Saturday, 26 November 2016

Diarising knitting

Everything I knit tends to end up on Ravelry. All well and good - it's an absolutely vital tool for noting down yarn, needles, how a particular yarn behaves while knitted, what I've made and when. But it's also handy to keep notes outside of Ravelry too. And sometimes I just forget to take photographs. So this morning, it's been heavily frosty and cold outside, and I couldn't go to the gym as I was waiting a delivery (yak down and black shetland/silk since you ask), so I got organised and took photographs of the last few things I've knitted.

This is the Icon Dress I knitted during this summer's Olympics. I'd originally bought the kit at the K&S show in 2012, then it kept slipping down the priority list. I wasn't happy with the way the pattern was written anyway - there are very few reasons not to knit in the round, and this wasn't one of them. So I cast this on as one piece (lots of stitches), and reversed the ss/reverse ss on the skirt to emphasise the pleats. And also de-emphasise the braids, which are now against a flat ss background.
I also changed the neck to a plain round finished with applied i-cord, which I much preferred from the square neck with ribbing and a false button placket, which is too susceptible to stretching out. I made deeper armholes too, as I'll be wearing this over t-shirts.

And then my Hoodie-in-a-Week, made back in September, finally got photographed too:
This yarn was spun up for Spinzilla 2015, from some CVM fleece I had squirrelled away. It wasn't a nice fleece, a bit short, so this was drumcarded and spun long draw into a 3ply yarn. It will pill, and is already.

I cast on the night before we left to go to Somerset on holiday, knitted furiously for all car travelling, on Porlock beach, most evenings, and finished it in less than two weeks (over the week itself it was mostly finishing). There are no seams here, just three needle cast-offs. The only stitching is the edge of the narrow hood facing. It's very warm and cosy if a tad short, but there's no more yarn.

This is the Flamborough cardigan, knitted up in July and August from yarn I bought at Baa Ram Ewe in January for an entirely different purpose. (It was supposed to be an Epistrophy, but the fabric just wasn't working.)
It's a very basic cardigan, no fastening at the front unless I use a pin, but the collar is lovely. Very nice construction, again no seaming, just picking up. The original inspiration for the pattern (not mine) was gansey knitting, but the green is so lovely and leafy that I couldn't resist finding a leaf pattern for this sailor-collar shape. It's been getting quite a bit of wear, and the Dovestone yarn, though it pills a little, picks off nice and will wear well.

This one's been on-going for much of the summer. I have a terrible habit of diving into Blacker Yarns' sale bins at the wool shows, and had found myself with an embarrassingly large amount of their 4ply yarns, mostly in olive green and grey. So most of the little circles-in-squares here are grey centres and green outsides. There is a bit of my dyeing too (over Blacker white), two shades of purple, and the occasional bit of handspun too. It's been being assembled over the last few weeks, and was finally edged off last weekend. It has used up all the yarn I wanted it too, and I have discovered the addictiveness of crochet blankets. There will be more.
Very satisfying to do. Though of course it does help that there is a sort of a colour-scheme, rather than just random leftovers.

And these are the current knitting. Both have already been knitted nearly to finish, then pulled back and re-started. The Miss Rachel sweater at the top was originally for me, but I wasn't really happy with the shaping and was about to run out of the grey Buachaille. Mum liked it, so I pulled it back completely, and have re-knit from the top down, in a smaller size, with no shaping. It's now simple knitting, just round and round, until I've finished the body and pick up the sleeves.

The Shornies hat below, from Ann Kingstone's Tups collection, has again nearly been finished, but the tension lied! I used the suggested needles (3.75) with Dovestone and it came out enormous even though my tension was apparently correct. So I've dropped to 3.25 for a much denser fabric, done one less sheep around than before,and it's coming out well.

Though I feel the urge to cast on even more stuff. And I need to do some spinning soon. But we've been without hot water for nearly three weeks now (repaired once, but our boiler is ancient and needs a new (old style) themostat, which will happen eventually. And I'm not boiling kettles to wash fleeces (though I have three new ones in that need doing soon). And three kilos of yak down arrived today.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Online sales updated at last!

So here we are: finally, I've managed to find time and energy (in daylight) to start getting this year's fibres and yarns photographed and listed in my shop.

So far, I've got all the Full Circle sets on, plus some of the other gradients.

No yarn as yet, and lots more fibre to go.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Last shows of 2016

So just a few words to cover the last few shows of 2016. We had to have Bil put to sleep the week before Bakewell Wool Gathering, so that rather put the dampers on everything before we started, but hey-ho, life goes on...

