Archive for the ‘Spinning’ Category

Weaving once more

Long time readers may remember that back in July last year I spun up a gorgeous skein of dyed baby camel and silk (from Freyalyn) plied with undyed cashmere and silk.


And that at in October I started weaving a scarf with it, using some commercial BFL/alpaca as the warp.


I didn’t feel the love for the project, largely because the warp behaved very oddly, bunching up in places randomly, and feeling quite harsh under tension. At one point I contemplated undoing it, but when I took the tension off the fabric it felt much better, so I persevered. Well, actually I dumped it in the conservatory for the winter and tried to forget about it, but I didn’t actually rip it out.


But the sunny weather this weekend make me want to do outside crafts, and I tend to think of weaving as something to do in the garden, largely because there’s more space out there, and I plodded away at it until at last it was finished.

I braided the ends using my hair braider, and then gave it a bath, which had a somewhat scary outcome – it went very ripply and uneven, and I thought I’d ruined it. But a good seeing to with the iron sorted it out, and now it’s a thing of softness and beauty, with a very interesting texture.


I took it to the park at lunchtime and did some arty shots against the backdrop of St Mary’s Abbey. I may have attracted some strange looks, but I ignored them!


You can see how drapy it is here.


The texture is quite strange, you can see it best with the light behind it.


I have no idea why it’s done this! It could be that the warp wasn’t evenly stretched, or just that it wasn’t really strong enough (one thread at the edge did break eventually, but I was pretty much at the end of the warp anyway, so I just took it as a sign to stop…) I think the slight thick-and-thinness of the handspun weft probably had something to do with it. It’s very interesting to look at!


All in all, I’m very pleased I carried on with it! It’s a beautiful soft, drapy scarf for spring, with subtle colours (probably because only 25% of it is actually dyed fibre). It’s 13.5” wide and about 62” long excluding the fringe, so it’s long enough to do a few different things with. It weighs about 170g, and there’s some of the handspun left – I haven’t weighed it though, it’s still on the loom shuttle. Maybe I’ll do a smaller project with it next. Oh, and I still need to trim the ends of the tassels neatly, I meant to do it before taking photos but I forgot!


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Catching up again

Oh dear, this is getting to be a very neglected little blog these days. I have been making things, but mainly out of habit – my enthusiasm seems to have wandered off somewhere. Maybe it’ll come back as spring comes in with more daylight.

I’ve been knitting a cardigan in red Felted Tweed, but it’s one I’ve made before (Peasy) so I haven’t been able to think of anything to write about it that I didn’t write the first time round, beyond the fact that it inexplicably took half a ball more than the first one, so I had to beg a bit of extra yarn to finish the second sleeve. It just needs blocking and buttons, so hopefully there will be photos of it coming along soon.

In the meantime I’ve been spinning, in an attempt to try and up some of my fairly extensive fibre stash. The fact that this is just turning into a stash of 100g skeins of lovely yarn I don’t know what to do with is a little disheartening, but I’m persevering.


First up was this lovely purple BFL/alpaca/silk blend from Wildcraft. Actually this wasn’t from stash, it was one of two braids I bought a few weeks ago to cheer  myself up, and I couldn’t resist starting to spin it.


I was trying to keep it soft, so I plied it quite loosely, possibly too loosely, but that could just be compared to my norm, which is to put lots of plying twist into my handspun. I did contemplate running it back through the wheel, but I think I’ll leave it and see how it knits up, as an experiment. I’ve not idea what it’s going to be though. There’s about 240m/100g.


Next up was some merino/angora, bought from Limegreenjelly at Woolfest a couple of years ago. I used my fast flyer again, but I think it had compacted through being stored, and it was a bit hard to draft in places, resulting in it being overspun in some parts. I should have gone down a ratio or two, but having started I thought it might make things worse if I changed mid-project.


See the little corkscrewy bits? That’s too much spin. Again I was too lazy to run it back through the wheel, so I plied it carefully, keeping a close eye on the singles to smooth out the overplied bits, and watching the yarn as the plying twist went it to keep it consistent – I usually just count treadles, but this needed more twist in parts to counteract the overspun bits.


