Happy Yorkshire Day

Happy Yorkshire day everyone! Today is the day that Yorkshire folk celebrate their Yorkshireness and all things Yorkshire.  I shall be wearing my White Rose of Yorkshire with pride at knit night tonight.

It came in a kit for from baa ram ewe Yorkshire’s loveliest yarn shop.  The yarn is British blue-faced Leicester produced in Halifax West Yorkshire, which kind of makes up for it not being made from a Yorkshire breed such as Wensleydale or Swaledale.

So I thought I would celebrate with posting some facts about my hometown of Doncaster in South Yorkshire as an expression of my pride.

Not a lot of people know but butterscotch, one of my favourite confections (which has no scotch in it but heaps of butter and other yumminess) originates from Doncaster.  It was made by a company called Parkinson’s and even got Royal approval after it was given to Queen Victoria when she opened the St. Leger horse race in Doncaster in 1766.  Now called The Grand St. Leger it is the oldest and longest horserace in history, not that I know a great deal about horse racing though I did once do a stint at silver service waitressing at the St. Leger.  Butterscotch is still being made by Parkinson’s in Doncaster after a recent revival, yay!

Quite aptly as today is Yorkshire day, hubby and I went to see the Grimethorpe colliery band  from South Yorkshire last night, they are touring Australia at the moment.  You may recall that Grimethorpe colliery band were made generally famous through the film Brassed Off.  Brassed off happens to be one of my all time favourite films, not only for the brilliant and emotive musical score and fantastic acting (Pete Postlethwaite, my absolute favourite actor) but because I grew up in a mining town and lived through that era so it has a particular poignancy for me. I have to say they proved themselves not only to be superlative musicians but also humorous entertainers too, we had a fantastic night.

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

Three colours Shetland

This weekend I finished spinning and plying 3 of the 5 Shetland sample tops from Jamieson and Smith. They were utterly gorgeous to spin on my spindles and I love the finished hank.  I spun the singles simultaneously but making sure that the lengths of the different colours were unevenly matched so that I had an marl type overlap when plying as advised by Binkaboo Jen.  In hindsight I should have been a bit more precise about this and made sure that the overlapping/marl lengths and plain lengths were more or less equal but I’m chalking that up to experience, I’m sure there will be a next time.  It’s still a bit damp so I haven’t weighed it or checked wpi but I will be adding it to my Ravelry stash page tomorrow.  It is dry enough to take a photo of though and because I’m excited to share here it is…

Anyway, a little factual something about Shetland that I have learned since I began spinning with this wonderful fibre.  Shetland sheep are a primitive breed like Icelandic and Finn and Jacobs with a fine inner and longer coarser outer coat.  Traditionally it has been used to make exquisite lace shawls, Fair Isle jumpers and carpeting so clearly it’s a very versatile  fibre anything between 12-40 microns.  It is an excellent steeking wool which is handy considering that’s an integral part of Fair Isle knitting, hmm what came first?.  It also comes in many different natural colours, one day I plan to knit a Fair Isle jumper from all the natural colours, but before then I shall have to learn Fair Isle, which I plan to do this September.  I’m planning Endpaper mitts and to spin the fibre (Shetland of course) for them myself, it seems silly not to really.

According to Clara Parkes “knitters book of wool” it’s best spun “woollen” for Fair Isle purposes as the fibre then blooms and this conveniently hides the yarn that is carried behind.  As my fibre came as combed tops and I don’t have a drum carder (yet) I spun this hank semi-worsted.  Given that Shetland is a low lustre fibre though means that there are no losses in the lustre department with spinning woollen.

I’m beginning to see that spinning from combed tops has it’s restrictions when it comes to learning about different breeds and their fibre.  I realised this the other day when admiring a friends recently acquired fleece how much of the character of the fleece is lost, this is probably down to all the processing the fibre has undergone which makes for a very homogenized fibre.  Unfortunately as I live in Australia I cannot import unprocessed fibre for my spinning adventures so I guess for now I shall just have to suck it up.  I’m definitely not put off and shall continue to purchase combed tops of British breeds because it’s fun but will just have to save and plan for a spinning holiday around Britain in the meantime.  Something to look forward to don’t you agree?  Speaking of something to look forward to I have purchase a wheel now that I’m completely hooked on spinning.  It should be in my possession in 3-4 weeks because of the public holidays, I’m soooooooooo excited.

ttfn xMelanie

Happy coincidence

D’you know what’s weird?

When you purchase yarn for a project and then for whatever reason that project and yarn does not marry, I seem to recall that happening before hmmmmm.

So deja vue aside, I purchased this…

It didn’t come like that, I unwound the skein so you could see all the pretty colours, I’m nice like that sometimes.  What is it? Oh yes, pardon me, It’s Fyberspates cashmere sock yarn in colourway “so pretty” and a very apt name I think.

