Tag Archives: Ravelry

Spreading the love

Valentines day will soon be upon us, and although I’ve never celebrated it much, I really love the idea that Eddie over at the Grey Duckling, has cooked up for it. It is taking the love theme of Valentines, but allowing it more scope, and spreading the love worldwide.

It’s called A World in Love. The idea is very simple: you craft a heart, anything goes, using whatever material you enjoy working with, I’m knitting one, but there are people making some out of paper and so on. You then photograph that heart in a place you love, or which holds a special place in your heart. You upload your photo onto the flickr group, or post in in the Ravelry or the facebook group and it will be uploaded for you on flickr.

You can also add a few words about the place. And I love the next bit: the photos are geotagged to show a map of the hearts. I think for the moment there are not that many yet, but I know of people around the world thinking of making theirs… So I can’t wait to see what comes of it.

Tree in Winchester

This picture was taken by Eddie from Grey Duckling, with a heart I knit for her with the yarn she spun from a recycled sweater... There's so much I love about this: the tree (I'm tree obsessed), the recycled yarn, Winchester, the beautiful winter light...

I’m currently knitting a contribution to the group, which I want to photograph in London as I’m there twice a week at the moment and there are so many places I love there… I’ve been struggling with light lately as the winter sun is being particularly difficult in England in the past couple of weeks, but I’ll definitely get at least one photo on there before the 14th of February.

Will you?


My first ever KAL

Over on the Historic Crafts group on Ravelry, Eddie and I decided set up a knit-along (KAL). Since lace is one of the Historic Crafts winter themes, we decided a lace shawl would be a perfect fit. The beautiful Estonian lace of the Echo Flower shawl by Jenny Johnson appealed to both of us and so we settled on that pattern.

Lotus blossom stitch

Last spring I knitted Elizabeth Freeman’s Laminaria, and absolutely loved the lotus blossom chart. Knitting it and watching it grow never got boring, even after I added an extra two repeats. This was more or less what drew me towards this model for the KAL. That very same stitch lotus blossom stitch is used in the body of the Echo Flower Shawl, which takes its inspiration from Laminaria. I love the more rounded edges which finish Echo Flower, and after knitting two full-size shawls for gifting, I am looking forward to keeping this one all to myself.


Zephir by Fonty, 100% wool

After many back and forth between yarns I wanted to use for this first ever KAL, I finally settled on a cone of laceweight yarn I’ve had for about a year now and have not started on yet. It is a French yarn: Zephir by Fonty, in a teal colorway I absolutely love. Can’t wait to see how it grows, and see the choices of the rest of the Ravelers in the KAL.

Here are my modest efforts for today as I cast on quite late in the day. They were further delayed by my lack of focus which led me to frog my starting garter stitch about four times. By the time I had to leave Eddie’s I had just completed the set up chart and was about to move on to the next chart. The colour is truest in the photo on the right, taken in natural light before I started knitting, whilst the picture below was taken in an artificial light.


Come and join us if you like, the pattern is beautiful, it’s free, we’ve just embarked on an exciting journey.

Childhood challenge: all spun up

Remember the Spindlers’ challenge for December over on Ravelry with the childhood theme? I finished the spinning just before leaving home.

So this batch of alpaca and this spindle which I’d made out of resin:

Got spun and navajo plied on the fly and became this:

Which turned into this, once washed and whacked:

This was fun! It’s the first time I participated in the spindlers challenge, but I really enjoyed the process of thinking of the theme and deciding on how to interpret it and so on. The spindle theme very simply makes me think of my childhood, as does the caramel colored alpaca. It also made me finally deal with this batch of fiber which I’d had for a while.

Alpaca is definitely not my favorite ever fiber to spin. It sheds quite a bit and I’m not all that fond of the ‘hairiness’ of the finished product. Or of finding wads of alpaca hair under the armpits of my coat… never a flattering touch… It also created a few problems in the navajo plying because sometimes when going through the loop, some of the hair got a bit ‘ruffled’ in a way, and came out of the twist a bit. But that would probably have not been a problem with a different type of plying.

Still despite the few hiccups I tremendously enjoyed the whole challenge. Now I want to knit this yarn into something also related to the theme. I had Mousie on the mind, but seeing the quantity: just under 200 yards if I remember right (the yarn is home with its tag and I’m not)¬† and the weight: between heavy laceweight and light fingering, I might have to go and look for something else to do with it…

Any suggestions?

