Using teak oil to finish a spinning wheel

If you buy a wheel or loom with a 'natural' finish, it'll cost far less than a lacquered one, but you do need to do something to finish the wood. It doesn't look pretty and I've seen an unexplained crack in one which was left unfinished.

I like to use wax but I've seen good-looking varnish finishes (clear and coloured). Wood dye can be used to very good effect under wax or varnish.

I know that teak oil is popular, but I've not tried it until yesterday, when I needed to assemble a wheel very quickly.
It's very quick, you just brush it on. It feeds the wood and protects it from drying out. I love the effect it has on the colour - it darkens in a very natural way, enhancing the grain.

After a couple of hours it was touch-dry. It doesn't add a shine, but it makes the wood look so good, I may try wax on top when time allows.


I can't believe how appropriate this present is! It's from Jo, we've scavenged for fleece together. It's a bag that will fold up and be in my rucker ready for the next lot! lol

Pat's hat - cast off! Will it fit?

The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So I sat in the house
And knitted on that cold, cold, wet day.
Is it sad to keep picking up your work and squeezing it just because you like the feel of it?

I can't believe how soft and lovely this wool feels, especially as it's a Heinz 57 of varieties, all carded together. The very chunky design helps. I'm so chuffed with the colour too.

I thought cables would be difficult and I've managed to evade them until now. But it turns out that despite looking so impressive, they're dead easy. You just pop half of the stitches (3 in this case) onto a special little needle to hold them, carry on knitting the remaining ones, then pick up the ones you put by.

If it fits, that'll be a real bonus!

Never to be repeated

I left my recent dyeing experiment simmering for twice as long as it should have done, waiting for the dye water to go clear. It didn't, so I guess it wasn't exhausted once the skeins had taken all that they wanted. I let the pan go cool, popped in this 100g of white corriedale sliver, and brought it back up to the simmer again.

The result is nowhere near as deep in colour and a little bit variegated. The closest thing I can think of to this colour is a nectarine with a bit of a blush to it. So this is called nectarine, and I don't think I could do it again if I tried!

Pat's hat - step 4, knitting

We have half of a fold-up brim! The pattern is, as you can see, the Lucky 7 hat by weezalana. If you look closely, you can probably see the word 'arse' in the first sentence, which I take as a good omen in any situation.
The yummy colour of the yarn did get a bit lighter as it dried out, but is still perfect. You can also see the gauge which was also perfect, possibly the first time that I've ever made a swatch which measured exactly the right size, so hopefully that's a good omen too.

Not quite so perfect was the swatch for my Opulent Raglan:
It's 7/8 the size it should be. I like this fairly close knit, and it'll start to look too 'open' if I go up needle sizes, so I'll knit the next size up and hope that it'll fit.

The fibre is some natural-coloured merino which I bought to sell via handspinner, but haven't listed it yet because I'm not sure about the quality. It is a gorgeous colour and has made a beautiful yarn, if a little lumpy, and the swatch is so soft that it'll do perfectly.

Pat's hat - step 3, dyeing

Today I dye!

For this project I decided to dye the skein after spinning rather than dyeing the fibre before spinning. This should give a much more even colour.
We want a burgundy colour. A little bit experimental, but it couldn't have worked out better. For this 150g I used half a teaspoon of scarlet acid dye and added as much navy blue as I dared. I didn't want to end up with purple, but If the scarlet was too strong, then I worried that Pat would stop traffic when crossing the road.
It looks delicious - as if it might taste of blackberries or blackcurrant. I can't wait for it to dry out so that I can get busy with the needles.

Sea Tangles—Tangled Nerves

I'm knitting something more complicated than a baby hat, and it's all my daughter's fault. My daughter, Katie, is an excellent knitter. You can see her work at (screen name: kmartins). It was at the ravelry site that she found a fascinating garment, something sort of like a sweater knitted with unique yarn, and she emailed the link to me with a note saying "You have to make this!!!"

What she found was Sea Tangles, a pattern designed by Kie Zuraw that uses a thread-sized yarn knitted with US 6/4mm needles, making a thing like fishing net. It really is fascinating because the pattern is random—it's basically stockinette with inconsistent cables (tangles) here and there to make each "sweater" unique. You can download a pdf of the pattern or go online and open up a file each time you wish to knit, and every time you open this file, the cables are different. Keeps you guessing.

