Knitted Handspun

A few weeks ago I handspun a skein of Blue Faced Leicester and promptly forgot where I had stored it.  Consequently, when I spun another one this week it was a different weight entirely.  The first one, which later turned up, was definitely an aran weight and the second one a double knit, so when I come to knitting it into something I will have to be a bit creative!  Despite the difference in size, I am really pleased with how they turned out.  They are every bit as soft as merino, BFL is tougher, it has an incredible lustre that is missing from merino and it is British.  I still have plenty more breeds of sheep fleece to try but I know I will use BFL again.

I hand painted these two skeins in the same pale lilacs, blues and greens so that they can be used for the same project.   What project that will be, is yet to be decided.  At the moment I am just enjoying looking at them.  They are very pretty – and shiny.

Earlier I handspun some pre-dyed Corriedale fleece into a double knit in shades of pale pink, dark pink, salmon and cream.  Corriedale is very fine and soft (not quite as soft as merino) and these colours have worked well together. So I decided that this handspun wool would be knitted up into something for myself.  It was a bit of a dilemma deciding what to make from it and a curly scarf Rustic Potato Chip won out, but I will probably spin up more to make some gloves or a hat, or both.  Probably both!  (Assuming I ever finish the scarf.  It is really easy but really time consuming with lots of short rows.)  This was a free pattern from Ravelry.  I might have said it before, but I love Ravelry.

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I also knitted some fingerless gloves this week, not with my own handspun but at least they have been finished.

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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.

Hand Dyed Yarn

Another new section in my shop: Bramble Patch Hand Dyed for natural yarns hand dyed in my studio in Cornwall.  When I dye fabric and wool for my own use I rely on completely natural dyes from my garden and kitchen and I know that I may have to re-dye them if they fade .  But the yarns in my shop need to be colour-fast, so I have used commercial acid dyes for these.  That sounds scary but the only acid used is a couple of tablespoons of distilled vinegar.

All the hand dyed yarns newly introduced into my shop are in a soft merino 4 ply or sock weight and are 400 m long.  Kammneves is a rainbow coloured merino yarn.  I have used two methods of dyeing Kammneves but have used the same batch of dyes so the colourway is exactly the same.  The one pictured above has been hand painted while the other two were kettle dyed.

Koswik is hand painted in fabulous bright greens and yellows like a forest and Koswik law is kettle dyed in the greens and pinks of exotic birds and flowers in the rainforest.

I just love these hand dyed yarns.  In fact once I had taken all my photographs I had second thoughts about selling them especially the hand painted version of Kammneves.  I shall try to resist temptation but if it doesn’t sell soon you might see me down on the beach with a beautiful rainbow coloured, hand dyed, lacy scarf!

 

 

How To Wash Wool

Why buy items made from wool or spend hours making things from wool when it is so high maintenance and there are so many synthetic ‘easy care’ ready made items of clothing/ carpets/ rugs out there?  Well, the manufacturers of the synthetic products have done a really good job of advertising those products and they’ve made a lot of money.  But I think more and more people are becoming aware of the short comings of these fabrics and how good our natural fabrics actually are.  Maybe you can’t just throw your handmade woolens in the washing machine and tumble drier – or can you?   I’ll come onto that in a minute.

Why Wool?

Wool is actually quite awesome.  Completely natural and renewable.  Anything you wear made from wool keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer.  It does not need washing nearly as often as any other fabric.  Even socks can be worn for several days without washing as long as they are aired at the end of each day, and your wool carpets will not need a coating of chemicals on them to resist the dirt.  Wool does that anyway.

Wool has a memory;  it’s elastic.  It takes dyes easily, even completely natural ones and it already comes in a range of colours straight from the sheep!

There are literally hundreds of breeds of sheep all of which produce wool with different characteristics.  Some produce really fine soft wool to make baby clothes from (obviously, that’s not why the sheep produce fine wool), some produce wool that is suitable for outer clothing like coats while others produce wool which is really tough and can be made into bags, rugs and carpets.  The others fall somewhere in between.

Caring for your woolens:

So, first of all what to wash it with?  You could use just water!  What you must not use is your standard chemical laden biological detergent, however tempting that maybe.  Biological detergents contain enzymes which eat and destroy wool.  So, unfortunately, you do need a special cleanser made for wool – they have a woolmark symbol on them:

If you don’t have any in or don’t want to buy one just for your woolens just use water; it should work fine.  There are lots on the market such as Eucalan Lavender 100ml No Rinse Delicate Wash.   I use  NIL Ecover Delicate 500 ml which has the woolmark image on the front.

