Year of Projects – week 39/52

I have two finished felted objects I completed this week, and they have separate blog posts with further details.  Felting is so quick to get a finished object, in comparison with knitting and crochet.

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  • I added to my YOP list the felted lampshade, as that was a course I hadn’t expected.  I loved it and have since ordered kits to make lampshades for every pendant light and lamp in the house!!  Oh and I ordered quite a bit of pre-felt, both merino that I am used to, but also some British Shetland wool pre-felt that was slightly cheaper.  
  • The felted tide clock was on my draft YOP list for next year, so I have moved it to this year’s list instead.  It will be ideal for me deciding when to take our dog to the beach (and obviously collect more sea glass after high tide, before others get to it lol).

I also did a post about the Andean plying tool (Handy Andy).  I forgot to mention on that post that the Andean’s used one hand to wrap around yarn in the same way, and that is called an Andean Bracelet.  This  wooden tool is a hand substitute.

Other than that I finished my fair isle hat.  The first time I made a fair isle hat I had to give it to a 2 year old it was so small!  Too tight with my floats!  This is my 2nd fair isle hat and it is pretty loose fitting on my head, my gauge ended up being off, despite doing a swatch.  Oh actually I think the swatch was just stockinette, not fair isle in the round.  Perhaps just an over loose knitting stitch and super loose floats.  Ylva and I went for a walk up the fields behind the house on the 1st day of Spring and managed to spot the first 4 lambs of the year.  Once the sheep and lambs come down from the higher fields, into these lush green ones we won’t be able to walk up them. 

I was debating about a pompom for this hat but have decided to go without.  It goes quite well with this particular coat (I can’t possibly say how many purple or pink coats I have.  It’s like asking a knitter how big her stash is lol!).  I am going to try to make some fingerless gloves to go with it.

As this week marks the end of the 3rd quarter of our Year of Projects, it is time to snapshot where I am up to on my list.  Some new things have been added and one deleted (as I have decided to keep my purple handspun for a larger project than a hat and scarf set).  I have also tidied up the order of items in each section, so the outstanding items are shown at the bottom.  As the days warm up I will be starting to do some dyeing practice, which is my least completed section of my YOP list.

Feel free to skip to the bottom where I talk about some new cast ons.

Wet felting

Needle felting

Spinning

  • Spin all the commercial fibre currently in my stash (for spinning not felting) on Ravelry @ date of posting! ✅
  1. Perpetual purple merino ✅ wk 3
  2. Plum merino and gold bamboo ✅ wk 3
  3. Ethereal ether ✅ wk 8
  4. British 56s ✅ wk 12
  5. Shetland ✅ wk 24
  6. Camel & silk ✅ wk 24
  7. Corriedale poppy ✅ wk 24
  8. Blue Faced Leicester ✅ wk 33
  9. North Ronaldsay humbug (added to list and started wk 31) ✅ wk 33
  • Master chain ply ✅ wk 12 (Himalayan blend chain ply nice and smooth at joints)
  • Create a fractal spun yarn ✅ wk 24
  • Create my own wool and silk blended spin ✅ wk 29
  • Spin first batch of Samoyed dog hair ❇️ wk 6
  • Spin some tweed yarn ❇️ wk 29 attempt with silk flecks
  • Create an official (not accidental) art yarn

Dyeing

  • Dye some of the natural fibre tops and/or homespun yarn from my stash
  1. British 56s ✅ wk 4 and 11
  2. Over dye ethereal ether merino ✅ wk 6
  3. Blue Faced Leicester ✅ wk 26
  4. Samoyed Dog hair
  5. Bamboo
  6. Merino/silk blend
  7. Merino/suri alpaca blend
  8. Corriedale fibre
  9. Portland
  • Dye undyed commercial spun skeins
  1. Cheviot chunky wool ✅ wk 6
  2. Merino silk blend ✅ wk 25
  3. BFL/silk blend
  4. Merino bamboo blend

Knitting

Crochet

  • Make an octopus for a preemie (cotton and hook arrived wk 13)
  • Make a jellyfish for a preemie
  • Get to grips with UK -v- US terms!

Sewing

 
On Thursday I finally cast on my Elda cardigan, but not much to show yet, I’m still on the raglan increase section.  The wool is a blend of Bowmont (a Saxon Merino/Shetland cross) and Bluefaced Leicester (BFLj, so it has a slight Shetland woolliness about it, but softer and has a nice subtle sheen.  I am enjoying it so far.  The Estonian Braid sections are done at the very end, so at the moment its a very simple pattern. 
 
On Saturday, the camera club had a trip up to Wick (almost the top of Scotland) to attend the Highland Challenge.  An annual photography competition between the camera clubs in the Highlands (and Shetland Isles).  The mainland Clubs take it in turns to host it and this year it was Wick’s turn.  Wick is a couple of hours north of us on a single carriageway, mostly coastal road.  Despite knowing I get coach (bus) travel sick I cast on a 4th pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks to continue to knit on the coach there and back!!! 
 
I made a mistake, when knitting on so little sleep and on a bus, so these are now a subtle variation on HES.  On the plus side Dingwall Club won the challenge.
 
 
I wish the Shetland Isles would host the challenge one year, but at a different time of year…I’m thinking specifically to coincide with Shetland Wool Week lol!
 
Google map of where Wick is 😀
 
I have to keep busy to keep my mind from taking me back into depression, so please don’t compare your own outputs to mine.  Everyone has their own things going on, including juggling responsibilities and some battling their own demons.  

If you would like to see what the other YOP members are up to check out our Ravelry group for the links to their posts.
 
 

Andean plying tool aka Handy Andy

As previously mentioned, I won an Andean Plying tool from BritSpin last year. The tool has been handmade by a Mens Shed group in England.

Steps:-

Prep some fibre. (This is some merino and sari silk hackle blending practice.)

Spin a single on either a spinning wheel or spindle.

Wrap the single around the Handy Andy (in the specific way, YouTube videos are better than any written instructions).

Remove the top peg on the tool, so it now looks like just a loop of yarn and put the tool somewhere nearby (I popped it between my knees upside down! No smutty comments please lol.

Take both ends of the single and attach to leading line on the spinning wheel or spindle and spin in opposite direction to create 2 ply.

It will be a good tool for taking on holiday with my spindle. It is pretty lightweight and less bulky than taking a yarn cake winder, which is an alternative way of winding a single into a loop that you can spin both ends of.

It’s Mundane Monday today where I mostly do housework and chores, so this is just a quick practice.

If you’d like me to write more information on how to wrap the single then let me know in the comments.

Dornoch Fibre Fest

This year was the 10th Dornoch Fibre Fest, but my first time attending.

What a wonderful wee festival. Firstly I’ll share a bit about this beautiful wee town.

Dornoch is a beautiful town about 45 minutes north from me.  The town centre is set back away from the sea front, with its beautiful long sandy beaches a short walk from the town centre.  It has the Royal Dornoch Golf Club with 2 x 18 hole courses plus practice holes and even has a teeny tiny airport, which I have only ever seen model airplanes use.  

Here’s a photo of me on one of the beaches at Dornoch last March.

It’s population is only about 1,300 so it is small, but in the summer it is busy with tourists and has a campground and caravan park, numerous B&Bs, some nice old hotels and a charming sandstone oldie worldie feel about the place.  (Random fact – Madonna married Guy Ritchie at Skelbo Castle nearby!)  I did manage to squeeze in a visit to Cocoa Mountain that sells the best hot chocolate.  I had the vegan version with oat milk, but you can have soya milk instead.  The vegan ones are dark chocolate.  The regular cow’s milk version has white and milk chocolate.  They drizzle melted chocolate all around the edge of the mug and drizzling down the side…and oh my its messy but sooo good.  

Back to the fibre fest, which was split across 2 locations; a church hall and the social club.  

Apparently the Saturday was extremely busy with people queueing to get in and out of the church hall.  I was booked on a Fair Isle course on the Sunday morning so I was lucky to be there on the much quieter day, where I really got time to look at things and pick yarns with patterns in mind. 

Our fair isle skills course was taught my a genuine Shetland Islander,  Janette Budge Instagram link.
Ravelry link.
 
Her mother taught her to knit and it was interesting hearing her talk of the days when everyone was knitting and it just wasn’t right to sit idle in the evenings.  And about how when knitting fair isle jumpers for the fishermen they would need to catch all the floats in the arms as the fisherman took little care of their jumpers, but they still lasted well.  Also she explained that there are still people in Shetland that make jumpers for mountain climbers and about famous climbers of Everest wearing Shetland wool jumpers, ideal for their warmth but very lightweight.  She said nowadays she hand-knits the yokes but mostly the plane bodies are machine knit.  She was also telling us about the yoke bag course she teaches and had a lovely example and explained it was a great way of testing a yoke pattern before starting on a whole jumper.   I’ve taken this image from the Shetland Wool Week website of her course.  One year I will go along but the Shetland Isles is a flight away or overnight ferry and accommodation is expensive during wool week due to demand. 

The course at Dornoch was a bargain, only £25 for 3 hours and included 3 colours of Shetland wool.  (Loch Ness Knit Fest courses were £45 and you brought your own wool.)

We were making headbands, but mine is too small for my head (my fault as I should have gone up a needle size when she suggested).  Anyway, I will sew one side and pop some felt in the ends and it’ll be ideal as a DPN project holder, ideal as I have my northeasterly blanket strip that can go in it.  So here it is before its sewn.

I was using some of her enormous length double knitting needles and she lent me her ‘knitting belt’.  This is a belt with a leather pod on it with holes in and stuffed with horsehair.  You put the other end of your right working needle in it.  It worked well and stopped me stabbing myself in the arm.  Overall I will stick to very long circular needles and magic loop, over enormous DPNs.

After the course it was time for some shopping and I had 3 projects in mind…a brioche hat, a brioche shawl and a chunky jumper.

From the Bunloit Woolery stand I bought 6 skeins of the blue for Such a Winter’s Day“; jumper.  I had planned on getting one of the yummy oatmeal type colours, but then thought about dog hair and grubby cuffs on a pale pink jumper I have, so went for this lovely blue.  The pattern called for Worsted Weight, but others have used the same Aran weight yarn for it, so I should be ok.

The bottom 2 yarns are to try Brioche Knots  hat.  They were so helpful and patient with me trying to work out what would work.  (My lovely hand-carved niddy noddy is carved by them.)

New Lanark Wool

From Cookston Crafts  I wanted to get some yarn to make some socks and a brioche shawl, both to go with my Chimney Fire teal cardigan.  After my previous post, an Instagram and Facebook survey it is unanimous that my brioche shawl will be made with the middle ‘Emerald’ ‘60% merino, 20% silk and 20% yak and ‘Crathie’ 60% merino, 20% nylon and 20% alpaca.  So it should have that hint of luxury, warmth and durability.  I haven’t fully decided on a pattern, but I am thinking about Tributary which I managed to get when it was free when launched.  The top skein I’ll make some hermione’s everyday socks I suspect.

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Skybluepink I bought 3 x 100g blends of 67% Bluefaced Leicester and 33% Shetland. Ok so I couldn’t resist the purple!

