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Sometimes, life takes us in slightly different directions. After four years blogging here at Twisted and Warped, I’ve decided to refocus my blogging slightly, and make it more representative of myself and my textile interests. So, as of this morning, I have a new textile blog in a new location, with a new name:

Yarnosophy

I’ve imported all the content from here to the new blog, and at the moment they look very much the same, but the new one will gradually evolve. I want to take a little more time with blogging, explore textiles and the textile world more, and reflect on my own work and others.

So, please update your links and RSS feeds – and I hope to see you over at Yarnosophy soon!

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Last weekend I finished my third Brangian, in a deliciously rich dark red sock wool from Saffron Dyeworks. It was a bit of an experiment – I’ve put the yarn requirements for the small size in the pattern as 440yds (400m) but I wanted to see if the revised small size could be knitted with just 400yds (365m) of yarn. The answer? It can’t! I ran out of yarn two rows from the end, so had to cast off early without doing the picot row.

However, the other experiment with this one was to bead it, and I used dark red clear glass beads – and I’m very happy with the result!

Pattern: Brangian Shawl Yarn: Wasabi from Saffron Dyeworks

Pattern: Brangian Shawl (bead detail)

Beading instructions:
Use the crochet hook method to place beads.
Chart 2:
On rows 3, 11, & 19: Add a bead on to the K1 between the K2tog and ssk (ie at the beginning of each bud.)
On rows 5, 13 & 21: Add a bead on the 2 & 4 stitches of the k5 section. (ie on ether side of the bead in the previous row).

Chart 3:
On row 3: Add a bead on to the K1 between the K2tog and ssk (ie at the beginning of each bud.)
On row 5: Add a bead on the 2 & 4 stitches of the K5 section. (ie on ether side of the bead in the previous row).
On rows 7, 9, 11 & 13: Where there is a yo, K1, yo to form the columns, add a bead on the K1. Also add a bead to the centre K1!

My shawl pattern, Brangian, has been knitted up by several test-knitters, the pattern tweaked on the basis of their feedback, and it’s now available in the Ravelry store. It’s been a lot of work – but an enjoyable challenge! – getting charts right, creating ‘uncharts’ and checking them, playing with the layout, making sure the instructions are clear.

I incredibly grateful to my wonderful test-knitters, most of them from the Aussie Shawl Knitters Hangout on Ravelry, who have, in a few short weeks, knitted shawls and provided feedback on their experience – along with enthusiasm and encouragement! Thanks, Sue, the other Sue, Rachel, Tara, Kelly, Margaret, Bel and Ellie!

Extra special thanks to Tara, who lent her photography skills to the project and took some great photos, and to her friend Bella, who modelled the shawl.

Brangian Shawl detail

Photo copyright Tara Mitchell

I’ve created a page with more info on Brangian, a link ot the Ravelry pattern store (you don’t need to be a member to purchase it) and answers to what might be Frequently Asked Questions. There’ll be a few more bits of info added to support knitting the pattern in the next week or two.

Oh, and I’ve knitted a second Brangian, this time in Handmaiden SeaSilk, and in the medium size. It’s currently blocking, and taking an age to finish drying, as we have wonderful rain today:
Brangian Shawl blocking

I’ll take some better photos when it’s dry, and the sun is shining!
ETA:

Pattern: Brangian (medium). Yarn: Handmaiden SeaSilk

Brangian Shawl Pattern

I’ve designed a shawl 🙂

In the old tales of Tristan and Iseult, Brangian was Iseult’s faithful companion, who travelled far from her own land to serve her Princess. This shawl, with its textured lace columns, subtly shifting to form a border flowing into the scalloped edging, is not as stunning as some lace shawls, but like Brangian the handmaiden, she is quietly beautiful.

I’m very happy with the shawl, and have written up the pattern – it’s now being test-knitted by a few friends. Once that’s been done, and their feedback incorporated into the pattern, I’ll be making the pattern available through Ravelry (and possibly through this site).

