Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lacy Garden

I've finally gotten some things accomplished around here.  Including this:

This is the second 4 ounces of the Blue Faced Leicester roving.  I loved the fiber spun into a 3-ply sock yarn but I thought I wanted to see what it would look like spun 2-ply in a lace weight.  With the 3-ply, it was plied in a way to keep the colors flowing.  With the 2-ply, as you can see, the colors are mixed, giving it more of a 'tweed' look.  I don't know if that's really the right term but it's what I'm calling it!  But when it's knitted, it will still have the flow of colors in the background. 

You can see the size of the finished yarn in this pic.  I got about 600 yards out of the 4 ounces.

It's now been set aside until it decides what it wants to be but I"m hoping it's going to be a lacy shawl.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nary a stitch

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft aglay." (often go awry)
("To a Mouse" Robert Burns)

Despite all the plans I had and all the things I planned to complete over this long weekend, not a single one got done.  I spent the entire weekend on my back with a weird vertigo-type illness.  It was worse than the worst seasickness I've ever experienced...and, believe me, anyone who has taken the ferry from Portsmouth, England, to Santander, Spain, knows about seasickness.  It's hard to explain what it's like to feel like you're falling over when you're laying in your bed having just moved your head a fraction of an inch.  Today is the closest I've come to feeling more like myself, making 4 days of absolutely nothing accomplished. 

So we start again.  I find that the world didn't fall apart because I didn't get my lace yarn finished spinning or get my gray yarn plied or my socks finished.  In fact, far from falling apart, everything is still waiting for me just as it was before.  So we start again.  Maybe that's just the lesson to take on board for the new year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Back to Socks

Like most knitters, I usually have a pair of socks on the needle.  Easy to carry around, you can work them whenever you find yourself waiting around.  For the most part, I knit to my basic sock pattern but after having knit the 1900 sock pattern I wanted to knit something patterned.

Somewhere in my travels I picked up a skein of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in a pretty oatmeal color called "Steel Cut Oats."  This yarn is 50% wool, 30% alpaca & 20% nylon so I thought it might be a very nice sock yarn.  I've used the Ultra Alpaca yarn, which was very nice to knit with, but this is a bit splitty.

Here's the pattern I've used:

With size 1 needles, I cast on 64 stitches.  I knit about 2 inches of knit 2/purl 2 and then started the pattern.  The pattern is 4 stitches of a traveling yarn over, purl 1, cable 2, purl 1.  The traveling yarn over pattern is pretty basic: 
Row 1: Yarn over, knit 2 together, knit 2
Every other row is knit plain.
Row 3: Knit 1, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit 1
Row 5: Knit 2, yarn over, knit 2 together

The cuff is worked for about 7 inches before starting the heel.

I should be able to get a pair out of 1 skein (433 yards).

I like the texture of the 2-stitch cable and it's very easy to work without having to use a cable needle.

Center Diamond Afghan progress:
I don't have a new picture yet but I've finished the 2 short sides of the afghan and have finally picked up for the first long side - 254 stitches.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Fabulous Fiber Year

Coming to the end of the year there are always a ton of wrap-ups, count downs and lists. Lots of lists. Since it’s the thing to do, I thought I would do one myself.

This has been a year of spinning for me. I’ve done more spinning this year than all the other years previous put together. Of course, the biggest reason for that was the acquisition of my beautiful Kromski Minstrel spinning wheel.

Not long after I got my wheel on the road, there was a cotton spinning workshop put on by the Prairie Weavers Guild. A whole weekend of spinning almost every possible variety of cotton. It was a fantastic weekend. Not long after that there was another spinning weekend, this time sponsored and hosted by the New Salem Fiber Guild out at Lincoln’s New Salem. Again, a fantastic weekend with a bunch of history thrown in.

