A Handspun Sweater and Three Years of Wool and Chocolate

When this fiber came in the mail, I knew that I wanted to wear it.

I wanted to wear it all the time. Day and night. Night and day. The colors were so “me” that I wanted to frame it and roll in it and write sonnets about it. And, as I have mentioned before, the Romney wool is new and exciting for this still beginning spinner.

So after I spun it up, I made this.

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A sweater of my own design, (Ravelry project page here) in Spunky Eclectic March 2013 club, Lightening Strike on Romney (Ravelry stash page here).

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A sweater made from a bit of fluff.

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I only had 12 oz to work with, so it has narrow fronts and 3/4 sleeves, both of which suit me just fine. I added a bit of shaping at the waist (which is totally lost on my currently more rounded form) and used up nearly all of the fabulous, 2 ply, worsted weight yarn.

IMGP8785 I love it, love it, love it! And it is just in time. As you can see, today is looking mighty dreary, wet and cold. Just the right weather to try out a new wool sweater!

But that’s not all! That’s right, folks! Three years ago today, I acted on a whim and started blogging. It took me awhile to get some momentum, to develop my style, and to figure out what it is that I want to say. I have met many interesting folks, both knitters and not, and learned a whole heap of new stuff. Thank you for reading my (sometimes) drivel. Thank you for commenting on my rants. And thank you for coming back for more.

Maine Dish Mini Satchel

This months edition of the Spunky Fiber Club was an exciting adventure.


Four ounces of Swaledale in the Eating Maine colorway from Spunky Eclectic

One thing that I really enjoy about being a part of the Spunky Fiber Club is the variety of wools that are offered. This month was no exception. A rough, hairy wool that I would never have picked out for myself offered me an opportunity to broaden my fibery worldview and I even learned a few things along the way.

Another thing that I really like about the club is the people who are in it. They are cheerful, helpful, playful, and very talkative. After I spun my Swaledale (using a long draw for the first time – woohoo!), I had a severely thick and thin, very itchy, and hairy skien of singles. I decided to ply it with something, asked for some help on the Ravelry forum thread related to this months club, and Whamo! I had all the info, opinions, and input that I needed to make my yarn.

The colors are excellent, the feel, not so much. A bag it is.

After much searching, I landed on this one as inspiration and started knitting something that sort of turned out somewhat similar. Only better. In a handspun sort of way.

Call me crazy, but I love it. In a handspun sort of way.

It fits me perfectly. It will hold my wallet, keys and a spare diaper, which is about all that I carry these days.

But, knowing me, it will probably spend most of it’s life as a knitting project bag. Because that is how I roll.

Oh, and I might line it. But I might not. For now, I just want to look at it…

… as I anxiously await the September edition of Spunky fun to arrive.

Road Trip! A Wedding, A Reunion, A Birth, and A Family Portrait (the first since we were 8)

This weekend we bravely set out on a 5 1/2 drive with six children.

It was so fun!

We colored and played the ABC game and snacked and watched movies on the iPad and read books and I knitted a lot (of course).

Then we arrived. And we did all those things some more, only now with our cousins and aunts and uncles and friends.

Then there was news of the birth of a new cousin – a much prayed for VBAC and a healthy mama and new baby boy! The sister of the groom, no less, but she is a super mom and was still able to attend the wedding exactly 24 hours after the birth – with her two year old twins and four year old in tow! And you thought I was joking about the super mom part! WOW!

The outdoor wedding was beautiful and the bride was gorgeous and we had fun despite the sprinkling of rain that cooled us off in the heat of the day.

The reception was a great party with dancing and laughter and good food.

Being with my family is always, always, always a good time. I am so blessed to have been born into this wonderful tribe.

The fun didn’t stop just because the day was over. Sunday morning found us all in church and so blessed in an awesome service. Afterwards we headed back to the house for lunch and more visiting. There was swimming and food and olympics on the tv.

But The Man did have to work on Monday, so in the evening we said goodbye and headed north.

What a wonderful trip! And, look! We got a family photo taken!

