It’s been a busy couple of weeks! Some of it has been Christmas related, but much of it not.
In the run up to Christmas I spun up some qivit fibre. This was the ‘raw’ fibre – the bits that fall off the animals in spring. Most of it is the down but there are some (soft) hair in it too.
The fibre was given me by a friend in Australia who has friends in the Canadian Arctic who have a musk ox ranch. She was there at a time when the beasts were shedding. They are not very friendly beats, and the procedure was to go into the paddock and gather the fibre while they were in a second paddock being fed. Cynthia was told she could keep anything she picked up, and she very kindly gave me a carrier bag full! I have been using it over the years but still had a bit left.
The fibre doesn’t look much – just clumps of brown stuff! When you start to tease it apart, though, your hands quickly tell you that this is something special. I pull out any very long and stiff fibres, but leave the shorter, softer ones. The it is a case of spinning from the cloud, on my Orkney wheel.
I was making a pair of fingerless mitts for Marina who runs the Post Office and shop. Her hands are cold most of the winter, and fingerless mitts do not have to come off while serving! I therefore wanted about a DK to aran weight yarn once it had been fulled. I also decided very early on that I was not going to worry about slubs – while they are relatively easy to remove from a lace weight yarn they are more difficult to avoid when spinning thicker from a non-uniform cloud. As I spun, the tiny bits of straw fell out on to my lap.
Once the yarn was spun and plied came the fun bit. After the washing, the bashing!! If anyone was watching through the window they would have doubted my sanity… Hair fibres need to be shocked into fluffing up, and the easiest way to do this is to slap the wet skein hard on the edge of the work top. And I mean hard – sledge hammer back swing and all. The resultant yarn was I had intended, Leaving some of the hair fibres in has given it a bit more cohesion and will help in the wear.
I knitted the mitts from the top down so that I could make a good long cuff without wondering whether I had enough left over for the second. I did each mitt separately to the wrist, working one from each end of the yarn, then I put then both on the same needle and knitted then at the same time so that I could continue until I ran out of yarn. In the event I had a bit of yarn left over.
Marina seems pleased with them.
Then it was working on the items for the KAL which started on 1st January. Rather than being one option, there are a series of possibilities I have called Variations on the Theme of Orkney Lace.
Participants have the choice of various known items or a Complete Mystery, known to be some sort of wrap. Each is made up of blocks of lace patterns used here in Orkney which will be revealed over the coming weeks. So I have been knitting up the samples to make sure the patterns work before releasing them. At present people are only being given the photos of the patterns as they are put up, but at the end the whole thing will be released as an ebook. The KAL sign-ups are now closed, so the rest of you will have to wait!!
And now I am having a break. I am doing some sewing. I had hoped to do this in August, but have only just got round to it… I have one dress cut out and the next sitting waiting. The one I am about to sew is 100% cashmere cloth ex Johnsons of Elgin. Needless to say it is fabulous…. I got it from an ebay shop which specialises in quality British cloth.