Lucky for me, the other half finds the sound of my spinning wheel as soothing and vaguely hypnotic as I do.


So far, my wheelspun stuff’s not turned out vastly thicker than my spindle spun after all. And being a learner (not to mention discovering that Louet S10s are a bit on the grabby side – which has led to me lacing up the swift like crazy and leaving the brake band completely slack, in an attempt to cope with it) it took me a while before I got up to at-least-as-quick-as-the-spindle speed. I think I might’ve even got beyond that, in the last couple of days.

I’ve not totally mastered rejoining the single to the fluff… the last time I had to do it I ended up losing the majority of my previous, albeit short, sitting’s worth of singles. As far as I can tell this is due to the twist escaping somehow further up near the hooks, and the whole thing just drifts apart. And then I shout at it.


That lump of single sat on the side of the swift there is a good indication of how much falls by the wayside if I have to rejoin – though thankfully that’s not happening so much at the moment, as I seem to have hit a bit of a groove. It’s made me a bit loath to change the position of the lacing across the hooks though, which I think might have had something to do with this –


It’s gone all baggy on one side, see? (the white single on the right there is what was left over on one bobbin after plying my first attempt with the wheel, I lazily left it on there, figuring it’d make a handy leader anyway). Not sure if that matters, and I’m quite pleased with the evenness of this single so far… I might ask on ravelry if it’s essential that my bobbin is all neat and tidy and tightly wound.

I’m thinking about buying a pair of hand carders from somewhere quite soon, for various reasons – I’d like to have a go at preparing my own blends, plus there’s the complimentary dollop of angora that came with the Louet sitting upstairs – not to mention the three and a half pounds of unknown sheepy fleece I bought at least five years ago from ebay that I finally feel able to at least attempt tackling. I bought it before I’d even thought about buying anything to actually spin it with, and got as far as washing it, and then got massively intimidated by its big ol’ woolly vm-speckled self…




Looking at it now, I don’t think I managed to felt it during washing (and my god, the dirt that came out of it). So it might make something spinnable, I guess. It does look a little on the frizzy side, but who knows?

Of course, in all the searching for reasonably priced carders I’ve got caught up in the fibre sections of various websites. Winghams is particularly hard to tear myself away from, but there’s quite a few interesting-looking fleeces up for sale on ebay too.



I managed two FOs this week…


…and a swatch.


Dad seems to like his Dracoclava…



And the Omo scarf has – against all the odds – blocked out to a length that’s actually useable. Sort of.


I’m also knitting on something silly (surprise, surprise).

In other, more gardeny news, I just discovered that next weekend is Potato Day at Dunblane. Hoping they’ll have a few Dunbar varieties that I can buy small amounts of, to try out.

Spinny post up next!

Cue Bernard Hermann…

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas;

PICT0765’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

Fruits of an afternoon with the Supercook green and yellow, and 50g of BFL. Not sure what it’ll turn out to be, hopefully it won’t be an alien lifeform out to suck my brain – but I’m all good to go with it now, as my first Louet-spun yarn is all done and dusted (and sniffed and squeezed).

first wheelspun handspun

(yep, I’ve decided that LP sleeves make handy backdrops for my woolly pics)

I’m very happy with it, all told. It’s 2-ply, 71yds, somewhere between 15 and 20g (I really need to get some digital scales), 16-18wpi, definitely Shetland.

And I’m inches away from another FO.

first handspun knit aka the shortest scarf in the world

This is going to be a helluva short scarf. It’s currently about 3 feet – at most – and I’ve only got a ball the size of a modest truffle left to knit.

You’ll notice the slightly redder, lighter patch just near the top there. I’m not sure I’m entirely pleased with that, but hey ho.



A knit version of the acrylonitrile molecule, as used in the production of acrylic fibres, represented as a ball and stick model.

This pattern is also available as a free PDF download, provided by ravelry.

NB: This pattern requires the knitter to crochet a chain to start each sphere.

Yarn : Any DK weight
Needles : 3.75mm DPNs
1 crochet needle (3.5 or 4mm)
Gauge : 20sts/29 rows to 4”


You will need seven of these to make your molecule: 3 in white (hydrogen), 3 in light grey (carbon), and 3 in blue (nitrogen).

Using scrap yarn, crochet a chain of 34 stitches. Knot the end.

Turn the chain over, and find the ‘bumps’ running down the centre of the chain – using DPNs, knit a stitch into each bump, until you have 32 stitches on your needles. Join to work in the round.



Work as follows –

Row 1 : knit.
Row 2 : (k6, k2tog) to end (28 sts).
Row 3 : knit.
Row 4 : (k5, k2tog) to end (24 sts).
Row 5 : knit.
Row 6 : (k4, k2tog) to end (20 sts).
Row 7 : knit.
Row 8 : (k3, k2tog) to end (16 sts).
Row 9 : (k2, k2tog) to end (12 sts).
Row 10: (k1, k2tog) to end (8 sts).

Cut yarn leaving longish tail; run through these 8 sts and pull closed.

Undo knot in end of scrap yarn crochet chain, and begin to ‘unzip’, placing live stitches onto DPNs (32 sts in total).

Work rows 1-10; stuff ball with waste yarn or stuffing and close as before. Using a needle, run both ends through into the ball to hide ends.


