Saturday, 24 January 2009

Maximum Pinkness

My first Fyberspates Luxury Fibre Club parcel arrived, containing this wonderful stuff. It's called Nef and arrived in a long length of roving that explodes into this incredible pom-pommy fluff when you break it. Lovely. It's 70% baby alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere, and it feels it. I'm spinning it quite fine with the slowest whorl of the fast flyer, using my standard half-assed extended/long draw.

I've finished the LOL assortment, with a big skein of DKish two-ply. It's slightly over-plied - the hank wants to do a quarter turn - but I don't mind that because I much prefer the look of two-ply that teeters on the brink of overplying anyway. Which may be a sign I should do a nice round three-ply for a change...

Another parcel arrived from Wingham Wool Work, full of exciting stuff, but I can't photograph it at the moment as some activities are just incompatible with cats, and festooning the room with dozens of intriguing little bits of roving is asking for trouble.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Ravelry rocks! (As if we didn't know...)

I got a surprising message on Ravelry the other day from someone I don't know, now living in Germany. She had come across my profile while looking for a friend of hers and saw that I was doing research on the Gaeltacht Quarter in Belfast, so she messaged me to say that she'd visited the area I work on and was interested as she speaks Scottish gaelic. It was really cool to see the Scottish version written down - the extreme similarity is much more obvious to me when the two types of gaelic are written, rather than spoken. I love it when the whole internet seems like such a small world! I wasn't expecting to have a tiny bit of fieldwork pop up in my knitting universe. The knitted thesis rides again!

I was equally stunned with Ravelry's eerie tendency to coalesce all my favourite things when I realised that the Crossword Junkies group I belong to has a thread about murder mysteries, full of people who love knitting, and cryptic crosswords, and mystery stories, even more, potentially, than I do. That's a niche. I was trying to explain the existence of this thread within a group within a knitting-centric social networking site to my mother and ended up exclaiming 'I'm a subset of a subset of a niche', to which she replied with maternal weariness 'I know.'

Still fooling about with the LOL roving, having great fun making it do different stuff. I don't know what I'll end up making from it, something with lots of textures anyway. The colours change in ways I can't currently predict according to how it's spun and plied. I really need to get Deb Menz's book on Colour in Spinning to find out why. I'm terrible for book buying at the moment. It always feels more virtuous than other crafty expenditure.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


I got the carders out for the first time in ages last night, and had a go at something intentionally thick and thin for a change. I had some commercially dyed purple merino, some of which I'd already spun into a thin, tightly spun worsted single. I also had a length of merino tops I'd dyed bright orangey red, and another I'd dyed yellow. I love combinations of purple and orange - my friend points out that I should join the Orange Order - so I carded up the red and purple together, and the red and yellow together, and spun a very slubby single alternating them. I plied this with the thin purple single I already had. I love the bubbliness! This picture is from before I dunked it to set the twist, so once it dries it'll probably be a bit more subdued.

I was so chuffed with the colours I carded up the rest in the same way until I ran out of red.

I want to make small amounts of two or three different kinds of yarn from this, so now I'm spinning a more traditional, woolen-spun single, but trying to keep it a bit thicker than i usually spin because I want the colours to show up clearly. I'm not sure how I'll ply it - I may or may not have enough purple merino left. I've got some purple and some orange shiny thread that could work as well.

Yesterday I stumbled into Craftworld and bought various wee beads, bells and so on that might end up being spun into yarn. I've been looking through all the weird bits of sewing stuff I've had in my room since my Granny died, and finally seeing a use for some of the random bits of lace, trimming and fancy buttons. I've just cut the pad of my thumb quite badly on a tin can, though, so there will be an enforced pause in the spinning frenzy, which might be a good thing for my PhD! A classmate always jokes that I'm going to hand in my thesis in knitted form. I can just see my supervisor's stricken face as I proudly hand him a pile of ornate textiles...

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Good Goat!

This is desperately camera-shy yarn, which objects to being shoved into the tiny spot of natural light my attic room contains. Really, it's the colours of blackcurrant jam on toast, with little flashes of lighter strawberryish pink. The fibre emerged from the dyepot (my mother's old slowcooker) darker than I'd been aiming for, but I quite like it. In fact, it being cashmere, I want to fill a room with it and just roll around for a few days. Were I somehow to win the lottery I never enter, as soon as I'd done the good deeds and the sensible stuff, I'd be on the phone ordering a lorryload of cashmere for wallowing purposes. Mmm.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Jammy Divil

Cashmere singles in jammy colours, waiting to be plied:

I'm knitting some SWTC bamboo yarn that's been long-term stash. Looks like some of it will remain so, because the yardage on this stuff is insane. I'm guessing a cardigan will take about 3.5 balls at this rate, and I've got at least eight. The top-down raglan construction from Barbara Walker's Knitting From the Top is comfortably familiar, but I'm having a wee wrangle with a lace pattern I want to make spread from the panel down the back.

I'm knitting in odd moments while I should be working, but I can't stop thinking about spinning for a second! Lexi Boeger's Intertwined just arrived in the post and my mind is officially blown. This might explain why my thesis-writing abilities have plummeted over the Christmas break. I've also successfully fixed a wobble in my Lendrum by taking the wheel off and putting it on again, the spinning version of the classic IT tech advice. This makes the wheel extra tempting,as well as giving me a totally unjustified sense of competence.

I'm making a valiant effort to safeguard the future of handspinning-related industries in these doomladen days by spending the grocery money on merino and niddy-noddys. There should be an exciting parcel from Wingham Wool Works in a few days...

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


I hereby declare this blog revived. My room is knee-deep in various processes and projects, and I need to keep track of the tides of dye and fibre and yarn on something I can't lose or accidentally put through the wash.

I got the best Christmas present ever this year: a surprise 500g of dehaired cashmere tops in the post. 'Surprise' is an understatement. How the donor, uninitiated in the weird world of fibre, managed to track down the right stuff is a miracle for which I am truly grateful. The stuff is sex in a bag. It's kept me busy ever since.

My resolution for 2009 is one carried over, shamefully, from 2008. I need to get to the bloody spinning guild! Getting to Cultra with my wheel on a bus is impossible (extra impossible since I had a slight mishap with some superglue, of which more later) but I can take a spindle. It's just such a pain in the ass getting about on our craptastic public transport system, which operates on the assumption that all decent people are in bed by nine and there's no call for anyone to go anywhere but their mum's house for lunch and laundry on Sundays. I need to learn from real people though, and that's where they are, so Cultra it is.