Sock Selfies and Spin Time

Knitting-wise, there’s a lot of secret magazine designing and knitting going on which I can’t show. 😦 boohoo. But I did finish two pairs of socks this week too, one in Drops Delight and one in Bendigo Woollen Mills Sock, using my standard top down 60 stitches with fish lips kiss heels.
 I am also slowly work on setting up the ‘fibre room’ in the train. I have made room for my spinning wheel finally, and have one comfy corner just for spinning and a table for fleece processing. M and I rescued my wheel from oblivion in the top shed, cleaned it down, rubbed back all the metal and oiled it up. 

 Mine is a small wheel, purchased about 15 years ago from the loveliest little old man in Littlehampton, South Australia, who handmade them to his own design. The original rubber drive band died ages ago (to be replaced by upholstery buttoning twine), but other than that I have never had a problem with it.  

 When I started spinning, I actually thought there was something physically wrong with me, I just could not get it. I was frankly pretty shocked by this. I’ve taught myself many things from books, and did not expect to fail. The pictures all made sense, but my various appendages refused to cooperate with each other. After actual tears of frustration, I finally worked out I spin left handed. (I am right handed but I do the odd random thing like skateboard and chop firewood left handed too, so a more astute person would have probably spotted that earlier.) The joy of finally coordinating everything could not be described. 🙂 And a stroke of luck is that my wheel is fairly symmetrical and so ambidextrous.

I like imperfect spinning. It’s a combination of personal taste and lack of motivation. I know there are the most amazing spinners out there. For me though, spinning is about self sufficiency, reminiscent of the seventies, mud brick and stone houses, wood stoves, sheep out the back, a tyre swing. Handspun jumpers were rough and lumpy and occasionally smelly and very warm. That’s the feeling I go for. And I also can’t justify investing the effort and time to make yarn that looks like the bought stuff. Or why wouldn’t I just buy it? I like my handspun to look like handspun. And fortunately, my lack of ambition (and skill) means it does. 🙂
Many of my spinning tools are now missing after a lifetime of moving, so this weekend the lovely M whipped me up a niddy noddy out of dowel, and has plans for a Lazy Kate. 

For many years I kept alpacas, goats and sheep and still have copious quantities of fleece. But that does not stop me buying more if it is GREY. 🙂 I picked up this fleece really cheaply two weeks ago on eBay, a grey merino, lovely and soft.

 For some reason, Atticus Finch has a fleece obsession, it’s like catnip to him. Last time I left a fleece still packaged in a post bag on the coffee table when I went to work, I came home to find the bag completely shredded, and him asleep in a nest in the middle of it. So now he is not left unsupervised with fleece.
Everyone has their own way of preparing a fleece for spinning, and I thought I would share a staccato version of mine.

I find a big fleece a bit overwhelming, and I know I don’t do as good a job when I try to wash in bulk. So usually I just do a little a day over the course of a couple of weeks. That’s not everyone’s idea of a good time, I know, but I’m more of a ‘process’ person rather than a ‘product’ person, so I don’t mind if it is slow. 
I grab a couple of handfuls at a time. Before washing, I open out the matted ends. You can do this with a flick carder, I use an old dog brush. 

 If your immune system is a touch dodgy too, and even if it isn’t, always bear in mind the sheep germs. There should be a lot of hand washing and disinfecting. Don’t touch your mouth. Also tetanus shot should be up to date (she says, realising hers isn’t. Whoops. Hypocrite.).
I fill the sink with hot water, it should be hot enough to need gloves on. Some people add a kettle of boiling water too. The heat melts the lanolin. A big squirt of detergent comes next, sometimes I use wool wash but I usually find Fairy works the best.

Submerge the fleece but don’t agitate. The steam smells awesome! If you like the smell of dirty sheep, that is. Which apparently I do. Leave for twenty minutes or so. Don’t leave it forever or allow to cool down or the lanolin will reset and make a dirty mess.
Drain the water (use a sink strainer). Handle the fleece as little as possible. This is easier said than done. All I want to do is scrunch and swirl and play with it. But then you just end up with a lump of felt. 
If the fleece is very dirty, I repeat the washing step. Then it’s on to the rinsing.

 Refill with sink with hot water and soak a few minutes. Repeat the rinse once more. There should be no more bubbles.


I roll the wet fleece in a towel to blot, then hang it in this thing to dry. I have no memory of what this is or where it came from, but for as long as I have been spinning, I have been using it to dry fleece.

I have an Ashford drum carder which is always fun to use, and occasionally I use handcarders so I can say I made rolags. I love that word. Rolag. Rolag. Rolag.

Then I spin the fluff.

That’s as far as I have gotten this week. Next week I’ll ply some up. 🙂

Alien Autopsy: a surprise gift for M

What can I say, really….this won’t be to everyone’s taste. It is certainly not to mine. But we all make sacrifices for the ones we love. 🙂 
I saw the pattern on ravelry and thought M might like it, so I have been working on it secretly. But I’m a sensitive woman, so to feel good about it I choose to believe this alien crash-landed on Earth, dying on impact, and his dissection has helped to cure countless diseases. 

