Sunday, 4 March 2012

Ooh, shiny, woolly goodness!

It's Sunday afternoon.  The temperature has dropped and I'm sitting here, laptop on, um, lap, Goldfinger on the telly, TLH playing Skyrim on the computer downstairs and I'm watching the snow starting to fall outside.  Quite big flakes too.

My immediate plans for today, when I was formulating them earlier this week, were to do one or more of the following - go for a run, clear the large pile of prunings that I left in the middle of the lawn with help from TLH, do some digging at the allotment.  Then on Friday lunchtime I went out for lunch with my lovely friend Bev and in bending down to deposit my handbag on a chair, my back went into spasm.  Damn, it was painful.  Extraordinary how such a small, twisting movement can wreak such damage.  It was like getting a really bad crick in the neck but around and underneath the left shoulderblade.

Paracetamol was my friend here (Ibuprofen would be better as it's an anti-inflammatory but it's not good for the stomach - and I get wicked acid reflux - so I stopped getting it) as well as a hot water bottle.  Sat for the rest of the day with the bottle behind my back, trying not to whimper every time I moved.

Fortunately, although still very stiff and sore, yesterday it was bearable enough for me to do my usual craft fair in Alresford.  You might think that sitting on my arse for around 8 hours would be okay, but the chairs are not tremendously comfortable and I frequently end up with headaches the day after an Alresford show so it was going to be touch and go as to how my buggered back would respond.  I took my hot water bottle and used it, and dosed myself up with painkillers and it was fine.  We had a good day as well, sold 12 items and made three figures so, all in all, not too bad.  But there was no way I was going to be doing anything in the garden; I need to be careful until it settles down.  I'll contemplate a run tomorrow, though, depending on the weather.

Oh yeah, the running - it's going quite well.  Last week I managed 2.5 miles (although there was more walking than running) but a couple of days later I did 2.8 miles, this time with more running than walking.  In my last post you may recall I've signed up for a 4km (2.5 miles) fun run on 21 April and my goal is to be able to do it all running.  Speed is not all that important, just consistency of pace right now.  To be able to get the entire way round without stopping to walk is looking surprisingly difficult just at the moment - but I'm working towards it.

Dang - got sidetracked from what I wanted to post about!  Last Saturday there was a 2-day festival at Farnham Maltings devoted to all things yarn-based.  It's a big show for independent wool dyers, spinners, providers of accessories, etc.  I missed it last year but was determined to go this year.  I decided on my budget - £100 - saved from the meagre profits I make selling jewellery - and I spent the lot!

The show is called Unravel and this was the 4th year.  The town had been yarn-bombed during the week and there was stuff around lamp-posts and hanging from shop signs, including knitted balloons (actually balloons with knitted covers) floating above a bridge over a river.  There was a mother and baby sheep in a pen in the shade (it was a sunny, warm day) just outside the front door of the venue.

The place was heaving.  We got there about half an hour after the doors opened and it was rammed with punters, standing easily three deep around each exhibitor.  I decided I wanted to do a once-round look at everything, to see what was available.  I'd got a design in mind that's going to be my next knitting project - a wrap around sleeveless waistcoat/cardigan type thing, that is basically a rectangle with two slits for armholes.  Look, here it is - simple wrap around vest.  Looks easy, huh?

So I wanted some really nice wool to make it in.  I didn't know what colour but I knew the colour would find me if I went looking for it.  I was first entranced by the Fyberspates stand and my eye was particularly drawn to a 100gm skein of shades of green/pale yellow shot through with gold sparkliness.  I knew I didn't want to make the waistcoat out of it, but I also knew I wasn't leaving the building without owning one of these.  Even though it was £21.50!  Pricey, yes, but also hand spun, hand dyed and hand twisted and that amount of work costs money.  Here's the skein I bought:

Isn't it lovely?  It'll go into my stash for now and I'll decide what to do with it later.  I like to see my yarn in the flesh so I get an idea of what the colour is actually like, as opposed to what it looks like through a computer screen.  This means buying wool when I see something I like because lord only knows when I would find it again, if you see what I mean.

I was extremely tempted by the products of The House of Hemp which is, as you might expect, yarn created from hemp stalks, much like linen.  The kits they have for sale are absolutely stunning - beautiful designs and lovely colours.

In the end, I found my yarn at the NiMu Yarns stand on the top floor of the exhibition. They are a small company (not sure, I think it's a husband and wife team) who hand dye specialist yarns in small batches and I loved, loved, loved their colours.  I absolutely fell for a colour shade called Wicklow and bought 3 100gm skeins to make the waistcoat/cardi (it needs 300gms of wool).  Here they are (with added Bruno, being as helpful as ever):

I've tried to show the colours as best I can - isn't it divine?  All shades of blue including sky blue, turquoise and even the palest blue-green.  Utterly, utterly fabulous.  And reasonably priced at £11 per skein as well, so £33 for enough wool to make the waistcoat/cardi - I don't think that's too expensive.

The next thing to do is to wind them into balls as you can't just use the wool straight from a skein, it gets too tangled.  Mum and I wound one skein yesterday while sitting around at Alresford but I forgot to take a photo.  No matter, I'm not ready to start knitting the waistcoat/cardi yet as I'm still finishing off a third swirly scarf.

I've decided to add a line of sequins to the two scarves I've already finished, the ones that are going to be Xmas 2012 presents for my two nieces.  I've not added them to the fern green scarf yet, but I've done the purple one:

I like the little flash of sparkly that you get, and it just blings the scarf up a bit more and hopefully will be more attractive to a pre-teen.

 So I've yet to finish the 3rd scarf, add the sequins and then I'll probably start the waistcoat/cardi.  Or I might start this crochet scarf kit that I absolutely, positively also had to buy.  The Natural Dye Studio stand held me totally entranced when I came across it.  I didn't take photos (it was hot, packed and not easy to take pics) but I'll pinch some photos off the intertubes to show you why I fell in love:

Heart-patteringly beautiful.  Although I'm not currently crocheting, the stand was selling kits for their Iris scarf which contained the pattern and all the yarn needed to complete it, for £25, which is a good price.  Just look at this and tell me that it doesn't make you catch your breath:

Here's a better picture that, again, I've nicked off the internet (sorry):

Just stunning.  This is the wool that comes with the kit:

 This has added Sylvester Bean, at the door keeping an eye on Bruno, his current nemesis.

See all the lovely colours?  Each little skein is variegated in colour and is made from 100% wool from British Bluefaced Leicester sheep (although this one doesn't look very blue to me...):
The whole thing is crocheted on a 2.5mm which is pretty damn small.  But it's going to have to wait as I have other stuff to knit first and all those little skeins also need winding into balls so, frankly, it'll be a miracle if I get round to doing this this year, but at least I bought it when I could.

So this was what I did last weekend, and I thoroughly enjoyed fondling yarn and spending my hard-earned dough.  Talking of which, I didn't get the job (or even an interview) that I mentioned briefly a couple of weeks ago.  It was for a part-time Document Assistant for the British Museum.  Basically, working on the museum's database of lithic artefacts in its stores.  In other words, data entry.  Yeah, I was massively over qualified for it but I thought it was worth a shot.

Never mind, I've got plenty of other things now to fill my time!!

PS.  Results of boob squishing arrived on Friday - all clear.  Hooray for disease-free bosoms!

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