Trip to York with personal workshop in spinning

My friend who originally got me into knitting lives in York and I decided to pay her a much over due visit this weekend. Since moving back to the UK she not only knits and sews but has started spinning and dyeing her own yarns and processing fleeces.

Her house is a treasure trove of special Yarn blends and hand spun Yarn. There is of course non handspun Yarn too but the hand spun and dyed stuff was way too interesting to pay the commercial stuff any attention.

You may have seen my socks I made from one of her special non nylon sock blends.

My absolute favourites of hers were this neutral and this grey. But she also has some fun dyed braids and spun yarns.

Being the enabler she is, she taught me a 6 hour workshop from making my own batt on a drum carder, to spinning it up and playing it and finishing my yarn.

I never doubted it but I was amazed how good she’s gotten with deliberately practice and how much knowledge she now has. It was incredible.

This was not all however. On my last morning I also got a lesson in hand carding to make rolags! This is super fun and I liked the effect of blending two fleeces together a lot and seeing the fleece change into more recognisable fibre.

I now of course would love my own spinning wheel and drum carder. How does this happen!?

Do you spin?

Friday Favourites: The colour Orange!

I was looking through my yarn stash for some inspiration this week and discovered that a new colour has crept into my stash on several different yarn bases and with different projects in mind. All of these were of some sort of orange!

I wondered where this new like for this colour has come from as my two new notebooks are also orange and googled what Pantone’s colour of the year was but according to them I am very 2012! 2018’s colour of the year is in fact Ultra Violet.

Where was this obsession coming from? I have no idea, according to Vogue I am also missing the point in this year’s trendy colours! haha!

Oh well. According to y buying habit I shall be making something orange in the very near future.

The yarns below are from variety of independent makers with different projects in mind.

IMG_3666

The only one I am still certain about, is the solid orange in the middle which is Malabrigo sock yarn. This will become  pair of cabled socks at some point. The Zauberball at the end most likely as well. Maybe not cabled but I mean a pair of socks.

Qing fibre is a singles yarn so this is likely to become part of a shawl I think. I need to unwind the skein to have a look at the other colours properly.

Do you ever look through your stash and notice a new theme in your buying habit?

EDIT: I had prepped this post and then just this orange and beautiful pattern was released! Wool and Honey by Andrea Mowry!

Isn’t it fun!? I am raiding my stash at the moment to see if I can make it from the stash!

untitled-48_medium2
© Andrea Mowry

Review: The Uncommon Thread – BFL Fingering

I am new to yarn reviews and have previously only reviewed the yarn Spaced Cadet by Countess Ablaze. I very much fell in love with that super chunky yarn and this is a similar love story.

Having previously mostly been buying grey and mustard colour ways and maybe the odd orange, I kept eyeing up this lovely green yarn in my local yarn store. I had knitted with The uncommon thread before and loved it, so I knew the yarn would be good quality but I felt like I couldn’t buy it without a project in mind. Then suddenly a potential match made in heaven occurred to me using the BFL Fingering for the Boxy by Joji.

I cast on the second size and slowly but surely fell in love with this yarn. The colour is great and it is sort of semi solid with very dark spots and almost lime green speckles. The twist gives it structure and supports the lovely stitch definition. It has a certain hardiness to it while being soft enough to wear against the skin.

IMG_2965_medium2

The Uncommon Thread is a small indie company in Brighton, England which at its heart wants to be eco friendly and sources from small mills, resulting in some limited edition bases. From their about page:

I aim to source a few unusual, British breed yarns that are often limited editions. These are spun in small mills from small flocks and are very special. But here you’ll also find luxury fibres, such as cashmere, silk, alpaca and merino for your knitting pleasure.

I am very passionate about the environment and aim to minimise the impact I have on it. I simmer the yarns for a long time so that as much dye as possible can bond with the fibres, rather than going down the drain. Our mailing bags are 100% biodegradable and our tags made from 100% post consumer waste – not only that, they are beautiful too! Our British breeds yarns are spun locally, so have few ‘wool miles’ and some are even spun in a mill partly powered by water.

This particular yarn has been a joy to knit. It has body to it while not being stiff and it also has movement while not being flimsy. It really is a great all round yarn and I cannot wait to wear my boxy in the colder weather!

IMG_3244_medium2

 

 

Designing: What comes first for you?

I was wondering the other day about my own design process and other peoples. I am currently attending a “Design Masterclass” at my local yarn store and the format means we meet once a month for 4 months and explore designing our own garment or accessory based on some sort of inspiration.

During the process I got very blocked for the first 6 weeks. I was swatching and blocking swatch after swatch but never settling on anything to actually make. This got me thinking about other items I have made in the past and how I made them.

