Archive for the “Weekends are for Spinning” Category

This has been on my wheel:


BFL Halo from The Natural Dye Studio, in Candyfloss. Have I ever mentioned that I LOVE this fibre?? It’s squidgy and fluffy and puffs up like you wouldn’t believe when you wind it off the bobbin. This is part of a Very Secret Project, but I’ll be able to show you soon.

More pink:


Alice hosted a swap night at Socktopus on Tuesday and I was lucky enough to grab me a skein of Koigu. It was the only thing I swapped, but it doesn’t take much to make me happy (koigu will do that) so I came home very satisfied.

And since pink seems to be the theme around here, I will mention that yesterday while I was spinning I realised that the sweater that I was wearing (it has been seriously sweater weather here) almost exactly matched the yarn I was spinning. I seem to have definitely made it beyond blue.

But just to prove that all is not lost, this is what I’m about to cast on. Yep, blue.


Have a great weekend, I’m off to Norfolk for the Socktopus Lucy Neatby Retreat - I’m so excited! There will be a Spin-In, but I will post it late Sunday night or early on Monday, depending on when I get back. (ETA: in a stroke of genius, I have figured out how to post-date a blog entry. All being well, the Spin-In will appear at 9am on Sunday).


Comments No Comments »

There are three classes scheduled for the first weekend in December (i.e. Dec 6 and 7). Would love to see you there!

Sat 11-2: Single Spun
Spinning soft, fat singles to create a stripey yarn effect. Class fee includes 100g hand-dyed fibre for your project. This is the yarn I used in my Morning Surf Scarf.

Sun 10-1: Stunning Silk
Tussah, Bombyx, silk blends, cocoons… a whole morning of exploring this fabulous fibre.

Sun 2-5: Mohair Madness
everything you never knew you could do with mohair. Preparing, blending, spinning and a load of chatter about where it comes from and what you can do with your yarn.

10% discount if you attend two or more classes. All classes are held at the new Socktopus shop, click here to book online.

Comments 1 Comment »

Today I’m up in Leicester with Yoshimi, and I came armed with piles of different fibres, and these:


We’re planning to work our way through Diane Varney’s book, which contains loads of interesting stuff. I hesitate to say ‘novelty yarns’ because I don’t want to conjure up visions of fun fur and sparkly acrylic. Rather, think loop yarns, core-spinning, boucle, beads, (on-purpose) slub effects and blending. I’m bringing along the Spin-Off too as I’ve wanted to try that wrap-and-roll yarn for ages.

I’m not sure how many we’ll achieve, but I do know it’s going to be a lot of fun! Maybe the yarns will become more interesting as the beer and pringles run out…

So what are you spinning today? Have you ever spun (or wanted to spin) a novelty yarn? Why not spend ten minutes today sampling something you’ve never tried before :-)

I’m getting a train back tonight, but not sure what time, so you might see me on Lingr if I get in early enough. If not, feel free to talk amongst yourselves!


Comments 3 Comments »

I believe I have solved my nothing-to-spin situation, well, temporarily at least.


This one is from Lime Green Jelly. It’s got green bits too which didn’t show for some reason, the light’s odd today.

And I wonder what this could become?


For a special someone perhaps…

Comments 8 Comments »

I have been going through the wips at a great rate lately. This is not an unusual phenomenon, I have read other blogs where knitters finish up piles of things all at once. With me, I think it’s a result of getting to a point where I think ‘Oh crap! There’s a lot of stuff littering the place! And my naturally tidy and ordered mind (I heard you snigger, it’s going to thunderstorm from a little cloud over your head today because of that) wants to trim down the pile to something more rational.

So I have two more FOs (which I won’t show you today because they are both in serious need of blocking first), and with the wip list getting shorter, I’ve dug out an old friend which was snoozing at the bottom of the workbag.

CPH Sleeves

These are the sleeves for my Central Park Hoodie, I am a few inches into the back. I was knitting this last winter and, as is my experience with most winter knitting, the weather got warm when I was halfway through and it was abandoned. Well, I’ve had many days so far this last few weeks when I wanted to wear it, so out it comes!

In other news, I plied up my first teeny skeins of cotton spun on the charkha:

First Charkha cotton

I am quite disproportionately proud of this achievement :-D the smaller skein is the first spindle-full plied on itself, the larger skein is the second and third spindles plied together. It looks pretty even (and in fact is) but I will admit that the evenness was a result of severe micro-management of the singles - as in, I twiddled out every little bump that I made while I was spinning. Yesterday though, something finally clicked and I’ve pretty much got it down. I’m only getting a bump I want to fix in maybe every fourth or fifth length spun.

And finally, I was looking through my stash the other day, and discovered that there was Nothing To Spin! Luckily, this was on its way to me!


Hand-dyed Falkland tops from Spindlefrog. They are gorgeous and I just might spin one today :-D

Comments 8 Comments »

There’s no Spin-In today I’m afraid, I have been helping out Alice this week getting the new shop ready for today’s Socktopus Grand Opening! I’m just about to pop back over there again (for the fun bit this time, not the carrying-boxes bit!) so I will simply leave you with some eye-candy to sweeten your Sunday.

Allspunup merino/silk

Allspunup merino/silk

Precious Lace

Leave me a comment and tell me what you’re spinning today :-) I may be on Lingr later tonight, but I’m not sure how things will pan out, so pop in just in case.

Comments 10 Comments »

After SOAR last week, I may have been quoted as saying I’d never spin anything again that didn’t have cashmere or silk in it. Cashmere/silk blend - even better!

