Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Back from the Living History Fair

Back from the Living History Fair and I was extremely pleased with eth response I got to the new hats. Sold a fair number and they all went to people who really will get loads of wear out of them, so good warm happy stuff all round. Got a couple of commissions to keep me out of mischief too which is always pleasant.

I really need to do a proper sort out of all the hats now and maybe list some on ebay in the run-up to Christmas, there are a few that I'm fed up with and it would be nice tos end them to new homes.

Will try to get some pictures up of new yarns and projects soon, last few posts have been text only and not that visually interesting. Sorry about that!

Monday, 15 October 2007

Knitting and the Environment

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is the environment so today I'm thinking particularly about how choices I make in some of my crafts can reflect an awareness of the impact we have on the world.

On the surface of it, knitting looks like a very low impact activity, but have a little think about some of the things we choose to use.

Where does our yarn come from, is it natural fibre or manmade. If manmade where does the raw material come from, is it a sustainable source, does it have any pollutants associated with it? If natural, has the fibre been raised ethically, dyed with care for the environment, produced in energy efficient ways, transported round the world? How was it packaged, was there loads to go in the bin once we'd unwrapped it?

What about the tools of the trade? What are your knitting needles made from, what is their story?

So, what should I tighten up on myself? I already make a concious effort to use wool produced in this country as far as practical, but I also pick up bargains on ebay or in sales when I can. So I clearly have room for improvement in being a little more focussed on sourcing. Most of my knitting needles are secondhand or home-made, so I don't feel any need to worry too much about them, they will last me a lifetime I would think.My sock machine is already a hundred years old and is muscle powered, probably doesnt come much more eco friendly than that for a machine. I do however use some chemical dyes. I try to be extremely concious of details like measureing so they attach fully to the yarn and don''t go down the drain when the dyebath is finished, I also use a lot of natural dyes but I should grow or locally collect more. I do spin, but recently time hasn't let me do as much as I should. Ideally I'd like to switch from using bought yarn to handspun entirely, that way I can use fleece produced locally, but saying that, I sell a lot of my work so I need to balance the market against what I make and sadly fewer people will pay the extra for a handspun yarn on top of handknit work.

All in all, I think its probably a case of continuing to think clearly about my choices when I pick a new yarn or consider new needles. International trade per se is not a bad thing, I do sell odd garments overseas and hope to continue to do so, but choosing local for day to day needs is undoubtably a better option, and whilst I see lots of room for improvement in the ethical choices I make when knitting, I don't think its too bad all things considered.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Knitting tension

I've noticed that when I'm stressed I knit smaller, tighter, faster stitches than when I'm calm. Annoyingly this is often accompanied by a slightly artificial, inefficient breathing pattern that doesnt do my overall mood any good.

So, I'm going to try to turn that round and see if deliberately knitting at a controlled, relaxed pace helps unwind me when life is being awkward.

Anyone else find their knitting tension matches their mood?

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Silly Fifteenth Century Hat

Here's the red hat I was working on last week, all fulled and finished. Its based on some fifteenth century french illustrations of ultra fashionable young men in the silliest hats ever. I'm quite pleased with it :)

Have also made a couple more plain hats, a brown tudor one and a blue scots bonnet. Really ought to get on with some socks, and some dyeing, but hats are easier to fit into the day at the moment.

Had a delivery of dark brown Hebridean wool today too, two weights, same natural shade. Got to try both on the sock machine and see how it goes when I get a moment.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Knitting on the train

I knit on the train to work most mornings. A week or so ago a friend in the States sent me this badge, so I wore it on my jacket, whilst doing my usual knitting for a few days. I swear I got far more funny looks with this tiny little badge pinned to my lapel than I ever normally do if I'm just getting on with my knitting.

I didn't think it was that subversive a concept!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Lavender socks

Just finished a pair of mock rib short socks in a combination of light purple and a grey-green that reminds me of lavender plants. Got a splitting headache so not sure how much other knitting I'll get done tonight, buts its good to have these done.

The photo doesn't show the colour well sadly, the colours are much more subtle in real life.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

This may look like a bodged sock...

...and to a point, it is. This is the pair to the spindleberry socks previously noted, and I somehow managed to knit it about 8 rows short. So, once I stopped cursing, I rehung it below the toe on the sock machine and did that bit again. At least, I hope I got it right. Won't know til I sew it up and unpick the reject part. (The white bit is waste yarn that normally seperates one sock from the next)

Tonight I'm also knitting bright mustard yellow extra long wool stockings as part of an order. Wonder if they are to wear with cross gartering?

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Earflaps Cap

Had a constructive weekend, went to my parents so got lots of evening knitting time in and made almost three caps by the time I got home. Two are split brim Tudor caps like the previous post, one in black and one in a white Jacob wool which will be madder dyed in due course. Also made this Earflaps cap, again based on some I examined at the V&A earlier in the summer.

Have just started some fiery red wool I bought on ebay, its a 'double scotch' yarn which seems to mean that its made of an awful lot of thinner threads rather than be

ing an obvious two or three ply in teh usual way. I suspect it will felt really well, so I'm going to have a go at a conjectural knitted sugarloaf cap.