Sunday, July 31, 2022

Craftmehappy Joyful Wreath #5 - Knitted Rainbow Decoration

Last month I shared how to make these needle felted balls -

The balls are made out of the combing waste - the short fibres left on my combs after I’d blended 24 colours using just cyan, magenta and yellow wool.  They’re going to make the perfect addition to my Joyful Wreath.

My goal for the rest of this year is to try to post one repeating wreath decoration a month, with a final reveal in December. Some of the wreath motifs will be new to my blog, while others will be an updated version of one of my more popular craft tutorials. Hopefully, by the end of 2022, I will have made a completely joyful and fabulous wreath to hang on my craft room door to brighten everyone’s morning.

This month, I’m going to be using a little more of the rainbow yarn that I spun, to knit a miniature rainbow to go on the bottom of my wreath.

I used this yarn in my previous blog post on knitting spirals or curlicues, but I’m determined to use as much of the remaining yarn as possible.

Knitted rainbows have featured quite a bit on my blog, and in my Instagram feed, ever since I got a little bit obsessed by the infinite possibility of ‘blending a spectrum’.

I knitted myself this cushion out of 24 colours of yarn, spun by blending red, yellow and blue with 30% black…

I knitted my daughter a massive, bedhead sized cushion to make her metal headboard much more comfortable… 

… and I knitted these hearts using samples of yarn spun by blending red, yellow, and blue with varying amounts of white.

Having worked out how to knit a huge rainbow, it’s very simple to scale that pattern down into a miniature one - and I can’t think of a more appropriate motif to go on my Craftmehappy Joyful Wreath!

To create the stripes I’m going to use a slightly unorthodox method; I’m going to make a magic yarn ball by Russian joining all of my different colours together beforehand.  This way, I doubt that I will get a perfect colour change at the start of a round, but it will be more pleasurable to knit, and it’ll be interesting to see how those colour changes affect the look of the rainbow as the number of stitches in each round decreases.

In a previous blog post, I shared how I make a Russian join.

Alternatively, I’ve also made this video showing the steps to joining two yarns together almost invisibly.

Here’s the magic yarn ball that I made to knit my rainbow, joining the yarns together in rainbow order.  After quite a bit of sampling, I chose 15 different colours of yarn out of my original 24, and cut each one about 130cm long.  This meant that the colour changes weren’t too noticeable, especially when they occurred in the middle of a round.

Knitting Pattern for a Miniature Rainbow 

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My yarn is a UK 4ply/US fingering weight yarn and I knitted my rainbow on size 2.75mm circular knitting needles.  If you are going to make a magic yarn ball, and use a heavier gauge yarn, I would suggest using lengths that are longer than my 130cm


Using circular knitting needles, cast on 104sts using Judy Becker’s Magic Cast on.

Here's a little video of me demonstrating Judy Becker's Magic Cast on.  I also share a few of the things that I've made using Judy Becker's magic cast on in this video.

The pattern instructions are all in the graph below.  If you prefer written instructions I’ve detailed them underneath.

Cast on 104sts using Judy Becker’s magic cast on 

Round 1: knit
Round 2: (p1, k1) repeat to the end of the round 
Round 3: (k1, p1) repeat to the end of the round
Round 4: as round 2
Round 5: knit
Round 6: *k5, (k1, k2tog) 14 times, k5 repeat from * for the other side of the rainbow. (76sts)
Rounds 7 - 11: as Rounds 1 - 5
Round 12: *k5, (k2tog) 14 times, k5 repeat from * for the other side of the rainbow. (48sts)

Begin to join the inside of the rainbow together using Kitchener stitch.  When you have grafted about three-quarters of the stitches together, slide the stitches onto the cable of the circular needle and stuff the rainbow using your favourite stuffing material.  Slide the stitches back onto the needles again and finish grafting the inside rainbow stitches together.

Here's my finished miniature rainbow.

I made two fluffy pom pom clouds to sew onto the bottom.  I think this is going to look so cute at the base of my Joyful Wreath!  I used something a little unusual to make my pom poms and so I'll share how I made those in a later post...

I'm thinking of making another tiny little rainbow to hang on my Christmas tree this year, but I think that this would also look great hanging from a baby's mobile.

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Saturday, July 23, 2022

A Simple Method of Using a Blending Board to Spin a Repeatable Sweater Quantity - Blending Recycled Sari Silk with Commercially Blended Wool Tops

I've had a blending board for many years, but I never really used it with intention until a few months ago.  For a long time, I assumed that blending boards were better suited to sampling for smaller quantities, or prepping for art yarns - until I decided to play and experiment with different ways of spinning a multi-coloured commercially blended top.

