Saturday, 26 December 2009

Still in a state of limbo...

Just writing to let you all know that I'm still around, but all of my craft gear is still on a boat somewhere in the Atlantic. The expected retrieval date is January 18th.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Thank you, loyal readers!

Hi everybody,

I'm so sorry that it's been over a month without an update, and I want to thank everyone who has continued to visit this blog. Our international move is progressing on schedule, but a side effect of the move is severely curtailed crafting time. My spinning wheel has been packed away since August and I won't have it back till at least January; my sewing machine and dyeing equipment have been sold (since it's electrical it won't work in America) and the only thing I've got left - when I have a few minutes spare - is knitting. And blocking!

So here are some projects that you may not have seen. If you are on Ravelry you can see more details about any of them from my Project Page.

First up is my first-ever shawl, which I decided to make when I spun some lovely and soft grey Gotland fibre last year. It's taken forever to do - I kept adding more yarn to it! I finished it off back in May but never blocked it until this weekend. Here's the best picture I could manage without standing on a chair for height - all the chairs are packed already...

It's funny, I've never been a shawl person, but I've enjoyed wearing this today very much. It was cozy, if slightly chilly as I was using body heat to get rid of the last of the blocking moisture!

My next most recent project is the Elizabeth Zimmerman Adult Surprise Jacket. I found this an excellent pattern for using up medium lengths of handspun - I had lots of 100-200 yard skeins but nothing big enough for a whole jacket on its own. Here's a photo from when it was nearly done being knit:

Since then I have lengthened the sleeves and finished off the edges. I blocked it and the sleeves were too long, but they seem to have resettled to a reasonable length. More worrying, though, is that the collar is huge. It's far too big to wear comfortably. I need to sort it out but I have decided to wait until after I have moved and consult the experts at my (new) local knitting group for advice.

The other project that I have finished recently is one that was featured here not too long ago. It's my Sheep-to-Shoulder top made from wool that I brought back from Ireland and processed by myself every step of the way. I sewed it together, which was quite a learning experience and required a couple of restarts, and I am very pleased with the result. I might reblock it at some point to make it a little longer in the body but it works as it is; I'm just used to wearing longer tops.

I love it. It's very warm and smells delightfully sheepy. My husband is getting used to 'sheepy', fortunately.

Now for a bit of news about my Etsy shops, Elizabeth's UK Craft Shop and Sheepshape Spinning. The first one has been put into vacation mode for now. I will need a new name for it once I'm not in the UK anymore! I'm happy to take suggestions, and if your suggestion is the one that I choose I will give you a $10 gift certificate to anything in either shop. The second shop is still open for now, but all of the yarn and fibre will be suspended in late November, no later than the 29th of November, because it's got to go on the boat to America! I will try to keep most of the stuffed animals available for December in case you want to do any last-minute gift shopping, but I will probably need to shut everything for a few days in mid-December while I'm flying to the states and getting settled in our new place. All part of the adventure!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Moving update

Hello everyone!

Be advised that Sheepshape Spinning will be shutting down a few days before Christmas, in order to facilitate my move to America! I expect to be able to reopen at the start of February. While my shop is down it'll be in vacation mode and you can sign up to have Etsy notify you of when it is open again.

When it reopens my new location will be Eugene, Oregon! That will mean cheaper shipping for you US-based buyers. As a nod to my wonderful UK customers I will be offering subsidised UK shipping on my items - we Brits must stick together, after all.

Be sure to get your holiday shopping done before it's too late! Closer to the time I will be able to give an exact date of closing - it'll be one day before the shipping company arrives to put everything on the boat... It will be a while before I can start making new items again so if something you like gets sold before you get to it, I won't be able to make another like it for a long time...

Monday, 7 September 2009

Congratulations Maureen M!

The Phat Fiber giveaway has finished - congratulations, Maureen M! Please get in touch with me so I can activate your gift certificate - I can’t contact you through the blog because your Blogspot profile is private.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Progress on the (seemingly) never-ending jumper

The never-ending jumper is nearing completion!

For those who haven't been following the saga, I brought some fleece back from Ireland in summer 2008. I lugged it home, dyed it, carded it, spun it, chose a pattern, knitted it, and discovered it didn't fit! So now I am attempting my first blocking session. It's pinned out on a beach towel in the living room:

I am hopeful that it will fit better after the blocking. First, though, I have to learn a better way of seam sewing - my first attempt was rather...rubbish.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Giveaway at Phat Fiber!

