Saturday giveaway: a bit different this week…

Today’s Saturday Giveaway is something a bit different.  I know this is all supposed to be part of my destash programme, but this week I don’t have time to photograph and describe something; I am working really hard to prepare for the open day at Houghton Hall Alpaca Farm on Monday.  The event is being organised by Purl Alpaca Designs, and promises to be really, really good: I’m demoing weaving there, and selling my dyed goods.

Anyway!  The Giveaway!  This week, you have the chance to win something from my Etsy shop.  To enter, just let me know what your favourite item in my store is: if you win, and your fave item is still in stock – then that is your prize!  (And if not, you get to pick a second choice – or wait for me to create a replacement, if you prefer…)  Here’s a quick preview of the current items, just to tempt you across…

This week’s winner (and WIP Wednesday)

This week’s Saturday Giveaway winner is…. Lorraine!  This is the first overseas winner of my little competition, so my humble handspun will be heading over the pond to New York, if I read her Ravelry profile correctly.  How exciting!!

My WIP Wednesday progress this week is shameful: my first sock is still waiting to have its toe grafted.  I finished the sleeve of Myrtle, and started the next – but I’m only 8 rows in!  How can it take most of a week to knit a sleeve cap?!  (Oh, yeah, I remember: this is supposed to by my ‘easy’ knitting project, but I had to stop to work out the cap shaping for my gauge differences…)  And I haven’t spun so much as a single yard.  Shocking.

I *have* been weaving, though.  I am doing a demo this coming Monday, and wanted to have some woven items to show off.  And I’ve been spending quite a lot of time with the dyepots.  Oh, and photographing Woody, because he’s just such a poseur:

Saturday Giveaway: Autumn Gold

Want to own some genuine Yarnscape Handspun?

This is this week’s Saturday Givewaway: 190m/110g of chunky/Aran weight yarn, spun by me.

The fibre was 50% merino/25% bamboo/25% silk, from the Sweet Georgia fibre club, a couple of years ago.  In fact, that’s the colourway itself, pictured at the top of the page!  This was a lot of fun to spin, and I’m not going to get around to knitting it at any point in the near future, so I’d like to send it off to a place where it will be properly appreciated!

There are TWO ways to enter the draw this week: you can do both!

  1. Leave a comment on this post by noon UK time, this coming Tuesday (that’s August 23rd, for the avoidance of doubt!).  If you’re not interested in winning the yarn but still wish to comment, feel free to say so!
  2. If you’re on twitter, let your followers know about this post (and include me, @yarnscape).

If you do both, you get two entries in the draw! I will select a winner by means of a super-sekrit process, and announce the result by Wednesday night at the latest.  This draw is open to readers from all over the world, so please, join in!

WIP Wednesday

Yes – I said I’d make this a tradition back in April – and this is the second installment.  Consistently inconsistent, that’s me!

Anyway, I thought it would be good to do a quick overview of the projects I’m currently working on: not necessarily a full WIP roundup; just the ones that are actually getting some attention these days.  So:

Spinning
My wheel project is currently the wool/alpaca batts I talked about preparing for the Tour de Fleece (here and here).  I’ve spun and plied five skeins so far, plus a bunch more singles:

I’ve stalled out a bit on this project, to tell you the truth.  Last year, the Tour de Fleece helped me establish a habit of spinning for 15 minutes in the morning: this year, it somehow broke it completely.  I think it’s because I’m spinning this long-draw, which is exhausting for the arm/shoulder.  Also, my Traveller has a left-mounted flyer (which is standard), but it would be more ergonomic for me if it were right-mounted.  I hold the fibre in my left hand, so I can’t draw across my body.  Anyway, I was finding spinning to be painful and tiring, which isnt’ great.  I’ll have to see what I can do to restart my mojo.

