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. 

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.

Getting back to it

I decided last year that I would take a break from blogging and social media, in the hope that it would make me more productive. Life had becoming challenging in many ways and I was left feeling like something had to give, and my silence was the result. Well it didn’t help my productivity, I have discovered you will soon fill your time with other activities, but not the productive activities you hoped for! So I’ve decided I would rather blog which I enjoy that do random unproductive things like play silly phone games or watch mind numbing tv. So I’m back.

I’ve also joined Instagram as NinjaBexKnits, so you can find me there for lots of photo-y goodness!

We had a lovely family holiday camping this summer, there were some beautiful sunny days and seriously wet and windy weather. 

On the way to the Isle of Wight it was beautiful.

Later in the week it was seriously rough. This was at Shanklin at high tide. We enjoyed some amazing ice creams, with free added sea salt while watching the crashing waves.

I’ll share some more about our trip and the knitting I did in my next post and tell you what exciting wheel arrived at my house this week!

42 WIP’s

Everyone who knows me knows that I have a problem. Some call it Strartitus, some call it UFO Syndrome, others just call me mad.

A friend on twitter posted about her Sock WIP situation, which inspired me to dig through all my wip’s and photograph them all. I thought I had a sock problem, turns out I don’t really, but my wip problem as a whole is pretty extensive.

My Ravelry projects search told me I had 54 in progress and hibernating projects. I thought I should take some photos and update the projects and see if I could reduce the number a little by doing some finishing and some frogging.

Some of these projects hadn’t seen the light of day in at least 4years, at that point I’m not sure you can call them a ‘work in progress’!

I thought I’d share my madness with you, to make you all feel better when you have a few projects on the go. If your situation is worse than mine I’d love to hear from you!

I’ve decided on a few Action categories; Frog, Quick Finishing, Finish, Medium Wip, Slow Wip, One day maybe.
All the projects have a link to my project on Ravelry (they are all public so you don’t need to be a ravelry member to see more photos and details and find the patterns).

Started in 2008

Sock Blanket

Sock BlanketEveryone has one of these right?

Progress: 20%

Action: Slow wip

Started in 2009

Lizard Ridge Blanket

Lizard RidgeI started this and knitted a couple of panels and realised the proportions would be wrong, so it was re-started. I’d love to see this finished.

Progress: 5%

Action: Medium wip

 YoYo Pinwheel Jumper

YoYo Pinwheel JumperThis yarn is like a boucle and really slowed my desire to finish it, as did the giant belly bullseye look. I’m not sure I’d ever wear this out in public, but I like the design and the feel of the fabric. Just needs the sleeve finishing then the bottom and neck ribbing.

Progress: 80%

Action: Medium wip

Wicked Red!

Wiched Red!This project has been part frogged before due to a baggy back and never really got off the ground again. I really want to wear this.

Progress: 5%

Action: Medium wip

Pretty as a peacock shawl

Pretty as a peacockThis is a lovely pattern, but I don’t think this hansspun lace weight does it justice.

Action: Frog!

Started in 2010

Happy Sagrantino Shawl

Happy ShawlThis pattern is a little time consuming but good fun. The soft silky bamboo yarn works well.

Progress: 60%

Action: Medium Wip

Handspun Bird Seed Jumper

Handspun Bird Seed JumperLovely idea, but it’s brown, I don’t do brown!

Action: Frog!

Pretty as a peacock cardigan

Peacock CardiganAwful photo as it’s been very crumpled in a bag. I had this great idea to turn a complex shawl into a cardigan. I think it will work and it would be fun to wear.

Progress: 5%

Action: One day maybe

Wicked Kidsilk Haze

Wicked Kidsilk HazeI have thought of a light and airy kidsilk jumper for ages, this one got started and not a lot more!

Progress: 5%

Action: Slow wip

Leg warmers

Leg warmersWho takes 4yrs to make some leg warmers? Me it seems! I knitted the first one quickly, then at least a year past and I knit the second, but the guage was different despite the same needles, so it got frogged. This second leg warmer just needs 2 rows!

Progress: 95%

Action: Quick Finishing

Handspun Evenstar Shawl

Evenstar ShawlLovely pattern, brilliant silk handspun for it. Just lost concentration I think.

