Making New

Over the last few weeks (with the sudden surge in my designing mojo created by no day job!), I’ve been working on updating my older patterns and getting them into the current layout. Along the way I’ve realized that this necessitates knitting new samples, as the old ones are gone or stored in the UK somewhere (in other words: totally inaccessible).

First up on the table was my oldest self published pattern, Turkish Walrus.

Turkish Walrus.JPG

I designed these in 2008 (!!!), wrote up the pattern, published it as a freebie and didn’t really look at it again. When I went back to update it, I was a bit stunned at how far my pattern writing has come since then (thank you tech editing!) So I ordered some yarn (Cascade 220 Sport) to knit a new sample, worked through the pattern (correcting all the errors), and spent the last week rewriting the pattern and putting it in the proper layout so it looks nice.

New Turkish Walrus samples and handspun for long version hanging to dry

New Turkish Walrus samples and handspun for long version hanging to dry

While I was working on this, I got inspired to spin some yarn to knit another version - this one will be two colors only (one variegated handspun yarn, one commercial yarn) and longer with a ribbed cuff. Since these socks are worked toe-up, it’s an easy change to add one some length to the leg, but i’m also going to include spinning details and get the final pattern tech edited by someone other than me. So when that version is added, Turkish Walrus will switch from being a free pattern to a pay-for pattern.

All this will hopefully happen over the next month, so if you like the look of these and want to try them out before it goes behind a paywall, download now!

A Talisman


Waaaaaay back in 2016 I cast on Helen Stewart’s Talisman Shawl in some lovely Jaeggarspun Zephyr Wool-Silk lace weight in a gorgeous periwinkle color. And, as happens so often, life interfered and the project sat neglected in a corner of my studio for quite a long time.

Until last summer that is, when I was packing up projects to take with me on our gap year - I found my Talisman in a project bag and, realizing that I was more than halfway done, I took it back to Maine with me. It was the perfect project for recovering from jet lag, and I finished the knitting in October.

Talisman Shawl.JPG

And then it languished for a few more months while Alex and the girls and I went off on our big travel adventure. Yesterday I soaked it in some warm water, rolled it in a towel and pinned it out on the bed to dry. Today it went back to DC with my brother as a very belated Christmas gift for his girlfriend. I hope she loves it!

Pattern: Talisman Shawl by Helen Stewart (part of The Shawl Society)

Yarn: Jaeggarspun Zephyr Wool Silk, in color #47

Needles: US 4/3.5 mm and US 5/3.75 mm

Start/finish: sometime in Summer 2016/23 February 2019 (!)

Gauge: forgot to measure, but I suspect its not the gauge given in the pattern (see below)

Comments: the pattern is originally written for fingering weight yarn, but I’d been dying to use this lace weight that had been in my stash for years. I knit the medium size and didn’t use up all of the yarn (630 yd on a cone). It ended up a good shawlette size, and the larger needles relative to the yarn weight mean it’s a lovely open airy fabric.

Talisman blocking.JPG

I also blocked the shawl I knit in Australia - stay tuned for more details on that project shortly.

Back to the spindle

The last few months have been (as you might imagine) a bit of a whirlwind. My stash and I are currently on opposite sides of the world (both the small stash in Maine and the larger stash in the UK), and it’s currently 35 degrees C where I am, so there is a conspicuous lack of holiday crafting going on.

What I have had with me in the last couple of months is my lovely 3D printed Turtlemade spindle (a gift from Alli via Cat & Sparrow) and a bit of Porpoise Fur fibre that had been languishing in the unsold stock pile for quite a while.

BFL-nylon part 1.JPG

The fibre is 70% Bluefaced Leicester/30% trilobial nylon. It spins like straight BFL, but the nylon adds some sparkle in interesting ways - it isn’t a fully mixed blend, so there are streaks of nylon in the top that shine, a bit like a silk blend.

So over the past two months I’ve slowly worked away at this 100 g, and this week I finished the singles and the plying! I managed to fit all the singles onto my not-very-large spindle in a monster cop,

Full Turkish.JPG

wound off on an improvised niddy noddy,

Stool-niddy noddy.JPG

and ended up with 164 yd/150 m of lovely, perfectly balanced (!), DK to sport weight yarn.

