Category Archives: Finished Projects

A Couple of Spinning Experiments and Some More Finished Projects and a Workshop

Back in October last year I went to a Wingham Woolwork sampling day organised by the Hampshire Guild of Spinners, Weavers, and Dyers. This was the second time I had been to a sampling day – the first was organised by the Kennet Valley Guild, so at least this time I knew a little of what to expect.

The idea is that you bring along your spinning wheel, or spindle and your lunch (or you can buy lunch there), you pay your entrance fee and then can have a go at spinning whichever fibres you fancy. It is a great way of trying out new things without committing yourself to an entire projects-worth.

Last time I mostly concentrated on the different merino colour blends – something I am still fascinated by, but this time although I spun a couple of colour blends I mostly experimented with different fibre mixtures. It was great fun, and although they were only small amounts I have a little bit more of an idea of what different fibres are like to spin with and knit.

I spun them up all one after another and then chain-plied them to create a 3-ply. My knitted sample has a little bit of 1×1 rib at each end to stop it curling but is otherwise stocking stitch – all on 2.5mm needles.



Starting from the bottom (the right of the picture) the fibres are:
1) 50% brown yak, 50% silk
2) 70% brown Bluefaced Leicester, 30% silk
3) 70% merino, 30% silk
4) 70% merino, 30% silk
5) 100% merino
6) 50% cashmere, 50% silk
7) 100% tussah silk
8) Baby camel and merino, not sure of proportions
9) 100% merino
10) 50% white yak, 50% silk

The yak and silk mixture is lovely, and manages to be both drapey and fluffy whilst also being incredibly soft. I was surprised at how coarse the BFL and silk is, perhaps the BFL used in this particular blend was not a very soft example? The cashmere and silk was easier to spin than I feared, though not as relaxing a spin as other fibres, it seems to have spun up thicker than the other blends. The silk is lovely and drapey and shiney and crunchy. I think I would like to experiment with spinning more and knitting a larger piece to see if I had problems with it not holding its shape. The baby camel and merino was surprisingly lovely to spin, and is soft and warm.

It was good fun to see what some different fibres are like, and I was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t as difficult to spin as I had feared. I think in these cases the blends can help make a short fibre easier to spin by mixing it with a longer one.

Back in the summer last year I had a go at doing longdraw spinning (with varying degrees of success!). My yarn was rather lumpy, but I thought I would ply it up in three different ways and then knit with the results and see how they came out. My largest sample was a 3ply, made from three separate singles. This had the advantage of evening out the worst of the lumpy bits and was the most successful of the finished yarns. I tried knitting several different stitches to see how they would each fare.

Longdraw3ply1 Longdraw3ply2 Longdraw3ply3 Longdraw3ply4


I used 6mm needles for this sample. I thought the garter stitch, moss stitch, and particularly the welting pattern were most successful, with the stocking stitch and 1×1 rib unfortunately exacerbating the lumpiness (the 2×2 rib wasn’t so bad), and the cables and lace just getting a bit lost in all the fluffiness.

My next sample was a 2ply, for this one I used 5mm needles.

Longdraw2ply1 Longdraw2ply2 Longdraw2ply3 Longdraw2ply4


This yarn was less round and had more texture than the 3ply. Again it looked best in garter stitch, moss stitch, double moss stitch, and welting. Both the stocking stitch and the 1×1 and 2×2 ribs showed up how uneven the underlying yarn was.

My last and smallest sample was a chain ply. Due to the construction this method of plying magnified the unevenness in the original single and was the least even of all the finished yarn.


I used 5.5mm needles for this one. The garter stitch and particularly the moss stitch are pleasingly rustic, whereas the stocking stitch just looks uneven.

This whole experiment has been very interesting, both from the spinning and the knitting perspective. Also I think that my findings can equally be applied to uneven and textured commercial yarn. I think I would definitely avoid stocking stitch and ribs (particularly 1×1 rib) in a textured yarn – they run the risk of just looking messy. Garter stitch, variants of moss stitch, and welting seem to work well with texture. Cables and lace can run the risk of just getting lost in a fluffy yarn – probably best to do a test swatch since it will depend on the individual yarn and pattern combination.

