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May Handmaiden Spinning Fibre Club

Hello friends,

Today I'd like to share with you my May Handmaiden Spinning Fibre Club subscription, and how it looks now all spun up.

May's Handmaiden Fibre club, in autumnal shades of white, brown, orange and red, arrived all prettily wrapped up in tissue paper, and contained 100 grams of 80% machine-washable wool/20% nylon, a small plastic sock stitch marker, and a pattern for making Tinker Bell slippers. I decided to spin it up fine so I could make socks, so I broke the fibre braid in half to make a 2-ply, and then pulled out my trusty rimu drop spindle and got to work.

I love spinning with my drop spindle, because it's the easiest way to spin up super fine yarn for making socks, and it also increases the spinning time, which I find very relaxing. It took me a couple of weeks to spin up the two fine singles, and I loved the slow changing autumnal colours on my drop spindle as I spun.

I transferred the singles of yarn off the drop spindle and onto two spinning wheel bobbins for plying. Once that was done it didn't take very long at all to ply up the resulting 2 ply yarn on my Majacraft Suzie Pro spinning wheel. I prefer plying on my spinning wheel, as my drop spindle can't handle large amounts of plied yarn.

The plied yarn was in general fingering weight, and the autumnal colours were very pretty. After the plied yarn rested for a couple of days, I set the yarn by washing it in luke-warm soapy water.

The yarn is now all dry, and waiting to be knitted up. The final yarn is 2 ply, and is 265.5 m long.

Once a couple of other knitting projects are completed, I will be knitting up this hand spun yarn into socks.

Have a wonderful day


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

A Road Trip, A Fibre Festival, and A Raffle

Hello friends,

It's been a couple of weeks since my last blog post, but I've been busy, with a friend coming down from Wellington to visit us for a week. We got up to a lot of crafty things while she was here, and we spent many relaxing afternoons sitting on the couch watching disaster movies and knitting and spinning.

One of the highlights of the week was a road trip from Dunedin to Gore for the 45˚Fibre Festival in Gore on Saturday the 4th of May. We got up early on Saturday morning and headed off on our road trip down south.

It was cool but dry morning, and two hours later we made it to Gore, and excitedly found our way to the Gore Town and Country Club for the Fiber Festival.
Outside the venue we were greeted with some great fiber based art installations.

Once inside the fibre festival we were overwhelmed with a large number of yarn and fibre traders waiting for our patronage. There were local farmers selling raw and processed fleeces, indie dyers and yarn traders from all over the country, and other traders selling all sorts of yarn and fibre accessories.

After wandering around and getting an idea of what was for sale, it was time to shop. I had saved up a lot of crafty pocket money for this event, and it was time to fulfill my wish list.

First up was purchasing some more Unicorn Power Scour from Unicorn Fibre Cleaners NZ. I'm currently in the middle of processing two raw fleece projects (blog posts to come), and I've found that Unicorn Power Scour is the most gentle, easy, and efficient fleece cleaner I've ever used. I'll never process fleeces any other way now.

Next on my shopping list, was a skein of 4 ply yarn for making a pair of socks. After wandering around for a while, I found the perfect colour at Dye Studio 54, who had 100 grams of Sparkle Sock in the colourway Belladonna. It was a perfect combination of purple and sparkles, and I can't wait to knit it up so I can have sparkly warm feet for winter.

As a spinner I always like to pick up some dyed fibre to spin, and I found two preparations at the Handmade Fibre Crafts stall. I picked up 100 grams of dyed merino combed top with silk and viscose in shades of orange, white and pinks. I also grabbed 50 grams of dyed Corriedale combed top with mulberry silk in shades of orange. I figured the two preparations would work well together in a future project (unknown project at this time).

Next up it was time to check out two of my favorite fibre processors. I also love to dye my own fibre, so I headed first to Tally-Ho who prepare the most amazing combed white Merino. It's always so fine and white and clean, which makes it the perfect fibre to dye with. I grabbed a total of 500 grams of fibre, and was very happy with my purchase.

And lastly I stopped in at Fine Fibre Farms, where they were selling 500 gram bags of white Polwarth Combed Top, which I could not resist. Polwarth is my favorite fibre and yarn of all time to work with, and it is relatively hard to get as undyed fibre in New Zealand. I am very much looking forward to dyeing and spinning this polwarth fibre.

And with that done, I had spent all my crafty pocket money, so I visited the sheep and alpaca animals on display outside the venue, and even got to pat them.

After all that, we were quite hungry, so we enjoyed some Thai chicken noodle soup and wontons for lunch from one of the food vendors, and it was so perfect and spicy and warm to eat outside on a cool autumn day.

After lunch it was back into the venue, and we wandered around the traders some more. At this point we visited Purple Sprouting, where they had a wonderful selection of sock yarn. I fell in love with another sock yarn colourway, but had no money left to buy it. My wonderful friend then stepped in, and bought me a skein of 4 ply Bluefaced Leicester sock yarn in the colourway Meadow Mornings (Almost) as a thank you for me hosting her for the week. I was so excited about this, and the yarn is already on my knitting needles to knit a pair of socks.

