Adventures and learnings from drop spindle spinning

At Edinburgh yarn festival I was lucky enough to attend a class on using a drop spindle. I had never tried spinning before but liked the idea of making my own yarn and the portability of a drop spindle. We live in a small flat with not a lot of storage space, so a wheel is not likely to fit anytime soon and also a drop spindle is a lot cheaper to start with.

During the lesson we used a bottom whorl spindle and had a variety of shetland fibre to use creating a marled look.

My spinning was all over the place but I seem to have been bitten by the bug and bought myself a started kit at the festival. The starter kit included a basic top loading whorl spindle ( I didn’t know I wasn’t buying what I used in the lesson) and some fibre. I think it was a merino fibre. I also got myself some lovely fibre from John Arbon to practice with.

My Spinning tools

As I mentioned I bought a drop spindle from Edinburgh Yarn festival and it was from the threshing barn store. My spindle didn’t have a notch in the whorl making it quite hard to not have the yarn slip and I would definitely recommend to check that you do have a notch when buying your drop spindle. We cut a small notch into mine now and it is so much better to use. I have just been spinning and spinning over the easter holiday. 🙂

As it is only the second ever spindle I have used I cannot say much more about it. Sometimes it spins really well but other times it is a bit wobbly. I think it is quite heavy ~60g or so, causing some of my spinning attempts to fall apart as I am getting quite thin singles now.

I have my eye on a turkish spindle from Enid Ashcroft to try out. In terms of tools that is it so far.

My Spinning

My spinning is basically what I learned in the class. I will pull out bits from the fibre and make rolls using my hands. This is meant to created woolen yarn instead of worsted. A lighter and warmer yarn apparently. I think spring my spindle and do a park and draft method. I have attempted spinning with the spindle just going for it freely but I am not a good enough drafter yet.

I have also come across this challenge of spinning 15 minutes a day.

The blog is super interesting and I like the idea of learning something in small increments as that fits my current lifestyle and leaves room for knitting and crochet.

The types of fibre I have tried to spin with so far are Shetland, Exmoor Blueface and I think Merino. So far the Exmoor Blueface is the easiest but also quite easy to mess up. I liked the longer staple of the shetland making it a bit more predictable in my own hands. I can really see how this spinning different types of yarn and breeds can be really addictive. Waiting I have some more shetland slightly overdid by my friend and some John Arbon Devonia Wool Top.

After spinning 2 singles, I wind each one into its one ball and then wind them together into a ball from which I then ply. I find this helps with tangles a bit makes for a more even ply. But I have read all sorts of ways you can do this and gadgets to use to keep your singles under control, from actual gadgets to flower pots. So far I have kept things simple.

My hand spun yarn has been incorporated into a crochet blanket which I talk about a bit here. I currently have about 50grams of yarn drying and would like to knit that into something. We shall see what it becomes.

IMG_8254
All hand spun bits crochet together

Crochet Memory Blanket – Lykke review

I have no idea if this is a thing or not, but I started to crochet a sort of memory blanket using leftover yarn and newly spun yarn.

At Edinburgh yarn festival I took a drop spindle class and I have been making a tiny bit of yarn here and there practising and trying to get better. I then really wanted to use the yarn in something but as it is just small bits here and there I wasn’t sure what to do. So I picked up my Lykke crochet set and started to crochet random bits together.

I guess this is sort of using a log cabin approach but using crochet rather than knitting. This gave me a great excuse to finally use my Lykke crochet set.

IMG_2887 2

The Lykke crochet set

The set comes with 10 crochet hooks in various sizes. The sizes are conveniently edged into the bottom of the hooks, where there is some metal wrapped around the driftwood.

Similarly to the interchangeable needle set, the wood is smooth and soft to the touch with no scratchy parts. The top of the hook is slightly pointed making it really easy to use, in my opinion. I have only ever crochet with metal sets and this pointy tip really made a difference to me. It was a lot less fiddly to get into different sized loops. My crochet skills are a bit rusty and I am using all sorts of weights of yarn so I really could feel the benefit of this top.

Otherwise they handle as you may imagine a stick might.  They are stick shaped after all. I have only used them for about 30 mins to an hour at a time and got a little bit of a mark on my fingers, like a pressure mark but I think due to the smoothness of the wood I had no blisters.

The bag they come in as a metal latch and a small zip pocket for bits and bobs as well as another pocket on the inside. So plenty of room to store notions in.

The other nifty thing, is that you can stand the hooks up. I am not sure why you need to but if you were to change crochet hook a lot this may be useful. Although thinking about it, the sizes are etched into the bottom so maybe what I am saying makes no sense and you would never stand them up? 🙂

IMG_2942

All in all I am enjoying using these and the sharp tip at the tip is great and they grab the yarn well, but I am not sure if they are the most comfortable to use for longer sessions. A handle of sorts shaped a bit more ergonomically may have been nice.

The blanket

The blanket itself is going well. I had to re-remember how to crochet but otherwise I am just making it up as I go, holding some yarns double or triple and joining them in random ways with the aim of a blanket shape. 🙂

You can see some of the evolution below. I started with just handspun yarn and then found my leftover stash and started to experiment. It can be so freeing to just create from your mind without a set plan and I like that I can point at the sections and tell you which completed project the yarn came from.

P.S: I bought these hooks myself and was not endorsed in any way to do a review.

What is in your notions pouch?

Since starting to really take up knitting in 2015 I have collected some notions that I carry with me on almost every project. So I thought I’d share what I carry and also ask what do you carry in your notions pouch?

The list for me goes something like this:

  1. measuring tape
  2. tapestry needles
  3. scissors
  4. cable needle(s)
  5. stitch markers
  6. crochet hook for fixing dropped stitches
  7. stitch holders
  8. Pens
  9. Washi tape – a revelation from a knitting class. So good to use for charts!
  10. End caps for interchangeable needles
  11. Tightening tool for interchangeable needles – Must have on the go.

