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.

More fun with wool

I think it’s safe to say that I’m a little bit obsessed with wool and that the more time I can spend with wool, the happier I am. Therefore adding another stage to the process of turning wool into knitted stuff is inevitably going to make me happier than a happy thing in a happy place. So let me show you what has been making me a very, very, happy, happy little woolista.  (woolista: noun: like a fashionista but with much more sense)

Oh yes, Majacraft combs and hackle!

Which has enabled me to make these lovely samples.

 

From left to right; Herdwick and Merino, Massam and Merino, Corriedale and Merino, Dorset Horn and Merino and lastly, Southdown and Merino.

I had another play this morning with some Corriedale fleece and two colours of Merino.

 

 

Hackles loaded with wonderful wool.

 

Wool being dizzed off.

 

Pretty little nest of wool, wonder what it’s like spun up into singles? Let me grab a spindle.

 

Nice! Wonder what it’s like blended further?

 

Yummy, yes?

 

The waste isn’t really waste because it can be felted, or carded and spun or tail spun or just spun as is into an art yarn.

There are so many ways to have fun with wool, which is why I love it so much.

Mad, Crazy, Bonkers! Moi?

It has been a while hasn’t it? I don’t know why this is, I just fell out of the habit I guess. Also I’ve been a bit down in the dumps due to pain in my neck, shoulder and mid-scapular area which has meant sitting for a long time is painful and therefore spinning out of the question. Or so I thought…

It occurred to me the other day that while spinning on the wheel was off the cards I do own some very beautiful spindles and spindling (so long as I watch my posture) might just be the way to go, might even strengthen those weakened, over-stretched muscles. I’m also doing Pilates and having massage therapy.

Then a crazy idea started to form due to a combination of events, kind of like the spinning planets (ha, totally unintentional pun) aligning.

Contributing event number 1

Injury

Contributing event number 2

Tour de Fleece fever is about to take over Ravelry. Last year I looked on fascinated by it all and promised I’d join in the fun this year. I’ve joined team Spun Out and I’m getting very excited about the challenge.

Contributing event number 3

Whilst browsing Ravelry’s spindling groups I came across one for Ravellers who are spindling for jumpers and well, yes I am crazy enough. Also…

Contributing event number 4

It just so happens that I have a fleece I am longing to turn into an Owls jumper.

It all adds up really

spindling due to injury + Tour de Fleece + crazy Ravelry group + fleece needing to be Owls jumper = spindling for a jumper during the Tour de Fleece

Wish me luck!

Nostepindling

You know how I raved about needing a Nostepinne, well I got me one! I bought it from Spun Out, the last one in stock. It’s made from English Cherry and I’m in love, I’ve been winding up balls of yarn just for fun, even though they were already wound up! Huh, crazy I know, but I love it.

I’ve taught myself how to do it the way I teach myself most yarn things these days, by watching You Tube videos, this one in particular I like, mostly for the accent and the enthusiasm.

While I was at it, I bought a couple of spindles that Em was destashing because they were so beautiful and I want a Turkish spindle so badly. I love the cute little ball of singles they make.

To complete my purchase I bought some fluff simply because it’s my favourite colour and I thought it would be fun to spin it on the Turkish.

A Spun Out Buffet Batt, carded and pulled through a diz.

Rare Beauty

My favourite online spinning store Spun Out has reopened, since the owner moved from Perth to Melbourne.  So to celebrate I felt I aught to make a purchase or two. This was purely a selfless show of support of course, not at all because I am a greedy addict when it comes to beautiful fibre.

Amongst my purchases were three Skein merino/silk tops in the Wasabi colour-way. I love these colours so much.

I am a huge fan of Skein yarns as you know but sadly Kristen has stopped dyeing fibre so these tops are indeed a rare thing. They are 50% merino and 50% silk and so fine and slippery that I struggled to spin it on a wheel. This is probably my fault as I am a fast treadler, I am therefore spindling and enjoying every moment. I haven’t decided whether to 2ply or 3 ply yet but I definitely know I want to make a shawl with the yarn when it’s done.

