One, Two, Three, Four!

Harriette has been complaining that she’s not been doing any modelling work. In fact it’s so long since she last modelled anything that she’s forgotten when she last did some. She’s currently stood in my study with some hand-dyed skeins of yarn draped around her and she says that I should either do something with them or put them away as she’s not a hat stand (technically she’s a clothes stand – shush, best not tell her).

Sadly I didn’t think to cater to Harriette’s aspirations when taking pictures of my first object. I think I was too busy making patterns with it! It’s a scarf and I finished it in the run up to Christmas.





The yarn is handspun blue faced Leicester and bamboo that I carded into batts to make a gradient coreless core-spun yarn.

Over the Christmas/New Year period I finished plying some polworth yarn. I threaded both plies with beads and used the intermittent coils technique I learnt on Sarah Anderson’s course. My coils improved as I went along (my hands got better at controlling and moving the twist and coordinating with my feet!) but when I do another intermittent coiled yarn I’ll put more twist into the singles. I haven’t yet decided on a destination for this, or what technique I’ll use for it.


During the summer I spun up some alpaca and bfl. In October I started spinning up some merino and seacell and last week I finally finished the spinning and started plying them together. Even at the last moment I wasn’t sure that plying them together was the thing to do, but as the colours have gone onto the bobbin I’ve been pleased with the result. I’m surprised that two very strongly coloured singles are making a paler more subtle plied yarn. I’m interested to see what the finished skeins will be like.



Finally, I’m still working on the knitted shawl it’s been quite a few places with me, including a beach at the end of October while the children dug big holes in the sand.


While at the beach I took the opportunity of going for an early morning walk and taking some photos. Here’s sun, sea and sand just after dawn:

sun and sea


Harriette is really keen that I finish the shawl soon, so we can go outside for a bit and get some nice photos that include her. She’s hoping to see some daffodils.

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).

Goldilocks and the Three WIPs

A long time ago I spun two different dyed tops of Shetland and plied them together.  But then I didn’t really like it enough to knit with.  At the last Creating Space I took it out and discussed the options: knit it, weave it, over-dye it (I really didn’t like the colour) or spin something else to weave with it.  I decided on the last option and grabbed some blended bamboo and merino tops to see if I could spin this using the coreless core spinning technique:


However, once home I decided I quite liked the variation of colour in the Shetland yarn and didn’t want to lose that by weaving with something else, but I still didn’t fancy knitting it.


So I worked out how much yarn I had and calculated that this was enough for a woven shawl.  I warped the loom with the larger skein and I’m weaving with the shorter skein.


I have a third small skein, which is the result of plying one of the leftover singles with itself.  This is proving to be ideal to add a small amount of detail to the weaving in the form of Danish medallions (these look fiendishly complicated but turn out to be delightfully easy and I can see lots of ways to use them in my weaving…)




The third WIP is a Bouclé yarn.  I’m using BFL for the core and binder with Mohair to form the loops, all dyed with the same colours.  I’ve spun the core and I’m working on the mohair single.  So far I’m not enjoying spinning the mohair, so I’m having to do this in small doses.


So where’s Goldilocks?  Well, sometime ago I mentioned that I was running out of space on my blog, but that a larger package was too expensive.  When my account came up for renewal I emailed the company at about 9:30 one evening and asked them if there was anything they could suggest.  About fifteen minutes later I got a reply with an alternative package.  When I accepted this offer they sent me an invoice describing it as the “Goldilocks Special” account.  A few minutes later I received another invoice with a more sensible name – but I much prefer the original!

Learning a New Skill on Christmas Day

On Christmas day (nearly 3 weeks ago!) I was very lucky to be able to spend the early morning and the end of the day with my children, but have a few clear hours to myself in the middle of the day.

Last year we had the same arrangement, so I had a cycle ride and watched Doctor Who.  This year I decided to learn a new skill.  Buoyed up with Christmas Cheer and on a sugar high from the Turkish Delight I decided to learn to warp up and weave on my new Inkle Loom.

I got the loom on the table and took off the side.  I emptied out my “weaving” yarn stash and chose a couple of yarns.  Then, with my book open at the right page, I started warping up.

Part way through my first attempt I realised that the yarn was supposed to go through the heddles, so I undid the warp and started again.  At the end of the second attempt I was happy and put the side back on.


