Wednesday, 19 April 2017

I have an inkling.....

... my newest crafting 'toy' is going to be fun!

You may have gathered from posts I've written that, while he complains about the amount of space my crafting paraphernalia takes up, my husband is a bit of an enabler as he keeps buying me equipment to use (spinning wheel, weaving loom and drum carder) as well as skeins of nice yarn and bags of fibre for spinning.  Well, at Christmas, the last present I was instructed to open (he wanted to keep it until last) was an Ashford Inkle Loom.  In case you don't know, inkle looms are small weaving looms, used to make straps and bands (Wikipedia entry).  The difference between this and weaving on a rigid heddle (or floor) loom is that the weft threads (the horizontal ones) are squeezed between the long, warp threads so they're invisible (or barely visible).  This creates a very firm fabric, which is what makes it good for items where you don't want any stretch (think guitar or bag strap).

I'd never even thought of buying an inkle loom and, to be honest, I was tiny bit disappointed because a. I didn't what I'd use it for and b. I was hoping for a tensioned Lazy Kate for spinning (maybe for my birthday; I'll drop strong hints!!!).  Hubby had also bought me a book of patterns to make on the inkle loom and I read through that, read lots online and - finally - got out the box and assembled the loom a couple of weeks ago.  Then I went stash-diving and pulled out some white cotton and some variegated green/yellow yarn which I was given and which I think is a wool/cotton sock yarn.

Warping for the first time (putting on the long threads) was, erm, 'interesting', not helped by DD1 deciding while I was doing it that she'd emerge from her room and come down for a chat!  I don't think it helps that I'm left-handed and the loom is right-handed biased (like many things), so winding the yarn around the pegs feels a bit awkward.  Anyway, I started weaving and soon got into a rhythm, once I'd got my head into inkle-weaving mode and beating the weft yarn down hard rather than rigid heddle-weaving mode where the warp and weft threads are both visible and lay next to each other, giving the 'over and under' appearance of the woven fabric.

This was my first band, which I finished last week:

This is the first pattern in the book that I was bought with the loom and is about 140cm long (I've no idea what I'm going to do with it!).  It didn't take long, once I got going and worked out what I was supposed to do.

So, today I went back into my stash and pulled out a ball of blue cotton, a ball of orange cotton and a ball of grey cotton/linen that I knew were in there.  I then chose another pattern from the book and warped the loom again:

You can see on the left where I've done the first few inches of weaving, including the first inch or so which is wider, before I got then tension right.  This is going to be a strap for a bag I'm planning on making from the grey/blue/rust yarn I spun on my Turkish spindle last month.  The two bits of cardboard are 'fillers' just after the start of the warp and will be taken out once the strap gets advanced around the loom (the warp is a continuous loop, so there's waste at the beginning and end - I'll take photos once I'm further on so you can see).

Here's a side shot so you can see how the warp winds around the pegs, giving lots of options for different lengths of band:

And, finally, here's a close-up of the weaving so far:

It's all good fun, but I've spent far too long looking at photos of  finished bands that people on Ravelry have made!

I have been doing some knitting, I promise, but not a great deal, although I'm hoping to have a finished object to show you in a couple of days.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Spinning Round-Up - March

It's been just over a month since I last posted.  This is because, knitting and crochet-wise, there's been very little to talk about, other than a hat.  Everything I'm making at the moment is very slow going and then there was a pair of socks that I started twice before admitting defeat - the yarn just didn't want to be socks.

Spinning though, that's been a different story.  I'm finding using my spindles so easy and convenient to pick up when I have a few minutes and even when watching television, listening to a podcast, or watching a videocast.  So.....

Finished Spins:

The fluff that I was spinning on my Turkish 3D-printed spindle is finished.  This was the fibre from a bag of lap waste from World of Wool that I suspected was the leftovers from a custom blend someone had ordered.  The first single that I spun was from - I think - the finished blend.  The second single, the colours were the same, but less blended.  The blend seems to consist of rust flax, silvery-grey flax, teal, black, grey and blue merino.  I needed a bit more fibre to make up the weight of the second single, so found a couple of bits of grey which had also been in a lap waste bag.  I pulled apart the colours of the second single, which gave a more stripey effect and then, once I'd done both, I plyed them together.  Towards the end, as the weight on the spindle got heavier and the 'turtle' ball got bigger, it was a bit heavy-going and I wondered if I should have aimed for two smaller skeins instead, but I managed.

