Advent Calendar for the Hand Spinner 2010

I can hardly believe that it's the countdown to Christmas once again. Last year's advent calendar went down so well, I'm going to do it once again. I'll make a special offer to my Twitter followers, facebook friends and newsletter subscribers every day between now and Christmas. (There's nothing stopping anyone from joining in at any time by subscribing to the newsletter at or starting to follow on Twitter.)

You'll get details of each day's offer in the morning. You'll be able to add the item to your cart if you want. Postage will be as per the regular arrangements, ie based on the value of your cart up to £45 and then free after that.

Quantities will be limited. Sometimes there will be plenty, and will depend on my stock, and sometimes it'll be a one-off. Maybe something that's not on the site. Sometimes it'll be something small, but I have one or two bigger items in mind too. If the offer has sold out, then Paypal will tell you when you check out.

I'll send out information about that day's offer in the morning before 9am. Each offer will be removed 24 hours later.

It would be good to hear what you think. What you'd like to see on this advent calendar, or what's on your Christmas list!

Don't miss out

There are still a few days left to enter this month's competition. Have you a photograph of some of your own handspun inspired by autumn colour?

No judging, it's just a prize draw with a £20 voucher up for grabs.

For more details, see the current handspinner newsletter.

Free pattern - 'Mimi' simple mitts

My simple mitt pattern is as simple as can be, but I really don't like sewing up, so I have rewritten the pattern for knitting in the round.

(It's untested - I wrote down the pattern as I made the first one, and then followed the pattern for its pair. They seem to match and fit the recipient.)

I used 4mm needles and hand-dyed handspun (found wool)

Mimi mitts ('in the round' version of my Cecilia simple mitts)

co32, distribute over 3 or 4 needles and join
(adjust needle size or number of cast-on stitches if necessary to achieve a cuff which passes over your hand and fits your wrist)
*k1,p1* rep for 12 rounds
put 2 stitches (first and last of round) on another needle, or identify these 2 stitches with markers. This is the start of the thumb.
knit all stitches for one round
knit another round, but make one (kfb) each side of the thumb, ie 2 thumb stitches plus 32 more stitches
starting at first non-thumb stitch, knit to thumb, kfb, k. (now 3 thumb stitches)
knit to thumb, k, k, kfb. (now 4 thumb stitches)
continue in this pattern (increasing one thumb stitch per row at alternating ends) until there are 10 thumb stitches
k2tog, k to 2 before thumb, k2tog, increase thumb as before.
continue increasing thumb until 15 stitches.
k for 2 more rounds without increasing
put thumb stitches on scrap yarn
knit two rounds of main 30 stitches, joining when you get to the thumb.
switch to garter stitch (one round of p, next of k)
cast-off loosely or using your favourite stretchy cast-off
pick up the thumb stitches on three needles
knit 5 rounds of garter stitch
cast-off loosely or using your favourite stretchy cast-off
weave in ends.

Finished baby hat

Finit! Really pleased with it, the pattern is lovely, the colour is nice and I really like the fluffy brim. Just hope it fits now...

Once again, the pattern is Baby Leaves Baby Hat, free on Ravelry. Doing the brim in the fluffy yarn was my modification, I just switched to that yarn when I reached the k1p1 rib and continued until it was long enough.

pattern emerging

The photo of the finished hat on the pattern is quite small and indistinct, and it's impossible to tell from the chart how the pattern looks, so it's thrilling to get through the rows and see the pattern gradually appear.

Now I can see why the pattern is called Baby Leaves. It's a very clever leafy design.

It reminds me a little bit of Wooly Wormhead's mystery knit-a-long.

I bought yarn

...for the first time in ages. The reason is for speed; it's a present for a newborn baby. Spinning the wool would be nice but I'd like to get the present sent off asap.

I love casting on and it's great to have an excuse to cast on yet another WIP.

The pattern is Baby Leaves Baby Hat by Heidi Sunday. I'm going to do the version with the brim and have some of that nice fluffly stuff for the brim.

