Saturday, 30 August 2014

Spinning a Cloud: Malabrigo's Nube

I was very excited about spinning Malabrigo's Nube when I had the chance. The name itself, meaning cloud,  promises luscious softness, and the available colourways are stunning. I chose the colourway Whale's Road that is a combination of blues and purple. Nube consists of 100% merino, which is generally a wonderfully soft wool. I have a special love for this wool because that is what I first learned to spin with even though, as I found out much later, it isn't meant to be the easiest to start out with.

As I unwound the braid, the colours popped even more than before. They are the best part of Nube, in my opinion: the colours are beautiful.  I spent a lot of time admiring it before setting up my spinning wheel and prepping the fibre. I split it lengthwise which revealed lighter fibre on the inside where the dye hadn't penetrated. I am not entirely keen on that, to be honest, as I was expecting thoroughly dyed fibre throughout. On seeing the pale interior, I knew the spun fibre would end up lighter than I had expected.
Pulling out the first bit of fibre, I found it hard to do without considerably loosening it beforehand. Merino generally becomes quite compact if stored for too long and I wonder if this is the reason. I also  knew even before I began that spinning it would not be as easy an experience as I had thought. Now, if you have handcarders or a drumcarder, you can easily prepare the fibre to make spinning easier. I have neither and had a bit of a tough time.
I decided to spin from the fold and navajo-ply the singles in order to have DK yarn from which to make a hat for autumn and winter. This is one of my rare attempts at making a yarn thicker than lace or 4-ply. That's very hard to do if you are used to spinning ever finer yarns! The plying makes the yarn three times as thick as my singles and I am happy with how it has turned out.
The n-ply retains the colour changes, which I like in yarn. As always, I prefer the look of singles, but plied yarn is much more hard-wearing, which I need when knitting most things. I also like the way the different shades of the single come together in most of the yarn. The plying is a bit tighter than I normally spin it, so that is a good improvement.
Ultimately, I would say that Nube has a beautiful range of colours that results in equally beautiful yarn. If you buy it, make sure the fibre isn't compact so that you won't struggle to work with it. Any yarn spun from it will be soft and smooshy and feel great against skin. My finished yarn is just so very soft and I love it! I can't wait to knit it up and see what it looks like when finished.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Giveaway Time: Malabrigo Nube

I am proud to present the first ever Abso-knitting-lutely giveaway today. It is open to all EU residents so get in on it! 
You will already know Malabrigo for their wonderful yarn, but have you tried their fibre yet? Malabrigo kindly sent me samples of their Nube spinning fibre and I will randomly pick one lucky winner who will get approx. 113g (4 oz) of this luscious hand-dyed 100% merino braid. The winner will receive the Arco iris colourway, which is a wild mix of greens, yellow, purple and pinks. See Malabrigo's whole range here. 
Now the important bit. To win, please comment below with a link to a photo of your own handspun and tell me what your favourite spinning tool is and why. Easy! 

The giveaway ends on 9 September 2014. Keep an eye on the blog for the announcement of the winner shortly after. Good luck, everyone!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Sweet Georgia Sock Yarn - It's Here!

As you know, I won yarn for my now twice prize-winning Stitchsurfer socks - and it has arrived! The ladies of the Must Stash podcast sent me a hank of Sweet Georgia's Tough Love sock yarn in the colourway Summer Dusk. It consists of 80% merino and 20% nylon, and it's just so smooshy. 

It really is very nice and soft, which I like a lot. I think the yarn will have great stitch definition, too, from what I can tell at this point. I wish I didn't have so many other knitting projects on the go that I could start with this yarn. It's the knitter's constant problem: too many WIPs. (I shall gloss over the many abandoned though half-finished projects.)

When I showed the hank to Mark he immediately said it looks like the yarn that I dye. He's right! It will be fun to see how it knits up; I've already had a look at other people's projects on Ravelry so I have an idea. I suspect I will make socks again. No surprise there! Because of the way it will knit up, I think a lacy pattern won't do much good. Perhaps I will make something with only knit and purl stitches, a bit of cabling, perhaps. Or, maybe, I should make new gloves! Oh dear. I can never decide.

