Clearing bobbins

I’m working on a new design at the moment, so I don’t have a lot of knitting to share.  So that’s a little tease and here are some finished yarns from clearing off my bobbins ready for Spinzilla.

1177m of 2plied super fine Shetland. I haven’t washed it yet but I expect it to be heavy lace weight/light fingering weight. Love the colour of this.

200g of Merino / Silk blend top became 800m of fingering weight yarn. I love 3plied yarn, so I spun roughly 66g onto each of 3bobbins and made this great 3ply. I N-plied the remnants.

I had some tiny sample bits on a few bobbins so I plied those off to go in my box of oddments. All N-plied, some dyed mulberry silk, undyed mulberry silk and cotton.

The result… 

… a big pile of bobbins! I have some many Schacht bobbins as each wheel comes with 3 or 4 bobbins and I have 3 Schacht wheels that take these bobbins. The huge bobbins are the Hansen Woolee Winder bobbins. My Schacht-Reeves bobbins were already clear and aren’t in the photo. I managed to clear all the bobbins on Friday thinking it was the end of October and Spinzilla started today! I have no idea where that week went in my brain, but I’m glad to have that week back! Spinzilla starts a week today.

Spinzilla prep

They forecast a bit of a heat wave for the south of England for today and tomorrow, 30C they said. I was a little grateful when it remained somewhat overcast, but a warm pleasant day.

Spinzilla is all about community and challenging yourself and of course spinning. The small fee also raises money for mentoring the spinners of tomorrow. You can find out more about Spinzilla here.

The only UK team did really well last year, I think we came 7th out of all the terms. It was our first year entering and I think we will spin even more this year. So many people were inspired by our team efforts that there are 3 UK teams this year!

The goal of Spinzilla really is maximum yardage in 7days. So I try and do any prep I want to do in advance and choose things that are quick and easy to spin. I have mainly chosen mill top, some we were given some by our team sponsors (Curtis Wool and John Arbon) and some which I bought to spin for a jumper. 

But I like variety and variety in spinning is better when you intent to spend a whole week spinning and doing very little else. So yesterday I blended some hand dyed BFL wool top with some hand dyed Silk top, into lovely airy rolags which are easy to spin and will break the monotony of the indeed tops I’ll otherwise be spinning.  

My method for getting even amounts of fibre in each rolag when blending tops, is to attentuate each length of top out to the same length, then hold them all together like a roving and braid (crochet chain) them all together. Then for each rolag I can simply pull another chunk of fibre off the roving and hand card it. It also makes it simple to stop part way through and carry on later without forgetting what proportions I was doing!

I was going to do some more today, but I was struck with a migraine, ugh! So I rested this morning until Bobcat decided that he was going outside and proceeded to shout at me, a lot!

By the time I was ready to oblige he had eaten his lunch and curled up on a blanket! Howver as soon as he heard the key in the door he changed his mind, trotting off out the cat flat, with Alan more cautiously following me out the door. Alan concurred his fear of the grass today, with the help of a bee that apparently looked exciting enough to risk walking on the strange wet grass! He didn’t catch the bee, which was probably for the best as a cat with a sting in its mouth is the wrong kind of excitement!He soon decided that sunbathing and watching Bobcat’s antics was a much better idea. He might look like a furry beast, but really he is delicate fella who prefers clean smooth carpet to wet grass or gravel and dirty mud. He still carefully picks his way over the patio as if the concrete is dreadfully uncomfortable.After spending nearly 2years as an indoor cat I was quite surprised that neither Bobcat nor his old play mate started a fight when Bobcat wandered up behind him. I’m sure there will be many scuffles as territories are reasserted, but I’ve never seen these 2 get really nasty with each other.

I sat and watched the cats and their silly adventures for nearly 2hours and as I was thinking about rounding them up to go back inside, a heard a voice in the road near by. Bobcat belly to the ground, ran for the door growling as he went and shot upstairs. Alan totally bewildered by the whole thing sensibly decided he should follow. Bobcat doesn’t much like people, especially those he doesn’t know and it’s good to know his instinct when scared is to leg it indoors!

My progress on this cardigan is painfully slow, though I’m really enjoying the knitting. I’ve been way too busy spinning the last few weeks. But I have now nearly finished the first sleeve, so hopefully I’ll have more to share later in the week. 

Dyeing workshop

Last weekend I taught a dyeing workshop in my garden, for 6 knitting friends who hadn’t done any dyeing before. 

All the dye stocks ready to go!

We mainly dyed mainly yarn, with a little spinning fibre. Thank you to my students for use of their photos, my phone decided to died half way through the day. 

We had a great day, filled with colour and chatter and cake! You’ll notice that they were often inspired by each other’s colour choices, so there are some similar skeins dyed by different people.

