Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kyprioth Art Yarn - Inspired by Fantasy Novels by Tamora Pierce

I love listening to audio books while spinning. I used to watch TV series, but I always miss something when I'm concentrating on the yarn, so I can only watch things I already know or have to accept that some things will escape me. After finishing the Gentlemen Bastards series (which I wrote about here) I returned to books I enjoyed reading years back - the Alanna the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. These books are for teenagers, strictly speaking, but I love them and will read them or listen to them over and over! I decided to stay with the author and listen to some of the books I hadn't read before, among them the Trickster's series. As always, new yarn ideas formed in my head, but first let me tell you a little about Tamora Pierce's books and why I love them so much. Photos of the yarn and spinning process will follow below!

The books feature strong female protagonists, on the verge of coming of age. They are diverse, they have believable flaws and problems one can relate to, they have their special skills and strengths, they often have to fight hard for their right to do what they want (something many of us can relate to, too), and they are essentially feminist. There are also many more (different!) female characters in the books, all with their own strengths, and all complex characters - not the single, simple token woman we find in many other fantasy books. There are non binary and gay people (in the Beka Cooper series), the books are sex positive without being in your face, they cover racism (up to a point) and sexism. And the stories are interesting (and sometimes really enthralling) and well written.

I wish I had had these books when I was a teenager! I could have identified so much better with Alanna or Beka Cooper than with the protagonists from so many other books. I only got to know them when I was in my twenties, when I met Twisted and she recommended them - thank you, over and over! ❤️‍
Alanna is still my favourite, and I warmly recommend the series to anyone who doesn't mind it's meant for teenagers (hello, Harry Potter fans! ;-)) and to people who need a gift for a fantasy loving teenager.

But now for the yarn! As I said, I was listening to the Trickster series (the books are Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen), which is about Alanna's daughter Alianne who is captured by pirates, shipped off to the so called Copper Isles as a slave and tries to find her way home. She meets the Trickster, the god of the Raka people of the Copper Isles, who are people of colour enslaved by the white-skinned Luarin and their gods. Alianne, who is called Aly throughout the books, makes a bargain with the Trickster to keep the children of a certain family safe until the winter and he promises to return her to her home after that. I really don't want to reveal too much, so let me just say there is a greater scheme and cunning plans, lots of witty dialogues, and many strong female characters (also interesting and diverse male ones).

The yarn I spun was inspired by the Trickster god Kyprioth and the Copper Isles. It fits in my corroding copper yarn experiments (like this one and that one), is also reminscent of the ocean aroung the Copper Isles, and features beautiful copper spirals, handmade by myself of course. And now for the photos!

 Handmade wire spirals, hammered flat and later spun in.

I chose blueish teal for the ocean and resembling corroding copper, and coppery rusty red, and lots of copper sparkle for the fibre blend, and faceted glass beads to match. 

 I didn't thread the spirals onto the sewing thread with the beads, but chose another method instead, fixating them with a kind of knot to make them more secure.

Finished! :-) I have to admit, being in my favourite colours, this one is hard to part from. My camera had slight problems with the teals, as always, but I edited the photos and they look right on my monitor. I love the colour contrast, and the add-ins and sparkle!

I hope to list this yarn very soon - maybe later today, or tomorrow. Thank you for being patient and reading this very long thing! :-)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rainbow Yarns

I've been making rainbow yarns! The first one was a custom order for someone who wanted an Over the Rainbow art yarn with lots of sparkle and some bird charms and beads, to make into a wall hanging for her grandson.

As I was working on the custom order, someone else asked me whether I've ever spun a rainbow coil / beehive art yarn, like the Tentacles one. When I thought about it I couldn't really understand why I'd never done that, or, in fact, why I never spun any rainbow yarns at all. I did think about it now and then, but somehow I never got around to actually doing it. So, when I forgot to put the sparkles in the batt for the requested rainbow yarn, I ended up with another batt and I did turn it into a beautiful coiled art yarn. I love the in progress photos, with all the rainbow fibres, and want to show you:

 This was the second batt, which became the first yarn (the one with the birds), with lots of glitter.

 This was also taken while preparing to spin the custom yarn - I made four rainbow repeats and layed out the fibres accordingly.

