Archive for the ‘Spinning Fibre’ Category

I’m trying to work my way through my fibre stash at the moment.  I’ve got a few bundles of fibre I haven’t used for much, and it’d be great to get them spun and cleared so the only fibre I have left to worry about is my ouessant fleeces.  The latest finished skein is from a little 100g bag of merino fibre – the last bit of fibre I was able to get from Forest Fibres before they closed up shop.  It’s the same blue blend as my very first spinning project – the bulky blue fibre plied with silk thread from a few years ago.

This time, I wanted to get as much out of the fibre as I could.  And, now I’m getting the hang of spinning very fine threads to ply, I decided to try my hand at a little laceweight.

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The finished fibre is lovely – Two skeins, one slightly larger than the other.  They total 105g of laceweight 2-ply, at 21 WPI and just a hair over 400 yards of yarn.  The original blend of colours is still visible running through the fibre, and I cannot wait to see how it knits up.  I’m hoping the varied colours will create little bands of subtle almost-stripes, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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The big question of course, is what am I going to knit with it?  400 yards of laceweight seems to be enough for a pair of fingerless gloves, or mitts, or a cowl or shawlette, based on my Ravelry search (yarn weight; lace, yardage; 300-450 yards, craft; knitting, has photo; yes, sort by; most projects).  As much as I love the fibre I’m not sure I’d wear something in this specific blend of blues, so I might have a look at some patterns for things I could knit as gifts – maybe something pretty for my bestie, or big sis-in-law, or maybe something cute for the nieces – I bet I can get a couple pairs of child-size accessories out of this!

 

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Sorry about the extended radio silence.  I’ve been doing LOTS of crafting, I just don’t seem to have had the time to post about it.  Well, hopefully that’s going to change and as part of that I’m going to share some of the projects I’ve been getting on with since… wow the end of October, huh?

First up, Spinning!

The ouessant fleece has hit a road block, since I’ve found it is simply not in good enough condition to spin without carding it first, and despite continuously searching I haven’t yet got ahold of any carders – I keep bidding on them on Ebay, but those things get way too expensive way too fast, for what is essentially two pieces of wood with carding fabric attached!  I now have another two fleeces in addition to the original two, with three more to come soon.  They’re getting washed as soon as I get them, but I am EAGER to get on with things, so if anyone knows somewhere I can pick up some second-hand carders for under £20 please let me know.

Fortunately, I have been working on other spinning.  First up, a lovely bit of spinning I did from some fibre my fiancé  bought me for my birthday.

This is a wonderfully soft blend of shetland, corriedale and merino that mixes a variety of greys, black and purple for an overall rich, plummy colour.  The fibre is 2-ply, around a light fingering weight after plying and for only 100g of fibre turned out to be quite a decent amount for knitting from.  I was able to create a lovely pair of beaded ruffle cuffs and still have about 100 yards left over – not quite enough for another pair of cuffs, but I plan to spin up or purchase a complimentary grey or black fibre and make something stripey with the two.

 

The pattern I used is the excellent, and economical Spring Frills pattern on Ravelry.  When I say economical, please note that this is an understatement.  My finished skein measured around 265 yards and I have about 100 left.  I got two very pretty frilly ruffle cuffs for just around 160 yards of fingering weight merino, which is frankly impressive.  I could’ve made extra-long cuffs on these with the fibre I had and probably not run out before I was done.  It’s a fantastic and very quick pattern, and it’d be a great go-to pattern for last minute gift knitting.

It’s really difficult to get pictures that show the colour variations accurately – the purple in the fibre is most on the red end of the spectrum, which can be difficult to photograph accurately.  I took some in-progress pictures of the whole thing, though, and overall I think you get a pretty accurate idea of the colour blends.  Of course, one of my cats had to make an appearance at some point.  I really love being able to make something from scratch to this degree – spinning up fibre and then knitting with the resulting yarn.  I get a real sense of achievement when I see the finished project at the end.

 

As well as battling with my ouessant fleece, I’ve been working on some other craft projects.  I just got my craft corner set up properly in the bedroom, so have been making the most of having a decent workstation to do everything in.  First up, my most recent finished project – a quick rainbow merino skein.

DSCN1208I was gifted a lovely sample pack of merino fibre in a whole rainbow of colours.  I think the pack was meant for felters – certainly there wasn’t enough of any one colour to make anything with – but since I haven’t yet taken up felting, I decided to find other uses for it!  The resulting skein is a single, spun from the fold, not predrafted, and worked out somewhere between a lace-weight and a light fingering.