Kiki’s Craft Corner I bought some Polwarth to try spinning and a couple of bags of Shetland to try to spin some yarn to dye for more colour-work projects,

Last but not least, from Travelling Yarns I thought I should buy a hat kit to make use of my new Fair Isle skills lol.  So I bought the Copper River Hat pattern kit which came with these lovely colours.

The problem is where is all this new stash going to be kept?  I was thinking about buying another big plastic box and then thought a good alternative would be to this week knit up some quick bulky yarn patterns to make some room hahaha!

How I will find time to garden, do laundry, walk the dog or do housework with all these new projects added to my already large Ravelry queue!  All I can think is “Thank goodness I am not going to Edinburgh Yarn Festival”

Year of Projects – week 35/52

With it feeling like Spring I have been doing some Spring Cleaning this week and doing jobs around the house (like cleaning carpets and windows) during times when I would normally do some knitting or spinning.  

Spinning and Knitting

I did do a bit more rolag spinning practice, with rolags I’d made with random bits of leftover fluff.  I thought with the yarn I would do a test version of the Northeasterly blanket, to try out a new increase I saw on someone’s blog.  The pattern says to use M1L and M1R for increases, but they are too fiddly, so I’d gone with Kfb. However, this gives an uneven look, so instead of kfb you do knit front of stitch, leave it on the needle and then slip instead of knitting the back.  This gives a far more symetrical pattern on either side of the centre line.  I don’t think you can tell on this photo, as its dark scraps I used, handy for storing my stitch markers though.  (Fellow YOPers and regular readers…Read under sea glass section below for information about how you can own a set of these markers.  First come first served basis.)

I’m wondering whether to frog my current progress on my real blanket…but then I’m impatient to finish Void and my socks, so I’ll pop the first strip on stitch holders and start a new column and then decide at some future date what to do with the strip I’m unhappy with.  

I am also getting impatient to start knitting a jumper (sweater) or cardigan.  

(I have 2 wonderful project bags from Tatty Designs on Etsy.  One is ideal for shawls and has Void in it, one is for socks and so when she finally made some in Winnie the Pooh fabric I couldn’t resist buying one in the larger size (ideal for jumper projects!).  I love it!)

So I am going to knit a swatch next week in my Cochrane yarn from Ripplescrafts.  I haven’t used this particular yarn before (although I am VERY familiar with her sock yarns).  I have the colourway called Bramble Picking…so of course it is purple…I am so predictable.  The yarn is a blend of Bowmont and Blue Faced Leicester breeds and I think I have decided which cardigan to make, assuming I get gauge on my swatch!  I have a shortlist on Ravelry by creating a Bundle…what a handy function!  The gauge swatch may sway a decision, but at the moment I am thinking the Elda cardigan.  

In the meantime, my wood pigeon coloured socks are progressing.  I got to the end of the gusset decreases on sock one and decided to start sock 2, so that when I knit the foot I can knit them 2 at a time and won’t have to bother counting rows!  This did mean finding the end of the yarn inside the ball and winding it into a cake, so that the order of the colours was correct.  No issue with knots  thank goodness, which had put me off before.

Dyeing

As the weather is improving I have been making plans to start dyeing practice again.  I have some yarn to dye for the Quick Sand cardigan pattern, plus multiple sock yarns to practice with.  So many things I want to knit, its frustrating I am not a quicker knitter.  

Felting 

I made a coin purse this week, which was on my YOP list and I am really pleased with it.  It only used 15g of corriedale wool and some bits of an old purse.  (Now in the US I am aware they call handbags ‘purses’, so not sure what they call things specifically to hold loose change.)  There’s a separate post about it if you’d like to find out more.

It was my felting group on Saturday and instead of taking my wet felting gear I took my needle felting stuff.  No picture yet, as its a surprise for someone and isn’t finished yet!

Sea glass

Earlier this week, I also did a separate post about some more sea glass and shell stitch markers I made, asking for some advice.  

Subsequently, I did another post aimed at my fellow YOPers and other regular readers/commenters of my blog.  It offers you the chance of having a set or two of the sea glass markers for just covering the costs of post and packing fees.  See the comments on that post first, as some have already been chosen and will be heading to Alaska and Arizona this week!  I picked up postage costs leaflet and some small padded envelopes today.  I just need to look up if PayPal take a % for converting currencies.

Drafted ideas for 2019-2020!!!  

There are so many yummy things I keep spotting, so I have already started to draft next year’s list!!!  If you fancy a nosey to see if something you made has inspired me to try to make my own next year.

 

 

Year of Projects – week 34/52

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Knitting

I have finished Lintilla and wore it on a walk on Friday where I didn’t even need my coat it was so mild out!!! In mid-February!!!!   I also wore it all day Saturday.  It doesn’t unwrap itself which is great, even when I was walking and it was blowing a hoolie (Scottish for strong winds).

Some progress made on my Void shawl, but only a little.  On the photo below I have included a black and white image so you can better see the pattern on Void.  Also the marker shows progress since my last photo.  It is hard to photograph as its a dark purple alpaca yarn.  I still have just over 3 balls of yarn left….this thing gets so much wider each pattern repeat; I am not sure I will do it full sized.  I was considering making some wrist warmers and then just making Void as big as the yarn that is left over…we will see.

I did a little more sock knitting and although I still have some concerns with it looking small I am sticking with the same pattern and needle size.  I basically haven’t stuck to the grocery girls sock bash KAL at all…I am just going to try to do one pair of socks a month and they may well all use the same pattern!  I am on the heel flap of the first sock.  I should have split this ball in 2 so I could knit 2 at a time, I can’t use the centre pull for the other pair as I have seen too many yarn barfs on others’ blogs so I am too scared.  So I will have to hope 2nd sock syndrome doesn’t strike.  I think it is going to be tricky getting a perfect pair…but we shall see.  As this is my 3rd pair using the Hermiones Everyday sock pattern, it is well on its way to being mindless knitting.  I rarely need to look at the pattern.  I have made some slight amendments that hopefully I will remember on the 2nd sock.

Spinning

I spun the merino, silk and mohair blend into a 3 ply (chain ply).  It is much harder to keep a consistent width of yarn when woolen spinning from rolags.  Before setting it, a quick check against my gauge showed the yarn as fingering weight in some places and worsted in others!  Hey ho!  It is still wet after setting it, so I don’t have a photo.  Once it is dry I will measure it and take some photos for next week.

Other crafts 

No felting or dyeing this week.  I have spent some crafting time reading the Yarn-i-tec-ture book by Jillian Moreno.  It is about spinning the yarn you want.  I also have some editions of the Ply magazine to read and a blog post I found about tips on spinning sock yarn.

The only other crafting I did was to make some more sea glass stitch/progress markers.  Some are already in my project bags, but these are extra ones I may sell at some point.

So it feels not as productive a week as normal, but I am learning from the book and articles, so it isn’t time wasted.  I just wish I could read and knit at the same time, and apparently some people can spin and read at the same time!!!  With this month’s Audible credit I have bought the Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection read by Stephen Fry.  It is about 70 hours long!  This should help me be more productive around the house and garden than I have been watching box sets on Amazon Prime!

My weight has been creeping up and up over the last couple of years and I’m at my heaviest at the moment.  So yesterday and today I climbed the hills behind our house. There aren’t any sheep in the lower fields at the moment, so Ylva and I walked up 5 steep fields yesterday, and today with my husband we did another couple of steep fields beyond…only to find when we got to the ‘top’ that in fact there were even more steep fields beyond!  One day we will keep going and take a picnic.  My heart rate was in cardio for a far longer time than walking the dog anywhere else, so whilst the sheep aren’t about I will keep climbing.  Here’s a photo taken at the top of the 3rd field yesterday…when I didn’t need my coat!  The water is the Cromarty Firth.

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P.S.  I found my non-slip gel, so slippers from last week are now in use 😁

Year of Projects – week 33/52

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I saw on another blog they were doing ‘Finish it February’…with the aim to complete as many Work in Progress (WIPs) as possible.  I liked that idea and so I have tried to finish some projects off.  (Including clearing out junk.)

Knitting

The pattern for Lintilla advises to start the rippled edge when you have 25% of your yarn left…but I couldn’t be bothered walking a few yards to the kitchen to get scales and try to do some sums and estimate how much my needles weigh etc etc….so, when I’d done as many repeats as Martina’s pattern example I figured that will do and any spare yarn can go on my Northeasterly blanket or some contrasting heels and toes on future socks.  So on Thursday I started the final edge ripple pattern.  This photo was taken before bed on Saturday night and I still have quite a lot more ripples left and then the tip to go.  I must admit I am pretty sure there are a lot of mistakes on the end edge ripples, I kept mixing up which stitches I was doing, but it’ll be fine once its on and it should be bigger when blocked.

I also made some progress on Void and my new longer cable arrived which makes my needles 150cm long, so should be ok to finish it.  No photo as the progress isn’t obvious and I need to switch the needle over to be able to stretch it out. 

I cast on a new pair of socks, this time with West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply, in wood pigeon colourway.  I haven’t used this yarn before and did I bother to knit a swatch to check gauge?  Of course not!  When I finished one cuff I showed my husband, and he  thinks its way too small…I agree it looks much smaller than my ones I have made using the Ripplescrafts sock yarn.  So they are on hold at the moment whilst I concentrate on finishing the shawls.  

 

Spinning

Lots of spinning related activity this week.  

I plied the brown North Ronaldsay yarn and set it.  Mostly traditional 3 ply but a small amount of chain plying done on a bobbin that had a fair bit left.  I really should perhaps weigh my bobbins before plying, to get them more evenly loaded.  I think I may keep this yarn for having a go at weaving with, or perhaps crochet some circles to put under plant  pots around the house.  I like the rustic look, but not sure in a garment…this shade of brown is definitely not my colour for clothes.  It is 138m long and worsted weight.

 

You may have seen, in my previous post, the scarf I wet felted with half of the Bluefaced Leicester fibre I had home dyed.  After some thought I decided to spin the other half into 2 ply yarn.  I did short forward drafting, so it was really smooth and shiny before I soaked and snapped it to set the ply!  Now it has fluffed up, or I think bloomed is maybe the technical term!?!  I am hoping once it is measure I will have enough length to do a hat, if not then I will make some wrist warmers instead…so they can be worn with the scarf I made.

It isn’t measured yet and is very uneven 2 ply, but hey ho who cares when the colours are so pretty!  

I made up some rolags, using the Sugar Plum merino/silk blend fibre from World of Wool and some homedyed Mohair.  The intention being to take them along to the Highland Guild meeting to spin them.  On Thursday when drafting this post I was thinking I can’t be bothered to carry my spinning wheel to the meeting and maybe I would take Void and knit instead. In the end I went without any gear briefly and chatted to a couple of ladies and then headed home to clear out junk from the garage loft.

Felting

My slippers are 95-100% finished!  That makes no sense, you are probably thinking.  The thing is, they are finished except me painting on some dots or squiggles with the non-slip stuff I bought at Loch Ness Knit Fest.  The only problem is, I have no idea where I put the bottle of stuff!!  Doh!!!  So I will have another hunt for the bottle at some point and if I don’t find it then I will just wear the slippers and try not do any crazy dancing in them on the wood laminate floors lol!

