Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Woolfest 2009

This year, for me, Woolfest was all about spinning. Yes, there were the usual array of fluffy and furry fibre sources on display...

and very cute they were too.

And a little yarn was purchased...

Sock yarn for the Resident Radiologist as reward for braving Woolfest for the second year in a row.

A skein of beautiful alpaca, silk and cashmere blend laceweight for me from The Yarn Yard.

But mostly it was all about fibre...

Angora fluff from one of the bunnies on show on the day,

Superwash BFL combed top (naturals) from The Yarn Yard; Superwash merino combed top (pinks / oranges) and Falkland wool combed top (blues and greens), both from Felt Studio UK.

Merino - silk blend combed top from Wingham Wool Work that I've already spun almost half of.

I also aquired some more tools for making yarn from fluff...

A beautiful second-hand lazy kate and bobbins and an Ashford Niddy-noddy.

As always, Woolfest was a real treat for the fibre fiend in me and a fantastic prologue to a couple of days in the Lake District, walking (Place Fell and Ullswater this year) and enjoying the wonderful weather.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

A Year in Yarn

About this time last year, I signed up for the Get Knitted Lorna's Laces sock yarn club. The deal was two skeins of a limited-edition colourway every two months.

The last installment arrived this month. To my eternal shame (as I'm meant to be stash-busting, not aquiring), I've not knitted any of it up yet, but I have plans...

Fandango - possibly destined for a Swirl Scarf.

Irish Jig - not sure yet - maybe socks for the Resident Radiologist?

Christmas Congo - definitely socks for the RR.

Laendler - may also be used in the Swirl Scarf.

Hula Kolili - this is the one I'm least fond of - I can't think what to do with it.

Three Drunken Maidens - socks for me.

There are several colourways here that I would have walked straight past in a shop and never have picked up myself, but they've all grown on me and each has it's own charms. In addition - as the club was from Get Knitted, they all arrived beautifully wrapped with a little extra (often edible) surprise.

Despite this blatent stash aquisition, I've actually been quite good over the last year. Any other yarn that I bought was knitted up straight away and on the whole, I've got less stash this year than last. I've also been having a clear-out so there is yarn available on my destash page on Ravelry. I may be about to make up for lost time though as the RR and I are off to the Lake District this weekend for some hill walking and a trip to Woolfest!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Caramel Alpaca

The whole recent spinning thing was instigated by a random conversation with a friend of my in-laws 18 months ago. She has five alpacas of varying colours that she keeps and I asked where she sold their fleeces onto when they were sheared. 'Nowhere' came the reply 'we just throw them away'. I was really surprised by this and explained that alpaca is a lovely fibre to knit with and that surely some small-scale spinner would use them...

...skip forward a few months and the in-laws came to visit. My FIL handed me a large sturdy carrier bag full of caramel coloured alpaca fluff. They'd been sheared and could I use some?

At that time, I didn't know how to spin and wasn't sure that I really wanted to learn (there's only so much time and another fibre-related obsession would detract from knitting time). The idea must have grown on me though, as, a couple of months later I bought a drop spindle at Woolfest, then recently I learned to use it and bought the hand carders needed to card the fleece.

I've been combing raw, unwashed fleece into these light and airy rolags...

Which spin up into a fairly fine single.

I then navajo-plied them and washed the yarn in the skein.

The finished product is a little underspun so I'm going to work on that in the next batch, but for now, I have about 100m of caramel coloured 100% alpaca yarn processed entirely from the raw fleece by hand.