So, with all of this spinning, I’ve experimented with more fibers than I even knew existed a few years ago. Here’s my list of fibers I’ve spun this year:
  • Cotton
    * seed
    * acala
    * pima
    * naturally colored
    * SuPima
  • Mohair
  • Camel
  • Yak/merino
  • Merino
  • Border Leicester
  • Blue-faced Leicester
  • Navajo-Churro
  • Silk hankies
  • Silk roving
  • Lincoln/Corriedale
  • Generic wool
  • Alpaca
  • Llama
  • Shetland
  • Coopworth
  • Alpaca/wool
  • Angora
  • Angora/Camel
  • Alpaca/silk/merino
Now, what for next year.  There are some fibers that I haven't yet tried, like linen, soy and raimie, but I think what I'm going to focus on is gaining proficiency in various drafting styles and experimenting more with twist and plying techniques.  There's a lot still to learn but I feel very satisfied with the progress made this year.  It's fulfilling a long-held dream to become a Spinner.  It doesn't get better than that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Amish Afghan Progress

The Amish Center Diamond Quilt afghan is really starting to come to life.  It's amazing how color combinations bring out a design.  Here's a photo of it with the first short border of chocolate brown garter stitch.

The darker color is going to frame this nicely, I think.  There will also be a small diamond-shaped motif that will be added to the middle of the white diamond.  It's certainly going to be big enough!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Perfect time for an afghan

I'm not sure why it is but don't you find that you usually work on something like an afghan in the heat of summer?  Maybe you started it when it was cool but somehow they always seem to end up being finished in the summer and the whole big fat hot pile of wool is plopped right in your lap.

Well, not this time.  It's been freezing and raining and snowing for several days now and I've started my full-size version of the Amish Center Diamond afghan.  Here's what I've got so far:

The center panel is done in seed stitch, from corner to corner.  It's 144 stitches at the widest point which is a whole lotta seed stitch, I can tell you.  The corners are working up much more quickly (108 stitches picked up along the side) in stockinette stitch and the borders will be in a chocolate brown garter stitch.  The 108 stitches, if you saw the previous post, is because you pick up the number of stitches equaling 75% of the number of stitches at the widest point of the diamond.

Yarn?  It's Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, thanks for asking.  I know I've said this before but I LOVE this yarn.  I've used it for a number of projects and always have a supply of it on hand.  I love how easy it is to knit with and how it softens more and more as it's washed and how economical it is.  465 yards for $9.  Can't beat that with a big ole stick.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cutie Pie Elf

A lady at work is pregnant.  Back in the summer, I asked her what she wanted for her knitted item and she decided on an elf outfit.  She's due December 14th and wanted something to dress the baby in for Christmas.  Do you know how many knitted baby elf outfit patterns there are?  Neither do I but I'm guessing not many.  I had a think about it over the summer, decided on my basic pattern and found some yarn while I was out and about - I think it was in Tulsa that I found it.  DreamBaby D.K. by Plymouth Yarns.  So soft and stretchy and not at all splitty like this type of yarn can sometimes be. 

So here's my vision come to life!

(click on pictures to see a larger version)

The main thing she wanted was the curly toes.  I decided on doing the white knitted-in i-cord down the top of the foot which allowed me to continue it on after I'd bound off the red to make the curly at the end of the toe.  I don't know if you can see it but there are little jingle bells at the end of the curly.  You can see it better here in this close-up.

At first I finished it without the fringe around the hood but it all looked so plain.  I took it with me to JoAnn's and got some other ladies to give me their thoughts.  Someone suggested the candy cane button for the chest but that wasn't quite enough.  I had originally put the white fringe on the cuffs of the sleeves but since the sleeves were too short, I took them out and redid the sleeves as you see them.

This is the fringe that I learned while doing the 1860's Spanish Opera Hood and it works a treat for this purpose, don't you think?  Very handy technique.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fashions of the 50's

When I was in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago, I visited the Civil War Museum in Harrisburg.  In the gift shop, I found a copy of The Ladies' Self Instructor In Millinery & Mantua Making, Embroidery & Applique (1853).  It contains quite a good section at the end with knitting and crochet patterns.  While there're no pictures, I'm having a great time with them.  I've just finished my first one: Evening Carriage Shoes.

