Practice Makes Progress

If you have been tuning into my blog recently, you’ll have read that I’ve been adventuring into support spindles. I purchased a lovely Tibetan spindle from Fox Mountain Spindles and have been teaching myself how to use it. I’m very happy to report that spinning is going quite well.

While I am still considerably slower at spinning with a support spindle than I am with a drop spindle or wheel, I am enjoying the process SO much. The rhythm of spinning with a support spindle is almost meditative. It is very easy to become so in-the-flow that I don’t even notice the passage of time. To me, that is a sign of craft time well spent!

I’m nearing the end of this luscious local llama fibre (I only gave about a large handful left) and then it will be time to wind the skein and set the twist. I’m already eyeballing some fibre stash for another whirl on my Tibetan spindle (my youngest would be SO proud of that pun).

My question to you today is …. If you are a support spindle spinner, what are your favourite support spindle types and makers? Any makers you highly recommend? I feel the need to branch out even more and explore this wonderful world of support spindle spinning. After all, one spindle is just lonely! It surely needs a friend … two 😉

FO Friday – Natural and Wild

For this week’s finished objects, I have two handspun yarns …. One wild and bright and one soft, heathery, and natural …. And I don’t know which one I love more.

First up is one you may remember from my last WIP Wednesday post. It is a luscious blend of alpaca, Shetland, Icelandic, Jacob, Tunis x Finn, and East Friesian that I received from Melly Knits. The finished yarn has bounce, drape, and is soooooo silky soft. It is a 2 ply sport weight yarn and I’m not really sure what it wants to be yet. You can bet I will use it for something really good!

Next up is some Cheviot that I purchased in a natural creamy white color from Good Fibrations and I dyed up really wild. I had small amounts of dye powder left over in containers that were taking up space so I used them to create a cheerful and bright colorway on the combed top.

I opted for spinning this as a 2 ply fractal (surprise, surprise… right? 😉) and intend to use it for a pair of socks. I’ll knit just a plain pair of socks so the color can do the talking.

As usual Gingersnap was helping me with my fibery fun. Can you guess which handspun yarn he likes the best?

FO Friday – Some New Spins

Spinning is something I really love doing. I don’t always get to do it as often as I would like but I’ve made myself a promise for 2023 that I will allow myself more time to sit down at my wheels and spindles. That said, I have two new finished spins to share with you!

First up is some fibre from Melly Knits. As you might have noticed, I’m a really big fan of Melly’s fibres. She uses a lot of local-to-her or low mileage wool and rescues wool that would be tossed or burned and turns it into magnificent spinning batts. This blend is 40% BC burn pile (rescued fleece), 25% merino, 20% baby llama, 10% East Friesian, and 5% rose fibre.

I’ve spun this up as a two ply using long draw and the finished yarn is light, lofts, bouncy, and so soft. I’m very happy with the finished yarn!

My second finished skein is some dreamy Club fibre from 2019 by Hello Yarn. 2019 was the year that she took inspiration for her incredible colorways from birds. This colorway is called “Snowcap” and is named after a specific type of hummingbird. I urge you to Google them be a they are unbelievably cute!

She paired the colorway with one of my favourite fibres ….. Kent Romney lambswool. It is silky and slightly crisp (think Corriedale-ish) and delight to spin. Mine, of course, is a two ply fractal to show off all those cheerful colors.

What about you? Have you made yourself any crafty promises this year? Are you keeping them? I’d love to hear!

WIP Wednesday – A Wonderfully Sheepy Blend

A quick little check-in to share what I’m working on today. My Ashford Kiwi was feeling a bit neglected because I’ve been focusing on getting more proficient at using my Tibetan support spindle so I decided to spend a bit of time at my wheel.

I received this delightful blend of 35% alpaca, 20% Jacob, 15% Finn and Tunis cross, 15% Shetland, and 15% Icelandic from the lovely Melly Knits and it is such a fun spin. I love the natural heathery grey and the wonderful sheepiness. It is a real treat!

Half the fibre is spun already and I’ll be on to the second bobbin as soon as I finish his post 😉

I’m planning on a two ply and am very eager to see (and squish) the finished yarn.

What are you working on this week? Have you taken out a much loved, but neglected tool to work with lately too? I’d love to hear.

WIP Wednesday – Support Spindle Spinning

After watching Brittany of Crux Fibres ever so gracefully spinning away on support spindle last fall in her IG stories, I immediately knew that I wanted to learn too.

I ordered a beautiful Tibetan support spindle from Fox Mountain Spindles and started at teaching myself how to use it. If you’re ever in the market for new fibre tools, I can’t recommend Scott’s woodworking highly enough. They are stunning , immaculately constructed, and super smooth!

Spinning with a support spindle is completely unlike any other hand spinning I’ve done in the past and there is a bit of a learning curve.