Brangian Shawl - detail

I’ve thought long and hard about whether to make it available for free, or to sell it for a small cost… and I’ve decided not to give it away. One of my concerns over the years in the textile/fibre arts is that traditional ‘women’s’ crafts such as knitting, spinning, weaving, etc are constantly devalued – and that often, we are party to that devaluing. It’s for this reason that I don’t sell what I make, because the going prices for hand-made items do not reflect anywhere near the expertise and time that goes in to the making of them. I’m always saddened and frustrated when I see a pair of handmade socks selling for $20, or a beautiful woven scarf for $60. Subtract the cost of materials, and divide by the number of hours of (trained and skilled) work that goes in to the making, and you come out with a very low number. Try telling anyone else in an independent business – a plumber, or a computer technician, or your hairdresser – that they should work for $1 per hour!

I do give things away as gifts some times, to people who appreciate the value of the making and the giving. I’ve designed my own patterns before for various items, and there’s a lot of work and experience involved in making things work – and even more in doing it and writing it up in such a way that the pattern is repeatable by others. I don’t mind paying a few dollars for a pattern in recognition of that work, and I hope others don’t either. I don’t think anyone’s getting rich selling knitting patterns 🙂  (Okay, maybe Kaffe Fassett…)

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great that there are free patterns available, too. But I think that the choice to give away a pattern is each designer’s to make, for whatever reasons they choose to make it, and should not be an expectation. A design does have considerable value, whether bought or received for ‘free’, and that should be appreciated.  If ever I design more patterns, maybe some will be free, as a gift to a community that I enjoy being part of.

Anyway, the Brangian pattern will be available, probably in a couple of weeks, in both charted and ‘unchart’ form. It’s designed for fingering-weight yarn, and will be in two sizes, a small shawl, and a larger shawl. Now, I’d best get knitting and finish the larger version!

November has not been a good month for me. I headed down to Sydney on the 9th for surgery on the 11th, hoping I’d only be in hospital a night or two, but planning to stay in Sydney a few extra days afterwards, so I took some knitting with me. Unfortunately, the surgery (attempting to insert a stent inside the existing stents in my cerebral aneurysm) did not go well, and despite the best efforts of my wonderful doctors, I ended up with multiple complications – a small brain hemorrhage, some damage to the retina in my right eye, an abdominal bleed, and a tear in my femoral artery which gave me a large bruise/haematoma on almost my entire upper right leg. So, as a result, I was eight days in hospital, and had to have further surgery to repair the femoral artery.

Boy, was I glad I had my knitting! I did try some lace knitting on an Ishbel in the first couple of days, but my brain/eye coordination wasn’t that great, and I had difficulty relating the knitting to the chart, which is something I usually find easy. My lovely sister fixed up the row I stuffed up, but I put Ishbel aside for a day or two and instead worked on some socks, which were much easier. Many of the doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, fellow patients and their families expressed interest and asked me about my knitting. One of the young doctors mentioned several times that he’d love a pair of handknit socks 🙂 After I finished the socks, I picked up Ishbel again, and my brain and eyes were working much better so it went more smoothly – except a number of times I was one stitch short at the end of a pattern row. I fudged those bits, adding a stitch reasonably seamlessly in the pattern – and so the scarf, in a peppermint green wool/silk, got renamed the Peppermint Fudge Ishbel.

I finished her a day or so after I got out of hospital, but as I stayed on in Sydney for a few days as a precaution, I didn’t get to block her until today. Here she is, all pinned out:
Peppermint Fudge Ishbel

The pattern is, of course, the popular Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, and the yarn is a merino/silk fingering weight yarn from Lush Yarns. I used size 4mm needles, and made the small size in the stocking stitch section, and the large size for the lace section, working charts ABABACDE.

