Friday, 31 July 2015

Fibre Friday #25

It seems like it's another short week in actual knitting content this week - I've been pretty monogamous with my knitting - mainly because I went away and only took one project with me!
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday
The project that has seen nearly all of my attention this week - are the socks I'm knitting out of the handspun I shared last week. From fibre by Taylor Made Yarns in the 'Autumn Rainbow' colourway, I'm knitting toe up socks, in order to maximise the yarn usage, with afterthought heels to keep the colour gradient correct. They're longer than I usually knit my socks - it's hard to tell exactly how long they'll wind up, as I haven't put the heels in yet - but I added a little calf shaping and approximately 3 inches of ribbing on the cuff. The first sock is done - aside from the heel - and the second sock has a few more rows of ribbing to go. I'm hoping to get them done this evening!
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday
I worked a little on my vanilla socks out of Austermann Step in the colour way 'Aubergine Easy' - because I left my handspun socks at work on Sunday and needed something else to knit on that night! The first sock is finished - top down, with a tubular cast on and short row heel. I have cast on the second sock and knit a round of ribbing - then I put it aside in favour of my Autumn Rainbow socks! I'll go back to it when they're finished!
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday
I also cast on and knit a little of the toe of my second Seaweed socks by Wendy D. Johnson. Seaweed is a free pattern available on ravelry. I'm using yarn from Hand Dyed by Kate in the colourway 'Midnight Sparkle'. This is going to replace my Budleigh socks as my 'at home' knitting for a while, until they're finished and I can cast on either some more cabled socks, or a pair of mittens I've been meaning to knit...
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday
Spinning-wise, I've spun a little more of my Polwarth/Baby Alpaca/Nylon blend from Playsweetmusic - but I haven't had much time to spin this week. I need to get this finished and off the wheel, so I can start on the fibre I intend to ply it with and get it all done and dusted - because this week, I finally ordered a brand new spinning wheel! I'll talk about it, and my reasons for buying it, when it arrives - which should hopefully be next week! But they'll be a lot more spinning happening soon, I can assure you!

Right - I'm off to get my handspan socks finished! Have a lovely weekend folks! I'm working tomorrow, but we're visiting friends for the evening, which should be lovely - and I'm gifting my Olivia Shawl - which will hopefully be well received!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

FO and Tell - The Olivia Shawl

Stranded Blog Knitting Fuzzy Love Knots Olivia Shawl
What feels like forever ago, but was actually only April - I test knit the Olivia Shawl for my good friend Nina. Although I got it finished by the deadline, I have only just managed to block it to my satisfaction (this is due to my inability to block, rather than the pattern!).
Stranded Blog Knitting Fuzzy Love Knots Olivia Shawl Stranded Blog Knitting Fuzzy Love Knots Olivia Shawl
The shawl is predominantly stockinette, with a central lace panel and an applied scalloped edging. I knit it out of a skein of lace weight merino yarn that I hand dyed last year. I'm really pleased with how it turned out - although I don't fancy blocking another scalloped edging anytime soon!
Stranded Blog Knitting Fuzzy Love Knots Olivia Shawl
I think this is the first item I've knit using a lace weight yarn and I love the look of the stockinette section - I think it might be time I knit a Featherweight - or other lace weight cardigan!

Modelled here by my ever obliging mother - thanks Mum - this is going to be a very belated birthday gift for a good friend of ours.

The pattern is Olivia by Nina La Fountaine and it's available on Ravelry right now!


I'm sorry it's being quiet this week, I've been away on a mini camping trip! But alas, now I'm home and real life continues ;) I'll be back tomorrow to share what I've been knitting this week!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Fibre Friday #24

