Travelling Back in Time

I promise I’ll stop using the Time and Space theme shortly, but for this post I need to go back in time a little way.  I was so excited about finishing the shawl that I skipped straight past some yarn I’d finished spinning!

I was exploring coreless core spinning: I carded some batts and spun them up at a spinning meeting.  I’d dyed some tops and thought they would be a good sunset, but they were the perfect colour to use for thread plying (I shall have to dye some more!)  I aimed to spin about 150m on the lace flyer of my Ashford wheel.  Judging by how much is still on the bobbin I overshot this by quite a way (I have yet to learn a method for estimating the amount of yarn spun on a bobbin).


I currently only have one bobbin for the Pipy Poly wheel, so the single of coreless core-spun was wound into a skein and transferred to my swift.



I then spiral-plied with most of the tension on the thin single and barley any tension on the thick single (I found it tricky to adjust the tension much, this was very much what these two singles wanted to do).



I’m curious to see how this looks when made into a fabric. I shall probably knit with it, but I think it would also make a very nice woven fabric. I’ve already carded some more batts for another coreless core spinning project, so I can see I’ll be exploring this technique for some time to come!

A Shawl for Time Travel

My assistant Harriette is of the opinion that she would rather be the assistant of a certain time travelling Doctor.  Since taking on the role of my assistant she has felt herself to be severely underworked and believes that if she were travelling with the Doctor she would have been enjoying lots of adventures and still be back in time for a photoshoot.

Today, in her second assignment in two months, she is modelling a time travelling shawl with 78 glittery bowties scattered over a swirling, corespun, time-vortex background.






Harriette likes the finished shawl and plans to pack it for travelling with the Doctor. The only thing it needs to finish off the look: a TARDIS shawl pin.

Blogging in Space

I’m not really blogging in space, but what a thought:

“I started knitting these socks last night.  I asked the replicator to produce some cellulose fibre yarn like the bamboo yarns produced in the 21st century.  It manages these types of yarns quite well, but it struggles to produce yarn with the feel and natural bounce of real wool.  I’ll have to wait until we get to the next planet with animals that produce a wool like coat before I can get anything like that…”

On the space theme, last night I finally cast on for the shawl using the bowtie yarn I started spinning during the Tour de Fleece.  The shawl is growing quickly.  I started knitting it on the Lantern Moon needles I bought at Fibre East, as it grew I transferred it to the circulars I have, then transferred it straight back to the straight needles.  Though the Lantern Moon needles are very heavy (they are 15mm) the stitches slide over the polished surface really well, and the point is beautifully shaped.  So, for the moment I’ll put up with the weight and knit in short sessions.

The shawl will be triangular and I’m knitting it from the neck down (starting with a garter stitch tab), with increases for shape in the middle and at the edges of the rows.  The weather has made photography difficult today, but here is progress so far:


And what set me off on the space theme?  Well, after my posts on Saturday my web host emailed to say I was getting close to using up the space I’m allocated.  Initially I thought that wasn’t a big problem, just upgrade to the next package, but it turns out that costs nearly three times as much!  So, I’m going to have to do some serious web and blog management in the near future.   Not only do I still need to fix the look and feel of the blog which got broken after I upgraded WordPress, but I now either need to streamline my blogging or find a new affordable home for it!  So, if I suddenly go quiet on the spinning and knitting front, that’s a likely reason!

Now, where did I park my TARDIS?

The Two Year Yarn

For me two years is not a long time to leave projects languishing.  I left a cardigan for about seven years before it saw the finish line (and then I didn’t like it and gave it away!)

I started blending and spinning this in August 2011 and it took the Tour de Fleece to finish the spinning.  Last week, spurred on by the need for a lace bobbin, I finally managed to get it plied.

It’s turned into a soft and glossy 3-ply yarn with just a hint of sparkle (there is a small bit of Angelina carded in).  I don’t currently have plans for it, though a shawl is a likely destination.



