I’ve been diving through my stash in preparation for the Tour of British Fleece which starts on Sunday. I’ve think I’ve got all my fibre together (with the exception of some Teeswater locks that I’d like to use but are currently in the bottom box of a five deep stack of 64 litre boxes – with other craft supplies topping off the stack). I’m considering my spinning plan and contemplating dyeing the fibre prior to spinning it. I’m also wondering what I shall make from this yarn (at the moment a caplet is my top thought).

The picture shows the supplies I’ve gathered so far, some from my stash and some I’ve purchased specifically. I won’t be using all this (I have multiple bags for Suffolk, Jacob and BFL ) I just need to decide which I’m using and how much of each. There is also a bag of dyed Leicester Longwool locks, but I’m not going to use them (please pretend they are the missing Teeswater in a different colour).


My running order at the moment is:

Stage Date Fibre
1 Sunday 6th Black Welsh
2 Monday 7th Blue Faced Leicester
3 Tuesday 8th Cheviot
4 Wednesday 9th Jacob
5 Thursday 10th Teeswater with BFL
6 Friday 11th Whitefaced Woodland
7 Saturday 12th Suffolk
8 Sunday 13th Romney

I won’t be able to spin all the fibre for a caplet in one week – but I have a plan (sort of)!

Having a Play

The sun has been shining, nearly all week! It’s warm and the garden is growing away! I recently bought some pots for the patio, planted up with lovely spring flowers:


Today I spent a whole £1 on my new fibre tool.  A door stop (actually there were two in the pack).

I’ve been seeing rolags everywhere, and I’ve decided it’s about time I had a play!  I don’t have a blending board, but in theory I should be able to do something similar on my drum carder. So I’m going to get my coloured wool out, some sparkle, find some wooden knitting needles and have a little play with my drum carder to see what I can do.

What do I need the door stops for?  Theoretically they are pushed down the side of the main drum to hold it still while I’m making the rolags, but if they don’t work then I’ve got a couple of useful door stops!

Taking Stock

January is a good time to take stock.  In my case it’s my handspun yarn.  I seem to be developing a bit of a stash.  Small lengths, longer lengths, different fibres, thicknesses and techniques.

Hand Spun

So, my January crafting resolution is to use my handspun!  I need to catalogue my yarns (work out their thicknesses and lengths) and then find suitable projects for them.

I don’t think I’m going to manage to stop spinning, but I’ll aim to use more handspun than I’m actually creating!

At the end of the year I’ll review my progress (and hopefully have a few finished objects to show!)


I love sunsets, they are so fleeting yet spectacular while they last. I take a lot of pictures of sunsets. Here’s a selection from the last few months:


This week has been good for sunsets (we’ve had clearer skies than we’ve had for a while and some lovely warm September days). I’ve been wondering if I could use a sunset as the inspiration for a yarn.

It’s quite a common practice for a picture or an object to be the inspiration for a yarn. It’s the approach taken in Creative Spinning.  It’s also the approach I took when designing and spinning my Doctor Who yarn.  The structure, the colours and even the materials chosen to create the yarn can all be inspired in this way.

But how abstract can the yarn be? I could select colours that are in the sunset: gold, red, peach colours as well as blues and greys, then blend these together to produce a marled yarn. From a distance it could look fairly brown or beige (depending upon the strength and balance of the colours selected), but up close the colours would be obvious and give a pleasing depth to the final piece.

Alternatively, I could keep the colours more distinct, and produce a yarn that gives more of the appearance of the sunset when it is made into a fabric, but would still be very abstract and would be moderately uniform over the whole piece (like a fragment of the sky repeated over and over).

Finally, I could try and capture the whole sky from dark blue furthest to the east to peach and pale blue nearest the western horizon, with the reds, golds and greys of the clouds illuminated by the setting sun. This could be a yarn that contains a picture that’s revealed when it’s turned into a fabric.

I like the final idea. A yarn that when it’s woven or knitted could be an impressionist’s painting of a sunset, made with wool instead of paint.

