Why casting on is so exciting

I've been struggling to make time for the current project, but I have spent some very late nights recently with Robert Harris' Fatherland and spinning the first couple of hundred grams of this pale grey merino fibre.

As you cast on, it's too early for there to be any mistakes in the work. In fact the finished project, which is still in your imagination, is perfect in every way. It looks like the pattern, it's flawless and it fits perfectly. You can imagine the compliments when you wear it for the first time. "Yes, I did make it myself! Spun the wool and everything."

The reality might not exactly match the expectation and that's a little way off yet but I love casting on.

The fibre is not very pleasant to work with, it has short fibres and lumps, resembling cotton wool. The only way that I could get a reasonably even result was to tease and spin from the fold. But the result is very soft and springy. I can't wait to wear it, flaws and all.

more damselflies

I've been asked more than once whether my damselflies would work on a Traveller. The problem is that the wheel has concentric grooves around the wheel, leaving a narrow band in the middle for the design. If reduced down to this size, I thought the insects would be too small and lose detail. I tried sketching the design onto a Traveller wheel overlapping the grooves:

That worked well, so here goes:

This time I was especially asked to sign it, which I have started to do now.
.. and add another small minibeast somewhere else on the wheel.

Got flair?

Knitpro have let me know that they're phasing out their clear acrylic needles, known as 'Spectra' or 'Zephyr', in favour of the purple variety, 'Flair'.

I have some samples here, what do we think?

Savile Row Field Day

I'm a country mouse, and so the idea of turfing over a London street and moving in some Exmoor horn and Bowmont sheep really does appeal to me! The event takes place for a week starting 11 October and is organised by the Campaign for Wool.

The aim is to promote wool and tell Londoners about how wool is produced and made into the luxury cloth used by the tailors working in the adjacent shops. For my money it's as much a reminder of the soil beneath the urban concrete and tarmac.

More about Savile Row Field Day.

Free wig pattern round-up

I just saw this wonderful pink crocheted wig (right) on Knithacker - it's not a free pattern, in fact I can't find the pattern, but the maker does sell her crochet patterns here on Etsy so maybe it's coming soon.

But it reminded me that I'd started a free wig pattern round up some time ago. So here it is:

Food and natural dyeing

Have you been curious about natural dyeing? In this lovely series of blog posts that will inspire you and make you hungry at the same time, Helen of My Heart Exposed Yarns links the methods and inspiration for her natural dyeing to her cooking, with tasty photos, tips and secrets.


Red, orange, yellow

Carded and spun Emmanuel

I felt so excited when I was offered some alpaca fleece because I had wanted to spin some for a while. To my surprise there were many shades to choose from. The one I picked was this lovely copper colour, it came from an Alpaca
called Emmanuel.

I loved the feel of it because it was so soft. I was told too late the there is no need to wash it first. But hey. Being very fortunate I have a drum carder that made the job of carding so much easier, especially considering there were many smaller pieces of the fleece.

Spinning it felt great. I was quite pleased with my first effort but feel that it should be spun a bit thinner because of its warmth, But there you are it's all individual and about creating your own style, that can be very rewarding.

If anybody has any hints or tips on spinning Alpaca I would love to hear.

- whippetsgalore

The recent threat to drop knitting from the curriculum on the Sheltand Islands has had a side-effect of attracting the media's attention onto the traditional crafts of spinning and knitting and brought into the open the question of whether the island should move to more indstrial techniques and increase production.

I've enjoyed this article on The Business of Fashion. While similar jumpers are mass-produced in China, those labeled "Made in Fair Isle" take over 100 hours to spin and knit and sell for over £600. Despite the high price tag for the genuine article, demand is outstripping supply.

Read the article