hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
2015 continues to be the best year of my life (so far). All my hard work at the beginning of the year paid off; I got the coolest, most me job ever, and the mental health benefits I get from not being a student have left me with more energy and inspiration to Do Stuff than I've ever had before. (And I've impressed a lot of people at work, so I'm half expecting a permanent job offer so I don't have to go back to school. Or at least maybe the possibility of getting to work there again next summer.)

This post will be photo free because I really don't enjoy the photographing, editing, and other faff that goes into illustrated posts. Some of the things I'm going to write about have been badly photographed and posted to Instagram (petra_4_8) but the things I've made are invariably far prettier in real life than in pictures, so.

Knitting: Finished a purple laceweight alpaca cardigan that was going to be waist-length but fortunately ended up hip-length by complete accident. Currently working on a two-colour fair isle baby vest in a cotton/bamboo/merino blend that will be a display item in mum's brand new yarn shop that opened about three weeks ago. I unfortunately hate the yarn -- there's no give in it, which hurts my hands a lot! But it's very pretty and soft so it should be a great choice for anyone who knows they like to work with cotton.

Spinning: Hardly anything. Finished a Navajo-plied reddish alpaca and started a (hopefully) laceweight merino/silk blend on the wheel. Spun a tiny hank of laceweight angora on a drop spindle at the Renaissance market a few weeks ago. I hadn't tried to spin angora since last summer, and it was quite a revelation to see how much better my spinning is! I also think angora is very well suited for a super light spindle, because it gives you the time to draft it.

Historical sewing: I did finish a forehead cloth with rolled hems, a coif, and an apron. They are super duper awesome, and the apron especially makes the outfit come together. I've bought some linen fabric at fleamarkets, which I think may be appropriate for a dress/kirtle type thing, but I haven't had the time to think much about it, and I still don't know where to start!

Modern sewing: I bought a sewing machine in May! So far I've made a pleated skirt out of an Ikea fabric that has blue flowers on white, and a jersey dress with blue Dala horses on cream. The jersey dress has a circle skirt (the hem is 6 metres!), the bodice pattern was made using a tank top, and I drafted sleeves (!!) using an online tutorial. It's almost perfect in terms of fit (thanks to being in a stretchy material?!), and I learned so much about sewing jersey that the final seam (at the neckband) is really kind of perfect. Before I started sewing this summer, my entire sewing experience was a skirt in 2008 and a whole lot of mending the thighs of jeans, so I'm very happy with my adventurousness and progress.

(My work is related to education, and I sure do get a stab of envy every time I come across someone who is studying at one of the well-known textiles/tailoring/design schools. I have to keep telling myself that the hobby level is enough for me!)
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
I'm struggling to motivate myself to get through the last quarter of this semester's schoolwork, partly because I'm discovering the exciting world of historical reenactment. I was at an event last weekend that really made me want to learn to sew so I can make my own garb*, as well as relearning tablet weaving, blackwork embroidery, bobbin lace, etc. which I've dabbled in before but quit because I had nothing to use the products for.

I'm super lost when it comes to dressmaking (and so far too shy to ask for help from the reenactment guild I've joined) but I think I could figure out enough to make a decent coif and apron before our big market-at-the-castle event at the end of July, preferably with some blackwork and bobbin lace details. To that end I've started a small bit of blackwork on a cotton not-quite-evenweave using cotton embroidery thread (unwaxed! Wax is #1 on my tool wishlist) for practice.

Blackwork embroidery in progress

I was surprised to find that it's so much more fun than I remembered, and so much more fun than cross-stitching. It's something about the thought required to not miss any stitches and not get caught in corners without a "way out".

I've also discovered the research about 15th century spinning and am working on developing my own technique with it. I didn't have a distaff at the event last weekend, but I brought spindles and carded wool and spent most of the Saturday drop spinning. I filled two spindles with singles and Andean plied them (first one, then the other). Mighty pleased that they came out at about 30m each (haven't weighed them) and perfectly balanced; my first properly good spindle spun yarns!

Two skeins of spindle spun yarn

Another item on my tool wishlist is a pair of combs. I only have carders at the moment which means any fibre I prepare myself now makes for very fuzzy yarn, which isn't great for any of the things I want to do. I think the fleece I've got would be great for combing, too, but I don't know enough about combs to decide which ones would be suitable for me.