 The pattern, Alien Autopsy, is by Emily Stoneking. This is an intermediate pattern requiring good eyesight and experience working really fiddly little things in the round, i-cord and short rows. It was a challenge and a lot of fun to knit using only scraps from my stash. My only mod was to add a couple more organs to the ‘guts’. The main grey yarn is Hayfield Bonus Aran. I painted a frame that I already had, and purchased the foam core backing board for $4. And he loved it. 🙂




Nothing to do with knitting, but M got some good shots of a couple of our resident koalas yesterday morning with his flash new camera (zero retouching!), and I shall have my first go at embedding a video. 🙂 

This grumpy old koala:


Was very cranky with this one:

I managed to film a little of the grunting for anyone who hasn’t heard it, it’s a strange noise!

And eventually the younger one was evicted from the tree they were sharing.

He wandered around for a while before finding another tree.

B 🙂

Friday FOs

Some beautiful misty mornings this week, although the days are hitting near 30 already.  The snakes are out and about, a huge echidna has been lumbering around the driveway, a bandicoot dug up my sweet potatoes, and koalas are keeping us up at night with their grunting noises.  Our 3 second Spring has arrived. Tomorrow it will be Summer.

Oh and the possums attacked the passionfruit. But I think that may have been a revenge killing for my Tasmanian possum beanie.

This has been a massive writing week for me and my eyeballs feel like sandpaper right now, but I still have a couple of Finished Objects.

One is another Metallicus Tee (not sure if it’s weird to keep knitting your own pattern? It’s kind of good for the weather around here though.) 

This one is in Rowan Calmer, which for a long time was my faaaaaavourite yarn and is now discontinued. Boohoo. It’s super soft and a pleasure to knit with. It’s 80% cotton, 20% microfibre. My gauge was more of a DK, so I knit the XL to get a small. This one has the capped sleeve finish. It took a lot longer to knit with the finer yarn, but I’m very happy with the fit. These pics are unblocked.
I also saw this free pattern come up this week from Berroco, Anastasia, and loved it. I had actually been looking for a shawl pattern, but I used to knit a lot of lace edgings for linen tablecloths etc., so this design really appealed to me. 
I used a standard DK pure wool for the edging, and Sirdar’s Softspun Chunky for the body of the scarf (yay for sparkles!). It is a super quick knit. Of course, I changed the size and a couple of other things, but it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mess with it completely unnecessarily. 

I did eight repeats of the lace and picked up 50 sts along the top edge. And I picked up and knit each side up to the middle and then grafted them together, instead of the weird way the pattern had you doing it, sewing it onto the other lace piece at the end.

I’m really happy with this one. Snuggly. 🙂
Not an FO, but my Finland Sweater tiptoes downward at lunchtimes and in the evenings, and I am really enjoying it. This yarn really smells like sheep. I would call this an intermediate pattern, there is a fair bit going on in every row and some short rows etc. 

Something new for me is the turned front edge, with buttonholes worked as you go. I realised after I started knitting that this means no finishing on this one. Woohoo! Not a band or a seam in sight. 🙂

Back to the books and the blindness!


Quick review: Gleener

Every single time I buy a depiller I go on a rampage with it the minute I get home. Not just clothes, but sofas, pillowcases, cushion covers…Emptying the catcher of its little cloud of coloured fluff becomes the most satisfying thing in the world, like a teeny tiny lawnmower. It’s almost housework, but…not. 

I was always too scared to use any kind of electric depiller on my handknits though. Truly a first world problem, but a problem nonetheless.

Enter the Gleener! As recommended by scores of people on Amazon, and the Knitmore Girls. Jasmin said it made her handknits look like new, and I believed her.
Okay, so there’s no catcher. Or batteries. So it’s less fun. But it does work. It comes with three interchangeable ‘blades’ for different types of fabric, from fine to coarse, and a lint brush on the other end. It’s basically sandpaper wrapped around a bar.
My Amadeus, worn to death, was looking so ratty I was about to retire it. It was very hard to Gleen because it is quite a loose knit, but it came up well in the end. The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Stellar, 50% wool, 50% bamboo.
Halfway through, left side of body Gleened, right side not.
The Gleenings. So fluffy! 🙂

I did my Fireside cardigan too, wondering how it would go over cables and reverse stockinette, and it was surprisingly good. I would not say that it came up “like new”, but it certainly looks younger.

Of course I Gleened Atticus Finch. He was not amused.

Then Dougal Maguire. He fell asleep.

This thing is not cheap, and the floundering Australian dollar doesn’t help. But when it saves my favourite handknit sweater from the ’round the house only’ pile for another season, then I conclude it has paid for itself. 🙂