Thankfully it worked, and I have another skein of lovely soft yarn. I’m thinking perhaps a drapy cowl for next winter – I’ve got 270m, so I might need something else to go with it, perhaps some undyed and a slip stitch pattern?


Next I found 200g of Texel, from the Yarn Yard’s fibre club years ago. It’s a fairly rough fibre, but the colours are lovely. I threw it at the wheel on a low ratio to get a thickish yarn, and in no time at all I had this -


346m of aranish weight yarn. I’ve no idea what I’m going to do with it, but spinning it’s a start!


And last but not least, when I went to our fortnightly spinning group at Grace and Jacob last week, I spotted this lovely braid of Fiona’s hand-dyed soft BFL in paintbox colours, and just abandoned the fibre I’d taken with me and dived straight in. We’d been talking about chain (or Navajo) plying, which I’d done once before, just after I started spinning, and I was inspired to give it another whirl to keep the lovely colours intact. It spun up like a dream, and within a couple of days I had this bobbin of singles -


And managed to chain ply it (with only a few breakages!) into 240m of yarn.



I put loads of plying twist into this one, because I wanted to make socks, and this is how it came off the niddy noddy. A soak sorted it out though, and I had this lovely skein.


I’m very pleased with it! And it’s knitting up beautifully :)


Back soon (I hope!) with my finished cardigan and some sewing news.

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A little spinning

Okay, quite a lot of spinning! I seem to be in a bit of a spinny mood at the moment – the fact that I was knitting something I wasn’t enjoying but wanted to have done, so I didn’t dare start knitting anything else could have something to do with this…


This is everything I’ve spun since Christmas – now I just need to knit with it!

Here’s some more photos and a few details – I’ve linked each one to my Ravelry stash pages with more info if you’re interested.


First up were the rainbow braids from Hilltop Cloud – there were four, but I’d started spinning before I realised I hadn’t taken a photo. I know I posted about these before, but I don’t think I did after they were finished.



They made two rainbow skeins, which graduate from red through to purple. I’m thinking of using them for fairisle, with an off white yarn for the background colour.


Next up was some gorgeous merino and bamboo fibre from Artist’s Palette, one of my very favourite dyers. I thought it was one strip of variegated top, but it turned out to be one of purple, and one of pink/purple. I thought about plying them together, but in the end I decided to make two separate skeins. It’s a lovely glossy fingering-ish weight.


The colour’s not bad on this one, but I’ve taken photos of that purple in all sorts of places and lights before it came out even vaguely right!


Mollie thinks that skeins of yarn make lovely pillows, thankyouverymuch.


This is alpaca/silk from FeltStudioUK, another favourite of mine. Again my first plan was to ply them together, but they weren’t quite even in weight, and whilst I toyed with the idea of trying to make one thinner than the other to compensate, I decided that that would require far too much concentration, and went for separate skeins again.


I don’t really like spinning hairy fibres like alpaca (or mohair or Wensleydale), I find I tend to put too much twist in them and they come out ropy. I did manage to keep this one a bit softer, but I think it’s a bit underplied, and it’s a bit hairy too. I’m sure it’ll look better once it’s knitted up! I’m thinking of doing a Daybreak shawl with these two.


I grabbed this braid of Spindlefrog (I still miss her lovely fibres!) merino/soy/bamboo on my way out to spinning group last week. My plan was to spin it fairly thick, and I even put a big whorl on my wheel, but it didn’t seem to want to go thick, and I ended up having to put lots of plying twist in it to keep it together.


It looked madly overplied when I took it off the niddy noddy.


But a good soak and whack sorted it out, and now it’s a nicely balanced light-dk weight. It’s okay now it’s spun, but I wasn’t mad of spinning it – I’m not sure whether it was the soy or the bamboo, but something made it a bit sticky to draft.


Last but definitely not least, two similar braids of superwash BFL, again from Artist’s Palette. This time I did go with my original plan of plying them together!


The patches of colour were quite short, shorter than the staple length in places, so they’ve blended together well.