Now onto a couple of finished projects:

First some very loud socks 🙂


The yarn is Zitron Trekking XXL and came from Mummy and Daddy from one of their holidays. I used 2.25mm needles. I made the pattern up, it is a very basic rib leg and stocking stitch foot pattern, with a garter stitch short row heel. I wanted a simple pattern since the yarn is so exciting it would obscure anything with more detail.

Next is another elephant, for a baby due this summer.


This one is made from King Cole Merino Blend DK, and I used 3mm needles. The pattern is Elijah.

My most recent finished project is a jumper made out of Lett Lopi. The pattern is from a Craftsy class that I have been enjoying (Top Down Icelandic Sweater). I had been hoping to buy the yarn from Alafoss at Unravel in February. However they were so successful that by the time I got to their stand half way through Saturday they had completely sold out! I did manage to get a shade card though, and so could decide about the colours in the comfort of my own home and order online.

I tinkered with the pattern a little to make it a jumper rather than a cardigan, and to make it a bit more fitted. I used some ideas from Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter book, and so went for zero ease at the chest and hip, and 3 inches of ease at the waist, with the waist shaping only done on the back of the garment. It came out a little more fitted than planned(!) due to my tension changing a little from the swatch to the finished garment, but I think it is still wearable.


I find the Lopi to be on the edge of what I find a little too scratchy. I have quite sensitive skin and have been experimenting with which fibres I find comfortable. For many years I thought I couldn’t wear wool at all, but fortunately it turns out I can wear quite a lot of wool, depending on the breed, and on whether it is touching a particularly tricky bit of skin. I shall be interested to wear this jumper for a bit and see what I reckon to it. I have a hat made from Lopi which I find ok, but that isn’t in contact with the inside of my elbows!

My final finished project of the catch up (and I am now finally up to date! hooray!) has been a long time coming. I checked on my ravelry project for this and I have been knitting it over a year! Well actually I have knitted it about two and a half times, due to a mess up with my calculations for the shoulder shaping, then undoing the edging so that I could maximise the yarn used.


The pattern is Fenna by Myrna Stahman, the yarn is some 50% merino, 50% tencel that I dyed a few years ago, and I used 4mm needles. I decided to go for a very simple garter stitch pattern to make the most of the coloured yarn. It is very comfy, and the shoulder shaping (now I have got it right!) really does mean that the shawl stays on as you move around.

At the beginning of April the West Surrey Guild of Spinning, Weaving, and Dyeing held a felting workshop with Janine Rees. This was the first time I had had a go at felting but luckily Janine made the workshop suitable for complete beginners as well as those with a bit more experience. Janine started the workshop by showing us a variety of felted pieces she has produced, and explaining about how felt is created. She then demonstrated how to make a piece of flat felt, and we all had a go.

Here are our examples of flat felt:


And my sample. We used merino wool for the main felt and then decorated it with a variety of bits of yarn.


At lunch time we were able to look at several books on different aspects of felt making that Janine had brought with her, and also to have another closer look at her felted pieces.

After lunch we moved on to making 3D felt around a resist made of thin foam. I made a little pouch.

HeatherResistFeltSide1 HeatherResistFeltSide2

In my excitement to get felting I forgot to add a thin layer of merino fibres over the top of my decoration on the second side. Interestingly the handspun merino yarn, and the 50% merino, 50% tencel yarn adhered to the surface with no problems anyway. The handspun Southdown yarn though has stuck in some places and not in others. Empirical evidence that not all wools felt the same!

It was a fun day and I look forward to having a go at more felting soon.

And finally a couple of photos of my lovely new craft room.

CraftRoom1 CraftRoom2

As you can see I have quite a lot of tidying to do!



