Saturday, 30 June 2012

Tour de Fleece - Day 1

Tour de Fleece Herdwick

I can't believe that a whole year has gone by since I took part in my first Tour de Fleece on Ravelry. It's a spinning event, timed to coincide with the Tour de France. The aim is to spin every day, from June 30th to July 22nd, with days of rest on July 10th and 17th (just like the Tour itself!) The challenge day is on July 16th, where you are meant to challenge yourself to try something tricky or out of your comfort zone. The cyclists will be doing their toughest mountain stage on this day!

I have a few goals that I'd like to achieve during the Tour. Firstly, I'd like to spin up my collection of British breed samples that I bought from Hilltop Cloud earlier in the year. Then I will use the yarn to knit a Sheep Heid hat (or perhaps a Sheep Heid-ish cushion cover.)

British Breeds roving (2)

Today I have spun up the two Bluefaced Leicester samples - one oatmeal and the other brown. They are still on the bobbins at the moment. I have ordered some more bobbins today (not very well prepared for the TDF was I?!) along with a niddy noddy that makes a smaller skein. So I have no idea of yardage at the moment. I will need to wind each yarn into a centre pull ball so that I can ply from both ends!

Tour de Fleece 2012 Day 1 001

Another of my goals is to spin some fibre and get enough yardage to knit myself a pair of socks (around 400 metres), so I have chosen some suitable fibre from my stash of Picperfic's gorgeous fluff! It's a mix of 70% superwash merino and 30% trilobal nylon. Take a look!

being weak! (1)

I've made a start on spinning this. It drafts pretty easily, I just hope that I'm making it fine enough. I'd like to N-ply it to retain the colour changes, but may have to resort to normal plying to get the yardage. We shall see! Here's how it's looking so far.

Tour de Fleece 2012 Day 1 005

I'm pleased with how Day 1 has gone. See you tomorrow for a report on Day 2! xxx

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Feeling Citrussy

You may remember that I have been a member of Picperfic's Luxury Fibre Club for three months this year. I have been thrilled with all the fibres I have received, and shall definitely be signing up for the next round of fibery goodness later in the year. Marianne has a wonderful eye for colour and I have not been disappointed with any of the fibre blends or colourways I've bought from her. April's squishy parcel revealed Darling, a blend of superfine merino, cashmere and silk. Marianne spiral dyed it so the colour changed gradually from aqua through to black.The colourway is Esme, after Marianne's new grandchild.

Esme Darling fibre (4)

Marianne suggested spinning it from the fold, using this video to help.

One of the things I like about Marianne's fibre club is that she offers suggestions for spinning, and includes a sample of the spun fibre. Sometimes she also suggests a pattern to knit using the spun yarn. I chose to spin the yarn using my usual drafting technique, but did follow the suggestion to spin a single with a view to knitting a Citron shawl. It took quite a while, but eventually my bobbin was full. In this photo you can see the darker shades, all the aqua and blues are hidden underneath!

Esme Darling handspun 001

I wound the yarn onto the niddy noddy, and managed to do so without any breaks! It was quite overtwisted in some places. I changed my spinning ratio part way through the spinning as I thought I was putting too much twist into the yarn. I loved the colour changes I could see.

Esme Darling handspun 003

When I took the skein off the niddy noddy, it sprang into a 'mess' of tangled spaghetti! Had I not read Marianne's accompanying newsletter, I'd have been seriously panicking by now!

Esme Darling handspun 007

But I followed the instructions for fulling the singles, with two rounds of soaking in very hot and then cold water, followed by some serious thwacking and snapping of the skein! The skein was left to dry. After drying, much of the overtwisting had gone, although it wasn't perfectly straight. I posted this photo in Marianne's Ravelry group, and the view was that once knitted and blocked, the little springy parts would disappear.

Esme Darling handspun 009

So I wound the yarn into a lovely, fat yarn cake. It gave me great pleasure to see how the colours changed towards the centre of the yarn. And it was my hand spun, mine!!!

Darling Esme handspun

I cast on the Citron shawl, it grows very quickly and proved quite a distraction during my report writing!!

Citron WIP (2)

The ruffled sections got slightly tedious towards the end, since you are doubling your stitch number during these rows. But it is an easy, mindless knit - perfect TV knitting, or for when you don't want to have to think too hard. I ended up doing 6 repeats of the pattern, and the ruffle was slightly narrower than it should have been. I just wanted to maximise my yarn usage. I think I achieved that as I only had about 20cm left after casting off!

Citron WIP

It took a week to knit, but I was motivated to knit it as I wanted to see how it would look as the yarn changed colour. After a good, long soak, I blocked it and left it to dry overnight. I was conscious of not blocking it too severely, as I was aware of some thinner parts in my spinning and didn't want a blocking disaster on my hands! Mr JK was then in charge of the camera for the photo shoot.

Citron 005

It has definitely turned out a wearable size, although an even bigger one would look good too, don't you think? I can picture one in shades of purple!! (No surprises there then!)

Citron 002

I wish that I'd had it ready for photographing when we were out at East Ruston last Saturday, as there was the most perfect stone 'Citron' that would have been great to use in photos. Never mind, you can get the general idea from this.