Knitting is going rather better, though. The first of my green lace socks (name still TBD) is done, apart from grafting the toes:

I’m really *very* pleased with the way this has turned out: my plan now is to write the pattern, then knit the second one using the pattern I’ve just written.  A sort of self-checking mechanism, if you will.

Which leaves only my Myrtle.  This is progressing well, too: I’m almost a whole ball in, and I’m ready to start the shaping on the first sleeve cap:

This is the second garment I’ve knit using moss stitch and Maya, and, just like before, I love the way the colour variations are broken and mixed further by the texture.  I will admit to feeling a little anxious that there will be too much difference in appearance between this and the stockinette portions, but I’ll just have to wait and see.  (Then again, the swatch doesn’t look too bad sitting next to the sleeve, so…)

And the Manos Silk goes to…

Christine!  Who asked if knitting with Manos was worth looking into.  Well, now you can make up your own mind!

I’ve only recently started reading Christine’s blog, but I think it’s a new favourite already.  For a start, I love her blog design: it makes me feel peaceful and contemplative the moment I see it.  Secondly, she’s been inspiring me to actually start sewing again: it’s been a very long while since I made any clothes for myself.  Well, apart from last September’s Tudor Madness, anyway.  And that’s almost a year ago!

Thirdly, and certainly not least, she’s talking about knitting Rogue (again! – this will be her second!) sometime in the future.  Rogue was one of the patterns that inspired me most when I picked up needles again, back in – when?  2005?  Anyway, I put the idea to one side for a while, until I had more experience – and I never got around to starting it!  Anyway, she suggested that we could knit it together (and I’m sorry – I never replied.  I am a dreadful correspondent)..  Which sounds like a lot of fun to me!  Would anyone else be up for a mini-knit-along?

Anyway, congratulations, Christine: send me your postal address, and I’ll get your new yarn in the post ASAP!

 

Saturday Giveaway: Manos Silk!

ENTRIES NOW CLOSED – Please come back next Saturday for the next giveaway!

This week’s giveaway is neither spun nor dyed by me:

It is a single skein of Manos Silk Blend (Ravelry link) in some of those wonderful, deep berry-wine reds that seem to crop up in my stash quite frequently.

A singles yarn, 70% extra fine merino, 30% silk, this is a wonderfully soft and pettable yarn with a subtle sheen.  There are 270m in this 100g skein: plenty for fingerless mitts, or a hat for the coming cold seasons.

This is a randomly-drawn blog contest.  To enter, leave a comment on this post by noon UK time, this coming Tuesday (that’s August 16th, for the avoidance of doubt!).  If you’re not interested in winning the yarn but still wish to comment, feel free to say so!  I will select a winner by means of a super-sekrit process, and announce the result by Wednesday night at the latest.  This draw is open to readers from all over the world, so please, join in!

And the lucky winner is…

Jen AC!  (Also known as @JenACKnitwear on Twitter).  Congratulations Jen; I’ll be in touch for your postal details!

I’m lucky enough to have met Jen in real life a few times, from when we both started doing pattern checking and grading for Simply Knitting and The Knitter.  She’s a lovely, lovely lass, and it seems a shame that we are always dashing past each other when we do meet, these days!

Well, Jen, I shall be sending you a small parcel very shortly, which will hopefully manage to spend more than a little time in your presence.  Everyone else: thankyou so much for playing, and please check back on Saturday for a new competition!

(And, if you particularly liked the colour of this yarn, there are two more skeins – one pure angora, the other pure silk – which I dyed at the same time.  They will be available in my destash-Beta-shop, which I’d really hoped to be able to get live in time for this blog post – but it just hasn’t happened.  Soon, though!  I promise!)

If you can’t make yogurt with it, is it really milk?

I was delighted to be given a couple of litres of full fat milk last weekend, and planned to turn at least half of the bounty into yoghurt (which I’m still eating, day in and day out, on my morning muesli).  Sadly, it turned into my first ever yoghurt failure.  After culturing, it did not seem to have set up at all.  I popped it in the fridge anyway, as it usually thickens up a bit more as it cools down, and went to bed.

