Is something happening?

It’s been a long time between posts around here. Mostly it’s because it feels like nothing much is really happening for us. I’ve been more unwell then in the past year or so, or at least it feels that way. The looms have been seriously under-utilised, cheese making has been non existent and even knitting has been slow plodding. And yet, things have happened. I have woven a series of beautiful, colourful placemats, I just haven’t cut them apart, sewed them up or wet finished them. I’ve almost finished my first ever attempt at fair isle knitting, a vest that just needs me to finish off one sleeve  edge and I’ve learnt the art of Kumihimo braiding, which is a lovely relaxing activity for making braids.

In recent weeks I’ve also started developing a passion for knitting machines, here is my new electronic Brother machine, a KH-930:

Knitting machine KH930I’m still figuring it all out and will start, today, doing a sort of beginners course from Diananatters. It’s really hard to fight that urge to instantly create a really real item right off. Playing around with a friends machines that I also have on hand, I have managed to produce a couple of beanies and a few infinity scarfs and I must content myself with these items for now and put my desire for a giant shawl with intricate lace patterns aside until I really understand the machine and the processes.

Now for the newer, and most exciting news of all, the thing we have been in limbo about for so long… that’s right, we have building consent! Yes, you may dance and cheer and celebrate with pent up excitement. It has really felt like this was never going to happen, what with various back and forths with council and contractors on certain aspects and then key people going on holidays during the process, delay delay, delay. But finally it is happening and we are set to start everything next week. Now by  everything I mean mess around with the site to poor the slab and setup the frame blah blah blah, but the truth is that we had managed to council to sign off on the traditional timber frame aspect of the build a few weeks ago and so the folks at Timberworks are actually about 2/3rds of the way through building it which is awesome.

By the end of this year, Atamai Village will have I think 8 houses finished. It will be sooo nice to be on THAT side of the hill this time next year. I’m so looking forward to being off the farm and really settling into our property and our life. We seem to put everything on hold living here, plodding along waiting for our ‘real life’ to start. It’s been hard to really do a great deal of work on the property while living on the opposite side of the hill, trying to fit that around my good days, Craig’s work and weekends of overtime and the needs of a four year old. All to be made a great deal easier once we are living on site.

Basically this was just a quick post to remind myself that this blog actually exists and I have things to write about if and when I can just find the time.

 

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Steadily harvesting

We’ve been steadily harvesting food from the gardens, mostly tomatoes and zucchini’s but some greens as well, a few more potatoes, a few peas and beans. The first batch of corn has finished up and the second batch is starting to ripen as we speak. We had to buy-in more seedlings as our seed raising efforts came to naught really, we ended up with seedling trays of weeds for the most part. Part of the problem has been that our glass house has simply been too hot for the seeds to germinate, however, Craig’s parents were here last week (more on this later) and discovered that the glass house actually had roof vents. Ian has fixed them so that we can now open and close them at leisure so our next batch of seedlings should be much happier.

We planted some more silverbeet (Heritage Rainbow & NZ favorite), perpetual spinach, sprouting broccoli, cabbage palm (which I’d picked up by mistake meaning to get cauliflower), rocket and leeks. So our winter brassicas are off to a good start, just so long as we can remember to consecutively sew more of them to cover our winter needs.

But now to the craft 🙂

Buffie and I spent a lovely afternoon the other week dyeing some lemon yellow yarn I’d purchased lovely bright colours (pastel’s for Sprocket are a big no-no around these parts).  First we pre-soaked the yarn in cold water with a little soap so that it would absorb the dye more readily.

We used Ashford dyes made up to the instructions and painted them on to the yarn, making sure the dye went right through to the other side.

 Buffie’s rather the creative sort. 

I quite liked the effect of the “bleed” areas and hopped that the yarn would stay with that faded area, it didn’t really work that way though.

In this one there is black and green next to each other, unfortunately the green is REALLY dark and just looks black.

After painting we wrapped the yarn in glad-wrap:

Then we left them out in the hot sun to bake for the rest of the day (this was a little trick I learnt from my friend Rochana, much nicer then all the other boiling and microwave methods I’ve heard of, especially when you can’t use the microwave for food anymore).

After baking I washed out the excess dye and hung the skeins out to dry. It was just amazing to see the yarns spread out and finished like this. Buffie’s spotted one just looked so cool.

Then the final step was to pop the skeins on the swift and wind them back into balls ready to knit. Buffie’s 2 balls (the one on the left was the spots):

And mine:

 

The resulting dye colours were quite a bit darker then we had imagined and we certainly wouldn’t have called the colours “purple” or “turquoise”. We did discover that the “turquoise” and the “purple” when mixed (noted from bleed areas) make a lovely purple colour. I’m going to dye up another couple of balls with the remainder dye to match my first ball (the one on the right) and knit it into a lovely baby’s hoodie from a pattern called Nikau created by my friend Justin Turner (who makes lovely baby patterns) that you can purchase here at her website.

