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Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday .....there's a Fleece

I haven't done any knitting over the past couple of weeks, none at all. My bit of spare time has been taken up with other things such as:

I'm supposed to be reducing/sorting out my fibre and yarn stash, but I succumbed last week and bought a part fleece. Only the teeny tiniest amount of just over 1 kg. I just could not resist it! It was a beautiful fine Romney, the raw locks measured 20 cm and it's the most beautiful brown/black colour. Soft and squishy.

The locks before washing, loving that crimp!

Here's the first batch of nests that I combed.

More combing, the lighter coloured fibre in front is also Romney. It's a fleece that I almost threw out, it came with the first spinning wheel I ever purchased 10 years ago and had been very tightly compacted into a cardboard box. In the end I picked out the best and threw the worst of it. It washed up quite well after 3 hot soaks ~ the fibre was very compacted and dirty. It's not as fine as the dark brown fleece and there's a lot more of it, but I think the 2 colours look lovely together, it's destined for a colour work project. The light isn't doing the dark brown justice on this photo.

Heres a small sample of the washed and dried locks that I spun up after combing them. The one on the left is a 2 ply yarn and the small skein on the right is a 3 ply (navajo) yarn. I like them both and I'm having a hard time deciding which one to go with.

Here's a peek at something else I've been working on recently ~ a crochet blanket using up scraps, odds and ends, and orphan balls of sock yarn. I'm using a 2.75 mm hook. The blanket is getting quite large and heavy now so I think I'm going to have to stop soon!

I finished the flax sweater for my Husband a few weeks ago, he's very happy with it and it's been worn many times already, it's very warm yet light and squishy:

I love the garter stitch bands on the shoulders/arms. If I were to knit this sweater again I would do short rows at the back of the neck to bring it up slightly, knitted as per pattern the back and front of the neckline is identical:

Monday, August 7, 2017

Magic Monday....

I've been taking part in a swap group on Ravelry for about 9 years now. Today I received a  swap package, I had chosen a neutral palette as my colours.

My secret swap partner was from Scotland and she sent me a beautiful skein of Old Maiden Aunt cashmere blend sock wool along with a British Breed Fibre Sampler pack. I'm really looking forward to spinning all of these different fibre samples very soon.

A zippered project bag, some mini skeins of sock yarns, hand cream, a new cord for my hiyahiya needles and some wool wash samples. Ribbon and lace and yummy treats (chocolate, tablet and macaroon) completed the package.

Blue Faced Leicester
Manx Loaghtan
Black Welsh Mountain

This is going to keep me busy for a while!

I've also started knitting a sweater and a hat for my husband. The sweater isn't actually that far from being finished:
The yarn is Naturally Drift, a 100% merino yarn. It's very soft and lightweight and I'm really enjoying knitting with it. The pattern is so simple, a top down raglan with a bit of garter stitch detail down the sleeves.
The pattern is called Flax.

I'm loving the way my grey hand spun is knitting up into this simple stocking stitch men's hat. Not that we need hats today, it's just like a beautiful Summers day here.

Monday, July 31, 2017

I'm Back ......It's been such a long time.

It's been such a long time since I blogged here, I lost my craft mojo for a long while as I had other, personal things to deal with. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of knitting and spinning again.

So, here are a few things I would like to show you that I've been working on over the past few weeks:
Firstly what's on my wheel right now:

This is a bag of merino fibre that I bought on a recent trip to England. The colourway is Yorkshire Rainbow. I will call it the green green grass of home.

I'm spinning it very fine using my Ashford Traveller wheel. This will be a 2 ply yarn when finished, it's fairly slow progress but I'm enjoying the it! I love the greens, interspersed with tiny hits of black and white here and there.

I've been having a massive clear out of my craft room and in the process I found this fibre. It was half a carrier bag of unwashed fleece and I seem to think it came with a spinning wheel I bought. I washed it, combed it and spun it into a worsted weight yarn. I think it's Romney. My finished skein weighs 160g and there's 260 mtrs. It will become a hat for my husband.

I rediscovered a lot of things I had forgotten I had.

This is Ashford's merino/silk blend in the pomegranate colourway. I love the sheen and softness of this fibre. The finished skein weighs 115g and is 460 mtrs, it's a nice fingering/4 ply weight. Spun on my Ashford Traveller wheel.

This is some Jacob top that I received in a swap package almost a year ago. I had been wanting to try Jacob for a long time. I've decided I don't really like it as the combed top was full of very coarse kemp hairs which I tried to pick out as best I could while spinning but there's still a lot left in there. It will be used ~ I have started collecting skeins to knit a hand spun blanket.
260 mtrs
2 ply
Ashford Traveller.

I bought this fibre in England recently. It was pre bagged and sold as merino so I couldn't fondle it in the shop, but I don't think it's merino, it feels and acts more like a fine corriedale combed top.

I bought it because I loved the colours in it ~ it's called Renaissance. Hard to see on a photograph but there are multiple shades running through it. I really enjoyed spinning this:
638 mtrs
2 ply yarn
Spun on my Ashford Traveller wheel.

Finally, while emptying the loft I found a very large brown paper sack. It contained a very large, very dirty compressed fleece. I do not know where this fleece came from as I have only ever bought a white half fleece and have already washed and spun that ages ago, so unless they are multiplying up there I have no idea of the origin of this particular one.

It was the dirtiest thing I have ever seen and I almost threw it all away. I test washed a couple of locks and they came up nice and clean, surprisingly the locks felt soft and fluffy. So I picked out the best 2 kg of fibre and threw away a further 4.8 kg so it must have been a big sheep that grew this one!

