Monday, February 28, 2011

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby, Right Round!

As you might imagine, I was excited to collect my spinning wheel on Sunday. We met the seller at the Hartshead Moor services on the M62 – about an hour from my house.
After we dropped off another wheel for another knitter, we headed directly home so that I could get set up and spinning!
New (to me) Wheel!
Ashford Traveller, rather nice!

After a short while, I was merrily spinning!

New (to me) Wheel!
I must sit up straight - that explains why my back aches
Despite creating some waste from my practice…

A bit of a mess...
I managed to create 80g of this chunky-ish yarn-like stuff.

finished "yarn"
looking back, it’s not that much worse than my first spindle spun yarn, so I have hope!

My First Handspun
My first spindle spun yarn, also very thick and thin, and a lot less of it! (about 15g)
I’ve started on some yellow fluff now; I had a total of five plain coloured Corriedale tops to begin on. I’m thinking about spinning a bobbin each of the yellow and green and then plying them together.

I’m enjoying my wheel, and I’m looking forward to the experimentation that I plan to do. However, since I spun about 100g of fibre in about 3 hours (I don’t know if that’s fast or not, but I’m not worried about that) then I reckon I might need to buy more fibre!
Ok, maybe I’ll use what I have first.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Things I did last night

  1. Eat - done! We had a lovely spaghetti bolognaise, and I also made a garlic-mussel-pasta for lunch today.
  2. Build Shelf - done! Though I had to enlist my fiancé’s help – it was a 2 person job.
  3. Make Invitations – done! Though FH made most of them, I just helped with the last bit of sticking.
  4. Clean up – done! Well, mostly.
  5. Reorganise craft items – done! I now know where everything is, and what’s what. My yarn stash is nicely organised into my three-drawer chest, my fabric is in boxes under the desk, my spinning stuff is now available including a nice tidy box downstairs, and the books are shelved!

So, I thought that as part of this process it might be fun to flash my stash! I’ve put the partial balls and items to be frogged in a separate location, they will return to the stash when they have been dealt with. What you see here is everything else. The far left is laceweight, then sock / 4ply, then DK, then Aran, then a bit of chunky on the far right.

My Stash in all its glory!

I think it’s a good idea to get all the stash out every once in a while. It has several benefits. One of them is that you can check for nasties – things that you wouldn’t want to find lurking in your yarn, but that would like to be lurking in your yarn given the chance. You can see that all the yarn shown here is in plastic freezer bags. I know these aren’t 100% moth proof (or airtight) but they do make it hard for moth larvae migration, reducing the chances of losing everything.

Another good reason for getting out the stash like this is to prevent you from forgetting what you have! I have quite a lot of yarn (though by some comparisons it’s a small stash!) and I have been known to buy yarn for a project which I already had yarn for, or not to buy bargain yarn because I thought I already had some yarn of that sort. Always check!

I’ve put the chunky and aran/worsted yarn in the bottom of the chest, the DK and Lace in the middle drawer, and the sock/4ply has a drawer all to itself.

I’m pretty pleased with the new shelf too. As predicted it is a different colour, and it’s also a different size! However, the new boxes fit on the shelves, and I’ve been able to fit all my craft books, all the DIY books and all the fitness books onto the shelves, as well as a whole bunch of now-tidy craft stuff!

Stash Tidy
Nice and Tidy





Thursday, February 24, 2011

Things I intend to do tonight

Isn’t it always handy to have a checklist? And I do like lists…
  1. Eat
  2. Build Shelf
  3. Make Invitations
  4. Clean up
  5. Reorganise craft items

I actually started with an 18 item list, but I realised that wasn’t very interesting, so I’ve kept that separate and I’ll use that for myself!

I’ve bought a new shelf for the craft room. It’s the same as the shelf I already own (and although I bought the same colour, I bet it isn’t) which I use to store my craft books and some crafty items like cardstock. It’s been a very useful shelf, and surprisingly sturdy for a cheap shelf.

