Sunday, 14 December 2008

Flower Mittens

Flower Mittens, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I've been really busy recently making Christmas presents for my family and friends. It's finally been light enough today (just!) to take some photos. here's a pair of felt mittens for my Grandma. Made from a felted butter coloured angora/merino jumper, I have needlefelted a flower design onto the front. They are gorgeously warm and comfortable- in fact, I want to keep them! The mitten pattern is from Betz White's brilliant book, "Warm Fuzzies". It's such a simple pattern, only three pieces and even with my dodgy sewing machine technique, they've turned out really well.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Snowed under

I'm so busy with school and my Christmas knitting that I haven't rally had a lot to put on the blog lately. More will be forthcoming after Christmas, promise.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to some time off work for a bit of a rest. I put lots of spinning goodies on my Christmas list so hopefully I should have some new toys on the 25th.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Slow Going

Moonspinning Make Up Bag, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Blogging has been rather sparse lately as I really don't have a lot to show you. I'm so completely engrossed in/panicking about my Christmas knitting that I'm not having a lot of time for anything else at the moment. My poor spinning wheel sits neglected in the corner, while I knit like a mad woman every evening. I have however bought a little bit more fibre- this time some interesting hand painted top by Moonspinning, that I bought at I Knit London the other week.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Autumn Bag

Over half term I had an idea for a felt bag that I wanted to make using Spunky Eclectic BFL in "Fall" and some grey and brown Wensleydale. I carded the fibres on my drum carder to mix and prepare them for felting, and then hand felted two A3 sized pieces of fabric with each type of fibre. I'd designed my own pattern and I was really pleased with how well it all fitted together. It's all completely hand stitched, including all of the seams and appliqué. The bag has a felted button closure and a reverse appliqué oak leaf on the front. On the back is a needle felted leaf pocket. The bag is fully lined with the Spunky Eclectic BFL. To finish it off I've put blanket stitch in a co-ordinating orange/pink colour around all of the edges. I'm incredibly pleased with how it turned out, it's just like I saw it in my head.

Hand felted and stitched Autumn Bag

There are more photographs on my Flickr stream.

Coming soon: some more felted projects, this time from felted charity shop jumpers- cashmere and merino/angora!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Estuary English

Spunky Eclectic: Estuary, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

This blog does have a ias towards Spunky Eclectic at the moment- what can I say? The colours are right for the sort of moods I've been in lately. This is my latest Spunky Eclectic fibre. And the best thing? It didn't cost me a penny! I was lucky enough to win a $20 gift voucher to Amy's store in the Ravelry Spindlers group quarterly challenge. Amy was incredibly generous and sent me two braids, which was a lovely surprise. It was really hard to decide what to go for but in the end I chose BFL (my current favourite fibre) in these lovely green and brown shades. With 8oz I have enough for a larger project. I was wondering about making it DK weight and striping it with some Cornish Organic DK I have in my stash to make a vest or cardigan. I bought a really cute sleeveless stranded yoked cardigan in M&S the other day and I'd really like to have a go at making one myself.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


This month's Spunky Eclectic club offering had the uninspiring title "Election". I was expecting something blue and red but should have known better, as Amy is much cmore clever than that! What we have instead, inspired by the "Lame Duck President" idea, is a gorgeous 4oz of the sosftest superwash BFL dyed in male mallard duck colours. It's wonderful! It will make a gorgeous pair of socks at some point in the future. I'm thinking of spinning it fractal style to maximise the barberpoling and mixing of colours. It is incredibly soft though, much more than usual BFL. It has a really silky sheen too. If I didn't know better I would say that it had something like tussah silk in it, it's really that gorgeous.

Coming soon: a felted Autumn bag, more fibre, mobius strips and the Oxford Guild dye a bundle challenge.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Falling for Autumn

Fall, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

When I bought my Cascade spindle from Spunky Eclectic last year I also bought a BFL almost solid sampler, well, just because I liked the colours! However, I wasn't sure how to spin it. I wanted to blend the colours but the thought of doing nearly 200g with handcarders filled me with dread. Fast forward to now and I finally have my longed for drum carder. It was *really* easy to blend the colours into some frankly enormous batts. I split the batts lengthways and spun them longdraw as fast as I could, not worrying about the weight or any lumps or bumps. I was going to ply it but after a couple of minutes of spinning I realised that it would make a really nice singles yarn. So I've ended up with 149g and 457m, which I'm hoping to make into a small felted bag (and there might be enough left for some wristwarmers too).

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Pick up a Piiku

Piiku, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

This is my latest spinning, 391m/189g of 2 ply Piiku Finnish fleece. The colours range from light cream to dark brown, and it's about 10WPI and a 2 ply. I've spun the colours carefully so that I have two matching skeins that fade from dark brown to cream, so that I can make matching socks. This was my first time trying longdraw, and it worked brilliantly. It's so fast! I've tried the technique before but these carded fibres were perfect for it. I spun and plied one of the 100g skeins in just one day.

Monday, 13 October 2008

More new yarn stash...

