Wednesday, 27 January 2010


Here are my ten favourite finds online throughout the past month! As yet, I haven't succumbed to the temptation to actually buy any of them.........

Top of the list has to be this 'Kick Spindle' from Heavenly Handspinning.

This is basically a way of using a spindle while leaving both hands free to draft with - it solves the problem for those who like spindle spinning but who often wish they had an extra hand. The kick spindle has a wheel, which you spin with your foot (or hand) and which keeps the spindle turning longer than a normal drop spindle. It is also a good way of getting used to the hand/foot co-ordination you need for a spinning wheel. The Mother Marion Kick Spindle is really inexpensive,and in fact I have seen some drop spindles on UK sites costing slightly more than the combined price plus shipping for the Kick spindle.

Silvia Dekker is a Dutch artist living and working in Leiden, Netherlands. She is also a close friend of Ellen, which is how I found out about her designs. Her latest major work has ben designing a range for Hema, such as fabrics for duvet covers, and fab stationary.

This is something which has made it into my Etsy basket after almost a week of tortuous decision non-making. It's kettle dyed in a lovely purple, which I absolutely cannot resist!!There are other laceweights too, including one added today in a very slightly paler purple BFL with bluey purple flashes.....but I know I will go for the Botany, as I still have the Atlantic Blue I got a while ago, and the two colours together will make a truly divine scarf!!!

4 - Solstice Bird Decoration from Uma Joy Design

This lovely knitted and felted bird decoration is a free pattern, originally intended I imagine as a Solstice and /or Christmas decoration. I think a few strung together would look great, perhaps with beads between the birds and with a few little bells at the bottom, hanging from a wardrobe or cupboard door as a beautiful decoration in a bedroom, or hand from wooden dowelling as a lovely mobile - a natural alternative to those cold, hard, garishly coloured plastic things.

5 - Juno Fibre Arts on Etsy

What can I say? So many gorgeous yarns to choose from, such as this lovely Superwash Merino in 'Midnight' - ideal for socks and thre wristies I am into knitting at the minute! Also sells top/roving in various colours, and laceweight yarn.

Lovely Rotterdam-based shop on Etsy which sells gorgeous Dutch fabric and ribbon. I have ordered three lots of ribbon, and also a set of sew-on patches to decorate the hat I am knitting for Saartje. Many floral and Matryoshka items, and not dissimilar to Silvia's.

7 - This month's Flow magazine

I can't wait to get my copy, with its free Matryoska notebook! I love receiving my Flow magazines from Ellen, so much so in fact that I have decided to take out a subscription!! This means I won't ever miss a single issue, and won't have to rely on and expect Ellen to buy an extra copy to send me each time!

8 - PipStudio

Ahhhh! At long last Pip Studio's gorgeous journals can be mine all mine in a hurry whenever I want them: Pip is coming to the UK, according to Home Shopping Spy's Blog. I would like to bet on John Lewis and Fenwick being th first to make the most of that!

Only the Best of Etsy Sample Boxes are boxes full of samples from several different Etsy shops. Each box has 10 samples & is unique. No two boxes are the same. To see what kind of things are in the boxes, take a look at the sneak peak video and the contributor list:
Pictured is a set of Citrus products from OmShanti, one of my favourite contributors - I have requested some OmShanti soap as one of my items; buyers can choose three items from the 18 avilable but the other seven items in your box are a lovely surprise!!

Finally, at number 10 - Lush's Heads,Shoulders, Knees and Toes is back!!

This is something which always seems to appear after Christmas, possibly to cheer people up in the post-holiday blues and S.A.D period, and also of course so Lush can continue to make money even after you have spent all your Christmas Lush vouchers and stopped buying presies. At only £12.50 it's unbelievable value, as it contains 10 items, many of which are worth a few quid.

Well, that's it for this month. I shall post another Top Ten at the end of February, as well as owning up to how many of the above I could not resist buying!!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


Just an update -my lovely chunky wristies,
knitted from my handspun "Spingle" BFL in Kir, are FINISHED!!

Hieperdepiep HOERAAAAA!!!!!

I have started some Mermaid's Lagoon socks in Araucania Ranco Solid, for Nicola.