And it’s a nice bouncy aran weight – there’s about 350m/185g.

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Sadly real life and the need to make some money has got in the way of crafting a bit this week, hence my silence, but there has been some progress made. Although having started four projects at once, it’s been spread out rather…


I have finished one of the new projects though, the cosy silk and alpaca socks to wear in the house. Modelled with my pyjamas this morning, which how they’ll mostly be worn :)

When I finished those I cast on for a new pair, this time using the stitch pattern from the hopscotch socks I made a couple of years ago. These were part of a sock club I wasn’t a member of, but a friend was and I saw her pattern and copied the stitch pattern from it – I think they were originally toe up, but I did them top down with a short row heel as usual. I loved them, and wore them lots, but they’ve been darned twice already and now need another bit of TLC. They’ve faded too.


It’s a very clever stitch pattern, with slipped stitches on the two rows before you cable, then the cables crossing the purl stitches. It’s easier if you can work out how to do it without having to use a cable needle though – the pattern says to use two, which sounds very fiddly!


As you knit it just looks like rib, but when you stretch it it magically shows the pretty pattern. The colours are a bit bleached here, but it shows the pattern better than the photo that was more colour accurate.


This is on my hand, hence the funny shape!


I’ve been getting on with my Autumn Tam too, I’ve spent a couple of afternoons in the conservatory with an audio book, and now I’m up to the decreases for the crown, so it’s nearly there. I’m loving the colour combinations.


And last night I finally made a start on the chunky jacket I swatched for a couple of weeks ago. It’s double moss stitch, which is fairly tedious, especially on big needles (never my favourite), but it’s going to be a quick knit – this is it after the first ball (I think it’s going to take about nine balls). The cable pattern is much simpler than it looks, largely because it isn’t charted (why?????) but it’s basically a cross, then the two branches going outwards with a moss stitch centre. Very easy.


I’ve been doing a bit of spinning too – last Sunday my friends Jo and Nadine came round, and we had a lovely afternoon spinning and chatting. I’ve carried on most days since, and now I’ve nearly finished the rainbow roving I started before Christmas.


This is the last bobbin (of four).


And this is the first 50g plied up. There’s about 200m. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, but I’m thinking possible a lengthways scarf, with the two skeins mirrored. Or I might do something similar but woven. Really I just wanted to spin it to see what happened though – I was pleased that the colours matched up quite well on this skein, let’s hope the second one is so well-behaved!

Right, now to see if I can get the spinning and the hat finished this afternoon – it should be doable if I don’t get distracted!

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It’s a new year, so I’ve since Sunday I seem to have cast on for four different projects. Oops.


Sunday was spent with my parents, catching up on television as it rained pretty much all day, and I cast on for the Autumn Tam I bought from Jamieson’s at Harrogate in November. It’s not going very quickly – it needs a fair bit of concentration – but it’s coming on nicely, and the subtle colour changes are very pretty. It’s also very hard to photograph – I really needed three hands, two to stop it rolling and one to hold the camera!


On Monday the sun shone and we went out for a drive and a pub lunch, and at the last minute I found that I didn’t have anything on the needles suitable for car knitting. I didn’t have time to wind yarn, so I grabbed a ball of Regia Kaffe Fassett yarn and started a sock. We had lunch at The Feathers in Helmsley, and found this little chap on the shelf next to where we were sitting -


A mouseman mouse – there were a few round the place. I do love coming across them, and you do from time to time in Yorkshire. Lunch was good too – masses of Yorkshire ham, with chips and eggs.


Last night I’d had enough of stranded knitting for one day, and had a wander through my Ravelry queue to look for a garment to knit. I came upon the Drop Collar Cabled Jacket by Debbie Bliss, and remembered a pack of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky I picked up cheaply a few years ago, so I found it and did a swatch. The pattern says 6.5mm needles, I went up to 7mm but I’m still getting 13 sts/4” instead of 12. I’m going to wash the swatch in case it grows, but it doesn’t look as though it will somehow – I can see me swatching again on 8mm. I don’t like using such big needles, but I’ve got the yarn, so I may as well grit my teeth and get on with it!