Eclipse, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

this time some of my handspun! This is the first skein of Eclipse, made from the July Romney fibre from the Spunky Eclectic club. 54g, 139m, 13 WPI. I'd not spun Romney before but I really like its toughness and slight halo. It's navajo plied so that when I knit it into socks it will make stripes. The matching skein will have to wait until my current spinning project is finished- it shouldn't take too long, maybe by the weekend if I'm lucky.

Malabrigo, mmmmm

Malabrigo, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

After deciding that I wasn't going to buy *any* yarn at Ally Pally on Sunday, I caved in surprisingly easily at the Sockopus stall. This gorgeous Malabrigo sock in moody blues and greens just spoke to me- "buy me, but me" it whispered. So I did.

I also bought some spinning fibre- half a Romney fleece, some Finnish breed in natural colours, some Wensleydale, two lots of Natural Dye Studio fibre (one BFL, one UK Merino) and one Pigeonroof Studios BFL.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

What's on the wheel?

Eclipse, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I'm currently spinning the Spunky club July offering, which is "Eclipse". I've decided that I want to make it into socks, so I split the fibre legthwise to spin into singles. I'm now navajo plying, so I should end up with two small matching skeins of stripy yarn eventually. They won't be exact but I think they'll be close enough. I'm going to do a toe up vanilla version, and just knit until I run out of wool. I'm finding the navajo plying quite difficult as the singles are so thin, they sometmes break under the pressure of bringing it through the loop and sorting out tangles. I've been felting the ends back together and then continuing gently until I'm past that spot. It seems to be going well and I'm liking how the plied yarn is looking on the bobbin.

Sunday, 5 October 2008


Ocean, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I found it very hard to decide which of the lovely fibres Chrispindle set me in the swap should be first on the wheel. The merino/silk and alpaca are both lovely, but I decided to start with the "wild'n'wacky" drumcarded batts. The batts included merino, English wool, alpaca, angora, sari silk fibre, bamboo, cotton noil, trilobal nylon, angelina and braid. These were a very quick spin, from fibre to yarn in just a few hours. It took longer to get the beads onto the thread than any other part of the process! I ended up with 165m/73g of thick/thin/textured single plied with silky light blue thread with beads on. The combination of blues with green and purple highlights is really pretty, and the beads really make it sparkle.

I've had a slight setback with some of my Christmas knitting, where I've woefully underestimated the amount of yarn I'm going to need. A drastic rethink is needed there. I'm also having to wait for a pattern to arrive in the post from Canada- I thought I could buy it online to start straight away but no such luck. These delays do mean that I've been able to cast on for a different knitting project instead, which is keeping me busy.

Saturday, 4 October 2008


Peacock, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

This is the first 48g of "Peacock", spindle spun and navajo plied. The singles were spun on a 28g Golding antique rose, and plied on a 36g Cascade Mt St Helens. The resulting yarn is roughly 20WPI, 262m from the 48g. The fibre is 80% merino/20% silk from All Spun Up. I've got over 150g left to spin but I won't need all of that for the project that I've got in mind, probably less that 80g more is needed. The rest I'd like to do on the wheel as a barberpole 2 ply, and maybe make into socks.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

October's here...

and the Christmas knitting and spinning has really started in earnest. There's less than 3 months to go until C day and I really want to get everything finished in time. I'm taking knitting into work as if I can do two rows at lunchtime that should add up. Plus there's also half term in a few weeks, and that should mean a good chunk of knitting and spinning time.

I was really flattered when the lovely Helix asked if she could use one of my photographs of the yarn I spun from her fibre on her blog. She's written a lovely little piece about how much she likes it, which made me blush! You can read the post here.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

From fleece to (small) jumper

Finished Object- Kai, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I finally managed to get some photographs of the handspun jumper before I parcelled it up for its new owner. The yarn is my handspun Manx Loaghtan, spun from a fleece I bought at our guild fleece day. The fleece is this gorgeous mix of browns, and I spun it into a rather heathery looking aran weight. The pattern is "Kai" from Natural Knits for Babies and Mums by Louisa Harding. I made a couple of slight modifications, including a toggle on the neck edge, as I thought the collar might be a little tight (and some babies have *enormous* heads!). I'm so pleased with how this turned out, and I must admit it was rather a wrench to part with it.

I'm currently working on an enormous pair of socks for someone (not saying who!) but they're taking rather a while. I've got past the tricky bit though so it should (fingers crossed) be plain sailing down the leg now. Of course, I have to do the same thing again with the second one! The secret spinning is also going well, and I'm currently navajo plying the first 50g or so. I'm considering starting to knit the project with this before I've finished spinning the second 50g. I know it's going to take *ages* to knit so I suppose the earlier I start it the more chance I have of finishing it on time! It has a tighter deadline than the socks so time will be of the essence.

