Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lace Galore

Just a quick post to show you the galore of lace that's been going on here lately. I've missed crochet. These are the crocheted 1918 doily at the left, a lady's hankie with crocheted edging at the top, the finally completed knitted 1918 doily at the right and my little handspun knitted doily in ecru. Sometimes I think I should have been a Victorian!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Handspun Ella

I will be making a visit home to Texas soon and while there my Mom and I are hoping to make a side trip to her home town, Rotan. Rotan is in Fisher County, the heart of cotton country and I want straight from the field cotton. I've been looking forward to this trip ever since the Spring when we had the cotton spinning workshop. I had a call with a very nice lady at the cotton gin who told me that the crop was going to be late this year but that we would be welcome to come and tour the gin and see how everything gets processed.

In preparation, I thought it would be a good idea to go back to some cotton and see if I remembered how to spin it. It's not necessarily pretty but I managed to spin about 65 yards of 2-ply Upland cotton yarn. I wasn't sure how much yardage would be needed for a doily and I didn't want to run out in the middle so I found the smallest knitted doily I could find! Here's what it looks like worked into the Ella pattern from Gloria Penning's "Danish Lace Treasures."

One thing I learned while spinning this, and I think I got better as it went along, is the rhythm of the long draw with cotton. When you draw your hand back, there can be slubs. You don't want to be in too big a hurry to draw these slubs out. That's where you get the thick and thin that doesn't ever want to thin out. You have to draw your hand back and let some twist go into the fiber, then you can draw it back a little further, let more twist in, draw a little further. It seems counter-intuitive but the more twist you add, the more it stabilizes those thicker slubs so when you draft it out further, there's something there to hold it together.

The thing I struggle with most in long draw is making sure that I have enough twist in the yarn before it feeds onto the bobbin. So this time I made my initial draw back shorter so there was less to work with on each draw then before I let it wind onto the bobbin, I pinched the yarn with my forward hand just a few inches away from the orifice and with my back hand just before the unspun fiber and gently pulled. When there wasn't enough twist I could fee the unstability because it would let me pull my hands apart. When there was enough twist, I could easily feel that it was solid and was ready to go. It really is about teaching your sense of touch to know when the yarn is stable. I still need a lot of practice but I'm feeling better about it.