The Nikau

 

Nikau pattern

Nikau pattern

So far I’ve knitted most of the back 🙂

Socks – part the last

I’ve finished Craig’s socks! I wrapped them up and gave him them for Yule (actually yule is tomorrow as far as this post is actually concerned, heehe).

Before wrapping:

Socks - Finished

Unwrapped:

Socks - Finished

I did manage to get him to take them off the other night, he wore them to bed and I placed my icicle feet between his warm thighs and then get a very sweet “Here honey, present for you” and he slipped off his socks and passed them over. <insert evil smug grin>

WWKIPD

We went over to Waiheke Island to take part in the World Wide Knit in Public Day. We hadn’t been to the Island before so had a nice ride on the ferry, we had hoped to do a little tour of the island but it rained so we just saw a small area which was lovely.

Other members of my knitting group (KnitRangers) were also in attendance (being that a bunch of us met at the ferry terminal and popped over together.

WWKIPD

WWKIPD

I also met a very cool pair of leather shoes that I’d love to make:

Leather Shoes

The only big downside of this day was that I knitted all the way to the end of the leg for Craig’s sock and couldn’t remember if it was 10″ or 11″ long so had to stop before the end of the day and had nothing to knit for the remainder of the day (thus there was a lot of eyeing off of other peoples projects and a note to self to bring more then one project along next time).

Navajo Plying

I’ve been playing with navajo plying today, plying one of my white singles as a test run. I’d like to use this technique to spin up the wool a dyed a few weeks ago as I only had 1 bobbins worth, I’m hoping there will be enough for a pair of fingerless gloves. The benefits for using navajo plying include:

 

  1. I only have 1 bobbin to work with
  2. No wastage
  3. The colours will stay spread out rather then blend together more
I’m told that this does make for a slightly weaker yarn then if it was a normal 3 ply, but I’m cool with that. My test yarn seems to be strong enough, it’s currently drying after being washed and and whacked.
And pictures:
Close up of Navajo ply you can see some of the loupe like structures in here (I think that’s from where I’ve started new loupes.) One of the things I found with this was that when your yarn is good and strong plying is a dream, if you have week points in the yarn then it’s a real bitch to ply as it breaks and you have to rejoin the yarn – which is kinda messy if you ask me.
Hanging to dry hanging out to dry.
And last but not least, a photo of the 1 completed Craig sock:
Completed sock I’m really rather pleased with myself. I’ve finished the ribbing on the second sock but I’m afraid it’s been almost a week since I’ve picked it up to knit since *bad me* I did take it with me on a few occasions, only to discover that (as usual) I had left the fourth dpn at home! I was really expecting this to be a lot harder then it was to do.
I’ve been making more bread this week also with great results. I’ve turned the fan off in the over, going for a hotter oven with a bowl of water in with it, this gives a MUCH softer crust which is fantastic. I really didn’t like the hard crust on the first batch of bread. I’ve found that my recipe does 2 large loaves and 6 rolls (which I burnt the tops of because I had them way to close to the top of the oven and forgot about them).
I’ve also had my loom out this week and finished off a small section – about half an hour or so worth of weaving, not much, but at least it’s something. I really want this project off the loom so I can start on my dishcloths, but I must finish it, even if it doesn’t motivate me. I’m using short lengths of weft so about ever second turn I have to start a new length, it’s just tedious. The fabric itself will like nice when it’s done though I think.
What else… Craig is busy in the garden when he can get a chance, planting broad beans, garlic and onions, building raised beds and generally getting his hands dirty. The driveways are being poured, the guys have been busy, not as busy as some of us would like and the seem to have a fear of getting damp, but certainly things are progressing and more then halfway finished. I’d say providing it doesn’t pour down rain everyday, they should be completely finished by the end of next week – yay! Earthsong is really starting to look less and less like a building sight and more and more like lush eco-neighbourhood. 

 

Finally! Bread

I was given a lovely gift from a friend of a friend a few weeks ago, her German sourdough recipe and two jars of her starter. Well, I finally got a chance to make the bread and it works! Actually it worked a little too well and I ended up with overflowing tins and a sink full of dough, but I’m fine with that 🙂

Overflow

The bread appears to have cooked up rather nicely, I just cut into it and I think it still needs a few more minutes of cooking – has a sort of doughey feel to it, but it looks good (and it rose!)

In other news, my sock is going well, I’ve turned the heel successfully (at least I think it’s successfully) and I’m now just pottering along knitting the length of the foot before I decrees for the toe.

