Sunday, 31 August 2008

I wordled my blog

How much fun was this?!

Yes, I probably need to spend less time on my computer :)

This blog was Wordled by me at Wordle.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Spindly goodness

I'm on a blog-posting roll this weekend! It must be something to do with watching a huge session of the Olympics today, which has left me feeling motivated to do lots of stuff! Didn't team GB do well?!

Anyway, here's some news about my latest completed project, not a Ravelympics one, this is something I've been planning for much longer. So without further ado, meet my newest spindles:

I'm so excited about these! They're handmade (by me), with resin whorls that I made specifically for them. The top one has rose petals embedded in the resin, the middle one has calendula petals, and the bottom one is extra special, those shells are fossils that I collected from Barton on Sea this spring.

The whorls are about 5cm wide, and the spindles weigh between 20g and 25g, so these are ideal for spinning laceweight to medium weight yarns. I've played most with the fossil one so far and, like the others, it spins beautifully, I can see myself using this a lot! The white spots next to the fossils are just air bubbles that have filled with polishing compound, I was so excited about taking photos that I haven't cleaned that out yet.

And the best part, I want to make a bunch of these for Wildcraft, so I'll get to go on more fossil hunts and to experiment with other interesting things to decorate them with. I'm even thinking of starting a spindle club, where members receive a seasonal ly decorated spindle and fibre with every installment. Exciting eh?!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Ravelympics - First Event Completed

I mentioned a while back that I'd entered the Ravelympics didn't I? For those who aren't in the know, the Ravelympics is an event hosted by Ravelry (my favourite site ever), where participants aim to complete one, or more, knitting or spinning projects during the Beijing Olympics. I've entered two projects into the 'Handspun Heptathlon', a Morning Surf Scarf, knitted from some handspun yarn I made during the Tour de Fleece, and I'm spinning some merino/silk laceweight yarn on my drop spindle.

Last night I finished the Morning Surf Scarf, finished blocking it this morning and here it is!

Morning Surf Scarf

Isn't it being nicely modelled by the tree? Fortunately, this will be the one and only time the tree gets to wear it, as I'm keeping this for myself, for neck-warmy goodness in the autumn.

Morning Surf Scarf

I can thoroughly recommend the pattern, it was really quick to knit and my 225 metres of precious handspun yarn went a long way, the scarf's 140cm long and 20cm wide.

Now my other project is not nearly as close to being finished. But I guess I have set myself quite a challenge. I want to turn this 100gram merino/silk roving, which I dyed in 'wild rose' colours...

Tour De Fleece - Merino Silk

...into a two-ply laceweight yarn, spun on a feather-weight lace spindle. I'm doing ok, I'm about halfway through it at the moment. This was the spindle shortly before I wound the singles off and started another lot.

Merino Silk laceweight spinning

I've got two weeks left to finish spinning and plying, so I've got plenty of time to get it finished before then. Unfortunately, I'm rapidly getting bored with spinning laceweight. It's fiddly and the colours of the roving are too pale to keep me interested. I'm sure it will make a lovely yarn, but I need to keep myself motivated to finish somehow. Perhaps the right knitting pattern would encourage me. I reckon I'll end up with 200-300 metres of the yarn, maybe a bit more, and I'd like to make a lacy scarf or shawlette with it. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

They're coming...

I know it's a bit mean, posting sneaky previews like this, but I've been up to my elbows in dye and wool for the last couple of days and it's done something funny to my head. At least the results are pretty.


In amongst this carnival of colour are some delicious new luxury blends of fibre. There's some BFL/silk (gorgeous lustre), and some BFL/kid mohair that's so fuffy and soft I want to hug it lots. My family reckon I should add a tagline to all the Wildcraft fibres to say that 'every roving has been hugged'. While that's not entirely the case, I do love all of them, even the wayward fibres (that superwash can be quite an escape artist!), which is why it's so nice to see them move happily to new homes, particularly when they've been spun up.

The other fibres on the line there are superwash BFL (so soft!), BFL, shetland, oh and some Wensleydale. They'll be in the shop just as soon as they're dried, braided and photographed. Drying was taking ages, but it's just got really windy here, so that should speed things along a bit.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Much Spinning, or hurrah for the Tour de Fleece!

