Easy, gadget free, skein winding trick!

I just have to share with you all this awesome trick I learned recently!

Did you know that you can wind a skein of yarn using absolutely no gadgets? No need for a niddy noddy, or a swift, or even 2 dining chairs, this easy trick will let you make a skein of yarn using only your own arm!

It’s ideal for beginner spinners, particularly those who only spin on a drop spindle, as you can wind off your yarn without having to use any other gadgets. It’s also a great trick to know if you want to spin whilst out and about, or when travelling, as you don’t need to take any other equipment with you!

Let me know if you try it and it works for you!

What a week!

Oh. My. Goodness. What a week!

Between getting out new rescue pup (you might have seen pictures of her on my Instagram stories) and “The Beast From The East”/Snowmageddon and now everything melting and flooding, we have had an interesting few days!

First of all, let me introduce you properly to my gorgeous new fur baby!

Isn’t she just adorable?! She’s settled in really well, even if she is a bit of a scatterbrain, and we all love her very much. She was a bit confused by all the snow at first, but then took to it like a pro and enjoyed chasing snowballs. Although I’m sure she’ll be pleased to be able to go for a proper walk without getting such cold toes now!

As far as my work is concerned you needn’t worry – she isn’t allowed into my workroom and also being a short coated dog she doesn’t shed (or smell very doggy!) so you aren’t suddenly going to start receiving yarn covered in dog hair. If you are allergic to dog hair please do let me know and I will wash and dry your yarn or fibre again before posting it to you, to be extra sure that none of her hair is on it.

Let me share a few photos with you of the winter wonderland we had: it really was quite spectacular while it lasted!

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Whilst I’m sure that those of you who live in actually snowy countries (I’m looking at you, Canada ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) will think this is nothing special, it’s the most snow I have seen for years. I’ve never before lived somewhere that has actually been cut off from the outside world as all the roads were impassable! And whilst it was lovely while it lasted, I’m looking forward to warming up and drying out again!

Did the snow effect you? Or do you live somewhere where this would just be a normal day?!

And the answer is…

I have one question which I am asked more than any other, even more often than “Rose fibre? You mean from real roses?” and the burning question which so many of you are desperate to know the answer to is whether or not my yarn is suitable for knitting socks.

And it got to the point where I was being asked so often that just saying “I don’t know” wasn’t really cutting it, so in the interests of fully answering your question I made my own custom blend of sock yarn (roughly half and half bamboo and faux cashmere) and I’ve been wearing it for a while to test it out.

So, without further ado, here is the result of my great sock experiment:

(The pattern I used is the Winwick Mum Basic Sock Pattern by Christine Perry, adjusted to create an ankle length sock)

 

Demystifying WPI

So you’ve bought a skein of hand spun yarn and it has some mystery code on it: “WPI”. What on Earth is it, what does it mean, and how is it going to help you?

Quite simply WPI stands for “Wraps Per Inch” and it’s the way that spinners calculate the weight of the yarn they have spun. But not only that, it is also incredibly useful if you’ve lost the tag for a ball of yarn and can’t remember what weight it was. Rather than blindly guessing, WPI will tell you exactly.

(Note: at this point it is useful to mention that when I say weight I don’t mean how heavy your ball of yarn is, you’ll need a set of scales for that! Rather I mean calculating whether your yarn is lace weight or super bulky)

Basically all you need to do is wrap your yarn around an object which has one inch marked on it, say a ruler, a pencil, or a specially made WPI gauge. Personally I use a little steel rule which I “acquired” from my husband’s desk (don’t worry, he’s got another!). Then the more wraps of your yarn that are required to fill up the whole of the marked inch, the finer the weight of your yarn. It really is quite simple!

Once you know your WPI you can then translate it into a yarn weight. There are several different tables available (some which I agree with and some which I definitely don’t!), so here is the table I use:

WPI Yarn Weight
>35 Lace
29-34 Heavy lace
23-28 Light fingering
19-22 Fingering
15-18 Sport
12-14 DK
9-11 Worsted
7-8 Bulky
<6 Super bulky

I have also written this out as a handy pdf which you can see here:ย  Yarn Weight from WPI.

