And for the next step…

So as I have been spinning over the past couple of years, I have amassed a LOT of yarn. Some has been knitted up into things and some has not. This stuff is starting to take over. I did the only sensible thing and bought a loom.

Box loom

Turns out this wasn’t the best loom because it was difficult to adjust and pretty small. So, in the interest of REALLY cutting down on stuff, I bought another loom.

Ashford loom

See how this works?

I have been happily messing about with my new toy, I mean important piece of stash-busting equipment, and I have learned a lot.

  • Do not use mohair for the warp. Really. Even if it is a pretty colour. It will stick, even if you think it won’t, and if you pair it with wool the wool will stretch and the mohair will not. This is a Bad Thing.
  • To warp a loom, you need to clamp down the loom and the peg you are using as a warping rod (in this case, a kitchen roll holder). If you clamp your peg to a chair, make sure the chair can’t move before you start warping. If the chair inches towards your loom as you warp, you tension will be completely b*ggered.
  • If you measure up and your warping peg walks about and you are weaving with wool, everything will shrink once it is finished. A 19 x 45 inch square is not enough for a rug.
  • It turns out that you need to plan, and calculate, and write things down before you start a weaving project, unless you want a big surprise involving hundreds of yards of yarn.

In any case, I got this. It is a Thing. Not sure what it is for, but it is warm and is a Thing I Made With My Stuff. Onwards and upwards!

Hodgepodge weave


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Just in time for winter

A handspun jumper! The pattern is Adelaide, taken from the Vogue Knitting book I got for Christmas. I’m really pleased with how this came out. The yarn is a mix of Jacob, Dorset Horn, Cheviot and Cotswold and it is incredibly warm. Surprisingly enough, it isn’t too heavy either.


Step one in Use the Damn Yarn You Spun complete!




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Knitting (no, really)

Kaleidoscope by A Locker
Kaleidoscope, a photo by A Locker on Flickr.

The thing about spinning is that you end up with a lot of wool. And it doesn’t magically transform itself into stuff. Unfair, but you do have to knit it, or weave with it, or do something other than look at it.

This is the small beginning of a handspun knitting project: a little cardigan from around 950 yards of Falkland 3 ply. It’s knitting up nicely, though my gauge is off so I’m having to faff about with the measurements a bit. Next project: socks.

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Starting horn

Spinning Norfolk horn by A Locker
Spinning Norfolk horn, a photo by A Locker on Flickr.

My first fibre for this year’s Tour de Fleece is Dorset Horn. I have 200g of undyed fibre, 8 packets of Kool Aid and a desire for thick, very bright socks.

This is an experiment, so I’m spinning half for dyeing, then dyeing the other half of the fibre before spinning. It’s a down breed, so it’s supposed to be hard to felt. This is good news. I am exceptionally good at felting wool, as I am constitutionally incapable of putting it into soak without poking at it.

It’s also very easy to spin: the ultimate fibre for the lazy spinner. We are talking one-handed long draw. From the sofa. Yeah. Spinning and drinking tea at the same time: it doesn’t get any better.

NH first bobbin by A Locker
NH first bobbin, a photo by A Locker on Flickr.

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Tour de Fleece 2012 – and they’re off!

TDF 2012 the off by A Locker
TDF 2012 the off, a photo by A Locker on Flickr.
It’s that time of year again, when men in tight shorts pedal through Europe, occasionally falling off. It’s also time for the Tour de Fleece, a spinning event that runs alongside the Tour de France. They spin, we spin. Geddit?
This is my second TDF and I have quite a lot to get through before the finishing line on 22nd July. I’m spinning along with some drunken pirates on Ravelry, and there are lots of groups and teams to join. It’s a great chance to spin through some of your stash with friends. For more info, check out the Ravelry group here. Happy spinning!

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Chopping and changing

As a spinner, you are supposed to aim at consistency. Do a sample, then if it works spin the rest to the same spec. Easy.

Here’s an example: take 750g of Jacob, spin a bit long draw, like the result, spin the rest up, ply, knit.

Except that I am rubbish at sticking to a plan. If I get a bright idea halfway through, I don’t want to wait until I finish the project before giving it a try, and this was no exception. I started spinning up the Jacob, tearing off short chunks of the pre-carded fibre and spinning it long draw.

Then I got a pair of hand cards.

I started carding rolags and spinning from them, trying to keep the same thickness of singles. It kind of worked, and was so much more enjoyable.

I’ve still got some to spin, but it’s going so much faster now I’m enjoying the process. Look what I have already:

Of course, I have learned my lesson. I am now working on a mere 100g of fibre so there is no reason to change halfway through. Changing the ratios and then swapping the tension system because your drive band won’t fit would be a bad idea. Not that I have tried that. It’s going much faster now…

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Gradient spinning

Time for a new technique!

I have some new toys: a pair of hand cards for making fluffy rolags, perfect for spinning long draw. The other thing they are useful for is managing colour.

Have a squint at this blog post on gradient carding. You take a pretty hand dyed braid and make a set of perfect colour-changing rolags. Why not have a go? I had the cards and I had a pretty green/red/purple braid of Falkland from thesulkycat on Etsy:

Carded it into rolags:

Ending up with these:

I can’t think of much better than spinning from a basket of fluffy rolags. Here are the singles on the wheel:

The next step is no n-ply to preserve the colour sequence, then knit into very bright gradient socks. I’ll keep you posted…


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