Category: The Project


Not Forgotten


It’s been a while (I know, but I do honestly have a whole series of excuses that do truly add up to a reason, I promise) but apparently we’re not being forgotten!

Nawwww!!!

Through the magic that is NaNoWriMo, I found a new friend – Tracy of Snagglewordz, who just today included this humble blog on her list for the Versatile Blogger Award. Now, my Google-fu is non-existent so I can’t find the actual genesis of this whole thing, but in a nutshell it’s a peer-based way of spreading the love and recognition of the work it takes to blog about something.

So, there are some rules, apparently. I’m shamelessly glomming these from Tracy’s blog, so thanks luv…

!! Thank the blogger who nominated you. THANK YOU TRACY!!!
!! Add the Versatile Blogger Award pic on your blog post
!! Share 7 random things about yourself
!! Award 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading
!! Inform the bloggers of their award

Seven Random Things About Me

1. I’m allergic to mangoes, and that makes me sad.
2. I collect hobbies.
3. Once, when I was at boarding school, I snorted WizzFizz on a dare – that totally cured me of any desire 4. I might have had to snort drugs.
5. I love post-apocalyptic movies but I hate movies with cannibalism in them.
6. I have a really big gap between my two top front teeth
7. I have a phobia of water, particularly swimming in the ocean.

Blogs I’m Awarding

Disclaimer: I don’t keep up well with blogs, and I don’t read a great many. So my list is a bit shy of fifteen, and for that I do apologise. Think of it like this – all the aweomeness of the empty spaces on the list is still contained in the spaces I did fill! So, in no particular order:

1. Kilcowera Station – This is my mother’s blog, where she talks about not only current events in life on the station where I grew up, but where she also crusades to educate the masses about life in the middle of nowhere.

2. Little Farm In The City – I was close friends at high school with Emily, the charming author of this wide-eyed experience of a blog about the road to sustainable living in a city environment. (Her adventures make me feel more than a little inadequate about my own abortive efforts at DIY stuff…)

3. Eine Saite – Another Tracy, this one is a fibre artist like me but a much more talented and accomplished one. I am in awe of her abilities with a spindle.

4. Backstrap Weaving – The author of Award-winner #3 put me onto this blog, and while I don’t understand about 90% of what I read there, I love reading about the deep and rich history and geography of this tiny corner of the fibre-craft world.

5. StoneLeafMoon – Linda is another online friend from the Ravelry ranks, and another of my spindle-craft heroes. The blog’s worth the read for her forthright opinions on the subject of “art” yarn alone.

6. Neil Kramer – Neil is a philospher with an occult-ish bent, but even if you’re not interested in that particular facet, his writing is charming and inspiring and worth reading purely for its own sake.

7. Occult of Personality – Greg does a podcast during which he interviews respected, infamous, controversial and legendary names in the occult community. I admire his dedication to being even-handed and open-minded, and his interviews are always entertaining and by far the most informative podcasts I’ve ever listened to.

8. Marieke Hardy – I’m inking this not because I think Ms Hardy needs more followers, but because she is an amazing writer, an entertaining face and voice in modern culture, and because quite frankly I have a pretty hardcore girl-crush on her.

9. The Yarn Harlot – Again, I don’t think Steph Pearl-McPhee lacks followers! But her sense of humour and mild self-depracation make this blog truly endearing to read. She’s also very prolific, which I admire more than I can possibly tell you!

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Have you met Igor? He’s a character that plays an important part in a couple of the Discworld books, notably Carpe Jugulum and Thief of Time. I say “he”, but really I should say “they”, because they are a sort of tribe or underclass of servant-industrialists who aid mad scientists, inventors and the undead in their endeavours. They’re based largely on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein creature, and are characterised by their motley physical appearance, their skill as surgeons and laboratory technicians, and often a strong sense of tradition and inheritance. They have a horror of letting perfectly good body parts go to waste. Oh – and they lisp. One of my favourite Igors had a dog he’d sewn together from bits of many dogs … and this uber-dog was, of course, called “Thcrapth”. Reading the Igors’ soliloquies always has me in stitches…

No, seriously. I didn’t mean that. I am stalked by inadvertent puns, I swear.

ANYWAY.

Igor seemed like a fantastic theme around which to base a yarn. I attended a fantastic workshop this weekend just gone with a lovely dyer and fibre artist called Trudi Pollard, who taught me a new technique of finger spinning/plying. Well, it was new to me. It’s old as the hills, even the Australian ones.

So I got very excited about the idea of making a yarn entirely from (oh god) thcrapth of bits and pieces. I want it to be really rough, really strong and functional and serviceable but ultimately, visually ugly. In my mind it doesn’t consist of spinning fibre, but rather already woven/spun pieces of fibrecraft, featuring broken zippers, maybe some handstitching or buttons or broken jewellery chains…I want this yarn to be the steampunk offcuts and outcasts!

