Triangular Shawl Calculator

Here’s a little way to calculate the maximum number of rows you can work on a shawl (top down shawls only). You need to have knitted at least 20% of your yarn to do get an accurate answer, though it will return a result with more than 10% yarn used.

Triangular shawl
This calculation will work for any shawl pattern that starts at the top and has a consistent number of increases in each row. (ie. 4 increases on every right side row and 2 sts on every wrong side row, or 4increases every other row.)
(Examples of this type of shawl are: ‘Swallowtail’, ‘Ishbel’, ‘Aeolian’, ‘Kiri’, ‘Traveling Woman’, My ‘Dew Drops’ & ‘Danish Ripple’ Shawls)
(I know these shawls have slightly different shapes, but trust me the maths works for all of them.)

You need to know:

Number of Constant stitches in each row: (eg. Swallowtail: 5, Ishbel: 7, Aeolian: 5 or 7.) (usually edge stitches on each side + centre stitch) (If you don’t know this don’t worry too much as it doesn’t make a huge difference to the result.)

Total yarn weight: (This is how much yarn you have available for the project, in grams is best.)

Used yarn weight so far: (This is the total weight of yarn minus what you have left un-knitted.)

Rows worked so far: (with many shawl you can count the number of holes running up the middle next to the centre st and x2).

Maximum Number of Rows:

This result is the number of rows you can work with the yarn you have available, it allows you 3rows worth of yarn to cast off which is sufficient for a very stretchy bind off.
If you pattern has a lot of increases in the final few rows, ie lots of yarn over’s for a pointier edge you will need to subtract a few more rows to allow for that.
If your pattern tells you to cast off with the yarn held double you will need to subtract a few more rows to allow for this.

This calculator requires javascript to be enabled.
I hope you find this page useful, I provide it free for everyone, please link to it here.
Contact me through Raverly, or email me if you have any questions.
P.s. Please don’t blame me if the answer doesn’t work out for you, I provide this script working to the best of my knowledge, free to everyone.
(c) Bex Hopkins 2010, please do not attempt to steal this script.
If you would like to know how this is calculated please contact me.

Spinning Journal

I have been keeping a spinning journal for a while, and I consider selling these hand bound spinning journals in my shop, but that’s now unlikely to happen, as I don’t think their potential sale price covers my time to make them.

So I’m going to write a tutorial to share what I have learnt in the process of making mine, and what I finally came up with.

To start with, here is the pdf of my page template. Its an A4 template, the pages are folded in half for hand binding, giving an A5 journal.

Spinning Journal Template

Schacht Ladybug Tutorial: Adjusting the flyer

How to adjust the flyer to reduce noise.

After a few months of using my Ladybug Spinning Wheel I found that it had started to make a ‘chattering’ noise as I spun.   This tutorial describes an adjustment that can be made to reduce this noise.  If you are in any doubt about something related to your Schacht wheel I recommend you contact your Schacht dealer, or Schacht directly for support.

There are many things that can cause your spinning wheel to make unexpected noises while spinning, this tutorial is for noise caused by the flyer moving backwards and forwards between the Maidens only.

Before trying this I suggest you remove your flyer, clean off all oil and grease, re oil as the Schacht Ladybug Manual instructs and try applying some white grease to reduce any noise caused by the bobbin.

Will this help me?

With your flyer assembly in place and the Front Maiden pushed back as far as it allows and the Front Maiden Knob tightened.  Using your hand try to move the Flyer backwards and forwards.

If the flyer moves more than a few mms you may have a reduction in noise by adjusting the Front Maiden.  If there is little or no movement this tutorial will probably not help and you should look for other causes of unexpected noise.

You will need:

  • Schacht Ladybug Spinning wheel with Flyer
  • Small Screw Driver

Have a look at the Ladybug Labeled Parts diagram on the Schacht Website to familiarise yourself with the part names.

Ladybug Maiden fig1
Ladybug Maiden fig1

Loosen the Front Maiden Knob and remove the Flyer. (fig1)

Ladybug Maiden fig2
Ladybug Maiden fig2

Unscrew the Front Maiden Knob Fully and remove it. Remove the Front Maiden from the Ladybug. (fig2)

Be careful not to loose the Front Maiden Knob and its white washer or the Front Maiden Glide Stop (fig2) or the Barrel Nut (fig5).

Ladybug Maiden fig3
Ladybug Maiden fig3

Locate the screw driver slot on the Front Maiden Glide Stop.  (fig3)

This is the part which stops you being able to move the Front Maiden back too far.  It is an important part of your spinning wheel, enabling you to glide the Front Maiden to the correct position every time without worrying it is too tight against the flyer.