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The urge to felt another scarf hit me, so I used the rest of the Winter’s Kiss fibre and some dark green bamboo fibre, I got from World of Wool’s fibre club box.  This is definitely a Christmas/Winter scarf, it has such a lovely sparkle to it, which hopefully you can tell from the bottom right photo.  I also scattered various silk waste in pale and dark greens.  This will go with the others, as potential sale or gift items.  Colours and sparkle are stronger in real life.  

Year of Projects – week 32/52

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Knitting

Well my 2nd pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks are finished!  I am honestly thinking why bother doing other patterns, when this fits my small feet so well (using 2mm needle).  It is more interesting than just vanilla knitting (sockinette/K3P1 on alternate rows).  The pattern was free on Ravelry.  I love this yarn, in electric light it has warm colours and in daylight cool colours!  

I can’t stick to the official Grocery Girls Sock bash KAL rules, as it says 1 x 6” leg pair or 2 shorties a month, and I just want to make 12 pairs of socks this year and don’t want socks that long.  But this month’s theme is cables, so I may still have a go at some cable socks….or may just have another pair like these!  Shall we have a sweepstake on how many pairs end up being this pattern lol!?

Void has soooo many stitches now (about 274 …kept losing count) and I am just finishing the 2nd ball of Rowan Lima yarn and there are 4 more balls of yarn to go (you stop at 404 stitches wide) and my head explodes with thinking how the heck this is supposed to be knit on one circular needle, my current needle is 100cm long and I think I’ll need to order a longer interchangeable cable to accommodate the stitches.  The other issue is how long it takes to knit each row and its just going to keep getting longer….but then I really want it finished as its sooo soft and warm alpaca yarn that feels lovely and I want to wear it whilst its still cold.  Progress since last time is shown by the marker.  I also included a photo of the yarn close up, very unusual construction…but think of all that warm air it will trap…this is going to be so cosy to wear.

 

There’s been some people talking about yarn and needle elitism on Instagram, with many of the most popular YouTubers and Instagram account holders only buying very expensive, indie dyed yarns only for it to sit in a stash that may never get knit with.  My yarn stash is relatively small and very mixed and this Rowan Lima yarn I bought for £3 for all 6 skeins at a local de-stash sale.  I think Ripplescrafts yarn lasts really well and is my most used yarn, but I believe in trying to support Highland small businesses.  

I do ooh and aaah at the beautiful colourways that lots of indie yarn producers post and I see phases of ‘must have’ yarns that you find everyone suddenly using and I’ll admit I was feeling jealous and if I was still working I would probably have bought but have no time to knit with.  But as I have no income and I am spinning yarn myself and have a lot of undyed yarn to practice dyeing myself, I am on a yarn buying freeze!  I haven’t bought any finished yarn since October.  (Only yarn for dyeing.).  

Regardless of how expensive or cheap a yarn is, if the finished object is practical and beautiful then what does it matter?  I am interested to hear your thoughts.

Spinning

I continued to spin the brown North Ronaldsay wool, making more rolags and spinning them long draw (you allow some twist between your two hands whilst moving your hands apart and don’t smooth out the fibres, this makes a warm woollen spun yarn).  I am definitely improving in this method, although I seem to get a sore left shoulder and right knee, as I am not used to this method or position yet!  It is all spun and ready for plying into 3 ply, so I will show the finished yarn next week. 

Felting 

Just to explain, my slipper booties aren’t finished yet so no pic…more on why later.  But after some comments last week I thought I should explain these were felted from Icelandic fibre tops and lined with merino wool tops, so no knitting involved.  

You can make slippers by knitting them first and then felting them, but to me that seems a much longer process than just felting the fibre.  Another option, if you’ve accidentally felted a wool jumper in the washer or tumble dryer then you can use that felted fabric to sew some slippers or gloves!  I have seen YouTubers buying old wool jumpers/sweaters from charity shops/thrift stores and making pairs of mittens, slippers and scarf from one old jumper after they’ve felted it on a hot wash!  Great if you are on a budget.

I did use half of my homedyed bluefaced leicester fibre to make a nuno felted scarf.  Nuno felting is where you felt wool and silk together.  On a blank white silk voil scarf I lay out the fibres in roughly vertical stripes one side and horizontal stripes the other and then put additional coloured locks, tussah silk and silk scraps.  Then felted slowly to allow the wool fibres to go through the silk and felt together.  The result is a very lightweight but warm scarf that can be worn on either side up. 

I know what your thinking…these colours match my new socks lol!  

 

The idea with felting is you lay the fibres in horizontal and then vertical layers, so that when they are wet the barbs on the fibre open up and start to lock together, then I use olive oil soap and friction from bubble wrap and tools made for felting.  I can spend hours on Pinterest looking at the amazing felt creations people make.  

There are so many amazing Russian and Belarusian feltmakers, I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos of felting and even if I don’t understand what they are saying I can see how they are doing things.  Here’s a link to my Pinterest wet felting folder with some ideas I’ve pinned, includes some of my own creations.

Side tracked!

On my slippers…I have tacked the sole to the bottom, but need to properly sew them on, when I work out the right yarn to do that.  I planned to finish them on Saturday, but we drove down to the Cairngorms National Park (about an hour south) and went for a walk around a frozen Loch Morlich in the snow. Nothing to do with YOP but thought I’d share some pics anyway 😀  

It was only -5°C/23°F so nowhere near the low temperatures the USA has been getting.  

Top picture is our dog Ylva on the lochside beach, the photo bottom left there are some people in the distance doing cross country skiing around the loch.  We passed more people on skis than walking, so it is obviously increasing in popularity.  There is hill skiing nearby too.

 

 

If you would like to see what the other YOP members are up to check out our Ravelry group for the links to their posts.

Year of Project – week 30/52

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Well we have finally had some snow fall, all symptoms of my flu have finally passed and I am feeling good.  I have re-signed up for Audible 3 month free trial and on dog walks I’m listening to Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming”, which means we have been doing longer walks to keep listening.  

Fibre work

This week I had fun playing around with my blending board and hackle (that I got for Christmas).

I have done some test sheets of the Icelandic wool with sari silk, this is the fibre I bought to make a waistcoat, but if I don’t like the finish/feel then I will use the rest to make some slippers and use the tests as place mats.

Here’s a pic before it is felted.  (I’ve made 3 and they are in a box with tissue between.)  They don’t look much yet! Finished pics next week.

Below, is a close up of the subtle blues, greens and sparkles I combined using the hackle and then wet felted into a neck warmer.  The sparkles aren’t showing on the photo (Note to self: I really must find a location for photographs that gets the colours and textures right at the same time!).

Anyhoo, those YouTube peeps make everything look so easy.  So I struggled a little pulling the fibre off the hackle in one continuous length, perhaps I over loaded it, but finally found a rhythm.  Like everything it will take practice.

I decided to trim the corners of my neck warmer template and then lay the fibres out in a fan shape at the ends to get the ripples (although again these aren’t clear in the photo).  This was inspired by the BEAUTIFUL felted scarves and wraps that @Woolysquirrel produces and shares on Instagram and sells on Etsy.

 

On Friday I had another go with the hackle and seem to do much better at getting decent sized strips off, but towards the end it was harder and too thin to braid, so I just rolled those into nests instead.  But definitely an improvement.  It is quite magical how you can make a long strip out of short tufts.

Spinning

I finished spinning my rolags and did a chain ply as it was all on one bobbin.  I like the final yarn,  is green taking over from my pink and purple addiction?  I am amazed how much thinner my yarn is than spinning using short forward draw, I thought it would end up chunky but my 3 ply is DK weight.  I need to find an easier way to measure the length of yarn, I tape a measure to the kitchen worktop and measure 100cm and then wind into a ball and repeat.  This ended up 80+ metres and took ages to measure and wind!  The good news is that this is the first yarn I have spun that has the same ‘weight’ in all methods of measurement.  For non-spinners this won’t mean much, but against my yarn thickness measure it showed as DK, the wraps per inch were DK and the Grist puts it in DK…so if all that makes no sense then trust me, it is an achievement I am proud of.  Normally the measurements are all over the place due to lack of consistency in my drafting and spinning.

 

My next spinning challenge is to spin some sock yarn. I bought the online copies of last year’s Ply Magazines.  I couldn’t resist as the winter edition has a lot about spinning sock yarn, so I have been trying to read (and understand) the articles.  There’s mention of totally new plying methods, so I will do some practice trials.  

Knitting

I haven’t done much knitting, mostly I have worked on is my Lintilla, as its soooo easy plus I’ve memorised the pattern…not sure I will ever memorise the rows on Void!

But if you spot the green sea glass marker (where there’s a large pool of purple) you will see in 2 weeks it hasn’t progressed much…perhaps I will switch back to Void as the thicker yarn feels like more progress is made lol!  Do you tell yourself these things?

I had a change of pattern plan on my January socks as I was going to try my first toe up sock, but then decided to do my first knit 2 at a time of a pattern I have already done, but then remembered how quick my sockwunder needle is in comparison to magic loop and so….I have not yet cast on a pair of socks!

Organising

I have, however, been playing with my fibre (and yarn) stash, updating Ravelry stash details (unused 140 fibres and 56 yarns!) and thinking of future designs and uses of my fibre.  I also realised you have to manually move your used stash to the Used Up folder, so I have done that.  My storage boxes have been re-organised and I now have:

  1. ‘To be dyed’ box (fibre, yarn and silk scarves)
  2.  ‘New commercial yarn’ box (excluding scraps)
  3. ‘Rainbow colours fibre’ box
  4. ‘Earth tones fibre’ box
  5. ‘Mixed fibres’ box (locks, silk scraps, nepps, cotton fibre, flax)
  6. ‘Special blends’ box (wooly blended roving and batts)
  7. ‘Bag of silk’ (dyed silk fibre and sari silk scraps)
  8. ‘Bag of alpaca fibre’
  9. ‘Bag of scrap yarns’ 
  10. ‘Bag of handspun yarns’
  11. ‘Bag of the yarn from frogged jumper last week’
  12. Oh and some overflow small cardboard boxes of the World of Wool Fibre Club custom blends and other 100g blends I have purchased elsewhere.
  13. Oh and I just remembered I have some shoe boxes with dog hair and alpaca that I drum carded!
Maybe it doesn’t sound very organised but everything is easily accessible as the bags hang from the wardrobe (closet) rail and boxes sit on the wardrobe floor.  So rather than buy another big storage box, I need to get more blending and then felting or spinning done to stop the need for these overflow boxes!  I have at least 200g of fibre that comes each month and I need to be exceeding that in usage each month, or cancel my subscription….but I LOVE when a new box arrives!  I get more excited than a kid opening Christmas presents.

Other 

After reading a fellow YOPers blog last week I did some research into the discussions regarding white supremacy and diversity in our knitting and crafting community and I am working my way through the ‘Me and White Supremacy’ workbook that is available for free download.  I almost thought I didn’t need to do the workbook because I have a diverse group of friends, but now I realise I did need to do it.

