Recently in Handspun Yarn Category

Fiber Optic Photo Essay, Day 5

Happy squooshy relaxed yarn.  Clearly I'm being drawn to particular color themes lately.

Fiber Optic Yarns, Foot Notes Unspun Pencil Roving
80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon
Colorway: Honeysuckle Rose

Amount spun: 4 of 4 ounces
Amount plied: 4 of 4 ounces
Total Yards: 420
2 Ply Fingering Weight
Yarn Still Seeking Destiny

A brief review: this pencil roving was great to spin.  Easy on my hands and almost no nepps or anything else that slowed me down. I couldn't really tell that the nylon was there  This roving was unique in that the pencil roving was already split in 2 lengthwise, making it very easy to separate, though, clearly, I did not spin evenly enough to get exact matching and discrete color regions. 

The colorway, spun up, makes me think of faded deep pink roses, the end of life browning seeping through the petals.  Very vintage-y.  Very warm. 

Fiber Optic Photo Essay, Day 4

2 ply yarn on a 4 ft niddy noddy.  What do fuchsia and gold make? 

Yarn under stress. 

Must be time for a warm bath.

Fiber Optic Yarns, Foot Notes Unspun Pencil Roving
80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon
Colorway: Honeysuckle Rose

Amount spun: 4 of 4 ounces
Amount plied: 4 of 4 ounces
Total Yards: 420
Goal: 2 Ply Fingering Weight

Fiber Optic Photo Essay, Day 3

Saturday afternoon productivity.

Fiber Optic Yarns, Foot Notes Unspun Pencil Roving
80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon
Colorway: Honeysuckle Rose

Amount spun: 4 of 4 ounces
Amount plied: 4 of 4 ounces
Goal: 2 Ply Fingering Weight

Fiber Optic Photo Essay, Day 2

And then there were two.  Plies, that is. Is there anything better than spinning in the sunshine with a soft breeze?

Fiber Optic Yarns, Foot Notes Unspun Pencil Roving
80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon
Colorway: Honeysuckle Rose

Amount spun: 4 of 4 ounces
Goal: 2 Ply Fingering Weight

Fiber Optic Photo Essay, Day 1

First spinning of the spring.  My wheel is now feeling useful again.

Fiber Optic Yarns, Foot Notes Unspun Pencil Roving
80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon
Colorway: Honeysuckle Rose

Amount spun: 2 of 4 ounces
Goal: 2 Ply Fingering Weight

Handspun Morning Surf Scarf

Some things never change.  If you were to browse back through my archives, you would find multiple instances where I mentioned that Julie had inspired a project. In fact, I can credit her with most of my non-knitting crafty experiments.  I daresay that if Julie had never purchased her wheel and a small collection of spindles, I never would have been bitten so hard by the spinning bug (Claudia helped enable the entry into spinning as well -- after I started to get very curious about Julie's Ashford Joy wheel).  This time, I like to think that inspiration for a particular project hit us both at the same time (i.e. with the arrival of the Summer, 2008 Spin Off) but it was seeing her project progress with handspun she had created on the spot for the project that got my brain to click in the right direction for me to actually get things going.

20080728_SurfScarfHanging.jpgMy version of the Morning Surf scarf is made out of two-ply tussah silk.  I cast on 26 stitches, knowing that my yarn was fine and that I only had about 160 yards, so a relatively small scarf was the best that I was going to hope for.  After some trial and error I settled on US size 3 needles.  My final scarf (after wet blocking) is about 54" long and 4" wide. 

20080728_SurfScarfDetail1.jpgThe Morning Surf pattern is simple but makes for a lovely scarf, even with only a few repeats across.  The undulations of the pattern really help to show off the intentional striping in this yarn. 

20080728_SurfScarfRailing.jpgThe scarf had a range of different color regions.  Every thing from deep green and purple to pale pinks and blues is represented in the yarn.  It makes me think of African violets or the spring's first crocus.   It is one of those rare patterns that can stand up to a multi-colored handspun yarn and where both yarn and pattern stand out and are remarkable.

20080728_SurfScarfDetail2.jpg It's also easily reversible -- both sides are interesting and either side could be declared the front of the garment, depending on you mood. 

While this project doesn't require blocking, I'm glad I did for this yarn.  gave the yarn a prolonged soak, and it really opened up, loosened up and relaxed.  As a result, the open work areas are more defined and I think the stitch definition is much more clear. 

This project is definitely a nice way to use up handspun yarn -- even if you don't have a lot.  And since it knits up quickly and is easily memorized, it could also be a quick way to get a knitted gift taken care of if you needed one in a hurry!

Silk Road, Friday

~160 yards of two-ply 100% silk yarn from 1 ounce of hand dyed tussah silk. 

