Thursday, 21 February 2013

Warning, cross posted to my own blog......if you read both then this is not deja vu, just sorta deja blog !!

So here I talked about washing the fleece, so here is what came next.
Whilst the fleece was still damp I placed it in a large cat litter tray which is one of my standard pieces of dyeing equipment ready to add the dyes. I generally use either colour craft all in one acid dyes or Landscape dyes depending on the colour needed although I will soon be in need of a restock so will expand the colour range at that point.  I mix a little of the dye powder/crystals with hot water in a jar then top it up with cold water. Now I know that people would like to know how much dye powder but I generally dilute and mix until I get a shade I want!!!
Care should be taken when handling dyes and associated chemicals - rubber gloves and protective clothing should be worn when necessary.  Precautions should be taken to avoid accidental ingestion, inhalation and skin & eye contact.  Keep containers closed and away from young children.  
Once I've added the dyes, taking care not to get  the fleece too wet, I wrap it in cling film ready to go in the steamer.
My electric steamer has three units so I can steam quite a large quantity in one go, it is also kept for dyeing only. Once the fleece has cooled completely, I give it a good rinse, a quick spin in the washer and hang it out to dry or near a radiator in this case.
I'm sorry that this photo is a little dark and doesn't show that the dye doesn't penetrate all the fibre in this case.
this is a little better, shows the variation of colour.
using the wool combs produces lovely little nests of fibre ready to be spun
resulting in this..................
washed and hanging out to dry
waiting to be balled up and sent to its new home
I hope this wasn't too boring for you, I had promised to show how I coloured the fleece xx
This wool will be winging its way out of the country soon, I have some natural brown Bond fleece on the wheel at the moment which I am hoping to knit up will be posted!!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


That's a sad song for a show off thread but it's been buzzing around my head all day because yesterday was seriously the most productive day that has ever taken place almost exclusively in a bed. Let me tell you.

I woke up, naturally, at about half past nine. That's the first time in about a month that I've woken up without a hangover and without the help of an alarm clock. The first thing I did was made an order with Cygnet. Without a coffee or anything!!!

Then I started on a commission for a balaclava. Not just any kind of balaclava - one without holes for the eyes or nose. Just holes for ears. It's some sort of uni project to do with how people don't listen anymore and he might have mentioned how everybody's always listening to ipods all the time too. I don't know, he was too handsome to concentrate on really. Ha. (I can say that now because we saw him out the other day, on the fateful night when I found out that I am not just a local celebrity and pillar of the community but an international superstar too!!!!! Masa made a right tit of me whilst I was trying, in a pissy-arsed manner, to be as professional as possible - Masa just kept saying 'but you're soooooo handsome, so fit! How does that even happen???'. Oh god, why did anybody let me loose with a shop!??!). Anyway - photo:

I love a bit of easy intarsia I do. 

We couldn't work out before we started how he wanted it to be finished so it is still on the needles at the bottom and we'll work that out later. If he likes the crochet around the ear then I'll probably end up doing the same on the bottom. But he's got to come in first. 

Then I did a bit of selfish knitting and finished up this: 

It's a version of the Adult Pinwheel Sweater.

I made it before, probably about four or five years ago now in Cascade 220 which cost a bomb (to me at the time) and bobbled like a bastard pretty much as soon as I wore it. It was in a lovely aubergine colour and I wore it to death but it's pretty much only good for a pj cardi now. One of my mum's friends liked it so much that she paid me to make her one! That's probably my first commission!!!

Anyway, it's a really weird construction - you start in the middle with 8 stitches and work outwards, increasing every row in segments. When the diameter matches your cross back you work the entirety of the first and fourth sections with spare yarn (breaking and rejoining the original at the beginning and end) and then carry on as before until it's as big as you think you need it and complete with some garter stitch. Afterwards, you come back, pick out the spare yarn stitch by stitch and pick up the resulting live stitches on either side (a bit like a peasant heel if you're interested in socks) and then knit that in the round, decreasing a bit until it's the length of your arm. Repeat on the other arm and there you go. If you can imagine, you get a circle with arms coming out either side of one half and one half just plain (as in section one has an arm, sections two and three are free, section four has an arm and then sections five, six, seven and eight are free of arms). That means that you can either wear it with sections two and three at the neck and five, six, seven and eight hanging down (which is what most of the ladies on the rav entry are doing), or wear it with five, six, seven and eight around the neck which makes it fall down like a kind of sailor collar. 

I've just realised that that it a terrible description but I've not had anybody in the shop that I know well enough to make them take a photo yet... So I've tried with the webcam: 

Does it make a bit more sense? I'll get a good photo soon (hopefully today because my hair is looking particularly urban). 

I only had to finish a couple of inches on each sleeve to do and sewing the ends in so that took about an hour and it got sent off to blocking land. 