However, I quickly realised there was no way I could select both sets of threads independently.  I’d managed to put the heddles onto the wrong warp threads.  So I carefully unwound the warp and warped up a third time.

By now I’d got a reasonably rhythm going.  On the second warping attempt I’d added drawing pins by the first peg to hold warp threads when switching colours. I’d also discovered that the tension bar would move, so I needed to keep an eye on it while warping and move it back if necessary.  Finally, I’d realised that putting the heddles over my left wrist, ready for use, made the process much quicker.


This time I got it right:


I wove a small header with waste yarn (this is normal practice with a table loom, but I don’t know if it is with an inkle loom).  Then I switched to using the same yarn as for the warp.  I don’t have a belt shuttle (which incorporates a bevelled edge for beating the weft), so I used a small stick shuttle to carry the weft and a metal ruler with a bevelled edge for the beater.

I haven’t had any time since Christmas to continue with the weaving, but I’m hoping to make this into a belt (I don’t like leather belts and struggle to find alternatives, so this is a perfect first inkle project).


It was lovely getting to know the loom.  By each peg I discovered a pencilled label, giving the order the warp should go on.


Learning a new skill was a great way to spend some of Christmas day!

Mission Impossible

At this time of year the sun has barely risen before it is setting again, making project photography very difficult.  Today I have resorted to desk lights and daylight bulbs to take some pictures.  At other times I have boldly sneaked a finished skein of yarn into the local botanic gardens and taken pictures “on location” in the greenhouses.

However, the short days and low sun provide other opportunities.  It’s possible to see many more sunrises and sunsets than usual, and sometimes the light can be very warm and golden, making for lovely views.  In the last couple of weeks there have been some spectacular sunrises and sunsets, stretching across the whole sky. I was also very lucky to catch a parhelion, also known as a sundog (though according to atmosphere optics they are quite common).




So, other than watching the sky and feeding swans, what else have I been up to?  I’ve briefly had the sewing machine out and made something small to include in a Secret Santa swap (and as it’s secret that’s all I’ll say for the moment).  I had a dye session on Friday and a day out spinning at Creating Space yesterday.

I dyed kid mohair and BFL in the same colours, with the intention of making a bouclé yarn.



I also dyed Southdown (in blues and greens, though I’m not enamoured with the result) and Finnish (in pinks and reds).  The Finnish is lovely, very similar feel to the BFL, but a little less silky.  The Southdown is bouncy like the Dorset Horn.



Yesterday I spun my daughter’s wildcarded batts into a thick single.  I then carded three colours of Corriedale together and spun these into a thick single for plying.  Last night I decided I’d add to the experiment and threaded beads onto the thin single.




I’ve started to do a spiral ply with these, and can now appreciate the advice to use a commercial thread when adding beads.  Once added onto the single, the beads grip fairly well and are very heavy.  I only need a moderately weak spot in my single and I’ll have a scattering of beads all over the floor!

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!

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:




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?

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…

A Great Wheel and Coreless Core Spinning

Though not coreless core spinning on a Great Wheel!

Some of the mohair I mentioned in my last post was carded into two batts with some natural white Shetland.


I then corespun this without a core (the core is made while spinning, just moments before it is wrapped in fibre):


This has become my entry into the Ashford UK Spinners (AUKS) “First Challenge” on Ravelry.  It’s been a year since AUKS was born and we now have well over 300 members.  To celebrate our first year in existence Elaine (one of the group’s moderators) has worked very hard to organise a spin-along with some fantastic prizes.  The challenge was to have a first go at spinning something, be it a new technique, a new tool or a new fibre.  This was the first time I’ve spun with mohair and my first ball of coreless core spinning.  It’s been lovely seeing what other members have chosen to spin, and this week pictures of the final skeins have started to be posted.

I still had most of the mohair left, so while at Creating Space a few days ago, I handcarded that into clouds too.  I added some glitter and started drum carding again.


Which I finished off with a late night carding session.


All ready for my next coreless experiment!

While at Creating Space I had the wonderful opportunity to try spinning on a Great Wheel.  She’s called Catherine (after St Catherine the patron saint of spinners) and belongs to the Guild of Longdraw Spinners.


I’m concentrating very hard (thank you Norma for the opportunity and the photo):


I’m now wondering if I should get a quill for one of my wheels!