Every winter, as the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, I find myself buying more yarn (and now fibre). I think that I’m just trying to surround myself with soft, squishy, brightly coloured stuff as a protection against the cold and dark and bleakness outside. Basically, I’m building a pillow fort out of yarn.
This is the last couple of weeks’ acquisitions. And there is more on order. It’s mad, really, as I already have more yarn than I really know what to do with. And I’m not entirely sure it really helps, as the black dog seems to be slobbering all over me right now. One consequence of which is that I don’t feel I have anything interesting to say right now. It’s taken me over an hour to write these few words, and I’m not convinced there’s any point hitting publish because I can’t imagine anyone will want to read them.
Basically, SAD sucks. If anyone wants me, I’ll be hiding in my stash with my daylight lamp on.
I finished another pair of Earl Greys for T:
The yarn is Twistle from The Yarn Yard, a (discontinued) high-twist merino/nylon sock yarn. The colours were perfect for socks for T, but because of the extra twist the yarn is only 400 yards to 100g, rather than the normal 400m, and that isn’t quite enough for T-sized socks, which is why one toe is plain grey. (It’s one two rather than both because I was weighing the yarn as I got to the end of the first sock, and was delighted to finish with exactly 50g left – only to weigh the completed sock and discover that it weighed 53g, so the skein must have been slightly over. But I couldn’t be bothered to unravel the first toe to make them match.) I won’t be trying to use the high-twist sock yarns for socks for T again!
I also finished this year’s Woolly Wormhead Mystery Hat. This is knitted in Fyberspates Vivacious DK in wonderful bright magenta.
I knitted the non-slouchy version but it’s still pretty slouchy, and the yarn is quite dense so it feels surprisingly heavy, particularly compared to the Tea Cake tam which is very light, but I like it a lot.
I used some of the leftovers to make myself a new keyring, as my sheep keyring has reached the stage where it looks like a blob of grubby fluff and a pipecleaner rather than an actual sheep.
This is Skein Queen Debbie Orr’s Sweet Little Owlets pattern and the buttons are from Susan Sharpe.
I’m still plugging along on my Pi Shawl, but most of my knitting time over the last few days has been spent on Martina Behm‘s Trillian. I cast on for this on Wednesday evening, having finished T’s socks at knit night and needing something that I could knit on the bus on Thursday morning that didn’t require me to wind yarn; I’m using some Schaefer Anne in the “Virgina Woof” colourway that I wound a couple of months ago for a shawl that turned out to be too lacy for the variegated yarn to work well, but it’s perfect for the garter stitch of Trillian, and the pattern is absolutely addictive. I have even been taking it to bed with me to get a few more rows done before I put the light out!
My latest finished spinning project.
50g of Bluefaced Leicester/merino roving from Hilltop Cloud, spun into two lots and plied together on a drop spindle. It wound 64 times round my 0.9m niddy noddy, so about 57m at approximately aran weight. I’d been hoping for thinner but actually the spindle I’ve been using is 48g so I’m probably never going to produce really fine yarns on it. I do have lighter spindles (15g, 25g and 33g – when did I acquire a spindle collection?) so maybe I should use one of those for my next try at spindling. Or just use my wheel, of course.
It’s definitely my most even yarn so far, in any case, and I love the pearly colours.
Posted in Knitting
The theme of the design competition at this year’s Glasgow School of Yarn was “Iconic Glasgow”, and the winning entry was a hat cunningly designed to look like the wrapper of a Tunnock’s Tea Cake, designed by my friend Lauren. I couldn’t resist volunteering to test knit the pattern, and now have my very own Tea Cake Tam!
It’s knitting in Jamieson and Smith’s 2-ply jumper weight yarn, and the corrugated ribbing makes it lovely and cosy over my ears.
It took me less than a week to knit and is such a fun hat I’m sure I’ll be wearing it lots.
If you want to knit your own (and who could resist?) Lauren has now released the pattern, and it’s free on Ravelry until the end of the month: Tea Cake. I’m wondering about making another one in blue and yellow like the dark chocolate version. Though for now I think I might just settle for a cuppa and an actual tea cake.
I decided that the first thing I was going to spin on my wheel was a batt of Manx Loaghtan which Liz sent me a couple of months ago. I think it was a good choice – the batt was lovely and airy and drafted really easily, but I didn’t end up accidentally drafting too much as I did with the North Ronaldsay roving I’d used for my first try last weekend.
Spinning on a wheel is so much faster than spindling. I did a little bit on Tuesday evening and then an hour or so yesterday and half an hour today, and managed to spin up the whole 65g of fibre. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to divide the fibre into even amounts before I started and when it came to plying I only managed to get 45g of 2-ply before my second bobbin was empty. Still, I think it’s pretty good 2-ply. Quality over quantity!
I thought I’d try Navajo plying the leftover singles, which was less successful (that’s the left-hand bobbin in the top picture). I think I should probably have treadled more slowly as the yarn just got horribly overtwisted as I was trying to make the loops. I ended up throwing that bit away, along with the last couple of grammes of singles which appeared not to have any end that I could find and had to be cut off the bobbin.
Still, I’m pretty happy with my 45g of 2-ply. Maybe I’ll try spinning from a braid next weekend…
(I have also done some sewing this weekend, the first time I’ve touched my machine in almost six months. I had a vintage skirt with a broken zip, so I wanted to replace the zip but also decided to remove several inches from the top, so instead of being a too-tight midi-length skirt with a fishtail it’s a knee-length gored skirt that fits well round the waist. It went pretty well and I’m looking forward to wearing it again.)
