Sunday, 26 January 2014

Finished objects in 2014; #2

Second finished object for this year

Started some time ago, when only half knitted this scarf has been in use as a sample to illustrate a technique of creating a yarn with a gradient of colour from one end to the other.

in this case, I had a black (crossbred) fleece, and a white one. By mixing them in different proportions I blended seven intermediate shades. Then I spun a continuous yarn using the colours from darkest to lightest, and back to darkest.

After plying, skeining and washing the yarn I knitted the scarf in a simple 4 x 4 basket-weave stitch which shows off the rather rustic nature of the chunky yarn.

This is one of the techniques taught in my Playing With Colour workshop (next one on 6th April in Auchterarder, Perthshire) and also in my more advanced workshops in Italy (see Corsi in Italia tab)

Friday, 17 January 2014

First off the needles in 2014

After a bit of concerted effort I have finished the knitted blanket I started just under 4  years ago! (Of course I have spun and knitted many other projects in that time, only working on the blanket occasionally)
Clare (on right) helping me to show off my finished blanket to the Perth knitters in the library, where we meet on Thursdays
It is knitted in three commercial yarns, using the same short-row pattern throughout but with different combinations of the yarns in each block.

To save on sewing-up, the blocks were knitted as five strips, each of five blocks, without casting off between one block and the next

The strips had to be washed and blocked before joining them together. I could only block two strips at a time due to space - and it took all my pins!
once the strips were all sewn together I crocheted a narrow edging.
It has been a long time in the making but now it is finished I am so pleased with it - and it is really cozy!
the space in my knitting basket will soon be filled with new projects I am sure.
There are more details about my blanket on my ravelry page here

Sunday, 12 January 2014

January - PhDs, UFOs and WIPs

After reflecting on projects completed in the last year, it is time to think abut the uncompleted ones...

PhDs - Projects Half Done

UFOs - Un- Finished Objects

WIPs - Works in Progress

I suspect we all have lots of PhDs and UFOs - the lure of an exiting new project, or some sense of dissatisfaction or boredom with a current one can lead to us abandoning one project in favour of something new. This may apply in several areas of life but I'm going to restrict myself to spinning and knitting projects (well, that's all I'm admitting to anyway!).

Since I finished my Christmas knitting (late on Christmas Eve of course, to keep in with tradition!) I have been concentrating on a UFO that has been around for a number of years.
A knitted blanket combining three commercial yarns, it is loosely based on the Lizard Ridge blanket pattern published by Knitty.
I worked out five different ways to combine the yarns, and knitted five strips of five blocks in these combinations. Last Thursday I finished knitting the last strip and since then I have been blocking them.

I have only got space (and enough pins) to block two strips at a time, so the last two got washed and pinned out this morning. last night I joined the first two strips together and tonight I will sew on the third one. Once all five strips are joined I will have to crochet an edging - but as I have very little of the three yarns left I will have to get a bit creative when deciding how to do that.

I also resumed work on another UFO - infact this one is a PhD!  a half knitted scarf in handspun yarn which shades gradually from black at one end to white in the middle.

 Now I need to knit back to black at the other end. I created the yarn from two fleeces, blending them in different proportions to make seven intermediate shades, before spinning a continuous yarn that changes colour along its length.
  I stopped once I had knitted to white and started to use the scarf as a sample for my Playing With Colour workshop (next one in November 2014). It will be good to finish it off.

My knitting WIP is a pair of lacy socks - I always have a pair of socks on the needles to knit when travelling. So far these socks have been knitted while travelling to and from Shetland, Piedmonte, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Reykjavik. I expect to finish them on a working trip to Edinburgh next month.

My spinning WIP is the yarn for a Rams and Yowes blanket (designed by Kate Davies).
I'm renaming it Mixed Flock as instead of the nine natural shades of Shetland wool for which Kate designed it, I am spinning wool from several different sheep breeds. I have spun six different fleeces 'pure', and blended three shades by using different proportions of white with black or moorit. Today I spun a bobbin of Shetland in a lovely colour called sholmit - a light brown. When I have spun the rest of that I will have the three blended shades to spin, before I can start the knitting.

My design WIP is to continue to develop the charting and knitting of elements of Willow Pattern from the china shards I found on beaches in Shetland. I have a few ideas for how to use these once they are knitted.

I also have a new design in my head, not even in paper (or wool) yet, which will use natural shades and an everyday image as inspiration, more abut that one in due course.

So I'm looking forward to a busy and woolly 2014!!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Rams and Yowes with a local twist - part 1

Since I met Kate Davies at Woolfest in 2012, and bought the pattern for her Rams and Yowes blanket, I have been planning to spin my own yarns for it.
 Kate designed the blanket to use all nine of the natural shades of Jamieson & Smith's Shetland Supreme yarn.  The natural colours of Shetland wool have delicious names. mooskit, shaela, moorit, gaulmogot, sholmit, katmollet and yuglet.

