Monday, 30 November 2015

Hillcrescent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.2, Part II

I am nearly there, only one more fleece to work through from Hillcrescent Farm after this one.

This is the black part of Fleece No.2, starting out with 800g of black fleece and being left with 366g after combing.  A yield of approximately 46%.

I didn't take photos of the preparation of this.  Its black and fluffy, you know what it looks like, you don't need photos of this, again and again.

I made 3 Sport weight skeins of yarn.

This one is 99g/435m

This one is 101g/407m

and lastly, this one is 149g/609m


Sunday, 15 November 2015

In waves of green - Design A193

After a very beautiful but intense knit of the beaded lilac shawl I wanted to make something a bit simpler and a bit thicker as we are heading into Winter and its getting cold outside.  I have some really nice Rowan Summer Tweed in various shades of green..  The yarn is aran weight and 70% Silk, 30% Cotton and is no longer manufactured so I have to be very careful and precise with my maths to ensure that I don't run out of yarn.  Maybe a motif design or something in stripes, or at least something that could be worked in stripes to produce an interesting effect.

I got out the skeins that I have of this yarn in five various shades of green and sorted them from dark to light.  There is obviously a cuckoo in the nest that was a completely different tone and just didn't fit in with the others and this was put back into my yarn stash and I proceeded with the four remaining shades.


Using a 6.5mm crochet hook I started this on 9th November with a row of foundation single crochet.  This is much easier than working a long chain of stitches first and then crocheting into them as you make the foundation chain and the stitch at the same time.  Here is a very good YouTube video on how to work a foundation single crochet.

The photos below show it laid out on my blocking boards before a soak and after a soak and pinned out.  I knew that the wrap would not grow width ways but I did expect it to grow length ways as the lace pattern was opened up.


Its a lovely soft shawl that is versatile and can be used as a wedding shawl or equally would look good casual with shirt and jeans or a summer dress.


Friday, 6 November 2015

Lilac Beaded Lace Shawl - Design L7

I wanted to make another spectacular shawl as I've not done any fine lace knitting for a while.  I chose a lovely lilac lace weight yarn that I got from Solstice Yarns, which is 50% Baby Suri Alpaca, 30% Merino and 20% Silk.  Suri alpaca is the rarer breed of alpacas, the one with the incredibly long hair, as opposed to the normal, fluffy, Huacaya alpaca that you are probably more familiar with.

I loved making the heavily beaded scalloped shawl that I made with my own hand-spun Shetland wool so much that I am going to make it again using this yarn and Size 8 Toho round seed beads in shade 928 Rainbow Rosaline Opaque.  I started knitting on 7th September.


I took lots of work-in-progress photos so you can see the shawl growing.


I finished this on 4th November 2015.  The pictured below show before soaking and blocking and during the blocking process.  Blocking really makes a difference to the finished item, especially so with lace shawls.


The alpaca/wool/silk blend is so lightweight and drapes beautifully.  There are 5,083 beads on this shawl and the beads weigh more than the yarn does.  I used 68g of yarn and the shawl weighed 185g, meaning that the beads weighed 117g.




Thursday, 29 October 2015

Can you over-dye black fleece or yarn?

I have spun loads of natural "black" yarn and just how black that yarn is depends on all sorts of factors including; breed of sheep, genetic strain of breed, amount of sunlight the fleece has been subjected to, general weathering and probably a whole host of other factors can contribute to just how black a black sheep is.

I was looking at all my skeins of handspun black yarn together and the variation in shade from chocolate brown to almost jet black and was wondering if it was possible to over-dye something this dark, having already had success with dyeing mixed coloured fleeces.  I asked around on various forums that I visit and, to be honest, not many people responded and out of those only one or two had even tried.  Hmmm, ok, its up to me to just give it a go then!

I took the two black skeins from Hillcrescent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.4 and the black skein from Hillcrescent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.6 to have a go at making them a little more interesting.

I started out overdyeing the No.6 black with Greener Shades dye in Amethyst Purple at 1% dye strength but this turned out to not be strong enough and so I dyed it again at the same level of dye, effectively making it a 2% dye strength, and whilst not perfectly even coloured, the result isn't too bad and you can see the difference between undyed and dyed in the top two photos.


I then took the Double Knit weight yarn from Fleece No.4 and over-dyed that with Greener Shades dye in River Blue at a dye strength of 2% and got an all over even toned shade.


Lastly, I took the Sport weight yarn from Fleece No.4 and over-dyed that using Greener Shades dye Ruby Red, again at a 2% dye strength, for a lovely dark red yarn.