This desire to tidy up is in part driven by the prospect of the spinning wheel. While the wheel itself will probably be downstairs (certainly while I’m using it) I can’t take over the whole house with the fluff that goes with it! (Well…)

I’m hopeful that the lovely fibre I bought earlier in the week will have arrived at my house today. I’m torn between the desire to practice spinning and not “waste” nice fibre and the desire to produce something I could use to make something. In any case, the fibre needs a home while I’m spinning the other fibre (or knitting, crocheting, dying, sewing…)

Also, I want to find the books on spinning that I have already bought, so that I can be prepared when I settle in with the wheel at home.

I might take the opportunity to flash my stash, and my craft room – though I suspect that the camera might be flat!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I have agreed to buy a spinning wheel.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning?

Back in December I was able to visit the Cottenham Spinners to talk to some of the folks there about their wheels. I got some nice advice and even got to have a go on a couple of wheels.
Of all the wheels that I tried in my price range my hands-down favourite was an Ashford Traveller, preferably double treadle.

Since then I have been occasionally looking on ebay, but since we’re getting married in April I was not planning on buying a wheel prior to that. In fact, the plan was for me to save up and buy one at Woolfest when we go.

On Monday we were talking about wheels and such, and the girls at knitting reminded me to check the UK Spinners forum occasionally. So, on Tuesday I thought I’d have a quick look, not expecting to find anything – my ebay searches over the past months have got me nowhere.

Lo, there was an Ashford Traveller on the list.

I thought to myself, it’s probably sold. Still, I talked to my fiancé about it, in case it was still available. He told me to go for it, and I needed no more encouragement!

Well, the wheel was still available, and on Sunday it will be mine.

In the meantime I haven’t been able to resist ordering some lovely fluffy fibre to spin on it when it comes! I’ve not ordered a lot though, and I’ve kept to the stuff which is more suitable for beginners. I do have quite a stash of fibre already, ranging from single colour Corriedale to handpainted bamboo-merino and BFL, and everything in between. I even have some of my own hand-dyed alpaca roving to have a go with. (It is only 50g though, I’m not sure what I’ll be able to make out of that, even spun really fine!)

I’m currently planning to sort out my craft room. I know, I only moved in September, how bad can it be, right?
It’s been a bit of a dumping ground, there is an air bed in there and some other crud. The place is awash with card-making supplies from making all of the invitations (and I still have a couple more to make) and I don’t really have enough places to put my card making things now. There’s a big bag of yarn (I was looking for all my pink yarn, turns out there’s a lot of it!) and several boxes and bags of yarn, fibre and stuff that need to be properly sorted out.

Basically, the things I should have done when we moved in? Doing them now.

I reckon I should be able to sort it in one evening. This evening we’re going to look at some frames (wedding related) and I’ll probably try to convince the fiancé that some more storage for stuff would be useful. I could really use another bookshelf actually, maybe I should be on the look out for that. If Ikea wasn’t such a time-suck I’d consider going there after I collect my wheel, but I really want to start using it (Sunday afternoon is already planned for spinning) so it might have to be an Argos special!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lacking in Inspiration for a title

Well, I’m continuing to be rather busy!

I’ve been for my first dress fitting. There is a photo but I’m afraid that’s secret for now. The dress is amazing, I really do like it, and it feels very me. It’s not a fussy design, nor is it bling or lacy, it is beautiful material put together carefully with a funky twist.

I’m having a reasonable amount of success with losing weight too – not losing masses but then I don’t want to end up looking emaciated! (I know, I’m a way from that!)

And knitting; I’m still knitting the Après Surf hoodie. It’s going pretty well, I have to wind a new skein into a ball soon, and I’ll soon be in a position to start the bust increases. I had a bit of a ‘mare with the lace to begin with and I had to frog back to the stocking stitch section, but it’s going more smoothly now – I’ve used some waste yarn as stitch markers and marked every repeat.