The pattern started out with the most fascinating stitch pattern knit into a rectangle:

Just looks like a scrubber, doesn't it?  The stitch pattern is very simple once you figure out what the idea is.  You do a foundation of the brown wool then for the blue section, you knit 4 in blue, slip 2 brown, and repeat across.  You do 4 rows like this, working the blue section in stockinette.  Next you change back to the brown and knit 2 rows and purl 2 rows.  On the next section, you set off the blue pattern by knitting 1 in blue, slip 2 brown, knit 4 in blue, repeat the last 2 steps to the last 3 stitches and knit those in blue.

It's a great textured look.  I was showing it to someone who mentioned it would look great as a jacket and now I can't help thinking what a great idea that is.  The more I see it the better I like the idea.

Next in the pattern, you simply fold lengthwise and sew up each short end.

The pattern then says to run a string through it and put on fringe.  I decided to pleat the front and add the brown button. (Click on a photo to see a larger image.)

Now is it just me or does this look very 50's - 1850 or 1950.  I can also see Scarlet O'Hara wearing these on the way to the Ball but it reminds me of the sort of shoe Mary Tyler Moore would have worn on the Dick van Dyke Show.  Oh, wait, that was the 60's.  Early 60's.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Amish Diamond Quilt (afghan)

A few weeks ago I went to Pennsylvania and had a side trip to Lancaster.  While I was wandering around, I came across the Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum.  If you're ever in the area, I would really recommend stopping by.  I'm not a huge quilt fan but I did see a quilt that fascinated me.  It was one of the earliest of the Amish patterns, from what I understand, called the Center Diamond Quilt and all I could see was how easy it would be to knit.

This is a (poorly blocked) sampler I did just to work out the dimensions and to show the basic elements.  The center diamond is knitted from tip to tip, casting on 2 stitches and increasing each side every other row until you have the desired number of stitches (in this case 20).  Then you simply decrease each side every other row until you have 2 stitches left.  Bind off. 

The brown sections were picked up from each side of the diamond.  I wasn't too sure about how many stitches to pick up since geometry has never been my strong suit but I discovered that I needed to pick up 75% of the width of the diamond (plus one to make an even number).  In this case, the widest part of the diamond was 20 stitches so I picked up 16 stitches along each side.  I decreased stitches on each side every other row to finish up the square.

With the square finished, I picked up 24 stitches across the top (12 for each triangle - 75 % of  the 16 stitches I picked up for the section).  I knitted in garter stitch until I had 5 ridges and then did a stretchy bind off.  I did the same for the bottom then basically the same thing for each side except the pick of stitches included picking up stitches across the blue bar of the top and bottom.  And, as they say, whala.

The theory is that you could use the formula above to make it any size you want.  As you can see from the link above, there's all sorts of variations that can happen within this basic recipe.  I think what I would do for my large version is to make the center diamond and brown sections a seed stitch and then garter for the outside borders.  That way it could easily be reversible.  One thing I like about having the center diamond in stockinette is that it kind of pops out but I don't know that it would have the same effect in real size.  You could include some sort of motif in the middle of the diamond and on each of the diamond corners.  That could be cool.  I think I would like this sample more if I'd had a 3rd color for the outside border. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I stand corrected...

Evidently I stand corrected on the nets for horses' ears! See the comment on the previous post. Always ready to learn something new.

Onto to new things. I am now the proud possessor of Evening Stockings (for a Young Lady to Knit).

This is the most fun I've had with a pair of socks in ages. I love to knit socks, don't get me wrong. But these were just plain fun. And incredibly easy. Nancy Bush interpreted them from a pattern in Weldon's Practical Needlework, Volume 15, published in London in 1900. I found the pattern in the November/December 2009 issue of Piecework Magazine, in case you'd like to give them a go.

Here's how the shaping was worked along the back of the leg.

