FO: Blackberry hat

It’s been a while hasn’t it? I finally have another FO to show you, I guess that’s the less appealing part of working on designs.. I hardly get anything done πŸ˜›

Blackberry hat!

Hello, it’s my head. I finished the Blackberry hat by Penelope Craft owner Malia Mather, and I’m very happy with it πŸ™‚ I’ve been wearing it a lot the past few days πŸ™‚

I don’t really have a ‘hat-head’ and I generally look stupid when wearing hats (though I stubbornly wear them and pretend I look like some aloof fashion model *le sigh*), but this hat is performing miracles on my head (and I like it very much).

Pretending to look good is hard work people!

Blackberry hat!

I had never knit with linen before, but I’m very happy with the results. I have an unreasonable fear of damaging my hands and wrists.. there’s a lot of things I simply do not do or touch. I know it doesn’t work this way, but tendonitis and carpal tunnel ‘run in my family’, by which I mean to say that most of my aunts and uncles (and my grandmother) have needed hand/wrist surgery because of the pain. I have very tiny wrists (I know that doesn’t have to be a reason), but there’s definitely some things I can’t do.
One of those things is using cotton for either knitting or crochet.

So to be very honest I was a bit scared that I might not be able to finish the project (even if it’s just a wee hat), but the yarn is very comfortable to knit with. I did feel a bit of a strain after a time so I took my time and put it away for a few days before working on it again.

After the washing the yarn became very soft and cozy, and now I’m wearing it while I type this blog post.

In the mean time I’ve been working on some other projects. I’ve always liked to dye fiber and yarn, but I’ve taken it to a ‘next level’ the past few tries. I tried to dye with natural dyes (like the walnuts), but I’ve also used food coloring gels, and I’m very pleased with the results!

Before I ‘discovered’ these gels I worked with the liquid food coloring dyes, unfortunately these are only available in a limited amount of colors. There’s yellow, red, blue and green. That’s about it, or at least these are the only colors that most shops have available.

Lucky for me the baking of pies and working with fondant has taken off the past few years and there’s more material that’s readily available for dye fans. I used the brown and black dyes on the corriedale, but I’ve also tried the purple dye on some yarn and I’m not displeased in the least.

dyed with food coloring gel

I dyed these in a pot and only added the dye when the yarn was already in the pot. I was tyring to see what would happen. I know you ‘should’ add the dye first and then add the yarn, but it was a very interesting experiment. I love to dye, but I don’t want the perfect dyed effect where all the colors are perfectly even and you can’t really see it’s hand dyed.
I wanted the color to break and the yarn to have a more lively effect, which is exactly what I got. Very interesting πŸ™‚

I’d like to leave you with this simple note. I believe that life is way too short to make all the mistakes yourself. Sometimes you need to learn from other peoples mistakes. I encourage you to learn from this latest mistake I made.

If you own a coffeepress (as I do) and like your coffee nice and strong, please be sure to remember that it actually is possible to overdue it. I left the press for a bit too long and when I came back I pushed the plunger down (slowly) and boom..

coffeepress

It was everywhere.. the entire kitchen.. πŸ˜›

Bliss: a short review :)

As you may already know I recently bought a new wheel (which I’m extremely happy about btw). Since it’s a new wheel by a new ‘brand/ maker’ I thought I’d say a few things about my experience with it (the wheels themselves are made by Louet, but they’re fabricated for Woolmakers).

Before I start I’d like to say just one more thing. I’ve been jogging in the mornings these past few weeks and though at first it’s very hard getting up early in the morning, it’s been very helpful to be greeted by this view:

jogging at 6 am has its benefits!

I really enjoy being up so early and spending some time outside before getting back to Lilirious HQ for some work on the latest projects.

Now let me tell you something about Bliss πŸ™‚

Bliss by Woolmakers

I noticed that here are a lot of people who love spinning wheels that have a more authentic and ‘oldfashioned’ (for lack of a better term) look. I’m not one of those people, so I’ve had some difficulty finding a wheel that suits me. As you know I started spinning on a Rotterdam (an S10 look-a-like), which is still a rather ‘modern’ looking wheel. But still I felt it was too massive. I’ve been looking at the Schacht Ladybug for ages, but it was a bit out of my price range at the moment, so that wasn’t going to happen.