Thursday, 25 September 2008


Allotment, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Here's Allotment, 420m and 104g of BFL yumminess. It's much finer than my "normal" spinning, working out at about 15 or 16 WPI. I reckon with the faster whorl on I could go even finer, there's definitely more there. Anyway, I think this springy BFL would be perfect for socks, I'm definitely going to do a quick pair, although I am tempted by a pattern rather than a vanilla pair. I don't want to get like I am with the Copper Oxide socks though, which are languishing as they're so difficult to knit. I really do want something quick and easy with this, but something that will also show off the lovely colours in the yarn.

Monday, 22 September 2008

My Ladybug

I get a lot of questions and PMs on Ravelry about my Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel. I thought I'd put a quick review post together about it to save me having to type the same thing every few days :) I must mention that this is my own personal opinion, your experience may vary, etc etc.

The Ladybug is Schacht's entry level wheel. It shares features with their Matchless wheel, including the flyer assembly and bobbins. It mainly differs in some of the construction (there are elements made of plywood) and the brightly coloured plastic wheel. It feels very solid to spin on and the plastic wheel is well weighted and has good momentum. It certainly doesn't feel cheap, and it looks well made and elegantly designed. I'm no weight lifter but the wheel itself is light enough to pick up with one hand, using one of the three useful carrying handles. I take it to guild meetings and out and about, and as the wheel doesn't fold I strap it into the front seat of the car like a passenger. It gets some strange looks at traffic lights!

I haven't tried the wheel in double drive yet (I had a bit of a brain muddle and cut up the supplied double drive band to use for bobbin leaders! Oops) but the scotch tension is easy to adjust. I've created yarn from heavy aran to light sock weight on it so it's very adaptable. The spinning action is easy to control and I've been able to make some really nice yarn with it (even if I do say so myself). The treadling is easy, and the double treadle heel toe action means that it's simple to start the wheel going in the right direction. The bobbins are really big and the offset hooks mean that you can fill it evenly and easily fit plenty of yarn on. I can spin on the Ladybug for hours without getting tired. The orifice is at a good height and the easy treadling action means that I don't get tired or sore.

I hadn't even spun on a wheel before when I decided to purchase the Ladybug. The quirky looks were a real plus point for me, but I also wanted a well built wheel that would last, and that had plenty of adaptability so that I wouldn't grow out of it. Personally I really think that this wheel fits the bill. It's incredibly easy to use, as proved by the fact that I was making usable yarn on it straight away. It isn't the cheapest wheel available, but the excellent build quality and sound engineering mean that I think it's money well spent. I really do love this wheel, it's brilliant and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Allotment WIP

Spindlefrog Allotment, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Here's how the BFL is progressing. I'm really pleased with it, the colours are just gorgeous! I'm spinning it fractal style, so I split the roving in half longways and spun half, the split it in half again, and again, and again. I've got a little pile of gradually diminishing piles of fibre to work through. This should give me lots of variation in the colours when I ply it back on itself.

I've been having singing lessons for a few months now, and have really been enjoying hearing and feeling how my voice has changed. It's also reignited my interest in classical music, although I wasn't really a fan of opera or other classical choral music before. I've so enjoyed the classical pieces that I've been working on with my singing teacher that I've decided to join a choir. Last week I passed the voice test to join the Oxford Harmonic Society, which is a large choir who meet in north Oxford. My first concert with the choir will be in November, when we are performing Britten's War Requiem. This is a complex and moving piece, and the vocal parts are incredibly difficult, with lots of dischord and key/timing changes. Even though we're only in the first few weeks of rehearsal, I'm already really enjoying making music as part of a group again.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

New Term

It's taking me a little while to get into the swing of things this term- having a new class has been a bigger culture chock than I thought. I have however finished the handspun Kai baby jumper and I'm already about 15% through the first bit of Christmas knitting. There's some birthday spinning going on too ;)

I had a lovely day today at the Oxford guild meeting. In the morning there was a workshop by Sarah Montcrief, who is a knitting designer. She'd designed three different bag patterns for us, and I chose an intarsia design, as I don't normally like that technique, and I thought I'd see if this changed my mind. I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I like what I've done so far, although I am considering felting it and making it into a small purse instead of a bag. In the afternoon we had a lovely time spinning outside. I was working on some Spindlefrog BFL, as well as some All Spun Up merino/silk on the Golding spindle. I'm hoping that the BFL will be fine enough for socks. I'm thinking of just making a vanilla patterned pair, but using handspun.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Busy busy busy

Things have been very busy around here recently, what with the start of a new school year. It's really strange having a new class, I hadn't realised how much I would miss my old class. The new one is lovely though, and I'm looking forward to doing some spinning with them later on in the term as part of our Vikings topic.

I've also been doing some spinning and knitting as well as remembering how to be a teacher. On Sunday I went with the guild to the Wychwood Fair, where we spun and dyed and chatted to the public. There were lots of people very interested in spinning and we nearly ran out of leaflets! Kate used blackberries and bramble from my garden to dye some merino fibre, which I think I might spin up as a barber pole 2 ply. I spun most of the singles for another skein of Manx Loaghtan that day, which I've already started knitting as the sleeves for the baby jumper. I've also been spinning something for one of my swap friends, which I'm hoping she's going to enjoy knitting as much as I enjoyed spinning. It was a new technique for me but it seems to have worked well.