Finished Skein

Underside of the 'turtle'

Close up
The skein is 81g in weight and 277.5m in length.  I'm planning on crocheting it into a smallish bag to use when I take Jess out for her walks, especially in the summer when I don't need to wear a coat, but need something to hold dog-walking essentials - bags, keys, phone, hand-sanitizer.

The other skein of yarn I finished spinning is the 3ply yarn using some merino I dyed using food colouring.

Two singles were spun from the dyed fibre and from the fibre I'd bought from World of Wool, I decided to use some yellow (I think it's called corn) Shetland for the third single and then I plyed them together:

89g, 376m.  I'm really pleased with the way this came out and will knit a pair of socks from it.

I was going to ply the yarn on my wheel, but thought I might be able to get the whole skein on my spindle, which I just about managed.  Again, because of the weight, the last 15g or so was hard going, so I'm not sure I'd do that again.  As you can see from the photo below, the spindle was pretty full!

Now, each third of fibre I spun was approx 36g, but I ended up with an 89g skein.  I'm not sure, but suspect, that either I spun the Shetland a tiny bit thicker than the merino, or maybe it's a property of the different sheep breed, but I had leftovers of the self-dyed merino, so I plyed those two strands together and ended up with this 18g, 123m mini-skein (waste not, want not!!).

 It's very pretty, with subtle colour changes, but I've absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with it!  Maybe I need to spin something else to a similar weight and use it for a striping scarf/shawl.  I don't know!  Ooh - a thought just popped into my head.  I could spin more of the yellow Shetland to a similar weight and stripe the two yarns together.

Spins in Progress:

My Big Spin for the year is a sweater spin.  I've got 700g of fibre in total and am (slowly) making it into batts.  I've got a sheet of paper with what I'm doing so I don't forget and am making 35g batts, each of which has 15g black Bluefaced Leicester, 10g black tussah silk, 5g black merino (I think it's merino - it didn't have a label) that has a bit of dark brown in it and 5g Black Welsh (which is actually a very dark brown).  The reason I added the dark brown bits is to break up the dyed black fibres, to give a bit of texture, otherwise it might look a bit flat.  I have a sweater in mind for this, which I'll share once I'm further into this project.

Excuse the carpet; Jess is moulting at the moment

My 3D-printed Turkish spindle is currently idle, but I've started something new on my wooden top-whorl spindle.  I bought a 100g bump of space-dyed fibre from World of Wool, just to try it out.  The colours are bright, but it's dyed in short lengths, which makes spinning each colour cleanly quite difficult.  The 'bump' is also not as wide as braids from independent dyers usually are, so my original plan on spinning this have changed a bit (more on that when it's finished) but this is progress so far.  One third has been spun and wound off the spindle into a ball (I use my ball-winder otherwise it takes ages by hand - a good half-hour):

and I've started the second third (I've split the second bit into thirds, lengthwise down the fibre):

Hopefully you can see how short the colour repeats are

That's it! 

I was going to show you the start of a pair of socks I've started using one of my handspun skeins, but I think this post is long enough already.

It's a brighter day here today than it was yesterday, DD1 is away at a music workshop until late this afternoon (DD2 and I will be going to pick her up as it's at a private school in a village 30 miles away) and I've promised DD2 we'll bake a cake today.  In fact, we're going to make the pineapple & nut bread that Thistlebear showed off on her blog a few days ago, except I'll be using gluten-free flour and dairy-free spread.  I'll snap a photo once it's made and compare hers and mine!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Spinning Round-Up - February

I seem to have got my enthusiasm for spinning back - hurrah!

So, what have I been spinning during February?

Finished spins:

The green Exmoor Bluefaced has been finished:

98g, 263 metres, so enough for a pair of socks.  This yarn has a bit of a sheen and I'm rather pleased with it.

I continued spinning on my top-whorl wooden drop spindle, finishing off the dark red and then the light, bright green into three singles.  Each single got wound onto the inside of a loo roll and then I used a shoebox, two straight knitting needles and a paintbrush to cobble together a lazy kate before using my wheel to ply the three strands together into a skein of yarn:

This is only 81g (I think I weighed the grey fibre incorrectly as there was less of that than the other two colours), but is 288m in length so, again, is destined for socks.

