It’s A Lot Like Working Magic

Bibbity

IMGP8910Bobbity

IMGP8964Boo!

IMGP8990Spunky Eclectic April 2013 Club, Seashells on Oatmeal BFL
480 yards of worsted weight, true 3-ply, fractal spun with a tiny skein of leftovers that I navajo plied (I hate waste!)
Ravelry stash page here

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This is quite possible the floofiest, squishiest, airiest yarn that I have ever spun. I was trying very hard to not overspin it and I think I did a pretty good job. On the other hand, while I was spinning it I thought I was going to get a DK weight yarn, and what came out was worsted to bulky, so fluffy – yes, DK – no. At least it is fairly consistent.

 

IMGP8985I have no idea what to make with it so into the stash it goes. I am sure inspiration will hit and this will become something awesome.

 

 

 

 

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Spinning Day Lilies

Sundays are for spinning. It is a most relaxing way to spend my Sabbath – especially when I am navajo plying.

I started spinning this gorgeous South African Fine Merino from the Spunky Eclectic Club a couple of weeks ago:

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February 2013 Club Day Lily

Because I was spinning it super thin, and because I also spent a lot of time knitting and mothering, it took me a long while to get this four ounces to look like this:

IMGP8915This is probably the thinnest that I have spun yet.

Navajo plying has got to be the most relaxing activity there is. I just love it. I love the yarn that it produces, too.

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I got about 415 yards of fingering weight yarn out of the one braid. Then I sold my other two to a fellow Raveller because, while I love this yarn, I have no idea what I would make with 12 ounces of it.

IMGP8918As it is, I have no idea what I am going to do with 4 ounces! It is very pretty and I am happy to let it ruminate in the stash for awhile. Maybe socks? Maybe a baby thing? We shall see.

As for me, I have moved on and already have a bobbin full of this months’ Spunky Fiber, a gorgeous BFL that has me completely over the moon (and not just because it is purple)!

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Spinning Rainbows

Draped over my shoulders right now is the most awesome thing that I have made yet. It is a rainbow of lace, spun, designed, and knit by me. I am so excited about this shawl!

It started out like this –

This is Renee’s 12 Color Rainbow on Mystic MCN Roving from Family Pendragon. Beautiful, yes? Yes.

And a very pleasurable spin it was! I separated out the colors and spun all of one color before moving to the next, being careful to blend the transitions evenly, for a gradient rainbow. The yarn is exquisite light fingering singles in a gorgeous riot of color. (Ravelry page here with notes on the spinning)

I agonized over what to knit with it. I really wanted a half-circle shawl that would accentuate the rainbow, but I couldn’t find just the right one. Then I remembered my handy Elizabeth Zimmerman book collection and inspiration just started coming in waves! I looked up the formula for her Pi Shawl and adjusted it to make a half-circle. It was laughably simple once I got going (seriously – so very simple!).

Once I got the shaping figured out, it was just a matter of choosing lace patterns to knit in the arches between the increase rows. Out came all of my lace stitch dictionaries (and quite a bit of Amazon dreaming, I admit! Oh, what I wouldn’t give for some Barbara Walker treasuries!) and I started knitting. The end result? Fabulous! (if I do say so myself) (Ravelry Project Page here)

I didn’t plan too much at once, just letting myself create over the course of the project. Each time I came to an increase row, I sought out the next lace insert, poring over my lace volumes anew.

The only thing that I really knew was that I wanted scalloped edges, so “Feather and Fan” was the obvious choice for the border.

The other goal was to knit a different stitch for each color. This worked out until the rows exceeded 300 stitches and the color repeats shortened to one inch, but by that time I was ready to start the scalloped edge anyway, so it worked out.

Among the many pleasing bits in this project is the lovely fact that the colors cooperated so well, leaving the dark purple for the bind off. I love the dark edge. Perfect.

Another thing that I love is the way that the various lace patterns work together in a pleasing way, even though I didn’t plan them. I was a little concerned that my haphazard method was going to produce something that looked, well, haphazard. On the contrary, I think it looks pretty good, and there are very few things that I would change (one of them being that I wish the orange section was less geometrical and looked more like leaves, as I imagined that it would). The yellow section is inspired by the Kai Mei socks, altered to make an all-over pattern, and the orange section I totally made up myself. For the other patterns I used Vogue Knitting Stitchionary vol 5 for guidance, but tweaking it to my liking along the way.

