Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Handspun Capucine Hat FO

From dye pot to finished garment ... here's my handspun Capucine hat FO write-up.

I started off with 200g of undyed BFL fiber which I dyed with green(ish) & pink Kool-Aid. It looked so gorgeous straight out of the dye pot ...

When dry, the colours became much less vibrant, and I was worried that I might have felted the fiber slightly.

But after some pre-drafting, I began to spin it up (during the Tour de Fleece in July this year).

With the Capucine pattern in mind, I spun it in bulky/superbulky weight. As my first batch of handspun of the TdF it was a little uneven and over-spun in places, but I was still more than happy with the result.

Then, on my trip to Cornwall last week, I cast on during the four hour drive to the caravan park.

I do so love a bulky knit, as it seems to grow before your eyes.

I finished the main bulk of the hat quite early into the holiday, but forgot to pack my DPNs so had an agonising wait to finish it off.

A few days later, on the evening of returning home, I completed the last few decrease rows and closed the peak of the hat up, added braids, sewed the ends in and tried the hat on immediately.

I think you can see from the photo how pleased I am with the hat, which fits perfectly and is remarkably warm.

I just adore making the whole item from start to finish and can't quite explain how satisfying it is. It's just a wonderful feeling.


Taking part in Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch's SPINNING SHOW & TELL meme today. Please go along and take a look at her gorgeous blog.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Wensleydale Locks - A First Attempt at Art Yarn

Today, I am delighted to be guest blogging for Sarah of Crafts from the Cwtch on her 'Spinning Show & Tell' weekly spinning meme.

When Sarah emailed to say she was going on holiday and would I like to write a guest post on spinning I jumped at the chance. I decided straight away that I would attempt something outside of my comfort zone for the project with a 'show & tell' style blog post for Sarah, and a more in depth 'how-to' for my blog.

I have been spinning since 2009 and have, to date, focused on the attainment of a good conventional and functional yarn. I have been mostly stuck in 2-ply Yarn Land, practicing a variety of yarn weights and using a variety of animal fibers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a perpetual desire to spin the most even and perfect skein of yarn, but after completing 2-ply skein number 11 at the close of the Tour de Fleece last month, I made a personal and conscious decision to try something new.

With a burgeoning desire to broaden my spinning horizons I took to Instagram, YouTube and new spinning magazine PLY for inspiration.

Good old Ebay provided me with the raw materials for the project, which on this occasion was 100g of scoured Wensleydale locks, and 100g of Wensleydale top.

I began by spinning the whole 100g top as a singles yarn at an even(ish) sock/fingering weight.

The following evening, I prepared the locks by separating each one from the main bulk of fiber and laid them on my lap ready to incorporate into my spun singles.

Attaching the singles onto an empty bobbin via a leader yarn in such a way as to create the first loop needed for the Navajo or chain ply method, I was ready to go.

I began by plying a few feet of yarn to get myself into the swing of things, all the while feeling the excited anticipation of the addition of locks.

Having done a fair amount of online research about how to attach the locks to my yarn, I eventually chose to try a method where you push the top (sheared) end of the lock through the end of the loop created in the crochet chain type action of the Navajo ply. This secures the lock in place, and then you continue to ply down the length of the lock, leaving the curly tip to poke out at the bottom. If done correctly, the lock will then be completely anchored into place within the 3-ply yarn.

I continued on in this fashion, adding a new lock every (or every other) time I needed to perform a new ‘chain’ section of my ply.

As I have a normal flyer on my Ashford Joy spinning wheel, I sometimes had to feed the bulkier sections of yarn through the orifice and hooks by hand, but this was easily and quickly achieved.

Very soon I noticed that my bobbin was filling up nicely.

By the time the bobbin was full to capacity, I was feeling very jaded from a high level of sustained and complete concentration, so I left it where it was and called it a night.

First thing in the morning, I was excited to wind the yarn onto a niddy noddy and inspect my work.

So far so good. I really liked what I saw, but my fibery transformation wasn't over yet.

On to the dye job!

Securing the yarn in four places with white acrylic yarn using the figure of eight style, I took it off the niddy noddy and off for its first bath ... a nice half hour soak in luke warm water.

Meanwhile, I filled a large saucepan with one litre of water to which I added three tablespoons of citric acid, two 10g Sky Blue and two 10g Lime Green Dr. Oetker food colour gel tubes. I turned the hob on to a low heat and stirred until all the ingredients were completely dissolved.