The socks are the Harris Tweed pattern, knitted in Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 4ply. The pattern was nice and easy to knit, so I could knit while writing – the knitting keeping my fingers from being distracted and clicking all over the internet, but easy to drop the moment any words came to mind. I suspect I’ll be casting on another pair soon, because I love these ones, but I’m giving them away as a Christmas gift. Sorry that the photo isn’t that great – taken in a hotel room, rather than my usual photography space at home!
Pattern: Harris Tweed. Yarn: Bendigo Luxury 4ply

Now I’m home, I’m working on my two Aeolian shawls. The blackberry one is getting closer to finished – I’ve only got about 10 rows to go, but as they’re looonnngg rows and beaded, there’s still a few hours’ work in it. I’ll post pictures when it’s done. The sea green/blue one is still only in the yucca section, so it has a lot more to go yet. But I’m thankful that, despite the medical problems, I can see, and knit, and I figure there can’t be too much brain damage if I can knit lace! It could have been so much worse, so I’m grateful that it wasn’t. I have to take things easy for a bit, and will go back to Sydney in mid-December to see the neurosurgeon and the vascular surgeon. There is likely to be more surgery on my aneurysm in the future, since this lot wasn’t successful. I’m not looking forward to that, as it’s always risky, but I’m determined to pull through it okay. After all, I’ve got a lot of stash waiting to be knitted up into beautiful things!

It’s confession time. I have too many wips. And some of them I am this >< close to finishing. So, I’ll list them here, and then see how much progress I can make in finishing off things in the next week or two three.

First up, Daniel’s hat:

To be honest, I only started this last night. But it has been promised for some weeks. Daniel is one of the waiters at the café I frequent, and having seen me knit there a lot, he asked if I would knit a beanie for him. We worked out an exchange (he’s studying graphic design, so will do a little work on an image for my writing website), discussed yarns and styles. While I was in Sydney last week, I found a Cleckheaton pattern book with a heap of different hats in it, and last night I found a couple of 4mm circulars and started knitting:

Yarn: Bendigo Classic 8ply. Pattern: Cleckheaton rolled brim hat

Yarn: Bendigo Classic 8ply. Pattern: Cleckheaton rolled brim hat

Daniel works at the café on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so my aim is to have this finished in time to drop in on Tuesday.

Next up: Lauren’s lacy fingerless mittens

I knitted the first one of these back in November – but I only had bamboo needles to hand, and me and bamboo needles are not the best of friends. I then started the second one on metal dpns, but have had a) ongoing worry that this will result in radically different tension from the first one, and b) ongoing anxiety about counting the pattern repeats correctly so that they end up the same length – the first pair I made her didn’t. After Lauren dropped a gentle hint about them when she was visiting a couple of weeks ago, I have pulled them out again and done a little more – I’m increasing for the thumb on mitt 2. I should just soldier on with them; and if it goes haywire this time, then I will redo them from scratch, knitting two at a time on two circs. (I’m working with 2 circs for the first time on Daniel’s hat).

Crimson lace mitten

Crimson lace mitten

Number 3: Deciduous Lace Scarf

This is the project that I’m itching to keep working on! The Romance Writers of Australia conference that I am going to next month holds a silent auction in aid of breast cancer research, and I am aiming to donate a basket including my new book and a beaded, lace scarf – this being the scarf. I’m adapting Evelyn Clark’s Deciduous Lace Shawl pattern to a simple rectangular scarf, as I wanted a border with scallop effect, suitable for beading, and I like the way the motifs in the shawl interact with each other. I will make the shawl later – for myself – but for this purpose a scarf if more appropriate. The yarn is a beautiful 50%silk, 50% merino, Carrera from Henry’s Attic.

Deciduous Lace Scarf

Deciduous Lace Scarf

Number 4: Plain socks

These are my writing knitting – plain socks, nothing fancy about them, but a lovely dark blue/teal yarn that will be great for everyday wear with jeans. I ike to have a simple pair of socks on the go to knit while I’m staring at the screen trying to write. They don’t take very much concentration to knit, can be put down and picked up easily, and keep my fingers from clicking on the mouse and wandering around the internet instead of writing.

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL

Number 5: Bianca-inspired jacket

I started the sleeves for this while I was travelling in the outback in May. It has progressed no further since then. (The photo only has one sleeve, but I’m working both together.)