I’ve spent a bit of time this week fettling1 with my two Ashford Traditional wheels.  It started with the thought that perhaps I don’t need the jumbo flyer now that I’ve got the Pipy Poly wheel (though I currently only have one bobbin for it).  Anyway, there have been so many changes I thought I’d create a table:


Changing Wheel Configurations

  1960’s Wheel Late 1980’s Wheel
Start of week Jumbo flyer and modern MoA2. Lace flyer and maidens with sealed bearings.
First change Restore original MoA but use sliding hook flyer.  
Today Remove original (60’s) maidens and install lace flyer maidens and lace flyer. Remove lace flyer and restore original (80’s) maidens and use sliding hook flyer.

The oldest wheel has been rather heavy to treadle with the jumbo flyer.  Sometimes it worked well, but the wheel has never felt entirely happy with this arrangement.  The original maidens have leather bearings.  They are very sturdy and work well.  The sliding hook flyer (and all modern flyers) has a slightly longer spindle than the original flyer.  It fits between the maidens very well and works, but the maidens need to be turned a long way to change bobbins.


The big problem is that the front of the flyer is flat and gives a large area of contact with the bearing (the original flyer has a curved front which has very little contact with the bearing).  This obviously slows the flyer down making the wheel harder to treadle and also causes some noise.  However, I’ve done quite a bit of plying this week with this set up.


1960’s wheel with the lace flyer:


The wheel practically purrs in this arrangement!  It’s lovely to treadle.  Even the smallest whorl (which gives a lightening fast 40:1 flyer:wheel ratio) is easy to treadle.  However, the rubber band which provides the spring in the brake band is on the wrong side according to current recommendations, though Anne Field was of the opinion that the arrangement I currently have is the correct one!  Certainly it appears to work well, so I’ll leave it for the moment and see how it does when filling up a bobbin.


The traditional way to thread a single through a small orifice is with a feather.  I’m not a fan of feathers, but a pipe-cleaner works well:


The next thing to do with this wheel is to make a nice knob for the brake-band instead of just having a piece of dowel.

And for completeness, the 1980’s wheel restored to original parts with the sliding hook flyer:


I promise that my next post will have yarn.  Actual finished YARN!!!  Now I must get on and do some spinning!

1- British dialect meaning to modify or change something to get it working correctly.  These are often small incremental changes until things are right.  When I’m working on my wheels I feel a bit like someone who owns motorbikes and spends the evenings taking the engine to bits, tuning it up a bit and putting it back together. 

2-Mother-of-All: the bit of the spinning wheel that supports the maidens and flyer.  I think that one day I should make a diagram and write a glossary!


I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog post today, taking pictures and drafting ideas in my head.  Then over dinner there was the sound of running water, just a little and I couldn’t place where, so didn’t worry about it…. until the trickle became a rush and water was pouring out of the under-sink cupboard!  It turned out to be the u-bend, so I threw some towels at the spill and otherwise ignored it until I got the children into bed.

Anyway, I’ve managed to fix it!  It appears that the adjustable u-bend (that was put in a couple of months ago) adjusted itself to its lowest position and then slowly failed.  I had to take the u-bend off completely (it was fortunately very clean as I cleaned it last night), fish washers out and then work out how it all was supposed to go back together.

I’ve got it back together.  It doesn’t appear to be leaking!  There’s a part left over (I’ve no idea where it went but it didn’t seem to help wherever I put it)!

I’ll write the planned post in a few minutes, when I’ve recovered with some chocolate and a mug of tea! Mug

Project Control

Today I realised that I need to get control of both my fibre stash and my works in progress.  I wanted to see what soybean fibre would look like blended with some dyed BFL.  It took me half an hour to find the soybean fibre – tucked away in a suitcase that I thought was empty!  I try and avoid storing things in my suitcases because it makes packing, which I don’t enjoy doing, an even bigger chore.

On Sunday and last night I spun up the seven batts of Shetland and mohair into a coreless core-spun single.


I would like to see what this looks like plied with a thread and I want to spin a fine single for this.  I have a number of wheels I could use, but one of the best for the job is the Traditional with the lace flyer.  Sadly all three of its bobbins are currently full of Shetland and soybean fibre, of which I only plied a little during the TdF.

So, tonight, I’m going to do some long overdue plying and try and finish some yarn I’ve been making for well over 2 years…