Amberley and yarn

A while ago I won an annual pass to Amberley Museum and last weekend I took the opportunity to visit whilst their Traditional Crafts event was taking place.

It was lovely to wonder around the museum and see the exhibits – although admitting I had used curlers like the ones on display and having to show DD how to use a dial telephone didn’t make me feel any younger…

I knew that South Downs Yarn had a stand at the show and, just as I was about to give up hunting for her and head home, I spotted a sign pointing up a track. Sure enough, there she was, tucked away in the Friends’ Centre with a local spinning guild.  After a while deliberating about colours, a couple of skeins agreed to come home with me – I think I will try and spin some Southdown fibre to use alongside it in a colourwork project of some sort.


Lovely locks

It’s that time of year again, the Rare Breeds show at the Weald and Downland Museum is coming round again.  I think it must be six years since my first entry, which was made using a spindle created from a CD and a chopstick!

I have one project well underway, but I’m hoping to get a skein of polwarth ready to enter as well.  I bought a small amount of locks a few months back, have washed them and started flick carding them.  They were not really dirty to start with, but a gentle soak and rinse made the locks look like something out of a washing powder advert!

In attempt to keep my hands from complaining too much about overuse, I am swapping between carding and spinning.  Spinning this fleece is a pleasure, I must remember to take my time plying as that is where I tend to get impatient and it all goes horribly wrong…


New Patterns: Shoreline Blanket and Harbour View Mitts

I have two new patterns published in Knit Now (Issue 61) which hits the shops this week.

First, the Shoreline Blanket – modelled here with a baby, but it could work as a lap blanket too:

Shoreline Blanket Knit Now photo

Photo: Dominic Crolla  for Practical Publishing

The Harbour View mitts have cables travelling up the back of the hand and in this lime colourway certainly brightens a dull day!

Harbour View Mitts Knit Now Photo

Photo: Daniel Walmsley for Practical Publishing

Bordering on insanity

Last week I finished a blanket design I have been working on for, well actually I’d rather not think about how long.  Most of the knitting was completed over Christmas (not last Christmas, the one before that).  Then came the sewing up.  Or some of it, and then the whole project got put to one side.

Spring is finally in the air and a sort out of my many projects was long overdue.  The blanket resurfaced and at last it became a blanket, not a heap of squares:

It just looked a little incomplete still.

What it needed was a border.  If you ever hear me mutter those words again, steal my needles.

After many hours I am STILL picking up stitches.  It had better be worth it – and then there are many rounds to knit and after that ends to weave in.  I’m not going to dwell on my many thoughts about how to make it ‘even better’ and the prospect of knitting more squares to test that out…

New Pattern – Sebright Hat and Mittens

The new edition of Knit Now magazine (issue 54) is published today and includes my latest patterns – Sebright hat and mittens:

Sebright Set image from KN54 - credit Dan WPhoto: Dan Walmsley, Practical Publishing

It was a relief to see the finished hat being worn by someone – everyone in our house has a particularly large head, so there was no-one who could try on the required sample size!  It was artfully modelled over a few bowls and inflated balloons, but that’s not quite the same as a real live person…

This set uses the broken seed stitch, which creates a really interesting textured pattern, but is very simple to create – a row of knit stitches in one colour and then a row of alternating knit and purl stitches.

Persuading the stitch pattern to decrease for the crown/top of the mittens in a consistent way was a challenge, but I was pleased with the finished effect:

BSS hat and mittens - decreases

Pattern naming also proved to be a challenge.

Originally these patterns had a name that was inspired by the similarity of the stitch pattern to the “laced” feathers on a Wyandotte chicken.  If you need to know more about these chickens, there’s a detailed history here.


Now, how many other people would name patterns after chickens?  Surely not many?  But by some strange coincidence another designer for Knit Now had already used the name Wyandotte – and for a hat and mitten set too.  So, back to the drawing board…

Consulting my book of fancy chicken markings (I’m sure you have a copy on your bookshelf…) I found that the Wyandotte was developed by breeding Sebright bantams with larger birds to obtain the markings in a full sized bird.  So Sebright it is!

New Pattern – Carrot Tops

This week sees the publication of my third pattern for Knit Now magazine.