Sheepshape Spinning is taking part in a giveaway! One lucky commenter will receive a project bag and a $10 Sheepshape Gift certificate. To enter go to the Phat Fiber blog today and leave a comment!

(For a chance to double your winnings, check out my Etsy Shop Announcement!)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

New Ravelry Group!

Are you a member of Ravelry? If not I highly recommend it.

If you are, you might want to check out my new Sheepshape Spinning Group there! It'll be a great place to talk about your projects and yarns, ask questions, make custom order requests and also find special coupon codes. In fact, there's a $10 off code there now!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Less spinning, but more knitting

As our packing progresses, I find that I have less and less spinning stash yet more and more knitting stash. I have packed my favourite fibres and been spinning up my I'll-get-round-to-that-someday fibres. They are turning into very nice yarn, but maybe not quite as nice as the stuff I put on my Etsy shop. But they're great for personal stash.

So I've been looking at a slowly growing pile of personal stash and wondering what to do with it.

I've got the 2009 knitting-pattern-a-day calendar, which I love, and it's on my desk here at work. I think I'll take it home and run through some of the patterns from this year...I'm sure there are some in there that will occupy me and my stash during the next few months while we wait for the house to sell!

I've nearly finished my Chain Cable Aran Scarf - it would have been finished ages ago but I keep adding yarn to it! I've decided to use some matching glow in the dark yarn to finish it off, so it will have the softness of Corriedale throughout and then one end will be a fun glow-in-the-dark-Corriedale end!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A spider amongst the dye pots!

I got a start this morning when I went to set the next batch of Shetland dyeing. In the plastic bucket that I keep my dye jars in there was a big spider! *shudder* I hate spiders, and the resident spider catcher was away on a trip, so I forced myself to deal with it...I'd rather deal with it now than come back in the afternoon and find it had run off to some unknown destination.

I managed to take a picture before removing the dye pots and putting the spider out the window, but even looking at the picture gives the the creeps! if you want to see it, Google for UK "House Spider" and you'll find a picture. If you REALLY want to see my pic let me know and I'll send it to you without looking...

And fear not - all my dyed rovings are 100% Spider Free!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A Marathon of Dyeing

Whew, this has been a busy weekend for dyeing. It'll continue through the week, day job permitting, as on Saturday my dyeing equipment goes bye-bye in preparation for the move. No sense in taking it with me when the electrical systems will be different there!

This weekend I have dyed about 400g of Norwegian top, 200g of Jacob fleece and one skein of sock yarn. Most of that is now on my Etsy shop. Here's a peek of some of the Norwegian!

This is the yellow and teal batch of Norwegian wool top. This wool seemed to take the dye very lightly so I ended up with more pastels than I expected. It's a nice change though, as I don't do pastels that often. I still have a short length of this left to dye, so I'll likely be doing it tonight.

I also dyed some commercially spun Merino, chunky weight. Most of it is yellow with one end of black. I don't know what I'll make with it yet, but it will be bumblebee themed!

Pop over to the Fibreholics Blog for a peek of the samples I have sent in for September!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Blueberry muffins anyone?

This was a fun photo to take!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Packing + Dyeing = Chaos

I'm still dyeing like mad, trying to get through my remaining roving and undyed sock yarn before the end of August. The house is full of boxes and the table I usually use for taking pictures is unavailable. So I have a photo of two new rovings, but the background leaves something to be desired - sorry about that!

Both rovings are Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) dyed with acid dyes. The blue one has already been broken up into samples for the Fibreholics Box but I haven't yet decided whether to put the green one on my shop or use it for samples too.

This past weekend I've also said goodbye to my sewing machine and my Barnett drum carder, who have gone to new homes here in the London area. I'll miss you!

Friday, 24 July 2009

The packing continues

The timeline for our move is shaping up a little bit. I now know two things about how the move will affect my crafting in the near future:

1) My tools will not be going on a boat in August, as previously planned.

2) They will instead be going into a storage facility here in London in August, and the boat will be coming in November/December. Probably.

This means that while I will not be able to make new things after August, which I had always expected, I will be able to keep my shops open with their existing stock! I had thought I'd have to close them. So that's good news for me AND good news for you.

With that in mine, August might be a little bit light on updates as I scramble frantically to dye and spin as much as possible before the end of the month, when my spinning wheel goes into storage and my dyeing equipment is sold!

I'm still holding the Sheepshape Spinning sale for the time being, though since that is less urgent now it could end at any time. It'd be a good idea to grab anything that is catching your eye! My other shop is taking a different approach - everything at Elizabeth's UK Craft Shop has free worldwide shipping! I'm going to have to rebrand that one after I move....

