Rainbow Fibre! Round One

One of my October Resolutions was to get started on the rainbow fibre. I described this in more detail on the podcast – you can find the episode here. I am so, so excited to say that we have completed round one of the fibre.

Wait, who is ‘we’? Read on…!

Rainbow Fibre

My friend Melanie, an Aussie and found through Ravelry, is currently in London and came to hang out when we had the PicKnit at the PM headquarters. I showed off all of my spinning fibre (protoyarn!) and told her my plans for some of it. I also expressed some concern at spinning the nylon sparkly unicorn tail fibre – I had never used this before.

Melanie was a superstar, and got started with the fibre – within a couple of days I had overcome my fear and spun it all into a single.

I also had some merino tops in the seven colours of the rainbow, which I wanted to spin into a single as a gradient. Excited by this, I laid out all of the fibre last week and spun it up – with the assistance of Melanie, who did at least half of it! When we were halfway through the first red top, we decided to split it in half as there was a lot of it – so we ended up spinning only half of these colours.

Meanwhile, Melanie had been scheming, and had gone to Hobbycraft to pick up some beads. She had also watched tutorials on YouTube on how to spin with beads – you can guess what happened, right?? With all of these strung onto sparkly blue rayon thread, I nominated Melanie for plying first, and I was in charge of the beads while she did so. We ran out of nylon towards the end of the yellow – so we had to run back to the shop and get more. Melanie spun this up, plyed it with the rest of the beads and merino, and we ended up with three skeins of glory that will make a rainbow when used together!

As Melanie is leaving for Australia soon, I made her take these skeins – we had originally thought we would split it in half, but gradually realised that we would each only have half of the rainbow if we did this, and chopping each colour into sections was not an option. Luckily, because we had split the merino, I still have half of the fibre left and I can spin up more of this glorious yarn!

It is soft, sparkly, absolutely beautiful and such a wonderful project. We crammed as many techniques in as we could (a common utterance being “it’s art yarn, it doesn’t matter”) and I can’t wait to start on the next lot. I’m also really looking forward to seeing what Melanie knits out of it – we are not yet sure of the yardage, and will measure it next week sometime.

Nylon!
Nylon!
The nylon on the wheel.
The nylon on the wheel.
Nylon singles waiting for the rest of the fibre.
Nylon singles waiting for the rest of the fibre.
Blending violet and indigo merino.
Blending violet and indigo merino.
Spinning the merino into calming blue and green singles.
Spinning the merino into calming blue and green singles.
Ready to start plying - nylon, merino and thread.
Ready to start plying – nylon, merino and thread.
Melanie plying the rainbow yarn.
Melanie plying the rainbow yarn.
Starting to ply the yarn.
Starting to ply the yarn.
A bobbin full of the first yarn.
A bobbin full of the first yarn.
The first rainbow skein comprising of violet to green.
The first rainbow skein comprising of violet to green.
The rainbow yarn is ridiculously soft and pretty.
The rainbow yarn is ridiculously soft and pretty.
The three skeins, washed and ready to be knitted.
The three skeins, washed and ready to be knitted.
The rainbow yarn side by side.
The rainbow yarn side by side.
Fibre remaining for the next set of spinning.
Fibre remaining for the next set of spinning.

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Spinning a Dartmoor Mix

My friend Melanie and I have spinning together recently. We are having to pack our hang out time into a very short space of time as she is moving back to Australia in less than a month. Sad times for me (although she is super excited)!

I have been super adventurous since Melanie came into my life, as she has encouraged me to spin all sorts of things I would never have dared try before! We’ve had a wonderful few days of spinning, and she has been doing some interesting things too.

Spinning the Dartmoor Mix

After a visit to Spin a Yarn in Devon (which I have talked about before), Melanie came away with a load of fibre to try spinning. This was a mix of fibres from animals living on or around Dartmoor, a beautiful area of England near the place I grew up. The label on the bag says there are four fibres in there: alpaca, Shetland, Gotland and Ryeland.