I rack my brain to think of a good pattern; one which would impress her
and also would not be too tedious or frustrating to knit.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


So....I wanted to wind my lovely skein of my Spingle handspun into a ball ready to knit some wristies. I haven't got a nostepinne (though I have seen a lovely one in Shunklies over on Etsy) but I discovered something which works just as well and has an unexpected advantage too! Enter the honey drizzler I bought from Ethical Superstore last year: Note its similarity in shape to the nostepinne, but with a slight difference, i.e the grooved end, which is to hold the honey so it stays on long enough to get to your toast etc. What I discovered is this: if you wind the first bit of yarn around the grooved end, it stays put, and you can the wind your wool into a ball in the usual way, holding that grooved end to make sure the yarn stays in place and also so you have a better grip. Ingenious or what!!

I am knitting the wristies for myself, as a trial pair before making some for Ellen and Mik (will have to make some in a more masculine colour for Mik (Manos Wool Classica in the lovely variegated teal,off-white and dark red I have)

The pattern is an adapted-for-chunky-handspun version of Maine Morning Mitts which I am calling Moor Morning Mitts (and if course Leiden Morgen for the cloggies!)

So...I'm happy now because I have a couple of small projects to be getting on with as well as Kernel and finishing the Catses' Blanket I no longer have Knitter's Block!

Lime Green Jelly update: the new fibre update has been previewed on the LGJ Ravelry Group!
Also here on Jo's LGJ Flickr Photostream.

I think she is trying to work out a US-friendly time to list them on Etsy, a time which we UK yarnies will not mind staying up for (I personally - and I bet I'm not the only one - would stay up all night, continually refreshing, if we didn't know the exact time!) I guess around 11pm means that any US yarnies, even those on the West Coast, will be home from work. I have decided to buy one or two lots if I really really like them but to wait if i don't see any I really fancy. and also to buy colours I don't normally buy.

So,will update later on my purchases!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


I have received my new tips for my Knit-Pro interchangeables.....ooh-hoo-hooooo!!! Thy are gorgeous! I did not have any tips thick enough to knit Saar's hat,the 6mm were just that little bit too narrow for my handspun. So when I found these "Spectra Flair" in bright pink acrylic in p2tog's Ebay shop, I immediately had to buy them. That's most of my spending money gone for this month now (the remainder being earmarked for fibre from LGJ, of course!!)

Also essential to my needs were these Knit-Pro Symfonie wooden dpns ( a gal has to have matching needles, now!!) I do have a massive set of 12 set of dpns in bamboo,but the 3.5mm ones are starting to bend due to these being the most regularly used, so I decided to treat myself. I wish you could buy sets of tips without the cables; surely I can't be the only one who has more cables than they need?

As for spinnning, I have found what, to me, is the perfect solution to my spindle 'problem': it's called a Kick Spindle, which is basically a spindle attached to a wheel which you can spin with your foot or hand. It's an inexpensive solution to me wanting something as bit different but without having to buy a spinning wheel. It's here, at ford4him's Etsy store

Perhaps I can get one for Mother's Day or Easter? At only $48 plus $38 shipping it work out around £50, much less than a spinning wheel, which would take up too much space and cost too much anyway. People do spin really fine yarn on spindles, some of the best spinners I have found on various sites, including through LGJ's Flickr and Ravelry groups, do not own a wheel. And as one person pointed out, the money you save by buying this, rather than a wheel, you can spend on.....yep, of course....more fibre!!!!

My plan now is to use up or sell/swap/give away my stash of commercial yarns (even though they are decent) and build a new stash of gorgeous handspun yarns, spun by me mostly but also by the likes of Wild Fire etc. I've said this before but I shall say it again: buying gorgeous fibre rewards you three times (or more?) First when you receive it and can drool over the soft fuzziness and lovely colours etc. Collecting beautifully dyed/painted fibre could in itself be a hobby even if you didn't spin!! Barmy perhaps, but still.....
Secondly, when you have spun the fibre and achieved some lovely yarn and feel all proud of yourself, and thirdly, when you've actually knitted it up into something (And then someone else gets pleasure from it too!)

I'm thinking of keeping a 'fibre diary', which will contain a little piece of each lot of fibre I get and the resulting yarn(s) spun, plus notes and descriptions of fibre content, where purchased from, what I knitted with it, who for etc etc. for one thing, it will give me a viewable, physical account of my learning to spin!!

