It’s been a while!

runs a finger through the dust on the blog heading

Sorry about that!

fetches a feather duster and twirls it in the corners… sneezes!

Since we last spoke there’s been the Tour de France (and the much more interesting Tour de Fleece), I’ve attended two spinning workshops and been spinning, knitting, weaving, attempting to prevent the garden turning into a very wild place, running a code club and generally trying to keep up with two young children…

watches as some fluff bunnies bounce, like tumbleweed, across the bottom of the blog

I hope to catch up on some of that in future blog posts, in the meantime I’d like to show you what I’m currently working on.


It’s my first lace shawl, and I’m knitting it with my own handspun yarn.  Now, I have to admit that I couldn’t remember what fibre this was, but looking back at my blog, it appears to be some Blue Faced Leicester I dyed and spun on my Ashford wheel.  I’d been knitting for a few days when I realised that I’d Navaho plied it (I was wondering why the colours had remained separate)!

The pattern is True Romance Shawl by Juju Vail which was in Mollie Makes a few months ago.


I’ve really enjoyed knitting it so far.  I got a huge buzz of satisfaction from fixing a mistake, two rows after I made it, without needing to tink back.  I’d skipped a yarn-over then added one at random a few stitches later.  I’d also made the yarn-over on the wrong side of my marker for the centre stitch (which added to the confusion and may have contributed to the mistake in the first place).  Anyway, with the aid of a crochet hook I created a new yarn-over and dropped the extra one, and after a couple of rows the mistake was invisible!  The lace is lovely and simple to work, but defies the placing of markers to make counting easier.


jumps as a HUGE spider runs across the blog

Wow, that really was a big spider!  Did you see it?  I should probably go and get a glass and some cardboard and pop it outside, but I think I’ll leave it as a guard spider to scare the hackers who are constantly trying to discover my password.  Good luck to them I say! Most of the time I can’t remember it myself!

Anyway, Harriette my assistant is delighted I’m writing this blog post and is encouraging me to finish the shawl quickly so she can model it before it gets too cold and wet for a photoshoot in the garden!

So, TTFN until next time (and I promise I’ll try and come back much sooner).

Perhaps it’s a Thneed?

I’m about to cast-off the thing I’m knitting and I still don’t know what it is!  So perhaps it’s a Thneed, though I don’t believe I used any tufts from the Truffula Tree when I carded up the fibre* (I included some bamboo though, which is perhaps similar?)

After what has felt like days and days stuck inside while the rain has pelted and the wind has howled, the sky was beautifully clear and blue this morning, so we took the chance and went for a walk.  I think we were not the first as the ducks were distinctly unimpressed by our stale bread offerings.  However, there was a pleasant walk near water with coots, a great crested grebe, ducks and swans.  There was also a warm bird-hide where we were able to watch birds feeding, various tits including a marsh tit and even a brief glance of a woodpecker (though I couldn’t, with any certainty, say which type it was).




On Instagram I’m taking part in a challenge (with the tag #katkatyarnpadc) to post a picture everyday to a themed prompt.  It’s surprisingly difficult to take a picture that fits a prompt, so I’m interested to see how I do through January. Today’s challenge was a close-up (I took a lot of pictures before choosing one to post – so this is slightly different from the one on Instagram).


I shall finish off the Thneed and wash and block it, perhaps when I’ve done that I’ll know what it is!

*My children are of an age where I’m regularly reading the Dr Seuss books.  This may explain a certain amount of silliness!

Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No, it’s…

Ermmm… It’s, ermmm… Oh! I don’t know!

The yarn I was making from wild-carded batts, that I started spiral-plying with added beads, is now finished.  While plying I had a couple of breaks in the thin single carrying the beads, but luckily I didn’t end up with the beads all over the floor!


I started knitting it (planning a lavender filled cushion for my daughter), but then she said it didn’t look pretty enough, so I undid it and started again.  Now it’s looking much prettier, but not much like a fabric for a cushion.  I’m now more than halfway through the ball of yarn, making a very pretty fabric with a nice drape, with no idea of what it’s going to become!

Here it is shortly after I started re-knitting it:


I shall continue knitting and hope that I work out what it is before I cast-off.  Otherwise it’ll become my first piece of hand-spun, knitted art, in the form of a wall-hanging!

Crafty Kits

Christmas has been and gone (Merry Christmas everyone) and one of the things I did was to make craft kits for the children.  I’m delighted with how these came out.  I started by dying up some yarn.


I added some undyed yarn into the packs too.  My daughter had a french knitting doll and my son had a set of bamboo needles.