I had to give the fleece a very good soak, in fact multiple soaks but the washed fleece came up very clean, white and bouncy. Some parts of the fleece have a bit of yellow staining on them but that doesn't matter as I'm going to dye this when it's spun anyway.

The picture shows from back to front ~ unwashed locks, washed locks and combed nests. This is something I'm working on when I get the urge to do something different in between other projects. Sometimes a bit of fibre prep is the only thing that cuts the mustard for me.

So it's been a few quite productive weeks for me. I have also knit something out of my hand dyed yarn, but I can't show it here just yet as it's for a Ravelry swap.

I'm very happy to be back here after such a long hiatus, doing my normal things ~ enjoying my crafts and making plans for what I will do next.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

October Already

Where on earth does the time go? I can't believe I haven't posted anything since July!

It's been a very busy few months ~ I went away on holiday to Sydney, came home for a week then off to Dunedin for a visit. In between I've been working, knitting a wee bit and gardening (lots to do outside the garden is looking a little jungle-esque right now).

Sadly I haven't managed to get any spinning done for a long time but I did get some good news, I entered an item in the National Alpaca Exhibition and found out today that I won an award! It was the natural circular lace cardigan that I entered into the Creative Fibre National Exhibition last year. I went down to see the exhibition after work today, there was some absolutely stunning work on display.

This was my home grown alpaca from my wee boy Saturn that I washed and hand combed, then spun into a 2 ply lace weight yarn. I then knitted the lace patterned circular cardigan.

Here's a view of the back of the cardigan:

And a close up of the samples I submitted along with my rosette:

I put a lot of work into this garment and it's nice to finally get the recognition for that ~ I'm feeling a little bit pleased with myself today!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Swedish Tea Ring

After all the fibre stuff over the last few weeks  I thought it was about time that I had a change and baked something ~ so here's a very easy Swedish Tea Ring. This is quite a versatile recipe, you can use any filling you want, the possibilities are endless, in this one I used raisins, craisins and chopped glace cherries. Another version I make is lemon curd & sultanas, I've also made it (on request) with nutella and chocolate chips as the filling. The dough recipe is easy and gives a light, soft, sweet dough.

50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
500g strong white flour
1 x 7g sachet of instant yeast
7g salt
40g caster sugar
230ml milk
2 large eggs

For the filling:
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
100g dried fruit, raisins, craisins etc

1 Rub the butter into the flour, rubbing it in with your fingertips until integrated.

2 Add the yeast, stir, then add the salt and sugar. Heat the milk very gently until luke-warm, whisk in the eggs, and pour this into the dry mixture. No point messing around with a spatula here just use your hands to mix the dough so that it comes together in the bowl.
3 Tip the dough on to a clean work surface and knead well, for about 10 mins, or put it in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead for 5 mins.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes then roll it out quite thinly into a rectangle. Brush over the melted butter, sprinkle over the brown sugar and cinnamon, then the dried fruits and finally roll it up nice and tight, swiss roll style. Curve it into a ring and tuck one of the ends inside the other pinching it together as best you can. Place it on a baking tray lined with non stick paper. Make slashes all around the outside using either a very sharp knife or a pair of sturdy kitchen scissors.

Cover with oiled cling wrap and leave it to rise in a warm place or about an hour. It will looked puffed up and the slits you cut will have opened up considerably.
Heat the oven to 200 deg C. Bake the ring for about 20 - 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Decorate it with a simple water icing if desired.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Tour de Fleece Diary Collage

Here's my last post on the Tour de Fleece, my diary collage:

Tour de Fleece Days 17 ~ Finish Line

I found myself constantly running out of dry combed fibre for the last few days and felt as if I didn't make much progress. I didn't post any pics or updates because it all looked the same, brown, more brown, yes I'm over the brown lol. But, I'm happy with what I have achieved in the last 22 days:

I started with a 2.8 kg NZ Half Bred Brown/grey fleece. All the fleece was washed during the tour. 
All the fleece has now been combed. 

From this fleece I spun 5622 mtrs of singles which made 1029g, 1874 mtrs of ‘N’ ply yarn so far. I still have 372 g of combed fibre to spin. 

I then dyed some white half bred fleece, from this I spun 787 mtrs of singles which were ‘N’ plied to give me a total of 262 mtrs of finished yarn in 3 different colours. I also dyed a further batch of the white in plums/purples and have only combed part of it so far and spun 1 nest.
To sum up my achievements during Tour de Fleece: 
I washed and combed a lot of fluff, spun 6409 mtrs of singles and have 2136 mtrs of finished 3 ply yarn. 
On challenge days I spun some hand combed polwarth into very fine singles (probably about 30g so far which I haven’t calculated into my singles amount), then made a DIY spindle and managed to spin some yarn on it. 

Things I would do differently next tour: try to be more organised and have my fleece washed and dried before the start, I kept running out of dry/combed fibre and found myself waiting for fleece to dry many times (it’s Winter here). If I had done this I think I would have finished the whole fleece. But, in saying that I’m extremely happy in what I have done, it's far more than I would have achieved had I not participated in le Tour de Fleece. 

I have this basket which is 372 g of combed fibre left to spin, I'm going to work on that over the next few days and hope to get it finished. I'm estimating it will make another 680 mtrs of yarn so I will have more than enough to knit a sweater. Then the hardest part ~ deciding what I'm actually going to knit!