It’s all go..

..uh, except for on the blog.

Fibrewise, I’m spinning and knitting. The spinning, well, that’s the silk that I began before christmas, then abandoned, partly due to christmas knits and partly because I started to think a shawl wouldn’t work with my dress…. I’ve decided to start up again anyway, knit something and then see what it’s like – still not sure what exactly but that’s okay as I’m currently only a few grams into the second 25g (I decided to spin it up in two 50g skeins, so that I might have some idea of final yardage, but also so I could make a start on the knitting asap as it’s just under 3 months to the wedding now).

This is the first single –

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It’s now wound off onto a toilet roll middle, waiting for the next 25g to be spun up. Looks like it’ll be quite a fine laceweight – not sure it’ll qualify as cobweb, but we’ll see. (I did attempt to estimate the yardage of that single whilst winding it off the spindle, by keeping count of the number of winds around the toilet roll, so I could do some sums. For every hundred winds, I marked a 1 on a Notepad file… there was, um, a mishap with a delete-key-happy youngster though, and that was that.) If it’s on the heavier side it may just become a bolero/shrug type thing – the dress I went with does have an accompanying bolero that stores sell with it (I don’t have it, though), so I’m assuming that if I get the right pattern that’ll work.

My knitting project’s going strong, though I’m still a way from thinking I’ve nearly finished it. This is the only pic I have of what’s been occurring –

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There was, however, a little rethinking, unknitting, and reknitting after that picture was taken.

Non-fibre related busy-ness is mostly revolving around wedding planning, though there’s a little garden planning afoot too – there’d be a bit of gardening if the weather would just settle down a little, today we had sun, rain, hail, sleet and snow, all accompanied with strong wind – not really conducive to hanging about outside for any length of time.

Still, I feel better about staying indoors with the fluff when it’s like that, so it’s all good.

How long?!

Ah. I didn’t realise it’d been over a month since my last update, but that’s some indication of the month I’ve had.

Firstly, my almost-finished jumper was not what it seemed. I put a collar on it, blocked it, seamed it – and was not happy with the fit. There was… extra material, around the armpit area. It was at this point that I realised that I have never actually knit a sweater for myself . I’ve successfully knit sweaters for others, but (and it’s a big but) they were others for whom a bust didn’t have to be taken into account.

So it’s gone back into the bag from whence it came for the foreseeable. I’m disappointed, but I can’t settle for less with this yarn – it’s lovely stuff and, well, it cost me a packet, so I want to feel like I’ve done it justice rather than a disservice. I’m not sure how often I can get away with frogging it either, with it being a soft single.

The spinning’s gone better – though it was disrupted, shortly after my last post, by my ‘new’ car developing an intermittent fault that became less intermittent. Diagnosis was tricky, what with the intermittentness (I’m pretending that’s a word), but it turned out to be the rotor arm. Nice simple cheap repair – shame it took three weeks to find! I’m indebted to my dad – yet again – for coming up and helping me push it down the road (and tow it back up again) several times, and join me in the headscratching and worrying and fixing.

And the last couple of weeks have been a bit mad due to our Extreme Weather –

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(That’s my car on the right there… a couple of days after I fixed it.)

I realise that in many parts of the world, this weather could be considered far from extreme, but it was the sort of weather that generally turns up later in the winter than it did, and it was a lot of weather all in one go, which threw everyone.

Today we seem to be experiencing what I can only describe as ‘thaw’, for which I’m thankful (though apparently, it’s going to turn cold again in a day or two).

I’ve achieved *something* in all of this – my ongoing cardigan for the littlest has progressed a little, and I finished the variegated 3ply –

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and another pic, as I’m quite chuffed about it –

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even though it’s bigger than I intended. (I’d hoped for fingering weight, and this is probably more like sport, at 12wpi. There’s 91g of it, measuring 271yds.) This in itself is novel, as generally my yarn comes out thinner, so I’m not considering that a complete fail… I’m into the third single on my complementary teal/blue skein now, though I don’t have a photo of that as yet.

I’ve hardly worked on my spindle of laceweight silk. This due initially to working on the car – oily greasemonkey hands and white mulberry silk are not mixy things. And partly due to my sister offering to buy me a looong veil, in which case I won’t need a knit one, and which I can’t see working with a shawl/stole. (And partly due to not being in the mood, in all honesty.)

The small one’s cardi is on hold temporarily. I’m knitting a woolly hat for my other half – that’s how cold it is, he’s never been a hat wearer in all the years I’ve known him – and I’m trying to source some yarn for a couple of gifts for family for christmas.

And right now, I’m off out to find a christmas tree.

Productivity!

After a longish break from my spinning, I’ve returned with a vengeance – and some resolutions.

