Scary Sunday - the first Tiffany-inspired decorated spinning wheel

It's quite a step from decorating drop spindles to taking a new Ashford Traditional wheel out of its box and making permanent marks on it. I've had this idea in my head for a while, and have put the big moment off long enough. Yesterday I had some time and found the courage to begin.

Of the three Tiffany designs I have put onto drop spindles, my favourite is the clematis (although it's not the one I've sold the most of). An important lesson I've learned over the last year is to have confidence in your own convictions - so clematis it is. In case you didn't read my previous posts, Tiffany and stained glass is another love of mine.

It's a bit like tattooing someone. Every mark is there to stay. Once I'd made all of the outlines I was very happy with the way it was looking.

Half way through the colouring-in, I got that doubtful, stomach-turning "OMG have I done the right thing" feeling.

With the decoration finally finished, I'm chuffed to bits and have to keep going back into the room to look at it. I love the way that the grain of the wood interacts with the lines and the shading of the flowers.

I've really got the hang of how to get a really good wax shine on Ashford's New Zealand silver beech. It's taking much longer to wax all of the parts of the wheel, but I want this one to really look pukka, so I'm taking my time over it.

This is the wheel itself, decorated and shinyfied. This one is taken with flash, so the photo quality isn't as good as the pics above, but once I've put the wheel together I'll take some good daylight shots of the finished thing.

Working my gussets

Can we invent 'crap flash photography wednesday'?

Yesterday was the equinox and the days are getting noticeably short now, which means even more flash photography, which frankly isn't a strong point for my old brick of a camera. I guess it's time to put it out to grass and get myself a newer model while payday is still recent enough for it not to make me worry too much.

Anyhow. Having abandoned the first ill-fated effort on the Hungry Bees socks (see earlier posts) and started again with some new needles of the right size, the first sock is growing nicely.

I'm lovin' these symfonie needles, btw, they feel lovely. I like the positive feel of the metal ones, but the wooden ones are more tactile, natural and friendly.

This is quite an exciting time - I've knitted a number of heels using the simple short-row method, and that's worked very well. However, I'm sticking to the pattern a bit more rigidly on this project than I'd normally do (because of earlier problems) and that means taking the plunge and knitting my first heel flap. (See pic!) If you've done it before, you'll know that it's nowhere near as scary as it looks at first.

I'm also very happy with the way that the single yarn is knitting. No hint of a bias and no breaks. It's noticeably less even than plied yarn would be, but 1. I'll get better at making it more even and 2. who cares if the finished item has a bit of a 'handmade' look to it?

Can't wait to see what it looks like blocked. Knitting those bees and honeycomb will keep the ankle and cuff very interesting to knit.

A minor problem is that I've reached the ankle of the first sock and I'm half-way through my yarn. I was sure that I had enough for both (that was simply by guestimation rather than calculation!) So I'll have to dye and spin more of the same for the second sock (will it match?!!)

striped batts and spinning and knitting in public

It's really against character for me to get into the spirit of a national or international something day, but I couldn't help joining in on Worldwide Spin in Pubic Day.

One of my favourite spots is the secret picnic spot at the bottom end of Foremark reservoir. Fantastic view and some sun too today. Idyllic!

Have you spun or knit in public? I've started a group on Flickr - join it and add your photos - I'll show you mine if you show me yours...

So what were people watching me spin? I dug out my onion-skin dyed fibre.

I'd already spun some into yarn I called Wheatfield, and started to knit a swallowtail shawl. I can't remember exactly how I dyed this fibre, I think I dipped three lumps into the dyepot one after the other, hence three different colours.

I made some batts before I went out today. This is the first time I've tried carding a striped batt. Love it!

Worldwide Spin in Public Day

Worldwide Spin in Public Day is Saturday, September 19th, 2009.

I'm not one to buy into national or international whatever day, but I love seeing public spinning and knitting.

There don't seem to be any locations listed in the UK. I can only assume that we're all too busy thinking about talk like a pirate day instead! It's come to my notice a little bit late to try and organise something, but if you can get out to spin on the 19th, take some pictures (I will too). I'll set up a photo group as soon as I can.

Read more about Worldwide Spin in Public Day.

Power Scour - results and conclusions

The Power Scour vs washing-up-liquid project was on hold temporarily while my drum carder was out on loan. After diplomatically hinting for its return, it seems that it has a new owner as it was a cheque that came back instead, so that meant a shiny new one for me.

I should declare an interest in that I do sell Power Scour in my shop (didn't get freebies, I still had to pay for it) but I did set out on this experiment feeling a bit sceptical.

I originally gave each sample a single wash as per my normal routine, but they've now had a second wash because I was waiting for my carder and because I wanted to see whether it would help to show up any differences.

The most obvious difference now is the smell. I didn't need to bury my face in the bag this time; as soon as I started to work with the Power Scoured fleece, the gorgeous smell was wafting around.

I've spent all day carding and spinning this fleece. I treated both halves the same - teased out the locks a little and flicked the ends with a comb before running it through the carder three times.

I did notice a difference in the carding; the Power Scoured locks were noticably fluffier and bouncier in my hands, the batts sometimes felt as well-separated after the second time as the washing-up detergent batch had after the third time. I thought it pulled out into sliver more easily. I put this all down to more effective removal of the grease. This is interesting because I know some people prefer to spin 'in the grease'. I have never washed grease out so thoroughly before, but I love the feel of today's fibre, and enjoyed spinning it, so I'll certainly scour more thoroughly in future.

No surprise to find that each batch of finished nests weigh the same, give or take a gram or two (around 105g per batch from the original 200g of raw fleece.) (I had to throw away a little second cut from each batch.) And I was left with exactly the same sized handful of dirt underneath the carder for each batch.

It has taken me most of the day to card and spin. Although I did think that the Power Scour batch drafted more readily, there's no difference in the look and feel of the finished plied yarn of course.

So today I've had the chance to spend lots of time getting to know my new (to me) Haldane. I bought it to re-sell but I have decided to keep it because I like it so much. As you can see, it's double-drive which is taking a little bit of getting used to, but it's far easier to use than I'd been led to believe.

I now have just over 200g of undyed creamy-white 2-ply. I was going to continue the experiment by knitting each half, but I think that's pointless. I'm listening to the two skeins, which are telling me that they're a blank canvas for some hand-painting...