My North Ronaldsay Arrow Shawl

Goodmorning, I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend. Yesterday I took myself off in my car to Haxby which is a village north of York city in search of real bread so very little knitting took place. I did, however, finally decide which Hap I was going to knit for the Knit British Hapalong that’s hap-pening (gotta love a pun eh?) on Ravelry right now. Anyway, I shall post properly about that next week. This week I want to post about my Arrow shawl because I never posted about it as a FO and whenever I wear it I get lots of lovely comments about it.


I knit the arrow out of two skeins of North Ronalsay 2ply that I got from Baaramewe years ago. Knitting this was an absolute joy because the yarn was so beautiful to knit with and the different options to decide how your shawl will turn out. I loved how it took the whole idea of knitting something personally unique one step further without having to actually do maths yourself. Totally brilliant! Ysolda has been one of my favourite designers since I joined Ravelry and this has to be my favourite of all her patterns so far.

My final choices for the clues were 1B, 2A, 3B, 3A, 3A, 3A, 4B, 5A. This enabled me to use up all of the two skeins that I bought and gave me a lovely big shawl to keep my neck and shoulders warm. I actually needed to spin some North Ronalsay roving to complete the last 6 rows because I ran out and the yarn was out of stock.


North Ronaldsay yarn has a lovely rustic look to it as you would expect from a primative Breed of sheep that live on the coast of North Ronaldsay eating seaweed for most of the year. There are fine black hairs that run through the yarn that almost look like guard hair but they aren’t stiff or scratchy or noticeable on the skin at all. It’s lovely and soft and light and snuggly with lovely stitch definition. Seriously, if you get the chance to buy some of this, don’t pass it up.



Despite being worn almost continuosly since I knit it, it still looks good as new, no pilling or other signs of wear. I know it’s a shawl and not a garment but it really has been worn and worn. I will definitely be buying more North Ronaldsay yarn in the future, maybe for a Hap shawl in all the various natural shades. Mmm, Hap shawls…

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.

New! Hand blended wool tops for sale

Well I’ve been busy again with the hackles. I’ve created 3 new blends which are super pretty. I’m enjoying blending so much but I really don’t have enough time to spin them all so I’ve decided to start selling some of my blends on the blog for now and if there is enough demand, maybe open an Etsy shop. For now here are some recipes for your yarn.

The first one I’ve called “strawberries in my oatmeal”. Three shades of red blended with oatmeal BFL would make a lovely tweedy red yarn.

1 part Oatmeal Bluefaced Leicester

1 part Merino

2 parts Shetland

There is 140g of this colour way and I’m selling it for $39 plus postage.

Continuing with the strawberry theme is “so strawberry jammy”. The same three shades of red as above without the oatmeal BFL for a delicious semi-solid yarn.

1 part Merino

2 parts Shetland

138g of delicious red woolliness for $38.50 plus postage.

Next up is “raspberry milkshake”. SOLD

3 parts Merino

1 part Dorset Horn

Dorset Horn is a very versatile wool according to the Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook it can be spun into an airy woollen yarn or a more compact worsted yarn. It is noted for it’s resistance to felting. So great for a shawl or a pair of socks!

I’ve blended 137g and selling it for $34.25 plus postage.

All of my hand blends would be packaged in a box to prevent them from being squashed in transit thereby retaining all the light airy yumminess. If you are interested in any of my hand blends please email me at with your address. Postage will be charges as per Australia Post rates. At the moment I am accepting PayPal and bank transfer only.

This is all a bit new for me so if there is something I could do to improve my service please feel free to advise me.

Cheers Melanie x

Fun with fibre blending

I had heaps of fun blending fibre yesterday with my hackles. All of the blends were with British breeds that I blended with dyed Polwarth or Merino. The house looks like a bomb has been dropped on it and there is a thick carpet of Kemp and fluff where the polished floor boards should be but hey I thoroughly enjoyed it. My hands are really sore now though. Here’s a sample of each of the blends I created.