I spun the yarn on the right using my wheel and, to be honest, I'm a bit disappointed in it.  My plan was to spin it into a sock yarn, so when I plyed the three strands together, I put quite a lot of twist into the yarn to make it harder-wearing.  The fibre is Teeswater, which is a longwool and I prefer a woolier-feeling, softer fibre to spin (at times, this felt like spinning hair) and, whilst I like the look of it and it's got a nice sheen, the 92g skein only measures 184 metres, so if I use it for socks, I might have to use a different yarn for the toes and cuffs and possibly the heel turn and flap as well.  I shall have a think.

Spins in progress:

Last week, I was looking in the cupboard I have in the garage for storing 'stuff' such as cleaning products and came across a plastic bag of ancient Kool Aid and old bottles of food colouring.  Promptly forgetting what I'd gone into the cupboard for, I brought them out, went into my fibre stash and pulled out the leftover cream/white merino roving from my Keith Moon sweater, some white/cream pencil roving from a World of Wool lapwaste bag I'd bought, plus some other random bits of white/cream fibre (that's probably merino as well), soaked them in white vinegar and water, gently squeezed them out and then laid them on a sheet of cling film.  I then randomly splattered the various food colourings and dissolved Kool Aid over the fibre, wrapped it up in cling film and microwaved it to set the colours and this is what I got:

As there's only 72g of fibre, I decided to split it in half, spin each half into one single using my spindle and then use a toning colour for a third strand (which, of course, involved a purchase of various colours of Corriedale from World of Wool - it hasn't arrived yet, so I haven't decided which colour to use yet).

The first half has been spun up and wound into a ball ready for plying:

I find it very easy to pick up my spindle and do a few metres when I've got a few minutes, waiting for DD2's taxi to arrive in the morning and afternoon, waiting for the washing machine to finish its cycle, etc, much like knitting a pair of socks, when a round only takes a minute or two.

I've also got another spindle project on the go because I discovered, via a Facebook spinning group, that one of the members (who trades as Cat and Sparrow) is the European distributor for Turtle Made Turkish spindles (she also has some nice-looking fibre, but I resisted temptation).  These are 3D printed spindles and, as well as the bright colours, I like the idea of making yarn in an ancient way, but using tools made from modern technology.  Here it is, with my first effort, which was a 4.5g, 9-metre micro-skein of yarn:

Isn't it cute?  I'm now using it to spin some fibre from a World of Wool lap waste bag that a bit of sleuthing on the WoW website leads me to believe is a mixture of merino and flax; probably the leftovers from someone's custom order:

I've no idea what this will become, but it's good fun.

I also started something new this morning, which I'll talk about in a standalone post, I think, but here's a teaser:

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

What a week!

Last week was the half-term holidays for schools in our county, which meant I had both girls at home.  I hadn't made any particular plans, but thought we might do 'something' on a couple of days, just to get out and about.  Unfortunately, the best laid plans, etc.....  The Friday that the girls broke up from school, I went off to Friday knitting group as usual and had a very pleasant couple of hours with our little group, then came home.  I had some lunch and then took Jess out for her early afternoon walk and then sat down.  Half an hour later, I started to feel awful.  Hot, then cold and by the evening, my throat was very sore and all I wanted to do was go to bed.  Fortunately, DH works from home on a Friday, so he cooked dinner while I flumped on the sofa.  Saturday morning, my throat was feeling better, but I'd obviously been hit by a cold virus.  I did go to work on Saturday and Sunday (mainly because it's very difficult for the management team to get cover at the weekend, especially at short notice) but wasn't functioning at full speed and came home feeling very tired after each shift.

So, to cut a long story a bit shorter, I felt full of cold and not up to much all of last week and am only just feeling more like my usual self.  Having a cold impacted to some degree on my crafting, so I haven't felt up to knitting my Na Craga sweater and, although I've started the body cable pattern, there's not a great deal to show and it hasn't been out of the bag for about a fortnight.  So, over the last couple of weeks I've mostly been doing a bit of spinning and knitting easy, straightforward things.

Some of the ladies at Monday knitting group are currently knitting hats, mittens, gloves and scarves which will be going out to Nepal with a volunteer one of the ladies knows as there are still many people without homes following the 2015 earthquake.  I went into my stash and pulled out a ball of Cygnet aran I'd got and made a ribbed hat using The Boyfriend Hat pattern, although I modified it from the original, using 3.5mm needles and casting on 120 stitches.

