A bit of everything: yarn, history, swatches

Today’s post is about many different things, though still business-as-usual we could say: yarn, history books, swatches.

The first news is that I received some beautiful yarn, that will join the enormous stock that I have by now. Yes, I’m considering sorting and destashing some of it at some point. Anyway, the yarn I received includes some wool (no label but it feels like good quality) in shades of browns, greys, beige and gold yellow, probably a 4 ply, in a cone of over 600 grams. Together with it, some British Wensleydale wool in cream and brown: a little ball is handspun – incredibly soft and with a natural shine; the rest is in 50g regular balls. I’m in love, with all of them. By coincidence, Kate Davies’ last design, Catkin, features a beautiful yarn, Titus, made with a blend of British wools (50% grey Wensleydale, 20% Blue-Faced Leicester, 30% UK alpaca), which thing made me smile, as I ordered the yarn before even reading about it. I must have a ‘good nose’ for good yarns, lol.

handspun British Wensleydale handspun British Wensleydale (not my work!)

wool in shades of browns, greys, beige and gold yellow wool in shades of browns, greys, beige and gold yellow

British Wensleydale British Wensleydale

Other recent deliveries contained some Jamieson and Smith Shetland yarn, some Shetland wool on cone that I mentioned in another post, and some circular 2mm needles in 20, 30 and 40 cm. Now I’d only need an app to keep track of my items, before my memory forgets what’s in my beloved stash.

Jamieson and Smith Jamieson and SmithJamieson and SmithJamieson and Smith

In today’s stroll I stopped at an Oxfam bookshop and availed myself of some history-related books: In Search of England – Journeys into the English Past by my favourite Michael Wood (if you have access to BBC iPlayer seek out for his history documentaries); The Wars of the Roses – a Royal History of England edited by Antonia Fraser (an introduction to the topic can be found  on the Wars of the Roses wikipedia page); Ancient Britain by James Dyer, about the prehistoric life of Britain from the first human occupation 450,000 years ago, until the Roman conquest in AD 43; Diamonds – a Jubilee Celebration by Caroline de Guitaut (I’m no royal fan but the book is interesting in that it presents the story behind the royal jewels). Maybe I ought to start a clear out in my book section, as well…

In Search of England- Journeys into the English Past   The Wars of the Roses   Ancient Britain by James Dyer Diamonds - a Jubilee Celebration

Lastly, I have done some progress on my swatch playground. The first one of this series is completed but ends are still to be sawn in and washing to be done. Here is a preview of the beginning, other pictures will follow once I have done more swatches. It looks nice but requires a loooong time – knitting a fine 2x2ply with a 2mm single-point needles, so it takes forever and especially colourwork knitting on the wrong side… I know, I could have used circular needles but I also wanted to learn colourwork in flat knitting (plus I was lazy at the idea of trying steeking). I was tired and kept having issues with silly colour pattern mistakes (had to unravel about 1/3 of it) and stitches cheekily sticking out their heads here and there without any reason (the stitch count seemed to be still fine?). Anyway, the first test is more or less done. I’m now trying another on an even finer yarn… wish me luck!

Swatch no. 1, 2x2ply on 2 mm flat knitting, Shetland yarn             Swatch no. 1, 2x2ply on 2 mm flat knitting, Shetland yarn

View from the kitchen window                 View from the kitchen window

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Shetland

No, this is not a post about those (I imagine) beautiful islands. While ago, I bought some Shetland wool on cone and I’ve been eager to play with it since. Finally, my vintage ball winder arrived, so I set out this weekend to make some yarn cakes… yummy.

Shetland yarn cakes and cones, close up

Shetland yarn cakes and cones A small part of the cakes produced so far… 

I made a very little swatch with double strands, just for the washing test. It had to be small: using 2mm needles, work progresses very slowly (and I’m already no fast knitter!).

In the beginning I was a bit worried because this wool is a rather fine 2ply and also had a fairly rough feel. I heard from other people that wool on cones is oiled and usually blooms once washed, so I was hopeful that this would have been the case. Indeed, it was so, to my joy. After gently washing it with washing up detergent, it turned into a fluffy, soft wool. Absolutely beau-ti-ful.

Swatch before washing The swatch before washing

Swatch after washing …and after washing

Yarn comparison: before (top) vs. after (bottom) Yarn comparison: before (top) vs. after (bottom)

I had in mind to use my Shetland wool for swatching patterns I created inspired by some Donegal fabrics seen not long ago – just wasn’t sure it would turn out fine. Now I’m relieved to see such a beautiful swatch.

I love my old Toyota ball winder (made in Japan) and the Shetland wool in all those shades… I can’t wait to find some time to play with it. In fact, right now, I wish I had nothing else to attend to. Do you also get such a feeling?

Vintage Toyota ball winder in action

Lost in Rome, or maybe simply lost

Looking for some summery inspiration for my recent purchase of Rowan cotton yarn (something like an argyle vest), I came across this amazing outfit…

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If someone can make me that dress or that cardigan… just give me a shout.

On the very same search, I also stumbled upon a cool Finnish blog: I love the knitted items (and not only, look at the God Save the Queen outfit, and all of that counter-couture) in this Inspiration Rebel Yell post by ::: OutsaPop Trashion ::: DIY fashion by Outi Pyy :::. You may want to check out that blog, it has lots of interesting ideas, indeed.

Her post title of course triggered memories of Billy Idol’s song Rebel Yell, whose original video can be seen here. Recently, I seem to get this fashion-music connection springing up every time I look or think of some item… I wonder why.

I originally wanted to blog about Iceland, but I think that’s enough for today.

What an incoherent post is this? mixing in all these oh-so-different stuff… er, that’s just very me, I can’t help it.

Have a fab weekend!

Malabrigo Worsted (Paris Night)

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This was one of the first yarns I fell in love with. Its settled, muted, semi-solid blue reminded me of the night colours, and, of course, blue is my favourite colour.

I came across Malabrigo Worsted while searching for the yarn (Louet Gems in shade Paris Blue) for some beautiful leg warmers I had seen in the book One Skein.

Sure enough, I bought a skein right away, not knowing much, nothing at all in fact, about the brand or the wool. It turned out to be a soft and squishy merino yarn – a delight to work with.

The technical specifications:

1 skein is 100 gr and approx. 210 yards, 4.5-5.5 mm (US 7-9) needles.

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