Friday, May 15, 2009


Pattern: Petersburg from Rowan 42
Yarn: Rowan Cocoon, shade Scree
Yardage: 5.74 skeins for size M
Needles: 7mm & 6mm bamboo straights, & 6mm circ for front borders

I decided to finish off Petersburg this past week, as I'd started it back in January when the weather was truly cold! Given the damp day we're having today, it was nice and snug to try on. I'm pleased with how this turned out, the Cocoon is a lovely yarn, very soft and squishy. It does tend to shed some fibres (mohair content) though.

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A foray into dyeing

A while ago I won a Kool Aid dyeing kit, which comprised a skein of sock yarn and quite a few sachets of drink mix. This week I decided to make my first attempt at dyeing yarn. The original idea was to dye two skeins of sock yarn a pale lime green, basically a solid-ish colour.

In attempt 1, I used a stock pot on the stove top. For the green, I mixed one sachet of Lime with one of Lemonade, and small amount of Mango. I'd printed out some instructions from Knitty, and also had an info sheet that came with the other skein of yarn. Based upon these I put the dye solution into the pot, then put the soaked skeins in on top of this. I quickly realised this wasn't going to give an even distribution of colour, far from it! The yarn took up the dye incredibly fast, and because at this point there was very little water in the pot, it was pretty much confined to the lower parts of the skeins that were in contact with the solution. Now I realised that my original plan was probably rather ambitious, given the quantity of dye available, but even after adding water, I could tell the solution was just about exhausted before I switched on the heat!

Ending up with 2 skeins dyed in patches in green, I mixed up some Pink Lemonade and some Grape. The first skein I just used the pink, applying with a turkey baster that we have never used (skein laid out flat on some plastic). The second got the purple with a few splashes of pink. This bit is a lot of fun - I wasn't aiming for anything terribly organised, just trying out the techniques. These skeins were set, one by one, using the microwave. They have turned out pretty well, considering they have been through twice the process!

Pink/green skein, rewound into a centre-pull ball:

I had to snip this part way through, as both skeins had developed a few tangles due to not being tied well enough (I just left the ties on that they came with, which probably weren't quite snug enough to begin with)

Green/purple/pink skein, rewound:

I wound the first part of this one off by hand, as this had got a wee bit more tangled.

All in all, I'm pleased with how these turned out, especially as a first attempt!

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dancing with tears in our eyes

The past month has been slightly surreal, to say the least! We were looking forward to seeing the re-formed Ultravox on their "Return to Eden" tour, on April 14th at Manchester Apollo. As a fan from the early 1980s, who wasn't able to see them live back then, this was a dream come true.

We were not disappointed - the band are every bit as good now, after such a long break, as they were back then. The Ultravox "sound" is there, and with the advent of better technology allows them to enjoy the performance much more, without huge racks of equipment to nurse along and pray it doesn't fail! We were in the third row of the stalls, which at the Apllo meant you were extremely close to the stage, a fantastic viewpoint.

I was particularly glad to be able to see Billy Currie play his violin/viola solos live, something that inspired me to stick with the violin myself, all those years ago (and to eventually have the experience of playing many times as part of an orchestra, in front of audiences).

I took our compact digital camera along to Manchester, and while the photos it managed weren't brilliant, they were good enough for my own personal memento of the event. The Ultravox site linked above will have plenty of great tour photos and other material uploaded soon!

After Manchester, I decided that one gig wasn't enough - this may never happen again, after all! I decided to acquire a ticket for the Camden Roundhouse gig on April 30th, which was also being filmed for a live DVD. I had the most amazing day, and got very close to the front at the gig itself (the main area at the Roundhouse was standing). The sound here was hugely more rich and powerful than at Manchester, and much clapping, singing, and punching the air was the order of the day :-)

Afterwards I met back up with some people who were at the same hotel, and we went around the back of the venue to wait for the band to leave. To cut a long story short, I was lucky enough to get the autographs of Chris, Billy and Warren. This wasn't something I'd factored in to my plans at all, the gig was reward enough, so it was a wonderful end to an amazing evening.

All this excitement has meant that knitting has rather taken a back seat in the past few weeks! I'm now picking my WIPs up again, and have ordered some yarn for a Shawl That Jazz. I did manage to finish reading "Wives and Daughters" by Elizabeth Gaskell, and was rather surprised to find it was unfinished, as she died before completing it. It appears that only one chapter remained unwritten, and from notes we can glean the events it would contain. I did enjoy the book despite the missing ending! Last week I read "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman, which is just a wonderful story, highly recommended. One of those books that you really don't want to finish, and you miss it afterwards. I'm about to start "Twilight", which needs little introduction, but may switch to the sixth in the "Saga of Seven Suns" series by Kevin J. Anderson when that arrives.

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