I then got out my bag of plain coloured Drops Fabel and, holding two strands together (I chose taupe and cream), made the same hat, but knitting in stocking stitch for the body of the hat and the crown.  I won't do this again though and will do a different decrease sequence as the hat's a bit ruffly at the crown (but looks ok on, so I won't rip it back).

I also finished off my plain vanilla socks using Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Zombie BBQ colour:

There's nothing special about these socks, except for the pooling that occurred when I increased for the gussets, which is a bit bonkers!

I don't think I've shown the next thing off before (not sure why).  A few months ago I felt the urge to make another crocheted Neat Ripple blanket (Attic24 pattern), using Caron Simply Soft.  I'm using a 5mm hook and the blanket's 140 stitches wide (10 pattern repeats).  I used the weighted random stripe generator from Biscuits and Jam and am about two-thirds of the way through the stripes.  If I decide the blanket's not long enough once I get to the end, I might just start again at the beginning.  This is a project I pick up every now and then when I don't fancy doing something else.

Obviously, despite my best intentions, I haven't sewn in the ends as I go, so that's going to be a bit of long job once I've finished the crocheting as most of the stripes are one row wide!

I'm hoping to get back into the swing of my Na Craga cabled sweater in the next day or so, but having felt so rubbish last week, plus having DD2 at home, I'm behind on housework, so need to get on top of that as the lounge and hall are starting to look like a spider hotel!

I'll be back soon-ish.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Spinning Round-Up : 2016 and January

I've decided to post at the beginning of each month, logging my spinning progress during the previous month.  I'm hoping by doing this, it might spur me on to be a bit more consistent in my spinning and improve my yarn-making skills!  As this is the first one, I'm also including a skein I made last year, which I haven't talked about on here.

The skein of yarn below is waiting to be made into something that I can wear with fond memories.

It weighs 79g and is 241 metres in length (approximately sport-weight).  The background behind it?   I go to two knitting groups.  Monday morning's is held in a local village hall and all are welcome (we get between 7 and 16 people each week).  Friday morning's is much smaller.  There are 8 of us in total if we're all able to make it and we meet in a local pub.  Up until last summer, there were 9 of us on a Friday, but then we lost Joan, a lovely lady in her 80s, who had been battling cancer for some time.  Joan was skilled in many forms of needlework and had amassed a sizeable stash of crafting materials, which one of the other ladies sorted through and then brought to one of our Friday get-togethers.  In amongst the stash were various small bags and packets of dyed wool locks, bits of silk, etc, which we think Joan had used in her embroidery work.  I took those little bags of 'bits' and carded them up into a batt, which weighed 34g.  I spun the batt into a single of yarn and I then found in my stash some fibre that was steel grey, dark blue and rusty brown and spun that into a second single, before plying the two bobbins together to make the tweedy yarn above.  I just need to find a project to knit the yarn into.  Possibly a hat as it's not next-to-skin soft.

So, having spun that yarn, I pulled a new 'bump' of fibre from my stash and started spinning that.  It's a 70/30 merino/silk blend from World of Wool and is called Phoenix.  My plan was to spin a 3ply yarn with a fairly high twist to knit into socks and I'm pleased with the result:

I'm still not able to spin a 3ply yarn as thin as I'd like, but I think I just need to keep going and practice more.  Anyway, this is nice and soft (probably won't last too long as socks, but that's the beauty of making things oneself; more can be made!) and is 97g and 261 metres.

That's finished handspun, so now onto WIPs!

On my wheel:

Some Exmoore Blackface (I think - I was sure I kept the label, but I've misplaced it at the moment).  The fibre was bought from Hilltop Cloud and is a mix of greens.  So far, I've spun two bobbins:

and once I've spun the last bit of the fibre onto the third bobbin I'll play the three singles together and see how much I've got.

the cloud of fluff on the left is what's left to do!
I was hoping to spin this for socks, but my plans may not work out as I don't think I'm going to get the metres I need for socks (we'll see - maybe!) and, at the moment, the yarn's not feeling overly soft, \although that might be because I'm comparing it to the merino/silk of the blue skein.