Childhood challenge

Over on Ravelry, the spindlers group has monthly challenges. I’ve always followed other people’s take on the theme of the month, stalked the thread, and admired the yarn, but I’ve never actually taken part before.

This month, the theme is childhood, and I thought I had the perfect fiber and spindle to jump in. I bought this alpaca as part of my first lot of fibers from Wingham Wool, it’s in the natural shade Fawn, but in my eyes, it’s the perfect caramel colour (I can’t quite photograph the shade right, it’s slightly darker with more brown and reds in real life). It reminds me of the salted butter caramel sweets I used to have as a kid in France. For some reason I only tried to spin a bit of it when I first got it to try spinning alpaca, but I never really got round to spinning the rest of it. This felt like the perfect opportunity. The spindle is a reminder of the hours I spent on the swing set in our garden.

I’m not entirely sure yet what will happen to this skein so I decided to three-ply it because I love the look of three or four-ply yarn. I’m navajo-plying my yarn using the ply-on-the-fly technique, which for me is instant gratification because you can see straight away how the yarn is going to turn out once plied. Plus once you get into the rythm it’s a bit like when you get a bit of momentum on the swing.

Somehow I’m finding it more fiddly plying on the fly with alpaca than with wool, so I’m giving the singles quite a lot of twist and plying it more tightly than I usually would. It’s turning out about fingering weight, although I’ve not calculated wpi yet. The challenge only requires one skein to be spun by the end of the month regardless of its weight or length. I’m not going for a big skein, but would like to be able to not only spin but also knit a small item related to the theme by the end of December. I was thinking of maybe Mousie by Ysolda Teague, but that would only take a fraction of it, any other suggestions?

The spindle tales: Bottom whorl, the Turkish spindle

Bottom whorl drop spindles, as their name suggests, differ from the high or top whorl spindles by the fact that the whorl is situated in the lower part of the shaft, giving it a low centre of gravity. The yarn is then secured at the top of the shaft, either through a hook or with a half hitch.

IST Crafts Turkish spindle

The Turkish spindle is a variant on the bottom whorl spindle. On a Turkish, the whorl is not made of one piece, but of arms. The cop is not wound above the whorl but around it. Unlike other types of spindles, the Turkish spindle is made from independent parts and can be easily disassembled. The whorl consists of two pieces, which slide into each other to form four arms, and the shaft runs through both pieces, stabilising the whole. Mine, shown here, is a tiny beauty weighing just 10 grams, its shaft is ash and its whorl zebrano wood. It’s an IST Crafts creation and spins like a dream. I absolutely love it, and I’ve spun a lot of cobweb singles on it. Like all spindles, the Turkish spindles come in a variety of weights and shapes, so a heavier one will be more suited to thicker yarns.

Turkish spindle with the cop almost at full capacity

On a Turkish, the cop is built by wrapping the yarn around the arms. Once the spindle is full, which is when the cop almost reaches the ends of the arms, or once you have enough yarn, the cop can be removed by sliding the whorl and cop up and off the shaft, then pushing the arms out, thinnest one first. This presents one major advantage: as the arms are removed, the cop stands as a stable ball of yarn, meaning that it can be used straight away without having to wind it off the spindle, either to ply or to knit. By securing the start of the yarn onto the shaft before starting the cop it is apparently possible to use the ball from both ends. This is not something I’ve done yet, so please let me know if you have.

If you are a Ravelry user, there is a very interesting thread on building a cop on a Turkish spindle, with some beautiful images of cops being built with amazing regularity. I do realise that marveling at this makes me the ultimate spinning geek, but I can live with that. I also have to admit that I am far from being as systematic in my cop building as the Ravelers in question and rather tend to wind my cops any old way, following only the ‘under one arm and over two’ system, which helps keeping the base of the spindle relatively flat, and builds the cop mainly upward and outward. What I love most is the little star shape the yarn makes on the arms at the very start.

Isn't the star shaped cop at the base of the spindle cute?

Overall I find I spin on the Turkish spindle slightly slower than on some other of my spindles because I’m not as fast winding the cop on the Turkish as I am on my top whorls. And yet, I still use it a lot, because it’s such a joy to spin with. I thoroughly enjoy my teeny tiny Turkish: it’s my lightest and smallest spindle, so a favorite to carry around, and I just love being able to take the cop out, instantly freeing the spindle.