I’m sure you might have guessed but I love knitting.  I love the sensual experience of choosing, working and wearing thoughtfully crafted knitwear.  A while back Machelle over at Chopped Tomatoes decided to stop selling 4-ply yarn.  A sad day for fibre lovers, but being a devotee of the Design Kitchen I decided to buy some of those precious last skeins.  And the Yarn gods did smile, for lo, there was a technical error and the beautiful Machelle sent me an apology in the form of More Yarn.  I’ve not been spinning much lately, as I’m in the middle of moving house and my wheel is buried behind stuff.

More Yarn + Buried Spinning Wheel = Mucho Knitting

I’ve knitted a gift for a friend whose birthday is tomorrow so I’ll post about that one then so as not to accidentally ruin the surprise.  I’ve knitted a big shawl and a smaller cape type one. Want to see?  Oh, go on then…

Thunderheads

Named for the colours in the gorgeous yarn from Machelle this cape-ish type shawl was adapted from the Sunshine Shawl by Amanda Reed.  I realised fairly  early on that I was going to have much more yarn left than the pattern implied, so I went off piste, making it longer and larger and improvising the bottom of the pattern so that the whole thing flowed and didn’t look like I’d tinkered with it too much.

I liked this pattern for it’s simplicity.  It is a clever mix of stockinette and garter stitch, creating texture in a very simple and effective way.  It works very much like a triangular shawl, but with two extra sets of yarn overs, creating the cape like shape that allows for better shoulder warmth and less slippage when worn. When I began knitting this, I decided that I was going to go up a half needle size at the beginning of the project, as the yarn is beautifully lofty and can easily handle a 4mm needle.  I added an extra 44 rows overall, going up another half needle size for the second section in keeping with the original pattern.  Even after using the super stretchy bind off I still had yarn to spare.

Whilst still on the needles for section one I added the following rows:
repeat rows 9-14
repeat rows 1-8

Change needles and follow the pattern as written then:
Knit row 1 then use the WS instructions for row 1 from the 1st section. (3 times)
Knit rows 1 and 2 a further 12 times for a total of 24 rows.

Using the super-stretchy bind off gives the maximum real estate for blocking and gives my favourite edge. It’s the one that goes: K2 then…
K1, replace knitted stitch back on LH needle, K2tog tbl. Repeat until finished 🙂

When I started blocking this shawl I was very surprised.  It was huge. I had 24 square feet of blocking tiles on the floor.  It touched 3 edges.  Off the pins and around my chilly shoulders I was really happy with the way this shawl turned out.  It’s perfect for  throwing on when watching tv or knitting on the sofa – lovely.

 

Nemetona

Named for the Goddess of the Sacred Groves this shawl is one of my favourites.  It is the Lady of the Forest shawl by Ilga Leja.  She is an awesome designer.  I’ve never knitted anything constructed this way before and I have to admit being a little daunted at first.  However, Ilga explains everything so clearly in her pattern that my fears were soon extinguished beneath the big silver snuffer of the Goddess of ‘I knew you could do it’.  Beginning at the bottom of the back of the shawl, construction starts with easy increase/decrease shaping.  Then there’s some clever jiggery pokery with stitch holders, short row shaping, pick up and knitting (over 300 stitches) and before you know it, you’re finishing the front edges and Voila!  One lovely shawl all ready for blocking…

Now – as you can see this dwarfs my little dining table.  That there is 36 square feet of blocking mat.  Yep.  It took me a while to get it all wired up and pinned out, but the larger than recommended needle size:yarn ratio that this pattern calls for means there was lots of lovely fresh air able to get into the fabric and it dried in a trice.  The next day it was off the pins and with a little sewing to finish off – nothing too scary just stright lines down the front – it was around my shoulders and held together with my lovely Nicholas and Felice shawl pin.

 

I really enjoyed knitting both of these shawls and the second one inspired my first published pattern my Super Quick Wrist warmers. They are all super toasty and luxuriously soft thanks to the lovely blend of merino and cashmere that goes into the yarn.