Most of the support spindles I’ve seen in my research process have a smooth point at the top of the shaft instead of a hook or notch that is usually present at the top of a drop spindle. Support spindles, since they aren’t “dropped” or suspended, don’t require them. They use a bowl or some form of support to spin the bottom tip of the spindle in (hence the classification of support spindle).

The actual spinning process is a bit unlike what I am used to as well. It requires a different kind of muscle memory and dexterity than I normally use in spindle spinning. While one hand keeps the support spindle spinning away on its bowl or cup and the other hand drafts (much like drop spindling). You do your spinning off the very tip-top of the spindle spike which completely changes the feel.

The method of winding on the cop looks the same with the exception of winding a wee little cop at the top of the spindle to keep the fibre in the proper position for spinning.

Clear as mud? 😆

The first few times I attempted spinning with my new spindle were a disaster. I kept spinning the spindle out of my hand, breaking the yarn, and getting tangled in the top. But slowly, with patience, persistence, and practice, practice, practice I started to catch on.

I used up any little scraps of leftover fibre I had in my stash with my practice and now have moved on to “the good stuff.” The fibre I’m spinning now is some lovely llama fibre from Maple River Farm in Nova Scotia.

Using a form of park and draft, I’m getting along really well with support spindle spinning and I’m also getting much more efficient. Most important of all, though, is that I’m very much enjoying the process. My spinning is smooth and I’m able to maintain a consistent thickness throughout.

Are you challenging yourself with any crafts or crafting techniques? Are you learning anything new? I’d love to hear!

WIP Wednesday – Rian

Last year, I knit my first Marie Wallin pattern and I was instantly hooked on her designs. They are fun, challenging, and have a timeless quality to them. I’ve been itching to get started on another ever since finishing Bressay.

Marie’s book “Cherish” is a collection of her previously released designs knit in her British Breeds yarns which she has either updated with new colors or modified the garment shaping. There are at least seven patterns in this collection that I would love to eventually knit.

The pattern I decided to start with is Rian, which was previously released as Daffodil in her “Springtime” book. I chose this pattern first because I had the perfect yarn already in my stash.

Since it was originally called Daffodil, this golden Vilje Norsk lamullgarn by Hillesvåg is the perfect choice for this project. It was originally intended for a Sol i Setesdal by Sidsel J. Høivik but that project was not completed due to some unwelcome “help” from a feline companion. The yarn is a truly beautiful rustic Norwegian yarn and I’m so happy to be able to transform the remainder of my stash into something worthy of it.

While I do have a couple of projects I “could” finish, something I just want to start something new. I’ve only got a couple of inches knit but I’m very much enjoying the cables, lace, and textured stitches.

The sweater is knit in pieces and sewn together at the end. While it is not my usual type of garment to knit in that regard, I’m eager to get better at it.

Do you have any knitting plans or goals this year? Are there styles or techniques you want to do more of? I’d love to hear!

Exploits Valley Hap

I’m over-the-moon excited to share some photos of my latest finished project …. My Exploits Valley Hap.

The pattern is written by the super talented Jennifer Beale and it was an absolute delight to knit. It has lots of lace but the charts are intuitive and the main motifs are easily memorized. The colorwork bands can be knit flat or steeked depending upon your preference. Since I’m comfortable with steeking but need practice with purling colorwork, I opted for knitting the colorwork back and forth. I really enjoy having a chance to expand and stretch my current level of knitting skills.

I love the modular type of design. I keeps things fresh and interesting and I always learn something new and fun in each one of Jennifer’s patterns that I knit.

My yarn choice for Exploits was Rowan Fine Lace. If you haven’t had the opportunity to knit with it yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is buttery soft, has beautiful drape, and it has excellent stitch definition for lacework. I’m eager to do some more playing with it!

I’m very happy with the finished shawl and wearing it right now as I type up this post. That’s one “dream knitting” project for the books.

How about you? Are you working on any dream knitting projects? I’d love to hear!

WIP Wednesday

I have a couple of fibery endeavours too ok share with you in this week’s WIP Wednesday post.

My fibre friend, Amanda of Red Island Fibre, surprised me with a luscious batt of llama fibre recently. This fibre comes from Maple River Farm in Nova Scotia that raises llamas for fibre, fun, and fertilizer.

I don’t have a ton of experience with llama and it is such a treat that I decided it really needed to be spun on a drop spindle.

There is something very relaxing and peaceful about sitting quietly and spinning on a spindle. I so enjoy the process and don’t do it as much as I would like.

And speaking of things I don’t get to do as often as I would like, I also decided to wash and prep some of my stash of Iceland wool for spinning.

This Icelandic comes from Blomidon Farm, a farm on PEI that centres on their herd of Icelandic sheep. Pictured above is the wool pre-wash. I was completely blown away by how clean it is. There is essentially zero veggie matter which made cleaning it a breeze. Such a treat!