Ladybug Maiden fig4
Ladybug Maiden fig4

Use the Screw Driver to turn the white threaded piece of Front Maiden Glide Stop. (fig4) You only need to turn the screw driver a small amount, approximately 1/4 turn.

If the Glide Stop is orientated the same way (as in fig4), with the screw slot towards the front  of the wheel (this is the flat part of the Maiden, the part closest to the flyer is curved). Turning the screw anti clockwise will allow the Maiden to move further back reducing the amount of flyer movement.   Only make tiny changes before trying the flyer again to check the movement.

After making a small adjustment place the Front Maiden and Flyer back on the wheel and check the movement in the Flyer while holding the Front Maiden as far back as the Glide Stop allows.

You can now replace the Front Maiden and the Front Maiden Knob to secure it. Ensure that you fit the Front Maiden facing the right way (as in fig1). When the Front Maiden is slid back as far as the Glide Stop allows the flyer should only move forwards and backwards the smallest amount.

However you do NOT want the Glide position of the Front Maiden too far back otherwise it will cause too much friction on the flyer, making treadling harder and may cause unnecessary wear. As well as making it harder to get the Front Maiden in the correct position. If it is too tight, remove the Maiden and re-adjust the Glide Stop (clockwise to give the flyer a little more space).

Ladybug Maiden fig5
Ladybug Maiden fig5

While doing this you may find a metal component falls out (Barrel Nut) (fig5).  This nut goes inside the Front Maiden and the Front Maiden Knob is secured into it.

Ladybug Maiden fig6
Ladybug Maiden fig6

If the Barrel Nut falls out, or you have difficulty screwing the Front Maiden Knob back in,  Push the Barrel Nut into the hole in the side of the Front Maiden (fig6). You may need to use a Screw Driver to align the Nut with the slot upright and in the centre of the Maiden, to enable the Front Maiden Knob to screw in.

Schacht Ladybug Glide Stop + Barrel Nut
Schacht Ladybug Glide Stop + Barrel Nut

If the Front Maiden Glide Stop falls out it can be held in place with a small amount of white grease.  Some spinners have reported finding this part has fallen out of their wheel during changes in temperature etc, if this happens slot it back in (as in fig4) and hold with white grease if necessary.  There is some information about this on the Schacht Website here.

I hope you find this information useful, but if you are in any doubt I recommend you contact local Schacht dealer or Schacht for support.

Fractal Spinning

I’ve been playing with fractal spinning the last few days.
This is a draft tutorial and needs more information and images.
What is fractal spinning?
Well it is method of spinning, it works best with tops which have been painted with stripes (there are alternatives, but I will ignore them here for simplicity).
The principal is to create a yarn where the plies have different lengths of colour repeat.  This is achieved by dividing the top lengthways.
This method shows how to create a 2ply yarn, though the theory can be applied for 3plies.
It works best with tops that have a regular colour repeat, 3 colours works well.  This example has only 2 colours.
Starting off with 1 length of continuous top (this  is Superwash Merino from, we want to spin all the tops in the same direction, so we need to make a note of the end.  I will be spinning from the end with the longer yellow stripe (top of  photo).
Fractal Step 1
Fractal Step 1 - Undivided Top

Split the top along its length being carefuly to keep both peices equally, providing you with 2 lengths of top that are half the width of the original.

You now have 2 lengths of top that are thinner, remember the end to spin from (bottom left of both peices in this picture).

Fractal Step 2
Fractal Step 2 - First Divide

1 of these will become the first ply for your yarn.  The 2nd needs to be split again length ways, making 2 equal thinner strips.  Remember which end you are spinning from.  In the image below: Left; Top for first ply (spinning end is bottom left),  Right; Top for second ply, 2 thinner lengths (spinning end is bottom length of both peices).

Fractal Step 3
Fractal Step 3 - Final Divide

You may want to roll these into a ball, or pre draft by attenuating them if you wish, but this may cause the colours to blend together, disrupting the striping.

When you spin each of the plies, the first ply will have long colour repeats, (in the image above the 1st ply will have 9  long colours repeats of yellow, purple), the 2nd ply will have shorter colour repeats (in the image above the 2nd ply will have 18 shorter colour repeats of yellow, purple).

Making sure you spin the tops from the right end will meake sure you get matching colour repeats aong the length, and when you ply you should ply from the same end of each single.