I want to get the variegated 3ply that I had in mind – and its complementary teal solid – spun up and knit into gloves before it gets much colder. I’m aiming for fingering weight, hoping to get all the spinning done in the next week or so. I’ve finished the first single (and no, I didn’t notice what is presumably a guard hair sticking out from that tp roll when I took that photo) –

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33g, and roughly 330yds – and I’m just about halfway through the second –

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Apologies for the dark photos, it’s November in Scotland, and today was extra rainy.

As well as this, I want to spin up the mulberry silk that I bought in summer in time to knit myself something really special for my wedding. I’m spinning this on my spindle – when I started this, weeks ago, I really struggled with the drafting, and put it to one side, frustrated. Somehow, picking it back up again, I’ve managed to get my head/hands around the longer staple length of the silk, and I’m doing much better. I’ve done a couple of grams –

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EXTREME CLOSE-UP!

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For some sense of perspective, the whorl in the top picture is about an inch and threequarters across.

So I’m spinning this teenytiny, to get a fine laceweight 2ply, and aiming to get through about 1g a day in order to get the 100g I have spun up by early next year, to give me plenty of time for knitting – the wedding’s at the start of June. I’ve no idea how many yards it will yield, so I’m just going to eye up a lot of patterns in the meantime (or possibly design my own). I’ve just had a small peacock-flavoured brainwave though – I’m considering using peacock feathers for buttonholes, and peacocks on our stationery, as our wedding venue has peacocks roaming around about it.

I’ve got a fair bit further with my jumper knitting –

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It’s not as ‘done’ as it looks – I didn’t use a pattern for this, I just worked from the memory of an old favourite jumper, so I had no idea of how much yarn it’d take. With this in mind, I knit the jumper as short as I could cope with, and the beginning of the neck as high as I could cope with, and cast off both the front and back with the intention of possibly undoing the cast on edge and knitting further up, resulting in a slightly longer jumper with a slightly lower neckline. All so I didn’t end up having to knit threequarter length sleeves, which – in my opinion – are a bit useless for a winter jumper. (I didn’t have my digital scales when I started this project, sadly – they would’ve made things a *lot* easier.)

As it turns out, I finished both sleeves, full length, with a skein of my yarn still left, so I’m going to knit another inch onto the front and back. If I’m lucky I’ll have enough left over to make a matching hat, which might be a bit naff, but hey, it’s merino/alpaca/silk, I’m not going to let it languish in a remnants bag!

Almost there…

Day 22 of the Tour de Fleece? Already?

It’s been a while since I recorded my progress here, and it looks like I don’t have a lot to show, but my goodness, the lace. I finally got the last of my second single spun on Friday, and spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday plying. Now, I did manage to pick up a throat infection last week, which you might think slowed me up a little, but truth be told it gave me the opportunity to sit about doing little more than plying, which normally wouldn’t happen. Those three days were a busy three days – I’m very pleased with the finished result.

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90g/978 yards of 42 wpi laceweight, spun from bluefaced leicester wool tops from bluefaced.com

Now, I *did* start out with 100g of fibre, and this –

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is the main reason I’ll be spinning lace on my spindle from now on – 7g of snapped singles. (I think the other 3g must have ended up in the hoover?!)

Tuesday and Wednesday I did a little spinning towards my challenge day (and caught up with the housework and shopping that I couldn’t face at the weekend), and yesterday I plied and washed this little beauty –

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Which might not look like much – and indeed, it’s only 9g/23 yds, so I’m not getting a jumper out of that – but it’s worsted, which I do struggle to make, so I’m happy with my results for challenge day.

Today’s spinning will be limited to this evening, and I’d contemplated doing some spinning towards a colourwork project. I think I want to make some mittens, with a variegated and a complimentary solid yarn, but as we’re going to be away again tomorrow and overnight, there’s no way I’d get that done in time for the end of the Tour and be happy with the results. I’m going to instead work on a thick/thin single and attempt a little corespinning, plying on the final day. This means I can either try and whip up a high twist single on the spindle while I’m away, or source a decent thread for the same purpose.

But right now, I’m off up the allotment to lift my shallots!

Three and fourpence

Spinning yesterday was pretty minimal – ten minutes or so with the spindle after we arrived back home. There were other spinning-based activities yesterday however…

After seeing everyone else’s wonderfully colourful projects over on ravelry, I was starting to find my bags of natural bfl and shetland sliver were looking, dare I say it, a bit dull. So… I bought some fibre from Texere Yarns, as I was in the neighbourhood visiting a friend. I first heard of them around six years ago, googling about for yarn sources for Jayne hats – I rang them to see if they had any suitable orange aran yarn (they did, but it was, at the time, only available on quite a large cone, which with postage costs came out quite pricey – in the end, my local tiny yarn store came up trumps with a wool/acrylic blend, though I’ve long since lost track of the exact yarn that they supplied me with). The woman on the end of the phone was extremely pleasant, and I’ve wanted to pay them a visit ever since then.