After spinning the first few bits on her drop spindle, she came round and got started on the wheel. There was Much Progress at the Plutonium Muffins PicKnit (which ended up just being Melanie, Corrie and another friend hanging out), and after two days of spinning on the wheel and plying on the spindle at home, a substantial amount of yarn was produced.

The first project that Melanie cast on was the Vortex Shawl – it looked amazing when she brought it round, and I was super excited about seeing how it turned out (and queued this project for myself). However, when she got home she decided that there was something else that this yarn wanted to be – and has almost finished!

The pattern is Window Cat by Sara Elizabeth Kellner. There is just a bit more spinning to be done, and she will finish the fibre. The cat still needs a face and his base so that his stuffing doesn’t pop out. He’ll be done soon, I reckon!

Spin a Yarn Dartmoor Mix fibre.
Spin a Yarn Dartmoor Mix fibre.
Yarn spun on spindle and plied on wheel.
Yarn spun on spindle and plied on wheel.
Building up a Dartmoor Mix.
Building up a Dartmoor Mix.
Fantastic spinning of the bobbin action shot!
Fantastic spinning of the bobbin action shot!
The Dartmoor Mix single on the bobbin.
The Dartmoor Mix single on the bobbin.
Winding the single to ply from a centre-pull ball.
Winding the single to ply from a centre-pull ball.
The Vortex Shawl as a spinning sampler.
The Vortex Shawl as a spinning sampler.
Melanie's Sheepish Cat.
Melanie’s Sheepish Cat.
Sheepish Cat hanging out with Kittylow and wishing he had eyes too.
Sheepish Cat hanging out with Kittylow and wishing he had eyes too.

I never thought that spinning could be a social craft – as it turns out, it can, and I’m loving it. We are off to the Handweavers Studio again to ooh and ahh at fibre, and buy some more of the sparkly unicorn tale so we can finish our rainbow fibre!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Resolutions Update: October 2014

It is that time of month…the mid-month resolutions update is due, although I can barely believe it! The biggest news is that Icon Dress is finished. I know, spoiler alert! You can read the full post on that here.

October Resolutions: Mid-Month

  1. Finish Icon Dress – yes! I cannot believe it. The Icon Dress is finished, and it took less time to complete than my mum’s legwarmers…
  2. Knit the only Christmas Present I’m doing this year – Eek, we’ve changed track and I’m now doing Christmas presents for EVERYONE. I’m swatching for the first at the moment.
  3. Get started on rainbow fibre (spinning) – very excited about this! I’ve got started and finished the nylon. I need to move on to the wool. My friend Melanie is buying me seed beads so I can get involved with sticking beads into the yarn!
  4. Sell more STUFF – many things have been sold – many more to go, but I’ve made a good start.
  5. Learn a tune a day – I have learned one tune! Hurrah me.

So it has thus far been a successful month! And now, because I haven’t done this for a while, here are some of the achievements from the Resolutions Monthly wonderkids.

1. LakeLinda has completed her seedy afghan.
2. tsaria made a boob hat!
3. Stumpy01 completed a pair of socks.
4. sungardener finished a sweater for her son who goes to Brazil shortly
5. CKRidge reached a milestone on a Nina for her daughter.
6. tsaria wove in all the ends on her 49ers blanket.
7. SugarAngel whipstitched all of her afghan squares together.

LakeLinda's seedy afghan.
LakeLinda’s seedy afghan.
tsaria's boob hat.
tsaria’s boob hat.
Stumpy01's pair of socks.
Stumpy01’s pair of socks.
sungardener's son and his sweater. Rather handsome if you ask me...the sweater, obviously....
sungardener’s son and his sweater. Rather handsome if you ask me…the sweater, obviously….
CKRidge has reached a milestone by completing the crossover and eyelet band.
CKRidge has reached a milestone by completing the crossover and eyelet band.
tsaria has woven the ends of her blanket in.
tsaria has woven the ends of her blanket in.
SugarAngel has written a great story for this afghan.
SugarAngel has written a great story for this afghan.