Issue 51, which should be available in shops this weekend, features a gardening theme, including my boot toppers.   These should jazz up your digging boots but also add some cushioning your ankles:

Carrot Boot Toppers - for self pub pattern

The boot toppers are a good introduction to charted colourwork in the round – each round uses only two colours and there are not too many stitches between each motif, so carrying yarn is easy.

Bognor Beach in Mini Skeins

Last week I posted about The Knitting Goddess competition, where my photo had been shortlisted as a possible colour theme for a set of mini-skeins.

Although I didn’t win the competition, Joy decided to produce sets of mini skeins for the nine shortlisted photos too.  Below is my photo and the mini skeins which go on sale tonight on The Knitting Goddess shop:


 photo IMG_1817_zpsg5nttqh6.jpg

(Photo: The Knitting Goddess)

Celebrating small successes

It’s been that time of year again, the Rare Breeds Show at the Weald and Downland came around for its annual festival of all things farming and woolly. More fleece was donated by my friend in Shetland, this time from Katie the Katmoget: IMG_2465 I battled with the mini-combs and managed not to injure myself, which was a success in its own right!  Eventually I came up with a small skein of fairly lightweight yarn, which the judges kindly awarded a red rosette: IMG_2543 Joy, owner of The Knitting Goddess, and Rachel of My Life in Knitwear have recently run a competition to find an image to use as inspiration for colours in a new mini-skein set. I was delighted to be included in the shortlisted photos with this shot of Bognor Pier: IMG_2466 Plotting new designs continues. Now that there are well-established processes in place to deal with VATMoss I hope to finally self publish some patterns as the autumn progresses. Watch this space…

Little Yellow Ducks

You may have already come across the Little Yellow Duck project – I have finally found the time to get involved after intending to do so for many months.

I am a sucker for things like this – I love the idea of leaving anonymous surprises and this project has the bonus of raising awareness for a very good cause (blood and organ donation – possibly the ultimate random act of kindness).

Despite all being made from the same pattern (Lil’Ducks) each duck seems to develop its own personality. So far I have ‘released’ half a dozen ducks into the wild:

Sunshine Suzie made her debut on a zipline at the park:

Pamela of Pagham went birdwatching at the nature reserve (I think a chap from the Environment Agency found her and then put her back for someone else to take home as she was ‘found’ twice!):

Richard of Aldwick hung out at the Post Office:

Three ducks went to visit Bognor Pier on its 150th birthday – Dulux had donated some pink paint to the Pier Point Project (try saying that after a few drinks…) so they had names inspired by the Dulux pink paint shades – Pinkie, Candy and Sweetie:

It doesn’t end there – when ducks are found the new owner can add them to the map. I may have got just a little bit obsessive about checking that my ducklings have found a safe new home…

Bracelet plying

Waste not, want not, as they say…

I’ve been spinning some lovely, but rather slippery, fibre recently.  It took me a little while to get to grips with it, so I’d used quite a few handfuls of it before reaching a point where I could spin it consistently. I figured that my early attempts wouldn’t make great finished yarn, so, once I was happy with what I was producing, I tied a slip knot in the singles to mark the end of the experimenting, split the remaining fibre, spun it and plied it.

This, of course, meant I had quite a lot of singles left on the first bobbin.  I knew I would need to try a few needle sizes to get the right gauge for this project, so I thought that I might as well ply what was left and use it for swatching.

I have used bracelet plying in the past, but it has usually ended up with me being on the brink of going to A&E to be cut out of the mess that was wound round my hand, having cut off circulation to my finger!

This time I opted for the high-tech, finger-preserving, “DPN poked in a book” method:

  • Pop the DPN between the pages of the book so it sticks out of the long edge
  • With the front of book facing you and leaving a long tail:
    • Take the single up from the spine of the book (on the right of the DPN), behind the DPN, down to the spine of the book (on the left of the DPN)
    • Take the single under the spine to the back of the book, up to the top (on the left of the DPN), wrap it in front of the DPN, bring it down (to the right of the DPN) until you are back where you started.

Eventually I ended up with this:


Using a book has its advantages (apart from keeping your fingers intact) – you can put this down at any point and come back to it later.  No more odd looks from the postie as you struggle to open the door…

When I’d wound on all the singles, I set the wheel up, put the start and end of the singles together and tied them to the leader.  I then gently slid the DPN up and out of the book:


I then poked the DPN between the singles and the front cover to hold the space that my hand would go through.


