Thank you Santa!

I was very lucky with my Christmas presents. There was a definite theme running through many of the gifts I received. Father Christmas obviously wishes to encourage me to continue with fibre and yarn-related hobbies!

This year’s new skill was spinning. I have made a point of learning something new every year, especially since I retired and this one has really got me hooked. I was given a load of accessories for preparing and spinning yarn. I’d asked for this Ikea Variera pot lid rack to use as a Lazy Kate to ply yarn spun on my Electric Eel Wheel Nano e-spinner – the bobbins fit the pins perfectly. For carding and blending I got a pair of Ashford hand cards. Then there is a cute sheep design niddynoddy and some lingerie bags for washing raw fleece.

I also got a yarn swift…

…and a ball winder.

In 2021 I plan to start dyeing fibre. This acid dye starter kit from DT Craft and design includes 12 different colours of dye, along with citric acid to fix the dye, protective gloves and a measuring spoon. There is also a very detailed instruction booklet.

I also got some books. I’m still trying to use up all my oddment of yarn and I got three books for exactly that, including one full of designs for knitted and crocheted flowers. The others are for the dyeing adventure to come: “Dyeing to Knit and Spin” by Felicia Lo and “Wild Colour” by Jenny Dean which is all about natural dyes.

I’m very lucky indeed and can’t wait to start using all this new kit.

Thank you Santa!

A Productive Week

I finished off a couple of projects this week which is always satisfying.

I crocheted this horse – a commission from a friend who will be giving it as a Christmas gift to a horse owner.

He’s a sort of caricature of her actual horse and I’ve replicated the colour and markings. His eyes are glass beads and the details are needle-felted. He’s wearing horseshoes embroidered in metallic thread.

I’ve made several of these over the last few years. One of the hardest things is finding the right colour yarn. I’ve modified the design from a pattern I found online and have refined it a bit more every time I’ve done it.

The second item I completed was a pair of brioche hand warmers for K. They will be part of his Christmas present. He’d requested some similar to some I made for myself a while back, but he wanted them in a much more neutral colour than the bright pink and grey stripes I used last time. He intends to use these for fishing – hopefully his hands will stay warm and his fingers will stay unencumbered for tying on lures and so on. I used this from my stash. It’s lost its band but I think it’s Stylecraft Special DK 100% acrylic. Most importantly it’s machine washable as, depending of how successful the fishing is, could potentially end up slimy, wet and stinking of fish after every wearing!

With a knitted project done I had nothing cast on so I’ve started some socks for myself – the pattern was given to me by a friend at one of my knit and natter groups – I’m using the version with the contrasting welt, heel and toe and using more yarn from the stash – I have a feeling both may be from Flying Tiger. I’ve bought all sorts of crafty things from the Newcastle store in recent years but I hear that this branch has now closed – I’m quite sad about that.

I’ve also been prepping and spinning alpaca fibre. I spun some I prepped a while back. The three larger skeins are 2ply, each about 100 yards. The smaller skeins (the white is more alpaca and the blue is merino) are my first attempt at chain plying, using some singles left over on bobbins after plying. I felt that this got better as I went along, but I must remember not to overtwist next time.

I washed a batch of the alpaca fibre I skirted last week and hand carded it. I’m improvising with pet grooming brushes until I get proper carders (I have it on good authority that Santa Claus is bringing me some…if I’m good). I’ve braided the roving as I intend to dye it eventually. It does look rather messier than the braids of fibre that you buy, but in it’s current undyed state I thought it resembled the hair of Elsa from Frozen. I promise not to put it over my shoulder and start singing Let it Go!