Heritage Knitting Retreat

We've finalized some details for the Heritage Knitting Retreat next June. The idea is to have a weekend devoted to knitting from the latter half of the 19th century, including looking at patterns and how to read them, materials that can be used and stitches that were commonly used and more. Have a look here for more details and to download a printable version of the flyer. If you'd like to join us June 18-20, 2010, drop me an email or message me in Ravelry and we'll get you fixed up.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Now I've heard everything

I was looking at a newly posted pattern book called "Homework" from 1891. I was scrolling through the crochet section when I came across the following:

The image isn't great but it reads:
No. 162 - Nets for Horses' Ears.
Really? Really? Nets? For Horses' Ears? Really?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ask me what I did this weekend

Remember I was working on spinning some mohair and was wondering if it would work to ply it with the turquoise merino? Well, here are the results:

I love the way the solid colored merino toned down and grounded the colors of the mohair. I've got a couple more ounces of the mohair to spin and I'm waiting for more merino to come so I can finish. This skein turned out what I would call heavy lace weight, makeing about 320 yards (72 grams) so doing the rest of it should give me about 600 yards. Now it's just a matter of figuring out what the pretty yarn wants to be!

I had to do some traveling last week for my job. Actually, I should say I got to travel because it was the perfect opportunity to do some exploring. Of course, any trip requires the project search. I couldn't figure out what I wanted to take with me because I didn't really have a good project going to take. So I quickly grabbed this black wool that my friend Cindy gave me and the leftover yarn from some recent socks and started to experiment with it. I've been wanting to do some other projects using the Brioche stitch in preparation for our Heritage Knitting Retreat next June. I thought it would be cool to have the electric colors of the sock yarn against the black. The gauntlet is reminiscent of what you might have seen in the latter half of the 19th century.

The second thing I grabbed was some Fortissima Socka in white and the pattern for "Evening Stockings for a Young Lady to Knit." It's a sock pattern in the Nov/Dec 2009 Piecework Magazine, adapted by Nancy Bush from a Weldon's pattern. As you can see, it's a long sock and the lacy pattern is so lacy and so easy, you wouldn't believe. The shaping for the leg is done along the back of the leg so you have a seam running up the back and the pretty lace everywhere else. I know this looks like a sock to fit a child but that's only because it's not blocked yet and I have pretty small feet anyway.

I thought I would make this with the white yarn because it's the only sock yarn I had 3 skeins of (bought it for something else that I ended up not making) and I wanted to be sure I had enough. The thought was to make them with the white and then dye them but I like them so much that I've decided to keep them as is. I would definitely recommend these for sock lovers. Easy with a huge payoff!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


One of the fun things about finding smaller amounts of fiber inexpensively is feeling much more free about experimenting with them. There's something about having 8 ounces or more of a fiber and thinking you need to finish up with enough to actually use for something. Then having 4 ounces makes me think, okay, this isn't so much what can I do to stretch it or what can I do that might be interesting.

One of the fibers I got from the Esther's Place booth at the Bishop Hill Spin-in was a ball of mohair roving dyed oceany sort of colors, turqoises, lime green, blue, etc. Very pretty but I'd never seen a 100% mohair yarn. Commercial mohair yarn is always mixed with wool and, for some reason, some sort of nylon or acrylic (never quite figured that out about the nylon). So I spun about 2 ounces of the mohair and started thinking about how I wanted the finished yarn to come out. I know, I know, you're supposed to think about that BEFORE you start to spin. Just you be quiet.
I only did half the roving so if I decided to make a 2 ply mohair yarn, I would have a fairly even go at the second bobbin. But as I was spinning, my eyes wandered to the table where I had started a turqoise merino sample I've had for ages. Came from Outback Fibers in Texas in a sampler pack I got one time. Had an ounce about a dozen different colors and wonderful to spin. So I started wondering about using the merino as a pairing to the mohair. The turquoise is not the same as the main color of the mohair but because the color is moving around so much, I thought it might be a nice counterpoint. So I started on a bobbin of merino.
Let me tell you, if you've never spun well-prepared merino your life is empty. Never mind all your friends and your activities and achievements. Empty. All empty, my friend.
As I kept spinning, my ounce of merino kept going and going and going. Could this have been 2 ounces? Maybe so but it's spinning so finely with my Scotch tension working and my Minstrel humming along. Now I'm not sure what to do? Should I just finish this and make a 2-ply lace weight (that's what it would be) or bit the bullet and ply it with the mohair? Keep in mind that I still have 2 ounces of the mohair left to spin and do something with.
Maybe I'll try a more woolen spun with the second batch. Spin from the fold? It's a long stapled bunch of stuff.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Victorian Garden

