Category Archives: Spinning

Black Rainbow Cowl

Went for a little road trip yesterday to visit my wonderful mother-in-law. I managed to knit up a cowl during my travels out of the rainbow yarn I just made and thought I’d share.

black rainbow cowl

Black rainbow cowl.

ted e bear wearing black rainbow cowl

Ted E. Bear modelling the cowl.



Black Rainbow Yarn

This morning I finished spinning up the batts I made yesterday of the multi-coloured fleece and thought I’d post a picture to show the finished yarn.

Yarn on bobbin.

Black rainbow yarn made from corridale from Ashland.

Not sure what pattern to use this yarn with but probably a cowl.


Tour de Fleece 2018

I decided to enter the tour de fleece this year on Ravelry. Each year when the Tour de France runs, many groups in Ravelry will spin along on their wheels and rack up the miles in yarn being made from fleece and other fibre hence the name Tour de Fleece. Some of the groups have competitions to see who can spin the most but that’s not for me. My group of fellows spinners just wanted the comaraderie to be found in participating in this years tour so I signed on for the ride so to speak.

My main goal this year was to spin up the 500 grams of purple-grey mystery roving from Wellington Fibre Mill that I’d bought a few years back. I’m pleased that I met my goal and I now have about 900 yards of a worsted weight yarn. I’m not sure of the exactly amount since I’ve only converted one skein into a layer cake and measured the length.

Purple-grey mystery fibre. A mystery because I’m not sure the ratio of mohair to wool.

Five skeins of yarn spun during the tour.

After spinning the purple tweed yarn I was trying to think of what else I wanted to spin. I really, really want some of Anna Gratton’s rovings but I’m in Canada and she’s in New Zealand and I haven’t ordered anything yet because I’m afraid of what the shipping costs will be. Anyhow to temporarily satisfy my lust for her Licorice Allsorts roving (one of these days I will order some) I decided to try and create a similar type of thing using my drum carder. I tried dizzing it off the carder but gave up half way through when I realized I could just take the remaining batt and tear it into appropriate sized strips.

Black Rainbow roving.

The resultant spun yarn is sort of a thick and thin single plied with quilting thread. I’m not sure quilting thread is the way to go but it’s all I had at the time.

Black rainbow yarn.

I tried to knit up a cowl using the yarn but quickly came to the conclusion that 52 grams isn’t enough so this morning I made a couple more batts and spun up one of them. I’ll post a picture when they’re both done or maybe when I actually get something knit with the yarn.

Black rainbow batts.

Another little mini skein of 32 grams was made using some of the Ile de France fleece that I dyed and combed last year. The goal with the Ile de France was to make mini skeins for knitting Fair Isle and I was quite pleased that I managed to make a light fingering yarn. The trick will be to make similar yarns of the same thickness.

Ile de France – Vermillion plus Lemon Yellow.

Vermillion 2-ply fingering.

That’s all for now. I have been working on some quilt squares from the Mastering Miniatures quilt kit but I’m not going to post any photos of those until I’m done. I’ve done some other stuff, tea towels, crocheted afghan but I didn’t take photos. I need to get my brain in gear for blogging again.


Making Rolags from a wool batt.

This is a picture of some Ile de France fleece that I spun into a 3-ply yarn. I was trying to get a bulky fluffy woolen yarn but ended up with a semi-smooth worsted weight yarn.

3-ply Ile de France.

Trying to think of how I could spin a more fluffy woolen yarn I realized that my fibre prep was wrong. I had used hand combed sliver, which is normally used to make a worsted yarn. So I thought I should try spinning from some rolags. This made me think of two batts I had sitting in the closet for some months so I decided I’d try and make them into rolags using my blending board and this is what I came up with.

Rolags made from drum-carded batts.

Single ply on bobbin.

Single plied with gold thread.

Yarn on niddy noddy.

Skeined yarn.

The batts had bits of stuff like mohair and sari silk added to them so instead of coming out smooth they came out lumpy and I realized I could make thick and thin yarn out of them so that’s what I did. I spun a single with texture and then plied it with a gold thread and made art yarn.

