Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Alpaca - Amorcita

My third and final bag of Alpaca fleece from Aston Alpaca's was this pretty gingery brown from the fleece of girl Alpaca Amorcita, which is a Peruvian name and translates into English as "Little Love".

The total amount of fleece in the bags was 232g and after washing all the dust out I had 215g, 90g of which was "hair" and unsuitable for my spinning needs and so I made two pieces of felt with that.

The fleece which was nice and fine was long enough to put through my wool combs and I got 90g of lovely combed top to spin with.

I decided that I would make a 2ply yarn, spinning as fine as I could and I achieved an amazing 268m from my 90g and I am pretty impressed with how lovely and even my plying looks.

It took me a some time to decide what to make with this yarn but I went with a pretty lace edged shawlette, teaming the yarn with some size 8 Toho round seed beads in shade Silver Lined Milky Light Topaz both in the lace edging and on the tips of the picot cast off around the neck edge.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Natural Black Shetland Fleece

I bought a natural black Shetland shearling fleece on 24th June last year from a farm in Morval, Cornwall, having being sheared on 2nd June 2012.  It weighs just over 2kg and the staple length is 5-6 inches.  The tips of the locks are a little sun bleached but that happens a lot, especially with dark fleeces and any damage will break off during the preparation process.  Natural black fleeces are rarely jet black.

A shearling is a term used for a female sheep that has been sheared once and is old enough to have two-broad teeth, whereas a Ewe is a term for a female sheep after it has been sheared for a second time.

Top left: the fleece as seen on the sheep.  Bottom right: the fleece showing the part that was closest to the sheep.
All other photos show a close up of the locks.
I washed the fleece and tried my hand at carding again.  I'm not very good at carding and could do with some hands-on lessons.  I persevered and managed to card 123g of fleece, which I spun woollen style and then navajo plied to make an aran weight yarn which was 117g/88m after its final wash.  I made an adjustable headscarf with this yarn.

After my not-so-successful attempt at hand carding I decided to go back to my wool combs and so the rest of the fleece was prepared this way.  There was quite a bit of scurf and grit in the fleece but all that fell out during the combing to leave lovely soft, squishy hand-combed nests.

I spun as fine as I could to produce some wonderful singles and I decided to leave the rest of my yarns as singles.

I used some of Skein 1 to make a lace edged beret.  After making the beret I still have 177g/730m of lovely yarn left to use.

With some of Skein 2 I made this fabulous 7 panelled beaded lace shawl.  I didn't use all of the skein, I am left with 46g/363m, which is enough to make a small shawl.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Pale Blue Bolero

I had seen a free pattern by Lion Brand that I thought was really lovely and would be perfect to make for weddings.  It was a lovely long sleeved lace bolero with a fluffy edging.  I searched my vast stash of yarns to see what I had in the right amounts and weights of yarn.  I had got some lovely pale blue experimental yarn from Colinette that was mostly Polyamide with a small amount of wool and I also had some Patons Showboat, which is a thick but short fun fur type yarn with a bit of sparkle and both were in similar colours.  Perfect, and so I started work in early March.

I had a fair bit of trouble with the pattern and looked to the Lion Brand website for help where I discovered that almost every person who had written a review had actually given up on the pattern as they couldn't make head nor tail of it.  I decided to persevere with it, figuring it out and almost making it up as I went along.  It worked though and I wrote notes and included instructional photographs to help others who really wanted to make this design to understand how the bolero was constructed.  I made two of these in the end, finishing the second one on 14th March 2013.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Purple Beaded Victorian Lace Shawl - Design L323

The yarn that I used for this shawl was a bit of a mystery so I had to do undertake a burns test and a bleach test to determine that it appears to be 100% acrylic or some similar man-made fibre.  There is definitely no cotton and no animal fibres in this yarn whatsoever.

I chose my pattern and bought some beads for the project which are Size 6 Toho round seed beads in shade 1076 Magenta lined grey, which basically means that the glass is a smokey grey as opposed to regular clear glass.  I am using a size 3.25mm circular knitting needle and started the project on 22nd March 2011.

The design for this shawl has been re-written in modern knitting terms from a Victorian pattern and is what is known as "true lace", which means that every single row is complex lace stitches as opposed to one row of lace on the right side and one row purl.  Having issues with working from the charts for this pattern, what with that and family life I finally managed to complete the first diamond border by mid June 2011.  I didn't touch this shawl again until mid-September and it wasn't until I redrew the charts out myself, removing the silly and confusing colour coding that meant different things on right side and wrong side rows that was used on the originals did I start to make progress.  I was adding beads individually over the stitches as I knit them in the centre of the diamonds and between the two rose leaves.

Oh my, this project was taking forever to actually complete as it was once again sat waiting for me to pick it up again for about 6 months.  It was a combination of "I can't face it" mixed in with "I have all these other things to finish" and plenty of family life not giving me time or the peace and quiet to concentrate on this complicated design.  When I finally finished the knitting on 6th March 2013, this project had taken just shy of 2 years from start to finish and it was quite out of shape.  I used a total of 248 beads on this shawl, which gave it a little bit of much needed weight as it so light and floaty.

Of course, this shawl needed to be soaked and blocked to show it off to its full potential, with little peaks along the diamond border at each end..

It is absolutely beautiful and lovely drape and is so lightweight with just a hit of bling from the beads.