Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things again this week for the Yarn Along. It seems I’ve had knitting fever the past week or so! I’ve been frantically trying to finish Lynden’s hoodie, knitting up a pair of warm woolen work socks for a friend, and squeezing in a few rows each night on this project:

It’s one of the only projects I’ve worked on for myself. I started way back in June, and as you can see, I haven’t had many opportunities to make it grow. Now that Lynden’s hoodie is almost complete and the holiday madness is over, I’m determined that this project is going to take priority.

It’s the Bat Shawl! I’m using my own handspun yarn. It’s a beautiful naturally-coloured steely grey wool from New Zealand that I spun a year or so ago, about sock weight.

The lace pattern is hard to see in these low-quality photos taken from my phone, but it’s coming out beautifully and the bats will be glorious when the shawl is finished and blocked.

I love bats! I can’t wait to get this shawl finished and wrap it around my shoulders.

What are you working on right now, dear readers?

Handmade Holiday – Spinning Some Yarn

This year I’m trying to give everyone on my holiday list a handmade gift.  In this house, that usually means something crafted from wool or yarn.  I’ve been working on one particular gift since September, and finally making some good progress.  I won’t tell you who it’s for, or what the finished object will be, because most of my family members read this little old blog and I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise! But I will share the entire process with you.  Here we go!

The story of this project actually begins in Spring of 2011.  You may recall that I visited a friend’s farm for sheep shearing day, and came home with a lovely fleece.  The sheep was named “Morag”, and I must put in a word of thanks to her here, because that fleece of hers sure is a delight to work with.  In September, I began the process of blending some of Morag’s wool with another fibre (I won’t tell you what until after the holidays – don’t want to give it away!) with my hand cards.  Let me tell you, hand-blending these two fibres has been a long and tedious process.  Now that the carding stage is complete, everything else is going quickly.

Seeing the rolags pile up in my basket, blended and ready to be dyed, has been quite satisfactory.  The finished product is worth the blisters the carders put on my hands.

I was tempted to spin the fibre in its natural colour, but decided I needed to go ahead and dye it.  I don’t have much on hand right now, so I chose some food-grade dye hiding in the back of the cupboard and left the fibre to soak in a bath of vinegar and water.  I’d love to include a photo of the dye process itself, but my kitchen was too dark and none of the shots turned out well.

I mixed some red and blue for a lovely range of blue, navy, and dark purple.  After rinsing the dyed fibre and patting it with a towel, I set it out on the coffee table with a fan pointed at it to dry.  It’s still pretty wet in this photo, so the colours look a lot darker than they actually are.

Time to spin! I haven’t had a chance yet this Autumn to get my dear wheel out and spin up some yarn, so opening the case and setting her up was like reconnecting with an old friend.  Oh, sweet wheel, I do so love to work with you!

The kids were pretty excited to see my wheel out again, and clamoured around me to watch the fibre being spun.  Lynden used my phone to take this photo, and although it’s blurry, I do love it – it seems to me that the essence of the afternoon is captured quite well by a 5-yr-old and a phone.

The fibre is spinning up beautifully, I must say.  Some of the fibre had not quite dried yet, so there’s a lot more waiting to be done, but I can’t wait to set the twist and get knitting with it!  So luxuriously soft, just what I was hoping for!

I know you’re dying to find out what kind of fibre I blended Morag’s wool with, aren’t you?  And what will the finished product be? If you can handle the suspense, I’ll reveal all my holiday creations as soon as they’ve been gifted to the loved ones they’re intended for! Stay tuned!