Spin spin spin

My first handspun , all plied and set: 100% Merino 21micron, thick and thin, dyed a spotchy red, 76.5 metres from 100grams (dismal spinning effort). But my first all the same .. :)

And this is what that Terracotta dyed fibre is spinning up like:

It's interesting - I dont like multicoloured items at all.

I've always hated the variegated yarns that i've seen - i mean, they're pretty, but what are you going to make from them besides socks? So I've found it particularly interesting that I've enjoyed spinning multicoloured fibres. Will I ever knit anything out of them? Probably not, but I do enjoy the randomness of the colours that come up, and the way the singles work up. And after all, isn't this what venturing into a new hobby is about ? Getting out of your comfort zone, exploring new things, and doing something you've never done before! I think so.

FO: Phildar sweet tie up sweater

Yay! Another FO post :) They make me feel so satisfied knowing I've finished something!

The knitting on this one has actually been finished for awhile, but I just couldn't be bothered sewing it all up, and actually doing the finishing because I stuffed it up twice already.

Pattern: Tie up pullover short sleeve sweater, from Phildar Tendances 456. Pattern number 456-T6-225 (Ravel it!)

Yarn : Bendigo Alpaca 8 ply, in Grey. I used approximately 1 and 3/4 of a second ball. I had heard great things about the alpaca and thought i'd give it a go seeing as though I needed something drapey in substitute of the cotton the pattern originally called for.

So what are my thoughts on the yarn? Well, I do love the heathered look of the grey colour. It helped me disguise a few mistakes I made during finishing, and gave the sweater a little bit of a textured look.

The yarn itself shed a whole heap during knitting, and I often made the mistake of unknowingly heading to the shops with a black sweater covered in alpaca hair only to realise at the counter. The yarn is also a little scratchy , possibly because the guard hairs haven't been removed. I'll definitely have to wear a little singlet underneath this one if I want to wear it!

Needles: 4.5mm UK

Comments and modifications:

Unlike other phildar patterns ive used in the past, this one is very straight forward and easily understood. No "huh" moments or frustrating frogging to be had with this one.

The construction of the sweater is interesting, but I can't help but think it was way too much finishing for something that could have easily been avoided.

For one thing, you knit the main part of the sweater. Then you knit a separate band for the bottom and attach it on for a finished hem. One can't help but wonder if you couldn't have just done the folded hem in one continuous knit pattern instead of doing it separately.

Secondly, the neck bad / neck tie. You knit these separately too - you knit two separate sections of long strips, and then you sew the two together, and then you sew it onto the body of the sweater. I did this originally, and ended up with an ugly result. I then thought it would be easier to cast on, pickup stitches, and continue knitting . Much easier, and much neater, but in my case, I ended up knitting too short a strip. By then, i was too lazy to fix it. So short little bow it is for now .

I do like the key hole, button up, puffed sleeves but my "key hole" is too big . I would make it smaller if I were to knit this again.

So whines and whinges aside, this really is a very easy knit. Straight forward reverse stockinette all the way, and easy to follow instruction. Just be prepared to do some extra legwork at the end of it ;)

Handdyed fibre

This dyeing gig is strangely addictive.
I could spend a day just dyeing and fluffing around in the kitchen making a mess.. washing.. drying.. and then fluffing them out into soft little roving braids. I don't have to make anything out of them, i just enjoy playing with the colours!

This is what I did yesterday :

Both are 100% pure merino, 21 micron.

The first one is what I call "Terracotta" because it looks like the wall of my house. 95 grams.

The second is simply called Blues and Mauves , because i'm not very creative, and because it's obvious what they are ;)

Sneak peaks

(Not going to type up a long post because my internet connection keeps dropping in and out for some reason)...

I've finally managed to have my first proper play with my new spinning wheel. I spun up a bobbin worth of pure merino and it's currently outside setting its twist. In the meantime, I decided to spin up my horridly (muted) hot pink hand dyed roving and from this..

I got this...

And on the knitting front... I've finished both sleeves of Thao's Central Park Hoodie and am now starting on the back piece. (Promise I'll finish before winter is over Thao! hehe).

A wee bit of dyeing

The other day, i looked at the 1kg of white merino sitting patiently and eagerly waiting to be spun up and thought to myself "gee thats a bit dull, reminds me of an uncoated krispy kreme - full of promise but not quite as yummy". So i did a little bit of research on dyeing, and decided to try my hand at kettle dyeing with food colouring (spotted at the local woollies for a measly 80c a bottle - cheap stuff up if it need be!).

So i started by mixing 2/3 cup of water with half a cap of Rose Pink and poured it into the vinegar infused simmering hot water..

The 100gm of fine merino fibre and surrounding water turned a reddish pink, and slowly turned clear. I then added in 1/3 cup of water mixed with 1/2 cap of red to try and give the pink a bit of "depth" . (teehee, loving that word).
Once done, I then gently lifted it out of its pot and drained it in a colander. Then i rinsed it with wool wash.

And then i put it out to dry. It's not as red as I hoped it was. Actually its a bit too hot pink for my liking. But 100gm might just do me for a pair of mittens or a beanie so it wasn't too much lost.

Lessons learnt?
  • learn more about colour theory next time
  • add less water so the colour is more saturated
  • investigate acid dyes

On knitting and therapy

Ive always thought knitting was therapeutic, not quite cathartic, but definitely calming during a storm.
The other day, i found out that the site I work at is being shut down due to the low nickel price. A job i utterly loved, with people I adored, and with so much promise - all to be gone in 4 weeks time (we are on demobilisation mode at the moment).

