Monthly Archives: March 2015

Vortex

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Vortex

Background:

This was my first attempt at a gradient yarn. The colours were inspired by the character of Venger from the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon series. I envisioned a black to grey to red progression (the grey section was hidden when the yarn was caked, but it is in there!), with colours swirling in and out as they transitioned. I carded together different ratios of coloured merino for each section, and then navajo plied the single in order to preserve the colour transition. I was pleased with how the yarn turned out, but won’t know how the final effect works unless the recipient is kind enough to share a picture of whatever she makes from the yarn.

Story:

Swirling, whirling vortex of entropy.

Clouds twist and billow around each other

Like the chaotic coils of a cooling flame.

Forces outside myself pull to the unknown.

Instinct threatens fear, until my mind says Stop!

For what is the unknown, if not an abundance of possibility?

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Information:

Title: Vortex

Composition: 100% merino

Weight: 150g / 12 WPI / DK

Length: 350yd / 320m approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: March 2015

Skein code: 0009

Fibre: Merino 70s, 21 micron

Source: Wingham Wool Work – Black, Pale Grey & Brick Red

Status: Gifted

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Unicorn Fluff

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Unicorn Fluff

Background:

This was spun for a themed project, and the inspiration was the character Uni the unicorn from the wonderful Dungeons and Dragons cartoon of the 80s. Now here’s something you may not know about me: I have a master in physics degree. So I have studied light and it fascinates me. Colour mixing is one of the interesting elements, working via colour addition for light and colour subtraction for inks. We perceive colours as a mixture of 3 primary colours of light. Broadly speaking these are red, green and blue and are derived from the 3 light-sensitive types of cone cell in our retinas which are activated by short, medium, and long wavelength photons in the visible light spectrum. A curious consequence of our biology is that when only the short- and long-wavelength cones are activated, the colour we see is one that doesn’t actually exist anywhere on the visible light spectrum.

Story:

How apt! To be crafting a mythical creature

From colours that shouldn’t exist.

Light’s a curious thing, and the colours therein

Are defined by our senses as three.

Fire red cones and blue, and magenta’s the hue,

With pink just a pale variation.

Yet green, in between, is not to be seen

So magenta’s nowhere on the spectrum.

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Information:

Title: Unicorn Fluff

Composition: 100% unicorn*

Weight: 100g / 15 WPI / Sports weight or ‘5-ply’

Length: 321yd / 294m approx

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: March 2015

Skein code: 0010

Fibre: 50g of Standard rainbow merino (70%) & silk (30%) and 50g of 50% baby camel & 50% tussah silk

Source: Wingham Wool Work – (RMS/BP) & (BCAMS)

Status: Gifted

Notes:

This yarn was ‘Z’-plied to improve crochet stitch definition.

* Just kidding! 40% silk, 35% merino & 25% baby camel

Book Review: Folk Shawls

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Book Review: Folk Shawls

Folk Shawls: 25 knitting patterns and tales from around the world

by Cheryl Oberle

“Folk Shawls” is a beautiful book that enchanted me from the first time I saw it. Presented are 25 patterns for knitted shawls, organised by their country of origin and with tales of  the history and folklore of each region, including the historical importance of textiles to that society.

Naturally the combination of fibre arts and traditional tales is one that appeals to me. I really appreciated knowing the background, the cultural context and the development of the designs Cheryl Oberle presents. There is lots here to learn. Did you know the Faroe Islands were named after fairies; in fact Faroese in Old Norwegian means “Fairyland”? Me neither! I learnt of the red shawls of the English Victorian wool peddlers, and the traditional South American ruana, favoured by weavers as its rectangular construction negated the need to cut the precious woven cloth. Some of the shawl designs traditionally would have been knitted, some were woven and have inspired the patterns presented here. Each pattern comes with detailed instructions, charted where lace patterns make up some or all of the designs, and a stunning colour photograph.

I have yet to work any of the designs, but the Icelandic feather and fan triangular shawl is in the pipeline. It is worked in natural sheep’s wool colours, for which I have chosen black, grey and white wool breeds from around the British Isles. This will be the first time I’ve planned a project right from the fleece stage, so I have a lot of spinning ahead of me.

