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Want to find the new stuff on Knitting-and.com, or read about my latest projects and discoveries? This is the place.

New Toys – a series in three parts

When I turned 33 (8 years ago, cough), I decided that everything I own that wasn’t being used or enjoyed should go and find itself a purpose in someone else’s life. And what a great idea that has turned out to be!

Last year I started making decisions about the “big stuff”. The things that cost me a lot of money or a lot of time to procure. The biggest of these things was my enormous computerised knitting machine.

A computerised knitting machine that I no longer own

I had originally bartered $1,800 worth of website work for this machine and a lot of extras but despite my love for it and the things I made on it, I just did not have the room to use it any more. So I took a deep breath and sold it on Ebay for $1,500.

And I bought things with the money. $900 was on things I planned and the rest went on our new “surprise” mortgage on what we lovingly refer to as our little crap shack. Our last home purchase was for walls and most of a roof so a crap shack is a step up. But I digress.

I bought stuff. Cool stuff. Informational stuff. Some of it is even “learn things you never thought you’d get to” stuff.

My biggest purchase was a Journey attache case charkha made by Jonathan Bosworth. Most people call them Bosworth charkhas because without Jonathan they just wouldn’t be the same. Here are some pictures of my new love πŸ™‚

In the bag.

Bosworth atache case charkha in the bag

The bags on the website are all made of patterned fabrics so I asked if they had any plain ones that weren’t listed. They had just one left and it was exactly the colour I was after. Of course I wanted a plain bag so I could decorate it with a loomed flower brooch.

Loomed flower

Closed they look like a beautiful wooden attache case. Kind of obvious considering the name, ahem.

Bosworth attache case charkha, closed

ToddlerGuy went down for a nap very easily today so I thought I’d have another go at learning to spin on it. I got it! I spun actual real cotton yarn! I have wanted to learn to spin cotton for about ten years and now I can. Not well, but it didn’t fall apart. Much πŸ™‚

Bosworth attache case charkha
Bosworth attache case charkha

My very first little skein of cotton on the built-in skein winder. When I bought my charkha I also bought the “Spinning Cotton on the Charkha” DVD by Eileen Hallman. I found Eileen’s instruction very easy to follow and the proof that she teaches well is sitting in front of me in a little skein πŸ™‚

Bosworth attache case charkha with attached skein winder

This picture shows the lazy kate. The two boxes on the left are for holding the spindles. The top one also has a fixed arm inside for when you’re using the skein winder so the yarn goes from the spindle on the lazy kate, up around the hook on the arm in the top box, then to the skein winder. The skein winder also measures your yarn as one turn equals a yard.

Charkha lazy kate

Not only is the workmanship really high quality, there are many small features that go into making these charkhas really lovely to use. When you’re not using the skein winder you can spin on the charkha while the arms of the skein winder are stored in the box so you don’t have to find somewhere to put them. The bearings are sealed and don’t need oiling. The skein winder can also be assembled without unscrewing anything. I also can’t say enough good things about the Bosworths as people. They’re lovely to deal with, very helpful -with overseas purchases and special requests, and kept us up to date every step along the way while those of us who had placed orders waited for our wheels to be made.
I don’t have enough skill using the wheel to make it worth videoing me using it, but I found this video on youtube. This spinner is using a Bosworth book charkha, which is the smaller version of mine.

And I have to show you this video too. This lady isn’t using a Bosworth charkha but check out the smile at 46 seconds. That’s how it feels when you figure out that you really can spin your own cotton after wanting to for so long πŸ™‚

Stuff what is not about flower looms part too two

I’m not quite sure where to start with this post so I’ll just jump straight into the spinning that I mentioned yesterday.

150gms of Ewe Give Me the Knits organic merino in “High Country Autumn”. This is the club fibre from April 2011.

I spun straight from the tops and chain plied. dk weight. Instead of predrafting, I drafted straight across the top from side to side in order to keep the speckles in the colours. I really love how this turned out.

Handspun wool

This next spin is from BeeMiceElf. I bought it from someone who was destashing it on Ravelry.

This is a two ply, fingering weight Polwarth. I haven’t spun a lot of polwarth and I really enjoyed it. 220gms.Β I split one braid into about 12 or so strips and the other into just four so one ply has longer colour repeats than the other.

Handspun wool

Speaking of Ravlery, I managed to get back onto the website after playing around with my firewalls. It turned out that the modem firewall was blocking not only Ravelry, but also google images, Etsy and blogspot images. At one stage Sortahubby’s virus protection was also marking Ravelry as a threat site. Maybe it has something against knitting πŸ˜›

This next yarn is an alpaca and merino mix from Margaret Peel’s fibre supplies. I carded it to blend the colours a bit more. There’s about 400gms of dk weight two ply. This picture shows about half of it. It’s light, airy and smoooooth.

