Crafty update

It’s Good Friday and I am loving the Spring weather and the new foliage on the trees so much as peopple who follow me on instagram will know.  I have Good Friday and Easter Monday off work but they are sandwiching 2 very long days at work so I am cramming as much crafting as I can into today. I have a loaf of bread proving in the kitchen and while it does it’s thang woolly crafts beckon.

I currently have  3 projects on the needles, a pair of handspun socks for my sister Teresa, a pair of socks for my son Elliott and my Follow Your Arrow shawl which has been stalled due to lack of yarn.


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I’ve done both clue 3’s with 3 repeats of 3a and I’m planning to do both clue 4’s so I have clue 4a and then 5a to do. The yarn is a 2ply, fingering weight, woollen spun yarn grown and spun on the island of North Ronaldsay where the beach dwelling  sheep feed on seaweed for most of the year. It is a very special yarn and has a wonderful rustic quality that I adore. I wanted this shawl to be huge, because I’m loving the yarn and the pattern, hence running out. As I couldn’t get any more yarn in the light grey colourway I decided to purchase 200g of the roving in the light grey and spin a replica-ish 2ply yarn to finish my shawl.

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It smells so wonderfully sheepy and feels so divine I will have to get more and make an entire jumper.

The idea of spinning a replica yarn is making me a bit nervous so whilst the roving was in transit I decided to spin the second braid of a Thylacine BFL top to practice. I had finished the first yarn towards the end of last year and I’m currently spinning the 2nd of the 3 singles. The finished yarns will become socks for me.

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I’m hoping to have this yarn finished by the end of next weekend so I can start spinning my North Ronaldsay yarn. Better crack on then! (Appalling egg pun totally intended) 😉

Low Twist Singles

Balanced. low twist singles are something that I have believed for a while to be a thing of magic and completely unattainable by mere mortals. I’ve tried and failed on several occasions to spin them and always end up with either, too much twist and a curly mess that ends up being wound up and plied to balance it out. Or, end up with not enough twist and the singles fall apart every 10 inches or so.

Yesterday I tried again and only the first few yards on the bobbin were of the drifty apart kind. I washed and finished the yarn last night and hung it up to dry.

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This terrible photo was taken in the bathroom which has no natural light but it’s the only place in the apartment with a wall mounted hook on which I can show you the yarn in all it’s balanced beauty.

The yarn is a combination of 2 indie dyed tops that because of their composition were a bit felted and hard to draft especially when you have been spoilt by hand blended combed tops. As they were of similar colours I blended them together.

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Again, apologies for the poorly lit, iPhone photo but it’s the only one I have of the tops to show off the colour graduation.

It’s a Merino/silk/camel/angora blend and it looks like this now it’s done.

 

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Needless to say I am very happy with it. I have no knitting plans for it as yet though.

ttfnx

in a spin

I have two finished yarns to show off today.

Before I do though, people who know me should be prepared as neither of them are duck egg blue, or even blue green. Yikes!

The first was originally meant to be 3 separate colours striped. I had it in my mind that I needed a yellow, grey and cream shawl or cowl or something and I had 3 Shetland tops in exactly those colours.

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I started to spin the yellow and to me it just looked flat. So I got my hackles out and blended the 3 Shetland tops together to make something more pleasing to my eye. The finished yarn is about a  10-12ply.

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The next yarn was a custom blend top from World of Wool. A gorgeous burnished orange BFL. Both BFL and Shetland have to be my two absolute favourite fibres to spin though they are quite different in character. But I could no more chose between them than chose between chocolate or salted caramels.

Both please!

 

 

 

 

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I don’t know what either of these yarns will become as yet but I think I need to spin a dark grey yarn to stripe with the orange.

Transformations

So the ugly ducking turned into beautiful swan and everyone, lived happily ever after.

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Incredibly, this beautiful shawlette is the fugly ancient bra handspun. Now a gorgeous shawlette made from the hitchhiker pattern. Rav link.

Needless to say. I’m very happy with it as a beautiful garment, a reminder of fun, crafty times with friends and a measure of how much my spinning has progressed.

Talking of transformation and progression, the end of 2012 was very trying with a major life change, brought on by me but 2013 is emerging as a year of positivity, possibility and progression. Sadly, my Etsy store has closed for the forseeable future but my fibre will be popping up for sale elsewhere so stay tuned!

ttfn x

 

 

If at first you don’t succeed…

…ply again!

Nope not going to apologise for that at all because it’s true.

Remember the fugly yarn that got a prettier colour from the last post. Well, now it’s had another pass through the Hansen to increase the ply twist (Cheers Sharon) and though the dye job made it better now it’s even more betterer!

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Well, I could hardly leave it as it was after Ursula had dyed it so beautifully could I? It’s still balanced (hurrah) and comes in at 790 yards for 220g. I’m planning to turn it into a linen weave scarf  or maybe hitchhiker sometime soon, can’t decide which. I just have to finish my Terra shawl which has been lingering a bit due to having a problem with aching finger and wrist joints.

Now I love love love it even more than before and I’m even more convinced that…

…WOOL IS THE BEST THING EVER!

 

 

Disappointing

They say that pride comes before a fall and irritatingly, They are usually right. Alfresco is a beautiful yarn and I remain very proud of it. Meringue however, not so much. It was the fibre that I blended and spun for the Spunout shawl SAL/KAL. However, I decided not to use a control card to help me maintain a relatively consistent thickness instead spinning to what I thought was my “default” thickness. I’d heard so much of spinners having a “default yarn” that I thought I should try to find mine. Turns out I don’t have one!

