A belated “Happy Hallowe’en”

In 2011, I started my first yarn and fibre club; the Wheel of the Year club. There were eight installments, corresponding to the solstices and equinoxes, plus the ‘cross-quarter’ festivals which sit between them, and I offered sock, lace or fibre options for subscribers.  The first installment was for Samhain (Hallowe’en):

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I kept yarn or fibre, sometimes both, for myself from every club installment, and I’ve been playing with the idea of ‘following’ my own club over the next 12 months or so, even if I am three years late!

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Nothing if not ambitious, I designed my first gradient colourway for this installment: “into the dark” – based on the seasonal slide from sunlight to darkness, and also the truly *amazing* berry colours that were around that year.

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I kept the prototype sock yarn (Footsie!) and 100g of fibre (Corriedale wool; a lovely, easy spin).  I designed some long socks to show off the full length of the colour shift – but never wrote up the pattern:

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I do rather love them; the leg shaping is incorporated into the lace pattern, and I should probably work on getting it out there sometime.

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I also spun up the fibre pretty much straight away – roughly Aran-weight, chain plied to maintain the gradient.  But knitting myself a beanie somehow had to wait until this year.

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I increased too far the first time round, and ended up with more of a plate than a hat…

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But after a month or so in time-out, I pulled back and re-knit in just a couple of days.  Just long enough to cover my ears, and no binding or riding up.  If I can find a yarn that works well instead of my hand-spun, I’ll have to write this one up, too.

 

Happy May Day! Joyous Beltaine!

How appropriate that my last post was about Me-Made May.  Let’s ignore the fact that I posted that in November, shall we?  And I have to admit that I’ve done not one thing towards it.

Still, I do have a May Day project to start.  This is the Beltaine colourway from my Wheel of the Year club, issued two full years ago now (wow!  Where does the time go??):

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Allow me to tell you the story of that floor sometime…

This is a rather more variegated colourway than I usually enjoy working with; brighter and more variegated than the colours I usually dye.  I wanted a bright, springy colour, based on the fabulous falls of wisteria blossoms that appear as if from nowhere around this time of year; a surprisingly cool blue-purple in the main, with pops of warmer colour, and the leaves playing a definite second fiddle to the glorious blossoms.

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The Master’s Lodge, at Christ’s College, has particularly awesome wisteria…

I will admit that I have difficulties matching high-contrast yarns to patterns that really show them off, but as soon as I saw the Spatterdash fingerless mitts pattern, I thought of this yarn.  I love the way Feather and Fan’s strong structure makes clear lines even in the busiest yarn, and for once I’m looking forward to finding a whole slew of pretty buttons to finish this project off…

(c) Ravelry user Blumenbunt, from the Ravelry pattern page linked above)

I plan to lengthen the cuffs of these mitts, so they warm my arms more, because I have issues with the circulation in my hands, and I’ve been told that keeping my forearms warm is actually key.

Saturday giveaway: Midwinter Fibre

We are rapidly closing in on the midwinter solstice in the northern hemisphere: days are getting shorter, weather is getting colder, and all the shipments have gone out for the midwinter installment of the Wheel of the Year club.

And I have another club giveaway: one for the spinners, this time!  I’m giving away 50g (so half an installment) of the actual club fibre; not a prototype, so it is just the same as the stuff I’ve already shipped to the club members.  I’m not going to say anything about the colours or composition (spoilers!), but I will say that it is suitable for any kind of spinning, from fine laceweight to chunky, and (I think) for needle felting too.

To enter for this giveaway, leave a comment on this post by noon UK time, Monday (December 19th).  This competition is open to everyone, all over the world, so join in and have fun!

 

What I’m doing with my Samhain yarn (and fibre!)

Of course I kept some for myself!  Did you think that I wouldn’t?  This is the first installation of my first ever yarn club, you know!

Admittedly, the sock and lace yarn I kept are from the prototyping phases – and I havent’ done anything with the lace yarn yet – but I had to keep *some* souvenirs.  The colour prototype, by the way, had a much more abrupt change from orange to black, generally less saturation through the oranges, and was – ahem – technically less together than the finished club yarnz.

I had hoped to have the pattern for these socks (or at least, the finished socks) ready to display on Hallowe’en itself – but no luck.  I finished the whole first sock, then decided that, really, it was too tight.  Yes, I could wear it – but it wasn’t how I wanted it to be.  So I started the second sock (without ripping back the first, I hasten to add; just in case I changed my mind!), and started work on the second.

When I finished the second, I realised I’d done a really stupid thing when setting up the stitch pattern for the foot: the whole thing spiralled gently, biasing it’s way around the sock.  Wearable, again – but still not what I wanted.  So I pulled it out, back to the end of the heel turn, and set at it again.  I think I had the first sock finished for November 1 – and I’ve been plodding my way through the second ever since.  I’m on the foot now – and without any silly mistakes, thank you – so it shouldn’t be too much longer till I’m done!

The fibre was easier.  I wanted to maintain the colour progression, so I spun it all into one long, graded single, and then chain plied it for a fat, round, 3-ply yarn. (Chain plying, by the way, is also called Navajo plying, but certain people think ‘chain’ is more correct, so that’s what I’m trying to train myself to say.)  But wow!  It’s a long time since I’ve chain plied anything, and I’m a much better spinner now, with much higher standards.  I had never realised before how hard it is to keep all the strands under even tension whilst you add the plying twist – and if you don’t do that, you don’t end up with such a regular yarn.  More on that another day, perhaps, but suffice it to say that what I was expecting to be a quick-and-easy ply has taken me a lot longer than I expected, and has needed a lot of concentration, too!

I overplied the yarn relative to its intial spinning twist, so it was quick active (read: twisty – you can see it coiling up on itself!) when it went in for its bath this morning.  But a couple of changes of hot and cold water, a good squeeze and a snap between the hands have it hanging meek and straight in the shower, drying.  I think a hat is in its future.

Happy Hallowe’en!

Hallowe’en.  Samhain.  The midpoint between the autumn equinox and the midwinter solstice.  It’s today!

This is also the first festival celebrated by my Wheel of the Year Club!  I know that some of the packages have arrived with people already.  I’m not sure they have all arrived, though, especially in the US where some folks have been hit really, really hard by snow over the last weekend.  So!  To avoid spoilers, I’m putting the inspiration photographs and a couple of club hints behind the following cut.  Click to read on…

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Saturday Giveaway: Wheel of the Year club one-shot!

Entries are now closed for this week’s giveaway!  Please come back later today to find out who the lucky winner is!

OK, so this is a thing I’m going to do every time the Wheel of the Year shipments are about to go out.  It’s a way of spreading the club joy a little further; a little wider.

Signups for the Wheel of the Year club ended last Monday, and I have been busy dyeing, winding, washing and all the rest of it this week.  As it happens, I have an extra skein of lace weight yarn from the colour prototyping phase for this installment.  It’s not exactly the same as the finished versions, but recognisably similar, and it’s waiting to go home to one of you!

The prize:
A skein of lace weight yarn (weavers, you might also rather like it!) in this season’s club colour.  No photographs are going up for this one, for obvious reasons.  (Spoilers!)

How to enter:
Comment on this post by noon (UK time) on Monday.

Who can enter?
Anyone!  I don’t mind if you’re already in the club or not.  Though, if you’re in the lace club, bear in mind that this won’t be a perfect match for the skein you’ll be receiving anyway.

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