It was supposed to be for BFF socks for the Richmond Knitters sOCkTOBER KAL but since I ordered it I have purchased another skein of yarn that is even more perfect for that project.

So what will you be my pretty I asked yesterday as I tootled along to SnB.  Well the lovely and very wise Sonia had the answer.  “It looks lovely next to your face” she said as I snuzzled the skein. Oh oh, light bulb moment, Aestlight shawl!!!  I have this in my queue and had provisionally allocated my Rowan 4ply wool to it, but as I’m going to knit Damson in my silver lightning Knitch yarn with its lovely semi-solid sheen of silver grey, the Aestlight will look like a poor relation in comparison.  Am I rambling? I think I am.  The upshot is I cannot have two grey shawls, one stunning and one a tad lacklustre in comparison, plus don’t you think the colours say “red light in the morning…” i.e. Aestlight, I think they do.  So when the Yarn-Gods drop a coincidence in your lap like that, ignore it at your peril, for they will smite you down and you will be knitting one day and happily casting off a huge project completely oblivious to a dropped stitch in an awkward place and you will wash it to block it and the unseen dropped stitch will run all the way down and you will cry.

Erm, talking of crying, (and trying to regain my composure a little) Sonia, lovely wise knitter friend also suggested a solution to yesterdays mini meltdown re:kitchener + icord. She suggested that as I was weaving my end in I could perhaps fudge the blimp on my sleeve cuff.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this, maybe I was overly fixated on making it look perfect and seamless because I thought I should be able to, after all that’s the point of kitchener stitch.  Anyway I’m over it and going to spend the day finishing the second sleeve and possibly even attaching sleeves to the body, if I don’t have too many distractions, y’know, like online yarn stores selling their pretty wares, cooking dinner, mum have you seen my shirt… that kind of thing.

ttfn x


Well, the holiday is over and it’s back to Australia, work and normal everyday life.  But knitting joy continues, albeit at a slower pace, so here is the first FO since I got back (drum roll)

I’m extremely pleased with it, it is soooo soft and light and warm and the colour is just beautiful with very subtle variations of tone.  The yarn is Orkney 100% angora that I bought at baaramewe on my hols and I used just over half a ball for this scarf sized version of Ysolda’s Ishbel and that means I have enough left over for the Ishbel beret, bonus!

I like that the yarn is from the Orkney Isles as well, as they are one of my fantasy places to live.  One day I hope to holiday there, but for now I fantasize  about raising a few sheep, growing some veggies and sitting by a real fire, knitting in an Orkadian cottage, snug as a bug while the wind and rain lash outside. Hmmm.

Next to be cast on is Emily, a cape also by Ysolda.  Apparently capes are very fashionable at the moment. I think they are very suited to the Autumn weather here in Melbourne, as often you want something to go round the shoulders to keep them warm.

Visit to Baa Ram Ewe

Well my holiday is whizzing by and I haven’t blogged regularly like I promised I would, but I couldn’t let this gem go by without due recognition.

Fiona and I took the train the other day to Headingley in Leeds (well actually two trains) to visit Baa Ram Ewe a fairly new yarn shop.  I had heard about it’s opening from one of the English forums on Ravelry (Baa Ram Ewe now has it’s own group on Ravelry)  and it sounded fantastic so of course it was top of my list of places to visit whilst on holiday in Yorkshire.

The shop is really easy to find from the train station, about a 15 minute walk, as it is on Otley road and opposite the Arndale centre, just ask anyone  you pass on the street and they will direct you (Yorkshire people being the friendliest on the planet and everything).

First sight of the shop told us we were in for a treat, and we weren’t wrong.

Loving the totally cute open/closed sign made by the owner Verity.

This place truly is THE place to come for British and particularly Yorkshire yarn and knitterly goodness, we were blown away by all the pretties on offer and Verity’s welcoming friendliness (Yorkshire lass you see!).

The place has a real community spirit too, and we both love the knitted bunting a great way to use up scraps we think.

After careful deliberation and much holding back (Verity please take all my money for the rest of my life in exchange for yummy yarn.  No, no, really I don’t need to eat or anything, ever!) I came away with this:

Some Wensleydale Longwool DK in fennel a gorgeous colour, (currently being knitted up as Ishbel by Ysolda Teague), both Ysolda books (yes, I know I have them both as downloads in my Ravelry library but they are so cute), a sheep tape measure (super cute), and a Herdy mug and Herdybank (for yarney pennies). Herdy is the face of the Lake District a gorgeous Herdwick sheep, the kind Beatrix Potter bred and  proceeds from the Herdy range go into maintaining the Lake District so looking cute and doing good, check out http://www.herdy.co.uk.

I can honestly say that Baa Ram Ewe is yarntabulous and I am looking forward to the online store so I can buy British Breeds Yarn when I’m back in Melbourne, we had such a great day, thanks a million Verity.