Crocus Yarn

I recently bought Jacey Boggs’ book Spin Art.  I’ve experimented with corespinning and tailspinning in the past, but my attempts at producing beehives have always been a hideous disaster as I was guessing how they were made.

The book arrived at about the time Shiela announced her annual spring competition, based around spinning a yarn inspired by a photo.  This year’s photo was of some beautiful white and purple crocus flowers.

Here’s my entry, using a mix of the techniques in the Spin Art book:

I was really pleased with the beehives and got more daring as the yarn went on.  I started with small beehives, but when they managed to make it onto the bobbin without getting caught up in the orifice or the sliding hooks on my Ladybug’s bulky flyer, I kept increasing the size.  The big white ones do look alarmingly like whitchetty grubs (or alien brains, thank you SulkyCat…)!

I love the look of some art yarns, but always wonder what people actually make with them.  There isn’t a huge amount of this yarn, so I am going to try using it in weaving – I’m thinking of a black bag with this yarn making a stripe across the flap?

Purple Peacock Scarf

I have now completed a couple of projects on my new-to-me 20″ Ashford Knitters’ Loom. I’m finding it interesting how yarns that I have previously spun, but couldn’t match to a knitting project, seem so much better suited to weaving. This Purple Peacock Scarf is a good example:

I hand carded some of the the fibres for this about two years ago, long before I had a drum carder.  I loved the rich blue/green/purple colour combinations, with just a little angelina included to give some sparkle.  When I half-heartedly started knitting a cardigan with the yarn it just didn’t look right.   I think plying the multicoloured single with another of plain lilac colour made the resulting yarn lose its bright glow.

It has sat in the WIP pile for a long time with only a couple of inches knitted up. A month or so ago I spun up 100g of aubergine merino from World of Wool to use as the warp yarn.

I attempted some maths and figured that I’d just about have enough to create a scarf using the full width of the loom if I used the 5 dent heddle and didn’t make the scarf too long.

Now, the Knitters’ Loom is meant to be a space saver.  However, you do need quite a bit of space when you are warping it!  I followed the instructions in the Ashford video, but used the back of a chair as my warping peg:

My maths wasn’t too bad, I only had a couple of rounds left on the swift once I’d completed the warp.

I tried a different way of fastening the warp threads than I had used in my first project, tieing them directly to the front warp stick rather than knotting them in bunches and then attaching the bunches to the stick.  It started well, but after weaving about 5 inches, the tension was all over the place 😦 .  I kept trying to convince myself that everything would be fine, it would all look better once it had been washed and finished, but eventually I did what had to be done – ‘unwove’ the scarf, and retied the ends.  It made a great deal of difference, so was worth the effort in the end, even if I grumbled to myself for a long time about doing it!

I really like the combination of purple and peacock coloured variagated yarns, the inclusion of a darker purple really changed the appearance of the woven cloth when compared to the knitted fabric.

  

I was sure I would never be interested in weaving.  However, I am seeing all sorts of possible projects for yarns I have spun in the past – and it is letting me continue some sort of hobby whilst my knees and fingers are not letting me knit and spin as much as I would like.

The wonders of the internet

I live on the south coast of England.  I blog now and again, and I’ve published a couple of free patterns via my blog.  I am intrigued by the new WordPress map that shows where in the world visitors to my blog come from.  I had no idea that people from all over the world were stopping by – this map shows where people came from over the last month:

World domination is within my grasp!!

Over three thousand miles away in Essex Junction, Vermont is Barb.  Barb used my Rectangly Hat pattern last year  to make a hat for display in the Kaleidoscope Yarns store.  Apparently the hat attracted a fair amount of attention and this month the shop ran a double knitting class using my pattern.  Thankfully it looks like it went well!  The internet really does make the world a smaller place.

Rainbows

I’ve made a start on spinning a rainbow.  This fibre:

has gradually been filling my Ladybug’s bobbin, with  lovely colour changes:


I’m intending to crochet this yarn when it’s finished, so I am spinning it in the other direction to normal (drive wheel going anticlockwise).  I have to keep reminding myself about this, it just does not feel natural!

YarnMaker/Wingham Wool Work competition

I’ve bought YarnMaker from the first edition and this Christmas my Dad kindly bought me an annual subscription.  There are always competitions but I tend to forget to enter them.

