Saturday, December 30, 2006


Last year I knitted all of my Christmas presents this year I knitted none! Wonder what that says about me. Probably just that I have a short attention span. This year alas I have been rather too involved in spinning to have much time left for knitting. I'm sure that it will even it self out though.

I have finished my blankie which I was making out of all the odds and ends that I'd been practicing spinning and I'm very pleased with the result. Here it is being modeled by Gracie (prior to all the ends being sewn in. I have now done this).

I am particularly in love with the last two stripes, the pinky purple and the brown. These are the cheviot that I bought from jazzyhills on ebay, both carded into rollags with commercial pre-dyed merino from Wingham and plyed. It doesn't show up too well in the photo but the dark red that I carded in with the brown gives it the most incredible glints of colour here and there and the green does the same in the opposite direction. I'm definitely going to spin up some more of that.

Here's the arty shot featuring Gracie's bum.

Nextly is Ro playing with her pressie from me. You can't see a right lot of Ro in the picture as she complained that I was taking 'photos of her before she'd brushed her hair. You do get a particularly good view of the jumbo flyer though. Ro will now be spinning BIG WOOL!!!

I have more news but alas blogger is getting arsey about me uploading more pictures so I'll save that for later.

all the best!

HA HA, I may have discovered how to circumvent blogger when it's being arsey!!

Here is the extra news together with pictures....

Firstly a picture of Ro's christmas present to me. It's a Poole Pottery coffee set in the "Pebble" design and I was so not expecting it. A couple of months ago she bought herself a Poole coffee set from ebay in a different design. I saw it and said "Yes I like it, but I like this one better. If I were going to get one I'd get this one." And she went and got it for me bless her. I love it.

Second bit of extra news is another ebay tale. I said before that Ro would now be spinning BIG yarn 'cos of her jumbo flyer. She will be alternating this with spinning teeny tiny yarn having bought this .............. (also on ebay).

Have to admit that we weren't entirely convinced that it was a working wheel, but decided that as we won it for a fairly low price and didn't have the expense of postage as I was able to pick it up from Brighouse (nobbut a spit from Huddersfield) we may as well go for it, and if it was purely decorative we could re-auction it.

Having got it home I was even more convinced that there was something wrong with it as, although all the bits moved the flyer stayed still and the band from the wheel turned the bobbin instead.

I sent some close up shots of the moving parts down to Ro and she did some research and lo and behold it works on the same principal as a Louet.

And it does work, here's the proof.

It's quite a nice little wheel, but boy is it little. When I went to pick it up I had my steelies (steel toecapped boots) on as I was going in to work as well. I could barely get my toe onto the pedal. I'm taking it down to Ro's on Monday when I go to the match and we'll see how she gets on with it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

No time for a big post this week (It is nearly Christmas you know!!!) But I wanted to let anyone who hasn't already heard about the Yarn Harlot's challenge to knitters to raise money for M.S.F. Read all about it here at the home of the Yarn harlot.

Happy Hols!

Friday, December 15, 2006


This is the washed fleece drying on my airer. I found that it only dries properly if there's air circulating underneath it. If it's on a towel on the floor however much you turn it any water just drains back through. It will dry eventually but this is quicker.

I pegged a piece of muslin (no home should be without a piece of muslin) across the top of the airer and spread the fleece over the top of it.

I just love the way the white looks like a cumulus cloud.

It is a cumulus that looks like that isn't it?

I've begun carding it now. The brown seems a tiny bit matted, don't know if it came like that or if I did it when I washed it. Most likely the latter, but it's carding out okay. Need me drum carder now, it's slow progress doing it by hand and I want to get on with spinning (not a Christmas present hint me duck, I know what they cost!)

Here are the rollags I prepared last night (before I gave up and began spinning some tops I bought from Wingham the other weekend.)

