knit | spin

Final Project: Part Two

May 11, 2017

And here it is…my final project for the Spinning Certificate run by the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria.


The pattern is a Pattern for a Sleeveless Spencer by Marian Leslie from the Shetland Wool Week Annual 2016. I used a fifty:fifty blend of alpaca and Polwarth fleeces, carded into rolags and spun into a two ply, woollen laceweight yarn. You can read about my sampling and spinning process in a previous post.


The sample garment shown in the Shetland Wool Week Annual is in natural white and it looks very pretty. My first thoughts when I finished my version in undyed silver grey was that it looked a little WWII-make-do-and-mend-things-you-can-make-with-a-worn-out-sock! I can see all the inconsistency in my spinning and blending. But then I remind myself that this was a technical exercise, intended to demonstrate the knowledge gained during the Certificate in designing a yarn with a particular function in mind and I think the project has worked well in this regard.

  • Firstly, it fits! The yarn knit up in gauge to make a predictable, well fitting garment.
  • The pattern design and yarn work in tandem to produce a highly functional garment. Side seams support the structure of the garment so it won’t sag which otherwise might have been a problem with a seamless garters stitch garment
  • The garter stitch whilst plain actually works to increase the warmth of the garment, using double the amount of light, air-trapping yarn next-to-the-skin of a stockinette fabric.
  • The yarn works perfectly for the function of the garment, maximising warmth in a super lightweight, discreet layer for underneath regular layer.

Next time however, I would like to try using singles of alpaca and Polwarth plied together instead of blending to improve the colour consistency. I would like to try making it in white or very pale silver and with sleeves. I would also really like to try the Finnsheep as one of the singles.


I also realise that I need a Part Three, for although I know the garment fits and is not scratchy, I haven’t worn it for any length of time. It needs road testing, so look out for another post when we get our folios back.

Till then, if you are interested in learning a bit more about the Spinning Certificate and are curious about the other final projects, the Guild is holding an exhibition of Certificate work which opens on Tuesday 16 May and runs for two weeks. The Guild is located at 655 Nicholson Street, Carlton North and is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 – 3pm.

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  1. Oh Rebecca, I gasped when I saw it – your spencer is beautiful! I’d be interested to see the fabric after a winter of wear, to see how it blooms with washing.

    Now I want one for myself 🙂

  2. Really enjoyed reading how you’ve designed this, and it’ll be interesting to see how it wears. Given that it’s woollen spun, I hope it doesn’t felt/full too much in the rubbing points (like underarms) but that’ll be part of the testing process. It looks gorgeous. (NB you used the wrong discreet)

    1. Thanks Freyalyn, (and for the editing!) I wonder about the woollen too, perhaps I will find a worsted spin, of semi worsted might help with wear… So much to test!

  3. I am sorry to hear you feel this could have been made from a worn out sock. Your worn out socks must be pretty amazing! I love the grey! I think it looks absolutely beautiful. Its imperfections do not strike me. rather, its beauty and skilfulness. Congratulations.

    1. I think it was the colour, it looked so airforce intially but writing the post has helped me to see it more for itself. Our mental associations are curious things!

      1. Thanks, with a bit of goose grease and newspaper in my shoes, I’ll be ready for a wartime winter!

  4. Brilliant Rebecca! What a lovely garment, I hope you are proud of yourself. This is a landmark achievement and I applaud you.
    Warmest thoughts, Jill x

    1. Lovely to hear from you Jill. I have been enjoying your recent posts. It does feel like an enormous achievement to have finished the certificate, so many other things were lost or let go of in the last year but spinning remained.

    1. You are very generous, thanks Siobhan. I am certainly glad that I was able to see the course through as it has transformed the way I see yarn.

    1. Oh thank you Diana. I found that the pattern had been originally released in a set of four spencers. It looked 1940s ish and one of them had spaghetti straps and was made to keep you warm under evening wear! Very draughty-English-manor-house!

      1. An evening-wear spencer! That has made my day.

        My mother feels the cold and is a spencer addict – she’ll be thrilled to know this exists.

  5. I am so impressed! This is only your second spinning project and you are spinning laceweight ?! I think the color is lovely too.

    May I suggest that Finn will readily felt (just from the warmth, rubbing against, and perspiration from your body); but if a felted singlet is your goal, than that’s ok.

    1. Dear Sophy, fear not, I have been spinning for a few years but have rarely spun specifically for an end purpose… That part is definitely new. I take your point about the felting issue with Finn, the same is true with Polwarth and Merino. The whole thing is an experiment really.

  6. So glad you were able to preserve and get through the course the top looks great you must be pleased with it and you have learnt so much. Hooe you are starting on the upward swing

  7. That is a lovely finished piece! And it opens up so many possibilities for future questions and research and testing. To my mind, that makes for an excellent project and learning experience.

    Can’t wait to hear more about its life as a part of your life.

    1. Truly spinning is a life’s work… The more you do, the more curious you become, the more you do!

  8. What a lovely vest you have made and the inconsistencies of blending and color make it all the more interesting. Was the original vest made with lace weight yarn? If not, what an invention for you to make it with a light and airy fine yarn. Congrats also on reaching the end of the Certificate and good luck with the approval of all your hard work! Wish I were closer to go see the exhibition.

    1. Dear Marilyn, the original yarn was shetland lace weight. Quite different to the fleeces we have here but hopeful this blend will work well.

  9. Such a beautiful sweater!! I like the delicateness of it as well as the color. If you ply a single of Polwarth and a single of alpaca will the Polwarth keep the alpaca from stretching? Seems like it would. I’m really looking forward to seeing how you approach the next one and the next one and the next one!!
    Cheers, Rebecca!

    1. Yes, Elaine, the idea is that the ply unites the characteristics of the various singles. But I have not tried this yet.

  10. JAW DROPPING! ETHEREAL! And what a great way to show it. You are the only one who sees inconsistencies (like what all of us do to ourselves!). How much does it weigh? Meters/50 gm? curious. WOW. what a good job and so glad you have reached the end. Congratulations. Will the exhibition of Certificate work be on line?

  11. The spencer is such a stunning project ! You’ve inspired me to try to make my own thermal from fleece. Thanks for sharing it 🙂

    1. Thank you Cath, I am thrilled to hear that you are making one too. I would love to see a pic when you have finished. What fibres do you think you will use?

  12. Thanks Rebecca ! I’m considering some fine Shetland fleece carded together with another finer/softer fiber. I need to sort through my stash to see what I have .

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