20080710.BallOfSilkjpg.jpgIt always hurts a little bit to go from the pretty twisted skein to the center pull ball.   But I love to see the color progressions.

20080710_SilkAndWPITool.jpg23 wraps per inch with the help of the WPI tool my dad created.  Certainly in the lace/fingering weight category.  And all ready to become a little something special for my summer wardrobe.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a comment on my post yesterday.  I appreciate all the compliments on the yarn as well as your help making sure that my comments worked again.  It is such a relief to have that part of my blog functioning again.  I always love the new features I find in updated blogging software, but I just don't have the common sense sometimes to leave well enough alone now that my blog software maintenance time is more limited.

Silk Road, Thursday

After plying, the yarn had almost no extra twist.  Ah, balance!

20080705_8_Soaking.jpgFinished yarn in a cool bath with a little gentle baby shampoo  Not an iota of dye came out of this fiber. 

After much fiddling I think I have rooted out the problems with my comments.  I know that yarn getting a bath is not the most inspiring subject material, but if a few people would be so kind as to leave a comment just to help me confirm that they do actually work, I'd be much obliged!

Silk Road, Wednesday

Gentle stripes.  Just what I wanted.

20080705_6_PliedMacro.jpgShades of wildflowers in macro.  Yarn is not quite as blue in real life.

Silk Road, Tuesday

And then there were two.  Pretty bobbins of silk on my father's lazy kate.

20080705_4_PliedBobbin.jpgAfter plying.  Strangely enough, the plied yarn looks similar to the singles... spinning always surprises me.

Silk Road, Monday

I have renewed my relationship with my spinning wheel this summer.  A short burst of spinning a bit of my moorit CVM was enough to remind me how happy and relaxed spinning makes me feel.  Like Julie, when I got the most recent issue of Spin Off I found the Morning Surf scarf gallery very inspiring.  Color and texture!  I decided to treat myself to a little stash diving to find something that would be satisfying to the fingers and the soul and came out with an ounce of hand dyed tussah silk that was a little extra that was packed into an order of luxury sock fiber from Abby Franquemont's  Ebay store.  Just an ounce, so I decided that I would spin some reasonably fine singles and create a two-ply yarn and make a small summer scarf.

20080705_FranquemontSilk.jpgPretty, no?  It reminded me of summer wildflowers, and it was a joy even to pre-draft. The rest of the week will be a little photo essay of my trip from fiber to finished yarn.  First stop: my first bobbin of singles yarn.

After I finished my first bobbin, I wished I had about 4 times as much of the stuff.  But sometimes I think rarity adds to the special joy of working with a unique fiber.


Limeola sock yarn, anyone?

This is the final result of my Bonkers Superwash Merino in "Limeola" spinning project.  Two plies of tightly spun singles happily twisted together and enjoying a little time in the sun after a bath and a rest.  Now they are soft, squishy and delicious! I've got just about 4 ounces and just about 400 yards.  Just perfect for a pair of socks.

There will be much stripeyness in this yarn, which is exactly what I wanted.  As I plied, it was clear that there would be relatively long sections of stripeyness, which is the way I like my stripes!

20080426_LimeolaClose2.jpgA happy Limeola rainbow, or perhaps water fall.  This shot made me think of water flowing over mossy rocks, and captures well the true colors in the skein.

Finishing up this yarn makes me really feel bad about how little use my wheel is getting right now.  I love to spin, but time is short, and the time it takes to complete even a small project would take me several days worth of nap times.  I should have done more spinning when a certain small person was less mobile!  Ah well.  I have no doubt that my wheel will wait patiently until I can eke out a bit more spinning time. 

This picture, taken after dark, courtesy of my daughter who didn't do anything predictably today.  Some days, being a mom is a blast.  Other days, I know it's a good thing, but it just wears me down.  And on those days, not only do I feel worn down, but I then make myself feel guilty about not giving the baby the happy attentive mom she should have and I worry that my inability to smile at her through my funk is scarring her for life.  We're scaling back the nursing (read: I've gotten to the point where I can no longer take all the crazy baby behavior in this arena and I would like to have my body back) and I think that's wreaking a little bit of havoc with my hormones.  And that, when combined with the grey weather, makes me a not so upbeat mommy.

Anyway, when she finally settled in for an afternoon nap, the sun was out and it was warm enough to sit out on my balcony.  I had been thinking about knitting, but then I noticed these two lonely bobbins sitting on my bookcase --  I finished those up in September with the idea that the plied product would be a gift for a friend.  I haven't had a chance to use my wheel since!  Remembering how centered spinning always makes me feel, I grabbed my wheel and my lazy kate and those two bobbins and sat out in the sunshine for an hour and a half and plied those singles into a real live 2 ply sock yarn. 