As promised, it's time for a post about my Tour de Fleece spinning. Actually, I've been spinning a lot since the Tour ended the week before last, so I have even more spinning FO's and WIPS to report about here.

The thing is, I've taken up spindling (secretly, I think it might be turning into an obsession). Don't misunderstand me, I love my wheel. Rose (a Majacraft Rose) is beautiful and spins practically any yarn I want her to. But she's not very portable, so spinning on my wheel is something I need to plan for. I can't easily carry her to the nearest seat, so I have to bring the chair and fibre supply to her. And then I usually want a cup of tea, or my ipod to listen to while I spin, so the whole thing becomes quite a palaver to organise. I'm a dashing around kind of person, not very comfortable at sitting down and doing one thing for a long time, so unless I deliberately organise time every day to spin at my wheel, I don't tend to spin at all.

That was until my mum made me my first proper top-whorl spindle, turned from cedar of lebanon timber on her lathe, which was a prototype for the ones we now have in the shop. She's now made me several and I love them all.


They're portable, lovely tactile tools and an unexpected bonus is the the feeling of connection with the past that I get when I'm spinning on a spindle. Spindling is one of the oldest human occupations, and when I'm using my spindle I often think on who in times past would have spindled, what kinds of spinning tools they might have used, and what they might have been making the yarn for. What's also surprised me is that my yarn production rate on a spindle is easily higher than on my wheel. This is probably because I pick the spindle up more often during the day, but I've also got the technique sussed now so that it's a very smooth operation and v.nearly as fast on a yard-by-yard basis as my wheel (except for very bulky yarn where I concede that a wheel is probably faster). During the Tour de Fleece I spun all my yarns on a spindle (with a small exception due to muppetry on my part, see the turquoise skein below). I was supposed to be doing some laceweight on my wheel, (as I blogged about here), but that never actually happened after I caught the spindling bug...

So this is the grand line-up of the yarns I spindled during the Tour de Fleece:


Lined up like that it doesn't look a huge amount, but it's certainly more than I've spun on my wheel in a long time!

So here are the details (from left to right):

85 metres of Wildcraft shetland in lavender colours, spun to aran weight, which started out as this:

Shetland "Last of the Lavender"

The 85 metres was only part of the fibre, I've now finished spinning the whole braid and it's come to about 150 metres in total, certainly enough for a cosy winter hat.

Next is a 210 metre skein of turquoise three-ply yarn, which is about a dk weight. It started out as some corriedale top in three colours, which I'd blended with alpaca and tussah silk on my drum carder a long time ago. One of the singles was wheel-spun before the Tour, but the other two were spindled. Plying was only partly done on the spindle, as I got into a huge mess during plying from a centre-pull ball and transferred it onto the wheel to sort it out (note to self, never spin a three-ply yarn on a spindle again, or at least not before sorting out how to keep the plies properly tensioned!).

Then there's the Wildcraft Apple Blossom roving (superwash BFL), in cream/dark pink/green colours, which I turned into 225 metres of sock weight yarn. I think I like this one the most, and it's due to be knitted up into a Morning Surf Scarf for the Ravelympics.

And finally there's the little skein of 85 metres of BFL laceweight which I'd dyed in a colourway I called 'evening shades'. This I spun on my most recently acquired spindle, which was from Butterflygirl Designs.

BFL laceweight2

And now that the Tour de Fleece is over, can I stop spindling?! Um, no...

Since the Tour I've spun another 100 metre skein of the evening shades BFL yarn, which finished that fibre, and I'm now spinning this tussah silk top from Fyberspates with the BGD spindle:


And this weekend I turned half of this beautiful BFL from the Natural Dye Studio...


Into this sock yarn...


I still have half of the Natural Dye Studio roving left, so I'll make a matching skein so I can have two matching socks.

And remember the merino/silk laceweight that I never got around to spinning on my wheel for the Tour de Fleece...? I've just added it as my entry for the Handspun Heptathlon in the Ravelympics, to be spun, yes you've guessed it, on a spindle :)