Friday, April 30, 2010

Location, Location, Location


I need a whole cyberspace to describe where I like to knit because I like to knit anywhere :)

Seriously though there are a few favourite places. I obviously knit in my studio and yes, I do have a comfy chair (with a little stool to put my feet up). It is placed at the window so that I can take full advantage of the daylight and the sun in the winter.



In the evening, I have another comfy corner in the TV lounge where I knit. The light in there is not that great - in fact its terrible and I am constantly looking for a good lamp that will fit in with the decor - so I knit more simple things at night.



A few friends and I meet once a week at a beautiful little tea room and that is another favourite place to knit.
Linda posted about it this week on her blog

I also knit in the car (though not while I'm driving), and when visiting friends and... I just love knitting - anywhere, anytime!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A New Skill

I received my spinning wheel as a gift from my husband for my 40th birthday (letting my age out here ;-) and finally learnt to use it properly at a fibre retreat last year. I love spinning - probably as much as I love knitting - but the only problem is a spinning wheel is not that portable.

The new skill I would like to learn is how to spin on a drop spindle. I received a lovely Ashford drop spindle as a gift earlier this year. I have watched people spinning away on them - even total spinning beginners and they all make it look so easy but I just can't seem to get the hang of it - so - I'm looking forward to the next fibre retreat where I aim to learn to to spin that spindle!

This book, "Spin It" looks like a good idea - has anyone read it? If so, let me know what you think of it by leaving a comment here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One Great Knitter

I've put a lot of thought into todays post because I know many great knitters and many of them are really good friends. Natalia Valentine is one of the best knitters/crocheters/tunisian crocheters I know and if anyone has any question about anything she is the person with the answer. She produces many of the patterns for Stitches n Bears magazine and has written a book on Tunisian Crochet. Heidi, Linda, Sandra and O'dette whom I knit with every week also rate in my list of great knitters. Heidi hates sewing seams and has developed all sorts of ways to avoid them which she happily shares with anyone who wants to learn. She also produces amazing tutorials which can be found on her blog Heidi Bears . Linda knits the most beautiful animals (2 of which I'll be featuring in my upcoming book) and these can be found in her etsy shop - Mamma4earth. Sandra produces the most beautiful  art knitting and O'dette, who only recently started knitting is just a natural. Another great knitter is my very good friend Linda, better known as Sissie. She is an inpiration to everyone.

Here are some of my great knitting friends

The other person who I think deserves mention here is Hazel Hele who produces wonderful wearable art.


Hazel's Grand Canyon

....and the author of one of my favourite books - Debbie New.

I know there was only supposed to be 1 but ... :)



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Inspirational Pattern

When I read what the topic for today's post is, I immediately knew what I was going to write about.There is one pattern or rather technique that I am dying to try out and it'll be one of the first when my book is done. It's Sally Melville's "Knitting as Warp" and can be found in her book - Sally Melville Styles.

I love colour work and really don't mind working complicated fairisle and intarsia with lots of different yarns hanging off my work, but this really appeals to me as it's different. It combines knitting and weaving. The background fabric is knitted - very loosely in stocking stitch - which means fewer stitches and rows than normal knitting to produce the same size, so I imagine that it would work up fairly quickly. Then the fun starts - weaving in the colour work. The pattern is worked from a chart and it is all very clearly explained in the book. Since only one colour at a time can be woven, the process seems fairly simple but the results look amazing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Starting Out...


I never learned to knit as a child. I'm left handed and at school it was considered impossible for a left handed child to knit! I never complained - I was put at the back of the classroom during knitting lessons with books to read instead and I love reading. My Mom and Gran both tried teaching me but in a mirror so that I could learn to go the opposite way to right handed people; since I wasn't actually that keen (having seen the matinee jackets my friends were knitting) I never learnt.

When I was 15, my boyfriend (now my husband) got a motor bike. He wanted a scarf to wear when riding but couldn't find anything suitable so he bought some yarn (for 2 scarves) and needles and asked me to knit him one. I was too embarrassed to admit I couldn't knit and my Mom and Gran were both busy with projects so I went to his Nan and explained my predicament. She said that if after spending a day with her I still couldn't knit then she would knit 1 scarf - not what I wanted but if I didn't learn to knit I would have to admit to him that I couldn't!