Monday, 20 July 2009

Tutorial: How to buy a Phat Fiber Box

As you may know, Sheepshape Spinning is a regular contributor to the Phat Fiber Sampler Box. Every month there is a mad scramble online to be the lucky buyer of a limited number of boxes that are all listed simultaneously. There's not much time to think and new buyers are often overwhelmed. So Jessie and I have worked together to create this Pictorial Tutorial which shows what it's like to buy a box. Study the pictures before your first try and you will be better prepared for the mad rush!

First, preparation. Before the day that the boxes go on sale, make sure that you have done the following.

1) You have created an Etsy user account.

2) You have saved a shipping address within your Etsy user account.

3) You have created a Paypal account.

4) You have saved the SAME shipping address within your Paypal account.

5) You have created some method of getting money into your Paypal account.

Number five could be by adding a credit card to your account, by adding a bank account and transferring money into Paypal (takes a few days!) or by selling other things online and leaving the funds in Paypal. As of July 2009 you will need $33 for a Phat Fiber box if it will be shipped to the US, $36 if it's shipping to Canada, and $43 if it's shipping anywhere else in the world.

Also please note - your computer speed and your internet connection speed are factors in your success. If your internet browsing is particularly slow then it might be a good idea to find a friend or relative with a faster machine or connection and ask/beg/bribe them into the use of their computer!

OK. You've done steps one through five. Next, you need to know when Box Day will be - in other words, when the box will be on sale. Really it ought to be Box Minute though because they sell FAST! You find out when box day will be by signing up to the notification list on the Phat Fiber website. The notification goes out a few days before the box will "drop" - before the box will go on sale. If you haven't gotten one yet and it's getting to be the middle of the month, you can go to the Ravelry Phat Fiber group to see if others have received theirs yet. And don't forget to check your Spam folder!

When it's Box Day there will be two "drops" - usually one in the morning and one in the evening about 12 hours apart, but it can vary. You want to make sure that you are logged into Etsy before the appointed time so you're not wasting valuable seconds logging in! You also want to make sure there are no other items loitering in your cart - this has foiled several potential Phat Fiber customers in the past.

Before the drop, Jessie at Phat Fiber will remove any other items that are for sale in her shop. It will be empty. Across the globe, hundreds of people are frantically refreshing their screens to see if the boxes have been listed. I suggest you join them! At the moment that the boxes go live, the Phat Fiber shop will look like this:

You will probably have seen people talking about scrolling down to the bottom of the page. This picture shows why that is necessary. There's a lot of information up top, and Jessie does not use the "sections" for the boxes, so if you're only looking at the top half of the page it will look like nothing is there! So you need to refresh, and scroll down, and keep doing that until you see the boxes. There are three types, as shown in the photo. JUST FLUFF is spinning fiber without finished yarn. JUST STITCHES is finished yarn without spinning fiber. There's also a "Regular mixed" box with both types. All of the boxes will have the extra things like stitch markers and patterns etc.

So...choose your box! (And quickly, because hundreds of other people are doing the same thing this very second...) For this tutorial I have chosen the Regular Mixed box. Here's what you see once you click on that choice:

Don't waste time reading the description. With less than two hundred boxes available each month and a LOT more than two hundred customers, you want to make sure you're ahead of the crowd. Just click "Add to Cart". Your cart will show:

Don't lose time here - just click Checkout! The next screen will ask for address information. If you have pre-stored an address in your account then you can choose it here, as the next two photos show.

Once you've selected your shipping address, click Final Review. You're nearly there!

This is the big screen. The Commit To Buy screen. We know that some people have reported having boxes "swiped" from their shopping carts before completing the purchasing procedure. We can't exactly run tests to see when and why this happens but we think it is because there are so few boxes, and so many people trying to buy. We THINK that if you take too long before pressing the Commit To Buy button that someone else can get to it before you. But we also THINK that once you have pressed it and get to the screen after it successfully, your box can't be stolen from you.

But we're not 100% certain about that. It may be, as some have reported, that you have to complete the payment procedure before the box is truly yours. Unfortunately no one is guaranteed a box until that point where Paypal reports successful payment. So I recommend going through the entire procedure as quickly as you can. Part of the fun is the "rush" that you get from going so quickly!

Also, it's a good idea to check the Purchases part of your Etsy account when you're done in order to confirm whether or not there is a box there, even if you think it got swiped. A few months ago there were a few boxes that had been successfully purchased but their buyers didn't know! So they languished unpaid-for until Phat Fiber had a chance to contact them about it. Don't let that happen to you!