After that I picked up the blue sock, but I wasn’t feeling the love, so I found some lovely silk/alpaca sock yarn in my enormous box of sock yarn, and cast on for another pair of cosy house socks – I’ve got a couple of pairs in this blend, and they’re lovely to wear in the evening with my pyjamas.


I don’t think Mollie approves of all these new projects!


In other news, I’ve finished the socks I was knitting before Christmas. I’ve used 60g of a 100g ball, so I might make another pair with either shorter cuffs or contrasting heels and toes – I do like the yarn.


I’ve also been doing a bit of spinning, I bought two lots of lovely rainbow fibre from Hilltopcloud – this is shetland and silk roving – there are four 25g lots, so I’m spinning them all separately to make two matching 2ply yarns (well, that’s the theory!)


I also bought a set of BFL/silk rainbow batts, largely because I bought some for my secret santa gift at spinning group, but then didn’t want to part with them!


Right, must go, I’m back at work this afternoon and I need to get dressed! Roll on the weekend :)

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Bear with me, I’m ridiculously pleased with myself today :) My Sheep Heid is all finished, and I’m as ever amazed that it is possible to turn this fibre

British breeds fibre

(photo from Etsy listing)

into this hat, with sheep and rams :)


with just the aid of a spinning wheel and a pair of needles :)

Anyway, when I finished knitting it yesterday (not long after posting, I just sat and didn’t do anything else until it was done), it looked like this


A sort of slightly oversized beanie. Once upon a time this would have disconcerted me, but I know from experience that blocking over a plate works wonders.


Moll did wonder why there was a hat on a plate on her chair though.


A trick I’m sure I’ve mentioned before is to thread a length of cotton yarn round the top of the ribbing before soaking, then pulling it tight and tying it once it’s on the plate, to stop the rib from stretching out.


Min came to have a look what I was doing in the garden in the cold and damp – she’s not used to seeing me out there at the moment! The apples on the ground are being feasted on by a large family of blackbirds, which is a good excuse for not picking them up…


The brim is a bit itchy, being mostly Shetland, I think I’m going to line it with something, perhaps a strip of merino inside.


I nearly binned this photo when I realised that the washing line was on top of my head, but then I spotted Min sitting on my shoulder!


The details – the pattern is Sheep Heid, by Kate Davis. I used nine different handspun yarns from British breed sheep (Shetland, BFL, Jacob and North Ronaldsay), spun semi-woollen, and with two plies. I used 3.5mm and 3.75mm needles. I used about 80g of yarn in total. The double thickness of handspun yarn should make a lovely warm hat!


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Ready to knit


I’ve finished spinning up my nine little packets of fibre for my Sheep Heid hat. It was interesting spinning four different fibres, and they’ve made nine pretty little skeins of yarn.


This is the skeins before I washed them, with my hand for reference – they were skeined on a 1.8m niddy noddy, but I doubled the skeins before twisting them up. From left to right, there are four lots of Shetland, two of North Ronaldsay, one of Jacob, and two of BFL. I spun them all long draw from the fold, so semi-woollen (I think!) and they were all fine to spin, although the North Ronaldsay was something of a challenge – all the others came as about 15” of standard top, but that was in very long lengths of very thin fibre, I’m not even sure if it was top, as it seemed to have lots of very short fibres in there, with some longer ones to hold it all together. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I broke off about five short pieces, folded them and spun from the middle, which seemed to work but required concentration! The BFL was the most pleasant to spin – I left that till last because I knew I’d love it.


This is the paler North Ronaldsay, you can see the long dark hairs still, these are mostly the softer ones – I pulled out as many as I could of the really wiry guard hairs from all the different fibres, but I’m sure that I’ll be finding more as I knit.


I’ve been on the Jamieson and Smith website, and matched my yarns up with theirs as closely as I can, and tied labels to each ball with the shade and number on them. Now I’m ready to knit!