Turned Heel

Socks – Part 3

I’m finally starting to progress a little further with my sock exploration today. Here’s what I’ve changed or learnt:

 

  1. I learnt “Long Tail Cast On” I used a youtube video from “Knit like a man.com” this is the fastest and neatest way I’ve learnt to cast on stitches and I love it. It took me a while to get my head around, but now that I have it’s really easy = LEARN IT
  2. I cast on 60 stitches
  3. I changed my ribbing to k2p2
  4. I learnt that when you want to do stocking stitch on dpn like this, you ONLY do knit for every row (the “wright” side is always facing outwards)
  5. I learnt to use the “Continental knitting” style – this should so be the standard way to learn to knit, it’s much much faster. I’m still a little awkward with it, juggling the 4 dpn’s and all, but still – way faster!
Today’s progress photos:
Progress
You can almost see where the ribbing ends and the stocking stitch begins in this one:
Ribbing to stocking stitch
And in unrelated news, I had my hair cut and dyed 😉
My new hair style

 

Socks – Part 2ish

So I’ve already frogged the sock. Why? Because I changed from my ribbing stitch (k2, p1) into a plain stocking stitch and ended up with a garter stitch line, so I thought I’d overlook that for now and keep going and a few rows down it happened again, I’m not really sure how because I’m certain I did a knit then a purl row consistently, I think there is a trick to turning to right and wrong sides of the knitting maybe that I’m not getting yet. I am getting more confidence using 4 DPN’s which was really the main reason for this sock. Lastly, when I pulled out the needles I did try on the sock, it would have been too small for Craig’s calf I think as it fitted me to just bellow mid calf quite comfortably. 

Knitting Socks

I’m teaching myself how to knit socks with double pointed needles (DPN). I’m using size 3.25mm needles and 8ply doube knit, undyed, Sierra Lana wool from Manukau yarns in NZ. I have 39 stitches, but I think I only cast on 37… oh dear…

Ahh, so carrying on then… I’m doing a ribbing at the top of the socks knitting 2 stitches and purling 1 (k2p1) – just because I wanted to see what it would look like (and I like it). So I’m trying to follow the pattern from this site.

This is my gauge swatch:

Gauge

the cast on band (at the bottom of pic) is actually a lot looser then my cast off edge – have to work on this

Gauge

And this is the start of the process:

DPN

(and the pretty bead is very own stitch counter I made yesterday). I’ll take more photos as I go on and have something a little more interesting to show.

I tried to cast on a few times using the crochet cast-on method but had no real success, I was using crochet cotton as someone suggested to me but I think I used the wrong sort, I’ll try this again at some point using waist yarn. I did learn a new cast-on method though from a video on youtube. The video also helps to teach you to knit socks but I found it a little unclear (visually) and not really instructive enough for a beginner so I moved on and googled other instructions.

Ok, I’m off to have my hair cut and styled.

Carding & knitting

When I return home there are several bags of fleece for me to wash and play with and several bags awaiting my collection. Apparently my shearing friend Kevin says that he can’t sell coloured fleece, so any fleece that is not considered to be white is mine for the taking – free! This means that I will no longer have to worry about “waisting” fleece as I practice and play and I have packed up my spinning wheel and will be bringing it home to Auckland (from my parents house in Wodonga) and dedicating a chunk of time to relearning to spin.

Also, for christmas my mum has agreed to either buy me a knitters loom (about $180NZD) or to contribute towards a drum carder (about $350NZD) and now I have decide which one I wan/need more. At the moment I think I’m leaning more towards the carder as I don’t even have any hand carding paddles anymore so…

While researching drum carders I did come across the most coolest toy and would LOVE to get my hands on it. It’s a double carder

Double Carder

and it’s probably about the size of my lounge room. Now if I got everything I wished for I would need a museum to keep it all in I think. We just went for a visit to a second hand store in Yackandanda, which is about 15 minutes from my parents house and I found a very cool butter churn, two 19th century cameras (they are HUGE, and cost several grand each), add that to the double carder and the floor looms *sigh*

Now I know that I’ve been silent for the last several weeks, but I haven’t been totally no crafty while I’ve been visiting oz. I’m actually proud of myself really, I’ve been knitting, well I’ve knitted one thing, a beret, it’s the first knitted project I’ve ever actually finished and didn’t give up on out of boredom (scarves suck and so do blankets that are essentially scarves sewn together). Doing this hat, I managed to do increases and decreases, undo and repair mistakes (I made a lot of them) and pickup dropped stitches, and I’m very proud of my finished item.

Freedom Spirit Pattern

I still need to do the little flowers to make it extra pretty but they will take very little time to whip up. I’ve never been very excited about knitting, my grandmother was an amazing knitter and I’m sure I’ll never match her for speed, but I have decided to attempt a little more knitted projects – just no scarves thank you very much.