Josh is back from Rick's - I've really missed him! The house feels 'right'again. The cats immediately crowded him, sniffing all around him and rubbing their cheeks against him! Thomas in particular has - visibly - missed him. Josh has spent the past week in a doggy-lovers' home, so to the cats it must seem like he reeks of dog, though it is obviously a clean home because we can't smell anything. You can alway tell immediately if someone has been in a house with the combination of dogs + lack of cleanliness. And unlike cats, dogs are not fastidiously self-cleaning all day long! Worse still is the combination of dog smell plus cigarettes.

So, the house has the right energy and everyone is content. I am watching House, then going to post Fiona's wristwarmers, then I will be coming home to begin Saar's hat. I am actually going to make the pattern up, starting with 3- or 4-stitch I-cord length for about 30m, then use the 3 or 4 stitches to begin ear flaps (I hope that works, can't see how it wouldn't) Two of those, then cast on for the front of the hat, knit the first flap stitches onto the needle, cast on for back, knit the other flap's stitches on, then work in the round in a semi-ribbed, semi-lace pattern until the decrease for the crown. If it works I shall be writing the pattern down and maybe submit to Ravelry or Knitty (though the latter are quite fussy and rather choosy!)

Ha ha, I shall need new business cards saying "Designer" LOL!!

So watch this space to see how the hat develops......

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


I have a very bad case of Knitter's Block at the minute. Though I did finish the wristwarmers which Fiona requested, which I knitted using Royal Platinum Alpaca, in Santa Fe Skies.

Not really a very good photo but you get the idea. I actually blocked them too; only the second time I have bothered blocking my work. The first was with my Noro scarf -

- to add little length - and it did look more 'professional'. I didn't have time to block Saar's sjaaltje before I sent it as it was a Christmas presie, but it looked fantastic anyway. I decided to block the wristies to get them both exactly the same size and shape (which they were sort of anyway, but I wanted them perfect!) It resulted in the bind-off looking less floppy, and the thumbs no longer look like after thoughts! The pattern looks really good too,almost hidden until they are stretched (i.e when worn) and it also kind of tightened everything up as I had been trying them on throughout. They looked so good after blocking,especially with the addition of my little tag/card, that Rob thought they must have been bought somewhere. Where, I asked him, would you buy something as 'different' as these, in this city? Actually, you can buy some nice hand made stuff at the Arts Centre, including hand knitted socks, but they charge the Earth. Duh! That's what Etsy is for!

Anyway...Knitter' Block....I had this a while back and must have got through it then, but it is frustrating at the time. I only have three w.i.p's* - Kernel, the Catses' Blanket, and some Jaywalker socks, which I am knitting for Ellen. I have only just resurrected Kernel after the Festive Season, and that is going to be my slow project, which I will knit some of every day or two. But once the socks and blanket have been completed, and that'll be by the end of the week, I shall need to begin Saar's hat. I've almost got enough handspun yarn to make it,that isn't the problem. No, the real problem is that I can't find a pattern that really jumps out at me, though I have seen and liked a couple; they're just not right though. So I think I will be designing one myself. Watch this space!

Thursday, 7 January 2010


Osiyo! I've spun some more wool this evening, and taken a couple of pics of the yarn so far:

Spingle Hand Spun BFL - Mooi

Spingle Hand Spun Superwash Merino- Saartje

Spingle Hand Spun BFL - Kir

Unfortunately the photos look a bit dark, but that isn't the point. I'm so pleased with myself, transforming the fat braids of soft, fuzzy, fluffy fibres (like those seen in my last blog post) into skeins of strong yarn even though the yarn is far from perfect. But I always liked yarn such as Colinette's Shimmer Five and One Zero, which seem almost unfinished, and Debbie Bliss's Soho, ditto, all of which are also inconsistent thickness too. The top two yarns above are now almost enough for Saar's hat, which will be knitted in a main background of sections of Soho and One Zero with bands of my hand spun.

Lime Green Jelly's new fibre for this week is listed, but there's none that I simply must have, so I'll be waiting til next week, and spinning what I have in the meanwhile. No wonder LGJ fibre sells out so fast. I saw half the new stuff go within an hour or so, as people like me must have been checking every ten minutes to see the first new ones listed!!

Monday, 4 January 2010


It has snowed non-stop on and off, if that isn't too much of a contradiction, for a week and the snow, where undisturbed, is about 20 cm deep! I have not seen snow like this since my childhood, when we would make bobsleigh runs in the tracks made by trucks going down the many hills leading off our road. While it looks beautiful, it is becoming a nuisance for people who have to drive in it. Joshua arrived home from college at lunchtime today and said they were closing it down because there were so few people turning up. His class was the largest today, with only 6 people! The cats have not even gone near the back or front doors! Thom was standing on the windowsill at the top of the stairs last night, up on his hind legs and trying to catch the falling snowflakes! Mostly he has, like the other two, spent his time at the windows or sleeping on the sheepskin rug on the sofa.

