Jo's Socks, Step 4 - Spinning!

I mentioned that the dye had pooled a bit in my cling-film packets and so the wool was quite dark in places and quite light in places. More of a contrast than I'd expected. I'm not sure that I want a self-striping effect this time. A friend suggested putting it through the drum carder once more, and this is the much happier result.
Finally it's time to start spinning it. I'm using short-draw for a nice tight strong worsted type yarn. I'm trying to work quite fine because the socks are made on small needles (2.25mm)

Jo's Socks, Step 3 - Hubble bubble, toil but no trouble

I have to give full credit to Spinstar who worked some very similar alchemy a couple of weeks ago. Before today, my dyeing has been limited to some experiments with natural ingredients.

I can't top this blog post as a tutorial so I'll just add that I used blue with a sprinkle of purple to make my first colour, dipped half of each nest, and then mixed a little more purple into the same dyepot and dipped the rest of each nest, making sure there was plenty of overlap.

It was very easy, and after cooking in the oven at 100C for half an hour and a quick rinse, this is the result. Very, very happy with it. I didn't expect that the colour would be more concentrated at the bottom of each cling-film parcel where the colour accumulated a bit during the cooking. That means that there'll be more contrast in the finished yarn than I'd envisaged, but that's not a bad thing at all.

Jo's Socks. Step 2 - Carding

After sitting outside for a day in perfect drying weather, the fibre is dry, clean and sweet-smelling.

But first another pic from yesterday. Because I'd taken out the dirtiest stuff, and the best locks looked very clean, I didn't expect to have such thick brown water, but here it is:

Carding is quick, easy and fun with one of these:

We now have about 150g of extremely bouncy and soft fibre. Less than I'd expected at this stage...

The pattern is to be Stashbusting Lace Socks from June's Yarn Forward, and if the claims made for yardage is correct, and if I spin to the right WPI, then there won't be any need to dive into the bag of 'seconds'. I'll certainly take the suggested precaution of dividing the yarn exactly in two before starting the first sock.

Dying to get dyeing now! But that'll have to wait until Saturday.

silky loveliness

A little while ago I dyed some silk caps, spun and knitted a beautiful bookmark. The spinning wasn't very neat but I certainly was chuffed with the result.

So moving on from that, and having another... er... opportunity to dye some fibre using my hair dye, this time I grabbed some silk roving. This will give me a neater result than caps and has taken the dye really well.
A bit too well. I tried to get a variegated effect with some areas untouched by the dye, but it crept through all of the fibre in the rinse water and has stuck. There's still some variation, so I'm very happy with this.

By coincidence I noticed some beautiful shawl patterns yesterday in the current Knittyspin. With my current shawl project very nearly finished, and feeling dead pleased with it, this might be my next big project. The purple one is 100% silk, but I think I prefer the pattern for the top (beaded) one.

Jo's Socks. Step 1 - Sheep Soup

My friend Jo met these girls recently while on holiday, and spent a happy half an hour picking up.... yes, sir, yes, sir, two bags full.

It amounts to about 300g which is plenty to make Jo a pair of socks, even after selecting out the coarser, hairier, shorter or really dirty stuff (the latter I think I saw somewhere euphamistically called the 'skirt').
Some of it (in my now lanolin-soft hand) really is absolutely beautiful. I don't know the breed, one of the usual crosses, I guess, but the best stuff has a nice long staple, good crimp and is quite fine.

With the dirtiest stuff picked out, the Power Scour doesn't have too much work to do, but I like spinning it nice and clean and grease-free, so it'll be a thorough wash and then a day or two to dry. I'm going to dye it after carding it, but before spinning it.

Painting spinning wheel

I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to paint another of my Tiffany painted Traditional spinning wheels This one will be on its way to its (hopefully) proud new owner today.

I'm absolutely delighted. It feels so good to sell something that you've made yourself.

How to knit a nupp

I'm finally on the border of my Swallowtail Shawl and I'm absolutely lovin' it.

Notice the big bobbles. Those are called nupps. A number of lace patterns use them and they give another dimension to the texture of the lace. It's used in traditional Estonian lace knitting.

A while ago I called p3tog 'the mother of all stitches' but the nupp leaves that stitch way behind. It involves making 5, 7 or even 9 into a single stitch, and then purling them all together on the return purl row.

To make 5 in 1, you knit one, pass the yarn over (YO), then knit another into the same stitch, YO again and then knit again. There's usually a YO on each side of the nupp to make it really stand out.