First Finished Projects of 2014

I finished my first project of 2014 on January 1st, which sounds good until you realise it was a first birthday hat for my niece, and the 1st was her birthday. Still I did finish it before her birthday party 🙂


The pattern is Doodie by Woolly Wormhead, the yarn is Knit Picks Swish DK (superwash merino wool) in the very aptly named colour Hollyberry (my niece’s name is Holly), I used 3.5mm needles.

My next finished project was a pair of socks.

Unicurves1 Unicurves2

The pattern is Unicurves, and the yarn is some handspun merino and silk that I think I spun last year, I used 2.25mm needles. These were a fun knit although my yarn is quite dense so they have made a very firm fabric. This does mean that they should wear well, but they are quite hard to get on and off! I will be interested to see whether they soften and become more flexible with washing and wearing.

Next up are the loudest slippers you have ever met 🙂

RainbowSlippers1 RainbowSlippers2

The pattern is Stippers by Ashley Knowlton, and the yarn is some wonderfully bright Phildar I bought in France on the French Treats holiday in 2012. I used 5.5mm needles.

I did tinker with the pattern a little because in order to get a nice firm fabric with my yarn I needed to go down two needle sizes. Also as is often the case the largest size wasn’t actually wide enough for my feet. I am very pleased with how they have come out. They are wonderfully cosy and every time I catch a glimpse of them they make me smile 🙂 I was a little worried about how well the yarn would wear since it is fairly softly spun. However having knitted it quite tightly does seem to have helped, and I have been wearing them for a couple of weeks and they are still looking ok.

Next I was attempting to get ahead of the game with knitting an elephant for a baby who is due this summer.


The pattern is Elijah by Ysolda Teague. I used Artesano superwash merino, and 3mm needles. This is a very satisfying though slightly fiddly pattern to knit, and I think the finished elephant has a lot of character 🙂

Lastly for this bunch of finished projects was a shawl I finished a little while ago but had failed miserably to photograph. Finally its time has come 🙂


This was the diamond lace shawl by Fiona Morris, one of the projects from the French Treats 2013 holiday. The yarn is Jawoll Magic Degrade and I used 5mm needles. My knitting came out a little looser than the prototype so in order to maximise the amount of yarn used I missed out the garter stitch section between the main lace pattern and the edging, and I missed out the picots on the cast off. I broke and rejoined the yarn when working the central peak on the edging to try and make the colours a little more symmetrical too.

Coming out of hibernation

It suddenly seems to be March! How did that happen? Now that the sun is finally showing itself after all the recent rain it seems like a good time to do some tidying up and catching up.

Quite a lot has happened since I wrote last. Last year we did a lot of sorting and packing, and in November we moved house. We haven’t gone too far, just from one side of the county to the other, and are now nearer to my in-laws, to the other-half’s work, and to knitting and spinning groups! A win all round 🙂 The new house is lovely and I even have a craft room which is absolutely wonderful 🙂 We are still in the process of bringing everything back from storage and sorting it out. I have got all my knitting books back on the shelves already and nearly all of the magazines and other folders, and am looking forward to having a nice big sort out of all my yarn and fibre – that may well be quite a mammoth project!

I have been doing a little bit of knitting over the winter though there hasn’t been anything too brain-taxing. That is another thing I am looking forward to getting back into, I would like to do a nice big slightly complicated project but I haven’t quite decided what yet.

So for a little bit of a round-up of what I have been up to. First there was an elephant for baby Rufus:


The pattern is Elijah by Ysolda Teague, it is a very pleasing pattern to knit. The yarn is Artesano Superwash Merino, a DK weight, and I used 3mm needles. As you can see he is a very erudite elephant 🙂

Next were some socks. I started these before we went to France in June and finally finished in November:


The pattern is Back to Basics by Deb Barnhill, and the yarn is Fortissima Colori – I think the yarn was a present from Mummy, and I used 2.25mm needles. The construction was very interesting, although I had to tinker with the pattern a bit because my yarn was a little thinner than that recommended and my feet are wider than the largest size. The shape has come out not quite right for my feet – the toes are too narrow and the instep a little baggy, but they were an interesting knit.