There are tons more with photos, but I will save them for the next post. You can check them all out in the Achievements thread of the group – and if you aren’t a member of Ravelry, sign up now! It’s free, and you won’t regret it.

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Finished Object: Icon Dress

I have finished Icon Dress! Hurray, hoorah, hip hip huzzah and so on! (Sorry, I’m feeling a bit quirky today…I’m wearing dungarees and they’ve got to my head a bit.) I cast off, seamed up and picked up my stitches, and finished it on October 15th. I am so, so pleased to have completed it!

Icon Dress

I cast on in June, and was convinced that I would never finish it. I don’t know what got into me, but when Louise from Knit British announced that she was hosting a WIPAlong with Nic of Yarns from the Plain, I decided to get on board. I was stunned at how much I could get done with a few hours of really concentrated work.

I’m going to give you all a reminder of the what is what with the Icon Dress. The designer is Kari-Helene Rane and the company Purl Alpaca Designs. You can get the pattern and knitting kits from their website.

The yarn is John Arbon Textiles Knit by Numbers in colourway number 14. A double-knitting yarn, it is advertised as 100% merino. It caused some consternation at Loop, as we all wondered whether it was actually alpaca. It’s very drapey.

This made me wonder if the dress was going to be too drapey and stretch out of shape…until I remembered the recommended yarn is alpaca yarn. Everyone knows that that is not at all drapey…right? So I carried on regardless, and I’m thrilled that it is done.

I have not blocked the dress yet, as I need the spare bed to do this and my mum is coming to stay. I will have to wait until Tuesday to do the blocking, which is OK.

I’m going to Barrow to visit friend Dan for Halloween, and I will ask him to take nice photos with his nice camera for me. For now, you will have to make do with my iPhone photos!

Wearing the dress in our lovely (tidy!) flat...
Wearing the dress in our lovely (tidy!) flat…
Showing the flare on the skirt too.
Showing the flare on the skirt too.
The bodice - still needing  buttons, but that is fine.
The bodice – still needing buttons, but that is fine.
Showing the flare of the Icon Dress.
Showing the flare of the Icon Dress.
The full dress on a hanger.
The full dress on a hanger.

Much love,

Corrie xx

Dungarees. I wear dungarees now.
Dungarees. I wear dungarees now.
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An evening of spinning

I had my friend Melanie come round and do some spinning with me – she had bought a pack of fibre from Spin a Yarn, and was experimenting with it. I found this incredibly inspiring, and it prompted me to get out some of the fibre that I have been…well, hoarding for a while, and play with it. For hours…until 1 am in fact.

Rainbow Fibre

I have finished spinning up the nylon roving and the sparkly unicorn tail has been spun! Now I am ready to ply it – as soon as I’ve spun up the rainbow tops. I may have to go to the Handweavers Studio and get more of the nylon – this will not be an issue, we went and check yesterday and they still have loads of it.

Melanie has been encouraging me to try new techniques – so I will be plying this as a three ply, with seed beads and thread too! I’m very excited to be trying this out, and have been watching YouTube tutorials with bated breath. Now I just need to get the beads and start the process off. I feel very Louisa Harding.

Sparkly unicorn tail spun up on the wheel.
Sparkly unicorn tail spun up on the wheel.
Nylon singles waiting for companions.
Nylon singles waiting for companions.

Spinning Alpaca

I bought some alpaca fibre at Unravel 2013 – this is from UK Alpaca and it is deepest darkest black combed roving. I adore it – soft, fluffy and like having an alpaca to pet in my home.

I also have some Bearhouse Alpaca fibre which I bought from a petrol garage in Honiton (I know, WHAT?). The fibre is ‘fawn’, and completely unprocessed fleece. It has a lot of alpaca dandruff and vegetable matter in it, so this may be the start of me wearing an apron while spinning…

I’m holding the two together and letting the single grab bits randomly. I’m aiming for a subtle striping, but it might just become a muddy yarn because I’m planning to spin three sets of singles and plying it all together. Whatever happens, I will be happy with it! I would like to knit a sampler shawl out of it, as Melanie has done this and I am now enamoured with the idea.

