Breed Experiments – Finnish

January 21st, 2019

The next order of fibre arrived from The Shepherd’s Hut last week and the first one I grabbed was this beautiful Finnish in “Butterfly Wings” :o)

This was really easy to spin and just drafted really consistently.  Once I noticed how nicely it was spinning I actually took a little more time over it to make sure I was being as consistent as possible :o)

The final yarn has lovely colour separation and impressive consistency for me :o)  I really enjoyed this spin!

Making rolags was a much more pleasant experience with this after that naughty Charollais!  I managed to spread the colours out pretty well and made my usual 8 rolags :o)

Unfortunately I forgot to weigh them before spinning and ended up with quite a bit more on one bobbin than the other.  Thank goodness for Andean Plying so I could get all the way to the end even if it did mess up the colours a bit.

The colours aren’t quite as well separated with this one, and the consistency isn’t as good either – but I think that’s more down to me needing more practise with long draw than with the fibre! :o)

This one suffered from blue leakage again :o(  I had very blue hands from the spinning and the sink confirmed it.  Thankfully only 3 washes required this time to get it running clear enough at least! ;o)

Breed Experiments – Charollais

January 17th, 2019

The last of my first set of fibres from The Shepherd’s Hut is this Charollais

The individual fibres have an interesting crimp to them which makes it feel really sproingy and stretchy!

This weird stretchiness actually made it rather challenging to spin for me.  The fibres just wanted to stretch rather than draft out neatly.  Plus the ply back tests all looked kinda weird whilst I was spinning the singles.  Thankfully it actually plied up nicely despite the oddity :o)  It only just all fit on my bobbin which was a surprise!  I didn’t actually weigh this yet so maybe I have more than 50g?  Or maybe all that bounce has made fatter yarn?


The second half I put on the blending board, and then regretted it somewhat.  These fibres did not want to come off the blending board easily!  Nor was there much variation in colour to spread out on the board.

I ended up with 4 rather fat, dense rolags rather than my usual 8.  At least I did manage to get it off in the end ;o)

I opted for a long draw again which was slightly easier than my short backward draw for the first half, although quite uneven in places.

Another very full bobbin after plying – this fibre is definitely a weird one!  I’m not sure it will be usable in the final project as it is quite a bit thicker than the others at present.  I’ll have to see how it feels once washed :o)

Breed Experiments – Corriedale

January 16th, 2019

The third braid from The Shepherd’s Hut is this lovely Corriedale in ‘Purple Gem’

These fibres have a slight crimp to them and it was incredibly easy to spin!  I felt like I was spinning at super speed as it was drafting really consistently so I very rarely had to slow down or stop to fix a thick or thin section.  Lovely! :o)


On to the blending board with the second half and I used a similar method to last time, with all the deep purple on the left and lighter purple to the right.

There wasn’t quite so much colour differentiation here, but the rolags do clearly have a dark end and light end :o)

I used my alternating ends of the rolags trick again to make the sections of colour larger to give me more opportunity for them to line up.  I also tried using an actual woolen spin with something resembling a long draw.  It was a little tricky to start with so it’s not exactly a consistent spin in places, but it has certainly made fluffier yarn!

Fluffy yarn! I have yet to decide if this is a good thing or not ;o)  I suspect an actual knitting sample will be required too see if that fluffiness is soft or itchy.  Liking the sections of colour though and this really was fast and easy to spin :o)

Breed Experiments – Shetland/Tussah Silk

January 15th, 2019

Apparently I’ve been spinning a lot! :o)  I’d better catch up on some writing or I’ll end up far behind!  Over the weekend I spun up another 2 braids but I’ll split them across 2 posts for easier referencing later.  The first one was this Shetland and Tussah Silk mix, again from The Shepherd’s Hut.

Here’s a rare photo of me actually doing the spinning as Amy was quite insistent on being a part of the process!  She seems to have decided that a slightly wobbly lap is better than not getting to sit on me :o)

The first half I just gave a little pre-draft and then started spinning.  This was really easy to spin and was making a very consistent thickness, even with Amy in the way!  The silk has a beautiful sheen to it and makes the fibre feel soft.  I split the half down the middle and spun both from the same end and you can see there are spot where the colours lined up – particularly that pink stripe in the middle :o)

For the second half I grabbed my blending board again :o)  I know I can get about 25g on my board comfortably so far, so I again split the fibre in half lengthways to make sure all the rolags had a similar colour mix.  I just added the fibre straight from the long length onto the board, putting the blue patches at the bottom, the bright pink ones at the top, and purples in the middle.

The resulting rolags have clear colour separation in them and somehow look nothing like the braid I started with!  I love how shiny these look thanks to the silk :o)

To get larger sections of the colours I opted to spin the rolags in alternating directions.  The first from blue to pink, the second from pink to blue, and so on.  This has given more clearly defined sections of colour in the final yarn.  Although at the same time, by blending them, the colours are more muted – the bright pink has been calmed down a little.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not ;o)  It was a little harder to spin from the rolags, but that might be because I’m not as used to them yet.  I was pre-drafting the rolags through habit, and tried spinning straight from them for the second half which was actually easier.