I edged the bracelet off the book:


Then pushed my hand through the loop:


I fiddled about with the two singles until they fed onto the bobbin without catching themselves up in the rest of the bracelet:


And I was away!

I wish that I could show you a huge skein of neatly plied yarn to encourage you to try this for yourself.  It was all going so well… I did manage to get a fair amount of extra yarn this way, but I also let my attention wander somewhat and ended up with this:


Maybe a smaller/tighter bracelet would have helped?  Or maybe concentrating more…!

Violent Violet’s socks

Sometimes (OK, quite often) I run before I can walk. I have a good idea, which is overtaken by a better idea, then I tweak it a bit more and see further possibilities. It all gets too complicated, too ambitious and nothing actually comes of it! After a spell of ill health last summer (if you have a kidney stone, make it a small one, having a 3cm one removed is not a great deal of fun…) I thought I had found a fun project, spinning and knitting socks as a gift for someone.

It started so well, we agreed on the pattern and the colour and I set to work. These socks were going to brighten anyone’s day. The fibre became affectionately known as violent violet:

IMG_1179 Worried in case I ran short of yarn, I spun 200g of fibre into a 3 ply – making something for someone else made me feel I needed to do things “properly”, none of that chain plying, what if they felt the bumps??? So far so good.

The knitting started and then life just kept getting in the way. Then the guilt set in, they sat staring at me every time I sat down, still with just the toes completed. Another spell of ill health and more guilt because I was at home all the time and still the wretched things weren’t getting any further along.

Eventually progress was made, and after I gave myself a stiff talking-to I managed to turn the heel at Christmas. I kept thinking ‘if I just did one pattern repeat a day they’d be done by the end of the month’… I kept torturing myself with thoughts that after all the effort they wouldn’t fit – we have the same size feet, but mine are unusually narrow so every time I tried them on they flopped about and it all looked wrong!

Finally, finally they are winging their way to their new home. I hope they are worth the wait!

IMG_1885 The pattern is Coming Together Socks and Violet is not really violent at all, in fact she is generally known as Violet Merino from World of Wool.

New pattern – With a Twist Cowl

My first pattern of 2015 is published today in Knit Now Magazine (Issue 44).


Photo: Dan Walmsley – Practical Publishing

Ravelry Pattern Page

It’s a neck-hugging cowl, perfect for the snowy weather we are having in the UK at the moment! It features reversible cables, so you can fling it on in a hurry, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be wondering around with it on inside out 🙂

With a Twist Cowl

It can be worn with the top folded down, or as a tube to keep as much of you warm as possible.

The cowl was knitted using Emrys Bluefaced Leicester Aran by Triskelion Yarn and Fibre. The yarn was a delight to knit with, a great colour (Hafren) and very very squishy.


From the original prototype that I made I thought that it would be touch and go to make the cowl from one skein. There was an awful lot of knitting a round, weighing the cowl, weighing the remaining yarn, crossing fingers etc. When, after all that worry, the finished cowl used 90g of yarn, I was mightily relieved!

New Free Pattern – Christmas Jam Jar Jumper

I added another free pattern earlier in the week – it didn’t seem right to plug it in amongst my ratings about VATMoss, so here’s the link and a picture of what you could create:

Jam Jar Lantern

It’s a quick knit and a good way to use up some leftover DK yarn so you might just rustle one up by Christmas…!?

The #VATMoss sledgehammer cracking tiny creative nuts

I enjoy writing patterns.  I have several waiting to published, some of which I am planning to offer as paid patterns.  I have no way of knowing whether I will end up selling no patterns, a few patterns or, in the words of Del Boy ‘this time next year we’ll be millionaires…’!  My income as a fledgling self-employed designer, is (very, very, very) unlikely to edge over the threshold for income tax in the UK (about £9,500).  A typical pattern price would be £3 – £4 so that represents sales of 2,400 pattern sales in a year!

Just as I was about to publish my first paid pattern VATMoss/EUVAT raised its ugly head.  The rules on dealing with VAT on sales to Europe are changing and it seems that the smallest businesses have been totally disregarded and are about to be hit hardest – and everyone has to start small at some point!

The VAT changes will mean that giant firms, such as Amazon, will no longer be able to take advantage of being based in low-VAT EU countries in order to sell their digital products at cheaper prices (the VAT at present is charged at the rate of the country of the supplier).  From 1 January 2015 the VAT has to be charged at the appropriate rate for the country where the person purchasing the digital item is based.  This in itself doesn’t seem too unreasonable – but tiny businesses are being treated in exactly the same way as the giants.

