Exploring Romney Fibre

Lately every time I admire the texture of a knitted item it seems to be either linen stitch or herringbone. There’s something about them that is almost non-knitted, as though they are some other kind of fancy magical craft like weaving or suchlike. I thought I had better give one of them a go.

I used a fairly simple tutorial which you can find here. Linen stitch is almost as basic as you can get but the dense fabric it creates is very pleasing. Perfect, thought I, for a bag. And lo, I happen to have some yarn that almost immediately made me want to make a bag with it.

Yarn 005

This yarn was a birthday gift from Tamara, my girlfriend’s sister. It’s Romney and it’s hand-dyed/spun. It’s as close as I could get to the real colour which is a rich and slightly tonal grass-green. Very classy. I love the dramatic plying.

Of course since I’ve never heard of a Romney sheep I had to go look one up.

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Credit: Wikipedia

Just look how happy this dude is. I would be too if I had legs as woolly as that (I’ve shaved mine recently). I have to admit that this guy looks like the little puffy clouds with legs we all drew as kids when asked to draw sheep – at least in the UK, even though I grew up on an island with much more unusual looking breeds.

The Romney yarn is scratchy so it’s not suitable for right next to the skin unless you’re into that sort of thing, and I’m told some people are. It talks all sorts I suppose. It’s super squishy though and I do like a good crunch to my yarn so I’m happy with it.

The main downside is that this was not well-cleaned before spinning. Half the goddamn field is in this yarn. I’ve picked out as much as I can but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it would be a lot less scratchy if it hadn’t been plied with a haystack. I know it comes from an independent dyer/spinner but I’ve used plenty of indie yarns and never found it to be this much of a problem before.

After casting on a random bag (no pattern) to see what happens, I’d say I quite enjoy knitting with this yarn. It’s not well-made. It’s uneven to the point of being bizarre and there’s too much straw in it but I like a good scratchy wool because I’m a weirdo.

I’m changing my posting schedule slightly – Monday/Wednesday/Saturday. Stay tuned for Saturday’s images of how this yarn looks knitted up.

Have you worked with Romney before? Am I alone in my love for scratchy natural fibres?

A Birthday and A Doctor

On 11th September I completed my 27th lap around the sun. This involved celebrations that would ensure a continued existence. My girlfriend cooked us some delicious clam chowder and proved that she is superior to the vast majority of humans by uttering the phrase “I’m going to add extra bacon”. Then she disappeared into the bathroom and emerged somehow with a chocolate truffle cake with 20 candles, thereby making me feel much younger. Very kind, that one.

After stuffing ourselves silly we settled down with our laptops for our usual hard night of partying and adventure (aka sitting in comfortable silence) and had cups of tea in a fancy teapot out of fancy china cups.

You wanna bet I stuck my pinkie out.

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Lately I haven’t been able to buy much yarn (except a couple cakes of dishcloth cotton) so at least I got a skein of it for my birthday. Watch out later in the week for its debut onto this blog – I think I’ve decided what to knit with it. The only problem is what to watch while I’m doing it as I have now officially run out of Due South to rewatch. My life is devoid of mounties and Chicago cops once more. After an enjoyable evening watching Doctor Who with a friend I’m thinking of starting that series again.

This time I’ll start with David Tennant: I’ve rewatched Christopher Eccleston’s episodes so many times I’m burnt out on him. Sorry, Nine. You’re fabulous but I need a break.

Which brings me to the second point: I LOVE the new Doctor. Love him. Twelve is a dick, standoffish, angry. He’s morally (and literally!) grey. He is not the big kid we’ve grown to know and love.

It’s amazing.

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Not only is Peter Capaldi doing an excellent job with his attack eyebrows, he’s also creeping me out pretty much constantly. I like that ambiguity in a character where you’re not entirely certain whether you would want to be in the same room with them or not. I like that he’s brittle and doesn’t like touching but still so obviously cares.

I also love Clara. They’ve installed a character into her now, updating her previous ‘flat plot point’ status from before. Good job, Doctor Who Writing Team. Keep it up.

Is anyone else watching? What do you think? And what are you knitting while you watch it?

Sheep & Goats & Llamas, Oh My!

Since I’m working on my actual birthday (Thursday) we decided to celebrate a few days early by going to the Orono Fair. We went last year while I was visiting for two weeks so it was extra fun to know I’m here in Ontario for good this time.

There were lots of cute animals. I’m not gonna lie, that’s 90% of the reason I like going. The other 10% consists of weird shaped carrots, bad but delicious fair food (mmm, caramel apples), and of course the knitting and craft displays. I would really like to enter one of those competitions next year; I’m going to look into it.