Happy Friday! It feels like I don't have as much content this week, which is often the way when the previous week is a full one...
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday Now, I don't usually start with spinning, but I'm so excited by my spinning this week, that it had to go at the top of the post. I finished spinning the singles from the Taylor Made Yarns merino fibre in the 'Autumn Rainbow' colourway last weekend and I plied it over several evenings this week. Navajo (or chain) plied to keep the colours cleaner and prevent barber poling, it wound up being 540m of a fingering weight - although, as you can see in the photos, there are a several thick and thin spots. This is the best yarn I have ever spun. When I took it off my skeinwinder it was almost perfectly balanced, which never happens when I n-ply, so I'm really proud of it. I'm going to cast it on for the world's most beautiful socks, as soon as I've freed up some sock needles.
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday
 My first sparkly Seaweed sock is done! This is a free pattern by Wendy D. Johnson that I'm knitting out of Hand Dyed by Kate in the 'Midnight Sparkle' colourway. I need to cast on the second sock, but I'm waiting to cast off my Budleigh sock for that, I'm playing a huge game of Musical Needles*
*(like musical chairs but without music, or chairs, and a whole lot more tedious), where I switch up all the needles I'm using for my projects, so I can free up a set to cast on my Beautiful Handspun.
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday Speaking of Budleigh, I'm decreasing for the toe on the second sock, which has actually progressed a little since this photo, as photobucket doesn't like to work on my Macbook and everything takes 5347539x longer, so I got a few extra rows on it. Budleigh is a sock pattern from Coop Knits Socks (volume one) by Rachel Coopey and I'm knitting them out of Skein Top Draw in the 'Blackcurrant' colourway. This will be finished this evening, unless something disastrous happens!
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday
 My Spring Beret by Natalie Larson is done! I would be modelling it, but it's damp and blocking over a dinner plate - so I'll try to remember to get a photo for next week! This is knit out of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in colourway '300076', which like I said last week, is greener in real life and very awkward to photograph! Natalie has two versions of the pattern, and this is the Ms. Slouchy version.
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday
  I have also been blocking the Olivia Shawl by my good friend Nina La Fountaine, that I test knit for her at the beginning of May. This is my third attempt at blocking the scalloped edging - I gave up using T Pins and instead bent my shorter blocking wires and pinned them in place. This needs to be finished by next weekend because I'm giving it as a very belated birthday gift!

On the subject of blocking, I picked up the big blue interlocking mats that my Olivia is blocking on, from Aldi. The individual squares are a lot larger than the standard 12inch knitters block squares, and you get 6 in a pack for £12.99 - I've been holding out on paying for 'proper' knitters blocks for ages, so I was really pleased when I found these.
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday Now my Autumn Rainbow is off the wheel, I'm spinning some Polwarth/Baby Alpaca/Nylon that my friend Anna (aka PlaySweetMusic) sent me earlier in the year. The plan is to ply it with a braid of Merino from Little Owl Crafts - both braids pictured below - and hopefully get enough yardage to knit a Baby Surprise Jacket, but we shall see!
Stranded Blog Knitting Spinning Fibre Friday
So that's it for this week, I did just realise that I have completely forgotten to photograph the vanilla sock out of Austermann Step that I've been carrying around in my handbag and knitting at work - but I can't summon up the energy to photograph it and deal with photobucket again, so you'll have to take my word for it that I'm past the heel and on to the foot!

I'm going to finish off the toe of my Budleigh sock, maybe watch some back episodes of The Knit Girllls, or perhaps Silent Witness (not the current seasons because I'm angry at the cast change!) - because knitting podcasts and forensic pathology dramas are essentially the same thing! Haha.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Stash Dash Progress Update

Stranded blog Stash Dash Knitting Spinning
It's been two weeks since my last Stash Dash recap and I've accomplished a fair bit of both knitting and spinning in that time. Below is my list of current FO's, with everything finished since the last recap in bold.

Lime Green Jelly BFL Cashmere Nylon 3ply - 370m 
Easy Peasy Newborn Hats x8 - 336m (actually, slightly more than this as I haven't weighed the last two hats I knitted)
Jaffa Cake socks - 310.5m
Katy's Birthday socks - 310.25m (a gift, not pictured above)
Mixed Lilacs hand-dyed merino 2ply - 237m
Cocoon Hat - 121m
Spring Beret - 113m

The following spinning meterage is the results of my Tour De Fleece efforts so far: 

Total so far: 4638.5m 

There's just under a month left of Stash Dash 2015 and as I only have another 361.5m to go, I think there's a good chance I'll meet my 5km target! I have a second sock on the needles and I have the first of another pair finished. I think there is a week left of the Tour De Fleece and I'm hoping to finish the 3ply sock yarn I've been working on, in time to include it. 