And for those who prefer a video tutorial, I filmed myself measuring the WPI of one of my latest skeins. I hope you find it helpful!

Perth Festival of Yarn!

Ooh I’m so very excited to share this big news with you all! You may have already seen this on Instagram or Facebook but for anyone who missed the announcement: I’m going to be a vendor at the Perth Festival of Yarn! (I should maybe add that it’s Perth, Scotland ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

What makes it especially exciting is that Eva, the organiser, reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in attending as they had one of the other vendors drop out. Apart from this being a huge honour to have been asked, I’m also so happy to see that they are going out of their way to make it as diverse and inclusive as possible by inviting someone who doesn’t sell wool. Much as I have enjoyed other events I’ve been to, it’s been more for meeting people and looking at patterns and accessories. The thought of being a part of a yarn festival that also caters to those who choose not to use wool is very appealing!

This will be my first in person event where I’ll be selling my yarn, and I do so hope to meet some of you there! Are you planning on attending? Let me know! And do stop by and say hi on the day!

Top tip: breaking in linen yarn

Hear me out, I’m not completely crazy!

If you have ever worked with linen yarn before you’ll know that it isn’t the softest, but finished pieces can become buttery soft by breaking them in. But just exactly how do you do that?

Well, here’s my lazy efficient knitter’s top tip for breaking in linen yarn: leave your finished piece in a hot car! (yes, really!) The heat softens up the fibres beautifully and really speeds up the breaking in process.

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I wouldn’t leave it in the full sun unless you want a shawl with a trendy faded look, but I also thought this was a better photo than the inside of my car boot! Leave it there for a day or two and you’ll find your garment is much softer than before, with absolutely minimal effort.

Other methods of breaking in linen yarn include bunching up your finished piece and sitting on it for a while (even better is you can combine this with more knitting time!), and threading it through the bars of a cot or chair back and gently pulling it from side to side over the bars.

Pictured above is the Snakes and Ladders shawl, which you can learn more about and buy from my Ravelry store here.

If you try any of these methods and they work for you, do share with your friends!

What is blocking anyway?

Blocking is basically the secret to creating perfect finished pieces!

Have you ever knitted (or crocheted) something that you’ve taken hours to make and poured your heart and soul into, just to end up with a wonky, lumpy looking thing that wasn’t what you’d pictured at all? Don’t panic and throw it in the naughty corner in despair, that’s where the magic of blocking comes in!

Blocking is simply the process of thoroughly wetting your finished creation, then gently stretching it to the right size and pinning it in place while it dries. This is an important step as it helps relax the yarn and evens out minor tension issues, and it can help get your finished piece to exactly the right size (which is obviously more important for a garment like a jumper, than a shawl).

Here I am going to talk specifically about blocking the Snakes and Ladders shawl, which is knitted in linen yarn. You can find out more about this pattern and buy it on Ravelry here.

There are various tools you can buy to make blocking easier, but all you really need is a flat surface and some pins. I recently invested in some T-pins (mainly to stop me bending my sewing pins from over enthusiastic blocking!) These pins are sturdier than sewing pins, with a T shape at the top for ease of use. (This post isn’t sponsored by the way, I bought these pins because I wanted them!). I also lay my projects out on these foam mats, which are exactly the same material as blocking mats, the only difference is they have numbers in the centre of each square (and I bought them for my kids in the charity shop for ยฃ1!). But a large towel on the floor also works just fine as a base. You can buy various other blocking aids such as flexible wires which are useful for blocking curved edges.

Once you have your base set up and your pins to hand, lay your thoroughly wetted shawl on the mat and stretch it out to roughly the right shape. I blocked mine folded in half so that it would turn out exactly symmetrical. Then starting from the top centre, pin and stretch as you go, maintaining the triangular shape of the shawl. You will probably find that you need to stretch it more sideways then lengthways to achieve the right shaping.