I decided to take Katie's challenge, especially since the designer said mistakes are acceptable: "if you make a “mistake”, just forget about it and keep going!" I can do that. I contacted Habu Textiles in New York and ordered three spools of silk thread blended with steel—yes, steel, which gives it a bit of memory—and they were very friendly and shipped my order as soon as they could.

(the one sleeve with a spool from Habu)

I have struggled a little because working with such thin fiber means I have to wear reading glasses to knit, but it's going well, I think. All I have at this point is a single sleeve, but I'll keep going. Sea Tangles. Who would have guessed you could knit a pullover sweater with a wad of string?

to frog or not to frog...

Do you tend to buy patterns or search the multitude of free ones? It's very rare for me to buy a pattern, especially as Ravelry makes it so easy to search all of the patterns under the sun.

But when I saw the Opulent Raglan by Wendy Bernard, I fell in love with it and was happy to shell out the $5.50 for the pattern. I love the neckline, I love the 3/4 sleeves. It will suit me down to the ground (hopefully not all the way down to the ground). It happened to be featured in an article about top-down knitting - one advantage of this method being that you can just carry on knitting until you've arrived at the right length - and being a gangly kinda gal, making sure it's a good length will be good.

So with pattern downloaded, which yarn to use. My first thought was to frog this. It's my design / spin / knit Ravelympics project. At the end of the fortnight, I was only about half a sleeve and the ribbed edging away from finishing it.

I very slowly arrived at the point of nearly being ready to cast off (you can see the circular needle still in the rib). This garment isn't going anywhere, the sleeves are a bit tight and short, and there are other adjustments I'd make to the pattern before making one that's wearable. So it's headed for frogging anyway, and it's a similar colour to the one in the new pattern, and the gauge seems about right.

I'm now in two minds. I grew less fond of the colour while I was knitting the cardy - it's a bit rustic, which might suit a handspun garment, but I think I'd like my new jumper to look a bit smarter.

What do you think?

Was lucky enough to meet these two guys last week - Wallace and Grommit. This picture really sums up the experience - they are curious and affectionate. I'm used to sheep shying away but these two loved being fussed. It was the first time I've cuddled a sheep.
They're zwartbles, a rare Dutch breed, I spun samples of the fleece a week or so ago - one small skein from Wallace, a 1-year-old ram (first shearing) and one from Bear, an older Ewe. They're both rich black, the young fleece (below left) is much more bouncy and elastic, the older (below right) is straighter and smoother, and has he odd silver shimmer running through it. I now have the two complete fleeces.

Fair Isle Knitting

Moira Hickey marches across sodden fields on Fair Isle to look at the importance of knitting to the islanders at a time when knitting is about to be dropped from the curriculum. Besides meeting the sheep and discussing the traditional techniques, she asks about the viability of a 'fair trade' product handmade from fleece to jumper, and whether hand knitting should be kept alive as a tradition on the island or be developed to encourage tourism.

Broadcast on Thursday 5th August 2010 and available on the iPlayer

Listen to the programme

Me at Last!

I hope I am still allowed to post on here ha ha! sorry been a while, but have been very busy. Have been admiring all the wonderful things everyone has been doing, and Pea, well what can I say you are so talented.

This is a little coat that I usually make for new borns, not that they wear this sort of thing anymore. but this one I have just made for my niece Liz for Max. who is about 12 weeks old now, he is gorgeous, and I have been allowed to baby sit!
This coat is sitting in my drawer as made it last winter, and it is so warm that so far only worn it a couple of times.

Not much after all you have done but am knitting a top at the moment, and squares for a blanket! So I am still knitting.

Pat's Hat - Step 2, spun and plied yarn

Now spun and plied, this is the 'found' wool that Jo and I picked up on this visit to the Peak District. It's a Heinz 57 of sheep varieties, but I'm pleased with how soft it feels.

I have two skeins, approx 75 turns each of the 15" niddy = 150*4*15 / 36 = 250 yards.

I dyed the fibre before spinning for my last project. This time I'm going to do it the other way around to see the difference. First to decide on a colour.... and a pattern...