Sunday 5 October 2014

Arrived from the Spinning Mill

A few weeks ago a very large parcel arrived from Griffiths Spinning Mill. The package contained spun yarn produced from fleeces of our small flock of coloured Shetland sheep. There are a few more shades than last year ranging from black, brown, greys, fawn and white.

Back in June I completely forgot to take any photos of the sheep shearing process. However, my nice neighbour Gail happened to be passing and took these photos of the sheep with their new hair cuts. I 'borrowed' the images from Gail's Bouncing Bertie's Blog, about life seen from the perspective of her wire-haired fox terrier.

Image: Courtesy of Bouncing Bertie's Blog
Image: Courtesy of Bouncing Bertie's Blog

The yarn has a further wash to remove any remaining grease and dirt. I'm tackling this process in batches due to the number of skeins to be washed and the rainy conditions currently being experienced in the Highlands.

Recently I invested in a skein winder/holder for this next process and it's definitely helped speed up the task of winding the yarn into these 'cake' style balls.

Due to the amount of time spent washing, drying, and winding the yarn I haven't had that much time to knit with it. I have though managed to test the yarn out using the Stellar pattern which I wrote about previously. This version was made for Mr Hand Knitted, who likes the hat but not being photographed.

The idea for the display rack came after seeing this image on Tolt Yarn and Wool Facebook page.  (A carpenter friend very kindly made this one for me). Currently my Shetland yarn is on display and available to purchase from the Loch Torridon Centre Gallery.

Saturday 4 October 2014

Travelling Yarns Collaboration

Way back in the summer I met with Catherine Sclater of Travelling Yarns. We discussed the possibility of a knitting/yarn/pattern collaboration. Catherine has been working with the new Uist Wool Spinning Mill and has developed her own artisan hand dyed yarn. She is using fleece from a breed of sheep called Zwartbles and it has a rich dark brown/black colour. Catherine has named this yarn Black Beauly, a reference to the area where the fleece was sourced. Some of the dark yarn is spun with white Cheviot fibre which takes up the dye. The result is a lovely rich two tone colour effect, this hand dyed yarn she has named Machair.

The image shows sample skeins of the Machair hand dyed with one skein of Black Beauly. My brief was to design a hat pattern using one skein of the dark yarn and one of the hand dyed. Also there was to be a Fair Isle influence to bring out the contrast between the two yarns. 

I came up with, 'Stellar', a beanie style hat, suitable for men or women, with a Fair Isle style design made up of intersecting triangles and a solid colour crown with an optional tassel. I made the first sample using the yellow colour element forming the pattern and the darker contrast on the crown. This is shown in Catherine's Autumn Yellow hand dyed. Stellar hat pattern is now available via Ravelry.

Modelled here (reluctantly) by Mr Hand Knitted. He likes the hat but not being photographed.

The second hat sample was knitted with the darker colour forming the pattern element and the colour on the crown for contrast, shown here in Catherine's hand dyed Teal.

Catherine will be exhibiting her Black Beauly and Machair yarn, 'Stellar' hat knitting kits and a vast range of other knitting yarns at the Highland Wool and Textile Fair, Bishop's Palace at Eden Court, Inverness, on 18th October 10am - 4pm.