I still want to try for a woolen bulky yarn so I decided to drum card some batts of the Ile de France and make more rolags. I’m hoping since these are pure wool I’ll be able to spin using a long-draw method and end up with what I want. I thought I’d show how I made the rolags from the wool batts.

Ile de France fleece.

Drum-carded batts.

Batt on blending board.

Using two knitting needles to start turning the batt.

Winding wool onto the needles.

Rolag pulled away from the board and the loose ends smoothed in.

Knitting needles removed one at a time from the rolag.

Pile of rolags from the batts.

Now that I’ve made the rolags all that is left to do is to spin them 🙂


Bridger Cowl

It seems I forgot to blog about the cowl I made out of the Paua yarn I spun, brain fart I guess, I did post to Ravelry. Anyhow I was looking for a project that didn’t take up too much yarn and I came across a pattern in Ravelry called the Bridger Cowl by Kris Basta

This was an easy cowl to knit up and I did it in one day. The only issue I had was that I could have used a couple more inches in the width for the cowl to sit more comfortably on my neck but that’s my fault for not taking a neck measurement in the first place. I always have an issue with gauge as well. It doesn’t seem to matter if I make a swatch I always end up knitting tighter once I get into a project. I didn’t make the cowl for myself it’s for my more petite sister-in-law so I’m hoping it’ll be perfect. I did block the cowl once it was finished and that helped. Nice pattern though and I’d consider making another one if needed.

I like the pattern because it has the lace bit at the bottom but then goes into plain stockinette stitch for the main body. I did try another pattern but found that the colours in the Paua yarn got lost in lacework so a simpler pattern was needed. Anyhow I’m happy with the cowl and I think I have enough yarn left over to try out another simple cable cowl.

paua cowl with foam head
Bridger Cowl using the Paua yarn I created.

paua cowl with black coat
Not a great picture but gives you an idea of how the cowl sits on my coat (Yes it was very hot that day and it’s a selfie.)

Next on the agenda are some tie dye t-shirts for the grandkids and perhaps one for a cashier who insisted on getting my name and number at the checkout when she saw me in my tank top.


Paua Shell

We went away for the weekend to our friend’s cottage and once again I took my spinning wheel and got in some spinning. The fibre I spun up was some corridale I’d bought from a shop in Auckland while on holiday this past March/April.

Little Wool Co Paua shell corridale fibre
Anna Gratton’s Little Wool Company.

fibre paua shell
Super-wash corridale, colourway Paua Shell.

I decided to spin from the fold to try and preserve the colours in the roving. I haven’t spun from the fold before aside from one attempt to see what it was like, never a project though. I enjoyed the process and it’s easier for me to make a thicker yarn using this method. After spinning two singles I spun them together for a ‘barber pole’ effect.

anna gratton paula shell
Yarn thickness about a double-knit to worsted weight.

corridale paula shell
Closeup of colours.

I’m not sure what I’m going to make with this but I’m leaning strongly towards making a cowl for my granddaughter. The kids are no longer allowed to wear scarves to school but a cowl should be okay. I might make two seeing as how I have four granddaughters, maybe I need to order more fibre to make more stuff since the colours are pretty for little girls.


More Wool

I’m running out of creative titles when it comes to posting about the Ile de France. Not much happening in this post but I did spin up a mini test skein of the Rosewine coloured Ile de France. I also washed another batch of fleece. The difference in washing this time was that I put it outside to soak overnight but then I decided to try and wash the tips. The fleece soaked in cold water and when I went to wash the dirty tips I just dumped what was there and then put in fresh cold water from the hose tap.

Washing out the tips was easier than I expected but it was a time consuming process. The thing that got me was how rough I handled the fleece. I was always under the impression that you were supposed to handle fleece very gently so the stuff doesn’t felt. I know that fleece will felt if you take it from hot water and dump it into cold water and I also know that hot water plus soap plus agitation can felt wool as well. I thought maybe you could felt it in cold water as well but that didn’t happen or at least not with this fleece.