It is quite a thrill to start with a wad of wool and turn it into something so lovely, and even more thrilling to start with a plan and actually accomplish the goal almost perfectly.

And, though all the girls are vying for ownership, I think this one is for me.

Enjoying Every Inch

When I started spinning my own yarn, I discovered a whole new way to enjoy my hobby. This latest project is an excellent case in point.

I took this fiber –

spun it into this yarn –

wound it into this ball –

and then knit it into this pair of capris for The Fraggle –

Every single stitch was incredibly thrilling. I am so in love with this yarn! So, here are some more pictures!

Three things about this knit –

1. The yarn – I already gushed quite a bit, I know. So here are the details. The fiber came from Dear Husband and is a superfine merino dyed in the Norway Girl colorway. It has more brown that was intended, so I got a great deal on it. I spun it on my new wheel (my first yarn on the Elizabeth I). I learned how to chain ply on this yarn and am so thrilled with the results.

2. The pattern – I totally wing baby pants and soakers, now. If you are interested in the details, I used my Ravelry project page to remind myself what I was doing, so it is all here.

3. The plan – I made this a bit larger than I needed. My hope is that they will still fit come winter, and then I will add legs to it with snaps. (More on that in the months to come, I am sure).

I literally enjoyed every inch of this project twice – first in the spinning and then in the knitting. It was an incredibly satisfying spin/knit.

And I have three feet of yarn left over!

Obsessed? Who, Me?

Only a mere three days of spinning wheel bliss remaining before my buddy comes to take it away.

I have lots to show for its time here, though.

I turned this 80/20 superwash merino/silk (Family Pendragon April Club “Miss Giraffe”)

into this.

I turned this 75/25 BFL/silk (Mosaic Moon May club, “cerrunos”)

into this

And this Family Pendragon Mystic MCN Roving, “Inner Wild”

into this.

(It kind of feels like magic)

Then there was that other one. I won’t show you the other one. It is still too painful. I put it in hot water and forgot about it for about 12 hours. The colors bled and it slightly felted and it is horribly ugly. Add to that my inexperience and you get a really and truly ugly yarn. I hid it in the back of my yarn cabinet behind some gorgeous Malabrigo and it is going to stay there until the sting of failure has been soothed by the balm of time.

For now, I still have this yet to spin (Mosaic Moon BFL/Silk “Blue Louvre”)

And this. (corriedale roving, undyed, from Wildcard Fiber Arts)

(I know that this last one isn’t all colorful and knock-your-socks-off-gorgeous, but I am saving it for last because I really want an Estonian lace shawl out of this. It is going to be fabulous!)

But this one, this gorgeous 50/50 silk/superwash merino from Family Pendragon (May club colorway “heartwood”) is going to my beloved knitting buddy who left her spinning wheel at my house for two whole weeks in a successful attempt to spoil me beyond all reason and fan the embers of spinning curiosity into a raging blaze of passion. Hehehe.

All of this is so wonderful, but the best spinning moment so far was this one (a photo that I already shared on Facebook, I know).

My Dancing Queen is addicted, too.

I gotta get me a spinning wheel!

 

Sinking Ever Deeper

When I picked up a drop spindle for the first time, I was hooked. I thought that I could just drop spindle my way to happiness for years to come.

Then I sat down in front of a friends spinning wheel last week and I knew that it was going to drag me even deeper into this whole spinning thing.

Yesterday I spun all afternoon on an Ashford Traditional. I turned this

Mosaic Moon Fiber Club May 2012 75/25 BFL/silk in the Cerrunos colorway

into this

Interestingly enough, it didn’t feel like any of that drop spindling translated into making me a good wheel spinner. I found it very difficult to get the hang of the whole process – like I was patting my head and rubbing my tummy – and the first few yards of this skien are just horrid.

Next week, when my buddy comes over to knit, she is going to bring her wheel so that I can finish this 4 oz braid. I can’t wait. It is all that I can think about. I dreamt about it last night. I woke up this morning twitching with desire.

Yup. I got it bad.


(anybody want to send me an Ashford Elizabeth?)

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.