If I were offering to print and post my patterns to you and I could guarantee that people from elsewhere in the EU wouldn’t buy my patterns, the legislation wouldn’t apply at all and I could go on my merry way earning up to £81,000 before having to worry about registering for VAT in the UK.  Thresholds like this are meant to encourage small businesses, enabling them to concentrate on ‘doing business’ not ‘spending all their time on admin’.

There is debate as to whether I could possibly avoid all this by sending you a personalised email with the pattern attached (yes, this is the 21st century…)   But who wants to buy paper patterns or wait for an email in this digital age?  We have all got used to the luxury of having an electronic version of a pattern within seconds of purchasing it and using websites such as Ravelry to keep them secure. We’re all meant to be going green and saving the world by not chopping down forests and using paper…

The legislation has existed since 2008 – which is a very long time in terms of digital sales development and thousands of business have come into existence because of the advent of online publishing, payment processors and shop-window websites charging minimal fees.  Often these businesses are run by people who cannot work in traditional jobs due to the commitments of caring for family or health issues.  Sadly, HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the tax department in the UK) do not seem to have communicated at all with the smallest businesses.  They do (or did, we are quite a noisy bunch when we put our mind to it!) not know we existed, had no idea how we operate and in return we have been left unaware of their expectations about paying VAT.

It’s not just the VAT.  If I sell directly I need to keep records to prove where my customers live (in two different ways) so I can hand over the VAT to the appropriate government (the fact that this data is not actually available to small scale sellers seems to have bypassed HMRC). If I keep this sort of data (for ten years as required) then I may need to register with the relevant data agencies – and they may wish to audit me at some point.

So I have a few choices:

  • Do nothing and wait for the VAT inspectors from various parts of Europe to spot me with their web-bots and imprison me for non-payment of a couple of euros worth of VAT (that’s worth everyone’s time and money, isn’t it)?
  • Become VAT registered, join MOSS and wait for the few EU sales I am likely to make to roll in, then savour the delights of completing returns on a largely untested system (yes, tested by four people, who were already conversant with VAT returns…)
  • Stop people in the rest of Europe buying my patterns (possibly leading to discrimination police on my doorstep)
  • Make my patterns available via a third party platform who will handle all the admin/VAT on my behalf.  This appears to be what HMRC assumed everyone does.  However, many of the platforms do not work in the way that HMRC anticipated and do not see themselves as being the ones who should have this extra workload given to them.  Ravelry and LoveKnitting have come up with a workable solution, but there is still no confirmation that HMRC believe that Ravelry are not responsible as a platform.  Also, selling via a platform means that they will want an (entirely reasonable) fee from me, but that eats into any income I might gain from sales.

It does make you think ‘is it all worth it?’ – but that’s the easy way out!

These changes will affect anyone who buys/sells digital products – patterns, instructional videos, illustrations, web adverts – whether they are in the EU or elsewhere (yes, if someone in the USA sells a pattern to someone in Europe they should be remitting the VAT to the appropriate country too).  If the VAT has to be paid the seller needs to factor it into their pricing, as well as the cost of their time in administering it.  Prices are bound to increase and some businesses will just opt out of the madness altogether and cease trading.

Digital products are just the start, physical goods are next on the horizon, bringing this nonsense to a whole new range of nano-businesses and their customers.  So much for encouraging small businesses and as for the current campaign to #DoMoreOnline…!

Today there is a TwitterStorm using the hashtag EUVAT.  Previous Twitterstorms have raised awareness and brought about some communication with HMRC, this one is aimed at the EU.  If you want to know more I’d suggest looking at EU VAT Action and in particular completing their survey  or signing this petition.


Of Friends and Sheep

When I was little I had a friend who was a few months younger than me – at the age of six the age gap was very important! As we grew up the age difference meant she was in a different school year to me, but we had similar interests – beer, music, motorcycles 😉 (we were older than six by then…). Eventually our lives went their separate ways.