I'm a bit behind in the photography but I'll be aiming to update my Flickr stream this weekend- if it stops raining long enough to get a bit of natural light, that is.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Flame- finished at last!

Flame- the spinning process, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

My mammoth spindle spinning project is finally finished! This mosaic shows the spinning process from new spindle and fibre through singles and plying to completed yarn. I ended up with 160g and 442m, at about 12 or 13 WPI. I couldn't believe the yardage, I was aiming for about 180m but getting over double that is incredible. No wonder it only just fitted onto my plying spindle! I used a lovely butterflygirldesigns 31g/1.1oz jade spindle for the singles, and a 58g/2oz Sublime Spindles bottom whorl for the plying. The fibre is 99% superwash merino/1% angelina, also from butterflygirldesigns.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Nesting Scarf

Nesting, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I've finally taken some decent photos of my scarf, knitted with my own handspun from FeltStudioUK batts and with a pewter button from Purlescence. It's one of the favourite things that I've knit so far with my handspun, I'm so pleased with it.

I'm still waiting for my Flame spindlespun handspun to dry so that I can take some photos of it. With any luck it'll be ready tomorrow.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Bootees for Sophia

Bootees for Sophia, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I made another pair of Saartje's bootees recently, this time as an extra to go with the BSJ for Sophia. Unofrtunately I didn't have enough buttons to match but I did find these small wooden ones which were nice too. Hopefully I made them large enough that they should fit Sophia at about the same time as she grows into the BSJ.

We're back from Cornwall now and we had a wonderful, if slghtly soggy time. I finished plying the singles of my Spindlers quarterly challenge yarn- now to measure it and see if I made enough! I'm also about a third of the way through my Ravelympics Cowl jump event. The Posh Yarn is knitting up beautifully, it's so soft. Other than that, I have also started my next spindle project, which is the All Spun Up spin-a-long fibre. I've decided to use my Golding to get a very fine single and then I'm going to navajo ply it. I've only done a tiny bit so far but I'm pleased with how it's going.

In other spinning news, I've got two swaps coming up that I'm busy preparing for. I've just bought loads of fibre and bits and pieces from etsy for both of my swap partners. I'm really excited about the fibre that I've bought for them to spin with, it's from one of my very favourite vendors. I've also bought some fantastic fibre from another one of my favourite sellers to spin for them. It's really nice to ferret around on the internet and find out what your partner likes, before putting their package together. I've always been really lucky as my swap partners so far have all been lovely and it's been a real pleasure to go shopping for them :)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


Hand felted cat, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I made this little felted cat for my sister. He's hand wet felted merino around a wire and pipe cleaner frame, in orange with brown and rust stripes. His eyes are lovely green buttons and he also has a little felt collar with a yellow button bell. He has his own fish toy too!

I based him on the cat from Sue Pearl's felt animals book. The instructions were really clear and easy to follow. He was great fun to make, although I did wonder at one point if he was ever going to felt- perseverance is obviously the key there.

Monday, 4 August 2008


Flame, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I've finally completed my first full spindle of Flame, which will be entry to the Ravelry Spindlers first quarterly challenge. If I ever get it finished, that is. I reckon I have at least another 3 or 4 spindles worth of fibre left to go. I'm determined to finish this by the end of the month though to get it in by the deadline. I'm really enjoying this new spindle, although I am slightly regretting not deciding to go for a notch. The thread was really starting to slip once the cop got heavy, but luckily the top of the shaft is carved and I can use that to help hold everything in place. With this go I won't try and squeeze quite so much fibre on there!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Through a glass...

Darkly, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

This week I've been spinning this lovely Wensleydale fibre from Adrian at Hello Yarn. The colourway is called "Darkly" and is a mixture of purple, browns, greens and orange. I've spun it quite finely and it's ended up as 201m and 12 WPI from 111g. It's quite dense but it has a nice fuzziness that means it's reasonably soft. I'm hoping that this will be fine enough to use in a pair of mittens, using a pattern also by Adrian called "Fiddlehead Mittens". The mittens have a stranded pattern as well as an inner lining. I'm thinking that this could be good for one of the colours of outer mitten, as it will sort of stripe quite subtly. However, the beginning of the skein is brighter than the end, and I'm a bit concerned that this might make one mitten much brighter than the other. Although I'm not bothered about them being perfect matches, I do want them to look like they belong together. Hmm, I'll have to think about that. I do have some more of Adrian's Wensleydale, this time in a lovely range of blues and greys. This might work better, I think.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Sophia's Baby Surpise Jacket

Sophia's Baby Surpise Jacket, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

It's finished! I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

The Hello Yarn "Darkly" fibre is currently drying after setting the twist, having been spun into about 200m or so of fingering weight (I think) loveliness. I think my next spinning project needs to be the All Spun Up spin-a-long fibre, which is so gorgeous. I think it wants to be a shawl, which is a bit scary as I'm not very good at lace.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Bramble BFL

Bramble BFL, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I had great fun on Saturday learning how to dye with plants from my garden. This BFL was dyed with bramble that we hacked down with our new hedge trimmer. Who knew that gardening could have such a great result?! The greys are really subtle with hints of green and purple in there too.