So - once you've pressed Commit To Buy you see this:

This one's really easy - just click Pay Now! You then get directed to Paypal.

And log in on the right hand side:

One more screen requires attention - the Paypal Payment screen. Check that the details are correct and click "Pay Now"!

And, if all has gone according to plan, you should now see the Confirmation Screen of Happiness:

And that's it! You should now be the owner of a Phat Fiber box! Double check your Purchases screen in Etsy and then go join in the celebrations at the Ravelry group! Congratulations - I hope you get one of my samples!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Fancy a drum carder?

As part of my destash I've just listed my drum carder on ebay. 99p starting, no reserve!

Here's the link - and as a special bonus, anyone who places a bid (not even a winning bid, just a bid!) will get free shipping on any one order from my Etsy shop.

Monday, 13 July 2009

I'm back! With lots of news.

Hi everyone, I'm back from America! I had a great time. I managed to control myself at Black Sheep Gathering and not go overboard, but it was very hard. So many lovely braids of fibre; dozens of wheels; even a 16 inch electric drumcarder!! I restrained myself and only got three braids of fibre.

I have some BIG news though. I will be moving to America next year! Our house is a flurry of activity at the moment, mostly related to reducing our belongings before putting them all on a big ship across the ocean. To that end I am running a Super Sheepy Sale at Sheepshape Spinning, from now until...who knows? Until the truck comes to take our stuff away. Could be a few months from now. Could be sooner!

If something isn't on sale and you're feeling tempted, send me a message - I might add it to the sale!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Away till 6 July!

I'm on vacation! No blog updates from now till 6 July, but things will still be happening in my absence:

* I'll be in the June Phatfiber box, which goes on sale tomorrow!

* The Fibreholics boxes will be released soon!

* I'll be at Black Sheep Gathering with my Sheepshape Spinning shirt - say hi! Not a vendor this year, unfortunately.

My Etsy shops are still open, and any purchases will be sent out on the afternoon of 6 July. I'll also be able to respond to email queries within a few days.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

My samples for the Fibreholics UK Box

As you may know, some of my fellow British fibre artists and I are creating a fibre sampler box of our handspun and dyed fibres. The blog for the project is here and we also have a Ravelry group. it's a new project and the first boxes will be on sale at Woolfest this month. After that they will be available through the website EcoProducts4U which is run by one of our members. There is a mailing list signup sheet on the EcoProducts4U site.

Our first round of samples are being finished up and sent to a central point, and I sent mine in over the weekend. Here's a photo (hosted by Flickr) and some more information!

To start with I have sent in 21 samples, evenly split between fibre and handspun yarn. Some of the samples are of items currently available on my Etsy shop.

There are three different types of fibre. The first, the puffy brown and blue batt, is made of deep brown Zwartble fleece drumcarded with a mix of dyed fleece colours. It's really soft and I have done a few more but haven't yet weighed or listed them.

The second fibre is blue, pale green and white and is a sample of the Salt Water Taffy colourway. It's Bluefaced Leicester roving, acid dyed.

The third is one of my favourites, it is fawn-coloured natural Shetland top acid dyed with blue and pink. The colourway is called Blue Raspberry.

I've sent in five different types of yarn, three of which are currently available at Sheepshape Spinning. The yarns are:

Summer Citrus, made of Columbia Dorset wool and dyed by another Etsy seller

Corriedale Glow in the Dark yarn, in a lovely heathery tan

More Corriedale, but mixed with multicolour Donegal Tweed fibre from Kilcar, Donegal

A Shetland/Merino blend made from one of the samples I received from the April Phat Fiber box - one of a kind with lovely greens, blues and browns, and very soft

The last bit of light coloured Alpaca Glow in the Dark yarn, though there are other colours of this on the shop

I'm really looking forward to the release of the boxes, and also seeing what everyone else is making for their samples! If you get one of my samples in your box I'd love to hear from you. :)

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Special offer now till June 10th!

I'm going on vacation soon! Since I am going to America, I am running a special "free shipping to America" offer for items from my shops.

Any purchases made at Sheepshape Spinning or Elizabeth's UK Craft Shop between now and June 10 2009 will get free shipping to a US shipping address, if you are willing to wait till my arrival in the US (June 15th) to have it shipped. Just put “Willing to Wait!” in the buyer’s notes for a full refund of the shipping charges.

