Category Archives: Projects

Handspun leaves waistcoat

Finally after only two and a half years (!) I have finished my handspun leaves waistcoat. As you can see I am quite happy with it 🙂

I actually finished at the beginning of February, but finding a time when both I and the resident photographer were available, and it was actually daylight and not raining (or hailing as it has been today) proved to be something of a challenge.

This has been a fun opportunity to use up some of my early handspun. I stuck to the theme of dyed reds and natural browns to try to give it some kind of cohesion. The pattern is fortunately very forgiving of different thicknesses of yarn!

Those of you who have come along to the Patchwork Knitting Workshops in Marlow will have seen this in progress two years running! It is the difficulty that it is something for me, but not a City and Guilds piece, so always keeps getting put to the bottom of the priority list. It feels very good to have finished it and be able to wear it. It is turning into a very wearable item too, and I wore it quite a bit before the weather turned cold again.

I am planning to write up the pattern, but that might well take me a little while.

Unravel 2012

This weekend was the annual Unravel festival at the Maltings in Farnham. It is great to have a woolly festival so close to us, and this year there was even more fun stuff to look at.

As in previous years I was helping out with demonstrating and teaching spinning and knitting with the West Surrey Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers, and with the Surrey Knitting and Crochet Group. Members of both groups lent a wonderful selection of things they had made for our display table. We had our usual corner of the Cellar Bar which was handy as we knew the lie of the land beforehand. Here it all is on Friday afternoon after we had set it all up:

A good number of members of both groups volunteered so we all managed to have a good look around the show too which was excellent, and I also managed to hear Lesley Prior‘s talk about the Campaign for Wool which was very interesting.

This year’s January competition at the knitting and crochet group had the theme of sheep, and we had all the entries on display for the weekend. I made a Shetland Sheep out of some natural black handspun Shetland, although I didn’t manage to finish him in time for the competition:

He is made entirely out of bobbles, which nearly killed me. He wont be having any friends! I find bobbles very hard on the neck and shoulders, and had a headache for a week after finishing him! Luckily I am pretty much better now.

Sue made the most wonderful life-size model sheep which was then covered in knitted squares by members of the group, and hung in the entrance of the Maltings:

He is called Norman, and will be coming out with us to more exhibitions later this year.

And there were even real live sheep, I think from Well Manor Farm in a pen outside:

There were even more stands at the festival than in previous years. A great selection of things to see and have a go at. There were workshops and talks on both days, and a lot of enthusiastic people.

I had a fabulous time 🙂 It was great to see loads of friends, and to meet lots of new people too. I spent a lot of Saturday extolling the virtues of knitting socks with one long circular needle, and Sunday talking about spinning and different wheels and helping new spinners get started. They were all sickeningly tallented, and grasped the principles very quickly, even those who were rather tired after having a long day round the show 🙂 We had a lot of families around on the Sunday which was fun, and we did some great team spinning. My little victims got the hot seat (although some of them were a little short to sit on the chair and reach the pedals so had to stand up), and they were in charge of the treadle, with their accompanying adult in charge of checking that the wheel was still going in the same direction. Then I did the hands, and when they had had enough I did a little ply-back of the yarn we had been spinning so they would have something to take away with them. I think there will be quite a lot of orange merino featuring in show and tell sessions at Surrey and Hampshire schools this week 🙂

I was also thrilled to win the Best in Show exhibition with my Autumn in Anatolia jumper.

I am looking forward to the prize which was a subscription to Selvedge magazine. Our knitting and crochet group were well represented in the Best in Show competition, Kim came second with her crocheted Dalek Tank top:

Sue also entered her wonderfully witty knitted sheep portraits,and Mary entered her Noah’s Ark.

A show would hardly be complete without a bit of stash enhancement and there were lots of lovely things available to buy.

The first things I bought on Saturday morning when the show had barely opened were Knitting with Two Colors by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen, from Tricia Holman, and an Unravel bag (which came in handy to put things in all weekend). Here they are with my first issue of my prize Selvedge subscription:

It took me all weekend to decide on which colour of Deepy Wicked sock yarn (100% superwash Merino, 100g, 400m) to buy from EasyKnits – too much choice! Too many lovely loud colours! They humoured my indecision, and in the end I decided on this lovely semi-solid green called Astro Turf 🙂

It is a bit grey and gloomy here today so the yarn is actually even bright than my photo suggests 🙂

I also had a lovely time at John Arbon‘s stand, squishing all the lovely tempting fibre. It was nice to see John and Juliet and catch up with them too 🙂

I bought 200g of white 70% Exmoor Blueface, 30% Bluefaced Leicester fibre:

I am planning to dye this and then spin it into socks. We were using some of this fibre for spinning demonstrations and for the new spinners to learn with, and it is very nice to spin, it drafts very smoothly without being too slippery.

