I don’t think the thrill of making yarn will ever wear off.  The more I do it the better it gets.  Each new fibre is the opportunity to explore and create, the possiblities are vast.  I’ve spun half of the BFL angora silk tops that I dyed earlier in this post and Navajo plied the resulting singles because I’m still excited about Navajo plying, it means all of the singles get used so that’s good, I hate waste.

I love how the colours turned out.

On the needles is Habitat by Jared Flood.  How much am I enjoying cabling? It’s so much fun, I don’t know why I don’t do more.  The yarn is lovely to work with too, though judging by the weather I may not be wearing it until next year.

Despite this I think I may need to knit Seraphine very soon, Melbourne weather is after all notoriously fickle.


N is for…

…Navajo plying. Which is what I’ve been playing with recently.

It started with the two locks that I photographed for the Bendigo post.  I washed them to see how they looked clean and both of them came up beautifully.  I’m excited to have new fleecy possibilities to explore but I don’t want to rush into anything.  However, lately there has been a lot of conversation of carding amongst my friends, Sharon has just become the proud owner of a Fancy Kitty drum carder, I recently purchased a pair of Ashford hand carders from Spun Out and we met Richard Ashford at Bendigo who was utterly charming and generous and gave me a lesson on drum carding resulting in free batts for both Sonia and I.  So with all of this carding excitement going on I picked up my hand carders and began to card the two locks together.  I spun the resulting rolag with one of my Ken Ledbetter spindles and then had a go at Navajo plying the single.  Heaps of fun!  Although I can be a bit project orientated I do love to play around with fibre just for the fun of it.

I think it has a rustic charm, though I don’t think I will be blending the two fleeces when I come to spinning them proper.

Anyway, so the Navajo plying, I don’t know why but I had got it in my head that it was way more complicated than it actually is.  I do this occasionally, spend ages looking for the trick when there is none, it really is that simple, just my brain getting in the way.  I fear I am doing the same with crochet and hopefully one day soon that too will just click.  So yesterday I had another attempt using the singles left over from Julie’s birthday yarn.

I made a N just because I can!  I’m quite happy with my dabblings so far there are lengths of yarn that are beautiful though more practice is needed.  I fudged a bit when the singles broke which looks a little bit shit but hey, practicing this is fun. I’m also practicing my long-draw but I don’t have anything worth showing there. Hopefully that too will click with time but I think that’s a muscle memory/co-ordination thing rather than a silly mental block, or maybe it isn’t, time will tell.

Well, I better get back to the gift knitting and musing about fleecy possibilities.  Going back to work is going to be a real wrench that’s for sure!

ttfn Melanie x

Sheep-tastic study

The postie has just been, yay!

He brought me 2 parcels from R.E. Dickie containing these beauties.

I haven’t properly unwrapped them yet but I have had a feel and inhaled deep, deep, restorative lungfuls of woolly fumes, ahhhhh!

They are 200g each of Southdown, BFL, Manx Loughtan, Devon, Herdwick, Shropshire, Jacob, Dorset Horn, Swaledale and Massam (this order does not correspond to the picture because I’m just too flippin’ excited to think of things like that).  Obviously I shall be getting more because there are way more British Breeds out there but these will do for starters.

I am planning to spin them and create a British Breeds blanket the design of which I haven’t decided on but I am investigating my options (thanks Ravelry x).  It’s all part of my self education in spinning and all things sheepy.  I have also bought a few more books, The Knitters book of Wool is good, but I want MORE!

So I bought three books.  Beautiful Sheep by Kathryn Dun and Paul Farnham because who wouldn’t want to look at pictures of sheep looking their most beautiful?  In Sheep’s Clothing by Fournier and Fournier which I’m over half-way through, lots of useful information and black and white pictures of staples and sheep, many more breeds covered.  Lastly and not at all leastly because I think this is going to be my absolute bible The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Robson and Ekarius, this is truly a gorgeous book covering not just sheep breeds from all over the world but other animal fibres too.  It’s informative about how to dye, prepare, spin and use each type of fibre and the photos show spun and knitted samples as well as examples of clean and dirty staples.

