Sunday, 21 October 2012

At the Beach

Such a lovely day today.  Proper autumn weather - warm in the sunshine, but damp and frosty in the shade.  

This being my favourite kind of weather, I set off for a walk with my camera and my current WIP and headed to the "beach".  This is actually the shoreline of the Menai Straits in Bangor, but it's lovely to hear the sound of the waves all the same :)

At the moment I'm working on a Rikke hat in King Cole Mirage DK.  This picture was taken a couple of days ago, I'm just approaching the crown shaping now.  Although I like the way it's turning out, I'll admit that I passed my tolerance for garter-in-the-round about 4 inches ago... It's always very tempting to think "well surely it's about right?" and CO too early, but I've experienced something of an epiphany recently...

...I've actually been finishing projects!!  I don't know what's come over me, but I finished both this honey cowl and a pair of Fables ON THE SAME DAY and in time for Wool Week! Shocker, I know!!  But being able to actually wear them and feel the benefit of them when it's cold out has definitely spurred me on to finish more projects within a sensible time frame.

But having said that, I've just ordered the yarn to make a Lamour Slipover and I have visions that I'll still be knitting it this time next year!


Sunday, 23 September 2012

When Knitting Goes Bad

Sometimes it's possible to get a piece of knitting SO wrong that it produces this face.  What have I done to deserve such a monster (other than, you know, get the decreases wrong and then skip a massive chunk of earflap?  But apart from that?! :P)

It's meant to be one of these.  See, pretty pretty hat, not horrific marshmallow bonnet.

Oh well.  Start again!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Fleece to FO: 2 - The Processing

You can find out more about the project here


I'll admit that this project has not happened quite in the way I imagined.  It's been a very stressful couple of months - not something that really needs sharing here in any detail - but for a long time this project has had to take a back seat to other more pressing things.

That said, yesterday I took a breath and opened the bag I've been storing the washed fleece in.

My goodness, there's a lot of it!!  I'm happy to report that it still has a rather pleasing shampoo-aroma (I had been a bit worried about mustyness considering how long I've left it).

With that much fibre, there's not much to do other than get stuck in.  I had thought that with carding I'd be in much more familiar territory than with the sorting and washing of the fleece.  I've worked plenty of fibre using these cards, so I was expecting it to be pretty straightforward.

What I actually discovered is just how different preparing hand-processed fleece is compared to the commercial stuff I've been used to.  I'm reluctant to say that I prefer one to the other, they're just very very different experiences.

I think perhaps one of the main things I've noticed with this fleece is that it feels very dry to the touch.  It's a coarse fibre (and I'll admit I've been spoiled thus far with merino and bfl and other such treats), but that's ok.

I worked 10 batts in total, and used 2 batts each to make 5 rolags.  (If you're not sure about the terminology, have a read of this page).

If I'm honest, I stopped at 5 out of boredom.  Utter boredom.  Carding is possibly my least favourite stage of the fibre-prep process.  Well, apart from picking (which you may have noticed I've left out completely), which has got to be one of the most tedious jobs ever invented.  My intention had been to card the whole lot into rolags ready for spinning, to keep each stage separate.  But, as I looked into the bag and realised I'd not even made a small hole in the amount of fleece that needs sorting, I soon abandoned that ridiculous notion and got out the spinning wheel (note that when in any doubt, this is always the right course of action).

MUCH more fun!  And the 5 rolags added up to one full bobbin's worth of singles, so really I can just pretend it was all intentional...:P

As you can see, the yarn it's producing is pretty hairy and fuzzy.  There's nothing really wrong with this - I never intended this wool to be made into something worn as a garment, so there's no need for it to be next-to-the-skin-soft.  In fact, the coarseness may actually be an advantage considering what I have in mind, but that, I'm afraid, is a tale for next time ;)

Sunday, 9 September 2012


I've been experimenting again.  This time, working on dyeing different fibres and then blending them together to see what I get.  Above is a 60/40 Merino/Alpaca blend, and below an Oatmeal BFL/Alpaca blend in the same proportions.