Handspun alpaca

It’s way after 11pm so I’ll finish off with two pictures of the pieces I made from the yarns I mentioned yesterday. I’ll save my spinning wheel news for tomorrow.

This is my Kindle case in progress. At the moment it’s just a garter stitch rectangle with rounded corners on one end. I’m going to fold it into a purse shape and close it with a pretty button. It will have to be lined too, to protect the screen from some of the more “textural” elements in the yarn πŸ˜‰

I don’t even have a Kindle yet so I can take my time finishing it.

Handspun art yarn knitted into a garter stitch rectangle

Finally, this is what I have done with my dolly in the garden yarn. It’s a crocheted graffiti tag for the Ewe Give Me the Knits shop. It will eventually be wrapped around a pole inside the shop.

Tomorrow I promise I’ll show you the prototype of a new project that will be appearing on the website eventually and a sneak peek of one that will be appearing much sooner. Plus I’ll reveal my new spinning wheel which I’m very excited about learning to use. It’s totally out of my comfort zone, which is a fun place to go every now and then πŸ™‚

Stuff what is not about flower looms

This is the first part of a two-part post that has absolutely nothing to do with flower looms of any kind. I bet you weren’t expecting that, huh?

So what have I been doing? Spinning!

Back at the beginning of April I was lucky enough to go to an art yarn spinning workshop taught by Lexi Boeger of Pluckyfluff fame. Since most of my spinning is super smooth and about fingering weight, I had a great time brushing up on a few techniques I have tried in the past, and went totally out of my comfort zone and had a go at some new ones.

I ended up making five different yarns over the weekend.Β Firstly I made a coily, spirally, knotty, stacky yarn with some batts I had carded and spun into singles before the class. The batts were made from everything that struck my fancy at the time including: merino, mohair, nylon glitz, llama, samoyed dog undercoat, angelina, border leicester, alpaca, and I think there was a bit of bamboo or silk or something in there as well πŸ™‚

Handspun yarn with granny stacks, coils and twirly plying

Then I made a bulky chain ply from an art yarn batt. This one has merino, border leicester, more nylon glitz, samoyed undercoat, cotton waste from the inside of some couch cushions (which is utterly brilliant in batts, who knew?), recycled denim, angelina, polwarth, mohair, sari silk waste, and who knows what else in it. I knit this up almost immediately to make a Kindle case. I’ll show you the knitting tomorrow but I haven’t sewn a lining or stitched it up yet.

Bulky thick and thin handspun

Next is a yarn with stuff spun in. I made a batt from mostly merino and spun in all sorts of flowers, bobbles and a little yarn dolly. This yarn makes a liar out of me because it has some flower loom flowers in it after I promised there would be no mention of them πŸ™‚
The finished yarn was plied with a commercial vintage angora that I dyed blue.Β I’ve crocheted this into a crochet-graffiti tag that I’ll show you tomorrow and tell you more about then.

2 ply handspun yarn with inclusions

On the second day we learnt corespinning and made our corespun into a supercoilled yarn using a very clever and fast technique that I had never seen before. This is my absolute favourite yarn from the weekend, it’s so unlike anything I have ever spun before. It’s thick but light and even though it was highly energised when I spun it, it settled down almost completely after I washed it to set the twist.

This yarn is made from the same batts that I made my coiled and knotted yarn from.

Supercoiled corespun yarn

I also tried corespinning with mohair but I only made a small sample so I don’t have a photo of that one. I’m looking for a more suitable core yarn than I had on hand.

I continued spinning after I returned home.

I chain plied the remainder of the batts I carded to make my “dolly and flowers and Sarah’s a liar” yarn. It’s about dk weight.

dk weight chain plied handspun

Then I spun up the rest of the brown batts that I had left over and chain plied those. They ended up quite bulky, what Aussie knitters would call 12 ply thickness (but it’s three ply). I adore multitude of different textures in this yarn. Rough blending is something I’ll be doing a lot more in the future.

Chain plied bulky handspun

Then I got stuck into spinning some of my club fibre from Ewe Give Me the Knits. OK, I spun all of it.

2011 February club. I split the roving almost as thin as I wanted to spin and spun a 2 ply. Should knit up to about 10 ply thickness or 8 ply. Very soft and squishy and really fun to spin.

2 ply worsted weight handspun

March club. I split the tops down the middle and spun the single, then chain plied. It’s soft but firm because of the chain ply, about 8 ply thickness.

DK weight chain plied handspun

150gms EGMT Merino in the Little Speckled Hen colourway. I wasn’t sure about the colours before I spun it because of the white but I made it all blend in when I spun it up and now I love it πŸ™‚

I split it in half, the split one half in half again for long colour repeats. I split the other half eight times for much shorter colour repeats. 2 ply, dk weight.

My handspun

Tomorrow I’ll show you what a couple of my yarns look like worked up, a whole lot more spinning, my new spinning wheel, and a preview of an upcoming tutorial (not flower looms!)

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