Monthly Archives: July 2008

Killing Time Progress

It’s a junky picture, but it does show the progress of these socks.  I decided to do them with an afterthought heel, so the jist of the pattern here is “tube until you’re nearly out of yarn, make the toe, make the heel”.  Why I haven’t written a book of patterns, I don’t know. 😉

And I couldn’t help taking a picture of this while the camera was out:

Mmmonkley likes Mmmalabrigo lace yarn. He’s got great taste.

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Recommendation

Sometimes I am asked for helpful resources for knitters, so I thought I’d try and post a few of my favorites now and again.

 

This book is at the top of my list.  To use this book, you grab the yarn you want to use, the needles you want to use, and knit a gauge swatch.  Then you determine which item you want to knit (hats, gloves, mittens, sweaters, socks, etc.) and follow the directions for the gauge you have determined.  It’s a wonderful tool.  All the patterns are “plain”, so the book is helpful for those just learning how to knit these items as well as for those who are learning to create their own designs by altering a basic pattern.  Sizes go from preemie to XXL. Considering the prices of patterns can range up to $9 or more for a sweater pattern, this book of patterns is a bargain, as well. Mine is well marked and well used. It’s my go-to resource when I start thinking about designing a pattern.

(And just to be up front, I am an Amazon associate, so should you choose to purchase this book, you can click the image of the book and Amazon says it will give me some sort of fantabulous credit.)

Crossing the tape

Sunday marked the end of the Tour de France, and the Tour de Fleece.  On Saturday I finished up this last yarn.

I’m calling it Nostalgia, because it reminds me of my great Grandmother’s sunny California garden.  I don’t know that she had any flowers in her garden that remotely resembled the shades in this yarn, but I blame a vague and romantic childhood memory.

This roving came from FatCatKnits and it was such a pleasant spin…I know it doesn’t sound like it could possibly be correct to call fiber (even merino) “creamy”, but it’s the best I can do.  Wonderful stuff.  I 2-plied it and it came to 528 yards of fingering/sock weight.  It’s already listed in the shop.

That brings my grand total for the Tour de Fleece to 2697 yards of yarn spun from 28 oz of fiber. I’m very pleased.

Now that the Tour is over, it’s time to jump on a new knitting adventure bandwagon:

Ayup…I’ll be casting on for a shawl and starting some spinning during the opening ceremonies, joining thousands of others on Ravelry as we create and cheer through the Olympics.  Love it!

My knitting has taken a bit of a back seat lately to the spinning, but I have been putzing along on a few projects.  I’ve got a large dishcloth order that’s almost complete, and a set of dishcloths made for a swap

and another little venture, my first knit with Noro, which is under wraps at the moment.  I’ve made some progress on the Killing Time socks, too…I’ll get a pic of that up soon.

Nearing the Finish Line

Only a few more days left of the Tour de France/Fleece.  It’s been such a neat challenge, and I’ve seen some improvement in my spinning over the time span.  Practice actually does work, eh? Here are some photos of the latest yarns, taken yesterday.

This is spun from fiber that came from a Fiber of the Month club that a friend generously lavished upon me for Christmas last year.  It’s another reminder that appearances can be deceiving.  It was a fine but unassuming bit of fiber in the bag.  It was surprisingly silky to spin and I really love how the finished yarn turned out.  It’s a 50/50 blend of New Zealand wool and silk, and it came to 347 yards of 2-plied yarn.

This is another of Meg’s beauties, colorway Sherwood in her Festive roving.  It might be one of my top two favorite colorways she does.  I decided I wanted to maximize the number of color changes throughout the yarn, so I tore the one long piece of roving into 6 or 7 long, narrow strips.  I spun those and navajo-plied the single to preserve the color changes.  It came to 422 yards, which is a record for me for 4 oz. in a 3-ply.  It’s sock weight again, so another goal has been achieved: sockweight on a 3-ply. (yay!) It’s listed for sale in the Etsy shop.

My sister Kaele asked about the weights of yarn and how someone who was not familiar with spinning would know why I’m excited about achieving fingering weight. 