Last weekend I decided I was going to have a go at knitting up my handspun. I looked at various cowl patterns on Ravelry and was initially planning to combine it with a commercial yarn in a solid colour to make something like the Paint Boxes cowl, but there was so much variability in the thickness of the handspun that it looked very strange against the even thickness of the commercial yarn, so in the end I decided that I’d just use the handspun and make a Calorimetry out of it.
The yarn is very thick-and-thin; in places it was more like pencil roving than yarn, and in others it was far too thin and twisty (and in some places I had the two extremes plied together), but it doesn’t make a bad fabric knitted up.
The result may be bit big (I needed to put two buttons at the back and the ends overlap by several inches) but it’s lovely and cosy.
Anyway, there is likely to be a lot more handspun around here, as one of the things I am doing this weekend is assmbling my new wheel…
I finished my owls jumper on the train to Glasgow last Thursday and wore it all weekend. I’m absolutely delighted with the way it fits!
I cast on for the 44″ to 46″ size, decreased to the 42″ size at the waist and the 40″ size at the bust with an inch of short-row bust shaping, did the sleeves for the 40″ size as well and then decreased down to the 38″ size for the yoke.
It’s the best-fitting jumper I’ve ever owned, though if I made another one I might make it a little bit longer in the body as it does creep upwards a little bit. I should really give it a wash and a bit of a block anyway, so I might be able to add a bit more length that way, and if not it’s fine really.
The yarn is New Lanark Chunky, in “Woodland”. I had seven balls but only used four and a half.
It’s just a fantastic jumper, lovely and cosy, and of course
I love the owls. I haven’t sewn on any buttons for eyes and I’m not really sure I want too, so they may just stay as sleepy daytime owls. I think the jumper will get a lot of wear this winter, assuming the weather gets cool enough (it was OK in Glasgow last weekend but when I got back to Oxford I was sweltering!).
I was in Glasgow for the Glasgow School of Yarn, which was as much fun as always. I failed to take any photos (also as always) but had a great time catching up with friends and squishing yarn and learning to spin silk on a spindle. I also came back with my backpack completely stuffed with new purchases (having abandoned the leftovers from the owls jumper in Glasgow).
I really can’t buy any more yarn or fibre for a while, I have completely run out of storage space. I am planning on buying a wheel, though, so that should do something about the fibre stash…
When I was at Woolfest in June I bought some gorgeously-coloured felted beads and some embroidery silks with the plan of making necklaces out of them. A mere three and a half months later I finally got round to doing that.
Bright blue and orange beads, strung on orange thread as a short necklace. I sewed a small button to one end of the thread and made a loop at the other to fasten the necklace.
Purple, burgundy and red beads on burgundy thread as a long necklace.
Obviously, that didn’t take very long. I have no idea why I put it off for so long.
In case you think putting some beads on some thread is a pretty poor excuse for actual crafting content, I did finish a pair of socks as well.
They’re the Bigger on the Inside socks by Heidi Nick, in the leftover Sparkleduck Galaxy from my Bigger on the Inside shawl; it seemed quite appropriate to pick another Doctor Who themed pattern, and I wanted swirly Time Vortex-y cables which is certainly what I got. I love the way the cables are worked around the heel increases at the back.
The only modification I made was to mirror the cable twists on the second sock. I didn’t think I would have quite enough yarn so I ended up using a different blue yarn from my stash for the toes, though it might actually have been OK in the end.
After several weeks of jumper dithering, I have finally made a decision and cast on.
Can you guess what I decided on in the end?
Yes, of course it’s an owls jumper. It’s a chunky jumper, it’s never going to be part of my work wardrobe (unless the office heating breaks down in January or something), and it will be cosy and snuggly and the owls will make me smile every time I look down or catch sight of myself in a mirror. I am knitting a combination of several different sizes as I think that will be a better fit; I’ve cast on for the 44″-46″ size to fit my hips, will work extra back waist decreases to come down to the 42″ size, then I may work fewer increases after the waist so I knit the 40″ size for the bust (though I’m not quite sure about that – I’m going to check the fit after the first set of increases), and will then add some raglan-style increases just after joining the sleeves so I knit the yoke of the 38″ size to fit my shoulders.
I did think about making it as a cardigan, but actually I really like the way the jumper looks and am not quite sure about the cardigan versions, and with so many sizing modifications anyway I thought that might get too complicated!
So, today I plied the singles I’ve been spinning over the last couple of months.
I’d wound the yarn into balls for plying and it struck me that the cutlery basket of our old dishwasher would be a good place to put the balls to stop the yarn tangling or running away. It also turned out to be a good place to stand the spindle when I wound the yarn off onto my niddy-noddy!
Because my spinning got finer and more even as I went on, my final ball of singles (about 25g) turned out to be the same length as 40g of the 50g ball that was my first effort. My spindle wasn’t particularly happy about having 65g of yarn on it, I have to say, but it’s very pretty yarn.
I plied the remaining 10g of the 50g ball and the last 10g of the first half of the fibre with 15g of the second 25g ball (so you can see that my spinning was getting more even by the time I was halfway through). And then I had 10g left so I decided to Navajo ply it for practice.
I love the way the n-plying preserves the colour blocks rather than mixing them up. I may well do more of that in future.
Anyway, I think I have about 90m (or maybe even 100m) of the 2-ply yarn to play with. I’m thinking a cowl might be the best thing to try (Liz mentioned on Twitter that she had made a couple of Honey Cowls with a combination of handspun and commercial aran, which sounds like a very good idea). Anyone else got any great patterns for small amounts of uneven handspun?
Posted in Knitting