Yarn Diet Alert!

We’re on high alert!

I’ve decided I want to go to EYF 2018 (Edinburgh Yarn Festival in mid-March), and that’s gonna be mega expensive in booking tickets, train, accommodation, but also in yarn purchases!

Therefore, I’m imposing a yarn diet until March, and a sort of destash (as in, knitting stuff up and finishing it so I have less yarn in the stash). I won’t totally abstain from yarn if there happens to be, say, a Qing Fibre update or something… but I will try my best.

Note, I’m not saying there’ll be a fibre diet. I’m still going to allow myself to purchase and spin fibre. Ideally I will sell some of it if I can!

On the destash side of things, I cracked and started a Penguono – while not good for increasing my number of unfinished projects back up from 3 to 4 (I know, doesn’t actually seem that many but I seriously have to finish up my featherweight cardigan, it’s been months…), it is a great pattern for using up stashed yarn. I will actually be trying to knit up as much of my handspun as possible. This will give me a sample (which I can show friends and so on!), and free up some stash space for more handspun. I also want to get a feel for the quality of my handspun when knit in a garment, and this should give me some more ideas on how to improve in the future. Photos to come!

Anyway, that’s all really! I just wanted to formally announce my yarn diet, haha.

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Autumn Updates

So here in Wales we have transitioned into Autumn! It has been a little while and I have been keeping up with all kinds of craft so I thought I’d share a little update!

  • I dyed seven skeins of Shetland wool, Aran weight, for a farmhouse cardigan – I’ll include photos soon (currently typing on parents’ iPad while visiting my hometown). The colourway is purple and grey and brown – called ‘mini roll’
  • I am finishing up my sock projects – I had socks on the needles since May as I was planning to learn the fish lips kiss heel. I was a bit intimidated by the pattern PDFs but the other week I finally knuckled down and conquered it. It’s actually very user friendly. The second sock heel has been done and I just need to knit the foot and toe. 
  • My featherweight cardigan is progressing but it is slow and the lace weight yarn is quite difficult to work with when it comes to keeping tension consistent. Actually, my tension isn’t. I am considering frogging it.  But maybe I’ll just push to finish it and hope that blocking fixes most of the issues. 
  • I’ve kept spinning up,made a few sales, spun a bunch of skeins. I think I should makes separate post for it. I’m enjoying it but trying to make sure I do most of my spinning on Sundays. 
  • I’ve been listening to a new crafting podcast; Stranded Podcast!
  • I learned about cable knitting this weekend, maybe my ultimate goal of knitting a Michele Wang sweater might not be that far off after all. But first I’ll finish all my current projects and have my own little stash busting push this year. What a good idea actually, I could use the rest of the year to tie up loose ends (ooh, kinda pun) and use up stash ready for 2018. 

A Dyer’s Shopping List

Hi all,

It’s been a while!

A little update on my crafting activities: I’ve done a bunch of knitting, featherweight cardigan is still on the needles though! I’m working on a pair of self striping knitpicks felici socks, vanilla pattern. I’m also now working on a little table cover for a slightly splintery end table, no pattern, just deciding what to do as I go! What else… I have to knit a hat for my sister, no pattern, just winging it. I’m almost at the decreases.

Handspun yarn, green and natural, tied into a hankHandspun yarn, single ply, colourful with purples, whites, greys... still on the bobbin, attached to the spinning wheel

Spinning wise, I’ve done a bunch of spindle and wheel spinning. My skills are improving slowly and my spinning is getting more even. I need to work on balancing my yarn better when I am plying.

And, new thing! Well, I’ve been toying with the plan of dyeing yarn basically since I discovered hand dyed yarns maybe even a year ago or so (I only started knitting in August 2016!)… the reason for this is I would love to dye my own colours as and when required, and I want to be able to dye the colours I require without searching for the perfect match.

Also, some of my favourite dyers are based in USA which is not practical for me to order from due to customs fees (and my low wage job! In future, I will one day order from these lovely people, but not right now). A bunch of my favourite UK dyers are either now working on wholesale orders all the time or are sold out in a snap! I’m often at work during their updates too.

So, I ordered some bits for my experiments. I’m gonna list below what I’ve ordered and what I still need to get, for future reference! I’m currently watching Lara from Gynx Yarns’ video on dyeing as she has a great equipment list.

Bought/Have

  1. 7 x 100g aran Shetland wool yarn (enough for the worsted boxy pattern)
  2. A bunch of acid dyes
  3. Pipette
  4. Plastic measuring container
  5. Latex gloves x 1
  6. Simple dust mask (to upgrade if I do more)
  7. Apron
  8. Citric acid
  9. Tongs

Need

  1. Salt
  2. Stainless steel pot
  3. Find a notebook (I have one, I just need to christen one the dye book)
  4. A few tea towels (I can dampen them when mixing dye powders and if the powder falls out of containers it will be attracted to the dampness/it’ll go on there rather than float about and get in things like lungs)

Extra

  1. Respirator
  2. Urea
  3. Containers for dye stock (plastic or if I use old jars I need to sterilise them)
  4. More sturdy gloves
  5. Safety information for dyes and other things I’m using (MSDS) – I don’t have a printer at the moment – this is something I should do though!
  6. PH testing paper
  7. Little measuring spoons

Extra task: I should really join my local guild!

