Steeling myself...

Yes, it's fibre for spinning, it's very fine (3 micron), antistatic, and conductive! It's stainless steel.

(see the seller's details in the image - it arrived from the USA much more quickly than I expected. Thanks Kate!)

Two surprises, I got my quantities muddled up - I was expecting 100g, this is 1oz which is about a third of that - and in the pictures it looked as if it had some colour but in fact it's metallic silver-grey just as you'd expect.

Alone it feels surprisingly fluffy but with a strange abrasive feel. I wonder what spinning the pure stuff would do to your fingers?

I had an idea about spinning it alone for pure stainless steel yarn, but given these things I'll try carding it with wool, maybe 1:2 or 1:1

Can't wait to see what the resulting metallic yarn looks like.

Spinning very fine for lace

With my most recent socks finished, it's time to start this amazing cardy. Ok, truth is I have plenty of projects on the go but I can't wait to start this one.

The pattern is Twinkle Twinkle by Ruth of Rock & Purl. It appeared in Knit Now number 16, and credit to Babylonglegs who brought the pattern to my attention. She dyed the yarn for the one in the picture and is selling the same yarn especially for this project.

So to the spinning (I've actually been spinning for a few days and only have half a bobbin-full). I'm aiming for thinner than I've ever made before and more yardage than I've made in one go before.

That's my new magnifier lamp. I've had one before but it died. Now that I've got around to replacing it, I realise how useful it is. Once over the shock of the state of your nails, it really does help - to spin very consistent, very thin and without having your nose close to the work. I heartily recommend one.

This is a commercial merino / silk mix in pure white. I'm planning to dye the spun yarn (possibly the first time I've done things that way round) because I want a nice flat colour like the one in the picture. (Going for a similar 'peacock' blue)

Finished project - Water Sprite socks

Yet another pair finished from Cotton and Cloud's Ginkgo Socks pattern.

I've posted a couple of pictures of the progress on Woolly Wednesdays but here's a mosaic of the whole story from Yummy Yarns bamboo / merino in Water Sprite through to finished socks.
At Freyalan's suggestion I spun very thin (by spindle) and navajo / chain plied. I love n-ply because it evens out inconsistency better than two ply, and keeps the colours separate rather than mixing them up.

I did have high hopes that this time I'd have matching socks. I guess that I didn't split the fibre exactly down the middle, or spun one half a little more fine than the other.

All of the pictures are here on Flickr, and the project is here on Ravelry

Shepherdess cowl - I'm keeping this one!

I popped this on straight off the needles and it's so cosy and comfy I don't think I'll be taking it off at all until Spring. The person I've made it for will be waiting till I've made another.

Having said that, I see from my Ravelry project page that it's only taken a week of not-very-intensive work from sorting the fleece through carding, dyeing and knitting.

A new skill learned too - Kitchener stitch. Which I'd like to think was invented by WW1 Secretary of State Lord Kitchener.

This type of cowl is made in two mirror-image halves which you graft together using Kitchener stitch. I used this tutorial on the Knitty site. It was dead easy, and as Theresa Vinson Stenersen says, you soon get into a steady rhythm.

As intended, the horseshoe lace pattern has matches up point-to-point and it's difficult to see the join!

The pattern is Crofter's Cowl by Gudrun Johnston I've used 5mm needles and a fairly chunky yarn (chain-pied for a little extra thickness and to concentrate the colours). I started with a circular as suggested in the pattern but switched to DPNs because I'm more comfortable with those for a small round. The Knitpro interchangeable cable with its end stops was useful for holding the live stitches.

Remember me!

I have been looking for so long at all the gorgeous things you have done Shiela but have managed to start knitting again, just finished another cushion cover, Phil bought me a new throw so have been trying to match it up.

Lovely to see all you do…

Brittany birch needles - review

Needing a set of short 3.75mm dpns over Christmas I raided the shop and Brittany 5" dpns fitted the bill.

I've used their straight needles before, without much thought. But I did enjoy using these so much that I've grabbed another set for another project (much larger this time) and decided to write my thoughts here.

