Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Lots of crafting

I guess in part because I missed last week, but it feels like I have a lot of crafting goodness to share with you this week.

On the needles:
For Christmas I received a copy of Knitting Wizardry, the UK version of the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine. Lots of lovely patterns in there, I had been coveting it for a while.

My first cast on from it was the Cap full of caps by Kendra Nitta.


Sock yarn leftovers are combined with short rows to make a single hat that looks like a pile of five hats on top of each other.
A clever pattern but the sizing comes out huge. I fiddled with the stitch counts to get a size I am happy with. Currently stalled as I have stolen the needle for my next cast on and I need to decide if I want to include the colourwork stripe.

From the same book I have the Owl cardigan by Mari Chiba on the go.


I needed the 3.5mm needle from the hat for the ribbing.

The yarn is a gorgeous teal that is not coming out well on the screen, it has a mix of blue and green fibres, giving a multi-tonal effect.

I am toying with the idea of switching to working in the round once I get past the ribbing and steeking the cardigan. I am not a huge fan of purling as I find it slower than the knit stitch. Sewing machine is currently out of action and I don't entirely trust a crochet steek so still weighing up the options here.

I have also has my long neglected sock yarn blanket out of hibernation and added six squares to it. Need to do this more regularly or it will actually never be completed!

Off the needles:
Just one off the needles. My somewhat edited version of the Elementary Watson Socks by Sherry Menton is done.  


I altered the cables and had to adjust the heel to make the numbers work.
Yarn is a standard Regia 4-ply sock yarn.

Designer business:
The pre-release publicity for the Yarn in the City's Crafty Guide to London has begun. You can read my interview and see the sock pattern I designed for the book on their blog.

In a spin:
A lot of my crafty activity has been spinning, it has just grabbed my attention this week.

I started with plying the drop spindle singles I had made at shows over the past year or so. A navy plied with a blue/grey mix. The leftover navy singles were navajo plied to give a three ply yarn. 

Once that was done I started the green fibre that I bought at Fibre East last year. I think it is merino but forgot to write it down.

Having done the first bobbin (fibre split into three for a three ply yarn) I realised I was out of bobbins. I needed to skein up my plied yarn to free some up. 

Since I was on a plying/bobbin clearing mission I made the decision to ply the linen/merino and alpaca singles that I was unsure about too. The end of the alpaca was handy plied to give a two ply yarn.

Really pleased with the alpaca linen/merino yarn in the end. It is pretty chunky and textural. Suspect it may become a single skein cowl.


A complete set of free bobbins meant I could motor on with the green fibre. Trying to spin a little faster and thicker without too much compromise on evenness. All three singles are now done (this morning) and are resting in preparation for plying.

These will most likely be plied tomorrow as I have a big pile of fluffy alpaca fibre that I am keen to start spinning up.

I have also had an old drop spindle project out, this was most likely also a demo piece, but it was so long ago I don't remember. There is just a little fibre left to spin so I will try to get it finished up this week.

I had forgotten how HUGE this spindle is. It is the Ashford one I started with.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Just a little

Not much crafting this week, but a couple of bits to share.

On the Needles:
I am taking part in the UK sock Knitters British Actors KAL on Ravelry. Each month you pick a sock pattern you can link back to a particular actor and enter it. The links can be pretty tenuous, so you can more or less make any pattern you fancy. There are suggestions too.

For January the actor is Benedict Cumberbatch.

I have chosen the popular Elementary Watson Socks by Sherry Menton. The first is done.

Some edits, because well, when do I ever not? 

I removed the small cable to reduce the stitch count to 64. I also changed the direction of some of the cables. I actually made a slip up here, the front and back of the leg don't match because I didn't think ahead. Never mind, it makes a nice cable anyway.

This is the first time I have tried the Fleegle heel. I rather like it. It gives a gusset on a toe up sock, no wrap and turn required and is simple to work. I had to mess with this a bit to get the stitch count I wanted coming out. I worked more plain stitches at the base of the heel, a total of ten instead of the usual four. I couldn't find anyone talking about this online; so if you are wondering, it appears to work just fine with the wider base.

Yarn is a plain blue Regia 4 ply from stash.

Off the Needles:
I do have an off the needles, blocking my sink as I type, but I can't do the reveal yet as it is a new design. 

Proof that I have sewn my ends in!

In a Spin:
The plying continues. I have filled one bobbin and now need to start the second. It should all fit on two.



I have shortened my drive band, but the wheel still doesn't want to turn smoothly on anything but the largest ratio. I need to do some investigating but think I will finish the plying first as I am reluctant to change anything mid project.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Finishing blues

Not in a sad way, it just seems that everything I have been working on is blue. There has, as the name suggests been a bit of finishing.

On the Needles:
Not a lot this week due to a bit of a finishing session. I have a sock design half way through construction, hopefully will get it done this week. This means I get the excitement of a stash dive and new project.

Off the needles:
Lots to share here, although some you have seen in an almost done state before.