I also bought a kilo of chocolate 80% fine alpaca, 20% merino fibre:

This is a gorgeous colour, very reminiscent of a good milk chocolate. I think this will be a jumper or cardigan but I haven’t thought much further than that.

I also got some lovely Cappuccino Alpaca and something, but I now can’t remember whether it was Alpaca and Merino, or Alpaca and BFL, or Alpaca, Merino, and BFL, or something else entirely. I think my brain may be a little full.

I’m not sure what I am going to do with this yet. I think not lace, because the colours are quite strongly contrasting. Perhaps a 4ply kind of a weight, and then maybe mittens or something. Or I may mix it with some other fibre I already have to eke it out a bit.

All in all a very good weekend 🙂 I woke up at 5.30am yesterday and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was too excited, so I have been enjoying a bit of a quieter day today. Roll on next year, but I shall try and catch up with my sleep before then!


Things have been a bit quiet on the blog because I have been knitting like a maniac to get my Autumn in Anatolia jumper finished. I made it! and handed it in to Fiona to mark on Sunday. I shall now be catching up on everything I haven’t done over the last week or so, when it has been definitely knitting every minute that I could find to finish on time. I managed a row in the hairdresser, and a row at my Uncle and Auntie’s house when we went to see them last week. I am definitely getting better at time management though, because this time I had packed my bag and finished everything at 8pm the night before, rather than still printing charts at 5am like I was with my Keble Cardigan.

Anyway, back to the important stuff: here is the jumper:

And the back:

And another one of the front:

And lying flat:

As you can see the sleeves are looking a bit long because I had a moment of stupidity with the blocking. I laid it out on a towel and kept adjusting the shoulders to make sure they were even, not realising that I was stretching everything vertically. By the time I realised what I had done it had dried and there wasn’t enough time to wet and reblock. I will be doing that when it is back from marking.

Apart from that little hiccup I am very pleased and proud of it. I love the way the colours and patterns have come out and I think it is going to be very wearable. Although in typical fashion we are now having a week of warmish weather 🙂

Joining in the sleeves

The day before I headed off for Skip North I finally got to the point where I joined in the sleeves for Autumn in Anatolia. (feel free to imagine the dance of great achievement I am now doing)

I also ended up having a bit of a late night despite the next day’s early start because I wanted to knit at least 4 rows and make sure I hadn’t accidentally twisted one of the sleeves or anything similarly awful.

The sleeves are set-in style but I am knitting them in the round in one piece with the body (there was much calculating that went into that one!). After a week and a half of manic knitting I have now finished the decreases on the body for the bottom of the armhole, and am now back to only two pages of charts rather than the previous three, which was rather unwiedly. Although it does mean that I am now doing four decreases per round rather than the previous eight, so progress is slowing up a bit.

I put the underarm stitches for both the body and the sleeves onto holders initially, but was getting a bit worried that with all the taking it in and out of my knitting bag that the stitches were getting stretched. So on Sunday I had a big session and sewed in a lot of the loose ends from when I had changed colour, and also grafted the underarms. IN FAIRISLE! I can’t sufficiently convey how pleased I am that this has come out well. I am very proud. There was much jumping round the living room with glee.

I even showed it to Mummy on skype, but I think it is hard to appreciate the marvelousness with only a grainy webcam picture.

The graft is the final row of the stripes. I am hoping it will look a bit more even after I have blocked the whole jumper.

Manx Loghtan

I just finished spinning up some Manx Loghtan ( a rather funny looking sheep as you can see from that link). I bought the fibre from Wingham back in November and started spinning shortly after Christmas.

The fibre smelt quite rural, although that improved greatly after washing the finished yarn 🙂 and is quite hairy, producing a fairly hairy and slightly lumpy yarn.

I spun a 3ply and got 346m from 121g (the non-round number of grams is because if you go up to Wingham, then rather than buying fibre per 100g for most of the different types of wool you select a plastic bag and stuff in as much as you would like from an enormous coil of combed top, then pay for the weight you have got. I was aiming for slightly over 100g to allow me plenty to play with), in about a DK weight.

