Tuesday, December 1, 2015

1. The Eyes in the Hedge (Harry Potter Art Yarn Advent Calendar)

It's time! Time for the Amazing Harry Potter Art Yarn Advent Calendar to be revealed!
From today until December 24th this blog will be a virtual advent calendar, presenting one of the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets mini skeins per day

If you haven't read about them yet, let me give you a short explanation: Last year, two of my customers mused about the possibilities of mini skein art yarn advent calendars on the Weird&Twisted Facebook page. I immediately loved the idea and made the first Harry Potter art yarn advent calendar, retelling book one with yarn. I collected scenes, persons and quotes (such as The Letters from No One, Hagrid, Mars is Bright Tonight...) and spun a small amount of art yarn inspired by each of them, putting them into paper bags with numbers in the right order, so whoever bought it could relive the story and make their own story garment over the period of 24 days. I made three advent calendars which sold incredibly quickly, and decided to do this virtual advent calendar thing on the blog for those who missed out on the yarns, revealing the whole thing one yarn per day. 
This year I was very happy to be able to take the time to do the same thing with book two - so, there are the actual mini skein art yarn advent calendars (which you can still purchase as I made more this year), and there is this virtual advent calendar here. I hope you'll enjoy this as much as I do :-)

Harry suddenly sat bolt upright on the garden bench. He had been staring absent-mindedly into the hedge - and the hedge was staring back. Two enormous green eyes had appeared among the leaves.

- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Description: I chose medium and darker green fibres for the hedge, also adding leafy ribbon for more texture and a less abstract look. I spun in different types of glass beads – larger matte ones to represent the eyes, and smaller shiny ones to add more highlights. We might encounter the larger type again later! ;-)
Fibre Types: merino wool, bamboo, wensleydale wool
Colours: medium and darker green
Add-Ins: leafy ribbon, green thread, shiny green seed beads, large matte green glass beads 

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Thing with The Doodler - or: How Everything Went Wrong

Do you have coffee and cookies? Something else to eat and drink? This is going to be long! ;-)

A few weeks ago I got word about The Doodler pattern, the new mystery knitalong by Stephen West. I've never participated in a knitalong before, and I'm usually not very spontaneous about knitting projects as I spin all the yarn I need myself and need time to do so. When a friend decided to participate on the day the first clue came out, I jumped in, though - admittedly after peeking.

I decided to buy the yarn needed for the project, as I didn't think I'd have time to spin three skeins of about 366 m each. And that's where the problems started: I live in a very small town, and although there actually is a yarn shop here, it's also small and they don't exactly have a wide range of yarns. Nothing special, nothing hand dyed or anything, just the standard assortment, and the finest yarn is 320 m / 100 g. The pattern called for 366 m / 100 g, so I thought it would be close enough and tried to decide on colours. I'm really, really bad at that! I always grab the teals and turquoises (which seems boring after a while), and I am bad at combining more than two colours. I took a very long time, and even asked the shop owner for advice, which I usually don't do as I like to find my way around shops and decide for myself. She was very nice, though, and very interested in the shawl I wore that day, which I had knitted from my own handspun, as usual.

I decided on purple, green, and black. Nice and somewhat halloweeny without orange ;-) I went home and started knitting immediately, but I was not happy. I didn't like the texture of the yarn and the knitted part, and I really thought the purple and green looked muddy together.

I kept knitting a bit longer, but also kept getting more and more unhappy. So I went back to the yarn shop, on Saturday, just before they closed. The shop owner was really nice again, she tried to help, and even took back the one ball of green yarn I hadn't started on. I decided on white instead, went home, frogged the first attempt and started anew.

(Not the best picture with my slacks, but hey, it was the weekend!)
I liked the colours so much better! However, I still didn't like the texture, I thought the yarn was too heavy for a shawl, I disliked knitting with it, and I missed my handspun... So, on Sunday I decided to take the time for spinning the whole lot, after all. I really wanted a cozy knitting weekend, I didn't feel like spinning at all, but to the wheel I went. I decided to dye one of the skeins, as if spinning wasn't time-consuming enough, but I just didn't have the colours I wanted. 

