No such thing as too much wool

Wool ramblings, spinning, dyeing and knitting

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Well the boring cardi got finished. It’s King Cole merino 4 ply which I found a bit splitty

and as I suspected it was a smite too small for my mum, but she said she didn’t normally do cardis up anyway so it wasn’t a problem. The teddy bear for Niece Number One was also finished. Once I was used to the yarn it was easy enough to knit. The sewing up though reminded me why I don’t like making toys as I hate all those short seams. Boy did it look cute though, even my brother-in-law couldn’t hold himself back from being impressed. I forced Bex to practice her knitting before giving it to her.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


(well I wrote the post so I thought I may as well publish it…)

A finished pair of socks, if only I could find a photo. The yarn is Colinette’s Jitterbug in some green colourway, bought at Ippiken in Shropshire. It’s a really tightly spun merino which I probably knitted on smaller needles than I ought as I just automatically used my size 14s. I didn’t have any problem with knots like I understand some folk have.

I also knitted an incredibly dull cardigan for my mother. She asked for it for a cruise she’s going on in September so yes I felt guilty knitting other things instead of that but I reckoned on a lot of knitting time when travelling to and Newcastle. It is a pretty colour, but acres of stocking stitch on 3mm needles.

My sister and her girls came to stay (we did Cadbury world, what can I say?). The older girl (14) was given a Knit your Own Teddy kit for her last birthday. As she can’t actually kit and the kit involves eyelashy type yarn, I forced other wool into her hands and she practiced while I cast on the teddy. When her mother packed the teddy to take back home, girl says No - Auntie is going to knit that, so I acquired another project I am not very keen on.

While avoiding knitting the Boring Cardigan, I revisited my list of WIPs. I sensibly got out the Gotland Jumper Mark II and measured it against a jumper I like before ripping it back. It’s a top down raglan and needed some neck shaping and a smaller neck. I’ll be picking up stitches and knitting a hem in a different colour ala Elizabeth Zimmerman as the contrast with the grey will look good, and though it was a shearling the spun wool seemed soft, but when I tried it on it was rather itchy against my flesh. I will be wearing it with a t-short but there is no guarantee it will be a high-necked top to protect my oh so delicate skin. Merino has never been a problem but the Gotland is a little coarser. Just remembered the reason for looking at making something in handspun – it’s our Guild’s exhibition in November so I need something bigger than socks to show off. Last year was notable in that if it hadn’t been for us younger members, the display would have been ever so minimalist. A plain jumper is more achievable in that timescale than fair isle and I still haven’t decided what to do with the last two collections of naturally dyed skins I have.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Now my main holiday is over (and the need for sleeves), I have been sitting knitting other things. Rogue has benefited from this – am almost up to the shoulders on the back. It’s not that Rogue is difficult or time consuming to knit, it just gets interrupted by other knitting, and my Petal bag from some French/Dutch magazine with the Noro Mo my SP9 sent me is looking good (just need to knit the base and make two cords).

I’m having a tidying up blitz. Because of this warping mill, which I was given to make long skeins for self-patterning yarn - it has to live somewhere.
I know it is only a passing phase. So far it has involved dismantling some of the shelving in my craft room (a room for the storage of craft stuff rather than the doing of) so I can get more boxes piled up on top of each other rather than on shelves. I am sending much paper to be recycled and getting rid of the shelving on Freecycle. And I finally spun up the Bowmont which I drum carded months ago. Bowmont is a cross between merino and Shetland – there was an article in the Journal of Weavers Spinners and Dyers last year and I bought a small bag of it at Woolfest 2006. It’s a short fibre so I tried out long draw on it, after learning the technique at that Woolfest. The resulting yarn is a bit slubby for me, and probably not as elastic as it ought to be but it’s nice enough for a first try.
I also made this bag for the International Tote Bag Exchange and sent it off to Lia. It’s about 10”x8” and lined with a lilaccy material. I still have no idea whether it has reached its destination but I hope so. The yarn was a slightly slubby wool mix bought in Madrid and knitted in a shadow cable pattern which I will use again. I haven't received a bag yet to show off but I can still hope.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I was mainly knitting a pair of sleeves. No there was no jumper needed to attach them. The reason? - 16th century kirtles (dresses) do not have knitted sleeves attached. They should possibly have been tied on with points, but as I don’t have the requisite holes in the top of my kirtle, they were safety pinned on… Noone could see the safety pins as I was wearing a short sleeved gown over. The sleeves were widely admired, which is always gratifying and I found them more comfy than the cloth ones I have previously worn. In effect they’re like shaped socks only without the foot. There are no known contemporary pictures of knitted sleeves but they are widely mentioned in accounts, whether bought or sold or even stolen! The yarn is my handspun BFL dyed with madder root.