For the benefit of Artis Anne who asked I bought the fleece from Jazzyhills on ebay. Her feedback has been mostly positive, a few complaints about fleece not being clean. It's a bit of a tricky one, if you are buying raw fleece then it will be mucky to an extent. It will require cleaning. Being a novice I don't know what is reasonable. This needed a bit more attention than the fleece Ro gave me, but as I said before most sheep live outside and they will collect debris in their fleece. I've been very amused by some of the articles in Spin Off which talk about keeping sheep in coats to keep the fleece clean. Somehow I don't see that catching on in this country.

Wormhead, I found that the Ecover was sufficient to get the lanolin out with a soak in hand warm water and repeated rinsing in same. In fact there seemed to be very little grease in this fleece to start off with, though it did require cleaning. I did consider getting some of that stuff that you recommended but I have access to Ecover at work (staff discount) so thought I'd try that to start with and so far I've been happy with it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fleece Preparation

This is the white cheviot fleece I bought off ebay. In fact it's only half of it. Wasn't sure I'd have the space to dry all of it in one go.

Here it is soaking in the bath. The first rinse released some sand and grit but after that it was pretty clean. There was a certain amount of vegetation in it which I've had to pick out but this doesn't surprise me too much. Sheep live out in fields after all!

Here it is after draining the water off after the final rinse. Don't it look lovely?

This is the brown as it arrived (again only half of it). This had much less vegetation in it but did contain part which had a certain amount of poo in it. This went down the loo (I know, I know I should have saved it to line my bean trenches next spring! )

Here's the brown soaking in it's Ecover bath. Haven't got a picture of it drained off but it's now sitting on an old sheet in front of the gas fire drying out.

Bye the way I've re-organised my sidebar to include links to podcasts, both knitting and non knitting. Anyone unfamiliar with it who enjoys political satire do give the "Now Show" podcast a go. It's very funny!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hmm, here's a thing. I spun this up from rollags made from the fleece that Ro gave me (the gray bit) and merino/silk commercial predyed tops from Wingham Wool Works. Then plied the two together.

Because the dyed stuff was combed in varying colours I spun it as worsted, whilst the other was spun as woolen. When I soaked it to set the ply the woolen ply "bloomed" more than the worsted, though before that they were a similar thickness. I'm assuming this is because there is more air trapped inside it. Is this normal?

I'm not particularly bothered by it as I quite like the effect, though I think it's worked better on this than it did on the one I plied with green. (no picture of that as I've already knitted it into the blankie) I would like to know why certain things happen so that I can reproduce it or avoid it next time though.

I've got some plain predyed merino which I can card into rollags and try out plied with the gray/brown fleece and see if that reacts the same way.

I've also bought 400g of white raw cheviot fleece and 400g of brown raw cheviot fleece on ebay which was waiting for me at the post office collection place yesterday. It looks as if it's in good clean condition and I think it was a snip at about six quid (including postage). I'll keep you informed on how it turns out.

Friday, December 01, 2006


On my blankie. I really like it. There's no pattern to it I'm pretty much just knitting up the yarns that I've been spinning (with a couple of bits that Ro's spun added to make it grow a bit quicker) but I like the randomness of it.

I also like to see what the various yarns knit up like once they've been spun and plied. Have to keep it up though, the plan is that when I've finished it I can take it along to the rugby to keep my knees warm. However at the rate I'm going it'll be a couple of seasons before it's finished!

Thank you for your concern about my leg. It's much better now. I was back to driving this week and behold, carrying someone's order into their living room I spotted a spinning wheel in the corner. Spinners are clearly taking over the world, or maybe just the parts of it that I move in.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy days!

I appear to have been the victim of a "freak sitting down accident". This is an expression my ex used to use if I suffered a twinge of any description whilst doing not very much. (There was also the "freak lying down accident" which could be equally risky).

Unfortunately this one isn't a joke. Many of you will know that I shouldn't be blogging on a Tuesday morning, I should be in Bristol unloading a truck. However last night I suffered what I suspect may be a trapped nerve in my left hip, possibly brought on by spinning. Whilst I was fine when I got home from work by the time I got into bed at 8-00pm (for my 2-00am start) I was in absolute agony. After trying and failing to get some sleep I finally realised that there was no way that I was up for two days driving/ unloading/ and jumping up and down off the back of a truck. I reluctantly rang one of the transport co-ordinators and gave him the bad news (how to win friends and influence people!).