Can you put your woolens in the washing machine?  Well, yes and no.  It depends.  (Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)  Some wool is ‘super-wash’ treated.  Most shop-bought wool garments will be super-washed and can be put in the washing machine.  But always put it in a netting laundry bag first to stop it stretching.  Many people also partially tumble dry these items on the lowest temperature setting.  Personally, I have never been brave enough to do that so couldn’t recommend it.

Also, some sheep produce wool that does not felt easily, such as wool from the Perendale sheep, so items made from their wool should also be fine to put in the machine without it felting.  Oh yes felting.  You know the ‘felt’ fabric we’ve all used (especially as children) to make small items or to add decorative applique to things because it does not fray.  It’s the same thing (in fairness nowadays most felt is synthetic but traditionally and in my house felt is made from wool) and you don’t want your gorgeous wool jumper turning into that!  Most wool will felt, though, if you subject it to too high temperatures, sudden temperature changes, or just by agitating it.  This sounds scary but is actually a really good excuse to do less.

Washing wool is really easy:

  1. Pour slightly warm water into the sink and add a cap full of wool wash.
  2. Drop your wool item onto the top of the water.
  3. Go and have a cup of coffee or catch up on your emails for twenty minutes.
  4. When your wool garment has sunk to the bottom, you know it has absorbed enough water and cleanser.
  5. Drain the water and refill with water of the same temperature to rinse without agitating your woolen. (Some wool cleansers do not even require rinsing.)
  6. Rinse once more then drain.
  7. Very gently squeeze out the excess water.
  8. Roll your wet garment up in a towel and squash to remove as much water as you can.
  9. Gently pull your garment back into shape and air dry flat, out of direct sunlight.  I have a Leifheit 72408 Mesh Clothes Drying Rack Sensitive Air which is a folding, pop-up net hoop which is very good for this as it can be rested across the bath.

Remember to make sure it is completely dry before packing away as wool can feel dry but still contain over thirty percent water!

Moths are attracted to wool so you do need to protect your woolens from attack.  Traditionally cedar chests or cedar lined drawers were used to store items to prevent insect infestation and this is still the best method today.  Most of us don’t have cedar chests of drawers, though, and have to resort to sealing them in plastic bags.  I really don’t like plastic but it is very effective in keeping out moths.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a few draw string bags or bowls of wood shavings impregnated with drops of lavender or cedar essential oils nearby. Just like our grannies used to do.

 

 

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I only recommend books or products I use personally and believe will be of value to my readers.

Handspun Yarn

I’ve been busy with my new Kiwi spinning wheel for the past couple of weeks and now find it easier to use than the borrowed one I had been using.  It is costing a fortune in fibre but I’m finding it a bit addictive and it’s not leaving much time for knitting or sewing!

I’ve put another section in my shop: Bramble Patch Handspun for my handspun yarn.  The first item in this section is ‘Avalow’ which means ‘apples’ in Cornish.  I have used shades of salmon, mulberry, green and pink to create this apple coloured skein.   It is handspun from soft corriedale fibre which has become even softer and fluffier after washing.

Corriedale wool is perfect to be worn next to the skin and can be also be used for children’s clothes.  As it is a natural wool which can felt, it does need to be hand washed gently in cool water.

I shall be adding to this section over the next few weeks.

 

 

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.

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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.

A New Pink Top

This pink top has been sitting in my sewing room part made for about two weeks.  I used the upper bodice pattern piece for the sweetheart bodice dress from Yoshiko Tsukiori’s ‘Sweet Dress Book:23 Stylish Outfits from Six Simple Patterns’ and my own pattern for the rest which I made from a drape, just as I did for the cream one I made a while ago with the pretty bridal lace section at the top.

I get a lot of comments on this one and have wanted to make another but took my time thinking about which fabric would be best.  I really like it in the cream and was tempted to make one in a similar colour.  I think the pale pink was a good choice, though, as I did not have a pink top.  I have some more fabric to make another one when I can find the time.  It is a pale coffee coloured cotton and a mesh fabric with coffee coloured spots on.