On my spindle:

Autumn 2015, I bought two basic spindles from Hilltop Cloud, hoping to get DD2 to use them.  She hasn't shown any willingness to spin herself, but I have found that, with her sensory issues and input requirements, getting her to watch the spindle going round and round can have a calming effect on her, so I decided to try and be ready in the morning five or ten minutes before her taxi is due to arrive so that I can get her to watch the spindle, thus setting her up for her school day (and it does seem to help).  Spindle spinning is, for me, a very slow process and so far, this is what I've wound off (yes, onto the cardboard tube from inside a loo roll!):

40g of grey merino.

To go with that (which I'm trying to spin thinly), I've now got some claret red merino on my spindle:

This has gone a little bit more quickly simply because I'm trying to do some every day and I'm about halfway through the red.  Once I've finished that, I'm going to spin another 40g, but of a light spring green and then I'll ply all three together and see what I end up with.

I also started watching the Wool n' Spinning vlog/podcast towards the end of last year and have recently watched the episodes from last year where Rachel (the blog/vlog owner) started using a Turkish spindle so, of course, now I want one.  Will I give in, or will I be good?  I'll let you know next month!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Norby Scarf - Finished

Hurrah!  My new scarf is finished.

I think the top photo shows the colour best.

After blocking (which I did using my wires) it measures just over 6.5" and is approx 6' 6" long, so can be wrapped around my neck twice, or folded in half and the ends put through the loop.

I'm pleased with it.  In fact, I might wear it this morning when I go out to knitting group.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

WIP Round-Up

Now that I've got my Keith Moon sweater finished (and worn!), it's on to other things.

As usual, I've got a pair of socks on my needles.  I started these right at the end of December and progress has been a bit slow:

The colours haven't come out particularly well in these photos - it's hard to find somewhere with decent light in these dreary January days), but the main colours are claret red, a dark auberginey purple, khaki green and a light greenish-yellow.  The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, which is one of my favourite sock yarns and the colour is Zombie BBQ!  When I saw the yarn online and spotted the colour name, I had to buy it.  Because I knit an elongated gusset on my socks, self-striping/colouring yarns do tend to give me some interesting pooling, but that's part of the fun of multi-coloured yarns and, unless I were to make my socks with an afterthought heel (which isn't a good fit for my feet), there's no way of avoiding the pooling.

Also on my needles (and progress has been very good since I started, to the point where I should cast off later today or tomorrow) is a new scarf.  Back in July 2014, I posted about two yarns I'd handspun, from braids of fibre that had been dyed the same, but which I'd spun differently - link to post.  One of the yarns (the one where I'd blended the colours on my drum carder) was knit into a Norby hat in January 2015.  This hat:

It's a hat I like very much (as does DD2, who has worn it to school today).

I'd been thinking since then about what to make from the second skein of that yarn I'd spun and I'd ummed and ahhed about it, thinking that I'd knit myself a Hitchhiker scarf (but then I knit one just before Christmas and didn't want to dive straight into another).  Then, inspiration hit, as it does, on occasion.  A Norby scarf?  Why not!  Using 3.5mm needles, I cast on 41 sts, knit 8 rows of garter stitch and have then knitted three repeats of the hat pattern, which a 4-stitch garter border on either side.  It's going really quickly as the pattern is so easy to remember:

I think I've got about another 5 pattern repeats to go before I cast off and then I'll soak and block it, which will show off the pattern.  I think I'm going to end up with a scarf 5'6" - 6' long.  I'll let you know!

I also cast on a new sweater last week.  I bought 16 (I think - that's what I could find in my stash anyway) balls of Rowan Purelife when it was on sale somewhere (Kemps Woolshop, probably) a few years ago and started knitting Alice Starmore's St Brigid sweater.  However, a few inches into the knitting, I decided that, although the sweater is nice and is considered one of Ms Starmore's best cabled patterns, I wasn't really getting into it and it wasn't really 'me'.  So, I frogged it, with the intention of starting again with the Na Craga pattern, which I decided I preferred.  Last week I finally got round to knitting a swatched as the pattern suggested and ended up going down a needle size to get gauge (which I thought I might have to do) and I cast on a few days ago and have done about 8 rows of the ribbing so far (this one is knitted in pieces and seamed).

Not quite as bright as this in real life - photo taken in artificial light
I shall keep you posted as to progress and with a few more details about the pattern.

The only thing that's struck me is that the scarf and the sweater are similar colours and I can't help wondering if I've done it subconsciously.  Maybe, with all that's going on in the world at the moment, I just wanted to stick pointy needles into something orange!!!  Voodoo knitting?  Now there's a thought.