Luckily despite an acute driver shortage they have managed to find a replacement driver at very short notice (Thanks Sharpey for stepping in to the breach). I'm now not too bad as long as I don't move (or for some strange reason, sit on the loo!).

I think that this came about as a result of sitting on too soft a seat whilst spinning. Having my right foot on the treadle must have put a twisty strain on my left hand side and I think that's what has done it. No more sofa spinning for me. I'll have to find a chair that offers a little more support. I hope this will work, don't want to have to give it up completely. Who knew that spinning could be so risky!?!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


decided to go for the lap blanket option for using up my bits and bobs of spinning. Here's the progress so far.

Colours look better in the second 'photo I think, but neither are brilliant 'cos it's artificial light.

I quite like it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

This spinning business

Seems to be addictive!

Here's what I've been up to since I finished knitting my jumper.

We have clockwise from the top left:

Kool Aid dyed Corriedale. I dyed small amounts of fleece, prepared it into individually coloured rollags and spun them in colour rotation. I then Navajo plied the resulting single.

Black Welsh Mountain and Blue Faced Leicester. I prepared rollags with stripes of the two then spun them so that the colours alternated in the single then Andean plied the resulting single.

Commercially dyed green Merino plied with undyed Corriedale.

Commercially dyed blue Merino / silk mix plied with undyed Corriedale.

I am enjoying the experience of trying out different things but with no end product in mind I fear that I'm going to end up with loads of little bits of yarn that I don't know what to do with. So any ideas would be welcome. I have a lap blanket in mind as a possibility. I have also considered sending the little bits to Wormhead for her collection of bits, but I don't really want to get rid of them. I know this sounds selfish, but I'm in love with my little bits of yarn. (Also they are a learning resource which I feel I should keep for future reference!). I've already found that I need more practice Navajo plying, I'm tending to do it in a rush and panic so the finished yarn is getting bleps (technical term!) in it and tending to be overplied.

I did the Kool aid dying in my bargain steamer, which is turning out to be quite a good buy, though there's not room for an enormous amount in it, you can do more than one colour at a time. (there's another basket that I didn't use.)

Here's the roving after dying still drying off.

P.S. Wore my new jumper to work on Thursday and got lots of compliments.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The incredible custom fit raglan sweater

Completed. I'm quite pleased with the way that this has turned out. I'd originally planned that it would be a bigger, baggier jumper but I quite like it as it is and I've plenty of yarn left if I want to make another.

It was knitted in the cashgora that I got for a pound a skein from Stow's of Sowerby on 4.5mm needles (3.75 for the ribbing). I think I used about 3 skeins of the yarn to complete it. I started with 95 stitches round the neckline and increased to 210 for the torso. The pattern was from the Woolworks site. I had to adapt it a bit as the instructions regarding how to distribute the original stitches round the neckline were a tad confusing. (I've just re read them and I think they make sense now. TYPICAL!!!!).

I will almost certainly use this pattern again, it's given me a nice everyday jumper that's quick to knit, comfortable to wear and looks good. (Well I think so anyhow, imagine someone thinner inside it!).

Other FO that I hadn't posted yet was my second pair of Socktoberfest socks which I finished a few weeks ago.

These are just a plain pair of top down socks with a roll top (no ribbing) but knitted with some yarn that I dyed with Kool Aid at the end of September. I'm quite pleased with how the yarn turned out, it looked a bit rubbish whilst I was dying it.

And finally my first home attempts at spinning unaided by teachers, sisters etc.

This was 100g of pre dyed merino roving that I bought from Wingham Woolworks after the course I did there. I have no idea what I'm going to make from it, it's very very PINK!!!!!!!! But I'm very proud of it!

Now I need a niddynoddy!

This is for Woolywormhead in her search for sheep images . The Pink Ba-Ba's are a ladies rugby team and their website features pink sheep drinking pink beer (which I'm sure Wormhead would approve of!)

Now I just know that there's some smart arse out there (probably Ro, it would be me if it weren't me who'd posted it) who will kindly point out that there shouldn't be an apostrophe in their title. In actual fact ba ba's has nothing to do with sheep, referring as it does to the original Ba' ba's which is a male rugby team made up of players from different countries mostly internationals but traditionally one uncapped player is also selected. Their correct name is the Barbarians so I think it is actually correct to place an apostrophe.

Maybe they'd like my homespun!!

Friday, October 27, 2006


Okay so I'm sat in the canteen at work yesterday afternoon knitting away at my Top down Raglan. I've done the body, picked up and knitted the collar. Picked up the right sleeve and am half way down it when a friend sitting opposite me says "Should there be a hole in it there?"


I've dropped a stitch about two inches below the left armhole and failed to notice it. I must have done it when I was trying it on for size and putting it on to and taking it off a second circular.

So what would you do in the circs? Well I'm not ashamed to admit that when I got home I used a crochet hook to pick up the rows that had unravelled, pull the loose stitch through to the back and tied it off with some spare yarn. No way was I going to frog the damned thing and reknit the body!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sorry about the break

I prepared this post last Friday and was going to put it up then, but I was in a bit of a rush (despite having been off work all week) and couldn't get blogger to behave. So I saved it and am posting it now instead. As a result of this you will have to wait for another week for this weeks news! And you should get a report of my Christmas around about the second week in January!

Hope you're all suitably confused. I am!

So remember this is the news from last week not the week just gone!

Ro's handspun and plyed yarn, pre knitting.

As you may remember I bought a spinning wheel on ebay a couple of weeks ago and having got it home was having a bit of trouble getting the damned thing to work. Well I decided that it may be a good idea if I had some lessons so I booked onto a mini spin course at Wingham Wool Works in Wentworth near Rotherham (and I booked a place for Ro too!). Ro has been spinning for a long time but is a little out of practice.

My handspun & plyed yarn, pre knitting

Well the course was on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and it was FAB! I learned so many things and I feel much more confident now, able to identify what is going wrong when it's not working properly. How to set the wheel up to optimise it's performance.

Both of our yarns knitted up, Ro's on the left mine on the right.

I can spin short draw, extended draw, and long draw. I can spin from roving, from tops, from rollags (I can card rollags). I can spin from the fan, from the fold. I can ply from two bobbins, I can Navajo ply, I can Andean ply. All this in two days.

Close up of mine knitted up.

I know how to work out the gearing of my wheel and how to make it work for me when spinning and plying.

Ro's other two yarns that she spun.

My other three yarns that I spun (one on the far right was a bit over twisted I think!.

I know (in theory) how to work out how many treadles I need to the length of draw and the amount of fibre I allow through to spin specific weights of yarn. I'm a very happy bunny, and Ro found it really useful too despite her greater experience.

Finally Ro's silk spun & plyed.

She spun some silk tops that I'd bought for her at Harrogate last year, she'd been a bit anxious of using them as she didn't want to spoil it.
Well worth the cost of the course and HIGHLY reccomended!

And this is this week .

Since then Ro has spun up , plied and knitted into a pair of socks some more stuff and I've been practicing with some coloured tops I bought at Wingham and some undyed Corriedale that Ro gave me. It seems to be working still so something must have taken! Problem now is that I find that I'm torn between spinning and knitting (I'm halfway through a top down raglan at present.). Tricky one that. I may have to give up working so that I have time for both!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Shameless Begging Post

Well I've done it, I've agreed to do a sponsored walk!

Every year for the past four years the Northampton Saints supporters group "Saints with Heart" have walked the seventeen miles from Wolverton to their ground at Franklin's Gardens in Northampton before a match in order to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

This year they decided that in order to get more people to join in they would also organise a number of shorter walks from various places but all ending at Franklin's Gardens before their match against Borders on 28th October.

I decided that even I could manage the few miles from Old Northamptonians R.F.C. to F.G. so I'm joining in despite the fact that as a Leicester Tigers supporter all Saintanists are my sworn enemy!!(I have to say that it's the law!!!). Of course the real punishment isn't the walk, it's having to sit through a Saints match without the pleasure of watching them being beaten by Tigers.

Anyhoo, to the begging bit. I have a webpage which you can reach by clicking here where you can pledge money to this worthy cause should you so wish. Or you can access it by clicking on the Saints With Heart 5 logo in the sidebar. Please give generously!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Secret project

I had to keep it secret in case someone from work saw it before it was finished but they've seen it now so I can post the pics.

I'm not entirely satisfied with the end result but here it is anyhow. You see at work I have to wear a high-vis vest in the warehouse so I don't get run over by a picking machine or a reach truck, you can see my standard issue yellow vis vest hanging over the back of the living room door in this first photo.

However I fancied something slightly different but they only come in yellow and orange so when I saw some fluorescent pink yarn on my last visit to Coldspring Mill I had to snap up a skein. I am now the proud owner of a bright pink high-vis. vest (or a high-vis cardi as one of my workmates put it).

I did buy some reflective tape to sew onto it so I can wear it in the goods yard too but the vest is strechy and the tape is not so I haven't managed to attach it in a satisfactory manner!

I probably will wear it, only when I'm strolling around the warehouse in a stock control capacity not when I'm doing manual work; I don't want it getting dirty or getting snagged on a pallet. It's also a bit warm at the moment but will be perfect in the winter, gets a bit nippy in there don'tcha know?

PS. I remembered reading on someone's blog a while ago that she was using welding rods for blocking lace so yesterday I asked a chum at work if he had any welding rods and he's agreed to bring some in for me to try.

His comment "huh, should have guessed it was something to do with knitting!" Bless.

If you decide to try this, when they ask if you want gas welding rods or electric it sounds as if gas ones are better being finer than the electric ones and copper coated to stop them rusting, apparently!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

many thanks.. Knit Yoga and to someone else the name of whose blog I have forgotten for finishing their Swallowtail Shawls. They have inspired me to pick up the sticks again on mine.

I gave up at the beginning of the third chart 'Lily of the Valley Border 1' as was having a little trouble with the instruction to purl 5 together. I gave it a go with a crochet hook but still found it a bit awkward. On the unnamed blog I picked up the tip to slip3 p2tog pass the three slipped stitches over, so I've been doing that instead and it makes it a whole heap easier. I have now finished that chart and have embarked on the next. Of course, being lace and still on the needles it looks like a pile of pooh. (Well I'm led to understand that that's the reason anyhow!) But I am full of optimism that once finished and blocked it will look like a beautifully blocked pile of pooh!

Other news. I knitted up a pair of socks whilst the shawl was in the doldrums. These are the Dublin Bay Socks from the Knitterati blog. They're knitted in Lorna's Laces "Ravenswood" on 2.25mm aluminium DPNs. I love the detail down the side of the sock and the Partridge Eye pattern on the heel flap. I'm not so keen on the colour of the yarn though so they may be the first of my Christmas pressie knitting.

The inspiration for knitting the socks was that I'd dyed some sock wool with the remains of the Kool Aid that I bought a while ago. Unfortunately although it inspired me I was too impatient to wait for it to dry, hence the socks in a completely different yarn. Now I'll have to start a new pair of socks to use the yarn I dyed. Never mind, good portable project and you can't have too many socks, especially if you're planning to give them away and it will soon be the start of Socktoberfest! These may be another pair of Crusoe but using the number of stitches on the basic pattern that comes free with Opal sock wool.

Finally news on the spinning. I'm a bit fed up cos I was getting on pretty well with the new wheel whilst at Ro's but now I have it home I'm struggling a bit. I think that part of the problem is that I was spinning raw fleece at Ro's and I found that pretty easy. However we met up with the person who will be teaching me to spin in a couple of weeks time who was horrified to hear that I was spinning raw fleece and told me in no uncertain terms that it was the work of the devil and that I would probably die a horrible and lingering death from the crap that abounds in raw fleece (I exaggerate, but only slightly). So being a good girl (and Ro had given me some to play with) I dutifully tried spinning some Corriedale roving that she'd bought (I think at Woolfest). The problem that I'm having is that I can't keep the damned stuff together and the yarn keeps breaking. This wasn't happening before. I dunno if it's the roving, the way the wheel is set up or just me but it's very disspiriting. I fear that I'm going to have to wait until the course starts before I actually get any spinning done and I'm a bit peed off.