So, yes, you can over-dye something that is dark in colour as long as you use a strong dark colour at a decent dye strength.  Its no good tickling it with a weak dye as you may as well throw that dye down the drain.  I think that it has made these yarns a lot more interesting and prettied them up.

Yes, yes, I know I messed up with this last photo as they're not in the same order, I'm only human.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Lincoln Longwool Lamb Part I - Maroon

I bought 1kg of Lincoln Longwool Lambs fleece in July 2014 from a guy in Sleaford, Lincs, who was selling quite a few of these fleece.

It arrived in "unusual" packaging, it was inside a cereal box which was wrapped in paper.  The packaging was dry on the outside but the fleece felt really damp and the locks felt heavy.  When it first arrived it was really filthy and after taking photographs of the fleece, I weighed it at 1kg and the put the fleece into a carrier bag and left it in our laundry room, leaving the bag open for the air to get to it and dry it out.  I weighed it again about 24 hours later and it had lost 100g in weight and smelt musty but was now quite dry, as you would expect it to have arrived.


I sorted through it and threw away 112g of rubbish and then washed it as soon as my hanging drier was available - it was summer and I take advantage of washing/drying/dyeing fleece whilst its dry and warm and so its almost in constant use.  I was left with 621g of clean fleece after washing and drying it.


This fleece was then stored for a while until, on 10th April 2015, I split the fleece into 3 equal parts and dyed each lot a different colour; maroon, deep violet and purple.

The first lot, I dyed using Colour Craft All In One Easyfix dye in Maroon.  I started out with 206g of fleece and after I had combed this I was left with about 150g of nests to be spun, a yield of almost 73%


This made a Light Fingering yarn, 140g/490m that has wonderful lustre.


There are two more lots of this fleece in other colours and I can't wait to get my hands on them.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Hillcrescent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.3

I am really getting through these Jacobs fleece this year.  This is Fleece No.3 from Hillcrescent Farm.

Sheared on 26th May 2013, this one weighed 1.05kg after I skirted it.  I think this is the photo of the correct sheep, its difficult trying to match fleece to sheep when you're not familiar with the animal.


After it was washed and dried I was left with 413g of black fleece and 230g of the mixed colours.  It wasn't worth trying to get white from this mostly coloured fleece.

The mixed colours

I decided to dye this fleece as I knew that the colour would take after dying another fleece.  I dyed this using Greener Shades dye in Ruby Red.  I dyed this back in March and finished making the yarn in April.


When I combed this the colours combined and it looked like a completely different colour.  Blending colours together really is like mixing paint.  I got 81g of combed top from the original 230g.


The finished yarn is Fingering Weight and is 79g/443m.  I've name this Rosewood.


The Black Fleece

I didn't take any photos but I got 194g of nests from my original 413g of washed fleece.

I tried dying this fleece black using the last of my all-in-one-dyes as this fleece had a lot of sun-bleached tips.  I spun up this Worsted weight yarn, which is 97g/287m.  As you can see, thanks to the dye its a bit darker than usual.


I also spun up this Fingering weight yarn, which is 96g/503m.


And that is another fleece completely done.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Hillcrescent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.4, Part III

This is my third and final post about Jacobs Fleece No.4 from Hillcrescent Farm.  This time I have been working on the black part of the fleece.

I didn't take any photographs of before or during, I just got straight on with the job.  If you read my blog regularly I'm sure by now what a black fleece looks like before and after being combed.

I started out with 364g of black fleece and after being combed I was left with 190g of nests to spin which I split into to amounts to make 2 skeins of yarn.

The top photo is Double Knit weight and is 90g/364m and the bottom photo is Sport weight and is 87g/409m.


That's another whole fleece completed.


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Purple and Blue Mohair Shawl - Design D198

Picking back up with the mohair yarn, this time in a purple and blue mix, I made my third consecutive shawl in the same design.  The yarn is, once again, 78% Mohair, 13% wool and 9% Nylon.    This one I started on 18th June but then we had a heatwave and I just could not knit with mohair in the heat and humidity as it just stuck to my hands.  I finished making it when the weather cooled down on 14th July 2015.


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Hillcrescent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.4, Part II

Further to my post back in January about Jacobs Fleece No.4 from Hillcrescent Farm, this time I have been working on making yarn from the mixed colours part of the fleece.

I decided to have a go at dying this fleece, knowing that colour would be taken up by the white or lighter parts of the fleece but not sure what would happen with the darker fleece.  I chose to combine two different dyes together to make up the amount of dye needed for the amount of fleece and see what would happen.  I chose Olive Green and Golden Yellow.


Hmmm, interesting!