I’ve decided that I would like to document and write as much as I can about my dyeing and spinning (and crafts, etc) journey. I still would love to somehow make this a source of income although I acknowledge that I am a big (and not super dedicated) noob compared to all these very knowledgeable, committed and experienced people online! I hope to learn from them. I’ve just decided to ‘see how it goes’ and see if I can give it a shot regardless! I’ve changed my yarnie instagram to virago.yarns now…  welp!

 

Drafting Achieved!

Hi all,

Since my last post I have finally become accustomed to wheel spinning enough to be able to treadle and draft at the same time! My spinning speed and skill has just had a level up! Still a lot to learn but it is definitely motivating and encouraging for me.

I have been plying yarn as well, and loving the effect of it. I have a bunch of handspun yarn that I need to soak before skeining up, I will post a picture when I do. I still need to acquire a niddy noddy so that I can soak it.

I have a question for handspinners: when soaking and setting the twist, are you soaking the yarn while it’s still on a niddy noddy? Or do you soak the skein without having it tied up and with tension? Also, if you soak with a niddy noddy, do you have to use a plastic one? As I’m guessing that soaking a wooden one might make it warp over time.

In other spinning news, I ordered 2 x 100g of blended fibre from Countess Ablaze; one I spun and plied within one day, one left to use. Photos soon! Or if you’re impatient and actually want to see the photos they are on my instagram. I am still waiting on my Spin City batt and Elizabeth Zimmerman book. I might email Spin City in a bit to check up on it but I know that they are made to order and they are probably busy due to Tour de Fleece!

Anyway, that’s my update, just a quick bit of typing before I head to a few hours of overtime at the supermarket (that’s where I work now; can’t remember if I said). Thanks for reading!

Future Project Wishlist!

I’m just watching A Homespun House podcast and thinking about what projects I’d like to knit in the future when my budget is doing better and when I have finished my current projects. I just wanna note these down so I don’t forget!

  1. Striped socks
  2. Bergere goomy patterned socks
  3. Regia patterned socks
  4. Non superwash high twist BFL socks – better for the environment as non plastic and compostable!
  5. Cable knitting – Michele Wang Shelter garments
  6. Stephen West’s Penguono
  7. Frankensocks – to use up sock yarn
  8. Granny stripe blanket – to use up sock yarn

These are just the knitted projects though! Other plans include:

  1. Hand dyeing my own colourways so that I get (hopefully, wishfully) exactly the colours/yarns/blends I want!
  2. Starting up sewing again – avoiding fast fashion/sweat shop/environmentally unsustainable fashion
  3. Getting back into soap making – for sharing eco friendly cosmetics with friends

Temporary Acquisition: Spinning Wheel

It’s been a little while since my last post, welp!

So, one of my peers in Japanese class happens to be a retired lady who has a farm, who also makes amazing food and cakes, is a textile artist… and has a spinning wheel! She hasn’t used it in years so she said I could borrow it. I went to her house and she showed me its set up. I now have it in my home! She said I could have it for a while, and get accustomed to wheel spinning until I eventually buy my own. She also kindly gave us some unwashed long-staple fleece (can’t remember the breed of sheep). That now brings me to 2 bags of some fleece plus a whole Torwen fleece. Eep. Better get to work!

We took it home, set it up… and had problems with it. First with getting to grips with the tension on a double drive band and then I struggled to get the newly spun yarn to wind onto the bobbin. It turns out that the metal bit of the orifice kept twisting around and so the yarn got stuck on that. I didn’t want to permanently alter the wheel in any way since it’s not mine, so C tied up some yarn around it in a way to keep it in position.

It seems to work now, but I am not yet used to both treadling and drafting and feeding the yarn into the orifice. A lot more practice is needed! I have thought about again adjusting the tension so the take-up of the yarn is slower, but I’m wary of causing more issues on this old wheel.

I’m mainly at this point with spindling as well since I tend to park and draft only. Hopefully I’ll practice enough that the process becomes natural and easier.

I have been toying with the idea of being able to spin and sell yarn (along with wanting to be an indie dyer). While this is a long way off, since I’m very new to the act of spinning itself plus not super knowledgeable about all fibres ever… it is a nice dream to non-chalantly (a word?) and slowly pursue. I’m going to continue to think ‘can I get away with making a spinning and dyeing business?’ and work towards improving my skills…

Other Acquisitions

  1. I bought Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitters’ Almanac, second hand, online, am waiting for its arrival!
  2. Last night I got paid from a commission, so was able to purchase an art batt from spin city. I’m so excited for its arrival… it may take a while to arrive as it’s made to order!

