Archive for the “Weekends are for Spinning” Category

Yesterday I spent most of the day spinning a small skein of baby camel - It’s a hard life. This will be knitted into a sample for the upcoming Spin Short class at Socktopus.


The fibre is about 1 inch long, and dreamily soft and fuzzy. The spun yarn is uber-squooshable and I think will have to be something soft and cowl-y to cosy around my neck. I thought about dyeing it, but the natural camel colour is quite nice so I think I’ll leave it. I guess my next day of work will involve knitting it up - poor me!

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I love my Rose, I love her big bobbins, which fit almost twice as much as an Ashford bobbin. I love that I can spin laceweight at a ratio of 31:1 if I want to. But I have discovered a flaw…

When you can only fit 50g or so on a bobbin, the natural course of action is to spin two bobbins of 25g and then ply them together, rinse, repeat. When your bobbins fit 100g it’s easy to think: ‘Right then, I’ll just do it in two halves then - easy!’ Have you any idea how long it takes to spin 50g of lace onto a bobbin? And not be allowed to do anything else in between? (I knew I’d never go back to it if I started something else!).

I’ll tell you - about a week for each. Luckily, this fibre is absolute heaven to spin, so I didn’t get grumpy, just occasionally a little bored. But then I looked at the yarn and went all smiley again.



Fibre: Oceanwind Knits Merino in ‘Elderberry’ from Socktopus.
Ratio: 21.9
Draft: Long draw from the fold
Wpi: sorry, never checked
Yards: about 500yds/4oz, more if you stretch it more. Well, it’s an inexact science. But there were 324 blinking strands of yarn on my niddy noddy.
Destiny: Most probably a Flower Basket shawl

And I’d do it again like a shot :-D Although maybe half at a time…

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Last Saturday a friend of mine came over for a lesson, and, since she’s absolutely brilliant, and was feeling sorry for me in my sick-ridden state, she brought me a present. She was heading off to NYC for a couple of weeks for work, and she left with me her new drumcarder - yay!

So I grabbed the pile of this:


that I had sitting around waiting for just such an opportunity (Oatmeal BFL and Alpaca/Silk, both from P&M). And had an awful lot of fun making these:


They’re only 30g each and I have about 10 more to do! But it’s loads of fun. Then I started digging through boxes and found these:


which seemed to match in a rather meant-for-each-other kind of way. On the left is some NDS Halo, and dyed tussah silk on the right. I made this:


I can see why people get very excited about their drum-carders! There has been more being fed through it, but that’s all I have photos of for now. Sadly, my suspicion that I have no space to have one permanently has been borne out. The borrowed one is living in a highly inconvenient corner of the living room atm and I can’t see it becoming a long-term fixture.

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While not carding luscious batts, I have been busy at the wheel. I was all set to launch into the main spinning for the Deep-V Argyle, but I decided, when I was ill, that I needed to spoil myself so I dug out a bump of Oceanwind knits from the Christmas pile and thought I’d just ‘quickly spin up’ some luxury merino. Famous last words.

I spent the last two weeks working exclusively on this project, and only the sheer delight of this fibre has kept me from ditching it in the middle. Here’s some:


I just spent two hours plying it. I haven’t skeined it off and measured the yardage yet, but I’d guess it’s somewhere in the region of 500m. It will be a shawl, and I am pretty sure it will be as much like heaven to knit as it was to spin.

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Tomorrow is the Road Trip to P&M Woolcraft - double yay! There’s a bunch of us going, there will be cookies, and fibre to squidge, and new bobbins so I can spin five different things at a time! Have a great weekend, I’ll see you on Sunday.

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I learned a few things this past week:

- I get sick of chicken soup really quickly, no matter how good it is. However, the local deli (source of the good soup) also makes a completely rockin’ lasagne (mmmm…) which actually requires less effort to heat up and clean up after than the soup.
- It is far less boring to sleep 20 hours per day than to be wide awake but feeble.
- If you work for yourself, compared to teaching in a school, when you are sick no-one does your work for you while you’re away.
- Dishes and laundry don’t do themselves either :-(

Ok, maybe some of these I could have figured out anyway with a little common-sense. But small things seem big when you’re ill ya know.

On the upside, the feeble-o-metre dropped low enough yesterday to allow me to finish the Peacock Tail and Leaf Scarf which I cast on on Christmas Eve. The gorgeous handspun yarn was my Christmas gift from Kai, and it was a sheer delight to knit, not just in itself but also due to the love and care that went into it. Thank you so much sweetie!

and if you needed further proof of the glory and magic of blocking:





I left off the edging at each end, I like it, but I wanted to squeeze all the scarf I could out of this yarn and it was easier to just have a garter edge and knit till I ran out (I had 14 inches of yarn left - ugh!)


This is a great project, by one of my favourite designers. It was interesting enough that it never once felt repetative, simple enough to knit while semi-conscious and looks stunning.


And it’s all for me! The shawl pin, btw, was also a gift from Kai. It goes well, n’est-ce pas?

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To All My Readers (lurkers and commenters alike!),

Thanks so much for being around this year, and for all the input, support, comments and advice. Here’s a little something for all of you - I hope you like it!


Mittens to Order

A mitten is the perfect blank canvas for your favourite colourwork patterns. Fill with an all-over small design, or a large motif.

This pattern includes the charts I used for the first Mittens to Order, (knitted for Kate). I have also given you blank charts and full instructions in two sizes so you can create your own unique pattern. Have fun!

Download now for free

Or, visit the Ravelry page to add it to your pattern library.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a relaxing break, and all my best wishes for the New Year.

Happy Spinning! xx

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Not a proper Spin-In today, I’ve been resisting but have finally given in and I’m thoroughly in Holiday Mode. Proper spinning talk will resume on Jan 4. But, I thought I’d share some of the things I have in mind for next year, and invite your input. Not only for Spin-In, but the upcoming Spin! Series 2 as well.