Other things I tend to use are a note in the mobile app Evernote where I collect images or links to tutorials and also tend to have an “on-the-go” project notes note which I tend to transfer into my Ravelry project later on.

Things I cannot be without are scissors. I love having nice scissors. They have to be sharp. I love these bonsai ones especially. They feel sharp and tactile, so nice to use.

IMG_1714

 

I tend to have a variation of my tools across several notions pouches so I only ever carry the must have things with me but I am debating to just carry it all in one of the bigger ones. Less faffing and having to look in all the different pouches. Below and example of what came out of which bag!

IMG_4231

 

When I asked the local knitting group they also carried some awesome things such as waste yarn and my favourite, an emergency chocolate bar! I am not sure if mine would ever last but I may try it. 😛

So now over to you. What is in your notions bag?

KnitPro Aqua Sock Blockers review

I recently finished my 4th pair of socks that I have knitted toe up. These were way too small for me but perfect for  friend. So I needed some new sock blockers. (For myself I followed this tutorial on making my own specific to my own feet.)

I purchased the small size of the KnitPro sock blockers in Aqua. These are made from a sturdy plastic and have cut out sections, which helps air circulate for faster drying. Initially as I unpacked the sock blockers I was a bit disappointed, they were scuffed in places and the cut out section had jagged edges.

IMG_1767
You can see the jagged edges in the cut out sections here

 

It looked like the scuffing was from the jagged edges being sand papered a bit but they are certainly not smooth. I want to try and smooth them a bit more, but I did just go ahead and used them and they worked very well.

img_1766.jpg

My socks fitted the size perfectly and blocked nicely. The stitches are even and they socks actually look like proper socks now. I will definitely always use sock blockers now. I was lazy before and only used my homemade ones once. oops!

I cannot wait to give these to my friend and see if they fit her properly. 🙂

IMG_1770

Regarding the sock blockers, if you see them in a shop try to see how jagged the cut out bits are and pick the best set. Judging by other online reviews this is quite common, but I am sure a bit of sanding with a very light sandpaper will help too if you are worried.

Mine did not catch on my yarn even though they had jagged edges. I can recommend these, as they do the job, just be careful using them initially.

Note: I bought these sock blockers from my own money and have not received any incentive to review these.

 

 

A sword or a knitting needle? Lykke knitting needle review

I want a sword not a knitting needle -Kalen.” — David Eddings

I have had my set of Lykke interchangeable needles for a year now and have knitted all sorts of things with them. From small circumferences on sleeves and hats, to full on bottom up jumpers and brioche scarfs.

The main thing I have not knitted with them is socks, however. This is due to the fact that the needle set starts at 3.5mm needles and I like to knit my socks on 2.25 to 2.5mm needles.

But fear not, I managed to buy some 2.25mm and 2.5mm needles while I was in Philadelphia in November. As soon as I have used them I will review them too.

Lykke 5″ interchangeable needle set

LYKKE

I got this 5″ interchangeable set as a present last Christmas and was over the moon. I am always nervous asking for something a bit pricey and then possibly not liking them as I had no chance of seeing the needles in person before getting them. Mine are in the grey denim look case and are stunning to look at. The case they come in is lovely and sturdy and the needles are smooth and kind of shimmer in the light.

From the Lykke website:

Named after the Norwegian word for happiness, LYKKE Crafts combine high quality materials and thoughtful design to produce beautiful, durable, happy-making knitting needles.

A great detail I love and will judge all needles from now on by is that the needle size is etched into the black metal and painted in a contrasting colour. So far I have not noticed any wear and tear on these. On other needles I have used in the past the size was merely painted on and was rubbed off after a few uses.

The cables are lovely soft nylon cables and the set includes several sizes. It comes with 5 different cables; two 24″ cables, two 32″ cables and one 40″ cable. Also included are 4 keys, 2 cord connectors (for joining cables together) and 4 stoppers.

IMG_7915 2
My parents spoiled me, giving me “Woolens” and these needles for Christmas 2016.

So far I have knitted a cabled cowl and a couple of cabled and textured hats using these from beginning to end. I am now in the middle of using them for a worsted weight cardigan and DK weight brioche scarf as well.

They are very versatile and smooth and suit all different types of yarn. I have had no issues with 100% wool, 30% silk mixes or 100% merino. The tips are not the sharpest or dullest. They are kind of in the middle. I have not attempted any lace work but fear it may be a tad tricky with these needles. My friend who is an avid lace knitter much prefers metal needles for lace anyways. I am yet to try lace knitting so cannot comment more than that. Cables and basic increases and decreases seem to work well though. So not too blunt or overly sharp.

In terms of look and feel and style these are amazing. I am a huge fan. I do love knitting with wooden needles in general and these are a joy to use. However in the UK they are currently still hard to get. Especially if you need other bits and pieces that may be outside of the set, such as an extra pair of needles or a cable. I am not sure there is somewhere currently?

Price wise these are pricey if compared to a knitPro set but comparable to a Chiaogoo interchangeable set and come with a good variety of cable accessories.

So using them over an 11 months period, I have had no issues with the connectors and needles coming undone while knitting in the round. This has been a relief as even with using the turn keys I have had pother sets come undone in the past and then the yarn gets caught in the gap created.

The Lykke needles have been reliable and fun to use. I also haven’t seen much wear and tear even though I mostly use 4mm to 5mm needles on a regular basis. I actually gave away my knitPro wooden needle set to a friend who was learning to knit as I don’t need 2 sets of wooden needles and these will do perfectly til the end of time. 🙂