Progress: 25%

Action: Medium wip

Hexagon Sock

Hexagon SocksFun socks, I think I got bored with all the picking up stitches and the ends! Would like to see these finished.

Progress: 55%

Action: Slow wip

Started in 2011

Hex Blanket

Hex BlanketThis blanket has become a cover for the back of my arm chair. All it needs an edging and straps to secure it to the chair.

Progress: 95%

Action: Finish

Toe Up River Socks

River SocksI made these toe up as I prefer to knit socks that way. I think these suffered second sock syndrome.

Progress: 55%

Action: Finish

Green Laminaria Shawl

Green Laminaria ShawlWhy did I start a shawl in green? The pattern is lovely though, maybe one day I’ll cast on another in a colour I like!

Action: Frog!

Selbu Mittens

Selbu MittensHandspun and millspun, I love how these look, sadly they are too small for me. I think I will have to frog them and start over.

Action: Frog?

Red Mitred Cape/Poncho

Red Mitred PonchoThis is such a simple lovely project, I should get it finished before she has no desire to wear such things!

Progress: 50%

Action: Medium wip

Handspun Leaf Intarsia Shawl

Leaf ShawlThis one is a design in progress that I have long neglected, would be lovely to get this done and see it as a pattern!

Progress: 10%

Action: Medium Wip

Secret Crochet Scarf

Secret ScarfSecret ScarfI can’t quite believe this has been a wip for 3yrs! This is a gift for a lovely friend (who has seen it). I’d love to finish this for her. I decided to crochet with a continuous thread instead of breaking for motifs, this is slower, but means no ends to sew in and saves yarn.

Progress: 55%

Action: Medium Wip

Double Knit Sheep Scarf

Sheep ScarfI didn’t cast these on close together (clearly lots of things got finished in between), but this happens to be a gift for the same friend. This project really is a labour of love with the doubleknit and concentrate every row pattern. What was I thinking casting this on in Acrylic? Part of me wants to frog and re-knit in handspun wool. Maybe I will finish that 3rd sheep and cast it off and have it as a little banner for the studio?

Progress: 35%

Action: Not sure – partially finish?

Started in 2012

Swirl Cardigan

Swirl CardiganI dragged this out of hibernation 2 weeks ago, I’d love to get it finished before the winter as I think it will be perfect!

Progress: 80%

Action: Finish!

Lightweight Pullover

Lightweight PulloverAccording to Ravelry I cast this on just 2days after the Swirl, talk about January Startitus!

Progress: 25%

Action: Medium Wip

Neat Ripple Blanket

Neat Ripple BlanketLovely blanket, I just need to keep plugging away at it!

Progress: 75%

Action: Finish

Keepsake Lace Crochet Shawl

Keepsake ShawlI have a feeling this stalled because I knew I would run out of yarn. I need to spin some more Polworth for this.

Progress: 60% – extra spinning to do!

Action: Spin some more than Finish

Double Fun Socks

Double Fun SocksThese socks are knitted with double knitting, very clever, quite fun, but a little slow. I’d love to see these in my sock draw!

Progress: 55%

Action: Medium wip

Handspun Harlot Poncho

Harlot PonchoI’m not completely convinced I like the flecks on white of this yarn, but I will finish the poncho and perhaps over dye it.

Progress: 20%

Action: Medium wip

Buttercup Top

Buttercup TopCotton t-shirt lovely, except the yarn makes my hands tired to knit it. Perhaps it will be done for next summer?

Progress: 50%

Action: Medium wip

Handspun Shawl

Handspun ShawlThis was a lovely design idea, but shortly after starting it I saw a similar pattern. I don’t see the point in releasing a pattern that is very similar to another so it got shelved.

Action: Frog!

Cobweb Crochet Scarf

Cobweb Crochet ScarfI love the insanity of this tiny itty bitty project. I have been working on it, 1 little square at a time.

Progress: 20%

Action: Medium wip

Flyby Shawl

FlyBy ShawlThis is almost finished, it was a design I was working on. When I showed it to my SnB group someone said is it a Leftie. I was a little sad to say the least. I hadn’t even seen the mentioned pattern at the time, I later found out my construction and finished shape is entirely different. Not sure if I will ever do the pattern or not now 🙁

Progress: 95%

Action: Finish

Lia Juniper Jumper

Lia Juniper JumperThis yarn has tried to be several different jumpers and been frogged. This is it’s last chance. I’ve knit the pattern before and think the yarn will work well for it.