Never mind, back to the knitting!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's been a while

But I've been kinda busy for the past couple of weeks or so. I have been knitting (and stuff) but got no 'photos at the moment so this is just a quickie to remind you I'm still here.

Had a long run this week and didn't get home till about eightish last night so a bit nackered. (For any new readers out there I'm talking driving not actual running. I'd hate anyone to think I'm in any way into exercise).

I saw such a nice sight on Tuesday evening whilst driving up the A38 between Bristol and Gloucester. There was a large field with a herd of cattle in it and they were all lying down together in the middle of the field in a big brown and tan and black circle. There was no reason why they should all be together like that, they didn't have to do it for warmth, it was a warm evening, it was purely sociability. I do like cows! They seem to have a sense of family! I know that they are herd animals but sheep are too and you don't seem to get the same sense of togetherness with sheep!

Friday, September 08, 2006

On the go

Why am I so rubbish at finishing things off, and could this be the reason that my house is so full of STUFF!?!

At the moment I have
  • The Fake-a-gamo - Need to sew up, line and fit the handles,
  • Swallow tail shawl - On the needles, got to a tricky bit on the next chart which involves regular purling five together! Kinda lost heart.
  • Secret Project - Finished knitting but stalled due to lack of vital ingredient!
  • Knit a river squares - These are actually not a real problem, they're my portable project but they do tend to clutter the place up a bit.

Of course by the time I do get round to finishing these things I've forgotten what size needles I used, lost the ballbands to the yarn so that I can't remember what I used or how much. Sometimes I've even lost the pattern too.

In addition to the above there are a load of new and exciting things that I want to start.
  • Today I've Kool Aid dyed some sock wool using the bargain (£9.96) steamer that I bought weeks ago at Tesco especially for dying but hadn't got round to using. So having done that I need to start some socks (can't have enough socks after all!)
  • Bought a spinning wheel so have to start spinning. Luckily this is still at Ro's, couldn't bring it back last weekend as the match was at a stupid time on Sunday so had to drive back up to Yorkshire straight afterwards and wasn't prepared to leave the wheel unattended in a parked car in Leicester for two hours.
  • Haven't started Leo's Tigers top yet and the season started last weekend.
  • Need new jumpers, I want to try a top down raglan, but I'm considering buying one (I know it's the end isn't it. To actually consider buying knitwear that you need 'cos you're too busy knitting fun stuff!!!

No doubt it will all come together in the end, meanwhile my home is disappearing under shedloads of kipple and I have no-one to blame for it but myself!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Extreme badness

Well, I did say that I'd been bad, and here's the extent of my badness!

Last weekend I went to Leamington Spa and picked this baby up. I bought it on ebay and I'm very pleased with it.

Had a go on Ro's Traveller Traditional the other weekend, but this seems much more controllable at low speed which suits me better.
I think that considering the cost of these new I got myself a bit of a bargain.
Here's a (not fearfully good) picture of my first attempt with it.

I deliberately took it out of focus so you can't see if it's any good or not!!

I'm planning to take a few lessons now, just so that I know what I'm looking for and how to achieve it. Wish me luck.

The secret project has suffered a setback. The thing I bought to finish it off arrived whilst I was in Bristol this week, but it's not what I want. (Downside of ebaying!) So I will have to go back to the drawing board on that one.

Darn it!!!!!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A bit of a clue

This is a clue to my secret project as I was asked about it today. It isn't much of a clue, but there again I don't want to give it away.

Here's a picture of my apple tree. The wind blew just as I clicked the shutter.
This is the tree moments later when the wind had died down a bit. Don't they look lush? Unfortunately they look a lot better than they taste.

Isn't that just life all over?

The Swallow Shawl is going well and I've nearly finished the fourteen repeats and will be starting the next chart later tonight. Think that's the border.