Sunset on Mars

Firstly, I’d like to send all the very best to those who have been adversely affected by Cyclone Debbie in north Queensland, Rockhampton, south east Queensland and northern New South Wales.

This cyclone caused massive amounts of damage. It came across the coast and hovered over Shute Habour, Bowen and the Whitsundays for longer than expected thereby causing more damage and then moved south so quickly. I can’t believe the amount of flooding in Brisbane and northern New South Wales.

Luckily I wasn’t affected but some people have lost everything. The Fitzroy River in Rockhampton is now getting ready to break its banks. Mother Nature can be so cruel can’t she?

In light of all the gloom and sadness, I thought I’d blog about something cheerful.

This shawl is bright and beautiful and stands out!! When I first saw the fibre in Ixchel Bunny’s blog a number of months ago, I was quick to grab 100g.

Sunset on Mars

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It was also quite fortuitous that I should buy a second hand spinning wheel that came with 100g of red merino which I knew would be great to ply with.
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That spun yarn sat in my stash until a month or so ago when I was at a small spinning group where one of the members was showing a shawl she’d recently made. It was the Holden Shawlette. I knew I had that pattern so when I got home I found the pattern, caked the yarn and started. The original pattern is no longer available, however, a new pattern called the Holden is available.

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What an easy knit and the pattern shows off the beautiful colours.

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I found some orange beads and added them to the picot bind off.

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I didn’t split the roving; just spun it as it came and I love the gentle changes of colours.

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This pattern is ideal for knitters who are venturing into knitting lace-like shawls. The feather and fan pattern is very easy and achievable.

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Sunset on Mars is destined for the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Open Day fashion parade on Tuesday, 20 June and then it’ll be placed on the members’ stall in case someone wishes to purchase it 🙂

Sunset on Mars004Sunset on Mars005

I hope you’ve all enjoyed a very crafty weekend 🙂 If you’re in a flood prone area, please be safe and take care.

Until next time…

Melanie

Zen Shawl

This very easy pattern is called the Ghost Gardens Shawlette and it’s free if you subscribe to the pattern writer’s email list. Well worth it for this fantastic pattern.

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The haunting beauty of the yarn, with its textured lace, garter ridges and gentle picot edge, makes this a memorable eye catching shawlette. A classic heart shaped triangle, that’s knit top down, and it’s easily adjustable.

This shawlette is designed to use one skein of your average sized fingering weight yarn. If you have a larger skein, why not add a few rows before starting the edge!

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I’ve been accumulating quite a stash so a quick delve and I found some handspun that I’d spun using this beautiful fibre from Ixchel Bunny Fibres in the colourway Very Zen of You. The blend is Ga Ga Bunny which is a mixture of angora, cashmere, blue face Leicester and glitz.

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I plied the handspun with some grey polyester thread I picked up at an Opp Shop.

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To add some interest to the picot edge, I included a bead on each picot. These beads were from a discount store and larger than I’d normally use but are ideal on this shawl.

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I love the subtle colours of grey, cream and tan which give the shawl a real classy and understated look.

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I think I may enter this shawl in the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Open Day fashion parade in June this year and then offer it up for sale.

As you can see this is more of a shawl than a shawlette. I used 4.5mm needles and knitted until I ran out of the yarn. It sits beautifully and the beads just give it a little bit of weight at the bottom which is perfect.

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Now for a glimpse at a few of my latest purchases.

I was wandering in a small gift shop where I live and was looking at a rack of aprons when this one jumped out at me! It’s a full size apron with a nice large pocket in the front. I took this photo in the shop which is why the top of the apron is still folded behind. It’s really large and roomy and gorgeous 🙂

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And then I spotted a group of mugs so I bent down and there at the back of the shelf I spotted a matching mug!

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They weren’t cheap but considering I have picked up quite a few bargains lately, I didn’t mind paying full price for such unusual goodies.

On my way home from a spin-in yesterday, I called into a couple of Opp Shops and found this gorgeous little book for only 50 cents.

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Now this is a wonderful investment for me. It’s a 1.3kg cone of very fine undyed merino which I will use for plying. It will no doubt last me a lifetime but it’s going to come in very handy. A friend of mine had one at a recent spinning camp and I loved the way it plied so easily with her handspun. I bought it from Woolerina. If you are interested, you will need to email or ring them as it’s not displayed on their website.  My cone cost $39 plus $12 postage.

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That’s all my fibre and yarn news for now. I hope you’re knitting, crocheting or spinning up a storm and doing what you love most 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie

Don’t You Want Me Baby!

