close up of Maggie 08/08

How old is your Ashford wheel?

Based on this web site I think that my wheel may have be built in the early 1980's. This is good as I had no indication from the seller as to the age of the wheel.  So far the wheel is proving to be enjoyable, only one small thing has my questioning the overall condition of it.

X-posted to personal journal
ETA: craptastic spelling correction ;-)

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Rona christmas cut put

1st wheel to compliment spindle

Well I heard back from the lady with the Ashford wheel and it is a Traditional, she's asking $150 she says that it comes with : extra bobbins, a jumbo head unit with jumbo bobbins, the original manual,  and a few other bits and pieces included.

What do you think? Is this a deal? Or should I wait it out and see what comes up a bit closer to home as the seller is approx a 3hr drive from me?


x-posted to handspinners
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Mad Old Bat Hat

I have been seized recently by the urge (nay, need) to knit with my handspun. Firstly I tackled Giggle, and knitted a Gretel beret (pattern by Ysolda)

Gretel in GiggleGretel in Giggle b

I am very happy with the way that this yarn knitted up, both in terms of handle and in looks. A good match for the pattern, I think. The roving was easy to spin, and fun, and felt very good to handle. The yarn carried those characteristics forward. The Tencel component caused me some grief and if I knitted the hat with hindsight, I'd probably use a magic loop to help to eliminate those nasty loose stitches.

I can recommend both the roving and the pattern, which copes well with a slightly uneven handspun I feel.

Roving: Chantilly Lace from Copperpot Woolies at Etsy (Merino/Colonial/Tencel)

Pattern: Gretel - available as a Ravelry download, or direct from £3.00

Flushed with success, I noticed Ysolda's Urchin beret pattern - a free one. Urchin is designed for lumpy bumpy yarn. Hey, I have some of that! (quite a lot, in fact) I dug out my first handspun: 3 small skeins of very lumpy 2 plied Jacob -  and I got stuck in.


It must have been Kismet. I didn't have the correct needles, so knitted it on 6mm instead of 7mm. I made the large size, to compensate. In the event, the hat actually fits. Even spookier, I completed the hat with just 12" of yarn left over - I had to join on some of my second handspun in order to graft the hat.

I love this hat. I adore the engineering - the pattern is quite simply genius. It knits up very quickly indeed and there is plenty of scope for adaptation. My finished hat is loaded with character and texture. It's a genuine Mad Old Bat Hat. Possibly it is even a Crusty In A Van Hat. It will suit me down to the ground. :-)

Pictures taken as soon as I had grafted - the hat is currently soaking in Fairy Liquid.

I could not recommend this pattern highly enough as a vehicle for showing off those early character yarns.

Pattern: Urchin - available as a Ravelry download, from, or direct from - free

There will be more Urchins. First up will be one in Flambé, I think. I already sent for some 7mm needles (thank heaven for eBay)

It has been fun, knitting with my handspun. It is deeply satisfying. I should do more of it. I think I shall. :-)

Rona christmas cut put

1st wheel to compliment spindle

I am looking at getting my first wheel and have found two through the same seller but am not sure as to which one would be 1st a better wheel & 2nd a better buy? They are an Asford @ $150 and an Idian head @ $100, not sure of the model of either one.

Any suggestions would be appreiated.


ETA cost of wheels
X-posted to handspinning


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It has been an age

It feels like the longest time since I posted here - but I am pleased to say that it is not because I have been idle on the spinning front. In fact, I seem to have got quite a lot of spinning done and I managed to clear most of my prepared fibre stash. The raw fleece is a whole different matter, though.

I did attempt the Tour de Fleece, but joint pain got in the way. My plan was to spin for an hour daily before breakfast - I fell by the wayside after around a week, however.

So, what have been up to?

Deep Fried Disaster

A Copperpot roving from Etsy, "Deep Fried Vegis". This actually got knitted up into a Morning Surf Scarf that I am rather pleased with despite the fact that the yarn got named "Deep Fried Disaster"


Then came "Gill's Delight" a gorgeous Mohair/Merino yarn from roving gifted to me last year. I was so proud of this spin. It took an age, because I was very careful - and the results were well worth it. SpinningGill wants it, but she can't have it. I haven't knitted it up yet but I want to do something very special with it. It may be a "Hypotenuse" wrap, in time - I got great yardage from it.

from tops


After that, came more of the blue shaded Shetland X fleece that I hand-dyed in the winter - and a slight detour into a raw-and-dyed fleece batt that I picked up in Stromness one day. The latter remains as a single until I decide what I want to do with it. I may use it as-is for a weaving project.

from fleece

Next up was the other PS3 "Fire" roving (inferno) that I got from copperpot. Better late than never! I did this one thick-and-thin and plyed it with some coppery rayon thread. I love it, even though I still don't have the knack of plying the thick bits in tidily. I called it "Flambé" and will probably make the Colinette "iris" ear flap hat from it.

Flambé 2

I also had some soy silk given to me, in very similar colours, so was immediately inspired to spin that up. I had been so scared of spinning it, it looked very difficult to handle but in the end I found it quite easy to work with (if a little messy) I even chain-plyed the whole thing when I was done, apart from a little that I experimented with and plyed with some of the leftover Inferno singles. I don't seem to have photos of the soy silk, for some reason.