I’m having such fun knitting at the moment it’s become a really comforting place to drop anchor in the whirlwind that is selling, buying, and moving house.  I’ve finished the second Shared Secrets pattern and  am working hard on a third.  The second pattern is a lovely scarf and should be available to purchase in the middle of Feburary-ish providing the box I put it in is within reach!

Happy trails folks – enjoy your adventures, treasure your journey and find joy in the little things 🙂

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I wrote this post some time ago but couldn’t bring myself to upload it.  This year has been incredibly hard.  I’ve lost a mother and a sister, neither one related by blood, but the loss has hit me just as hard as losing my own mother did when I was a teen.  I originally intended for this webspace to be just about my spinning and fibre related shenannigans, but after a year of challenges and introspection I’ve decided to broaden it’s reach.  My fibrecraft is a fairly recent addition to my creative life, but I have come to realise that it is also one of the most important parts of it.  I am learning to trust myself, to go with the flow of creativity and inspiration and not to let my Self be broken down by the critic in my head that tells me I’m not any good at anything.  I’m not fishing for anything when I say this, it is simply a statement of how things have felt for me for too long. So I’m going to talk about the stuff I’m doing and thinking about when I’m not elbow deep in fibre.  I hope you’ll stick with me on the journey, but I understand if that’s not your path to walk.

Of Butterflies, Sparkles and Unbounded Celebration

Sitting quietly in the sundrenched morning mist a butterfly fluttered by and I am touched.

Blessed am I to have known a sister so briefly and become deeply changed for the better.  A lady so grace full, so strong and thoroughly kind, brimming with humour and music.

In celebration of her time this time, I created a yarn that makes me think of her instantly, makes me smile and give thanks for our friendship.  A blend of wool and silk, both strong and warm with a little angelina sparkle to make it extra special.  Purple – naturally.

I hear her.  In my head.  Chiding my inner critic so gently but with absolute authority, so that when it pipes up to challenge my validity, my worth, it is unceremoniously silenced with a simple “Now Sweetie, you know that’s nonsense.”  And I smile.  She is with me, part of me, always.

There are times though that my heart aches, the cracks in my joy of knowing her widen and the tears flow.  Though tears are not what she wanted, they escape and I wish for her gentle hugs and unconditional support, for her touch and the sound of her laugh.

In celebration of her generosity, I have gifted some of this yarn to her Purple Circle, just some of the women she inspired with her creativity, passion and joy for crafting and life.

 

Losing the the mother who was not my Mother has been unbelieveably hard, and the ripples are still widening.  She took me into her home four years ago without expectation or question.  I love her son and that was enough.  I was enough.  I watched her slip away from us, fighting until the end that came sooner than anybody could have predicted.  I’ve retreated, cocooned from my life, both online and elsewhere.  I’ve knitted, cried, slept and done what I have to to keep my life ticking over.  But plans are afoot that I hope will benefit not just me but the wider community.  I am slowly emerging – adding back the things that I’ve let slide – and beginning again.  I want to return to my Holistic and Complementary Healthcare studies and services, providing comfort to those who need.  There are possibilities I could never have dreamed of on the horizon but they are secret and safe for now in their cocoon too, not quite ready to spread their wings and fly.

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I’m seriously excited and nervous.   I’ve just made my first ever pattern available for sale.  They’re super quick and very easy.  Currently they are available from Etsy and Ravelry.  I’d love to know what you think 🙂

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Gosh, time has flown so fast since Fibre East happened.  I had a lovely time, and so enjoyed talking to people who love fibre as much as I do!

I’ve been to the North – My grandma was 90 at the start of this month and I knitted her a shawl to mark the occasion.  It’s made from Rowan Alpaca Cotton and is snuggly soft and super warm.

I’ve had a birthday – I’m now 30.  I’m happy and relatively healthy and trying to build a life for myself doing what I love.  It’s slow going, and there are generally setbacks that are health related, but I’m walking my path one step at a time.

After my return from sunny Lancashire, I had the pleasure of joining a spinning and fibre craft demonstration with Spindependence at the Cambridge Rock Festival.  We introduced folk to spinning and felt making, and the great music was a fabulous bonus!

