Thursday, 28 June 2007

Sure I've got a sock habit - I can handle it...

After my last post Natalie commented that buying more bobbins was like having more than one Size 2 set of sock needles... Surely she didn't mean that we are only supposed to knit one pair of socks at a time? If only she knew the depth of my folly... I could blame inheriting my mum and gran's needle collection but I have to accept the fact that I am a multisockaholic. I don't seem to be able to confine myself to one pair and knit with project fidelity. However,in an attempt to at least remove the burden of unfinished sock projects from my knitting basket I have been overcome with a flush of finishitis. Here we have the hand spun socks done and dusted. I will probably reflect more on this project at another time as it is a significant milestone project for me and has taught me a great deal. Suffice to say with all their imperfections I love them as only the person who made them can.

Second I have finished the pair of socks that I designed from the Yarn Yard June club yarn. I have renamed them my Cornish Scallop pattern and have nearly finished writing up the pattern! They have turned out to be a close fitting and delicate sock - just right for summer.

I have also been working on and off on these socks - they are Roza's socks from the Spring Interweave knits and are a really attractive brioche rib - they are a relaxing knit and in a fit of enthusiasm I cast on the second sock last night.

I can see you are impressed with all this finishing and progress on the darkest recesses of my knitting basket..

...oops...I couldn't help it... I wanted to see what the Cornish Scallop sock would look like in a gently coloured hand paint without the solid stripes and remembered that I had just the perfect yarn in my stash. This is Seacoast Handpaint in the colour 'Butte'. It really makes me think of the colours inside a shell. The yarn is half merino and half tencel so is a very silky, summery feeling knit.

I am off to Woolfest now so I'd better start packing - I've sorted out my travel knitting so all I have to do is pack my clothes. I wonder if I have any clean socks....

Monday, 25 June 2007

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

Sunday was not a day for venturing forth into the weather so I spent a fair amount of it at my spinning wheel, watching the rain. Here we have the fruits of my labours - a nice warming skein of approximately 200m of a reasonably consistent, probably about 4ply weight. I love the way that the colours have blended. I am starting to prefer yarn dyed in the roving to that dyed in the skein although it might be the novelty of it but there is something about the subtlety of the shading that works for me. I have a little bit of singles and roving left in case I run out on the project I am planning.
I have in my mind to make a pair of the Rib and Cable Mitts from the Spring 2006 Interweave Knits. I have made a couple of pairs before in different yarns and have always found them really useful as you don't have to keep taking them on and off.
Of course my bobbin can't stay empty for long despite me declaring to a friend that I was clearing my bobbins for a post Woolfest roving extravaganza .I have just spun a few metres of some hand dyed Blue Faced Leicester - there will be pictures when there is something to see. Looks like I may need more bobbins...

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Cinderella's sock fits! And, by sheer coincidence, I have just had only the second pedicure in my life and the toe nail polish matches my sock. Note to self: leaving a viewing hole in the sock for the nail polish would be stupid and uncomfortable...

I am quite beside myself with surprised pride and excitement. This is my first sock made from my own hand spun and after one incident of ripping out and starting again as the fabric was too dense and the sock far too big, which I prefer to refer to as the making of an extended swatch, I changed needle size and stitch count and this is what dropped from my needles.

Working with the yarn as a knitter has helped me think about issues that I need to consider as a spinner such as parts where there is too much twist in the yarn and extremes of thick and thinness but over all the yarn if a little heavier than it could be is entirely fit for purpose and should make a thick, hard wearing, comfortable pair of socks. The advice to break the roving into pieces to break up long colour runs seems to have done the trick in terms of colour distribution and I have also managed to avoid too many clunky colour changes. All in all I don't think it's a bad first effort at all.

Guess what? I spun the yarn for my own socks! (I just wanted to say that again....)

Friday, 22 June 2007

Moving on up

Today I entrusted the colour work project to the care of my local postmaster who assured me that it would soon be in the hands of the person who commissioned it. Curiously, I felt quite emotional as I handed over my yarn babies. Mind you, I know they are going to a good home. I am also aware that they are quite important to both of us. This is the first time I have ever taken my knitting into the wider world in this way but I know that for the recipient they, and a whole lot of other things represent part of a much larger and more exciting fibre adventure. They are sent with my very best wishes for success.

Mind you, the completion of this project means that I can turn my attention to other gorgeous fibry activities. This is some very pretty pencil roving that Natalie kindly sent me to play with. I have never used pencil roving before so at first I was having real difficulty in drafting as I was struggling with shaking out the slight twist. The little mantra that someone shared with me about drafting 'Hold the fibre like a baby bird' came back to me as I swung on the roving like a blackbird trying to remove a worm from the lawn. A rethink was required so I decided to break the roving into metre long sections and split it down the middle, a process if done slowly and carefully seemed to twiddle the twist out of the roving making it way easier to draft.

The wool feels like more of a shetland than a merino as it is a bit hairier and stickier and I love the way it is spinning up. By dividing the roving lengthwise I will be getting shorter colour changes which I rather like. I also have a plan for what I want to make with it when I have finished spinning.

With all the spinning I am doing it crossed my mind that it was no good making all these skeins if I was just going to keep them as pets - yarn is there to be used. So, I have wound my first skein of Wild Thing into a ball and have cast on a pair of socks (surprise....). There will be photos when there is something to see. Watching the first few rows falling from my needles and feeling yarn that I spun myself running though my fingers was a really magical moment. I got to thinking that even if I never get to be an expert spinner, the whole process of learning to spin has given me a whole new perspective on yarn and how it is constructed - I have begun to look much further beyond its superficial appearance. I really believe that learning to spin is starting to make me a more thoughtful knitter. When I started this blog I said that I wanted to record the journey that I am making in my craft. Today I really feel I have reached a couple of small milestones in the way that I think about my work and it is a lovely feeling - I am looking forward to wherever the journey leads me next.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Not another wretched sock...

...I can't help it. This is the June offering from the Yarn Yard sock club. I love this sock club as not only are the yarn colours beautiful, they are one offs and not sold later on in the shop and they also come with a toning solid so the opportunities for being creative with them are huge. It is really through the inspiration of the yarn from this club that I have started designing my own socks and have been thoroughly enjoying the challenge.
This is my latest piece of work. The yarn colours reminded me of a memorable holiday walking the Cornish Coast Path. The most striking thing for me was that the sea could be the most heartbreakingly beautiful periwinkle blue but if you looked down it was still boiling and swirling around jagged and dangerous rocks. I love this juxtaposition.
I was looking for a pattern that evoked this feeling and was also after something a little more open and lacy for a summer sock. I consulted my embarrassingly large collection of stitch dictionaries and came up with Fishtail Lace from Jan Eaton's book '200 Ripple Stitch Patterns' which seemed to fit the bill. It was a very quick and easy knit, memorable enough for me to use as my travel knitting project this week. I had to do a few adjustments to get the pattern to work for a sock but that was a good learning experience.
Now that the first sock is done I am pleased with how it has turned out but rather than the wildness of the Cornish rocks it looks more to me like nice orderly rows of scallop shells which is at least carrying through the coastal theme.
If I can express in intelligible language the little adjustments that I made I am planning to write up this pattern and link it here for people to try. Who'd have thought it?

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Lace Lunacy and woolly thoughts

Visitors to this blog could be forgiven for thinking that all that goes on here is spinning and sock knitting! You could also be thinking that half finished items appear here and sink without trace. Aha! This is the Luna Moth Shawl that I first blogged about back in April. It has sat a few rows from completion for a few weeks so I had a major blitz on it yesterday, blocked it this morning and here it is! It's made in Rowanspun DK and is a free pattern from As a pattern I found it quite hard to get into a rhythm with but I am so glad I persevered as I love the way it has turned out with its swirls and eddies.

It stood up to some fairly ferocious blocking as I wanted the points to stand out well. I have made quite a few shawls in Rowanspun as I like the contrast between the tweedy, woolly, flecked yarn and the lacy pattern. I also like some of my shawls to have a bit of cosy substance to snuggle up in. I am a habitual wearer of black so it is good to have a piece of clothing that makes me feel instantly feminine. I feel quite a different person swishing around in a shawl!

And now for something completely different. Look what the postman brought me yesterday morning! My lovely friend Elaine is spending a month doing lovely fibry things in the Scottish Isles. She must have seen my sad little face trying not to look envious as she left because she sent me this! It's a fleece from a North Ronaldsay seaweed fed sheep. The colours are gorgeous and she tells me that its best for outerwear like hats and gloves. We spent some time on our course looking at how to work from the fleece so I am very excited if a little daunted - any advice gratefully received!

Friday, 15 June 2007

That's Mick Jagger...

Well, Keith Richard actually... We had a good time at the Isle of Wight Festival, the weather was perfect. The line up was probably a little mainstream for my taste but when your dad lives opposite the site and has free tickets.... Having said that, Mick Jagger has still got all the moves - can't believe he's over 60!

A tolerable amount of knitting in public was accomplished although I failed to ensnare any rock stars in my web of hand spun. I finished the Midnight Hour socks. Sock Hop yarn makes such a big squidgy sock - makes me almost wish for winter!

The colour work project is moving on apace - all will be revealed very soon!

Thursday, 7 June 2007


I'm doing a little colour work on commission right now. I'm very excited about the project as it is a new departure for me.
I'm off to the Isle of Wight for the Festival weekend. There will, of course, be knitting in public. If I manage to ensnare any rock stars in my web of wool, you will be the first to know.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Glowing with pride

I have to say that I am quite extraordinarily proud of this yarn. I can't quite believe that it was me who made it! It is only a small portion of the Wild Thing roving that I have been spinning. I thought that I would ply it to see how close I had got to the standard of the Sock Hop yarn. My first attempt at plying wasn't a huge success - it looked loose and fuzzy so I put it back through, adjusting the brake to get much more spin into the plying. It wasn't looking bad... I then skeined it up and to my horror it all curled back on itself, looking far from the smooth skein I was hoping for. I hot footed it to the bathroom to set the twist, weighted it with a heavy wooden coat hanger and crossed my fingers. I couldn't believe my luck when in the morning it emerged all straight and beautiful. It really isn't much different to the Sock Hop yarn itself. I am spinning up the rest of the roving so that I might just be making my first socks spun by my very own hand very soon. I am quite giddy!

At the same time it seemed a sensible idea to try knitting some of the Sock Hop yarn to see how it knits up so here is my latest commuting project in Midnight Hour. As it has an uneven texture I thought a simple textured stitch pattern would enhance it so I chose the waffle stitch I am using in Knitty's Thermal which has had the desired effect I think. It makes a gorgeous, cushy thick sock.

I am a very happy girl.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Pulling my socks up

Believe it or not, despite my fickle heart, I have still been knitting. As part of this experiment with the whole toe up thing I decided to go with THE BIG ADVANTAGE that devotees of this style go on about, namely getting to use the whole ball without the worry of getting half way down the toe and running out. So I knitted, and knitted, and knitted and decided I had better put a few calf shapings in there, and knitted and knitted and convinced myself that I would be able to yark these luminous orange suckers up under my armpits by the time I had finished. However, as is usually the case, what is happening in Jane's world of hyperbole, exaggeration and self deception collided with the reality of a stout pair of hiker's calves meaning that these socks reside quite comfortably some way from my knees. They didn't stay there very long, however as it is warming up here. With any luck they will stay in my sock drawer unmolested for six months.

Mind you, I can't stray far from the roving... When I ordered my Sock Hop yarn, a sizable amount of roving fell into my cart at the same time. This is Wild Thing. The theory is that having an example of what the spun yarn can look like I can use it to improve my technique. This is, of course only a theory... The roving is superwash merino so it is another fibre that I haven't tried yet.

As I mentioned in my last post I was really keen to play with colour in my spinning. The dying of this roving is very simply done so I broke it into shorter lengths, particularly going between long dark or white runs and went for it. Here is a random sample of thoughts that run through a novice spinner's mind as she embarks on another session of wheel wrangling;

Well that wouldn't have happened if I had pre drafted properly...

What was I told? Hold the fibre like a baby bird...look, look I'm doing it...yeah right, holding as if you were a baby crocodile...

Gosh, this is so fine I must be spinning lace weight now.... (see above concerning self delusion)

It can't be 2.00 am....

Ooh - that's pretty.

Thanks to everyone for their encouraging comments. I am especially struck by how many of you have been pulled around the room by a galloping Traddy. I think they should hold Traddy races at Woolfest - I think I might win....