In BSJ news I have finally finished! I gave the neck a crochet edging which I think finishes it off nicely. The dark wood buttons look great too. Photos will be coming tomorrow when it's light outside.

In the meantime, I've done a massive Flickr update today, so have a look at my stream for more of my natural dyeing photos (on yarn and fibre) as well as the lovely fibre from All Spun Up and Spunky Eclectic that arrived today.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Row 87...

Sophia's BSJ, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

of 115 and running out of yarn! I've just had to order another 50g skein.

Sophia's BSJ, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I'm really pleased with how it's developing though, the colours are so pretty and this is such a fantastic pattern. As I'm going to have more yarn I'm thinking of doing a crochet seam at the shoulders as well as a crochet border too.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

BSJ for Sophia

BSJ for Sophia, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I'm knitting another Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket as a commission from a friend. The yarn is Colinette Cadenza in the glorious colourway Raphael, which makes me think of raspberries and wine. I bought the yarn at Get Knitted with the intention of making another BSJ so I'm really pleased that it's going to be going to a good home. There are 140 rows in a BSJ and I have done 20 so far, so I'm progressing at a decent pace. I shall take it to school with me this week and try and do a couple of rows at breaks and lunchtimes. At some point I shall be sticking my class in front of a DVD (come on, it's the last few days of term!) so I might even get a bit of knitting time in working hours ;)

I took this knitting along to my spinning guild day out yesterday to Warburg nature reserve, where we looked at the different dye plants that were growing there. We had a lovely day out looking at the native plants there and I've made a little list of ones I have in my garden that we're going to dye with. I'm going to be trying bramble and blackthorn at the weekend, on some DK yarn and also on some fibre.

Friday, 18 July 2008


Miela, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

This is 223m/164g of the softest alpaca gorgeousness. I've deliberately slightly underspun it for extra softness, as I didn't want it to end up looking like twine! It's about 11WPI, so DKish weight.

I bought the fibre from Redhill Alpacas, Oxfordshire at our guild fleece day. The label says "rich fawn cria fleece from Miela". Miela must be very cuddly indeed if this fleece is anything to go by! I highly recommend Redhill Alpacas. This fleece wasn't too dusty and there wasn't a lot of VM in there either. It was the most expensive one there (we went by touch rather than looking at the pricetags!) but the others were also very soft, and in a good range of colours too.

Currently on the wheel: manx loaghtan. I gently washed the manx fleece, then dried it in the airing cupboard. I experimented a bit and although it does spin really nicely straight from the fleece, it's a bit quicker and slightly more even if I card it first. I've made a shoebox full of rolags that I'm off to spin now.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Mmm, Alpaca

Mmm, Alpaca, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Here's how I'm getting on with the alpaca fleece I bought at the guild fleece day. It's gorgeously soft. I'm trying to not put too much twist into it, as I don't want it to end up looking and feeling like twine. I reckon I've spun just over 100g or so at the moment. I'm going to just fill this bobbin, then put it into a centre pull ball to ply.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Flowering Weeds

Flowering Weeds, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

This is 91g/185m of merino and mohair loveliness from Spunky Eclectic. This is my first month in Boogie's fibre club and I have to say- it's so worth it :) I love the colours in this- it's not a colourway I would usually pick but I've really enjoyed the hints of yellow and purple amongst the browns. The fibre is gorgeously soft too, the mohair gives it a bit of a halo and it was a delight to spin. Now I need to work out what to make with it! Any ideas?

Friday, 11 July 2008

Tour de Fleece mountain stage

Tour de Fleece week 1, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Here's my spinning from week 1 of the Tour de Fleece, modelled on a mountain stage.

The bottom slopes are two skeins, one of hand dyed merino and one of the merino plied with black welsh mountain. I think that this looks like some of twisty Z bends on the fast descents.

As we climb up the mountain we reach the area of rough scrubland, represented by aran weight icelandic yarn.

The very highest slopes are steepest and slipperiest of all, and are represented here by butterflygirldesigns superwash merino and angelina, spun on a butterflygirldesigns jade spindle. Of course, near the summit finish we have the flamme rouge.

Thursday, 10 July 2008


Caramel, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I bought this icelandic fleece at my local spinning guild fleece day. There was 100g in the bag which had been washed once- after a good wash at the end to remove more of the lanolin I ended up with 74g, which is respectable I think. I literally just chucked it at the wheel, not separating the tog (the outer coat, in this case the long brown fibres) and the thel (the soft and short stapled inner coat). I toyed with leaving it as a single, but I decided a reasonably thick 2 ply would be easier to use as I was worried about the single breaking. There's not a great deal of it so now I'm trying to find a small project for it. I was wondering about a small felted bag or bowl maybe.