And just when I thought it was all over, we happened to walk past Spinning Wood Designs, who handcraft spinning drop spindles and fibre tools in South Canterbury. And it was there I found the wrist distaff I've been searching for in New Zealand for the past two years. And before you could blink an eyelid, I'd picked out a distaff and handed over my credit card, overjoyed that I'd finally found one. I knew hubby wouldn't mind that I overspent my crafty budget for this, as I have been talking about getting a wrist distaff for a long time.

And with that done it was nearly time to go home. All that remained was staying for the raffle drawing, as I had used the $1 I had left in my purse to buy one raffle ticket for the spinning prize. And after telling my friend that I never, ever won raffle prizes, I won!

I was so happy and excited and grateful to win the raffle, as it was filled with lots of goodies I knew I would love to use. Once we got home, I unpacked the raffle prize, and shared my spoils with hubby and my friend.

I gave hubby the giant Toblerone chocolate bar gifted from Unicorn Fibre Cleaners, and I gave my friend the Purple Sprouting sock yarn pack, and kept all the spinning goodies for myself (my friend isn't a spinner). My prizes included a 1 kg bump of naturally dyed romney from Tally Ho Carding, a 1 kg Carousel Collection of Merino also from Tally Ho Carding, a packet of Ashford Angelina silver sparkles to add to fibre projects, and an Ashford Turkish drop spindle.

I was especially excited about the Turkish drop spindle prize, as it had been on my wish list of fibre tools for a long time. I can't wait to learn how to use it, and thanks to all the fibre I bought and that I won in the raffle, I will have plenty of fibre to practice on.

And with the wonderful fibre festival day at an end, my friend and I headed back home to recover, and play with all our new yarn and fibre goodies...

Have a wonderful day


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

Acid Dyeing Yarn For My Gro Hat Knitting Project

Hello friends,

I was on Instagram about a month ago, and saw a knitted hat on my feed that I immediately fell in love with. The hat was a project based on the Gro Pattern by Fiber Tales. I loved the cabled plant motif, and how nice and toasty it looked like in the pattern photos, so I bought a copy of the pattern.

The pattern calls for one 100 gram skein of DK (double knit) yarn, and I knew I had a lot of undyed superwash DK possum/merino yarn (that I got from one of the Woolyarn outlet store sales when I lived in Wellington) in my stash.

I also knew what colour I wanted to dye the yarn. Back when I was living in Wellington I processed, dyed, spun, and knitted, a huge shawl for a Creative Fibre exhibition called the Southern Skies shawl using raw alpaca fleece a friend on a farm gave me. I had processed and dyed white alpaca fleece in sequential aurora colours based on a photo I had taken of an aurora, spun up each section of yarn, and then knitted the project, adding silver beads to show the constellations of the southern night sky.

One of the colours in the shawl was a beautiful sage green, called Aurora 4 according to my dyeing notes, and this was the colour I wanted to dye for this hat project.

After checking my dyeing project notes I calculated how much dye I would need to add to this project. The total amount of yarn I chose for this project was 123 grams of undyed superwash yarn. I used more yarn than the pattern suggested, because it is good to have extra for swatching, and also to not have to play yarn chicken.

I've included in here my calculations for getting the aurora 4 colourway. When it comes to dyeing yarn, I used Ashford dyes, and mainly in the colours Teal, Hot Pink, Yellow, and Black, which are equal to Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Combing these 4 colours can lead to an infinite number of colours. My Ashford dyes are made up as a 1% depth of shade (DOS) stock solution. For this project, I know the relative proportions of teal, yellow, and black I need to make the aurora 4 shade. I need to add 4.61 mL, 34.81 mL, and 7.23 mL of each respective dye stock solutions to dye 123 grams of possum merino yarn.

The first step in acid dyeing yarn is to make up the acid solution for dyeing. Ashford suggests to add white vinegar to make the water acidic, but it is horrible to work with when heated, and the fumes make my eyes water. So instead I have developed a system to use citric acid, which is easier to work with. To make up the citric acid water you add 1.5 grams of citric acid (which you can get from any supermarket) to 6L of water, and mix well. This is the solution you soak your yarn in, make up the DOS solutions, and also to dye in. To check the pH is at 4, I used a pH strip that I picked up from Trade Me.

The next step in dyeing is to pre-soak the yarn. Into a container add some of the citric acid water and also a splash of unscented Ecostore Dishwashing Liquid, followed by the yarn you want to dye. The dish washing soap is in there to help open up the fibers so that the whole skein of yarn is wet through and ready for dyeing. I usually leave this to soak for 30 minutes.

When it came to  getting out the acid dye stock solutions, I had previously run out of yellow stock solution, so I had to make up a new batch. To 198 grams of citric acid water I added 2 grams of Ashford yellow dye. I measure this out into a paper muffin cup on a small scale that I picked up on trade me. With this step is important to wear gloves and a mask (I used a N95 mask), not only to not dye my hands, but also to protect my lungs from the fine dye mist.