 

And of course there was knitting. Lots and lots of knitting. Until I had to drive, that is. But I took this amazing yarn

Spunky Eclectic Portuguese Merino A Bug’s Life single ply lace weight (taken with the phone camera in the car before I cast on)

and turned it into this.

 

Pogona by Stephen West

Loving it so far and it is the perfect traveling knitting. I can’t wait to get it finished and to see the final color progression. What a fun project!

 

Spun It, Knit It, Gave It

Another handspun hat has flown off my needles and onto a loved one’s head. (Rav page for yarn here. For hat here.)

Fiber from the Cosymakes Falkland Fiber Club, the January 2012 colorway, spun on a drop spindle. 

This knit was a little eye opening for me and I learned something about spinning and about yarn in general. This yarn was my second attempt at spinning and it is horrid. Thick and thin, overspun here, underspun there, under plied all over, horrid. But, look at how beautiful it knitted up! Even badly spun yarn can make a lovely hat!

Three things about this knit –

1. The pattern was totally improv – I knit a cable band approximately the circumference of The Dancing Queen’s head, joined it into a ring, picked up a bunch of stitches, and knit straight for awhile. When it was time to decrease, I worked decreases at three points around on every row until I had only a few stitches left. A pom pom finished off the yarn (until I realized that I still have another skien hiding in the back of the yarn cabinet).

2. The Dancing Queen has been on a yellow kick for a few months now, and when she saw this fiber on my spindle, she claimed it as her own. She was very happy to see it become a hat and she can’t wait for it to get cold enough so that she can wear it.

3. Knitting hats is an excellent way to be creative and use up weird yarn. It is fun to just knit without a plan and then find that a really cute hat is at the end of the journey. Makes me want to spin some more, too!

The Fall

My second handspun yarn is finished. Wanna see it?

I have forgotten the clever name that this colorway came with and am now calling it “The Fall” both because of it’s glorious autumn hues and because my drop spindle fell a lot in the making of this lovely yarn.

First a note on spindles. This is only the second yarn that I have spun, so I am in no ways an expert, but I do have  a word or two about spindles. Not wanting to fork out the big bucks for a hobby that I had never tried before, I spent $10 on a wooden drop spindle. It works just fine. In fact, for the amount of times that it hit my concrete floor, I am glad that it was not very precious. However, since I got my new spindle, which cost quite a bit more, and have started spinning with it, I can already tell that quality does matter. My cheap one was difficult to spin suspended with because it wouldn’t spin very long, whereas my new spindle spins forever and I am only limited by how long my arms are. So, as far as I am concerned, get a nice spindle (whatever that means) and you will enjoy spinning a whole lot more.

Now, about this yarn. 

This is the first in the Cosymakes Falkland Fiber Club and it came in a 4oz braid in late January. When I started to work with it, my goals were not really yarn centered. That is, I didn’t really have a yarn in mind that I expected to produce. Rather, I wanted to concentrate on perfecting my new art.

First Goal – Suspended Spinning. My first spun yarn was entirely spun using the “park and draft” method, which was an excellent way to learn (plus, my hips were bothering me at the time, so I couldn’t stand and was spinning in a reclined position on my couch). It only took a short time (about the length of Batman Begins, in fact) to get the hang of suspended spinning (pun intended).

Second Goal – Consistency. I didn’t really care what I was consistent in, whether the yarn be thick or thin, but just so that it didn’t vary so greatly along one short length as my first try did.

Third Goal – Drafting. I wanted to figure out my favorite method of predrafting and holding the fiber. I experimented with tearing off a chunk and holding that in my hands. Then, I played with long lengths of predrafted fiber draped over my arm. It was the latter that won in the end.

Now, looking at this yarn I can see my improvement and I almost wish that I hadn’t plied it. One ply, the first ply that I spun, has little consistency and is thicker in general than the second ply, which is much more consistent and quite thinner. The two plied together make a pretty okay yarn, however, and I am pleased with how it looks (for my second try, anyway).

This yarn tells a story, the story of my struggle for perfection. The yarn that came before was terrible, and the one that came after is almost too good (more on that later), but this one is my own adventure, twisted up into a skein.

I think that is pretty cool.