The Tour de Fleece starts on Saturday, so I hope to be doing a lot of spinning over the next month. I have a couple of projects in mind, I'll tell you all about them next time! See you soon! xxx

Citron 008

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Another day, another blankie!

Hello again, thanks for popping in! It's been a hectic time here recently as I raced to beat the 'handing in school reports' deadline! I managed to get them in on time, so rewarded myself with a weekend of self-indulgence! I started a Citron shawl last weekend, and it's knit up amazingly quickly. I used some of my own handspun, and am so thrilled with how it's turned out that I will give it its own post later in the week! Here's a sneaky look at it blocking.

Citron blocking 002

I also finished a Les Abeilles shawl using some yarn that I received in a recent Ravelry swap. I've made it for Eva; she works in the local village supermarket of our favourite place in Greece! She is always giving us something for free in our shopping, so I thought it might be nice to knit her a shawl as a thank you. We'll be handing it over later in the summer.

Les Abeilles for Eva (5)

Oh yes, I have started another blanket! This time I am using the Great British yarns from the Natural Dye Studio. Each one is a blend of 50% Blue Faced Leicester and 50% other British breed. I was a member for 6 months, and these are my yarns. They blend nicely together, don't you think?!

NDS Great British Wool Club

Amanda has designed a crochet blanket using these six skeins, and I've done one square this afternoon, just to see how well I could follow the pattern. I think it will look lovely when it's all done.

A blankie is born 001

As the weather was reasonable yesterday afternoon, we went over to the Old Vicarage at East Ruston to take a wander around the gardens. Just look at these gorgeous foxgloves. I always imagined them as homes for fairies when I was little!

East Ruston Old Vicarage June 2012 (16)

The patterns inside the petals are just beautiful, and they come in all my favourite pinky, purply colours!

East Ruston Old Vicarage June 2012 (14)

Before you ask, yes - of course I had cake! A slice of coffee and walnut cake to be precise, while Mr JK sampled some Millionaire's shortbread. Yumsville!!

East Ruston Old Vicarage June 2012 (37)

I will see you later in the week when I'll have a grand 'ta-dah!' moment with my Citron shawl! xxx

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Bad cat!

If you steal the yarn, Flo, your blankie isn't going to get finished now, is it?!!

Bad cat (1)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Crochet and cake

Hello! Thanks for calling in. It feels like ages since we last chatted! Mr JK and I were in Germany for the Jubilee weekend to celebrate a family silver wedding. Mr JK does the autobahn driving, so I'm left with plenty of craft time. My companion this time was the ripple blanket. I was about half way through before we left, and now it's all done! I do love this pattern - you can find a step by step guide over at Attic24. I decided to do five rounds of double crochet around the edge and then finish it all off with a picot edging. I love, love, love it! I bet you can guess who else is giving it the paws up, can't you?!
Flo tests out the ripple (1)

Yes, Florence, the resident blanket tester and yarn snuggler approves! I do have some leftover yarn, and should be starting a mini-ripple for Flo very soon! The finished blanket measures 100cm by 80cm (much too big for a pussycat!!). I'm really pleased with how the edging turned out, I pinned each bobble during the blocking.

Rainbow Ripple Blanket (7)

I also finished another pair of plain vanilla socks in a Regia yarn. They are for one of my Uni friends. I still have another three pairs to knit before our get together in October. I use the sock generator pattern from Violet Green as I find it's usually a good fit.

Plain Vanilla socks no8 (2)

We had a lovely few days in Germany. I must confess to some gluttony in the cake department, but I just cannot resist those delicious cakes and pastries!! From left to right, we have streuselkuchen, fresh strawberry cake and Dutch apple cake (on our return journey!)

Mmmmmmmmmmm cake

While we were in Germany, we visited a very interesting museum. It's really a large collection of objects from the last 100 years, to represent all aspects of daily life. Many of the objects have been collected from local families. There are sections on shopping, the household, farming, school, crafts and much more. It's a hands on museum, where you are encouraged to pick things up and handle them. In fact, we sat around the table and had tea and cakes using china from one of the displays!! I was especially interested in the handicrafts section. There were a number of spinning wheels, lacework, stitching and knitting. There was a lady demonstrating the loom while we were there.


On our way back to the UK, we stopped off in Delft again. We first went there last summer on our way back to Hoek van Holland to catch the ferry home and liked it very much. Our first stop was for lunch - a Dutch pancake of course! (I think I had the same pancake last time too!)
Germany June 2012 108

Delft has a number of canals running through the centre. I don't think there can be many boats travelling on them as many are covered in waterlilies.

Germany June 2012 103

I even found a little yarn shop tucked away. It had lots of beautiful crocheted things on show including a fabulous lightshade. If you are ever in Delft, you might like to pop in to Knotten.

Germany June 2012 114

Since returning home, I've been busy playing catch up with all the jobs I put off doing before I went away! That included tidying up the craftroom, and putting away various fibre-related acquisitions. I received a fantastic parcel of fibery goodness from a dear friend, Kat. Do you think she knows what my favourite colour is?!!
fibre goodness from Kat (14)

I shall see you soon when you'll be able to check on the progress I've made on Flo's blankie! Bye! xxx