Once the yellow dye was well mixed, it was time to measure out the teal, yellow, and black stock solutions. After mixing each container well, I measured out each of the colours calculated above using plastic pipettes (which I also got from Trade Me) and the small scale and combined them. The aurora 4 colour was added to 6L of citric acid which was heating up in a stainless steel pot on the stove top, and mixed well. The yarn sitting in the solution was then wrung out and then added to the heating pot.

The yarn began to take up the dye straight away, and was gently mixed occasionally as the pot heated up to a simmer. The yarn and the pot was then left to simmer for 15 minutes. At the end of this time, the yarn had completely taken up the dye, and the citric acid water was clear when finished. The pot was turned off and left to cool.

When the water had cooled, the yarn was removed from the pot. The citric acid water was left to cool to room temperature, and then baking soda was added to the water to return it to a pH of 7 (using a pH test strip), then discarded down the drain. The yarn was rinsed twice in luke warm water which had a little dish washer liquid added to it, not only to rinse out the citric acid water, but also to check that all the dye had indeed stuck permanently to the yarn. The yarn was then spun dry using the washing machine, and then left to dry outside.

This is the finished yarn, and I'm really happy with it. I think because of the original colouring of the undyed yarn before dyeing, it's not quite the same as the sample yarn of the aurora 4 colour I have on file, but it's still close enough that I'm happy to start knitting with it.

Hopefully I'll have the hat knitted up over the coming spring and summer, so that it'll be ready to wear next autumn.

Have a wonderful day


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon.

Autumnal Knitting - My Days to Come Blanket Is Still a Work In Progress

Hello friends,

Happy Autumn to those of you living in the Southern Hemisphere. It's been a long and hot summer here in Dunedin, but over the last few weeks the sunlight has been dimming little by little, and the neighborhood deciduous trees have ever so slowly begun changing color. We have a big Japanese maple tree in our backyard, and the edges of some of the leaves have already started turning red.

At this time of the year I start to ponder the wonderfulness of autumn. I think of beautiful falling leaves, bright orange pumpkins, cool rainy days, the first hot chocolate of the season, and warm knitted things. And when it comes to thinking of knitting, my thoughts always settle on the unfinished blanket stored in my craft room.

Back in September 2021 I'd just finished knitting a thick woolen jersey, and wanted to knit something a little easier, a blanket that would keep me cozy and warm over the autumn and winter seasons to come. Down here in Dunedin where we live, we usually get around 40 frost days, and usually if we're lucky, a couple of snow days as well. And when we don't have frosts or snow in autumn and winter, it is pretty much always just cold.

I've always admired Fifty Four Ten Studio's blankets on Instagram, and so after perusing their website, I chose their The Days to Come Blanket. I love the simplicity of its modern geometric design, and the fact that the blanket would be double-sided, and the pattern was simple enough that I wouldn't need to refer to the pattern as I knitted it in front of the TV.

The pattern calls for an aran/worsted weight yarn, but I had on hand a 3 kg cone of double knit salmon pink possum/merino yarn from a Woolyarns sale. After knitting a test swatch with a slightly smaller needle to account for the yarn (yes, you should always knit a test swatch, and wash it afterward too), I was ready to make a start on knitting my blanket.

I, of course, chose the largest size version of the blanket, which was an XXL measuring 46.5" wide by 54" long, because if you're going to knit a blanket to keep you warm, you should make it as big and cozy as possible. So therefore, I cast on 214 stitches...

The bottom border was next, it was pretty easy knitting, as it was all plain stitches, but I noticed it was taking around 20 minutes a row, and once I got to the pattern itself, the realization dawned on me. Each pattern row was taking around half an hour to knit. The knitting itself was easy, but it was taking ages, every night I worked on it I could only manage a couple of rows...

So ever since September 2021 I've been slowly working on my The Days to Come Blanket. I've been knitting it more in Autumn, Winter, and Spring, and hardly ever in Summer. The possum/merino yarn is very warm and cozy, it's just too hot to work on the project in the middle of summer, especially now that it's big enough to sit on my lap while I'm knitting. And I only work on it for about an hour a night when I do pull it out of its project bag, so that's not helping either.

My blanket is currently measuring 44" wide by 29" long, which makes me just over halfway done, I need to knit around another 25". Once I get to the expected number of pattern repeats, I'll have a better idea of how much more I need to do to get the right size once the blanket will be blocked.

I mentioned recently to hubby that I hoped to get it finished by this winter, but that's only three months away. I have been pulling it out to knit every couple of days over the past month, but at only two rows a night, there hasn't been much progress.

In order to remedy this, I have now brought my Days To Come blanket knitting project downstairs, and my aim is to get at least an hour done each night while watching the Chase on TV. Hopefully this will mean I reach my goal before the first of June...

Have a wonderful day,


Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon.

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