Friday, 29 December 2017

Elford Jacob's Fleece No.9 Part II

Around mid-September I started work on combing the black/white mixed fibres from the Jacob's fleece that I'd been working on for most of the year and I ended up with a bag full of hand-combed nests in various shades of browny-grey totalling 382g.

I could have spent more time and wasted more fibres by blending the darkest with the lightest and trying to achieve a bag of hand-combed nests that was pretty much an even shade throughout but I decided to make another gradient yarn, or two.

I sorted the hand-combed nests as best I could from lightest to darkest and took every-other-one and threaded them onto a wrapping paper cardboard tube centre and then done the same for the remaining nests, spinning every other one from each set for the first ply and the remaining for the second ply and then plying them together, so technically each single ply is made from every fourth nest out of the original line up.  I'm having déjà-vu here, I've done this before!

I made two different thickness of yarns, a fingering weight (left) that is 112g/440m and a sport weight (right) that is 116g/360m and both are lovely and squishy.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Scarlet Wizard

Since finishing the shawl with the dragonflies on it I have not made anything for the shop as I've had a big cross stitch on a tapestry frame waiting to be finished for ages, and with nowhere to store it when the Christmas tree went up, I decided to concentrate on that and get it out of the way.  It took longer than I hoped and with the snow that we've had the schools have been closed and I've had the kids at home.  Whilst I can stitch when the kids are home it is a lot slower because of the constant distractions.

This was a Dimensions Gold Collection Kit called Scarlet Wizard and I've figured out how to make a video from photos so have put the work-in-progress photos in order so you can see it progress from start to finish, apologies for the constant change in the colour from photo to photo, this was due to differences in light and whether I took the photo with my phone or my camera.

Here is the finished cross stitch and below that is the video.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Let there be Dragonflies - Design LF199

Its been a few weeks since I made a shawl with some black Jacobs wool and this time I am using the white wool from the same fleece.  This shawl is pretty but I have a new favourite hate, bead shunting.  The way the beads are placed in this design calls for the beads to be threaded onto the yarn before you start knitting as opposed to being placed individually over the stitch as you work, which means that the beads have to keep being pushed along the yarn as you work until you are ready to use them.

I threaded 1,205 size 6 Toho beads in shade 179: Trans-Rainbow Emerald Green onto the yarn, that was a tiring job to start with but bead shunting, that takes it to a whole new level.  Who would have thought that that would make your shoulders ache like you wouldn't believe!

The yarn is another single ply yarn of light fingering weight and you can read about the yarn and the fleece it came from here.

The little dragonflies are only depicted in beads along the outer edges of the shawl and the bottom of the shawl has a "double-point" rather than a single point.  In the beginning I actually spent more time shunting beads along than I did knitting.  It got a little quicker as I progressed up the shawl and beads were used up.  I'm very happy with my colour choice for the beads as they are not a solid colour but have that iridescent rainbow effect just like a dragonfly.

The whole thing took me about 3 weeks to make and the beaded cast off was a bit confusing to begin with in terms of where exactly the bead should be placed on the stitch but I figured it out and it was a whopping 4 1/2 hours before I reached the end.

I'm really happy with the way this one turned out, despite me getting fed up with the bead shunting.  There is no other way to do this design without shunting beads but I wouldn't mind making another of these sometime in the future.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Cross stitching birthday cards

If you follow my Facebook page you probably already know that I like to cross stitch in my spare time, not that I get much spare time, but still.  I have an aunt and two uncles who are soon to turn 70 years old and I wanted to do something different and more meaningful than just buying a birthday card from the shop.

I designed my own cards, using information about their interests, and the Jane Greenoff Cross Stitch design software that I've had for years.  I had the idea of adding their name across the design using sparkly thread but I couldn't get the software to do this font and add it over the top so I had to print out the design I'd made and then print out the name in the font and size I wanted and do the old tracing paper trick to physically put it on the design where I wanted it.

I think they've come out great and the Twilley's Goldfingering name over the top really sets it off.
Alan has always been mad on The Beatles, Christine loves gardening and Michael loves his car and Formula 1.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Alpaca and Silk Lace Shawlette - Design A197

Straight on with the next little shawlette, this time with one of my very first handspun yarns.  This is some Alpaca/Silk that I spun up back in 2012, although I have re-plied the yarn since, and you can read about the Alpaca and the yarn here.

