Sunday, 28 June 2015

Spinning: Plum Pudding Falkland Roving from Mandacrafts

Amanda Hannaford from Mandacrafts was the first indie dyer whose fibre I fell in love with during a visit to Fibre Fest, my first ever wool show. Even today I am still amazed by the richness of her colourways and I like to keep an eye on her shop in case something interesting pops up. I recommend seeking her out at wool shows especially because she has far more variety on offer there than in her online shop. If you can't make it, though, it is worth looking at the store after a show when she adds items that she had to take back home again.

It's been nearly a year now since I spun anything on my wheel at all, but recently I felt like having a go at it again. I gave my wheel a proper dusting and oiled it before I dug out a bag of Mandacrafts fibre. I chose the 28 micron Falkland tops that I used in the past and really enjoyed spinning. It is easy to draft and great for woollen spinning. I love this colourway especially: Plum Pudding. As soon as I saw it online, I just had to buy it before it sold out. 

There are alternating sections of deep red, purple and orange that will look great spun up into any weight. I am trying to spin the yarn as thinly as I can on my wheel (which isn't as fine as I would like it to be), so depending on how I decide to ply it, it will either be lace weight or 4-ply/fingering. At the moment I have no plans for this yarn so I am just enjoying spinning it.

I was surprised to find that I had to get back into the groove again once I sat at the wheel. I felt a bit rusty and it took a moment before I got the hang of it again. By now things are going along smoothly as they used to and I am getting a little bit of spinning in while watching TV. There is no rush and I am patiently waiting to see what this yarn will look like in the end. I always find it very hard to predict.

Are you spinning anything at the moment? Who do you like to buy your fibre from?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Cabled Socks: The Daughter Heir

I came across the pattern for The Daughter Heir not too long ago. I am not entirely sure how I found it, but I suspect Ravelry must have featured it on its homepage or suggested it to me as something similar to my usual knits. When it comes to socks, I especially like intricate cabling even though it can be difficult and time consuming to have to keep looking at each line of the instructions because such patterns may not be entirely intuitive at times. 

Despite keeping a close eye on the pattern, I did mess up a few times and had to rip back more often than I would have liked. However, I really enjoyed knitting these socks, so I didn't mind too much. There were a few new things in this pattern that I hadn't tried on socks before: the heel flap is slightly different with a stocking stitch edge and the heel turn is one I hadn't come across yet. While I really like the heel flap, I am not so sure about the heel turn. I do like how it turned out and it is easy to do, but it just looks odd and a lot less organic than my usual heel turn. I probably won't be doing that again, but it was nice to try something different.

Another thing I liked about the socks is the gusset that, instead of being plain stocking stitch, is knitted with ribbing. That keeps things interesting and ties in well with the ribbing of the cuff and back of the leg. This is only the second pair I have knitted that calls for increases in the middle of the sole. I remember that they were perfectly fine when I knitted my Ayartma socks and I certainly made no mention of the increases on the blog, so it must have been fine. This time, though, the pattern called for m1 increases (picking up the yarn between two stitches), which results in holes in the fabric. While I don't mind the look, I am not certain this is a good thing when it comes to socks. I am concerned they may wear out more quickly due to this.

As I said, I had to rip back a few times and reknit things I got wrong the first time. Even after I took my final photos, I found a mistake in the toe that I had to fix! One of the two was longer for some reason. I decided to graft the ends together once I had 20 stitches left, which is sooner than the pattern calls for. Still, one mistake remains and I am not going to go back and fix it because it would mean nearly reknitting the whole sock all over again. As you can see, the back of the leg is patterned as well and has some ribbing with a medallion at the end. The first time I knit the medallion, I must have skipped a row, so it looks slightly different from the one pictured above. It is not a big difference, but it is noticeable and bothers me - but not nearly enough to knit it again! Nobody is going to see it anyway.

So, what did I use to knit these socks? The yarn is Hedgehog Fibres' sock yarn in the colourway Monarch that I bought at the reopening of A Yarn Story recently. It knits up very prettily and is a good sock yarn, though it does not have as luxurious a feel as some. It feels just like ordinary sock yarn and will do a good job. The colours are lovely as they are and I am glad there is no pooling at all. 