After carefully squeezing out as much water as I could from my art yarn, I lowered it into the dye bath and turned up the heat to bring up to a gentle simmer.

I allowed the pot to simmer away for approximately twenty minutes until I was content that the yarn had taken up as much of the dye as it needed. Having used this food colour to dye fiber before, I knew that it doesn't completely absorb all the colour as is usually recommended. The green gel colour tends to leave a yellow in the water that doesn't take to the fiber easily. As I didn’t want the yarn to become a felted mass, I took the pot off the heat and let it stand for a couple of hours.

Once completely cool, I was able to take the yarn for another soak; This time in a weak detergent bath. Then a rinse to wash any excess dye and soap suds away. Next rolling it up in a nice dry towel, standing on it to squeeze out as much fluid as possible, and then I hung it up to dry with a big smile all over my face.

By early evening the same day, the yarn was dry and I took great satisfaction in re-skeining it for a photo shoot.

I am immensely happy with how this yarn has turned out, in so much as I had an idea of how I wanted this yarn to look in my best case scenario imagination, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the fruits of my labour.

Will I use this yarn as yarn? ... Maybe.

Will I admire it, have it out on show and stroke it a whole lot? ... Oh yes!

So I guess that what I’m saying is that there’s no need to fear spinning, in any of its guises. If you are spinning-curious then you can look to purchase a drop spindle spinning kit and get started creating your very own yarn.

And if you have already started this wonderful craft and are feeling the need to progress on to different methods, I’d say GO FOR IT. I wholeheartedly recommend that if you admire a certain look, texture or colour of yarn, then go out and make it happen ... fearlessly.

Play with different fibers ... animal, vegetable and synthetic ... research different ways of creating yarns in a variety of textures, colours and sizes.

I can assure you it’s a whole lot of fun, with a heaped tablespoon of creative satisfaction on the top.

Many thanks for reading.

I'd love to hear from you if you've been inspired to try something new too :)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Tour de Fleece 2013

This was the year I took the plunge and joined in with the Tour de Fleece, and I'm so glad I did because I loved every minute of it.

Through the hottest British summer since 2006, I still managed to spin every day that the Tour de France cycled ... even if I had to wait until the evening so it was cool enough to do so.

Here's my final tally ... all 845g of it!!

I managed these 11 skeins of completed yarn, all 2-ply, but in a variety of fibers and in a variety of weights.

I especially love this skein of BFL sock weight yarn in a 'Watermelon Tourmaline' colour scheme I had custom dyed by Danielle of A Stash Addict.

I also tried spinning alpaca for the first time, albeit in a blend of merino and silk, but it was my first alpaca experience nonetheless. I'm really pleased with the results of this uber-soft DK weight yarn.

I also tried spinning a singles yarn for the first time. I'm seriously over the moon about this one as it ended up better than I expected. After asking some TdF team mates for advice, I slightly fulled the yarn by alternating it in a hot versus cold bath, and then hung it to dry with a weight on the end. I will definitely be trying this out again soon, as it provides you with so much more yardage than a 2-ply.

I was disappointed about not being able to finish the rainbow merino fiber on my drop spindle, but it really was too hot to spin yarn during the day. Despite that, I did have all the good intentions, and took my spindle out on numerous day excursions ... only to give up actually spinning after the first 10 minutes, drenched in sweat and in fear of felting my fiber between my hands! Here's a photo of me feeling optimistic on route to the beach, spindle in hand.

I was also half way through some lace weight luxury 50% baby camel and 50% tussah silk yarn when the TdF ended.

Badly timed I know, but the end of the event just crept up on me so quickly.

Not yet sick of spinning, I carried on my daily spinning to get it finished.

As I didn't want to be a Rookie-No-Mates, Team AYLM was founded on Instagram and Ravelry. Thanks so much to all who joined in. I've had some lovely messages from team mates who wrote to say that they also thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Please go for a look at all the beautiful yarn and spinning via hashtag #teamaylmtdf13 on Instagram.

As a thank you to my team mates, I pledged a prize drawn at random of a custom made drop spindle.

And I'm so pleased to announce that the lovely Jenni (IG username @baamekniits) was the winning member.

So it's over for 2013, and now I've done my first I can say that I will be there with bells on next year and probably every year after that.

It's such a wonderful opportunity to be inspired by others, develop your own skills, grow as a fiber artist, make new like-minded friends and enhance that wonderfully OOAK handspun yarn stash.

See you all there next year :)