Right, back to my plying I think… 

Friday, 17 July 2015

Fibre Friday #23

This is probably the longest Fibre Friday post to date, which shows that I have been doing too much knitting and not enough studying for the theory part of my driving test - but hey ho, a girl has to have her priorities! This week is all about hats and socks, as you will soon see ;)
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
 I put another pattern repeat or two on my Seaweed socks by Wendy D. Johnson. I'm knitting these out of a 75% Merino, 20% Nylon, 5% Stellina blend from Hand Dyed by Kate in the 'Midnight Sparkle' colourway. Progress on this particular sock has slowed as the high twist yarn feels a bit hard on my hands - I think that's because of the heat and my hands drying out though, rather than the yarn!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
 I've made more significant progress on my second Budleigh sock from Coop Knits Socks (volume one) by Rachel Coopey. I'm knitting it out of Skein 'Top Draw' in the 'Blackcurrant' colourway. I've put four pattern repeats on the cuff this week and I'm one repeat away from the heel flap - or as I like to think of it - breaking the back of the sock! I really need to vast on some vanilla socks for my take-along knitting, but I think I'm going to wait until I have another skein of handspun sock yarn to cast on…
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
 I have also knit up another of the Easy Peasy Newborn Hats by Keri McKiernan - this is becoming a weekly thing now, I probably need to find another pattern for my sock yarn scraps… I used up the leftover Hedgehog Fibres Sock in the 'Seaglass' colourway that I used for my Simple Skyp socks a couple of weeks back.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
I cast on and knit a big chunk of a Spring Beret by Natalie Larson - I knit this pattern earlier in the year for a Mystery Hat Swap KAL and I liked it so much I decided to knit up another one. This time I'm using Debbie Bliss 'Cashmerino Aran' in colour '300076', which is a lot greener in reality, than it is in the photo! I'm not sure if I'll be keeping this one for myself, or if it'll wind up as a gift, but it's an enjoyable pattern to knit, and anything on 5.5mm (US 9) knits up so quickly!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
I needed another pair of vanilla socks to have as my take-along knitting, as the Seaweed Socks require slightly too much concentration to knit at the bus stop, so I cast on one out of some Austermann Step I had in the stash, in the colourway 'Aubergine Easy'. I used a tubular cast on - following these instructions from the Purl Bee - and although I've used the cast on before, this is the first time I've used it for socks, so hopefully it'll be nice and stretchy!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
I finished spinning my Nunoco batt and chain plied it, creating 128m of a tweedy gradient yarn in a heavy worsted weight. I don't spin batts nearly often enough and I must get some more for the stash… Tour De Fleece is depleting it rapidly!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
I knit up a Cocoon Hat - a free pattern by La Maison Rililie available here - out of my Nunoco yarn (the living room makes everything look x4359 yellower than real life). It's a simple broken rib hat, with a 1x1 ribbed brim - but my favourite part of the pattern is the first three rows are stockinette, which stops the ribbing stretching out of shape and becoming too big. I had just enough yarn to knit a slouchy fit hat, which I think will become a staple when the weather cools down. I will definitely be knitting more of this pattern, maybe for Christmas gifts…
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
In other spinning related news, I've been monogamously working on another braid from Taylor Made Yarns, this time in the colour 'Autumn Rainbow' - I've nearly finished spinning it - I hope to get it done by the end of the weekend, so I can ply next week. It should hopefully wind up a chain plied sock weight, but we shall see!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
This week, for the first time in months, I did some dyeing. I was trying to get a speckled effect - and failed miserably, but I really like the colours I wound up with, particularly the bottom right berry shade. I think I know where I went wrong with the speckling too, so I can try a different technique next time. All five are merino/nylon blends so will probably grow up to be socks, eventually.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
I also dyed up some Polwarth and I really like the jewel tones of the rainbow braid - this will probably be next on the wheel when I've finished the Taylor Made Yarns.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
Finally on the dyeing front, I dyed a few more silk scarves - these were intended as gifts but will no doubt be purloined by my mother before I have a chance to give them away!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning Dyeing
I also wound up a bunch of mini skeins of leftover sock yarn for a good friend of mine, as a thankyou for her sending me a copy of Socktopus by Alice Yu - which incidentally looks fabulous so I'm sure some of the patterns will wind up on my needles soon…