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Thanks to everyone who left lovely comments on Chickadee! I’m very tempted to start another cardigan, probably Cria, but I think I don’t want to commit to another big project so close to Christmas. But things are getting done :)

Once again I’ve been doing lots of bitty things, wandering from one to another and doing a bit here and a bit there.


I’ve spun the first 120g or so of the big batt I bought at Wingham a few weeks ago. I’ve been doing it longdraw on my Mazurka, and whilst it does spin okay, the various bits in it offend my compulsive desire for nice smooth yarn. I’m trying to go with it, and actually now it’s plied up it looks better. It’s definitely nice and squishy! This is about a third of the batt, it could be a while before it’s done!


Once that was off the bobbins (and they were gratifyingly close in length, so I could clear the bobbins without worrying about wasting singles) I made a start on the nine little 15g bits of different coloured natural tops I bought a couple of weeks ago to make Sheep Heid. I’ve started on the Shetlands, these are the first three, and there’s a darker brown one on the wheel. I’m spinning it semi- woollen, longdraw from the fold, to make it as smooshy as possible. There’s between 30 and 40m of each, and it’s taking about an hour to spin each one. It’s a bit faffy to have to keep changing bobbins, but I’m getting there. I did think about chain plying, which would have meant one less bobbin change, but then I looked at some Jamieson’s yarn, realised that it’s a two ply, and decided that they probably know what they’re doing.


That’s my yarn on the top and the Jamieson’s on the bottom, they’re not looking too different.

Speaking of Jamieson’s, they sent me a replacement for the ball that was missing from the kit I bought at Harrogate, and told me not to bother sending the duplicate ball back. Which was nice, although they sent it by recorded delivery, meaning that I had to trek to the sorting office to collect it – it seemed a bit unnecessary for a £2.70 ball of yarn, but at least it’s sorted.


Anyway, I’ve been treating myself again, this time to this lovely BFL from Freyalyn – it’s the same colourway as the baby camel and silk I spun earlier in the year (and which is halfway through being woven into a scarf, I really should get on with that!) and I just couldn’t resist buying it when a bit of money came my way. I really shouldn’t be buying fibre (or yarn come to that), I have so much, but hey, it was pretty!

Speaking of yarn, Jen posted on her blog about how many patterns she had in her Ravelry library, and how many miles of yarn she had, and I had a quick and scary look at mine – I have 5,386 patterns. And 186,891m of yarn. Which is 116 miles. I may never need to buy yarn again. And that’s not including all the fibre, which is really just yarn in waiting.


I have been knitting some of it up though! I’ve finished these socks for my office secret santa present – the yarn’s some Regia Kaffe Fassett I bought cheap from Kemps a couple of years ago, and I was pleased at how exactly they matched up – I made sure to cast on in exactly the same place in the colour sequence by tying my slip knot at the point where the colours changed, and they matched up exactly before I started the heel.


It did go off a tiny bit after that – I think it’s probably because it was harder to keep the tension exact when doing the wraps for the heels, but I started the toes in the same place, and they’re pretty similar. Which is good, because the recipient is even more OCDish than me. I used the shadow wraps for the heels again, and I definitely like them.


Not wanting to start a big new project, I fished another ball of yarn out of my stash and started another pair of socks, for me this time.


The yarn is Fortissima Colori from Schoeller and Stahl, and I’m loving it – it’s very soft and cosy, and the colour changes are similar to handspun – there are four plies which all seem to change randomly (I’ve not found a colour repeat yet).


A bit blurry, but you can see the different colours.


And it’s knitting up into a nice tweedy fabric. I did think about doing a patterned sock with this yarn, but I’m glad I didn’t, I love the way it looks like this.

Now I need to psyche myself up to make another frilly scarf, for my sister-in-law for Christmas. At least they knit up quickly! And that’s the last of the presents I’m making, so not as much stress as last year. And I’m definitely not starting a baby jumper five days before Christmas, I learnt my lesson last year :)

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Monday update

I’ve had a busy week! Only one completed item, but lots of things in progress – finished things first, I’ve been knitting these socks since I went to Norfolk in May, I’ve done a bit more now and then and I finally got round to finishing them off. They’re not very seasonal, being short cotton-mix socks, but they’ll be ready for the spring. Although that seems like a very long way away today…


My feet aren’t really different sizes, the camera does very odd things from time to time.