The process of spinning involves taking a wad of fluff and turning it into a rope.  You do it by introducing twist to the fluff.  The fibers, twisted around each other, are very strong and much harder to pull apart than the fluff all by itself. Spinning on a wheel requires coordination of two things: handling the fiber (controlling the twist) and maintaining the speed of the wheel (creating the twist).  When I started, the rate of introducing twist was very inconsistent, but even less consistent was my ability to pull out just the right amount of fluff from the wad and allow the same amount of twist to be introduced to each section.  My first yarns have very thick and very thin sections, and the overall thickness of the finished yarn is no smaller than the diameter of one of those really thick pencils we thought were so cool in elementary school.

As I’ve gotten more practice, I can manipulate the speed of the wheel (the rate of creating twist) without thinking about it.  The real key, though, is becoming consistent with the amount of fiber I pull out of the fluff at a time and making that amount of fiber smaller.  The smaller the wad, the thinner the yarn, the more yardage you can get from the fiber. It has also helped that I’m comfortable enough with the process now that I’ve set my whorl at a much higher ratio (that has to do with how many times the flyer that does the actual twisting goes around with one rotation of the big wheel), allowing for a tighter, thinner twist.

I hope that helps a little.  It was a landmark to be able to achieve a consistent fingerweight.  It also means (theoretically) that I can be choosy in what I do with a particular fiber.  If I want a worsted weight, I can do that.  If I want a sock yarn, I can do that, too.  I can be a little more intentional than “let’s spin this baby and see what comes out!” The best way to show you, of course, is to show you the whole process…I may try and test the JAKE’s documentary movie making skills some day. 😉

Blueberry Buckle

Here’s the latest Tour de Fleece project: 222 yards of superwash merino, 2 plied.  The Tour has been a great motivator to get back to my wheel, and she’s showing her appreciation by NOT SQUEAKING ANYMORE!  Wahooty!  It might have something to do with the fact that I finally got brave/stupid enough to move the drive band off the slowest whorl and moved it to the middle one. I don’t know for sure, but I’m sure I don’t care…it makes spinning much more pleasant!

I’ve been drying these skeins indoors, hanging over an air conditioning vent.  It takes 36-48 hours for them to completely dry. Today it occurred to me that I ought to take advantage of the 98* heat and relatively gentle breezes provided me during a Kansas summer.  I set this skein out, hanging on a plastic hanger which in turn was hung on a wind chime, and it was dry within 2 hours.  Crazy fast!

Next up: a silk/merino blend and a (brief) explanation of technique for thin versus thick yarns.

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…

I really like knitting.  Knitting has gone from being a neat hobby to…something else, and I’m very excited that part of that “something else” has included working a bit with the talented Meg of Twisted Fiber Arts.  She’s in Michigan, I’m in Kansas, but what is that in this day and age?

I’ve had the privilege of spinning some of her rovings to be used in the photographs for her new website, there’s another project or two in the works, and I also had the opportunity to do some test/sample knitting for her.  She said it was fine to share on the blog, so here’s a picture of Clapotis (like the scarf I have a few posts below), knit in her fantastic Evolutions style of dyeing, in a silk yarn that is so amazingly soft and wonderful that it should be a controlled substance.  Worse than crack, people. I kid you not.

I love the idea behind this yarn…she starts with one color, and it shifts, almost inperceptibly, to a completely different color.

Stalk her site, folks, and look out for the silk yarn I’m hoping will become public soon.  If you end up with extra, I’ll send you my address. 😉

Houston, we have sock yarn!

Yesterday I finished spinning and plying a beautiful 8 oz merino roving as part of the Tour de Fleece:

The color is hard to capture, but it is a very deep, rich, almost-purple cranberry color.  I ended up with 863 total yards, and the best part? It’s fingering weight!

Here are my skeins with two skeins of commercial sock yarn. The color is all off, but the picture does show the thickness, or weight, of the yarn I spun…sock yarn!  This was a huge goal when I started spinning…I wanted to get to the point where I could spin a consistent fingering weight.

I was anxious to see how it would respond to washing, as I had heard that merino tendsto poof quite a bit.  No worries though, it’s still sock weight…and soooooo soft.

I am so pleased with this yarn.  I’m hunting for the perfect inspiration to turn it into a shawl.

Next up: