Trying new things

Over the past weeks as I've been preparing for Yarndale at the end of the month, I've been playing around with some new dye techniques, and finding some fantastic ways to put colour on fibre!

Back on the podcast a little while ago, Allison suggested that I should try speckled fibre. As someone who has been slow to get on the speckled yarn bandwagon, I was a little bit dubious as to how that would look on fibre and then again as handspun yarn, but I've been trying it out and I am really pleased with the results!

Sand Creatures on Merino d'Arles

Sand Creatures on Merino d'Arles

Sand Creatures as a 2-ply

Sand Creatures as a 2-ply

What's even more interesting is that the speckles on the fibre in Sand Creatures ended up blending in the handspun yarn in ways I didn't expect.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how these colourways look spun up in different ways as other spinners put their own touches on them.

 

While the process I've developed for speckled fibres is more time-consuming than my standard dye process, it does allow me to layer on colours in ways that end up very unexpected sometimes!

Anakinra, the August Lab Goddess Fibre Club colourway

Anakinra, the August Lab Goddess Fibre Club colourway

I'm working on a few more different variations in the run up to Yarndale (including [left] Sunshower on BFL and [right] Gorse on Superfine Falkland), so if you're intrigued, please come by and have a squish in person! I'll be on Stall 163, and I hope to see you there!

Home from Yarndale

I'd not been to Yarndale, the spectacular Yorkshire celebration of all things colourful and woolly, before this past weekend, and I am definitely going back! From the location for the show to the spectacular decorations to the wide array of vendors, it was absolutely lovely.

First up: the venue - held in the Skipton Auction Mart, the site for Yarndale is not what would immediately spring to mind when thinking about a show venue. There's a rough concrete floor, and vendors are literally penned in - most stalls are placed inside one of the animal pens. And while this may strike you as a bit odd, as a vendor it was akin to having a ready made shell system. We took advantage!

Then there was the decoration of the hall - I sadly did not get a photo of the famous Yarndale Bunting, but there was plenty of added colour to enjoy!

Then there were the critters - alpaca, bunnies, sheep on every aisle. I was particularly taken by the matched set of alpacas at the end of our row on Saturday.

Then there were the sheep: Herdwicks, Shetlands, Jacobs, Wensleydales - just about everything you could possibly imagine!

Baby Herdwick

Baby Herdwick

Suspicious Jacob lamb

Suspicious Jacob lamb

Wensleydale with a recent haircut

Wensleydale with a recent haircut

Thanks so much to everyone who came by the booth over the weekend - it was a pleasure to meet so many of you! If there's something that you wish you'd grabbed at the show, the shop is now back online so go over and have a browse. If you don't see what you're looking for, let me know through the contact links at the bottom of the page. And hopefully I will see you next year in Skipton!

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!

Getting ready for Unravel

It's that last minute press to finish off bits and pieces of prep before packing up on Thursday and heading to Unravel. There's been a lot of final dyeing and prepping and labelling of fibre around here. Want to see some of what's coming with me this weekend?

I'm also super excited to be able to offer kits for my newest hat design, Ironwork.

Handspun undyed Shetland, with Crystal Violet, Coomassie Blue and Xylene Cyanole for the contrast colours.

Handspun undyed Shetland, with Crystal Violet, Coomassie Blue and Xylene Cyanole for the contrast colours.

The pattern is written with handspun in mind, and includes tips on how to spin the yarn. It's also got a handy chart to determine the finished size of your hat based on your preferred gauge with your particular yarn and needles. The gauges included run from 4-7 sts/inch, so the pattern can work with anything from fingering to worsted weight.

Undyed natural brown Shetland, with Congo Red, Ethidium Bromide and Yellow Fluorescent Protein as the contrast colours

Undyed natural brown Shetland, with Congo Red, Ethidium Bromide and Yellow Fluorescent Protein as the contrast colours

The kits will include 3 oz of main colour and three 0.5 oz bundles of the contrast colours. I'll have the two sample versions kitted up ready to go, but if you want to swap out some of the colours on the day, that's no problem! Kits will also include a printed version of the pattern, with a download code for the electronic version.

I'll be in the Barley room, next to the Yarn in the City booth (which will have copies of the London Craft Guide and yarn for the projects!), and I do hope you'll come by and say hello! And if you're around on Friday afternoon, please come to my talk on "Dyeing Science" from 4:00 - 5:00, where I'll share a few of the stories behind some of my more science-inspired colourways.

Unravel KAL, talks and much more!

Happy February everyone! It's hard to believe that we are already into the second month of the year, and the next show is barreling down like a runaway train. In other words, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger, but I'm not sure that's because I'm making progress!

My first stop on the February train journey is Bath, where I'll be teaching "How to Knit a Sexy Sweater" at A Yarn Story this coming Sunday. It's a two part class - the morning session will cover swatching: choosing a needle size, how to swatch properly so that your swatch doesn't lie to you, fibre content considerations, and the always important blocking of your swatch. The afternoon will dig deep into how to get your swatch, gauge and chosen sweater pattern to play nicely together, and will tap in to my deep and abiding love of spreadsheets (apologies in advance). There are still some slots available, so head over to A Yarn Story's website to sign up if you'd like to join us - we'd love to have you!

Maltings from Inspiration Knits

Maltings from Inspiration Knits

Multiple Maltings...

Multiple Maltings...

Next up on the list of February events is the Unravel Festival of Knitting, taking place at Farnham Maltings from 19th - 21st February. There's a lot of stuff swirling around for Unravel this year. Louise Zass-Bangham of Inspiration Knits has a new cowl pattern that she's released (and that I tech edited) for an Unravel KAL called Maltings (on Ravelry)- it's free until the show ends on 21st February, so go grab your copy now! Like many of Louise's patterns, Maltings inlcudes all sorts of tips on how to adjust the pattern to different yarns and different degrees of complexity, so you can truly make it your own! 

I'm really looking forward to Unravel for several reasons: Porpoise Fur will be there with a booth, sharing space with Yarn in the City (where Alli and I will have our new book available to purchase, along with yarn for the patterns in the book!), but I'm also tremendously honoured to be giving a talk on Friday afternoon from 4:00 - 5:00 pm. The talk is titled "Dyeing Science: From Inspiration to Colourway", and I'll be talking about the origin of some of Porpoise Fur’s science-inspired colourways, from the laboratory bench to finished dyed fibre. I'm really looking forward to sharing the process I go through from the starting images to fibre or finished yarn. The talks are free, and I'd love to have you all join me! Only please don't bring any rotten tomatoes with you...;-)