Knitting is also very enjoyable at the moment, I’m up to mid-calf on the first sock.

ttfn x

Long time no post

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve had anything worth posting on here but that’s what life is like sometimes. I sometimes wonder if I should just post whatever but then after 10 minutes staring at the screen without touching the keyboard, I give up.

Anyhoo, there is some good news to post.  Idlewood Again has been finished and I love it! I loved knitting it and now I love wearing it! Except that it’s now coming into Melbourne Summer so there won’t be much wearing going on for quite some time.  Here are the details.

After an absolutely gorgeous lunch with Sonia last week, in one of Melbourne’s Southbank restaurants she took some photo’s of me wearing it and here they are…

See how it now fits and I’ve even knit a pocket for it, just one because I think that one is cute. Also, notice the cute skirt wot I made, love the fabric for this skirt but wish the skirt itself was a tad longer. Anyhow, the point is, Idlewood Again is now everything I intended it to be so I’m really glad that I chose to frog it completely (though if I’d have been smart I would have not frogged the cowl as that’s the same regardless of size). Ah, c’est la vie…

It has made me realise that getting the results you want is absolutely worth that extra time re-knitting, which brings me to the socks…

…I noticed that one cable was a row longer than it should have been and it irked me a bit but I continued to knit on.  Then, at knit night on Monday I knit some cables a row too short due to lack of concentration. So now, I’ve dropped the cable row and hopefully will be able to fix the problem. I’m still on the first sock but here it is.

The yarn, Stranded in Oz, Dye…my pretties in fairies in the garden is just delicious and I hope to be back on track again soon.

In other knitting news, I’ve decided to concentrate on just the handspun bee-keeper’s quilt  and scrap the other one. Mostly because the handspun one is more significant to me and also those puffs are larger so it will take me less time to make a decent sized quilt.

This leads me to spinning, oh it seems like now there is tonnes to blog about, what was I thinking?  I have been spinning but a little half-heartedly. Here is what I’m on with…

It’s still the Finn X Corriedale/Romney that I dyed but I’ve decided that I want to N-ply it and I felt the urge to get the spindle out for a Crafternoon I had with some of my Richmond Knitter friends so I’m spindling it too.  Because of this I’m thinking mitts/hat, maybe both but definitely not socks which was my first inclination. As for the half-heartedness about spinning this, I can’t really explain why, it’s just the way I feel.

So, that’s all my news, I hope it won’t be too long again before I have something to blog about.

ttfn Melanie x

Happy knitting

Yay my mojo returned this week!  For various reasons, one simple reason is that the extremely hot day was just one day.  Though Spring does herald the inevitability of a hot Australian summer, bleurgh!  I wish my hubby would agree to me working for 6 months in the UK so I could have 2 winters.

Last Monday I started my Socktober project early but don’t tell the knitting police will you. They are the Delicious Knee high socks by Laura Chau and I’m knitting them with Noro Kureyon sock yarn.  The trouble was the heat made it really hard to work the tiny 2mm needles, I’ve since upped to 2.25mm to get gauge which is a huge relief I can tell you.  I’ve only got as far as the first stripe but already they are making me HAPPY Woohoo!

Stripy deliciousness, what’s not to love really?  (so long as you have air con)

Another thing that made me happy is the realisation that my stash that I’m no longer in love with needn’t weigh me down.  All I have to do is have a little destash, (thanks Katie and Jen) why did this not occur to me before?  I think I was holding on because I do love the colours and it’s not as if my stash is of considerable proportions, it’s quite modest really.  So if you are interested here is the page.

Here is the stash cupboard sans destash yarn, it looks so much better I think.  There is more room for more Skein sock yarn and the Shelter I need (only 3 colours) and more handspun.  Plus Sam’s jumper will start as soon as my Norovember project is off the needles.

The destash yarn now sit’s patiently in a space bag waiting for someone to love it and welcome it into their stash.

My other happy happenings this weekend were that I almost have 2 finished skirts, just some hand sewing to do and I had some friends round for a spinning afternoon.  Spinning with friends is so much fun, better that knitting in some ways because no one has to count stitches, rows or remember patterns so the conversation and beer can flow as we spin merrily on.  I finished plying the Gotland/Polwarth this morning.  My long draw technique is improving but I need to pedal slower as I’m creating too much twist for woollen spun yarn.  Pedalling slower is not easy for me, any tips?