That’s the name of the fibre I spun to make this gorgeous wrap! And, of course, this is some of Ixchel Bunny Fibres‘ (aka Charly McCafferty) beautiful work! This particular blend is Magic Bunny Tops which is a blend of superfine merino, cashmere, angora bunny and rainbow dyed glitz.

raeleens-wrap-05The pattern is from the Ashford annual magazine ‘The Wheel‘ from 2015 and it’s called Raeleen’s Wrap. If you know of an Ashford agent, you should be able to get a copy of this magazine.

I plied the fibre with some lovely gold metallic thread. I actually ran out of the thread towards the end of the plying so I had to use a slightly thicker gold thread but it worked out well because that thread appeared on the triangular edging which gave it some pop!

raeleens-wrap-07I also added some beads at the end and on the tip of each triangle.

raeleens-wrap-08I can highly recommend Ixchel Bunny Fibres but you need to make sure you’re quick off the mark when Charly releases her blog every Friday night around 8pm (Australian eastern standard time) as it’s first in, first served. I’ve been quite lucky and managed to pick up quite a few beautiful blends.

raeleens-wrap-03This wrap will form part of the Redlands Spinners & Weavers 2017 Open Day fashion parade 🙂

raeleens-wrap-04Here’s the wrap being blocked.

raeleens-wrap-01It’s always a massive sense of achievement once I’ve spun, plied, washed, skeined, balled and finally completed a finished garment. A few years ago I would never have thought I’d be capable of this. It just goes to show that practise is the key to getting better at anything!

I’ve just returned from the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Bribie Island camp and of course, I managed to visit quite a few second hand shops and picked up some bargains which I’ll show you later 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie

Spinning Tales and Wheels

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging about any knitted garments recently and that’s because I’ve been quite busy spinning. Yes, I’m in the spinning mood and have four wheels on the go with different spinning projects. Plus, of course, I do have a number of knitting projects on the go too!

I’ve recently finished this Ixchel Bunny Fibres‘ blend called Don’t You Want Me Baby. It’s plied with a beautiful gold metallic thread and I’ve made a gorgeous shawl with this yarn which I’ll show you very soon.

Dont You Want Me Baby 01 Dont You Want Me Baby 03This stunning Ixchel Bunny Fibres’ blend called Peacock in a Pear Tree is currently on my Sickinger wheel. I love the glitz that Charly adds to her blends as they make each spinning project ‘pop’.

Peacock in a Pear Tree 01I recently sold this Black Bunny Tops from Ixchel Bunny Fibres to a friend who is going to use it in a weaving project. It’s plied with a grey thread.

Black Bunny Tops Silver Grey 01This is 100% merino in the colourway Desert.

Desert 01I absolutely love this Ixchel Bunny FibresMagic Bunny blend!

Ixchel Blue Green Apricot 076And here it is plied, skeined and in a cake 🙂

Ixchel Blue Green Apricot 01 I’m knitting a shawl with this beautiful rainbow blend. I’ve had to take a few photos so you can see all the lovely colours.

Rainbow 05Rainbow 01 Rainbow 02 This next colourway is not usually one I would select, however, the red and orange were so vibrant I couldn’t resist. It’s another Ixchel Bunny Fibres‘ blend called Sunset on Mars.

Sunset on Mars 01Sunset on Mars 02I had a sliver of red merino so I spun it and plied it with the Sunset on Mars and it looks a treat!

Sunset on Mars 05 Sunset on Mars 06Stunning isn’t it?

Sunset on Mars 13 Sunset on Mars 16So as you can see, even though I haven’t been showing you many knitted garments lately, I certainly haven’t been idle 🙂

I’ve also been visiting the Opp Shops a bit and managed to acquire a few more goodies which I’ll show you soon plus I’ve just picked up another two spinning wheels. One is an Ashford Traveller. I sold my previous one but when I saw this one on Gumtree for $50 I couldn’t resist. It came with some books and the red sliver of merino. It’s just missing two bobbins which I can easily pick up 🙂

Ashford Traveller 06 Ashford Traveller 07 Ashford Traveller 08The other spinning wheel I picked up is a Sleeping Beauty Thumbelina but I need to get a part made before it is functional.

Well that’s all my news for now!

Until next time…

Melanie

 

 

Daleks in Manhattan Shawl

What an intriguing name for fibre isn’t it? But those are the kinds of names you find on Ixchel Bunny‘s fibre labels 🙂 I found this absolutely stunning Cashmere Fling (Cashmere-tencel-Glitz-Bamboo-5/40/40/5) through a Ravelry destash about a year or so ago.