IMG_5821I’m hoping the skein will be enough to make something like a lace cowl with, and am debating gifting it to my SIL, who also knits and who could probably make better use of something this gorgeous than me!  My cats are less impressed with it, but that might just be because I posed it on them while they were trying to sleep so I could take cute pictures.

DSCN1116I’m also around 90% done with another gift for my SIL.  Her daughters have outgrown their adorable old school uniform of purple and white jumpers and purple gingham dresses, and she asked me to make them each a keepsake poppet using the leftovers.  The poppets are done (not pictured, the above poppet’s nose), and I’m just now working on patchwork quilts for the poppets to be put to bed in at night.

DSCN1114The girls each got to choose the pattern they wanted me to use for their poppets, and I’ve endeavoured to fit the school logo onto each poppet somewhere.  These were really fun and satisfying to make – so much so that I’m debating starting up a business making them to order.

DSCN1197Another WIP I’m enjoying a lot is these little Yule decorations I’m working on.  The first lot I’m doing are little hanging Santa/Tomte in felt.  The little dude just above is the prototype, just made up plain so I could make sure the shape and appearance works with what I had planned.  Below you can see the first batch in progress.  I do need to streamline my technique so I can make them a bit faster than this, though.

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Phew!

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At long last, they’re here.  Four bags containing two lovely fleeces shown from a couple of ouessant sheep.  They’ve been stored in bags a few months, and appear to have been pulled apart somewhat before being stuffed in the bags, so they aren’t in as good a condition as they could be – the lanolin has turned sticky with age, which means I can’t spin in the grease, and some parts are matted.  I still expect to get a goodly amount of usable fibre from them, of course.  I just need to give them a gentle washing and combing first.

DSCN1157I’ve been pulling out some of the nicest-looking locks.  Would’ve loved to spin these in the grease, but the lanolin is far too old and sticky for that now, so I need to scour them and then obtain some hand-carders to fluff them up with.  Ouessant sheep are a small breed – they typically reach no higher than your knee – and have a primitive fleece, which means it contains a mixture of all the different fibre types sheep are bred for in varying amounts.  In contrast, merino sheep have fleece that is almost all the short, fluffy undercoat, for example.  The primitive fleece makes for a challenging spin even with a fresh fleece that was rolled and stored properly, so I’ve got quite a challenge for my first raw fleece project!

DSCN1153The bulk of the fleece looks like this – grassy, matted and in need of some TLC.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out with proper care.  I definitely can’t do anything with this until I get some carders.  Those things run at ridiculous prices though, so I might try a cheat – I’ve heard you can card with a pair of large paddle dog brushes.  I’ll get a couple as soon as I can and give it a try.

DSCN1175As I said, not suitable for spinning in the grease, but I had to attempt it with a few locks just to see what the fibre looks like spun.  It’s rather pretty I think, and I plan to overdye some of it to see what colours come out of that beautiful natural black fleece.  Even sticky with lanolin, grass and farm muck, the fibres are really quite nice to work with.  They are rather brittle though, which is a worry.  I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I suspect this will need to be spun to no less than worsted weight.

 

Excuse the face, my other half spent most of the shoot trying to make me laugh!

Excuse the face, my other half spent most of the shoot trying to make me laugh!

I love this shawl.  It’s like a celebration of Loki, Odin, Freya and Frigga all at once.  Odin, for the raven-coloured yarn and winged shape, Freya, for her cloak of feathers, that she lends to Loki for so many of his adventures, and Frigga for the celebration of spinning and home crafts.  I’m also proud of it because it represents my most handmade item to date.  I wanted to look back on the process of creating the shawl, so here’s some photos and a few reminders of how it came to be.  Not much in the way of words, this is a celebration in pictures.  But, for those of you who want to make your own…

It started with my custom blend from World of Wools.  25% raven merino, 12.5% raven tussah silk, 12.5% each of midnight and aubergine merino, royal blue and amethyst tussah silk and rainbow trilobal nylon, blended the maximum five times.  I love the rainbow colours, but the next time I make the fibre I think I’ll skip the trilobal, add a little more raven silk and blend it a little less, to show off the colours in the fibre better – the trilobal does overwhelm the blend some.  I’d probably also add beading, now I know how the pattern comes together, I could add beads quite easily to really show off the shape.

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“How about you do one of those poncey fashion magazine poses?” “Okay, but no trout pout.” “No you have to trout pout!” “Fine!”

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Obligatory look-at-how-mysterious-and-artsy-I-am pose