I've also been making progress on my Spindlers Quarterly challenge yarn, based around the idea of "Fire". I'm using my new Butterflygirl spindle, which spins really quickly and is very well balanced. I'm also using Butterflygirl fibre too, as I'm spinning some of her lovely blended batts. I'm really pleased with how it's coming on, I was worried that the colours wouldn't work in a thin yarn but it looks great.

In other news I have finally finished all of the reports! And there's only a week and a half to the end of term. I'm really looking forward to a break, but I also know that I'm going to miss my class terribly, so I've got mixed feelings about the end of term.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

TdF Update

Icelandic Ram, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

This is my latest TdF spinning- 100g of honey gold icelandic ram fleece from Fernbourn Fleeces of Orkney. I've just finished plying this and it's currently soaking to set the twist. There's only about 50m or so, and I'm thinking it's about aran weight, if not a little thicker in places. I'm thinking of washing and carding the next lot of this that I spin (I have two more 100g bags, slightly different colours but similar textures), just to see how differently it turns out. But what shall I make with it? I'm wondering about a felted bowl of some kind, that could be good.

Tomorrow will definitely be time to spin something dyed, I think I need some bright colours after all this natural fibre lately! It could be "Flowering Weeds", we'll have to see how I feel when I get home from the school play tomorrow.

Tal-y-llyn and merino

Tal-y-llyn, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Here's the completed, washed and dried Tal-y-llyn, alongside the companion skein of merino that I'm going to use to the cuffs of the mitts. I need to find the bit of paper that I wrote my brief notes about the pattern on! I will probably need to reconstruct it a bit as this will be at a slightly different gauge.

I other knitting news, I have finished my Cader Idris inspired hat. I had *just* enough back welsh mountain for the edging- it was very close! Photos of that will be forthcoming once I've weaved in all the ends.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Tour de Fleece update

Today I decided I was too tired to do a good job with the Spunky Eclectic "Flowering Weeds" which was next on my list, so decided to have a go at some of the Icelandic fleece I picked up at the guild fleece day instead. I'm literally chucking it at the wheel and making a fairly lumpy single. I'm trying to decide whether to ply it or leave it as a single at the moment. The difference between the softer white fibre and the darker, longer more golden hair is very pretty. There'll probably be some photos tomorrow, if I get home while there's some light! It's going to be a busy week with our school play tomorrow and Wednesday night, followed by a course on Thursday. Plus I've only written 19 of the 29 reports I need to write... I'll just do a little bit of spinning as a reward everytime I complete a report :)

Sunday, 6 July 2008


Tal-y-llyn, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

My Tour de Fleece challenge to work through as much of my fivre stash as possible has started well. This yarn is named after a glacial lake at the foot of Cader Idris. It's 50% black welsh mountain and the other half is my own hand-dyed merino, Faience. It's going to end up as a pair of Cader Idris style mitts (eventually). I've spun what's left of the merino into a 2ply to use for the cuffs, and I also saved a bit of the black welsh mountain to make a 2ply to finish of my Cader Idris top down hat. Next up is the Spunky Eclectic June club offering, Flowering Weeds. I'm just deciding how best to spin it. It's only 3oz so I'm thinking of doing something reasonably thin to maximise the yardage.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Handspun sock progress update

Copper Oxide Socks, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Here's where I am so far on my handspun socks, made from All Spun Up's gorgeous merino fibre. It's slow going because I picked a very tricky/fiddly pattern, but it's really going to be worth it when it's done. In fact, I'm off to do a few more rows on it now :)

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


Zwartble, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Here's the completed test skein of Zwartble. It's 76m and 87g, 9WPI making it a good worsted weight. I'm so pleased with how it turned out! I did no preparation to the fibre before spinning it, I literally grabbed it out of the bag and chucked it at the wheel. The lighter brown tips have given a nice variation in colour and I'm really looking forward to knitting with it. This is going to become the ribbed cuffs for another pair of Cader Idris style mitts. I've spun a coloured merino single from my own hand dyed fibre, now I need another bobbin of Zwartble single to ply with that. It might have to take a back seat to the report writing for a while, but I have plenty of photos I've uploaded tonight to my Flickr steam to keep the blog updated with.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

The Zwartble is coming...

I've finished my first skein of Zwartble- photos coming tomorrow when it's light! I've also made a couple of art yarn skeins for my UK Spinners swap partner. No photos of those though because they're a surprise :)

Sunday, 29 June 2008


Faience, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Apparently (or at least, according to Wikipedia) Faience is an Egyptian attempt to make something that looked like the gemstone turquoise. That seemed a fitting name for this, which is sort of my attempt at turquoise.

This is merino wool that I dyed with procion dyes in turquoise and dark brown. I was aiming for a more spotty pattern but it spread more than I thought, so there isn't as much undyed fibre as I would have liked. I've already spun it into a single which when plied, will probably be around a DK weight. However, I'm not going to ply it with itself. I'm going to spin a corresponding weight single out of something else, maybe some of my Zwartble fleece, and ply it with that instead. In the end this will be knitted into another pair of mitts, based on my Cader Idris design.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Betz White Cupcake Pincushion

Cupcake Pincushion, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I thought I'd blog about this little cupcake pincushion as it's been getting a fair amount of hits on my Flickr stream.

