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!

Natural Dyeing Workshop

A couple of weeks ago the West Surrey Guild of Spinners, Weavers, and Dyers organised a natural dyeing workshop with Judy Hardman. It was similar to the one she ran last year, but being later in the year, and because this year we have actually had some sun(!) some of the plants were different. It was good to have another go at some of the more popular dyestuffs, and also to experiment with some different ones.

As with last time we dyed an incredible number of different colours in the day, using combinations of dye materials. Judy is very organised and had got all the plant material and skeins of wool (we used rug wool) prepared in advance. It was a wonderful way to be introduced to a wide variety of possible colours that can be achieved with natural dyeing. We each came home with 6 sample cards, and some people also dyed small amounts of their own yarn and fibre.

Dyeing6 Dyeing5 Dyeing4 Dyeing3 Dyeing2 Dyeing1

It was a very fun day, I particularly liked the coreopsis colours, which I think would be not too difficult to grow in the garden too, and watching the indigo turn blue on exposure to the air is always a terrific magic trick 🙂 I was really surprised that the red cabbage gave a pale bluey-green colour.

It was also a lovely opportunity to see some Guild members who I don’t know as well, as well as some familiar faces. It was lovely to meet Eileen’s daughter. I am now having a crisis of confidence over whether I have her name right, I think it is Kate, but I am now kicking myself that I didn’t write it down, apologies if I have got it wrong.

Le Tour de Fleece 2013: Day Twenty-Three

We have just got back from a lovely weekend with my parents-in-law, including a trip up to Stratford to see the RSC production of Titus Andronicus, and a barbeque today with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece.

On our return I have done a little weighing and measuring of my longdraw yarns:


1st skein: 3ply, 189g, 140m

2nd Skein: 2ply, 71g, 88m

3rd skein: chain-ply, 52g, 39m

I also did a little bit more spinning of the shetland.


Today’s coin is an Olympic 50p for Chris Froome’s overall win. What an exciting three weeks of racing!

I have got a bit of a busy couple of weeks now so you will be pleased that it will be fairly quiet here for a bit!

Le Tour de Fleece 2013: Day Twenty-Two

Last day in the mountains for the cyclists today, more good scenery! For a change of pace today I thought I would have a go at knitting with my longdraw experiments. This is the 3ply, so far I have tried garter stitch, stocking stitch, 1×1 rib, and 2×2 rib. I am also planning to try some moss stitch, a cable or two, and possibly some lace.


Today’s coin is the other side of the old Irish 10p that I showed on Wednesday. No connection to the racing but it is so much fun 🙂

Le Tour de Fleece 2013: Day Twenty-One

Another hard day in the Alps for the cyclists. Luckily things are looking much more reasonable here 🙂 The weather has cooled a little, there are no clouds in the sky, and there is a breeze today which overall makes for lovely weather. Paul is quite a bit improved. I had a daft moment yesterday and failed to drink enough giving me a headache which lasted most of the night, stupid Heather. I have been remembering to drink lots of water today though 🙂

Despite all that I have done a bit more of my Shetland spinning. Here is my first bobbin so far. Majacraft bobbins are huge! I think I can cram a bit more on 🙂


Today’s coin is a Spanish 1 Euro. Rui Costa was today’s winner with a very well timed escape, to make his second stage victory. Rui is Portuguese but his team Movistar is Spanish (there, I managed a link to the coin!).

Le Tour de Fleece 2013: Day Twenty

A dramatic day in the mountains for the cyclists, including the Alp d’Huez twice!

It is still hot here but at least there is a little bit of a breeze today which has been nice. Poor Paul has a nasty bug and had a very unpleasant night. Fortunately he has stopped being sick today but has still felt dreadful and absolutely wiped out, and hasn’t been able to eat anything. Hopefully he will be able to sleep a bit better tonight and will feel a bit better tomorrow. Fortunately for me I don’t seem to have caught it yet.

Today I started spinning some shetland. I bought a kilo of this from the Shetland Sheep Society at Wonderwool Wales last year, so there is enough for a jumper. I started off by making myself a reference card.