By morning, it was still very, very runny.  I tasted it, and whilst it did taste like yoghurt, it felt horrible in my mouth – slimy and mucus like.  I left it out at room temperature (because I planned to throw it out), and it did thicken up rather over time, but it remained slimy.  I’ve never experienced slimy yoghurt before, ever, so I tried to video its behaviour:

The gloopiness isn’t very evident in this video, but I wish it was in touch-o-vision: this stuff was just weird.

I wondered what I’d done wrong: was the milk still too hot when I added the culture?  Had my frozen yoghurt culture gone ‘wrong’?  Contamination of the containers??  (Pretty darned unlikely) – or could it possibly be the milk itself?

I almost always use organic milk for my yoghurt (and everything else too, for that matter), and I have heard some people say they have difficulty getting good, thick yoghurt from regular milk.  But this was something different: Tesco ‘Pure’, which has supposedly been extra-finely filtered so it will stay fresh for longer (up to seven days!).  And I’m wondering if it is altered in some other way, too – possibly as a side effect of the filtering, possibly some unclaimed additional process – so that it doesn’t behave like ‘regular’ milk any more.  I did notice that the bottle said it was ‘not suitable for home freezing’ – why not??

I am now 100% sure that the problem was not the heat of the milk when I added the culture, nor the culture itself, nor any kind of contamination.  I’m sure of this because I made a second batch of yoghurt using my regular milk – and used part of the failed batch as the starter for the new batch.  The new batch is 100% fine: good texture, tastes as delicious as ever – so the microbes must be OK.  Which, really, only leaves the milk.

Knitting for Joy

Years ago -years and years ago- I bought a couple of job lots of Debbie Bliss Maya (now discontinued).  It’s a fun yarn: variegated, slightly thick-and-thin singles.  One lot ten skeins worth – is this wonderful, winey mix of reds and purples:

For ages and ages, I’ve known I want to use it for Myrtle from Jane Ellison’s ‘Noro Knits’:

 

This is going to be such a different kind of knit to anything I’ve done recently: it’s not my handspun.  It’s not my dye job.  It’s not my pattern.  The needles feel like broomsticks: 5.5mm is gigantic compared to the 2.5mm sock needles!  It’s stockinette, and moss stitch.  It’s a large garment, but it should still be a quick knit.  This will be a fun knit; an easy knit; a knit for the pure joy of knitting (and the excitement of a new garment, and quite a large dent in the stash, too).

Of course, it’s not going toing to be quite as easy as that.  The Maya knits to a different gauge than any of the suggested Noro yarns.  And I don’t, technically, have quite enough yarn to knit the pattern as written.  So I will have to do some maths (though there is little shaping to worry about), and I plan to make a provisional cast-on, knit the body up from about hip level, and, when I’m done with the rest of the knitting, knit the the body down from the provisional cast on, to be as long as possible.  I’ll probably omit the side-seams from the garment to help with yarn management – or maybe not.

The Saturday Giveaway returns: Bluefaced Leicester Laceweight

ENTRIES NOW CLOSED – Please come back next Saturday for the next giveaway!

Announcing the triumphant return of the Saturday Giveaway!  This week’s prize is a skein of Yarnscape-dyed Bluefaced Leicester laceweight yarn.  This is not one of my regular yarn bases, so no-one else will ever have another one like it!

The skein weighs 88g, and contains 700m of pure British Bluefaced Leicester wool.

This is a randomly-drawn blog contest.  To enter, leave a comment on this post by noon UK time, this coming Wednesday (that’s August 10th, for the avoidance of doubt!).  If you’re not interested in winning the book yarn (thankyou, my eagle-eyed, proof-reading commenters!) but still wish to comment, feel free to say so!  I will select a winner by means of a super-sekrit process, and announce the result by Thursday night at the latest.  This draw is open to readers from all over the world, so please, join in!