Close to You Shawl

I’m feeling a bit chuffed as I’ve managed to complete two long-term WIPs! The first one is this lovely Close to You Shawl which I started in July last year. I have no idea why I left it so long to complete as it was a really easy knit. The free pattern can be found on Ravelry. It’s written by Justyna Lorkowska also known as Lete on Ravelry.

close-to-you-03As you can see, most of it is just garter stitch is which too easy!

close-to-you-01I love the edging of the shawl which adds a nice bit of pizzazz and interest!

close-to-you-07I used some super plush yarn from my stash called Gorgons Head Coral. It’s from a Sock Yarn Club I joined a couple of years ago. The yarn is Dyed by Hand Yarns Silk Stocking which is a 50% merino / 50% silk blend and it is incredibly soft and luxurious. A perfect selection for around your neck.

This particular yarn name is based on the Gorgons Head Coral. A four-week expedition to explore the deep ocean south-west of Tasmania in 2008 revealed new species of animals and more evidence of impacts of increasing carbon dioxide on deep-sea corals.Β A bright red, undescribed species of shell-less coral, called an anthomastid or gorgons-head coral was discovered at 1700 metres deep at the Cascade Plateau, off south-east Tasmania.

DBHY Silk Stocking Gorgons Head Coral 02-tile
It’s always a pleasure to knit a garment using a quality yarn.

The shawl is finished off with a picot bind off. This is how I prefer to finish all my shawls as it’s rather nice and avoids just a straight edge.

close-to-you-06close-to-you-08close-to-you-09If you are a beginner knitter this is a pattern that you could knit. As with most patterns, you need to concentrate at the beginning but once you get into the groove of the pattern, it will quickly become very easy to follow and memorise.

close-to-you-04close-to-you-05I’ll show you the second completed WIP very soon πŸ™‚

Until next time…

Melanie

Away From the Lighthouse Socks – Pair # 52

Another another sock pattern test knit is completed!! This pattern, called Away from the Lighthouse, is by Penny Schumers. This is my second test knit for this designer, the previous was for the Down the Hourglass socks.

Because they are constructed to withstand powerful storms, lighthouses are frequently depicted as symbols of strength, shelter, protection and peace. This stitch pattern reflects a strong pillar accented by two twisting β€œwaves”.

away-from-the-lighthouse-11I love all the details in this pattern, particularly the cables.

away-from-the-lighthouse-10Despite the fact I was using a cable needle and not twisting the stitches as I knitted them, these socks were surprisingly quick to knit.

away-from-the-lighthouse-16I absolutely adore the beautiful and gradual colour changes in this sock yarn but I wasn’t overly impressed with the yarn itself and that’s mainly because it’s a single and tended to split a bit. The yarn is Knit Picks Chroma Fingering which is a 70% wool / 30% nylon yarn.

chroma-fingering

Having said that, I bought two different balls of the Chroma Fingering so I’ll have to be extra careful when using the second ball. Luckily, the colour changes are so lovely, they override the singles aspect of the wool πŸ™‚

away-from-the-lighthouse-15

My favourite part of the of knitting socks is ‘turning the heel’ and making sure there are no little holes when picking up the stitches along the heel flap.

away-from-the-lighthouse-13I would highly recommend this pattern but make sure if you do decide to knit these socks you select a relatively solid colour and not a highly patterned yarn.

away-from-the-lighthouse-05away-from-the-lighthouse-07away-from-the-lighthouse-08away-from-the-lighthouse-14Until next time…

Melanie

Heliotrope Socks – Pair # 51

It’s been a while since I’ve shown you a pair of completed socks but I have still been knitting them! This pair was a test knit and I’m embarrassed to say, I finished the first sock in April and the second sock only recently. I’ve just been so sidetracked over the months either knitting other garments, spinning or weaving. Heliotrope socks were created by a very talented pattern writer: Dana Gervais whose patterns can be found in her Ravelry store.

Dana lives in Canada but no matter when I post a question or comment on the forum, she always responds so quickly! Her attention to detail is amazing and I can highly recommend her patterns. I also follow Dana on Instagram.

I love this pattern! The sock is worked from the cuff down, features a delicate cable pattern, heel flap and gusset and a toe that is grafted with Kitchener stitch.

heliotrope-socks-01The pattern really pops against the purple sock yarn don’t you think?

heliotrope-socks-02heliotrope-socks-03heliotrope-socks-04The yarn I used is Waikiwi by Naturally.

naturally-waikiki-purpleLove this yarn as it’s easy to knit with and doesn’t split. I’m not usually a purple fan but I rather love the richness of this royal purple.