I finished 4 ounces of the Blue-faced Leicester fiber in the colorway, Victorian Garden. Although I originally thought I would do a 4-ply, in the end I decided to do a 3-ply using the Navajo plying technique because I wanted to keep the colorway. I'm so glad I decided to do it this way. The stips of color were still long enough to not be too stripey but it just sort of intensified the colors that were there. Here's the skein - 270 yards or thereabouts.

After I got this spun up, I was so anxious to see how it knitted up that I couldn't wait to start. Plus I had to take my car to have it serviced Saturday morning so what better time?! This is knit on size 2 needles using my basic sock pattern because I didn't want anything to get in the way of the colors.

My first socks with my very own handspun sock yarn! So proud.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekend work

I just wanted to do a quick post to show better pictures of the skeins I finished this weekend. The green is a 2-ply fingering weight spun from 4 ounces of handpainted wool. I bought it a couple of weeks ago at Bishop Hill for a present for a colleague that loves these greens. It was a little bit difficult to spin because there was some slight felting with the dying but I'm pleased with how it came out. I'm getting a little bit better at controlling the size of my singles. Spinning a consistent single is my biggest problem so I felt this was a bit of a victory. It's not perfect but it's definitely better than I've done before.

The silk skein is 2-ply spun from dyed hankies.

(Click on the pictures to see larger images.)

This is the beginning of some Blue-faced Leicester that I bought quite awhile ago in St Louis. I prepped it to spin for sock yarn but it got pushed to the back. I finally got it pulled out this weekend and started spinning it. OMG! I've never spun anything that spins as beautifully as this. There's 8 ounces of it that I've got stripped into 4 2-ounce strips for spinning a 4-ply sock yarn.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spinning things

I've finished my first go at silk hankies spun on the wheel. It came out fairly well but I did make a few live and learn mistakes:
  1. I didn't get enough twist into the singles. I think I assumed that because silk was such a long staple that it wouldn't need as much twist. I used the next to the largest ratio but I think I would use a smaller ratio because it really does need a lot more twist that I added.
  2. I drafted it too thin. It works fine but I think I would prefer to have it a little heavier. I'm glad that I got 370 yards out of it (18 grams) but I think when I do the red hankies (23 grams) I'm going to for about 250 yards.

I also got a good start on the hand-painted wool I bought at Bishop Hill. I've got about a quarter of it left to spin for singles and then I think I'm going to 2-ply it. I've been debating about whether I want to Navajo ply to keep the color pattern or 2-ply. We'll see when we get there.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Try, try again

I started a knitted gansey back in, oh March or April, I think. Using Plymouth Galway yarn and Beth Brown-Reinsel's gansey book, I started working. The main section was easy enough and went along pretty quickly but, as can sometimes happen, things got in the way and this got laid aside. After all, who needs a wooly gansey in the middle of summer? Not that we had much summer but you know how it goes. A few weeks ago, I pulled it out again and got moving.

I knew I wanted to do a saddle shoulder construction but it made me have to stop and think how to do it. and how to work out the sleeves so it would fit. I don't think I've ever had to take out and re-knit something as much as I had to do this. Part of it was the argyle pattern section where I kept messing up. Then I finished the shoulder section and realized I hadn't added the neckline shaping. Out it came. I bet I ripped out and re-knit the shoulder section 5 or 6 times. I finally got it finished, though. I haven't washed or blocked it yet.

I did a little something different for the collar. Instead of the regular knit 2, purl 2 ribbing, I decided to use a fisherman's rib. I didn't want the collar to draw up at all and fisherman's rib (or brioche) is the most stretchy stitch I know. I wasn't sure about it until I got it on but I think it really worked.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How long

I had seen that a local auction house had a spinning wheel up for bid this weekend and I was going to go over and have a look on Friday night. But I worked late and forgot. As I was running some errands on Saturday, I finally remembered about the wheel so went over to see if they'd gotten to it yet. Fortunately, they hadn't.
I had a look to make sure it was complete. It was. It was in pretty good shape although it looks quite old. See what you think.

