More cutting fun coming soon!
More cutting fun coming soon!
My knitting and I have been enjoying a long-overdue reunion over the last few days. Really, it’s more like a second honeymoon. I’ve been an absolute glutton with my wool and needles , choosing knitting over literally anything else (friends, laundry, eating… nothing is safe!).
I was doing so well taking care of languishing projects and cleaning up loose ends. I thought my annual spring cleaning of stash would help me get a realistic perspective on both current and future knitting, while giving me the sense and control to conjure a game-plan for finishing WIPs. Wrong. Quite the opposite happened, in fact. I uncovered many long-forgotten stash jewels, falling prey to many a fiber spell. I must have blacked out for an afternoon, because when I woke up I was surrounded by multiple new projects. I blame Ravelry. I always blame Ravelry.
I wasn’t even sure where to begin with blogging, there’s so much going on all of a sudden. And, I actually have time to tell you about it. I think I’ll take the haphazard route of random-project-photo-flashing?
The Garter Stitch Love Fest never stops around here. I’m still chipping away at the big afghan.
As for sweater knitting…
The vest sort of fell into place on it’s own. I had just finished spinning a bunch of Adrian‘s beautiful shetland and it was really burning a hole in my stash. I had more than enough for a smaller project, but not enough for a garment.
I’m winging the pattern, knitting it in the round with steeked armholes and v-neck opening. And can’t put it down. I’m having a blast. You’ll see more soon.
More soon. Very soon. (I’m neglecting my knitting)
One of my favorite things to do is watch the number of Baby Surprise Jackets crawl higher and higher into the thousands over on Ravelry. It stands as a testament to the timelessness and genius of this pattern. Whenever I’m finishing one, that annoying Lays Potato Chip slogan always comes into my mind, you know it – betcha can’t eat just one? Yeah. Now that I’ve defiled the glory of EZ by comparing her to greasy snack food, I think we should move onto the knitting.
Welcome back to the second half of our anatomy lesson. Today all the fun stuff happens – we’ll be turning fiber into yarn through a few simple steps. To answer a couple of questions from last time, I spin with a Kromski Minstrel, (you’ll see it in today’s pictures) and yes, I love my wheel. It’s an upright double treadle that is compact enough to fit into small apartments without being cumbersome and is an aesthetically pleasing piece aside from its upstanding functionality. Both big priorities in my book.
Now, lets do some spinning, shall we?
I like to think of twist as dormant energy – if you put too much into your singles and don’t compensate for it while plying, one throws the other off balance.
Plying is enjoyable and seems almost too easy in comparison to spinning singles – in a way the plies actually want to come together and relax as the tension of their twist is balanced. The amount of twist added while plying should more or less correspond to that in your singles, as I mentioned before, to achieve a no-fuss yarn.
Before you know it, you’ll have a nice, full bobbin of 2-ply yarn waiting patiently to come off the bobbin.
Wash your yarn like you wash your sweaters – gentle soap, luke warm water, no agitation – squeeze out excess water and hang up to air dry. Weighting the bottom of the skein as it dries also works great for helping to balance your yarn.
I intend on covering a third portion of this series talking briefly about knitting with handspun and planning projects, but probably not immediately. My knitting time has been fruitful and inspiring lately (I have much to show you), and I don’t have anything immediately in mind for my most recent batch of handspun. When I do, though, we’ll talk more about knitting with handspun yarn.
I do hope everyone is enjoying the sun, it’s been gorgeous around here – my spinning wheel loves all the open windows. Happy spinning!
I recently heard someone say that spinning is a natural progression for any knitter. While I can’t speak for everyone, I can say that when I think about how much I’ve learned about yarn since becoming a spinner, this statement definitely holds true for me. When you begin constructing and knitting with your own yarns, you’re bound to reach a new understanding of what this fiber thing is all about, and that’s a good day for everyone.
I received a lot of e-mail responses to my last post regarding the process of converting fiber to yarn. Lots of you want pictures! Do I detect many knitters on the brink of making a crossover? (Just remember, spindles are a cheap way to test the waters)(without causing marital problems) The art of spinning is something I am unqualified to present to you on any formal level, but I thought I’d do what I could and give you a visual journey through my own spinning process. This topic will span 2 to 3 posts, not only because I am wary of overwhelming non-spinners with too much foreign information, but because currently my personal spinning time is a rarity, and this current spinning project is literally in progress. I think it works best this way for all of us. Now, shall we begin?
Wool comes to handspinners in many different forms. In our case we’ll be looking at hand-dyed roving, which seems to me one of the more popular ways urban spinners (with no space for cleaning or carding fleeces) like to roll.
Unfurl the braid to see the roving in its entirety. The photo below shows the roving unbraided and reveals the dying scheme – spacial color fields of oranges, blues, and greens. Purdy, ain’t it?
Depending on what color-effects you’re after, you may choose to tear the roving into strips and draft them individually. By doing this you essentially reduce the length of color repeats in your yarn – a quality you can manipulate in order to conjure up self-striping color patterns or other color tricks in your final yarn. With a well-dyed roving, you have a whole lot of possibilities – no two yarns will ever be exactly the same.
Below is a strip of roving (this time around, I split mine into 4) balled up on the window before being drafted.
A nice big basket of pre-drafted fiber is a great thing to have around (see above if you own pets) – beautiful on its own, but always ready for a quick spin. And with this full basket, we conclude this evening’s portion of our tour – fiber prep.