I am overwhelmed by sheepy bliss!

In other news…

…I did a gauge swatch for Owls yesterday but I must have had a sudden rush of excrement to the brain because I knit it flat and I washed it without measuring it first. D’oh!  I was so determinded not to end up with a jumper that grows in the wash and doesn’t fit again.  Anyhow, I have cast on a sleeve as a gauge swatch, (thanks Sharon) and I shall compare the two.  I’ve decided to frog and reknit the Idlewood  as I want it to be closer fitting but that can wait for a while, I need to get up the courage first.

ttfn Melanie x

Happy Birthday Julie

Here are the pics of your birthday yarn being made.

I took some beautiful BFL/Tussah silk tops.

I dyed it using colours I know you like.

I spun it into 2 bobbins of singles.

I plied the 2 singles and finished the yarn.

Then I knit my fellow homesick Yorkshire lass a Yorkshire rose, just because.


Wishing you a very happy birthday Julie x

Drunken spinning and a surprise

I have it on good authority that spinning under the influence does not end in regret, unlike knitting under the influence which in my experience always ends in a frogtastic heap of regret.  So the other night, I began to spin though I was enjoying a G&T, my second (I have little tolerance).  I had just flicked a  box full of English Leicester X locks that I’d dyed and they looked so pretty.  It all seemed to go brilliantly.  The next day however I went to spin with a friend and I tried to resume my spinning but there was something wrong, the bobbin of yarn was unravelling.  After a while we fathomed it out, I had put the lower drive belt on the wrong way the previous night.  So eventually I began spinning with the drive belt on wrong again but didn’t have that natural ease that it normally does.  So the moral of the story is, if you’re going to take a tipple and spin, make sure you know your right from your left or have your wheel already set up.  Anyway I like the results very much, they turned out a beautiful semi-solid because the fleece took up the dye differently at the ends and tips and that’s the surprise.

They will remain singles because I’m not spinning weirdly again, no likey.  However, I really should sit in front of the computer with a couple of you tube  videos on Navajo plying and learn as I seem to be amassing a fair amount of unplyed singles that I could practice on.


Somewhere over a slightly muted rainbow


So I decided to ply it, because as Anna very rightly pointed out, plying is so much fun.  I love the play between the different colours as they twist together which, should make for an interesting knit too.  Also I don’t knit many lace-weight shawls, though that said I think Laura Chau’s simple yet effective shawl may be perfect for this yarn, but that requires a bulkier yarn than laceweight.

So stats: It’s 183 grams and 270 yards, I have 12g of singles left y’know just in case I get my arse into gear and decide to learn Navajo plying. It’s a 2ply, semi-worsted spun, aran/worsted weight about 9 wpi and that’s it really apart from it’s deliciously soft, drapey, silky and pretty, in my humble opinion of course.

About the fibre, blended tops bought from Mosley Park in Adelaide, dyed by moi.  Wensleydale is a Yorkshire longwool breed, a product of Robert Bakewell’s sheep breeding expertise prized for the evenness of micron count.  Teeswater is a old longwool breed from Teeswater, County Durham in the North-East of England.  They are both really cute and look like they have dreadlocks.  Both of these sheep are listed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Wensleydale as at risk and Teeswater as vulnerable.  They are lovely to dye, spin, knit and wear as you may remember, I knit a Coraline cardigan from Wensleydale and wear it lots.

I have other news but that will have to wait for later, I’ll explain then.

ttfn Melanie x

To ply or not to ply…

…that is the question I’m asking myself this week.

I finished the first 100g of the Wensleydale/Teeswater/Tussah silk singles and it’s looking pretty.

Spinning does magical things to fibre don’t you think?  So I have another 100g to spin and I’m wondering whether to ply or not.  Here’s a picture of the singles in a twist.

I quite like this also.

I suppose in the end it all comes down to what I want to do with it and the honest answer to that is I don’t know.  I know I definitely need more bobbins so that I can leave the singles on the bobbins and keep spinning while I decide but that’s not very helpful.  Does anyone have any ideas?