Archive for July, 2012


I’m always fascinated by the Habu Textiles stand when I see it at knitting shows, and their yarn with a very thin stainless steel core had intrigued me for ages before I bought a cone of it at the Ally Pally show, back in 2010. There was a pattern with it, for a scarf, but I only did a few rows before I decided that it was just too thin to enjoy working with it on its own, plus I didn’t like the fabric it was producing.

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I looked on Ravelry, and found that there was another pattern for a similar scarf, but worked with another strand, of merino. So I pulled it out, and at the Harrogate show later that year, I bought the required merino, and another cone of the wool and stainless steel. Then put it all in a cupboard and forgot all about it. Which isn’t like me at all, obviously.


But then a couple of months ago there was a thread on one of the Ravelry forums about the stainless steel yarn, and it prompted me to pull it out and have another go with it. The pattern most people use is Kusha Kusha, which starts with a decrease section with both yarns held together, then carries on with both yarns for a while before switching to just the stainless steel one and decreasing needle size. All of which sounded a bit unnecessary to me, so I used both yarns all the way, and increased at the end to match the beginning.


The fabric was still a bit coarse (someone at Knit Night said it looked like chain mail, which almost put me off the whole thing!) but the pattern said to felt it slightly when you were done. I really should have done a swatch and felted that, if only to reassure myself, but whilst I’m a firm believer in swatches for garments, I pretty much always just wing it with everything else, so I didn’t.


When I started this I envisaged it as a reasonably long term simple project, that I could take along to Knit Night or do in front of the tv, but once I’d started I somehow couldn’t stop, and it was finished in no time. Not knowing how much it would shrink when felted, I guessed at a bit taller than me (very scientific!) and this is what it looked like when I cast off.


And this is it after felting! I did it by hand, with a bowl of water as hot as I could get it from the tap, and a bowl of cold. I’d dip it in the hot (with rubber gloves), then into the cold where I’d rub it about a bit, then repeated that a few times till the edges started to felt. To dry it I laid it out flat, then pulled the edges into soft points all the way along.


And this is the finished product! It’s rather different from anything else I’ve made, but I do like it. The stainless steel in the yarn is fun, in that you can shape it a bit – if you crease it it stays creased, and it has a bit of body to it.


The felting process has softened up the fabric considerably too – it looks much less like chain mail now!


One problem I did have was with knitting from cones – I mostly knit on the sofa, with my ball of yarn to my right, between me and the back of the sofa (and my legs up on the sofa in front of me), but that didn’t work with cones, they just kept rolling around and I was afraid of snapping the yarn if I pulled. So I used an old pair of straight needles and a basket to rig up a sort of lazy kate for cones (they were about half an inch too big for the kate I use for plying when spinning!)



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Sparkly woven scarf

A few weeks ago, my shower, which had been playing up for a while, and dripping all the time, finally gave up the ghost (it refused to turn off, which was a little disconcerting just before I had to leave for work, not to mention being all wet etc – I eventually remembered that there was an isolating valve under the bath, so I got dressed, found it, and ran out the door). The upshot was that I had to order a new one, and my parents came over at very short notice so that Dad could fit it for me (it’s very useful having a handy father!)

This of course meant that I was running round desperately tiding up, and in the process I stumbled across a bag which turned out to contain my spoils from Wonderwool, still not unpacked. Oops. But amongst them were these – apologies for the dreadful photo, it’s cropped from the one I took of everything I bought.


A twist of mixed sparkly pink fibres, and a skein of laceweight silk, both from Oliver Twists. Finding them inspired me to get my loom out again, as the plan for them was to make a scarf, with the pinks running lengthways. I undid the pink twist with some trepidation, and found that it was in fact 8m in length, with about 30 different yarns/threads. I cut it into four 2m-ish lengths, and started warping the loom. Which wasn’t easy – I had to choose pairs of yarns, then knot them twice, once at each side of the back beam, to keep them from slipping round. I had four groups of yarns, and did each set separately, but it was completely random within that. Some of the finer threads, especially the sparkly ones, I warped alongside a length of the silk I was using for the weft.


It took over three hours in total, not least because once I’d tied all the warp threads on, I had to deal with this tangle on the floor in front of the loom, but eventually it was all sorted and tied on.


There were a variety of yarns, some with slubs, some ribbon yarns, some silk-like (but I think they’re rayon or similar), and lots with sparkle. It’s very hard to photograph sparkle, this was my best attempt at it!


The start of the weaving. I didn’t use waste thread at the beginning, the silk was slippy enough to tidy it up once I took it off the loom.


And all done! It’s not a very long scarf, I lost at bit at the beginning when for some reason one warp thread was shorter than all the others, and I had to trim a few inches off, but it’s a nice length for a summer scarf to wear with my denim jacket. And it drapes beautifully.