This was our stall at Bakewell. It was rather nice to have a wall behind us, and I complete rejigged the stall at the last minute as I thought I'd booked tables. In error, as it turned out. We were able to borrow one from Denise, and it turned out that one was all I needed. Look at the extra height I managed to get Gladys the Sheep up to!

Once again, the Full Circle sets were popular. And I'd dyed up a couple of orders for people to collect from me here. 

We always go down to Bakewell a day or two early and stay in a cottage just above the town. It was very strange only having one dog, but we still had a lovely walk on Stanton Moor, and went to say hello to the Nine Ladies dancing up there in the ancient oak woods.

The following weekend was Kendal Wool Gathering - and this is where I start to get exhausted, not having any time off. We set off just after 6am on Saturday morning to set up in plenty of time before opening, and were very pleased with out spot, just before a nice big window for natural light.

Lunil came with us, and assisted in the setting up. She's really rather good at this sort of thing.

So, that's another fibre-y year over with, and now I can settle down and hibernate for the winter, or could if I only didn't have the day job. I'm typing this up a week later, enjoying the decadence of a Saturday at home, finishing up a crochet blanket after a scamper through the woods with Lunil in the hope of wearing her out before tonight's fireworks banging.

New lamps are being bought at Ikea tomorrow, so I'm not reliant on daylight at weekends to photograph all my dyed fibre. The Etsy shop will be updated soon.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Spinzilla 2016

For the second year running, I have been part of Team Handspinning News UK for Spinzilla. Although we're spread all over the UK, we have a rather good camaderie going over on Ravelry, and we had such an excellent team spirit going last year that we all signed up, en masse, for this year's team.

I was rather looking forward to making a serious attempt at some mileage, but then work decided that there was overtime available - for one week only. And as I was short of holiday anyway (these wool shows really eat into holiday) I offered to work an hour and a half extra each day, to add up to a day in lieu by the end of the week. So I lost spinning time, and ended up over-tired too.

I'd had a plan to try and spin a garment's worth of yarn on spindles over the week, but Spinzilla rather caught up on me. And I had a black Shetland fleece that I'd offered to spin up for Deb Gillanders of Propagansey fame, and very little inroad had been made into it, apart from getting it washed before we went on holiday to Somerset.

So, I cracked on and got the fleece combed up the day before Spinzilla started - midnight on Sunday 2nd/Monday 3rd October.

It's a fine, soft fleece, and took a lot of spinning. I ended up with about 1500m of this before washing (my spinning tends to make very elastic yarn - it's lost about 10% of length on washing, but gained bounce and cushiness).

I did, however, manage quite a bit of spindle-spinning over the weekend.

This is what I took to the cinema on Sunday afternoon, appropriately enough to see YARN the movie. Which was quite lovely and moving and inspiring - really I can't encourage people to go and see it enough.

And this is what I brought home from the movie:

Three more or less equal weight spindles, and 50g of fibre more or less split between them. (The slightly bigger piece of fibre had the slightly heavier spindle, and that worked well). And there's two Bosworths and an IST spindle there.

This was half a 100g of grey Shetland which I'd dyed in my Macaw colourway. (I'd done a special offer on this colourway on white or grey Shetland for other Spinzilla spinners) with a view to making a plain 3 ply yarn with it.The other half I wheel-spun and chain-plied. I'm doing a workshop on chain- or navajo-plying at next year's Wonderwool Wales, and thought these two similar yarns from the same fibre would be an interesting teaching sample.
This is what I ended up with - you can see how clear the colours stayed in the chain-plied skein. Annoyingly, I think I spun one of the spindled thirds in the opposite way from the others, and didn't notice til I'd plied it. The perils of spinning in the dark!

And this was spindle spun on Sunday evening:
Three colours of John Arbon's blends, the bright blue one being a Spinzilla special for our team.

All the spindled yarns were wheel-plied late on Sunday evening, even the white Wensleydale blend that I'd been doing in odd moments during my truncated lunchtimes this week. And by late, I mean that the final bit was whizzing through about five to midnight.

This was my final spinning over the week:

My final yardage was 7063*, which equates almost exactly to 4 miles. I wonder how much I could crack through if I didn't have to go to work, and got perfectly organised and prepared beforehand?

I'm rather pleased that the bulk of this year's Spinzilla yarn already has a home to go to. Some of mine from last year is still unused, though I turned a CVM fleece's worth of yarn into a hoodie-sweater in just over a week when I was on holiday in Somerset a month ago. You can get lots of knitting done on long car journeys - provided someone else is driving!

Given that the two Macaw skeins are going to be teaching samples, only the white has no end use in mind. I was at a We Banjo 3 gig in Saltaire last night, and filled up two spindles with more of the John Arbon blends to make more of the blue/green yarn.

