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.



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.


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.



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) 😉

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.



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.



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!







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.

Sheep-tastic study

The postie has just been, yay!

He brought me 2 parcels from R.E. Dickie containing these beauties.

I haven’t properly unwrapped them yet but I have had a feel and inhaled deep, deep, restorative lungfuls of woolly fumes, ahhhhh!

They are 200g each of Southdown, BFL, Manx Loughtan, Devon, Herdwick, Shropshire, Jacob, Dorset Horn, Swaledale and Massam (this order does not correspond to the picture because I’m just too flippin’ excited to think of things like that).  Obviously I shall be getting more because there are way more British Breeds out there but these will do for starters.

I am planning to spin them and create a British Breeds blanket the design of which I haven’t decided on but I am investigating my options (thanks Ravelry x).  It’s all part of my self education in spinning and all things sheepy.  I have also bought a few more books, The Knitters book of Wool is good, but I want MORE!

So I bought three books.  Beautiful Sheep by Kathryn Dun and Paul Farnham because who wouldn’t want to look at pictures of sheep looking their most beautiful?  In Sheep’s Clothing by Fournier and Fournier which I’m over half-way through, lots of useful information and black and white pictures of staples and sheep, many more breeds covered.  Lastly and not at all leastly because I think this is going to be my absolute bible The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Robson and Ekarius, this is truly a gorgeous book covering not just sheep breeds from all over the world but other animal fibres too.  It’s informative about how to dye, prepare, spin and use each type of fibre and the photos show spun and knitted samples as well as examples of clean and dirty staples.

I am overwhelmed by sheepy bliss!

In other news…

…I did a gauge swatch for Owls yesterday but I must have had a sudden rush of excrement to the brain because I knit it flat and I washed it without measuring it first. D’oh!  I was so determinded not to end up with a jumper that grows in the wash and doesn’t fit again.  Anyhow, I have cast on a sleeve as a gauge swatch, (thanks Sharon) and I shall compare the two.  I’ve decided to frog and reknit the Idlewood  as I want it to be closer fitting but that can wait for a while, I need to get up the courage first.

ttfn Melanie x

Somewhere over a slightly muted rainbow


So I decided to ply it, because as Anna very rightly pointed out, plying is so much fun.  I love the play between the different colours as they twist together which, should make for an interesting knit too.  Also I don’t knit many lace-weight shawls, though that said I think Laura Chau’s simple yet effective shawl may be perfect for this yarn, but that requires a bulkier yarn than laceweight.

So stats: It’s 183 grams and 270 yards, I have 12g of singles left y’know just in case I get my arse into gear and decide to learn Navajo plying. It’s a 2ply, semi-worsted spun, aran/worsted weight about 9 wpi and that’s it really apart from it’s deliciously soft, drapey, silky and pretty, in my humble opinion of course.

About the fibre, blended tops bought from Mosley Park in Adelaide, dyed by moi.  Wensleydale is a Yorkshire longwool breed, a product of Robert Bakewell’s sheep breeding expertise prized for the evenness of micron count.  Teeswater is a old longwool breed from Teeswater, County Durham in the North-East of England.  They are both really cute and look like they have dreadlocks.  Both of these sheep are listed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Wensleydale as at risk and Teeswater as vulnerable.  They are lovely to dye, spin, knit and wear as you may remember, I knit a Coraline cardigan from Wensleydale and wear it lots.

I have other news but that will have to wait for later, I’ll explain then.

ttfn Melanie x

Black Welsh part 2

I finished spindling and plying my Black Welsh yarn and I’m even more in love with it.  I think it’s the best I’ve spun so far and I’m even more determined to buy a wheel this year and spin a jumpers worth for Idlewood.  Here it is…

It’s 90 metres long and 100 grams between 7-8 wpi so aran to bulky weight.  It’s squooshy with a bit of scratch, just how I like my yarn.  I’m madly in love with it.

Next on the spindle will be some BFL beautifully dyed by Serenknitty, woot!

Special delivery

The postie came yesterday, hurrah hurrah!   I know several knitters doing the postbox hover at the moment, the anguish and anticipation is horrendous and I hope they are all very soon to be united with their purchases.  This is my last purchase of 2010 and it’s a good one, I’m  so excited to show you my new acquisition and I wish you could squish it too because it’s full of woolly goodness.

It’s North Ronaldsay fingering weight wool in light grey undyed and for those who might not know, the sheep on the Orkney island of North Ronaldsay live most of the year on the beach and have adapted to be able to digest the seaweed.  The yarn is entirely produced and handspun on the island and therefore quite rare and special.  As a new spinner, I love that it is handspun as it shows me what I’m aiming for with my own spinning.  Ah, to be able to spin so beautifully, hopefully with more practice I might one day.  I bought it with Jared Flood’s pattern Celes, in mind it’s a gorgeous lace scarf/stole and I think they would marry very well.

I also got Verity Britton’s Yorkshire Rose kit, because, as you know I couldn’t possibly resist a knitted Yorkshire rose.  The little box contains a pearl button and the brooch pin.


Melanie x

Tea Time Treat

Our local supermarket is now stocking a small selection of Mr Kiplings cakes.  So lately with my mug of Yorkshire tea, I have been enjoying mini Battenburgs and cherry bakewell tarts.

Yum, it’s amazing what little things cheer you up when you’re homesick.

Happy St George's day!

It’s St. George’s Day and to mark it I’ve been drinking Pimms till I puke!

Ha, gotcha! No I didn’t really!

No, today I drank copious amounts of Yorkshire tea, as per usual on my day off and I made Parkin, whilst listening to “Family Jewels” by Marina and the Diamonds, my new favourite British artist.

For those who love cake (who doesn’t) and aren’t from Yorkshire, parkin is an old Yorkshire cake made from oats, treacle and spices usually served at teatime and for some reason it has become linked with Guy Fawkes night (5th November) .  It is fragrant and sticky and toothsome (due to the oats),  and if you fancy making it here is the recipe

225g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground ginger (I used fresh ginger this time because my ground had lost its pungency will let you know if this was a good idea when I get to eat it)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

225g oatmeal

170g black treacle

170g golden syrup

115g butter

1 egg, beaten

150ml milk

Heat oven to 170C and prepare a 20cm square tin.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and spices together (if using fresh ginger add with liquid later). Add the oatmeal to mixture and stir. In a saucepan warm the treacle, golden syrup and butter, stirring till the butter has melted then incorporate into dry ingredients. Add the beaten egg and milk and mix well, then turn into prepared tin and bake for 30 or so minutes till a cake tester comes out dry, (I have a fan assisted oven with heating elements on the top and bottom I usually have to drop the temperature 10 degrees or so and bake for 5 or so minutes less than most recipes require) .

When the parkin come out it will smell heavenly and fragrant and you will be tempted to eat it there and then, don’t! Once it’s cooled store it in an airtight tin for a couple of days to a week if you can bear it and it will reward you by being more moist and sticky and yummy. Serve with a cuppa either as is or spread with a bit of butter.

The super cute Herdy mug was bought at baaramewe, to buy one online go to and help conserve the beautiful Herdwick sheep breed and their Lake District/Cumbrian homeland, go on you know you want to!

As for knitting, I’m still doing Emily by Ysolda, and I’ve swatched for 3 cardigans, but more of that later. Unhappily it’s been a bit too warm and sticky in Melbourne to wear Ishbel, the fluff would stick to my neck.