I’m really quite pleased with how my sock knitting has progressed. I no longer get that little hole which sock knitters will know about πŸ™‚

heliotrope-socks-05This heel is called the half handkerchief (v-shaped heel).

heliotrope-socks-06The pattern is created by these two stitch cables. I used another needle which was fiddly to start with but I soon became adept at it!

heliotrope-socks-07I have just finished another pair of Dana’s socks for another test knit. This time I made sure I finished the second sock straight away. I’ll show you them very soon.

I wish you all a wonderful, happy, healthy and prosperous 2017 that is filled with lots of yarn and fibre πŸ™‚

Even though it is quite hot in Brisbane today, I will be sitting down to finish off another pair of socks! What do you have on your needles?

Until next time…

Melanie

Knitting and Spinning

I can’t believe it’s over three weeks since my last post. Time has just slipped away so quickly. Lots has been happening in my life: my son is in the process of buying his first home (he’s still awaiting finance approval) and sadly my family has had to place my 92 year old Dad into a nursing home as my 89 year old Mum was struggling to care for him. So, after more than 60 years of marriage, they are now living apart which is so sad but necessary to ensure the well-being of both of them.

On the crafting front, I’ve been knitting and spinning and I’ve also been destashing some of my spinning wheels and yarn to help my son pay for some of those new house costs that you tend to forget about like house insurance, solicitors, pest and building inspection and so on.

Having said that, I had been thinking of selling some of my wheels as my collection was steadily growing so I’ve sold my Ettrick Standard double drive, an Ashford Traditional, a Wee Peggy, an Ashford Scholar and I also have my Fomotor Peacock and Ashford Traditional double drive on the market. I’ve also sold off quite a bit of my yarn, in particular the Zen Yarn Garden ART WALK series skeins. It had got to the point where I realised I couldn’t possibly use it all so I bit the bullet and advertised a lot of it for sale and most of that has been snapped up quite quickly. I have kept the colours I really like.

Now to some knitting. I finished this In Threes baby cardigan while I was on my recent cruise to New Zealand. I love this pattern and so do many other knitters as over 6,700 of these cardis have been made!

in-threes-multi-large-01The wool I used is Shepherd Colour 4 Me Prints which is an 8ply 100% plied wool. I made the 3T size which I am assuming is for a three year old toddler.

in-threes-multi-large-05I bought the buttons in New Zealand. It’s just by chance they match the colours in the cardi πŸ™‚

in-threes-multi-large-04If you love knitting in the round without seams, I can highly recommend this pattern. It’s so quick and easy. In fact, I knit it when I feel like a quick satisfying knit. I have a few of these cardis stashed away.

in-threes-multi-large-06I’ve been trying to slow down my yarn and fibre purchases and start using my stash and I’ve been quite successful but when I saw this Optim fibre on sale on FB I knew I had to have it. I’ve heard a lot about spinning Optim but have never tried it so this was my chance. It was a potluck 5 x 100g balls.Optim is a treatment which stretches the wool fibres to make the product longer and a lot finer in the range of 12-14 Microns.

optim-5-x-100g_resizeThese were some of the examples of colours that were available. I must say I’m quite enjoying spinning Optim; it’s rather like spinning silk and it has a lovely sheen to it.

optim-03_resizeI picked up this metallic thread for $10 and $5 respectively. This will be invaluable for plying and maybe even weaving.

weaving-or-plying-threadI’m spending this Wednesday and Thursday crafting with good friends which I am really looking forward to. I always find these gatherings to be so therapeutic as it’s where we all share our love for our common crafts, solve all (or most) of our problems and generally de-stress. I’d be lost without these friends πŸ™‚

As 2016 rolls to a close, I hope you all have a wonderful 2017 filled with health, happiness, prosperity and of course lots of yarn and fibre!

funny-sheep-with-happy-new-year-free-picture-download

Until 2017…

Melanie

Roy and Ailsa McKnight – Redlands (Brisbane) Spinning History

If you’re a spinner and you’re familiar with what is known as ‘the Roy McKnight Suitcase spinning wheel’, this story will be of real interest to you.