Then I started on another commission that should have been done a good couple of weeks ago. Finished the back and got most of the front done. It's a kiddies jumper with a big shawl collar and I've left a big space to embroider 'Big Brother' on the front. As soon as it's finished I'm doing a baby cardi with a big shawl collar in opposite colours with 'Little Brother' embroidered somewhere on it. They will most definitely be sweet. 

And then! I knitted a little bit of a sock leg as a shop sample in the Jungle colourway of the Regia Sock with the leftovers from the pair of socks that I also finished yesterday. They're all in the blocking pool as we speak so photos at a later date. 

AND THEN! I did some embroidery on the tummy of a cute teddy bear for the same lady as the jumper/cardi above. Looks a lot like this:

It isn't this though. It's for the same lady (she loves my teddies, I think this may be the fifth one I've knitted) and it has the same initial but it's a different embroidering yarn (I used some leftover wicked as she likes the colour-changers). 

AAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDDD THEN, I thought I'd settle down for a good hour of selfish knitting. Went to pull out a WIP Mythos only to discover that half of it is bloody missing!!! A whole half of the sweater! You work this cardi from the end of the sleeve to the middle and then the other side the same before grafting together at the back. Half of that is missing. I definitely knitted it but it's a yarn that we don't stock anymore and I hate the idea of reknitting something I've already done so I got on with another WIP which is the drapey poncho in the King Cole Opium that's been on the needles since the first day it came in. But then I realised that I didn't have the pattern with me and I didn't know how long they wanted it to be. So I put that down and rode the crest of the sock-knitting-obsession-wave and cast on some more socks in some Regia from stash: 

As you can see, I didn't get very far, but the beauty of socks is that you can pick them up and put them down and pick them up and put them down... 

In between all of this I made dinner, changed my sheets, put on and hung up a load of washing, drank five cups of tea (and regretted it when I wanted to sleep) and completely caught up with all the tv I've been missing over the last month of being unusually social. 

Despite all of this I am still three commissions deep. Ugh. Best get on with it then. 

Love Eleanor. 


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Trigger, Rabbit, Fish, Jungle, BBC!

When I'm putting stuff on the internet I have to add the colourways as an option manually before I then attach the option to the yarn itself. So, a long long time ago we added 'white' and 'black' and 'baby blue' etc. and once they're added we can use them again and again.

How many times do you think I'll use 'triggerfish' and 'rabbitfish' again? Personally, I'm hoping I get to use 'jungle' a bit more. I'm talking about the new shades in the Regia Sock. LOOOOOOOK!

I really should make these collages before I lower the resolution of these photos (not that I know what that means, or even if it makes sense to people who do, but I know what I mean...). 

How much do you just want to cast those on and keep people's feet warm!?!?!?!?!!?!?

Well, I did just that! Straight away, which was a bad idea because I have a tonne of stuff to do and I know I get obsessive. I finished the first sock the very next day and tried to take a photo at my friend's house with her beautiful fluff-cat, let's take a look at how interested she was... 

Yes, it does have a slightly nipply toe - I forgot when you're doing a sort of top-of-a-hat-toe (that's deffo not the technical term) that you have to change the rate of decreases to every row at the very tip - I haven't done one for a while and we were in a really interesting conversation and I didn't want to have to stop and kitchener so I carried on regardless. Look where that got me. The bloke who I am making them for has much bigger feet than me so I'm hoping he fills them out a little better. 

Anyway, let me tell you about Regia. When you order most yarn you do it by number (smaller companies like Cygnet often know the names of the individual shades but Regia and Coats in general is blady massive so you can't expect them to know everything). When they come in to me, the only shade identifying info is the number but the numbers get ridiculously long, they're difficult to remember and mostly, they're just not inspiring. So I generally choose to either find out the names of the yarns or I choose the names myself. Regia is a German brand so all of the names are auf Deutsch. I make good use of google translate and get to the root of the issue and we end up with some stunners ('funny red' anybody? :)). Anyway, I am really excited by 'triggerfish' and 'rabbitfish' because really, what names for yarns?!!?!? They're both part of the Südsee range which appears to mean Pacific (sounds like South Sea to me???). Ahh, brings back memories of GCSE German and trips to Mainz in year nine. 

Anyway, imagine how excited I was when I found these lovely photos whilst translating colours:

That's a rabbit fish.

That's a trigger fish. 

And imagine how little my customers believed me when I said I was genuinely working and not just looking up pretty fish... Why would I look up pretty fish?!?!? 

I'm really not that sure how they got from those fish to the colours in the yarn but I'm not the one in charge here am I? I just choose the pretty colours that they provide. Brill!

Anyway, whatevs. It doesn't even matter what I think does it? All that matters is that you love the wool as much as I do and get some lovely socks with a ten year guarantee out of it!

So that's that - buy it by clicking here!

And now a bit of housekeeping...