You have to make those increase stitches very loose to stand a chance of getting your needle back in to purl them together. I made a mess of the first couple (once it starts to go wrong, it's a nightmare trying to rescue it) and I found that using a crochet hook made it much easier and neater. Just push your hook through the 5 stitches purlwise and use it to pull the working yarn back through.

This video shows knitting nupps:

Here's a link to the swallowtail shawl pattern I'm making:

And another scarf that makes use of the 'lily of the valley' motif

The beautiful stitch markers are from Helena Hancart.

Thanks to Peter Smith for some of these links.

Haldane double to single drive

The bobbins that I already had for my Haldane wheel have a small whorl suitable for double-drive operation. I've acquired four more (front), which fit and have a larger whorl, suggesting that they're made for single-drive operation.

I'd love to be able to switch this wheel from one mode to the other, so these bobbins could be the first step on that path.

The wheel is made to be switchable; it's drilled with the right holes but unfortunately I'm missing the necessary parts. And Haldanes aren't made any more.

How's this for luck? An Ashford tension knob fits! A wipe of wood dye brings it closer to the colour of the rest of the wheel and some standard bits and pieces (tension band, springs, hooks) and we're in business, single- or double-drive!

Ah, non, J'avais dropped un stitch

If you don't know your maille à l'endroit from your maille à l'envers, then maybe this will help. Vogueknitting have created a phrasebook for cosmopolitan knitters.

Bookmark this link and you'll have access to knitting pattern terms such as 'knit', 'purl', 'cast on', 'increase' and 'decrease' in ten languages, including Russian, Japanese and Norwegian.

It is a little bit flawed - despite knowing some useful phrases like "Oh dear, I need to rip back. Again.", words such as "wine" "tea" and "cake" are nowhere to be seen...

vogueknitting's Parlez-Vous Knitting?

spinning dog

A friend asked whether it is possible to spin the large amount of dog fur that she's accumulated.
I spun some samples to demonstrate that it is. I tried it 'undiluted' (centre) and carded 50/50 with merino wool.

It actually spun very well on its own. The result is quite fluffy (has a real halo), and it's full of hairs, way too many to try and pull out by hand. The dog/merino blend is a much nicer yarn, smoother and 'fluffed up' a bit more after washing and setting. I wasn't aware of spinning it any differently or getting any more air in there, so I assume it's the wool content that's doing that.

I wonder whether the hairs on the dog are located in particular areas and whether it's possible to get hairless fur from certain parts, eg the belly?

Not very public knitting

Working from home hasn't been such a problem; I really enjoy the lack of separation between work and life.

But when I do feel the need to get away from it, the only way is to leave the house. So I took my knitting - yes, still finishing the Ravelympics main project - to one of my favourite spots.

I don't expect that this counts as public knitting because there wasn't much public around, and I stayed in the car on account of it getting a bit chilly outside.

It's the round car-park at the bottom of Staunton Harold Reservoir (close to Calke Abbey). It's a free car park, not far from home and has a beautiful view.

I love knitting and spinning in public - I'm planning to do more. If you do too, why not add your photos to this Flickr group?

Daffodilly Art Yarn

22 - Daffodilly Art Yarn
Originally uploaded by Alien Ears
Thank you so much to everyone who entered the Spring competition. Details of the judging and Alison's comments, as well as lots of spinning news, reviews, events and silliness for May is here:

finished woven project

I think this morning's lesson is that a project doesn't have to be big to be satisfying (!)

I'm so pleased with this, I'm already using it, and I will do until it dies, and then I have plenty of the woven material left and will sew up another one.

Yes, my black/white weaving in the last post was for this zip-up purse. It was incredibly easy and quick to make. The secret I've discovered is not to be over-ambitious, not to rush or cut corners.

While making this, a secondhand swift passed through my hands. By the time I'd sold it, I had discovered what a fantastically useful tool it is. I've always used the back of a chair or the floor, which means I spend more time untangling than winding. I really wish I'd kept it, but will be on the lookout now for another cheap one...
(I ran out of black half way through weaving and had to spin a bit more, hence the small skein.)

Life of its own

Don'tcha just love it when a project takes on a life of its own? When you don't even have to put in any effort, it just kinda happens. You find yourself sitting up late with it, even when you have things you really should be doing instead.
That's happened this week. I have lots of what's allegedly alpaca fibre. It's not soft and fluffy as you'd expect, but quite coarse and scratchy. I've been wondering what to do with it - you wouldn't want to wear it. So this project is ideal. I have some natural black (very dark brown) and natural white (very slightly creamy). Perfect for spinning and weaving into this not-very-original but very effective pattern:
Whether I have time or not this weekend, I know it's going to get sewn up. Any ideas what it might turn out to be?