In the last edition the competition was for a two-night holiday in one of the cottages owned by Wingham Wool Work.  Which, of course, just happens to be very close to their enormous fibre mountain and provides a great opportunity for sampling and purchasing 🙂

I was lucky enough to win the competition, so will be off to Yorkshire later in the year, something I am really looking forward to.  I live on the south coast, so it’s a long way to go – about 250 miles away.  I imagine that we will make a longer family holiday of it, either booking more days at the cottage or stopping elsewhere en route and doing a grand tour.

Things are looking up for a change!

Hello again…

My poor old craft blog has been rather quiet, whilst my body is refusing to provide me with enough energy to do very much beyond the essentials for home and work.  But, I have been doing a few bits and pieces over the past couple of months, so here’s a little update.

In a spirit of optimism I have been buying materials that I can look forward to making full use of in the (hopefully) not too distant future.  I bought a Jacob fleece last year and added some Valkyrie combs from The Whorl’s End to my tool cupboard to process the fleece – they are fearsome looking things:

I combed some of the Jacob fleece and they did a great job of detangling the fibres, loads of bugs and leaves fell out (I didn’t realise quite how much mess it would make, next time I will put something on the floor underneath combs) and it blended the colours well.

I used the combed fibres to experiment with some fine spinning.  I would like to make a circular shawl using laceweight yarn, but that project might be a while away yet. I only knitted up a tiny amount, but I was pleased with it:


I accidentally bought a 20″ Ashford Knitter’s loom and stand.  It was too good a bargain to pass by and weaving puts less pressure on knee and hand joints so I could sort of justify it to myself.  I have completed one project on it so far, not particularly exciting to look at as I just grabbed some plain coloured yarn to see how it worked.  As always, the first project taught me quite a few things to avoid in future, but it resulted in a functional scarf:

I am hoping to still be able to enter something into the annual show at the Weald and Downland Museum this year.  I bought this shetland/silk blend fibre from Hilltop Cloud and have grand plans for it.  I am a sucker  for rainbow blends and have had a spiral pattern in my head for a couple of years and this looks like the perfect fibre to use for it:

And finally, there is this creation:

Her name is Valentina, and it’s a long story… but she made someone smile which is what it’s all about really, isn’t it?

Roll on 2012…

It’s been a while since my last blog post – several months in fact. I’m hoping that 2012 will bring about a return to more regular craft blogging, but the reason for the lack of posts recently is ill-health.  I won’t bore you with the details, but after eight months of feeling decidedly off-colour it seems likely that I have Coeliac Disease.  I’ve started another blog to record my journey into the gluten-free world that should bring me back to normality.

Back in the world of knitting, here’s a photo of a rather cute creature who came off my needles this Christmas:

If you haven’t met one before, this is a Pookie (pattern here).  Every home should have one!

Test-driving my new toy

Back in the spring, I entered Shiela’s competition on the Handspinner website to create a blossom themed project.  My hat was selected by the judge as a winner and the voucher I was given has been burning a hole in my pocket for a couple of months.

Now, I love my Ladybug wheel dearly, but have never been too happy trying to ply multiple singles from the inbuilt lazy kate.  I tried a four ply.  Once was enough…  So, I decided to use my voucher to buy an Ashford Competition Lazy Kate.

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I’ve only used it once, but what a difference it makes!

I had been working on spinning a consistently fine yarn.  About a year ago a group of us on Ravelry were trying to spin 800 yards of two ply from 100g of fibre.  I had been spinning for about six months back then and got to about 500 yards and was pretty chuffed with that 🙂  I didn’t start spinning this fibre with a goal in mind, but I ended up with around 550 yards of three ply – so that’s 1650 yards of singles and if I’d made two ply I’d have got just over the magic 800 yards.

The fibre is Whisper from World of Wool – £3.50 for 100g:

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Natural Dyeing

I spent a lovely day this week learning about dyeing using plants, flowers – and anything else that came to hand, to be honest!

The course took place at the Weald and Downland Museum, which I seem to write about fairly regularly.  The tutor was Caroline, who has her own website Knitnaks where she sells her handcrafted items, some of which she brought with her:

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We tried using lots of different combinations in our experiments – probably the hardest part of the day was keeping track of the ‘recipes’!  We tried onion skins, rosehips, privet, golden rod as well as more everyday items such as tea and frozen berries.  The Museum’s gardener, Carlotta, provided a tour of some of the gardens and we made good use of some freshly picked flowers.