Yesterday, my loungeroom floor looked like this:

SIlk Class

All the goody bags for the Stunning Silk class this weekend are parcelled up and ready to go - it was enormous good fun I can tell you! Mohair Madness is also on this weekend so I’ve been dyeing up a load of silky curls for members of that class as well. Both classes still have a couple of spots left in them, so if you’d like to come along and roll in spin and sample glorious fibres all day long then check out the details here, or head over to Socktopus to book your place.

Comments 5 Comments »

The second part of SOAR, after having a day off on Thursday, is the Retreat. This consists of two days of classes, two 3-hour classes a day. It is much more full on than the Workshop, as the Mentors always manage to squeeze a phenomenal amount of learning into the short session.

On Friday morning I took Mohair and More with Robin Russo - a class designed for sampling and exploring different goat fibres. We spun Mohair, Pygora, Cashgora and Cashmere, and Robin gave us masses of information about all the different animals, fibre qualities etc. This picture was taken when we were about half-way through.

Mohair and More retreat session

One thing you may not know about goats is that, unlike sheep, the fibre does not remain consistent for the life of the animal: it gets progressively coarser over the years. Mohair in particular starts out very fine in the first clip and changes in softness, lustre and crimp style over the next three or four years.

Friday afternoon I was with Judith McKenzine McCuin studying silk blends. This is WAY more my type of fibre than most of the wool we spun in 201 (although I’m a big fan of goat fibres too). You can keep your scratchy wools and man-made fibres - I’ll be the one in the corner with the cashmere and silk blend.

Silk Blends retreat session

Judith is absolutely amazing. A lot of the things I learnt from her were not necessarily to do with silk, or blending, but were immensely valuable in all areas of my spinning. Incidentally, we also discussed the attributes of poached eggs at breakfast yesterday morning.

Saturday was Knitting Estonian Lace with Nancy Bush, and Spinning Big and Lofty Yarns with Maggie Casey. I was getting pretty tired by this stage but no way was I missing out. Luckily the lace class was mostly sitting back, knitting and listening to Nancy’s fascinating stories and history about Estonian Lace. She had an amazing array of shawls with her too - you can see that the table behind her in this picture is covered with them and there was another whole table as well.

Estonian Lace retreat session

In this picture Nancy is demonstrating how to make a perfect Nupp (rhymes with ’soup’).

Nancy demonstrating nupps

By Maggie’s class I was a wreck, but I managed to spin big and lofty, (against my natural instinct) and although I didn’t take any photos in class I have my yarns and will eventually dig them out and show them to you for proof.

I have more to blog about - not least the post on What I Bought At The Market (thought I’d skipped that didn’t you! But I believe in full and truthful disclosure for the good of the community) - but I’m still pretty exhausted. The Last-night-of-SOAR party had me up until one this morning, and did I mention breakfast has been at seven all this week? SEVEN. That’s not even a time. I need to do some catching up.

More tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. I need to go on a NYC yarn crawl and buy cashmere…

Comments 5 Comments »

The first part of SOAR is a three day workshop class with one of the mentors. I took Spinning 201 - intermediate spinning - with Rudy Amann who you may have seen in Spin-Off a couple of times recently. The class was great - we worked with a bunch of different fibres, practising both worsted and woollen styles of spinning, and touched on techniques such as andean-plying, spinning from the fold and making cabled yarns.

Michele, Triste and Debbie

Rudy has an amazing store of knowledge and a lot of what I learned in the class was actually incidental to the program - someone would ask a question and Rudy would give us a long, detailed answer, often moving off onto tangents to give even more information. We talked about different wheel systems (Scotch, Irish, double drive) and how they all worked and why, and it was really interesting to watch him answer people’s questions about problems they were having with their wheels, and watch how he fixed them.

Cosy and Dana

The class was full of very cool people! I met Amy, Meghan, Dana, Cosy, Michele, Vanda, Triste, Jim, Debbie, and lots more people. It was a really fun group, and I feel like I have made some good friends.

Here’s a picture of most of the class - we’re wearing our homework on our heads…


That’s Rudy on the right. He happens to be an expert on Nalbinding, and since we had a bit of time left over at the end of the class, we were lucky enough to get a quick demonstration:


Nalbinding cretes a kind-of-knitted, kind-of-woven fabric, but really isn’t either at all. It went out of fashion when knitting was discovered, for various reasons, and the skill has almost died out - with just a few people like Rudy keeping it alive.

Last night, when classes were all over, we put on a display in the main conference room. We all had a chance to wander around and see what everyone else had done, I have pictures of some of the opther displays and will tell you more about that later.

In the evenings there has been just as much going on. People sit around in the hotel lobby (which has great couches) and knit or spin, and there has been a couple of demonstrations and talks.

A huge treat this year is to have Nilda Callanaupa Alvarez visiting, from the Centre for Traditional Textiles in Cuzco. She and her friend Aquilaina have been talking about the textile traditions in the Andes and demonstrating traditional spinning and weaving. It has been really fascinating and I’m gutted that I didn’t have the chance to take Nilda’s class this week.



Today we had a day off, with the spinners’ market open (I didn’t spend much I swear!) and we walked up to a local beauty spot. Tomorrow the retreat sessions start, two 3-hour classes per day.

More tomorrow, ciao!

P.S. On Tuesday night I had dinner with Nancy Bush, and this morning I was sat next to Maggie Casey at breakfast.

* swoon *

Comments 6 Comments »

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.

Comments 7 Comments »