And, end of episode progress report:

  1. Seed Stitch Socks – at a deadlock, on the cuff, an inch to go before fish lips kiss heel. I’m intimidated by the FLKH PDF!
  2. Donegal Tweed Socks – on the heel of the first sock
  3. Featherweight Cardigan – cardigan body is complete, next up I must do the sleeves. There was a delay as I needed to order 4mm DPNs for the sleeves!
  4. Snowmelt Shawl – I started the shawl, I got excited! I’m halfway through.

Woolillbedamned has an IG account!

So I decided to separate my woolly instagram posts and make a separate account for them, since they’re threatening to outnumber my arty posts on my main account. You can find the woolillbedamned instagram account here.

In other news… I’ve finished my Honey Badger Socks and only have to do one more sleeve of my Pyry Sweater! Getting close to casting on another project, maybe Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig.

The Ultimate Destash

So, I have a confession that most (if not all) knitters might make… Right now, I probably have way more yarn than I need. Since starting knitting in August 2016, I’ve accumulated a load of bits and pieces. When I first started knitting, I got excited about malabrigo yarn, so I have a bunch of worsted and other weight malabrigo… Then, I got really into indie dyed yarn, so I have a good amount of mostly fingering weight sock yarn. I’m still in my indie dyer craze and I have a big hit list for small businesses I’d love to support. BUT since January 2017 I have had a much smaller budget; basically, I really cannot allow myself to buy much yarn at all; maybe once a month or once every two months (if it’s indie dyed prices rather than the bigger companies).

I also have a massive project queue on ravelry, plus a handful of WIPs (works in progress) that need finishing off. Thus, here we are, with an ultimate destash blog post! Herein I will outline my plans for efficiently using the yarn I already have and annihilating my unfinished projects…

On The Needles

  • Honey Badger Socks – I’m partway through the second sock! (update Nov 2017 – done!)
  • Seed Stitch Socks – I’m on the leg of the first sock. (done!)
  • Weareknitters Pyry Sweater – on the front piece; back piece is done.

Ready To Go

  • Hermione’s Everyday Socks – I have Olann sock yarn in Bloodmoon and… I forgot the colourway! I’ll check and get back to this.
  • [Undecided Pattern] Socks – In some grey Coop Socks Yeah! Yarn – I’m thinking of a non vanilla sock since it’s a solid colour yarn.
  • Featherweight Cardigan – I have 2 skeins of Countess Ablaze OOAK ‘Cult’ yarn waiting to be balled up and knitted into this cardigan.
  • Hat – for my sister, using Malabrigo Worsted which she bought and is sending me. (done)

Stashbusting Projects

  • Snowmelt Shawl – I have 2/3 skeins ready for this, when I have finished my main projects I will buy the 3rd. Would love to start this though.
  • Beekeeper’s Quilt – A good plan for using up my languishing (yet beautiful) sock yarn.
  • Granny Stripe Blanket (crochet) – I can’t crochet… but I would love to do this? I would probably have to choose between this and the Beekeeper’s Quilt though.
  • Baby Socks – Babies on the way from relatives; I could use my left over sock yarn for them. The only worry is that even though these are superwash merino I’m scared they’ll be destroyed by the first wash as I can imagine the new parents may be tired and I’m sure ‘washing instructions’ may not be top in the priorities list…?
  • Swatch Placemats/Coasters – I would like to practice some more lace knitting and other bits and pieces… And to use up all my worsted weight yarn perhaps I could then use these swatches for coasters and placemats? Hmmm…
  • Frankensocks – I am quite interested in making some striped socks from all my sock yarn; although will have to see whether the colours mesh well together!

Even if I do this, I know there’ll be a handful of unused bits; tell me, what’s a good way of destashing assorted bulky & super bulky yarns? I do have a mini weaving loom although maybe would prefer to use the yarns for something else. I could felt them, I suppose. I also have a ton of yarn ends from sock knitting; what do people do with those? Maybe some pom poms are in order?

 

Podshare

Honey badger hand knitted socks

Today’s blog post features a picture of my Honey Badger socks! I have a half-object, going to cast on the second sock soon. Ideally I’m hoping to start making some silly knitting related illustrations for this blog but rather than have this particular blog post in incubation for ages I’ve decided to just post it and hope I can do illustrations in the future.

I wanted to do a quick feature on my blog to share some of the knitting podcasts/vlogs that I keep track of. I don’t watch that many regularly but I thought I’d share my favourites!