Ever since I first got my hands on a Roy McKnight Suitcase Spinning Wheel, I’ve been intrigued and fascinated by the fact Roy lived not far from me and was a member of the Redlands Spinners & Weavers, along with his wife Ailsa.

Well, in November this year (2016), I was lucky enough to meet his widow, Ailsa as one of our members brought her along to one of our spinners’ meetings. I really wanted to have a chat to Ailsa about one of my unidentified spinning wheels which I believe is a McKnight wheel because of the finishes on the wheel.

spinning-wheel-01Here’s a picture of the above wheel (left) and the suitcase wheel (right).

spinning-wheel-05-tileSee the similarities of the parts used? Ailsa could definitely see some similarities but she believes it’s probably made by another wheel maker who maybe copied some of Roy’s techniques. So, at this stage, my wheel’s maker is still an enigma!

I feel quite fortunate to have met Ailsa. I believe it’s so important to try and capture some of the history of Roy’s wheels as they are quite sought after today and this is an important part of Redlands’ history which I believe should be captured for future generations to enjoy.

Here’s a picture of Ailsa using her upright wheel made by her husband, Roy. She was demonstrating at the Woolshed (Brisbane) in June 1990.

ailsa-mcknight-aus-woolshed-june-1990The similarities are astounding. I think the actual piggy tail orifice/hook is different from what I can see in the photo above.

spinning-wheel-02Ailsa is now 94 and incredibly sharp-minded and interesting and I just felt quite privileged chatting to her as she told me about Roy and his wheels. Apparently, the suitcase wheel is actually called the brief wheel! So we need to now start referring to it as ‘the Roy McKnight Brief wheel’!

Ailsa and me with my unidentified wheel.

ailsa-mc-knight-with-melanie-22-11-2016Ailsa brought along a couple of her old photo albums which she kindly allowed me to take home so I could scan some of the pictures. I felt so excited to be able to capture a piece of the McKnight’s spinning history and to share it with everyone!

Roy was a salesman and spent some time on the road and it was during these periods that Ailsa took up spinning to fill in her days. Once Roy had retired, he taught himself woodturning and started making wheels, bobbins and accessories for Ailsa and other club members. Roy also made beautiful furniture and woodturned bowls.

Here is the man himself: Roy McKnight (6-1-1920 – 6-3-2011) at the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Open Day in 1991. Look at all those stunning wood turned spinners’ goodies. Ailsa had the suggestions and Roy made them! Apparently if it wasn’t quite right Ailsa would ask Roy to refine it until she was happy πŸ™‚

I can see a squirrel cage swift, a brief wheel, a skeiner, bobbins, niddy noddies and other bits and pieces.

roy-ailsa-mcknight-open-day-1991Roy McKnight at the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Open Day in 1989 with a display of his woodturned goods: a brief wheel (I wonder what number this one is?), squirrel cage swift, spinning chair, skeiner, niddy noddies and other wooden items.

roy-mcknight-rsw-open-day-1989Ailsa McKnight at Marburg 1984. Note the upright wheel for sale.

ailsa-mcknight-marburg-1984Redcliffe September 1988 – Ailsa McKnight is second from the right spinning on one of Roy’s upright spinning wheels.

redcliffe-sep-1988An article in the Redlands’ local paper regarding the Open Day in 1988. Note the upright wheel on the left hand side.

ailsa-mcknight-open-day-19881984 article from the local Redlands’ newspaper.

1984-landscapeAn article in the local Redlands’ newspaper from April 1987 regarding the upcoming Open Day. Ailsa is on the far right.

rsw-open-day-1987An article in the local Redlands’ newspaper from 1987. Ailsa is third from the left (standing). There’s a clearer photo directly below this article.

rsw-1987-farewellrsw-1987a

What makes this story really exciting for me is that when I chatted to Ailsa she mentioned that she wanted to sell her remaining spinning equipment. I immediately knew that I wanted everything she had so I could keep Roy’s legacy alive among the local and online spinning fraternities.