Something I’m really excited about - next year is The International Year of Natural Fibres, read more here. I’ve always been a big supporter of the natural, and I’m really glad this is happening. As part of the Spin-In, I’m going to be presenting a Natural Fibres series, once a month presenting a different fibre with background notes, uses and project ideas. When I started tossing around this idea I thought it would be tricky finding enough - but you’d be surprised! I’m including some fibres on the list that I’ve never spun before so I’m pretty excited about getting to work with those.

Spin! will also be natural fibre based next year, in fact, I’m going to try and exclude man-made as much as I possibly can for the year in my writing and teaching. I’ve started work on the next series, and am happy to be using fibres from some great indie dyers local to me. Look out for previews and patterns before winter’s over!

This all leaves plenty of room for adjustments however, and I’m very happy to have your ideas. Is there anything you’d particularly like to see in Spin! Series 2? in the IYNF Series posts, or another Spin-In? I’ve got 50 posts to play with after all!

Leave a comment, or pop by tonight on Lingr for a chat. I will be there from 5-10pm (ish).

Lastly, please make sure you drop by the blog on Tuesday to collect your Christmas present from me!

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Exciting news - Next year I will be consulting for the Socktopus Fibre Academy!

Over the year members receive six fibre parcels (which I get to help choose) containing a different fibre each time, from six different indie fibre artists. Also enclosed will be a mini Fibre Manual (written by yours truly!) explaining the background and characteristics of the fibre, my experiences with it and recommendations and ideas for spinning and projects. Last, but not least, little goodies and useful fibrey tools in each parcel.

It’s going to be so much fun - I’m really looking forward to the planning, and the spinning! The prices are very reasonable so maybe you could speak sweetly to the appropriate person and have it added to your Christmas list :-D

More details and signups here. Hope you can make it!

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The weekend spent at Kai’s was wonderful! We lazed around and relaxed and knitted and Neil slept in until midday which is his idea of a perfect holiday. It was freezing, I went a little bit childish about the crunchy grass and frozen puddles (!) but Kai and Ollie’s is thoroughly double-glazed and nicely heated and far warmer than our flat in London, it was lovely.

I took parcels with me, and brought home some more :-D Kai spun this for me:


Stunning. It’s BFL/silk from Fyberspates and there’s a bit over 500m. I’m thinking of doing one of the scarves in the new Nancy Bush book.


Kai also bought us a fantastic curry recipe book, and then displayed tremendous patience while I went through every recipe and asked questions about ingredients and methods and made notes! Neil loves curry and I love cooking, so it’s a win-win. I have to scout around for all the spices and things I need, but it shouldn’t be too hard here in London.

And since Kai is a little sweetie (and we generally raid each others’ stashes without pause anyway) this also came home with me:


I was very restrained though, and didn’t steal any of her fibre this time. Oh, and chocolate is not for sharing. But you know that.

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Today, to keep my toes warm, I’ve been baking.


Mmmmmm… will you be at Socktopus tonight??

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This one landed today, as we’ve come over to visit Kai and Ollie in Germany for the weekend. It was very very hard to give up! But I don’t really live anywhere cold enough to have such a thick scarf.


The pink yarn is spun from Superwash BFL Halo from the Natural Dye Studio, colourway ‘candfloss’; The blue/gold yarn is spun from Allspunup Merino/Silk, colourway ‘Lunarsea’ (which, incidentally, I pinched from Kai, so it seems fair that it’s going back to her!)


The pattern is your standard 1×1 rib 2-row-stripe scarf. The two yarns were nowhere near the same thickness - think dk and heavy worsted - but it worked out fine. I used a slip-stitch edge, Alice showed me how, and I love the way it looks.


I will definitely be making another one of these, it’s a great way to use up smaller amounts of handspun - you just need to find two (or more!) coordinating colours :-D

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It’s funny how you plan things, and then you somehow get taken in a completely different direction. I had thought to spend quite a bit of time practicing and playing with loop, coil, boucle etc. yarns, but then I bought a pair of fine cloth carders at P&M and suddenly I just wanted to blend everything in sight!

We did do a bit of fancy plying - some curly Wensleydale and knot yarns, I’m not sure what happened to the samples though. Maybe they’re under the sofa at Sarah’s still… In any case, we still had a lot of fun, and looking over the samples, we did do quite a bit - I hope you find them interesting!

Some of these are mine, and some are Sarah’s. She tied hers neatly into butterflies so it’s easy to tell the difference. We spun and plied them mostly on spindles, it’s definitely my favourite way of producing a bunch of samples in a short time.

Merino colour blends:




We were working on an idea here about achieving depth of colour with the blends. Abby’s tutorial on tweed yarns a while back got me thinking about the effects you get when you combine various colours. We followed a kind-of formula here by mixing complementary colours and then adding a teeny bit of a contrast for added depth.

Merino/Mohair blend:


This is about 50/50 I think, although I didn’t measure it really. Once again, the difference in the colours adds depth to a yarn that a solid-dyed colour doesn’t have.

Mohair/Silk blend:


This is the same mohair blended with some dyed tussah silk, once again, about 50/50. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the yarn turned out lovely! I’d really like to explore this blend further.

Alpaca/Bamboo (?) blend:


Not quite sure, this was one of Sarah’s. I’ll have to ask her about it. Yummy yarn though.

Combed Wensleydale:


Just for fun, I combed some locks that I had brought with me. It was fairly hard going, and a lot of waste, as the locks were a bit matted. But the resulting prepped fibre was a dream to spin and made a lovely lustrous yarn.

I’ll definitely be doing this again, maybe I’ll have a sampling party at my house one day :-)

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