Archive for the “Fibre is good for you” Category

Those of you who attended the recent iKnit Day in London may have been lucky enough to snabble a bag of the new Precious Tussah Silk Roving from The Natural Dye Studio . Having friends in high places, I managed to score a preview sample and have been spinning it up here and there for the last couple of weeks. Somehow, the mundane ‘real work’ projects don’t seem quite so exciting when the lure of pure silk beckons, but I’ve been trying to be good, really!


My new resin spindle from Fyberspates turned out to be the perfect companion for this silk and the pure silk single comes up like a dream. The spindle is low-whorl, with a goose-neck hook at the top (which I much prefer to a half-hitch) and spins for ever!


As I had some Superwash BFL from NDS in a similar colour, I decided to also do some sampling with blends of the two fibres. I blended about 50/50 using handcards, then attenuated the minature batt into a long roving. It spun beautifully and the resulting yarn is lofty and light with a delicious hint of silken shine.


I finished my sample as a simple 2-ply, but I think this would work great as a 3-ply in a textured, maybe cabled design (yes, I think I’m on a bit of a cables hit at the moment).


Natural Dye Studio Precious will feature in the silk spinning class which I am running in October, click here for details and to book.

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Another picture-heavy post: I had the camera out so I figured I’d catch up on all the things that were piled up on the ‘things to photograph’ pile!

First up is some fibre which came my way last week on birthday day, this was from Hailey, hand-dyed from Pippi Knee Socks in a colourway which reminds me of Handmaiden’s Origin - it’s always been one of my favourites. Thank you Hailey!


Next was Alpaca from Mel (Yogicknitter). She found this for me at Bluefaced, lovely lovely soooooft alpaca in gorgeous caramel colour. The second picture is some more that Andy himself popped in for me - I love the variations in the colours!



Michelle arrived back from the US this week with a pile of dishcloth cotton, it has taken me a while to find the perfect pattern - I wanted one I could do over and over without getting bored, but withough needing the pattern forever either. I found this browsing Rav and immediately loved it! I can just about get through one without the instructions now.


Sweden also yielded some fibre and yarn, lopi-style yarn in a foresty green, and local batts, natural grey. I wanted more of the green actually, as I have something blanket-ish in mind, but that was all that was left. I might spin the grey to match and combine them somehow.



International post has done its job and I can now show you another August birthday knit:


Amanda and I were paired up in a birthday swap two years ago, and we’ve stayed great friends. Fibrey parcels fly back and forth around this time of year :-D This is the Branching Out scarf, made in handspun merino/tencel which Amanda sent me last year for my birthday. More details on the project page.

Finally, one quarter of a pair of socks. This is my current handbag knit, Shur’tagal from The Inside Loop. Designed by the Lovely Alice.


I’ve just started the heel, hopefully good progress will be made at the pub later today! Oceanwind Knits is now my new favourite sock yarn - although I’ll reserve final judgement until I see how it wears.

Coming tomorrow! A sneak preview of the next biggest thing. Here’s a little teaser to get you guessing…


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Last week I was lucky enough to score some of the new fibre now in stock at The Natural Dye Studio. In fact, I begged for some - I have always loved Amanda’s colours and since I’m trying to focus more on spinning and buy less yarn this year, NDS fibre seemed like Christmas in July!


My first impression as I tipped the fibre out of the squishy post bag was that this was incredibly soft and fluffy. Incredibly. I’ve had a lot of hand-painted roving and tops through my hands and almost all of them have had some varying degree of compacting (not felting, just squishing down) from the dye process. Amanda has managed to produce something soft, buttery and as light as air.


Given the poofiness (technical term) I was able to use a drafting technique which I love for shortish fibres, but which doesn’t work very well without a lot of fluffing up of the fibre beforehand. It’s essentially a point of twist draw combined with a short forward draft. Hard to explain without pictures, but imagine drafting forwards as for worsted, but allowing the twist far back into the fibre mass to draw out the fibres instead of pinching them with your forward hand. It’s very fast, and with a bit of practice produces a nice even single with a fair bit of air in it.


This particular colourway (Midnight Ocean) was dyed for long colour sections so I decided to chain-ply to keep them distinct. You can see how the yarn graduates beautifully from soft green through blue to a deep indigo.


Finished, with a bit of whacking, the yarn is deliciously soft, poofy and buttery with just the hint of a halo of fuzz. Tempted? There’s some great colours up now in the NDS shop and I’m really hoping there will be some left when I head up for the Open Day this weekend!

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Hand-carved bead from a little shop in Amsterdam: 80p


Bamboo dpn: free really, as I bought the set for making i-cord.


Sheepy egg-cup from Wonderwool ‘07: £2


That thrill you experience when your tiny support spindle stands up and spins with grace: Priceless.


I spotted 10 minutes a day on a blog somewhere and later discovered that there’s a ravelry group. The idea stuck in my head and I decided to apply it to improving my support spindle spinning. I hereby pledge to practice for ten minutes every day this summer.


At the moment I’m spinning some cashmere which I bought ages age, it’s boring white but ok to practise on. I’m getting some cotton sliver, and will hopefully progress to the gorgeous naturally coloured cotton like you can see here.

The spare bead, btw, which isn’t a spindle yet, is for Kai. Who I’m hoping will join me on this venture!