20080409_LimeolaPliedClose.jpgI know there is good luck and something special about this sock yarn because when I finished plying, the singles ran out at the exact same time -- that's never happened to me before, in spite of all the weighing out of fiber that I do.  I'm looking forward to hanking it up on my niddy-noddy and giving it a good bath so that it can relax and I can feel the real final product -- both the colors (there's a lot of great green hiding a layer under) and the hand.  Since these singles have been sitting for so long, the twist was completely dormant.  It made for easy plying, but it also means that the final yarn is going to be different than what I see on my bobbin. 

Working with my wheel was excellent therapy for the afternoon.  It didn't chase all the weird energy away, but it did help me get a little of my mommy equillibrium back.

Tweedy Handspun, Part II


In scientific publishing, there's the concept of the "Least Publishable Unit". Because scientists are often judged by the number of publications to their record, it's sometimes seen as advantageous to publish your data in the smallest possible chunks that you can still put together as a story. Today's post might seem like I'm trying to mark out the "Least Bloggable Unit" given that the information would have fit very neatly with yesterday's post and that I had originally put everything together to be part of the same post. But that's not really the intention. As I was thinking about it, I decided that the spinning and the swatching were really two different stories, they just happened to involve the same yarn. That, and at the end of the day, this blog is still my fibery journal, and I wanted a little more time to think about the swatch that I'm going to talk about today.

Tweedy Handspun Swatch:From Top to Bottom: Some Cables, Some Lace and Some Stockinette

After spinning the main skein, I had enough single left on one bobbin to spin up about 42 yards of 2-ply that I could use to swatch with. My first thoughts for a use for the yarn had been some fingerless mitts of my own design -- not because there aren't a lot of other lovely examples out there, but because I love to use small projects as templates to try things out. Somehow, if the experiement doesn't go well with a small project, the ripping process doesn't feel quite as painful and it's not hard for me to get started trying something else out.

I've talked before about the differences between 2-ply and 3-ply yarn, and since I was thinking about combining cables and lace in my mitts, I thought this would be a good opportunity to swatch and see how each type of pattern looked in the yarn. And while I know that the yarn has both silk and angora content, the information I have for the roving doesn't give me percentages to work with, so I wasn't completely sure what to expect from the yarn in terms of drape and elasticity.

I determined that the yarn I made came in around 14 WPI -- which made it a light DK. So I picked up a set of US 5 (3.75 mm) needles and cast on to see what the swatch would tell me. After knitting the swatch, I soaked and blocked it to see if washing would have any effect on the final fabric.

On plain stockinette, I get about 5.5 stitches/inch and a soft fabric that I like both the look and feel of. It has a reasonable amount of drape, and a reasonable amount of structure. Important, because I don't want floppy drapey mitts. So the size 5 needle was a decent call. Though, in a pinch, this yarn is probably fine enough to go down to a 4 if I wanted a denser fabric.

The next section I tried was a simple lace pattern. Anyone who has worked on my most recent sock pattern will recognize the Cat's Paw lace pattern -- it was the one I could remember easily without having to refer to a pattern book, and was actually a small enough motif to consider for a pair of mitts. I consider the lace results to be just okay. The fuzziness of the yarn muddies the lace definition a little bit, so I don't think anything complicated would show up very well. But it's doable.

Swatch Cable Detail

The final section of the swatch is a couple of simple cables. I think I made a mistake with something in the cable on the right, which is why the close up focuses on the simple 6-stitch cable on the left. I was initially worried that this yarn, given that it's both two ply and made up of some not very elastic fibers, wouldn't be a good candidate for cabling. The swatch changed my mind completely. The cable definitely has a less three-dimensional quality than you might expect if I was working with a 3-ply yarn, but the cable still has nice definition and the flatter texture is probably a bonus for a pair of mits that I want to lay flat against my hands and not get caught on things while I work at my computer (my computer room gets quite cold during the day in the winter, and I find that my mouse hand is almost always ice cold if I spend the day working at home).

On the overall, I consider this swatch a success. I like the hand of the final fabric, and it looks like I'll have no problem with simple lace and cable textures. I can wear the fabric against my skin without irritation and I like that there is no terribly obvious striping. I think the tweedy quality adds to the final product without distracting too much from the knitted design. I am still frustrated with my camera's inability to reproduce the color of this yarn in a way that does not make it look like a sickly aqua, but hopefully by the time I have something interesting to show with this yarn again, I'll have figured out how to deal with that.

So the next step is for me to dig through some stitch dictionaries, doodle in my little paper journal, and figure out what I want to do on the small canvas of handknit fingerless mitts.


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