This is 97% Alpaca, 3% Mulberry Silk and is aran weight.

This is heavy compared to the other two mohair shawls but its really soft and silky.

Its washed up and blocked really well.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dark Red-Black Lace Shawlette - Design A197

That was such a quick little shawlette to make that I have sorted out the yarn to make two more.  This one is some vintage mohair with sparkles running through it.

This is Paris by Wendy Yarns, long since discontinued, and its 81% Mohair, 11% Wool, 8% Nylon and the colour is called Antibes.

As I was knitting it up the colours reminded me of something and then I realised what it was.  About 15 years ago I worked at Birmingham International Airport for Alpha Retail, the company that ran the Duty Free shops, and although I worked primarily behind the scenes in the offices I knew most of the products that we sold.  It reminded me of Dior's Fahrenheit bottle, not for long though, it soon changed into a more stripey pattern.

Because of the long colour changes in the yarn it made it difficult when it came time to join in the next ball of yarn and I had to wind yarn off and cut and join in the right place to try to keep the colour sequence flowing.  I've done that before with a baby jacket!

The photos really don't do this shawl justice and its so much nicer in real life.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Salmon Mohair Lace Shawlette - Design A197

Its starting to get a little colder and so I have switched to working with some thicker yarns for a while to get some good snuggly type shawls in the shop.  This one is worked with Aran weight yarn.  I like the lace pattern but I don't like the garter stitch edging in the original pattern so I've changed that to flow better with the shawl and continued with stocking stitch.

The yarn is some good quality vintage mohair that I bought off Ebay ages ago in Salmon Pink.  You can tell if its good quality mohair by the fibre content.  A good quality mohair yarn will have somewhere around 70-85% mohair, a poorer quality/bargain basement mohair yarn will have around 35% mohair.  This one is 78% mohair, 13% wool, 9% nylon.

My phone camera is hopeless when it comes to true colours but with my main camera pretty much out of action, limping along on its last legs I am having to rely on my phone camera for work-in-progress photos.  I am trying to save up for a new camera, I know which one I want, but its difficult to get the funds together at the moment.

I'm not sure what has happened with the colours in these photos, the shawl looks almost radioactive, glowing, but in real life its not that bad.  Yes its quite bright but if you see the original photo of the yarn that is more true to colour of this shawl.

A nice quick little knit that I will be making more of I'm sure!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Black Jacobs Wool Laced Edged Shawlette - Design LF195

I'm making another shawlette in the same design as the cornflower blue one I just finished.  I've chosen to use some Jacobs wool that I spun in the early days of my spinning experience.  You can read about the fleece and how the yarn was prepared here.  Its a "single" yarn, as opposed to a "plied" yarn and is light fingering weight.

The problem with knitting with dark wool is that it is really hard to see exactly what you are doing and how the pattern is coming along so you need to work in good light and preferably wear light coloured clothes or have a light coloured piece of fabric that you can use as a backdrop to your knitting so you can see the pattern.

I got this one done over a few days, again the picot cast off edge took a good few hours to complete.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Cornflower Blue Lace Edged Shawlette - Design LF195

Some time ago I bought some lovely vintage wool off a lady who's father used to be a sales rep for the yarn companies way back in the 1940's and 1950's.  Lots of 'lots' in an array of colours.  Her father worked for a few different companies and most of the yarns had their original tags on.  No fancy ball bands here.  I have re-skeined all them to open them out and check for damage and weakness, washed them all and re-skeined them all up, measuring them as I go and keeping the old tags.

There is nothing wrong with this vintage wool, its beautiful and has to be the oldest yarn that I've worked with so far.  Yes, that does say 26th October 1948 and I have a shelf full of other similarly aged yarns that I bought from this lady.  This one is from Priestley & Co up in Yorkshire, the mill of course, has been closed down for many years now, as is true of many of the old northern wool mills, which is a crying shame.

It is so fine and lightweight and yet really warm.  I think its scrubbed up wonderfully for something so old and it only took me about a week to make. The picot cast off took me 2 1/2 - 3 hours to complete but look how beautiful it is.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Elford Jacobs Fleece No.9

Way back in 2014 I helped a friend of a friend out by taking a number of Jacobs fleece off her hands, see this post for more details on that.