When i found out, I was on my R&R week. I got told via phone, and at the time, didnt get much info as everyone else was in the "what now?" boat. So, i had one and a half days of anxious waiting. Waiting to see if I'd have to uproot my life and go, waiting to see if i was being made redundant, or waiting on news that i might be able to transfer to another division.

Throughout this waiting, I fidgeted. I tried to spin. I tried to read. I tried to sleep. All to no avail. The only saving grace I had during that wait period was to knit while watching Heroes Season 3. Something about vegging out in front of the tv, plugging away row by row was therapeutic . And it got me through to the afternoon..

And then i got a call from my superintendent and HR one after another. It appears they want me to return to my previous position at head office (the one i came from before i was "loaned" out to site and decided i loved it too much on site to be back in corporate), and in so doing, would have to uproot my life as i knew it. But that's okay, it appears ( i say appears because it still has to be approved by CEO - and nothing has been confirmed 100% yet) that I still have a job (and a good one at that!), so i am grateful .

Damn those greedy corporate banks for sucking us into this global financial crisis! I didnt think it would hit me, but I've felt a bit of it so far, and i hate it..
PS. I'm knitting Central Park Hoodie, in Berocco Peruvian for my pal Thao .

Fluff here there and everywhere

Much to the dismay of my other half, I have transformed the living room into a mini craft room of sorts.There are balls of wool everywhere (Ps. i found it cute that Webs sent their yarn to me in a Jamaican Coffee carton), yarn cakes to be wound, spinning wheel and spindles here and there and kgs of fibre waiting to be weighed.

You may recall that I had previous plans to turn one of our two spare rooms into my craft room. Well, those plans have been put on hold for at least the forseeable future. Looks like im uprooting from this life, and returning to a former one. More on that next time...

FO: Millefiori Cardigan

I feel like all i've been interested in lately in spinning... well, partially true, but I have also done some knitting.

Pattern: Millefiori Cardigan, in Interweave Knits Spring 2009

Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton 8ply, in colour Damask Rose. I actually don't like this colour very much at all (isnt that a typical complain I have??), but I have quite a bit of cotton in my stash and need to use it up for fear of moths eating at them. Anyhoos, as always, the cotton is very drapey, easy to use and not splitty at all.

Needles: 4.5mm UK for main and 4.00mm for ribbing. I knit a little tighter than most, so often have to go up a size or two.

Comments and mods?
Overall, an easy knit but ONLY after you figure out the clam shell pattern. I , like a lot of others, struggled with the clam shell in my first attempt but after my first pattern repeat , i "got" it so ended up frogging it and redoing it properly . If you're a tight knitter, the clamshell can get a little difficult given the large number of stitches you are putting on the one stitch, but there's not that much clamshell in the pattern so once you pass that bit, it's smooth sailing from there!

I also ended up doing a broken rib instead of a twisted rib through no intention of my own. I misread the instructions and after one inch of broken rib, decided I was too lazy to frog it. So i continued with it the whole way through.

Personally, I like twisted rib as I think it looks more polished. But oh well - its not something i'm going to lose sleep over. hehe.

In terms of sizing, I knitted the smallest one for a 32" bust. It's a wee little bit loose (positive ease of about 0.5" or 1") but that's okay. If you want a smaller fit, you might want to knit one size smaller.

It feels like ages since i did an FO .. so im pleased i've got an FO post for ya! hehe. One down, two to go.

New toy

Guess what arrived at lunch time today?
All flat packed from New Zealand...

3 Bobbins coming from the box...

All the bits and pieces... putting together the Pioneer Wheel

.. Outside with its coat of wax (the wax smelled of lemon meringue. I wanted to eat it)

... Playtime soon .. !


On my recent trip to Perth for work purposes, I was able to pop into BilbyYarns, a little store in Myaree and have a wonderfully long chat to the proprietor, June Lynn. From my understanding, Bilby Yarns is the storefront for the Melanian Sheep Society, and all the fleece, fibres and yarns in there are locally produced and made. June was a delight, extremely helpful and obliging in my millions of questions about spinning, roving, fleece, everything - something that all LYS should have ;)

The main purpose for me popping into Bilby Yarns was to talk / research / buy a spinning wheel. Bilby Yarns stocks Ashford spinning wheels and associated accessories, and also has on consignment, several second hand wheels. At the time I was there, there was a Dutch Flax (i think?) and a locally WA handmade wheel. June let me treadle on these (as well as the Ashford Joy and Ashford Kiwi) while I got the feel for it.

In the end, I didnt buy a wheel. The kiwi was fairly limited in what it could do for me, and the Joy, while portable and therefore fantastic for my lifestyle (perth to kalgoorlie to leinster and anywhere in between), was also very limited in what it could do. I have however, ordered a new Majacraft Pioneer wheel, which I'm hoping to get today or tomorrow via the courier.

I did however come out with an Ashford spindle, some roving / tops (i dont know the difference yet) and a brand new wool winder. My last wool winder was not aligning properly so i figured it was time for a new one.

Taking it home, my first day of spindling was disastrous. I had high hopes of being a natural spinner (teehee) but alas, all i could produce was horribly overspun, undrafted, yarn barf. The next day however , something clicked and the drafting seemed effortless, and the results much better. Still overspun, and a long way to go but i'm rather pleased with my first efforts !