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.

Year of Projects – week 25/52

Knitting

The vanilla socks are finished and I’ll post a photo after Christmas, just in case the recipient reads my blog!

I started on the hat for my husband, using the corriedale fractal wool I spun (as shown in last week’s update).  I am using a pretty simple ribbed pattern, as I think the yarn colours would blur an intricate design; plus cables work best with 3 ply, not 2 ply.  It seems a long while since I have knit something with a worsted weight yarn and larger needles. So this photo is just one day’s progress, so should be finished early this week and I can do some selfish knitting.

The stressful situation I have been dealing with for a long time is finally over…so to treat myself I have bought some interchangeable needles. I prefer wood or bamboo needles, so opted for KnitPro Interchangeable needles in sizes 3.5mm to 8mm.  And they perfectly fit in the opening flap pocket of my circular needle case I made!  Perfect!! 

Colour is wrong on this photo…but you see the perfect fit

Felting

This week at my felting group I did some needle felting instead of wet felting for a change.  I used a ball of wet felted samoyed dog hair I made months ago (these parts were too rough to spin).  I then needle felted a picture similar to one I had noticed on Pinterest.  I just need to sew a loop on top and hang it on the tree. It is very lightweight. 

 

I also made some replacement pictures for a couple of Christmas frames I had.  These are clearly mice who have been tucking into too much Christmas cheese!!!  Especially the one on the left (she’s hanging a stocking on a toadstool…in case it isn’t clear.

 

Dyeing

Well you couldn’t make up my numptiness!  I thought I would dye a skein of merino silk blend yarn.  The idea being to test the different coloured landscape dyes I have and see how they turn out.  So I carefully mixed the colours, put in little pots, kept the pots of dye in the same order…..then when I finished I packed it all away having not written notes about what colours I used where!!!!  Doh!!!

The same day I also dyed my Shetland homespun yarn that I finished the week before.  I used hot pink, raspbery and opal blue colours and Oh my goodness I love this purpleness! And this will be another hat for me!  You can’t have enough purple hats!   

 Oh and for regulars to my blog, I have now finished watching all 12 seasons of Bones.  It was easy to have on in the background without needing to watch the actual screen, so I could still be productive.  Now to start watching Christmas movies!

 

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 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 – 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 🙄

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. 

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 😉
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From fibre to 2 ply yarn

I had a brainwave…good spinning practice would be making up a bunch of rolags, splitting them evenly by colours and this would then make a 2 ply with the same colours plying at the same time…sounds great doesn’t it?

What I failed to realise was how much my spinning would improve when doing the 2nd batch and just how much longer that meant my 2nd spool was over my 1st.  So the result is it started off plying well and then suddenly the colours went out of sync and my 1st spool ran out too quickly which then meant I needed to transfer some of my 2nd spool to another so I could continue plying.

The improvements in my 2nd spool I put down to the non-slip disks I put on the 3 legs of my spinning wheel, resting my right arm on a cushion on my leg and timing my drafting with my pressing the treadle (pulling and pressing at exactly the same time/pace)…oh and not having my arms too far away from the spinning wheel, a handspread away works best for me…well so far anyway.

 

 

A brand new adventure in fibre

Yesterday I bought an Ashford spinning wheel from a lovely lady, who also sold me lots of goodies to go with it. I had bought a niddy-noddy (yep that really is it’s name) the day before from Bunloit Woolery at Dingwall Wool and Textile fair, but all my other equipment came from this lady’s mother’s things.

There was already some single ply yarn on one of the bobbins, so I moved half of it to another and then today did some spinning to make 2 ply. It was a good way of practicing rhythm and holding the yarns plus with the different tones I could see the spinning in action.

Thanks to YouTube and Knittingthestash blog I knew roughly what to do and have now steamed my spun yarn and it’s drying in the gorgeous weather we are having in the Highlands (for a change).

Tomorrow I am going to have a go at spinning some of my wool fibre! But I don’t want to do too much on one day…in case I’m sore muscled tomorrow.

Niddy-noddy

Niddy-noddyAshford spinning wheelFirst 2 ply attempt