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.

A new start

I thought that it would be nice to have a small blog to share my spinning and knitting projects with my internet friends. There will be no ramblings or considering my belly button fluff here, just notes and photos about how I'm getting on with my projects.