The final part of this show-and-tell is another copperpot roving - the Chantilly Lace, which I turned into a lovely yarn that I named "Giggle".


This took me a long time to spin. I was very careful to spin it fine and even. Was the effort worth it?

What do you think?


Can you guess how thrilled I was?

It doesn't look like much when I set it down but it feels like plenty and in my defence I have to say that an awful lot of knitting has been done as well! Not to mention the exponential increase in my spinning skill...

I wanted to stop by, exhibit my progress, and say a large "thank you" to this group, without several members of which I would never have made it this far. Thank you for all your support, both tangible and intangible.

I really feel like a proper spinner now.

Currently on my wheels - the first bobbin of a very large spinning project. I am spinning some carded Shetland in many natural shades, and am aiming to get a whole sweater's worth done (and I am no small lady!) Also this, from a roving from Natalie:


I am loving this merino roving with a passion and really wish that I had bought more than one lot of it. It is perfect for the current Project Spectrum phase of "Water" (blue/purple/black) and I hope to knit it into a project with some black yarn. Perhaps these? or something inspired by them... anyway, I am spinning this as fine as I can, to give a fighting chance of making the mitts. All I need is some black merino of equal weight.

After this roving is done I must confine myself to fleece. Mainly due to lack of funds, but also because I really need to reduce the fleece mountain. I have one pencil roving in hand, which I may choose to knit rather than spin, and I still  have two rovings that I was gifted - both are very special indeed and I kind of want to improve even further before I tackle them. Hopefully the Shetland large project will do that for me, and then I'll be ready for my luxury rovings. After that, it's nothing but smelly sheep for at least a year I should think!

(no subject)

Superwash merino 64 ct lambswool top from Spincerely.
Color Juno. 199m, 117g.
Spun on Lucrezia, 10:1, 2ply. 10 wpi.

Ewe Give Me The Knits merino, color Swamp Buggy 1
85g, 247 m, 11 wpi.
Spun on Lucrezia, 14:1, navajo plied.

These are my 13th and 14th handspun yarns. I've joined Tour de Fleece on Ravelry, and going to try spinning my first art yarns ever. I'm quite excited, and hope to show you several attempts after the Tour.


Just a quick note to say that I'm going semi-offline until August 10 while I'm stateside. I'll try to update as I can, but don't anyone fret when you check the blog and find I've not done much posting, and please don't send Vito to find out whether my fingers are broken! :-)

I'm going spend some time with family, and other spinners, and a frightening amount of raw fleece. (Anyone wanna come help wash wool? (veg) )

Color experimenting

I can't believe it's been nearly a month since the last post, and since I'm about to hit the road for the next 2 months, I'm taking the time to catch up a bit before I go mostly offline. And then just wait, because I'll have LOTS of fibery stuff to tell you. I mean, let's get real: I'm going on vacation and have every intention of using a shamefully large portion of it indulging in spinning, knitting, and washing and processing fleece.

I've finally finished the necessary dyeing for the class, and the novelty yarns, and am back to working on my own stuff. So, this week was a trip into natural dyes.

I've set the image to open in another window if you click on it, and I've tagged everything so you can see which yarns are which dyes. I'm a bit disappointed in the photo itself since the colors are much richer and brighter than they appear here, and the two greys in the middle aren't really rey, but rather a greeny yellow.

From left to right, though, there's the original white, sandalwood, 3 with yellow onion skins, 3 with dandelion flowers, dandelion root, a lichen, birch leaf, osage orange, annatto, alkanet, and 3 with madder.

They all had alum as a mordant, except for 2 of the madders which were mordanted with iron or tin respectively. Two of the onion skins and dandelions were given after baths of tin or iron.

So, what did I think of it? Well, I still prefer acid dyeing. It's easier, I can get precisely the color I want in the quantity I want it, and it's got a huge degree of flexibility. But this was a truly fun experiment, and I'll do more of it over the summer. Two of the colors surprised me. I expected the birch leaves to give a green, but the resulting green is really a neon color; it's almost glow-in-the-dark. That surprised me. The lichen is grey and black in real life (Cavernularia hultenii, I think) and I expected a nondescript grey. What I got was a lovely, soft camel color that I rather like, and which is not at all what I expected. I expected Osage Orange to be . . . well . . . orange. Not yellow along the lines of the birch (but not as neon). And I didn't expect the Alkanet to smell like feet. :-)

All told, though, using natural dyes is easy, and presuming one follows the usual safety precautions, certainly no worse than any of the others.

There's not much blooming here at the moment, so let's see what plants I can find of interest in a few weeks when I'm in much warmer climes. ;-) What color do you reckon kudzu would give??

On a spinge

I have been on a spinge (that is, a spinning binge). This is what I have spun since I returned from Aceh a month ago:

Handspun Merino 'Java Jive and Smudge': This is a two-ply yarn spun into aran weight. One strand is 'Java Jive' merino roving purchased from FreckleFaceFibers. The other is 'Smudge' (dark brown) merino from Treetop Colours.

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Believe it or not, I have spun two more skeins, but they are still drying. On other matters, I leave for a year in Africa (working in Somalia, living in Nairobi) on Friday. And yes, I am bringing my trusty Ashford Joy spinning wheel along! Hoping to get in contact with local spinners too!