Spindle spun Blue-Faced Leicester

Firstly a quick update.  In my last post I mentioned that my phone was languishing in a bag of rice.  I don’t know if it made a difference, but my phone survived. Hurray!  Here’s the stash:


Now, onto the Blue-faced-Leicester.  I dyed the tops at the start of this year.  You can see me starting to spin it in January.  So, after months and months of spindle spinning (not constant spinning, only occasional spinning) I’ve plied together two spindles worth and have a lovely skein of yarn.

The singles:


I made a box lazy-kate.  It’s “designed” to take the spindle or knitting needles (I slid the first spun cob onto a knitting needle).  The spindle occasionally fell out as the cob was unwound, but the knitting needle worked brilliantly.  I’m keeping my free lazy-kate for future plying projects.


I plied over a couple of evenings on my Dryad wheel.  The second cob had a lot more yarn (by length, not necessarily by weight) so I finished off by Andean plying (I didn’t get into too much of a tangle and at one point discovered that the bed-knob at the bottom of the bed was a great holder for the resulting bracelets of yarn).


Sadly, it’s November.  It gets vaguely lighter at about 8am and is dark again by about 4pm.  The last few days have been ones where the lights have stayed on all day in the house.  Even at noon.  So in the end I bowed to the inevitable, and photographed the final skein in the warm glow of artificial light:


I may be a little quiet for a week or two – as paid work will take priority. If I do post tell me to stop procrastinating and get on with my proper job Smile.  I’ll be back soon…

Saint Swithin’s Day

Today we went shopping in a field.


Nevermind!  We still had fun at Fibre-East.

It was lovely seeing my friends’ stalls in particular Secret Spinner and FibreTastic at Spindependance and CamiKnitter at Outward Images.

There was sheep shearing (AKA child entertainment).

My daughter’s knitted dress was admired.  I was asked for the pattern and got the details wrong! I said it was “Crazy Waves”. It’s actually the “Crazy Wavy Toddler Dress” from “Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders”.  Here’s my daughter wearing it about a year ago:


I didn’t quite follow the instructions when making it – I decided I didn’t fancy picking up 128 stitches on one side of the waistband and 160 odd on the other! Therefore started by casting on 128 stitches and working 1 row 1×1 rib and 1 row knit for a few rows to give the waist band.

I bought a weaving book that I thought was out of print (I always manage to find a gem on the P&M woolcraft stand!) and a beautiful rim weighted IST spindle (it spins forever!)  My son was shown how to ply on a beautiful Turkish spindle.  However, he was bought a peg loom and as it’s only a week until the school holidays… I can see peg loom bags and scarfs being this year’s summer holiday projects!

As for St Swithin’s Day?  Well I’m pretty sure it’s rained for the last 40 days (at least).  It’s now gone 11pm and so far I don’t think we’ve had a drop…

Finishing yarn

Saturday was spent in good creative company, where I treadled and counted and plied up all of this:


The orange is spindle spun and is noticeably finer than the pink and purple which was spun longdraw on my Ashford traditional.  These yarns were from Shetland tops dyed by me using food colour.

I love the transformation process from fibre to finished yarn.  My singles had been sitting for a long time before being plied, which meant that the twist had “set”.  This means that the singles were not too active (uncontrollably twisty) when plying.  However, if you want to test the freshly plied yarn is balanced, then it’ll kink back on itself even if it’s perfect!

The trick is to either make a sample at the time of spinning the singles, or take a length of the set singles, fold it back, tie a knot then soak the sample in water to reset the twist.  Usually, however, I’m afraid I just look at the plying and guess.  If I’ve guessed incorrectly, I can always put the yarn through the wheel again, either adding or subtracting twist as necessary.

After winding the yarn into skeins and adding ties, the skeins scrunched up into an uncontrollable mess!  Fear not.  A soak in cool water to thoroughly wet the yarn, remove from the water and squeeze out the excess, and there you have it – a beautifully balanced skein (or three)!

For my fellow crafters, who saw my innovative Lazy Kate from knitting needles, for the spindle cobs:  In future I will be adding a wrap of paper round the spindle before I start spinning.  This will aid the sliding of yarn from the spindle to the knitting needle and prevent the catching of yarn on the wrong side of the needle which does make unwinding the wraps near the centre more tricky!

A long time and spinning with my son

Well, it’s been over 2 months since I last posted an update here.  The reason: I moved in August (as you know) and then moved again three months later.  I’m just beginning to catch up with myself. 

In the meantime I’ve continued with the spinning (everything’s currently work-in-progress) and started another knitting project Smile

Recently my son’s been showing more interest in spinning and knitting and so we’ve re-visited the summer fibre project and started spinning the Jacobs wool we dyed and carded.  The other evening I plied it up on the spindle for him (Andean plying with a spindle makes more sense than with a wheel) and we started knitting it tonight.

Pictures are of my son spinning the single:


And of the plied yarn:

spindle spun jacobs

Changing my mind

The fibre I dyed a few days ago is now dry:


However, I’ve now decided that I would prefer to spin these on one of my wheels (perhaps at the next spinning group) and possibly use the resulting fibre to make something like: Semi-Precious.  I haven’t decided yet whether to ply them together or use them individually.

So, I needed something else to spin on my new spindles:


These are also dyed with food dye.  However, this time I’ve used only 1.5 oz of fibre for each so I can use these for smaller projects (perhaps fingerless gloves?).

My spindles have arrived and I’ve been using the heavier one (which is a 1oz spindle) and has a turquoise whorl:

spindle and fibre


I’m still getting the hang of using the spindle.  Initially I found that it wobbled a bit – but that may just be user error because when I get it spinning properly it keeps going smoothly for a long time.  However, I may just have to buy another spindle from one of the recommended uk makers to compare.