I didn't want to dye with professional colours for various reasons, but decided on easter egg colours instead. Less messy, quicker, usable in normal dishes in the microwave. I discovered I didn't have any blue left. Too bad, as I was imagining a smoky greyish blue at that time. My best friend read about my frustration on Twitter and offered to give me all of her easter egg colours, so I went upstairs, happy to have an easy solution - until it was clear that the easter egg colours where nowhere to be found. I sorted through my stuff and realized I had some coloured Koolaid left (which I bought a long time ago for dyeing), so I unpacked it. 
There was blue, but it turned out more of a bright turquoise in the end, and honestly, I couldn't stand the smell! I tried mixing colours, but I was not happy with the outcome. It was an artificial-looking green in the end and I threw it all out, and, sighing, dragged out my dyeing equipment which I hadn't used in years. In fact, I had never used it in the new flat, and with the new stove - otherwise I'd have known the pots wouldn't work with magnetic induction... By this time, I was so unnerved, I nearly cried, and I was thinking about giving up. In the end, my husband and I decided we could buy a new large pot and I could use the one we have for dyeing (once used with acid dyes it shouldn't be used with food again), so I went to work. Instead of the smoky blue I decided on something darker, and I liked the colour in the pot - a teal so dark it was nearly black. 
When it was done and I took it out I realized I had bound the skein too tightly, and some parts were left very light. I felt the project was hexed, but I continued anyway, hoping the light parts would result in a lively look (spoiler: it did! ;-)).
(The colour is not right in this one, but it was the best I could do)
I decided for white viscose for the second yarn, and I am still amazed at the outcome. I can't believe I managed to spin this so evenly, and I love the shine and feel. Fantastic fibre!

So, with spinning two yarns, dyeing one of them and drying them both it was Monday evening before I could restart for the third time, but I think the outcome is so worth the lost time! I knitted a few wedges, and I was so happy, for the first time since I started the project. 

The project grew and I loved it. I loved how the lighter parts turned out, and although I usually don't like white too much, I loved the contrast - and the viscose yarn!

The colours are very off here, but I wanted to show you the shape. My cat thought it was very interesting and wanted to be part of the whole thing ;-)

A week or so later I finally decided on colours for the third yarn. The pattern said, a sassy or dark, dramatic colour would be a good choice. I wanted dark grey, but decided on bright purple mulberry silk and purple angelina for sassiness (Twitter helped with the purple - I wasn't sure at first).

I wasn't thrilled when I saw clue 2, to be honest. A garter stitch cable thingy? Honestly? It grew on me, though, and it was knitted from the wonderful, soft, shiny viscose yarn, after all! (I'm a fan - could you tell? ;-))
I'm using some cute, glow in the dark dice stitch markers for clue 3 (made them myself, of course), and I like this part so far.

I'm still a little behind on clue 3, but I saw that clue 4 is relatively small, so I hope I will finish the whole thing in time.

It's been a very interesting experience so far, and I have to say the Ravelry group support is fantastic! There are a few things in the pattern which were new to me, and I went to the discussion board hopeing that someone could answer my questions - but I didn't even have to post them, as other people had had the same problems and the answers were already there!
By the way, if you'd like to see other people's Doodlers, they usually use the hashtags #westknitskal2015 and/or #theDoodler on Twitter and Instagram.

Shortly after clue 3 came out I went to Berlin for a short trip, and when I visited the Wollrausch yarn shop, the guy behind the counter was also knitting The Doodler! We had a nice chat. I also spent some wonderful knitting time at LuLa's, and if you ever go to Berlin you absolutely must visit Marc and Andy in the Ragù Knitting Café - best place ever! (And they speak English)

Have you really read all of the sad and yet happy story? It really turned out very long. Thank you! :-)


Monday, November 9, 2015

Harry Potter Art Yarn Advent Calendar (Book 2) - Now Available!

I am very, very happy to announce that The Amazing Harry Potter Art Yarn Advent Calendar is finally available! The story of The Chamber of Secrets retold in 24 yarns (read more about it here), complete with quotes and descriptions. One was reserved even before the whole thing was completely finished, and it has already sold, but there are 5 more in the shop. There will be no possibility of a respin, so it's limited to these!

If you order now it should definitely arrive in time, though I can give no guarantee. Shipping usually takes a few days in Germany, about 5-7 days within the EU, and about 10-14 days overseas. Parcels to Russia and Canada might take longer, judging from experience. The shipping price is higher than for my other yarns, but that's because I'll buy a tracking number and extra insurance just to be on the safe side with this unique work of art.

If you'd like one but you're not sure about the whole surprise thing, I will gladly send you a list of titles, full descriptions, and / or a link to the photos I took.

