Life Update

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since my last post – a lot has been going on – and actually I’m writing this into a word processor for the moment since we have no internet. I’ll post it once we get our net back.

I’m not really sure when my last post was anyway. But after months of me waiting and hoping, we have moved from rural Wales to Manchester. I love where we used to live, but there weren’t opportunities for me job-wise and I really wasn’t enjoying my job; we were understaffed but not really getting any replacement staff in, our duties were increasing to fill the gap, etc.

I transferred stores and now I’m working slightly less hours per week (24 per week) which I hope will allow me to look for a job.I can’t yet resume my search since I’m waiting on the internet! I even ventured out to the local library to do some job hunting on their computers; it was closed. I walked to the library half an hour away; also closed! So, I’ve returned home for the day. I’m going to draw after writing this little update.

I thought I’d give a crafting update as well since that is the focus of this blog (in addition to being a sort of personal diary)…

EYF 2018: I went to EYF with my mum, what an overwhelming and exciting adventure! I loved it and enjoyed it, despite not feeling at my best mentally (I think due to lack of decent sleep). I met a lot of kind people, a couple of podcasters, and briefly got a photo with Stephen West after my mum asked him to take a picture with me… I didn’t want to bother him too much since he was so busy and I actually had no knitwear on me anyway, let alone any design by him! But I appreciated it in the end and he was very kind.

Another highlight was meeting Louise of Spin City as she was a great and friendly person to chat to, and she let me try out her Kromski Fantasia and Minstrel – both lovely wheels. I got a hand dyed fibre braid off her (merino nylon – yes – despite me trying to avoid non natural fibres at the moment – sorry world) which has some really beautiful colours. I’d love to get more of her fibre for my spinning queue, but I think her braids (not batts – lots of batts on site) aren’t really available at the moment on her website. She’s probably busy with Wonderwool Wales coming up! I’m a bit sad I’ll miss that event since I’ve moved but to be honest, I have so much waiting in my stash to be spun and knit that it’s for the best!

I spent about £130 at EYF, which might not seem like that much judging by some of the haul photos I saw, but for me it’s the biggest shop I’ve done in so long. My purchases included some non-nylon sock weight yarn from Blacker Yarns (eager to try out no nylon socks, inspired by Mrs M’s Curiosity Cabinet podcast). I also bought MCN sock yarn from Qing Fibre, a long time favourite dyer of mine, and I can’t resist her colourways. They are my special treat! Along with that I got 2 skeins of yarn from Cosmic Strings, potentially to knit a Mount Pleasant – a sort of cropped, short sleeved, cute top – and yep, again, more nylon. I will allow myself this for now. It’s a process.

Lastly I bought 2 skeins of shetland yarn from Garthenor, who oddly actually operated very close to where I lived in Wales. They had been on my list for a while but before due to funds being sort of short, I wasn’t able to order from them. These 2 skeins will hopefully work as a Treccia hat (pattern by Michele Wang).

I really hope I can go to EYF again.

Knitting: I managed to finish my Featherweight Cardigan! After smashing through the sleeves while in semi-homeless limbo between 2 houses, I also completed the collar while trapped in motorway traffic on the way to visit my parents (driven by my dad – not driving and knitting!). The only problem is: my cast off edge, while neat, is not as stretchy as I need it to be. So the fabric is cinched and looks silly! This is my fault, I didn’t think that a stretchy cast off would be a good idea and I was so wrong! So I have to get round to ripping back the cast off edge and re-casting off hundreds of collar stitches again. It’ll be nice when it’s done!

Another mini issue which I’ve decided to ignore is that my tension was all horrible, so horrible, on the sleeves. I used DPNs because I haven’t yet learned magic loop. It’s really obviously laddered in some places, etc. I’m hoping it’ll improve in blocking. It had been hibernating on the needles for so long that I just decided I needed to complete it asap, no matter if there were tension issues.

I plan to learn magic loop, cabling without cable needles, toe up socks and more… over the next year or so.

Spinning: After EYF I used some money my parents had contributed for my birthday and bought a spinning wheel – the Kromski Fantasia – from Spin City, as I had enjoyed using it at EYF. I put it together last week with the help of my dad and started spinning on it. I’m still working out tension and created the most ugly over-spun yarn ever on it. I’ll keep trying though. It’s living at my parents’ house for now. While I’m here in Manchester I’ll slowly drop spindle my way through my stash here. I really don’t enjoy plying on my drop spindle so I really hope I can get to grips with tension on the wheel.