I'm so pleased with it. I wish I'd thought to take a photo before I cleaned it and oiled it with Tung oil so you could see the difference but you can see how much it like the oiling.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Make Your Own

Several people the other night at knit night said they wanted to try the slippers so I've written up the pattern and posted it on my web site. Click here for the pattern page and have a go. It's also available via my designer page on Ravelry. You can get to it from my Ravelry page, my ID is wandagrayson.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Slippers. Felted Slippers.

Just a quick post to show you my new felted slippers. As mentioned previously, these were done on the same premise as toe-up socks. I really like the way the heel section came out with the ridge that comes a little bit up the heel. The foot part is a little bit big but I put the laces on to adjust the size so if it's really cold, I can wear cozy socks with them. They're much lighter than the other felted slippers but they're going to be just as warm. I have one more thing I want to try then I'll post a "down and dirty" pattern in case you want to try them.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Every year, the Bishop Hill Spin-In happens and every year I've got other commitments and don't go. Anywhere you go in Central Illinois, eastern Missouri and eastern Iowa people will ask you, "Do you go to Bishop Hill?" "You going to Bishop Hill?" I've always had to say, no and no. Until this year. Finally Saturday, I got to say, "Yes, I'm at Bishop Hill Spin-In." Here are some photos of some of the vendors.

The stuff said it was the 29th annual. 29th. That's a long time and they've obviously learned all there is to know. We didn't take any classes but we went to see the lovely vendors and to shop in a very relaxed atmosphere. Everyone was so nice and we had some lovely chats with vendors and other spinners/knitters/weavers.

We had a ball but I came away a little overwhelmed. By the time I got home and unloaded, I was totally overwhelmed. It's not even like I got that much. Let's see...a baggie of red silk hankies and blue silk hankies came home. 4 oz of mohair roving (seen in photo below) jumped into my hands. I've never spun mohair so I got it mostly to have the experience but the colors are pretty, too. I got some red wool roving - beautiful bluish red - and I got a ball of mill end roving. It's mostly white with bits of red and other shades streaked through it and it's a variety of different fibers.
I found a very pretty handpainted wool roving, only about 4 ounces, but it's a variety of shades of green, predominantly lime green that I want to spin for gloves or mittens for a colleague. She loves this color and wears it summer and winter. That was bought with a purpose.
The other thing I bought with a purpose is some lovely Navajo-Churro/Mohair (85/15) that I think I will be able to do on my Navajo spindle. I also had a great chat with the vendor who raises the Churros. I told her about our fleece and she made the point that the lamb was probably being fed from an overhead bin where the flakes of hay floated down into the fleece. Since it's a lamb fleece, soft and fluffy, the chaff got caught up. She also gave me some interesting insight into the tradition of Navajo spinning and weaving that I never knew about. Of course, I don't know much so that's not hard but it was fascinating.
My sweetest score was an ounce of hand-plucked angora. You may not think an ounce is very much (and this was only $6) but it's like a whole stack of feathers. Gorgeous. I'll post some photos when I get to the spinning of it. I have some camel in my stash and I'm thinking that's going to a good mixture - camel/angora - and it will give me more yardage. I got about 90 yards or so from 1 ounce of camel spinning it to lace/fingering weight. I've got 2 ounces of camel and 1 of angora so I might be able to get about 350 yards if I spin it to true lace weight. That will be enough for something really special.
Here's a photo of a pair of mittletts and the first of a houseshoe that are going to be felted. Nothing fancy, Cascade 220 in turqoise but it's my own homemade pattern for the houseshoe and it looks like it might work. I'll have to see how the felting comes along but I really think it might work. I started it like a toe-up sock, same cast on and increases for a few rows. Then I started increasing at each side for the top part and increasing in the middle of the sole. Once I got the top increased to what I thought would work to fit my foot after felting and until I thought it would be long enough. I'll get the second one made and we'll see how it works once it's felted.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


The handspun hoodie jacket is finished. I don't think I would ever be able to reproduce it but it's finished and... fits perfectly.