What would you knit with this yarn? Share your ideas in the comments. Have you ever used Sweet Georgia yarn? How do you like it?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Knitting and Crochet Inspiration


It's been a while. Time for some new knitting and crochet inspiration!

This time I have chosen a yellow theme to go with the unusually long summer we've been having here in the UK. I suspect that autumn isn't too far off now, so you'll probably want to start those mittens, hats and scarves soon. So why not try one of these patterns?

1. This beautiful shawl caught my eye not only because of the stunning lady modelling it, but also because of its bold colour and delicate pattern. It is just what I look for in a shawl and, perhaps best of all, it's free. Check it out on Knitty.

2. The Shifting Sands scarf is a design by Grumperina, a designer I came across early on in my knitting days. Her patterns are great to knit and straightforward. I especially like how the light plays on the pattern, highlighting some bits while throwing deep shadows in places. Very pretty!

3. Who doesn't need storage for all that yarn and knitting notions? This ombre storage basket is perfect. This crochet pattern is simple and should be find for beginning crocheters too.

4. The Endpaper Mitts are probably among the best known on Ravelry. I have come across them so often and yet I've not knitted them for myself. One day I probably will because I really like the look of them. This is a pattern I also came across very early in my knitting days so they have been around for a while.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Washing Your Handspun

The Tour de Fleece is over and I am left with a number of handspun yarns, including others I finished before the tour. None of them have been washed yet because I just keep putting it off. It is the part of the spinning process I like the least because it seems to be the most work. Since we live in a small space, I have to soak each skein separately in the small sink, one after the other, so I can then dry them all on a rack that we have to squeeze past whenever it's up. I avoid washing wool especially in the colder months since the yarn needs three whole days to dry then, so I should finally get to it and take the plunge while it is summer.

I've made the washing process a little bit more pleasant by getting a bottle of wool wash that smells lovely and does not have to be rinsed out. It makes a big difference to my wool and to knitted garments. It also speeds up the process, which is great! Here is a great article about finishing your handspun from Knitty.com.

How do you feel about washing your knitting and wool? Do you enjoy it or is it a chore? Share any tips in the comments - I look forward to reading them.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Prize-winning Stitchsurfer Socks

As you know, my Stitchsurfer socks won a little competition in June, but the real reason I knitted them was for a KAL in the Must Stash Podcast group on Ravelry. There was going to be a prizedraw as well, which is an added bonus.

So exactly a month after I won the first competition with these socks, I did actually win one of the yarn prizes in the Must Stash group too! Hurray!

The prize is a skein of Sweet Georgia yarn that I will show you once I have received it. It is coming all the way from the US, so it may take a while. You can see the podcast episode in which the prizes were drawn here. The giveaway winners are announced at the start of video 2.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Ready For the Big Knit 2014?


Some of you may already be busy knitting or crocheting the little hats for this year's Big Knit. It's a lot of fun to make these little things for charity and seeing the Innocent Smoothie bottles with their fancy hats all lined up in store in November. I took part in previous years, but last year I didn't have the time. So I am hoping to drop off a bag of little hats at Age UK in a few weeks.

The deadline for submissions is in September, though if the past years are anything to go by, I am sure it will be pushed back further. If you need pattern ideas, have a look at the official website - there you'll also find crochet patterns, including a really cool little tortoise hat. My favourites are the fez and, of course, the strawberry hat which I have knitted a few times by now. I am not using patterns this time, but am making up the hats as I go along. This usually results in a good variety of interesting hats. So far I have made hats in two colours, with stripes, stranded work and I will probably get some lace in as well.

Have you started already? Do you have a particular goal in mind? Are you designing your own hats or using the patterns on the Big Knit website? Show off what you're doing in the comments below!