Finished handspun Earth Mama legwarmers

 This project started life when an inventive and generous person returned a drum carder using packing that she'd made from bags filled with the most beautiful Shetland fleece. Of course I treated this as a gift, and a very welcome one.

Those amazing and long locks are really from a Shetland sheep raised in the very north of Scotland. The prettiest of the flock, she is nicknamed Mrs White Fleece. They are strong and didn't break when snapped between the fingers (this type of fleece has a 'rise' or natural weakness which causes the fleece to moult or at least be capable of being 'rooed' or plucked by hand.)

I like to be intentional and spin for a project. In this case I spun the fleece first. I drumcarded, crudely split and pulled the batts into nests and spun from the end of the 'roving'.

This yielded around 500 yards of yarn. More than enough for socks but not enough for a cardy. By searching patterns for the right yardage and yarn weight, I chose this project - Earth Mama legwarmers by Nat Raedwulf, which as an added bonus is a free pattern.

They didn't take too long to knit because I was keen to wear them. I broke two cable needles along the way. Bad technique rather than bad cable needles.

In this picture they have yet to be blocked, which will even out the stitches a little, and have to have buttons added on the turned-over cuff. (The pattern includes a buttonhole.)

Ever since casting off I have been wearing them. (So they're still not blocked.)  They are incredibly warm and snuggly. They stay up well and I like the way the lower ribbing opens out over your foot.

Finished Fulton Shrug

The pattern is mad and I love it - Fulton Shrug from the great book Unexpected Cables.

Yarn is not handspun but Norfolk Horn sourced and millspun by my friend Jenn at and then dyed for me by Freyalyn.  More details about all of that in the previous post.

It has taken a long time. The cables added to the time but kept it more interesting than plain knitting. I got into a rhythm of knitting one or two repeats most days (a cable cross round every 8 rounds).

WIP: Fulton Shrug in Norfolk Horn yarn

 My current project isn't handspun <gasp> but it is very special yarn.

The yarn comes from the lovely Jenn at who sourced the Norfolk Horn fleeces and had them processed and mill spun. I bought this undyed, but Jenn does also dye her yarn using natural dyes, either home-grown or with a local connection.

I considered dying the skeins myself but I wanted a professional job for this project, and sent them to the also lovely Freyalyn who did this amazing job and achieved exactly what I wanted; a teal colour with a little variegation. 

The pattern is Fulton Shrug from Unexpected Cables. It probably won't be the only pattern I knit from that brilliant book.

Amazing Alaska hat pattern with handspun yarn

When I first saw it I knew I had to make one. The pattern is Alaska by Camille Descoteaux
This pattern looks fabulous in a colour-changing yarn paired with a dark solid colour for the silhouette trees. More comments about the pattern after the knitting pictures.

Usually I spin especially for a particular project, but this time I had the perfect yarn. It’s a Freyalyn long gradient I bought at a show and then spun during Spinzilla 2017.

The dark colour was also spun during Spinzilla, possibly not the same year. I think it’s real Shetland from Adam Curtis.

There follows a bunch of pictures of the fibre, the spinning, the finished yarn and 'in progress' shots of  the knitting.

Above is the fibre as I bought it. Below is me preparing it in advance of Spinzilla 2017. I like making 'fauxlags', it's a very fast way to spin. You open up the fibre into a flat sheet and then roll the fibre around a dowel or large needle to form a rolag or puni shape.
I spin these longdraw. Pinch off about an inch while treadling madly and using a high-speed ratio. Pull back about a metre at a time as it gains twist. I spun this pretty fine because I wanted to chain-ply aka navajo-ply

 The navajo plying produces a neat, round yarn. It also concentrates colour and preserves colour changes like these.

 So that's the finished yarn in a photo from 2017.

I began knitting a month ago.

I've not made a pompom for about 45 years.

I found the pattern a delight to knit. The only thing that annoyed me a little is the long floats as you near the end of the colourwork, but I became quite slick at crossing the yarns every 4 stitches to anchor the floats.

Ravelry project here.

Finished handspun Hafgufa mitts

Mostly photos this time. This project started as some alpaca fleece that I've had for some time; some really beautiful fleece in an inky black, and some equally beautiful locks in a creamy white. I carded batts from both and also mixed the two for a third colour, mid-grey.

It spun nicely, I went for a 3-ply but it was still pretty thin. That was almost perfect. I used 2mm needles but still had to adjust the pattern by a few stitches to get the right size.

Makers' Month, The Forum, Norwich, 9 to 24 Feb 2019

The Makers' Month at The Forum, Norwich, is now a well-established event which gives makers the chance to exhibit their work and demonstrate their skills, and gives people the opportunity to try a variety of crafts. There are different activities each day, here is a programme.

Seen here are members of the five Norfolk guilds of Spinners Weavers and Dyers.
The star of the show this year is a knit/crochet diorama featuring Yarmouth's Golden Mile, set in the '70s. There are so many memories here, from the Joyland snails to the acts on Wellington and Britannia piers. It was made by Margaret Seaman and friends. She has made it to raise money for a palliative care charity. There is a wonderful video report here on the ITV news site.

Many other works are on show, including the Norwich Castle Tapestry Project, which aims to create the story of East Anglian rebellions in the style of the Bayeux tapestry.
 This was the first time that I'd seen tablet weaving in real life, I found it fascinating and was pleased to be allowed to have a go. This is something I'd love to do at home. Part of the appeal is that the tools are very simple and can be home-made.

Spinning alpaca fleece

I've been spinning like a demon this week, partly to use some alpaca that has been in the stash for such a long time that it's a miracle that it hasn't become home to something nasty. And partly so that I can have a knitting project started in time for a trip.

   For speed I decided to run it all through the drum carder and either make that into punis or put handfuls over my finger and spin from the fold.
Neither of those methods worked out. The best way seemed to be tearing off strips, pre-drafting a little and then just spinning from the end of the strip. This made a very smooth and close-packed yarn (as worsted as it was going to be from carded fibre). As you can see it spun very fine, and I needed to 3-ply to get a yarn with any thickness.
 I have three colours. The black is the best, very soft and very black. Not dark chocolate but inky black. The white is also fine and soft but after washing, not quite white, I've got to accept that it's more of a creamy or off-white. The grey is a blend of black and white. It was made from a bag of fleece that was terribly short, almost all of it was like second-cut. I doubted that it would be possible to card and spin, but with equal parts  of a better white fleece, it did card and spin very well and has produced a nice yarn, although more prickly than the other two colours.

That's about 500g altogether, of something between fingering and sport, I guess.  Ready for knitting!