Just to say I’ve been posting finished knitted objects and handspun yarn over at Knitters Rumble, a blog that follows myself and two friends (Amy and Emily) as we compete for knitting points.

This doesn’t mean I won’t start posting here again, who knows what the future will bring!

These yarns were all spun on a Louet Julia – not my wheel, but one of the wheels at my work.  I wish it were my wheel, I’m kind of in love with it!

handspun yarn

I’ve been playing a lot with the drum carder (also at work, also in love with it) and I love the variety of effects I’ve been able to get through blending different colours and types of fibres.

handspun yarn

Handspun yarn,100g, white and blue with green flecks, worsted/chunky weight single ply carded Merino and Corriedale wool.

This next skein will produce a beautiful striping effect when I knit it up. I think it’s really pretty but it’s just a small amount of yarn and I’m really not sure what to make with it. Any ideas? I’m not sure whether to use it by itself or to mix it with a commercial yarn.

handspun yarn

This yarn was the result of carding together all of the left-over fibre “scraps” from previous carding sessions. I have a few secret hiding spots where I tuck away little bits of fibre that don’t get used for whatever reason. The resulting “grab bag” batts and yarns I get from these treasure troves are really cool surprises.

handspun yarn

Handspun yarn, small tweedy skein, Many colours but mainly green, blue, purple and pink,  dk weight single ply carded Merino and Corriedale wool.

I really enjoy blending on the carder, but prepping wool fleece on a drum carder is also really fun, although it takes a lot of work to get the nice, smooth preparation that I prefer.  Once the fleece has been washed and dried, I pick out locks of wool and flick both the butt and tip with a hand-carder.  This fluffs and opens up the wool, releasing more dirt that may have gotten stuck in the fibres and makes it the perfect preparation to feed into the drum carder and get a nice batt.

Luckily, a friend has been visiting the store recently and scouring a ton of fleece!  Ana of Art-by-Ana is a super-sweet fiber lover who I really like to chat about carding and spinning with.  Thanks to her, I have access to piles of washed wool to play with!

handspun yarn

This was my first time preparing and spinning Jacob wool and I really like the breed. The sheep are spotted so their fleeces contain a mix of white and brown patches. For this yarn, I picked out mostly white wool and am looking forward to using the brown sometime soon.

handspun yarn

Handspun yarn, small (maybe 1 oz. -ish) skein, natural white with some grey-brown flecks, sport weight 2-ply flicked and carded Jacob wool fleece locks.

passion flower

Why is it so easy to magnify our failures and minimize our successes? I find myself looking back at my life and often dwelling on the things I perceive as my failures.

A few years ago (before I became fully addicted to knitting), my passion was urban and sustainable agriculture. I worked in the “green”, local, organic food field. I rallied my friends and co-workers to start a “backyard farm” program.

Now, to say my vision for the project was unclear would be an understatement; I had never grown a vegetable or even gardened before. But, I had faith in the concept and the community and believed the idea would work.

red and yellow flower

Our group broke ground and started vegetable gardens in various neighbourhoods around town – in backyards, community gardens, balconies and even a rooftop garden. Then, we all separated and tended and harvested our own gardens.

Even though I didn’t have a clear vision, this separation wasn’t what I thought would happen. My personal backyard garden barely produced anything because I planted it under a tree that blocked the sunlight. So, I developed the idea that the farming project had failed and that I was a failure.

What I didn’t see at that time were all the wonderful fruits of the project. Just because everything didn’t turn out the exact way I had wanted it to, I became blind to all of the good that came from our hard work.

We had inspired people to start looking at unused space as potential garden plots, we empowered people to start a garden which they maybe had never thought of doing or didn’t think they could, and we made connections with people in the community.

pink tulip

Gardening and Knitting are very similar in the sense of community they inspire. When I worked on the garden, or picked up supplies for it, there was an opportunity for me to connect with someone about what I was doing. People shared stories of picking fresh carrots from their parent’s garden when they were a child.

The same happens when I take out my knitting or spinning. I often have people telling me about their relatives that knit or sharing stories about the unique knitted objects made for them by their loved ones.

The connection is there and that’s what’s most important. Through the connections we make we can inspire and educate people. I am through with looking back and focusing on all the messes I’ve made and have decided to focus on the good that came from it all.

Please feel free to share your personal “failures” here in the comments (it’s freeing, I promise!). And if you are able to look back and see the positive things that came from your experience, you can share those thoughts as well.

I am extremely pleased and proud to introduce my first published pattern – Frosted Windowpanes.