Having made our dye solution, we all added our yarn/fabric/fibre samples to the pot.  You can see in the photo on the right that despite all going in the same solution for the same amount of time the way the colour came out varied enormously.

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We were constantly surprised and possibly a little over-excited by the end results, as you may be able to tell from this video

By the end of the day we had all built up quite a range of colours – I used some mohair that I had spun which seemed to take the colour quite well:
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Apart from the dyeing, it was lovely to be able to walk around the Museum without having to be responsible for anyone else!  Here’s another collage, just because I had the time to take lots of photos for a change:

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A little luxury…

It’s the last week of the Tour de Fleece this week and I have saved some luxury fibres for the final sprint.

Shiela from handspinner.co.uk made a ridiculously generous offer in a recent newsletter – she was sending out sample packs, containing a selection of the luxury fibres she stocks in her shop, completely free of charge!  I think it was rather a popular offer, and when mine arrived I was delighted (but I also felt rather sorry for Shiela, who must have spent hours and hours doing nothing but stuff fibre into little bags and label them).

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In the pack there is around 20 to 25 g of each fibre – white baby alpaca, white angora, white kid mohair, cream camel, coffee coloured cashmere and darker brown yak.

I thought I’d start with the yak.  It was so soft and fluffy!

However, Mr Yak and I had a bit of a dispute about forming a yarn that didn’t fall apart.  We agreed to have some time away from each other and review things in a few days.  If he hasn’t come round to my way of thinking by them, he might have to have a trip through the carder and blend with something else!

The baby alpaca is far more amenable, and is slipping smoothly through my fingers, truly a luxury fibre.  I have a vague plan about creating a luxury scarf, perhaps a striped feather and fan pattern?

Rare Breeds in the rain

The annual Rare Breeds Show took place yesterday at the Weald and Downland Museum in Singleton.  The Museum is a beautiful place and can look like this:

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Thanks to the joys of the British summer, much of the day was spent looking at a view more like this:

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Even the sheep took shelter:

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Although the weather did spoil things somewhat, there were plenty of animals to admire.

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I had the chance to catch up with some of the members of Chichester Spinners, as well as meeting up with a few people I had only previously chatted with online.  I thought there were far fewer fibre/spinning related stalls this year though, which was a shame – I had money in my pocket and most of it stayed where it was, I only bought a Jacob fleece and a tiny pack of dyed silk totalling a whopping £7!

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As well as the displays there were the handspun classes, which filled plenty of tables:

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Hats and Shawls
I had a very pleasant surprise – the mixed colours of Gotland fleece that I entered in the natural coloured skein class won not only first prize but a special award from the judge!

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Gorgeous Gotland

I’m not very good with fleece.  When I’ve washed, carded and spun fleece in the past, more often than not it has ended in lumps, bumps and matted nastiness.

Not this time…  All the stuff about lock preservation that I had read really fell into place, mostly because the fleece itself was so lovely!  I bought 500g of Gotland fleece in three different shades of grey from Emma Boyles of Well Manor Farm.

Even before I washed it, I could see that there was almost no vegetable matter at all and I almost had an urge to spin it without washing.

It didn’t take much washing, a soak in hot water, one in soapy water and two rinses.  It still looked, as my daughter pointed out, like an old lady’s grey haired curly wig, even when drying on top of the woodburner.

I handcarded the fleece and it just wanted to be spun into a very fine yarn.

I tried each of the three different shades of grey – this sample is the darkest of the shades of grey:

I washed, carded and spun all the pale grey fleece and, having enjoyed making Annis earlier this year, tackled another of Susannah IC’s designs ‘Little Leaves’.  AwesomeEle on Ravelry kindly gave me this pattern and I was determined to do it justice – even though it mean another 300+ stitches to cast on and adding about 200 beads (which I did with a tiny crochet hook this time round)!

Medium Gotland Shawl

Rare Breeds Show 2011

My entries for the Rare and Traditional Breeds show at the Weald and Downland Museum in Singleton, which takes place tomorrow, are finally all ready to roll.  Most have been ready for a while, they just needed labelling up and skeining nicely.  I was shocked to find how much energy just doing something that simple took, it looks like a very slow journey back to being the old me 😦

Here are some photos of three of the skeins of yarn – the entry form says ‘neatly wound’ but I couldn’t quite figure out how that would apply to tailspun locks!