These come in three varieties – single, double and triple. Leave a tail of around 10cm when casting on and off, to use when stuffing later.

Single bonds

You will need four of these – one in light grey, and three in light grey/white.

Single colour single bond

Cast on 9 stitches. Work I-cord for first couple of rows, then switch to DPNs.

Knit 14 rounds in total; cast off.

Two colour single bond

Cast on 9 stitches with light grey yarn. Work I-cord for first couple of rows, then switch to DPNs.

Knit 7 rounds in total; break yarn.

Join white yarn and knit further 7 rounds; cast off.

Double bonds

You will need two of these in light grey.
Cast on 6 stitches and work I-cord for 14 rows.
Cast off.

Triple bonds

You will need three of these in light grey/royal blue.

Cast on 6 stitches with light grey yarn. Work I-cord for 7 rows; break yarn.

Join royal blue yarn and knit further 7 rounds; cast off.

Stuff sticks firmly, using ends of yarn and waste yarn in the same colours.



Sew together as shown in top photo. It’s been a while since I went anywhere near a laboratory, so the positioning of the bonds is likely not 100% accurate, but all the atoms are in the right place – I didn’t want my molecule to be entirely flat, so I used a little artistic licence, but so long as you check that the balls are in the right place relative to one another, and you don’t have more than 4 bonds for each grey (carbon) ball, 3 for the blue (nitrogen) and 1 for the white (hydrogen), I reckon you’re laughing.

You could stuff jingly bells into the balls – I’ve also been thinking that pipe-cleaners inside the sticks might be an idea for bendy fun, if you aren’t going to let it anywhere near babies and/or small children… and toying with the idea of making various colours of ball, not stitching them together, and using velcro patches in the appropriate places.

Oh, and for maximum ha! value, it should be knitted using 100% wool.


More molecules – acetone, benzene and ethanol – can be found here –

A lot of balls

From whorl to wheel

I’m working my way – slowly – through a load of laceweight on my (only) spindle.


This single – the first 25g – has taken me three months. Ah, actually, now that I look back on the blog I see that I’d finished the first 12.5g of this single three months ago… it’s been an exceptional three months, though.


I’ve got a-little-tiny-bit-further-than-this-far into the next single. And I want to spin some heavier weight yarn – not least for the satisfaction of seeing some quick results from somewhere, with the possible side effect of bolstering my patience with the laceweight.

Initially I’d been toying with the idea of splurging a little cash on a new spindle, so I could start something heavier (and theoretically, quicker) – and then a tiny, sensible voice in the back of my head suggested I have a go at cracking on and mastering having a play with the wheel I bought in September. (That’s the first half of that laceweight at the bottom of that post in the link.)


Mr. Snowman agreed.

So, I fixed the footman back on (a small person had dismantled it, and not in a good way – the screw and plasticky bit were still attached to the wheel, yikes), and off I went. Now when I first assembled the wheel and had a tentative exploration of its bits and pieces, I just couldn’t get my head round how it worked at all – I’m still not entirely sure, in fact. I could see how it wound on, but I couldn’t fathom how the twist went in.

There may have been a little Luddite-tinted mistrust going on.

So I ended up just tying a bit of cheapy acrylic onto the little loop on the bobbin, and treadling, and watching to see if anything happened to it other than it being pulled onto the bobbin. And sure enough, it did. Twisty twisty.

Heartened by this, I fetched a bag of fluff, attached it to my enormous acrylic leader, and off I went. And this is the result, so far –



Close-up it’s quite fuzzy looking, and not that even. I thought I’d picked a bag of BFL from out of the cupboard, but after a couple of minutes I could tell that it was the Shetland I bought from them – it’s certainly not as smooth as BFL, there’s odd coarser areas in the roving every now and then. Still nice to spin with, though. And blimey, the Louet just eats it up.


I’m going to have to get my Supercook dyes out again though, or maybe chase up some Kool-Aid. Much as I appreciate the charm of fibre in its natural state, right now I want to see some colour – put it down to February whiteouts. Plus, I fancy getting some spangly angelina fibre, and that seems to be best suited to combining with something a bit more lively…

…I might have to spend a little pocket money on some carders, instead of a spindle.

I know that learning to spin with the spindle first has helped me in all kinds of ways as a beginning wheel spinner, but I can tell there’s a lot there that’s wheel specific that’ll come with practice, and hopefully a few hints from other spinners. There’s a WSD guild meets quite close by here, but according to the info I found they don’t meet up in the winter – still, there’s not a whole lot of that left, and it’ll give me some valuable time to practice (and trawl youtube and ravelry).

I don’t think this new string to my bow will cut down on the amount of spindle spinning I do – I love its portability, and the fact that I can spin in the bathroom while my littlest splashes about in the shower… or that I can spin in her presence at all without being marauded. She’s totally fascinated and delighted by the wheel, I can’t really think about using it while she’s in the room.

Speaking of the cold weather, the wildlife just keeps on coming – a couple of weeks ago we had a buzzard on the back fence, and now there’s a greater spotted woodpecker regularly visiting regularly for the fat balls we hang up for the birds. He’s costing me a fortune in lard and seed, but he’s worth it.


The tawny owls are back in the woods too – I heard them the other night, for the first time in weeks.