Here are some of the students finished yarns.

Great sets of gradient mini skeins!

And using bits of left over dye from the students I dyed these random skeins and some BFL fibre. 

September sun & a felted bag

I have no idea what is going on with the UK weather, usually September is the start of the weather I love. Autumn is my favourite season, with cooler days and nights and the start of a few rainy days and of course all the Autumn colours. (Autumn = Fall for my US friends)

But it has been unseasonably warm here this week, with the kids back at school without their coats and hats and mittens seeming like a distance concept still. I suppose I shouldn’t complain when the weather man says highs of 29C next week, but to be honest I’d rather it was a bit cooler and I could get on with some DIY with sweating!

So instead I’ve spent this week getting back into the work groove after 6weeks of school holidays off. During this long holidays I keep up with customer emails, Ravelry and knitting on current design ideas, but the actual hard work of designing and teaching gets set aside.

I’ve updated the blog and added some of my patterns to the pages here, which used to be available through my web shop, which is now closed. So I thought it would be helpful to have my designs all in 1 place here. So I’m nearly done with that. 

I’m re working one of my oldest patterns and that will be tech edited and rereleased in the next few weeks. 

Spinning, oh how I love to spin to relax after a busy day at the computer. 

With these 2 bobbins of slightly slubby chunky merino 2ply yarn finished, I settled down to make a felted bag for my Flatiron wheel. I like a bag to store the whorls, oil bottle, spare drive band and brake band and any other bits like WPI gauge. I decided to make this bag slightly bigger as I know I will take this wheel out to events and it would be nice to be able to tuck a spare bobbin in as well. 

For knitting that will be fulled (some just call this felted) I don’t bother finishing the yarn first, I find this makes for firmer felt fabric. So I lazily knitted straight from the bobbins. As soon as the knitting was done I went to the sink to felt it, and once it was wet and soapy, I thought “oh no, you silly woman! You should have taken a photo.” Before felting this bag was very loose and shapeless and obviously much bigger!

My method for felting knitting is as follows; 

Run a bowl of hot as I can get it warmer from the tap and top up from the kettle. I wear thick rubber gloves to prevent scolding myself! Add detergent I find dish washing liquid (aka Fairy Liquid) works well to the hot water. 

Soak the item in the hot water until it’s wetted through, then start felting. 

You can either run a 2nd bowl of cold water and refill it often so it doesn’t get warm, or use the cold tap running.

Aim of the game is to put the hot wet soapy knitting into really cold water, over and over. This is the quickest and least energetic felting process. 

I agitate the item in the hot soapy water, rubbing it between my hands and scrunching it up, then move it quickly to the cold move it around until it’s cold, squeeze the cold water out with my hands and return it to the hot water. Squeezing it out helps stop the hot water going cold and saves having to refresh the hot water. 

Repeat, repeat until it is firm and I’m reasonably happy with the size. This method works well and prevents sections getting stuck together or creases forming which is quite common if you just throw it in the washer. 

I was only at the sink about 15mins. It’s probably quicker if you are really vigorous and use a sink plunger or something, but I’m too laid back for that. 

Rinse all the soap out thoroughly, pull into shape. Then I put mine in the tumble drier as this firms the felt up really well. I put it in until it’s almost dry.

Then stretch over a form of some sort until fully dry. 

Finally a use for all the different shapes and sizes of tuppawear I own!

The finished bag hanging on my Schacht Flatiron. 

The bag has a row of eyelets around the top. I added extra twist to a length of the yarn and folded 4 strands and let it twist back on itself, making a cabled yarn. I then threaded this through the eyelets to hang up. It also has a small side pocket for the oil bottle as this is probably the item I use most often from the bag. 

Still loving my Flatiron. 

Schacht sent me these great pin badges, so I will share some with my fellow Schacht wheel owning friends.

Spinning and outdoor adventures

After finishing the dark Merino scraps for a little spinning wheel bag, I started on 200g of Merino/Silk blend tops.

The Flatiron really made spinning these singles a breeze. I will 3ply them for a fingering weight yarn. You can see a small ply back sample on the top of the bobbin.

After 2 years of having indoor cats, (because a local man who allowed his dog to enter my neighbours garden and kill her cats on 2 seperate occasions, he didn’t care) the risk seems to have gone and we have decided to let our furry beasts out again. ¬†Alan had never set foot into the outside world before, so he was quite timid, mostly sniffing around the patio!

He had a little look at the grass, but thought better of it and pottered off back inside. Bobcat on the whole hand walked the whole garden perimeter and spent a lot of time munching grass!

He’s a fat little cat and could do with the exercise after spending the last 2years indoors. He really loves it outside, I’m sure the grass won’t spoil his diet.

Tomorrow there will be knitting I promise.