Recently we were reconnected by the power of the Internet. However, we are now many miles away from each other, I’m still on the Sussex coast whilst she’s in Shetland – but she pops back down south to see her family, so we’ve met up a couple of times over the last year. The icing on the cake to rediscovering an old friend is finding that your old buddy keeps sheep and has no qualms about popping a homegrown fleece in her hand luggage when she flies back to visit family! I guess apologies are due to the other passengers, no matter how clean fresh fleece is, it does have a certain perfume to it…

The first bag of fleece was from a fine chap called Black Boy. I’m no expert at washing fleece, but managed not to felt it, then combed it, spun a small two ply skein which was awarded a third place rosette at the local Rare Breeds show in the summer.

Black Boy's fleece



Currently I’m working on some white fleece from another sheep in her flock, Suzie the Shetland. This is slowly going through my drum carder – I had forgotten how much time and effort goes into feeding locks in and slowly turning the handle.




There’s still a fair amount of Shetland scenery embedded in the carded fleece, but hopefully that will fall out when I spin it – I want to make something for Suzie’s owner and it probably would be more comfortable if it was made of wool not thorns!

Colour Splash Blanket

Today is a bit of a milestone for me, my first magazine pattern has been published 🙂

Knit Now were brave enough to commission my pattern back in the spring and today issue 39 hits the newstands.

The Colour Splash Blanket is knitted entirely in garter stitch, one colourful stripe is expanded upon to form a square, giving a small blanket ideal for a baby.

The blanket used Peter Pan Merino Baby DK and the colours of yarn used certainly provided a vivid splash of colour:

Colour Splash Baby Blanket

The official magazine photos include a rather charming baby:

(Photo credit – Rachel Burgess, Practical Publishing)

Click the photo to go to Ravelry to see more information about the pattern, or, if you feel inspired to rush and order a copy online, the Knit Now website is here.

Ch ch ch changes…

If you’re reading this, hopefully you’ll see my shiny new website address at the top of the screen, my very own .com 🙂

I have been busy putting together knitting and crochet patterns, which I will start shamelessly plugging telling you about over the next few weeks – watch this space!

It’s not a tablecloth!

This could be one of the least challenging things I have ever created 🙂

August 2014 050

Stunning huh?  Yes, it’s two whole metres of rather fetching purple one inch checked gingham fabric, with a hem all the way round.  I even ironed it, not that it looks like it here.

But it’s NOT a tablecloth.  

It’s a blocking cloth (cue action shot…)

Snowflake scarf blocking - Blog pic

I am hopeful that this will help me line things up evenly when pinning them out and for projects that have been blocked to look better afterwards, not worse…  It seems to have worked for this project, you can see that the flowers line up quite neatly.

Is anybody out there?

There’s not been much happening here for a while, has there?

Due to the miracles of medical science (aka a man with a scalpel, hammer and hoover, who kindly relieved me of a massive kidney stone) I have begun feeling much more like my old crafty self 🙂 I have started having ideas, trying things out and making things. I even had a day out at Unwind in Brighton. It’s like startitis on steroids…

For the moment, I’ll leave you with some photos of yarn, mostly spun during the Tour de Fleece using fibre from Katie at Hilltop Cloud




Blending Board

Another long blogging break…  but a new toy brings me back with pictures.  I recently purchased a blending board.  They are a sort of cross between giant hand carders a drum carder – you can fit more fibre on them than hand carders but they are not as heavy or large as a drum carder.

There are endless ways that you could apply fibre to the board, I picked a range of different bits of fibres in a range of different blue/green/purple colourways and added them in thin stripes:


Eventually they made a thick layer on the board:

Blending Board (5)

The board comes with two dowels, like giant DPNs – I pinched the fibre between them and started rolling and pulling the fibre up, away from the board:

Blending Board (4)I experimented with making one huge fat rolag, but decided it was more manageable to make two or three smaller ones by breaking the fibre after a few rolls of the dowel:

Blending Board (3)

Eventually all the fibre had been used:

Blending Board (9)

I then had a load of pretty rolags to experiment with:

Blending Board (7)I chain plied the yarn and ended up with an aran-ish weight yarn, about 200 yards:

Blending Board (2)       Blending Board (1)

I am enjoying using this board, it does ‘what it says on the tin’ and lets you blend different fibres together.  I know my drum carder would also do the job, but the board is is just less cumbersome and less noisy to use. It is also rather addictive, all those bits of random fibre and being dusted off and combined to make multicoloured blends!

