Granny Stripe Blanket

I don’t know why, but eating through my yarn stash and transforming that neglected yarn into a lovely blanket makes me feel really motivated. I just want to keep going to the next colour, choose something nice and blend it in. There’s a special accomplished feeling I get when I use up a small ball of leftover yarn from a shawl or sock project. I have also been splicing yarn ends together so I feel good about not making any excess waste too!

The project has also captured the interest of my mum, who can knit and crochet but doesn’t have a lot of free time. This project is easy to pick up and work on a bit at a time since it’s just trebles, so it’s good for her kind of lifestyle. I told her I’ll save some of my yarn scraps for her to have a go too.

You can find the pattern available here. I’m completely new to crochet so I also found the youtube tutorials by Bella Coco useful for starting out.

 

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Stash is deadly!

Ok, overstatement there… Quite a while ago, while I was starting out on my knitting and fibre adventure, around summer 2016, we had a serious moth infestation in the house. We had a big battle against the moths, having discovered portions of the carpet which had been eaten away and various items of clothing with holes in. It’s now February 2018 and we haven’t seen any moths about in quite a while.

I was, however, having a look through all my stash, organising it. In some of my handspun and some older stash yarn I had, I found what appeared to be moth eggs! I quickly dumped those yarns into the compost bin, since they were fully animal fibre (and also non superwash yarns I think). Since then I’ve put all my yarn into zip lock bags as recommended by my mum, and I’m going to have to keep a watchful eye over the stash box. I did find some more suspected egg like things in some of the yarn, luckily not my favourite yarn… so I have isolated them in their own bags and I removed the suspect eggs. I’m hoping there aren’t any more eggs on those ones. I have heard that agitation will hatch the eggs so I have to be careful that it doesn’t potentially spread to my lovely yarns.

What other updates do I have? I’m working through my stash again. I guiltily made some yarn purchases during my birthday week in mid January, including a sock blank from Stranded Dyeworks (knitting up into vanilla sock now) and a sock blank from Twisted Fintch also.

I’m spinning through my stash as well and have about 6 skeins waiting for a soak to set the twist, and 6 balls waiting to be plied.

Project wise, recently I learned how to crochet one evening, albeit probably not very skillfully, so I’m trying to do a granny stripe blanket in order to eat through some stash. My penguono is on hold until I spin some more of my stash, to then be knit up. I have 2 pairs of socks on the needles, hoping to reduce that to one at some point. My featherweight cardigan is languishing somewhere (better check that for moth eggs!), BUT I did finally finish my Pyry sweater (we are knitters pattern and yarn)!

Right, I actually have work in about ten minutes so I’ll leave this update for now!

See you all soon and hopefully with photos next time,

Elysia

What yarn diet?

Yarn diet update!

So I’ve managed to avoid Qing Fibre updates… I looked up the site when updates hit but reasoned my way out of buying more. I loved all the colourways of course but I know that I have no projects in mind for QF right now and I can’t afford multiple skeins anyway.

I have however cracked a little and bought some commercial yarn (some acrylic too!) for a Christmas present for my dad, and some baby hats. I would have used stash yarn for the baby hats, but a large chunk of my yarns are not superwash and the other chunk are fancy AF and I’m guessing tired new parents aren’t going to be too thrilled with specialised washing instructions for knitted gifts. So for now they will be given knitted acrylic items…

In future though I’d love to switch to solely non-superwash, non-plasticy yarn although I know that’s not necessarily practical for things like socks. I’m finding it hard to find non superwash blue faced leceister yarn, ideally high twist. If anyone knows of a supplier, please do let me know! Even if it’s undyed, I would happily dye it! One day when I can spin decently enough, with a behaving wheel, I could perhaps spin BFL myself for socks. That’s a far off goal though.

Apart from the yarn diet update, on my needles so far… I have my featherweight, which is lagging due to tension issues with lace and fiddly 4mm DPNs which I bought with far too much length.

Other projects include some new mercury socks in a non nylon blended yarn (although superwash), my penguono (which is huge and an amazing stash buster) and a tiny first sock on 9 inch circulars – this is a baby project which I just cast on for a simple mindless knit while travelling by car to South Wales.

Lastly, I also have my weareknitters Pyry sweater which is so close to completion, it just needs to be sewn together. I sewed the shoulders and arms but I still need to do underarm and sides. I have two days off in a row this week so I might set aside 30min or so to get that done. I’d love to get some of my projects out of the way and have a reasonably clean new year slate.

As for the hopeful thoughts about selling my yarn and other bits, I have a yarn spinning commission! I have to sort it for January which might be a push as I have a lot on but I’ll try. And I’ve ordered some fibre for the project. More on this when I get to it!

Goals for 2018 knitting/crafting… knit a Michele Wang pattern… spin more… finish up my projects… do less vanilla socks and more challenging knits. Dye yarn for projects where appropriate. That’s it for now but I haven’t given it tons of thought. This festive period has been a bit hectic for knitting and contemplation but I’m hoping my 6 days off for Christmas will give me time to re-centre myself.

Happy holidays all!

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.

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. 

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.

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?

 

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

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).