It’s a bit more weft-faced than I’d hoped for (ie the cream silk weft dominates the coloured warp) but it’s quite subtle. And you can see the colours in the fringe.


Coincidently, just after I’d finished this, I went down to Wingham WoolWork with my friend Nadine, for a demonstration day by Ashford. There was weaving, spinning and drum-carding on offer, but I concentrated on weaving and I picked up loads of really useful tips – I just hope I still remember them by the time I get my loom out again. I’m busy watching tennis at the moment, and that’s not really a thing you can do whilst weaving.


Of course, I now want a funky eight-shaft loom like the one at the front of this photo, so I can make pretty things like this –


But they’re over £500, which I just don’t have to spend at the moment, and I’ve nowhere to put it anyway. I’ll just have to concentrate on getting the most out of my rigid heddle. I did learn how to use a pick up stick, and how to warp for doubleweave, so that’s a start…

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Hello! Waves! I’m still here, just a little quiet – I’m not sure why, I had a lovely week in Wales a few weeks ago, but it seems to have eaten my blogging mojo. Let’s see if I can get it back…

So, what have I been up to? Let’s start with the week in Wales. My parents have a caravan in Trearddur Bay, on Anglesey, not far from Holyhead, and it’s one of my very favourite places – I’ve been there every year since I was about two, and it feels like going home. I usually have a bad effect on the weather when I go away (cf my recent soggy week in Hay-on-Wye!) and I’d almost decided not to go, but I gave it a go, and even as I drove across the Pennines the sun came out, and it was glorious all week.

I stopped at Rhos-on-Sea on my way, and came across this tiny church – the sign said it’s believed to be the smallest in the British Isles (I think!) The bench gives an idea of scale.


Inside there’s seating for six.


I drove onto Llandudno and had a bit of a wander, still marvelling at the sunshine.


Then drove onto Trearddur. I went down to the sea after tea (it’s only a five minute stroll from the caravan) and sat in my favourite spot, a rock which takes a bit of scrambling to get to, past a rock pool we used to catch tiny shrimps and crabs in when we were small, and sat and watched the sea. It was so peaceful.


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And a few more random photos.

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The woods at Penrhos, once the gardens of a big house, now sadly demolished.

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One of the small bays at Trearddur, with Holyhead Mountain in the distance.

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The house I’ll buy when I win the lottery – it looks over the bay in the previous photo. Imagine sitting in that glassed in veranda with your knitting or spinning wheel, and going to bed in a turret.

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Flowers by the sea.

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And the big bay at Trearddur – the sea is always so clear there.

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Paddling in the sea. I really wished I’d taking a swimsuit, but it hardly occurred to me to take warm weather clothes, never mind bathing gear! And looking back now I can hardly believe how warm it was for that one week, it seems like a dream.

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I managed a bit of knitting – I finished this sock whilst I was there. Only one to go.

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And because a holiday isn’t a holiday without visiting at least one yarn and/or fabric shop, I popped into the lovely Copperfield, at Four Mile Bridge, which is a small village straggling the bridge between Anglesey and Holy Island, just up the road from Valley, and four miles from Holyhead.

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This is one of those tardis-like shops which looks tiny on the outside, but grows when you get inside. In the front room is an assortment of ribbons and trimmings.

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And a selection of Rowan yarns.

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Then there’s a small lobby-like room in the middle,

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before you get to the main fabric room at the back. There’s a massive selection of Moda fabrics, as well as some from other designers. The trouble is that I want it to be on my doorstep, so I can just pop in to match a fabric I need – I get very overwhelmed when I visit somewhere like that on holiday! I did buy a few bits, but I can’t just lay my hands on them now to photograph them, I’m feeling very disorganised at the moment!

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Back to my wanderings. These allotments in Holyhead always catch my eye, with the Irish ferries in the background.

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And up to the slopes of Holyhead Mountain, where a group of Iron Age hut circles have been excavated.

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A hut circle with a view. This was a Saturday afternoon, and the car park and cliffs along towards South Stack just opposite were very busy, but I had this part pretty much to myself, it was another magical moment.

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One of them was full of bluebells. It must have been a good year for them, they were everywhere.

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Some of them are thought to have been workshops or animal enclosures.

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I did have a quick walk down to look at South Stack (that’s the lighthouse) in the distance, but I didn’t go any nearer – I’ve been before, and there’s a lot of steps down the cliff!

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The sea was an amazing blue-green colour.

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This rock caught my eye the next day, when I was wandering round with my knitting and a book, enjoying the views.

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Such as this one. This is the seaside to me – lots and lots of tiny rocky bays, some with sand and some with rocks, not long expanses of golden sand, that’s not exciting at all!

And that’s it for travelogues for the time being – and if this dreadful weather doesn’t cheer up it could be it for the year! I’m so sick of thinking it’s been a nice day if it was just grey sky but no rain. But I have been making things, and I’ll do some updates on that very soon…

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