Rare Breeds Show 2011 - Skeins close up

Tour de Fleece 2011

Well, it has been a little quiet on the blog of late, due to a spell of ill-health. However, I’m on the mend (ish) now and have been busily spinning away this week for the Tour de Fleece.

I bought a bulky flyer for my Ladybug recently.  I’ll write up a post all about the flyer as  it cost an eye-watering amount of money and I could find very little about it before I handed over the money.  The first week of the TdF has been spent getting to grips with my new toy and experimenting with art yarn.

Tour de Fleece - Week 1

Annis

This project made me very happy!

The fibre was my favourite colour, I bought it on a rare day out at Unravel, it was pleasant to spin, satisfying to knit and taught me how to add beads.  It’s a free pattern, so if you want an Annis of your very own pop over here to Knitty!  Don’t be put off by the joy of casting on 360-odd stitches to start with, just add in lots of stitch markers and, honestly, after the first few rows of lace it just whizzes along.

What’s up, blossom?

I hope the weather has been kind to you – I have been enjoying the spring sunshine, and happily crafting away.  Shiela, of www.handspinner.co.uk, is running a competition which coincided nicely with my plans – to enter you have to create something inspired by her photo of blossom.

I spun a two-ply yarn, one strand was tencel, the other a repeating colourway of various tufts of pre-dyed merino and some white shetland fibre.  In a rare moment of ‘finish-a-project-itis’ I picked up my needles and put together a top-down hat.  There wasn’t a lot of yarn, so it’s baby-sized, but that meant that the stripes worked out pretty well (and the only head it would fit was that of a toy rabbit…):

Shiela’s competition is still open, so why not join the fun and games?  Click here to find out more!

Free Crochet Pattern – Creme Egg Creatures

Happy Easter!  You’ve just about got enough time to rustle up a few of these little fellows in time for an Easter Egg Hunt with a difference – the creatures have a slot in the back so you can hide an egg inside!

Creme Egg Creatures Pattern

Getting started with crochet – using a magic ring

Another photo tutorial for you… I like writing step-by-step guides!

I’m about to add a free crochet pattern which uses the magic ring technique, so I hope this tutorial will help if you haven’t tried it before.  Using a magic ring can be a bit fiddly, but it helps to avoid that irritating hole that appears in the middle of your work when crocheting in the round. 

Here’s how it works:

1  Create a ring with your yarn, making sure that the end that leads to your ball of yarn is on top of the yarn that leads to the cut end

2  Use the hook to reach through the ring and pick up the yarn

3  Pull the yarn back into the centre of the ring

4  Pull the yarn through, up and away from the centre of the ring

5  Yarn over hook…

6  …and pull through the stitch on the hook

7  You can now work your first stitch (eg, double crochet) into the ring – if you are using ‘tall’ stitches such as trebles you might want to create a chain of a few stitches first

8  Continue working stitches…    

9  …until you have the number you need for the first round

 10  Pull the cut end of the yarn (gently!) – the ring should close in and pull the stitches into a neat circle

 11 Add a slip stitch to close the round of stitches

Fractal Spinning

Having seen some beautiful yarns, such as this Glowing Ginger by Bowerbird Knits, I decided to try fractal spinning for myself.  I used Corriedale fibre from My Heart Exposed in a colourway named Clarese, a beautiful mix of greens, rust browns and peach tones. 

I split the fibre into two strips, lengthwise.  One length was left as it was, the other split lengthwise into two again, giving a shorter fatter piece of fibre and two thinner strips.  The idea behind fractal spinning is that the singles will have colour repeats at different rates which will give an interesting effect when plied.

The fibre started out looking like this:

and when plied became yarn like this:

I am pleased with the end result, but possibly the colours (lovely as they are) were a little too similar in tone for the fractal patterning to show as distinctly as it could have done.  I’m looking forward to making something from this to see how the colours appear when knitted – I’m imagining that it should have lots of subtle changes.

