Saturday, November 29, 2008

Through the loops, frost and socks

The latest rug is almost finished - the rolag one - at least the fun part is. 
Now the more tedious part of sewing all round the sides, and indeed through the loops, using thin wool (spun by me of course don't ya know) then spritzing with water and - the fun returns - jumping on it to improve the surface cohesion. Cohesion rather than felting as this stuff will felt only with dramatic efforts - merely leaping up and down for 20 minutes won't do it. A drawback if you want to make felt - but otherwise a boon when you've flung it around the sink washing and dying it. 
The weather today was freezing cold with frost everywhere this morning - very beautiful. There's a light blue sky, mostly clear with occasional fluffly clouds and white gleaming sun. This draws me outside but it also makes me want to knit socks (for the first time in my life) .  Nothing keeps the feet and legs as dry and mud free as a wellies do at a very reasonable price but nothing freezes the toes like them either . Any thick socks I've bought manage to make it very difficult to get the feet in place in the wellie yet do little to keep them warm - so a pair knit from the fluffy stuff which keeps my sheep warm as toast down there in the damp fields would be nice. 
So the mission now is to find a simple sock pattern and spin up some of my dyed fleece to make them. I'm sure there will be failure and frustration but I'm looking forward to it anyway.
The dogs don't need socks (or coats or anything else)  - they are in heaven in this weather - I suppose if you run at 102 Deg F (or 104 if you are a sheep) this is just a nice cool day.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Belverdere craft show

Went to the craft show at Belvedere House, Mullingar today (after Rosknit alerted me to same). A very nice show - tempting food and well made crafts. Bought several food items (Christmas chocolates, german wine, cranberry chutney and sauce pairs  in little bags together) which can be gifts or added to gifts for Christmas. 

Its a changeable and blustery day - we were lucky to get a fairly clear bit around midday and brought the dog, Oisin, for a ramble round the lake , woods and folly. He's happy as a lark now.
Not so his companion, Huddie, the red BC.  Later this day, the clouds rolled in, bitter rain fell and the wind made whiney noises through the little gaps round the sliding doors - much to his horror  -  he still acts as if a banshee is about to enter. 
I find it actually quite appropriate for winter - time to light a fire in the hearth.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grilled hat

After I finished a dark brown cabled hat to go with cabled gloves, I washed and blocked it . It took days but began to look really nice as it dried into shape  - the cables more visible and the color lighter. Bought some packaging in preparation to send the wooly knitted set to my daughter in NY. It still seemed a tiny bit damp - so, as is my wont with wet wool, I placed it in my fan oven at 50 degrees for a while - just to be sure it was bone dry. HOWEVER, I didn't notice the oven knob was set to GRILL - so when I took it out, it was nicely crisped round the edges and some spots in the center - which CRUMBLED AWAY when I touched it. 
Lesson "don't grill your hat".
Lesson 2 - always return the knob to neutral on the oven after use.
Lesson 3 - wool really is flame retardant.
Hard lessons - a bit  like the one you learn when you don't save a big document you've written on a computer - no one to blame but yourself.
Despite the loss of my efforts, I can't help laughing every time I think of it - a Mt Bean moment - spend ages working on a hat - then grill it to death :).
New hat under way - and there's no hurry as it's unseasonably mild in NY . 
The only thing about the episode that really bothers me is that it's holding up my rug progress - I've got just 1/3 of the first rolag rug done - and I've already decided how I want to make the next one - it's going to be like a picture I have of my collies on a beach and I can't wait to start that one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

rolag mania

Having dyed a load of 2007 fleece which lay crisping up in the attic, it's now being made into rolags. The purpose (excuse?) for doing all this rolagging is to make a rolag rug.

I'm calling this project by that name, as the technique is not strictly the same as the traditional Lumra rug method. For a start, I didn't gather the wool  found on hedges and fences and I've not got rug canvas - and I don't even have a locker hook needle. I'm using that useless product - fleece from cross-bred meat sheep. Instead of rug canvas, I've got non-slip rug backing. I'm pulling the stretched rolags through the backing using a big darning needle and I'll later "sew" it in place from the back  and then  attempt to needle felt it from above to prevent loose hairs. 

I've done a few rows, light fern green, chocolate brown and a thinner strip of  deep fern green and it's fairly pleasing - but it's main attribute is soft squishyness.  I don't of course know what it will finally look like , but that attribute is enough to make me like it. 

I have to keep this work away from the dogs - they resent it - I can see it in their eyes - so there is a risk of a sudden attack or a swift burial. They do have a case, as it's interfered with their walks and dog agility but they had a good innings today.

Can't put this as a project on Ravelry as it's neither knitting nor crocheting  - but hope to pursue it with pictures on flickr.

Friday, November 7, 2008

less fluffy, more dye

Finishing off a hat (to go with some fingerless gloves in the same pattern for my daughter ) is good I suppose but not as exciting as dying a whole load of fleece in different colors. This fleece has rested in the attic since last year, the year when I was left with my little flock of 19 and no shearer, and plenty of flies ready to strike them. I learned to wash and dry it so it's not nasty in any way but has more second cuts than my shearing efforts this year. This leaves me feeling free to do what I like with it without too much guilt if it gets ruined. 

So,  I've dyed several lots as fleece (rather than dying the spun wool as before) and dyed further, smaller lots in the afterwash with some vinegar. The results are nice and I've lost my fear of felting the fleece as I have carders at my disposal to straighten it out. This wool certainly needs less dye than the recommended amounts given on the dye pots (perhaps 2/3 the amount - and a reasonable pastel of the color from the afterwash).

For this reason, Fluffie's fleece is resting for a while - it's probably better quality (due to better handling) and could be put to more uses while the other stuff is likely to go into more rugs and cushion covers.
Thinking about using the colors is quite intoxicating, so much so that nothing will be done unless I quit thinking about them and decide on a fairly simple color scheme and get on with it. 

Went to the Knitting and Stitching show at the RDS last week and was impressed with the quality of the work on display - especially the quilts. Was happy to meet a lady at the Spinners group (Marie Shiels?) who was able to tell me about the Lumra Rugs and how they are made from rolags. At home, I found I'd been experimenting with the same technique a while ago using some non-slip rug backing instead of rug canvas. I'd not pursued it however, thinking I was doing something "wrong" - now I've  been given leave to pursue that. Strange how a person can restrain their own activities harmless activities for no good reason - except that it might not be acceptable (to the rug police?).