Back to the dirty tips…when washed and dried the tips were cleaner but there was still some staining and I found that the tips were brittle so I’ve been trimming them slightly so I’m thinking taking the time to pre-wash them was a waste of effort. On the whole I’m finding the fleece to be on the tender/brittle side. I think if it was a better quality fleece then pre-washing the tips might be the way to go.

After drying the fleece I sat and picked it apart to get rid of the vegetable matter in the fleece. I have combs and have used them but I wrecked my thumb from doing too much so I decided to pick apart the locks and then toss them onto the drum carder. This worked very well and after four passes on the drum carder I then dizzed off the wool. There is very little vegetable matter in the fleece, my thumb is happy and so am I. It’ll be interesting to see how this roving spins up compared to the combed roving because this roving has lots of shorter fibres in it.

Anyhow here is a picture of the mini-skein and some of the roving I made on the drum carder. The spindle nestled in the roving has some Blue-Faced Leicester on it that I just finished plying.

ile de france single
Rosewine single on bobbin.

wellington fibre mill teal unknown fibre
Skein made of Wellington Fibre Mill’s roving. Part of the spinning I’ve been doing for the Tour de Fleece going on in Ravelry at the moment.

rosewine skein
Mini skein, 18 grams approximately 56 yards.

ile de france fleece 2nd wash
Washed fleece.

Picked fleece locks.

yellow bucket
More picked locks.

Roving made from the picked locks, there is still a lot left to pick and drum card. The nice thing about throwing the locks onto the drum carder is that there isn’t any waste unlike combing the locks. The spindle has some plied BFL on it, it took a long time to ply as it’s very fine. The spinning wheel is definitely quicker but spindling is kind of neat as well.


Dyeing Ile de France Fleece

John and I picked up some Ile de France fleece this past weekend and I had some fun washing and dyeing up part of the fleece. The fleece itself was pretty dirty and there was a lot of it so I just reached in and grabbed a handful of what looked like the nicest at the time.

I didn’t fuss too much with the tips and just washed the fleece in Unicorn Power Scour a couple of times. There was a lot of lanolin in the fleece as I washed it and I wasn’t sure if the yellow I was seeing was from lanolin or some type of staining but the next day after the fleece had dried I realized it was yellow staining. I’m not sure where the yellow came from. The yellow might be from the lanolin or maybe it was Canary staining I’m not too sure. I think canary staining is a brighter yellow but what do I know? Anyhow the fleece was pretty reasonable cost-wise and I was okay with the fleece not being bright white because I wanted to use these fleeces as practice for dyeing. No sense paying top dollar for quality fleece only to screw up the dye job.

Here follows a huge photo bomb of the process. I divided the fleece into two batches and soaked each batch in vinegar/water before tossing them into a pot dedicated for dyeing. The pot also had water with a cup of vinegar in it. I then used two different dyes on the fleece. I put a bunch of fleece into the pot, poured half the dye(s) on each side, put in the rest of the fleece and then poured the rest of the dye on top.

I then let the fleece sit for about an hour trying to keep the temperature around 180, needless to say the heat wasn’t consistent but I didn’t really care. For the most part most of the dye was absorbed with only a little bit of coloured water left in the pot. Of course when I went to do a wash-out in hot water lots more dye came out. Either I didn’t cook the whole thing long enough or most likely there was too much dye in the mix, maybe both. Anyhow I did about four rinses before giving up and letting the stuff dry. It’s doesn’t run in cold water and most people don’t wash their wool in hot water so I’m not too worried about it. Who knows I might never knit this stuff up, time will tell.

ile de france yellow staining
Ile de France washed, not too bad but some yellow staining and dry dirty tips.

ile de france in pot dry
Dry Ile de France in pot.

ile de france soaking in vinegar water
Fleece soaking in water.

dye colours used
Jaquard dye, Sapphire and Vermillion.

fleece starting dye process
On the stove, dye just added.

fleece after being cooked
Fleece cooling off on the deck, notice some mixing of the dyes in the pot.