Knitting with beads

This could also be titled ‘I’m afraid of those nupps’!  I’ve started knitting Annis, a crescent-shaped shawlette, using yarn spun from this fibre thatI purchased at Unravel:

Annis starts at the bottom, so you cast on 360+ stitches which is a bit of a challenge.  I added lots of stitch markers to ensure I don’t get lost!  I’ve not tried nupps before, but I did have some beads around that were just the right colour (and hopefully, if my maths is right, I will have just enough – I don’t want to think about getting most of the way along the last row of beading and finding that I’ve not got enough).  After a bit of research I found various descriptions on how to add beads when knitting.  Here’s how I have been doing it, in case it helps someone somewhere:

1  The next stitch needs to have a bead on it:

2  The beads are on a thread (I have about 150 beads on there and tied a VERY firm knot around the one on the end so they don’t all explode all over the floor) with a sewing needle that fits through the hole in the beads easily.

3  Thread the sewing needle through the stitch:

4   Remove the stitch from the knitting needle:

5  Then pass the sewing needle back through the bead:

6  Move the bead so it is on the sewing thread:

7  Move it further down so it is on the yarn:

8  Remove the thread from the yarn loop:

9  Put the stitch back on the left-hand needle:

10  Knit the stitch as normal:

11  Repeat as required…

I did read about people using dental floss instead of a needle and thread, but I didn’t have any to hand (sorry Mr Dentist, I may not always tell the truth about my flossing habits…).

Unravel

I’m a bit of a coward when it comes to driving – I have a list of bad experiences/excuses, including a car fire, which was followed within weeks by the courtesy car that turned out to have no spare tyre when I had a puncture whilst on a main road in the middle of Devon, a few hundred miles from home.  So, I had to have strong words with myself before setting off on the 40 mile journey into the unknown… well to The Maltings at Farnham, home of the yarny extravaganza that is Unravel.

My courage was rewarded by a great start to the day – standing in the queue and one of the stallholders came out and randomly gave me a free ticket!  Thank you very much to the folks at the Textile Garden who sell a very lovely range of buttons, ribbons and more.

The yarn/knitting theme was obvious from the start:

 

The theme continued within – even the ladies’ loo wasn’t forgotten:

There were many things to look at, from the weird to the wonderful:

And inevitably, I bought some goodies:

The main highlight for me was on the Threshing Barn’s stand – there was a Ladybug and a Matchless available to try so I had a go on a Matchless (nice, but not that much nicer than my Ladybug, which is great as I couldn’t afford one anyway)!  I also got to do some random enabling, just standing near the wheels singing their praises to anyone who’d listen.  Ladybugs will take over the world…

Swirly

Having bodged my purple/aqua batts into yarn I didn’t want to set it aside (as happens with so many of my skeins…) I was keen to see how the colour graduation worked when made up into something.

There wasn’t a great length of yarn and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it… Lorrie’s swirly artwork came to mind again, so a spiralled piece of crochet came into being:

I’ve had another spiralling rainbow crochet design in my mind since last autumn, but I need to dye some fibre and I need the weather to improve first.  I also need to think about the amounts of fibre to be dyed – this batt had pretty equal amounts of each colour, but as the spirals increase in size so the colour ends up in thinner and thinner sections.  Just need more hours in the day!

Batts and attempts at long-draw

I have been at the drum carder again…  Last week I read this blog post by Vampy which describes how to create batts with colour shading (basically layer the colours, split the layered batt into strips, fluff the fibre strips out sideways and feed them through again).  The photos showed lots of sparkle being added – how could I resist 🙂 ?

This was my attempt number one:

It worked, but I think the fibres were a bit too close in colour to show the colour changes clearly.   I used three different colours, pale blue, teal and green but it looks more like two colours.  I tore the finished batt into about 5 strips and spun them in order, then navajo plied them so the yarn would fade from dark to light:

Now, it’s not perfect, but could you just note that most of the yarn is pretty smooth and even.  I’m currently knitting it into some iPod cases using 1.5 mm needles and it’s looking fine.  I’d like to mention that now, because some of the later pictures are not so pretty…

I tried another batt, with a wider colour variation:

This colour combination seemed to come to me from nowhere.  Whilst congratulating myself on my amazing creativity, I realised it wasn’t my creation at all!  I had been looking at artwork online by Lorrie Whittington, a local artist, who has used this pallette of blues and purples in some of her work and it had obviously imprinted itself on my mind!   Do go and take a look at her work, it is swirly and whirly and beautiful!