So it's been a pretty busy week over here! But it's made me realise I really need to cast on something that is not a sock or a hat… Hah. I hope you have a lovely weekend, whatever you get up to! I need to do the studying for my theory test that I've been putting off… (not that I've booked my theory test yet, but still. Must. Pass. Driving. Test)!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Knitting with Handspun Yarn

Tour De Fleece Stranded Blog Spinning Knitting Handspun Yarn
I love spinning. This might sound obvious, but it's something I tend to forget if I don't do it very often - which is why tour de fleece is so good - it's encouraging me to get on the wheel every day.
Tour De Fleece Stranded Blog Spinning Knitting Handspun Yarn  I've started to amass a collection of handspun skeins - all waiting for the 'right' project. Jasmin of The Knitmore Girls podcast says you should knit with your handspun right away as it doesn't age well - which is something I wholeheartedly agree with. I have a few skeins lying around from last year's Tour De Fleece and while I was pleased with them at the time, looking at them now leaves a lot to be desired. So it makes sense to knit with yarn when you feel proud of it, rather than slightly embarrassed by it!

The problem I'm having is finding patterns that suit the yarns I like to spin. My ideal knitting projects are cabled or textured - any of the Brooklyn Tweed designs - that suit solid or semi-solid yarns. However, I find spinning fibre of one colour to be rather tedious - which is probably why I've yet to spin yarn for a sweater. I like to work with fibres in a whole range of colours - the more the merrier, as it livens up the process.

The result is I'm always on the look out for simple projects of varying yardage that will showcase the yarn, rather than try and compete with it. I thought I'd share three of the patterns I've knit using my handspun so far...
Tour De Fleece Stranded Blog Spinning Knitting Handspun Yarn
The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief by Orange Flower Yarn was my first 'big' project using my handspun - a 2ply from 200g of fibre by Little Owl Crafts. I modified it slightly so I could use up as much of the yarn as I could, and I was really pleased with the striping effect all the colours had. It's not something I wear too often, as there are a lot of colours, but it was fun to knit all the same.
Tour De Fleece Stranded Blog Spinning Knitting Handspun Yarn
The Linus Shawl by Annett Cordes is the biggest handspun project I've undertaken to date. I had a 1000yds of a 2ply from fibre by Just A Daydream in the 'Olive Bowl' colourway and I wanted something I could use all of the yardage for. The yarn was fractally spun - which creates the blending stripes you can see above and I knew I wanted something that was predominantly garter stitch so I could show off the colour changes. With this pattern you can knit until you run out of yarn, which was perfect - it's a very easy knit and is a really wearable shawl. I will probably knit another before too long.
Tour De Fleece Stranded Blog Spinning Knitting Handspun Yarn
Ever since I started spinning one of my main goals was to spin a three ply sock yarn. I've now just about mastered getting my singles fine enough so the end result is a fingering weight, but before that I used Wendy D. Johnson's Sport Weight Toe-Up Socks with a Gusset pattern, to make my very first pair of handspun socks. In hindsight they're a little too big, but they'll be cozy when winter rolls around again.

If I'm ever going to reach my goal of knitting 10 things out of my handspun in 2015, I really need to start choosing some smaller projects! Although I did start and a finish a handspun hat yesterday, which I'll photograph for Fibre Friday this week…

What are some of your favourite patterns for handspun yarn? I'm going to share a few favourites from my ravelry queue before the Tour De Fleece is over (optimistically, this week sometime, but I have a lot of less interesting things I need to get done!).