It has come out as quite a soft and bouncy yarn, though not as soft as Merino or Bluefaced Leicester. I am enjoying experimenting with different breeds of wool and seeing how they behave. In hindsight I didn’t put quite enough twist into the singles which meant that they drifted apart a few times as I was plying. All a learning experience, I will know for next time.  The finished yarn seems fine though and not too delicate. I am looking forward to knitting with it! It is going to be part of my Handspun Leaves Waistcoat, which I must get a move on with, it has been languishing on top of my speakers recently (yes there is yarn or fibre on every surface in this house!).

Second sleeve

The second sleeve is now finished to the armhole.

Here is the view along the top of the sleeve.

And the underneath.

Back to the body now. There are only about 30 rows to go before I join the sleeves into the body and start working on the yoke!

I have a stinking cold today so am hoping that nice bright knitting will be a good antidote.

First sleeve

I have been knitting like a maniac for the last week, and have now finished the first sleeve to the underarm!

Here is the top of the sleeve.

And here is the underneath, where you can see the shaping.

I am really pleased with how it is coming along. The sleeve has been gratifyingly speedy in comparison to the body too 🙂

I have cast on for the second sleeve, but this week is a bit more busy so my progress will be a little slower.

Red merino

It seems very appropriate that I was spinning festive red merino over Christmas. This was the stuff I carded using Lisa’s drum carder. The original fibre was merino top in scarlet and crimson. There was slightly more crimson in the mix than scarlet because it turned out I wasn’t very good at estimating equal quantities.

I spun a 3ply, DK weight, 11 wpi, and have 146g which is 298m. Here is a (rather blury) closeup.

I had some of the uncarded merino left over, and thought it would be interesting to spin the singles in separate colours and then ply them together, and compare how this differed from the fibre that had been carded. So I spun two singles in the scarlet, and one crimson (luckily I had almost precisely twice as much scarlet as crimson), and plied them altogether in a 3ply.

Again DK weight, 11wpi, there is 53g and 116m. Here is a closeup where you can see the different coloured plies.

These are going to be part of my handspun leaves waistcoat. I am looking forward to seeing how the two different yarns knit up. The carded yarn is definitely lumpier (due to my lumpy carding), and wasn’t as nice to spin as the uncarded top. The uncarded yarn looks stripey in the yarn (although because the colours are quite similar it looks less stripey from a distance), but the colour mix is more even than in the carded yarn, and I will be interested to see whether they are a lot more similar once knitted.

Nearly at the armholes

We have had a quiet weekend here after the excitement of last week. My sister, Annie, and her husband, Andy, came to stay with us from Wednesday til Friday which was lovely. They have lived up the road from us for about 8 years, but moved to New York on Friday for 2 years with Andy’s job. The packers came and took all their stuff (including anything to sit on or sleep in) on Wednesday so it made sense for them to come and stay in our spare room while they sorted out the last of the cleaning and tidying up before their new tenants arrived. It was a lovely opportunity to see a bit more of them too without them having to take out too much time from their hectic list of things which needed to be done. I have had a check round and don’t think they have left anything behind, except for one blank CD, and I think they can probably live without that 🙂

It has made a rather symmetrical bookend to their time in Surrey. When they first moved down here, about a year after we moved in, they came and lived with us for several months while they settled into their new jobs and worked out where they wanted to live.

Over the quiet weekend (why is it the house always seems quieter just after visitors have left, even though it is exactly the same as it was before they arrived?), I have been jogging along with my jumper. It is very addictive, just one more round to see how the colours will look, just another couple of rounds to the next decrease.

I am very pleased with the results so far. Apologies for the not particularly good photo, you can click to enlarge it which makes it a bit better. It is rather grey and gloomy again here, though definitely warmer and drier than last week. A nice brightly coloured bit of knitting is definitely a good antidote to the weather 🙂

I am now about 30 rounds from the underarm, but am going to put the body on hold for a bit while I knit the sleeves. Then come back and finish up the body and then attach the sleeves. This seems to make sense, at least in my head. It seems a good moment to have a pause from the body as I have just finished my first ball of dark green yarn. I am pretty impressed at how much I have managed to knit with only 100g! I think that is about 105 rounds. I dyed 500g of the dark green just to be on the safe side, but I think at this rate I will probably end up using somewhere between 300g and 400g. Better to have too much than not enough, I am glad I have some extra to play with.


I finally finished fiddling around with swatches, and cast on for the real thing for my Autumn in Anatolia jumper in October. Then in November I undid it and cast on again, after discovering I had made a miscalculation and cast on too many stitches the first time (that will teach me not to knit the border before I have finished the charts for the main jumper). Here is the progress so far:

I timed myself and it takes me about an hour a row at the moment. I have set myself a target of two rows a day and am managing to keep it up at the moment. I love how the pattern is coming out, and the colours are looking good so far.