I’m picking a crochet pattern for on the plane!
Why crochet?
Of course, knitting on an aeroplane is still forbidden. I believe that the UK has a blanket ban on knitting needles to make it easier for the security staff. After all, most non-knitters don’t realise that there are so many different types of knitting needle, in so many different thicknesses, lengths and straight/double pointed/circular. I agree that a 12 inch long metal 4.5mm (UK no 7) needle could “have someone’s eye out” or worse, that a strong 24 inch circular could be used as a garrotte or that 2.5mm wooden dpns could, er, give you a nasty splinter?
Anyway, crochet hooks are allowed (as long as they are not too big, and not made of metal), so I’ve decided that I’m going to crochet a shawl on the plane. The shawl I’ve currently got at the top of my list is called “Elise Shawl” by Evan Plevinski. It seems to be a shell-pattern type shawl, so I’m hopeful I’ll be adequate enough to make it. I will have to hunt down some non-metal hooks though. I have a full set, but they’re all nice shiny metal. I do have some others in wood and plastic, so I should be fine.
Why a shawl?
The benefit of this particular shawl is that it requires 400yds of 4ply / sock yarn. I have several[1] skeins of sock yarn available for the purpose. This means that one 100g ball of yarn should be enough to keep me entertained on the plane(s) for a good long time. And at the airport(s) too.

I will also be taking some knitting with me, more for the Maldives than for Sri Lanka. I’m hopeful that I’ll be busy enough in Sri Lanka with the touring and such! But it will be nice to have a sock available for those quiet moments. Just a plain vanilla sock. In fact, I’m going to take a leaf out of the Yarn Harlot’s book blog, and knit them as tubes with afterthought heels! In case I’m knitting while doing something interestingish.

[1] Ok, I admit it, I have more than several. I actually have several skeins of sock yarn with enough yardage and in suitable colours!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


I might not be blogging much but that's because I'm so busy!

Things I've been doing recently include:

  • Makeup test runs for the wedding. I try to do one of these each weekend with a different combination of foundation, highlighter, mascara etc. So far it looks like my new Rimmel foundation is winning - no flakes, no grease and lasted well the day I wore it. Anyway, I've been taking photos of each trial so that I can compare, contrast and hopefully recreate the best bits.
  • Ordering more shoes! haha. Nice flat flip-flops for late in the evening when my feet hurt. I'd like to say that my wedding shoes are so comfortable that I will not need to change, but there are only so many hours that you can wear 5 inch heels, and I suspect that 10 hours might be pushing it! My flip flops are also turquoise so that's great - and what an excuse for another funky pair of shoes!
  • Invitations for both the main event and the evening. I've made my own. I love them. They reflect us and the venue really well.
  • Dieting! Check out my progress on my diet blog here.
  • Knitting (but not a lot)
I've started knitting the Apres Surf Hoodie that I've been meaning to knit for a very long time. I hope that I can have it done by the time we go on honeymoon. It will be nice and light for chilly evenings (or being up mountains!). If I don't manage it then I'll have other sweaters I can take, and I'll take some shawls with me too because they're so versatile. That will include my wedding shawl, which is more of a shawlette, but will be lovely!

But back to the Apres Surf Hoodie.
I had knitted almost a full repeat of the lace pattern, but it all went horribly wrong. I don't know what exactly I did, but there was a mess that I couldn't fix. I did try, but to no avail. So, I've frogged back to the top of the stocking stitch section (only about 8 rows) where I intend to insert a lifeline, use lots of markers, and maybe take some post-its home for the chart. (I wish I knew where my magnetic chart holder went! I last used it on a shawl...)

Recently I did complete a lovely chunky shrug...

Ribbon Shrug by Louisa Harding knitted in Rowan RYC Cashsoft Chunky

Pattern: Ribbon by Louisa Harding

Yarn: Rowan RYC Cashsoft Chunky 8.5 balls of "Merlot"
Needles: 6mm and 6.5mm straights
Modifications: the 6.5mm straights should have been 7mm but I didn't have any, otherwise none.
Verdict: The pattern is great, easy enough to knit the lace and cables but not dull. If I were to make it again I would probably knit longer sleeves, or perhaps the short sleeve version. I fancy trying it in a lighter weight yarn too. I'd also recommend using circulars rather than straights, too many stitches on one needle!