I combed 212g of my dyed fleece, blending the colours together and was left with just 89g of combed top for spinning.  I had some similar coloured Kid Mohair that I bought from My Heart Exposed Yarns back in 2012.


I split the Mohair proportionately to the Jacobs and drafted them side by side, and then spun from both simultaneously holding the two lengths at the same time.  I made a yarn that is 160g/556m.


I didn't really like the colour of the finished yarn so I over-dyed it.  I ended up over-dyeing it twice in the same colour because the first time it was a little patchy and I had left the ties too tight and the dye didn't take in these parts, a bit like tie dying.

This time I used Greener Shades Dye at 1% made up of 75% River Blue and 25% Amazon Green and I love the colour that it has turned out.

First, it came out patchy but looks lighter than it actually was in these photos as I used the flash on my camera.


Then I done it again and took some glamour shots.


I will blog about the black from this fleece at a later date, once I have combed and spun it.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Lilac Blue-faced Leicester Wool Shawl - Design D198

My next project was a holiday knit.  We were camping at Hendremynach in Barmouth, Wales for a few days and knowing the Great British weather I was prepared for time spent inside the tent.  It was extremely windy for most of our stay, as we were camping about 100 yards from the coast line.  The campsite is fairly quiet, it has a shop and shower block but not a clubhouse and that suits us perfectly as we go on holiday for the peace and quiet.  The most noise came a couple of families that were camping not far from us but thankfully they left the day after we arrived.  I have to say that we got a bit of a shock on our first night as the last train came past at 11pm and we were already tucked up in our sleeping bags and dozing off when it sounded its horn as kids from "the noisy family" were obviously near to the track crossing.  I would recommend the campsite, tents and caravans allowed, if you want a quiet walking type holiday or somewhere that you can just get away to for some fresh sea air and sit knitting or spinning or other crafting.  I've put a link to the website at the beginning of this paragraph.

We did get out and about and do a lot of walking and seeing as we were in Wales we met a few of these on our travels, although I am not entirely sure what breed they are and hubby had to drag me away otherwise I would have spent hours just standing looking at them.


Anyway, as I said, the Great British weather didn't let us down and I had a good few hours in the tent whilst it poured down outside and when the kids went to bed before us on the night time to get some knitting done.  I made the same simple shawl design that I just made in blue & white mohair but this time I used some of my own hand-spun from a "mule" fleece.  It's not the softest of yarns and when it was finished I noticed natural discolouration throughout the shawl and I tried my best on my return home to remove the staining through washing and soaking but it didn't budge so I dyed the shawl using Greener Shades dye made up of 65% River Blue and 35% Amethyst Purple at a dye depth of 0.2% for a lighter shade.  Had I dyed it at a higher dye depth it would have been a lot darker.


There is still colour variation throughout the shawl but at least it is now a lot prettier than leaving it natural where it looks like pee stains when in fact it wasn't pee stains at all but a stain that is caused by micro-organisms that live on the sheep combined with rain and the sun and when you buy a fleece you can't always tell if its a permanent stain or if it will wash out.  Its just one of those things that as a spinner you have to deal with when then come along.  I finished making this on 29th May 2015.


Want to know how I made yarn for this shawl? Just click "Mule" fleece

Monday, 25 May 2015

Blue & White Mohair Shawl - Design D198

A long time ago I bought a few skeins of Mohair yarn off Ebay.  Time to use them I think.  Due to the multi-coloured fluffiness of the yarn the design needs to be fairly simple so a nice little shawl with a few simple lines of eyelet lace would be ideal.

I found a sweet little design that can be used as a shawl or a scarf and is just right for the amount of yarn that I have.  This only took me a coupe of days to knit, finishing on 23rd May 2015, the yarn is 78% Mohair, 13% Wool and 9% Nylon.


Friday, 22 May 2015

Earthy coloured triangular shawl - Design A2

I decided to use up the leftover yarn from the last shawl to make a repeat of a shawl I made a couple of months ago.  Its the adjustable length Design A2 shawl that I previously made in bright blue mohair.  I cast on on 20th May and was finished the next day on 21st May 2015.

Once again I didn't take any work-in-progress photos at all and its such a simple knit that it doesn't need any explanation really other than that this one is slightly shorter than the blue version as the last section of eyelet lace has only 2 lines of lace as opposed to 8 in the blue one and this is because I had run out of yarn but that is the idea of this shawl, as long as you have enough yarn to make the main design the last bit is customizable depending on yarn left or how long you want it to be etc.