I used 2.5 mm circular needles and I think I would have been fine with 2.25 mm, too. The socks are just right and not too tight, but if you like a snug fit, going down in needle size is a good idea here. I thought that due to the cabling, 2.5 mm would be ideal, but I think the yarn might require a smaller size, generally.

Knitting these socks had the nice advantage of my using the Kitchener stitch again, too. I have been having trouble with it since I changed the way I knit into stitches because it results in stitches lying on the needle differently, too. The last few times I tried to graft using the Kitchener stitch, it did not end well and I couldn't seem to find the right way to do it. Thanks to The Daughter Heir, though, I have finally figured out how to do it! I love this way of grafting, so I am very happy it's working again. That said, I may forget how I did it by the time I need it again.

Now that the socks are complete, I am left with a nice amount of leftover yarn for my very long-term WIP, the Beekeeper's Quilt. It's been going for years and I am in no rush to complete it. I ran out of suitable sock yarn last year or so and hadn't knit any more hexipuffs for it. This Hedgehog Fibre yarn will do nicely and break up the darker colours I have used so far.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Are You Going to the British Wool Show?

Image taken from the British Wool Show website

New name, new venue

Some time ago I was invited to the British Wool Show (formerly the British Wool Weekend) taking place in York on the 7th and 8th of August this year. I've never been to York before and since this is a city I have wanted to see for a while I will be there!

The interesting thing is that I don't know any of the exhibitors there, which is a surprise. I don't think I have seen them in other wool shows I have been to so this will be a whole new experience with lots to discover. The British Wool Show supports the Campaign For Wool which promotes the British textile industry. There should be plenty to do for the knitters, crocheters, felters, spinners and weavers among us and I am quite excited about it. 

Get involved

Whether you are going to the show or not, you can get involved, too: the British Wool Show is looking for bunting, pompoms and ribbons in all colours and sizes as well as twiddlemuffs. The bunting will be sewn into blankets for charity after the event. If you would like to send in something, please contact the organisers at for more information. Also, have a look at their blog for details. Tickets are on sale on the website now.

Are you going or have you been to this show before? I'd like to hear what your impressions were.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Worldwide Knit In Public Day 2015

What did you get up to on yesterday's Worldwide Knit In Public Day (WWKIP Day). Did you knit on public transport? Did you get to knit outside or were you, like me, forced to be indoors due to the weather? Were you alone or in a group with likeminded people? Whatever you did, I hope you had a good time.

Here in Bath, WWKIP Day marked the start of the Bath Knitting &Crochet Guild organised by the Fashion Museum. There was a surprisingly good turnout and it was great to meet new people who also love to work with yarn. 

The Fashion Museum has an archive collection of vintage knitting patterns, some copies of which were on display and available for a small donation. The illustrations on some of them were fantastic! My favourite is the cover of Woolcraft in the image above.The patterns seemed to be mainly for garments, but there were socks and other accessories, too.

If you are interested, you can stay up to date with what's going on in my city. You can sign up for the Bath Knitting & Crochet Guild newsletter via the Fashion Museum's website to stay in the loop about events. I know they are hoping to have talks about various woolly topics, among other things.

The meetings will take place on every second Saturday of every other month at 10:00. This year, meetings will be held in June, August, October and December at The Fashion Museum. Maybe I'll see you there someday!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Dusty Diamond: A Lacy Loop Scarf

Late last month was my boyfriend's mother's birthday and I wanted to knit something special for the occasion. I picked a hank of my own handspun from my stash and went looking for a nice stitch pattern to use to make a loop scarf or cowl. I decided on a lacy diamond stitch pattern from a pattern book. Originally, the pattern was part of a cardigan, but I used the design to fit into a simple loop. Sounds simple, but the original printed pattern, though charted, was full of errors! There were lots of blank squares in the chart that should have had yarn overs and two types of decrease instead. Luckily, this was easy to fix once I noticed and from then on it was plain sailing.