This time, I split the batt into a dozen or so strips to try and get a more gradual change in colours:

Again, I spun singles.  Then, half way through the bobbin something in my head said ‘try long-draw’…  I’ve been meaning to, having watched Ruth at the spinning group whizz through yarn effortlessly.  The sensible thing would have been to try it out on some fibre that was hanging around waiting to be spun, something ordinary or in a colour I didn’t like particularly – goodness knows that there’s plenty around!  But no, something took over and I started playing around half way through using the batt I had so carefully laboured over. 

I could not quite bring myself to remove my left hand from pinching the yarn and stopping the twist, but my right hand was happily moving backwards with the fibre stretching out in a trail as my hand went back.  I even managed to get rid of my vice-like grip on the fibre, remembering what I had been told at the Weald and Downland when I tried the Great Wheel – ‘imagine it is a butterfly in your hand, you don’t want to crush it’.  So, my attempt was probably nothing like long-draw at all.  I’d call it coward’s long-draw at best!

This was the result – a small skein of yarn which starts off purple and even and smooth and then deteriorates into lumpy bumpyness as it turns blue.  It didn’t help that I plied it whilst my daughter was watching Mary Poppins – there’s something about Dick van Dyke doing a Cockney accent that reduces me to tears of laughter…

I’m pleased I had a go, but it served as a reminder as to how much there still is to learn about fibre and spinning.

From Fibre to FO (a rare event)!

A couple of months ago I purchased some ‘hotchpotch’ packs of fibre from Helen at My Heart Exposed Yarns (www.folksy.com/shops/myheartexposed).  I used one pack to experiment with corespinning and over Christmas I put the other pack of blue shades to good use.

Another rare event happened before Christmas – I won a prize in a raffle!  It was bath goodies and came wrapped in some lovely paper:

I used the paper as inspiration for creating the yarn.  The ‘hotchpotch’ was mainly shades of blue with a bit of plum thrown in – I added some blue merino and some brown mystery fibre that I received in a waste selection from www.worldofwool.co.uk.

Once carded together they looked like this:

and I even remembered to write down the ingredients:

 

It started to go slightly downhill from here…  The fibre was great to spin, I navajo plied it and got an aran weight yarn.  The mix of colours began to get a bit muddy looking for my tastes:

 Again, I remembered to note down some of the vital facts…

I adapted the stitch pattern from the Spiral Mitts I knitted before Christmas and made a squishy cosy cowl:

I’m still not 100% sure about the way this turned out, but hey, I actually finished something!

Singles

A couple of posts ago I wrote up how I drumcarded a mix of fibre samples from the Fibreholics into a heathery batt in shades of pink.  When we left this saga, the yarn was on the bobbin…

I decided to leave the yarn as singles, so wound them off onto the niddy noddy.  Things looked quite in control at this point:

Then it came off – wheeee!

It went into very hot water, then cold, then very hot again, then cold with a bit of swishing about each time to try and felt it enough that it would hold together.  By this time it was then really, really curly:

I hung it up to dry with a coat hanger hooked in the bottom of it, just to try and encourage it to de-kink a bit.  By the time it was in a skein it looked better behaved:

It came out a bit thinner than I had aimed for, so another skein that goes in the big ‘I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with this’ pile.  The skinniness of this yarn is averaged out by the 200g of Light Grey Suffolk that I spun aiming for an aran-ish weight to make some nice thick boot socks with – it started well, but I got distracted and spun a couple of bobbins of really fine singles before going back to it.  The second and third bobbin ended up on the thicker side so I have some 3 ply bulky-ish yarn instead. 

I have been working on a record keeping system, I just need to remember to fill it in at the vital points so I can remember how I got the yarn the first time!

21st Century Spinning

I dragged myself into the 21st century in January and bought myself an iPod touch.  Of course, step 1 was to knit it a lovely cosy to keep it safe:

I have somehow managed to lose this. (I never lose anything.  Ever…)  If you have any idea which safe place I’ve put it in, do let me know.

They say ‘there’s an app for that’ – oh yes, there certainly is!  There are quite a few for knitters – I’m working my way through some of the free stitch counter apps and working out what I like and don’t.  So far, Knit Counter Lite is working out well for me.