Reluctantly I went over for the day and was surprised to find no mirror. Nan didn't know I was left handed. She taught me to knit like she did. I struggled to hold the needles and throw the yarn, so the right hand needle was tucked under my arm, by the end of the day not only was I knitting, I was a knitter and in no time at all 2 extra soft garter stitch scarves were produced.

And the rest as they say - is history!

To visit other blogs taking part - google "knitcroblo1"

Sunday, April 25, 2010

1st Monthaversary

Wow, I can't believe that I have been blogging for a whole month! I am really enjoying this so a huge thank you to Linda and Heidi for convincing me to start.

Well, since today is the day - I positioned my cursor near the Followers avatars, closed my eyes, did a little whirly kind of a dance with my mouse and clicked... I was way on the other side of the screen, so I tried again doing a less whirly little dance and only missed by a little bit. I tried 5 more times and landed between the little avatars or just outside them - how is that possible, the lines between them are soo much narrower!?  So then I went to call Ken - there was a reason for that volcano :) and asked him to give it a go and what do you know - he clicked on one 1st try. The person who will be receiving the little gift is - Jennifer -  please would you contact me by leaving a comment on this post. If you will leave me your private e-mail I'll contact you there to get your postal address - and don't worry I won't publish the comment.

I tried to send an e- mail to Jennifer as soon as Ken clicked on her avatar but all I succeeded in doing was becoming a follower  too :) and now I need to work out how to take me off there.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Earth Day Yarn

Luckily there was enough sun on Thursday to "cook" the yarn but yesterday it rained so I've had to dry it indoors.  It's dry now and I'm very pleased with the colours. I'll be gifting 2 skeins to one of  my follower friends tomorrow.




I've had quite a busy time this past week, with lots of running around, so it's been lovely to spend some time in my studio today. I've been finishing a couple of projects for the book and have started another one. I've also labled and photographed some new yarns which will be uploaded onto my shop ColourSpun a little later today.  It's cold and rainy outside - I love this weather - it makes me feel alive!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day everyone

I have been having some fun and games with my internet connection so I have to appologise for not being around the last few days. It has been really frustrating not being able to connect to the world but I have been busy with a lot of other things :)

Since it's Earth Day today, I decided to dye some special yarn. I chose some of my cotton, which is organic and used my usual earth friendly dyes to colour it. It's outside in the sun stoves at the moment and I can't wait for it to finish "cooking". I'll wash it this evening and it should be dry tomorrow. I chose a number of colours for each skein - greens for the plants and trees, purples, blues and turquoise for the rain, oceans and rivers and red and yellow for the warmth, light and energy of the sun that is essential for life. I plan to give a skein or 2 of this special yarn to one of my follower friends on the monthaversary of my blog which is in a few days time, so if you aren't a follower yet - now's the time to join.

The hand paint method I used for today's yarn is beautifully described in Linda LaBelle's book - The Yarn Lovers Guide to Hand Dyeing. If you're interested in dyeing your own yarn, this is a lovely book to own.


Here's the yarn "cooking" in the sun

- and here's wishing you all a Green day!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Simple Pleasures

Hello my Friends,

Today I spent a lot of time in my car and I usually listen to the radio while driving around. I have the radio tuned to 702 Talk Radio as there is usually some interesting topic of discussion and lots of lively calls from listeners. Lately the topics have centred around politics and natural disasters :( but today Jenny Crwys-Williams had her listeners call in and tell of their simple pleasures in life. People called in to tell of a whole host of little things that gave them pleasure - like standing bare foot on the lawn, the smell of clean laundry, a secret midnight snack, a Hello Daddy from a sleepy child early in the morning ... so many people phoned in, it was soooo uplifting :) With all that is going on around us at the moment we need to be reminded of these seemingly insignificant little things that give us pleasure every day and we need to also be reminded to notice them and to take pleasure in them.

This evening we had a sudden huge highveld storm - it came out of the blue with lots of rumbling thunder and lightning and even some hail. I found my boys standing in the doorway watching, both with silly grins on their faces - were they ever enjoying this simple pleasure!

I thought it would be nice to continue Jenny's idea here and remind each other of the simple every day pleasures we all can enjoy, so please leave a comment to share your little pleasures.

I'm off now for  a little of my favourite simple pleasures - a few rows of knitting and then a few pages of my book before going to sleep.