It was such a beautiful day out that I thought it would be a great time to start carding my Navajo-Churro fiber. After I washed it the other week, I thought carding would help get more of the vegetable matter out of it but, unfortunately it didn't do much good. I carded and combed and hand processed and it's still as dirty as it was.

So surely it would fall out in the spinning, right? It's not like it it's stickers or stuff like that. It's just hay sort of stuff. So I got my beautiful Navajo spindle and started spinning. I learned 2 things in that short bit of time. (1) the vm didn't fall out, it got spun into the singles; and (2) I'm not very good at the long draw with the Navajo spindle.

As soon as I finish with the grey wool/alpaca I've got going on the spinning wheel, I'm going to have a go with the Navajo-Churro on the wheel and see if that works any better.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Handspun Weekend

Not for spinning, actually, but for finally knitting up some of the stuff I've already spun. One of the first projects I took on was to spin some light brown and some chocolate brown roving. These were spun on my Louet so they were both quite chunky. I was never able to do much better than chunky on the Louet. So last year I found a green/black mixture at a fiber event up in Wisconsin - the colorway was called Black Watch and I fell in in love. It was also spun mostly on the Louet but, while the other 2 were 2 plies and were fairly lofty, this was 3 ply and was much denser than I really meant it be. So it is not only chunky but it's pretty hefty, too. I decided that it was really too heavy to make a whole garment out of it so I started looking through my other stuff to see what I could mix it with. I wasn't sure what I would be able to make with it but I finally got a vision for on Friday night.

As sometimes happens, when you listen to the yarn, you can't go wrong. Knitting chunky yarn on 10 1/2 US needles is a recipe for a quick knit. The back is just 63 stiches and 52 rows to the underarm. Like I said, quick. As I knitted, I realized I wanted some blocks of colors and then as I got into the front sections, I realized it needed to be a hoodie. These pictures are totally unblocked. It's form fitting - I know this looks like it's not going to fit but it really does. It's just rolled under. I have 1 sleeve completely finished and the second sleeve is almost finished but I ran out of yarn while I was out and about today. Once I get those attached, I'll just need to pick up for the front placket, which I think I'm going to do in the chocolate brown. I also think I'm going to put in a zipper so that will make a difference in how I do the front placket.
I'm so thrilled how it's worked out and that it's gone so fast. I don't think I've ever made anything with needles this large so this is a new adventure!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Blending in

I've been doing a little experiment, inspired by a post by the Yarn Harlot who was trying to spin to match a commercial yarn for a Berroco project. I made the same project she was spinning to make and had some of the yarn left over. I'd made it in a charcoal Berroco Cuzco yarn which is a lovely 50/50 mix of alpaca and wool.

That got me thinking. I spun a gorgeous silver alpaca roving for my Mom a few months ago. It was stuff I'd gotten from Karen, my friend here in Springfield who carries all these wonderful fibers. I wondered if I got a pack of the silver alpaca and a pack of grey wool, maybe I could spin them together and get something like the Cuzco from it, I would be able to mix it and the charcoal for a project. I got a strand of the Cuzco, pulled it a apart and studied how it was spun and followed her lead. Of course, I was actually looking at Cuzco, unlike the Harlot who was actually looking at a different Berroco yarn. I don't judge, it's something I might have done (and probably have done).

I was too impatient to blend it properly so I decided to put a strip of each together and blending as I went. Here's what I've got so far.

I'm still not so sure how it will ply up because I haven't been able to get it as even as I would like. But I think it will work all right. It's been a little tricky blending as I go because the alpaca, being much slipperier than the wool likes to draft faster than the wool. I am going to go ahead and spin all the singles before I start plying so I can blend them together better.
She got a beautiful yarn that she's decided to do something else with so I'll see if I can get the Cuzco she was shooting for.