Progress: 10%

Action: Slow wip

Woven Throw for K’s mum

ThrowI started this with great optimism in November to finish as a Christmas gift! Weaving a double weave blanket in thin fingering weight yarn in less than a month is a tall order. Hoping to get it finished for her for this Christmas.

Progress: 30%

Action: Finish

Started in 2013

Sectores Scarf 2

sectoresI started this to take photos for the pattern, I never had enough yarn to finish it, so it is now frogged. The handspun can go back in the stash 🙂

Action: Frog!

Rill Scarf

Rill ScarfLovely pattern, but lace weight, itty bitty needles and short shorts = slow.

Progress: 5%

Action: Medium wip

Coco BagFelted bag, will be great to get this done.

Progress: 15%

Action: Finish

Diagonal Granny Stripe Blanket

diagonal granny stripeBoys baby blanket I designed, really should finish this for operation gift box and write up the pattern.

Progress: 75%

Action: Finish

Enigma Hooded Cardigan

enigmaThis is interesting, it’s made from granny squares  arranged and sewn into a hoodie, all in lace weight yarn.

Progress: 15%

Action: Medium wip

Fine as Findley Cardigan

findleyLovely summer cardigan, I really need this for next summer.

Progress: 5%

Action: Finish

Some Assembly Required

lego_manCan you guess what I’m going to be? I’ve actually added the body since this photo was taken, so he’s half finished!

Progress: 50%

Action: Medium wip

Started in 2014

Fly with Me Shawl

Fly with mefly with meThis is a new pattern design that I must get finished. The Red sample is finished the second one needs finishing.

Progress: 5%

Action: Finish and write up pattern

Elephant Garland

Elephant garlandI had grand ambitions when I started this, but the tiny tight crochet hurts my hands. I might have to call it done at 2.

Action: Finished?

Handspun Woven Bag

woven_bag woven_bag2The weaving is done, this just needs work on the sewing machine – a lining and zip!

Progress: 95%

Action: Finish

It’s Stripes Jim

its_stripes_jimAnother pair of socks…. with a fun twist

Progress: 5%

Action: Medium wip

Handspun Nesoi Tee

Nesoi TeeLove the fabric of this. Last time I took it out of it’s project bag there was a MASSIVE spider in there, I think it traumatised me!

Progress: 45%

Action: Finish

Isle of Wight Socks

isle of wight socksThese are very recent, so I don’t feel guilty about this wip yet 🙂

Progress: 45%

Action: Finish

Modified Osney Shrug

osneyThis one is a commission so I need to get it done asap.

Progress: 80%

Action: Finish

Fox Paws

fow_pawsI haven’t decided if this is just a swatch or if I plan to carry on as a scarf.

Action: Who knows?

And these are all the other random things I found in the UFO mountain that are either odds or were marked as frogged in Ravelry, but not actually frogged.

So they have either gone into the finished pile or the to frog pile!

Brea Bag

Brea bag
Drop Stitch Scarf

drop stitch scarf

shawl of some sort?

Dew Drops Kidsilk Scarf
Dew Drops kidsilk ScarfDew drops kidsilk scarf

Em's socks

Aeolian Shawl
Aeolian Shawl
Hexi puffs
hexi puff's

Felted project bag
felted project bag

Em’s fluffy socksfluffy Em sock

Handspun baby socks
handspun baby socks

Felted project bag – needs zip
felted project bag - needs zip

Fingerless glove
fingerless glove

Phew! I can’t quite believe I survived that! I swear I missed a few.
So my gal til the end of the year is to reduce my wip’s and try very hard not to cast anything on!

I think the final number is 41 WIP’s!
Do you have more?

End of summer

Those three words End . Of . Summer . felt pretty painful when I woke this morning. As I hung 2 huge loads of washing (the new giant slow washer of doom does have its plus side) on the line with the mist still thick in the air, I really felt tv that autumn was on its way. I plodded back indoors and made coffee ready to face my first child free day after 6 weeks of school holidays.

