Leap Day Flash Competiton!

Hey guys, it’s leap day!  The day that, every four years, makes my birthday arrive a day late… (Well, when your birthday is March 1, you tend to feel that way)

Let’s have a flash competition!

I have here almost 13 skeins of Ecoknit organic cotton, which I bought as a kit to knit the Ginko leaves tunic from Fiddlesticks knitting.  It’s been taking up a lot of room in my stash for several years, and I think it’s time for it to live somewhere else.

The yarn is gorgeous (and discontinued!).  This is organic cotton, and the colour is natural (grown-in), not dyed.  The pattern is rather lovely.  But I haven’t knit it yet, and I don’t know when I will.  I did swatch – which is why one skein is wound and not quite complete.  Do you want it?  Comment on this post by noon UK time tomorrow!  (I’ll also include the pattern, if I can find it.  No guarantees on this one, though!)

Want an extra chance?

  • If you don’t already, start following Yarnscape on Facebook!
  • Share the announcement on Facebook, or
  • mention it on Twitter! (Be sure to include @yarnscape in your tweets so I can count it!)

You get an extra entry in the draw for each new page like/follow share, each retweet/mention.

Spinning catch-up

Back in January, I was still spinning the singles for my Shipwreck Shawl.  Those got finished, plied and washed – and turned out quite a bit bluer than part 1:

I think that’ll be OK because this is a circular shawl, worked centre out, and I’m fine with a blue centre and a greyer border.  I’ve even swatched!  The fabric is amazing: the yarn is very lofty and softly spun, and it knits into this wonderful, soft, cushy, almost spongy fabric.  Though I think it’ll take some time before I can cast on; there’s a lot of knitting in the queue so far…

Next up: the merino/silk blend I bought in December at Rampton spinners’ Christmas party.  Yum!

 

I decided I wanted to spin this short-draw, as my long draw has been getting a lot of practice over the last year or so.  I went for a thicker than average single, and two plied it into a thick DK/lighter Aran weight yarn:

I’m completely delighted with the way this has spun up:  the yarn is soft, squishy, shiny and very, very pettable.  I’m also amazed and quite delighted that the white silk streaks so very evident in the top have almost completely dissipated in the finished yarn.  I’ve been swatching this extensively – I think it’ll make an amazing cowl – but I haven’t settled on a stitch pattern yet.

Next!  Naomi sent me two beautiful, hand-carded batts: merino, silk, corriedale, superwash merino/nylon/bamboo viscose. 40g of beautiful, hand-carded, wonderful, fluff:

 

This was a *totally* effortless spin.  Seriously.  I split it into fingers, and spun then from the end, into a smooth 2-ply yarn for the Fair Isle stash.  I’ve ended up with about 165m of yarn from 40g of fibre, which is a pretty awesome match to Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4ply, which would have 176m to 40g.  (Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4ply is my reference yarn for the Fair Isle stash).  Right now, it looks a bit thinner, but we’ll see how it blooms after washing.

Looking back over this post, I notice I’ve been on a decided blue/purple kick in my recent spinning projects.  I *was* planning to spin another batt project next, since I enjoyed Naomi’s so much – but the next two projects I pulled out are, well, purple:

or blue:

Hmm.

The return of Sustainability Sundays!

Does anyone else remember Sustainability Sundays, here on my blog?  I haven’t done these posts for about a year and a half; the garden ended up pretty much fallow (that’s a nice word for ‘neglected and messy’) last year, and the only sustainability post I wrote, at all, was on making pizza.  By this time last year, I knew I was packing in the day job to run Yarnscape full time.  (In case you’re wondering, that takes up most of my brain.)  In addition, my most local partner-in-sustainability, Geodyne, had recently moved to the other side of teh world, and then (ugh!) we had a long, cold winter.  Spring arrived late, and suddenly, and threw all my usual planting strategies into a tailspin.  We did plant garlic, onions, potatoes and jerusalem artichokes (see below!), and a few other things, but really, not much gardening took place at all.

Anyway: these posts are inspired by Sharon Astyk’s “Independence Days” challenge, over at The Chatelaine’s Keys.  Her focus, in this challenge, is to help people break their reliance on agribusiness and supermarkets for their food needs.  My interest is similar, but different: I am interested in the sustainability of my lifestyle, concentrating (in these posts, at least) on food.