If you're just interested in pictures, I am happy to say I will do another virtual advent calendar thing, revealing the yarns from December 1st to December 24th here on the blog :-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mobius made from the Harry Potter Advent Calendar Art Yarns

I was very happy to chat with Katie yesterday, who purchased one of last year's Harry Potter Art Yarn Advent Calendars, and who told me she had crocheted a mobius from all these mini skeins. She sent photos and kindly allowed me to post them here, so here we go:

At first I thought to post only a selection, but I loved to see the details in all of them, and I thought you might, too :-) I absolutely love the finished piece, and as I said to her yesterday, I think it's amazing how different things made from the same yarns can be. So exciting to see!

Katie also told me she took a photo of each day's yarn in front of a Pottermore picture showing the respective scene. I thought this was such a fantastic idea! She put these photos on her Ravelry page and gave me permission to post some of them here, as well - if you'd like to see them all, have a look at Katie's mobius on Ravelry!

Diagon Alley

Hogwarts Express

Severus Snape

You can find Katie on Ravelry, and she also has an Etsy shop where she sells really beautiful crocheted pieces - like the Saoirse The Selkie mobius, or the Robot Friends mobius (made from one of my yarns! :-))

Thank you for sharing all these lovely pictures, Katie! <3 br="">

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Amazing Harry Potter Art Yarn Advent Calendar II - Quiet Preparations

It's been very quiet around here lately, as at first custom orders and my other job kept me busy and then I was working on something I couldn't really talk about. I can't now, either, at least not in detail, but I do have an announcement to make:
there will be another Harry Potter inspired art yarn advent calendar this year. :-)

Last year, I spun scenes / people / phrases from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, a few yards each, and enough for three advent calendars which sold out very quickly. So this time, with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, I decided to make more, as the concept was so popular.

I started planning and spinning nearly a month ago, this time the process took longer as there was more yarn to spin, and I also had to wait for some ordered add-ins to arrive. Today, I spun the last two yarns! So, the calendar is definitely going to be listed, but before I can do that I have to take photos of the yarns, divide each of them into six equal mini skeins, and write a description for every yarn. Also, I decided to order prettier pouches this time, and I am still waiting (desperately).

It's been very hard for me not to post photos of the project, but it has to be a surprise, obviously. I did post one photo on Facebook and Twitter (by the way: if you'd like more regular mini updates and snippets of what I'm working on, those are the place to be!), and I'd like to show it here, too:

Can you guess which scene / place from the second Harry Potter book this might refer to? :-)

As last year, I will do a virtual advent calendar thing here on the blog again, revealing all the yarns via blogpost from December 1 to 24. So if you'd like to see my interpretations, you know where to look :-)

There will be a limited number of six Amazing Harry Potter Inspired Art Yarn Advent Calendars available, and I will post announcements here on the blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter once they are listed. It will still take a while, as there are things to be done and pretty red and white candy bags to be waited for, but I will do my best to list them soon!

Oh, and if you'd like to the fantastic scarf Max and Iris have made from last year's art yarn advent calender, look here (lower half of the post)! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Knitting a Two-Faced God

After knitting lots of amigurumi and other baby stuff (like this super cute pumpkin hat) from bright, cheerful, but somewhat boring cotton yarn, I felt it was high time for a handspun / art yarn project. I've had my eyes on Ianus for years now, a pattern inspired by the Roman two-faced god. As I am always reluctant to spin huge amounts of yarn for myself, it took me a while to actually start the project. It also took me a while to decide on colours, but I am very happy with my choices so far (though I think silvery-grey silk would have been even better for the middle part, but I didn't have any and chose black viscose instead).

First, let me show you the yarns. It's always a challenge to aim for a certain thickness and yardage, as I have no way of measuring while spinning, and fibres behave differently - so I am very proud about these results. They are not exact, but very close.

From left to right: Ocean Ianus (440 m, 110 g), Night Ianus (133 m, 70 g), and Storm Ianus (455 m, 120g). Ocean and Storm Ianus are quite plain, that is to say without add-ins, but with some nice highlights and sparkle (silver and black) and contain mostly merino wool.
Night Ianus is pure viscose with added thread, beads and sequins - lots and lots of them! It took me ages to spin this quite small amount because of all the add-ins. I spaced them about 5-15 cm apart, had to restring several times because I used so many beads and sequins, and was actually a bit frustrated it took so long - but it was so worth the time and effort! I love how it's turned out.

I started knitting right after the first two yarns were finished, and I love how the subtle highlights in the first yarn turned out so far. The amount of sparkle is also perfect, but doesn't really show in the photos, except for the one huge blob ;-) The rest is much more subtle, visible only when light hits it at the right angle, and it's beautiful!