This is the second yarn, with lots of coils (though without sparkle), which I spun in rainbow order from red to purple and then back from purple to red.

 And the finished yarn. I really need to take better photos, but there wasn't time yet. I really love this, and I am very in love with coils and beehives at the moment (not for the first time) :-)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Marvel Heroes in Middle Earth?

It's been quiet around here and the shop, at least it seemed that way - but behind the scenes there was a lot going on! I had a lot of custom orders which made me very happy, especially as my customer let me be creative and make all the choices. Also, she picked themes I like myself ;-) In this case, it was some Marvel Superheroes as well as some characters from Tolkien's Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

(Clicking on the picture should show a larger version)

Starting with the top left corner, we have: Ringwraith, Spring Spirit (the only one which doesn't fit the themes, as it was a previously spun and reserved yarn), Galadriel, Thorin Oakenshield, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Galadriel's Temptation, Loki (second version, I spun one before), Captain America, and Gandalf the White.

I'm in love with all of them, but I think my favourite is Thorin Oakenshield. I used different naturally-colours fibres instead of the ususal dyed merino, and the texture is different from my usual yarns. The spun-in wool locks add to that, and I like the add-ins I used - sword charms, and square beads which I think work well as a representation for armor.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two-Faced Sorceress

The knitting frenzy is still going on and I finished something else - the Sorceress hood I already mentioned. Is is worked in two flat pieces which are sewn together in the end. The pattern was easy to follow, but I must have made a mistake at some point because I ended up with two identical pieces instead of them mirroring each other. I wondered whether to frog part of the second half, but I had no idea where I had made a mistake (and thus, how to fix it), and I didn't feel like unravelling so much work. So I was very frustrated until my husband suggested for me to finish the thing and call it Twoface. Somehow that made it better and I decided to go with it.

As I'm writing this I suddenly think I know where I must have made the mistake (I must have increased for the hood part on the wrong side), but now it's done and finished, and I like it. I think it's not even visible in this photo, but the rib pattern on one side differs a little from the one on the other side. Well, it's still a beautiful piece :-)

In other news, my days have been busy with writing several job applications, some of which are more important to me, and much more difficult to write than others. There hasn't been much time for spinning and tending the shop, but I hope I will be able to offer some new yarns next week. Until then, please wish me luck with my applications, there are two fantastic, interesting jobs I'd love to get (well, one of them, anyway).

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Kept the Pirate!

A few months ago I wrote about an art yarn I had spun, inspired by a black female badass pirate captain - Zamira Drakasha. I prepared to list it in the shop: I took photos, I calculated the price, as usual - and then thought the price seemed too low. In fact, every price seemed too low. And at that point I realized I just couldn't part with this yarn.

Shortly after, when I received yet another letter of refusal (from a job I really wanted) and was sad and frustrated, I finally decided to indeed keep the yarn - as a kind of consolation gift to myself.

It took me a few months to decide what to make from it, though - until then I kept looking at it and petting it. First I tried out the Bandana Cowl pattern by Purlbee, but I didn't like the broad stripes and I also realized it was too much yarn for the pattern and it seemed a waste not to use the whole skein for one project.

So I frogged it, but I'm keeping the pattern in mind as it was fun to knit and I'm sure it would be fantastic with another yarn. I then went looking for a pattern with longer rows or rounds, to make the stripes longer and narrower. I decided on the Purl Ridge Scarf by Stephen West in the end, and I love the outcome very much.

I really hoped my yardage would be enough, as the pattern called for around 300 and I only had 228 yards (and different yarn weight), but it worked out fine. The cowl could be a little broader still, but it's also great as it is. And I love how the stripes turned out, and all the add-ins and the red silk strips <3 br="">

Monday, February 16, 2015

Knitting Frenzy

So, I've been knitting. A lot. Somehow, after months of barely touching a needle, I kind of went into a knitting frenzy and haven't really stopped yet. It started with my wanting to finally finish my Delirious Diva shawl and starting two other projects (see here), and then there were Christmas presents and more projects. I took some time off in December, and I hadn't had this much free time in a long while - and I spent nearly all of it knitting, or so it feels :-D

Now, brace yourself, here come a lot of photos! ;-)

I finished the Sea Dragon Shawl within six weeks or so. Once I got the hang of it I really enjoyed the pattern, but weaving in all the ends was a challenge! (I hate weaving in ends - and there were so many...) I'm glad I decided to do it one night and then didn't pause until I was finished - or I might have never looked at it again ;-)
The shawl is not only nice when draped around the shoulders, but makes a really gorgeous scarf which fits twice around my neck, then looks like some elaborate layered piece and covers the top of my shoulders for extra warmth.

