Amazing Alaska hat pattern with handspun yarn

When I first saw it I knew I had to make one. The pattern is Alaska by Camille Descoteaux
This pattern looks fabulous in a colour-changing yarn paired with a dark solid colour for the silhouette trees. More comments about the pattern after the knitting pictures.

Usually I spin especially for a particular project, but this time I had the perfect yarn. It’s a Freyalyn long gradient I bought at a show and then spun during Spinzilla 2017.

The dark colour was also spun during Spinzilla, possibly not the same year. I think it’s real Shetland from Adam Curtis.

There follows a bunch of pictures of the fibre, the spinning, the finished yarn and 'in progress' shots of  the knitting.

Above is the fibre as I bought it. Below is me preparing it in advance of Spinzilla 2017. I like making 'fauxlags', it's a very fast way to spin. You open up the fibre into a flat sheet and then roll the fibre around a dowel or large needle to form a rolag or puni shape.
I spin these longdraw. Pinch off about an inch while treadling madly and using a high-speed ratio. Pull back about a metre at a time as it gains twist. I spun this pretty fine because I wanted to chain-ply aka navajo-ply

 The navajo plying produces a neat, round yarn. It also concentrates colour and preserves colour changes like these.

 So that's the finished yarn in a photo from 2017.

I began knitting a month ago.

I've not made a pompom for about 45 years.

I found the pattern a delight to knit. The only thing that annoyed me a little is the long floats as you near the end of the colourwork, but I became quite slick at crossing the yarns every 4 stitches to anchor the floats.

Ravelry project here.

Finished handspun Hafgufa mitts

Mostly photos this time. This project started as some alpaca fleece that I've had for some time; some really beautiful fleece in an inky black, and some equally beautiful locks in a creamy white. I carded batts from both and also mixed the two for a third colour, mid-grey.

It spun nicely, I went for a 3-ply but it was still pretty thin. That was almost perfect. I used 2mm needles but still had to adjust the pattern by a few stitches to get the right size.

Makers' Month, The Forum, Norwich, 9 to 24 Feb 2019

The Makers' Month at The Forum, Norwich, is now a well-established event which gives makers the chance to exhibit their work and demonstrate their skills, and gives people the opportunity to try a variety of crafts. There are different activities each day, here is a programme.

Seen here are members of the five Norfolk guilds of Spinners Weavers and Dyers.
The star of the show this year is a knit/crochet diorama featuring Yarmouth's Golden Mile, set in the '70s. There are so many memories here, from the Joyland snails to the acts on Wellington and Britannia piers. It was made by Margaret Seaman and friends. She has made it to raise money for a palliative care charity. There is a wonderful video report here on the ITV news site.

Many other works are on show, including the Norwich Castle Tapestry Project, which aims to create the story of East Anglian rebellions in the style of the Bayeux tapestry.
 This was the first time that I'd seen tablet weaving in real life, I found it fascinating and was pleased to be allowed to have a go. This is something I'd love to do at home. Part of the appeal is that the tools are very simple and can be home-made.

Spinning alpaca fleece

I've been spinning like a demon this week, partly to use some alpaca that has been in the stash for such a long time that it's a miracle that it hasn't become home to something nasty. And partly so that I can have a knitting project started in time for a trip.

   For speed I decided to run it all through the drum carder and either make that into punis or put handfuls over my finger and spin from the fold.
Neither of those methods worked out. The best way seemed to be tearing off strips, pre-drafting a little and then just spinning from the end of the strip. This made a very smooth and close-packed yarn (as worsted as it was going to be from carded fibre). As you can see it spun very fine, and I needed to 3-ply to get a yarn with any thickness.
 I have three colours. The black is the best, very soft and very black. Not dark chocolate but inky black. The white is also fine and soft but after washing, not quite white, I've got to accept that it's more of a creamy or off-white. The grey is a blend of black and white. It was made from a bag of fleece that was terribly short, almost all of it was like second-cut. I doubted that it would be possible to card and spin, but with equal parts  of a better white fleece, it did card and spin very well and has produced a nice yarn, although more prickly than the other two colours.

That's about 500g altogether, of something between fingering and sport, I guess.  Ready for knitting!