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Monday, August 05, 2013

Pushing on

After posting about my Tour de Fleece spinning I felt inspired to push on and ply the second skein.  As I filled the drop spindle each time I had wound the spun fibre into a centre pull ball using my nostepinde. Now I don't know if I'm missing a trick here but although I love the little nostepinde eggs I find it really tricky to do anything more than a 2 ply from them, especially with fine singles with a lot of twist. Chaos and yarn barf usually ensues. Long story short I wound the singles onto the bobbins from my wheel under a small amount of tension and then spindle plied from the built in lazy Kate. A somewhat convoluted process but less stressful than the alternative.
Having got the wheel out for this purpose it seemed a shame to put it away without doing any actual spinning. I already had one bobbin full of singles in a bright orange wool/silk blend which I bought from Old Maiden Aunt at UK knit camp around 3 years ago so it was high time I hunted out the rest of the fibre and did something with it. By the time my recording of the London-Surrey classic ran out yesterday (another BBC sport recording fail) I had three bobbins full and was ready to get plying. I should have the finished yarn to show you today or tomorrow.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Tour de Fleece

Whilst I've never formally signed up to the Tour de Fleece or set myself tour goals it does act as an annual kickstarter to get me spinning again. I was a bit slow off the mark, in fact the riders had had their first rest day by the time I got going, but I still managed to spin all and ply half of the braid of fibre by the time the peloton reached the Champs Elysée.

The fibre is 100 grams of 100% Southdown dyed by Megan as part of her 2012 sock club. I've ended up with a worsted spun, 3 ply sock yarn. Estimated yardage (once the second skein is plied) is around 320 metres.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Snowy sheep

Snowy oak

Everything looks different in the snow, outlines are smoothed, everything in the landscape turns to black and white, and things that usually look white change to yellow or brown.

Snowy sheep

These guys are certainly wearing the right gear for the snow - can't beat wool.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Elizabeth from Bluestockings arrived this week with a great idea for a stash busting project. St Margaret's Church, Oxford have put out a call for 200 of these little sheep for their knitted nativity. The nativity is going to go on a journey throughout Advent, stopping at a different house each night before arriving at the church on Christmas Eve, and they want to give a knitted sheep from the nativity to every child in the congregation. I think this is a really sweet idea, plus I have a lot of half balls of cream and white wool to user up!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

All the W's

Wovember is all about wearing and celebrating wool. Luckily I have a brand new woolly Warriston to keep me warm throughout the month.

Warriston front

Pattern: Warriston by Kate Davies
Yarn: Studio Donegal Soft Donegal in Shade 5230 Orange; 5 skeins*
Needles: 5.5mm circular throughout
Size: S
Mods: knit body to 16" and sleeves to 17" to get the right length and knit a funnel neck instead of cowl neck.

Warriston back

I had a bit of a Hermione Granger in Prisoner of Azkaban moment looking at this photo ("is that what my hair really looks like from the back?"**) but at least I'm pleased with how the sweater looks.

I ended up knitting both the body and sleeves a bit longer than specified in the pattern in order to get the right fit and this led to me running perilously short of yarn by the time I got to the neck. By the time I'd done the two sets of decreases in the reverse stocking stitch section of the cowl it was clear that I wasn't going to have enough yarn to be able to knit the neck as written. Of course I could have ordered more yarn but I was really impatient to wear the sweater and besides, for some reason, even though I'd tried on the sample and looked at the pictures I'd kind of remembered the neck as a funnel rather than a cowl. So I knit a funnel as follows: once I got to the end of the raglan shaping I worked two more repeats of the raglan decreases to get down to 80 sts. Then I knit 4 vertical repeats of the Warriston stitch pattern and topped it off with the i-cord bind-off.

Warriston neck detail

I'm really happy with the result. The funnel neck fits really nicely inside the collar of my coat (no need for a swarf with this sweater), it's still cosy but there's not too much fabric round my neck.

The Donegal Soft is lovely too - as the name suggests it's a much softer yarn some other Irish tweeds and the colour is fantastic. I bought it at Kate's stand at Woolfest on a ridiculously cold and wet Cumbrian day and the bright orange yarn just seemed to promise that I would be warm again at some point in the future.

* NB I ran a bit short hence the neck alterations
** I tried to find the clip but You Tube suddenly turned into a very scary place

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wee blog post

It's been a busy summer. I've been to Germany, I've been to the Olympics, I've walked 50 miles with a pack on my back. I've knitted a few things, and I've been spinning. My new found love for drop spindling lasted after I got back from Woolfest. I got a little sidetracked with knitting cushions for Woolsack and a ballet cardigan for my niece but here and there I put in some time on the drop spindle and I'm now spinning up my third braid of fibre. This is a beautiful braid of hand-dyed Blue Faced Leicester from Blackbird Fibres which Felix gave me earlier this year. It's perfect seasonal spinning with warm reds, oranges, and purples. The plan is to spin 4 super skinny plies which should add up to a thin 4 ply or sock yarn. In fact since I have 160g of fibre there may be enough to make enough 4 ply for gloves and then make a heavier weight yarn for a matching hat.

Friday, June 29, 2012

New toy

One of the things I love about yarny gatherings is that I usually learn something brand new, either a technique or a tool, or both. This time round I learnt how to wind yarn balls using a Nostepinne (or Nosty). Although I have a ball winder and swift which are fabulous for winding balls of yarn the ball winder is a bit brutal for winding singles (especially as fine as I like to spin them). The Nosty on the other hand is just perfect.

Nostepinne and egg


My first introduction to the Nostepinne egg (the little ball of yarn that you can wind with the Nosty) came at Cecilia's house early on in the week. Cecilia has the most delightful wool room at the back of the house with spinning equipment, fibre, skeins of yarn hanging up, and little Nostepinne balls lying everywhere like little Faberge Easter eggs.

Nostepinne and egg

[Nostepinne egg]

The really handy thing about winding singles on a Nostepinne as because it creates a centre pull ball, once you've wound your ball you can then rewind it as a double ply ball (i.e. taking the inside and outside ends of your first ball and holding them together to wind a second ball). This makes it much easier to use for plying as you don't then have to worry about the inside unravelling more quickly (or in lumps) than the outside.

It wasn't until I started Googling Nostepinne tutorials for this post that I realised that, should you want to, you can also use the Nosty to wind flatter yarn cakes, such as you get from a mechanical ball winder. There's a great article on "nosting" here and a good YouTube tutorial here. I may refine my technique in time but for now I'm happy with my eggs.