That’s when Woolmakers decided to make an entrance into my life. Hello beautiful modern wheels! I understand that part of the joys of spinning (for some people) are the nostalgia brought on by a classic spinning wheel. But again, I’m not one of those people. I’m more of a technical person, and one of my main concerns is silence.

The reason I stopped spinning for a year is because the my dear Rotterdam sounds like a passing train on steroids. Combined with the fact that I really enjoy spinning in the evenings/ nights was a deadly blow to my spinning mojo.

Bliss on the other hand is exactly what I was looking for. First of all it’s made by Louet. The wheels made by Louet are sturdy and some have been working for over decades without any problems. The other bonus is the spare parts. You can still buy every bit and piece needed for a Louet wheel. It’s a very decent service!

Because Woolmakers is a very young company, that might have been a reason for me not to buy their wheel just yet, and wait for more reviews before making a choice.

Bliss by Woolmakers

So let’s talk about the design. The first thing you’ll notice is the color. I personally love it. The minimalist design is highly functional. It’s very compact, without things getting in the way.. The lazy kate is imho a great success! Overall, the architect in me, is thoroughly satisfied with the lines and the surfaces of this wheel. An extra addes bonus is the comfortable fanning properties on the lower ratio’s, when the wheel turns faster. I was plying during a heat wave and I was very happy with this effect!

Bliss by Woolmakers

Apparently I have dirty feet.. sorry about that. I tend to walk around barefoot when it’s hot out, so I tend to get dirty feet. I didn’t even notice until I stopped spinning (and then I just had to snap a picture). The treadle (I have the 1 treadle edition) is extremely comfortable. My other wheel only has a treadle on the right side of the wheel, which I find rather annoying. I can’t choose how to sit (or sprawl on the couch) in front of my wheel, this is already partially determined for me. I also can’t switch legs when my right ankle starts to hurt.
Bliss, however, has completely taken this problem away for me. I can choose which foot to use (or just to use both). I don’t have very big feet, but as this picture shows feet much bigger than mine will fit on the treadle with ease.

Bliss by Woolmakers

So of course I’ve been trying out the awesomeness of this new wheel. My Rotterdam was an Irish tension wheel with only 1 ratio, wile this wheel is a Scotch tension with four ratio’s (1:6,5, 1:8,5, 1:12 and 1:18,5). I had previously read that the higher ratio’s made it a bit harder to treadle but I had to try this out for myself.

While spinning I moved up one ratio just to try out the feel and noticed that it really does become a bit harder to treadle when you use the higher ratio’s. Because the treadle is so big it also allows you to spin using both feet (on 1 treadle), which is actually very comfortable. I ended up spinning most of the yarn on the highest ratio using both feet πŸ™‚

Bliss by Woolmakers

One of the biggest differences between my other wheel and Bliss is that I can spin very fine yarns without any problems or trouble. With an Irish tension wheel there’s a lot of tension on the yarn because of the construction. The wheel and the bobbin are directly connected, so when the wheel moves, the bobbin moves, which means that the fine and delicate single you’re spinning can be either yanked out of your hand or can easily break.

The yarn in this picture is 111 grams and 620 meters long (chain plied). I was not expecting it to become so fine and I’m very pleased with the results, but I’m not even there yet because I had a total of 250 grams of corriedale in this color, but I still need to spin the other 250 grams of khaki as well.

Bliss by Woolmakers

I was intending for it to become a sockweight yarn so I could combine it with the khaki colord one for a fair isle jacket, but I guess now it’s a bit too fine for that and I’ll have to figure out something else to knit with it πŸ™‚

Bliss by Woolmakers

The good thing about making rolags with chunks of the top rather than separating the top is that the colors stay together and form a gradient. It’s also an interesting note for myself, but I expected the colors to be more muddy than they turned out.

Bliss by Woolmakers

So back to Bliss. Woolmakers sells Bliss (and the other products) for a soft introduction price (which includes shipping!) until the first of September! I’ve only so far spun this one yarn, so I can’t really say about different types of yarn, but I’m happy with the results I’m getting and I’m especially happy with the sound and vibrations I’m NOT getting!