It is challenging my thoughts and opening my eyes and I will keep working through the remaining days of the workbook.  I still remember an episode of Oprah from nearly 30 years ago about racism and them talking about things like ‘nude’ coloured pantyhose or tights as we’d call them in the UK and ‘flesh’ coloured things all being for white skin tones.  Even the other day I noticed in my Ravelry stash some ‘flesh’ coloured wool fibre…that’s what it was called when I bought it last year.  But that’s white person flesh colour!  Subtleties like this are covered in the workbook and it really makes you realise that racism isn’t always blatant.  I am thankful to this community for discussing the issues and raising awareness and notice Ravelry now have a discussion thread and I noticed on Instagram I am now seeing recommendations of blogs from people of colour.  I am not following anyone out of tokenism, but on the same basis as I have already operated…if they post beautiful images that inspire me then I follow them.

Year of Projects – week 29/52

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Knitting

Frogging

Oh my goodness, what a pickle I got in trying to frog the jumper I mentioned last week.  I had done such a good job at weaving in the ends, I couldn’t find them!  Plus I forgot which direction I had knit it, so started trying to unravel it in the wrong direction!  So the scissors had to come out, a couple of times.

 

I ripped out and re-started my Northeasterly blanket to change down a needle size.  I also wasn’t enjoying the method of increasing stitches, so I started doing fbf, then switched to doing a couple of different methods as I was getting a weird line on one side. I even tried going back to the original increase but there’s no way I will have motivation to knit a whole blanket with fiddly stitches so frequent.  The thing is it is quite addictive and I unpicked what fingering weight mitred squares I had made to do a few more tries with other increases and used some homespun yarn too.  Any tips for avoiding that ridge on the left side of the middle?  I am out of scraps now so it will be parked for a bit.

 

WIPs 

I did a few rows of Lintilla and a few on Void.  I now understand the appeal of having different projects on the go.  Lintilla is long easy rows of knitting with occasional ripples to work on, Void requires concentration on every row, Northeasterly is good when you don’t have enough time for long rows of a shawl…and oh my does Void get long…or should that be wide?! 

Ready to Cast On

I found a toe up pattern to try for my January socks in the KAL and have chosen a nice local sock yarn, so I will cast on those on Sunday…so hopefully a photo next week.

Spinning

I had some fun playing with my blending board this week making some more rolags and spinning them on my wheel.  (The white balance of the photos on the bobbin is off.  We have so few hours of daylight at the moment, it is a challenge to get accurate pictures.)  I used some sugar plum merino and mulberry silk blend, with some home dyed mohair and some sari silk waste.  The idea being to practice making a tweed type yarn (on my YOP list).  I think officially tweed is supposed to have wool flecks, not silk, but I am counting this as a first attempt at tweed.  

I made some other rolags on my blending board using the Himilayan custom blend from World of Wool (white merino with sari silk) mixed with some dyed merino wool in greens and deep purples. My husband likes the rolags before they are spun and thinks I need to find some way of doing a picture just using the rolags!  I may have a think about it…perhaps a box frame??  Anyhoo, I put my big brave girl pants on and went to the Highland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers and someone showed me how to do long draw drafting, rather than short forward drafting I have been doing.  This method gives you a woolen yarn (softer and warmer) rather than worsted yarn (smooth, hard wearing).

The Guild was very hot and noisy with 40+ women chatting and spinning and I found I can’t do both at the same time!  I am pretty happy with my first day doing a new method.  I left at 3pm because I was getting sore shoulders, so didn’t manage to finish all the rolags, so it isn’t plied yet.  I will finish them this week, ply them and maybe knit them into my northeasterly!  Depends on my final length and thickness of the yarn.

No felting this week but I did prep some squares of black Icelandic wool fibre with some sari silk on my blending board.  The idea being to test joining the squares together so they form one long rectangle.  We will see how that works out and I will post some pictures when it is done.

2019 Project List

Although I am following the Year of Projects year, which runs from July, I thought it would be useful for me to jot down a list of things I’d like to achieve this calendar year.

2019 project list

 

 

2018 Summary

I started 2018 on sabbatical from work and finished the year having resigned, so I haven’t done any paid work all year.  But what I have done is work on my creativity and what a wide range of projects I have done!

So this post is a summary of the things I achieved this year (and some memorable highlights).

Bullet keys

🧦 knitting (unless noted as crochet)   🌀 spinning   💦 wet felting   🗡 needle felting  👩🏻‍🔬 dyeing

🖼 drawing   📷 photography   💎 sea glass

🏕 camping trip   🏡 holiday cottage\B&B   🎫 concert   🎟  show

January

🧦 Alpaca lace scarf, poncho and red fingerless mittens

📷 3 credits at camera club 

💎 sea glass and Pooh bear pendant

February

🧦 arm knit throw and finger knit cushions (with mahoosive acrylic), Crazy sexy wool hat

🖼 sketch of Ylva

📷 Bolivia Audio Visual show

March

🧦 really warm hat, quick and bulky mittens, Allistar’s alpaca hat, purple fingerless mittens, big wool colour hat for Elaine, 2 x cable headbands, rasta fasta hat, swirly squishy hat,

📷 came 4th in Annual Mini Comp., 3 acceptances in Annual projected image and 2 acceptances in Annual Print comps and Flamingo on Salar de Uyuni included in Club’s submission in Highland Challenge.

🏡 Isle of Skye holiday cottage and day trip to Raasay

💎 sea glass pendants

April

🐈 Dice died aged 16 years and 5 days.

🧦 chunky basket (crochet), cat hats for Merri and friend, drinks cosy and cathedral hat

💦 dusty pink handbag

💎 sea glass wind chime

👨‍👧Dad visited

🎟 saw Hamilton musical

May

💎 sea glass pendants

🏕 Dunnet Bay

🌀 bought spinning wheel, carders, niddy-noddy and fibre stash and acid dyes

🧦 hitchhiker scarf

June

🏕 Sango Sands and Clachtoll Beach

🌀 landscape rolags to 2 ply, purple and red scraps

🧦 my 1st socks, ipad cover, business card holder and 2nd hitchhiker, dog poop bag holder

💦 rose and blue circular needle case and soap bars

July

🌀 Tour de Fleece spinning purple merino and gold bamboo, ethereal ether, some British 56s, perpetual purple

💦🗡 highland cow

🧦 fair isle hat, 3rd hitchhiker, started chimney fire cardigan, alpaca cowl for Allistar, coffee cup cosy

👩🏻‍🔬 British 56s wool

🏡 Met up with Elaine in Kinlochleven

August

🏕 Orkney camping

🎫 🏕 Belladrum 3 day concert

🌀 samoyed dog hair, ethereal ether, home dyed British 56s

💦 purple wool and silk scarf

🧦 still knitting cardigan

👩🏻‍🔬 cheviot bulky yarn

September

🎫 🏕 Jocktoberfest 2 day concert

🏡 Loch Sunart holiday cottage

💦 turquoise wool and silk scarf and tiny purse for sister, rose and blue double pointed needle roll case, attempt at nuno felting

🧦 glasses case, crochet dog poop bag holder and finished Chimney Fire cardigan

October

🌀 Brit Spin in team ‘more enthusiasm than skill’ Shetland

👫 visit by Annie and Michael

🧦 Allistar’s socks, cheviot 3 set (hat, cowl & mittens), 2 at a time fingerless mittens

💦 green and red wool and silk scarf for Annie

🎫 saw Turin Brakes in concert

November

💎 sea glass progress markers

💦 suri alpaca and silk scarf, stripe scarf for dad

🌀 finished camel and silk blend

🧦 started Lintilla and dad’s socks

🗡 autumn sparkle fairy

📷 came 2nd in annual Portfolio comp

December

🌀 poppy corriedale fractal, finished Shetland

🧦 finished Dad’s socks, poppy fractal hat for husband, started Void shawl

👩🏻‍🔬 dyed BFL fibre, merino/silk blend and Shetland

🗡 Christmas bauble, mouse pictures and Christmas pudding

(I don’t remember which month but I also sewed a project bag.)

Selection of 2018 completed objects






Year of Projects – week 26/52 Half way!

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This is a longer post than normal, as I am doing a snapshot for the half way point and have had quite a busy crafting week.

Knitting

Finished Object

I finished my husband’s latest hat.  Two by Two pattern by Anne Gagnon, available free on Ravelry.  As my husband has a large head I increased the needle size.  I hadn’t actual measured the length of the yarn I had spun, so I was getting a little nervous and started the decreases early, but it still fits.  I could probably have done a couple more rows but that’s the problem with bottom up hats.  Playing yarn chicken is stressful.  (Which reminds me to find a simple toe up sock design for the 2nd pair for myself.). The fractal handspun Corriedale has interesting subtle colour stripes.  He says it isn’t as warm as the alpaca hat I knit him, using Anne’s Ribs n’ Cables design, but he likes it…I think.

Cast On

I started knitting a shawl this week with my Rowan Lima yarn.  It is unusual yarn, as it isn’t plied, its like one long crochet chain, but in worsted weight!  It’s 84% baby alpaca, 8% merino and 8% nylon.  It is purple!  I am so predictable.  I bought the yarn at a de-stash sale 6 balls for only £3 total!!!!  It couldn’t have worked out better though, as it is a perfect match for a really warm hat I knit with some purple alpaca yarn I bought in Cusco, Peru!  The pattern I have chosen is Void by Melanie Berg.  

This pattern has brand new stitches I have never done before (LT2, RT2, kfbf and bundle).  I mis-read how to do an LT2 (left twisted) stitch and got my knitting in a knot and frogged it 5 times!!!!  Eventually I viewed some YouTube clips and finally realised where I was going wrong.  With the lack of memory and soft drape that alpaca has I am not sure this is really the right pattern for it, but I am going to stick with it and see how I get on and can always re-make the pattern with a different yarn choice in the future.  

Oops!!!  On Saturday afternoon I realised I made a mistake a couple of rows back but with the complicated stitches I tried tinking it back but failed, so I have now popped a marker in the spot I need to create a new stitch.  With my rubbish memory I will no doubt forget where the mistake is, like I did with the cardigan I knit.  Also it’ll be hidden by my hair when worn, if I grow my hair longer lol!  I will get it back on track later today.

Lintilla is still parked at the moment, but as Void requires a bit lot of concentration I may pick up Lintilla when I need an easier project.

Advent

My husband bought me a yarn advent calendar, which arrived late, so I had a binge on opening the little parcels.  They are art yarn singles and until they are all open I am not sure what I will do with them.  Here’s a snapshot of the colours so far. Suggestions are welcome, as I haven’t made anything with art yarn before.  I did think about making some mini mittens as an advent for next year, but uncertain how much yarn I will have.  I have found a cute pattern called Smittens, so may try that and see how it goes.

 

Dyeing

This week I dyed 100g of Blue Faced Leicester fibre and wanted to try some different colour combinations in heather colours.  I used my landscape dyes from Kraftkolour in Fern (green), Ice (turquoise) and Raspberry (deep pink) and a touch of Ashford hot pink dye.  I pre-soaked the fibre in some citric acid, gently squeezed out excess water and then applied the colours in stripes both neat and mixed in pairs (landscape dyes only).  I then rolled in cling film and steamed for a bit.  Some pink escaped into the water so I later soaked up the colour with 25g of mohair.  Once the dye bath was exhausted I put the BFL fibre back in but this time without the cling film and directly in the water…just to be certain the hot pink had enough citric acid contact to ensure it set.  The landscape dyes already have setting agent in it, unlike the Ashford.