Now, if only I could get as excited about my paper in microeconomics, I'd be all set.

____________
* I've borrowed garb from the guild so I'm good for a few events at least. But the coif I borrowed doesn't fit me very well, and they had no aprons to lend, so those are the things that would make the biggest difference right now.
hyperbole: Mr Happy from "Mr Men and Little Miss" in a cross-stitch design made by me. (Mr Happy)
1. School: Once we only had a few short weeks left until deadline on our humongous group project, I was able to face reducing my personal life to just eating and sleeping for a while in favour of FINISHING. And we did. The coming four days include: one exam, a few hours to proofread our thesis, two days to produce a presentation of our thesis and a critique/opposition type thing on another thesis (don't know what it's called in English?!), the start of our next module and the thesis defence. Today I sit around, revise for tomorrow's exam (it's a novel feeling to have had zero hours left over to care about it until literally the day before; usually I revise a little here and a little there but it has just not been POSSIBLE this time?! Fortunately my brain is awesome and I'm a pro at exam taking), take a walk, and maybe wind yarn (ON MY SHINY NEW NIDDY-NODDY) or start a pair of awesome feminist mittens or something. Whatever I feel like. I'm also NOT going to talk to anybody because I've been around people most of my waking hours every.single.day for like three weeks. Did I mention we FINISHED our thesis though? (Also I expect there will be a price to pay for having over-exerted myself, along the lines of not doing a lot in April, but it feels worth it because I know I have the resources to cope.)

2. Awesomeness: Last weekend I took a much-anticipated trip to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival with one of my dearest friends. It was awesome. I bought a niddy-noddy, a drop spindle, and tatting shuttles; also 800 g of yarn for a pair of mittens and a CABLED ALPACA SWEATER; and 700 g of fibre from various species and breeds and of various shades. I haven't been home enough in the last week to unpack it properly so it's all still lying in a pile on my floor next to my bed where I dumped it because I needed to fill my backpack with a laptop and textbooks instead. (I'm still impressed that I could fit 1.5 kg of fibre things into my hand luggage.) I also got to spend time with friends and new people, "meet" knitting world celebrities, and visit some of my favourite places in Edinburgh.

3. Personal progress: I'm working hard to conquer some of my deepest fears. And I'm actually making really good progress, in spite of how stressful school has been for the past ten weeks. I feel like I've joined the Renaissance Guild "properly" now, and I'm on my way to making knitting groups at least a semi-regular thing in my life. I've applied for summer jobs. These are all things I've been unable to even try to do in the past because I've had so many more urgent issues to work on, but after several years of sorting through all that other stuff I'm finally here and it's super hard but also kind of glorious. (I didn't realise until recently that I didn't even know what not being depressed for long stretches of time in one go looked like before. For me it's all about not automatically going "can I really be bothered to [do a thing]? Nope, sigh" all the damn time. I go on walks just because I love going for walks, and I do four loads of laundry in one go. I haven't found a way to keep on top of the dishes yet but other than that I'm keeping my flat reasonably clean in a sustainable way. It's not about constant rainbows and unicorns and sparkle, but less thick black mud to fight against.)

Whoops

Feb. 21st, 2015 11:30 am
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Glass of Water)
So, it's been ages! A small selection of what's going on in my life:

* I bought a Kromski Sonata! I went to the Swedish retailer and had a go and it was just so lovely. I've spun nearly every day since then (three months! yikes) and I have yet to find a feature that I don't like. I've started with quite big projects so I'm only nearly done with my second yarn now.

* I joined the local Renaissance reenactment group. Originally just their dance class (so exciting, I haven't danced much before but this kind of dancing I just get) but I'm also trying to get comfortable going to their craft evenings and dreaming of sewing a dress.

* I'm working on my social anxiety with a therapist. It's hard but needful.

* School is stressful and I'm not handling it too well.