Happy spinning πŸ˜‰

Fiber prep and faux lags

The tour always boosts my spinning mojo. I absolutely love spinning and working with fiber, so the tour is one of those annual things I’m always looking forward to. I didn’t manage to spin all of the fibers I presented a few posts ago, but I am pleased with the amount of spinning. I managed nearly 2 km of single, and I still have 300 grams to go!

This post I’d like to say something about new wheels and fiber preparation.

Tour de Fleece, how to make faux lags

Even though the tour is over, I’ve still been spinning! A few weeks ago I ordered a new spinning wheel from Woolmakers. It’s called a Bliss, and I’m very happy with it. If you’re looking for a nice wheel, this might be an option for you, since the introduction price has been extended until the 1st of September!

I’ll post some more pictures of the wheel soon, but first I’d like to say something about fiber preparation. The picture above is a sample of the corriedale fiber I dyed during the tour.

dyed corriedale to be spun on my wheel :) (when it arrives)

I’ve come to appreciate the luxury of commercially prepared fiber, but I still like to dye it myself. I’m not sure if it happens to everyone, but sometimes when I dye fiber it tends to become more compact and a bit more difficult to draft. In these cases I like to make faux lags to spin with. In this case I’ve also decided to make faux lags to keep the colors intact.

Tour de Fleece, how to make faux lags

If you know what faux lags are and how to make them you can go ahead and skip this post. I’m going to explain anyway because every one has their own preferred method of spinning and preparing fiber πŸ™‚

I wanted to keep the colors as clean as possible, so the decision to chain ply the yarn was already made. I’m also not a huge fan of Β barber pole, so the decision was made to keep the fiber whole and make faux lags to preserve the colors, and allow for soft gradients.

Tour de Fleece, how to make faux lags

The nice part about faux lags is that they are ‘fake’. You only need a dowel or some kind of stick. As you can see the dyed top is compacted, which makes it harder to draft while spinning.
The first step is to pull off a bit (between 4″ and 6″ long), and to open up the fibers a bit. You don’t have to predraft, just make sure the fibers not sticking together.

Tour de Fleece, how to make faux lags

Once you have opened them up a bit the fiber will become fluffier and much easier to spin. Another reason to pull off chunks of top rather than split the top in equal parts is to keep the colors together. There will be a slight barberpole effect in the singles, but I personally like that (just in singles :P).

Tour de Fleece, how to make faux lags

When you’re done, lay the fiber flat and place the dowel on the fiber, rolling it up evenly.

Tour de Fleece, how to make faux lags

The fiber may still be a bit loose, I personally like to hold it in my hand and turn the dowel to make a more even and a bit tighter faux lag. I feel they tend to keep their shapes a bit better this way.

Tour de Fleece, how to make faux lags

When you are satisfied with the faux lag, gently push the faux lag off the dowel.

Tour de Fleece, how to make faux lags

I personally keep the faux lags in a certain order because I like to preserve the colors and keep them in the right order for as much as possible.

Tour de Fleece, how to make faux lags

I’ve already filled one bobbin and now I’m working on the second. I noticed the spinning becomes a lot faster (and more enjoyable for the hands and wrists) when you spend a little more time and effort on the fiber prep.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and let me know what you think πŸ™‚

Tour de Fleece

I’ve been spinning and dying fiber this tour! I’ve been updating my facebook, twitter on rav, so now it’s also time to update the blog!

tdf days 1-15

I really like this picture! It’s an ensemble of the past three years of the tour. Unfortunately it’s still not finished yet, but I know I’ll be able to wear it this winter (that’s a great comfort haha!). As you may remember I bought 500 grams of Manx Loaghtan and 500 grams of Corriedale to spin during the tour. I’ve already spun 100 grams and I’m working on the second bag of 100 grams of Manx Loaghtan on my Golding.

tdf days 1-15

I wasn’t sure if I could manage to fit a whole bag of 100 grams on the spindle, but I could’ve managed much more if it wasn’t for my hurting fingers. The spindle itself weighs 1.9 oz. (52 grams), so it was getting a bit heavy on the fingers and wrist (my left). I decided to take it off the spindle and start fresh.