I wasn’t disappointed. A big mill shop in the centre of Bradford, it holds shelves upon shelves of yarns and fibres, and has a wonderful smell – it took me back to the days when my mum had a stint as a sock linker, working from home machining the toes of hefty wool socks with an enormous machine festooned with umpteen pointy needles.

I had the kids with me, and we arrived 15 minutes before closing, so it was a bit of a smash and grab. Here’s the booty –

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100g of merino tops in a combination of their regular shades, dubbed ‘Storm’, and below, two 50g bags of the same in Petrol.

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This just would not photograph in the light I had today – it’s a beautiful dark teal colour.

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I treated myself to 100g of mulberry silk tops too. I’ve had a quick squeeze of it, and put it back – it’s the first silk fibre I’ve ever bought, and it’s astonishingly soft and, well, silky!

Can’t wait to spin it. (I know it’s white, but hey. It’s beautiful.)

All in all, I’m really chuffed – I got all of the above for a little under a tenner, plus a couple of balls of yarn for an upcoming project, and I’m definitely popping back in the not-too-distant. I did consider a trip to Wingham Wool Work, but it wasn’t a Sunday or Monday, and I had no idea if we’d manage time to pop in so didn’t like to do the whole ‘by appointment’ thing. One day, though, as it’s only a mile or so detour from my 300 mile journey between Derbyshire and home, at the side of the motorway.

I cracked on with the laceweight today, and got it almost done, I’m down to the last 5g or so – I want to get that finished before I start on something else, so it’s not in the back of my mind, bugging me. I don’t have a great deal of hope of finishing tomorrow, as we’ve a trip to Glasgow Science Centre planned, but definitely by the end of Friday, all being well!

The first week

Today’s a rest day, so I’ve got a break from spinning, which means a little more time to blog!

On day five, I continued with the laceweight on the wheel –

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This is an ‘in progress’ shot, taken (annoyingly) not long after I started – I covered that saggy baggy bit of spinning there, and evenly filled out the bobbin a little, spinning a couple of grams in all. I took the remaining fibre, and my newly-freed spindle, with me when I drove down to visit dad on the Thursday (day six), and managed a little spinning on the spindle that evening –

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So far it seems to be reasonably comparable to the singles I’ve spun on the wheel.

Friday and Saturday (days seven and eight) I continued to work on it, though Saturday’s spinning amounted to all of about fifteen minutes, as most of that day was spent in party preparation and partying.

So, this is how it looks today –

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(My photos are slightly dimmer than usual because typically, the one day I’m not spinning has been the coolest so far while I’ve been away – it’s been very hot and sunny up until today.)

Yesterday was, for the cyclists, the first proper day in the mountains, and so I set myself a bit of a challenge, using my old top whorl spindle (which had the hook bashed out of it during the very start of the spinning of the Thistle laceweight I’ve finished this week) as a low-whorl spindle, to spin three singles – one shorter than the other two so that I could have a 3ply and a 2ply from my spinning. This is, again, natural BFL from bluefaced.com.

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I’d hoped to try and spin something a little thicker as a bit of a sample towards the DK weight I’m hoping to also spin during the Tour, but it seems that my default single, at least with a 2ply, ends up as laceweight. Must try harder.

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On the left is the laceweight 2ply, 16 yards, 26 wpi (not sure what it weighs as I’m away from my digital scales). On the right, the 3 ply, 27 yards and 18wpi.

Now, at those wpi’s, I’d say the laceweight was on the heavy side at 26wpi, and the 3ply is a fingering/borderline sport weight, going by this chart.

Tomorrow I’m driving home, so I suspect there’ll be little time to do more than a few minutes on the spindle – after that I’m not sure if I’ll continue to spin the rest of the laceweight on the spindle, or go back to the wheel. I’m also going to set about getting this DK yarn made!

Skeined..

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…washed and hung up to dry overnight, all lovely and bouncy and soft this morning!

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597yds, 44g, 42wpi.

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I called it Thistle, what with it being purples and greens and whites and all. This was the roving it came from originally – 50g of BFL from bluefaced.com, dyed with Supercook black food colouring.

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So that was day 3 – today (day 4), I’m back to working on the white laceweight. I weighed the fibre I have left, and there’s 26g of it… and I’m sure I’m not spinning this faster than about a gram an hour. Urk.