Hiatus. That sure is a funny word. After I wrote that last blog post I realsied I wouldn't have time to write any more for a long time because I had to write a thesis for that pesky degree that I'm doing. Now that that's done (and I'm pretty hopeful about getting a good result) I can focus on another of my loves: knitting.

So last time I posted, I said I had heaps of news and then I only told you one new thing, and that was that I had entered a beanie into a local agricultural show. Well, the show was held a week ago and guess what...I won! First prize in the hand-knitted beanie division, with a cash prize of $2AUD.  Here's proof of my win:
The show was actually a bigger deal than I thought it would be. I rocked up for about 40 minutes not long before closing time. In fact they had already stopped bothering selling tickets and I got in for free. I scoped out the hall which held my exhibit. There were only about 4 entries competing for the same prize as me but there were HEAPS of entries in total. Lots of hand-knitting, crochet, machine-knitting, patchwork, eggs, produce, flowers and miscellaneous stuff like vegetable scultpures, and decorated egg diorama-thingies. And when I went up to get my prize, there were several old ladies waiting in line with me who had entered about 20 objects and had won with most of them.  Career show-knitters. Not that you actually make any money if the prizes are all two bucks. I felt kind of little with my single entry against all those seasoned enterers. But I was SO proud. I even framed my first prize certificate. A very encouraging experience.

Second piece of news: I finished (AGES ago) that shawl I was making for my mum. I still haven't blocked it, but here it is in its pre-blocked state:

I hope it will make a nice tablecloth for my mum for Christmas.

Next piece of news: I HAVE A SPINNING WHEEL!!!!! During the data collection of my Honours experiment, I was waiting for guinea pigs (of the human variety) to arrive and I was idly looking through gumtree, a free classifieds site that I totally love because it's how I got my great job as a babysitter. There were about 3 spinning wheels for sale in my area. The cheapest one just happened to be about 3 minutes drive from my house and I bought it! It's an Ashford Traditional, and here it is:

Isn't it lovely? I had originally planned for a friend to teach me but while waiting for a time for her to come over, I figured out how to do it myself, with the help of Youtube, Joy of Handspinning, Spinning Daily, Spindle and Wheel, Bella Online and a bunch of other great sites. And while I was writing this blog post I ordered The Intentional Spinner with DVD included as a treat for myself. I've even already dyed some yarn with food colouring following a Youtube tutorial and I've knitted some marled yarn I span into premie baby booties for Birthline, a great local pregnancy and baby charity. The fibre I've been using is raw alpaca fleece which I've been washing at home and drying on an old window screen. I then pick it by hand and card it with some small carders I bought on eBay from the seller woolbothy in the UK (I highly recommend him).

I'm in the process of spinning enough wool for socks. I'm plying the yarn using Navajo plying, which is a method of making a 3-ply yarn from a single thread. I'm also collecting calendula petals from my garden. I'm drying them on my windowsill and I plan to dye the yarn using them. The problem I have at the moment is I can't seem to find any alum, which is a metal (or mineral? Excuse my ignorance) with many uses, one of which is as a mordant for getting the colour of natural dyes into fibre. At the moment I'm trying to stew some alfoil in vinegar (I got this idea from a website) but honestly I'm not too confident about that working. My other option is to dye the yarn in pots made from metals which are mordants like iron or tin, but I'm a cheapskate and scoping out pots made from those materials sounds annoying. I definitely want to try it at some point though, but maybe not for this project.

Next news: I just finished my first original pattern that was worthy of being written down. It's a beanie for a relative for Christmas with an intarsia fish on it. I'm not entirely happy with the finished product (it turned out too short for my liking, but still wearable) so I'll make a few adjusments before I post a pattern online.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading!

The Knitted Kitten