I started out looking for something a bit quick and simple, but when I saw this lace pattern I I didn't hesitate. I thought I'd enjoy the extra challenge but have already had to rip back one round so far due to lack of concentration!

'Aqua' fibre

I love my job. It was a very pleasant hour yesterday carding this corriedale for somebody.

It's called Aqua. My 'recipe' is 44% green corriedale, 44% blue corriedale and 12% natural white. Also traces of cheesecake and lavender. The blue, green and white are well-blended with the yellow and purple added later in the process.

At first the blue and green appear as separate colours, but on the second or third pass they start to mix together, so even when you look closely you see a lovely turquoise colour rather than separate blue and green. There's still some separation after three passes, and the knitted yarn will still have a slightly heathered look but I don't see any point carding further than this because the colours will start to go 'flat' and you may save yourself the hard work and buy spearmint corriedale.

Wool Week

This item also appears in the handspinner newsletter (November 2010)

11-17 October 2010

Wool Week was led by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the campaign for wool. It aimed to reverse the trend that now sees fleeces being burned because farmers are shearing their sheep at a loss and encourages us to think of wool as part of our heritage and a renewable, sustainable and versatile resource.

I have to admit that in putting together this 'round-up', I've enjoyed some of the puns; 'having a field day', 'fans flock to Savile Row', 'best baa none', 'suits ewe sir', 'give fleece a chance' and so on.

Savile Row Field Day

You won't have missed the news that the week was kicked off by Savile Row being turfed over to help flocks of Exmoor Horn and Bowmont sheep to feel at home.

There is a wealth of photos and video of the sheep alongside bemused and besuited urbanites: carries a wonderful video showing the sheep, farmers, visitors and the agriculture minister.

More video from the BBC:

Wool Week blogpicks

I like the illustration and writing on this post:

josiekitten marked the week by making a wooly post each day:

Devonfinefibres wrote this fabulous post about getting the Bowmonts to the event:

... and their post-event thoughts with a gallery of photographs:


The NFU asked Diane of the murmering wheel to make a union jack from hand dyed and spun wool.
It was commissioned to help support the campaign to have wool included in the 2012 Olympics, but as part of York's Wool Week celebrations was displayed on the back of Norfolk Horn ram Nobby.

lots more links and photos on Murmering Wheel's blog:

More photos of York's Wool Week event:

In other areas

Artist Steve Messam covered a remote barn with the fleece of 200 Swaledales

Chelsea Harbour Design Centre's Wool Week installation involved sheep, textiles and cat's cradles of red wool. Watch a video of their installation being constructed:

Liberty and Rowan Yarns jointly held a Wool Week competition for students, the prize winners being displayed in one of their windows. Claire-Anne O'Brien used British sheep breed yarn in supersized basic knit loops to create a chair. Joint winner Helen Turner's woolly wonder oversized knitted retro coat was made using five varieties of Rowan Purelife British wool.

Liberty made willow Herdwicks for their Wool Week installation.

I've said before that I think the terms graffiti knitting or yarnbombing shouldn't be applied to corporately-organised events, but credit to Selfridges for 'yarnbombing' their store for Wool Week:

Selfridges also sent a flock of remarkably-unperturbed dyed-yellow sheep down the street:

For more beautifully-coloured sheep, check out this post at Textile Arts Centre:

Video carries a wonderful video showing the sheep, farmers, visitors and the agriculture minister.

For more video, here's the BBC's:

Can you make a handspun hat in an hour?

I've been reading about the Spin Off Annual Retreat (SOAR). A week-long event featuring workshops, spinners' market, gallery, fashion show, spin-ins.

Batts to hats was a fun event for the final night. the challenge was to spin and make a hat within an hour. Seven out of eight teams finished their hats in the allotted time.

Are you or do you know Charlotte, Beverly or Mary of The Brits Team? I'd love to know more about the trip and the competition.
The write-up is a good read