All of the pink and black

A few years ago I happened to go through a phase of picking up a decent amount of white yarn on sale. I didn’t have any plans for it at the time, but it seemed like a good idea, and as it turn out, it was.

Because now I have dyes. So when I want a specifically coloured yarn, all I need is my dyes and white yarn (coloured yarn works too, but overdyeing is more limiting).

Recently I decided that I must make a hat for my friend Cassie. She loves black, and I wanted to throw another colour in there as well, so it had to be pink.

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I started with the presoaked yarn draped between two pots, one with black dyes and one with pink. I wanted until the black had wicked a little up the yarn, and then quickly applied a ‘resist’ to stop the dye moving too far, since the concentration of black is much much higher than pink. I made my resist out of two chopsticks and two hair ties, very make-do.

I waited until the dye had started to absorb into the yarn, then added citric acid, so that the dye started to bind to the fibre.

Dyeing yarn 6959 I alternated between sliding the yarn in one direction and than the other, to get a nice coverage of dye, sometimes sliding the chopsticks back if I felt like there wasn’t enough dye underneath them.

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When the water bath started to exhaust (go clear as all the dye was bound to the yarn), I removed the chopstick-resist. I eventually tipped all the yarn into the pink pot, and let it cool there.

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And here it is, two of my skeins, I dyed three over all…

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But one of them is already in use, I really like how this is working up, particularly how the colour repeats are forming a cool chevron pattern.

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Close up you can see how lovely and shiny the pink and black are on the yarn. And the gradual fade of one to another. I chose to embrace the fading black, which in this case has a purplish base, so combined with the black gives a kind of lavender fade. Very pretty.

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Tim made a dog friend. Delle was very very happy.


More from the Octosquiddles!

I introduced you previously to my little Octosquiddle army. Now I wanted to show them to you in a bit more detail, focusing on one of the most important squiddle features, they’re wee little squiddly legs.

crochet octosquiddles 6898First, we have the curly legged squiddles

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You can see them in more detail from below. First up we have the little curly legs, with just 6 single crochets per leg, so that they just start to curl upward. Then long curly legs, with 13 ingle crochets per leg, these are super duper curly, all of the curly. And long loopy legs, each leg is a loop of maybe 24 chain stitches, they’re also curly, but different curly.

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These are my frilly legged squiddles.

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The big frill is 5 double triple crochets in one stitch, followed by a {triple crochet, double crochet, triple crochet}, of course repeated eight times. And the little frill is a double crochet, three triples and a double all in one stitch, followed by a half double crochet in the next stitch.

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These ones are really special, they’re my hyperbolic squiddles! Their legs form the shape of hyperbolic plains, some very cool crochet maths. The first starts with eight single crochets, than has three rounds in which I add two singles crochets to every one of the round below. The next is also single crochet, but with three in every stitch of the round below, there are only three rounds in total, since by then there were already 72 stitches, and another round would have been 216!!! The last one here is in double crochet, I started with four double crochets, into each of eight stitches of the body (there has to be an eight in there somewhere, it’s one of the octosquiddle rules), then I did one round of another four double crochet into each stitch below… 128 in all, more than enough!

I have made a triple crochet hyperbolic squiddle, but I gave it to a friend, so don’t have it to show too you. There are also the puff stitch squiddles, that I shall share soon, as soon as I get hold of the one the boyfriend has claimed (he’s named it Bob).

Meet the Octosquiddles

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Something very cool happen recently… octosquiddles!

It started with this set of patterns, by mohu. But things escalated from there. I saw an opportunity to do away with the one part of amigurumi that I just can’t find it in me to enjoy… sewing them together! I don’t know why, but I just really really dislike it. It’s not that I can’t do it, and I know all the tricks to get a good result and make life easier, but I’m just not a sewer. So while the original patterns called for making the legs separately, and sewing them onto the body, I realised that I could achieve the same thing my crocheting directly onto the finished body.

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And that’s what I did. First I made my own version of each style of legs in the original pattern (including the tiny little round ones, but they’re not pictured here, because the boyfriend stole them). Then I kept going, thinking of different ways to finish the squiddles, different legs, different arguments. It has been much fun.

You can see the long curly legs here, each is a chain of 14, into which 13 single crochets are worked, before I slip stitch along the body to start the next leg.

And why ‘octosquiddle’? I just couldn’t decide whether to commit to ‘squid’ or ‘octopus’.

You might recognise the yarn, it’s my handspun ‘Rainbow Sky Yarn‘. I love how each squiddle uses just a tiny amount of yarn. There is so much potential to keep making more :)

Something new :)

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I have a very exciting new development in my crafting journey to share with you today… I discovered the blending board! And oh yes yarns I shall make :) A blending board is like a cross between hand carders and a drum carder. It’s dressed with fibre that is then pushed further into the teeth using a smaller carding brush. Ironically, they’re not ideal for blending fibres, but wonderful for ‘painting’ with fibres, creating rolags with different fibres and colours – perfect for me. Particularly given the second exciting development, I’m not obsessed with dyeing my own fibres!