I numbered all the fleece and kept fleece's 2, 5, 9 and 16 for myself, along with a rubbish one that was only good for binning or making into a rug.  This is what I did with fleece No.9, a predominantly white fleece with very little black, a large section of cotted fleece in the middle and weighing 2.1kg but the rest is very long stapled and lanolin rich, a spinners dream.

It washed up really nice and I began combing this fleece in January 2017.  After combing I have 816g of lovely hand-combed white fibre waiting to be spun.  I will get to the black fibres at a later date.

I worked on the white parts of this fleece on and off between January and August, finishing off with the dyeing in August.  Its a large amount of fleece to work on and I've had a lot going on this year with various hospital appointments and major surgery.

I spun one bobbin up in February and this got put to one side until I had time over the Easter break to get back to spinning and then I completed two skeins in less than a week.  In total, I made 4 skeins of yarn from the white part of the fleece in different yarn weights and I after I cooked some homegrown beetroot I transferred the liquid from my cooking pot to my dye pot and dyed all four skeins at the same time, the same colour.  They have all turned out a variegated yellow colour which I am reasonably pleased with.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Pretty in the Meadow - Design LF433

My next shawl I've been wanting to make for some time but I had to work out how to place the colours in a way so that no two motifs of the same colour were next to each other, not even diagonally.  Now that I have done that using the rules of Suduko as a way of figuring this out I can get on and choose my colours.

I have lots of Twilley's Goldfingering, some in larger amounts and some in really small amounts, not always leftovers from other projects, sometimes I buy it in like that because its in with a 'job lot' that people are selling on Ebay.  The kids are off school for the 6 week summer break so its easy makes like this or spinning.

I carefully chose the colours to use, knowing which colour I would be using to join them all together helped as some colours looked too brash against this colour and got left out of the project.  A massive 9 colours in this one and all but two are Twilley's Goldfingering but they are both look-a-like threads and most of them are vintage too.

I kept this one quiet on Social Media, opting to show only one motif made so everyone thought I was making it in red, white and pale green.  Nope!!  The reaction when I showed the shawl pinned out and drying was pretty good.  I imagine people were like "What? Erhhhh? Wait?  I thought...."

This has turned out so pretty.  There may be more of these in the future, subject to left-overs and if I can find a colour that will tie them all together fantastically.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Pretty in Orange - Design LF433

I've recently come out of hospital after having surgery, I have very little mobility and I need something to occupy my mind whilst I recuperate so I am making another 1970's retro shawl in Twilley's Goldfingering.

Similar colours to the last one but different.  This one is gold, bronze and burnt orange.  Vintage threads, of course, with the gold and the bronze being older than the burnt orange.

The picture of two finished squares joined together remind me of owl eyes, I don't know why, they just do for some reason.

It was actually quite a long time before these product photos were able to be taken as I couldn't get around very much or stand for very long for quite a good while.  My 14 year old daughter is modelling for me and she's done a good job.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sunset Baby Jacket

The last pattern that I used to make baby jackets for, the one where I dyed one of them, actually had two designs.  This is the other design.  Its not lace but it does have a honeycomb texture to it.

I bought this yarn about 5 years ago when I was on holiday in Weymouth, on the south coast.  It just called to me and its really soft and squishy.  Its a long colour change double knit weight yarn which is 75% acrylic, 10% wool, 10% mohair, 5% metallic.

Because you knit the jacket from the bottom up and then just work on small sections up to the shoulders I tried my best to make the colours 'flow' and match for the main part of the body upwards from the 'orange' garter stitch border separating the honeycomb pattern from the plain knit.  The sleeves took some a lot of work make them match, trying to find the right place within the long colour changes to cut the yarn and start work, lots of cutting and winding of the yarn to get what I wanted.

I decided to add three matching buttons and luckily I had just the right colours of the same button style.  Another non-traditional baby item from me but its still pretty.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Pretty in Copper - Design LF433

I'm making another of the Twilley's Goldfingering shawls from one of the 1970's pattern that I have.  I do like them, I have a bit of a 'thing' about Goldfingering and memories from childhood of shopping in the haberdashery department of a big department store in Birmingham City with my late Mom, strange I know, but there you have it.

So, this one isn't made from Twilley's Goldfingering though, except for the flower centres.  I've mostly used an almost identical thread which was made by Anchor (part of J & P Coats also known as Coats Crafts) that has since been discontinued.  In fact, Anchor as a brand no longer manufacturers threads or has any offices here in the UK anymore.  It was bought out by an American company years ago and after about 20 years or so they have decided to move business back to the USA entirely and this announcement was made around the same time that we had the Brexit vote, although the two are not connected, apparently.