UK Alpaca fibre
UK Alpaca fibre
Fibres waiting to be spun.
Fibres waiting to be spun.
Bearhouse Alpaca fibre in fawn.
Bearhouse Alpaca fibre in fawn.
A nights worth of spinning on the wheel.
A nights worth of spinning on the wheel.

I’m feeling so inspired…so, off to the wheel!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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The Temple and a Rainbow

I’m very excited about the two new projects that I have on the needles and wheel – my Solomon’s Temple socks, and my rainbow fibre. I’ve talked about them on Episode 5 of the podcast – check it out here! Here follow the latest pictures for you!

Solomon’s Temple

When John and I went to Buxton in August, we visited Sew In. While here, I looked for yarn that would be a lovely symbol of our trip, and I found some West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply. A self-striping yarn, it has two shades of green and three brownish, reddish, earthy tones. There is also a stripe that separates each colour which has light and dark grey speckles in it.

This all serves as a reminder of a very cold and wet journey up a hill – nay, a mountain in Buxton as we headed to explore Solomon’s Temple, a fortified hill marker with views of the Peak District. Halfway up the mountain, a giant thunderstorm started. I was stubborn. I refused to go back down. We got to the top and took the obligatory ‘on top of a hill in a thunderstorm near a stone tower’ selfie, before pretty much running down to a cafe with hot chocolate and a warm place to change out of our wet clothes!

I absolutely adore the colours, although I was a bit unsure about exactly how it would knit up. I bit the bullet and chose my pattern from a book I got for my birthday.  I am more than thrilled with how the yarn is turning out, and I cannot wait to wear them! It is wonderful and soft, and the self-striping is just brilliant.

John and Corrie rocking out near Solomon's Temple.
John and Corrie rocking out near Solomon’s Temple.
Solomon's Temple, ready to go.
Solomon’s Temple, ready to go.
The West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply yarn.
The West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply yarn.

Rainbow Sparkles

My newest spinning project is some nylon yarn that is coloured like a rainbow! It is incredibly sparkly, soft, and is spinning up nicely! It drafts smoothly and the only downside is that I get covered in sparkles while I’m spinning. Is this really a downside, though?!

My plan is to spin some rainbow coloured solid tops into a gradient single, then ply that with the sparkly single. What will it become? No idea! We’ll see what yardage I get. I’ll have to do a careful swatch to see how it all knits and washes up before I do anything with it.

A rainbow single.
A rainbow single.
A Sparkly Unicorn Tail on the wheel!
A Sparkly Unicorn Tail on the wheel!
Rainbow fibre waiting to be spun.
Rainbow fibre waiting to be spun.

I’m heading out to the Handweavers Studio in a moment to ooh and ahh over their equipment. I’m hoping to pick up more bobbins so I can do more than one project at a time! I’ve been coveting an Ashford Joy they have for sale – but it’s not in budget at the moment, unfortunately.

Much love,

Corrie xx

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Episode Five: Kunaya

Episode Five of the Plutonium Muffins Podcast kicks off with some talk about knitting, followed by excellent progress on the spinning side of things. We move on to mine and Shatki’s resolutions, all rounded off with a chat to Vicky of Hulu Crafts in Modbury! Enjoy.

Episode Five: Kunaya

Kunaya

“wool” in Shona

Section One: Knitting

In the Oven

Progress on Monkey by Cookie A.
Progress on Monkey by Cookie A.
John and Corrie rocking out near Solomon's Temple.
John and Corrie rocking out near Solomon’s Temple.

Future Recipes

The Kitchen Cupboard

Section Two: Spinning

The Trunk

Half-baked

  • Rainbow fibre is on the wheel!

Ready to Mix

  • I completed Splash.
    A Sparkly Unicorn Tail on the wheel!
    A Sparkly Unicorn Tail on the wheel!

    Spinning Dragon up in Hulu.
    Spinning Dragon up in Hulu.

Section Three: Resolutions

Section Four: Crafty Roots

A Good Yarn

Conclusion

Contact me!