Frosted Windowpanes hat

I was honored when Debbie (pictured above) asked me if I wanted to write up this pattern to be published on the Sweet Paprika website as part of their Fall 2009 collection of patterns and I agreed to it immediately. They had seen an earlier version of this hat that I had knit years ago when they first started their hand-dyeing business and remembered it. Back then, I hadn’t done very much color work and my stranded knitting was so tight that the hat didn’t fit too many people (I ended up gifting it to a friend, Beth, who likes her hats SNUG). Luckily, my tension has improved since then. :)

They sent a few skeins of yarn and I started knitting and writing up the pattern as I went. I sent the hat back to them to be examined and photographed and was incredibly happy when I received an email including the .pdf file of the pattern expertly formatted and written up by the Sweet Paprika crew. I am so grateful to them for this opportunity and hopefully this is the first of many of my published patterns.

The Details:

Pattern: Frosted Windowpanes available for FREE at Sweet Paprika Designs.   Ravelry Pattern Page

Yarns: Sweet Paprika Designs “Dolce” in African Violet and Sweet Paprika Designs “Minuet” in Deep Purple

Needles: US size 7 (4.5mm) circ.s and/or dpns

I LOVE working with these beautifully hand-dyed yarns. Dolce is a DK silk/merino blend yarn which is hand-painted in a variety of breath-taking variegated colorways. Minuet is a bouncy DK superwash merino yarn with subtle variations in color that gives a look of depth to the knitted fabric.

A while back I bought two similarly dyed merino wool slivers by fleece artist. They were pretty much the same except one had more red and the other had more tan. I thought it would be interesting to spin each one in a different style.

hand-spun yarn

I spun the first top into a heavy worsted slubby thick and thin single. To prepare the wool, I separated it by stripping off sections lengthwise which were about five times thicker than my final yarn. This yarn’s colours change every few yards or so. Next time I strip the top like that I will try making my lengths of fiber thinner so that the colours change more frequently.

handspun

The second style I spun was a self-striping 2-ply worsted-weight yarn.

handspun yarn

My method was to divide the wool lengthwise into two equal halves. It worked really well! The colours lined up nicely and the singles were almost the exact same length, one was maybe six inches longer than the other. It’s always so nice when that happens.

handspun yarn

There you have it! Two very different looking handspun yarns from two very similar wool tops.

I’ll leave you with a photo of these really cool flowers, if you recognize them please let me know what they’re called. They start as pink balls that look like lanterns and then bloom into an explosion of purple and pink petals.

flowers

I love taking pictures of the moon but they rarely turn out nicely; the contrast between the white moon and black sky is difficult to capture in a photo. I’d say the moon and the sky are two of my very favourite photography subjects. A few days ago, I took this picture of the moon in the daytime:

daytime moon

I must admit, my photo wasn’t quite this dramatic until I gave it a few digital touch-ups :) I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Onto the yarn! I spun this fleece artist roving into a really plump super-bulky thick and thin yarn.

handspun yarn

This was one of my first successful bulky singles spun on my spinning wheel. I usually prefer my spindle for these types of yarn as it gives me so much more precision and control.

handspun yarn

I’m gearing up for a weekend trip and what better knitting project to bring than hand-spun socks. This is the bobbin I will be bringing with me for the ride, Pleasurecraft hand-dyed wool/mohair blend from this top. I spun a fine single with a lot of twist in hopes that it will hold up to heavy wear. It is a self-striping yarn featuring yellow, blue, green, and orange.

hand-spun yarn on the bobbin

In the next post I will show you two different styles of yarn spun from two very similar wool tops.

A short while ago, I won this amazingly beautiful BFL wool spinning kit for taking part in a contest on Cosy’s blog. Thanks again, Cosy!

I highly recommend Cosy’s spinning kits (available at her shop on etsy) to any spinners or people looking for a gift for a spinner. The dye colours were beautiful individually and in combination and the wool was soft, shiny and a pleasure to spin.

The basic idea is to spin the largest 2 oz braid into a single on one bobbin, then spin the 4 1/2 oz multi-coloured braids onto another bobbin and finally ply them together.

Although it was my intention to follow those instructions, thing’s didn’t exactly turn out as planned!

When it came time to ply my two different coloured singles together, they just wouldn’t ply and I realized that the singles were each spun in a different direction, making it impossible for them to twist together. I had managed to make this basic spinning mistake because one single had been spun on my spinning wheel, and one was spun on my drop spindle. I had never tried plying from both at the same time before which is where the confusion arose. So, I changed my strategy and spun each bobbin into it’s own 3-ply navajo yarn which kept the striping colour changes intact.

I now have one light blue skein and one green, white, brown and blue striping skein.

As I ended up with a 3-ply yarn instead of a 2-ply as I had intended in the first place, it is definitely bulkier than I had planned (about 8-10 wpi, bulky to super-bulky weight). I wanted to knit a baby sweater, possibly a BSJ but am now reconsidering because this yarn may be too thick.

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