I did indeed start Verdant after that, as I said I might, and have made quite some progress, but it seems the yarn won't be enough. For spinning more, I need to order some fibre first, so I put the project on hold. I like how it turned out so far, though.

Then I started (and finished) a quick project in between which I called Modern Stoneage, after the yarn. I had this skein lying around for quite some time, I remember casting on several times in the summer, but somehow no pattern seemed right. When I tried out the Asymmetric Rib Scarf, I was very pleased and I really like the outcome.

I also made three pairs of wrist warmers kind of in between - my husband seemed to have lost a pair (which turned up after I finished the new ones, which are now his favourites), and his sisters both wanted new ones for Christmas, so I spun some yarns and made some gifts :-)

Somewhere in between I decided to make a pair of yoga socks as a quick gift for a friend. I turned out not to be quick enough, though, and didn't finish them before meeting her. But I decided I wanted some for myself, and while I made the ones for my friend from commercial sock yarn I dyed myself, I made my own yoga socks from handspun as I realized once more how much more fun knitting is when the yarn is interesting.
I absolutely love these yoga socks! They keep my feet and ankles warm without hindering me, and the pattern is also very simple.

As my husband has lost a scarf I made for him years ago and has been quite sad about this, I decided to make him another one. He loved the Diagon Alley yarns I had spun, so I used the same colours for the yarn, though I added dark grey and black and called it Night Over Diagon Alley. This was a very spontaneous thing, I spun the yarn when he was out of town for a few days, started knitting on the train when I went to visit my sister in law, where I could only work on this project for one evening as my husband then joined me there, and then had to try and knit secretly when we were back home. It worked, though, I finished on the morning of December 21st, just before our traditional Jul with friends celebration where I then presented the scarf :-)

Just before Christmas I decided to spin a yarn suitable for the Unleaving pattern which I had fallen in love with, and I spun it shortly after Christmas, started knitting shortly after that and finished it within a week, which is enormously fast by my standards. I did knit through our new years party ;-)

Oh, and I nearly forgot I started knitting Sorceress - another pattern I'd been eyeing for a while.

Omi's Aubergine is also finished, but I don't have any new photos. And I still haven't given the scarf to her, I really have to go to Hamburg one of these days... I started even more new projects, but I will present them here some other time :-)

I also had a look around the google store for some helpful knitting apps. I discovered the knitting help app which seems fantastic, but haven't bought it yet (I don't think there's space for that on my phone at the time), I found a German Ravelry app which works well enough, but which isn't that nice to look at, and I found a simple row counting app called Knit Tink which I liked.

Are there any knitting apps you use and would recommend?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Addiction: Avatar (The Last Airbender)

Just a quick update and some photos: I've finally started watching Avatar - The Last Airbender, which I've been meaning to since about forever. Now my chance came when we (that is my chosen family and I) needed another TV series to watch once a week and the suggestion came up. It's such a lot of fun, and I like how the show incorporates feminist topics by letting some character make comments like "that's not for girls to do" or bringing up silly stereotypes in another way, and then showing how he is really an obnoxious git and letting him deal with the consequences. We've finished season 1 now, and I have already spun two yarns inspired by the series:


If you've watched the show or google a picture it should be obvious why I chose these colours. The yarn is soft and gorgeous, this time without any add-ins, and it's already listed in the shop.

Kyoshi Warriors

Now, these I liked a lot! A group of women warriors, powerful and witty, fighting with swords and fans. I carded a batt about a week ago and then went to look for fan charms which I really wanted in this yarn. It seemed there were none small enough for my spinning wheel orifice, but I ordered a small (and beautiful) version anyway and was lucky - they fit after all, smoothly.
So, the colour choices are based on the outfits (green, black, gold/yellow) and make-up (red eyeshadow / eye lid painting), and I added some gold sparkle, too. The yarn still needs to dry and I will list it as soon as possible.


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