Now’s the time to get your glow in the dark yarn if you’ve been eyeing it, or to request your custom sock yarn colourways!

I'll be back from my trip on July 6th and anything that is bought between June 13th and July 6th will be shipped when I return.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

The farm in the middle of London

It took a while to find it, and I learned that Brick Lane is very...interesting...but I have finally gone to the Spitalfields City Farm! They were having a festival to celebrate shearing day. I got to watch Pants the Sheep get shorn. She didn't seem to care for it too much, but I bet she was glad once that coat was off. It's very hot in London today.

While I was there I spoke to a staff member, and ended up buying two fleeces! (It was an adventure getting them home on the tube...) These sheep photos are credit to Spitalfields Farm because I forgot to bring my camera. The first one is Teggan. They call her the Badger-faced Sheep but I'm not sure if that's a true breed name or just a nickname. Their website says she's of the Torddu variety. She hadn't been shorn yet when I was there but this is last year's fleece. If I like it I am sure to go back for this year's!

These two lovelies are Isla (pronounced eye-la) and Kirsty. They are North Ronaldsay breed. Isla was shorn today before I arrived at the farm, and I got her fleece. (I don't know which one she is in the picture.) Apparently she was being very wiggly for the poor shearer!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

I've been on the front page of Etsy!

A very kind Etsy user wrote to me tonight to tell me that I am on the front page! How exciting. I took a screenshot!

In the centre bottom of the shot is my Rustic Rainbow yarn. It's been marked as a favourite seven times since going on the front page! And the shop as a whole has gotten 13 new favourites. This is great!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The final Phat Fiber sneak peek for May

Some of you are already receiving your boxes! Follow the excitement at Ravelry in the Phat Fiber Sampler Box group.

Here's the last item that was sent it for my May samples! It's a Pocket Sheep!

I've put a penny into the shot for scale. This little guy is made of sock yarn and has an embroidered face, ears and feet. I hope he makes somebody very happy.

I am thinking about offering these Pocket Sheep on my Sheepshape Etsy shop. Would people be interested in getting their own Pocket Sheep that way, or do you prefer having them in the Phat Fiber box?

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

May Phat Fiber sneak peek #6

At this moment your Phat Fiber box may be winging its way to you! Jessie of Phat Fiber tries to get them out as quickly as possible after the sale, though because of the storms she's experienced lately (an inland hurricane! wow!) I'm sure she'd appreciate extra patience. It's hard to wait, though, isn't it!

To help with the waiting, here's the second-to-last Sheepshape Sneak Peek and the final yarn peek.

These ten samples are called "Summer Skies" and are a wool/nylon blend. Each one is slightly different because of the variegated colours of the fibre. These fibres were part of my unlabelled stash that I bought from a retiring spinner, but I applied a "burn test" to the fibres and I am reasonably certain that some are wool and others are nylon, in more or less a 50/50 split. They're very soft!

Tomorrow - the final Sneak Peek where you will see this month's special unique item!

Monday, 18 May 2009

May Phat Fiber Sneak Peek #5

More Yarn! The boxes for May have now been sold - I hope you got one! :)

If you did, you may be one of the few lucky people to get some Glow in the Dark yarn in your box! This month there are five glowing samples in either blue or white colourways.

The white ones are nylon and Wensleydale Longwool and I can't recall what the blue ones are but I think they are probably nylon and Alpaca. It's so fun to play with this stuff. If you haven't seen it in action check out the parts of my shop for glowing yarn and glowing toys - each listing shows an "action shot" taken in the dark! (The action shot is best viewed full size.)

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Chunky Monkey yarn!

Ok, no monkeys, but definitely very chunky. I finished spinning and washing this yarn this weekend:

This is a Corriedale/Ryland cross fleece that I bought from LongDrawJames on Ravelry drumcarded by me and livened up with bits of the Serendipity Fiber Arts sample from the April Phat Fiber Box. It's very chunky, very soft and I suspect is destined to become a pair of mittens. I've got plenty more fleece and a little bit more of the yellow sample batt if I decide to spin more for a matching hat!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

May Phat Fiber Sneak Peek #4

Today's a fibre day! It's also a very special day for the Phat Fiber community. I hope you're ready!

Hand-dyed blue roving, the fibre is Bluefaced Leicester. Each roving is at least 1/4 ounce and is dyed in shades of blue and green - the "showers" part of Showers and Flowers! There are fourteen of these mini-braids out there...I got better at braiding during the course of preparing for this box, too!

