Scout's handspun

Fellow Stitchin' Bint Scout is the fastest knitter I know. No sooner has she cast on than she seems to be casting off. I've yet to entice her into the world of spinning, so the perfect gift seems to be some handspun yarn.

This is the fluff; merino wool in dyed 'cheesecake', natural white and some tussah silk. It will make batts and fibre I call 'wheatfield', the same colour that I used for my recent shawl, but probably not spun quite as thin.

The carded fibre is beautifully light and airy
Here's the first ounce or so of single. I've carded about 8oz, so it'll take a few more evenings before it's plied.

Jo's Socks, finished!

Is it me or is the ribbed cuff on that second one slightly shorter? It was *very* late when I cast off last night, but I swear they matched.

Here's a mosaic of my favourite pics from the project:

Swallowtail shawl. Second and successful blocking

Finally finished, blocked, ends woven in and modeled.

I was very excited when this arrived in the post.
A friend had read about my attempt to block the shawl on a duvet and decided that I needed a set of these. Thank you so much Jules, they're great. After another dunk in warm water and a little fibre rinse I was able to really pull those points out.

Once again, the free pattern is here: and the wheatfield blend I spun to make the yarn is available here:

More photos of the finished shawl are here on Flickr

Spinning jacob fleece

The first fleece is washed and dried. The locks are brown at the tips and silver-grey lower down, crimpy and long - some of the fibres stretching out to six inches.I decided to flick the locks first before putting them through the carder, to take out short bits and so that I could card it just once and not mix the colours up too much.

This is the first sample, heathered silver-brown.

Letting the grass grow under your feet. Free pattern - knitted grass rug

Doesn't this make you want to get your bare toes into it? I love it, and will be making one soon.

The pattern from Lion Brand includes instructions for the 'make one loop' stitch and you can make the grass as long or short as you like.

What has arrived in the post?

I'm amazed that a friend managed to fit two of her jacob fleeces inside this small box! And what lovely stuff it is.
Here it is spread out. There are equal parts of pale grey and brown. Not too much VM.

I'm making sheep soup with it as I write this - It's had one good soak in Power Scour, a rinse and back in scour again. (If this gorgeous weather holds, it'll dry in no time.) I'm planning to supply it washed by the 200g / 2oz

Swallowtail shawl - blocked

I'm *really* pleased with this! I finished knitting this a week or two ago and have been wondering how to block it. (It's getting on for 5 feet wide when stretched out).

At a friend's suggestion I've used a duvet and towel, which has worked well (thank you Sally) but I couldn't pull those points out quite as far as I wanted to, and I'm sure the whole thing will stretch out a bit further - I think I need to try again with something more solid.

I'm sure that there are mistakes in it, but I've forgotten where they are and can't find them now. I luuuurrrve the pattern and I'm very pleased with my handspun (merino in two colours and a little silk), which feels lovely now that it's dried out from the blocking.

I've broken my best camera (it got waterlogged at the music festival) and have had to resort to an old one for these pics. But I don't mind because I've won a much better camera on eBay and got a bargain. When that arrives I'll be testing it out by modeling the shawl.

sock progress and public knitting

Nearly finished the first sock (cue second sock syndrome). I love the way that the pattern is looking - it's standing really proud.
Saturday was Knit in Public day. I happened to be at a music festival and so the opportunity was too good to miss
The heel is a short-row heel. I'll ask Jo how tall she wants them. The ones in the pattern are very short (they're designed to use a minimum amount of yarn) but there's plenty of yarn left.

Jo's Socks Step 5 - the Eastern cast-on

With the big skein halved (so that I can be sure that I've knit the first sock from less than half the yarn) I was a good girl and made a tension gauge swatch. It was waaay over, but the pattern calls for 2.25mm needles, so there's not far to go down from there. I tried again with 2mm needles and it was closer, but still a bit big.

I'm going to knit half a foot and then check it for size on the target foot.

My pattern, Stashbusting Socks from June's Yarn Forward, gives written instructions for the eastern cast-on which is new to me.

No pictures, so I turned to the web and found this:

It's very similar to the figure-of-eight cast-on which I have used before for toe-up socks.

I had to abandon the first attempt at the second row because it was too tight. Tip: start working very loosely. Second attempt worked a treat. Very neat.

Sock yarn - spun and plied

Now spun and plied, I have 164 winds around the 15" niddy-noddy = 164 x 15 x 4 = 9840" = 273 yards, which is way more than enough, according to the pattern!

How to fit a flexi-drive band : Do's and don'ts

A variety of materials can serve as a drive band. As long as it grips the wheel and whorl and doesn't stretch too much over time then it should work. I've even seen knicker-elastic used very effectively.

A double-drive wheel needs the band to slip a little bit in one of the whorls (often one whorl is V shaped and one U shaped) but with a single-drive wheel, more grip allows you to use less tension and makes for easier treadling.

An upgrade for the standard string drive band is a flexi-drive band; sometimes called poly-cord or stretchy drive band.
Fitting it involves cutting it to length and joining the ends with heat. But it's not as scary as it sounds.

1. Cut the cord to length. Do unwind your drive band tensioner to its lowest setting and wrap the cord around the largest whorl.

2. Do Practice. Use the piece that you've trimmed off and practice the following steps until you're confident and can make a good strong join.

3. Do loop your cord around your wheel. If you forget, then you won't be able to fit the band without cutting it again.

3. Heat the ends near the base of a flame. until they begin to 'blob'

4. Immediately push the ends together. Ashford used to supply this helpful tool, which is a little block of wood with a groove in it, but they seem to have stopped including it now. If you don't get one with your band then perhaps you can improvise one, or just take care to push the ends together as accurately as you can. Don't worry about a little material squishing out because you'll trim this off.
5. Do wait. Continue to push together for about thirty seconds. Carefully let go without pulling it, then go and make a cup of tea. It takes a minute or two for the join to really cool and harden.

6. Trim off the blobby excess with a craft knife or nail clippers. If it hasn't joined properly, just cut the ends square and try again. Cut off as little as you can for obvious reasons.

7. Do slip the band off the biggest whorl or loosen the tension when your wheel isn't in use to avoid it stretching. If it does get longer over time, just cut a small section out and join again.