I received the lovely Betz White book "Warm Fuzzies" for my birthday, mainly because I really wanted to make some of her signature cupcake pincusions. Obviously, this had to be my first project from the book! I bought some wool jumpers from the car boot in the next village along, which is a very pretty and posh village so there were lots of good quality jumpers there for the picking. The colour choice was rather muted but I liked how the two browns worked together, looking a bit like chocolate icing. After bunging the jumpers into the washing machine and waiting impatiently for them to dry, I got started. The instructions were really easy to follow, even for a sewing novice like me. I made the cheery cherry out of some Spunky Eclectic BFL I've got in my fibre stash. I was really pleased with how it turned out, plus I've found it really useful.

Since then I've made two more projects from the book- the next was a Pugsy puppet that I made for my class (no photos yet, will have to get some next week) and then I made some mittens for father's day out of some felted cashmere jumpers I bought in a charity shop. The mittens turned out really well, they're so soft and again, the pattern was really easy to follow. Photos of the mittens are on my Flickr stream.

I really recommend Betz's book if you're interested in using felt this way. It's really well written and beautifully designed and photographed.

The results are confidential for three weeks until the official report is published. I'm only allowed to say that it's fine and that we think he saw the best bits of the school in the day he was with us.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

It's Ofsted time

Things have been a bit quiet on the fibre front as I've spent this week preparing for our Ofsted inspection. We knew that it was likely it would be our turn soon but it's fallen really badly as today was our open evening which also required a lot of work. Everything's ready now and we'll get the initial findings tomorrow after school.

Quick notes:
My acid dyes arrived and I managed to find time to dye 100g of fibre and 100g of DK as a bit of an experiment. Hopefully I'll be able to start spinning the fibre at the weekend.
Three lots of gorgeous batts arrived from FeltStudioUK today. Woo!
My felt owl attracted a lot of attention at our open evening. Some people wanted to know if I'd be teaching my class how to make them- I don't think so, it took me a whole day, I can't imagine how long it would take a group of 7 and 8 year olds! I might see if next year I can get Sue Pearl in to run a workshop of some kind with my class, as felting is such a great craft.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Owl Be Back

Felt Owl, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

He is the new owl in my collection. I made him at the felt course last Sunday with Sue Pearl of "Felt Better". The kids in my class adore him. The looks on their faces when I showed them what I'd made were a picture. I've bought some supplies from Sue to make a few more- I think a sheep might be my next project!

Monday, 23 June 2008


Lakeside, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I just can't stop spinning at the moment! This is a skein of 2 ply fingering weight, 14WPI, a blend of merino, viscose, silk noil, alpaca and sparkle from FeltStudioUK. I really enjoyed spinning this. The colours are gorgeous and the silk and sparkle give it a very luxurious feel. Now I need to find the perfect pattern for it. It's quite soft and I think it might be good for a lacy scarf. I also really need to start knitting with all of this handspun before it takes over the house. It has been suggested to me that I sell it but I find I'm really quite attached to it all!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Felt Better

felt_fish.jpg, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Today I was back at the spinning guild learning how to make wet felted animals with Sue Pearl of "Felt Better". In May I attended her intermediate felt course where I made the felted fishscape pictured. This time we were making 3d birds, so obviously I had to make an owl. The feet were pretty tricky but after plenty of felting and even a spin round the washing machine he's looking pretty good. Photos will be forthcoming once he's dry and I've sewn the eyes on!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Happy Fleece Day!

Happy Fleece Day!, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

I had a HUGE haul at the Oxford Guild Fleece Day today. From the top left these were...

A dark brown and cream Jacob fleece: this is going to be perfect for some of the spinning I want to do in school.
An enormous dark brown Zwartble fleece: so much fibre! The staple length of long and it has plenty of crimp. It's mainly dark brown but has little threads of silver running through it, plus the lighter brown tips.
A light brown Manx Loaghtan fleece: quite a short staple length (compared to the Zwartble anyway) but gorgeous pearly brown colours.
Half a bag of soft cinnamon brown alpaca: softer than the last lot of alpaca (which I didn't think was possible!), and in a gorgeous shade of cinnamon brown. You can see how long and crimped the locks are. I'm thinking that this would make a great scarf- maybe a Clapotis? I've not made one of those, and I think this soft alpaca would be perfect for it.
Close up photos of the fleece are on my Flickr stream.

I also bought three 100g bags of Icelandic fleece. The colours of this fleece are gorgeous. They're a mix of greys, browns and coppers. Photos of those coming soon!

The Lake Side batts by FeltStudioUK are on the wheel at the moment. I've got one more batt to spin and then I can start plying. I'm going to put the whole thing into a centre pull ball and ply the whole thing together. I don't want to waste an inch!

Friday, 20 June 2008

Fleece in Our Time...