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Here you can see my lovely Ashford blending board, loaded up with hand dyed fibre (though it’s obscured by the layer of undyed Muga silk on top).

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And here are the rolags that I made from this combination. With my spectrum of dyed fibres in the background. Each board worth of fibre became four rolags, and overall I find the process easily fast enough to keep my in preparations to spin.

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The rolags above became the rightmost yarn, the others were made from fibre prepared in a similar manner (Though the little one in the centre was more a matter of throwing bits and pieces that I had left over onto the board, and rolling it into a big ‘rollog’, I think that it worked out very nicely, all things considered.)

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You can see each of the the yarns up close, and I will try to write more about them.

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Here’s the one made from the preparation I showed you. I just love how this style of spinning creates beautiful subtle variation in texture and colour. It’s wonderful to embrace in inherit irregularity of this kind of spinning, there’s only so much control you can have over it.

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The closer you look, the more you see.

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handspun yarn 26345

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Peekay likes them too.

Guest post: A beginner’s journey into spinning

Spinning is not something I’d ever thought about until a few months ago when I met Frances. I knit, make my own clothes, craft and adore the process of creating slow fashion – a counter-fashion industry movement that aims to make things that aren’t disposable from one season to the next but something treasured for many years. My introduction to spinning has been recent but it has fast become an obsession.

When I met Frances she was constantly tinkering with what I thought was a bizarre thing, which I now know intimately as the “Turkish drop spindle” or her beautiful Jenkins’s finch Turkish drop spindle fondly known as “Vera”. We would be sitting at a café or going out to lunch and she would always have Vera. People would glance across their tofu and pesto scrambled eggs and turn their heads on their side inquisitively. Brave children would come over and ask out of curiosity what she was doing.

I finally caved and asked to have a go at spinning. It was a lot harder than I had initially anticipated. I started on park and draft. Pinch, park, draft, spin, pinch, park, draft spin. I’d pull too hard and my fiber would snap or I wouldn’t spin enough and my fiber would fall apart. The whole ordeal would become too overwhelming and I’d have to put it down to give my poor brain a break. I’d sit and watch Frances spin, making everything look so simple, effortless and easy. I’d look down at mine to see some kind of reincarnation of earthworms on steroids.

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All my little turtles and balls of handspun yarn waiting to be plied on my 1930s dresser

Perseverance is key when learning to spin. I would sit watching Frances, elegantly spinning the most fine lace Muga silk yarn, “It’s all in your fingers. You’ll get the hang of it.” I finally finished my first batch of yarn. Slubby, brown-green, slug-like thing that we plied together, washed and hung out to dry. It was hideous but it’s so special.

I hadn’t touched the spindle for about month when I came back to visit Frances. She put a little second hand Turkish spindle in my hands with a little packet of white mulberry silk fiber. It might’ve felt like a long time since spinning but my hands had retained all the information. Everything suddenly made more sense. I started spinning over the fold and everything was easier, more fluid, thinner with the odd slub that I was slowly learning to work out with soft persuasion and a gentle tug.

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My first attempt at spinning Mulberry silk

We ventured out one day to a local café to sit together in solidarity, with a cappuccino and our spindles and began what Frances calls “a public display of spinning.” Sitting out in the open was an entirely new experience but I reveled in the experience and now spin regularly while I’m out. I have even taken to keeping my fibre in my ancient kindergarden library bags.

With patience and practice I am becoming more confident, my strands are becoming thinner and my turtles elegantly wound on in beautiful colour combinations. I’m still a bit nervous every time I have to ply my little handmade creations but I’m sure this will pass.

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Beloved little colour turtles

I’ve just received my first order from and I can say with all honesty that I went a bit overboard. However, with three new spindles turning up (from Malcolm Fielding, Sistermaide woodworks and Snyder spindles) I figured I would need a lot. I’ve even begun learning to crochet after following in my Mother’s knitting footsteps since childhood.

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Candy stripe pink Merino getting finer with every attempt

I love the fact that I feel as though I’ve stumbled into a new world with spinning and discovered something I never knew existed. I can’t wait to introduce spinning to my crafty friends and watch what I’ve dubbed “the spinning cult of Frances” spread like wildfire. The move towards slow fashion, handmade wares and creating with love is gaining the popularity it deserves.

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– Alyssa Hanley

Something different…

All cards on the table, this isn’t a family friendly, safe for work, post. I do like to keep this blog as somewhere that everyone can feel comfortable, but sometimes in life crochet genitalia happens, and I just have to share. So if crochet genitalia isn’t your thing, please enjoy this rainbow butterfly unicorn kitten. If you want to see more, follow the jump and scroll down.


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