Bluefaced Leicester is a wonderfully soft fibre and also very good for spinners who are just getting to grips with their spindle or wheel. I've got some in a pastel colourway in the Spinning fibre section of the Sheepshape shop - and if you're a member of the Ravelry PF group don't forget to check the Box Day Specials thread for a one-day discount offer!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

May Phat Fiber sneak peek #3

Time for another Sneak peek! There will be seven in total, following a pattern of fibre, yarn, yarn, fibre, yarn, yarn, surprise. So today is yarn!

There's a colourway in my Etsy shop called Lilac Gardens. I have sent in two samples of Lilac Gardens for this month's box. I had enough for about 2.5 samples, so one is normal sized and one is jumbo!

It's worsted weight, 50% Corriedale wool (the darker purple) and 50% a mix of white silk and light purple Merino wool. The shop listing has 252 more yards but there's only one listing and when it's gone, it's gone! Also, for the month of May this yarn will ship anywhere in the world for free.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Quick informational post

I've just run through all the listings on my Sheepshape Etsy shop and added estimated currency conversions for British Pounds and Euros. I'm happy to invoice any purchases in those currencies instead of US dollars!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

May Phat Fiber sneak peek #2

Part two of seven for the Sheepshape Phat Fiber sneak peeks!

Today is a yarn day, and the sample is a three ply cabled yarn called Strawberry Patch. This yarn is made of Jacob and Merino in grey, green and dark pink. It reminded me very much of visiting my friend Benji in Delaware and seeing the strawberry garden he had tucked away behind the house. I;d love to grow strawberries at home!

A cable yarn is made of two or more smaller plied yarns twisted together. Technically I suppose this isn't *quite* a cable since I used one two-ply and one single, but it works for me. This type of yarn is made by making some singles, intentionally overtwisting them when plying, then taking the overtwisted plied yarn and plying it with another overtwisted yarn, but going the opposite direction of your usual plies! The second round of plying gets rid of the extra twist and you end of with a thick, textured yarn. You may have done this to make long, thick handles for bags but twisting the yarn, doubling it on itself and letting it ply itself together to get a thicker "rope". It's fun!

Friday, 8 May 2009

First May Phatfiber sneak peek!

Can you believe it? It's nearly time for the next Phat Fiber box!

This month Sheepshape Spinning has sent in fifty samples, more or less evenly split between yarn and fiber. That is, if the "Garden Explosion" pencil roving isn't counted as both yarn AND fibre! Pencil roving is a thick unspun line of wool, about the thickness of a thinnish pencil, that has a bit of twist in it - just enough to keep it from falling apart, but not quite enough to call it spun yarn. But you can knit with it if you like!

Here is the "Garden Explosion" colourway. Each mini-skein is at least 1/4 ounce of wool:

To spin from a pencil roving, you will need to predraft, because the fibres get a little bit compressed in the processing. Start at one end and hold a strand of the roving in your hands with your hands a few inches apart, and pull gently. The fibres will move apart - the trick is to let them extend and fluff up without pulling so much that you end up with two pieces of roving. Once you've predrafted that bit, move your fingers along a few inches and do it again. It can take a while but makes the spinning much easier.

If you have trouble working with pencil roving, I suggest spinning it in the opposite direction to what you usually do. When you're making the single, spin your wheel or spindle counter-clockwise, and ply it clockwise. This is because the small amount of existing twist in the roving is in the clockwise direction. When I first started spinning this kind of roving I found it difficult to draft it while spinning it because the roving twist and the wheel twist would build on each other and make it difficult to draft. But by spinning it backward, the wheel helps to pull the roving's twist *out*, leaving you free to draft as needed.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Enter to win a free skein of yarn!

I'm being featured on the Phat Fiber Giveaway! Just read the post on the Phat Fiber blog and leave a comment on it for your chance to win this skein of my handspun alpaca:

Thanks for featuring me Jessie!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Got my April Phat Fiber box!

And I suspect I'm about to add to the unfinished projects list! But it will be fun.

I'll mention some of my favourite items first and then the rest are in no particular order. Everything is lovely!

OK, if someone asked me to pick my favourite five things from this box, they would be the following. If you are trading any of these items from your box, please get in touch with me!

1) "Earth Day" Jacob wool and Firestar from Desert Gardens - a lovely blue, green white and copper firestar batt

2) A green pepper stitch marker from Yarndemon Designs - I don't know why, I just love this little guy! And I don't even USE stitch markers! I think this may be the start of a collection...