But you know what? By lunch time it was beautifully sunny and pretty warm! It averaged about 18C last week as we enjoyed our little holiday, but today it was about 23C, so not autumn at all. I noticed several posts on twitter today from upt’ North saying that the leaves we’re turning, including some very autumnal photos of golden leaves on the ground. It’s things like this that make me love the south coast, our summer is likely longer, our winters certainly milder. The weather makes up from being surrounded grockles (that’s tourists to us) half the year.

Read more

Group Made Wedding Shawls

It’s always lovely when a member of our Stitch & B’ch group gets married or has a baby. We usually make something as a group or the few of us who know her best, make a blanket or shawl.  Early this year we found out one of the newest knitters in our group, Cat, was getting married and she knew what she wanted to knit for her wedding and what she wanted help with.

camping_half_circle_shawl_2It was so good to have guidance, sometimes we make something as a surprise without much understanding of what the person might want.  Cat wanted us to knit a special shawl to match the accessories for her wedding dress.  The yarn was Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon  in 4ply/fingering weight which I dyed a warm grey.

camping_half_circle_shawl_yarnCat chose the lovely Elizabeth Zimmermann 100th Anniversary Camping Half Circle Shawl (which is available for free on Ravelry) for us to knit for her.  This went swimmingly with each of us taking it home for a week or two to complete a section and bringing it back to the group for someone to carry on.  It blocked out to a lovely size for Cat to wear on her big day.


camping_half_circle_shawl_3The lace for this shawl is really pretty and deserves some close ups, the edging is really lovely. You can find all the project details here.

camping_half_circle_shawl_1Cat also wanted to knit a shawl for her bridesmaid and decided to pick the Dew Drops Shawl pattern I wrote a few years ago. Those of you who have knitted it will know it’s not best suited to a new knitter who hasn’t really done lace. But she was brave!
Cat did amazing work knitting her way through hundreds of metres of lace weight yarn in stocking stitch, realising that the lace would take her until well after the wedding to finish and with lots of other things to do for the wedding she handed over the shawl to some other members of our group. They worked their magic and with 2 weeks to go before the wedding it came to my turn to work the last chart and cast off and block. I was quite excited, it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to knit some lace and even longer since I’ve knitted a Dew Drops shawl.

The first thing I did was weigh the remaining yarn, when the scales said 50g you could have knocked me over with a feather. We needed more than another 14 rows to make this into a good sized shawl!

I started adding an extra repeat of chart 4 and 5, this pattern is totally customisable on size and my triangular shawl calculator makes it easy to know how many rows you can knit your remaining yarn. It does all the maths for you!  My finger marks where the knitting was at when it was passed to me, with 50% of the yarn remaining, so it would have been quite small and a waste of the lovely coloured yarn.

dew_drops1A few days and 40grams of yarn later, not to mention 3 hours of casting off, I had this crumpled mess. The Dew Drops Shawl with it’s circle of lace with reverse stocking stitch looks pretty awful unblocked and I’d almost forgive someone who frogged at this point. dew_drops2
After blocking I’m sure you will agree it is worth the effort! I’m sorry these last two photos are so poor, the tremor in my hands was pretty bad when I took them!
You can see how much it grew with the blocking too!

Ta Da!!

Next time I can hopefully share some great summer holiday knitting photos with you.

Equality Stripe Cardigan and Hat

New pattern release Equality Stripe Cardigan

Equality Stripe Cardigan is knit top down from neck to cuff in one piece including button bands without seaming or picking up stitches for a button band!

Full photo tutorial for switching colours for the button band is included.

Sizes: Newborn, 3-6m, 6-12m, 12-18m, 18m-24m, 2-4yrs, 4-6yrs, 6-8yrs.
Yarn: Heavy fingering (4ply) or sport (5ply) weight yarn. Samples knitted in 6 colours of Katia Merino Baby.

Matching Equality Stripe Hat
Sizes: Newborn, baby, toddler, child, adult and large adult.

Or both patterns together as an ebook for £4.00

I am now part of the LYS In-Store Sales program. So participating yarn shops can sell my patterns directly to their customers in store. All the patterns that I have available for purchase through Ravelry are in the program.

