Archive for May, 2007

Sometimes (but not very often) I do something that is not in any way related to yarn. Unless you count that I was probably thinking about yarn at the time. And could almost certainly see yarn. And had spinning fluff stuck to my socks…

BUT this banana-choc-chip cake has absolutely nothing to do with yarn. It was just something different in response to a little bit of yarn-burnout last week.


It was yummy ;-)

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dscn2429.JPGThe short story: Spin one thick single and one thin single, ply them together.

The long story … I spotted this effect when I was visiting Jan last weekend. The yarn was in a skein, a dark colour, and the bobbly texture was well displayed and caught my attention immediately.

Fast forward to Monday when I was sampling some Suffolk roving that Rachel sent me – I had done a bit of lumpy bumpy singles and wasn’t really hooked on the idea of plying it back on itself. Gazing around for inspiration I spotted some ancient Shetland singles which had been left on a bobbin at the end of a 2-ply (see there’s always a reason to keep it). What if…. I thought, and the new yarn was plied up and instantly declared a winner.

I played with crinkle-cut yarn (just like potato chips you see) all week …

Click HERE to download the full tutorial. Have fun, and don’t forget to send me your results :-D btw, anyone good at making buttons? I’d love one for the SSAL!

Don’t forget, for each entry received in this instalment I have pledged £1 to Tricoteuses sans Frontieres - show your support! Edited to add: Entries due by 9am GMT June 11th. SSAL #2 will be up June 10th.

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Welcome to the Sunday Spin-A-Long. For spinners who like to try new things, even if only for half an hour or so of sampling. Each tutorial will cover a new topic, each one will have a prize draw open to all those who send in feedback.

Some guidelines:

1. This will not be ‘Spinning For Dummies’; nor will it be ‘Spinning 301′; it’s going to be more like “Hey I just discovered this really cool thing and I had a play with it and figured it out and wouldn’t it be cool if you tried it too?” I’m hoping people will get inspired and get spinning with something new.

2. I have a bit of a list for future tutorials, but I’m very open to suggestions. If you ask, and I haven’t tried it, then I’ll sample/investigate/ask my guru until I can write it up. 

3. If you send me a photo and comment you are a) entering the prize draw for that instalment and b) agreeing to have your photo, comment and first name/online name published in the gallery. No-one minds do they? I will choose up to 15 pics each time for the gallery (everyone goes in the draw though).

4. The draw: names will go in a hat, I will email the winner and ask for your postal address. I don’t mind shipping outside the UK.

5. Topics will mostly use fibre you will have in your stash (unless you neeeeed a bigger stash!) Advance notice will be given of particular needs.

6. Do not think of this as compulsory course-work. Join in sometimes or every time or just lurk around. Sample the technique for ten minutes or spin a 100g skein. It’s up to you.

To join in, simply download the tutorial, play with fibre for a while, send me your feedback to dianemulholland AT gmail DOT com.

Have Fun!

Want a button? Grab one here (but leave the bandwidth please)

ssal6.jpg    ssal3.jpg

ssal4jpg.jpg    ssal7.jpg

Buttons by Bronte: (who assures me that one day she will spin as well as she makes buttons)


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Do people really read these things?

Anyway, after being doubly tagged (thanks Michelle and Jeni ;-)) I thought I’d better get down to it so…

Seven Random Things:

  1. I currently have no pets for the first time in my life - it makes it much easier to travel.
  2. I have to have a book to read if I am eating alone and occasionally spend so long choosing that my food gets cold.
  3. Liver is one of my favourite foods (that could probably have gone in the ‘weird things’ meme).
  4. I have two brothers and one sister, I came second. One of them knits - can you guess which?
  5. I hardly watch TV but like to re-watch favourite movies dozens of times.
  6. I go weak over a Scottish accent.
  7. I work much harder if I have a deadline - this has been the case ever since primary school.

If you were to write a meme, what would you want to find out about people?

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sal.JPGThe Sunday Spin-a-Long

All you ever wanted in a spinning club!

Each fortnight (or so) I will post a tutorial introducing a new technique. Mostly, fibre used will be something you can find in your stash, if there’s something special coming up I’ll give you advance warning. No-one needs an excuse for a little stash enhancement anyway do they ;-)

You will have a couple of Sundays (or whichever day suits) to have a go at the technique, snap some snaps, and send me your feedback. Each feedback entry I receive, including a photo and brief comment, will go in the draw to win a fibrey prize at the end of the fortnight. Photos and comments will be published in a gallery so you can check out everyone else’s work!

For the grand opening: For every participant’s entry received for the first instalment of SSAL I will personally donate £1 to Tricoteuses sans Frontieres.

This is my chosen charity of the year and it will pop up every now and again in SSAL and on other places in my business. Please tell your spinning friends - I guarantee that there is much to be learned, but with no pressure, lots of fun and free goodies thrown in.

Edited To Add - I have closed comments on this post as it’s getting spammed. Feel free to comment elsewhere.

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Things I know:

1. If you want to spin a yarn to a specific gauge you should do a sample and knit a swatch.

2. You should then keep your swatch, yarn and original singles handy while you spin so you can regularly check the grist (thickness) of your new singles to ensure uniformity.

3. It is easily possible to achieve on-gauge yarn if you follow these rules.

Things I also know (now):

1. If your original swatch is off gauge (24 is like 22 isn’t it?) then you probably should do another one rather than planning to ’spin a bit thicker’.