Wonderful Wensleydale

I haven’t used many longwools in my spinning before, but I have been really enjoying spinning these:

wensleydale locks

They are Wensleydale locks, purchased from PippaJo’s Fantastic Fibres on Folksy.  These sheep must have been kept in a luxury hotel and given regular hair conditioning treatments – the locks are lovely to work with and virtually no VM to pick out.

I just flick carded the locks to change them from this:

wensleydale locks and flick carder

to this:

wensleydale fluff and flick carder

Beautiful fluffy clouds:

wensleydale fluff

Spinning with fibres this long has taken some getting used it, my hands seem to be miles apart when drafting.  I have set the Ladybug up so it is on the fastest whorl with a high speed bobbin and one lock seems to be producing huge amounts of very fine singles with a slight halo to them.

Spring has sprung

There are finally hints of spring, some blossom is appearing and flowers are determined to add splashes of colour to the bomb site that is the back garden.

In an attempt to help bring a little more colour to my world I dragged out my sewing machine and made something.  With a proper pattern and everything!

This fabric caught my eye.  It is impossible for it not to catch your eye 🙂

bright handbag 002

I have been looking for the perfect bag for a while and this free pattern for the Phoebe Bag looked like a good place to start.  I cut out the pieces and even used interfacing, I did a good job of pretending I knew what I was doing:

bright handbag pattern pieces

I came to a bit of a halt for a while when it got to the stage where the inside and outside of the bag need joining together.  I had visions of ending up with the closure flap being on the wrong side, or being stuck between the two layers of the bag.  It took about two days of picking it up, sticking more pins in and thinking very hard before I got the courage together to sew the seams.

Eventually, I ended up with a finished bag:

bright handbag complete

I even managed to add a pocket inside and a clip on a ribbon so that I don’t lose my keys in the bottom of the bag:

bright handbag inside

My local fabric shop has a sale on this weekend, so having got this far with my sewing machine I may see if there is any other fabric that tempts me.

More squares

The obsession with squares is continuing – too many ideas and not enough knitting time is, as always, a problem.

I have just about overcome my dislike of garter stitch.   Somehow it now seems very squishy and just right for knitting squares.  I keep looking at sewn quilts and seeing all sorts of possibilities for making something similar out of wool. These squares

Flying Geese

will hopefully develop into a blanket something like this:

flying geese mock up

Yes, I’m cheating, I have done a bodgy copy and paste job, instead of lots of knitting, but it gives you an idea 🙂

I’ve also been experimenting with stripes, I have an idea for a baby blanket with this sort of stripe running through it:

April 2013 044

Not every square works out so well, I have a pile of pink, white and black shapes which are definitely NOT square at all, but I’m still working on them.


I have been involved in knitting squares for various blankets recently, usually a group effort to give a warm hug to someone who is unwell or having a tough time.

It gave me an excuse to try out some different stitch patterns.  No matter what the samples look like in photos from stitch dictionaries they take on a new look when you actually knit them up.

Then I had an idea.  I have a notebook full of pattern ideas and they rarely make it into a knitted version, but this one worked out better than I thought:

Four Cables

An idea, knitted up that actually worked!  I may need to lie down 🙂

Easily pleased

Somehow six months has slipped by since I last posted.  Crafting has become more difficult as the various bits of my body conspire against me, but I made something very simple recently that greatly pleased me.

My daughter has reached the age where she ‘cannot live’ without a mobile phone.  Possibly she will have to be operated upon to remove it from her person at some point…  She had her eye on a rainbow coloured phone sock – which cost about £6.  The miser in me came to the fore, no way was I going to see her spend money on that when I could make one!

I had read this post about the problem of ‘icky dots’ when you change colours in knitting.  It struck a chord with me!  When colour changes look like this:

Jan 2013 033

with all the mixed bumps of colours I just can’t cope with the untidiness of it all.  OCD?  Me? (This is the inside of the finished phone case – the outside is beautiful by comparison!)

As TECHknitting suggests, the solution is really very simple.  If you are knitting ribbing and change colour, you get ‘icky dots’ when you make purl stitches .  So if you don’t want them, don’t purl, knit instead.

For my project, I was using a twisted rib – K1tbl, P1.  When the time came to change colours, I did K1tbl, K1 for that round only.  Result?  Not an single icky bump to be seen 🙂

Jan 2013 037

Rare Breeds Show 2012

I think this was my fourth year of entering the handspun class at the Rare Breeds Show at the Weald and Downland Museum in Singleton, so I must have been spinning for four years and two months and had my Ladybug wheel for nearly four years – it seems a long time since I started spinning!