I did some dyeing a few days ago. I used Sugarflair (artificial food colour) on white Blue Faced Leicester. I think the ball at the front contains many of the colours of the sunset. A starting place for my sunset yarn (the idea is likely to brew for a while, not least until I’ve cleared some works in progress off my wheels).


Day, ermmm… not sure… of the TdF

What I do know is that there are just two days and a few hours left, and I’ve got a lot of work still to do if I’m going to hit all my aims.  Actually, if I’m honest here I’m not going to manage everything at this point.  What I want to do now is identify my main focus and concentrate on that.

Well there are two things, firstly I said I wanted to spin on all my wheels.  Well, at the start of the tour I had six wheels.  I’ve spun on six wheels.  However, I now have seven wheels and my Haldane Lewis is feeling neglected!

The second thing I really want to do is make the “bowties are cool” yarn.  I have a plan that if I make enough yarn I could make a nice shawl, with bows along the lower edges.  I suspect I won’t have the length of yarn for that, but I won’t know until I try.  Anyway, to make the yarn I really need some bowties.  I’m making them out of felt and spinning short coordinating lengths of yarn (I’ll spin these on the Lewis) to finish them off and attach them to the core-spun yarn.

Last night I checked out some potential colours for the bowties:


Then I had a go at the felting.  I really don’t have any skill at making felt.  Usually when handling wool I’m treating it very gently so as not to make it felt.  But when I try and make felt, I find it takes quite a lot of effort.  Last night’s attempt was not 100% successful – the Angelina (sparkly nylon) I added formed a resist layer between two felted layers of wool.  I’m hoping that once I’ve rolled the felt it’ll be ok.  But I want to make a second piece in different colours and roll them at the same time.  So, I’m going to go and do that now otherwise this yarn isn’t going to be spun this weekend!

Time Travel on Days 13 to 15 of the TdF

Today’s lesson – when grabbing my camera from the desk in my study, make sure it’s got the memory card in it and I’ve not left it in the card reader slot in my computer. So some of the photos on here are from the camera on my phone (which fortunately goes everywhere with me).  But before I talk about today I need to catch up on the TdF.

On Thursday (day 13) I continued with plying the Shetland/Soybean blend. It’s not finished yet but I did make some progress. Yesterday (day 14) I managed to get to 11pm without doing any spinning. In the end I fancied something calming and soothing so sat at my Dryad and continued spinning the Falkland tops.

Today is day 15 and was Creating Space.  I took spinning, drum-carding and felting to do. I’m not sure why I thought I would manage to do all of these things in about 6 hours (with time for lunch) but I’ve always been an optimist.

I wanted to make a start on the “Bowties are cool” yarn. My plan is to have felted bowties and the yarn itself to be core-spun. I started work on making some batts. Initially I fished out the colours and fibres I wanted to use and put them together and looked for some pictures of the Time Vortex from the new Doctor Who series (I personally like the vortex for the 10th Doctor, so this is where I concentrated my efforts). Then, uncertain of what I was going to do. I drank some tea and did some spinning:


I then had another look at the pictures and my fibre and made some decisions, which resulted in four piles of fibre:

piles of fibre

I drum carded each of these.  I didn’t manage to cram all the fibre onto the carder, so I now have a pile of left-overs.  After a single pass I was starting to doubt my plan:


So I split each of the batts into four and recarded into four new batts (thus combining the first batts).  The result is four Time-Vortex batts:


Next step – felted bowties.


I’ve been playing with colours of fibre (wool, bamboo, trilobal and angelina) and have some possible ingredients for “Bow Ties are Cool”:


I’m not planning on using these proportions though.  I’m thinking of a base of dark colours with brighter colours acting as highlights.  I may also need to add or take something away.  Looking at the photo the fibres I’ve chosen are very smooth – I think I need some texture in there too (perhaps the rest of the Leicester Longwool locks)?

Anyway, this looks like it will be fun!


My life has definitely been full of challenges over the last couple of years (they’ve not been fun, but I think I’m stronger for them).  However, I have two challenges coming up that I’m really looking forward to.