I finished off the year with some things for Christmas. First a series of hats, these are all made from the Quynn pattern by Woolly Wormhead, using Knit Picks Chroma yarn in different colours, and 4.5mm needles. My tension was a little tighter than that called for in the pattern so I made a larger size for each to have it come out big enough. This pattern makes a lovely cosy hat, the integral ear-flaps are great, and it stays on your head even when it is windy 🙂

First for my eldest niece Jenny:


Next for my nephew Aaron:


Then for my younger niece Holly:


And finally one for me 🙂


Here are the collection:


I also made a Christmas stocking for Holly for her first Christmas.

HollyStocking1 HollyStocking2

I used Cascade 220 yarn and 3mm needles to give a nice firm fabric.

I have finished a couple of other projects so far this year, but I need to get my act together and photograph them. Also this seems a suitable time to pause since this post is already getting unmanageably huge!

Vitamin D

Yet another finished knitting project! I am beginning not to recognise myself. Don’t worry I shall be back to my usual very slow projects now.


The pattern is Vitamin D by Heidi Kirrmaier, the yarn is my handspun 80% alpaca, 20% merino. I used 3mm needles, and 648g, 1356m yarn.


I tinkered with the pattern a bit because my yarn was a bit different to that called for in the pattern. I tried knitting my yarn on the recommended needles (3.5mm), but although the tension I was getting was just right I really didn’t like the feel of the fabric. My yarn was spun rather tightly (something I need to work on!) and on the larger needles instead of a lovely drapey fabric it just felt like knitted string – not nice! So after a bit of experimenting I ended up using 3mm needles. My fabric was quite a bit denser than the pattern recommended, but I thought the stitches looked better.

This meant I had to alter things a little so that the cardigan would fit me. I made the XL size, but also added in an extra row of increases in the yoke, and made the armholes deeper and the sleeves wider. I also added in an extra set of short rows to make the whole thing longer (I generally like my cardies to be long).

It was fun to knit. It is an interesting construction. You start at the neck and knit downwards. Knitting the sleeves first and then the body. The body has decorative eyelets (which don’t show up that well because my yarn was rather hairy and my fabric fairly dense), which also add circular yoke shaping. The sleeves are raglan. The short row shaping makes the fronts roughly quarter-circles.

It is very cosy and comfortable to wear – I especially like that the shoulders stay on even when the cardigan is worn open. I find so many cardigans I try on slip off one shoulder if I actually move at all. I like the idea of the drapey fronts but am not totally convinced that they like me. I am still on the search for a flattering cardi, I’m not sure that this is it – but I shall be wearing it a lot anyway because it is so lovely and snuggly 🙂

Blue Baroque Socks

It has been a busy week and a half since we came back from France. First a few days with my Mum, dragging her along to a couple of spinning group meetings. Then we went to visit my uncle and auntie, and then to some friends.

After having dropped her off for her next holiday, we had a day to ourselves, and then went to help my parents in law move house. Or get in the way while they moved house 🙂

I had to have a day off after that! Then this week has been spent catching up on everything. There is still some way to go!

One of the things I have managed to catch up on is to photograph my latest finished pair of socks.


The pattern is Baroque (a free pattern from Knitty). The yarn is handspun merino 3ply, the fibre was bought from Wingham Woolwork, but I don’t think it is part of their standard range. It is actually made from two very similar shades of navy blended together which makes it look like one colour, but it has a bit more depth than a totally flat one colour fibre. I used 2.25mm needles and made the large size, and used 123g which is 300m.BlueBaroqueSocks2

These were good fun to knit and I am very pleased with them. The yarn shows the pattern well – it was quite firmly twisted so shows up the cables.