Here's another simple pleasure - a beautiful sunrise over the ocean


Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Title

We have a final decision on the Book Title - 

From Fibre to Fabulous
A South African Knitting Adventure


It is a combination of 2 suggested titles - Thank you to MsTarzan (Jayne) and mamma4earth (Linda)

We are still looking for an Afrikaans title - it doesn't have to be a translation of the English but something along the same vein.

Knitted Teddy Bear

Hello Everyone,

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and she is busy making teddies for charity. She has grown bored with the pattern she has been knitting and was looking for something a little more interesting, so I gave her my teddy pattern.  Then I thought that it would be good to share it here too. It is easy knitting but is in pieces so that you end up with a jointed bear. You can change the size of the bear by using thicker yarn and bigger needles and it will still work.

Here are the instructions for the bear. You are welcome to share it with your friends but please re visit my blog for each new copy. The pattern may not be sold.



Teddy Bear
© Dana Biddle

You will need
Approx. 50g of yarn, furry ones work best. Kid Mohair available fromColourSpun Natural Designer Yarn
Scraps of smooth yarn of a similar weight to match your furry yarn.
Knitting needles – a smaller size than would usually be used to suit the yarn as a fairly tight tension is required.
1 pair safety eyes – to suit size of bear
Black yarn to embroider nose
Stuffing
Embellishment – ribbon for neck, flower (optional)

Abbreviations
c/on = cast on c/off = cast off K = knit P = purl
inc. = increase by knitting twice into the next stitch
dec. = decrease by knitting 2 stitches together
st. = stitch sts. = stitches Stst = stocking stitch
k2tog = knit 2 together p2tog = purl 2 together

Body

Using furry yarn, c/on 11 sts.
Next row: p
Next row: k – inc. into every st. – 22 sts.
Continue in Stst - work 7 rows
Next row: k6; inc. ; k8; inc.; k6 – 24 sts.
Continue in Stst for 13 rows
Next row: (k2tog) to end – 12 sts.
C/off purl wise. Leave a long enough tail to complete seam

Head
Using furry yarn, c/on 14 sts.
Next row: p
Next row: k – inc. into every stitch – 28 sts.
Continue in Stst - work 11 rows
Next row: (k2tog) to end – 14 sts.
Next row: p5; (p2tog) x2; p5 – 12sts
Continue in Stst – work 4 rows
Next row: k2tog; k2; (k2tog) x2; k2; k2tog; - 8 sts
Next row: p
Thread yarn through remaining sts and leave a long
enough tail to complete seam

Ears
Using furry yarn, c/on 8 sts
Next row: p
Continue in Stst and dec. 1 st each end of next 3 rows – 2 sts
Change to smooth yarn
Continue in Stst and increase 1 st each end of next 3 rows – 8sts
Next row: k
C/off. Leave a long enough tail to complete seam.

Legs

Using furry yarn, c/on 20 sts
Beginning with a p row, work 7 rows Stst.
Next row: k3; (k2tog)x2; (k3tog)x2; (k2tog)x2; k3 – 12 sts
Next row: p
Next row k – inc. 1 st each end – 14 sts
Continue in Stst – work 11 rows
Next row: k2 tog to end
C/off. Leave a long enough tail to complete seam.

Sole
Start at bottom of sole
Using smooth yarn c/on 2 sts
Beginning with a k row work in Stst. – inc. 1 st each end of
next 3 rows – 8 sts
Continue in Stst – work 4 rows
Continue in Stst – dec. 1 st each end next 2 rows – 4 sts
C/off Leave a long enough tail to complete seam.

Arms
Using furry yarn, c/on 6 sts
Next row: k – inc. into every st. – 12 sts
Continue in Sts – work 11 rows
Next row: k4; (k2tog)x2; k4 – 10 sts
Continue in Stst – work 10 rows
Next row: p2tog to end
Thread yarn through remaining sts and leave a long enough
Tail to complete seam.

Assemble

Attach a sole to bottom of each leg. Stitch up seams for each piece of bear leaving a gap for stuffing. Position and attach safety eyes. Stuff each piece (not ears) and close seams. Position and attach ears to head. Securely attach head to top of body. Position and attach arms and legs. Using black yarn, embroider nose. Embellish as desired.

Hope you have fun making these bears

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kalah - Self defence

Hello my Friends,

Today's post has nothing to do with fibre or happy hours in my studio - but it does have to do with a friend (who happens to knit) and another studio I visited this morning so I think it can pass.