But I wanted to use as much local wool as possible, and to include several different breeds of wool... I have used three Shetland fleeces which I brought back from the islands, and three others which have all been bred and grown close to my home in Perthshire.

I have spun five of the 'pure' colours - grey Blue Texel (similar to yuglet), white Ryeland, reddish-brown Shetland Moorit, black Zwartbles and paler grey Shetland (shaela), ....
Left to right: Blue Texel, Ryeland, Shetland Moorit, Zwartbles, Shetland Shaela
 I have a paler brown Shetland (sholmit) still to spin

Next I needed to blend colours for the other three shades: to the sholmit fleece I added different amounts of white Ryeland to produce mooskit and gaulmogot, and to the white Ryeland I added a small amount of black Zwartbles to mimic Katmollet, a pale grey.
clockwise from top left: Katmollet, Mooskit, Gaulmogot, Sholmit

Blending colours is a lot of work, even using a drum carder. The mooskit and gaulmogot batches needed to be carded three times, and the katmollet still looks a bit streaky after four times through the drum carder, but the colours will blend more when I spin it woollen-style.

I'm looking forward to sitting down to spin these batts - after so much carding they will spin up easily. It will be some time yet before I can cast on and start to knit my Rams and Yowes though!

made in 2013

2013 was a year full of making..... friends - in workshops, while demonstrating and while travelling in Italy, Shetland and Iceland

I washed buckets full of fleece....
and used some un-washed

.... dyed some of it....
Solar dyeing

....with leaves....
forsythia, silver birch, woad, eucalyptus, golden sorrel, bronze fennel,
Silver Birch

.... flowers .....
red hyacinths, hibiscus, daffodils, red and yellow carnations, buttercups, campanula, alchemilla, lavender, salvia, verbena, lily, hydrangea, (not all successful but worth trying!)
Alchemilla mollis


... wood...
yew, logwood, brazilwood


.... fruit ...
worcesterberries, jostaberries, purple grapes, passionfruit
Passion fruit skins

.... and vegetables.....
red cabbage, red and yellow onion skins, beetroot skins
Beetroot skins fact just about anything that came my way...
....including Kool Aid

Mixed Kool Aid colours on grey Blue Texel and white Shetland fleece
before and after drum carding

and synthetic dyes - I dyed some lovely multi-coloured braids of Blue-Faced Leicester tops but I've lost the photos!

I reorganised my dye samples library (it took ages) to make it portable
and added some new plants to my dye garden including a lovely (and expensive) eucalyptus tree


I did hours of carding....
Blue Texel on the Louet 36pt drum carder

....and blended undyed wool to create gradients of colour....

and mixed dyed wool and other fibres....

.... for delicious multi-coloured textured batts

I spun all sorts of fancy yarns in workshops in Perthshire, Shetland and Italy.....

spinning a marl yarn from a mixed batt
Navajo-plying a singles yarn spun from a space-dyed braid

the Navajo-plyed yarn knitted up
Some subtly dyed lustrous wensleydale

.... and some lovely solid-colour yarn for my beloved Fair Isle knitting.

And of course I knitted, almost every day, sometimes with commercial yarn....
a cardi for my friend's baby; in Trekking sock yarn

Betty teacosy designed by Anne Kingstone; in New Lanark aran and Betty Stoller alpaca

another Betty

A simple hat (my design) in yarn hand-dyed by Elbert Espeleta

La Digitessa designed by Yarnissima; in Dreams in Colour

Peerie Flooers designed by Kate Davies, in Jamieson & Smith Shetland wool yarn

My version of Sissal designed by Jamieson & Smith, in their Shetland wool yarn

Garter stitch triangle shawl in mohair boucle yarn shade-dyed by me using home-grown Japanese indigo

Divided socks (two-at-a-time, toe up) my design, in Mirasol yarn
Sheep Carousel designed by Kate Davies, my modification (tail) in J&S Shetland Supreme

Christmas baubles, my design using traditional Fair Isle motifs, in J&S Shetland wool yarn
a fur-lined trapper hat for Kirsty (she liked it, but didn't enjoy being photographed!)

.... but my favourite projects this year were knitted with my own handspun yarn
Yarn: Fractal-spun hand dyed merino top dyed by Jon Dun-Ballam
Design: Northmavine Hap by Kate Davies

yarn: hand-spun hand dyed Blue-faced Leicester,
Design: Flight Gloves (my design)

and 2013's top project - my Scatness tunic - I used two dyes grown in my garden, two fleeces grown within 5 km of my home, five solar-dyed colours, two undyed colours, all spun and knitted by hand.
Yarns: Hand spun Blue Texel (grey), Zwartbles (black), Shetland (green, dyed with Silver Birch leaves then Japanese Indigo), and Bose (Italian wool) (dyed with 60% Logwood, 40% Logwood, Logwood plus Madder, and Beetroot)
Design: Scatness tunic by Kate Davies, my modification (pockets)