Of course I love the results…what’s not to love about something with shades of purple in. #purpleaddict 

Not sure whether I will use it for wet felting or spinning.

 

Christmas

I would like to wish all my fellow YOPers and anyone else who follows or stumbles across my blog a Very Merry Christmas.  My MIL and parrot arrived today and most food shopping was done.  Tomorrow they pick up the turkey, trimmings etc. and then we just need to get another Christmas pudding (yep we’ve already eaten one!) and some Christmas cake (which usually lasts to Easter!)  We played cards this evening and probably will most evenings, so I am not expecting much progress to report next week….but now follows my half way update.  

Other than The Grinch I still haven’t watched any Christmas Movies yet!!!  I watched the 4 seasons on The Killing this week, definitely not Christmassy!  Will put Elf on when I do some ironing later today.

 

Half Way Point in the 8th Year of Projects

So already we are at the half way point of the Year of Projects!  Although it’s the 8th year it has been running, this is my first year.  At 13 weeks I took a snapshot, so here’s my 26th week snapshot. 

There are 50 items on my list and I have completed 24 and made a start on some others, so I am pretty pleased with my progress.

Wet felting

Needle felting

  • A 3D animal…probably my dog Ylva
  • Make up some more bug related fairies…to go with my ladybird one 

Spinning

  • Spin all the commercial fibre currently in my stash (for spinning not felting) on Ravelry @ date of posting! 
  1. Perpetual purple merino ✅ wk 3
  2. Plum merino and gold bamboo ✅ wk 3
  3. Ethereal ether ✅ wk 8
  4. British 56s ✅ wk 12
  5. Shetland ✅ wk 24
  6. Camel & silk ✅ wk 24
  7. Corriedale poppy ✅ wk 24
  8. Blue Faced Leicester (dye it first)
  • Master chain ply ✅ wk 12 (Himalayan blend chain ply nice and smooth at joints)
  • Create a fractal spun yarn ✅ wk 24
  • Spin some tweed yarn
  • Create my own wool and silk blended spin
  • Create an official (not accidental) art yarn
  • Spin first batch of Samoyed dog hair ❇️ wk 6

Dyeing

  • Dye some of the natural fibre tops and/or homespun yarn from my stash
  1. Samoyed Dog hair
  2. Bamboo
  3. Merino/silk blend
  4. Merino/suri alpaca blend
  5. Corriedale fibre
  6. Blue Faced Leicester ✅ wk 26
  7. British 56s ✅ wk 4 and 11
  8. Portland

Also, over dye ethereal ether ✅ wk 6

  • Dye undyed commercial spun skeins
  1. Cheviot chunky wool ✅ wk 6
  2. BFL/silk blend
  3. Merino silk blend ✅ wk 25
  4. Merino bamboo blend

Knitting

  • Finish my Chimney Fire cardigan ✅ wk 14
  • Make my husband a pair of socks ✅ wk 18
  • Make my dad something for Christmas ✅ wk 25
  • Make something with purple and gold homespun yarn ✅ (Hitchhiker wk 11)
  • Make up a matching accessory set from my perpetual purple paradise homespun yarn
  • Make the shawl with my Rowan Lima yarn ❇️ (Started Void wk 26)
  • Make a 2nd pair of socks for myself
  • Learn brioche stitch ❇️ (YouTube watching wk 13)
  • Learn fair isle knitting and knit one of the small fair isle items in my queue ✅ wk 3
  • Knit (or crochet) all the scraps of left over sock and sport weight wool. ❇️ wk 12
  • Knit something Two at a Time ✅ wk 18

Crochet

  • Make an octopus for a preemie (cotton and hook arrived wk 13)
  • Make a jellyfish for a preemie
  • Get to grips with UK -v- US terms!

Sewing

 

Year of Projects – week 24/52

Spinning

As we are approaching the half way point of the year of projects, I reviewed my YOP list and ticked off some things.  I had been a bit vague about what I planned to spin during the year, so have updated my YOP page and will snapshot the progress when we get to week 26, like I did week 13. 

After much indecision about what wet felted item I would make with my corriedale wool in poppy colourway (that was a prize from the Tour de Fleece), I instead decided to use it to create a ‘fractal yarn’.  On the picture below you can see the original fibre, I then split it in half; one half (a) is split into the different shades and the other half (b) is split so it has each colour in each strip.  

On bobbin 1 I spun (a) so I started with all the burgundy then all red and then all greens (BRG).

On bobbin 2 I spun (b) so spinning each of the multicoloured strips, starting with the burgundy ends each time.

I then plied the 2 bobbins together and that creates a fractal yarn.  If you want 3 ply you would split the colours in 3 ways, e.g. bobbin 1 BRG, bobbin 2 BRG BRG BRG and bobbin 3 BRG BRG BRG BRG BRG BRG.  

I love the end result and look forward to dyeing some fibre myself to give it another go.  This handspun yarn will be used to make a ribbed hat for my husband.  He has green eyes, so it should suit him well.

I also finished spinning my Shetland wool, transferring what was on my spindle onto the larger amount on my spinning wheel.  I set it and then remembered I am going to be dyeing it so probably didn’t need to soak and snap it before dyeing.  Ah well!  Once I have dyed it I will post a photo!

My camel and silk handspun yarn is dry so that is all labelled and ready to make something with.  It is the softest yarn I have ever held.  Has anyone just kept hanks of wool to cuddle!?  It is soooo soft to touch I love the feel of it. 

Hopefully in this photo you will better see the colour differences between standard and chain plying…the colours on the chain ply are more evident (top and bottom hanks).  I haven’t chosen a pattern for it yet, something to go against my skin for sure!  

Knitting

I have cast on a new pair of socks, this time just a vanilla pattern, in the hope I will have them finished before Christmas! I decided to cast on 64 stitches with my 2.5mm sockwunder needle and so far it looks a much better sized sock.  I can’t believe how fast I can knit a vanilla sock with this needle, highly recommend for speed.  Next on the needles will be the fractal spun yarn hat.  My Lintilla has been temporarily parked, I thought I could try alternating between projects but the socks have a deadline so are getting all my focus.  

Felting and fibre craft

I have mentioned my fairies before, but thought I would post a picture of them all hanging, so you know where they live! Also I ordered a couple of empty baubles from World of Wool and popped some sparkly fibre in them and hung them on the real Christmas tree.  They are very hard to take a photo of and you’ll notice a reflection of Bones TV show lol!  I am already on Season 10!  

 

Finally, I was inspired by @Gilliangladrag Instagram to make a fibre christmas pudding.  I used milk protein top for the brandy sauce.  If you need a few moments of joy each day then I recommend following @Gilliangladrag and watching her daily stories.  She owns the Gilliangladrag Fluff-a-torium shop in Dorking, England.  Unfortunately, I live hundreds of miles away so haven’t been, but have bought her fibre blends and some other bits from her online shop.  

 

 

Year of Projects – week 23/52

Sock trouble

This week I unravelled/frogged the troublesome sock that was too big.  To be honest for the hassle the pattern repeats were I’m glad I don’t need to knit its buddy!  Plus with the yarn colours I prefer the sole anyway!  

I ordered a 2mm Addi Sockwonder needle and will try again (with an easy vanilla pattern) to make a new pair that will fit someone I know!  I think with a 2mm needle and casting on 72 stitches will be better than the 2.5mm needle.  I realised when I made my husband’s first socks I’d cast on 64 stitches on 2.5mm needles, so no wonder this was so much bigger!  This yarn seems slightly thinner fingering weight so I’m hoping CO72 with 2mm is going to be ok!  What do you use when you are knitting men’s socks?

Once I have some opinions from my fellow YOPers I will cast them on.

The troublesome sock – RIP

Knitting

My Lintilla scarf is progressing, I haven’t included a photo as I’m upstairs and its downstairs…imagine last week’s photo with extra ruffles lol!

Spinning

Mostly though this week I have been concentrating on spinning and have now finished spinning and plying the 200g of camel and silk fibre.  Today I soaked and snapped all the yarn and boy does it smell like there’s a camel in my utility room!  I quite like the smell, but its very different from sheep wool smell.  For the final batch I filled a bobbin completely and then chain plied the whole bobbin in one sitting and I am really pleased with the result.  It not only shows the colours better, but the plying is just so much neater and more consistent than the 3 bobbins to 1 plying I did with an earlier batch.  As it is still wet there’s no photo, so I’ll post next week.

Needle-felting

I tried to needle-felt a small landscape, from a postcard image but it is so bad I am too embarrassed to put a photo up.  Laziness on my part not spending time doing it properly.  I did however make an Autumn Sparkle fairy to hang with my other fairies

Wet felting

I have ordered 400g of black Icelandic sheep fibre (top) to make the waistcoat on my year of projects list.  I have never used that breed of wool before, but the World of Wool website says it is very fine and is excellent for wet felting and nuno felting.  I will be using some of the sari silk to decorate the waistcoat (I think in US you’d call it a vest?)  Anyhoo that will be a job for my December felting group day in a couple of weeks!  I may have ordered a few other bits and bobs as well…oops! 

If you’d like to see what the other people are up to in our Year of Projects group have a look (if you have a Ravelry account).

Year of Projects- week 22/52

Having taken a break from the problem sock situation this week, I started to knit “Lintilla” pattern from Martina Behm (designer of the hitchhiker shawl which I’ve done 3 versions of).  This is my first pattern with wrap and turn stitches and in the variegated yarn from Ripples Crafts I really like it.  This is sock wool with some nylon in, so this isn’t going to be a cosy fluffy scarf/shawl, but it is ideal for practicing new stitches and should last well and stand up to lots of wear.

At felting group this week I made a present, which will need to be posted on here after Christmas.  I am really pleased with it, no idea what the fibre was, as it was out of my stash I bought with my spinning wheel.  

I had some time left over so used some black suri alpaca fibre and sari silk to make a thin scarf.  It is very thin in places but its lovely and soft and has lovely drape to it.  It is hard to photograph to do it justice.  It was an experiment really, but a nice result.

I have been working my way through episodes of Bones on Amazon Prime, whilst doing a lot of spinning.  This is the baby camel and silk blend I have mentioned before.  The smaller (bottom) skein was Navajo plied (chain ply) and you can see (hopefully) that you get separate sections of colour rather than just the barber pole type effect you get when you ply 3 bobbins (which is how I plied the larger top skein).  I’m only just over half way through spinning it all, so I am hoping to get a decent sized item out of it when its finished….what that item will be I am not sure yet.  The colours are subtle and again not photographing well.  The weight is DK-ish, i.e. worsted and sport weight in places!

I thought I’d post a wee photo of my Shetland spinning on my spindle, so I can check progress.

Making things definitely lifts my spirits, so it has been a better week.  Oh and I have managed to sell some kitchen gadgets and a game.  My Christmas presents arrived this week…I will wait until Christmas to use them, but they are fibre related so I am looking forward to trying them out after Christmas. More on them and their outputs in the new year!  

There’s another felting group in mid-December, so I need to have a think about what I’d like to make then, perhaps do some needle felting for a change.

 

 

 

Year of Projects – Week 20/52

This week, I have spent a lot of time thinking…too much time, which means I haven’t been as productive as usual.