There are not so many spinning apps but I’m using the iSpinToolkit (not a freebie, £2.99).  It can tell me all sorts of technical things that I didn’t know I needed to know, like:

The angle of my yarn’s twist:

Its wpi:

and even the twists per inch:

I’ve been spinning for just over a year, so maybe I’m ready to move on from the ‘look I made yarn’ stage to learning more about this technical looking stuff?

Drum Carding

Now that I’ve made a start on sorting my fibre/knitting stuff, my Minty drum carder has its own table and I have been doing much more carding.  Having my carder ready to go has meant that I’m doing bits and pieces here and there, rather than making it a major operation to get it out and find space for it.

Looking at the stats for my blog, I can tell that lots of people visit looking for info on drum carders, so here’s a write up with lots of pictures to show some of what you can get up to…

Last February I bought a fibre pack from the Fibreholics (http://www.thefibreholics.co.uk/) – basically you get several 20g samples from a number of different fibre dyers/suppliers.  The theme at the time was Valentine’s Day so there was plenty of pink in the mix – I bought a 200g pack so had ten different samples to play with.  I had started making (but somehow still not quite finished…) a bag, but still had around 60g of various fibres left.  I added in some white shetland and a few other bits and pieces to make it go a bit further, ending up with around 100g:

I split the 100g into two fairly evenly coloured lots and fed it onto the carder.  Given that the fibres were already split into small sections, I just randomly selected them and fed them in, trying to spread the colours equally over the drum and add the white in every so often.

In the end the drum and resulting batt were fairly stripey:

I rolled the batt lengthways into a long sausage and then drafted it once into an even longer sausage.  Just for good measure, I then drafted it one more time until I had a long continuous length of fibre – the stripes were still pretty visible:

I did start spinning this, aiming for a soft DK/Aran-ish weight single.  I didn’t like the result!  Too stripey for my taste, and I felt that it would knit up into blobby variagated patches which is not what I was aiming for.

So, back to the carder… I ran it through again (much easier a second time) and got a more heathery sort of blend:

I removed the batt and tore it lengthwise into half a dozen strips, then drafted each one a bit, just to remove any stray clumps/bumps.  This looked much more promising:

The batts turned into these singles:

 

Which hopefully will become a hat.

Stitch markers

Before knitting and spinning took over my life I had a brief spell I spent lots of time fiddling around with beads.  As with all craft hobbies, things like this never really die, there are always bits of this and that still tucked away.

For one of the Christmas parcels I put together I made some stitch markers and, having got the gear out again, I made a couple of other sets over the weekend.  I don’t really do ‘cute’ but these beads did make me smile:

I’m done with Santa…

I’ve just finished using all the fibrey goodies that I received in the UK Spinners’ Secret Santa on Ravelry.  First the pictures:

Three ply Falkland Fibre – Summer Cobbler colourway

Silk Hankies/Falkland 2 ply

The Falkland fibre spun beautifully evenly and very thinly, which I was really pleased with – I want to spin and knit something in a laceweight yarn but haven’t achieved the consistency in spinning to do so yet, so this was a big step forward.  I ended up with uneven amounts on the bobbins, so got 330 yds of 18 wpi three ply and two bobbins with a fair bit still to use! 

I plied one bobbin with the silk and navajo plied the other.  I got better at using the hankies as Iwent along but it was still rather lumpy and bumpy in places.  The resulting yarn is very light and floaty.  I don’t really like barber-pole yarn, but would try plying silk and something in the future with a closer colour match, maybe 2 plies of fibre and 1 of silk.

Thank you again Secret Santa, whoever you were – I got a lot out of your gift!

Teddy Bear Noses? Third shelf on your left!

I’ve been having a sort out.  It’s amazing the stuff that accumulates – sometimes I think it multiplies when I’m not looking.  I bought some plastic storage containers and started sorting out the small stuff:

Buttons and Ribbons

Cotton Reels

Short knitting needles

Long knitting needles

I wasn’t kidding you about the teddy bear noses – well, they are mixed in with teddy bear eyes, joints and squeakers:

Some of these goodies belonged to my gran.  I did manage to part with some of her cards with thread to darn my stockings with, I’ve not got much call for that these days!  I did find this though – it’s tiny but still intricately marked:

It is a bit rusty and looks like a crochet hook, but it is so tiny! 

Any idea what it’s for?  Crocheting with thread maybe?