I had all sorts of plans for projects, but in the end I only entered two classes this year – but both projects attracted a rosette, and the white wool skein won First Prize and Reserve Champion (and a massive £5 in prize money)!

I was going to add some more detail to the label about yardage/weight of the skein, but when I weighed it on my digital scales it came in at a massive 6g – certainly under the required limit of 50g – and I felt such a tiny weight made it look like I hadn’t bothered to spin enough!!

I finished the spiral project I blogged about last time and turned it into a cushion – that attracted a sixth place rosette.

At least the weather was much kinder this year – a gloriously sunny day, instead of last year’s mud-bath.  I will try and start planning projects earlier this year – I keep hoping to produce a huge circular shawl, but finishing it might be a lengthy process!

Going round in circles

I have had an idea in my head for a long time about a rainbow coloured spiral.  Finally I have managed an attempt at it, using the Hilltop Cloud fibre I spun a couple of months ago – I am quite pleased with it, but can see lots more variations on this theme, perhaps with a wider spiral of colours and a thin line of black?

I’m now spinning up more black shetland fibre in the hope that I can make a plain black circle, join them together and make a cushion cover.  It’s all rare breed fibre so, if it gets finished in time, it might become an entry for the Rare Breeds Show this year.

Spinning on a small scale

I recently acquired a flick carder.  I have now got a pretty good selection of tools – hand carders, drum carder and mini combs.  I bought a Jacob fleece last year and have washed and combed some of it.  I looked at again and managed to wash and dry some more locks (which with the summer we’re having so far this year is quite an achievement)!

I am not particularly good at washing fleece, but there were some white locks which managed to survive my processing attempts without turning into a mangled mess.  I had planned to comb them to spin a skein for the local spinning show (it will probably be my only entry this year – so many plans that have fallen by the wayside over the last year).  Instead,  I tried out my new flick carder.  I found that bravery and a firm hand was the key to success and ended up with a small bag of fluffy white fibre (and plenty of waste and vegetation).

I am aiming to spin a very fine yarn.  Earlier in the year I had worked on fine spinning on my Ladybug, but that is still set up with the bulky flyer for some art yarn experiment I started a while ago, so I went back to basics with my tiny little turkish spindle:

It’s a long time since I used a spindle, but it came back to me.  The tiny spindle is great for getting a fine yarn – it just keeps spinning and spinning.  I’m not quite sure how I will go about plying from two balls of singles yet, but I’ll worry about that another day!

Neat and tidy

I live in a two bedroomed bungalow.  There is enough space, but it is not vast.  Yet somehow I can never find what I am looking for, especially when it comes to craft projects – I have too much stuff crammed into too many different places!

In an attempt to regain some control over my elusive knitting needles, I dusted off my sewing machine and, after much thinking about which bits needed to be sewn together in which order, came up with this:

Ignore the fact that the bottom ribbon ended up a bit lower down than I intended!  It opens out to look like this:

A place for everything, and everything in its place:

Happy Hexagons

I am still having problems with my joints, which has limited the amount of craft I can cope with – my knees complain if I spin for too long and my hands don’t cope with knitting needles very well.  I have fallen back on crochet and found I can manage that, especially as I treated myself to a new Clover hook which is shorter and chunkier to hold than my normal metal hooks.

Whilst in shopping mode, I also made the mistake of visiting the Kemps website and a few bargains just sort of fell into my basket…  I am using Twilley’s Freedom Gorgeous DK yarn, which is a bamboo/nylon mix to crochet hexagons to make a blanket, which gives me some sense of achievement as each finished hexagon feels like I have completed something!  At first I thought it would be a disaster because it is a four ply yarn and looked as if it would be rather splitty, but it didn’t turn out to be that much of a problem.

I am using Attic24’s idea of joining the hexagons as you crochet the last round so there is no sewing up at the end (although there are still plenty of ends to tidy up).  I have almost half the yarn so far, so should end up with enough of a blanket to keep away the chilblains next winter (or this summer, given the current weather)!  It’s a colourful creation:

Next time, I’d buy a couple more colours – I have six and could really do with at least seven so I could have a central hexagon and six all round it all with different edge colours.  (Yes, I am a control freak, I could not cope if I ended up with two the same colour touching!)