My Christmas gift socks are coming along but I am still on the 1st sock; I am sure if I’d chosen a vanilla pattern I would be half way through 2nd sock by now.  My head is just too full to memorise the 10 row pattern repeat.  For sure my next pair will be a vanilla pair of ankle socks for my small feet lol!

I have been thinking about starting a 2nd knitting project at the same time as the socks, but I have spent days searching Ravelry looking at patterns and now I can’t decide which patterns I like most, so nothing cast on yet.

I have 13 patterns for the North Ronaldsay wool I bought!!! I can’t even seem to get a shortlist of 3!  How do you pick your patterns?  Should I go for another seamless top down pattern?  Decisions decisions!  As it is Aran weight I thought I should do cables..but as I have additional skeins in different colours I thought maybe could try Fair Isle…totally undecided.  By the time I have chosen I will have finished the socks lol

On the spinning front: on my spindle I am spinning some undyed Shetland fibre, I probably get about 15 foot spun when Ylva is sniffing the night air and doing her before bed wee!   On my wheel is the absolutely gorgeous baby camel and silk blend, honestly it is sooooooooooooo soft.  I bought it from Coastal Colours at the Highland Wool and Textile fair.  When I bought it I thought it was expensive at £26, but it’s 200g of beautifully dyed combed top of 50% baby camel and 50% tussah silk.  Not sure what I will make with it when its all spun, perhaps a fancy shawl…not that I ever go anywhere fancy.  Anyway in the meantime I love spinning it.

I missed another open day at the Highland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, just need to find my big brave girl pants and go along.  I am such an introvert it is hard joining new things.

I mentioned in a previous post about an idea for a lantern…well here’s my 5 minute effort.  A bit of brown felt, some of the autumn sparkle blended fibre and a few stabs with the pale blue felting needle.  Simple.

Not related to YOP, but for anyone who read my post on hoarding

I have done a huge amount of ruthless chucking out, selling and donating things this week.  Stuff that I was keeping for sentimental reasons that I realised didn’t have that happy a memory linked with them, so this is the most I have ever got rid of.  Old letters from people I don’t even remember.  I have kept letters I received from 3 friends and the rest have gone, old slides I’d already scanned in have gone, loads of photographs, cards, my ballet point shoes, just loads of random sentimental stuff.  Also various random other crafting stuff, I had watercolour paints tubes that rattled…I bought them 27 years ago I realised!!!! 

My criteria:

a) Does it invoke a really happy memory?

b)  Am I 100% sure I will use?

If the answer was No…it has gone.  Now everything is accessible in my crafting wardrobe!  

 

Year of Projects- week 19/52

This week I have been on a mission to get lots of crafting done, to take my mind off my continuing chest infection and a very stressful situation I have been trying to deal with.

I fancied using some thick yarn for some quick projects.  I had in my stash 200g of Cheviot super bulky yarn that I had dyed myself a few months ago and called ‘Dusty Rose’.  I couldn’t decide whether to make mittens or a hat, it turned out I had enough for mittens, a hat…and a small cowl!!!  (Follow links to my Ravelry project pages for pattern details.)

I can’t seem to get the colour true in the photos of the mittens, but they are all the same colour.  I really love the colours and effects I achieved when I dyed it.  I love the hat and will definitely try making another with some homespun yarn in a lighter weight yarn.  The cowl isn’t as wide as the pattern as I was short on yarn, but I have worn it on 3 dog walks so far and it seems perfect.  The bulky mittens are so quick and I did the same alterations as the last ones I made with Rowan Big Wool.  Alterations are detailed on my Ravelry project page.  The yarn only cost me £5 so to have had dyeing practice and made 3 accessories from it is brilliant value.  I worried the cheviot wool would be a bit scratchy as a cowl, but it is actually fine and it is lovely and warm on the chilly days we have been having.  Most days haven’t got above 5° Celsius here and there’s snow on Ben Wyvis, the mountain behind where we live.  I think this yarn would felt well, so did think about knitting some huge slipper shapes and then felting them…but I think I will try wet felting fibre slippers first.

Cheviot wool set

I have also cast on a pair of socks that will likely be a Christmas gift for someone, so no pictures possible.  

I am a monogamous knitter, and always finish an item before starting another, but the socks I am doing have a 10 row pattern repeat that is too complicated to memorise, so I have been wondering whether I should start an easy shawl pattern for when I need some mindless knitting to do?!?!?!  

I have noticed on other YOPers blog posts that they sometimes use progress markers that have the little lobster claw clasps.  I have lots of these clasps for making sea glass jewellery and so I thought I would have a go at making some markers out of sea glass I have collected from a local beach and are too small for anything else.

Progress markers

I mentioned last week that I had bought a drop spindle at Loch Ness Knit Fest and so thought I would do some spinning on that!  I was keeping it by the back door and doing a bit each evening before bed whilst I was waiting for our dog to do her bedtime wee!  I had another go on Friday and then thought I better research how on earth I am supposed to ply with a spindle. After some YouTube research I wound it from the spindle onto my ball winder and then tied the start and end of the single together, attached to my drop spindle and then spun it anti-clockwise and I found I was getting a much better balanced yarn than I do when plying on my spinning wheel.  Perhaps because it was all off the same single and was only a small amount, not sure but seemed to ply pretty quick.  I then popped it on my niddy noddy and set it…its only a small amount so I will knit a small mitred square with it probably.  As you will see on the right of the photo I ended up with a few snapped bits I found hard to join, but I will use the fibre elsewhere and no fibre gets binned, as even to make felted soap you can use random scraps.  This is a merino sari silk custom blend from my World of Wool fibre club box, called Himalayas.

Spindle attempt

Soooo having unloaded my spindle, I thought I’d have another go and try a thicker weight yarn. I used another custom blend from WoW fibre club, this is a mix of merino, silk and angelina called autumn sparkle.  I think I will be using some of this fibre to make an autumn fairy to go with my other fairies, also I have had a thought about using some in a lantern to imitate a flame…but this needs more thought.  With my sample spin, I started a mitred square but didn’t have enough, so I finished it with some test spin of a gorgeously soft baby camel and silk blend.

Autumn sparkle
Mitred square

 

If you’d like to see what the other people are up to in our Year of Projects group have a look.  They certainly provide me with inspiration each week and I love this little community.

Year of Projects – weeks 15&16/52

After a lovely week away at a holiday cottage on the West Coast of Scotland, this week has been so stressful and depressing.  I need to keep up with my projects to keep me sane and keep me from slipping back into depression.  

I have put up lots of unused craft supplies on Facebook Marketplace and already have sold some things.  This was prompted by me having too many warning signs I was teetering on the edge of being a full blown hoarder.  For anyone interested here’s a link to that post.  I think its important as a community we show that life has ups and downs and that’s ok and normal.  Electronic lives can seem like everyone is living perfect lives.

A quick update on my nuno felted scarf that I was unhappy with; I re did it adding more fibre around the edges and the roses.  I am so much happier with it.  It is so light to wear but warm!  

Nuno felted scarf update

Last week I finished Allistar’s first sock and I am doing the heel of the 2nd at the moment.  Already I spot they aren’t ‘Pairfect’…as per the yarn name.  My long tail cast ons were different tail lengths and despite re-doing the cast on 3 times it wasn’t perfect, so this has had a knock on affect at the top of the foot!  Typical as thats the bit people will see when he sits down.  The yarn was really splitting though so a 4th attempt wasn’t possible.

Allistar’s first sock

I wanted to see what the sari silk looked like felted, so made a weird shaped scissors case!  I love the silks and wish I had loaded more on! 

Scissors case

I joined the Brit Spin marathon on Ravelry, in team ‘More enthusiasm than skill’.  Our team each received 100g of Shetland fibre from our sponsors Curtis Fibres.  It is now the morning of the 4th and final day of the challenge and I have only managed to spin a third of the Shetland so far, partly because I am trying to spin very fine so that I end up with a 3 ply fingering weight yarn, but mostly because I am frantically dashing from one priority to the next, not sleeping well and really feeling the physical signs of some stress I am under at the moment.  My fitbit says my heart rate was in fat burn for 15 hours on Friday despite me not actually exercising! When I did some spinning at 6.30am, having been awake for hours, you can see my heart rate drop.  It drops again when I did some spinning about 2.30pm…the final drop is when my husband tried it on!   I wish I was better equipped to manage stress, but at least I know the spinning makes a physical positive difference.

Stress affecting my heart rate

 

 

 

 

Year of Projects – week 13/52

A very different week for me this time.  No long list of items, I have finished both arms of my Chimney Fire cardigan, so now it is just the body to finish.  No photos this week as hopefully I’ll have a finished cardigan to show next week.

I spent a greater proportion of my days this week knitting and I think I over did it.  I had a sore right hand but didn’t want to risk switching to continental knitting because my tension/gauge is much tighter then.  My lower back and hips are sore and my shoulders full of knots.  So this week I am not going to over do it. 

My crochet hook with handle and cotton yarn suitable for making the Octopus for a Preemie arrived this week, so I am ready for when they are number 1 in my queue (currently #3).

As this is 1/4 of the way through the YOP I thought I’d snapshot where I am up to on my list.  Not quite a quarter finished, but I feel happy with my progress so far.

Wet felting

Needle felting

  • A 3D animal…probably my dog Ylva
  • Make up some more bug related fairies…to go with my ladybird one

Spinning

  • Spin all the commercial fibre currently in my stash (for spinning not felting) on Ravelry @ date of posting! ❇️
  • Spin 200g of alpaca fibre currently in my stash
  • Master chain ply ✅ wk 12 (Himalayan blend chain ply nice and smooth at joints)
  • Create a fractal spun yarn
  • Spin some tweed yarn
  • Create my own wool and silk blended spin
  • Create an official (not accidental) art yarn
  • Spin first batch of Samoyed dog hair ❇️ wk 6

Dyeing

  • Dye some of the natural fibre tops and/or homespun yarn from my stash
  1. Samoyed Dog hair
  2. Bamboo
  3. Merino/silk blend
  4. Merino/suri alpaca blend
  5. Corriedale fibre
  6. Blue Faced Leicester
  7. British 56s ✅ wk 4 and 11
  8. Portland

Also, over dye ethereal ether ✅ wk 6

  • Dye undyed commercial spun skeins
  1. Cheviot chunky wool ✅ wk 6
  2. BFL/silk blend
  3. Merino silk blend
  4. Merino bamboo blend

Knitting

  • Finish my Chimney Fire cardigan ❇️
  • Make my husband a pair of socks
  • Make my dad something for Christmas
  • Make something with purple and gold homespun yarn ✅ (Hitchhiker wk 11)
  • Make up a matching accessory set from my perpetual purple paradise homespun yarn
  • Make the shawl with my Rowan Lima yarn
  • Make a 2nd pair of socks for myself
  • Learn brioche stitch ❇️ (YouTube watching wk 13)
  • Learn fair isle knitting and knit one of the small fair isle items in my queue ✅ wk 3
  • Knit (or crochet) all the scraps of left over sock and sport weight wool. ❇️ wk 12

Crochet

  • Make an octopus for a preemie (cotton and hook arrived wk 13)
  • Make a jellyfish for a preemie
  • Get to grips with UK -v- US terms!