3) "Dafodails" batt (wool, mohair, alpaca, bamboo) in green, white and yellow from Silver Sun Alpacas - I hven't spun much alpaca and wasn't hugely keen on what I had spun, but this is a) sparkly and I love anything sparkly, and b) looks to be much easier to work with than the other alpaca I had!

4) Icelandic sheep wool samples from Cedarland Farm - I LOVE natural tones of wool between black and white, and this is a lovely collection of grey, deep brown and light tan.

5) "Greener Pastures" from Moonwood Farm - green batt from reclaimed fibre. Small but adorable! It's like a little Tribble...

OK, in NO particular order - just as I took the pictures - here's everything else!

A red, purple and yellow braid of Merino fibre from Abstract Fiber

"Calypso" purple green and brown merino braid from Greenwood Fiberworks

A green and brown "Ofelia" New Zealand Merino braid from Maude and Me

A bundle of wool/mohair/cotton ticking fibre from Farmgirl Chic

A purple luxury batt, wonderfully packaged, from Zebisis Designs

Dark green yearling mohair from Flying Wright Farm

A very soft silklike yellow/gold bundle from Polyart Design, I'm not sure what it is but maybe it says it inside the label, which I haven't removed yet.

A bright yellow-green variety batt from Serendipity

Green Border Leicester cross locks from Altered Visions

A snowflake-shaped needle gauge from 7 Yaks Design - now traded for more Silver Sun Alpaca fibre!

Knitting-themed notepaper from Becky's Paper Creations

A Phatfiber button that says "You can feel the difference" from Wild Hare Fiber Studio

"Oh My Aching..." salve from Desert Gardens

Cream de Mint Biscotti from Matilda's Italian Cookies

A beaded brown and white stitch marker from In Stitches

And a blue strawberry (blueberry?) stitch marker from Blitzknits!

Click on any of the pics to go to the Flickr page for the photo, where you can enlarge the shot for more detail!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Monday Update: The Land of Half Finished Projects

I'm sure you can relate to the title of this post.

At this very moment, I have the following projects on. In some cases, on hold.

* knitting imperfect socks from the toe up, a training project. I love how the stripes are turning out. I'm going to look like the Cat in the Hat.

* knitting my Gotland shawl. I can't wait to wear it. But it's still too small. And I need to get a shawl pin. I'm worried that it will end up too heavy to wear. Definitely not lace weight!

* knitting a Fuzzy Mitten lamb. It's all done except for the eyes. I made it larger than usual and I can't find my stash of different-size safety eyes.

* dyeing Shetland fibre. It's cooling in the bathtub. I hope my husband didn't want to take a shower tonight...

* carding Corriedale/Romney cross fibre on the drumcarder. Takes A.G.E.S. I've done about a dozen batts already but it still seems like there's a sheep's worth of fibre left!

* crocheting a blanket in strips. This one has been snoozing for a while. I can't remember what size hook I was using...!

* washing a light brown crossbreed fleece. I got nearly all of it done a few weeks back and ran out of steam....

* my never-ending Irish non-Jumper project. It's been washed, dyed and spun but I haven't found a suitable pattern for the amount of yarn I have! At about 720 yards it certainly won't be a jumper. Curse my bulky-weight spinning!

Whew. I'm going to be a pensioner by the time I finish all the projects I have going on. (Because, of course, I will not learn from this and will continue to add projects.) But it sure is fun!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

spin knit spin knit dye spin fun!

April's Phatfiber samples are starting to turn up in people's photos! It's great fun to see them. Remember, if you received a Sheepshape sample in the April box then you can get a discount on any purchase between now and mid-May by responding to the feedback request on the enclosed card.

And...the MAY samples are already winging their way to Phatfiber headquarters! Nothing like being part of the Phat Fiber contribution team to make the month fly by...

Yesterday I took an advanced sock knitting class at I Knit London where I learned a couple of different ways to start toe-up socks. It was fun, but I think I would have preferred an intensive project workshop like the beginner's class, where we went through the entire process. I struggled a lot with the process at home last night and am also VERY wary about how to deal with the heel when I get that far. But it's good to know how to do the toe at least, and two people at the class admired my sock yarn. I was using a skein which I had dyed myself so I was very pleased about that. It's bright blue and red stripes - click that link for a photo from my Flickr site.