Today (5/12/2016) I visited Ailsa’s son and daughter-in-law who live quite nearby to collect her gorgeous collection. I am so excited to be able to own this lovely package.

dsc09768_resizeI am now the extremely proud owner of the very first Brief Wheel made by Roy. I can say it has been well and truly ‘road tested’ by Ailsa πŸ™‚

dsc09761_resizedsc09762_resizeI love the nifty in-built lazy kate πŸ™‚

dsc09763_resizeAnd what makes it even more special is that Ailsa hand painted this beautiful picture on the lid of the case. Now that is certainly unique!

dsc09760_resizeI just adore this stunning upright wheel made by Roy. As you can see, it is quite different from the one Ailsa is spinning on in the pictures above and to the ones sold at the various Open Days so I can safely say that Roy made two styles of upright spinning wheels.

roy-mcknight-upright-01The flyer screws off completely (just like the Brief Wheel) and is stored behind the middle bobbin holder on the in-built lazy kate (you can see the hole in the picture above).

roy-mcknight-upright-02This is the connection where the flyer is screwed on.

roy-mcknight-upright-09It’s a scotch tension wheel…

roy-mcknight-upright-11The driveband tension knob…

roy-mcknight-upright-10This really is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship…

roy-mcknight-upright-03 roy-mcknight-upright-04 roy-mcknight-upright-05 roy-mcknight-upright-06 roy-mcknight-upright-07 roy-mcknight-upright-08And lastly, my own Roy McKnight spinning chair πŸ™‚

roy-mcknight-spinning-chair-01 roy-mcknight-spinning-chair-02 roy-mcknight-spinning-chair-03I must thank Ailsa for taking the time to talk to me and for giving me the opportunity to own these lovely pieces of spinning history and to Ailsa’s son, Ron and his wife, Carolyn for chatting to me and sharing some of Roy’s story with me.

I would encourage anyone in Australia who has knowledge of Aussie wheelmakers to record their history by contacting the administrator of the Australian Spinning Wheels website. It is so important this history is not lost but kept alive for future generations.

Roy’s suitcase (brief) wheel is also featured on the Australian Spinning Wheels website.

Ailsa has given her permission for me to publish these photos and newspaper articles online so I will also contact the Australian Spinning Wheels website to see whether they’d like to link to this story or use some of the photos of Roy’s upright wheel and chair.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into Redlands’ spinning history as much as I have had putting it together for everyone to access.

A BIG thank you to Roy, Ailsa, Ron and Carolyn πŸ™‚

5 December 2016

 

 

New Zealand Wool Haul!

I have finally managed to sort out all the wool I bought in New Zealand! Wow, did I buy that much??

Knit World in Dunedin is a must visit. The prices are very reasonable (and cheaper than some other shops in Dunedin) and the array is vast!

122-dunedin-knit-world-20161104 123-dunedin-knit-world-20161104 124-dunedin-knit-world-20161104 125-dunedin-knit-world-20161104 126-dunedin-knit-world-20161104 127-dunedin-knit-world-20161104 128-dunedin-knit-world-20161104I was quite tempted by these Touch Yarns Lace scarf kits using this 2ply blend of 80% alpaca / 20% merino.

touch-lace-2ply-kit-01 touch-lace-2ply-kit-02Four 50g balls of Happy Feet sock yarn never goes astray! I bought some of this yarn last year and it made a lovely pair of socks.

happy-feet-4ply-pink-blue happy-feet-4plyAnd another 100g ball of sock yarn; this time Nako Boho.nako-sock-yarnA visit to the Stuart Street Potters Co-operative in Dunedin is well worth it. As well as a huge array of pottery goods, they also sell some hand dyed yarn which I couldn’t resist. This is 200g of a 4ply Corriedale dyed in lovely shades of blue, green and plum.

4-ply-dyed-aThis 4ply blend of 15% alpaca / 55% merino / 20% nylon / 10% possum is called Roast Chestnuts πŸ™‚
alpaca-merino-nylon-possum-4ply-02The pottery was also quite stunning and I had to have this mug which had a sheep on one side and a sheep dog on the other πŸ™‚

130a-dunedin-20161104On arrival at The Octagon in Dunedin there were some markets setting up (I believe they set up whenever there’s a cruise ship in town). A quick look around and I found a stall run by Flagstaff Alpacas. I just couldn’t resist these 4 x 200g skeins of gorgeous hand dyed alpaca.
flagstaff-alpaca-4ply-01There were so many to pick from!

115-dunedin-20161104 117-dunedin-20161104In Wellington I, and one of my travelling companions, were very fortunate indeed as we spent the day with Mary Knox, who’s so knowledgeable when it comes to New Zealand spinning wheels and spinning in general. Mary took us to the Holland Road Yarn Company. What bliss it was to be in this shop!