The best part of the fair this year was my new boyfriend Tony the kissing llama. 

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Previous encounters with llamas have left me vaguely terrified (despite fully planning on getting a guard llama for my future alpaca herd), but this dude was chill. He was so soft and fluffy and totally friendly. When you tapped your cheek he would come and peck you gently. Basically, this clever guy has figured out that anthropomorphised displays of affection result in food – or in his mind, ‘press cheek, treats come out’. 

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This is Ozzy the therapy alpaca. He is a cutie. Very friendly and sweet although far more interested in the cows he could see past his pen than he was in us.

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Ozzy likes to pose. Or just chew on the metal; we’re not quite sure. Either way this is proof that alpacas are seriously goofy-looking animals and I want them. I want them all. I want them all in mine and Nari’s hobby farm that we planned all day yesterday.

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We saw a sheep getting naked but it was quite traumatising. She got a huge cut down her middle and the lady had blood all over her overalls. Aside from that it was interesting enough to watch it happen, although I felt quite uneasy afterwards.

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Another picture of Tony, my new best buddy. Please note the huge rabbit chilling with him. They were good friends. Not as close as Tony and I though. 

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“Hey. You got any food?”

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“Seriously, dude, you can’t come in here without treats.”

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This is my other buddy, Tiny Goat. Tiny Goat was a persistent little mister who definitely showed his species’s tendency to climb all the things as he leapt up onto my lap to grab the cone that contained the treats we had. He was trying to eat my face in this picture. I attempted to stash him in my bag and take him home but unfortunately there was no room past the emergency knitting I bring everywhere.

Orono Fair is a lot of fun, even if I got a bit of a side-eye for choosing it to celebrate my birthday. 

That evening I also got a Beaver Tail with candles in it. I wish I had a picture of that because it was totally adorable and really sweet of everyone since I love Beaver Tails (big friend pastries with gooey things on it) but as I munched on a caramel apple on the way home I was already stuffed. We shared out the Beaver Tail and I opened my gifts which was a SHIELD mug (yay!), some ‘Almoose asleep’ pyjamas, a bath bomb, a Michaels gift card, and some green Romney handspun yarn which is gorgeous and will be shown off later.

All in all it was a good pre-birthday celebration.

By the way, if any of you guys wanted to do the online equivalent of buying me a cuppa to celebrate another lap around the sun, I do have a Kindle wishlist.

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How could I leave out the Jacob sheep?

Getting Ready for Giftmas

My girlfriend’s co-worker keeps track of how many weeks until that great glittery holiday descends upon us in a cloud of noxious carols. Apparently this is a thing people do since she is not at all the only one.

I do not know how many weeks it is until Christmas and nor do I want to in case I invoke that well-known fear of every disorganised knitter: that there are not enough days left between now and the season of giving-all-the-things to make the deserving few adequate presents.

Now, I am a selfish knitter by some definitions. I don’t knit for someone else unless I want to which is more out of necessity than anything else. Even if someone else buys the yarn, pays me, then sits back with no deadline, I freak out. A weird form of stage-fright consumes me. I cannot knit on command any more than I can breakdance. It means that I only knit for those I choose and sometimes not even then.

Not many people will be getting knitted gifts this year although I already have two prepared. Maybe I’ll have time to squeeze a few more in before a rampant snowman engulfs me.

I’ll be posting pictures of the finished projects as they appear, mostly because otherwise I’m unlikely to have much to say. I will not, however, be telling you who they are for on the off-chance that lovely person ever glances in this direction. That almost counts as secrecy, right? Because I’m really bad at surprises.

 

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Yes, that’s Captain America on the wall behind me. For those of you who know me you can made a sound guess that that’s not my side of the bed. Ew, Cap. (I have Spider-Man watching over me while I sleep, for the record.)

Have you started your Christmas(/seasonal holiday) gifts yet?

 

Pink and Glittery

Sometimes it is possible to be drawn to a complete anomaly. Say you are the type of person (like me) who is drawn to silky textures and rich dark colours. One day you will happen across some pale pink glittery and slightly fluffy yarn and it will demand to come home with you.

I have had this yarn (by Hambley, a dyer local to where I bought it) for a year or more. It has tried to be a few different things. It was originally going to be a jumper for my little sister actually, though it decided that was not what it wished to be. In the end I pulled out a crochet hook and started a Chevron Lace Cardigan, one of the first patterns I ever tried back in the days when I didn’t even like knitting all that much. 2011 was a strange time. Especially since my bedroom ate that cardigan and I have never ever found it again, not even when I packed up the whole room and donated half of it.