Daleks originalThe fibre was so incredibly soft and luxurious so I decided not long ago that I needed to actually spin it. I used one of my upright spinning wheels which is a fairly recent acquisition although I still don’t know the maker.

Spinning Wheel 01I had fun and games as some of the fibres kept curling back on themselves as I was spinning. Must have been a bit of static electricity in the air.

Daleks 05I plied the spun fibre with yellow rayon thread and was pleased with the look.

Daleks 06Daleks 07I decided to use a pattern that could really show off the yarn and settled on The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief except I made it a lot larger; I basically knitted until I had enough left to cast off. I am soooo happy with the finished shawl 🙂

Daleks Age Brass Steam 02Oh my gosh it has the most amazing soft and silky drape to it. What I also did was to cast off using a nice picot edge and added a small orange bead to each picot. It took ages and ages to do but so worth it.

Daleks Age Brass Steam 09The beads came from a cheap shop and were only $2 a packet. They’re rather a bright orange but as all the colours in this shawl are bright, they blend in perfectly.

Daleks Age Brass Steam 14When I first wrapped the shawl around me the slight weight of the beads made such a huge difference as they kept the shawl firmly on my shoulders. Definitely a great idea to use the beads.

Daleks Age Brass Steam 06I used size 5mm needles which has resulted in a relatively open stockinette stitch look.

Daleks Age Brass Steam 08Daleks Age Brass Steam 17I really love this pattern as it shows off the different colours without losing them in a complicated pattern. The eyelet rows add an interesting feature too and definitely break up the rows of stockinette stitch.

Daleks Age Brass Steam 19Daleks Age Brass Steam 03And you could always wear it this way if you prefer 🙂

Daleks Age Brass Steam 05I may even enter this shawl into the fashion parade at the Redlands Spinners & Weavers Open Day in June this year.

I do have another braid or two of Cashmere Fling which I am quite looking forward to spinning.

Until next time…

Melanie

 

March Hare Scarf

The start and finish dates of this project are a record for me and that’s because I started with the unspun fibre which arrived on 16 November from Ixchel Angora Bunny and Funky Fibre Art. The scarf is made from one 100g Happy Tiger Bunny Tops which is a blend of Hemp, Suri, Silk, Eco Merino, Angora Bunny, Llama.

March Hare 11The fibre was spun, plied and ready to knit prior to 23 November as that is when I started my scarf.

March Hare 03I used the free Ravelry pattern The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief as it shows off the colours so well as there’s limited intricate patterning involved. It’s a great social knit too as there’s no complicated pattern to follow.

March Hare 01The lovely glint you can see is the gold metallic thread that I used to ply with so my yarn would go further.

March Hare 05I love the beautiful rustic shades in this yarn.

March Hare 06I finished my scarf slightly different to the pattern. After an eyelet section I completed a few knit rows and then a picot bind off.

March Hare 10The finish date for this project was 3 December so that is less than a month to spin, ply, wash, niddy noddy, skein, wind into a ball and knit! That is amazing for me!

March Hare 08Of course, credit must go to Charly McCafferty who’s the person behind Ixchel Bunny. She does such an amazing job ‘inventing’ all these wonderful colourways.

March Hare 13March Hare 09March Hare 07It’s been slightly cooler in Brisbane this weekend and a bit rainy too so it’s perfect for spinning. Yesterday, I finished spinning another Ixchel Bunny top called Minions and today I will ply it.

Ixchel Minions 04I’ll probably ply this fibre with some blue rayon thread. And then I want to think about my next Inkle loom project. Oh! so much to do in so little time 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie

 

Ixchel and Inkle

Over the last few years I have managed to find quite a few Aussie artisan yarn dyers and some great online stores. However, since joining the Australian Handspinners and Knitters Facebook group I have discovered even more very talented artisans selling their wares either on this Facebook page or through their Etsy shops. One very clever person who attracted my attention was Ixchel Angora Bunny and Funky Fibre Art.

Ixchel is an Australian Fibre Farm in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, breeding their own fluffy animals pesticide free and organic. Charly McCafferty (Ixchel Bunny) does all the spinning, dyeing, knitting and weaving and loving every second of it: Angora Rabbit, Cashmere, Mohair, Merino, Alpaca, Camel or even Yak. Paul McCafferty is constantly juggling work on the fibre farm and is the brain behind making all the animal housing and organising the farm harmoniously. Paul also makes wonderful handcrafted wooden spindles and other goodies. His wares can be found on his Facebook page Lair of the Bearded Dragon.