 

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016

This was a knit along hosted by Karen Templer of Fringe Association and she even provided a pattern for calculating your own raglan design. I kinda of knew what yarn I wanted to use, as I had just fallen in love with Brooklyn tweed shelter and wanted a marled jumper but with some black accents.

IMG_6734

So I knew it was going to be a top down raglan jumper and I wanted it to be simple to let the yarn sing. Hence you could say my main inspiration came from the yarn.

Wingit Top Down jumper

My Wingit top down jumper was started in a class with Anna Maltz at the lovely Wild and Wooly shop. I loved this class. I feel so free. For me this was mostly about designing something and getting good at 2 colour work. I grabbed a stitch dictionary for simple 2 colour charts and some yarn that was roughly the same weight and played with colours and shapes. It was such a freeing experience.

After each section was done I would think about what colours to use next and which sort of shape they should use. I used a variegated yarn I may not have used otherwise and it really pulls the whole design together.

IMG_8672 3

So this one was more of a process inspiration.

 

Cosmonaut Hat

My first ever design that I then wrote down as a pattern was my Cosmonaut Hat. This was purely inspired by Countess Ablaze’s amazing Space Cadet yarn. It sparkles! I wanted something simple to let her dye work be really shown off and ideally a massive pom pom.

29DEDB2F-0207-4953-A4A7-B36FE94DB2EC_medium2

So inspired by the yarn I can up with a really simple chunky hat.

 

Current design

IMG_3071

My current design I am working on as part of a class started with a yarn again. I knew that I wanted to use Foxen meets merino to make a jumper or cardigan that has some lovely texture in it. When I started swatching the yarn though I felt it was a bit thin in terms of weight for my liking. It is kind of sport weight maybe even a light sport weight.

So I then went through my stash and found some Madelintosh merino light that I had a similar amount of. In an attempt to not buy anything extra and make use of my stash I started swatching.

Now I dislike purling but I really did like the purl side of my swatches. But I was determined to find a different textured stitch that I liked. But I couldn’t. I did think i’d be happy with the effect of stockinette and started making my jumper. However when I turned it inside out I really liked it. So I continuing to knit this in stockinette but the end result will be turned inside out.

IMG_3342

This one started with yarn and I got creative by just using my stash and my knitting preferences. 🙂

I guess I like winging it and experimenting as I go. This alongside some creative chaos provides me my happy place. 🙂

 

 

Review: Yarn Space Cadet – Countess Ablaze

IMG_0200

I am not sure if I will regularly post yarn reviews but I fell hard for this one and just wanted to share my infatuation.

Since I started knitting and building a bit of a yarn stash, I have spent a lot at Countess Ablaze. I love her style and yarn bases. Particular favourites are anything using Blue Faced Leicester. Love it.

Her most recent addition to her yarn bases is this Super Bulky, squishy, soft and above all sparkly Merino yarn named Space Cadet. I kind of knew I was sold on it when it was bulkier weight than DK and named something with Space in it! I have a weird soft spot (or you may call it weakness) for heavy weight yarns. Only recently have I found a love for finer yarns but I still crave a big squishy yarn.

 

Not only is this one Super bulky but it also comes in a massive 200g skein!! It is massive! See this comparison shot with a Fingering yarn skein. My yarn winder could not fit a whole skein on it. I had to cake the rest myself without tools.

FullSizeRender 4

 

What is it like to knit? Well I abandoned all of my current projects (4 in total) to give this a go. I used 8mm and 9mm needles with a simple hat design in mind.

Above you can see the swatch and a medium to large pompom I made and I still have yarn left after completing the hat. It isn’t plied so you can get into some yarn splitting moments but I used my lykke wooden needles and it was pleasant to knit.

Post blocking I got 10 stitches per 4 inches in stockinette knitted flat using 9 mm needles and 10.5 stitches per 4 inches using 8mm needles.

I hence went forth and made a hat. I started a few times getting guidance from some free hat designs from purls soho such as: Snowy Day hat.

You can find the details on my Ravelry page. It is written in a really basic way as it is a basic hat with ribbing and then stockinette and a pom pom!

When you block your garment or swatch you will feel just how soft the yarn is. It kinda feels like it would dissolve, but don’t worry it is quite strong. It does however really bloom and become rather drapey for a super bulky yarn making it perfect for accessories against the skin in my opinion.

FullSizeRender 5FullSizeRender 6

And how have I not mentioned that it sparkles! It has 10% Manufactured Fibers – Stellina in it which is the sparkle! I love it. It may not be for everyone but it made the yarn for me.

Thanks Countess, this base is genius and I can’t wait to see more colours in it. This yarn takes quite a while to properly dry out after blocking so be patient. 🙂

Note: This is my personal opinion, I bought the yarn last week and loved it so much I wanted to share its awesomeness. 

2017 Round up

I love using Ravelry and storing my makes and tracking my stash using it.