Here are both skeins before washing to show the difference in colours.

I had a little problem washing them with some dye leakage.  I had a very blue sink!  After 9 washes I think they’re okay now :o)

Breed Experiments – BFL/Nylon

January 11th, 2019

I decided it was time to try something other than Merino and thanks to The Shepherd Hut having a January sale I purchased a variety of fibre all in purples :o)

My plan is to try each braid at least two ways and then make a crazy cardigan out of the whole lot when I’m done :)

First up I decided to go for the BFL with trilobal nylon in “Minty Purple”. The nylon adds a lot of sparkle to the fibre which has quite a lot of lustre itself.

I started by splitting the braid in half and the first half I just spun straight from the combed top. Predrafting and then spinning, a simple 2 ply.

The fibre is pretty soft and easy to spin. It didn’t feel too different to the merino I’m used to. The nylon sparkles ended up everywhere! ;o) I suspect I will be finding them for weeks to come :o)

The nylon sticks out quite a lot and I’m concerned it might feel itchy.

I thought spinning from rolags might help trap the nylon inside better so I had fun with my new blending board splitting up the colours to make these:

I find spinning from rolags a little more challenging to keep even and there are a few bumps here and there. It did seem to trap the nylon better though!

It’s really hard to capture the colours well in the dismal lighting conditions at present!  I think the photos on the bobbins are probably the closest to reality.

They’re now both soaking and I’ll need to compare them properly once they’re dried :o)

Sky Gloves

December 19th, 2018

When Angela gave me my spinning wheel she also gave me some fibre to use including this lovely braid from Yummy Yarns for after I’d had some practise ;o)

It’s a beautiful soft mix of merino and tencel which has been hand painted. So pretty!

I laid it out to find the colour repeats and then split the braid into 4 matching pieces. I figured if I spun each of the 4 and plied pairs together I could probably get the colours to all line up :o)

2 pieces all pre-drafted and ready to spin :o) My hands never move as fast as my feet once I’m in front of the wheel and I find a thorough pre-draft really helps me make consistent yarn :o)  I dealt with both pieces I intended to ply together at the same time to try and ensure a similar thickness after drafting.

This is certainly my finest spinning to date and I really love the shimmer from the tencel :o)  It was absolutely beautiful to spin :o)

Plied together you can see the colour repeats aren’t quite lining up, but it’s pretty close ;o)

All finished! :o)  Washed, snapped and ready to knit with :o)

It seems I forgot to actually take any measurements of this yarn… so I can’t tell you how many yards I made, but I can tell you that it’s my first DK weight yarn! Woo! :o)

Shortly after finishing my spinning, Nikki complained about cold hands and liked the colours so I made her a pair of gloves :o)  The colour sections are more subtle now it’s spun and knit than it appeared in the braid, but they’re definitely there :o)  These only used about half of the yarn so I might have to make another pair with the rest :o)

Local Yarn Shops

November 8th, 2018

I make it my mission when we go away on holiday to find the little local yarn shops selling locally hand dyed yarn, and now floof too!  I’m just back from a trip to Florida and Vegas where I managed to visit 5 lovely little shops :o)

The first, A Bit O’ Yarn in Englewood didn’t seem to have any hand dyed yarn but did have a sale table ;o) I bought some lovely purple rafia to crochet a new hat and Chris chose some pink yarn for more socks :o)

Next up was Needlefish Yarns in Venice where I found some beautiful yarn hand dyed by Emma’s Yarn in this amazing Mexican Wedding Dress colourway. The shop was full of beautiful yarn, but a lot came from Ireland which seemed a bit crazy to buy in Florida! The lady in the shop even wound the yarn into a ball for me so I could get started on my next pair of socks whilst on holiday :o)

The final stop in Florida was to A Good Yarn in Sarasota. They were in the process of moving to new premises but still had some floof on display (and a lot of amazing yarn I somehow resisted!) I bought some lovely merino, bamboo, silk mix which was their fiber for Spinzilla :o) It’s beautiful :o)

Chris chose some bright neon fiber for me to play with and I also picked up a couple of replacement pin loom weaving needles as I’ve been having such a hard time finding them in the UK :o)

Once we were in Vegas I already knew of one yarn shop as I’ve been there before! Sin City Knit Shop has a good selection of local hand dyed yarn and I’d seen online that they had a new colourway for the local ice hockey team. Not that I know anything about ice hockey, but I wanted some anyway! ;o)

They’d actually sold out, but the owner asked her locals who were sitting knitting if anyone had an unused skein and happily sold me the yarn already wound into balls ;o) Chris chose some yarn and a pattern for a new hat too :o)

Oh, and they had a “trunk show” – a new to me phrase I had thankfully researched before being led into the back room ;o) Greenwood Fiberworks from Utah had sent a selection of beautiful yarn and fibre and I couldn’t resist this amazing rainbow braid with added sparkles :o)

The last stop was a new place in Vegas which had somehow never shown up in previous hunts despite having existed for years. Golden Needle Arts looks like a cross stitch kind of place mostly, but actually contains supplies for all kinds of crafts. I picked up some lovey purple malabrigo fibre and got to stroke a lot of kitties too :o)

Rainbow Mitts

October 19th, 2018

I ordered these beautiful rainbow rolags from Barn2Yarn which were quickly dubbed “rainbow snails” by my husband :o)  There were 11 in total, not just 4!