Sewing

Year of Projects – week 12/52

Not strictly on my list, but I made a new seat for the chair I picked up on Gumtree (like Craig’s List).  I cut various layers of thin laminated wood we had in the garage and covered it with the old thin padding and fabric which I took from our old sofa, which I also used for doing up my granddad and grandpa’s old chairs.  Next year I will likely strip the paint off it, but I want to use it for spinning for a while, to see if its a keeper!  I had been using a dining room chair which is a wee bit too high and causing hip pain.

Spinning chair

I signed up to the World of Wool fibre club (like I don’t already have enough!?) and my first box arrived this week.  It had a small amount of grey Herdwick wool, pineapple fibre tops and 150g custom blend of merino and sari silk which I decided to do a sample spin, chain ply and knit a small sample.  I really like how it spins and knits up, when its done I probably will make a larger shawl from it, we shall see.  My box also had a notepad and pen, which I’m going to use for tracking my felting projects, seeing as Ravelry doesn’t include felting.  In Ravelry I have created a dummy handspun project, where I can assign fibre used for felting to it, so that my fibre stash leftovers are showing correct weights. (Hopefully that sentence makes sense to readers with Ravelry accounts.) 

Himalayas (custom blend from World of Wool)

I mentioned last week I had made a scarf for my sister, I also made a wee purse too, but forgot to photograph it properly.  Unfortunately it didn’t arrive in time for her birthday, which is very disappointing. None of the pictures are really showing the true colours. I started off with a silk hankie stretched as long as I could and then wool and silks were layered.  It ended up thicker than planned and so I maybe used too much wool fibre or may have shrunk it too much trying to get the silk to stick, but this was my first go at nuno felting.  I am still getting a lot of movement in the silks, so perhaps I need to leave them longer after wetting, before I start rolling.

Nuno felted scarf

On a previous post I had shown a wet felted bag with flap that I made, which has become home to my circular needles…so I decided to make a matching roll one for my double pointed needles.  The top picture maybe looks weird as it was on my sofa seat but then rotated 90 degrees…it is a long rectangle.

DPN case (with circular needle case)

I have added to my YOP list ‘to knit (or crochet) all the left over bits of yarn.  I had thought about making one of those sock yarn blankets made up of wee diamonds of sock yarn.  After searching YouTube for videos to make diamond shapes I messaged the Crazy Sock Lady and asked her, and she explained they are made from mitred squares and so finally I found some ‘how to’ videos and had a go! And another go and another one!! They are addictive when you have a bunch of scrap wool next to your chair!  I also knit a cover for my phone and a wee dog poop bag holder.

Look how well my poop bag holder goes with the trim on my dog treat bag!!!  Hehe!

 

Heather DK yarn leftovers

And finally I started to knit one of the arms of my Chimney Fire cardigan (not that I have finished the body yet).  To protect the body whilst I am knitting the sleeves with DPNs I used a circular tray, so its kind of like a Lazy Susan…every time I finish one DPN I spin the tray! 

Arrggghhhh! On Saturday evening I realised I had missed some of the arm decreases and I’m a bit further on than the image below so don’t want to rip out rows, so I have made a note of what I did and a plan for remaining decreases to get me back on track, so as long as I do the same on the other arm I should be ok.  At least there’ll be no struggles to get my chubby upper arms in the sleeves 😂

Chimney Fire Lazy Susan

 

Chimney Fire progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year of Projects – weeks 9 & 10/52

Not much done…in fact nothing on my YOP list, but I have expanded my stash, which was definitely not on my ‘to do list’ oops!

But whilst in Orkney for a week, you HAVE to buy some wool from the rare North Ronaldsay sheep, which eat the seaweed on the coast of North Ronaldsay and Isle of Auskerry, which are the only 2 places they live.  So when I say ‘some wool’, what I mean is…

  • Enough undyed wool to knit a jumper (6 balls in Seal Grey and 1 in Slate Grey)
  • Enough dyed wool to add some interest to the jumper or for accessories
  • Enough fibre (in 3 different natural colours) to spin goodness knows how much more yarn
Oh and…
  • some silk hankies and silk in colours that will go on the scarf I am going to make for my sister’s 50th birthday (hand dyed on Orkney)
  • And while I’m at it I may as well buy 200g of sari silk because it was too beautiful and reasonably priced not to..despite having nothing to do with Orkney!!!
Hopeless!!
 
Anyway, I did manage to knit a bit of my 3rd hitchhiker scarf, using home spun yarn and did some spinning of one of my first dyeing efforts.
 
If you are interested in seeing some pictures of Orkney, please check out my Week in Orkney post.
 
3rd Hitchhiker scarf (with eyelets on 8th rows)

British 56s spun from first dyeing and drum carding practice
 
North Ronaldsay Aran Yarn

 

 

North Ronaldsay dyed yarn

 

North Ronaldsay fibre

 

Sari Silk

 

Silks

 

 

Year of Projects – Week 8/52

Having signed up to join in on the Year of Projects 2018 on Ravelry, I had forgotten all the rules and was creating things but not doing the weekly Sunday blog posts and sharing the link on the Ravelry group page.  So on Thursday I remembered to share the link…but now realise some of those things were done this week and not the week before!  Also I’ve commented about other people’s blogs on the group page, which I don’t think I am supposed to do.  So basically a total muddle. Hopefully the group members will forgive my blunderings.  🤞

It is interesting to see all the different projects people are working on, and how I am not alone in having lots of different types of projects on the go at the same time.

If you are interested to see what the Year of Projects on Ravelry is about click here.

So this week I also made the project bag and notions pouch and spun some Samoyed dog hair (as shown on my previous post)!  Both should have been on my projects list as I was expecting the dog hair and had the material to make the project bag!!  Hopeless!

I also finished spinning the ethereal ether fibre from Gilliangladrag…I was going to post a poll on my HighlandHeffalump Facebook page, but see (below) what Facebook said about it!  The poll was going to ask if people thought I should over dye it with a brighter colour!!!  Seeing as Facebook thinks its a nude body I decided to definitely dye it with some deeper colours!

 

Suspect the position of my finger didn’t help matters! 🤣

I did dye a previous batch of this when it was spun, as I thought the colour definitions had been lost and I love the wee drink cosy I made from that batch, so tried to replicate that again.  Its a shame to dye what started off as such pretty colours, but this fibre is better suited to wet or needle felting I think…or a method of spinning that maintains the colours better.

I have kept aside a small amount unspun in case I ever make a unicorn, as the colours would be great for a pastel rainbow mane and tail…but what I have spun I used as more dyeing practice using hot pink, Ice and Opal mixed in different quantities, and carefully applied with a pipette to get lots of variation, only to discover it was all pooling together underneath the yarn, so has ended up with less tonal changes than planned…it is also spookily similar to our bedding colour!  I am such a purple addict!!!

Talking of purple, I had a go at felting a lightweight scarf using merino, silk and some locks…of course its purple!  The next one I make I will only have the locks on one side, as they are a bit scratchy on my neck.

No new knitting or crocheting is allowed until my Chimney Fire cardigan is finished! It must be finished by the time it gets to winter.  Although saying that we are off to the Orkney Isles for a week camping in a tent and I won’t want to take that, so maybe I can let myself do another shawl with some homespun that week.

To help keep track of my YOP list I have created a separate page with the list, so I can tick things off when completed and add links to the separate posts.

So fellow YOPers please forgive my faulty start 🙄

Catch up on projects

I haven’t posted on my blog recently so I thought I’d do a catch up post on what I have been up to.

Dyeing

I had a go at dyeing 200g of White Cheviot Super Chunky Weight wool.  I started using Azalea and Tasman colours from the Landscape dyes and then added Pilbara and then put some Ashford Hot Pink mixed with Ice (blue).  This wool was a real sponge soaking up the colours, so I just kept chucking more of the colours in!  I love the finished hank, except the Tasman colour has made a few green bits.  I don’t have much imagination for colourway naming, so this is logged in Ravelery as “Dusty Rose”.

Sewing

Today I made a knitting project bag and notions pouch.

Wet and needle felting

At my felting group I made my first picture, of a Highland Cow!  He has a hunchback and some other issues, but for a first attempt at a proper picture I am quite happy.
 

Spinning

My neighbour’s parents have a Samoyed dog and kindly collected some dog hair brushings for me to spin.  I have only done a test spin and chain ply with one handful and I’m excited to spin the 2 bags full that I have.  My first attempt was unwashed when spun and I am going to try a small washed batch to see how that compares.  The raw fur was lovely to spin with, very soft on my fingers, but my dog, Ylva, kept coming over for a sniff!
 

Knitting

My Chimney Fire cardigan is progressing, despite a number of struggles with the pattern.  I have a baking tray with various sections of the pattern stuck on with magnets and have a list of row numbers so I don’t lose track of which body row number goes with which cable pattern.  I did the same for the collar section too, where there were 3 different row numbers to keep track of on each knitted row!! 
 
 

Tour de Fleece

Finally, I mentioned previously that I had taken part in this year’s Tour de Fleece, as part of The Corner of Knit and Tea team.  I was randomly selected to receive a fiber gift and all the way from Kansas, USA came this lovely Corriedale wool in Poppy colourway.  I am thinking I may use it to wet felt a poppy handbag or poppy picture, rather than spinning it. It also came with a couple of tea bags too. 😁i
 
 
 

Dyeing practice and my first go with a drum carder

It has been so hot here in the Highlands of Scotland…not America hot but hotter than any other summer I ever remember, especially for the Highlands.  

So what did I choose to practice on the hottest day of the year??? Dyeing fibre! Yep a steaming hot pan of fibre and dye on a summers day! 

Despite the heat I really enjoyed the process of playing around with some of the dyes.  I already had a hot pink but combined with the Opal coloured landscape dye made a lovely purple.  This time rather than adding knots I made a crochet chain of fibre and plopped the dyes on randomly…when the dye was almost exhausted in the pan I undid the chain so the white parts could pick up the last traces of the turquoise.

I loved the finished fibre and wondered what it would look like spun.

 

Meanwhile, I went to my monthly Highland Felters meeting today and discovered they have a drum carder that you can borrow.  So when I had finished my initial construction of a Highland Coo picture (more on that when it is finished) I came home and wanted to play with the drum carder.  What fibre was literally hanging around?  Yep, I took it down from the drying pole and fed it into the drum carder.

The results are these 2 lovely batts (plus some scraps stuck on one of the drums).  I will post an update when its spun, but so far I LOVE the colours.  I am going to a 3 day music festival on Thursday but for sure I will be playing around with the drum carder at the start of the week.

My first attempts at dyeing – Part 2

A quick update on yesterday’s blog post.

I have knitted up the small amount of dyed ethereal ether into this wee drinks cosy!  This was an early spinning attempt so its unofficial thick’n’thin!  But I LOVE the colours!  I need to try to repeat this in a larger batch and make something bigger.

Drink cosy 

Also I have spun the dyed fibre; I made a 2 ply (right of pic) trying to get different colours in each single, and with what was left on one bobbin I had some practice at Navajo (chain) plying (left).  This gave me a nice break from spinning the purple and gold tops.  I did have a slight disaster where I had z spun my singles and then started z plying them!!!  I wish I’d had a free hand to take a photo of what that looked like when I pulled it off the bobbin!!  Anyhoo, I managed to rescue it.  