These just needed the ends weaving in. And would maybe benefit from a blocking to even out the colourwork.


The fox and badger scarves for Christmas got their googly eyes.


The badger looks a lot like Badger from Bodger and Badger. They seemed to be well received and there have been several mentions from adults that they want one, so next year's list might be sorted!


To use up 6 ply leftovers from my parent's Christmas socks I divided the blue stripy yarn in half, used the navy for heels and toes and worked a basic toe up sock with short row heels. 


Just the pattern that lives in my head worked over 48 stitches. They are a little shorter than usual, but perfect for walking boot socks. 


My big project off the needles is my driftwood 


Quite a few tweaks to the pattern (different yarn weight, needle size, altered the neckband, sleeves). I am counting it as off the needles, but it is not quite done yet- ends are woven in but no suitable buttons. Will go on a button hunt this week.

In a spin:
My wheel went away to make room for the Christmas tree (small house). Now it is back I am working to clear some bobbins so I can start a couple of new projects. 

The two fine singles from show demonstrations are being plied to make a barber pole yarn.



This is taking a while as I need to shorten the drive band on my wheel. It will only work on the largest whorl, which makes for the slowest spinning. A lot of treadling is required to get the twist needed for the plying. It is a stretchy drive band, so a bit of a faff to shorten, needs cutting and melting back together.


Designer business:
I have finally got my first sweater pattern up on Ravelry.


Other crafting:
While I was visiting my parents I had a go on my Mum's embellishing machine. It is basically needle felting, but with lots of needles and a machine to make them go up and down. It is faster by far. 

Not sure how it would work with loose fibres, I used felt cut outs onto poly cotton fabric backing.

Even my socks are blue today!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

A quiet week

Well, quiet on the crafting front. Work has been busy, with two craft courses and the start of the Christmas themed walks (I dress as an elf).

The boys dress like this:


That is Deedee the Suri at the front, he likes to pose sideways for the camera to show off his handsome profile.

So, not much time for crafting, but there has been a little.

On the needles:
The seamless sweater is coming along nicely. I have got past the interesting bit now and it is stockinette down the body for ever more (slight exaggeration). Not overly exciting but perfect for knit night. 



I worked the neck band shortly after separating for the body. I couldn't decide if there was too much fabric across the back because it was curling so I figured I would do the band and check. It seems to be fine.

The checkered wrist warmers are off the needles, just need the ends sewing in now so I can't quite call them done yet.

Felting fun times:
There has been some felting this week as part of a gift project (so not too many details, just in case).

This fluffy pile

Became this after felting. 


The dark blue stands out more than I was expecting, although I imagine it will lighten as it dries. There is also a little bit of sparkle in there too.

No before shot for this next one, a combination of purples and hot pink.


I will show you what they become after Christmas.

And that is it for this week, no spinning as the wheel has been moved out of the way to fit the Christmas tree in. Looking forward to getting in some crafting time over the holiday between elf shifts.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Knitting all over the place

I have quite a bit on the go today, so plenty to share.

On the needles:

As a treat to myself I have cast on a very straight forward sweater pattern in some stash yarn. After quite a bit of designing recently I wanted to just follow instructions for a bit.


Of course I have already changed the yarn weight, needle size, neckline detail (a little) and am wondering if the body might need some cables to break up the stockinette. Being me I am winging these changes so it may go horribly wrong. If so I shall document it for your knitting/reading entertainment.

Yarn: Stylecraft Life DK

I have tried the continguous sleeve method on a baby sized cardigan so interesting to play with it on a full size piece.

The yarn is has more acrylic than I would typically use, although I am a fan of acrylic in the right places (baby items, blankets, anything that needs a lot of washing). It does feel soft and was very affordable. Reviews on Ravelry are that is washes well so I am hoping for a super low maintenance sweater (you know, one that I can spill things on and not be bothered).

It is motoring along nicely, I did some more yesterday after this photo was taken. Getting to that point in a one piece sweater where you are working both sleeves plus both body sections so the rows are really long. It will zoom once I join into the round soon.

Next I have some colourwork cuffs. Last week I had nothing to take to knit night so had a quick hunt through my Ravelry favourites and grabbed some sock yarn leftovers.



I skipped the purl stitches and made each of the colourwork squares an extra row deeper. And only worked four ridges each end of the cuff (honestly?! Do I ever do what I am told!).

I was only making these to use up scraps and fill knitting time, but actually really like the one that is done.

Next up is an "on the needles for now".
I think I showed you the hexagonal mitts before.


They got bumped off my 3mm dpns so I could make Christmas socks and have been sat waiting. However, while the construction is interesting I am not loving them. I really don't think I am going to finish them. Perhaps it is the colour combo? Anyway, I don't know but this one will be frogged.


Off the needles:

The second pair of Christmas socks is done:


Yarn: Opal 6 ply undyed. Overdyed in my "smaller on the outside" colourway.

Technically that concludes my Christmas knitting. Until I decide I neeeeeeeeeed to make something for someone a couple of days before Christmas. Always happens.