These cute little unisex cardigans were inspired by a close friend of mine who was pregnant with non identical twins. She asked for ‘rainbow coloured knits’ rather than the traditional white or pastel baby colours often gifted to those who don’t know the gender of their baby before it arrives.
So I ordered some lovely soft yarn (Katia Merino Baby) in 6 rainbow colours and grey. The idea of the pattern took hold in my mind before the yarn even arrived.
After the first was off the needles it seemed only logical to make the cardigans ‘fraternal’ for these *fraternal twins. So I reversed the rainbow colour ordered and the second cardigan was soon complete.
*fraternal twins; meaning twin developed from two separately fertilized ova; dizygotic. (Developed from two eggs, each fertilized by separate sperm.)

With plenty of yarn to spare, these special babies deserved matching fraternal hats too!
So out of 6x 50g ball of yarn came 2 cardigans and 2 hats with significant yarn left over.

I released the hat pattern during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, to show support for LGBT difficulties in Russia. Donations were made to Stonewall during the Olympics in lieu of pattern fees.
Now they are both patterns available to buy trough Ravelry or you can use the links above.

Of course you don’t have to knit them in rainbow colours, 6 random colours or just 2 or 3 colours will be just as fun.

The joy of releasing a pattern hasn’t got old for me yet and in between pattern releases I forget just how great it feels. So this time, like all the times before it, I was surprised by the smile on my face and the joy of knitters seeing and liking my work.
Seeing my pattern rise up through the Ravelry hot right now list is always a little thrill. Often one I am too busy to spot, but someone points out to me.

While you all enjoy this I am working on getting my next design tech edited and test knitted.
Happy knitting!

Teyla Shawl

The unusual construction forms a semi circular shawl which hangs comfortably over your shoulders, with a textured stitch pattern and 5lace panels. Knitted from the nape of the neck outwards in one piece with easy resizing options included. Charted instructions.

Knitted and photographed by Irokezka ©.

Requires 4ply/fingering weight yarn – 625metres for the Shawlette size or 1000m for the Shawl size. It will look lovely in any weight yarn.

Teyla Shawl is the second shawl pattern I have self published.
It’s construction was a little different from the hundreds of triangular shawls and I think the textured stitch makes a lovely change from stocking stitch for the body.
The design came from paging through Barbara Walker Treasury’s, then modifying 2 lace patterns to meet my needs for the shawl. I wanted something that only had lace on the right side rows, with the wrong side rows being just purl.
Teyla Shawl came to fruit quickly and with the help of some lovely pattern testers and a tech editor it is now available for Ravelry Download.

Spinning for Fair Isle & A Poorly Cat

I’ve been quietly concerned about my old cat for a while now. Cuddles has just turned 19years old, which is a fantastic age. We’ve been lucky with him day one, with exception of being hit by a car when he was a kitten, he’s never had much need for a vet.
Sadly for the last 2years he’s had random bouts of diarrhoea and loosing weight, then he goes off his food. Each time the vet can find nothing wrong and further tests would require an anaesthetic, but he’s always got better and gained the weight back when his appetite returns. After several episodes like this the vet assumed it was some form of irritable bowel disease.

We had learnt to live with this occasional problem and it didn’t seem to be getting worse.
But over the last 6months he’s got more doddery on his back legs, unable to jump as well, and unable to sit down properly. He’s old and didn’t seem to be in pain with it (though it’s often hard to tell with cats) so we assumed it was old age causing stiffness and maybe arthritis. But in the last 2months those diarrhoea accidents have turned into solid poop accidents. Which from a super clean cat who washes obsessively was very odd. I noticed he was a bit smelly, and put it down to the pooping and washing less. He shows many signs of dementia so we gave him plenty of leeway and again didn’t worry as he seemed happy.
In the last 2 weeks I noticed slightly wet patches in his bed and on the floor (thankfully he’s been shut out of carpeted rooms for a while), saw him do solid poos while walking about and seeming totally surprised. Then when sleeping on my lap he wet himself (or should I say he wet me!!) I knew something was really wrong and off to the vets we went.
The vet didn’t seem sure and ran some full blood tests, wondering about thyroid, kidney disease, urinary infection (and dementia while doesn’t show in blood tests!).

So the last 2days I’ve nervously waited for the results, wondering if his time had come to an end.
I stayed up very late spinning both evenings plying some BFL/silk in yellows and oranges and spinning and plying some Romney fleece I’d dyed purple.


The plan for these contrasting mini skeins is a fair isle bag from the latest spin off magazine.