I have been extremely recalcitrant in my blogging of late and my new year's resolution (if I did resolutions, which I don't) is going to be to blog more regularly!

I have fallen into spinning in a big way! I have only just begun to achieve finer yarn and I am frustrated that I have to keep removing the small 'singles' from the spindle because they affect the spin after a bit. Having a spinning wheel will give me more control and consistency, and I will be able to spin the finer yarns I love so much! For the moment the spindle is okay for the chunkier yarns I want for Saartje items and the sock yarn weight I like for gloves, non-lace scarves etc. In fact I called one of my yarns' colours Saartje after her love of pink and purple.

I have named my hand spun yarn Spingle - yes it's a cross between Spangle, spin, and 'single' as well as being the cute name Saartje has for Spangle! The reason for calling a yarn after one of our cats? Well, obvious if you know her, but by way of explanation, the 'tops', pre-spinning, are soft and fluffy, just like Spangle's thick, luxuriant fur.

I am waiting for Amy's Rainbow and Shunklies to list more, but in the meantime I am more than happy with Lime Green Jelly. I have just received five lots of tops from there - yes, I know - decadent, but I had to sepnd my Christmas treat money on something and since I already had Lush and L'Occitane stuff aplenty, plus loads of new books, and I do not tend to buy general 'stuff' I decided that buying some merino would be three times the treat: once when it arrives and I get to look at it and feel it etc; once when I spin it and see the resulting yarn and then once when I have knitted it up into something truly unique and gorgeous. Also, someone else gets pleasure, not just me, because whoever I knit for gets a lovely (hopefully - ha ha!) hat or scarf or pair of gloves.

So.....these are my lovely treats:

Sweet Dreams (70% Merino/30% Tencel)

I Know where It's At (70/30 Merino/Tencel)

Edge of Heaven (100% 21 micron Merino)

A Fine Romance (50% Merino/30% Baby Alpaca/20% Silk)

Girl Talk (100% British Blue Faced Leicester)

Needless to say the BFL above is going into Saartje's Hat and mitts, and the Merino/Baby Alpaca/Silk is going to be made into a fine yarn to make myself a scarf and gloves.

Speaking of gloves, I finished two pairs of wristwarmers just before Christmas. One pair in Freedom Spirit for myself ....

......and the other for Schnatz in some gorgeous blue/purple/turquoise sock wool, the same as the ones worn by her favourite "Twilight/New Moon" character Alice. I got the pattern from here. Needless to say she is absolutely thrilled with them.

I have just begun knitting some "Jaywalker" socks for Nicola, in Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino (shade: Winterberry) and just this evening cast on for some wristwarmers which Fiona has commissioned; I am knitting a basic wristwarmer/sock leg pattern from Knitty Fall '09 with an added thumb, using Fiona's choice of my suitable available yarns - Royal Platinum Alpaca (shade:Santa Fe Skies):

So....I have three W.I.P's left from 2009: Cold Mountain - shown as it has been knitted thus far;

Kernel (on back burner until Cold Mountain is finished and which, hopefully, I will finish in time to give to my schoonzus Ellen when I see her in early Spring/Easter); and the Catses' Blanket in Patons Inca. (Why was I going to type Sirdar Peru, which I have never had?!)

New Year was okay. Then on the 2nd Hev came round and we talked and drank some wine. On the 3rd - Sunday - I was making apple crumble and was a bit overzealous with the apple-chopping and ended up with enough apple for two crumbles, so I made an extra one for Hev and Keira and as soon as they were ready I ran round the corner to give it to them while it was still hot from the oven. I do love surprising people, and sharing my apple crumble!

Well I guess I've caught up to this week. Tomorrow - Thursday - is normally an easy day for me and I intend to have a lie-in and read some more of my book (Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts) then get up around 11 and wander down to the Garden to see the guys and find out what's what for next week's work. Then I'll spend the late afternoon/evening on Fiona's wristies. What a tough life, eh? Oh well!!

I'll end with this lovely photo of a mischievous little Saartje playing in the snow over in Leiden:

Tot ziens......