I made a tiny sock too.


Obviously this was much, much faster than the big pair.

In a spin:

I have finished the alpaca batt. 


The single is somewhat uneven. I was trying to spin thicker and faster. Which worked quite well, but I am not keen on the unevenness. I think it may have been partly due to the fibre in the batt, combined with my trying a different style of spinning.

Although it is slower I think I am more of a fine, precision spinner.

Not sure what to do with this. I was going to ply it with the red/black/linen single, but I think it is too brown to go well. I might navajo or andean ply it which should even out some of the lumpy parts.

I have also been dyeing. I was gifted a white alpaca fleece in the summer.


Pro tip- try not to let your pan of raw alpaca fleece develop a geyser when dyeing, it can lead to felt.

Fortunately I got away without it felting (more luck than judgement, shouldn't get distract while bubbling).

Several different sessions has given me this lovely lot.


Colours somewhat spoiled by lack of decent daylight.

Top right is a minty green. I have been pulling locks out of this, opening them up and making a soft fluffy cloud to spin from. I think this would work well plied with a natural brown or chestnut.

To the left is a length that goes from green to blue. I would like to spin this preserving the colour change, but not sure how yet. Maybe pull out locks as I spin working from one end to the other. This would be a slow process though.

Below that is a big pile of bright turquoise. I might card this for spinning. Will probably depend how the minty green spins up, if that goes well I will repeat the lock opening instead.

The final pile is minty green overdyed with black. The plan is to spin this the same way as the turquoise (however that ends up being) and ply the two together.

Whatever is left after the spinning will be carded into batts for felting.

There is still some white left in the bag too (when I say bag, it is a sack really). Some has been through the carder, the rest is raw fleece so I have that as an option for plying or blending.

During the dyeing and carding I have been reminded just how dirty alpacas get. They REALLY love to roll in the dirt!


Having uploaded my pictures for today I am seeing a definite blue/green theme going on this week. Something else needed for next week perhaps.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Winter Woollies 2015

So this week it will be all about Winter Woollies, in photos.

It was really very chilly, but a wonderful day and went much better than we had even hoped. 

The A Little Bit Sheepish stall. And our neighbours- Hooligan yarn, I picked up a ball of yarn made from "Dylan" the sheep. 


The winter lambs were showing off their cuteness.

The alpacas were rivalling the lambs cuteness. The babies come for the day! (with their mums of course).

Stalls inside the tent, plus a wheel and peg loom display.

Inside the building, more stalls.

Some of my knitting group friends had a stall too, selling all kinds of knitted goodies.

More spinning demos and a sheep to sweater poster display showing the stages of processing fleece.

The cattle were in the barn too, say hi to "Wonky" the longhorn.

Almost done with the post show clear up, the shop is back up on-line, soon be time to start planning for next year!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Ever closer

Big events are creeping up, this is both exciting and nerve racking at once. 

Sunday sees the first Winter Woollies wool fair. Because I thought I would solve the issue of no wool fairs around here by organising one!
This week has seen me cleaning and tidying the venue, painting the walls, sorting out posters and signs, layouts, toilets, tables and dyeing stock for my own stall (yeah, I have  a stall at the event as well a running it, me, mad, why do you ask?!)

The weather has turned cold and grey, there was talk of snow. I'm sure it will be fine.

Obviously the festive gifting season is approaching too. Some of my crafting for that is in hand. However, I am certain I will think of a few more bits I just have to make, and there are some socks that still look a lot like a skein of yarn (it is now navy blue yarn though, so an improvement over a week ago).

On the needles:
Obviously, with socks that need making, I cast on for something entirely different. In my defence the sock yarn was still drying. More of a problem is that this now occupies the needles I need for the socks.
Thought I would use up some sock leftovers and have a go at an unusual construction. This is the first of a pair of Hexagon mitts by Sybil R. A little fiddly, but fun to try something different. She has a pattern for pieces of eight mitts too that I want to try.




Off the needles:
I was already to take a photo of the stripy socks that I shared last week now in their finished state. then I realised their intended recipient might happen to pass by the blog, so thought it best not to put a picture up. They are done though, ends woven in and everything. All ready for wrapping.

Playing with colours:
Since the dye pots have been out to get ready for the show I have had a chance to play with colours. Last week it was a green gradient custom dye, which I handpainted. It came out like this.

Having rediscovered how much fun it is to hand paint yarn I am planning to try my hand at some self striping as well.

With the last of the yarn dyed I filled the pot with some raw alpaca from a fleece I was gifted. Threw some dye in a have been cooking it this morning. The colours have all blended, but I will not be able to see how it looks until I rinse it tomorrow (too hot at the minute, don't want to make felt!) 

I realise that looks purple in the photo, it is, in fact, bright green, blue and turquoise.
The raw fleece always makes the pot filthy, so I only do this right at the end of the session when the pot will be scrubbed out anyway. It makes for interesting, and unpredictable colours. As a bonus it washes the alpaca in the process.