What the heck is Wings of Goose?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Shellseeker Numero 2

As I discovered with Thea, ten weeks post birth + breastfeeding does not equal a good figure in which to pose in a newly knitted garment. However, since I have no idea how long it will take to reclaim my post baby figure (or indeed, if I will), here are some slightly reluctantly posted photos of my finally finished Shellseeker, almost completely reknitted as I frogged the whole body but hadn't knitted the arms.

This pocket is absolute genius. When you read ahead in the patttern, you haven't a clue how it's going to work, but it all becomes so clear once you arrive there.

I wasn't sure how the neck would hang, and considered adding a ribbed collar to give it some shape and structure, but it actually works perfectly now the ends are woven in.

 It's exactly what I wanted - a jumper that is casual, cosy and warm; that can be used for outdoor activities, but has the comfort of gorgeous, soft yarn (in this case, alpaca) that you can snuggle into on a cold evening. It was fun to knit, particularly due to the many "ah-ha" moments, and the rounds went quickly because of the divisions in each one of the front, back and pocket - it felt like there were targets constantly, pushing me on to the next one.

I'd definitely recommend this knit. The original is in cotton, which may, in the long term, be the best fibre due to the drapey nature of the finished garment, but at least I'll be warm in my alpaca!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Splitting Hairs or Three Bags Full

After plying my Shetland (post to come), I was eager to start experimenting with some of the fibres I bought at Wonderwool. I purchased a load (as in, I've totally forgotten the weight!) of Falkland top, which I want to spin to a 4-ply weight to knit the Low Tide cardigan, but I don't feel I'm accomplished enough yet (a hideous understatement) to begin on such a large amount. I bought three 50g balls of combed Merino top from Wingham Woolwork, which I had been hoping to resist as I've been struggling with some Merino I purchased from them last year - my incompetence, not the quality of their products - but the colours were irresistible to me...

I had planned to use them to practise 3-ply, each colour spun separately on three bobbins and then plied together, but having purchased Judith MacKenzie's The Intentional Spinner the other week, and discovered the sock yarn project, I was inspired to be slightly more radical (yes, that is ironic) and work out some kind of colour splitting pattern to make it more interesting.

I began by splitting each length into three, as in the above photo, then splitting both the darkest and lightest tops into eighths, but one "third" at a time, so preparing one bobbin at a time. Hopefully the photos will make more sense than my description.

Then, because I wanted an undulating gradient - light to medium to dark to medium to light - but I had the same amount of each colour, I had to split the medium turquoise into 16ths. 




Progress shots for each row...

... ending up with this...

... which became these...

... three little sandwich bags (!) full of lovely, separated fibre.

It was a really enjoyable exercise. I think the design is exceptionally simple - aside from the initial splitting into thirds due to wanting to 3-ply, the rest of the splitting was based on halving, halving and halving again - what could be simpler? Obviously, to anyone who is actually an experienced spinner, that will sound ridiculous and entirely ameteur, but everyone has to start somewhere. The first bobbin has commenced; I'm hoping to end up with sock yarn weight so I'm trying to keep my singles nice and tight to make allowance for plying, as they'll need to be hardwearing for socks, but I'm not sure the consistency is going to be fabulous. We shall see.

xxx Sam

Friday, 10 May 2013

One thing leads to another...

Hello blog! I havent forgotten aboout you, I promise. In fact, I think of you frequently and with longing, wishing I had some time to devote to you and some more love to give you, but with and two and a half year old and a nine week old, you don't figure highly in my list of priorities. C'est la vie. However, even as I'm typing, my fingers still instinctively know where the letters are on the keyboard, so all is not lost. And there was no way I could fail to record my most recent acquisition.

Back in September, the Midnight Sheep paid a visit with a new acquisition she had made. Picked up from a charity shop for £50 following a tip-off, this beautiful Haldane Shetland spinning wheel.

I haven't looked at these photos for a while actually, and looking now, I can again see why I loved this wheel so much. It has a beautiful, antiqued finish, and the wood from which it's made is solid with a lovely grain. The wheel is simple, but with strong attention to detail. I particularly love the maidens and flyer; the maidens (for the spinning uninitiated, the upright posts on either side of the bobbin in the first photo) aren't excessively turned, but have enough detail to look interesting - I think that is the beauty of this wood actually; too much turning detail would take away from that beauty. Goodness, I'm sounding like a spinning wheel critic! I'm certainly not qualified to take that position! The thing I loved best about this wheel though, to cut a long story short, was the fact that it's upright. I found the height of the flyer, in comparison to my wheel, much more comfortable and convenient. I was lucky enough to babysit this wheel overnight, as it wasn't working properly and I offered Marno's services to Helena (the Sheep) to fix it for her. This turned out to be a very simple task. She'd known it wasn't working properly, but intuition told her to go for it, and it turns out she was right. So I had the pleasure of using it that evening once it had been fixed.

Although, as is evident from my lack of blog posts, I haven't had a tremendous amount of time to produce craft of any sort, Marno had been saying he wanted to buy me a new wheel, as mine hadn't been working properly since I took it to Brecon Bible School to do a demonstration last August. It had never been able to reach it's potential anyway, but I wasn't sure this was the year to replace it. But two weeks before Wonderwool, I happened to mention to Marno that it was on, and he responded, "Aren't we going?" I had just assumed we would be unable to because of having a new baby, but weare very blessed in that Laurie is delightful, and very good. So I started to think that maybe we could go, and Marno said we could look at a new wheel. So, thenceforth, all my ideas of saving it until I'm less busy went out of the proverbial window. I became ridiculously excited at the prospect, and started trawling the Ravelry spinning group for possibilities. My prerequisites were that it should be double drive and upright, and preferably a light finish. Oh, and there was a price limit too!

It wasn't long before I came upon the Kromski make, through recommendations on Ravelry. The Minstrel sounded exactly what I was looking for, and I was able to view it on Youtube through the fantastic Tim Horschler from New Voyager Trading, who did a full, in depth, and very informative review of it. Enough for me to decide, after a little more research, that this was the wheel for me! I then looked on Ebay, and, lo and behold, there was "one left in stock". Well, stuff waiting for Wonderwool, I thought, where they may not be available to take away on the day; lets get this thing NOW! As you can see, my attitude changed somewhat!

So, two working days later, it arrived. Unfortunately I had had the MMR vaccine the week before, and was suffering a bad reaction from it - bad enough to not even open the box on the day it arrived. So it wasn't until two days later that Marno assembled it for me, with a small amount of my help, and another Tim Horschler video, this time on how to assemble a Kromski Minstrel - thanks Tim!

So, finally, here is my new wheel, already broken in with some Shetland, which I've nearly finished plying.

I love that it has a lazy kate incorporated - makes plying so easy.

As you can imagine, I left Wonderwool with a massive amount of fibre. I actually bought no yarn this year, instead I bought fibre to spin into yarn for projects I have on my Rav queue... hmmm, when I'll be wearing those items is anyone's guess!

Wonderwool stash.

Me sitting at the wheel, immersed in Judith MacKenzie's The Intentional Spinner.

Have to go, as Noah has awoken from his slumber. Funnily enough, I have been reminded of why I haven't posted for so long - it's taken me an hour to write this post, half of it one handed with a suckling baby on my lap!

So long until next time, whenever that may be... xxx