They're both lovely and soft, and very light.  I'm learning a lot about spinning recently (like to remember to check the Scotch tension rather than fight against the wheel!!), and the absolute best news is that as the holiday season at work is now over, I'll have an extra day off a week which I can dedicate to spinning and learning more about fibre processing.

To that end, I've ordered In Sheep's Clothing: A Handspinner's Guide to Wool from Amazon which I'm really looking forward to geeking out about ;)  Hopefully I'll learn enough that I can start adding some handspun to my etsy shop soon!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

And the winner is!

Step up The Queen of Kings!  You are the winner of the eggbird @Etsy giveaway!

I'll be in touch with you very shortly to arrange your prize :)

Thank you to everyone who took part, I look forward to holding another giveaway soon :) x

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

[GIVEAWAY] Reminder

Don't forget you only have until 9pm BST tonight (22nd August) to enter into the eggbird giveaway to win FREE YARN!

For more info about how to enter, visit this blog post.

Good luck! :D

Thursday, 16 August 2012

eggbirddesigns @Etsy [GIVEAWAY]

Pesky ol' IRL... once again I have exciting news, and I've had to wait a whole week to announce it (scandalous!)  But - fanfare please...

eggbirddesigns is now available through Etsy!

At the moment, there's a range of hand-dyed sock yarns in stock.  Coming soon will be hand-dyed fibres and hand-spun yarns, as well as some other fluffy-stuff!  :)

And the best news is that to celebrate, I'm holding a giveaway!  The winner will receive one skein of their choosing from the shop

Want to enter?  Of course you do!  All you need to do is:

Re-blog this post: link back to this post via your blog, and leave a message here to tell me you've done so
Retweet this message on twitter
(or you can do both for an extra chance to win).

The terms and conditions and such
The winner will receive one skein of their choice from my etsy shop.  P+P will be free for those living in the UK - entrants from other countries are more than welcome to join in, so long as they don't mind paying postage as listed on the shop page.

Please make sure you comment here if you have re-blogged, otherwise I won't know to add your name to the hat!

Please also make sure you leave some sort of contact details - either an email address or Ravelry name - so that I can get in touch if you win

The giveaway closes on Wednesday 22nd August at 9pm BST, and the winner will be announced shortly after.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A Spin Thing

Remember when I used to be a knitter? ;)  All I want to do recently is sit at the wheel and spin... SO relaxing :)

Sunday, 15 July 2012


It's been a tough old time this last couple of weeks, but thankfully that all seems to be behind me now.  Sorry I haven't been keeping up to date much - especially with the Fleece to FO project - but I'm sure many of you know how often "real life" creeps in to interfere with the things we'd rather be doing!!

But let's stay positive!  I thought I would share with you some of the things I have been up to wool-wise recently :)

I've very much been getting into dyeing.  My fibre of choice is - no surprises here! - merino.  I really love LOVE how easy it is to work with and how well it takes up the dyes.  This one was dyed using a mixture of food colouring pastes and powdered drink mixes (a Portuguese version of Kool-Aid).

You can see that I just went mad tipping a bit of everything into the dye bath!!

This is a slightly more subdued version (although I can't remember now whether this is merino or corriedale...).  Again it was dyed using food colourings.  I've been aiming to get some reds, but man that's a hard thing to do!!

As well as dyeing my own fibre ready for spinning, I've also been using my hand carders to blend ready-dyed fibres together.  My website of the moment is Adelaide Walker - who could possibly resist a colour range as good as this one??!

This morning I've made a start on plying the blues and pinks above...

I'm getting better at 2-ply I think :)

But what I really want to crack is the notorious N-ply!

This was my first attempt, which I'm rather happy with :)  I must remember to allow for the fact that the singles will become a 3-ply though!  This one is now far too thick for the socks I had planned!!

This afternoon I'm going to carry on plying, and - since it's so sunny outside! - make a start on washing that Romney fleece ready for another dyeing sesh ;)

What are you guys up to this weekend?  Would love to hear your woolly tales!!

Kim x

Monday, 18 June 2012


Where do I even start?!