These did take me quite a while, I started them back in February. The pattern is quite dense with all the small twisted stitch cables, and so there are a lot of rows to the centimetre. Also knitting in navy in the winter wasn’t the world’s greatest plan 🙂

I nearly managed to shock you with two finished projects, but the other one is going back to the drawing board. I have been making the most simple Faroese shawl (just garter stitch with some eyelets round the edges) from Myrna Stahman’s Faroese Shawl book. I have been jiggling around with the shaping though to suit my yarn (a merino/tencel 4ply I dyed a few years ago), not entirely successfully. I widened the back panel which I think has worked, but made the shoulders wider and I think I have over-done it.


These pictures don’t show the worst of it, but it really looks like I should take up American Football or join the cast of Dynasty with shoulders like that.FaroeseShawl2

Because the shoulder shaping extends beyond my own shoulders by about an inch on each side it just emphasises that my shoulders are rather narrow and rounded. When I was doing my calculations I failed to take into account just how much the tencel would make the fabric drape once I had finished the whole shawl. I measured it all when it was only about 6 inches down (you knit this one from the top), and it seemed to be going fine, but of course at that point it didn’t have the weight of the other 250g of yarn pulling the shoulders down.

Anyway, the upshot is that I am going to undo it back to the shoulders and do some recalculations. The good news is that I really enjoyed knitting it the first time, it is a lovely slinky yarn but the merino adds enough elasticity to make it easy to knit with. I’m sure I shall enjoy it just as much the second time around (actually this is the third, but the first attempt had the shoulders far too small and didn’t actually get very far).

Escadaria socks

The Great Sort Out is still coming along. I am definitely making inroads, but there is a long way to go still. I am looking forward to getting to the City and Guilds work currently buried on the dining table and making another good stab at that, it has been on pause for too long.

In amongst the sorting I have managed a little bit of slow knitting, a couple of rows here and there. It is surprising what can be accomplished with a few sessions of waiting for appointments, the odd 20 bars rest at band, and a bit of skyping to my sister in New York – ah the delights of hands-free phoning – and with the web-cam I can bore her rigid with my knitting too 🙂 Their weather sounds even more horrid than ours, the hats I knitted for my niece and nephew for Christmas are getting a good work-out 🙂

Anyway, I have actually finished some socks (shock horror!). I am finding socks to be a conveniently achievable size of project at the moment, and have the added bonus of being very portable, hence I do actually work on them.


The pattern is called Escadaria (I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce it), and came from Sockupied, Spring 2011, one of the eMags from Interweave. I made the middle size (9in circumference), used 2.25mm needles and the yarn is some 75% superwash merino, 25% seacell fibre dyed by Fluff n Stuff and spun into a 3ply by me. Conveniently I used almost exactly the whole skein – only a couple of metres were left at the end.


The pale flashes are bits of the seacell which I didn’t manage to distribute evenly when I was spinning.

The yarn has come out rather hard and somewhat inelastic, although it is mostly wool it feels and looks like a mercerized cotton. This is something I am keen to work on with my spinning in the coming months. I would like to be able to spin a more elastic, squashier yarn. I am looking forward to some practising!

Hopefully in this case the fact that the yarn is quite strong should be a help rather than a hinderance, and will hopefully make the socks wear better. Also the very smooth solid nature of the yarn shows up the lace pattern well. I enjoyed knitting these, although I wasn’t that keen on the little pretend-cable pattern on the leg, and I didn’t really like the way the heel was done – the joins seemed a bit messy. It is fun trying out some different patterns, and different ways of working heels and toes. I am getting a feel for which I like to work, and how well different shapes fit my feet.

Back to the sorting I think. This week hopefully should see me finish cataloguing the rest of my knitting books.

First finished projects of 2013

Happy New Year! I hope that 2013 has got off to a good start for everyone. I have been plodding along with the Great Sort Out. The pile of magazines and books on my arm of the settee is still large but is decreasing by the day. It is now less likely to spontaneously avalanche and bury one (or both) of us alive.

I have been knitting away in the background. More socks from my handspun. I seem to be having a purple phase at the moment.


These are my first toe-up socks, and it was great fun! The pattern is called Having Hope by Diane Mulholland.


I used 2.5mm needles and 96g / 272m of handspun Southdown wool, and made the medium size.