*This is not yardage of usable yarn. Spinzilla has a special system of measuring that allows for all the yarn spun and also the time spent plying singles together. So we claim for each single spun and the plying done.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Full Spectrum sets

Latest colourways to come out of the dyepan. These are three separate pieces of tops, making a full range of colour between them. And I'm so pleased with them I think I'll keep them in sets and see how they sell. 

This is a rather gorgeously soft Wensleydale, from Devon rather than Yorkshire, and it's taken the colours quite brilliant. 

This is white BFL - pure brilliant colour.

And oatmeal BFL - rich, muted colours. Hard to imagine this comes out of the same dyepan as the other two.

These will be priced at £33 for each 300g set. They won't be going up on Etsy, as I'm planning to take them to the remaining shows. Unless someone gives me a shout beforehand, in which case I'll have to dye some more! Which I can, of course.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Teaching at Peterborough Guild of WSD

Just a few photos that someone was organised enough to take the other Saturday, 6th August. I was teaching my 'Woollen and Worsted' workshop, which seemed to go extremely well.

During this workshop I explain the difference between the two types of spinning, the yarns they produce, and the type of fibre-preparation that are used for each. And then, of course, there is the whole spectrum of yarns/spinning from one extreme to the other. It's a really useful exploration of different spinning techniques, and even experienced spinners find it useful. It would be an excellent workshop for a new spinner to take, once they were confident with their wheel.

We used tops in Shetland, Wensleydale, Masham, Merino, and Shetland roving, as well as some fleece for a quick demonstration of both combing and carding. In this workshop there isn't the time to spend on hand-carding that I like to do in my purely woollen-spinning workshop, which is why we used roving, and also spinning from the fold.

Nope, I rarely wear anything on my feet when teaching. And it was baking hot that day.

Mark and the pupz delivered me to the village hall in Orton Waterville, then went a mile up the road to Ferry Park, where they found lots of open ground, and lake with giant swan pedalos (which blew Lunil's mind) and a miniature railway. More than one trip was had on the latter; I wish Mark had taken photos. And we picked up potatoes, onions, and mangos (the latter probably not local) from a layby seller on the way back to the A1. (We know the A1 very well at the moment, having gone up and down it last weekend, to FibreEast).

I managed to knit nearly a whole sleeve on my current WIP on the way down. Not as much on the way back - I snoozed....

Friday, 5 August 2016

Fibre East 2016

We had a lovely weekend for Fibre East this year - no rain, despite the promise of a shower or two, sunny but not baking, and a breeze to lighten it up a little on the Sunday.

Our new tent went up without a problem (having bought it on eBay back in May, to give ourselves plenty of time to give it a test run, of course we didn't). We spend time with old friends, met new ones,

And this was the first big show with my new look presentation.

I've dyed my table covers, left the shelves at home and used two flat-pack chairs and a plank for Gladys The Sheep, and Mark spent a while putting hooks and rails on a wood and paper three-panel screen I've had for ages and ages.  

The bags I've always kept my fibre in were starting to look a little sad, and I'd noticed that sometimes the material it was made of would dull the colours. And the whole point of my hand-dyed fibre is the COLOURS, so not being able to see them rather defeated the purpose.

Now, all I have to do is see if the braids end up looking a bit 'handled' at the end of the season. Mind you, I think a lot of the wear and fuzzing that braids get is due to storage, and we also invested in some new storage from Ikea (what would wool shows do without Ikea??), which are boxes rather than bags, so once the fibre's packed away between shows it shouldn't move at all. 

I also have a few one-off sockyarns as well as my usual BFL, BFL/nylon, and merino.

I had a huge run on my bags of scoured and dyed fleece, which I had thought would last me the rest of the season, so I had to have a panic run to the Sheep Sanctuary tent on Saturday afternoon to see what fleeces they still had. I picked up three: a Lleyn, a Suffolk cross, and a surprisingly lovely tan-faced Mule that I managed to get washed and dyed this week. All to be done in the next few weeks. 

I have a few new colours this year, Foxglove (which I'm really pleased with, as I've nailed the colours of this year's amazing foxglove display) and Selkie (the blues and greens of water, the browns and greys of seal fur).

Sadly, none of it is going to go online in my Etsy shop until after my last show of the season.  But in the meantime, coming up I still have: 

I could do with time at home to have a good sort out and start some more dyeing, but I'm teaching my 'Woollen and Worsted' workshop at Peterborough Guild of WSD tomorrow (note to self, make sure we know where we're going) and visiting Nunnington Hall on Sunday to pick up fleeces. 

No rest for the wicked. Or even the slightly naughty...