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.