I have used Twilley's Goldfingering in Gold for the centres, Anchor Arista in Bronze for the petals, which is kind of black with a bronze thread, and Anchor Arista in Copper for the main.  I actually started making this over the Easter Holiday way back in April when the kids were not in school but I didn't get very far and it got put to one side for a while.

I thought I had better crack on and get this one finished as its been lingering around far too long.

I fear this one may be in my shop for some time though as it is kind of a mundane colour combination, I hope not but I just get the feeling that it may well be there a while.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Baby Jackets made with Eco-Friendly yarn

Some time ago, when mooching through the "end of line/end of batch" baskets at House of Fraser on the rare occasion that I travel into Birmingham City Centre, I came across an interesting yarn called Rowan Purelife Revive and I bought a few balls of it in two different shades.

From Rowans' website : Recycling is becoming increasingly important in a world coming to terms with the challenges of environmental, economic and climatic change. Rowan Purelife Revive is made from used garments which have been selected according to the silk, cotton and viscose content. These are then carded to make regenerated fibre, which is then spun into this beautiful, high quality yarn, which gives life to new hand knitting designs.

I like the idea of this yarn because I recycle as much as I can myself.   The yarn is 36% recycled silk, 36% recycled cotton, 28% recycled viscose and is a double knit weight yarn.


The pattern that I chose to use with this yarn is a vintage Wendy Peter Pan pattern and I got started on 28th June with the first one.  It wasn't until I had finished and sewn it up that I noticed that one sleeve was darker than the rest of the jacket.  Not knowing what to do at this point I carried on with the other colour yarn and made another one.

As you can see, the sleeve to the right in the picture is darker than the rest of the jacket.  Meanwhile, the jacket made with the darker shade has turned out lovely.

Because of the varied fibre content of this yarn and the fact that I only have dyes intended for use with animal protein fibres I was not sure what to do with the first jacket.  Do I bin it, do I dye it, if so what dyes do I use?  After much deliberation I decided to just try dyeing it with the dyes that I have and see what happens and if it goes wrong it can't get any worse than it already is.  I made up some dark blue dye and just went for it.

I have to say that I am seriously liking the result.  You can no longer see that the one sleeve is darker than the rest of the jacket and because it has only dyed the animal protein fibres in the yarn it has created a marl effect.  Fantastic!

If I ever have a problem like this again, or fall out of love with a yarn colour that is a mixed blend or don't like the way it knits up I will have no hesitation in getting the dyes out because I really love this effect.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Produce from the garden

I've been harvesting the beetroot for a few weeks now, pulling up a few at a time, cooking them and dicing them to be used on salads and in wraps etc but its time to harvest some of the carrots.  Hmmmm, they are interesting aren't they?  I've never seen carrots like these in the shops, they must be a new variety that we've discovered.

They are full of Celtic knots and big noses.

Which came first, the chicken or the carrot?  Ooooh, Ooooh, Ooooh, I need a wee, carrot and them we have a weird little fat one that looks like a dolls or a babies hand, we had a few hand shapes ones actually.

Aye, aye, what have these carrots been up to in the garden then eh?  These are the naughty boy carrots.  Despite their weird appearance, the carrots are actually very tasty.

We're not doing any good with the beans this year, not enough for a meal from them this year.  Very disappointed.  Tomatoes aren't doing great again either as the insects are getting to them again.  Potatoes will hopefully do better this year and I'm hoping for a better crop from those. 

The carrot tops have been chopped up and soaked for three days in preparation to be boiled up and then the tops scooped out and the liquid kept to make a natural dye.  Beetroot is doing really well and I've been keeping the water from cooking those to use as a natural dye too.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Beige and white baby jacket

Motoring along through June making these gorgeous little baby jackets that are taking me a couple of days each to make.

Back to the sparkly beige yarn, again with the same fluffy white yarn that I've used with the others.

This one isn't a colour change yarn, its a solid colour even though it is from the same range as the other yarns I've been using.  I think it looks better with white than it does on its own.  The construction of these little jackets is quite simple and its the edging that brings it all together into a jacket shape.

Time to move onto a new design and different yarn.