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I’m happy to announce that I will be teaming up with Alice of Socktopus to offer an introductory Learn to Spin course next month.

Over two Sunday sessions you will learn all the spinning basics, with time in between to practise. I’ll also be running my toe-up sock class again. All the details, and sign-ups can be found here.

Alice is also offering some sock classes with the ingenious Jane, so make sure you pop over and check them out. If you can’t make it, or miss out on a spot, don’t worry - the classes will probably run again in the autumn.

See you there!

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The scarf is done - there was only a couple of inches to go as it turned out.


Now I just have to decide whether I keep it :-D or give it away as a present this year to someone who likes green. I have a 4oz hank of the same colourway fibre left over too if anyone wants it.


I have been knitting, I finished the second Tulip cardi - photos later this week as I left it at Stash - and have almost finished the first sleeve of Venezia. The rows there are getting very short now at the top of the sleeve cap and somehow that beautifully striped steek just makes me go all gooey inside!

Mostly though, I have been spinning. Here’s a taste of what’s been going on:


These mini skeins are shetland and will be dyed up for a somewhat traditional, but actually quite modern stranded project (that came out sounding weird - but you’ll see what I mean when it’s published).

There has also been more lace:


I am having to pace myself on that a bit as I’m finding that the concentration required is not so good for my back and neck. So I’m only spinning it every second day which means, obviously, that I need a second wheel! So I can have two projects on the go at once you see …

Today being a non-spinning-lace day I have been washing and flicking and generally enveloping myself in Supernova’s fleece. The most amazingly soft alpaca I’ve ever been able to play with. In an extreme display of stupidity, however, I manage to felt some of it in the washing process, I’d washed 100g and managed to rescue about 1/3 of it from the tangle. You can be sure I’m being extra careful with the rest!

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There is nothing so cute and exciting (I have decided) than a little goat (actually, newborn baby goats are about the cutest thing in the world but we’ll get to that later). These girls are less than a year old and just arrived (part of a flock of 19) at the farm.


One of them is mine :-D and will be called Daisy when mum has picked her out for me. There will be first fleece in August, and baby goats sometime next year (squee!)


ETA: Kathy Sue asked what kind of goats they are - they’re angoras, which means the fleece we get will be mohair. They’re a great fibre animal, being small and docile, and very prolific - a good return on your investment!

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There’s three days to go before we publish the new issue of The Inside Loop. Funnily, it seems like only yesterday that we had months of time. Definitely some snowballing going on here.

On Thursday Kate and I got together, and for once we didn’t sit around chatting and drinking endless cups of tea as we usually do on Loop days together - it was heads down and butts up and hard work all day! We cropped photos, did last minute edits and … created the actual pages with pictures headings and all.

This is by far THE MOST exciting part of the process. When you look at the page, and click ‘preview in IExplore’ and see it there on the screen it all suddenly seems real, as if up to that point it’s all just kind of playing around with pictures and text but with no cohesion or greater purpose.

There’s great stuff coming in the summer issue, so put Tuesday in your diaries and start clicking ‘refresh’ from about 9am :-D


In between mild panic attacks I have been keeping at the dyeing. Alice and I have been going a little nuts over a new-found obsession, and luckily, we haven’t yet run out of white fibre. I plucked up the courage to start mixing dyes and have been able to crop my dye wishlist to six colours instead of circling almost everything in the 30-something range available! 


Here’s one of the rovings I dyed this week, the other one’s secret for a bit. I couldn’t get the colours right in Photoshop, the blue’s good but the green is much greener than that.

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Saturday morning I had awesome fun with Alice, Ali and Jen dyeing up some fibre and yarn. We used an oven-bake method which I have found to work best for me with fibre: to set the dyes you need heat, and wet, hot fibre is just asking to be felted if you let it move at all. I experimented with the microwave but found I couldn’t get the fibre to heat evenly without moving it around, or get it opened out flat to cool without risking burning myself. Using oven trays, you can leave it to cool completely without movement and it works very well. I’m planning to write up the technique properly with photos etc soon. 

cherry ripe

The fiber I dyed I have called ‘Cherry Ripe’ with its yummy blend of dark chocolate and cherry and just a hint of white coconut. (Cherry ripes were one of my favourite chocolate bars at home and I always pick up a couple if I’m at the Australia Shop!).

Once we have spun up our fiber it’s going to be auctioned off to raise money for the Having Hope fund. So if you fancy a bit of Cherry Ripe for yourself - watch this space!

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Fibrey stuff that happened while I was away…

I didn’t get any actual weaving done but I did read all of Mum’s weaving books (and snuck a couple home with me) and spun up the warp for my first project.


It’s merino/silk blend from Wingham Woolwork and it’s spun to a fairly firm 2-ply. More on that later.

On my last day at the farm we went to the Field Days, which is kind of like a county fair but without the competitions - so lots of displays and people selling and demonstrating stuff. I fell in love with Supernova:


And begged for and subsequently brought home some of his fleece:

Supernova fleece

I also wept that there was no room in my suitcase for these:

Angora goats

But luckily, Mum has a whole farm and is going to buy a dozen or so Yay!

In other news, I got copies of Having Hope printed and will be selling them to people I bump into, and I might put them in a couple of shops. Alice may also be stocking them at Socktopus. I’ll keep you posted.


Wonderwool this weekend :-D

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