Couldn't put the needles down

I spun this wool last weekend - since Christmas I've had a pair of mitts on my 'to do' list for a fisherman friend. (Hence the natural brown colour.)

I picked up the needles this morning intending to simply make a start. Three hours later and the first one is stitched up! This speed is out of character. I will however save its partner for another day. The pattern is my own, the fibre is corriedale natural medium.

colour experiments

I took this photo on New Year's day in the Peak District. I love some of the ice crystal shapes (click to make it bigger). I also like the colours and decided to try and make some fibre based on them.

I like blending a little silk into merino wool. I've got two colours going onto the carder here, beansprout and natural white, trying to blend the silk in well while keeping the colours separate.

Here's the finished fibre. Comparing it to the original photo, I think I need to darken the green a little.

It's not too late...

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Making more yarn for Swallowtail

I've only made small amounts of yarn at a time so far, but I can see a difference between the first little batch and the second. Maybe it would have been better to blend and spin a big batch of the fibre all at once, so that it's more consistent? Then again, those small differences are going to 'stripe' in the shawl, and maybe that'll look nice?

I'm past the 'experimental' stage with this yarn. I'm really pleased with the way it looks and knits, and I'm making it nice and consistently now. So I thought I'd bash 100g through the drum carder (about 20g at a time).

I like the colours to remain slightly separated (but the silk nicely distributed), so I'm trying to keep the white and yellow separate at the start. That allows me to put it through the drum carder 3 or 4 times and get a really thoroughly carded result without the colours being completely blended together.

It's about 3 parts white merino to one part cheesecake. Initially I mix some white and cheesecake on half the drum, with the rest of the white on the other half of the drum. I'm putting in half to one cap of silk per 20g, distributing that well across the drum. Here's a close-up of the delicious finished sliver. It looks a bit whiter in this photo than it really is. Also, the nests of carded fibre look paler than the finished yarn.

Here's progress so far. I don't have a huge amount of time to knit, but 'little and often' is working. I've also been inspired this week by this blog post.

I can't say it's completely free of mistakes, but they're not very noticeable. I'm getting much better at not making mistakes now (or at least spotting them early enough!)

I'm almost done with this 'bud' lace pattern, just a few more rows before moving on to the 'lily of the valley' border. I'm also looking forward to knitting 'nups' which involve purling 5 stitches together!

The pattern is available free from Evelyn Clark Designs. Download the pattern.

resurrection of the Swallowtail Shawl

I tried mixing some merino and a little silk to make some yarn similar to the 'wheatfield' yarn that I made earlier in the year. I was absolutely delighted with the result - the blended fibre is in the picture looking like silky airy candy floss made from gold.

It was a pleasure to spin. I felt that it was be more suitable for the swallowtail shawl than the home-dyed wool that I'd started with. (Previous blog entry here)

I decided to knit a small part of the shawl using the small amount that I'd spun. Just to see how it went. But it was such a pleasure to knit with and looked so good, I just kept on going... till I'd used my sample yarn... then carded and spun some more fibre and carried on knitting. Time has just whizzed by and I already have about six repeats of the budding lace repeat - more than I managed before, and without any major disasters following the lace pattern.

I can't put my finger on why, but the previous attempt just wasn't working, and won't ever get finished. But something's just clicked into place here. This just works. And will be finished soon.

The yarn is 2-plied, about 17wpi, merino (two colours, white and cheesecake) with a small amount of silk. The pattern is Christine's Swallowtail Shawl. I'm knitting with 6mm x 24" circular needles.