 

 

I have decided I am definitely going to spin up the rest of the ethereal ether and dye it, I just don’t like the original colours when spun, but LOVE the colour range when dyed. Fingers crossed it will work. 

My first attempts at dyeing

On Thursday I thought I would give dyeing a go!  I had the very disappointing ethereal ether yarn I had spun that I thought I could brighten up, plus I have bought 100g of White 56’s English wool top to practice.  This is a blend of (56?) different breeds of English sheep, so relatively cheap wool.

I picked two colours, and as it happens two different makes.  Ashford wool dye in Hot Pink and KraftKolour Landscape dye in Opal. No idea how they’d blend or work together.  I didn’t measure or weigh anything, just ploughed straight in and gave it a go.

And turned this…

To this…

I loved the colours so much I then pulled off some of the wool tops and popped those in the pot too, with random knots.

The results…

Once I have spun this I will post the finished yarn, but so far I am pretty happy with it…for a first attempt.

What I have learned

  • Don’t just get a pair of rubber gloves out…put them on before taking off any lids!  Yep, I have a pink thumb and forefinger!!
  • Dyeing is fun, but a bit smelly as I used some white vinegar
  • Worst case, the ethereal ether could still be spun and then I can just dye it all with the pink and blue…unless I think of something to wet felt with it.
  • Patience is a virtue that I don’t possess, I couldn’t stop checking on the fibre…once it is dry I will see if it has felted with all my checking on it and re-knotting.  I need a movie or something on to distract me next time.

Year of Projects 2018

Whilst reading MrsMcD918’s blog posts I came across the Year of Projects.  I then went onto Ravelry to read a little bit more about it and joined one of the Ravelry groups.  The ‘year’ technically started at the beginning of July but I am only a few weeks late.

So, what is on my list for the year?

Wet felting

  • A case for my craft scissors
  • A picture of my dog Ylva
  • A loose casual waistcoat or top 
  • A project bag using the plastic loop handles in my stash
  • A coin purse
  • Make a fancy scarf or wrap using nuno felting

Needle felting

  • A 3D animal…probably my dog Ylva
  • Make up some more bug related fairies…to go with my ladybird one

Spinning

  • Spin all the commercial fibre currently in my stash on Ravelry @ date of posting!
  • Spin 200g of alpaca fibre currently in my stash
  • Master chain ply
  • Create a fractal spun yarn
  • Spin some tweed yarn
  • Create my own wool and silk blended spin
  • Create an official (not accidental) art yarn 

Dyeing

  • Dye some of the natural fibre tops in my stash
  • Dye some my own spun yarn and the undyed bought skein I have

Knitting

  • Finish my Chimney Fire cardigan*
  • Make my husband a pair of socks
  • Make my dad something for Christmas
  • Make up a matching accessory set from my perpetual purple paradise homespun yarn
  • Make the shawl with my Rowan Lima yarn
  • Make a 2nd pair of socks for myself
  • Learn brioche stitch
  • Learn fair isle knitting and knit one of the small fair isle items in my queue

Crochet

Oh my is that too many things?!  But that barely makes a dint in my stash, so is it enough!?!  We shall see as the year goes on.
 
*I drafted this earlier in the week…and after a few days of knitting my Chimney Fire cardigan I am only on row 9 of the upper body and I am already stuck and have reached out to a lady on Ravelry who created one that inspired me to buy the pattern, to see if she’d be willing to help me…if not I will have to contact the designer…at this rate I will be struggling to finish by Christmas, never mind the rest of my list! 

Tour de fleece 2018

I love Ravelry so much, not only does it have thousands of patterns, many of which are free, a database for your stash and projects, but it also has forums and groups.  Whilst reading through the forums I found out about Tour de Fleece and joined The Corner of Knit and Tea blog’s team #CKT2018.  There are lots of other teams on Ravelry as well (and lots of other themed groups too).

The idea is during the days of the Tour de France cycling race you spin!  Not for the hours on end that they are on their bikes for, just for as long as you want to.  When the cyclists have their rest days you do as well, and when they are having their tougher days cycling in the mountains you challenge yourself with your spinning. The level of challenge is up to you…I did consider teaching my husband to spin as a challenge!  

It is such a nice idea, a great way to connect with other spinners and see what amazing yarn they are producing and you can ask questions and advice.  I have found myself getting yarn envy as some of the yarns I am seeing are so beautiful and its interesting to see the different plying methods and the results you get.  

Also spending time each day doing some spinning really does show your steady improvement 😁

I had some merino fibre from Gilliangladrag in the Ethereal Ether blend. I loved the look of it online and originally bought it for making some needle felted fairies, but I thought maybe it would be good for spinning.  So I pre-drafted the whole 100g…this was a mistake!

I loved how the singles looked on the bobbin but when I have plied it the colours have lost their definition and almost created a greyish pink colour.  I kept washing my hands thinking I was making the yarn dirty, but I think its just the colour combos when spun…or at least when spun by me!

I stopped after plying my first bobbin, so do still have lots of fibre left and I will most likely use it in wet felting instead.  If I hadn’t pre-drafted it all I could have split the colours vertically and when made into a 3 ply they’d have kept their colour definition.  Hey ho! (I haven’t set this yarn yet, so this isn’t a case of colours bleeding.)

Ethereal ether spun merino

Again, you’ll notice my spinning and plying are still uneven thickness.

Next I decided to use a gorgeous purple and gold blend of merino and bamboo from Kiki’s Craft Corner.  The colours are really lovely and I can’t wait to see how much length I end up with so that I can search Ravelry for a pattern.  Apologies for the terrible photo of the original blend. Merino and bamboo

My consistency has improved massively and I have managed to get a 3 ply that is about sport weight!  I used short forward drafting again but something has just clicked and I am finally able to draft small amounts so when plied it isn’t so thick.  It still is a little fluffy, I am knitting a cardigan with malabrigo yarn at the moment and I am wondering if they coat the yarn in something to stop it being fluffy (or having a halo).  I love that my singles and 3 ply are still looking similar…unlike the ethereal blend.

What I have learned

  • Don’t pre-draft all your fibre before you know what it is going to look like when its 2 or 3 ply!
  • Ravelry is a great resource and a way to make friends from around the world
  • Being part of a Team keeps you motivated
  • Small amounts of spinning each day is easier on my arms and hands than a long session
  • I really missed spinning on the first TDF rest day!
 

 

Spinning progress

I thought I should make a note of my spinning progress so far, especially as I am now spinning a little everyday.

In a previous spinning post I had talked about my problems with drafting fibre and disastrous results…or should I call it art yarn!

My next post was about creating rolags and spinning from those which I definitely found easier, I made some useable 2 ply yarn in the landscape colours and went on to knit an ipad cover with the yarn.  Don’t look too closely or you’ll notice some cables aren’t the same length!  Oh and Judy’s Magic Cast On was a disaster as its on the inside of the bag!!!  oops!

Knitted_iPad_cover.jpg 

I had other attempts at spinning from rolags, I had spun a selection of peach and red toned fibre scraps and I really liked it on the bobbin…but when I set it, I massively overheated it and ended up felting the yarn and the colours ran and it ended up orange.  Regardless of the quality I am determined to make something out of everything I spin, so thanks to Ravelry’s pattern search I found this wee business card holder pattern.  The cabling doesn’t really stand out I think because it felted so much, plus it was 2 ply.

Business_card_holder.jpg

I also spun some purple and pink scraps, again making a 2 ply yarn.  This time I made a dog poop bag holder!  I crocheted it, without a pattern and it is sooo soft, it feels lovely.  Again the yarn slightly felted when setting it, but not as much.

Dog_poop_bag_holder.jpg

Then I took on a bigger challenge, rather than using a bag of scraps and creating rolags, I wanted to give pre-drafting a go.  So with 200g of Perpetual Purple Paradise from Gilliangladrag online shop I pre-drafted and then spun all 200g.  What I have ended up with is 3 ply yarn, some of which is Aran weight and some is Worsted weight.  (Not intentionally different weights, just shows the improvement in my drafting.). 

I am thinking I will make a hat, cowl and mitten set…depending on how I get on they may be wrist warmers and not mittens.  I gave chain plying a couple of goes, but again I would call that art yarn based on the inconsistency, the lumps, the coil spinning in parts.  Not sure if it is usable yet…it may end up being used to make a bobble instead.

Purple merino spinning

You’ll notice it says Pre-TDF and then Tour de fleece day 1 on the image above.  I will explain more about that on my next post.

What I have learned so far

  • As a beginner its much easier spinning from pre-drafted tops
  • Rolags make a very fluffy soft yarn
  • Accidentally boiling yarn makes it felt and run! (and it loses the merino wool feel)
  • It was much easier for me to rest my right arm on a small cushion and draft at exactly the same pace as my leg pressed on the treadle.  This stops you spinning faster than you can draft
  • Practice and preparation definitely improves the final results
  • Measuring yarn on the niddy noddy is not a good judge of final length (as its under tension and shrinks slightly during setting)
  • Chain plying is tricky and I need more practise at it!
Side thoughtwriting a blog that may be read by Americans and Brits is a challenge re: spelling!  Do I just stick to UK English and assume Americans will understand we spell things differently?  In the UK practice is a noun and practise the verb…in the US practice is both noun and verb!  Then there’s fibre and fiber!  Never mind all the words we put a u in that American’s have done away with!  Hmm perhaps I’ll just randomly mix them up and confuse everyone 😉
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How craft making and Scotland rescued me

Life before…

My life was consumed with working hard and very long hours to earn money for a few weeks a year of international travel.  We went to many fabulous and breathtaking places around the world including Hawaii, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Australia, various US states and parts of Italy.  I also travelled to Peru and Bolivia for 31 days as a mix of holiday and unpaid leave (Follow links to see photo highlights).  And so I thought my blog was turning into a travel blog…

The breakdown…

At the end of 2016 I started to burnout and lose control of my mind, I wasn’t coping at work despite (or perhaps because I was) working almost every waking hour and not making enough progress to satisfy my own high standards. By early 2017 I was a jibbering wreck, unable to stop crying all the time and was eventually signed off with anxiety and depression.  When my sick pay ran out I couldn’t face returning to work, stressed at the thought and afraid that my resilience was too weak and I would return to old habits of working every hour and so I requested a 12 month sabbatical (unpaid leave).  So I am due to return in September, unless I resign.

My new life…

Whilst off work I have started doing more craft type things, I have wet felted a hat and a handbag learned how to knit, made some sea glass jewellery, bought a spinning wheel and I’m now learning how to spin.  We bought a tent last autumn and instead of international travel we have been exploring the North of Scotland and some of its many Isles either with the tent or renting small cottages.
I have been blown away by the scenery that we have seen…and with my calmer mindset I can actually be present and fully enjoy being in the moment and after walking 20k steps enjoy an evening sitting in our tent with my husband and dog and knitting another hitchhiker scarf! Scotland has white sandy beaches and turquoise water, okay you need to wear layers, not a bikini…but then you often get a beach to yourselves!
As for my future…we shall see!
October 2017  
Isle of Eriskay, Western Isles, Scotland
 March 2018
Coral beach, Isle of Skye 

 

June 2018
Sango_Sands_beach_Durness.jpg
Sango Sands beach, Durness
Balnakeil beach, Durness, North Scotland