In my blog post on how to avoid spinning mud, I prepared a commercially blended top in 9 different ways in an attempt to avoid mixing the colours together.

This one turned out to be one of my favourite yarns as it was one of the easiest to prepare, whilst maintaining a lot of the individual colours in the blended top.

The yarn above was made by simply opening up the fibre so that the individual colours sat next to each other on the blending board, brushing them down, and then pulling off several thin rolags to spin from.

I found that the thin rolags were both easier to spin from, and far less likely to result in optical blending.  As you spin from the end of a rolag (or effectively the side of the top), you get significantly less colour blending than if you pre-draft the top and spin it from the end.

Sari Silk Fibres from Adelaide Walker

Welsh Blackberry from Adelaide Walker

In this yarn, I’m going to be using sari silk fibres and “Welsh Blackberry”.  I purchased both of these from Adelaide Walker at Wonderwool Wales, intending to blend them to spin as part of a sweater spin. 

As all of the colours in the Welsh Blackberry top would blend together into a pleasing burgundy, I’m not worried about the colours mixing together this time, but I would like less colour blending than I would get if I just drafted out the wool top and spun it from the end.  My new favourite method of spinning a multicoloured blend results in a single that resembles yarn spun from a subtly hand-painted top - but at a fraction of the price.

Method for easily blending a repeatable sweater quantity on a blending board

Here's a fibre-to-yarn video that accompanies this blog post.  Some of my techniques can be seen in more detail here - 

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Firstly, I broke down my fibre into lengths that were just a little longer than my blending board.   I broke off 4 strips of blended top and 3 strips of sari silk fibres.

The Welsh Blackberry top is quite thick compared to other tops that I've spun, so I opened up the fibres so that I could spread just two sections across the width of the blending board.

Starting at the bottom and holding the fibres just above the brush, I gradually worked my way across the first layer of wool fibres, brushing the fibres firmly down with the blending board brush.

I brushed the first layer down firmly, angling the top of the blending brush into the blending board to work the fibres deeply into the board.

Next, I added a layer of recycled sari silk fibres.  I wanted this layer to be extremely thin so that the sari silk fibres would just add pops of colour to the finished yarn.

I teased and pulled open the fibres so that the sari silk top made up about a third of the width of the blending board.

I laid the sari silk fibres down the centre of the board and then repeated to tease and spread the other two sections of sari silk fibres on either side.  Finally, I brushed the sari silk fibres down firmly.  As the sari silk fibres are much shorter than the wool fibres, they take far less effort to attach them to the blending board.

Finally, I added the last two sections of wool tops in the same way as the first layer, sandwiching the sari silk fibres in between.  At this point, the layers of fibres on the blending board were quite thick, so they needed to be brushed down quite firmly.

To remove the fibres from the blending board, I ended up using a slightly unorthodox method - that is to say, I've never seen anyone use this method before...

I wanted to make quite thinly drafted rolags, but as I'd laid the fibres on quite thickly I needed to predraft them before I used my dowels to draft the fibres off.  I gently pulled on the very ends of the fibres and this gave me a nice length of fibre to sandwich between my two dowels.

If ever you are struggling to get your dowels to gain a purchase on your fibre, I would highly recommend trying to draft a little by hand first.

I was then able to secure enough thinly drafted fibre around my dowels to allow me to draft off a narrow rolag - my preferred kind of rolag to spin from.

Here's a close-up of the rolag-punis in the sunlight.  I love the fact that you don't really start to see the little bits of sari silk until you start to spin it.  It's also much more engaging to spin a colour-changing rolag than a pre-drafted multicoloured blend.

I spun all of the singles on my Electric Eel Wheel Nano...

... and when I had 3 relatively full bobbins I combined them for a traditional 3-ply yarn.

Here's my plied yarn on my Hansen bobbin.  I love the little pops of colour that add interest to a very subtle colour-changing yarn.

This yarn cost me less than £5 per 100g of fibre, which pleases me greatly!

I lost track of the number of passes I made over my blending board, but I feel that my method is simple and consistent enough to allow me to say that it is repeatable.

My resulting yarn has a very subtle marled effect and should result in some very delicate colour shifts when it's knitted up.  If I'd chain-plied it, I would achieve much more definite stripes in the knitted garment, but that wasn't the effect I was going for this time.


I love this simple technique!  Previously I would never have had the patience to use my blending board to prepare a sweater quantity of yarn, but I can definitely see myself experimenting a lot more with commercially blended wool tops in the future.

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