Sunday, April 22, 2012

Yarn-winding made easy

I often buy yarn in skeins rather than balls, and then need to wind the yarn into balls before I can knit or crochet with it. The best method I've found uses a 'nostepinne', which is a tapered stick with a groove at one end. Winding yarn this way is easier on my hands than just winding free-hand, because a wooden handle is easier to grip than an ever-growing ball of yarn. The nostepinne method is also great because you get a centre-pull ball - I find knitting with the inside-end less chaotic because the ball stays where you put it and doesn't roll around. You can also knit from both ends of the ball if you want to hold the yarn double.

Dad and I made this video which shows how I do it:


First, lay your skein of yarn around a chair-back or a helper's outstretched hands. Then attach the end of your yarn to the nostepinne by winding it around the groove a few times, and then start winding your ball around the middle. It goes quickly once you get used to it! When all the yarn has been wound, secure the end by tucking it under a few wraps on the ball. Pull the ball off the nostepinne (this is where the tapered shape comes in handy), and fish out the end from the centre (i.e. the end that was wrapped around the groove). Your yarn is now ready to go!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Elementary, my dear

My periodic table cross-stitch, in progress...

I started with the 'key' at the bottom left, mainly so I could try out all the colours, and make sure the back-stitched letters over the top are reasonably legible. I plan to stitch the element symbols in order, for added geekiness!

I've gone for a soft, vintage-inspired colour scheme, and I tea-dyed my white fabric to a light beige to suit. Instead of black, the back-stitched lines, letters, and numbers are a dark coffee-bean brown. I may add a decorative border once I've finished the table, we shall see...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Out of yarn error

Progress has been halted on my Chickadee cardie. I finished the left sleeve (adjusting the number of repeats for my freakishly short arms) and began the right sleeve, but ran out of yarn 1/3 of the way through. Never fear, I have another two giant skeins, but they're in Wellington. I didn't think I'd make this much progress while in Whakatane, so I under-packed!

With a dearth of ready-to-go knitting projects, I started my first cross-stitch project in years, using this pattern: Periodic Table of the Elements. Knowing me and cross-stitch, this will be a long-term project to chip away at.

I've also been pondering my next big knitting project, which I think might be this pretty jersey: Stasis Pullover.

I love Brooklyn Tweed patterns, and this is such a sweet, old-school design. I think some of The Little Wool Co's heathered 4ply wool would be lovely for this. Time to have some fun with sample cards!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Singing at St Mary's

I'm a member of the St Mary of the Angels choir, which is great for my general confidence with singing - performing in public at Mass every week is fantastic for learning to deal with nerves! The choir does lots of Renaissance polyphony, as well as plainchant and various other styles of liturgical music. I've been singing with them for ten years now, and my singing has improved in every respect since I started. Of course, my lessons with the choir director, Robert, have had a lot to do with that.

This Easter my friend Olivia and I sang a Monteverdi duet for two sopranos with two violins accompanying, plus organ and Robert's viola da gamba for the continuo part. Monteverdi is one of my absolute favourite composers, so this was a real treat for me. I've also been learning a solo from Handel's Messiah, which I sang after Mass, once the choir had had our annual Easter treat of singing the Hallelujah Chorus!

My family was in town briefly for a get-together near Wellington, and Dad recorded some of the music. Because we were performing at Mass rather than at a concert, there was a fair amount of background noise (from babies during the duet, and conversations during my after-Mass solo). It's still great to be able to hear how we did. Evidently I need to learn to project my consonants more clearly in such a resonant building. ;)

Our duet (with bonus baby accompaniment):

And my Handel solo is here.

The wonders of blocking

I finished a hat this weekend. It had been in 'time out' for a week or so, after I was forced to undo a few inches of knitting because it was painfully clear that I was going to run out of yarn. So instead of making the larger, floppier version, I backtracked and made the less-slouchy version. The pattern is Purl Beret from The Purl Bee - a great simple hat pattern for using up partial skeins of sock yarn. I used the leftover yarn from making my fingerless gloves.

I love blocking my finished projects! It tidies them up, and you can fine-tune the shape and size after trying the thing on. For this hat, I soaked it in a bowl of cool water for 20 minutes or so, carefully squeezed the water out, and got more water out by sandwiching it in a folded towel and treading on it. Then I slipped a dinner plate inside the hat, and sat the plate on top of a bowl in an out-of-the-way spot. 24 hours later, the hat was ready to wear!

Before blocking:

While blocking:

After blocking (with helpful feline):

Ta da!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My First Knitting

Last year Mum & Dad framed my very first dodgy knitting attempt for my birthday present. It's a classic - full of accidental increases and general weirdness! In my defense, I wasn't very old at the time. I think I had intended to make a doll's scarf.

Here it is in all its glory...

A Very Fancy Hat

While driving northwards last Monday we stopped in Carterton for a spy in an antique shop. Mum rescued a cute embroidered tablecloth, and I found a hat. A 1950s pink velvet number that wouldn't look out of place on a My Little Pony!

I am now 20% more fancy.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Adventures in cardigan knitting

I'm knitting a Chickadee cardigan, and I love love love my colour combo! I think it gives the design a kind of retro-Scandinavian look.

I started knitting it three days ago, and I steamed through the yoke, I was so keen to see the little birds emerge. I've now started on the first sleeve. It's a seamless top-down construction, which I haven't tried before, so it's all quite educational. :)

The yarn is Little Wool Co. 8ply in 'Moorit' (a lovely natural undyed wool), with red accents in The Wool Company's 8ply Perendale in 'Cherry'. The cherry yarn is left over from my first (and only) jersey which I knit last year. Because I'm pretty inexperienced in garment knitting, I waited to start this until I visited Mum, so she could help me figure out what size to make. Fingers crossed we got it right... we shall see...