Sunday experiment 29th December 2013

Today’s Sunday experiment is still following the theme of making fibre to knit with, but this one requires absolutely no spinning whatsoever.
This week I’m going to try pulling then knitting unspun silk from silk hankies. It’s something I’d read about sometime ago and always wanted to try, but had been slightly dubious about whether or not it would work.
The results have however been fantastic I would thoroughly advise anyone to give it a go!!

I purchased my silk hankies from hilltop cloud , the same place I bought my diz, and they arrive looking like this


As you can see these are not the sort of hankies you blow your nose with, but are in fact silk cocoons that have been stretched to make this square shape.

At the edge of the stack you can see lots of individual layers


When you prise one of these layers off of the block you end up with a gossamer thin piece of silk that looks like this


This is the piece you need to work with. Now this next bit is my own interpretation of how to do this, there may be other ways to do it but I’ve found this the most effective.
What I do is take the middle of the hankie and pull it up into a cone like shape, and then start to draft out the fibre to knit with


This part really hurts your hands as the silk is so strong but is so very worth it for the gorgeous results.
Continue drafting till you have enough to work with, then start casting on your knitting.
I chose to make a pair of mittens out of mine ,as I read about someone else making gloves with this method, and they sounded a bit luxurious. I didn’t draft the entire hankie to begin with but just knitted till I ran out of pulled fibre and then drafted some more


When one hankie runs you just prise off another one and start the process over.
As the weather has turned a bit on the stormy side at the moment these gloves are going to be just perfect. The silk is so soft and keeps you warm and dry.
It does tend to catch a bit when you are knitting it up and also once it’s knitted, but this hardly seems to matter when wearing these silky soft gloves!


That’s all from the Sunday experiments for this year. I’ll be back shortly with some last minute finishing of projects and a new free pattern, as well as starting some things off for next years projects. Until then I hope you all enjoy happy festivities of the year xxxx

Sunday 22nd December 2013 experiment … Kind of ….

So here we go for another Sunday experiment on this kind of Monday looking Sunday … oops.. sorry blame it on the family get together…. or laziness at Christmas might be more apt…

So I’m keeping the wool theme going again but this time I’m looking to see if I can make a rainbow wool by blending it on my drum carder.
This idea came to me last week when I was making more of the slubby wool and it started to come out quite variegated.
I’ve seen people making rainbow wool by dyeing roving in order to give nice clear lines of colour but wondered if something similar can be achieved on the drum carder.
So far the answer is you sure can. It’s going to take quite a bit of practice to get something as neat as Kauni’s wool effektgarn , but that’s part of the beauty of owning a drum carder. This could of course be done on a blending board, but let me run you through what I did here:

So to start with I loaded up my drum carder with 6 different colours, 2 strands of each per load


A really important thing to do here is to overlap each different colour as you go across so as to get them to meld together a bit


I repeated this till the carder looked full, then pulled up two edges in order to start making the roving


I’m going to explain how to make roving again here, but for those who read last weeks Sunday experiment , it’s exactly the same.
I start by twisting a piece of fleece at the right hand corner of the drum carder


This gives me a piece to thread onto my diz


The next bit is quite tricky but what you need to do is draft or pull the fleece up behind the diz then through the hole to the front of it. You do this working from right to left then left to right across the drum carder


As I mentioned before there are lots of good videos out there on YouTube that explain how to do this, and I promise ill make one of my own soon.

Once you have all the fleece off of the drum you should have a load of psychedelic roving just like me !


So far I’m finding it difficult to be precise with where the colour changes will be, but I’m sure this is something that will come with time. I’m going to end up with lots of rainbow wool I think!

If you are after clear or precise colour changes I think the best way would be to dye it like that, but we shall see what it’s like when it’s spun up.

That’s all for now, i will be back with some Christmas makes later but till then happy festivities xxx

Just in time for the first frost

The beautiful wool I made on Sunday is becoming a bit addictive. I have finished the first project and have spun and begun knitting the second. A fantastic wool for last minute Christmas knits, or in this case, leaving presents……

I used a really simple go to pattern for this. Using 6mm needles (as these were the first to hand) I cast on 25 stitches then knit in stocking stitch till it looks a good length for a cowl, then maybe add a bit more… Simply because I twist it over to join so that extra bit adds a little wiggle room. Pick up the stitches on the cast on edge then graft together.


