My new Ashford Kiwi 2

My new spinning wheel has arrived.  An Ashford Kiwi 2 with a super flyer!  I’m so excited.

I learnt to spin (badly) on a drop spindle a couple of years ago but wasn’t interested in using a spinning wheel.  I had an image in my head of the pictures from fairy tales of huge room-filling, ornate wooden objects in dark wood that just did not appeal.  At some point I spotted a more modern wheel and fully intended to buy an Ashford Kiwi 2 the last time I was in New Zealand as we would be driving right past Ashford’s shop in Ashburton.  Before we got there, we met a lady in a market in Raglan who was spinning on a beautiful modern upright spinning wheel that looked like a carved work of art.  She told me that what I really wanted was a Majacraft and so a seed of doubt crept in and I didn’t buy my new wheel at that point.  Once home I researched further and discovered that she was right; I did really want a Majacraft.  Unfortunately, they are a tad pricey.

Then I discovered that Ashford have brought out a super flyer to go with the Kiwi 2 for making art yarns.  My decision was made; back to my original choice.  I would buy the Kiwi 2 which will spin most of the yarns I want as it is, with a super flyer for chunky art yarns, and a high speed adapter for fine yarns.  The day I decided to take the plunge and order it,  I noticed that a couple of shops had dropped their prices, probably due to the drop in the New Zealand dollar combined with the strong pound.  Then I discovered that a lady called Jane Deane who lives in Tavistock in Devon (and who conveniently was visiting our local Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers this week to give a talk on dyeing) also now sells Ashford products.  She managed to get me a really good deal on the Kiwi 2 and all the extras, better than the larger companies and said she would deliver it too!

The traditional spinning wheel I have been borrowing from the Guild has been fun to play with but it’s not really designed to make art yarns, so I am really looking forward to using my new wheel.  I just have to put it together now…


Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.


Tourmaline Birthstone

There has been no time for sewing this week (I haven’t even started on my outfit for the graduation which is in two weeks) and I’ve only managed about two rows of knitting.  It’s that time of year again when I start to get the garden ready for winter and it is a big garden.  But I know that if I get it all done now it should stay looking good until the spring, apart from the lawn which will not stop growing all year here in Cornwall.

We have a birthday party to go to on Sunday and I was really struggling to find a suitable present. One of my girls suggested giving her one of the necklaces I’ve made, which would have been the easiest thing to do. But I decided to look up the birthstone for October which happens to be both tourmaline and opal.  A few items in my shop do have tourmaline and opal stones but I thought I would make something just for her.  (Why do I do that?  I am pleased with every item in my shop and any one of them would have been fine.  But it wouldn’t be me if I took the most obvious route!)  I decided to go with the tourmaline birthstone in a pretty pink and white.  Tourmaline comes in a huge variety of colours making it difficult to choose.  I was very tempted with some of my various shades of green tourmaline and there was a gorgeous peach coloured one.  The pink ones are my favourite, though,  so that’s what I opted for and hopefully she’ll like it too

It was very enjoyable to be hammering some silver again; it’s been a while.

Fingerless Gloves

I like hand knitted fingerless gloves and, unable to find patterns I liked, I decided to make some of my own. I’ve made a few pairs of these recently.  They’re all made from aran weight wool and knitted in the round.  Some are knitted from a really soft merino and some are a mix of alpaca and merino.  I was going to keep them for myself as I like to have unique items that nobody else has, but I have now decided to put the patterns in  my shop.

They are really quick and easy to knit on a circular needle using the magic loop method, or they can be made with DPN’s and there is no sewing to do.   I have recommended the Old Norwegian cast on for them as it is stretchy and neat.  When I was taught to knit I only learnt one cast on method and it wasn’t until about two years ago that I found out there were other ways.  After a bit of research I found Cast On, Bind Off’ by Leslie Ann Bestor.  54 ways to cast on and cast off.  It was a revelation.  This is actually one of the best books I have ever bought and I have quite a few.  It doesn’t have any pretty, colourful pictures. Well, it does have pictures but they are useful ones showing what you can achieve for the various methods; it’s not a pretty coffee table book.  But it covers so many options to cast on and off.  It is spiral bound, so lies flat when you have your hands full of wool and needles, and has really detailed instructions and diagrams for each method.  The only downside, and I’m pretty sure it is the only downside, is that some methods cover two pages so that when you have yarn in one hand, needles in the other, it is virtually impossible to also turn the page to see the next step.  I refer to this book all the time and every knitter should have one.