They do have some kind of polish or lacquer on them, but it's quite subtle; at first they feel a bit 'matt' and the stitches don't slip as easily as I like. But very soon (before finishing one very small sock) this noticeably improves as they take a patina and a polish from fingers, yarn and each other.

The wood feels light; in the hand they feel lighter than Knitpros which are also birch (according to Knitpro, laminated and 'densified'). The points are much less sharp than KP. They also have noticeably more 'give'.

This lightness, roundness of point and flexibility makes them feel a little more bamboo-y.

Environmental considerations are important to me and Brittany claim that their wood is from forests with good practices.

The size is stamped or engraved on. Time will tell but I'm guessing that this won't wear off as quickly as the sizes on KP symfonies, which are printed.

I generally like a sharp point such as Knitpro needles have and I really like the slippy polished finish of the KP Nova range but where a rounder point is appropriate, then I'll enjoy the lightness and easy, friendly handle of my growing collection of Brittanys.

Find out more about the Brittany range here:

Shepherdess Cowl - part 2 - more dyeing, happier result

The second time you try something, you take what you've learned the first time and leave what wasn't right. I'm much happier with this skein.

Previously we'd been using a fairly coarse and hairy fleece, so for this second go I've picked the best bits from a much better fleece. Mum & I sorted all of the fleeces given by our sheep-owning friend. This is to be a cowl for her.

No waste at all; after washing this all went straight through the drum carder and produced the most wonderfully soft and fluffy fibre. I don't yet know the breed (I will find out) but it's well on par with bought roving.

I tried spiral dyeing this time, remembering to make sure that the dye has penetrated the wool leaving no white bits. No need to explain spiral dyeing, picperfic has a great tutorial here. Here's one of my spirals:

Just two colours used - scarlet and black. There are some paler areas, I don't think there was enough dye in one of my spirals but I really like the resulting grey and pale red. In addition there are some lovely deep red colours where the red and black have combined in the dyeing and while spinning.

This yarn is navajo (chain) plied. Partly to achieve the slightly chunkier yarn that I need for the chosen project, partly to keep the colours concentrated and partly because I like the way it evens out my inconsistencies better than 2-plying! It's so soft I want to keep squishing it!

Purl Two Together - knitting news from

I'm very happy to announce the arrival of the first Purl Two Together.

It should be in subscribers' inboxes right now. Read it online and subscribe for free at

Shepherdess Cowl - part 1 - dyeing experiments

It takes some discipline to abandon something that's not going so well. In the past I would have impatiently carried on regardless and finished up with something I knew could have been better.

But back a week or so, Mum and I decided to have a dyeing session, using some fleece given to her by a friend with a few sheep (washed and carded previously).

The strategy was to make up some basic colours, mix them to make new colours and just see what happened.

Helped along by a 'small' sherry. This was Christmas after all.

One lesson learned was to make sure that the dye soaks completely through the fibre (unless you want the white patches). Two of our experiments worked out particularly well. This blue / green and a black / red. These looked so lovely that I decided to make a cowl for the owner of the sheep.

We also spun these up during the holiday. Mum the greens and me the red. Here you can probably see the problem and the reason  for starting again.  The colours are wonderful but this fleece is particularly coarse and hairy. The result isn't something you'd want to wear next to your skin, so we're going to think of something different to do with this coarse yarn and I have a very happy story to tell in part 2 of this post...

Paw protectors for a poorly puppy

My sister's dog had an accident before Christmas which left her back end paralysed.

We're hoping and praying that this is temporary, but in the mean time one little problem has been the knuckles of her back feet getting sore as they occasionally scrape the ground when she's 'walked' around using a sling.

Sis asked whether it would be possible to make some socks for the pooch to protect her feet. A quick Google search turned up this pattern from Rebecca at Chemknits. I'm especially pleased because I follow her blog with interest and have sometimes mentioned a post on Hand Spinning News.

Although Rebecca labels the pattern a 'prototype', I followed it to the letter and it was perfect. I've made two pairs, they were very quick to make (each pair in one sitting) and work a treat.