* Mum and I started a craft blog! I don't want to link it directly, but googling "maskor och stygn" and finding the Wordpress blog should work. It's in Swedish but there are pictures of my yarn and a cardigan I just finished knitting (wait no, I haven't written that post yet, whoops), as well as mum's multitude of socks and baby cardigans and various other projects.
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
(My spinning wheel isn't cured of its bug problem yet. However, I have been spinning on it anyway, and I'm going to try a new thing today. The 12kg of fleece have been sorted and washed, mostly by my wonderful mother, and I have carded and spun some of it already. I Have Learned To Make Rolags!!! V. exciting. There are photos so maybe there'll be a blog post too.)

But today's topic: remember this fibre? It's yarn now.

Six photos )

I am probably making a hat from it. Or mittens. But most likely a hat. :D
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
The good, exciting, lovely news is this:



which is 12kg of goth sheep wool (they're actually called Gute sheep, I know, but calling them goth sheepses is funner) on my parents' porch. They're visiting me this weekend and bringing this yumminess as well as materials for a drying rack thing and stuff. I'm very excited to learn more about wool. Wool wool wool. :D


The bad, discouraging, sad news is that I soaked my wheel in that solvent twice last week and then got too busy to tend to it until today. And they're still there. The bugs. I haven't moved on from my gut reaction yet, so at the moment I feel like I might as well get rid of it right now because I'll never get it bug free. I will wait for a bit of distance and a second opinion to come this weekend.
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
In the last hour I've had to realise just how many similarities my spinning wheel has to a Swiss cheese.

A couple of days ago, as I was wiping bird droppings* off it, I noticed tiny white bugs and completely panicked. Dad reassured me that it wasn't that big an issue and that there was a fairly easy way to treat it. So today I went and bought a kind of solvent, covered my balcony in newspaper, and brushed solvent over every inch of my wheel, taking particular care to get the stuff in all the insect holes. And there were so many. /o\

I don't know when I'll be able to spin again, or even how I'll know if the beasts are gone. However, the silver lining? I no longer need to feel like I shouldn't be dreaming of and looking for a more modern wheel. I definitely don't want to be wheel-less and I definitely love spinning enough.

________

* Funny story: a great tit has fallen in love with my flat. It's come in through my ever-so-slightly open window REALLY early in the morning TWICE. (The window in question is now closed until I construct a net thingy.) The first time it woke me up by flying repeatedly into the glass on my balcony door, and having a perch on my spinning wheel in between; the second it was doing something noisy on my kitchen table when I woke up (I thought it was pecking at something at the time but I wasn't really awake). The first time it got very stressed by my getting out of bed to open the door; the second time it just went and sat calmly on the wheel while I was stumbling over to the door. A few days before that second time it came and perched on my laptop screen when I was sitting out on the balcony, and I saw it just now flying dangerously close to my open balcony door, clearly on its way in until it noticed me. Of course I can't know it's the same bird but I really think it is. And while it's kind of cute and funny, it's also annoying because if I wanted bird droppings all over my flat I'd get a budgie or something. But I don't! Especially not on my wheel.
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
I've been meaning to post lots about spinning but as usual I'm way more into the Doing than the Documenting. I also take crap photos, and never as many as or exactly the ones I want. So instead of giving you Margaretha in Pictures, here's a recap of all the yarns I have spun to date, with a few more wheel details.


Lots of photos and text! )


My spinning wheel now has its own corner in my flat. I'm a little busy welcoming new students to Sweden at the moment, but once that settles down I'm very much looking forward to an autumn full of fibre!
hyperbole: A blue rabbit. (Bunny)
She's a bit of a fixer-upper...



At Easter I found a proper, lovely Scanian bobbin lace pillow at a fleamarket. This weekend I found an amazing spinning wheel! Never been as fond of fleamarkets as I am right now. :D

I think her name is going to be Margaretha.

Three more wheel pics plus a cute surprise )


So yesterday I ordered 800g of sheep's wool, from a few different breeds, as well as pinkish red dye. I also went digging for the lots of angora wool I sheared off the one we had in about 2003-2007. I knew we'd had to throw away a lot of it because of moths a few years ago, and there had been a bit more of that since then, but I've got three good bags of it in the freezer now! Such a luxury to be able to spin such fibres as a beginner.
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
I had several delicious weeks full of energy and excitement and wanting to do stuff and practically not being anxious at all. Then some stuff happened and things weren't great anymore. So these colourful pieces are from a couple of weeks back:

One photo )

They're all from great grandma's book. The big one is by far the biggest thing I've made so far (and, logically, the one where I had to unpick the most! Concentration cannot wander for one moment, truly).