The yarn is a hank of Australian merino I spun into a light 2-ply fingering weight. It yielded 279 m that were a good yardage for this project.The fibre was hard to spin because it was quite compact (it was a gift and I can't tell how long the original owner may have had it in her stash). Nonetheless, the yarn turned out well and I like the result a lot. Actually, I like it a lot more than I did the fibre!

The yarn is nice and soft with a slightly dull and fuzzy look. When I looked at the finished loop, it seemed a bit dusty, but that is just how the yarn makes it appear. Hence I named the loop Dusty Diamond. 

Knitted across 56 stitches and seamed at the cast on and cast off edges, this loop is just the right size to wear as an accessory to complete an outfit in the spring or autumn. I managed to finish the loop just in time: it had only just dried and blocked the night before posting. I am very happy with it and Mark's mum is, too.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Sweet Georgia Superwash DK and My Fight Against My Inner Gollum

There are many different kinds of yarn, but the best must be the kind that feels like a velvety soft cloud of lusciousness. Cosy and comforting like Hobbiton, warm and welcoming like Rivendell, sometimes ethereal like Lothlorien.

Such yarns are few and far between, so it surprised me that the three hanks of Sweet Georgia Superwash DK I worked with to knit a sample shawl for A Yarn Story have exactly that feel: the merino wool is smooshy and warm and I didn’t really want to stop knitting with it. I also didn’t really want to let this shawl go now that I have experienced its softness. I can feel my inner Gollum whispering to me: It’s mine. My preciousssss. But, alas, all things must come to an end.

I have never used a merino superwash that is this luscious. The stitch definition is so clear that you can see all the intricate stitch patterns of the shawl and I am longing to knit a whole jumper with this yarn. Now, to understand the significance of this, you have to know that I am not at all a knitter of garments. Shawls, yes. Cowls, snoods and hats, yes. Socks, most definitely. Jumpers? Not so much. Jumpers are a bit like Isengard to me: they may look nice and enticing and safe at first, but ultimately they may very well turn out to be disastrously duplicitous and in league with Mordor. When I think of jumpers, I am convinced I will end up frogging them, starting over, running into more difficulties, and finally giving up. But for this yarn, I might actually risk it. I might need my own personal Sam to help me, but it might actually work.

The beauty of the yarn lies in its silky sheen and the fact that it has been hand-dyed, which results in a very lively colourway. I am using one called Mist and it subtly changes colour in places where the dye has settled differently. This is not a solid yarn, but an ever so slightly tonal one, which I love. It keeps things interesting.

This yarn is worth every penny for a knit you know you will wear over and over. Use it for something you know you will love. To paraphrase Gandalf, all we have to decide is what to knit with the time that is given us. Don’t waste it, and your own inner Gollum will be happy.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Abso-knitting-lutely Interviewed on Simple Stylish Knitting

Claire from Claireabellemakes has interviewed me for Simple Stylish Knitting and we talked about business, learning to knit, hosting #knittinghour on Twitter, and my favourite project. It was a fun chat and I hope you enjoy it, too.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Irresistible Sock Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres and Life In the Long Grass

Stunning is all I can say. When I saw these two hanks of sock yarn at A Yarn Story I turned into a different person. Gone was the indecisive me who always takes forever to choose what to buy, overwhelmed by choice. For some reason, as soon as I saw these yarns I knew I had to have them and not let them go. I had hoped to find speckled sock yarn like this for a long time, but the only dyers I had seen making them were in the US and I didn't want to risk the customs fee (the UK has a very low threshold of just £15, which includes postage, for imported goods - very annoying).

So let me tell you what I bought: the first yarn that really jumped out at me was Hedgehog Fibres' sock yarn in the colourway Monarch. Even though such light colours aren't usually my thing, the other colours bring out the orange and make this hank look all warm and happy. I just love it and it is still my favourite of the two.

The second sock yarn, Dappled, is from Life In the Long Grass, a Northern Irish business. Green is also not usually among my favourite colours, but yet again the added splashes of colour make for an interesting combination. It looks even richer in person. The colourway I chose is quite aptly named Splash. 

I have no idea what I will make with these two yarns. When I picked them I thought if socks, of course, but later I considered combining them in a shawl. Hm, I will have to think about that. At the moment socks are winning.