I bought this rather little nifty “Twist it Little Helper”  from Paul. It’s an orifice hook, WPI meter (gauge) and a spinning yarn parker. As well as an orifice hook and WPI meter you can with the grooves ‘park’ your yarn when you have to stop spinning and you don’t want your yarn to disappear back on the bobbin. Just hold your “Twist it Little Helper” over your yarn and twist around the grooves in the handle.. and there you have it! It’s parked. The handles are made from different types of timber. I bought the camphor.

Twist it Little HelpersI also bought this lovely drop spindle not long ago…

Drop Spindle 05Paul has just finished a small job for me which I will show you once I receive it next week.

I have digressed slightly; back to Ixchel. I am in the bad habit of checking my Facebook feed nearly every night and this is when I stumbled upon Ixchel’s beautiful fibre. Every Friday night Ixchel releases a blog post which features different blends. The photos of the fibre are preceded by a wonderful story of the sheep and various animals whose fibre is featured that particular week. Who said spinning wasn’t educational?? You can learn lots from reading these blog posts.

Now the secret is that you have to be very, very quick as there are only limited numbers of each colourway and they go FAST. As soon as you see something you like you need to immediately message Charly of your interest and then wait patiently until she gets back to you. I really don’t know how she manages with everyone either messaging or emailing her. I have missed out on a couple of my preferred colourways but I have also managed to snaffle some beautiful buys such as these..

These were my first two buys from the week Time For a Little Madness. Happy Tiger Bunny Tops are made from a blend of Hemp, Suri, Silk, Eco Merino, Angora Bunny and Llama. I  bought March Hare…

March Hare 11and Tweedledee…

Ixchel Tweedle Dee 01I think it was only the next week I stumbled upon Ixchel’s blog release called Don’t Blink and sucumbed to these lovely Cashmere Fling Tops which are a blend of cashmere, tencel, bamboo and glitzy nylon. I bought the colourways Minions…

Ixchel Bunny Cashmere Fling Minion 01and Absinthe Fairy…

Ixchel Bunny Cashmere Fling Absinthe Fairy 01Enough is enough I said to myself. This is getting into a habit!! So the next couple of weeks I avoided my phone but alas on Friday night I was back on it and I seem to pick the time when the Ixchel blog release is happening because I stumbled across last Friday’s post called Imagine and bought these GaGa Bunny Tops which are a blend of Blue Faced Leicester, Cashmere, angora bunny and Glitz in the colourways Peacock in a Pear Tree…

Peacock in a Pear Tree 01and Very Zen of You…

Very Zen of You 01Can you see how very addictive this could become?? The top I really wanted but it was sold out is called Imagine and here’s a picture…

Ixchel ImagineSigh…oh well you can’t get everyone you want can you?

By the way, Ixchel has has a Fibre Club, a Sock Yarn Club and a Funky Bunny Batt Club which all run from January until March 2016. Details are on the website. I must resist!! 🙂

You’ll be pleased to know that I have already spun March Hare and knitted a shawl. It’s been blocked and is awaiting a story to be written about it which will happen in the not too distant future. Here’s a sneak peak of the spun yarn which I plied with a gold metallic thread…

March Hare 03Remember the Schacht Inkle Loom I picked up for a bargain a couple of weeks ago? Well, last Tuesday one of my dear friends from my spinning group offered to each me and another spinner how to use the inkle loom. It was a lot of fun and I learned how long it takes to warp the loom and also what heddles are. The hardest part was keeping the edges tensioned correctly. Thank you Rona for spending around six hours teaching Vanessa and me 🙂

Yesterday, I sat down and actually did some more weaving and found it strangely meditative. I would do a bit,wander off and do something else and then back to the weaving.

First Inkle Weaving 03I actually warped it incorrectly as this is not how the pattern should be but my aim at this stage is just to get the hang of it, especially the edges but I think I am improving looking at these two photos.

First Inkle Weaving 01a-tileI’ve already ordered this book…

The Weavers Inkle Pattern DirectoryThat’s another hobby started 🙂 Next it will be looking at a little loom 🙂

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend and I have whetted your appetite for some spinning or weaving.

And by the way, I have started a MelsNattyKnits Instagram account which I am quite enjoying. It’s a whole new way of interacting with other like-minded crafty people. There’s  an Instagram button the right hand side of my blog page 🙂

Until next time…

Melanie