Friday, 10 July 2015

Fibre Friday #22

This week marks the start of the Tour De Fleece, so I actually have spinning content for once! But first - onto the knitting chatter...
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning I turned the heel of my Seaweed Socks by Wendy D. Johnson last night and managed to knit a couple of pattern repeats on the cuff in my lunchbreak today. Seaweed is a free pattern with a simple, easy to memorise lace chart and I'm knitting it out of a 75% Merino 20% Nylon 5% Stellina blend from Hand Dyed By Kate in the 'Midnight Sparkle' colourway. I'm very much enjoying the sparkle factor - this is the first time I've worked with a stellina blend and it's fun!
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
The Seaweed socks have replaced my handspun socks as take-along knitting, because the handspun socks are done! These were knit out of a 3ply yarn I spun from a BFL/Cashmere/Nylon blend by Jo of Lime Green Jelly. A simple toe up sock with a short row heel - I'm so pleased with how they turned out. I've only knit one pair of handspun socks before and these are a big improvement on them. I will definitely be spinning more yarn for socks in the future. Also! If you're interested in spinning sock yarn - The Knitmore Girls talked about it in their podcast this week - 'Episode 341 Monogam-ish'.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
I also finished the Easy Peasy Newborn Hat I started last week, whilst waiting for a doctors appointment yesterday - so that's another hat for the collection. The E-P-N-H is a free pattern by Keri McKiernan and this one is knit out of leftover Manos Del Uruguay Alegria in colourway 'A8106'.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
So as I mentioned at the top of the post, last Saturday was the start of Tour De Fleece (and also the Tour De France if you're interested in such things) and I have been spinning everyday this week and have remembered that I actually really like spinning and can't quite work out why I haven't done much of it recently... Anyway. I've spun a braid of Faux Cashmere (which I'm 99% sure is just a super fancy nylon fibre) by Spin City UK - pictured above - it's a 2ply and I got 126yds. It's incredibly soft - I've never spun actual cashmere so I can't say how it compares, but I do think it will have a lovely drape when knitted up. However, I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with it - the lack of elasticity won't make for a good hat and there's not really enough of it to do that much with, so it'll sit in the stash for a while I imagine.
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
I spun the second bobbin of my Taylor Made Yarns merino braid in 'Autumn Sunset' and 2plied it to get 212yds of a very barber poled yarn. Again, no idea what this is going to grow up to be. I really need to get some more inspiration for projects to knit out of handspun...
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
I clearly did a very poor job of evenly splitting the braid of my Taylor Made Yarns, as I had a whole chunk left on one bobbin, so I Navajo plied it to get another 40yds. I think it's fascinating to see how different the two yarns look when side by side. I think I might prefer the Navajo ply - so maybe I'll do that for the second of my Taylor Made Yarns braids...
Stranded Blog Fibre Friday Knitting Spinning
Finally I spun up the Nunoco batt my mum bought me for Christmas - a Merino/Silk/Silk Noil blend called 'Wild Wood' - I split the batt and spun it up from light to dark, so when chain plied it should create a nice gradient. We shall see!

All in all, quite a productive week! I had a bit of a shoulder injury early in the week - too much spinning and not enough breaks I think - but I iced and rested and it feels fine now, which is a relief - it's Tour De Fleece after all, not Tour De Shoulder-Injury. I think I'm going to spend the rest of my evening making a start on plying the Nunoco singles, as I've yet to sit at my wheel today. I hope you have a fabulous weekend, whatever you've got planned. Mine will consist of working and car boot sales, so that'll keep me out of trouble!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

My Week In Pictures #6 - The one where I realise I cannot write these posts on a weekly basis...

Stranded Blog Life Heading to the beach for a swim to cool down after work.
Stranded Blog Life Visiting this lovely lady in London town for her birthday.
Stranded Blog Life
Stranded Blog Life Posing in cocktail bars.
Stranded Blog Life Stranded Blog Life Actually drinking cocktails... (contrary to how often I photograph them, I don't actually drink all that many - they're just pretty!)Stranded Blog Life Eating enormous desserts...
Stranded Blog Life
...and enormous baskets of chips. Essentially all I do when I'm in London is eat excessively!

So it's clear that I cannot post weekly photographic updates of my week - primarily because my weeks are often very similar from one to the next - same beach, different knitting, different food! Instead of My Week In Pictures, I'm probably going to post Lately In Pictures, whenever I have things I want to recap and share. I've been working a lot recently and retail isn't overly photogenic! Haha. Still, money is after all, money - and after five months of living with my family, it's really time I thought about what I want to do in the not-too-distant future. Small steps.

I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon buried up to my elbows in yarn and fibre, to restore my equilibrium! (And to get a few more things to talk about in tomorrow's Fibre Friday post!)