Today I stood in the kitchen and I could see two jobs to do next.  Either I tidied and cleaned the lounge floor or I cleaned the fluff from my drum carder.  Before I’d really thought about it I’d picked up the drum carder cleaning brush…

My daughter (almost 4) has been asking about the drum carder for a bit, and seeing me clean it she was again asking questions about how it worked.  So, we went and found my box of fibre scraps and some suitable fibre for holding it all together (I chose some silver-grey Haunui fibre) and we had a play.

We chose colours together.  Then I cut up some leftover handspun yarn – this was a first for me!  I wrapped the yarn around a book, then cut it into short lengths.


We carded up a batt – but my daughter thought it was a little too subtle, so we revisited the colour selection, making three piles of fibre to drumcard into batts.  By this stage my daughter was very engaged with the process and happily turned the drum carder while I prepared fibres and fed them on.  She also issued instructions about the colours and fibres that should go on next.  We made glitter and cut-bit sandwiches (with thin layers of fibre for the bread) for the drum carder to eat (the large drum is apparently the drum-carder’s tummy!).  We ended up with four batts.


At the moment I’m not sure what I’ll make with these (or even how I’ll spin them), but I’m sure they’ll end up being made into something for my daughter.

Fractal Spinning Dorset Horn

My oldest is off school sick today – so I’ve just been showing him the blog I keep (I think this is the first time he’s seen it!)  He asked me how long it is – so we had a look – and the first posts were nearly 5 years ago!  Eeeek!  I think a Blog Birthday Party will be in order in a few weeks time!  Anyway, while he’s now occupied making paper snowflakes (I think he’ll be ok for school tomorrow), I shall quickly write this post…

On Friday evening I decided to start spinning the Dorset Horn.  It’s very squishy and I’m thinking it’ll make a nice hat.  I love the colours that this top ended up, but I’d like to see them jumbled together, so I’ve decided to spin this as a fractal.

Doesn’t that sound scary?  Let’s use a complicated maths term for a really simple technique (this I find is the way of lots of things, the more complicated someone has decided to make something sound, the simpler it is in reality)!  All this term means for spinning is that the colours in each single repeat at a different rate.  The tops are split into wide, medium and thin strips and these are then spun and plied as normal.  The singles resulting from the thin strips of top have shorter lengths of each colour than those in the medium and thick lengths of top.

For this project I’ve split the top widthwise into one-third and two-third lengths.  (Actually, I split it into halves initially, realised my mistake and vaguely reassembled it before making the split in the correct place!)  The longest piece I then split into half lengthwise, and one of those halves got split lengthwise again.

I started spinning the thinnest strips first, finishing the first single over just two evenings.


I’ve also found a use for the label!


I may get organised yet!


As I mentioned in my post on Sunday, I was having a dyeing session.  I’ve got into a bit of a routine with the dyeing.  I have four large, deep, roasting pans, that I can fit into the oven in pairs.  The first two are perfect, but the second two need to be put in just the right place, or they don’t fit! (I was lucky finding roasting pans at a sensible price, but sadly I wasn’t able to choose four identical ones).

I prepare the first two pans, soaking the wool in the pan (I use a very small amount of washing up liquid in with the water to aid wetting). Once the fibre is thoroughly wet I add the mixed dyes with vinegar.  I cover the pans with foil then put them into the oven.  I put the oven on at 150 degrees Celsius (that’s about 300 degrees Fahrenheit) and allow the wool to cook for 45 minutes to an hour (the exact time will depend upon how much water I’ve put in the pans). While the first batch is cooking, I prepare, soak and add dye to the second batch.  When removing the first batch I check that the dye solution has exhausted (I gently press a teaspoon down onto the wool to scoop a small amount of water up, I’m looking for completely clear water).  On Sunday one pan, which had a lot of water in, wasn’t exhausted, so I returned it to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.  I then put the second batch in the oven and give them about 45 minutes.  I turn the oven off, leaving the pans in there to cool down a bit, before removing them.  Everything is then allowed to cool down overnight. In the morning I drain the wool and gently rinse it out.

On Sunday I had a range of different wools I wanted to try (none of these I’ve spun with before) and I wanted to explore purple (because I’m finding this a hard colour to obtain with the Sugarflair food colours I use).

I dyed Whitefaced Woodland:


Dorset Horn (which is amazingly squishy):




And Corriedale (as you can see, at this point I’d lost interest in exploring purple):


I’ve decided to try and label things this time


A Very Quick Show and Tell

I’m in the middle of a dyeing session, so this is a quick summary of some finished projects.

First up is a Mobius neck warmer/cowl (I’m not too sure how small it can be and still be called a cowl).  This was knitted in garter stitch from my first coreless core spun yarn and is in Shetland and Mohair:


Second up is the crepe yarn, finally finished.  On the right is the skein I finished months ago, and on the left is the skein I finished a few days ago:

crepe finished

Finally, is some more coreless core spinning.  This time in Blue Faced Leicester and bamboo fibre.  This started as some dyed Blue Faced Leicester tops (not my dyeing).  The colours were perfect and the top looked lovely.  However, try as I might I could not persuade it to draft.  I tried fluffing it, attenuating it, stripping it down… but as soon as I tried drafting it the fibres refused to budge.  In the end I concluded I’d need to card it before spinning it.


I’ve read about breaking tops into parts and sorting by colour to create a gradient.  This is what I started to do, I stripped the top into thin lengths, then pulled these apart.  I sorted them roughly into piles, then sorted through again, until I had seven piles in a range of colours.  However, the piles were not all the same size, so I went through my commercially dyed BFL tops and found two with similar colours, that I added in differing amounts to the piles.  Then I added black gold bamboo (which is a lovely charcoal colour) to provide a consistent base (and tone the colours down slightly) and some contrast colours in bamboo and BFL.  I created 7 batts, on the drum carder, from these piles.  I’ve been spinning them for a little while now, and finished them yesterday:



Micro Blogging

It’s been a ridiculously full couple of weeks.  Gardening, putting holes in walls to fix a mirror, pictures, a light and a curtain poll up, visit to IKEA, visits from and to my mum’s, half term, visit to my solicitor, spinning wheel acquisition, spinning, carding and Instagram!

Ah, Instagram!  I think I’ve fallen for its charms.  I’ve been using it for nearly a year, initially sporadically, then more intensely through the Tour de Fleece and now I find I’m using it nearly every day.  This morning I got back home, the sun was shining and I realised that there are still many flowers in the garden, despite it being November!  So I took Instagram for a tour.  It was lovely photographing so much colour despite the time of year.  I may repeat the process periodically, it’ll be interesting to see how things change through the year.

If you are on Instagram, do look me up, it will be lovely to meet you!  You’ll find me as hasknits

On the spinning front I’ve been working on a number of things.  I’ve got some coreless-corespun currently in progress.  The fibre is BFL and bamboo drum carded together.  I’ve finally finished the second skein of crepe-yarn and I’ve knitted a small Mobius cowl/neck warmer with my fist coreless-corespun.  More details on all of these will follow in a future post (I need to take some pictures!) though here’s a teaser for the BFL/Bamboo:


I’ve also finished my long-term travelling project.  I usually have something on the go on my travel wheel, so I can just pick it up and go to craft meetings and spinning demos.  Often it’s the project I work on when I’ve done everything else I’ve wanted to do!  I think it’s some humbug BFL I dyed, but I’m suffering with my labelling problem again, so it could be something else!  It’s Navajo plied to keep the colour striping: