Thursday, 2 October 2014

Fondant Fibre Organic Merino

I am so behind on my blog posts, I don't know if I'll ever catch up. I apologise for my disappearance over the last few weeks. My absence is because of changing the format of my podcast. I am moving over from audio to video and it has required a lot of my brain power and energy as there are many different things you need to set up in order to record, edit, process and upload a video podcast as opposed to an audio one. I think I'm nearly there on getting all my ducks in a row and that has left me a little more time and energy to get back to my beloved blogging. If you are interested in checking out my video exploits just click on the podcast button at the top of the website or check out my YouTube channel where you can subscribe to the videos. If you subscribed to my audio podcast you should be getting video updates in the same way.

Whilst on the subject of blogging in general, I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who messaged me about my 6th blogging anniversary. I still can't believe I reached this milestone and I wouldn't find it half as pleasurable if you didn't read and comment on the posts.

A piece of spinning, that I finished some time ago, used some gorgeous fibre from Fondant Fibre. It was organic merino fibre and the colourway was Inked.

I was really attracted to the colourway of this top and that is why I bought it, rather than buying it for the base. This was the first time I'd used this fibre and I have to say I am SOLD! It is gorgeously soft and bouncy the way all merino should be, BUT, it has more texture. If you are a beginner spinner this would be a great entry into spinning merino. Merino is not an easy fibre to spin because it is so slippery, but this fibre has more grip and therefore is a dream to spin.

As all the colours blended so well I decided just to spin the yarn end to end, worsted style, and not worry to much about colour management. I used my Enid Ashcroft Bocote Tibetan Spindle.

This spindle is a pleasure to use and has great balance. Combining the spindle with this fibre made this such a fun project. I cannot express how much of a pleasure it was to spin without much forethought and to go just end to end without any pre-drafting, because it wasn't needed.

As always, I made two plying balls with half the singles on each, and then created a plying ball with the the two singles held together. I don't mind this hand winding of a plying ball as it helps even out the tension and twist, which makes it easier to ply.

I often use my Wildcraft Support Spindles to ply on, as the carbon fibre shafts are long and thin which means you can pack a LOT of plied yarn on it. It means that I can get roughly 50g of finished yarn on the spindle, sometimes more and sometimes less.

I have to say that the video download The Gentle Art of Plying, has really helped to transform the way that I ply my yarn. The whole video is taught using a spinning wheel but nearly all the information was relevant to using a spindle. It really helped to see the close ups of what the yarn looks like when singles are put together and twist added. Seeing how all the singles look before and after plying really was informative.

I soaked the finished yarn for 20 mins, squeezed it out and then gave it a few quick "snaps" before hanging it up to dry. This yarn feels even and the plying is balanced. This means the yarn is bouncy and soft and I can't wait to knit it.

I got 289m/316yds of a sport weight yarn, which is a reasonable yardage. I like to try and find projects to match up with my handspun yarn when possible. I've been thinking that I could probably get something small out of this; a hat, mitts, cowl or small shawlette. I think a really basic hat that would show off the yarn would be Simple by Alicia Plummer. It's a lot like the Sockhead Hat (of which I have three!).

© AliciaPlum

I might just use this pattern as inspiration, and do something different with the brim, maybe a folded stocking stitch brim, as I have a bit more yarn than is required for this pattern.

© Caitlin Hendrick

In terms of mitts, I really like Loch Lomond by Kendra Hope. I think these simple and elegant mitts would really show the yarn off. My only worry is that a loosely spun, 2-ply merino yarn may not stand up to the rigors of being worn on the hands. They are very pretty mitts though, so I'm really tempted.

© 2012, Heidi Haywood

The Leaf Lace Neck Wrap by Heidi Haywood looks like a nice straight forward and fun little shawlette that is more like a scarf. It would be gorgeous to wear this yarn around my neck and this pattern would let me do it.

It's tough to decide, but I will try and narrow it down from these three choices. Who knows, I might end up adapting one of the ideas from these patterns and doing something similar, but not identical. I'll let you know, eventually, which direction I take with this yarn. Until it's knitted, however, it is definitely a squishable and pettable skein of yarn.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

6th Blogging Anniversary

Exactly 6 years ago today I made my first blog post on the joys of knitting available online. It's so long ago the photo embedded in the blog post is lost! The earliest photo I can find is this one:

Over the last 6 years I have shared triumphs and disaster with accompanying (hopefully) photographic evidence. My photography has improved significantly over the years with the help of online tutorials and online friends. My blog layout has changed several times and this desire to create a lovely home online kept pushing me to learn more about websites. Following tutorials blindly has made me understand some of the basics, which helped improve the appearance of things.

