A few weeks ago I went on a weaving course in the wildlife garden of the Natural History Museum in London. The weather was miserable but we were nice and cosy in a shed at the back of the garden, with tea and biscuits and wildlife outside the window (a cheeky robin and an even cheekier squirrel).
The course was run by Caroline Ware who is the wildlife garden manager. We began with an overview of dyeing with natural dyes, including the effects different mordants achieve. While my garden is too small to grow woad and other dye plants I do use onions all the time as was taken with the warm brown colour the skins produce. Caroline also talked about sheep breeds and the different types of fleece they produce and had a few samples for us to fondle, some of which we would be using later.
We then set up the peg loom which is one of those things which is straightforward when you know how.
We used undyed fleece as well as fleece dyed with natural dyes to make chair covers.
I had a go at carding a Shetland fleece which is a lot harder than it looks. On the first few tries I ended up with a matted mess so I have a new level of respect for spinners.
We had a break for lunch and had tea and delicious ginger cake mid afternoon but other wise spent the day concentration on our weaving.
Between the four of us we produced four seat covers, all varying in style but all lovely. Mine is the one with the red stripe in the middle. I'm amazed my piece turned out to be symmetrical. I was sort of aiming for symmetry but wasn't expecting it to work out.
I really enjoyed it. The peg loom was included in the price of the course (£35 for the whole day, including a wooden peg loom) so I can now use up the fleece I've bought on impulse and haven't spun. Having said that I bought some more fleece, some grey Wensleydale Longwool and a small amount from the sheep at the Natural history Museum, I can't remember the breed. The seat cover works well and is very warm, perfect for the winter months.
By the way, the red stripe on the seat cover looks huge in the photo but has settled down after lots of "sitting".
The mystery UFO is on the back burner as I have decided to keep it. It was going to be a present but I like it too much and think I'll appreciate it more than the intended recipient. If I get bored with it I'll take it into the MSF office.
You can see in the photo that it is made up of 12 colours, 4 squares in each colour making 48 squares in total (yes, there will be four light pink squares, this is a work in progress). If you look carefully you can also see some other components.
There, that's all the clues I'm giving you.
Any guesses? Leave a comment below if you think you have the answer.
I must admit I'm not getting much knitting done during the Ravelympics as I'm a winter sports geek. I was watching the moguls while trying to finish my socks and was so captivated by the men's and women's events that I had to put my knitting down. But finish my socks I did.
The yarn is Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball in Cranberries (1963)and is good to work with unless you need to frog. The single ply nature of the yarn makes it quite "sticky", though the stitch definition is good. The colour variations don't show up too well in indoor lighting but I think I'll have to wait til about April to get any decent natural light. You'll just have to take my work for it that they look good.
I started these just before I went in to hospital for knee surgery last May. I got quite a lot of knitting done despite being groggy from a general anaesthetic and remember having conversations with the nursing team at 3am about knitting and telling them all about Ravelry. I'm still amazed when I meet knitters who don't know about Ravelry. It seems quite timely that I finish these now as I hopefully finish my physiotherapy and treatment for my broken knee over the next few weeks, just in time to get back on the ski slopes. I doubt I'll win any medals there so I better get on with my knitting.
On Monday I went along to my first ever Stitch and Bitch London meeting. I was partly in my p/hop role as they were holding a yarn swap for MSF but I also went as a knitter and yarn swapper. I've written about the p/hop side of things over on the p/hop blog so I won't repeat myself here.
I did take part in the yarn swap which brings me to stashbusting. One of my favourite interweb knitting friends, mostcurious, spent a lot of last year monitoring her stash, measuring the amount of yarn in vs the amount of yarn out. I kept on meaning to do this but my yarn buying habit went out of control. This year I'm on a self imposed yarn diet. If I need something specific to a project that I don't have in my stash I will buy it however that is all. No more impulse buys (ahem, unless they are in the sale).
So to the maths. I'm not even going to add up all the meterage in my stash as frankly it scares me. What I'm going to do is monitor new yarn in vs yarn out. On Monday I swapped 9 balls of kidsilk haze (in purple, gorgeous stuff but really not my colour) with the PurplePurler (she was very very happy) and also swapped a ball of undyed Bluefaced Leicester sock yarn and a few sachets of Koolaid. I took in 2 balls of DK weight Rowan felted tweed in a light mossy green colour and one ball of light brown merino.
Meters in 470 - Meters out 2214 = Overall change in meterage: -1744m Weight in 150g - Weight out 325g = Overall change in weight: -175g
Money to p/hop from my transactions (me and the swapees), about £50.
So win, win , win all round.
It's good letting go of yarn. I'm still thinking up potential projects with purple kidsilk haze but I've had over a year to use it and it hasn't happened so I feel good about letting it go to a better home where it will receive more stroking and love.
As for Stitch and Bitch London, I loved it. It's the friendliest knitting group I've ever been to so I think I may become a regular. I met people who I "know" through twitter which was great fun, putting real faces to names and avatars. If you want to learn to knit or just hang out with a fantastic mix of knitters come along. The details are in their newsletter.