Coming in as a very nearly finished object is my Chickadee cardigan, I finished the second sleeve on Friday night and immediately blocked it, thankfully it did stretch as the swatch did, as it was very much on the small side before that!


I need to get buttons for it – I’m thinking small red ones to match the birds if Duttons have such a thing next time I go into town, otherwise I’m using shell ones from my stash. Modelled photos and thoughts to come soon.


I’ve been spinning a bit, I started this red batt from Wingham on my new Mazurka when I bought the wheel, but I’m not really feeling the love for it (the fibre, not the wheel, that’s lovely). It’s got quite a few bumpy bits in it, and it’s upsetting my innate desire for lovely smooth yarn. I am persevering with it, mostly at spinning group, and I think I’ve done about 150g of it so far (there’s 365g in total). I’m tempted to ply the two bobbins I’ve done so far and leave the rest for a while, but I really should plough on with it.


What I really want to spin is this – nine different packets of natural coloured British Breeds fibre from Hill Top Cloud on Etsy, to make a Sheep Heid hat. But I’m having to resist, partly to get on with the red, and partly because despite saying I wouldn’t, I seem to be making Christmas presents again.


The girl I’ve got in our office secret Santa admired my Kaffe Fassett socks a while ago, so I decided to make her a pair, as I’ve still got three lots in my stash which I bought from Kemps a couple of years ago. I started them on Saturday, and an evening’s hard knitting got me past the first heel, then yesterday I sat and watched the Masters tennis from the Albert Hall and more tv in the evening, and got past the second heel, hopefully I can finish the second foot tonight. I do love plain socks, they’re just so mindless!


Saturday daytime was spent making quilt tops. In a sudden moment of madness I decided to make one each for my small nieces for Christmas. I’ve done the tops, and have layered one of them, I’m just trying to decide whether to have a go at free motion quilting, or whether to do the easy thing and just sew along all the straight lines. I think I’ll have another go with my practice piece first then decide.

I’ve also got to make another frilly scarf (aargh!) for my sister-in-law, but then I think I’m done with the hand-mades. At least I hope I am – knowing me I’ll get another bright idea soon and then get stressed trying to get it done in time, just like last year…

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I’ve had another go at taking photos of my cowl, they’re not much better than the last lot, but they’ll have to do! I look a bit like death warmed up, but that’s pretty much how I feel – I think I’ve got a bit of a bug, I’m just tired and headachy. At least I’m not streaming with cold, like plenty of people I know. Well, not yet, anyway.


Going with the fibre-to-FO theme again, this is the Falkland fibre as it arrived from the Yarn Yarn in February 2009 (it was a club fibre).

I finally spun it up a couple of months ago, spinning it as thick as I could manage (I’m not good at spinning thick, my yarns tend to go thin unless I concentrate!) These are the singles on the bobbins.


And this is the finished yarn.


Nice and chunky :) I had about 296m, which seemed to be enough to make a long cowl, and inspired by the Gap-tastic cowl pattern on Ravelry, I did a swatch on 6.5mm needles, which seemed to be about the right size for the yarn, and worked out that to make it about 44” round I needed 165 stitches, so I cast on and knitted round and round in moss stitch until I ran out of yarn, when I cast off loosely.


The yarn’s striped nicely, in a very Noro-esque fashion (it looks very like the Iro I used to make a big jacket years ago).


It’s a nice length round my neck once, it’ll fit into the front of a coat like a scarf, or when it’s cold I can wrap it round my neck twice for a very cosy neckwarmer.


If it’s very cold, I can pull one loop up over my head as well, but I forgot to take a photo like that!


Oh, and this is how I blocked it – it was the right length but a bit narrow when I took it off the needles, so I threaded wires through both sides (two per side) and pulled it as wide as I could get it, pinning it into place before standing it up in front of the radiator to dry (one of the few advantages of winter is having the heating on and being able to block things so quickly!) It also made it much more drapey and soft.

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