Hopefully this cardigan doesn’t go missing so easily.

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I stopped at waist length because I have a very thin middle bit compared to the rest of me and always appreciate an item of clothing that shows that off. I kept the sleeves at cap length because I crocheted a sleeve on one of the sides and put it to the vote with my coworkers; cap sleeves won by a long shot.

And because I very rarely post photos of myself of this blog, why not have a front shot? Even if you can’t really see much of the cardigan, you get the idea of it. It’s subtle and cute and way more glittery than the photo suggests.

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Apparently everything I’m wearing today has to be wonky. I don’t even know. I swear I know how to dress myself.

This isn’t my usual sort of project. It was something mindless to crochet at work and honestly, it doesn’t look all that great on me. Not as great as it would look on some people I know so I think I’ll be finding a new home for it at some point soon.

Despite that I am still pleased with it and even more pleased that not making the sleeves left me enough yarn to make some super classy fingerless gloves at some point. Gloves that glitter. Who wouldn’t want that?

 

 

Another Swap Adventure

Despite always telling myself I won’t get involved in another knitting swap, I once again plunged myself into the mystery depths of knitting for a stranger that always stresses me out. It was good fun once I got past the intense fear of being generally rubbish. It always is; there’s a pleasure in knitting for someone you’re 99% sure will appreciate it due to the context.

My package went out on Monday. The one sent to me in return arrived a couple of days ago and it is splendorous.

The theme was Lord of the Rings. It was a mini-swap meaning it was much quicker and lower-budget than the big ones. It was also a secret swap which meant you don’t find out who is your gifter until the parcel arrives. It adds an element of intrigue and mystery to an already fraught exchange that actually makes it even more fun for me.

My partner was Azpidistra (I have no link). Here’s what I received:

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The shawl is adorable. It’s very hobbit-y and drapes nicely around my shoulders. She also knitted me a little beard (because even female dwarves have them). Then there’s the yarn which is in a beautiful pale denim colour; I’ve already started knitting a snuggly shawl with it for the cold office at work. Also included was a cute card and some simply delicious chocolate.

This is not the first swap I’ve been involved in. They’re almost always fun and this was no exception. I just can’t wait for my giftee to receive her package!

Have you ever been involved in a knitting swap?

A Trip to the CNE

Most of my memories of the Canadian National Exposition (CNE) revolve around alpacas and getting horribly sunburnt whilst watching very loud aeroplanes do interesting things. This year despite the clouds in the sky that morning I slathered sun cream on my face just before we headed out to the Go Train. I was taking no risks on that front.

This visit was only my second. Last time we had eaten from the Ribfest trucks but this time we vowed to try any weird things we came across within our budget so we headed straight to the food vans and the food building. We had:

  • Octopus tacos
  • Bison poutine
  • Pineapple in a pineapple husk
  • Coconut in a coconut husk
  • Churros

Okay, churros aren’t weird but I had never tried them before so they go on the list. The octopus was strangely delicious too even if you could see the little suckers.

The pineapple and coconut was a hilarious attempt at feeling tropical in the frankly substandard weather (what the eff, Toronto) so we found a little splotch of sand to sit on while we drank it.

It didn't look very tropical out there... but it tasted it.
It didn’t look very tropical out there… but it tasted it.

Of course the highlight of the whole thing for me was the alpacas. I cannot voice how amazing and cute I think these creatures are. Even when one of the funkiest ones sat and stared at me with obvious revile in its eyes. I forgive you, alpaca. We also watched one man poking and pulling another alpaca’s tail persistently, so I don’t blame these particular beasts for not wanting curious humans to get too close.

BUT I JUST WANT TO HUG THEIR FACES OKAY.

LOOK AT THAT FACE. LOOK AT IT.
LOOK AT THAT FACE. LOOK AT IT.
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I wish my haircut was that groovy.

The CNE is an entertaining place. The arts and craft building is glorious although I took no photos. Plus somewhere (cannot remember where) there were beautiful stalls full of real pashminas that made me embarrassingly express to Nari an interest in fashioning a large nest completely out of soft, highly-decorated fabrics and spending the rest of my days curled up in it. What? I’m very texture-orientated, okay?

Thankfully at no point in the day did I burn horribly. Even better, none of the foods gave us food poisoning. The CNE was just as fun and far less painful as I remember.

Though unfortunately Nari wouldn’t let me bring home one of the alpacas.

A nerd with needles. // New posts Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

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