That’s enough intro!  The rest of the post is broken down into categories.  The idea is to do something – anything! – in each one, each week.

1. Plant Something

  • I’ve started a new mushroom growing kit!  I didn’t have much (any!) success with the last one; if I can’t get to grips with this one, I’ll throw out the kits, and just try again with spores…
  • Not so much planting as transplanting: volunteer garlics and shallots are being moved to better beds for the summer.  they might not survive, but in their current position, they certainly won’t, so it’s this or nothing.
  • Also in the transplanting category, I’ve moved my rosemary, thyme, chives and sage into a large, decorative planter.  They were due a ‘potting on’, and this way, they will look better (and take up less total space) on the patio, compared with their earlier cheap, plastic pots.

2. Harvest something

  • Jerusalem artichokes!  The four weedy little tubers I planted last year have made a bucketful of harvested veg.  It feels amazing to be harvesting anything from the garden in February!
  • Chillies from some of the plants that have been overwintering indoors.
  • Basil from an indoor pot plant.
  • Rosemary (pruning and repotting)

3. Preserve something

  •  I’m drying the rosemary that was pruned off the plant.  Not a big contribution – but it’s something!
  • The Jerusalem Artichokes will be stored cool and dry for future consumption (by me.  J doesn’t seem keen…)

4. Waste Not (reducing wastage in all areas)

  • Composting kitchen scraps
  • I split a couple of the jerusalem artichokes with my fork when I dug them up  – so I cooked ’em and ate them for lunch.
  • Freezing dinner leftovers for future meals

5. Want Not (preparing for shortage situations)
Nothing this week!

6. Build/support Community Food Systems
Nothing this week – apart from this here blog post!

7. Eat the Food

  • Jerusalem artichokes!
  • The garlic and potatoes from last year’s harvest that are still with us.
  • A chilli or two from our plants..

8.What I bought

  • Pretty much all our food is bought in right now.  As I said above, I didn’t grow much last year – and this is not a good time of year to be living off your own reserves, anyway.  I’m actually quite pleased to realise that there are a few small things – herbs and spices – and at least one staple – potatoes – that we are still providing for ourselves, despite ‘not really doing anything’ in the garden last year.

9. Looking forwards

  • My dwarf nectarine has been flowering abundantly, and it was absolutely mobbed with bees earlier today.  Will we have fertilisation?
  • I need to start tomato seeds this week or next.
  • I could put a first round of broad bean seeds in now, too…
  • …and it’s time to start chitting (some) potatoes.

Bad Blogger Award goes to…. me!

Oh, I have been such a bad blogger.  Not just an absent blogger (second post in February?  Really?!), but a lax and lazy one, too.  I did not take a single photograph at Textiles in Focus.  I have been knitting on super-secret projects which I cannot share.  There has been nothing on my looms all year.  My latest spinning project has reached the plying stage, but I don’t think I’ve blogged about it at all – or even the previous one.

So it’s a good job someone else has been producing pretty pictures for me to show off, hmm?  Jen was the winner of the very first (yarny) Saturday Giveaway (there were a couple of bookish ones first) – and just look what she’s made with her winnings!

Isn’t that glorious??  (I love this photograph: the smile, the snow, the red-turquoise contrast, the yummmy shawl!)  I’m sure I’ll bore everyone to tears by repeating this all the time, but: I *never* get bored of seeing what everyone makes with my yarn and fibre.  (This was a one-off skein; a colourway very similar to ‘Kingfisher’ on a Bluefaced Leicester laceweight that I decided not to carry as a regular line!  Jen seems to have enjoyed knitting with it, though…  so perhaps I should change my mind?)

The pattern is Flukra, by Gudrun Johnston, and Jen’s own blog post about this project is here.  (If you don’t already read Jen’s blog, you probably should!  Jen is a knitter and designer par excellence, and she writes beautifully.  If that’s not enough to tempt you over, there’s also food, quilting and gardening to leaven the mix.  As a bonus, the wonderfully cheery header of her blog never fails to make me smile!)

Thank you, Jen, for allowing me to share your photo here; everyone else, the Saturday Giveaways will be starting up more regularly again very soon now – perhaps even as soon as this week!  And, errm, I’ll try to keep you posted on my own projects, too.  This is supposed to be a blog, after all, right?