I was a bit worried about how well the ends would hide in this variegated colourway, especially now that I've decided that the more rudimentary technique is good enough for me. See, instead of pulling the end through the body of the stitches, along the "shuttle thread", where it can't be seen at all, I sew along the top of the stitches. This leaves slight traces of odd-looking stitches, but I find that less noticeable than the way whole sections of lace are pulled out of shape when I try to get the thread through the body of the stitches. Anyway, when the colour of the end to be hidden is different from the stitches it's going to be hidden in, I thought that it'd look very weird, but it turns out that the anatomy of the stitches makes it work out quite nicely. Where it's visible, there are little dots of the colour of the hidden end along the row of stitches. I actually have to look closely to find thos places, even on the pieces I've made myself!

These pieces are still unblocked and unstarched. I'm thinking I might do a before-and-after comparison post about the starching process once I have access to an iron in a few weeks. It really is quite magical!


Now I'm planning to do a set of jewelry/accessories in a light pink just for me. I'm going to pick a leafy motif to design various pieces around: earrings, bracelet, necklace, headband. I have some vague sketches but not quite the oomph to get going, so for now I'm working on another small rainbow piece from the book.
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
My next finished tatting project is this bookmark.

One image )

The lip balm is for size comparison; I think this is the first thing I've made that doesn't scream "Tiny! TINY!" whenever I look at it. It's also not completely finished because my parents picked up an iron that they will bring when they visit at the end of May. So the smoothing out and the starching will have to wait until then. (I'm actually excited about getting an iron. I've been getting by without ironing any of my clothes ever since I moved away from home (cheers for student life), but I'm living in a more grown-up way now, and I do have an ironing board, so maybe it's time to level up in this area. But mostly the iron is for my lace.)

I think this bookmark was a little too far beyond my skill level to be fun right now. It was quite fiddly and I actually had to force myself to finish it, which is no good! Now I've gone back to great grandma's book and have done a couple of small pieces in my "rainbow taffy" coloured thread and it's hard to keep from working on it ALL the time. (Okay so maybe the colour plays in as well. I dislike the lime green so much and adore the rainbowy one.)
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
I've been tatting quite a lot and making loads of progress on slightly more advanced techniques, I just haven't got around to posting stuff here. The one (er, two) finished project(s) I've got to share is (are) Dr. Who themed. (For the record, I have a strong aversion to Dr. Who but grew to like police boxes a lot while I lived in Edinburgh. I'm considering making a purple one because some of the Edinburgh police boxes have been turned into bright purple coffee kiosks. Hmm.) ETA: the pattern!

One image )

Grandma was able to advise me about where to buy starch (in any old supermarket, apparently!) so both of these have been ironed and starched. I'm mightily amused by the packaging of the starch, which seems to have been transported to this decade from 1950 without stopping anywhere on the way. There is a word in the instructions that I'd never heard before! (Dad explained that it's a type of fabric.) It has funny slogans like "gives your iron wings" and the spray version even has a typical stylised 1950s housewife on it. And judging by the smell, it's just glorified glue!

Right now I'm working on a flowery bookmark that is just slightly above my level. And I've been trolling the Internet Archive for old tatting books--there are some treasures to be found there! Though I haven't tried to read the instructions yet, so maybe I shouldn't look too much at those pictures just yet....
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
In Swedish, tatted lace is called "frivolitet", as in frivolty. And since I seem to have made a habit of tatting on Fridays, and alliteration is awesome, I shall henceforth be making Frivolty Friday posts.

Two Fridays' worth of tatting; two photos )


I still think this is the bestest, funnest, excitingest thing. So exciting even that I created a Pinterest account just because it seems like a lot of people are sharing patterns and tutorials that way. (I'm finding that less interesting than the tatting, though, so I don't quite know how it works yet.)
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
Following this tutorial, I made this wonky butterfly:

Two pictures )

Fun fun fun anyway!
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
I've had a rough couple of months as far as mental health goes, so today when I finally made a start on my plan to learn how to tat, it made me feel like an absolute genius for the first time in forever. I followed this set of tutorials and made this:



Tatting has been my favourite type of lace for a long time (in terms of aesthetics) but for some reason I've kept learning about other types instead.