I have christened this wool Milky Way because of all the little flecks of star like white in the swirling purple background, and because I’m a bit of a geek…

If anyone would like a copy of this super simple cowl pattern I shall be writing one up for my ravelry page and leaving a link here.


The person receiving this is going somewhere pretty cold so it also doubles as an ear warmer.


On to the next one!


The Sunday experiment part 2

Now that I have some lovely soft roving I can move to my spinning wheel to make some wool. My intention was to make some even, bulky wool. However, because I had been so used to making fine wool my hands slipped back into drafting skinny wool then my brain reacted to go back to thick fluffy wool!

This meant I finally, even if it was accidentally, cracked spinning slubby wool.
Slub wool is lovely bumpy organic looking stuff, with thick and thin bits running along the length. I have often drooled over expensive slubby art yarn in wool shops, wishing I could spin my own.
So finally…

The initial set up of your spinning wheel is important here to allow for a nice fluffy wool. The draw in should be quite high, but the tension that controls the twist should be low. You don’t want too much twist as this will take the air out of the fibre.

When spinning, to achieve the skinny parts of the wool you should draft at your normal even pace. To achieve the slub part slide your hands quickly apart to get a nice big piece of fleece then move your front hand back to your drafting hand to let the slub through. This all needs to be done quite quickly to avoid building up to much twist in the slub. You can then return to drafting normally and when it feels right add another slub.


I realise that a video tutorial would be far more useful for learning this ,but as I have only just learnt this technique I might need some practice first.

I have started knitting it up straight away without setting the twist. It doesn’t seem to tangle up too much as it’s spun without much twist. It also makes for a beautifully soft wool because of all the air in it, and knits up with a lovely fluffy halo.

The main downside I’ve noticed to this little experiment today, is that you seem to leave quite a bit of fibre on the drum carder when pulling it off in rovings. This may improve with practice though. Most of the videos I have watched on this technique seem to use a blending board, which is fine if you have one. The problems with using a drum carder in place of a blending board is that it obviously likes to move about. Having pined after owning a drum carder for some time now though this is something I am more than happy to put up with.

The other issue with this technique is that it obviously uses up a lot of fibre. As I mentioned before I’m used to making skinny 2 ply which means a piece of fleece can go a really long way. When making thick airy slub, you suddenly come to the end of piece of roving in no time at all. Alternatively you could look at this as a really quick wool to spin and it knits up really quick too, so ….

I hope this has been useful and you have enjoyed this first Sunday experiment. Hopefully the first of many.



The Sunday experiment

If you are anything like me then you may find yourself repeating certain things within your crafts. For me, when I spin i have entered into the habit of only producing very fine 2 ply wool. This is lovely to weave from and knits beautiful fine garments but sometimes can be a bit tedious.

This began my plan to try some new wool types, however, not being content to limit myself to just one type of craft…. at any time…. ever!!! …. I’ve decided to branch this theme into a day a week of trying something different within one of the many crafts I attempt ( weaving, spinning, knitting, cooking, etc..) and write a little collection of how they go on here. These will be the Sunday experiments, and today we shall begin with slubby wool.

I’ve just recently purchased a diz ( a little shell with a hole in it) from hill top cloud and thought I might use this experiment to practice pulling blended roving.
I began by loading my drum carder20131215-171348.jpg

This was a mixture of merino, blue faced Leicester, cotton, and silk roving. They were all shades of red and purple apart from the plain white cotton.

Once the drum carder was full I pulled up the ends and then twisted an end at the right hand side of the drum


This means I can thread the end on to the diz


The next bit takes a bit of practice but I’m starting to get the hang of it already today. What you need to do is draft or pull up the fleece behind the diz and then pull it through the diz, working sideways across the drum….


This may make no sense and possibly works better on a blending board, but basically you are pulling off roving from right to left, then left to right across the drum. There are lots of videos out there on YouTube and once I get better I’ll load one up of my own.

Once you get to the end you should have some lovely multicoloured roving.

Time for a cup of tea. Back later with part two on how to make the wool xxx