Up next we get down-n-dirty making yarn, followed by some form of knitting-with-handspun, although I’m not promising any projects… if I did, I may never get around to that third post! Stay tuned for more spinning fun!
The vacation euphoria is wearing thin and things are getting back to normal – the AM routine has resumed in it’s habitual glory and I’m back to my most exciting decision of the morning being which scarf I’ll wear as I leave the house . My life is so exciting.
This morning I realized that one of the most popular scarves in my arsenal has yet to get any blog play, and she’s been going strong out there in the streets of New York for a couple months already. Allow me to introduce you.
Started: November 2007
Finished: January 2008
One of the greatest things about handspun, aside from the fact that it’s so incredibly rewarding to work with, is that the yarn carries everything. There’s really no need for fancy stitchwork or impressive knitting acrobatics. In fact, I would venture to say that handspun is at its most impressive while standing alone in garter. This may be one of the reasons I have multiple of these scarves started – the same pattern can have multiple personalities with various handspun yarns. And they’re really fun to knit (something so beautiful shouldn’t be so easy. It’s dangerous).
[Sidenote: I've received a lot of comments/e-mails from people who love seeing handspun yarn alongside their pre-spun fiber predecessors for comparisons sake. Would you all be interested in a very informal post about the anatomy of a handspun, with pictures from start to finish?]
And while I had my camera at the ready, I thought I’d take some pictures of an oldie that I knit back in 2005. Up for it’s 2 year review – the So-Called Scarf:
Well, I’m officially on Spring Break and feel like I can actually take a nice deep breath, knit profusely, and talk about it. So today I get to share with you some of the knitting fun that has been sporadically plodding along behind the scenes.
The most exciting undertaking to have begun in the last couple of weeks is the second project in the ongoing process of project provocation that Adrian and I seem to continually dish out, or as we officially call it, our 2-Person-Knit-a-long.
I think we’ve probably been waxing poetic about Alice Starmore’s Na Craga [via Ravelry] pattern for well over a year. Armed with lots of wool (this thing is a beast) it’s a wonder that we’ve finally taken the plunge and started the knitting. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have tweedy cables back in my life.
I’ll be doing the standard seamless treatment on this one too, meaning lovely knitting done all in one piece, just the way I like it. Rather than steeking this time around, I’m knitting back and forth (all the cabling happens on even rows, so it’s nice and clean) with a buttonband worked in as I go.
Knitting a sweater like this is always an up and down saga, but so far we haven’t had any major snags, aside from sometimes being so brain dead at the end of the day that the thought of even looking at the thing sometimes seems outside of my human capacity. In these cases, it’s good to have a back up. To that end, I’m still plugging away on my ginormous garter stitch afghan which I can now safely use to keep me warm whilst I work on it – a huge bonus in my book.
Last week while riding the train early in the morning with my bare hands stuffed deep in the pockets of my winter jacket I decided I was sick of having cold hands in the morning. Last weekend I resolved to put my current knitting on hold and tend to my cold-hand problem post-haste.
Don’t ask me when, but at some point this winter I found some time to do a whole bunch of spinning. This was a while ago, but nonetheless, I’ve amassed quite a little army of handspun and it’s so beautiful and well-behaved, sitting quietly on the shelf, knowing it will probably have to wait much too long to see the needles. So far they’ve all been happy to sit for portraits – and there lies our compromise.
And if you haven’t gotten enough juicy spinning pictures, pop on over to my 2008 Spinning Gallery to get your fix.
There’s been a great amount of knitting and some new projects are brewing. I’ve slowly been wooing my knitting mojo back into my corner (he abandoned me for a bit there) and great things are happening. More to come very soon.
I guess it’s never too late to share Christmas knitting, is it? As I promised before (this long silence), I’d show a few quick little knits that were distributed under the tree this year and now live far far away. Today’s hats both reside in Portland, Oregon where wool’s water-resistant qualities are highly appreciated.
The first is an adaptation of the Thorpe pattern [PDF]. I really liked this pattern (it’s knit from the top down, and you know I love that) but knew that handspun was in order so I decided to merge the two. The yarn I had on hand was DK weight so I just tweaked the numbers a bit to work – very easy to do when knitting hats from the top down. It turned out lightweight, fluffy and rather nice for a milder climate. Stripey too.
The yarn is a 2-ply merino that I spun last fall with this particular recipient in mind. The fiber was handdyed in sunny California at Pigeonroof Studios and turned out to be a lovely little skein. I actually have enough of it leftover to knit another hat, so you may see this one pop up again in the future. Here’s the unknit yarn hanging in the window.
Hat number two was a little stashbusting creation. I had about half a skein of both Silk Garden and Cascade 220, both in neutral shades, both begging to be married. So I put them together and got this.
The hat is just about as basic as can be, aside from maybe the crown. I really love how raglan-style decreases create a square-top on hats. I got to thinking of the stripes as circles and thought it might be interesting to throw some squares into the mix. I started thinking of this hat as squares-within-circles and really liked how it turned out.
The photos were taken on Puget Sound at Dash Point in Washington State. While we were walking the beach we saw a whole
herd (school?) pod of Orcas (thanks everyone!) jumping off the coast – something I’ve never seen in all my life. And I grew up there. It was pretty great – and you can’t beat that Puget Sound light!
Until next time – happy knitting!