I like to pre-draft quite enthusiastically before I spin. This means my hands don’t have to do so much whilst I’m treadling and helps me achieve more consistent results :o)

It was really enjoyable watching the bobbin fill up with each rainbow :o) There were 11 snails in total so I put 6 on one bobbin and 5 on the other. It soon became apparent that there was more yellow than anything else in these rainbows and that getting the colours to line up wasn’t going to work!

Plying proved my suspicion and there is yellow throughout most of the yarn. I managed a fairly consistent Aran weight turning 97g into 140m.

I decided a pair of fingerless gloves would use up the yarn nicely and chose a fairly simple pattern so as not to detract from the yarn. The Eureka Valley Mitts seemed to fit the bill :o)

The pattern worked up quickly and it was lovely to see the rainbow stripes appearing as I knitted :o)

The finished gloves are super warm and snuggly :o) A little longer than I really needed, but I really like the faux cables :o)

I turned the leftover yarn into little squares using my pin loom and I was amazed by how different the yarn looks like this! :o)

Spinning Batts

October 10th, 2018

Patricia from Yummy Yarns kept sharing photos of her beautiful batts and eventually I gave in to temptation and purchased these two bundles of pretty :o)

I also bought some thread as I decided I wanted to try spiral plying to stop their colours becoming too muddled.

Opening out the bats and tearing them into strips to use was really fun. Each section was different and there was a surprising amount of pretty shimmer hiding inside the darker one! :o)

I saw a broomstick lace crochet wrap on the front of a magazine and did something I rarely do – I bought it! It did come with some cute broomstick lace tools which looked useful :o) I figured the lace would help show off the yarn with its big open loops and I slowly started making squares :o)

I was trying not to worry about lumps and bumps. Not really going all out “art yarn”, but embracing the different fibres wanting to do different things. My husband didn’t seem impressed with the inconsistency given I’d been showing off my smooth purple blanket yarn the day before! Spiral plying was really fun and I think the end result looks cool :o)

Spinning without worrying too much about consistency was very freeing, but it was a little challenging at times working from the strange mixture of fibres – some wanted to draft much more easily than others! I really enjoyed seeing each batt turn from a bundle of fibre into yarn and then into squares :o)

I hadn’t left an awful lot of yarn for the border so I joined them by sewing with some of the thread. This reminded me that I hate sewing squares together! Wow it took a long time. Not helped by managing to get 3 squares attached the wrong way and having to redo them! Ugh! But eventually I got them all joined :o)

I had to get the scales out for the border to make sure I didn’t end up with any partial rounds (it’s not easy to undo this yarn). So the border is fewer rows than the pattern, but since I changed the square construction too this is no surprise. I’m not good at following patterns ;o)

The final wrap got a good blocking which really helped even out the squares and open up the border.  I wore it to Yarndale and it received a number of lovely comments :o)

Return to Spinning

October 9th, 2018

It has been years since I last spun any yarn, literally! My Mother actually found my membership card for the New Forest Association of Guilds we joined for Saturday social spinning in 1994!

Bizarrely, I recently found the last yarn I spun over 20 years ago stashed at the back of a draw!

I’m definitely going to have to try washing this and, assuming it doesn’t fall apart, make something with it :o)

Back then I didn’t really knit or crochet or have anything to do with the yarn I created. As fun as it was, the process stopped there.

Recently my parents came to visit and my Mother turned up with her Ashford Traveller wheel for me to try out and see if I still enjoyed spinning. The answer was a resounding yes! :o)

So much so I apparently wanted to start writing a blog again to share my creations :o)

My first yarn was rather lumpy, bumpy and very bulky! But I had just enough to make a little scarf! :o)

From floof to finished item was incredibly satisfying :o) So much so that I quickly ordered more merino tops and began my experimentation blanket. A simple granny stripe blanket I can use all my crazy attempts on, in purple ;o)

My most interesting discovery so far is that when I crocheted I was undoing the ply in my yarns and in fact I need to spin “backwards”. So now I spin my singles anticlockwise and my plying is done clockwise and the newer yarn remains nicely plied as I crochet :o)

The left of the photo shows the new rows where the yarn stays plied whereas on the right you can see that the 2 plies end up just sitting next to one another. Interesting and useful to know! :o)