As I'm sure you're all aware, I have a wonderful group of friend that I get together with once a week. We meet at a coffee shop for breakfast, tea, lunch and knitting. One of these good friends has been talking about Kalah (the Israeli Special Forces Combat System)for some time now and trying to encourage the rest of us to join a class. Since I'm more into fiberous persuits, which generally involve much sitting and not much exertion resulting in a pretty unfit me and thinking it's just another martial art thing, that I'm not into all that physical kicking and punching air, punch bags etc.. I have been pretty much just ignoring her invitations.

Well, my son and his girlfriend are over on holiday and I know he enjoys these martial arts things and he hadn't heard of Kalah in the UK so I arranged with Heidi that we have an introductory lesson today - was I ever pleasantly surprised! (and so was Ken) This is not your normal martial arts training - this is real, effective self defence training. Heinrich, the instructor taught us how to get out from underneath an attacker (rapist) even if our arms were being held down, how to disarm (and do in) a gunman pointing a gun against our head (and even one sitting on us with a gun at at our head), how to do the same if the assaillant has a knife or is strangling us and how to punch properly to knock someone out. All these moves were amazingly easy enough to be done by yours truly and I've spent the rest of the day in wonder that I can actually do that.

I'm going to be going for regular classes now and would strongly encourage everyone who would like to be able to defend themselves to consider Kalah . Have a look at what you can learn on their website - http://www.golani.co.za/

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shantaram

Hello Friends,

I was awake half the night last night - reading! I received this book as a Christmas gift but put it aside as I had 2 others still to read that belong to a friend and I didn't want to keep them too long. (This is a thick book and has about 900 pages) I haven't read a book like this for quite some time where I feel compelled to just read one more page. I had to wash my face with cold water twice because my eyes were so tired but I needed to read some more.

It is the story of Gregory David Roberts, a convicted armed robber and heroin addict who escapes from an Australian jail and using a fake NewZealand passport runs to Bombay. Here he meets and makes a friend of Prabaker - a tourist guide and various other people. He joins the mafia, becomes a drug and gun runner... and yet it is immediately evident that in spite of  it all he is a truly decent human being.

  I have just started reading it and managed the whole of part one before I just couldn't see to read any more. I'm looking forward to reading some more tonight and having to be very disiplined about not sneaking off for a little read because I know I won't be able to stop.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Share the Love

Las week I shared the basic heart that I am making for my swap partner in the "Share the Love Swap" hosted by my Friends Heidi and Linda on their blogs (see my list of blogs worth visiting). Well, I'm happy to say that it's finished and will be sent off with love early next week. I used colours that remind me of our Autumn - one of my favourite times of the year. The weather is starting to cool down from the extremely hot summer and I no longer need a fan on to cool me off while I knit :)


I have had a day of finishing today and the last of the projects for the June 2010 issue of Stitches n Bears is done. I'll have a little break and then start working for the August issue. If you're not familiar with the magazine have a look at it on http://www.tucats.co.za/ 

Well I'm off now to relax with some knitting and tomorrow I plan to load more yarn on the ColourSpun shop at http://www.colourspun.com/

Have a lovely evening
Love Dana

Tassel Necklace

Hi

The last few days went by in a blur and so I must apologise for not getting here - I will be making up for it in this coming week.  Last week I wore a favourite necklace that I made some time ago. I got so many compliments that I decided to share the instructions with you.


One will never be enough once you have made this necklace! Easy to make and easy to wear choose your beads and thread then crochet yourself an accessory to treasure.




What you will need

1. A skein of No. 5 or No. 8 embroidery thread
2. An assortment of beads –
a. Seed beads to be worked into your necklace - you will need about 10g or more depending on how close together you want your beads and how long you want your necklace- with holes big enough for your thread to fit through.
b. A large bead with a hole big enough for 12 threads to pass through.
c. 12 other beads for the ends of your tassel.
3. Findings –Toggle clasp and 2 large jump rings
4. Crochet Hook – 3 to 3.5
5. Tape measure
6. Scissors or snips
7. Sewing cotton (any you have got – colour doesn’t matter)
8. Sewing needle – fine enough to fit through your beads
9. Embroidery needle with eye large enough to take your embroidery cotton
10. Round nosed pliers, long nose pliers and side cutters.
11. Clear fabric glue or clear nail varnish.

