Monthly Archives: March 2009

A slippery slope

In a quiet moment (!) while we were at Unravel, Lisa showed me how to spin on an Ashford traditional wheel, borrowed from the West Surrey Guild of Spinners, Weavers, and Dyers, which had been brought along for demonstrations. I have been resisting spinning for ages. Mostly because I really like to knit with nice even yarn, and I had seen a lot of lumpy bumpy hand spun and thought that it just wasn’t for me. The process fascinates me though, and Lisa is such an enabler 🙂 and I didn’t really take too much persuading 🙂 The guild very kindly lent me the wheel and I have been having a very enjoyable time playing with it. I think I will need to do a lot more practicing before I am making even yarn, but I am improving (if slowly) and am enjoying myself immensely.

Below are my first spinning attempts, working from left to right. The brown is Bluefaced Leicester, the purple Merino, and the pink is mystery wool dyed at a workshop I went to last year (and slightly felted in the process). I’m afraid I am not including the attempt at Navajo plying which went so badly wrong that it ended up as a big tangle and is actually unknittable! These are all 2ply yarns, plied using Andean plying, and are about chunky weight.


Then I decided I wanted to have a go at spinning two singles and then plying them together from a lazy kate. Unfortunately when the wheel went to the demonstration it only had one bobbin with it. The guild owned another 3 bobbins and a lazy kate but they were in storage, so until I could borrow them I improvised with loo rolls as my bobbins and a cereal packet with a couple of knitting needles stuck through it as a lazy kate.

Here is my first singles.


I am getting better, and it is finer too. This is natural brown Bluefaced Leicester again. I find it not too difficult to spin. I found the merino harder, but I think that may have been that I should have fluffed it up a bit more before spinning, I shall try again soon.

So I spun another singles, and plyed it up into this.


I am so ridiculously proud! It looks like yarn! Admittedly slightly lumpy yarn, but it is recognisable as something one might want to actually knit with. It is about DK weight.

With that in mind I have started knitting a moebius scarf, so the skein above became this:


The only difficulty is that I have now knitted the whole skein but it is about half the size I would like for a scarf. I am now experimenting with spinning my first 3ply, and hoping that they will be sufficiently compatible that I can work the other half of the scarf in that.

And these were out a couple of weeks ago in our garden. They were just so beautiful I had to take their picture. Spring is here!



On the 21st of February Farnham Maltings held their first Unravel, festival of knitting, handspun yarns, talks, workshops and more! It is lovely to have a yarny event so close to home! Since this is the first time they have held this event it was on a fairly small scale, but was such a success that they are going to run it for 2 days next year (next year I think it is going to be the last weekend in February).

The Ash knitting group I go to, and the West Surrey Guild of Spinners, Weavers, and Dyers (which I am also a member of) had a display area and were showing people different knitting, crochet and spinning techniques. I brought along my Trees shawl, Supercook socks, and concertina socks for the display and helped out in the demo area showing people how to work a sock on one long circular needle.

Here is our display with demo area in front.


It was a really fun day. A great chance to meet a lot of other yarny people who are actually local to me! I had a fabulous time and am looking forward to it being even bigger and better next year.

Devon Fine Fibres

Here is a start to filling in the gaps over the last month! Last month I went to the Yarn Tasting event at Stash Yarns in Putney, to sample the yarns from Devon Fine Fibres. This is a great idea since it lets you have a go with yarns from small producers who you otherwise wouldn’t come across. There is even wine and crisps!

Our little goodie bag contained samples of 4ply weight cashmere, DK weight cashmere, and DK weight Bowmont wool. Enough of each to knit up a sample trying a few different ideas.

I think my top favourite was the 4ply cashmere. Gorgeously soft, and lovely to knit with. It worked well for lace, but was equally beautiful in moss stitch. It reminded me how much I like moss stitch, and that I really should use it more.


Next I tried the DK cashmere. Again it was a pleasure to knit with. Not quite as incredibly soft as the 4ply, but definitely a lovely yarn. As you can see I am quite keen on the moss stitch 🙂


Then lastly I sampled the DK bowmont. As expected the character of this yarn was quite different, since it comes from a different type of animal. A much bouncier yarn, with an almost felted look to it. I went with simple garter stitch with I-cord edging.


I really appreciated the opportunity to try these new-to-me yarns. They were certainly selling well too! I didn’t buy any on the day apart from my samples, since they were all in rather subdued colours. I will definitely bear them in mind for a future dyeing project though.

Yarn separation anxiety

Well, there have been quite a lot of goings-on here lately. The latest of which is having our (rather ancient) boiler replaced. To add to the excitement they don’t make the kind we had before (a back boiler behind the gas fire in the lounge) so the new one (which should be loads more efficient) is going into the utility room, but it does mean having new pipework to connect it to everything else. Hence, due to concrete floors downstairs, and therefore having to put the pipes through the ceiling, the floorboards have had to come up in both our spare bedrooms, although luckily not all the boards, just about half of each room.

Up until last week both of the spare rooms were fairly full of yarn (and other assorted bits and pieces), which has now all gone for a nice holiday to a storage unit a few miles away. It is rather distressing not to be surrounded by all my stash, although I did make up for it by having a load of undyed yarn from Bluefaced arrive on Tuesday, which is now sitting in its box in the middle of the lounge 🙂

Luckily we have 24hr access to the storage unit, so if it all becomes too awful I can run down there and stroke it all. I am going to take the opportunity to have a bit of a sort out when it all comes back again too (it went there in rather a rush so I didn’t get much sorted on the way out). I have managed to give away 8 cones of chenille to people at the Reading knitting group on Saturday, so I am making a start!

We are currently on our third day of no heating, and second day with no hot water. The kettle is getting a good workout! It has been a bit cold over night, but I am wearing my warmest knitted jumper and it is ok. I am missing the hot water a lot more. It took me 20 mins this morning to boil enough kettles and saucepans to have a not-terribly-warm bath about 4 inches deep, and then another couple of kettles to wash my hair in the washbasin. I have learnt from when we had our bathroom replaced that it is more comfortable to wash your hair in the bathroom washbasin than the kitchen sink, since it is a better height, and you don’t run the risk of bashing your head on the kitchen cupboards 🙂 Hopefully all being well it should be finished later today.

While it all goes on I have been doing a bit of City and Guilds sample homework (although with frequent breaks because the latest couple of samples have been hurting my hands) and sorting out some of my photos. So hopefully more blog posts with actual photos soon!