  1. Yarngasm: probably my favourite! Knitting, sewing, spinning and other crafting inspiration, plus lovely colourways dyed by Kristin, who owns Voolenvine Yarns.
  2. Sticks + Twine: I enjoy following Eric’s podcast as I like hearing how he talks about projects, appreciate his aesthetic and also I feel encouraged by his progress as he hasn’t actually been knitting for a super long time. His first pair of knitted socks inspired me to get over it and give it a go. I also want to try cables out too after seeing how well he’s doing on all his cabled projects.
  3. Brooklyn Knitfolk: Jaclyn is really inspiring, I really like her aesthetic, hearing about all her projects, seeing her cats, etc. and the occasional quote at the end of the episode. Her giveaways always have the prompt ‘3 good things from the past 24 hours’ (or thereabouts) in order to enter, it’s a great way to get me to appreciate things a bit more and I enjoy reading other peoples’ responses!
  4. Pinfeathers and Purls: I love Candace’s projects and colour choices, she has a cute pet birb and has great taste in video games, TV and anime!
  5. Creative Musings: Casey Maura is super cute, I love her style and seeing her knitwear and sewing projects.
  6. Michele Wang: Michele Wang is a beautiful lady with amazing skills in knitting and designing, I enjoy listening to her chat about knitting & anything else. I hope to one day knit from her patterns but I don’t think I’m there yet skills-wise.
  7. Dyer’s Notebook – Laura is a pro at yarn dyeing, in particular striping sock yarns. I enjoy listening to what she has to say, what projects she’s working on, hearing the recipe for milk tea, etc. 🙂

Non Knitting Podcasts

  1. Hello from the Magic Tavern – Improv comedy podcast set in a fantasy world – possibly my favourite ever podcast!
  2. Welcome to Night Vale – A close follower to Magic Tav, the famous WTNV podcast is a fictional community radio station set in a dark and mysterious world. I listened to this podcast since about 2012 and I have found it to be a real comfort during hard times and also a source of fun and laughter.
  3. Alice Isn’t Dead – By the Night Vale Presents crew – love the story and the voice acting. Mysterious and creepy.
  4. Lore – Exploring stories of hauntings and weirdness throughout history, calming and creepy.
  5. The Guilty Feminist – A new one for me – a UK comedy feminist podcast, each episode with a specific theme and pretty much always (as far as I’m aware) relating to current issues in the news – love it.
  6. Offices and Bosses – This is a ‘want to watch’ for me as it is featured on the paid for podcast platform Howl – I can’t afford right now to do paid subs to anything really so this will be one to listen to in the future when I get a better-paid job!

Okay… apparently I’m a big listener of podcasts?

Continuing Spinning

Grey handspun, breed unknownBlue merino handspun yarn

Here’s a progress update on the spinning…

First of all, I wanted to get my brown & pink initial handspun projects off the spindle, and I didn’t have a niddy noddy, so I wrapped them around a tupperware lid, soaked them, and now they’re drying while weighted down. There’s too much twist in them, though! I need to research how to avoid this next time.

I was eager to try spinning the yarn I cleaned and carded myself (first image), so I got started; here’s the problem… the fibre is a lot rougher than anything I’ve used before- it’s not top, I’m guessing? The fibre comes from random bits from the fleece that a friend kept, so maybe that’s why. Perhaps we need to card the wool even more… Is this what you call a rustic yarn? A REALLY rustic yarn.

My second photo is some more fibre from Witch Fibre Co. This time, instead of pulling bits of fibre separate from the main bulk, I’m trying to continuously draft from the fibre so I don’t have to keep joining stuff and stopping to prepare. It’s working better. I still can’t draft and have the spindle spinning at the same time but it’s an improvement, I think!

Knit Wise

I thought I’d give a mini update on the projects I’m working on in knitting; pictures will come eventually too.

  1. Honey Badger Socks – free pattern – I’m on the first sock, leg and heel flap done, going to turn the heel soon.
  2. Vanilla Socks with seed stitch panel – I’m using the fish lips kiss heel pattern I bought on ravelry. Am also referencing the Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern in case I need a bit of extra help in terms of stitch numbers etc. I haven’t reached the heel yet so we’ll see how it goes.
  3. Pure Joy Shawl – paid pattern – by Joji Locatelli – this is the second Pure Joy I’ve knitted; this time for my mémère (grandmother). It’s almost fnished; I don’t have the yardage on my 2nd colour to do as much of the final panel as in the actual pattern but it will still be nice!
  4. Pyry Sweater – paid pattern/kit – by We Are Knitters – I bought this ages ago and still haven’t finished it. It’s a lovely colour and the wool’s nice, the pattern’s easy, but I think I got bored of not working on circulars, and of doing rows and rows of pure stockinette. Hoping to get this done soon. It’ll be nice when it’s done! I love the taupe colour.

Projects are linked to my actual ravelry projects so you can see pictures, progress and the patterns used. Feel free to add me, I’ll add back!