catching up..

…and hopefully from now on, keeping up!

First up, not a photo of my own knitting or spinning, but a photo-of-a-photo of my husband’s granny Betty, and her sisters, dating from somewhere around the mid 1930s. The last time we visited her she showed me this photo and gave her blessing for me to blog it. I didn’t do it immediately on my return, as I wanted to blog my shawl first.


That’s granny on the far left, aged somewhere around 19 or 20, with her younger sisters Margo, Jean and Iris. She tells me it was a ‘promotional photo’ for their local yarn shop in Banff, Aberdeenshire. Their sweaters were all handknit by themselves, in their own patterns (if I remember right), with yarn purchased at the store – and the owner, having asked them to get the photograph taken at a local studio, proudly displayed it in her shop. While I like lace knitting, and admire the skill clearly involved in her sisters’ garments, I like Betty’s top most of all.

Back to my own knitting – I’m 28 rows from the end of my Aeolian shawl, plenty of yarn left, and I think I’m doing okay for beads. I do seem to have quite a lot of yarn spare – though we’ll see, top-down triangular shawls being one of those things that eat yarn in their final stages. I’ve used 32g of yarn so far, and have 25g left (I think I had around 600yds of yarn). The original pattern gives a yarn amount of 500yd/57g, and my yarn weighed 56g, so is obviously finer, which is why I went for a larger needle (the pattern calls for 3mm)… actually, looking at it – the stitch count almost doubles in this last chart, and there are a fair few nupps… I wish I hadn’t thought about that now, it’s made me nervous!


I have to admit to nearing the end of the Final Agave chart and having a proper brainfart – I spent a day or two thinking I’d finished the pattern, and wondering what on earth had happened as I had only used around 15g of my yarn, and half of the beads… confused, I put it to one side for a day or two. On returning to it, it took something like a 3-second look back at the projects of others for me to notice that, uh, my ‘finished’ shawl really wasn’t. Which cheered me up no end, as I’d been faced with being left with loads of my yarn unused, though possibly not enough to be useful.. honestly, what was I thinking?

And finally, spinning. In the past couple of weeks I’ve promised my youngest daughter a sweater, and while I’d intended just buying the yarn, it seems she just assumed I’d be spinning it and then knitting it. Once she suggested the idea, I realised that’d be the just the thing to do with the large bag of shetland fibre I’ve had sitting about for a couple of years now.

I had started an attempt at spinning a laceweight with it on my spindle, with an eye to making a traditional Shetland baby shawl (I’ve already collected Shetland Lace by Gladys Amedro from the local library!) but I’m not liking the way it’s going. The single is coming out sooo wiry and hairy, and it’s hard going, rather than enjoyable spinning. I suspect it’s not the finest shetland fibre, as parts of it have quite a short staple length. So. I’m thinking I might order a bag of Jamieson & Smith’s Superfine fibre instead for that particular project. It’s going to require a couple of thousand yards of yarn, and will, I expect, take me several months to work through – so I really would rather enjoy the experience.

The fibre is still relatively soft, and I’ve started spinning it up on the Louet into what I hope will become a 3ply sport or DK weight yarn. I’ve already got the first single done, 16g or so wound off onto a tp roll, as I’m thinking that the best thing to do – particularly as I want to go for a fairisle or stranded knit – is to spin 50g skeins. I’m going to dye the skeins after spinning, keeping some in the natural white and then (possibly with the help of youngest daughter, if she’s up for it) dyeing the rest to suit. I think she’d be up for it, particularly if she can choose colours, as she’s generally up for messing about in the kitchen with me.

The first of 24 singles...

Doing my usual estimating (counting winds on the tp roll as I go, having measured the circumference of it, and then measuring the circumference of the wound-on wool and finding the average, multiplying the two numbers together and dividing by 36… uh, like a loony), I think there’s around 135-140yds of single, weighing just over 16g. Looking at yardages for similar commercial yarns, this seems likely to come out in the sport/dk ballpark, though if I veer towards either 4ply or aran weight I won’t be distraught. We’ll see, anyway – I’m going to have a crack at getting the other two singles done by tomorrow afternoon, the weather here’s pretty miserable at the moment, and I’ve not got a lot else on. Shouldn’t be too long before I have my first finished skein, anyway.

I think breaking up the spinning into smaller skeins like this will make the whole process feel like it’s moving along quicker, as I’ll have lots of ‘completed’ stages, though I’m not sure whether to save the dyeing process until I’ve done all of them (I’m thinking 8 should be plenty). I could have just spun a couple of massive skeins and then divided it into balls I suppose, but this way seems less work.

The other thing that we need to do, of course, is find a pattern. The little ‘un enjoys browsing ravelry patterns with me, and I think I may have found a candidate. I could, I guess, have a crack at knocking one up myself, too – I’m tempted to buy myself a copy of Sheila McGregor’s Fair Isle book.

(Um, I’ve still not blocked my Laminaria, incidentally.)


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