I am a slow spinner, and spinning a kilo will take me several months. My reference card is handy to make sure that my yarn at the beginning is at least similar to the yarn at the end, and so I wont end up with a jumper with one thin sleeve or something odd 🙂 At least that is the theory!

Today’s coin is a French 50 Euro Cents for Christophe Riblon’s very impressive win.

Le Tour de Fleece 2013: Day Nineteen

A very dramatic time-trial for the cyclists today. With the rain affecting some riders and not others it certainly made for nail-biting viewing. Well done to Chris Froome for his third stage win of this year’s Tour.

Today I spun up a sample that I picked up from Wonderwool Wales last year, from one of the mills, although I’m afraid now I can’t remember which one. I totally failed to take a picture before I spun it, but it was prepared as a fine pencil roving, approximately 5mm diameter. With this I hardly did any drafting at all, just added twist. The fibre is wool, but I am not sure which breed, possibly Romney. I then chain-plied, giving me yarn which is approximately a DK or possibly aran weight.


It was interesting to spin, and I quite like the result – I intentionally over-plied a little and this seems to have worked well to hold the yarn together and make it more springy. I’m not sure I would want to spin huge quantities from this kind of preparation, although maybe practice would make me better at it. Since the roving is quite fine it doesn’t take much to pull it apart, which meant one had to be quite careful about pulling it out of its cheese-shape.

Today’s coin is an old Irish 10p sent to me by the wonderful Sue 🙂 (the other side is great too, and I shall be using that too asap). It has no connection at all to the cycling, but is just so lovely I had to use it 🙂

Le Tour de Fleece 2013: Day Eighteen

An exciting breakaway stage today for the cyclists, with a fair bit of attacking of the General Classification too. Another hot day here today, I am not very good at the heat! I would prefer it if it was a bit cooler over night, I shall keep hoping!

I finished plying my longdraw singles. The last skein is chain-plyed, and as expected this is the lumpiest of the lot. Chain-plying has a tendency to magnify thick and thin sections because of the way it is constructed. I think this is the least favourite of my plying experiments.


I am looking forward to them drying properly so I can have a go knitting them. I am planning to try some different stitch patterns and different tensions if I have enough yarn, to get a feel of how these yarns behave.

Today’s coin is a Chinese 1 Yi Yuan, for no reason other than that it is pretty 🙂 Apologies to today’s winner Rui Costa, I don’t have a Portuguese coin.

Another fun discovery of the day is the Australian programme Taste le Tour, fun recipes and info about food in the different areas of France that the Tour is cycling through 🙂

Le Tour de Fleece 2013: Day Seventeen

Today was the second rest day for the cyclists, so I had a bit of a change from the spinning too. I did some cleaning, which isn’t terribly photogenic, and some organising, which is possibly even less photogenic.

I also weighed and measured my second finished skein of the Tour, now that it is dry.


I have 142g and 504m, and it is a good weight for socks, and should certainly be enough. I just need to select a pattern now 🙂

Today’s coin is an old penny, because it is good fun 🙂

Le Tour de Fleece 2013: Day Sixteen

Another hot day here, 30°C when we went out to get my parents-in-law’s birthday present this afternoon. The longest stage of this year’s Tour for the cyclists, ending with the Giant of Provence, the Mont Ventoux. A very exciting day of cycling-watching, amazingly well done to Chris Froome! How they can accelerate when they are already riding up a hill like that is just astonishing!

Today I did my next plying experiment. This one is a 2ply. As expected it is more variable than the 3ply, since the more plies you have, then statistically speaking it is less likely that all of their thick bits will coincide.


I think it is still an OK yarn though, although I personally prefer the 3ply.

Thank you to Sally for the suggestion to wait til the yarn was dry before panicking about the lack of elasticity. One of the advantages of the ridiculously hot weather is that my yarn from yesterday is quite well on its way to being dry, and is definitely feeling more elastic, whew!

Today’s coin is an old French 1 Franc, for Bastille day. Today would also have been my grandmother’s 100th birthday, except that she died on Christmas Day aged 99 and 5 months. To get that close to 100 is still pretty impressive.