It is very well timed that I’ve finished this yarn now, as I’m about to head off to Cairns which has a dearth of yarn shops. Now I have something to knit with, the question becomes what to make with it? Suggestions welcome!

All Change

Today is my 46th birthday, and so it seems like a good time to explain what has been and is going on with me and mine.

We originally came to the UK in 2009 for what was meant to be three years. It has been a fantastic outcome that those initial three years have turned into almost ten, and we've loved it! But over the past year it has become apparent that there are real forces pulling us back in the direction of the States. We are very lucky in that our parents are all still in good shape, but they are definitely slowing down so there is a motivation to be closer.

More importantly however, we have two children who - despite having lived in London for the vast majority of their lives - self-identify and are identified by their peers as American. But they don't actually know what that means. 

A little less than a year ago my husband and I had one of those conversations where we suddenly realised that we had a huge opportunity to change things up in a major way. He had been at the same company for more than 15 years, and was ready for something different. I was a year into a new full-time career, and was realising exactly how portable it could be. Add in ageing parents and the girls, and we started floating the idea of taking a step back and looking for new opportunities, while exposing the kids to new experiences.

The end result of many months of conversations and soul-searching is that we are taking a gap year - somewhat belated as we both finished high school almost 30 years ago! We will be going on a whirlwind travel adventure that includes a couple of road trips across the US to really introduce the girls to their homeland, four months in Asia and Oceania, and the space to figure out what we want to do when we grow up. Normal everyday life is so busy and full of stuff that it has been impossible for us (like so many others) to carve out any spare energy to contemplate alternatives to the current status quo. We are extraordinarily lucky to be able to take this time out and figure out what comes next, and I am looking forward to seeing what new and exciting doors open up as a result!

So that's the Cliff Notes version of the story behind the Porpoise Fur hiatus. I fully expect to be back dyeing in the future, once we get ourselves settled and sorted out on the other end of this year. Without a clear idea of when that will be I don't want to put any firm timelines on the return! If you haven't already signed up to the newsletter, please do so here, and I will keep everyone posted when Porpoise Fur is back! And the 25% off sale is still on until 10 September, so please head over to the Shop to stock up.


Lab Goddess Fibre Club - 2017 Third Quarter Round Up

The third quarter of the 2017 Lab Goddess Fibre Club is done and dusted, so it's time to share all the goodies from the last round with you.

July brought Cobalamin on Wensleydale, inspired by British scientist Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, a chemist and X-ray crystallographer. Dorothy Hodgkin was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964 for her work in determining the structure of Vitamin B12 (also called cobalamin).

Cobalamin on Wensleydale

Cobalamin on Wensleydale

To date, she remains the only British woman to have been awarded any of the three Nobel prizes in science (Physics, Chemistry and Physiology or Medicine).

August brought us to another British scientist, Dame Nancy Rothwell, a physiologist and neuroscientist whose research has investigated energy balance regulation, obesity and wasting syndrome, and now focuses on inflammatory processes that damage the brain after stroke. The August colourway, Anakinra, was named for a drug that Dr. Rothwell is currently working with to see if it can prevent stroke damage, and was dyed on Finnish, a medium wool.

Anakinra on Finnish

Anakinra on Finnish

The quarter finished with a special base, 80% organic Merino/20% mulberry silk that I've been hoarding for quite a while, waiting for the right project.

Substance X on 80% organic Merino/20% mulberry silk

Substance X on 80% organic Merino/20% mulberry silk

This colourway was inspired by Alma Levant Hayden, an African-American chemist who was instrumental in debunking Krebiozen, a 1960s miracle cure for cancer which actually did nothing of the sort. Instead of a revolutionary new medical advance, Krebiozen turned out to be nothing more than creatine, a naturally occurring organic acid produced by the liver.

Slots are still available for the last round of the Lab Goddess Fibre Club for 2017, and I hope you'll join us!