Lab Goddess Fibre Club March 2017

I've come back from two weeks on holiday to discover that while I was away, the leaves have come out and spring is truly arrived! (As my hayfever can attest!) What better moment to share the most recent Lab Goddess Fibre Club colourway?

Surinamensium on Bluefaced Leicester

Surinamensium on Bluefaced Leicester

Surinamensium is inspired by entymologist and scientific illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian, who lived from 1647-1717. Trained from childhood as an artist, Merian painted her first images of insects and plants at age 13. Her first book of natural illustrations was published in 1675 and in 1699 the city of Amsterdam gave her a grant to travel to South America, where she spent the next two years travelling through the colonies, sketching.

In 1705, her most famous work - Metamorphosis insectorium Surinamensium - was published, and was one of the first books to detail insect metamorphosis, a process which had been largely ignored as insects were considered unworthy of scientific interest. 

The image that inspired the colours used in the March Fibre Club.

The image that inspired the colours used in the March Fibre Club.

I wanted greens for the March colourway, but coupled those with blue, brown and mauve from the moth's wings. I can't wait to see how this colourway spins up, as the contrast in the depth of shade of the different colours should make for some interesting pops in the finished yarn.

This month marks the start of the second Fibre Club of 2017 and slots are still available - they will be closing as of early tomorrow morning, so if you'd like to join in please don't wait! I'm off to enjoy the fresh spring greens and start spinning up my Surinamensium - happy bank holiday to you all!

Lab Goddess Fibre Club, Q4 2016

So somewhere in the haze that was October-December, I managed to completely forget about a) this blog and b) sharing the monthly fibre club colourways. What this means is that I now get to do one biiiiig blog post about all of them, and remind you to sign up for the first quarter of 2017, which is currently being dyed...;-)

First up: October's lovely Alchemy on moorit Shetland, inspired by Irène Joliot-Curie:

As the Lab Goddess Fibre Club came around to its one year anniversary, it seemed appropriate to highlight the daughter of the inaugural Lab Goddess, Marie Curie. Like her mother, Irène Joliot-Curie worked on radioactivity. However, her path to scientific success took a different route. Her scientific studies were interrupted by World War I, and she spent time with her mother running the mobile field hospitals equipped with the first X-ray machines used in the field. After the war, she returned to Paris to study at the Radium Institute, and met her husband, Frédéric Joliot. They combined their efforts to study atomic nuclei, identifying positrons and neutrons.

In 1934, the Joliot-Curies made the discovery that would later earn them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935; they converted boron into nitrogen, aluminium into phosphorus and magnesium into silicon, all through the use of radioactive irradiation. In their successful conversion of one element into another, the Joliot-Curies realised a long-held dream of natural philosophers for hundreds of years: alchemical transmutation. The transformation of aluminium into phosphorus is, perhaps, not as impressive as turning lead into gold, but the actual conversion of one element into another is a stunning achievement.

For the colour inspiration, I found an image of a poster for a modern musical by Clive Nolan, a progressive rock musician and composer, called Alchemy. The colours were a perfect match for the fibre I chose for this month’s club – swirling dark black, blues and greys, with pops of red and orange.

Next up: November - Hive on superwash Bluefaced Leicester, inspired by nuclear physicist Eva Crane:

Eva Crane (née Eva Widdowson) obtained her doctorate in nuclear physics, and was a lecturer on nuclear physics at Sheffield University, beginning in 1941. The following year, she married James Crane and they received a swarm of bees as a wedding present – the giver hoped the hive would help supplement their wartime sugar ration. Dr. Crane soon became fascinated with the hive and joined a local bee club. This unusual wedding present sparked an interest that dominated the rest of her life.

Dr. Crane wrote over 180 papers, articles and books on bees. They ranged from the history of beekeeping through beekeeping methods and the nutritional aspects of honey. Her studies took her all over the world, to more than 60 countries, and she was regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on apiculture. The US Department of Agriculture used her research to help bees in Louisiana develop resistance to mites that had been devastating the local population by breeding them to the Russian mite-resistant bees mentioned in her book.