More cat news to follow as the results come in.


After 2 courses of antibiotics and a week in bed in agony. Did I mention just how bad this toothache was? We are now wondering if it is also neuralgia, this would explain why it’s been so much worse than regular toothache. Yesterday the antibiotics finally started to feel like they are working and the episodes of severe pain stopped. So I recommenced some knitting, which saved my sanity I’m sure. I think I was right on the edge of break down, not being able to knit makes life so hard!
I stayed up late working on my stripes, having slept during the day when I was released from the pain. Going to bed didn’t seem like a priority now I could knit again. I worked 4inches of one front for my cardigan before forcing myself to go to bed and listen to ‘The Hunger Games’ as I fell asleep. I am really enjoying it so far and it’s well read, I’m hoping it’ll be a good use of 3 Audible credits.


I’m really pleased with the 1 row button holes, they are the method Ysolda describes in ‘Little Red In The City’, they have a good firm edge and don’t feel like they will stretch out over time.

I’ll post more about the simple clean looking Cardigan when I’ve started the back and can post some photos of that.

I didn’t want to speak too soon, but 2 weeks ago a friend welcomed the first ever lambs into her Polworth flock. The ewe had been very sick and we were all very worried about her, even the vet. She eventually squeezed out 3 beautiful pure Polworth lambs. Unfortunately 1 lamb didn’t make it, but the 2 ewe lambs are being bottle fed and getting stronger every day. I was asked to help out with the lambs when my friend has other pressing things to deal with, so I had the pleasure of bottle feeding 2 beautifully 3day old lambs. Polworth’s have wonderfully fine fleece, the breed was originally established by crossing Merino’s with 1/4 Lincoln. This gives them the fineness of Merino with some of the length and lustre of Lincoln. The addition of the Lincoln also makes them slightly more suited to the English climate than purebred Merino sheep.
I’ll dig out a photo of some yarn I spun from English Polworth fleece last year for my next post.

Change of pace

Since the autumn started the onset of cold weather has left me struggling to manage my ongoing pain. Which has meant a lot less spinning and almost no dyeing.
It has given me a chance to do some Christmas gift knitting and finish a few WIP’s. Here’s a small selection;

Knitted Christmas Baubles (from “55 Christmas Balls to knit” and hanging stars based on a free Ravelry pattern)

Double knit Coasters
Double knitting (2colour, 2sided) Coasters in 4ply wool (based on a free Ravelry pattern for pot holders)

Cute red hat with reversible ear flaps using the Owls chart, this is to match a Cardigan for Emily. Still needs beads for eyes.

Simple yet effective lavender favours to keep draws smelly nice.

Another cute hat, this time with stranded colourwork bunnies and a bunny tail style pompon and earflaps.

Odd Shaped 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, it will give you a result as long as you have used more than 10% though.

Odd Shaped shawl
This calculation will work for any shawl pattern that starts at the top and has a consistent rate of increases along the length. (ie. 8increases in 9 rows out of 30 = ( ( 8 * 9) /30 ) = 2.4sts per row)
(ie Teyla Shawl)
The yarn usage and stitches per row won’t be as exact for some patterns, Teyla for example increases every row for several rows, then not at all for several more. So the Stitches per Row and Maximum number of rows will only be truly accurate if they fall on a pattern repeat.
I could alter the script so that you enter the pattern repeat length and it only gives answers for full repeats, but it probably isn’t worth the effort. (Please comment if you think that would be more helpful.)
(Use my triangular shawl calculator for regular triangular shawls like Ishbel, Aeolian, Laminaria, Traveling woman, Gail, Dew Drops, Danish Ripple, etc)

You need to know:

Number of starting stitches: (e.g. Teyla – 33, this is usually how many you cast on.)

Increase rate: (average number of stitches increased per row, (total number of increases within the repeat divided by number of rows in the repeat. e.g. Teyla – 2.4 )

Total yarn weight: (This is the total amount of yarn you have available for the project, works best in grams.)

Used yarn weight used so far: (This is the total minus what you have left un-knitted, works best in grams.)

Number of Rows worked so far:

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.

These other bits of information maybe useful/interesting for you.
Total Number of Stitches in the Last Row:

Total Number of stitches worked so far:

Maximum Number of stitches you can work altogether:

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. 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.