Southdown is one of the softest of the down breeds of sheep, but it isn’t nearly as soft as merino or blue-faced leicester. It is very springy though, which should hopefully make good socks, and which shows the pattern up well. Hopefully it should wear well too. I like the way the colours have come out, a bit of variation for interest, but not so much that it obscures the pattern, and not too pink 🙂


The next pair used a pattern called Nemesis by Susan Dittrich (named for the Agatha Christie book).


Again I used 2.5mm needles, and made the larger size. As you can see I ran out of yarn on the toe of the second sock. I used a total of 125g / 280m. Most of the yarn is a handspun blend of merino wool in purples and greens from Wingham. I used a bit of the purple Southdown for the second toe. The socks will be in my shoes most of the time so I am going to call the different coloured toe an interesting design feature 🙂

I am looking forward to wearing both of these pairs of socks. I suspect the merino pair will wear less well over time, but I am enjoying experimenting with spinning for socks and seeing how the results come out. I am also getting a better feel for how much yarn I need for a pair of socks for me, which is handy for the future.

Christmas knitting

In a moment of over-optimism at the end of November about the speed of my knitting I decided that I would knit a little something for both my parents for their Christmas presents. I had had the yarn for both for absolutely ages, and had been meaning to knit them for a while so this seemed the ideal moment!

For Mummy I made the Eleanor cowl from Knitty, in Posh Yarn Marguerite, which is a 4ply weight, 50% cashmere, 50% silk. The colour is called celery.


I orginally bought the yarn thinking I would make socks, but the mixture of cashmere and silk is completely inelastic and would have made not terribly good socks. However I think it does make lovely lace.

For Daddy I made Ann’s Go-To Socks from the Simply Socks eMag from Interweave Press. They are a fairly standard sock pattern. I had to create an extra size two sizes larger than the largest one written because Daddy (like me) has rather wide feet. I used some Schoppel-wolle sock yarn for these.


The picture was a rather rushed affair because I finished knitting these on the day before they left after their pre-Christmas visit, while they were out visiting my Nanny. The picture was taken in the 5 minutes between casting off and wrapping them up 🙂

Luckily both presents fit (whew!).

Progress in my friendship with my sewing machine

I wouldn’t say we are Best Friends Forever just yet, but we have now got to the point where our conversations are less stressful, and more meaningful than awkward discussions of the weather.

At the end of November we went up to stay with my parents for a few days. While we were there Mummy and I had a fun day out at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate (where I helped Mummy to choose a very shiny new sewing machine which weighs a third of what the previous one did). We also went to a workshop on making a toiletries bag with Beryl at Knot in Guisborough.

Although I have been to loads of knitting workshops this was the first sewing one I had been to, so I was a little nervous, particularly since I am pretty much a total beginner. Luckily Beryl was very nice, and she put up with my slowness and long list of stupid questions. Everyone else made lovely patchwork bags, but that is a bit beyond my level. Also although I love pattern, I think I love it best one pattern at a time, so I am not really a fan of the effect you get with patchwork when you have multiple different patterns all together. Anyway, my bag may be a bit wobbly but it is just what I wanted and I am very pleased:


And the totally genious part is that it is lined with a shower curtain so the inside is wipeable.


My sewing machine was playing up a bit when we got back home, making grinding noises and doing uneven stitches. Luckily after a trip to a local shop for a service it has been behaving much better and I finished the bag off a couple of days ago. I am looking forward to using it for the first time soon and checking it is the right shape and size for all my stuff (I still haven’t mastered the art of travelling light).

A Christmas stocking for my nephew Aaron

This year will be my nephew Aaron’s first Christmas, so I thought I had better make him a Christmas stocking, similar to the one I made for his big sister Jenny a couple of years ago:

and the other side:

I used Cascade 220, and 3mm needles so it makes a very firm fabric.

I also wove in the un-used colour every other stitch so that little fingers and little presents wouldn’t get caught up in the floats on the inside.