Well it appears to be the end of SP10 (I didn’t participate this time), but I never did receive a parcel from my SP9 spoiler or angel. Ah me.

Have been slowly putting things on Ravelry. My name is Jael if you want to look, but my photographic skills are almost non-existent and I don’t have a lovely garden in which to artistically display items!

Made it to the Birmingham knitters who gather at the Shakespeare on the last Tuesday of the month. We were a select group but it was a most enjoyable evening.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I started on the Bugs in your Garden pi shawl KAL on the EZ list, using some of the Swaledale bought at the NEC. I would have preferred to dye it first, but the info was quite varied in how much yarn is used, so we’ll see what it looks like when I’ve finished. I’m still only upto Clue Three I think, knitting a dragonfly motif. It’s my first attempt at a Knit-a-Long and obviously I haven’t knitted along with everyone else. It will get done eventually.

The Derbyshire Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers had a general open day so I put the wheel in a bag, caught the train and went to join in. There were 56 people over the day, with at least 30 spinning wheels in a splendidly airy and light church hall south of Littleover. The Derbyshire Guild members were all very friendly. As well as me there were folk from Walsall spinners, Stafford guild and York (and she was Swedish just to add interest). In fact there were two Swedes and a Frenchwoman, and I realised in my guild we have two Germans, all of whom have lived in the UK for decades. I bought some milk protein fibre, Ronaldsay, and A Gathering of Lace book. And of course eyed up this bag made of plastic bags and a jacket.
Our Guild spent a weekend at Sarehole mill for the annual Tolkein weekend. It is basically a community show, with craft marquees, folk selling things, a performing tent, Vikings and WOTRs clankies. My heart always sinks seeing reenactors with skeins of wool hanging up which are obviously beginner’s work and not only unevenly chunky, but usually dull colours. When most women spun, probably until the Industrial revolution, they would have learnt as children and the quality though still variable would not have been so chunky. I only spent the Sunday there spinning and got to mid afternoon before anyone mentioned sleeping beauty. I was pleased to sell three skeins of my hand dyed yarns (see April – I did try more with wetting the yarn first). On Saturday I had dressed up in my Tudor kit for a day in Suffolk and someone said I was glamorous. That bloke knows how to make a girl feel utterly charming!

After years of randomly sorting them all over the place, I bit the bullet and sewed myself a knitting needle case for my DPNs. The sewing itself didn’t take long, it was the measuring up which took the time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I had a meeting in London for work one Thursday so rather than catch a train straight home I did the nice second hand bookshop on Euston Road opposite the British Library, then I drooled over the Bedford Hours in the library itself before catching a bus to Oxford Street. I would normally have gone on the underground which I love, but I was under doctor’s orders to avoid it following an operation to mend my ear drum. There weren’t that many at the Liberty’s caff knitting gathering, and none of the people I had been expecting from Skipnorth or Yvonne, but it was pleasant company for an hour or so before another bus and then the train back to Brum.

So with a fortnight sick leave of the kind where I wasn’t actually sick or incapacitated in any way meant some knitting. I finished a top-down jumper with yarn from Skipnorth, but it’s too short so this will be undone and more length added. I have finished all the pieces of the almost cabled cardi which I started about 18months ago and here is some of it blocking on my new blocking boards

and then did the dull moss stitch collar. It still awaits having the sleeves sewn in, yes still.