These three loops took me two and a half hours to make and I've concluded that I need bigger thread to practice with, as well as a better shuttle (I had no idea there were different types, nor that I'd need two).

As an experienced knitter, I find that I have both advantages and disadvantages when moving to tatting. For example, my ability to read knitting really helps a lot in reading the lace, but my knitter's index finger (I knit continental style) is really keen to hold out the working thread even though that's not its job here. I keep realising it's moved again without my noticing because muscle memory is just that strong.

Very excited to keep exploring this.
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
I recently finished a pair of mittens I started designing a couple of months ago: the Coldfinger Mitts. I'm wearing them for the first time right now and they're not as good as I imagined, but they are warm! I have ideas of how to make reality match my vision better, so I might make another, slightly different pair if I happen to find the right wool.

I haven't been knitting much for a while, but I took this opportunity to get some photos of things I've finished in the last couple of years--it's a beautiful day and the light was good, but as the temperature just dropped below zero yesterday, getting photos quickly trumped getting pretty photos. So my Ravelry projects page is all spiffy and updated--hats, mittens, shawls, socks ... I even found some items I'd forgotten about.
hyperbole: A blue rabbit. (Bunny)
When I found out this summer that I'd be moving into a flat with a balcony, my first thought was that I wanted to put up a birdfeeder. I finally got around to doing so yesterday, and it was the best thing I've done for myself in quite a while!

5 small photos of tiny birds! )

All so cute!
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Glass of Water)
I'm very pleased to announce that my third project has been posted to Project Gutenberg! It's The Vegetarian Cook Book and I'm well proud of it.

It is what it says on the tin: a vegetarian cook book, including lots of recipes, basic cooking instructions, and arguments for why a vegetarian diet is good. Some of the dishes seem barmy to me (because of geographical distance or distance in time? I'm not sure!), and many contain the meat replacements Protose (described here) and Nuttolene (which seems to be available still). But I do believe I have spotted some gems in there as well....


(I'm having trouble getting the HTML version to display correctly on my computer, but I'm being told it actually works for others. If you can't see three pages of beautifully coded advertisements (enclosed in a box each, between the Index and the Transcriber's Notes), please tell me?)
hyperbole: A blue rabbit. (Bunny)
For the last four years as I've lived and studied in three different foreign countries, I've got used to the somewhat startled realisations I get of being in [country] when I'm out and about and hear other people talking in [language].

Today was the first time it happened in Sweden, and the feeling seemed so funny and familiar and out of place all at the same time. I shouldn't be surprised to be in my homecountry, right? But I was. And I liked it. It's a reminder that the world is full of wonder wherever I am--I just have to notice it.

Also neat on today's walk was the discovery of a really nice sort of tiny forest with hidden paths and surprise picnic tables on the other side of the houses across the street. I knew there was a huge playground, paddocks, etc. in the area but I wasn't aware that there was actually nature. It's a 4H farm with chickens (actual fluffy baby chickens right now!), horses, tiny goats, sheep, rabbits, a donkey, cows, and some small type of pig. And it's right next to where I live! Brownie points to My New City.
hyperbole: An IKEA-like glass of water with a flower in it. (Default)
Huh. I did quite a Cool Thing*, but the currently-strongest memory from the last couple of days is when I got treated as an object for the first time in my life.

It wasn't dangerous and I got away before it got particularly unpleasant, but I'm disappointed that I wasn't collected enough to deal the guy a verbal punch (it happened half an hour before Cool Thing, probably because my way of preparing made me look like prey to this prick, so my mind was rightfully elsewhere) and it didn't exactly help me do Cool Thing as well as I could.

I'm glad I'm a feminist. This strengthened my conviction, if that was possible. I do hope I manage to connect with the local group that may or may not still be active.

__________

* I travelled to our capital city in the middle of the week to sit an admission test that is part of the recruitment process for EU translators. For which you have to be fluent in three or more languages (I have four) and have a university degree of at least three years' language studies (mine was four years). And which was quite honestly the trickiest exam I've ever sat, and that says A LOT. So fuck you, prick-who-thinks-women-are-playthings, I do not need your attention.
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