Whilst the thickness of the singles isn’t dramatically variable it is definitely inconsistent, in a very bad way, though this wasn’t immediately noticeable as singles on the bobbin.

I plied 2 bobbins of singles together and when they were finished and I slipped them off the noddy-noddy and astonishingly, the yarn was really balanced and I mean REALLY balanced! Before it’s bath and thwacking balanced!

Still, it looked like this…

 

…and that’s before we even mention that the yarn turned out the colour of ancient bra! Not the desired effect at all. For those who don’t know me IRL, ancient bra is on a par with baby poo and insipid apricot as my worst colours ever!

As the yarn was balanced, I didn’t think that passing it through the Hansen in a clockwise direction was going to improve matters, though perhaps I am wrong in that. One thing that I could do to improve the yarn was to dye it a prettier colour than “ancient bra”.

Fortunately, I’d planned a crafty meet up with Ursula and Bee. Ursula has a spectacular talent for dyeing so off I went in the hope of redeeming my fugly yarn.

So, we did a randomised uncontrolled  dyeing experiment in immersion dyeing, adding a bit of this colour and that colour and waiting to see what the end result is. To be completely honest I really didn’t care so long as it wasn’t one of the aforementioned colours in the end.

This is the result of that experiment.

 

I told you she was talented! I love the way it turned out even though it didn’t magically restore the yarn’s consistency problems or even hide them very much.

Anyway the proof will be in the knitting and I just have to figure out what to knit with it. I shall knit it very soon because let’s face it, I have no desire to have it hanging around in the skein so I can admire my spinning skills. I do however, want to knit it up to see how the colours behave.

Anyhoo, more positive news is on the horizon.

ttfn x

Alfresco spun up

Do you remember Alfresco? Well, I’ve just finished spinning up 100g of it and though I say so myself, it is totally yummy.

 

I spun it on my Hansen and then Navajo plied it to get 115 yards. According to my WPI gauge it’s somewhere between an aran weight and bulky yarn. There are subtle changes in tone throughout that my photography skills haven’t done justice to at all. It’s also very squooshy which you can’t tell either.

At the moment I am really loving blocks of coloured yarn knitted with blocks of natural sheepy yarn and that’s what I have in mind for this yarn. But as you all know I’m as fickle as the wind so that could all change. I haven’t got a pattern in mind as yet.

Alfresco

Well, Summer is nearly upon us here in the Southern Hemisphere and though I’m not a huge fan of the hot weather (British understatement) I do enjoy an alfresco lunch with friends, preferably under the dappled shade of a tree or two. I love warmer days when you can throw open the windows and patio door to let some fresh air in. Gotta love fly screens though 😉

Anyway to the point!

I created a delicious double blended colour way for my Etsy store that makes me think of alfresco lunches with friends. It’s called, Alfresco! Ha, fancy that!

 

Alfresco on the hackles 2nd blending.

 

A dreamy cloud…

 

…or 2

 

I spun up a sample because I needed to see it in the yarn so to speak. Obviously I’ve kept some back for myself. I’m not totally selfless! I see it as a shawl but then all I want to knit at the moment is shawls.

Oh, it’s a blend of BFL, English 56’s, Merino and a bit of Bamboo. There are only 2 x 130g boxes for sale for now so better be quick!

top or roving, what’s the difference?

I thought I’d take a little time to explain the terminology because these two terms are frequently confused.

Simply put, top is combed fibre that is either commercially combed or hand combed so that all of the fibres are aligned and the shorter fibres are removed. Top can then be spun using short draw which maintains the parallel fibre alignment to create a worsted spun yarn.

Roving is carded fibre which can contain both short and long fibres. The fibres are not aligned parallel to each other. Roving can then be used to create a woollen spun yarn when spun with a woollen spinning technique.

My preference tends to be a worsted yarn because it has more strength and drape than the woollen yarns but it is a personal preference.

The benefit I find, to hand combed top is that the top is less compacted which makes drafting easier and prevents your hands from hurting after a long period of spinning. I add this because myself and several spinners I know have said how their hands get sore sometimes when spinning with a compacted or felted top. Hand combed top also produces a much less dense, more airy and elastic yarn.

I hope this helps.

Catagorical

I’m usually adverse to labels and labelling as it’s usually followed by stereotyping and judgement which make my cringe but it just occurred to me that I might have unknowingly crossed a line.

I appear to have become a spinner who knits rather than a knitter who spins. When I say this I don’t infer any kind of level of expertise, heck I have so much to learn about both crafts that I think intermediate beginner is probably an exaggeration of my skill level. It just seems that given a choice I would much rather spin than knit. Put another way, knitting is something I do these days when I can’t spin. I absolutely could never see myself giving up knitting, never in a million years! However, my current WiPs only 1 knitting project and 4 spinning projects certainly give the game away.

Currently on my needles is Terra by Jared Flood. I’m really enjoying this knit even if last night I ripped back a huge chunk because I’d messed up the garter stitch edging on 2 rows. A testimony to my beginner skill level if ever there was one.

On the Hansen is the accent colour for a Dream Stripe shawl that I’m doing for the Spunout shawl SAL/KAL on Ravelry.

 

On my spindles are The Thylacine sock club fibre on the Turkish and my own blends on the Ken Ledbetter.

 

One thing I will always be though, is a woolista.