Tomorrow is the Oxford Guild of Weaver, Spinners and Dyers Fleece Day, and I'm rather excited about it ;) I'm going to be looking for something coloured, perhaps black welsh mountain or something with a similar feel. I've also got my eye on some lovely grey icelandic which I know is going to be available. I'm going to avoid anything which needs the amount of scouring that my bag of Teeside required. I'll report back here tomorrow with details of my purchases.

In spinning news, I've spun two batts of the lovely FeltStudioUK "Lakeside" fibre. I'm aiming for a sport weight 2ply, so I'm spinning quite fine for me. I'm really enjoying spinning it, it's just a lovely blend of colour and texture. It's a bit lumpy and bumpy where the neps are but I think that really makes it special. As it spins up it's really reminding me of one of the places we visited in Iceland. I love it! In fact, I'm so gutted that I've only got one batt left I've just ordered some more FeltStudioUK batts from her very highly recommended etsy shop.

Cader Idris mitts

Cader Idris mitts, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

A new FO! These are my first ever "real" design (which I sort of made up as I went along), and made from my own handspun too. I loved spinning the black welsh mountain and merino so I'm really pleased that I've used then in such a nice project. I've got a bit of the blackw wesh mountain/merino left, so I'm having a go at a top down hat, a la la the last edition of Spin Off. I think I might roun out before I get to the bottom, but hopefully I'll pick up something at the fleece day on Saturday that I can spin for ribbing.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Dye stuff and nonsense

I've finally caved in and bought myself some acid dyes. I did like the results I got from the natural dyes but the mordanting took soooooo long, it made me lose the will to live. Plus, I wasn't sure how the colours were going to turn out, and that uncertainty was far too nerve wracking. I'm going to be learning how to do natural dyeing with some of my guild friends in the summer, and they know far more about how these things work than I do. Then I'll have more of an idea about how things work, what the colours are likely to turn out like and will have picked up some techniques, so I'll be able to give natural dyeing another shot. In the meantime, I want to dye and spin my own fibre, so I'm going to give acid dyes a shot.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


Baranduin, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

This is 110g/177m of superwash merino, hand dyed by Freyalyn and is another of my Wonderwool Wales purchases. The fibre is named after a river in Middle Earth and it fits the subtle blues, greens and greys beautifully. It was really quick and easy to spin- I spun and plied the whole lot in a day! I was aiming for a medium sportweight as I'd like to make socks with this. I've been experimenting a bit with getting a bit more twist into my yarns to make them look more bouncy and squishy- plus it's hepls to make sock yarns more hardwearing.

You Can Call Me Alpaca

alpaca, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

This is about half of the alpaca I bought at Wonderwool Wales, spun into a sport weight 2 ply, 111g/124m. The fleece was very dusty so I carded it first to get the worst out, then gave it a really good wash at the end. The fibre bloomed beautifully, and it's gorgeously soft. I'm going to use this as the lining for my Fiddlehead mittens. I've chosen one of the colours for the exterior but I'm still trying to make up my mind about the second. I might try spinning and dyeing some shetland for that one.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008


Nesting, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Here is the skein made from the FeltStudioUK merino/tencel/mohair batts. It's 114g and about 112m of gorgeous soft and shiny yarn. The colours are really subtle and the tencel gives it a fantastic sheen. I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

More photos and details in my Ravelry handspun stash.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

A sneak peek...

A sneak peek..., originally uploaded by Bright Side. my first attempt at spinning batts. More photos will be on the way tomorrow when it isn't quite so dark!

In knitting news I finished the first Cader Idris mitt at my knitting group tonight. I had to rip the thumb out a few times to get the number of stitches and the cast off right. The black welsh mountain yarn isn't very stretchy so needs to be cast off very loosely, otherwise there's no way I can get my thumb through the hole! I've decided that yes, they are a little bit tighter than I'd planned for, but that they'll probably stretch a bit with blocking and wear. That's nothing to do with my itch to get these finished and get one with the two pairs of socks that are currently sitting looking unloved. Oh no.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Nesting FeltStudioUK Batts

nesting.jpg, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

Yesterday I spun these gorgeous FeltSTudioUK batts into reasonably even singles (it's a bit bumpy just by the nature of the fibres) and today I've plied them together to make a roughly sport weight 2 ply. The skein is currently drying, so pictures will be on the way tomorrow! The colours are a lovely mix of blue, greens and white. I'm hoping that it's dry tomorrow as I want to take it to show my fellow knitters at our weekly knitting group. I've made a start this evening on the mountain of alpaca to make the lining yarn for some Fiddlehead mittens. I'm carding it into rolags first as this helps keep the single a bit more even than spinning straight from the clumps. I've done about 20 or 30 g I reckon, so I shall keep going and fill two bobbins before I start plying.

Cader Idris Mitts

Cader Idris Mitts, originally uploaded by Bright Side.

This is my current knitting project. It's a pair of fingerles mitts of my own design, using my own handspun. I'm just about to finish the thumb on the first pair, but I'm trying to decide if they're too tight or not. There's a fair amount of negative ease in them, but I'm not sure. I think I might wait for a cool day and wear one for a bit, to see how it feels! I'm really enjoying using my own handspun merino/black welsh mountain yarn in this project.