WE WANT TO WIN ANOTHER AWARD. Or rather, actually win it this time, but we have to be in it to win it and we depend on you for that. It's the Knit Now awards and at the moment we have a month or so to get our name in to the competition, after that we'll hopefully be shortlisted and then you can vote again for us to win. I also think that it's fair that anybody that has benefited from our wool, and by 'benefited' I mean 'been in the same room as', also votes for us so that includes, husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, inlaws, outlaws, pets etc. etc. You get the idea.

Secondly, I WANT TO GO TO SKIPTON. Or rather, 13 of you have now booked to go to Yarndale with  us and I need 18. The deadline is not until the end of June and we're pretty much there really because there's at least 10 more people who have said they will deffo be there so brill! But I need some money and I really want to go and I think it'll be a bloody brill day so get to it. 

Thirdly, I WANT TO BE ON THE TV AND FAMOUS. Or rather, I already bloody am!!!!!!!!!!! Can you remember when I was telling you about being on Sky News? Well, Charlie Brooker (married to Konnie Huq), was obviously listening and he only put me on his bloody program didn't he!?!?!? That's Charlie Brooker! BBC 2! And he wasn't taking the piss out of me!!! I was at the pub after pub knits at the time and things got a little silly - I don't think the bouncer was impressed when I shouted in his lughole but he let me off... Probably because I'm so bloody famous!!!

That's it folks, it's twenty to nine and I haven't done any prep for the lesson tomorrow because a handsome man came to talk to me for the last hour of the shop being open and I couldn't bring myself to tell him to leave. Oooof. I'm regretting it now I want to go to bed. Oh well, a handsome man is a thing to behold ain't it!?

Love Eleanor. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Your Yarn Shop Needs Your Votes

The new issue (18), of Knit Now magazine was published today and, for those of you who haven't seen it yet, it contains a little leaflet announcing their first ever awards.

You know where this is going, don't you. We want your votes! We need your votes! Just click on this linkydink and tell them WE are your favourite shop to buy yarn.

Please. Pretty please.

We were so thrilled when we came third in last year's Let's Knit awards, but this time we want to do even better.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Fleece prep or getting mucky on a Saturday morning

Hi Guys,

Now Eleanor has been asking me for some time for a more detailed post about how a prepare and dye fleece so today I will take you through the smelly bit and I will go into different dyeing effects in a later post. Saturday mornings are usually my fleece washing times simply because I tend to have the hot water on for other things as well, also hubby is often out the way so reducing the chances of me soaking him with a bucket of water!

Talking about buckets....I use a large flexible builders type bucket as it is easier to carry over to the garden to empty out and I have smaller buckets to half fill it.

FIRSTLY CAN I SAY THAT THIS RAW FLEECE , WEAR GLOVES AND CHECK THAT YOUR ANTI TETANUS JAB IS UP TO warning out of the way, here we go ( BTW a close friend of mine found barbed wire in one pack of fleece so warning is needed)

So first step is to buy some fleece, usually I'm able to pick some up at the local guild or fibre festivals. I've made a few mistakes over the years but now have a better idea what to look for. I also have a copy of the Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook  which is pretty much a fleece bible with around 200 breeds photos of the locks, spun yarn, knitted and woven yarn. I have a couple of etsy and ebay sellers that I use as well.

This mornings package comes from an ebay seller that I have not used before but the combination of excellent feedback from people buying multiple lots of fleece, the half price sale and a small amount of money in my paypal account from selling some hand spun made me take a gamble. This pack contains 2KG of raw Romney Fleece.

Its pretty much the cleanest fleece I've seen for a while and a whole new breed for me to play with,  the book says that its easy to spin,dyes well and fine fleece can be used for sweaters, mittens , hats, shawls though prob not next to the skin soft unless lambs wool.This is a shearling, the first ever shearing of a sheep so pretty soft. No a whole fleece but the nice bits !!
Here you can see the length of the individual lock. As I have so much to play with, I pulled out around 500 grams, checked it wasn't felted at all and divided it into to large mesh washing bags.

I use a good squirt of fairy washing up liquid and very hot water the hottest water from the heater plus a kettle full of boiling water as I want to melt the lanolin as well as remove the dirt. The bags are placed in the water and left to soak, no agitation as I really do not want anything to felt.

After one or two really hot washes, usually max 15 mins each in winter temperatures and several hot rinses I'm let with cleaner fleece and my heart in my mouth as wet fleece never shows whether its felted or not and always looks really dark at the tips. Now for the next stage I generally cheat, I have an old washing machine and the spin programme does not squirt water onto the clothes or spin in both directions to settle the load. This makes it ideal for spinning out the water from the fleece.
So I tie the bags tightly and chuck them in and spin them one at a time.
Result, clean, damp fleece ready to go out on the line ( in the bag) or in a warm room to dry out though not today as I will be dying it first..............more about that in a later post.

If you have any question etc about spinning and fibres, please feel free to contact me through the shop email address.

Now I've bored you senseless, I will let you get back to usual knitting blog posts :-)