Saturday, 31 January 2015

Monthly Goals Update

Has January whizzed by for everybody else like it has for me!? It's been a good start to 2015 and I hope it continues this way. Having taken a rather long break from doing any kind of exercise this month I decided to start again and not really because it's January either. How long I will keep this up for I don't know but I would really love exercise to be a regular part of my life again. 

At the moment I am flitting between spinning and knitting; trying to do each evenly so I make progress in my projects. Last week I picked up an old spinning WIP that's been sitting unloved since March last year. Back in February 2014 I started spinning some Ixchelbunny Magic Bunny Top in the Aurora colourway. Since discovering that I much prefer to spin combed top from fauxlags I decided to dig out the remaining top and start spinning it again. I realise it's probably going to look slightly different to the first batch I spun but I'm fine with that. Fauxlags are making it an awful lot easier to spin as the sparkle can be a little bit tricky. 

Finish Rivoli shawl - I'm less than 10 rows away from the bind off so this is achievable! As you know this was accomplished at the beginning of the month. 

Pick up my cardigan and knit on it! Stop procrastinating and get on with it! I've finished knitting the right front! 

Half way through I had a little panic that the numbers in the pattern were wrong. Lots of people reassured me that the Custom Fit patterns are very reliable so I was going to push on through when I realised that somewhere, somehow I had missed out 5 stitches! I think it must have happened at cast on as I can't see how else it could have. Instead of ripping out all the knitting I'd done I just increased to the right number of stitches and am now hoping that it's not so noticeable of that it doesn't change the fit drastically. 

Spin for at least 15 minutes every couple of days. I would say I've done this for most of the month...some weeks more than others but I don't think I'm far off. 

So a pretty successful January in terms of my goals. Who knows what I could do in February? How was the start to your 2015? Full of fibery goodness I hope! 

Follow on Bloglovin

Sunday, 25 January 2015

My First Beaded Shawl!

As I said a little while ago I've finished and blocked my Rivoli Shawl. My husband just got round to taking photos as we're having quite a clear sky day here. It's lost some of it's shape as it was blocked a few weeks ago but it's still beautiful and I couldn't be any happier with it. It will definitely need blocking before I go away again but I don't mind that too much.

You may have noticed that it's not as deep as the pattern example and the main reason for that is that I didn't swatch! I never swatch for shawls as I'm happy to rip out if the fabric isn't what I want and am generally not bothered if it comes out a little smaller or bigger than the pattern example, as long as it's still wearable. I only used 496 metres of yarn and the pattern recommends having 700 metres available to use.  

If I were to knit this pattern again I would use a different blend. The fiber is Lotus Yarns Forest Dew, which is a blend of 36% angora, 30% merino, 26% tencel and 8% cashmere. While I love the finished shawl it does give it a different look to the merino/silk blend that the designer used. It's more soft, fluffy and not as polished looking. When I do get to wear this in December I am sure that I will greatly appreciate the fluffiness of it! 

The beads are great as they weigh the shawl down a bit and I'm hoping they will help to hold it in place when I do wear it.  Using the Fleegle Beader made the beading a huge amount easier than using floss to transfer the beads and I'm extremely happy I had it. In the future I'm sure I will make some more beaded projects although, I have no plans to at the moment. 

What have you finished recently that you can't wait to wear!? 

Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, 19 January 2015

Spindle Success

Recently a lot of my energy has gone into spinning or thinking about it at the very least. Over the last few months I have lost a bit of love for spindling and have been craving a wheel. A wheel may be on the horizon in the next few months but that doesn't mean I will quit spindling. It's important to me that I continue using the equipment I have as I would feel that it would be wasted and fine tools don't deserve that.

Last weekend I set out to try to improve my spinning and sat down with YouTube and Ravelry. I started a thread in Ravelry talking about spinning combed top supported. A few people chimed in to the conversation with really helpful and insightful comments. Some people also gave some advice; one of those pieces of advice being use fauxlags.

In the past I have attempted to make fauxlags but, I messed them up and didn't try again as I didn't think it was the way for me. Having more experience with fibre in general meant that this round was successful. Below is a collage showing how I make them.

I pull off about a staples length of fibre, fluff it out a bit. Then I use some PVC pipe to roll the fibre into a fauxlag and push it off. So far they've worked really well; they're not too tight or too loose.

The fibre I used was Woolgatherings polwarth/silk blend from the Fancy Pants club April 2014. It's been on my spindle for a while but I was finding it frustrating to draft. After I had made the fauxlags I found it much easier to spin! It drafts so easily and quite evenly. I've added to my spindle quite a lot the last week and am really enjoying spinning. Fauxlags may well be my go to for spinning combed tops.

Here's hoping that my spindling continues in the same manner! What prep do you like to spin most?

Follow on Bloglovin

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Midmonth Update

The last week has mainly been about spinning. I have done a little knitting but not much. I will write an update of my spinning progress soon as that's another post. This is an update of my goals for January though.

Finish Rivoli shawl - I'm less than 10 rows away from the bind off so this is achievable! Done!!! I need to get my husband to take a picture of it in all it's glory. It really is stunning and worth showing off.

Pick up my cardigan and knit on it! Stop procrastinating and get on with it! I finished the decrease section I was on and am currently reading ahead in the pattern to the neck and armhole shaping. I think I understand so should be able to pick it up and carry on soon enough. 
Spin for at least 15 minutes every couple of days. I will update more thoroughly on my spinning progress soon but I have been spinning at least this and more some days.

Follow on Bloglovin  

Friday, 16 January 2015

Analysis Paralysis

(I wrote this post on about the 10th January, however it sat in my drafts for one reason or another. I will write an update on my spindling shortly, as I've made some progress, but wanted to post this anyway.)