With the arrival of winter, I was craving some bright, summer colours on my wheel! Enter this colourway, inspired by the buzz of summer: there’s dark amber for sweet, sticky honey, some really dark brown and bright yellow for the stripes of the bees, and some paler tones to even everything out.

Which finally brings us to the last instalment of 2016: Typhi, inspired by toxicologist and occupational health pioneer, Alice Hamilton.

Alice Hamilton was born in New York City and raised in Indiana. She received her medical degree in 1893, and developed an interest in public health, bacteriology and pathology. These interests found common ground when, in 1897, she moved to Chicago to take a position at Northwestern University and became a member and resident of Hull House.

Hull House was founded 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, and based on the Toynbee Hall, a centre for social reform in the East End of London. The mission of Hull House was to provide social and educational opportunities for working class people, particularly recent immigrants.

During her time at Hull House, Dr. Hamilton focused her efforts identifying the causes of typhoid and tuberculosis in the surrounding community. Her work led to an overhaul of sanitary practices in the city. In 1908, she was appointed to the newly formed state Commission on Occupational Diseases, and focused on industrial poisons. Their report resulted in the passage of occupational disease laws in a number of states. She continued working on occupational health for the rest of her career, as well as continuing her efforts for the wormen’s rights and peace movements.

In 1919, Hamilton was offered a position in the new Department of Industrial Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In going to Harvard, she became the first woman to be appointed to the university faculty in any field.



The colourway for the December club was derived from an image from the CDC of multi-antibiotic-resistant typhoid bacteria. The bacteria in the image have been depicted as pink, a somewhat fluffy colour for something so deadly. I found the black/pink contrast too stark when I tested it though, so I paired pinks and burgundy with shades of brown. These supplemental colours also reflect the places in the human body where the Salmonella typhi bacteria live – the blood and intestines.


So that's the overview of the fourth quarter of 2016 from the Lab Goddess Fibre Club. Spaces are still available in the next round, running from January-March - the first colourway is in progress and will be shipping out the week of 16th January. Fibre club sign ups will close at the end of the day on Friday the 13th of January, so don't miss out!

Lab Goddess Fibre Club September 2016

Last week saw the shipment of the last instalment of the third quarter of the 2016 Lab Goddess Fibre Club - Oh Be a Fine Girl on Falkland.

Let me talk about the base first: after a couple of months of crunchy wools, I decided September was a good time for something soft and luxurious. It's also my birthday month, so a treat was called for! This superfine Falkland Merino is soft, squishy and breathtakingly easy to spin. This fibre will make fantastic shawls, cowls and hats - good for anything that's going to be next to your skin.

The colourway is inspired by Annie Jump Cannon, an American astronomer and the person who came up with a new classification for star magnitude using visible light. Over her 40 year career in astronomy, she manually classified (i.e. with her bare eyes through a telescope) approximately 350,000 stars, including 300 variable stars, five novas and one pair of binary stars.

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    By Jan Homann - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Jan Homann - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The colourway name and palette come from the spectral classification system that Annie Jump Cannon invented, which is based on the emission spectra of the hydrogen atom, and reflects the effective temperature of the star. The classifications are identified as ), B, A, F, G, K and M, andhave relative colour labels: blue, blue white, white, yellow white, yellow, orange and red, ranging from hottest to coolest. The colourway is a repeating sequence of the spectral classes.

The name comes from the mnemonic that Annie Jump Cannon derived to keep track of the classifications: “Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me.” 

This is the last month of the current fibre club, but spaces are still available for the fourth quarter, running from October through December - space is limited so don't wait!