I've made wonderful friends and challenged myself repeatedly.  As the online world changed I took to different forms of social media, moving from Twitter and Facebook to Flickr and Instagram as I learnt about these different forms of connection and my technology caught up.

I started to design because someone saw a bag I made and asked for the pattern.

I didn't have one because I just made it up. I said I could give her the chart but nothing else. She was happy with that but it made me think about the possibility of other people actually being interested in what came out of my head. Very slowly since then I've added extra patterns to my shop on Ravelry.

As time went by I started a Ravelry Group and then after a while I discovered sewing as I started to line my knitted, crocheted or felted bags.

As my love of sewing increased I managed to join a quilting class.

This is the only quilt I've managed to finish to date. As I got a more sick I found it a struggle to sit up at the sewing machine and in fact I struggled to even get out of bed. I discovered podcasts as something to listen to or watch on my laptop in bed. My blogging fell off as I found it hard to take photos. I discovered support spindling by watching the podcasts and my spinning career took off. Being able to spin laying back was a wondrous thing and I fell in love with it.

You will have noticed my obsession with spinning over the last couple of years, I think ;-) After watching and listening to podcasts I decided to start my own, at first in audio format and more recently video. I also started to change my medication levels and I could get out of bed again. I tried to pick up my blogging. Sadly with the advent of social media it seems fewer and fewer people comment on the blog. Most of the connections I experience are on Instagram or Twitter or over on the Ravelry Group. I miss my blogging friends and try to leave comments on their blogs whenever I can, but it seems that because of the change in feed readers available it's now just slightly annoying to leave comments, so people don't.

I know you are still reading my blog, which is part of why I continue, but this online record is much more for me than you. It's wonderful to look back at my journey and to force myself to really think about each project and what it taught me.

To celebrate this blogging birthday I have decided to offer a 25% discount on all my patterns for this weekend only, the code will stop working at Midnight UK time on Monday 22nd September 2014 . The code is STBB6, which you should input in the cart where it says discount code.

Thank you for sharing my blogging journey, I wonder if I'll still be here in another 6 years!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Lovely Post

I got some lovely post yesterday. It arrived with things I didn't have to pay for, which is always nice, but the things that came were also very lovely.

The first thing I got was from Nadia at Abso-Knitting-Lutely. She had a give away for a braid of Malabrigo Nube in the Arco Iris colourway - and I won! I was really happy about this because when Nube first came out I bought two braids in the - yes you've guessed it - Arco Iris colourway!


So I have this braid to add to my two existing ones. I should be able to spin a decent yardage.

The second photo is probably more accurate, but they are still different dye lots, so I shall have to be careful. I bought this colour because I made a Brickless in Malabrigo Rastita in this colourway. The yarn is a DK weight singles yarn in the same merino as the Nube.

I bought the fibre intending to make a hat and mitts to match the shawl, but now I have three braids I'm beginning to re-think what I should make.  I don't know whether to stick to my intention of trying to spin my first singles yarn, or whether to try something different.  Any ideas of how to spin this gorgeous fibre are very gratefully received.

The second parcel I received was a complete surprise, as I wasn't told it was coming. It gave me quite a giggle. For those who don't listen to my podcast, you are probably unaware that I recently decided to try doing a video version to try and cut down on the amount of time it took to edit and prepare. It worked out really well and I subsequently did another, and will probably continue in this format. If you are interested, it is available on YouTube, iTunes and on the website under the Podcast button at the top of the page. Anyway, in the first episode I shared some fibre that I bought from Fondant Fibre.

A: Organic Merino Silk & Baby Llama (Beach Huts) B: Silk Hankies (One Tequila, Two Tequila...) C: Polwarth & Mulberry Silk

When I shared these purchases with the podcast I said that none of these colourways are typical of my choices and that often Deb creates colours that I usually hate but absolutely adore in the way she does them.

So you can almost guess my reaction when I opened my package and saw the colourway label before unwrapping the contents. The name was Not Chrissy's Colours. I laughed out loud before I cooed over the contents.


They are made up of my favourite Polwarth, Falkland, Silk and Bamboo. Aren't they pretty and really NOT my colours!  I started straight away.


Sorry for the poor quality photo, it was an Instagram snap last night.  By the way if you are on Instagram, come and follow me so I can follow you back, as I am addicted to this form of social media. 

Spinning long draw from Deb's punis is always such a dream. It's so easy to draft these punis and once again I cannot say enough good things about the preparation and how easy and pleasurable it is to spin them. I am spinning without plan for the pure pleasure of it, as my other two spinning projects require a little more thought and control.

I can't decide yet whether the laugh, or the pleasure from spinning, I got I made me happier. Maybe it was a wonderful combination of the two! I do love it when the postman brings parcels!


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