Spinning has been on my mind a lot of late. I'm obsessing over looking into buying a wheel at the moment and I've finally got an invite to the Southern Cross Fibre club! I asked to be on the waiting list in August 2012 and got the invite just a few days ago. Of course I'm signing up as I know David's fibre is gorgeous and I really like a lot of the club colour ways I've seen. 

The other reason it's on my mind though is that I'm trying to enjoy spindling again. As I said in this post I'm finding it frustrating. I hadn't really worked out why at this point though. It was definitely something to do with the stop start motion and winding on and so on but I wonder if it's more than that. On Thursday I dug around in my stash for some samples from the Phat Fibre box I got quite some time ago. A beautiful violet batt from Luthvarian Fiber Arts jumped out at me, begging to be spun. It's a blend of corriedale (which actually I've never enjoyed spinning), merino, silk, bamboo and firestar. The colour is called Wild Violets and you can see a picture of the batts here.

To try to understand where my frustration in spindling lies I decided to go and watch as many YouTube videos on support spindling that I could find, beginners or not. Although I had done this when I started but I  found some different ones. Normally I sit with my support spinning bowl to my right, I use my right hand to flick the spindle and my left to draft the fiber. A lot of the videos started with the spinner having their spindle bowl in their laps; I had never found this comfortable but thought I'd try it to see if it helped get me out of my funk.

Digging out my Spanish Peacock pocket Russian spindle I tried starting with my bowl in front of me. At first I found that it hurt my shoulder so I adjusted the way I was drafting to try to make it more comfortable. After a while it occurred to me that perhaps I just prefer spinning batts on my spindles. Could this be it? Is it easier to spin top on a wheel than on a spindle? What are your thoughts on this? I feel having both hands on the fibre might help control it better but am I wrong in this?

I took my spindle in the car with me on Friday morning and happily spun away on the batt until I arrived at work. After work was finished, and I was waiting for a friend, I picked up the spindle and spun for a few minutes...Saturday I took it in a taxi and got a little more done and then Saturday afternoon I finished and plied the batt. Overall I'm not sure what it was that made that experience much more enjoyable than my spindling of late....
  • Was it the batt? I definitely found it easier than spinning top; perhaps because I wasn't so worried about it drafting out evenly across the top? 
  • Was it the spindle? It's a lovely spindle but it's a Russian like many other of my spindles and all are from reputable makers so I'm not sure. I also don't think it's the length of the spindle. 
  • Was it the new bowl position? I need to try this out on my other spindles to know for sure. 
  • Was it the wool? Corriedale has a long staple and maybe that's part of it. The polwarth/silk top I'm spinning is easy to draft but the top is difficult to manage as when I was splitting it in half I pulled one of the halves apart in some places.

Whatever the reason I really enjoyed this spinning and am going to keep trying to overcome my frustrations with my other spindles. I would love to hear what fibre preparations you prefer spinning and why.

Follow on Bloglovin  

Friday, 2 January 2015

FO Friday #7

I did it! As I have the house to myself for 3 blissful days I sat down for a few hours this morning and finished my Rivoli shawl! When I cast on this pattern on 30th Dec 2013 I knew it would take me most of the year (if not longer) to complete and I was fine with that. It has been an incredibly satisfying knit and, while it's by no means perfect, it is glorious and I'm really pleased with it.

The pattern looks more complicated than it is and was fairly easy to knit. Admittedly I rarely did more than about 4 rows in one go as I did have to concentrate carefully on adding the beads and the lace pattern. The short rows seemed to take forever however, I was grateful to be casting off only 254 stitches instead of the 334 that I started with.

The yarn (Lotus Yarns Forest Dew Fingering Weight) is as soft as you would expect from a blend of 36% Angora, 30% Merino, 26% Tencel and 8% Cashmere. It was easy to knit with, if a little slippery at times and incredibly warm. There is a bit of a halo from the angora but not enough to obscure the lace or be too irritating if you don't like that sort of thing. My main worry is the strength of the yarn but as the shawl really won't get a great deal of wear it shouldn't be an issue. The beads add a little glimmer, a bit of weight and I also really like how they feel too.

I was nervous about the blocking of it as I've never blocked an angora blend but it seemed to wet block OK; I really won't know until I take it off the mat though. It's so difficult to get a good picture of it; hopefully my lovely husband will take a much better photo when he is back! 

I feel really good for finishing this and hope that the rest of the year continues in the same way! Have you finished any of your languishing projects from last year or perhaps cast on something new for 2015?

  Follow on Bloglovin  

Thursday, 1 January 2015


Many bloggers are currently setting their goals for 2015 after reflecting on 2014 but I'm not going to set any long term goals for 2015 as I doubt I will stick to them. If I'm being really honest 2014 was a disappointing year for knitting and spinning. I only got a handful of projects completed and I think part of the reason is that I have so many on the go and need to dedicate more time to getting them done! My knitting and spinning mojo has definitely faded and I hope it comes back soon.

Spinning is massively frustrating for me at the moment and I feel like I'm losing any coordination I had. It doesn't help that I'm not practicing often enough (because of said frustration) so what little time I do spend spinning I don't enjoy. The stop start nature of support spindling and winding on is making me yearn for a wheel; this year may well see me buy one. If I do it will be a Lendrum DT.

I will continue trying to set monthly goals for myself but need to make more of an effort to pick up a project most evenings! This month I think I'm only going to set a few goals to see if that helps me get my mojo back. 

Finish Rivoli shawl - I'm less than 10 rows away from the bind off so this is achievable!
Pick up my cardigan and knit on it! Stop procrastinating and get on with it!
Spin for at least 15 minutes every couple of days.

That's it for me. What are your goals or resolutions for this year or month?

Follow on Bloglovin