Last week I also  Navajo plied some singles to make hexipuffs with, fun fun fun.

There’s a lot to be said for knitting and spinning what you love.  I know I’m a slow learner but I was brought up with a deep sense of duty, obligation and stoicism which I’m learning is not always a good thing.

ttfn x

Spot the difference

Hmmm, same colour, same dye lot…

Really!?!?

Apparently Noro silk garden whilst it comes in 100 metre balls is dyed with 150 metre colour repeats. *big sigh* well, you live and learn!

So today I went back to the wool baa and the assistant got every ball of this colour way/dye lot out and I went through them to find one that started with black and grey and contained the rust and blue colours so it doesn’t look like a blind person chose the yarn for the socks.  These socks are extra big socks for my poor Dad whose feet and ankles have swollen badly due to his poor health.

Much better!

On a more positive note, remember this batt that I made at Bendigo on the Ashford drum carder?

Well last night I got my favourite Ken Ledbetter spindle out and spun it up, then Navajo plied it.  It looked very pretty.

Today I knit it up into a swatch.

Mmmm, yummy tweedy goodness.  A drum carder is definitely on my wish list so I can make tweedy yarn for tweedy jumpers (life’s too short to hand card for a jumper).

 

Three colours Shetland

This weekend I finished spinning and plying 3 of the 5 Shetland sample tops from Jamieson and Smith. They were utterly gorgeous to spin on my spindles and I love the finished hank.  I spun the singles simultaneously but making sure that the lengths of the different colours were unevenly matched so that I had an marl type overlap when plying as advised by Binkaboo Jen.  In hindsight I should have been a bit more precise about this and made sure that the overlapping/marl lengths and plain lengths were more or less equal but I’m chalking that up to experience, I’m sure there will be a next time.  It’s still a bit damp so I haven’t weighed it or checked wpi but I will be adding it to my Ravelry stash page tomorrow.  It is dry enough to take a photo of though and because I’m excited to share here it is…

Anyway, a little factual something about Shetland that I have learned since I began spinning with this wonderful fibre.  Shetland sheep are a primitive breed like Icelandic and Finn and Jacobs with a fine inner and longer coarser outer coat.  Traditionally it has been used to make exquisite lace shawls, Fair Isle jumpers and carpeting so clearly it’s a very versatile  fibre anything between 12-40 microns.  It is an excellent steeking wool which is handy considering that’s an integral part of Fair Isle knitting, hmm what came first?.  It also comes in many different natural colours, one day I plan to knit a Fair Isle jumper from all the natural colours, but before then I shall have to learn Fair Isle, which I plan to do this September.  I’m planning Endpaper mitts and to spin the fibre (Shetland of course) for them myself, it seems silly not to really.

According to Clara Parkes “knitters book of wool” it’s best spun “woollen” for Fair Isle purposes as the fibre then blooms and this conveniently hides the yarn that is carried behind.  As my fibre came as combed tops and I don’t have a drum carder (yet) I spun this hank semi-worsted.  Given that Shetland is a low lustre fibre though means that there are no losses in the lustre department with spinning woollen.

I’m beginning to see that spinning from combed tops has it’s restrictions when it comes to learning about different breeds and their fibre.  I realised this the other day when admiring a friends recently acquired fleece how much of the character of the fleece is lost, this is probably down to all the processing the fibre has undergone which makes for a very homogenized fibre.  Unfortunately as I live in Australia I cannot import unprocessed fibre for my spinning adventures so I guess for now I shall just have to suck it up.  I’m definitely not put off and shall continue to purchase combed tops of British breeds because it’s fun but will just have to save and plan for a spinning holiday around Britain in the meantime.  Something to look forward to don’t you agree?  Speaking of something to look forward to I have purchase a wheel now that I’m completely hooked on spinning.  It should be in my possession in 3-4 weeks because of the public holidays, I’m soooooooooo excited.

ttfn xMelanie