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Monday, 13 October 2014

Blogoversary the 4th!

Today is Dyeing to Spin's 4th birthday and I thought I'd show you something from the very beginning of my spinning days.

This cardigan is 25 years old.

I bought the raw sheep fleece the same afternoon that I bought my first spinning wheel and that was it - I was hooked!

So, how did all this come about?  Had I had a burning desire for years to learn to spin? No, my friend who went to the same pottery class, had been to a market the day before and there were spinners there.  She got talking to them and they invited her to go to their monthly meeting the next day in Ulverston, Cumbria.  We both went along the next morning and were shown how to spin and allowed to have a try.  I knew immediately it was something I'd do forever!

That afternoon we drove into the Lake District to a little spinning shop in Elterwater (don't know if it's still there - probably not) and I bought my first wheel, an Ashford Traditional.  I needed something to spin, so I bought some grey and some white fleece.  I have no idea which sheep breeds these were, I probably knew at the time but it's so long ago I've forgotten.

Anyway, back to the cardigan.  I carded and spun and carded and spun until I eventually had enough to make this.  The pattern is Slant Special from Nancy Vale's Knitwear book, although hers was a single colour.  The buttons I made myself at my pottery class - ceramic with a metallic glaze - and I'm amazed they've lasted this long.

The cardigan has a few moth holes now, it's a bit dated (specially the sleeves!) and it doesn't fit around my middle quite the same as it used to(!), but I think I'll probably keep it forever.  My very first spinning attempt :-

25 years on - both showing signs of wear!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Colour Break

Last month I treated myself invested in a nice package from World of Wool : some cones of lambswool for weaving (no, I still haven't Christened the loom), some Polworth top, 500g coloured Botany lap waste, 500g white Botany lap waste and a free woolly goody bag.  What treasure!

I've started spinning the white Botany lap waste.  It's very soft, not sure what it is but I can smell sheep in there, and there's definitely a bit of something silky; possibly not silk, but maybe banana fibre or bamboo.

This is the first skein - 120g, 14 wpi, 412 yards.

I'm planning to dye the skeins when they're finished, and hope to have enough yardage to make a cardigan - maybe Dark Pearl which is one of the patterns I won in this year's Tour de Fleece.

After spinning this I've also been spinning some of Ambrose's fleece for Tammy.  I didn't take a photo of this before giving it to her, but it's fawn.  Nothing wrong with fawn, but it gets a bit monotonous, so after doing a couple of these and working on the white above, I was yearning for a colour break.

In July I ordered another treat - something easy to spin, and gorgeous colours :-

This is the July Build a Batt Box (Mermaids Singing) by BarberBlackSheep.  It was beautifully presented and packed and included a couple of goodies too!

There was alpaca, blue faced leicester, merino, Gotland curls, soy silk, silk noil, throwsters silk and silk brick, some bamboo, sparkly firestar and a sweet, extremely soft batt of tencel, silk and merino.  A feast of fibres!

This arrived on the doorstep right in the middle of the Tour de Fleece so I didn't have time to do anything with it.  It's been sitting in the bedroom since then beckoning to me! Finally, I decided the time was right and made some of the contents into batts on my drum carder :-

I included a bit of angora fibre I'd been given as a sample just to add a bit of fluffiness.

Angora Bunny

These were spun onto one bobbin, and then the rest (pictured below - mainly merino, plus some silk and the tencel/silk/merino batt) were spun onto a second bobbin.

These were plyed together which gave me 200g of beautifully soft yarn :-

I'm not sure if I've done this justice, and I'm not sure what it wants to be, but I did enjoy spinning it and, for me, the spinning is the thing.  There's enough here to make a nice sized shawl for the winter, and I still have some of the merino mix and a few other ingredients left to make something else.  Bargain!

Now, off to spin some more of the white Botany lap waste, and there's another bag of alpaca fibre coming up the hill from Tammy very shortly.  There is some light on the horizon though . . . look what turned up in the postbox yesterday :-

Now how on earth did that happen?  ;-)