Sadly, my daughter quickly lost interest on this occasion, but once my son was steered away from big knits like a scarf and had decided on a blanket for a teddy, he was away. I cast on for him and every so often I catch any dropped stitches and get the stitch count back down to the starting number. The mistakes are now happening less often and his knitting is neat and even.  In the near future we’ll be casting off this teddy blanket.


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:



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.

An Introduction and 3 Finished Objects!

Firstly, I’d like to introduce Harriette.  She’s my new assistant and will be modelling finished articles on my blog.  Within hours of starting her new job she was demanding a new hand-sewn skirt – so I suspect she may be trouble!!!  Anyway, here she is modelling the first of my finished objects (and also the new skirt):


This is the Purple Paradise shawl I started weaving in March with hand-spun yarns for both the warp and the weft.  It came off the loom in May.  I’ve finished it off by making a twisted fringe from the warp-ends.  Here I am starting to use the twisted fringe maker on the shawl:


The second finished object is also being modelled by Harriette:


This is a Mobius cowl knitted from my first core-spun yarn.

Finally, I have finished spinning the “Bowties are Cool” Doctor Who inspired yarn.  This isn’t being modelled by Harriette as she objected to juggling the three large skeins.  So instead I’ve draped them on the back of a chair.  However, I hope this gives an idea of the scale of this yarn, which is fairly light (being core-spun) but very bulky:


It’s been a nice few days finishing off knitting, weaving and spinning.  But as you’ve probably noticed I still have lots of active projects I really must get on with (though I’m very tempted to immediately cast on a shawl with the bowties yarn)!

Beaded knitting

I’ve started to add the beads to the cowl.  It was quite difficult to know where to start and how to place them.  Should I place them randomly or in a pattern?  I’ve decided to place them in regular pattern because it’s very difficult to create a truly random design.  As I’ve not added the beads onto the yarn already I’m adding them by using a very fine crochet hook to slide the bead onto the live stitch.

Beyond this current round I’ve not made any further decisions.  I’m designing this as I’m knitting it, making it up as I go along.  I’m enjoying the freedom.  There is however one catch: if I make a mistake it’s likely to remain as the yarn doesn’t really like being unravelled.


Finish, start, start!

Sometime ago I dyed some Blue Faced Leicester, hung it up to dry, made the tops into a chain and then started to spin it.  It’s finally finished.  I decided to Navaho ply this and created two skeins.  In total there are about 490 yards:


As I’ve finished lots of projects recently, it’s time to start some new ones.  First I’ve started to spin the last batch of BFL I dyed – this is the pinky-orange tops as a single:


I’ve also started to knit a Moebius cowl:


This final project is being knitted in some Rico Poems yarn.  I bought the yarn because it was in a lovely range of colours and then put it in my stash until I found a project worthy of the lovely yarn.  At least I thought the yarn was lovely until I got it out and tried to use it.

I tried Tunisian crochet with it, worked a few stitches and noticed that the yarn was twisting up, so decided that knitting it would be best.  I rewound the ball and put it into my work-basket. 

A few days later I realised that this was a mistake, the ball was starting to come apart.  I tried to rewind it, then put it into a plastic zip bag for sorting out later.  Later came while staying at my Mum’s.  I fished the yarn out and asked to borrow the ball winder. 

At this stage the ball decided it was going to be two balls, with random loops of yarn in between and twisting around.  It took two knitter’s about half an hour to tame the run-away ball into two neat re-wound balls.

I decided that the new project would be a Moebius cowl.  I found the instructions and a long cord for my needles and cast on (and on).  The cast on was lovely and easy, but the next row was hard work.  However, after a very long time I got through it (though noticed that the yarn was fluffing up from the work, which was surprising for a sock yarn).  Undaunted I’ve carried on and now it’s starting to look rather lovely However, I did notice I had managed to knit two stitches together at one stage, now fixed by dropping the stitches down a few rows and re-working them back up.  The yarn is also still twisting up really badly and periodically I hang the loop of knitting down and gently untwist it (one time I untwisted a little too far and the yarn drafted apart).

I’ve decided after all these problems that this cowl is going to have to look gorgeous.  In addition to the colour I think it needs something glittery, so I’m going to add beads.  What could possibly go wrong (it’s the first time I’ve added beads to knitting)?

Sparrow Wings

I’m lucky with the spinning; if I finish a yarn I don’t want to use, then I know plenty of people the yarn can be passed onto.

When I finished my BFL I knew that I didn’t want to make anything for me with it.  The yarn was lovely and everyone else loved the colour.  So I gave it my mum.  In no time at all she’d knitted a mini-wingspan with it:


She cast-on half the number of stitches specified in the pattern and worked until the yarn had almost run out.  She then worked an i-cord cast-off on the neck-edge of the resulting shawlette.

We love the way the pattern shows off the subtle colour variations in the yarn.