The effect will be a yarn with slow colour changes over laid with faster colour changes, making a really interesting colour blend effect.  Where both plies are the same colour you will get a solid section, but other sections will be blended.  If you are using more than 1 length of top for a larger garment follow the same steps and identify the same starting end if possible (this is easier when 3 or more colours are present).

I will post more pictures of the finished yarn and a knitted item when its finished.  It works well for socks!

Updated Blog Software

I have updated the blog software and things seem to be running smoothly again, so I should be able to post frequent updates with photos again.

I’m going to join in with the Tour de Fleece, which takes place during the Tour de France; bicycle wheels, spinning wheels, you get the jist! So I will hopefully get lots of spinning done!

Spinning Madness

Sorry I have been so lax about updating, I will try and update more!  It is mainly because my camera has given up the ghost, but after 9yrs of good service I can’t complain too much.  I haven’t settled on a new one, so my picture taking is abit dis-joined at the moment, and I like to include photos in my posts.

So I thought I would update and add the photos in later.

I ordered myself a loom this week, so have tried that out today, its fun and eats yarn quickly! I want to use it to make a blanket and use up all the novelty yarns that have accumulated in my stash box.

I have been spinning lots recently and enjoying new fibres, dfferent sheep wools, alpaca, tencel, silk, etc..

I am really enjoying hand dyed colour ways, the way the colours play across the knitted fabric.

This a shetland Capelet made with handspun yarn (fibre from Wildcraft), Nahajo plying always the colours to slowly stripe.

Shetland Seascape From Wildcraft
Shetland Seascape Fibre From Wildcraft
Shetland Seascape Yarn
Shetland Seascape Yarn
335Shetland Seascape Capelet
Shetland Seascape Capelet

Superwash English Wool Blend from Wildcraft, Navaja plied for striping yarn, this will be a tank top for Em.

Skein1 of Superwash English wool Blend
Superwash English Wool Blend 'Pinks' from Wildcraft

My first spinning wheel

I can now proudly say I bought my first spinning wheel, a Schacth Ladybug.

Here are some of my opinions and a mini review of the Ladybug;

It is quirky looking and it took me a while to get used to its styling, but now I have decided it is beautiful.  Every Ladybug has a tiny Ladybird stuck on it somewhere, Mine is on the front of the right hand leg, at the bottom.  I can just about see it if I peer when I’m spinning.  I bought my Ladybug from , I’m very very pleased with it and have no regrets.  I got one with an attached lazy kate, and have plied from it with no problems, but I guess it will depend on your style, but if you haven’t done much (or any) plying on a wheel before it you may well be ok with it as you have no previous preference.  I do tuck the ends of any yarn on the bobbins in when not in use just incase they get caught up in the wheel (which hasn’t happened yet, but a few other people have said its happened to them, as the lazy kate is directly infront of the moving wheel).

I think its an all round fantastic wheel, the scotch tension and double drive option make it very flexible, it has a good range of ratios with the additional whorls ( 5:1 – 16:1), it has a smooth double treddle with an easy action,  a  nice wide orifice for bulky yarns, the flyer an orifice are in the center; combined with the duble treddle I think this really encourages you to sit straight at the wheel and not favor one side, its light weight (5.6kg) and easy to move with the 3 handles, it seems robust and well main.  My wheel came complete with; 3 bobbins, tensioned lazy kate (which holds 4 bobbins), poly drive band, drive band for using double drive, orifice hook, a medium and a fastt whorl (giving ratios of 7:1, 9:1, 10.5:1, 12.5:1).

Official Website.

I span some green and grey wool, to give me enough to finish the handspun hat I’m making.  Then I started on the beautiful “Roses Swirl” BFL superwash which I bought from , I’m spinning the singles quite fine, and will be 2-plying, I haven’t checked the WIP’s but it will be between a 2ply and 4ply weight yarn.  Probably for a shawl but maybe socks, it depends what the plied yarn comes out like.

I’m really pleased with how even I can spin on the wheel compared to my hand spindle.  It all comes down to being able to use both hands 100% of the time for drafting and being able to vary the speed so easily.

I will post photos in my next post.

Ooh I’ve also made some tiny ladybugs and other bits for the shop.

Jacob Fleece Washing…

I washed some of the fleece today, as my new hand carders and spindle arrived in the post. It hasn’t come very clean, so I might try teasing the fibres more first, and maybe different detergent, as this had 3 washes and rinses in very hot water.

I also thought I’d try some spinning, which is going surprisingly well I think. The first batch is Corriedale Silver in Dark Purple.

This is the second batch in White, work in progress.

I will have to try and card some of the Jacob, then I can try and spin it… :-s