dyed ile de france sapphire and vermillion
Dried fleece.

tips of locks lighter in colour
Notice that the dirty tips are lighter in colour where the dirt provided a resist to the dye. I had combed out some of the tips but decided to leave some to see if they dyed lighter and sure enough that’s what happened.

vermillion on comb
Vermillion loaded on the comb. There was some blue in there.

vermillion first pass on combs
First pass on combs.

second pass
Second pass on comb.

third pass
Third pass on combs.

dizing fleece off of comb
Dizzing fleece off of the comb.

sapphire and vermillion loaded on comb
Sapphire and vermillion loaded on comb.

sapphire and vermillion final pass
Final pass of sapphire and vermillion.

sapphire on comb
Sapphire on comb.

dizzed wool seconds from combings
I had a lot of fibre left over after I made the rovings so thought I’d try re-combing the wool to see what happened. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the combs got the remaining chaff out and the fibres weren’t as short as I thought they’d be. I dizzed on the smallest hole and got these 4 balls (16 grams) from what I thought was junk wool.

combed and dized wool
Sapphire and vermillion rovings.

From this batch of dyed wool I have 86 grams of roving. Not a whole lot of weight considering how much time and effort went into it, less than a bigger ball of yarn and I’ve yet to spin it but I had fun, right?

Next up are a few photos from the batch of fleece I dyed using Sun Yellow and Fire red. I’m still in the process of combing out the fleece so I’ll probably tack on a few pictures later after my thumbs, wrists and arms have a break.

yellow and red ile de france
Ile de France dyed using Jaquard Yellow Sun and Fire Red.

yellow sun loaded on comb
Yellow sun loaded on comb.

ile de france yellow sun
Final pass on combs (I found three passes enough to get rid of the chaff).

ile de france fire red loaded on comb
Fire Red loaded on comb.

fire red
Fire Red final pass.

yellow sun and fire red roving
Rovings done so far.

yellow sun fire red fleece
Fleece waiting to be combed and dizzed.

Wool combs are awesome tools for getting rid of dirt and vegetable matter out of fleece. I would have liked to use my drum carder on the fleece but having drum carded fleece with dirt and peat in it I can tell you that the dirt doesn’t fall out but stays in the batt. I might blend the rovings on the drum carder before I spin them I haven’t decided what to do as I’m still playing with the dyes 🙂


My Preciousssss…..

Anyone who is a big Lord of the Rings fan will know exactly what I’m talking about when I say “My Precioussss”. This one liner is given by Gollum as he’s fondling his golden ring. I thought the title was kind of appropriate given that my husband and I just came back from a combined New Zealand/Australia trip, the movie having been made in New Zealand. I didn’t buy any yarn-goodness in Australia but I spent the wad so to speak in New Zealand. We didn’t have any spare room in the luggage so I had Skeinz ship my stuff home since I’d spent over $100 and qualified for free shipping. I got my parcel in the mail yesterday and like Gollum I’ve been picking up my stuff, stroking it and acting like it’s My Preciousss.
skeinz parcel

skeinz tag

I’ll put up a blog later about the trip but since there are over 2,000 pictures to sort through I’ll leave that for later. The first yarn store I found was New Zealand Fabrics & Yarn downtown in the Queen’s Arcade, Auckland. I had really wanted to visit Anna Gratton’s Little Wool Co. farm and mill but it was a six hour round trip from where we were staying in Lake Taupo so that idea was nixed. Mind you had I a fellow spinner with me we would have been out there in a flash but the husband wasn’t too receptive to the idea so it was a no-go. You can order her stuff online as well. I knew that the Fabrics & Yarn store carried Anna’s fibre so I bought some there instead. I also fell in love with some stuffed bears in the store so bought the pattern for those as well.

Little Wool Co Paua shell corridale fibre
Little Wool Co. corridale fibre, colourway Paua Shell.

fibre paua shell

winston and clementine bear pattern
Winston & Clementine.