But the most important aspects are going to be fibre content and colour. The fibres must be, primarily, natural. Hemp, ramie, silk, cotton, linen, wool, even hair. For my treatment of the colour issue, I thought I’d attempt something I’ve never done before and do a colour study. I pulled out my Derwent watercolour pencils and scribbled a few of them on a bit of paper. I’ve done a bit of very limited photomanipulation to get the more muted tones I want, but here it is:

Igor yarn colour study

I still have to decide on a perfect name for this yarn. I just loved the Igors’ lines so much that I want to paraphrase one or take a tiny excerpt, so I have to revisit a couple of the books. But right now I have to run to knitting, so I shall talk to you soon!


So, I know. I’ve been gone a long time, huh? At the risk of sounding like I’m making excuses – there have been a series of damn good reasons! First there was Tour de Fleece, at which I sucked MIGHTILY. But I didn’t want to try and rush the Pratchett yarns so I kept clear of them while I was spinning madly. Then I went to Adelaide on a business trip (and never again will I make fun of people when they’re sent on a “junket” for work – that was hard, hard going, I tellz ya), which I enjoyed a great deal but left little time for spinning. After I got back, there were the fires to be put out at work, as always, and then I got myself in a frightful excitement about Jacey Boggs of Insubordiknit fame) coming to Perth to do a workshop. That was last weekend, and right now I’m embroiled in spinning for my entries into the Perth Royal Show. I’ll show them off before I send them in, over on the Hammer & Tongs blog. And after the show, there will be NaNoWriMo! I hope to keep the spinning up while I’m doing that, but it does demand a great deal of time – I know that from experience.

But to keep you all interested (or maybe I have to interest you all again!) I wanted to post a pic of the incredible batt that Brittany of Bohoknitterchic made for me, at my special request for a particular Pratchett Project yarn. My instructions to her were centred mainly on the colour scheme I wanted – maroon, gold, purple, mahogany – and admonishments to avoid my fibre dislikes. But I had to add one particular instruction for this batt – “LUDICROUS amounts of firestar”.

Custom batt from Bohoknitterchic

Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to guess the “theme” of this yarn! Chime in, if you can be bovvered, and tell me what this batt reminds you of from the rich tapestry of life in Sir Pratchett’s Discworld? I love the batt – it’s simply incredible, and I can’t wait to get moving on spinning it. I think corespun, to show off the colours (and SHINY) but I haven’t got much further on my plans than that.

What do you think? Don’t you love it?

See the firestar?? It's blinding!

Steam-Finishing


I’ve had a couple of questions about how I steam-finish my yarns – which is a little funny to me because I only just sort of muddled my way into it out of necessity for this project! So I thought I’d take some photos and explain my process in case it helps anyone else. This is the good process, by the way – not the one that resulted in scorch marks!

First, make sure your yarn has room to breathe. Don’t be too tempted to put lots and lots of yarn into your steamer in one go, because then the steam won’t make it to all the strands, and additionally if you’re steaming to bring out the bloom, you want to make sure there’s room for the strands to expand to their fullest potential.

I used a stock pot with a couple of inches of water in the bottom, and a pasta colander. Make sure your yarn isn’t going to be sitting in water; but also, you want to be sure that the pot won’t boil dry. Now, the colander doesn’t sit snugly in the pot because of the handles, so I had to seal the gap with a couple of tea towels and a couple of tissues. (Yes, they were clean, hehe.) This is the setup:

The yarn I was steaming this time around was the Hedgehog yarn, which I needed to puff out as much as it possibly could. So I spun the 4oz of polwarth in 1oz lots, then plied them into two lengths of yarn that were about 55g each. That left plenty of room in the colander:

Then I brought the water to the boil and popped the yarn into the colander. With the lid back on, the steam bath was all a go, and I let it sit in there for three or four minutes. Then, wearing rubber gloves!!!, I turned the yarn over and put the lid back on for another couple of minutes. Done! And here’s the result – these two skeins started out the same size. The skein on the bottom of the photo has been steamed, the one at the top hasn’t.


This blog is meant to document and share my process as I explore the creation of yarn as an interpretation of a richly-imagined fantasy series – the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. Many of the themes, elements and even phrases in the books have captured my (dormant) writer’s imagination, and I feel the need to express my impressions through my current medium of choice. So. Here we are.

At this stage, most of the yarns I have planned are probably going to be wheel-spun; however, as I do prefer spindle-spinning to wheel-spinning, I may well be using my growing spindle collection towards this project. Some – if not all! – of the yarns will have multiple iterations/incarnations, both to practice and perfect technique and to tweak the visual and textural elements to more accurately portray my inner vision of what I’m trying to create. And if all goes well, perhaps . . . just perhaps, I may move to Phase Two of The Project . . . but that is a long way down the track and Let’s Not Get Ahead Of Ourselves.

I’d like to quickly mention Ravelry; the guys and girls there have been instrumental in taking me, in the space of a year, from being an unimaginative and very unaccomplished knitter to being a wide-eyed, constantly impressed spinner-who-(sometimes)knits. I have learnt so much, I have made so many friends, and the input from so many Ravelers has indirectly had much influence on my embarking on this Project.

Please join me and comment, critique, add thoughts. Whether you’re here because you love the books, or because you love yarn, or because you love me (ha!) please make yourself known.