Instructions are available in my Ravelry Store and also in my Craftsy store


Enjoy wearing your necklace.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beautiful Gifts


Today was a wonderful day! I spent the morning with my knitting friends and my littlest friend, Erin,who's 5 years old made me the most beautiful gifts. She spent a good part of the morning creating them. The first was presented as a little parcel wrapped with yarn which I had to carefully unwind and inside were three little pieces of fabric with fine flowers she had drawn on them. Once it was unwrapped, she explained to me that the little flowers were to be carefully attached to the piece of wool and I could use it to tie back my curtains. The second gift was made with fabric wrapped in yarn and a sprig of lavender, all tied to the end of a fine nylon thread. This was made to hang from my ceiling in my studio. The third gift was a fabric wrapped foam block held together with yarn and beautifully embellished with little pieces of fabric, some shiny red paper, lavender and mint. This too was to be hung in my studio. We agreed all 3 gifts would be hung together at a window in my studio. Here are a few photos of them.





Thank you again Erin, you made today a very special one for me.

French knitted bracelets


Here is a bigger photo - hope it makes it easier to see the detail :)

French Knitted Bracelets

Bonjour, (which is about the limit of my French)

I have a couple of friends who are learning to speak French. I don't think they need lessons as what they say sounds wonderful to me - although I haven't got a clue what it means. I do how ever enjoy French knitting, a lovely relaxing, meditative way of making long knitted cords. These are done on a french knitting dolly but can also be knit as I-cord for which there will be instructions in my next post. The knitted cords can be used for all sorts of things - here they're made into Friendship Bracelets. They are quick and easy enough for kids to make and use up tiny amounts of yarn, so make a few for all your friends.



Using yarn with a sheen and metallic threads and beads will give the bracelet a more “jewellery like” look. Younger children will need supervision when working with sharp needles and scissors.


You will need:
Bracelet
DK yarn
French knitting dolly

Embellishment
Scraps of multi coloured yarn.
Perlé embroidery thread
Blunt tapestry needle
Seed beads
Sewing thread
Beading needle

Instructions
Using your chosen yarn make French knit cord 25 – 30 cm long. Leave a tail of at least 10cm at end.
Roll up one end to form a round knot and stitch to secure.
Make a loop on the other end large enough to pass over the knot when slightly stretched. Stitch to secure.

Embellish with embroidery, wrapped yarn, knitted beads, seed beads etc.

HAVE FUN!

Monday, April 5, 2010

1000 Artisan Textiles

Hi,

I hope you have had as wonderful a weekend as I have. We have relaxed, laughed, eaten (too much) and just had a lovely time with family and friends.

Also, on Saturday I received an e-mail to tell me that 1000 Artisan Textiles is now available. Some time ago a number of Fibreworks members submitted work for inclusion in this book and I sent off photos of quite a few different pieces. I was later informed that 3 of my works had been chosen to be included. I don't know yet which 3 and can't wait for my copy to arrive.

If any one would like to order the book it is available from Amazon - just click on the link. As far as I know, Amazon.com still doesn't deliver to SA so I will also be adding the book to my online shop http://www.colourspun.com/ for anyone in SA who would like to order a copy. Look out for it there from tomorrow.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Share the Love

My friends Heidi and Linda have organised an international swap of hearts. It is called Share the Love Swap. For more info visit their blogs (in my list of good blogs to visit). I already have a swap partner and decided to knit her heart, which I did last night. I used some of my own hand spun yarn which I've been saving for something special and I am now thinking about how I'm going to embellish it.

The pattern for the heart is free from Berroco and available on their website. www.berroco.com/exclusives/heartfelt/heartfelt.html




With tensions running high here at the moment we should all concentrate on sharing the love.

Wishing everyone love and peace today and always.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Followers - Friends

Hello my Friends,

Thank you all for visiting my blog - I love having you visit me here and so to show my appreciation I have decided that every month - to mark the monthiversary of my blog - I will place my cursor near all my followers, close my eyes, move my mouse around and randomly click on one. Whoever I click on will receive a little gift from me, as a thank you for following my ramblings.

I have both my boys home and am looking really forward to a wonderful long weekend, celebrating Easter with family and friends. Here's wishing you all a wonderful one too and for those who haven't managed to catch a glimpse of the Easter Bunny - here's a photo of him - hope you see him delivering your eggs!