There is something in this book for everyone. The styles cover triangular, square and rectangular shawls, small and large, fine lace to sturdy garter stitch, each of them beautiful, practical and meaningful. The last word goes to the author herself:

To those who say “I don’t wear shawls” my answer is “That’s because you haven’t met the right shawl!” I hope you find it here.

Published by Interweave Press LLC, 2000.

Magical Mystery Tour

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Magical Mystery Tour

Background:

This was an unusual skein for me, as I struggled to really clarify any image or direction for a story. My initial notes say “Kinda grungy, but also kinda bright. Odd combo of colours: coral, royal blue, yellow fading to green as it blends with black. Flashes of white. No idea where this will take me!” Which is how it earned the name Magical Mystery Tour.

Story:

It’s a mystery alright. I don’t know where to begin, there’s nothing to grab onto, to build on.

So, don’t try to hold on.

Take a step back. Take in the totality and let it organise itself. Let it come – don’t make it happen. Lose yourself. Let it surround you.

You don’t need to try so hard.

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Information:

Title: Magical Mystery Tour

Composition: Merino with silk

Weight: 100g / 11WPI / Light worsted weight

Length: 173m / 190yd approx

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: January 2015

Skein code: 0008

Fibre: Merino 21 micron with silk

Source: Wingham Wool Work’s Yorkshire range – Bolton on Dearne (YR/BOLTON/SK)

Status: Gifted

Lagoon

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Lagoon

Background:

This skein was spun as a gift and I fell in love with the beautiful shades of jade and teal greens. Its first working title was ‘Malachite’, but the lagoon image was persistent and won through in the end. My impressions during spinning were of swirling seascapes, dynamic contours and silver flashes as the fibres of white silk would flow through my fingers.

Story:

Midnight on the sandy beach. Clear skies above and malachite waters beside. Jade hues are shot through with metallic filaments as the moonlight glints off ripples in the lagoon. Breezes sculpt the contours of the surface and silver fish dart through the deep. The rest of the world fades to black, as I stop and savour this glimpse of tranquility.

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Information:

Title: Lagoon

Composition: 70% Merino 30% Silk

Weight: 100g / 17 WPI / Sports weight or ‘5-ply’

Length: 305m / 333yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat

Details:

Date: July 2014

Skein code: 0003

Fibre: Jades merino and silk. Approx. 70% merino 70’s / 30% white silk

Source: Wingham Wool Work – (RMS/J)

Status: Gifted

Humbug

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Humbug

Background:

An early experiment with more exotic fibres. The yak and silk mix was the ultimate in sheen, shimmer and soft, slippery lustre. It spun into a fine, strong yarn.

Story:

I watch the yarn at the moment of its creation, stretching between my hands, like the sweet treat of pulled toffee. Dark and white streaks mingle together – mint humbugs in a crinkled paper bag – all smooth, silky stripes on the outside like the proud sheen of a vain tabby cat. As the feline, so this yarn speaks of luxury. It is to be savoured, and slowly enjoyed.

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Information:

Title: Humbug

Composition: 50% Brown Yak 50% Silk

Weight: 100g / 12 WPI / DK

Length: 374m / 410yd approx.

Care: Hand wash only. Dry flat.

Details:

Date: August 2014

Skein code: 0002

Fibre: Brown Yak and Silk blend, approx. 50/50 ratio

Source: Wingham Wool Work – BYS

Status: Awaiting project

Wraps Per Inch

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Wraps Per Inch

WPI (wraps per inch) is one of the most useful ways to categorise your yarn. It tells you if your yarn is DK, ‘4-ply’, aran or laceweight, etc.

WPI is easy to measure, it literally means ‘how many times can you line strands of this yarn next to each other, within a one-inch span. You can buy a fancy WPI gauge (they’re pretty cheap, usually under five GB pounds. Here’s a lovely one from Doodlestop) or you can use a ruler.

The difficulty can come when you try to look up what your WPI value means.There are many WPI tables out there, but they don’t always agree. I researched a lot of different tables and tried to find a consensus on yarn gauges. My conclusions are shown in the very handmade table shown here:

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