99-holland-rd-yarn-co-wellington-20161102 100-holland-rd-yarn-co-wellington-20161102 101-holland-rd-yarn-co-wellington-20161102 102-holland-rd-yarn-co-wellington-20161102 103-holland-rd-yarn-co-wellington-20161102 104-holland-rd-yarn-co-wellington-20161102It was so hard to select yarns from the huge array but this is what I ended up buying. Six balls of Outlaw Yarn Bohemia Sport 5ply which is a 45% alpaca / 45% wool / 10% other very soft yarn indeed.

outlaw-yarnTwo 50g skeins of Malabrigo Lace baby merino.

malabrigo-lace-02I also visited a few other shops where I managed to pick up a few different balls of yarn. This is the very popular Opal Sweet & Spicy sock yarn.

opal-sock-greenAnother kit; this time a Touch Yarns 4ply pure merino.
touch-yarns-4ply-kitA visit to the Agrodome is a must if you’re into yarn! As well as the sheep show, there’s a large Woollen Mill shop which is filled to the brim of lovely yarn and yarn garments.

26-agrodome-2016103128c-agrodome-20161031All the beautiful wool!!
58-agrodome-20161031 59-agrodome-20161031 60-agrodome-20161031 62-agrodome-20161031I’ve never heard of this particular brand of yarn called Tree Children and I was told it would no longer be available so I bought these three balls of 4ply alpaca / merino.
tree-children-4plyI’m quite exhausted after looking at everything I’ve bought. Now I just need to find the right pattern to go with the yarn, in particular the Outlaw Bohemia and the Tree Children yarn. Any pattern suggestions??

Until next time…

Melanie

New Zealand Sheep Haul!

Let me first say how saddened I was to hear of the earthquakes in New Zealand this month. They occurred days after I returned home from a wonderful 14 day cruise around that beautiful country. I do wish everyone in those affected areas all the best Aussie luck I can send Please be safe!

Although my holiday was mainly a cruise, we did stop at six lovely cities and towns so of course, I managed to add to my collection of all things sheep!

This little alpaca caught my eye and he’s the first alpaca in my collection πŸ™‚

alpaca-toyAnd my first brown sheep!
brown-sheepWho could resist that cute face πŸ™‚
sheep-01Another apron to add to my collection.
sheep-apronI haven’t done any cross stitch for eons so I’m going to have to start so I can complete these cute little bookmarks.
sheep-book-marksThese cute plastic cups couldn’t be left behind!
sheep-kids-cupsAnd of course, I had to add to my sheep mug collection πŸ™‚
sheep-mug-01
sheep-mug-02This one is quite unusual.
sheep-mug-03
sheep-mug-04This little quartet of sheep is quite unusual and quite small so it was easy to pack (and buy!)
sheep-ornamentA rather unusual vinyl holdall with a zip top.
sheep-plastic-zip-caseI found these microwave/oven mitts at a market in The Octagon in Dunedin.
sheep-pot-holdersSalt and pepper shakers!
sheep-salt-and-pepper-shakers-01
sheep-salt-and-pepper-shakers-02A little All Blacks supporter πŸ™‚
all-blacks-sheepI picked up these salt and pepper shakers in a one day sale on board the Sea Princess. They were the only ones there so I literally grabbed them!
sheep-salt-and-pepper-shakers-03Sheep paper serviettes…..who’d have thought!!
sheep-serviettesAs if I need more socks!
sheep-socksMore goodies from the market in The Octagon in Dunedin.
sheep-towels-01I use these hanging hand towels in the kitchen every day!
sheep-towels-02Lots of souvenirs, some of which I kept and some were given to friends.
souvenirs-01
souvenirs-02
souvenirs-03I now have a huge collection of sheep tea towels.
tea-towel-01I’d love to make some project bags but I’m not the best at sewing.
tea-towel-02There was such a huge variety to select from.
tea-towel-03
tea-towel-04This one matches my new apron.
tea-towel-05
tea-towel-06
tea-towel-07Didn’t I get a great selection?
tea-towel-08
tea-towel-09And this is how I felt after each day’s shopping πŸ™‚
two-sleepy-sheepThe scary thing is this isn’t all I bought. There are more mugs and bits and pieces which I haven’t gotten around to photographing but the good news is that I’ve just about found a home for everything πŸ™‚

I think I need to ease up on sheep stuff for a while by keeping away from the second hand shops I normally visit.

I wonder how long those good intentions will last πŸ™‚

Until next time…

Melanie