Well, that’s probably all I should update you all on for now, since this must be a pretty long post! Apart rom that, I’m working at the new store, shy and a little nervous, wanting to do my best… and hoping to look for full time Monday to Friday work as soon as I can get internet back.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone is well,

E

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Cloudy Jade Batt – singles

Photo of 5 twisted hanks of yarn going from a pale jade to black colour one by one, single (unplied)

I finished spinning my spin city Cloudy Jade batts (200g)! Here’s a photo to show you the colours and how I spun them, there are 3 more (8 twisted hanks in total) but some are currently drying, etc. These are singles, spun on the drop spindle. I’m still getting used to spinning singles so they might be over spun in some areas, and there are variations in thickness of course, but I think the amount of twist should still be ok for knitting and the yarn seems to hold together fine. I will aim to improve my consistency in future!

I have loved every spin city bit of fibre I’ve worked with so far. Apart from this I have spun up a luxury batt ‘Inkblot’, plied with laceweight black malabrigo. I also spun about 20g of Spring Green (think that was the name) that was provided with my Inkblot batt, possibly because it was dispatched a little later. I have one 100g batt in my stash, looking forward to spinning that up too in future. After I’ve knit up some stash and spun up some older fibre stash.

Originally I was planning to knit something for myself in them, some sort of small ish shawl, but I think I might just knit my mum the Linus shawl instead. I feel like my aesthetic is constantly changing, and my yarn spinning and purchasing (and knitting) can’t keep up. This could turn into something I might wear for sure, we’ll see how it goes though. I know my mum will probably enjoy anything hand knit.

Other brief writings about my aesthetic, I’m in love with both pastels and neutrals, and I’m often a sucker for bright neons as well. When I first started knitting I just bought everything I could (mainly malabrigo) in lots of colours, and I feel like I’ve kind of grown out of a lot of them? I think in future I’m going to aim for neutrals; greys, charcoal, black, browns… plus try to fit in some pastels and things like lavender and dusty pinks. I do love a good jade too as you can see. Neons I think will be a sort of accent colour for me in future. I don’t know. Working it out. I just really want to make a bunch of Michele Wang patterns!

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m going to snatch a bit of time crocheting on the granny stripe and then maybe cast on another Luuk hat for an incoming baby (friend’s, not mine). Then I have to go to work unfortunately… More writing about that later perhaps!

Thanks for reading,

E

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.

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!

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.

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!

Adventures in Spinning

Handspun - merino yarn

My parents kindly bought me a drop spindle kit for Christmas and eventually I finally got round to working with it a few months ago.

Handspun - brown Icelandic yarn
Handspun – brown Icelandic yarn

I was also lucky enough to win a giveaway from Witch Fibre Co (instagram | etsy) for a drop spindle and some fibre. I had been wanting to spin it for ages but didn’t put the time aside. When I did get round to spinning it, I really enjoyed working with the fibre, which was super-soft, in lovely colours and easy to work with.

Note: There’s actually an instagram giveaway going on now with Witch Fibre Co, if you want a spindle and some fibre!

Handspun - merino yarn
Handspun – merino yarn

The next step with this fibre, if I want to use it, is to get hold of a niddy noddy… or to make one. I found a great tutorial here, it seems pretty low-cost too, just hoping to source the supplies soon.

On the fleecy side of things, living in mid-Wales has some benefits; a friend from Japanese class kindly gave me a bag of fleecy bits from her flock (not sure on the breed – need to check). It wasn’t one whole fleece, it was a bunch of bits and pieces picked out. I emptied out the bag and started picking the sticks and poop from the fleece and gave it a wash.

Sheep fleece
Sheep fleece

This month I managed to get some carders to comb the washed fleece into rolags, ready for spinning. I watched a video on carding and it turned out to be pretty easy! My rolags aren’t exactly neat, which I can probably put down to my inexperience and also to the fact the fleece is quite matted and in small bits.

Hand-carded rolags from Welsh fleece
Hand-carded rolags from Welsh fleece

It’s been a great learning experience though! I don’t actually have any spare drop spindles, so I’ll be aiming to spin a bit more of the pink & brown fibres, then hopefully I’ll get a chance to put them on a niddy noddy. After that I can start working on the Welsh fleece!

I have vague goals of spinning it all, dyeing some of it, maybe even selling my handspun and/or hand dyed yarns in the future, if it’s a good enough quality… but I’m not going to worry about that for now, I’m just going to use craft as my relaxation and as a break in between painting (my main goal).