Having been asked as a guild to demonstrate some spinning for the National Trust, we set off yesterday with a car-full of wheels and headed down into the Welsh mountains.  If you've never been to Beddgelert, I'd advise jumping in the car now, because it's utterly beautiful.

Some of the sheep had already been sheared for us when we got there - so we had this amazing Romney fleece to play with:

Ever eager, a couple of the guild members had already set to work carding by the time we arrived...

...although I think at one point Sherry was spinning from the fleece itself (which had me very impressed indeed!!).  I've never spun in the grease before, so it was a bit of a learning curve to begin with.  I wasn't helped by the fact that my wheel was in a very bad mood indeed!!  After a new drive band, a bit of oil and a change of bobbin (!!), I managed to get going and I wasn't too ashamed of the results

One of my favourite things about the day was that so many youngsters were eager to get involved too...

...either with spinning...

...or shearing (you can just about make out the little hand at the top of the photo there).

I also had a go at shearing - my goodness they make a tough job look easy!  I was so scared of nicking the sheep that I was apparently cutting too far away from the skin.  The farmer took over and showed me the line that indicated new growth compared to last year's fleece.  Fascinating stuff!

"Check out mah new do!"

After lunch, I got talking to a local wood turner who mentioned that he had a dozen drop spindles going spare after someone had cancelled an order a few years ago.  Later, he came back and presented me with this:

This one works as a bottom whorl, which I've never tried before (making it quite embarrassing when I put the 'drop' in 'drop spindle' trying to show how it worked).  I gave him the contact details for the guild - I hope he manages to sell a few of them because they're lovely :)

And then - as if I hadn't already been spoiled enough! - the farmer came round to thank us for our help, and said "there are 5 fleeces round the back - please take them"

Well, a spinner doesn't need telling twice, so off we all toddled!

So I came back with a new spindle and about 500g of raw Romney fleece to play with :D  I'm a very happy chappy indeed!


Friday, 15 June 2012

Wheely Good Fun

You know it's bad when I start breaking out the puns...

Check it!  Me and the Llyn Guild's Ashford Traditional, all happy and in love.  But even such love can soon be forgotten - especially  now that I have a wheel that is ALL MY VERY OWN!

Another Ashford, but a tad darker varnished than the Llyn's.  She is an utter BEAUTY!  And last night, after some surreptitious dealings in an undisclosed location (ok, Tesco car park...) she became mine all mine.  :D

The proper drive band still needs attaching, so for the moment she's being held together by crochet cotton, but quite frankly it does the job and she runs spectacularly smoothly.  The only trouble is a really rather impressive squeak that comes from somewhere in the flyer/bobbin area, but a spot of oil will have that sorted in no time!

So in the meantime I've been playing with the Llyn Guild's wheel, making the singles and then plying this green affair.  Look how shockingly overspun that is!  In my defence, all that stuff about plying opposite to the single spin came to nothing when the wheel just downright refused to spin anti-clockwise... try as I might, it just would not ply, or put any spin into the yarn, nor would it draw in the yarn for more than an inch before it started to fight back the other way.  After 10 minutes of wheel-wrestling I gave up and plied it in the same direction as I'd done the singles - hence the epic overspin.  If anyone has any tips on how to solve said issue, I would be forever in their debt!

This morning, I've been spinning some lush merino tops I bought at Wonderwool...

...really I should be getting ready for work, but meh - I'm sure there's time for just a few more grams?

In related news, this Sunday the Llyn Guild will be doing a spinning demo for the National Trust at Beddgelert to coincide with the sheep on their farm being sheared.  If you're in that neck of the woods, do come along and say hi!

Kim x

PS: I haven't forgotten about the Fleece to FO thing, but my goodness! Nobody warned me just how dull picking is!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Fleece to FO: 1 - The Sheep

Welcome to my new very-long-term-indeed project, in which I turn a raw sheep's fleece into something spectacular* (*Spectacularity to be confirmed).

Let me begin at the beginning.