I also dyed some yarn one day after being inspired by the book Yarn to Dye For. I’m not sure I have actually seen any hand painted yarn, though I have seen it for sale on various websites. In February I had actually put my warping posts in the kitchen as the only place I could create a long skein… Well how anyone can do enough of it in this way to sell is beyond me as the painting bit bored me silly. I was following instructions which recommended using dry yarn and foam brushes. I found this both time-consuming and fiddly and not at all efficient so I resorted to using a real paintbrush. Admittedly I don’t have a workroom so was carrying out this operation in the kitchen on quite a small surface. The dyes all set fine in the steamer my mum had recently passed onto me. I really liked setting the dye this way as it is does not make the kitchen stink of vinegar like microwaving does, and I don’t have to fear that the wool will burn either. As I had made too much dye, I made up another skein and just dipped it into the pots. The end result from that method is practically indistinguishable from the handpainted stuff. The skeins only look different because the handpainted one has equal measured lengths of each colour, whereas with the other skein I just dipped it into the colours based on how much dye was in the pots so there is far more pink. Logic would say there should have been the same amount of dye left over from each colour, but for some reason there wasn’t. After I’d re-skeined it I was pleased with the overall look so I will continue dyeing yarn as it is so different to dyeing rovings, but next time I try hand painting I will wet the yarn first.

The dyed BFL has been made into socks.
I was partly inspired by a visit to Much Wenlock which has a lovely wool shop called Ippiken on the main street opposite two second-hand book shops. It sold mainly Colinette and I bought some green Jitterbug. Ippiken not only has yarn, but hand crafted textiles, like felt bags too, and a lovely owner who spends her entire time knitting. That sounds like the job for me.

And then after attending the local Knitting & Crochet Guild gathering in the splendour of the Edwardian tea room in the Birmingham Art gallery on 21st April, I wandered through the galleries. And as the Midlands is in the process of reclaiming St George’s day, the emphasis is on medieval times, so there were random medieval things throughout the galleries. First up a coin man who was minting replicas, then museum curators who had objects to handle (with the white gloves on) from a very large wassail bowl to a bowling ball, and then Diabolus in Musica who were two chaps in medical garb with suitable musical instruments. I adore old English bagpipes which are as loud as Scottish ones but with a more gentle tone. Though thinking about it I suppose all the times I’ve heard them it’s probably the type of music which makes them more attractive than the bogstandard Scottish tourist tunes. The Carnival Band in particular have a couple of excellent pipers.

And once I’d emerged from there, the two squares outside both had stuff happening. I boogied a bit to the folk rock group Rack and Ruin, and slightly less so to the acoustic rock group Isambard. I then watched the Kesteven Rappers who did an incredible sword dance. There were no bells or beer bellies involved and the average age appeared younger than the other morris teams wandering about. The dance was done with each man holding the end of two very bendy swords, so they were effectively all joined to each other in a circle. They did figures of eight and some very nifty footwork with a couple of somersaults and were smartly dressed in just black with orange socks. Not even a handkerchief between them.

Another work’s trip to London meant more knitting on the train, and I met up with an old friend afterwards and visited the Foundling Museum. Thomas Coram was such a dynamic and determined man in pursuing his goal of an orphanage in the 1700s. The journey home was a vast improvement on the previous. This time I shared a table with a sister and her brother who was visiting from the states, so there was plenty of enjoyable discussions on medical insurance and student loans, photography and bats.

Monday, May 07, 2007


I went to the NEC to the Sewing for Pleasure show to help on the Knit’n’natter stall, now renamed the Picknit in honour of a picnic for Shaun the Sheep. Enjoyable company was had with Yvonne, Sue (who provided the scrummy lemon cake), Fred and Noonie.

I didn’t go with the intention of buying anything but to indoctrinate people in the ways of knitting. I only taught one young girl, though others on the stand taught knitting, crochet and finger knitting. I have yet to go on a Saturday when it is incredibly busy so we mainly had a lovely time chatting.

But I did buy things: buttons from the Button Lady - blue for Niece Number Three’s cardi and the others just because they were sweet. And a big skein of smooth mohair (I can’t be doing with fluffy mohair as it itches like crazy and reminds me of some naff jumpers I knitted in the early 80s. And when trying to find photographic evidence I found a photo of me on a German exchange in 1985 with a perm and wearing both a blue batwing and a grey fluffy cardi - both handknitted with complete disregard for correct tension esp the cardi). and two cones of fine sheep’s colour Swaledale from Riverside Spinning.