Pattern: Bianca's jacket adaptation. Yarn: Bendigo Classic 12ply

Pattern: Bianca's jacket adaptation. Yarn: Bendigo Classic 12ply

Numbers 6 & 7: Shawl-collar jacket and Fisherman’s Gansey

Okay, this and number 7 are ones that are all but finished – and have been that way for *ahem* a while. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate sewing up seams? The shawl-collar jacket needs about 20 more short rows of knitting on the collar, and then to be sewn up. I knitted the sleeves for it while travelling in May. The Fisherman’s gansey has sat, almost untouched, for about 12 months – because I need to sew the shoulder seams, then pick up stitches (almost as bad as seam-sewing, IMO) for the collar. I did, however, wash and block the pieces a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have photos of either (other then the boring ones on my Rav projects page). When will I finish these? Umm… maybe I should just break it down into small tasks. 1) Finish knitting collar of jacket within a week. 2) Sew shoulder seams and pick up neck stitches on gansey within 2 weeks. Then we’ll see how we go from there!

At least I have now finished the temporary “part-time” university job that sucked up my time and brain power for the first half of the year. Now all I have to do in the next few weeks is make significant progress on writing a book, write an academic paper, and put together a proposal for a small consulting job. Oh, and knit. And I might even make it back to the loom, sometime soon….

In a tiny attempt to do some decluttering, I’ve listed some Spin-Off magazines on eBay:

3 Spin-Off magazines – Spring, Summer and Winter 1995

4 Spin-Off magazines: Spring, Summer, Fall &Winter 1996

4 Spin-Off magazines-1997 Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

4 Spin-Off magazines-1998 Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

The auctions finish around 7.30ish (AEDT) on Friday 23rd January. There are bids on the first two lots already.

I have some more, 1999-2002 or thereabouts and a few odd ones from other years, so I’ll see how these ones go and perhaps list them, too.

I know there’s a few people who visit here who entered in my contest on my writing blog last month. The good news is that my wonderful publisher has arranged another giveaway, this time in conjunction with the Romance Writers of Australia. If you’d like to enter to win one of five copies of my romantic suspense, As Darkness Falls, head over to the RWA’s giveaway page and send in your email entry, before the end of November.

The giveaway contest is open to everyone, not just RWAustralia members, and all you’ll need to do to enter is send an email to the address given on the web page. (RWAustralia has a strict no spam policy, so your email address won’t be used for any purpose other than the contest.)

And to give this post a bit of yarn content, while I’m working on book 2 to meet my deadline, I’m knitting very simple socks – the basic plain stockinette pattern I’ve knitted a lot of times before, that needs no concentration. They’ll probably be for my Dad for Christmas. I’ve actually finished sock 1 and am on to sock 2 now, but here’s a pic of #1 in progress:

Basic socks in Moda Vera self=patterning yarn

Basic socks in Moda Vera self=patterning yarn

I started knitting one of the Three Sisters scarves a couple of weeks back. It’s a nice and easy pattern, but I’m pretty sure I picked the wrong yarn:

Three sisters scarf #2

Three sisters scarf #2

Love the colours, don’t like the pooling, plus the yarn is too heavy for the pattern and there’s probably not going to be enough for a decent length scarf. So, I’ve almost talked myself into frogging it.

It’s just a really big step to do the deed itself – pull that needle out, rip it all, rewind the yarn.

In the meantime, I’ve been going a bit slow on the Komet sock. It’s much easier pattern-wise to knit over three needles rather than four, but a bit harder on my hands, which have been aching a bit lately. So I do a bit here and there.

Nundle Woollen Mills Retro 4ply

Pattern: Komet, by Stephanie van der Linden. Yarn: Nundle Woollen Mills Retro 4ply

My other current easy knitting is the shawl-collar jacket; I undid the 8″ of the back that I’d knitted a couple of weeks ago, and started again in a smaller size – have now done about 8″ again. After the moss-stitch hem, its plain knitting, so quite brainless.

Some of my blog readers know that, in between knitting, I write books. I’m giving away a copy of my recently published romantic suspense novel, As Darkness Falls, over on my writing blog.

So, if you like romantic suspense (set on the edge of the Australian outback), and want to enter for a chance to win, pop on over there, download the free chapter 1, answer 3 super easy questions, and maybe it will be your name that will be drawn out on October 13th!

(And I said this post wasn’t about knitting or weaving, but I’m thinking maybe I could weave some inkle bookmarks – one to go with the book prize, and maybe a couple of consolation prizes… Hmmm… will have to see what I have in the fine cotton yarn stash… no promises, but maybe 🙂 )

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