Tune is Kershaw’s Hornpipe, recorded by ME on the 1st October 2014.

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Secret Stash

I’m going to be coming down to Devon a lot in the future, and I decided I needed a stash down here…it shall be my secret stash, and I shall call it squishy. Being local, I had to stash local yarn, obviously…OK, so it’s not so local, the roving is from Uruguay and the sock yarn from Germany, but the shop, Hulu Crafts, was local!

Stash from Hulu

I blogged about Hulu last year when this was my local yarn shop – to read that post go HERE. I was absolutely delighted to be able to go back to a knit and natter last night. This will be a monthly event for me, and I will even be able to go to their Christmas dinner! I’m so excited.

I have been into Hulu twice in the last four days, and fell in love with two things that I decided I needed to stash. The first was an Opal sock yarn. I knitted my first ever socks from Opal yarn, and they are the best pair I have – I prefer them to Regia, Artesano, and all of the yarn from small yarn companies that I have bought over the last few years. I actually noticed it when Vicky posted about it on the 22nd of August and decided I must look when I was next home.

She still had it! So I bought it.

The roving caught my eye as I walked past it, and I’ve always wanted to try Manos del Uruguay fibre but never seen it in person. That was snapped up – the colours are fairly similar to the Opal yarn, but I’m loving it and started spinning straightaway. I fascinated everyone at Knit and Stitch at Hulu, and Vicky posted a photo of me doing it to the Facebook page! (I’m famous, heehee.)

My secret stash to hide in Devon!
My secret stash to hide in Devon!
Dragon roving.
Dragon roving.
Opal Sweet and Spicy 2
Opal Sweet and Spicy 2
Vicky's post about me on Facebook!
Vicky’s post about me on Facebook!
The yarn that made me fall in love with this colourway.
The yarn that made me fall in love with this colourway.

Anyway, now that you’ve drooled over my secret stash, carry on!

Much love,

Corrie xx


PS Anyone recognise the quote in italics in my introductory paragraph?

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Icon Dress and a Monkey Cuff

It has been a productive week, and Icon Dress and Monkey are progressing fantastically! I have been in Devon with family, and there have been a lot of opportunities for knitting. I’m just writing this blog post and then I’m heading off to Hulu for knit and natter tonight!

Icon Dress in one and a half…halves

I want to finish the Icon Dress by the end of October – and I’m certain I will be able to. Now that I’ve done two picot hems, you can see how much better the second one is! That’s shown on the bottom of the comparison photo. I have no idea what I did differently!

I can’t talk about this yarn enough. It’s John Arbon Textiles Knit by Numbers, DK. Go and buy it and knit something with it now, and then tell me that merino yarn or pure wool isn’t the best thing to knit with since…ever.

Two halves of the Icon Dress, with the second half - half done.
Two halves of the Icon Dress, with the second half – half done.
The picot hems - first one on top (right), second on bottom.
The picot hems – first one on top (right), second on bottom.
Cables in close-up.
Cables in close-up.
Showing the false button band on the front - now I need to find the buttons!
Showing the false button band on the front – now I need to find the buttons!

Monkey Cuff

I have been pretty monogamous on Icon Dress, but Monkey has seen some work and I have one cuff! It’s pretty small – I’ve only been working on it when I have been going somewhere that Icon Dress is too big to take with me, and when I’ve forgotten the pattern. This happened last night, with the decreases finished. (Hurrah – that means I’ve basically finished the whole dress, right?

Close up of my Monkey Cuff.
Close up of my Monkey Cuff.
A very compact project.
A very compact project.

That’s my progress for this last week – how have you been getting on?

Much love,

Corrie xx

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East London Knit: a studio visit

It has now been nearly two weeks since I visited Renee in the East London Knit studio in Hackney Wick, London. I’m thrilled to be sharing some photos and information with you – please do go and find out more about the company on the East London Knit website if you would like to. 