Blue Sky knit and natter held a yarn swap.  Before I left, I looked at my stash and sighed.  There was going to be very little I could stand parting with (except for that ludicrous pink acrylic on the mid-left - the one that taught me to allow for differences in computer screen colours when ordering online).

Luckily, the ladies at that group are a marvelous bunch, and practically foisted a load of sock weight on me (pictures to come soon!).  Well I say foisted, but what I really mean is that I claimed them Gollum-"My-Precious" style.  The closer I get to large stacks of yarn, the more deranged I become - it's an illness...


At some point, someone (and I'm not blaming anyone, but I am looking firmly in Rosie's direction) said something like "I've got a fleece at home I don't really want".  And then someone else (and this time I just happen to be looking at Claire) said something like "Oh, Kim's always wanted to work with a raw fleece".  Which I can't deny.

And so, last Sunday I was confronted with this:

 Which on closer inspection turned out to be this:

All of which became a little too much and resulted in this face...

... a face which says, "so, er, all those tutorials I watched on youtube aren't gonna help much then".  It shouldn't be confused with my "wow, that's a spectacularly ripe smell of sheep" face, because that came later (to start with, I couldn't smell anything at all, and then once I'd been lulled into a false sense of security it got me good and proper).

Actually though, once I got stuck in, I had an absolute blast.

I started by yanking out anything that was too matted, too dirty or too too scratchy to be of use, and put this aside for composting.  Then I picked out most of the big bits of straw/grass/vegetable matter (seriously, this sheeps only hobby was rolling around in hedges)

That took quite a while, and quite frankly I started getting bored, so I just shoved it all in a big bucket of hot water mixed with shampoo and let it soak for a bit.  My thinking was that it would get rid of some of the dirt, as well as start to break down a bit of the lanolin - I was quite surprised at how greasy the fleece started off (which incidently provided me with an answer to a question which has haunted me for years: why don't sheep felt in the rain?)

Look how happy I look!  No wonder my flatmate was laughing at me!

So after working about a third of the fleece, I left what I'd washed out in the sun to dry, and then put it back into the bucket.  Being crazy-busy with work and moving house, I've no time or energy to work on it during the week, but I've now decided that Sundays will be dedicated to working on this mammoth project, one chunk at a time :)  You'll be able to follow me here once a week to see how it's coming along.

Kim :)

Spinning an Ocean

 Yowzers!  It's been a busy old time recently and this week I'll be moving house too.  With everything else that needs seeing to during the day, it can be hard to find even the brainpower to craft, let alone the time!  I think that's probably why I've found myself turning to projects which rely almost completely on muscle-memory and require the absolute minimum levels of thought or concentration.

For me, spinning definitely comes under this category.  I adore the way you can get some really fantastic results without having to invest massive amounts of love and devotion, and the fact that it can be very very forgiving.

I currently have 4 spinning projects on the go, but mainly this week I've been working on this:

 I dyed some white merino and overdyed some grey/blue using blue and green food colourings, making sure I dyed them fairly unevenly so that when I span it, it would all pull out and blend at random.

Aren't the colours just glorious?!  They really sing to me somehow.  Expect many more tales of hand-dyeing in the future ;)

I think this also might be some of my best spinning yet!  I've managed to avoid some of the problems I've been having with overspin, and this skein is a lot better balanced than my previous have been.  This was actually spun using a supported spindle - my first time using anything other than a top-whorl drop - and it certainly took some getting used to!  The conventional wisdom is that the yarn on a supported spindle is less prone to breaking since it doesn't have to support the weight as it twists.  As usual, I'm going against the grain - this was snapping all over the shop (something that's never happened to me on the drop spindle), and continued to snap as I skeined it.  That'll be something to focus on as I spin the rest of the fluff in this batch!

A note on the spindle: it is BRILLIANT!  It was made for me by the lovely MintyWeaver, who has been experimenting with making her own spindles from old dpns and various bits and bobs from B&Q.  They spin magnificently, and the weighting is just sooooo comfortable.  How long d'you reckon before I'm glueing stuff to other stuff and attempting to twist fluff with it?!!

Kim x