Firstly, I’ve been invited to be a guest blogger on the Creating Space blog.  When I write here I’m talking about my creative journey (and sometimes I manage to discuss techniques and my wheels).  To write on someone else’s space I need to think about the readers there and write something that reflects the group (rather than just me).  This will mean that I have a slightly different focus from when I write here, but I’m looking forward to meeting the challenge.  When I’ve worked out what I’m going to write, written it, and the post has gone live, I’ll post a link here 🙂

Secondly, I’ve signed up for the Ravelry Tour de Fleece (TdF).  This is an annual event that runs while the Tour de France is on-going.  I’ve joined two teams: Ashford UK Spinners and Team TARDIS.  The objective is to spin everyday that the Tour is running – with two rest days and a challenge on the day of the hardest stage.  I’ve been trying to keep my aims low-key to fit with my current situation.  So here they are:

  1. Spin everyday!
  2. Do some spinning on all of my wheels!  Not everyday obviously, but I should do some spinning on each of my wheels by the end of the TdF.
  3. Spin a fun Doctor Who inspired art yarn.  I intend to learn a new technique while doing this.  I may spin something inspired by “Bow Ties are Cool” or “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey”, but I may do something entirely different :-)  Yes, it is a bit silly, but it’ll be fun, I’ll learn and perfect a new technique and I’ll end up with a scarf that I can wear to an SF Convention should I ever make it to one!
  4. Finish off any languishing projects.  I have a number on both wheels and spindles.  On my wheels this is an achievable goal but on my spindles I hope to make progress.

Once I’ve finished the “in progress” projects I have quite a lot of fibre all lined up for projects.  I have 10oz of carded Soay-cross fibre that I need to spin into a yarn for a shawl, plus a number of hand-dyed tops and a multi-coloured merino top.

The TdF is often a chance to de-stash a little.  However, I’ve been so overcome with enthusiasm for art yarns since my success with the Wild and Independent yarn and scarf, that I’ve ended up ordering more stash!  There’s lots of sparkle, un-combed fleece and also some bamboo and wool tops from different breeds for me to try.  As you can see I didn’t even manage to contain my enthusiasm to a single order:


The TdF starts next Saturday (29th June) and runs for three weeks. I’ll update progress on Ravelry and Instagram daily and post regular, but not daily, updates here.  Wish me luck!


I’ve just been scrabbling around in my stash looking for a particular ball of yarn.  I have a plan for it and I’d like to try a little sample.  While I was sorting through the six large boxes of stash that lurk under the stairs, I knocked the top of a hatbox (containing drum carded fibre all ready for another project) and stuffed in with the fibre was a large bag of dried lavender flowers.  I’d been looking for that before Christmas.  I bought it during the summer and knew I’d put it in with my stash (it may as well be deterring moths while being stored) but then I couldn’t figure out where in my stash I’d popped it (I thought it was with some fibre stashed under the bed).

While writing this I’ve realised that I’ve got quite a lot of stash (under the stairs, under the bed, fleece in the garage and utility room) and quite a bit of craft equipment dotted around the house (in my “study” equipment is contributing to the problem of accessing my book shelves and I have two spinning wheels in the bedroom).  It’s rather lovely to be surrounded by the means and the supplies to make things.  All I need to add is inspiration and time!


Getting distracted

Today some new reeds arrived for my new 24” rigid heddle loom.  Have I mentioned my new loom? Here it is, being put together a few weeks ago:


An additional reed for my 16” loom also arrived.  With two looms empty my mind turned to getting the next projects on them, so I fished out my boxes with my “weaving” yarn in (I don’t think I’ve got a good criteria for it being weaving yarn – just that I think it’s more likely I’ll weave with it than anything else).

I played around with some colours together (I’m thinking cushions for the lounge) but wasn’t feeling inspired.  Then I spotted some “knitting” yarn in another box and my tricot hooks/needles (are they needles or hooks? nooks?  heedles?), and before I knew what was happening I was running up a quick sample (and liking it).

So, that’s one scarf in tricot from chunky eco wool in various subtle colours in the queue.  The weaving’s still on the starting blocks.

I’m also liking this Sherlock Hat in the latest edition of Knitty.