For the most part I found the yarn really expensive in the downtown shops so I didn’t buy any since I knew that we were hitting the Port of Napier on the second day of our cruise and the Skeinz outlet is in Napier. Actually the trip to the outlet ended up taking all of our time in Napier as I was too cheap to pay for the $40 cab fare there and back. The outlet is located in the industrial part of the city. Napier isn’t that big but it was too far to walk or at least too far to walk in the time limit we had before the store closed for the day so we took a city bus there and back.

The reason I wanted to go to the outlet aside from the fact that it’s a yarn shop is that New Zealand is the only place you can get possum yarn and Skeinz has some pretty reasonable prices as well. Below is the rest of the stuff I got on the trip.

Skeinz Naked merino-possum yarn
Skeinz “Naked” Merino-Possum yarn – 200 grams hanks 8-ply yarn. I’m going to have to dye this but what colour I’m not sure.

merino-possum yarn unwound from skein
The skeins were pretty tight so I unwound them since they’ll probably sit in the closet until I get around to working with them. I bought six hanks, not sure of the yardage I’m sure it’s on their website.

Skeinz lime green merino-possum yarn
Skeinz merino-possum yarn lime green. This was left-overs from a custom order I’m pretty sure it’s the same stuff as the Naked merino-possum but it was fluffier. On the website they said the yarn would get fluffy as you knit with it and I’m sure the same could be said for washing it as well.

Skeinz purple multi merino-possum yarn
Skeinz merino-possum sock yarn in a multi-purple. This stuff was on sale on their website as well.

Skeinz Vintage New Zealand yarn rose
This was a free ball of yarn for spending over a certain amount in the store, I got the coupon from the Information center downtown and only clued in because I’d visited another traveler’s blog. It’s pure wool in a very nice rose and I’m going to use it for the girl bear’s sweater in the above pattern I bought. I’ll use some of the possum for the bear’s body.

Skeinz corridale fibre charcoal
Charcoal corridale fibre about 100 grams.

Skeinz corridale fibre oatmeal
Oatmeal corridale fibre just over 200 grams. It looks more oatmeal coloured in real life. I didn’t bother getting white since I have tons of white in Shetland.

That was it for the purchases of craft yarns. I don’t really need more yarn or fibre but I couldn’t resist getting the merino-possum as it just can’t be found here and of course the fibre was just sitting there saying “Buy Me”.


Shells and wool

I’ve been slack in the posting department but we went away on holiday for five weeks during January and February. We rented a couple of weeks on the beach at Sanibel island in Florida. Sanibel is known as one of the top shelling beaches in the world and I’d thought I’d share a picture of the booty I collected; needless to say I have dozens and dozens more shells aside from these.

sanibel shells assorted
Assorted Sanibel shells.

sanibel shells coquina
This is a collection of colourful Coquina shells, they remind me of tiny angel wings.

While I was on vacation I also worked on a table runner and a pair of socks. The table runner is waiting to be quilted and of course the pair of socks are still one sock unfinished. Instead of working on these projects when I got home I started to spin instead and this is what I’ve done so far.

wellington mills fibre green-blue-purple
Five skeins of yarn and two left to be spun of Wellington Fibre Mill’s “Mystery” fibre. These are boxes of fibre usually made up of some ratio of wool to mohair.

blue-green-purple mystery rovings wellington mills
This is how the roving originally looked like before it was spun into the above skeins.

I’m not sure what I’m going to make of the yarn I guess it depends on what the final yardage ends up being. I spun it about a double-knitting to worsted weight yarn. I haven’t washed the fibre yet as I’m waiting to do it all at once. It did occur to me that perhaps some of the dye would wash out of the yarn and I didn’t want to wash the skeins in different batches and then have the dyelots turn out different in each skein because I’d left one skein in longer to soak. The fibre should fluff up some so maybe it’ll be worsted weight when all is said and done.

Tomorrow sees me off with my husband on another five week trip this time to New Zealand and Australia so that should be fun…there is also this certain fibre mill there…enough said the visit to the mill may or may not happen.