Learning curve

Still reporting on last year’s knitting. This was a pair of projects for my sister which provided a bit of a learning opportunity for me.

She bought the yarn – always a good beginning, and made a good choice: Rowan felted tweed. It’s a cashmere/alpaca/nylon blend and really nice to knit with. Very soft and cosy. Just right for a scarf/hat combo.

The scarf pattern Peu do Pluie by Anne Hanson, already in my libray was a good choice and worked well. My sister had chosen two co-ordinating colours, so just a little of one with the main body of the scarf with the other.


The hat: Woolly Wormhead’s Elourne, one I’d made before. The complicating factor was that this hat pattern calls for much thicker yarn. But I had the perfect solution: use a strand of each colour to create a thicker yarn and combine the two colours without trying to combine different colours in different parts of the pattern which I suspected wouldn’t work that well. And it did work. It looked nice. But it was itchy. Turns out any fibre that has some courser strands in it has this potential, and I think holding it double and at a fairly tight gauge just makes the fibres pop a bit, giving extra itch.


But it’s ok, she can wear  it when it’s really cold…



When I decided I wanted to make a cardigan for Myrtle I knew she would have to be fundamentally involved in all the choices we would make along the way about the finished product. I had a pattern in mind that she was easily persuaded to; the wee wildflower cardigan by Alana Dakos and she was keen I spun the wool for her. After spinning a skein of yarn from a Portland fleece I realised there was no way she would ever wear anything made from that. To be honest I wouldn’t want to wear it next to my skin either. It was course and itchy, quite like Shetland. It’ll probably be good and hardwearing for accessories, but definitely not something from which to make a cardigan.

So instead I bought some undyed merino in a fingering weight and together we dyed it. Myrtle is very clear on her colour preferences. They are quite different to mine. But I wasn’t going to be wearing this cardigan. So purple and pink it was. I tried a new method to get a variegated yarn this time, adding small amounts of pink and purple through the dyeing process to get a more subtly variegated yarn than I have achieved previously. I was quite pleased with the result, and more importantly so was Myrtle.

Which just left knitting it. The pattern was fun, and mostly straightforward. The pockets were interesting to make and make for a really pretty detail. I did end up making four sleeves though. Not sure whether there was an error in my gauge (I did swatch and the rest of the cardigan came out right so that was a bit odd) but each sleeve only took about a day so it wasn’t a big problem. On first try Myrtle didn’t seem very sure but she has since worn it loads. Happy all round.

She was initially quite a reluctant model..

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But then started enjoying herself a bit more. Wow she’s looking grown all big.

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We are currently on holiday in France. There were lots of reasons for me to look forward to this week away. Here are several of them…

photo (1)The four skeins at the front were hand dyed by me and Red for a jumper for Red (the far left is bright red, not pink, and the other three are brown with red mixed – something funny about the colours here…); the two at the back are hand spun for a wrap for Myrtle.

Happy holidays 🙂



Cardigan Bay

Last summer we spent an unprecedented amount of time in Cardigan Bay in Wales. It is a beautiful stretch of coastline with towns that don’t quite live up to the scenery in which they are set. Which is to say the carousels and arcades of Barmouth aren’t quite as nice as the beaches and mountains that surround it.


Sometime before we were set to go I decided it was about time to use some Brooklyn Tweed that I had as part of a yarn club a couple of years ago. The pattern in the club was for a shawl which I liked but not enough to want to make. I did have some ideas of my own though. I decided to get an extra skein in a dark yellow kind of colour and make a short sleeve jumper inspired by Cardigan Bay. And I liked that a jumper was called Cardigan. Yeh that’s quite silly.

So last summer I started. On 2.5mm needles. This will take a while. It really did take a while. But there’s sand, a high water mark and the waves in the sea. Just like Cardigan Bay. And now it’s finished and it fits and is getting lots of wear too.


Something I have discovered is that I can knit in the car if it’s all using knit stitch, which this is. There are two advantages to this. Much more knitting time. And much less back seat driving.


From start to finish

It started with a bag of raw fleece. It was washed. It was combed. It was spun. It was dyed. A hat was designed. And made. And finished. Red was very clear that he wanted a mix of blue, green and yellow which I thought was quite ambitious but Red and I were both pleased with the result.

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There has not been a lot of blogging lately, but there has been a lot of knitting. Also quite a lot of spinning and some dyeing. Plenty to write about but not heaps of time it. Maybe I will catch up. It’s going to feel a bit like a year in review, although it hasn’t actually been a year (kind of feels like maybe it has..).

Last Easter we visited Holland and I was inspired to try my hand at some colourwork. It is said by some knitters that either your a colourwork knitter, or a lace knitter. Turns out I am both.


Not sure why, but Kate Davies’ Peerie Flooers hat is a very popular first colourwork project and it was the one I chose too. I guess being a hat makes it seem manageable and there’s no steeking to get frightened by.





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Turns out my adventures into continental style knitting (instead of English knitting which was where I started) had an unexpected benefit. There are lots of ways of working colourwork, which typically involves knitting with two colours at one time and one of them is to hold one colour in each hand and knit using a different method with each hand. So in my left hand I held one colour and knitted using a continental method, and with my right I held the other colour and knitted in the English style. Yep, easy as that. But way more pleasing. Also being a loose knitter helped me keep an even tension which I think is often a challenge with colourwork.

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As there are two colours in each row, the fabric you create is double thickness which has made this a super-cosy hat for the winter.

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Dyeing for fun

It all started when I bought three whole raw fleeces at the Cotswold Farm Park in about July. That is a whole lot of fleece which makes it feel like a good opportunity for learning and playing.

I bought three different types of fleece; portland and kerry hill are both fluffy and soft, and cotswold which is the curly topped sheep you see in the Cotswolds. So far I’ve just been spinning the portland which is fairly easy and very satisfying. IMG_0266

The dyeing technique I have been learning about is using a dye bath of water and vinegar on the stove top. I bought several colours of commercial dye to experiment with.

First up was a silk fibre that was an extra treat for me when I spotted it on sale recently. Initially I dyed it green but it was a bright emerald colour which wasn’t what I was after. Turns out the first thing to learn is to not use too much dye at once. So I added some brown and made a nice olive. Not sure what I’ll make with this.IMG_0274 IMG_0278Myrtle wanted to get in on the action, so together we dyed some red. We were kind of aiming for pink (at least, Myrtle was aiming for pink) and I painted bits of brown before submerging the yarn in the dye bath to get a tonal effect. Really pleased with how that came out. It has turned into a wide headband with owls on for Myrtle. Seems a habit of hers to be Not Sure for a few months, before she loves to learn things I’ve made for her. So maybe I’ll get a photo in a few months time.IMG_0277 Another thing I learned was to use gloves.IMG_0256