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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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!

 

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.