As with all my patterns, these have Cornish names; Delen meaning ‘leaf’, Kadon meaning ‘chain’ (a cable look without the cable needle), Todnow meaning ‘waves’, Nedha meaning ‘twist’ (another cable look without the cable needle), Mor meaning ‘sea’.




Winter Door Curtain

Winter is nearly here again.  All the apples from our old Bramley have been turned into jams, chutneys, crumbles and sauces.  I’m even attempting cider making at the suggestion of my brother in New Zealand.  I asked him for ideas as he’s a really good cook and expected some exotic recipe to come back.  But he just said ‘make cider’ and actually that’s a really good idea as that requires a lot of apples and my pile of Bramleys wasn’t diminishing very quickly.  The Christmas cake, pudding and mincemeat have been made and stored away to mature.  I’ve even made a few Christmas presents and have been looking forward to lighting the wood burner again now that the evenings are drawing in.  I love this time of year but it is becoming apparent that the house is not that warm so I’ve decided to draught proof the front door with a new  interlined curtain.  I do realize it will take a lot more than that to make this house warm, but it’s a start.

This curtain is really easy to make.  I’ve made a few over the years when I’ve decided I needed a new colour scheme as they are quick, simple and inexpensive.  We have a portiere rod above the door which we leave turned away from the door during the day (and all through the summer) and we swing it shut across the door in the evening during the winter.  So I will be making a channel in my curtain for the rod and I won’t need any heading tape or rings to hang it.  But, because you see the front of the curtain during the day and the back of the curtain during the night, I will be using the main fabric on both the front and the back.  My summer curtain does have lining on the back because it is really for decoration only.  If I actually used it I would be able to see the lining at night when the curtain was across the door.  Shop bought curtains do not often have interlining so if you have an old draughty house it is worth tracking some down and having a go at making your own. The interlining I bought is made from cotton and feels soft and fleecy similar to quilt wadding.

To start, I need to measure the height of the portiere rod that the curtain is going to hang from.  Then I add 15 cm (10 cm for the hem and 5 cm for the frill at the top) and double the total to get the amount of fabric required.  As well as the curtain fabric I need some thread and one length of interlining.   The height of my portiere rod plus 15 cm came to 2.4 m.  So I need 4.8 m of curtain fabric (2.4 m for the front and 2.4 m for the back) and 2.4 m of interlining.

First I need to fold the main fabric in half with right sides together and with the interlining placed on top.  Then I will sew down either side leaving a 5 cm gap, 5 cm from the top on each side.  If you do not want a frill on the top, just start sewing 5 cm from the top and continue straight to the bottom.


After hand sewing a 10 cm deep hem all the way around, the curtain needs to be turned the right side out.

Lastly I will sew a line of stitching right across the curtain 5 cm down from the top and a second line of stitching 5 cm further down to form the channel.  If you are not putting the frill on the top you will only need the one row of stitching 5 cm from the top to form the channel.  If at this point you realize you forgot to leave a 5 cm gap in the side seams, it’s not the end of the world you can easily unpick the few stitches from the ends after sewing the channel.

Now all that’s left it to thread the portiere rod through the channel on the curtain.



Still a W.I.P.

Why can’t I finish this?  This is probably the most simple jumper I’ve ever knitted.  It’s knit in the round so it is nearly all plain knitting with just a few rounds of garter stitch, a small amount of I-cord around the keyhole and some increasing and decreasing to form the ruching.  I mentioned the Ruched Yoke Tee I was knitting several weeks ago.  It has progressed but is still nowhere near finished and I really don’t know why.  I have a few more cardigans lined up for when this is finished and usually that’s all the motivation I need to finish what I’m doing so that I can start the next one.  But not this time, apparently.

I usually have a few W.I.P. (work in progress) on the go but only one jumper or cardigan at a time.  (Several pairs of socks, gloves, hats and scarves, but only one cardigan.)  It is useful to have a W.I.P. or two to hand for different situations.  A small, easy pattern in your handbag for when you have five minutes waiting for something when you’re out, some intricate lace or cabled socks when you have the house to yourself (not that that happens that often) or a plain stockinette stitch jumper when you’re chatting in a knitting group.

But this one is just a chore and I have no idea why.  My other half asked why I didn’t just start my next cardigan before finishing this one.  That does seem like defeat and I’ve never done that before but that’s precisely what I am going to do.  I will come back to this one!  Really, I will, if only because I shall need the cables for another project.  Now I just need to decide between another Peasy in a rust coloured alpaca and merino or a second Acorns in a light olive coloured alpaca and merino.




Disclosure:  This post contains links to products, websites or patterns.  I do not receive any reward for mentioning them.  I only recommend items I use personally and think will be of interest to my readers.