Normally, Simpkin would be all over helping me with the raw fleece but he was outside, busy doing cat things. He did, however, leave Gingersnap in charge. So thoughtful! 😸

Here is a quick shot of the washed wool laying out to dry. How beautiful is that? Hopefully it won’t take too long to dry and I can get to hand carding it.

What are you working on this week? Are you up to your usual or trying something new? Revisiting something you love and don’t get to do as often as you would like? I’d love to hear.

Maker’s Dozen in 2022

In January of 2022, I saw an Instagram post by @Hadabashery suggesting a MAL called the Maker’s Dozen. The guidelines were simple …. Use existing stash to complete 12 projects throughout the year and/or finishing long neglected WIPs. Sounds like a great plan, right?

In my case, it was a huge success. I ended up completing 21 projects of varying size …. 3 hats, 7 pairs of socks, 3 cowls, 4 sweaters, and 4 shawls … to be precise and it was all from stash yarn!

If you are a long time follower of my fibre adventures, you’ll know that I don’t have a massive stash. I tend to keep it fairly small so I was surprised with what I was able to squeeze out project-wise.

While I kept good notes on my Maker’s Dozen projects, I wasn’t always diligent about taking photos. Some of the projects below won’t have any because they were gifted before taking a photo even occurred to me. Regardless, prepare for a bit of a photobomb 🥴

Foraois Hat by Heather Nolan in Fleece and Harmony Heatherdale Lopi and Itex Alafosslopi
Gotland socks in handspun Gotland from Good Fibrations and Fleece and Harmony Point Prim Sock
La Manche by Jennifer Beale in Belfast Mini Mills Island Collection Worsted
Paper Dolls by Kate Davies Designs in Red Island Fibre
Hazel Neck by Petite Knit in Fleece and Harmony Hearth Collection
Fox’s Day Out by Stone Knits in Nerds With Needles Cashmere sock and Belfast Mini Mills Specialty Sock
Into The Woods by Melody Hoffman in Fleece and Harmony Point Prim Sock and Lichen and Lace Rustic Heather Sport
Nightshift Shawl by Andrea Mowry in handspun yarn
Geimreadh Sweater by Heather Nolan in Fleece and Harmony Selkirk Worsted
I Just Wanna Go Home Socks by Winter’s Weather Knits in West Coast Color Home Grown
Earth Magic Socks in Nerds With Needles Cashmere Silk, Belfast Mini Mills Specialty Sock, and Rowan Kid Silk Haze

Lost in Time Shawl by Mijo Crochet in Hobbii Dolce Cashmere (gifted before photo)

Wilona Shawl by Expressions Fiber Arts in handspun (gifted before photo )

Wilona Shawl by Expressions Fiber Arts in Fleece and Harmony Point Prim Sock and Purl Soho Linen Quill
Freddy Beach Socks by Nancy Wheeler in Fleece and Harmony Point Prim Sock
By The Shore Socks by Nancy Wheeler in Fleece and Harmony Point Prim Sock
Astragal by Kate Davies Designs in Knit Picks Palette
Wild Posy (Luna) by Melody Hoffman in Briggs and Little Country Roving
Verso by The Petite Knitter in Fleece and Harmony Selkirk Worsted
Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho in handspun fibre from Melly Knits
Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho in handspun art yarn

If you’re still with me after all of those photos, thanks for hanging in there!

As you can see, 2022 was a very productive stash-busting year and I plan to continue with that in 2023. I still have my Half and Half Wrap to finish and I’m closing in on my Exploits Valley Hap. I also have a fair bit of handspun that I would like to transform into knitted and, possibly woven, goods.

Did you participate in a stash-down last year? How did it go? Maybe it is a goal of yours for 2023. I’d love to hear about any stash-down experiences you’ve had.


Guess who has some snazzy new socks?

I put the finishing touches (aka sewed in the ends and blocked) my Ravishing Socks by Nancy Wheeler and I couldn’t be happier!

The pattern was (as all of Nancy’s patterns are) very well written, easy to follow, and the stitch pattern was quickly memorizable. There were a pleasure to knit!

These took me a lot longer than usual to knit simply because I was a naughty knitter and neglected this project (we all do it sometimes !) to work on several other large projects that took a lot of time and brain space. When I got down to focusing on this project, the socks practically flew off my needles. There was zero second sock syndrome because I knit the second sock in only a day.

The yarn I chose for this project was Eco Processed Merino in “Mellow Yellow” colorway by Red Island Fibre.

I’m so lucky to have a fibre pal like Amanda! I wanted to order some of her sock yarn and was feeling in a bit of color rut so I just asked her to surprise me with the colorway. When she arrived with this lovely colorway for me I was immediately smitten. She knew just the color I needed for a pick-me-up! And the feel of this yarn is dreamy ….. smooth and buttery soft … it was such a treat to knit with. I’m already looking forward to working with this again.

So now my knitting needles are cleared of socks so I need to cast on a new pair and I have plans for some handspun socks next.

Are you a sock knitter? Do you always have to have a pair of socks on the go? I’d love to hear!