Category Archives: Handspun Leaves Waistcoat

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.

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!).

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.

Having a play with carding

A couple of weeks ago Lisa very kindly brought her new-to-her drum carder along to spinning group and let me have a play with it.

I think my carding technique needs improvement but it was a lot of fun! I had two shades of red merino fibre which I blended together. Both from Fibrecrafts, the darker colour is called Crimson, and the brighter one Scarlet.

Here is a very bad picture of the two different colours, the darker on the left, the brighter on the right.


And here is one of the carded batts. I did just one pass, and put the colours in in layers so you can’t see the blended colours particularly well here.


There are a few knobbly bits where my feeding onto the carder wasn’t particularly good, and they have made the spinning a little bit lumpy (along with my general inexperience). I have started spinning the singles, and have done about half now. I am hoping to do a bit more of this over Christmas.


Hopefully you can sort of see the two colours. It is eventually going to be a 3ply, hopefully about DK weight, and become part of my handspun leaves waistcoat. I must assess the yarn I have spun so far for that, and see how I am doing.

Black Shetland

I have finally finished spinning the black Shetland fibre I bought as something to practice with while I got used to Susie. This was very nice to spin, very easy even for a beginner. The yarn is a 3ply and is a thinnish DK weight, it is a bit wobbly but I am getting better! It is going to be part of my handspun leaves waistcoat.

I thoroughly tested the capacity of my bobbins while plying, and was very impressed to get 190g on one bobbin! This is about twice the amount I could get on the Ashford.


Altogether I have 303g and 741m.


I am going to go and wind it into balls now so it will be ready to knit with.

Handspun leaves waistcoat

One of my contributions to the Show and Tell at this years patchwork knitting workshop was the start of this waistcoat.


The grand plan is to make something using some of my first few bits of spinning. To give it a moderately coherent look I am going to stick to natural shades of brown and black, and some reds which I have dyed.

The modules are reversible ribbed leaf shapes which I first saw at a workshop with Horst Schulz three or four years ago. I don’t think it is in any of his books, and the notes I have taken are a bit on the sketchy side! The safety pin stuck in the brown alpaca leaf is to remind me which is the right side. Although the pattern is reversible, I wanted to be consistent with always starting a new leaf on the same side, and it was getting a bit time consuming to have to work it out each time. The waistcoat has actually looked the same since the workshop while I spin a bit more yarn to add to it. I thought I had loads of yarn when I started, but once I collected it together it wasn’t quite as much, or as much variety as I had first thought! I have just finished some black shetland and some dark brown alpaca which will go into it too. I am trying to make it a random collection of colours, not in any particular pattern, but I’m not terribly good at random.

Luckily this pattern is quite forgiving of my rather inconsistent handspun, some of them are quite a bit thicker than others, and the brown alpaca with the safety pin is very dense! I am going to try and spread out my earlier yarns among my later ones so the finished article isn’t too lopsided.