After using a row counter app for a while, I decided to make a row counter from beads and wire which also functions as a stitch marker - this way I don't need the phone and it's also quicker. I put it at the beginning of the round and it can count up to six rows, as the pattern is made up of sets of three and later six rows.

I've made quite some progress already, and after finishing the last yarn I took a photo showing the already knitted part together with the other yarns in the right order. I'm so excited and so looking forward to seeing how they will look when I actually knit them up!

The colours are a bit off, the blue part is actually a blueish, deep teal, but my camera always has problems with teals and turquoises...

I also made a project bag because this project will take me a while and kind of deserves its own bag ;-) Also, you can never have enough project bags! (By the way: if you're interested, there are still a few project bags in the shop, and they come together with matching sets of stitch markers - a wonderful addition to my yarns!)

As always when knitting with handspun / art yarn, I realize how much fun it is. The highlights, sparkles and add-ins turn up more or less unexpectedly, it's exciting and interesting to knit, never boring, and the texture looks and feels wonderful! I am very happy I finally took the time to spin these yarns, and I am very grateful the pattern is now available separately, as you had to buy the yarns called for with it at first. Many thanks to crocodile for the wonderful pattern!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Yarns from the Old Kingdom

My latest two art yarn creations come with another book / audio book recommendation. I've been listening to Tim Curry reading the first three books of the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix, which I liked a lot. Tim Curry did a fantastic job, I especially enjoyed his voice acting for a creature called Mogget, but more on that later.

As with the books by Tamora Pierce I recently wrote about, these books are actually for a younger audience, and they feature young people on the verge of adulthood, their coming of age, and lots of adventures. What I love most about them are once again the female protagonists, their male supporters / fellow protagonists, and the not so stereotypical gender roles. And again, there is not only a token woman / token female warrior who is the exception to the rule, but there are several different women who fight, rule, go on adventures, have powers, show courage and so on. Girls are mentioned in passing to have been trained in sword fighting or hunting, so it seems to be common, which is still rare in fantasy.
The books are about a family of so-called Abhorsens, a kind of reverse necromancers: it's their job to make sure the dead stay dead, and to send the undead back into Death. Death is a kind of landscape for the Abhorsen, they can walk in Death, fight the undead or the evil necromancers there, and do so with the use of seven bells: Ranna, the Sleeper. Mosrael, the Waker. Kibeth, the Walker. Dyrim, the Speaker. Belgaer, the Thinker. Saraneth, the Binder. And Astarael, the Weeper.
The books are set in a parallel universe, the Old Kingdom being a place where magic is very much real and alive, and sharing a direct border with an alternate early 20th century England. The first book is about Sabriel:


Sabriel, daughter of the Abhorsen and herself the Abhorsen in waiting, is informed that her father is trapped in Death and needs to be saved. She sets out with the Abhorsen's sword and seven bells, starting in "our" world and crossing the wall to the Old Kingdom. She faces many dangers and has to fight for her life and the life of others, is joined by new friends and allies, and learns to fly a so called Paperwing - a kind of magic plane made from laminated paper (and magic). To use magic she can use so-called charter marks, which can be drawn or whistled, which is why I put musical note charms in the yarn. I also added a sword, seven bells which tinkle ever so softly, a key (which is the symbol of the Abhorsens), a cat (more on that in a minute), skulls, and a crown (can't tell you about that without spoilers). The yarn itself is mostly blue, with some black and white, as the traditional colours of the Abhorsens are blue and silver, and the Abhorsens all seem to have very black hair.


When Sabriel arrives at the house of the Abhorsens, she is greeted by a creature which usually takes the form of an arrogant cat. He is called Mogget, and he is lazy, sneering, likes fish, can be dangerous, and it's not really clear where his loyalties lie. Very interesting, and very well performed by Tim Curry - and he appears in the other books of the series, too, which made me very happy. And now you know why I put a cat charm in the Sabriel art yarn.
Mogget appears as a white cat with a read leather collar, with a miniature bell on it. So you can see immediately how I chose colours and add-ins for this yarn - I used red silk because leather wouldn't be flexible enough, and I put in more than one bell because of aesthetical reasons.

These yarns are not yet in the shop, but I hope to list them soon. In the meantime, check out the books ;-) The first is Sabriel, the second Lirael, and the third is Abhorsen. There is also a prequel (Clariel) which I can't tell you too much about, as I am still in the middle of it. I wondered whether it would be any good as the blurb seemed a little disappointing after the other three books, but it's very good so far!


Related Posts with Thumbnails