2017 saw a productive and technically ambitious knitting year for me. I stopped commuting half way through the year which meant I tackled some bigger more complex projects rather than more portable mindless ones.

I made 4 pairs of socks (1 as a gift), 3 jumpers, 6 hats (2 were gifts) and 3 scarfs/shawls and one steeked cardigan.

punkmik makes 2017.png

New techniques and skills I tried:

  1. Tubular cast on
  2. Sewn bind off
  3. Three needle bind off
  4. All the cables
  5. Sock knitting – toe up
  6. Steeking
  7. More colour-work
  8. Seaming a sweater
  9. Making up my own hat pattern
  10. Brioche

New to me yarns I fell in love with:

  1. Shetland DK by Blacker Yarns.
  2. Stone Wool Cormo which I posted about here.
  3. West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply
  4. Blacker Yarns Samite silk blend

All in all it was a great year for me, exploring more challenging techniques and realising you can just do it and if it does not work out, unravel and start again. I think I am definitely a process knitter. It is all about learning for me.

I am hoping to share more of my journey in 2018 and it may include some other learnings, such as business related ones, but we shall see, 🙂 Happy New year!

A love affair – Stone Wool Cormo

I wasn’t meant to be buying yarn, but I just happened to be looking at the website of Loop of London this autumn and they had a yarn I did not know much about on sale.

It ticked a few boxes for me:

  1. It is worsted weight
  2. It is a yarn by a sheep breed I had not knit with before
  3. It is sourced and spun in the same country – USA

Stone Wool Cormo comes in an array of different colours. They tend to offer 3 shades/hues of one colour which I thought was nice and clever. I bought a rough amount for a colour work sweater and was super happy when I saw the yarn in person.
IMG_0490

From their ravelry listing:

We worked with our mill to create a special method of fiber preparation, one that marries woolen and worsted processes. The result is a unique yarn with woolen-spun’s airy loft and worsted’s strength. Springy, lofty, and with a substantial hand, Stone Wool Cormo offers crisp stitch definition and elegant texture in knitting.

And I couldn’t agree more. When I swatched for my colour work sweater I noticed straight away how bouncy the yarn is and how lovely my stitches looked.
Then after blocking a certain softness and almost velvet feel to the touch emerged.

This yarn does not transform like some do after blocking, but it was more enhanced as it gained some flexibility and drape and the softness I mention above.

IMG_4902 2

My Galloway Coatigan was made using this yarn and is wearing nicely. I have worn it every evening around the house so far and it keeps me cosy and warm and isn’t itchy in the slightest.

I really want to try making something cabled liked mittens or a hat in it next to really take advantage of its lovely stitch definition.

Have you fallen in love with a yarn this year?

FO: Pair of tiny socks

We have a finished object from the December WIPs! Whoooo!

This is my fourth pair of socks I’ve knitted not only this year but ever. So far I’ve knitted toe up and have done a class to knit socks from the cuff down.

That’s my plan for my next pair to see if I prefer it.

So far I’ve only knitted socks based on this book Custom Socks by Kathy Atherley. It does require a little maths but the idea is that you measure your feet and make a swatch and then calculate your perfect sock pattern. I’m still experimenting a bit. Mostly because for socks I haven’t bothered to swatch … 🙂

23969400_211267736083688_4622930552045961216_n_medium2
I do not have any small/children feet blockers! Oops.

These socks are the 3×1 ribbed sock from the book which I have made before. I used countess ablaze sock yarn in a one off colourway. I really like this green with little dots of bright colours. The Yarn is 75% BFL with 25% nylon and makes great strong sock yarn. It knits up nicely and doesn’t split. You can even wash it at 30 degrees.

Durable and hardwearing, this machine washable blend of Bluefaced Leicester and nylon makes the perfect sock yarn. Not just limited to socks, this yarn also works wonders on all types of knitting and crochet projects, it’s a real workhorse yarn that is soft and spongy yet tough all in one. Once washed and blocked, this hand dyed yarn softens and blooms beautifully.

Just do not wash the yarn at 40 degrees celsius. I made that mistake before and I can still wear the socks but they have felted and the elasticity is gone and the first time I put them on post hot wash I could hear the nylon cracking. :/

Back to the finished pair. I knitted one of these on an 8 hour flight and got so into it and the tiny screen watching 3 films that I misread my pattern notes and only knitted 3 3/4 inches in length of the foot not 3 3/4 inches less than what I wanted. This means these are way too small for me but actually 1 cm longer than one of my best friends’ feet! Ha! Win. Merry christmas to my lovely friend. 🙂 I have this fear of making things for others as it may not be good enough but she is a crafter and will appreciate the effort.

She has also just moved to colder climate so has a need for these. 🙂 I think the socks really wanted to be for her as dark green is one of her favourite colours.

Next I will have to find some children/small sock blockers. Any recommendations?

Have you ever accidentally knitted someone a present?