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Monday, 12 February 2018

Pickwick Cotswold Stephina

A fleece looks pretty much like most other fleeces, wouldn't you say?  It's just a mass of fluff, locks and curly, dirty tips . . .

until you get closer, and see how much crimp it has . . .

and then closer still, where you can almost feel the softness through the screen . . .

but it's only when it's washed and flick carded that you can really see that magnificent sheen.

The last time I bought one of these fleeces was in November 2016 and, not knowing what to expect, I just ordered a basic quality fleece.  I think it must have been the cleanest, least vegetable matter infested fleece I've ever worked on.  I found out later that the guy who owns the sheep, Rob Long of Pickwick Cotswold sheep fame, spends quite a while with each fleece before sending it to its new owner, picking out as much of the grass, weed, seeds, etc as he can (apparently he enjoys it!!).  The experience I had with that fleece was enough to make me wonder what a higher quality fleece would be like.  A year later I couldn't resist the temptation any longer and ordered another.  This time I bought his second-best quality (he has four grades), and I really think it shows.  This was Pickwick Stephina's first shearing - gorgeous!

Hubby thinks these sheep must have a bath every night to be this clean!  When I mentioned that to Rob, he just winked!!

I had to try spinning some, even though I had lots of other things to be getting on with in the meantime.  Then, of course, I had to knit a little sample to see how it would be when finished.

OK, so it's not the neatest knitted sample I've ever done, and it wasn't washed and blocked afterwards, but I think this is going to make a very nice cardigan (woad blue probably) - when I get the time to spin it.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

"Ruska" Hand Spun Gradient

My spinning wheels have been a bit quiet for a while.  Before Christmas I was busy making presents, and afterwards I was busy making the baby blanket I showed you recently.  But over the Christmas and New Year period I was determined to find some "me" time!

Back in 2014 I bought a "Build a Batt Box" from Barber Black Sheep in Wales.  I'm pretty sure it was called "Ruska".

I love the way these look when you open them - they're all packed so beautifully and there's usually a little "treat" in there somewhere (small bar of chocolate, mini soap or something).  She still does these occasionally, but I think it's a while since the last one.  Shame!

I'd already used parts of this box in other projects, but put together what was left (some merino, some silk, a mixed batt with sparkly bits etc.) to make a gradient.

I love these colours, but I'm not sure if they're right for me.  We'll see.  I spun fairly thinly from the left hand side to the batt on the right and then Navajo plied it to keep the colours true, making a 3-ply.  Surprisingly, the finished result was between 13 and 14 wraps per inch (which is approximately 4-ply in old money!), which is my normal spinning thickness if I'm doing a 2-ply, so I must have spun particularly finely this time.

You can see the gradient a bit better in this next shot, and I really think this may be gifted or made into something and gifted.  I'm pretty sure I won't be able to wear these colours.

Anyway, 115g gave me 239 yards/221m so I'm sure there's enough for something nice.  I'll be interested to see how well I did my change overs from colour to colour when I finally knit it up.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Pink Elephants

Don't know if you remember, but in October of last year I took part in Spinzilla, an annual spinning event where you spin as much yardage in a week as you can.  My first spin was this super wash Falkland which was destined for a blanket for our friend's first baby, due in March.

I'm normally pretty last minute with these things so am quite impressed that I've managed to get it finished six weeks early!

I split the two larger skeins into two and then dyed one ball pink (the baby's going to be a girl!).  I hope she doesn't mind that I didn't have any baby pink dye - this is hot pink!!

I still had the scribblings of the pattern I used 4 years ago for my step-grandson, plus the pencilled charts for the elephants, so off I went.

I only had one false start - after knitting a couple of inches I realised it was turning out a bit too small, so I unravelled and used slightly bigger needles (obviously I didn't write down which size needles I used last time, that would've been too easy!)

I realised part way through that I hadn't been as accurate as I thought when I first wrote the pattern.  That set me back a day or two while I corrected that and the charts.  I've been wanting the opportunity for a while to re-knit this so I could check the pattern, so at least I now know it's correct.

Love this elephant in the middle of the blanket!

It was finally finished at the end of January, washed, and laid out to dry, which took 3 days in a cold bedroom.

I worried all the way through whether I'd have enough yarn to finish - thought I might have to order some more fleece - but here's what was left :-

85g in total.  I started with 520g.  And from a starting point of 1,420 yards, I have 220 yards left.  I'm sure it'll come in for something.