The Jade Sweater: An Adventure in Spinning and Knitting My First Top

As they say. when it rains, it pours! No blog posts in 9 months, and now two in one day? The woman’s gone mad!

On Monday, my new spinning wheel arrived; an Ashford Joy 2. It’s a dinky little thing, intended to be very portable. It even comes with its own backpack to be carried around.

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She joins her sister, Maya, an Ashford Traveller into my very small herd of spinning wheels.

I’ve already spun a lovely braid of Texel wool from Hilltop Cloud, from this…

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into this lovely woolen-spun two-ply yarn.

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I bought my spinning wheel from Wingham Wool Work in South Yorkshire (same as my previous wheel) and the kind folks there include either a voucher for £15 of free fibre, or credit you £15 on any fibre you purchase with the wheel. I decided I’d take on the ultimate spinner challenge: Spinning a whole sweater worth of yarn, then knitting my own sweater.

Now, before I show you the amazing fibre I picked, I’ll just clarify the term “sweater”. It’s an all-encompassing term knitters seem to have agreed on to represent all pullovers, cardigans, jumpers and other usually long-sleeved tops you wear to keep warm. I don’t yet know whether I’ll make a pullover or a cardigan that opens at the front, but either way I need to spin roughly the same quantity.

The fibre I picked is a lovely blend of 70% merino and 30% silk in teal blue, with a bit of darker blue and white silk. It’s a gorgeously soft blend and I’ve got 500g of it to play with! And yes, the fibre matches the cushion… 😛

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And so begins the Jade Sweater Adventure.

Spinning: Blink handspun yarn & Finest Polwarth

While the weather’s been a bit grim and grey, I’ve been enjoying spinning some new fibre. This latest one is a Bluefaced Leicester, about 60 grams, 120 yards, DK weight two-ply yarn. The fibre was called Time Lord, but I’ve named the finished yarn Blink, since that’s the episode we were watching as I finished plying and the greys and woodsy greens remind me of the Weeping Angels, alongside the Tardis-blue.

When the sun decides to shine, I’ll take a few more pictures to show off the colours better but this was a pleasant spin.

The photo above is my fibre bag, which I keep by the wheel; The green is superwash BFL from Hilltop Cloud, which I’ve spun but still needs plying. The pink fluff is the “Sugar Almond” Polwarth I’ll be spinning as lightweight as possible, then ply with another Polwarth in a “Decadent” pale purple. Let’s see how far that can stretch. All I know is that I don’t expect this to be a quick-finish project AT ALL!

It’s not particularly even but should give me a light fingering weight when I ply two together, and it’s fun to see how I can get it finer, more even while enjoying working with Polwarth from The Fibre Fairy for the first time.


Today might be the day I take my Ashford Traditional wheel Maya apart (well, not completely, I won’t pretend I know what I’m doing!) and give her a bit of maintenance, since she’s about my age and has seen better days. Hopefully swapping a few bits and oiling a few key spots will make her work smoother.

I’ve also been having lots of fun dyeing my own yarn and fibre. I haven’t had the opportunity to do much dyeing yet, as I need a lot of time and space (wibbly wobbly, timey wimey) when I do this. Before my Landscape professional dyes arrived, I tried overdyeing some pale boring yarn with Kool Aid, which was fun and made the house smell rather fruity but was nowhere near as satisfying as the eye-searingly-pink fibre I dyed with the pro dyes:

The photo doesn’t even do the colour justice; it’s a really bright and hot pink with some darker burgundy patches and still just enough white to introduce a little lightness once I spin it. It was a blast to dye, even though the microwaving process (which sets the colour) had my heart pounding in fear that it would all go BOOM all of a sudden!

So there you go, that’s what I’ve been up to lately, spinning and dyeing-wise. Want to learn how I did any of this? Just shout and I’ll either point you to tutorials or write up my own. Looking for techy stuff? Sorry, my brain’s taken a break from tech on the weekend lately, and it’s been rather pleasant.