The pink top has turned out better than I thought.  Rashly, I decided to do a hand sewn scallop hem because they’re so delicate and pretty.  It took so long and it doesn’t even show up in the photographs!  I love the pink shell button I chose.  It really needed a more lightweight one so that the delicate chiffon wasn’t weighed down.  But my heart won out and I used the one I liked (again it doesn’t show up in the photographs).  It is a pink disc made from shell with a metal shank which ends in a square of metal in the centre at the front.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Shell Tuck Stitch Hems

Shell tuck stitch hems this week.  The shell tuck stitch makes a really decorative hem.  You could use it on a variety of garments: blouses, baby clothes, lingerie and accessories.  It  is a very versatile stitch and it’s easy to do!  The shell tuck stitch hem can be done on a sewing machine and it can also be done by hand.  The methods are very similar to the rolled hemming techniques from my last hemming post (you could almost imagine I planned that).  There are a few ways of sewing a shell tuck stitch hem by hand but I shall just show you my preferred one which is, I think, the most durable because you secure every third stitch.  Again, as with rolled hems, the shell tuck stitch works best on a finer fabric.

For both of these shell tuck stitch hemming techniques you need to match in your thread to your fabric to make them as inconspicuous as possible,  but I shall be using a contrasting colour so that you can see what I’m doing.

You need the same sewing machine presser foot that you would use for a rolled hem and it is basically the same technique, except that you need to increase the top tension on your machine so that the shells are pulled in tighter and you need to use a blind hem stitch; you might need to use a mirror blind stitch depending on your machine so that the zigzag part goes to the right.  You will probably need to experiment with the correct length and width for your stitch but it should be about 1.5 mm long and between 3.5 and 4.5 mm wide.  The needle needs to miss the actual hem both sides.  So, your straight stitches need to fall in the single layer of fabric to the left of your hem and the zigzag stitch in the middle needs to fall off the right hand side of your hem to pull in the shell shape .  If your machine won’t line up properly (like mine today; annoyingly my old machine does this really well, but this one does not want to play ball) you can sew the hem first with a long stitch then try to align the blind hemming stitch again. Afterwards remove the original hemming stitches.

For the hand version, you need to turn under a very small double fold about 6 mm deep and hold it with your left thumb and working from right to left (apologies if you are left handed).  Secure your thread to the lower edge of your hem and take a very tiny stitch from the fabric below it.  Insert the needle back into the hem in the same place it came out and push it along the fold and back out about half a centimetre along.  Take another tiny stitch from the fabric below, and again insert the needle back into the hem the same place it came out, push it along the fold and out again about half a centimetre along.

This time, taking your needle over the top, insert it into the back of the hem and out through the front, pulling the hem down into a scallop.  Repeat this stitch so that each scallop has two threads pulling the fabric down, and as you tighten it catch the thread with your needle to secure it (this is not the type of hem that you want to unravel).

You have now completed the first scallop or shell and you just need to repeat this all the way around your hem.

The machined version of the shell tuck stitch hem is more subtle but more uniform and very fast.  Obviously it would be better with a matching thread but I still think the stitches would show quite a lot.  But the hand sewn version I love.  I could work on uniformity!  But apart from that I do prefer the result to the machined one and I enjoy hand sewing a hem as well.  Now I just need to think of a project to use it on.

Girl’s Dress PDF Pattern

About a year ago I drafted some patterns for little girls’ dresses with a view to turning them into PDFs.  Unfortunately,  just as I had finished about six months worth of work to achieve that the EU, in it’s wisdom, brought in new rules for VAT regarding selling PDF patterns to European countries making it unfeasible to continue.  Luckily, I kept all my work (I could easily have thrown it all in the bin at the time) because Etsy recently emailed me to say that they had put a system in place whereby they would be responsible for collecting and making the VAT payments to the various countries – hooray!!

So, I immediately dug out all my sketches, photos and drafts for the first dress I designed and it is now available in my shop  I’m really excited about this as it’s my favourite out of all my designs so far and  I really hope other people like it as much as I do.

I’ve given all my lingerie and dress patterns Cornish girl’s names.  This one is called Caja which means ‘daisy’.

The Caja dress has a curved bodice at the front and a gathered skirt which makes a very flattering look for a little girl.

The instructions with this PDF pattern include the finishes that I would normally use on a dress, i.e. french seams, deep hand stitched hem, lined bodice with the raw edges concealed within it, rouleau loop (although I often make my button loops from thread) and a covered button to make a very special garment.  Although, obviously you can use any finish that you want.