Jacket and thought the 1.5 skeins would be perfect to use on these.

Normally the project only uses 1 skein, but they make for quite short narrow gloves. Since I wanted to add in a proper thumb gusset and make the gloves longer at both the top and the bottom, the extra half a skein would be ideal. I also hoped it would give me the opportunity to practice cabling without a cable needle.

Squishingtons - FO

I'm not going to go into all the mods I made here - you can find them all listed on my Ravelry page.

I'm pretty happy with these - other than the few niggles I've mentioned on Rav, churning out a snuggly squishy pair of gloves in a day and a half makes me very happy!

Squishingtons - FO

Shame all knitting can't be this quick :)

Getting to grips with my wheel

Had lots of fun on Saturday playing with my new wheel. Here's some wheel p0rn:

Kromski Mazurka

Kromski Mazurka

Kromski Mazurka

I've mastered the art of rewinding bobbins and love how they look once they're done. I did this with a load of stuff this weekend - old projects and those in progress. Take a look at a bobbin before and after rewinding:

Limegreenjelly - Lhuna - WIP

Limegreenjelly - Lhuna - WIP

Love how perfect it looks!

Yarn Yard - Red Squirrel - WIP

Yarn Yard - Red Squirrel - WIP

Plying the above two bobbins is next on my list. No idea how much laceweight this is going to be. Fingers crossed I'll get a decent yardage.

The below is one third of some Spunky Eclectic fibre I started to spin up back late last year. It's going to become a 3-ply of some description - maybe about DK weight?

Istanbul Sunset - WIP

But I actually managed to start and finish a whole new project this weekend! I spun up a bump of this fibre last year and it came out terribly. Very overspun. So now I acquired another bump of it, I wanted to give it another go. I wanted to spin something bulkier with not as much twist, so give me something squooshy. It went from this:

The Yarn Yard - Fibre Club February 2009

to this:

The Yarn Yard - Rhododendron - WIP

to this:

The Yarn Yard - Rhododendron - FO

Here's the full break-down of the yarn and the specs (also available on my Rav page):

The Yarn Yard Fibre Club February shipment.

Inspired by the rhododendron outside Natalie’s window and the fibre is Texel. It’s staple length is similar to BFL, but is slightly coarser - but should still make good socks, mittens, hats etc.

I got given a second bump of this fibre, so now attempting to spin it up on my wheel as something chunkier and squooshier.

Singles: approx 20-24wpi
Spun: semi-worsted (I think)
Plied yarn: 2 ply, using tensioned lazy kate
Finishing: hot water, whacking & snapping
Finished yarn: 8-9wpi, 118 yards, 97 grams

Spun on: Kromski Mazurka
Started: 15th May 2010
Finished: 16th May 2010

Disappointed with the yardage here - maybe Texel is denser than other fibres? It’s not as soft as I’d hoped it’d be and I may have put in more twist than it needed to hold together.

A tough one.

Better pics to come when I get the chance and the right light.

Despite not being entirely happy with it, it is better than anything I spun on a spindle, so there's room for improvement. Maybe I need to go from not pre-drafting at all to doing some? Let's see how I go with the laceweight and what kind of yardage I get from it.


Really enjoying having my wheel though! Love that it also has pride of place in my living room :)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Some House TLC

I promised an update on housey bits so here it is!

It's been a busy few days and a productive weekend. Taken all the pics I wanted to and now sitting down to the Formula 1 and some well deserved knitting. Just finished an FO, and about to cast on something else, but I'll save those bits for another post.

So, you know that bathroom floor I mentioned in my last post? We started to clean it yesterday and probably did about a quarter of the floor. I took a great pic that shows you before and after:

Floor in progress

Yummy, eh? Of course I now don't want to tread on the rest of the floor, but we'll get it clean over the next few days.

We've also been cleaning up one of the lovely little bits we like about the house. We've got this huge great big cupboard in the kitchen that goes from the floor to the ceiling:

CIMG5794

You'll notice the nice ornate fingerplates on the doors. Check out this close-up:

CIMG5795

So, lovely, but covered with over 100 years of grime! We reckoned that these would be brass underneath, but you can see as we start going at it with the Brasso, that they're actually copper. Here they are now:

Cleaning Fingerplates - 3

So we've managed to get to the copper on the left-hand one, but there's so much patina and grime build-up that it might take a while to totally uncover them. In any case, we think we might put them back up as they are now, as they look MUCH better and we kinda like the worn look that they have now.

I also mentioned that we bought a few bits and pieces for the house. First thing we bought was a massive candle for the living room. It contains 4 layers of smells, so it changes as it burns.

Funky candle

Nom.

We also bought one of those old-fashioned metal signs - this one for the bathroom. It is reproduction, rather than antique, but the style is exactly what we are after:

Vintage-Style Washroom sign

At the moment it is in the bathroom rather than on the bathroom door - not sure if we'll move it or not. Tempted to get one that says "Laundry" for our little utility room, or a couple of larger ones for the kitchen. What I really want for the kitchen are some of those old adverts for Kit-Kat or Cadburys from the Victorian era, and get them framed as posters in the kitchen. I think they'd look amazing.

The final thing we bought was for the kitchen. It's got a nice country-kitchen feel to it, which is exactly what we wanted.

To-Do Chalkboard

It's more of a cream colour than in the picture, and we now have it up on the wall - it looks amazing. We haven't bought any chalk for it yet, so it will be a while before I can write Trev to-do lists on it, but it's a start :)

The main things now to think about are curtains - particularly for the front door which is VERY draughty. Carpet for the wood in the hallway is also a must - as there's no radiator there and it will get very cold. But for the main rooms we're also going to think about secondary glazing. There are places which sell acrylic panels which act as second panes of glass that provide insulation, both from cold and noise and we think these are going to be essential in the run-up to winter. The house is cold, even at the moment in May (although in fairness it hasn't been that warm), so unless I want to spend a fortune on heating, it's going to be a necessity.

As it more knitting and stashing. After all, I can use fibre as insulation, right?

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

How time flies...

I can't believe how fast the last couple of weeks have gone. I'm writing this post from our new living room - we moved house on Saturday and are now the proud renters of a lovely Victorian terrace house in Leeds. Next to a bakery no less, which is run by our landlords who are the most amazing lovely people.

We're still in the process of trying to get straight and sorted - we had my parents come up to stay from Saturday until yesterday, which was great in terms of getting everything moved, but not so good for getting unpacked and sorted.

I still can't believe that it's exactly a month since we moved to Leeds (or it was on Sunday) and we've already moved house again - but at least this is a much more permanent move and we should be here for a long time. The previous tenants were a bit disgusting and messy (to put it politely) and we've got our work cut out to get everywhere totally clean. Case in point, we were just cleaning the bathroom floor which looked semi clean, after the cat had messed on it, only to see the sheet after sheet of dirt which was coming up as we wiped. Trev knows what he's doing tomorrow!

Because it's a lovely period property, there's lot of little features and things that just make a place like this. We've got a beautiful fireplace in the lounge, high ceilings everywhere and gorgeous wooden floors. But we also have single glazing, which means it's very cold - so the run-up to winter is going to involve lots of handknits and curtains and possibly some DIY-double glazing. Watch this space for more housey-related posts.

It's so strange going from a one bed-flat to this massive house - once we're a bit more sorted I will definitely do a picture tour. We went out today and bought a few little bits and started to polish up some of the accents the house has. Will definitely post pics of these at the weekend as I'm back to work tomorrow. Such a nice feeling to give a beautiful house like this some of the TLC it deserves. And I've got more space for craft stuff, which can only be a good thing :)