tdf days 1-15

I spent a very long time wrapping the yarn around my lower leg (which functions as a niddy noddy and creates a circumference of approximately 1.50m) and ended up with a grand total of 891m of singles. At the moment I’m thinking of knitting/ designing a nice pair of legwarmers for the winter, so a 5-ply yarn wouldn’t be a very bad thing and 890m would make for some nice legwarmers.

tdf days 1-15

I decided to put off the plying until I’ve spun all the bags and know how many meters of singles I have in total. If I manage between 800 and 900 meters per 100 grams I may decide to do a 5-ply. Otherwise it will probably become a 4-ply.
I normally spin from the fold or from rolags when I’m not using commercial top. Halfway through the second bag I realized it’d be much faster to make faux lags before spinning. The manx loaghtan is not slippery at all and tends to stick/ grip very easily, so it’s much easier to spin from the fold/ faux lags.

dyed corriedale to be spun on my wheel :) (when it arrives)

To me, the tour the fleece is a time of experimentation. So here’s a picture of my firts dyebath πŸ™‚ I decided to use walnuts, but I didn’t have enough (it may have been enough for 100-200 grams, but not for 500..). I ended up with a light khaki color, so I’m really not disappointed at al.

dyed corriedale to be spun on my wheel :) (when it arrives)

I didn’t feel like the khaki and white was a very nice combination, so I decided to dye the other half with more daring colors. I used brown and black food dyes and put it in the microwave for 10 minutes.

dyed corriedale to be spun on my wheel :) (when it arrives)

Though I’d like to try it out some more, I noticed I’m a very big fan of using food coloring for dyes. I don’t have a very big kitchen and the idea of using potentially poisonous chemicals puts me off. Nowadays, food coloring comes in many different colors (thanks to the popularity of cakes and other delicious edibles), so there’s no real problem with finding the right color.

tdf days 1-15

What I also really like is the unexpected colors you can get with dyes (though that’s not limited to food dyes I guess). It’s not really visible but there’s some green and petrol in there. It gives me a very industrial feeling and reminds me of the harbor with the rust brown and blue gray waters.

Tour de Fleece 2013

I’ve been very quiet this TdF haven’t I? I’ve been spinning (as you may have seen on my twitter and facebook), but I haven’t had the time to blog about it just yet. I actually still don’t have time to blog, so it’s going to be a very short post.

I have a lot of wild plans for this Tour, so let me show you a bit of my 2013 stash:

Preparations!

I ordered a kilogram of roving from Wolmetverve and I am not dissappointed! I bought 500 grams of undyed Corriedale and 500 grams of Manx Loaghtan (which is brown). If you’ve never heard of Manx Loaghtan before I suggest you go google it. Or just click on this here linky.

Manx Loaghtan is one bad-ass sheep! Look at them.. wow. So I’m still working on spinning different types of fleece and I really love working with this one. I’m spinning it on my Golding tsunami (for the Golding fans: it’s a 3″ cherry, and I didn’t clean the bronze ring, I just let it darken)

Preparations!

I’m also working on the 100 grams of mohair I bought at the breidagen fair a while ago.

Preparations!

I know it’s picture with the turkish spindle, but I’m using my IST Crafts Russian spindle. No pretty pictures at the moment, there are some shots on the twitter if you’d like to see πŸ™‚

I’m planning to finish the rest of the Castlemilk Moorit on the turkish spindle (I haven’t started yet)

tutorial: how to card and make rolags

And I still have this batch to work through (it’s from last years TdF).

TdF 2012 preparations

I know it’s a lot of fiber to plough through with spindles, especially since I’ve only spun about 20 grams of the Manx Loaghtan and maybe 5 of the mohair..

So what’s a girl to do? Well.. here’s what. I ordered a bliss by Woolmakers. Lucky for me the shipment is being delayed, and no wheels will be shipped until week 29 (that’s a two week wait). BUT! I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. Now I have some time to finish the things I need to finish (IRL), and get some dents in the Manx Loaghtan, and with some luck, I’ll be able to dye the corriedale before the wheel arrives πŸ˜€

I’m sort of very excited for this Tour and hope to get a lot of spinning done, at least in the last half of the Tour!

Happy spinning!