Of course, since it's the weekend, I have also been spinning! Yesterday I finished some lovely lavender and off-white Corriedale two-ply, and today I am working on a wild mish-mash of colours form a bag of waste rovings from a British wool mill. Since it's waste they can't guarantee whether or not the rovings are synthetic, so I'm putting them all together in a completely random way and seeing what happens!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Monday Update

The April Phatfiber boxes have been released into the wild! I have spotted three of my samples in photos so far. I wonder who will get the glowing yarn and the mini sheep...!

This past weekend I refused to leave the house as I was having so much fun spinning, knitting, and dyeing - not in that order though. I have decided to participate in the May Phatfiber box - I should have time to get my samples in if I can finish them up this week - and so I dyed some pencil roving in bright springtime colours for the "Showers and Flowers" theme. I'm not sure whether to call it yarn or fibre though, as it can be spun or knit!

I also finished spinning the spare Gotland fibre that I had around, and have decided to make my Gotland shawl bigger, so I unpicked the castoff row and have been adding length and width to it. I can't get over how much fun it is to work with Gotland. I keep having to stop myself stroking the shawl as I work. Her'es a photo of it from back in's bigger now.

I also managed to get some knitting done and made two more animals for the Sheepshape Shop:

The top one is a sheep made of Corriedale and Merino, and the bottom is a bunny rabbit made from Alpaca. They turned out really well and I will miss them when they go!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

I love Gotland fibre

I love working with Gotland sheep fleece. I really do.

Last night I was spinning up some mid-grey Gotland because I am making more little knitted animals. I decided to make a bunch of sheep for my shop because they have been selling better than the other types of animals. Plus I had nicked a little grey Gotland sheep out of my own shop to keep - technically I suppose I've bought it from myself!

I have finished most of another sheep, but ran out of yarn before finishing so I needed to spin up more. I have the most lovely, pillowy soft Gotland batts from last year's IKnit London show. It's SO nice to work with. I am really glad that I got 1.5 kgs of the stuff at the time! I can't help but stop and touch it while spinning.

Since then I have also managed to get some Gotland roving from an online shop and some scoured locks from a Ravelry trade. Haven't used those yet, but knowing I have more Gotland is making it a little easier to use the stuff from the IKnit show.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Monday Update - the final April preview!

The April Phat Fiber Boxes will be on sale soon! Here are the last preview pics of the items that I sent in. I am really excited and I hope everyone will love their sample items.

First up - the glow in the dark yarn featured on the YouTube video. I wasn't able to send in lots of these but I will aim to have a few sent in every month. These are made of Alpaca:

And finally, we have a little friend for someone! This is a sheep made of sock yarn, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. He's got BIG ears and is the only Big-Eared Pocket Sheep I have ever made.

I spent the long holiday weekend working on a ton of spinning, dyeing and knitting, which is why the Monday Update is a little late. There's several new things in the Etsy shop, though, and more animals will be going up soon!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Monday Update - Phat Fiber peeks, and my house smells of sheep.

I have had a large black plastic bag in the bathroom closet for nearly a year, so yesterday I figured it was well past time to take care of it. I knew it was from Wonderwool Wales in 2008 but couldn't remember what was in it, so I was looking forward to the surprise!

It turned out to be a large crossbreed fleece, a lovely midbrown colour. Here's a pic from Wales when I got it:

It's the big one on the bottom right.

I spread the whole thing out on the bathroom floor yesterday (my husband is so understanding!) and started trimming and sorting it. I have washed about half of it now; I had to stop yesterday because I ran out of places to dry it! I'm still depending on the radiators for drying, and with the warmer weather they don't kick in till about 7 PM. I'm hoping to be able to finish the rest of it tonight.

As it's Monday here is the next round of sneak peeks for the April Phat Fiber box! If you're not already on the mailing list to find out when these go on sale, pop over to and sign up!

Today I'll be showing you some more yarn samples and some crocheted goodies:

These samples are spun from the same green merino rovings that some of you will be receiving in your boxes. The roving samples were shown on March 16th.

And these are a bit of fibery goodness to keep with you all day long!

Crocheted star keychains made of handspun yarn. Two of them also glow in the dark! They're about 2 inches across, if I recall correctly.

The April box isn't even out yet and I need to do my May samples, though! The May theme is Showers and Flowers and I suspect most of my Easter weekend will be spent preparing for it.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Monday Update and more Phat sneak peeks!

Monday again, the last Monday of March, so it's time for another PhatFiber sneak peek! My samples have been safely received at Phat Fiber Central, which is a relief. I never 100% trust the postal system!

So here's this week's Phat Fiber Sneak Peek!

This is a lot of seventeen mini-skeins of handspun Merino in white, light purple and teal blue. Every one is slightly different.