 

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It’s tomorrow! Actually it’s tomorrow and Sunday – I’m going to be at be there, so if you’re coming, pop over and see me and my yarn. We’ll be on stall A17, which is being hosted by friends at Outward Images. We’d love to meet you!

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The range of Secret Spinner Yarns is growing all the time, and I try very hard to keep them all up to date on Ravelry so that you can link them easily to your stash and project pages.

The K.I.S.S family of yarns take their name from the K.I.S.S principle – Keep It Simple Stupid – All of the yarns in this family are of a single fibre type – 100% BFL for example and are navajo plied to preserve their beautiful striping and colour changes.

 

Idiospincracy is the place where the loners live – these are one off’s both in the fibre content and the colourway – unlike the Be Unique range of yarns which are all Merino and Tussah silk blends.  These two are also navajo plied, making beautifully soft and round, bouncy yarn that is a dream to work and wear.

 

Au Naturel and Naturally Beautiful are soul sisters – they are both made from naked fibre, no dye in sight for these beauties.  The only difference is that Naturally Beautiful is a 2 ply laceweight yarn and Au Naturel is a slightly plumper 3 ply.

 

Finally, and yet to be revealed is the Namaste clan – a step further along my path to combine spinning and spirituality.  More about those soon.

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Sappheiros – the greek root of the word Sapphire, meaning ‘blue stone’.  Did you know that a sapphire is a gemstone form of the mineral corundum and that as long as the chemical traces in it don’t make it red, in which case it would be a ruby (and technically a different gem) a sapphire can be any colour?  I know – cool right?  So this skein with it’s blues, pinks, yellows and oranges displays lots of the colours a sapphire could be.  I love it – I get to learn something new about our universe and make beautiful yarn at the same time. Awesome!

This is a Navajo plied light fingering weight yarn, weighing approximately 100g and is 495m long, so is easily enough to make a shawlette, scarf, gloves or socks.

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The colours in this fibre reminded me of those pictures you see – you know the ones – they’re grey outlines and shading with floods of colour highlighting dresses or flowers.  The subtle grey on grey heathering in the finished yarn is so subtle from a distance, but becomes defined in close up.  All of my yarns have a story to tell, but this one is extra special as it is the first in the Idiospincracy family of Secret Spinner yarns – a fibre combination that doesn’t fit into the KISS catagory and a needs home.

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A shimmer on the waves, a hint of splash, a split second glance before a daughter of the sea vanishes – back to the deep.  That’s the song this fibre sung to me as she became.  Shifting greens and turquoises speak of transient beauty and translucent scales – the sirens of the depths that seduced many a sailor.

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So, with the run up to fibre shows and other unrelated shinannegins I’ve been rather lax with the posting here at Secret Spinner. However, I have been busy behind the scenes and I can now unveil the latest creations from the Secret Spinner Sofa (which incidentally is now full of beads)…

I’ve used reclaimed Teak pins to create beautiful, multi-tasking and unique garment jewellery to finish off your knitted and crocheted projects, or to adorn your hair while you wear them!

Rose Quartz and Aquamarine Pin

A top view of my Aquamarine and Rose Quartz creation

 

The Aquamarine and Rose Quartz chips on this creation are all individually wrapped and placed to allow the pin to sit nicely on a shawl or shrug, or even to close a bag.

 

 

 

 

Rose Quartz and silver lined beads for a little something sparkley

 

The Rose Quartz beads on this pin are nestled snugly between rose coloured silver lined beads, adding a touch of sparkle to this elegant spiralling design.  All of the pins have a final diameter of 10mm, so they are perfect for an open fingering weight or above creation – they weigh about 6 – 10g and are about 15cm long.

 

 

 

 

A close up of the tiny spiral that adorns the top of each pin

Garnets all sitting in rows wrapped with copper wire

My tiny spirals adorn the top of each pin and are hand crafted by me to fit each pin individually – the beauty of natural materials is that one size does not fit all!  Each one of these pins, even if they are made with the same materials, has it’s own character, it’s own story and it’s own secrets to tell.  Maybe, if you give one a home they will tell them to you.

 

You can give a multi-purpose Secret Spinner Shawl pin a home by visiting the Etsy shop

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