Saturday, 16 May 2015

Earthy coloured scallop shawl - Design SB188

I got myself some more of the same yarn that I used for that huge blue-green pentagon shaped shawl that I made way back in 2010 only this time it was in a browny-peach colour combination.  Its a super bulky 100% Pima Cotton yarn.  The shawl I have chosen to make is very simplistic but works with this yarn perfectly.  I began crocheting it on 14th May and was finished by 15th May 2015.  I didn't take any work-in-progress photos so I don't have a lot to show you.



Friday, 15 May 2015

Anemone Merino Shawl - Design W187

Still staying with my own hand-spun yarn I enjoyed making the leaf edged shawl so much that I decided to make it again but this time with 100% Merino Wool that I hand-spun in 2012.  This time I adjusted the pattern slightly to use up all of this yarn so its slightly different in size to the Peacock one and I used 69 Size 6 Toho seed beads in shade 21 Silver lined crystal.  I started work on this on 11th May and finished it on 13th May 2015.


The beads don't show up all that much but do add a little something.  It was difficult deciding on what colour beads to use and I did consider getting some in a blackcurrant purple kind of colour but then figured that these wouldn't necessarily show up, given the amount of different shades of pinks and purples in the yarn.


Want to know how I made the yarn for this shawl?  Just click Anemone Merino

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Hillcrescent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.2, Part I

I am nearly there, only a couple more fleece to work through from Hillcrescent Farm.

Sheared on 26th May 2013, this is a big one weighed 1.6kg after I skirted it.  I think this comes from the sheep furthest to the right, the darkest one with the white patch just above its tail.


After it was washed and dried I was left with 800g of black fleece and 215g of the mixed colours.  It wasn't worth trying to get white from this mostly coloured fleece.

The mixed colours

I decided to dye this fleece this using Colour Craft All In One dye using two colours, 10g of Jade mixed with 10g of Turquoise.  I dyed this in March and finished making the yarn in May.


Combing made the colours combine, like when you add a blob of black paint into a blob of brightly coloured paint and mix it all together.  I got 91g of combed top from the original 215g.

The finished yarn is Fingering Weight and is 90g/395m.  I've name this Celtic Green.


Just the black to do and that will be another fleece done.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Peacock Merino Shawl - Design W187

Keen to knit with more of my own hand-spun yarn again I could resist the soft squishiness of some Peacock coloured Merino Silk wool that I spun up in May 2013.  Keeping to a simple pattern with a beaded lace edge was perfect for this yarn, which is a worsted weight yarn and is 80% Merino Wool and 20% Silk.   The beads are Size 6 Toho round seed beads in shade 507 Higher Metallic Iris Green.

I cast on for this shawl on 27th April and the shawl is knit sideways, starting with a few stitches, increasing for the back and then decreasing again at the other end.  The beads were added one at a time over the individual stitches and I used 75 beads in total.  The shawl is adjustable in size by increasing or decreasing the number of pattern repeats in the middle section and I used up as much yarn as I could from the skein that I had spun as I hate having lots of left-overs that can't be used in their entirety to make something else.


It was a little crumpled when it came off the needles on 30th April 2015 but I always soak and block my shawls anyway and this made a huge difference.


Very happy with the bead colour choice.  Not too obvious but adds just enough to make the pattern pop and just look at that leaf definition now.  Wonderful!


Want to know how I made the yarn for this shawl?  Just click Peacock Merino Silk

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Scottish Bird of Paradise Shawl

I was looking for patterns to use up some multi-coloured Wensleydale Wool that I had in my stash.  I have 2 skeins, both the same colourway but they look completely different to each other so I really need to use each skein in a different project.  I didn't find anything suitable or that I liked that required just one skein so I looked at the possibility of using a second yarn with it and what I had in my yarn stash that would work well with the multitude of colours and was the same thickness.  I found a stunning pattern, not lace, but never mind I will make it anyway.

The yarns are some Shetland Wool by J C Rennie in bottle green and Wensleydale Wool by Elvincraft in shade Rose Garden.  I cast on on 11th March and was excited to get started on such a stunning design.


It is made using garter stitch throughout, except for the line that defines the centre of each feather, short row knitting and a gradual shift along by casting off stitches at the neck edge whilst adding them on at the feather edge.  Its quite a tiring, boring knit as you have to constantly count how many stitches you knit on every row.  I often felt myself drifting off to sleep as I knit.


I finally finished making this on 24th April 2015 and was so glad to cast off.  I know it is a visually stunning design but I really really could not face making one of these again.  Fellow craftsmen and craftswomen will understand what its like to make something when you are not enjoying making it.  Blocking the shawl made a big difference to how the shape of the shawl and it does kind of hook around the neck and stay in place.