Thursday, January 29, 2009

Merino & Shetland


Hello Yarn Fiber Club March 2008
Colorway: Red Velvet
Shetland Wool Top 4 oz
2 ply, 120 yards

I should get a wpi tool and get a better idea of what weight things are turning out when the fiber is allowed to be whatever it wants to be. At 4 oz and 120 yards we are definitely in bulky territory. After reading Aldon Amos on plying I was plying the living daylights out of my yarn for a while. I decided to back it down on this batch and just ply until the yarn acted balanced. It looks good to me, but the final judgement comes in the knitting.

handspun superwash merino

Pigeonroof Studios
Colorway: Verbena
Superwash Merino 4.2 oz
2 ply, 70 yards

I snatched this roving up because I wanted to try something from Pigeonroof Studios and her stuff sells out so fast. However this fiber really stretched my novice spinning skills. Merino is notorious for being soft, and the superwash process just makes it more soft and slippery. I was afraid to strip the top into smaller bits since the fiber was flyaway and seemed easily tangled. Next time I will try predrafting more as that will minimize the need to strip and also pull the stray fibers back in alignment. It amazes me that I could get so little yardage out of 4 oz - especially since side by side with the Shetland skein Verbena is smaller although it weighs more. Obviously I have a lot to learn about merino and loft.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sample Spinning

I am itching to spin something and then knit it, but what to make?

handspun swatching

Above is the first round of sampling. Should I sample greater lengths of yarn? It might give me a better idea of the finished project, but since I am sampling from 4oz bits of fiber I'm limited.

The two browns on the left are Coopworth. The lighter one is particularly delicious. I would consider spinning for Owls if there was more money in the fiber budget right now...

On the right two different Gotland samples. The dark is the pin drafted lamb's fleece. It has these lighter bits that swirl around and make lovely texture (too soft and pretty to be called neps, but really I think they are tangled fiber). I wanted to spin this in a way that would preserve its loft, softness and texture. The two ply came out not very textured, and the single ply seems fragile... not too delicate to knit, but unlikely to stand up to serious wear in the garment. I probably just need to knit it in stockinette stitch to get the texture to pop.

The brighter silver is Gotland top. Just for the fun of it I did a small sample from the fold and it produced an unusually fine and even result (for me). As I have 10 oz of the lamb and 4 of the top I was thinking of combining them for a vest. I would put random stripes of the lighter silver through the dark. Overall though, I'm not certain exactly what the lamb fiber is best suited for. Both Gotland fibers also show a tendancy to full.

At the very end of the silver sample there is also a tiny, two row sample of some Cotswold. This top is one of the first things I bought as a spinner and now it seems rather sticky (hardened lanolin?) and hairy. Not pleasant to spin. Surprisingly though, once it was yarn it was pleasant enough to knit.

Not enough here to help me choose the next big project, but you know how it is. I'll want these notes to refer to as more possibilities come up and I begin to forget the characteristics of each of these fibers...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Somehow I'm in a nibbling mood these days. Just want small(ish) projects to work on, and a bowl of M&M's to snack on as I do. First up in the queue:

bella's mittens wip

Haven't even seen or read any of the Twil*ght series, but when pictures of Bella's mittens began circulating on the knit blogs I was powerless to resist all that cabled lusciousness. I snapped up some of the soon to be discontinued Cascade 109 (color 1108), and Subliminal Rabbit's nicely done pattern, and it was off to the races. Version one came out just barely too small lengthwise in the hand. I'm moving up to size 7's next, which will put me a tad over (rather than under) gauge.

In the spinning department I'm also snacking:

Sample spinning

This is fiber from the Etsy seller Wildhare who offers wool from happy, well cared for sheep. She also sells samplers of the different fibers she has. I tried 2 oz each from "Stephen" and "Brownie." Both colors are beautiful, although I found the lighter color to be smoother to spin. So many projects, so little time...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Winter Break: The Fiber Version

Isn't it wonderful to make the fiber blog rounds and find everyone unveiling the precious gifts they made for others and the thoughtful ones made in return? Just makes a person want to jump on in and contribute to the fiber-y goodness.

For one of my brothers (the other got money to go skiing):

Kiss Me, I'm Irish.

Yarn: my handspun Rambouillet :)
Pattern: Habitat
Notes: What a wonderful pattern! The attention to detail in the instructions make it seem so simple. I do want to offer a word of encouragement to anyone who has a sudden fear that his or her habitat is turning out too big - I was worried halfway through, but the hat decreased more rapidly than other patterns I've used, so the length worked in the end.
Mods: I increased after the ribbing with K1F&B since I got strange holes trying to increase the other way. At my brother's request I also sewed in a small, polar fleece lining around the bottom. Works wonders for those who are scratch-a-phobic.

For a friend's birthday:

Arm warmers

Yarn: Vanna's Choice, 1 skein - nice to work with and great color selection.
Pattern: improvisation based on a 40 st cast on. Thumb gusset worked with M1F & M1B increases every other row. Changed needle size at wrist for shaping.
Needles: size 7 cast on, size 6 for arm, size 5 for hand.

For my dear MIL:

Skittles Handspun

Didn't get a picture of the FO (as I was up knitting it on Christmas Eve), but this turned into a tiny triangular shoulder shawl. Yarn is my handspun, BFL from Abstract Fibers.

For me: (ahem)

mild child yarn

I got around to spinning up some of my Flawful Fibers BFL that I have been meaning to turn into a hat. Lo and behold... my sister gave me a coupon saying that she would knit me a hat for Christmas. Let's hope that this will turn into an awesome collaborative project...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Wires of the Night

I have been thinking about this poem by Billy Collins. In the tangle of shifting imagery, I think he captures the repetition inherent in the process of grief. The minute but incoherent details give the sense that one is caught on the sharp barbs of introspection. Or perhaps it shows that once you think you have a handle on what loss means, it means more, and takes another shape. And then at the end... after a long hard night wrestling with death, the narrator awakens to the fact that this loss will go with him into the future. I thought about looking for a poem that was less dark this year, as I have felt less pain, and more peace. And through it all there has been been that firm foundation of my faith in God even when I discovered that grief was "a floor/ you could not lie down on in the middle of the night." I'm not quite sure how to wrap this up, so I think I'll leave it there.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

How I Spent My Winter Holiday

Driving through a blizzard. Buying pounds of chocolate caramels and candied cherries at Trader Joe's. Listening to a masterfully directed Christmas concert that soared into the vaulted radiance of a historic catholic church - somehow so open and yet so mysterious. Snowed in for a day. Eating my mom's turkey wild rice soup. Trying Wii boxing for the first time, and hardly being able to use my arms the next day. Knitting a birthday gift for a friend. Enjoying the sweaters in Hamish Macbeth and The Secret of Roan Inish. Reading (quite disparate titles). Cross country skiing through deep, powdery snow with my husband, my mother and my sister-in-law. Laughing more than any time in recent memory, especially because of a certain Fictionary game which included the following:

Pessomancy: the act of consulting a pessimist.

Limacine: of, pertaining to, or resembling a slug.

Ramfeezled: to be cheated or bamboozled by an Italio-German pygmy goat herder named Ramfe.

One is true, one is so good it should be true and the other is... well, an act of genius that one can't really appreciate unless one was there for the entire 2 hour game.

Discovering that my husband and my mother each have sweet fictionary skills. Enjoying a game where the score doesn't matter. Watching a sublime sunset with snowy cliffs reflected in cold water. Being glad that our radiator didn't give out until we were 25 miles from home (after driving 425 in the proceeding 8 hours). Dear friends and family - I miss you already.