East London Knit

My journey to Hackney Wick (the first ever) was on a very cold day towards the end of September, and I had the fun of wearing my first hand-knits of the year! Of course, as I walked through the streets looking for the studio, the sun came out and it warmed up substantially – typical. I had stripped down well before I got to the train station, and enjoyed a ten minute walk before I found myself wandering down streets looking for the studio.

Hackney Wick
Hackney Wick

This region was prone to flooding before the addition of canals and channels to control this; as a result, it is peppered with charming waterways that made me feel as if I was in Paris or Munich (the only other places I associate with canals, which tells me I need to travel more). An industrial zone until after the war, the whole area was redeveloped in the 1960’s, and has an almost abandoned atmosphere as you walk through the streets.

Little flourishes of creativity are everywhere you look. There is evidence of graffiti everywhere, including an intriguing area where someone has poured paint on the road, and walked in it barefoot to create an explosion of footprint. As I walked down the final road, I observed a photographer painting the buildings with his camera. The most exciting things were the ‘abandoned’ warehouses crammed full of artistic types, with everything from painters to sculptors; architects to…knitters.

The sign on the front door of the building housing the East London Knit studio.
The sign on the front door of the building housing the East London Knit studio.

Walking into the East London Knit studio was a bit of an other-worldly experience for me. Anybody who likes yarn will like the studio, regardless of the fantastic samples and bits of equipment scattered around; the walls are literally lined with yarn. Renee has organised the cones into colour, and it provides a pleasing backdrop to four massive industrial knitting machines that were located right in the middle of the room.

A room full of yarn and knitting machines!
A room full of yarn and knitting machines!
Industrial knitting machine in the finest gauge.
Industrial knitting machine in the finest gauge.
The larger gauge machines.
The larger gauge machines.
A panorama of the full East London Knit studio.
A panorama of the full East London Knit studio.
A domestic knitting machine, dwarfed by the rest!
A domestic knitting machine, dwarfed by the rest!
Close-up of a carriage on one of the machines.
Close-up of a carriage on one of the machines.

I was given a tour of the machines – from the finest gauge which produced fabric that can only be produced on these intensive knitting machines, to the larger gauges which take heavier weight yarn and produce fabric that could be knitted on a domestic knitting machine, or indeed by hand. With a domestic machine also on display, as well as a number of samples on mannequins and coat-hangers, there was plenty to look at.

Gorgeous beaded shawl sample, a commission piece.
Gorgeous beaded shawl sample, a commission piece.
The mannequin was dolled up with a beaded collar.
The mannequin was dolled up with a beaded collar.
Doesn't this lady look pleased with her outfit?
Doesn’t this lady look pleased with her outfit?
Walls and walls of yarn.
Walls and walls of yarn.

There were linkers abound, magic machines which allow for professional and fast finishing, as well as this display which I found incredibly intriguing, with all the wires and metals bits poking out like a frozen fireworks display. The mystery unravelled a bit when I was taught about the purpose of these mysterious items; they were simply weights to add some gravity to the knitting and allow the fabric to form properly off the bed of the machine!

Knitting fireworks - or a spider!
Knitting fireworks – or a spider!
More knitting weights.
More knitting weights.

We discussed the way that Renee works, and how East London Knit products can be acquired, and when we had talked till we dropped, we went out for a coffee. Returning to the studio allowed me to appreciate for a second time the artistic atmosphere of the streets; I don’t know if it was just me and my excitement about seeing a knitter and friend in an environment I am so not used to, but I felt that there was cauldron of creative potential bubbling around me.

Come on in!
Come on in!

Just before I left, Renee showed me her latest hand-knitting design, and asked for my thoughts on the name. In my mind it brought up images of cranberries and ice, and later on in the day/night (fuelled by an ale) I thought of red wine and champagne sorbet. I decided I must text Renee this idea – at two in the morning! Ooops.

The pattern has since been released as “Frost and Flame” and is something I am always going to think of fondly.

Frost and Flame!
Frost and Flame!

I had a wonderful time and am so grateful to Renee for taking some time out of her day for me. Don’t forget to find out more about what she is doing and keep up-to-date with her blog!

Much love,

Corrie xx

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