2. If you are a bit lax on rule two (see above) because you know you are pretty experienced and it ‘looks okay’ then you deserve to fall in a screaming heap get your come-uppances.

3. Knitting with fingering weight yarn on 4mm needles does not make a nice firm fabric no matter how much you want it to be DK weight.

4. Discovering you have 200m of lovely fingering weight yarn and no fibre left and a pattern which uses DK calls for a glass several glasses of red wine.

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In her last couple of podcasts Alex, from Lixie Knits It, has been playing with the idea of a yarn calculator. The idea is, you count up all your yarn, key it in and press a button … the calculator (she had a cool name for it but I can’t remember it) tells you how long it will take you to knit up your stash! Would it work for fibre? I hate to think how many hours my stash is up to.

I did a little bit rather a lot of stash enhancement in the fibre department on the weekend such that I am having to get creative about storage solutions (behind the bathboard?) and how to find more spinning hours (5pm caffeine injection). If you have any bright ideas they are very welcome.

Here is yesterday’s spinning (Corriedale from Spunky Eclectic):


And today’s (BFL from Fyberspates):


Sadly, weekdays are for knitting and I have deadlines there too, so it will be back to the purple cables.

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This is going to be a long one, so grab a cuppa and settle comfortably!

The weekend began with finally meeting up with Jan, a dear friend of my mother’s who I’d only met briefly years ago and have been getting to know over past months through email and phone calls. We immediately hit it off and could have talked all night if we hadn’t been conscious of a 6am wake-up call! After an early start and a long drive Saturday morning we arrived in Builth Wells and found the showgrounds, only having got lost once.

The first thing I saw as I walked in the door was the Great Wheel. The first spinning wheel invented, I had always been interested in seeing one  and finding out how it works (I won’t go into long detail here, I’ll do an article one day).


I got a chance to have a go and it was amazing to feel the connection with spinners from hundreds of years ago.
Jan and Meg needed to check in at the Coloured Sheep Breeders stand so we went there next and then I was let loose to wander around the stalls and chat (and shop!) at will.

I was on the lookout for a Bosworth spindle and information on weaving. I found both together at Willow Close Studio where Carole was very helpful in answering all my questions. I fell in love with a 20g spindle made from Morado wood and headed immediately to Fybrespates to get something to spin on it!

I may have had some small part in influencing Jennifer’s surprisingly similar purchase ;-)


Here is my new baby wearing a pink cashmere sweater (all arty shots courtesy of Jan’s lovely back garden)


Other items were gradually ticked off my list as the day went on: I caught up with Kerrie and had a chance to goo at the new baby; I met some lovely ladies selling knit/felt kits and had long chats about small business in the fibre industry; I took photos of sheep for my mobile phone wallpaper :-D; I discovered Bib and Bob and fell in love (Bib (on the right) is moving to Australia soon to live at Kurrajong Farm). 


We left around 6pm for the long drive home during which Meg told me all about solar dyeing and convinced me that it is hopeless to resist the call to play with colour any longer. I’m planning to catch up with her soon for a more in-depth lesson.

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On Sunday we still had plenty on the program. Jan’s guild was demonstrating at an open day at Ufton Court mediaeval manor: we popped by there to catch up with the ladies and squeezed in a quick tour of the house as well.  


Then we headed up to our final stop for the weekend, a visit to the studio of weaver Mary Kinipple. Mary often weaves with handspun which she has dyed with natural dyes. I was amazed at the colours she is able to produce.     


Her loom is warped for a handspun blanket, dyes include madder, woad, indigo, walnut, bloodroot, and more that I have forgotten. She gave me a couple of oddments of yarn which will become a highly treasured little memento project.

I was very sad to finally be heading for Newbury station and having to say goodbye, but Jan’s not too far away and it will be easy to pop down regularly for visits where we can spin, dye, weave and of course chatter, to our hearts’ content! 

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Yesterday I was refused a mobile phone contract. I can kind of sympathise with the company - I have only been here a short time and there’s no guarantee I’m staying. I also ticked the “self-employed professional (writer)” box. To tell you the truth, I probably wouldn’t trust me with an 18 month contract. It is a fact that I don’t earn enough from writing to pay telephone bills and I may not be here in 18 months.

It occurred to me though - If, say, the Yarn Harlot decided to up and move to the UK and when shopping for a phone, ticked the “self-employed professional (writer)” box, would she be declined? It seems unfair somehow.

There was very little scope on the form to explain that I actually have two jobs and I chose the one that sounded cooler than ’shop assistant’ and I have a husband who’s likely to bail me out of debt if necessary as well. Oh well. I bought the phone outright in the end and stuck my pre-pay sim inside and all is well.

All was even better when I arrived at work to find a squidgy parcel waiting for me :-D Cocoa Dream sock yarn from Cairi’s shop (mmmmmm) I have an inch of capuccino-coloured ribbing, and after six hours in the car to Wales and back, hopefully a little more!



In other news, as you may have guessed I am off to Wales this weekend for Wonderwool. It’s very exciting - I’m looking forward to looking at sheep, seeing a country I’ve only visited once for an hour and perhaps buying some fibre :-D

I have remembered to pack my camera and will tell you all about it on Monday!

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