It’s best to not leave too big a gap between pins, especially on a piece that is being stretched quite a lot, as you will end up with an unintentional picot edging! By pinning your shawl at smaller intervals you reduce the tension on the fabric around each individual pin.

When you get to the edge you will need one pin at the apex of each triangle to help shape them. The best way to do this is to start with pins in each end, then in the middle, then at roughly 1/4 and 3/4, and finally the rest. This should maintain an even spacing, and stop any one triangle getting more stretched than the others.

An alternative method for blocking, which is also useful when you have washed your shawl after wearing, but have already blocked it properly, is shown here:

The weight from all the clothes pegs, placed at the apex of each triangle, is enough to gently block the shawl without over stretching it. (I was sceptical too, but it really does work!)

Once your shawl is dried it’s now ready to wear! You may find the linen is a little stiff feeling initially, but with a little breaking in the fibres will soften up beautifully, giving you a truly delightful summer shawl!

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Have you made a Snakes and Ladders shawl? I’d love to see it! If you share it, please do tag me on instagram @flora_fibres_yarn or use the hashtag #snakesandladdersshawl, and if you upload your project to Ravelry remember to link to the pattern page so we can all see!

New product: fibre samplers!

I thought I’d kick off my second year in business by finally making a product I’ve been thinking about for some time now: fibre sample cards!

There have been several times people have asked me what my fibres are like, and it’s really hard to describe. How do you quantify degrees of ‘soft’ or ‘lustrous’? So this is the perfect product for those who are interested in trying plant based yarns, without the financial commitment of having to buy multiple skeins of yarn in different fibres!

They come in 2 different styles: wrapped around the card, and looped. The looped style is perfect for feeling the different texture of the yarns, comparing their drape and really having a good play with the fibres. The wrapped style are neater to look at, and perfect for anyone who wants to unwrap one fibre at a time to examine it (and, as it was pointed out to me, also perfect for anyone with cats as the loops might prove too tempting!).

You can find the sample cards listed in my Etsy shop here

Exciting news!

I’m very excited to share my big news with you all!

I’veโ€‹ taken the plunge and changed my business insurance, so as of today (Sunday 7th of May) I am now able to sell to anywhere in the world, including the USA and Canada! 

(Come on, the photo is clearly the Stars and Stripes! ๐Ÿ˜‚)

So now everyone can enjoy my yarns and accessories. Yay!

And to celebrate there will be a shop update later today. You can browse the shop here!

Happy shopping, everyone! ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

New shawl pattern and birthday celebrations!

It’s beginning to feel like summer is just around the corner! Hooray! It’s definitely my favourite season: the long, long days are my favourite, even if our weather here in Scotland isn’t the best!

To celebrate the beginning of the season (and also Flora Fibres first birthday!) I have designed the Snakes and Ladders shawl: a lovely triangular linen shawl which will be the perfect summer accessory. It is lightweight and airy, and the natural linen will help keep you cosy if there’s โ€‹a chill, but won’t let you overheat.

It comes in 2 sizes: adult and child, so it’s perfect for some “mummy and me” styling! (Yes, I would totally do this, but my boys won’t let me… *sigh*)
The pattern will be released on the 14th of May (Flora Fibres first birthday!), and you’ll be able to get your copy fromย my Ravelry store.

If you follow me onย Instagramย you’ll have seen some sneaky peeks of the shawl which I’ve shared over there, such as this detail shot of the openwork panel and edging:

You’ll also have heard me going on about joining my mailing list, and if you haven’t yet done so, let me give you some incentives!

  • By subscribing you will receive a copy of the Spring Diamonds Cowl knitting pattern
  • You’ll get a first look at shop updates, before they go live (hint, there’s one this weekend!)
  • Subscribers will soon be sent an exclusive birthday discount code for myย Etsy store, which you can use on any of my yarn, project bags or necklaces
  • Aaand one lucky subscriber will be chosen at random to win their choice of either a voucher for my Etsy store, or a free knitting pattern!

Sign upย today to make sure you don’t miss out!