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.

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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!

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© 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.

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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!

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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.

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All hand spun bits crochet together

EYF 2018

Last year I went to Edinburgh yarn festival for the first time. It was an awesome event to see to knitters, adore knitwear, see people’s interpretations and just get inspired by the lovely stores and wares on show.

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Me and Katja with the toft cow!

The thing that I was missing last year was actually exploring Edinburgh a bit as well, so this year, Katja and I made it a holiday. We attended a class each on Thursday, had Friday to explore, did another class Saturday and then had a bit of Sunday to mill about.

Overall the event was well organised and as much as I did see 200 knitters queue outside in the early morning by 11:30 at the latest everyone was in.

This year saw the addition of another tent with 500 seats. This was an amazing idea as it led to mingling and we got to meet knitters from Bangalore, Philadelphia, Georgia and Norway to name but a few. I love how international this event is and am really grateful for all the nice people I have met.

Selection wise, we felt it was a bit less varied this year or maybe I just know more yarns now. Last year I felt like I found some gems such as Uist and Daughter of a shepherd, but I did not find any hidden gems such as single origin type yarns that I did not know about already. There was a lot of super wash merino and speckles on show. Which don’t get me wrong were looking beautiful and enticing. I think we wanted a few more gambles of less commercial yarns maybe. And more fibre choice as well.

But nevertheless we shopped, learned, mingled, knitted and had a lot of fun.

Day 1:

Our first day started with doors at 9am and I made a beeline for Daughter of a shepherd and collected her awesome new book called Beginnings. I then do not remember in what order things happened but I attended a beginners drop spindle class which I thoroughly enjoyed. We were ten people and most of us had never spun before and by the end of the three hours we all had some plied yarn! How cool is that!? The teacher was lovely and answered all my questions and clarifications.

Of course this meant that I now needed to hunt down a drop spindle and some extra fibre to spin. I found the fibre at John Arbon’s stand and the spindle at the Threshing barn.

Other purchases included some lovely socks from Baa Ram Ewe and yarn from Rauwerk, and from Ysolda’s stand. I also collected the Traverse collection from Myak.

Thanks to the lovely lady living in Surrey I met during my class, as she made me feel really welcome in the knitting community and I liked how she said she suddenly felt super normal being the one with the knitting among a sea of knitters which stuck with me.

Day 2:

The next day we took it easy and then had a tour booked at The Real Mary Close. I can highly recommend this tour. We followed it with food from Devil’s Advocate and as the weather started to turn cold, we took pictures of the castle and meandered our way between Galleries, coffee shops and cathedrals. It was a lovely if very cold day.

We spent the evening practicing spinning and I got a much improved yarn already. yay!

Day 3:

Saturday was our final festival day. We decided to head over to the venue at lunch and have something to eat there, make any last minute purchases and then head to our afternoon classes. I had chosen Pattern Writing skills with Kate Atherley. I loved her teaching style and she is so knowledgeable it is amazing. Again all my questions were considered and answered and I got a lot from the class. Definitely some things to think about and consider.

“Life is too short for bad instructions”

A couple of unrelated highlights were meeting the lady with the traveling scarf and knitting a small section on it as well as running into 2 lovely knitters from Atlanta at dinner and chatting about life while eating Chinese food.

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The traveling scarf! Every section knit or crochet by a different person!

It was a pretty great wrap up to our yarn experience. Purchases included a Wollmeise skein of yarn at 300g for 1700 yards this was an amazing find and I got yarn to hypothetically make this design by Ysolda.

If you can make it to this event I highly recommend it, but make sure to take snacks, water and some knitting of course and wear all your knits! You will make amazing friends and will feel so normal in a sea of knitters. I am sure you will feel like you found your wooly tribe! 🙂

 

Review: Yarn Space Cadet – Countess Ablaze

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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?

Yarn shopping in Philadelphia

As part of the travels I mentioned, I was lucky enough to go to Philadelphia and have a couple of days off strolling around.

To my own shame one of the first two things I figured out was where the nearest yarn shops and cafes were. Coffee and knitting are very important to my well being. 🙂

In terms of yarn shops I picked two to go to.

  1. Yarnphoria
  2. Loop

First we went to Yarnphoria. This shop contained all sorts of yarn weight and also had a little doggy in a knitted or crochet jacket. (I can’t remember now).

I was super impressed with the choice of Freia yarns and have been hoping to see the bulky weight in real life. They also stocked lovely hand painted yarn. All I bought was some orange sock yarn though. I was a bit overwhelmed and jet lagged and also just too excited to be in Philadelphia.

The day before I left I had another day to wander around and we went to Loop. Now what an experience. It was bright and airy and so colourful. A highlight was that they stocked loads of Brooklyn tweed yarns and also Lykke sets and singulars.

I have been looking for some wooden sock needles. The cheap knit pro ones I had snapped unfortunately and the super glue didn’t really work. I hope these will be sturdier but I will find out soon enough. 🙂

Otherwise I also treated myself to a Lykke crochet hook set and some Quarry in colour Slate to make my dream chunky cabled cardigan. Probably for next winter considering the slow rate I am going at the moment.

Philadelphia has even more yarn shops but I just did not have time or money to visit them all. Ha! But I am glad I went to these two at least.

Have you been to Philadelphia and yarn shopped? Any other favourites?