Fibre Club Quarter 3 sign ups

All the Lab Goddess FIbre Club colours to date: Top right corner: Cortus on Wensleydale; Mutable Loci on Cheviot' Dark Lady on BFL   Bottom right corner (clockwise from top left): A Life Aquatic on Corriedale; Core Shift on Humbug Jacob; Cacophony on Shetland; alpha, beta, gamma on Finnish Bottom left corner: Blue Lias on Merino d'Arles

All the Lab Goddess FIbre Club colours to date:
Top right corner: Cortus on Wensleydale; Mutable Loci on Cheviot' Dark Lady on BFL

Bottom right corner (clockwise from top left): A Life Aquatic on Corriedale; Core Shift on Humbug Jacob; Cacophony on Shetland; alpha, beta, gamma on Finnish
Bottom left corner: Blue Lias on Merino d'Arles

It's a grey rainy day here in London to celebrate the end of May, so I've been amusing myself by making photo collages of all the Lab Goddess Fibre Club colourways to date. It's very interesting to see them all together and I'm finding myself brainstorming about what colours are missing from the pallet so far and looking ahead to the upcoming months. Dyeing for the June club will start this week, and be out to Club members by mid-month.

This brings me to my next announcement, which is that spaces in the third quarter of the Fibre Club will open tomorrow at 9:00 am London time, and be available both on the Lab Goddess Fibre Club page and in the Shop. The club will still be £45 plus shipping costs for each space - this includes 4 oz/113 g of fibre dyed in an exclusive colourway inspired by a female scientist and a leaflet with some background on the scientist, as well as information about the base chosen and the development of the colourway. Royal Mail has increased their shipping costs slightly but this will be absorbed into the cost of the club for the time being - shipping costs will be as currently listed on the Fibre Club page.

I've picked the inspiration sources for the rest of the year, and I am really excited to see what colourways come out of it, so please do come and join us! 

Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Skyesong and Fibre Club updates

Quantum Dots, which will be available at EYF on some super soft Falkland merino

Quantum Dots, which will be available at EYF on some super soft Falkland merino

Well. It seems like the last almost four weeks since Unravel have flown by in a blur of wool and dye and chaos. It seems that way because they have! I've been full on prepping for Edinburgh Yarn Festival, which opens for classes today and for vast and fantastic stash enhancement on Friday. I've sent off five (!) boxes of fluff, have crammed a pile more into my luggage, and will be on a train northward in just a few hours, just in time to set up.

However, a few other things have happened in the last few weeks that I'd like to highlight. First off, slots are now open for Q2 of the 2016 Lab Goddess Fibre Club. The club runs £45 plus actual shipping cost (depending on location), and will include three monthly shipments of an exclusive colourway inspired by a woman scientist, either past or current. Check out the Fibre Club page to see past colourways and to book your space now.

Current fibre club members: parcels will ship out next week, and I hope you like this month's instalment!

Skyesong in Broadbean merino/flax

Skyesong in Broadbean merino/flax

Secondly - I have a new pattern out! Skyesong is a lace shawl designed for handspun, and I'm super thrilled that it's been published in the new issue of Knitty. The body of the shawl is worked in a garter lace pattern (knit on every row - woot!) until it is the desired size, and then the edge is finished with a border worked sideways and attached to the live stitches.

One important thing to mention: this is proper lace knitting, with things happening on both the right and wrong side rows. However, the body repeat is only four rows long, so it's not too difficult to get into a rhythm. The edging is more complicated and longer (20 rows), but the stitch count changes on every row, so it's pretty straightforward to figure out where you are in the repeat as you go on.

The pattern includes two sizes - the small version was knit up in fingering-weight yarn spun from some gorgeous wool/flax sliver that I got at Spunky Eclectic a couple of summers ago, in the Lobster colourway. The larger version was worked in my own 60% merino/40% flax top, dyed in the Broadbean colourway.

I'll have plenty of the merino/flax top at EYF this weekend, in both semisolid and variegated colourways, so if you're inspired for a little lacey shawl project, please stop by!