The central Southdown and green Merino I created especially for Sharon it’s her favourite colour. The dusky pink BFL and oatmeal BFL I created especially for Sonia as it is her colour. Both of these good friends encouraged me so much at the beginning of my spinning journey and this is my thanks to them.

The beauty of hand blended roving pulled off a hackle is that the fibre drafts like a dream making spinning effortless. The obvious benefit is that you can make yarns that are completely unique you would never see these blends at your LYS. The downside is that you are left with a lot of short fibres that can’t be dizzed off but they are great for carding.

My hackles are the Majacraft double row set and you don’t necessarily need combs unless you want to blend more thoroughly. I got my hackle set and combs from the lovely Emma at Spunout. My fibre was mostly from R.E. Dickie though their email seems to be defunct. So now I mostly use World of Wool who’s customer service is excellent and if your not up to blending yourself they do have a rather cool make your own custom blends tool that I have used, minimum order for the custom blends is 500g though. Here are 2 blends that I’ve made through them so far.

BFL/English 56s/Shetland/Tussah silk


Of course now I just need to find storage space and clean up. Another 24 hours in the day to spin up these lovelies would be good too!

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.

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

Hand-spun to hand-knit

I’m a bit excited by the results of knitting my hand-spun, hand-dyed, navajo plied yarn.  I need to share the sample I knit with you.

I think it’s pretty and also when I put it next to the bunny nuggets I can see progress, which is good.  I should do this more often.  The trouble is I want to knit with hand-spun most of the time but I also want a larger hand-spun to mill-spun ratio in my stash and in order to do this I must knit more mill-spun.

The most exciting thing about this though, is that now I’m reassured that I could spin well enough to make a beautiful hand-spun jumper which is a bit of an ambition of mine.  First of all though I need to make this jumper for Sam, should I feel bad that his jumper is going to be kind of a prototype?  Today I got him to stand still long enough for me to take measurements except that I forgot to take the top of shoulder to armhole measurement which is probably kind of crucial, doh!  I’m also going to be doing more swatching.  I’m having a bit of difficulty finding some zip up, mesh, laundry  bags so I can start washing my fleeces ready for spinning, the last 3 times I went to my local supermarket they didn’t have any, I’m going to try Kmart next.  Then I can make my hand-spun, hand-knit jumper, squeee!

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!

Black Welsh

So I decided to spin the Welsh black tops next.  Because I don’t have to make any decisions about dyeing it before or after spinning or decide how I’m going to spin it and subsequently learn any posh techniques, I’m thinking about the Shetland here and how to get the best out of it.  Also it has been in the fibre stash the longest after the Wensleydale so really  it has to be first in, best dressed and all that.

Anyway, I have become completely in love with it.  It spins like a dream and the singles are turning out to be very beautiful and not what I expected at all.  Welsh black is often describes as quite a coarse yarn and not one you would wear next to your skin.  But while the tops are definitely not merino soft they are also not at all carpet harsh and have a rich, demi-lustre to them that is very appealing, I also think it smells pleasantly sheepy.  It is delightfully easy to draft and so far I have managed to create lovely even singles.

I’m going to spin up 2 singles and ply them, again I’m working on even-ness in thickness and of twist, not that I’m trying to achieve mill-spun regularity because that’s absurd and I don’t want to lose the charm of hand-spun-ness.

One thing that spinning this yarn has done though is to get me thinking about buying a wheel again.  The reason is, I can absolutely see me very happy to spin a jumpers worth of Welsh black, I’m loving it so much and that’s not easy on a spindle.  In fact I used to own a Welsh black cabled jumper some 20 years ago, I bought it from Freemans catalogue but it got inadvertently felted.  I know Blacker yarns do aran weight and chunky weight in Welsh black but it would be heaps more fun to spin my own jumper.  I’m thinking an Idlewood by Cecily Glowik MacDonald or Vivian by Ysolda Teague would be lovely.  Anyway those are projects for a later date in the meantime I have to actually spin this yarn.  The weather is being very obliging and we are having thundery rain at the moment, perfect spinning and knitting weather.  I shall put the kettle on and get to it, I’ll talk more when I have something finished to show you.

ttfn Melanie x