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Archive for the ‘Spinning’ Category

I feel like I haven’t gotten in as much knitting this year as I usually do… here are a couple things I wasn’t yet able to reveal the last time I posted, as well as several things I’ve finished since then.

Kata Asymmetrical Shawl (photos by Evelyn Lamprey for Patternworks)

This is a quick and easy pattern I designed as a free pattern download with the purchase of Queensland Collection’s Uluru Rainbow yarn, for Patternworks. The yarn is now sold out – but I’m planning to make this available as a free download on Ravelry as soon as I get a chance to reformat the pattern in my own template.

StripyMiters

Stripy Miters Baby Blanket (photo by Evelyn Lamprey for Patternworks)

This is another pattern I designed for Patternworks, featuring DMC’s Natura XL cotton yarn. I love mitered squares, and this was a really fun construction. It’s completely seamless, constructed modularly, and finished with a crocheted edging. The pattern is available as a PDF download on the Interweave site.

Hot Flash Cardigan

I think I bought the yarn for this last year, or maybe it was fall of 2015, shortly after Laura Nelkin released the pattern. I loved working with the yarn, Soie et Lin from Knit One, Crochet Too, and I’m in love with Laura’s modular “Novus” construction! I definitely want to make another sweater in this structure – whether that actually happens remains to be seen…

More mittens – Since I had yarn left over from a 2-color hat I knit a couple (a few? several?) years ago for a catalog shoot, I made a pair of matching mittens. These are essentially the same as the red/orange ones from my previous post, but in two different colors of Ty-Dy Wool by Knit One, Crochet Too.

Ghost Ranch Shawlette CAL – Yup, I crocheted something! This was a project for work. I joined in the crochet-along with the Interweave team. You can read the Interweave blog posts about it here, here and here. I really enjoyed the pattern, and it worked up super fast.

B to the Three hat – During a visit to Interweave back in May, Anne Merrow challenged me to spin more. So, shortly after returning home, I got right down to it and quickly spun up some Mad Color Fiber Arts polwarth that was hanging out in my stash. I made this super-squishy, delightfully slouchy brioche hat with a ginormous pompom, which I gifted to my BFF, Mela, during our girls’ weekend in July. (I also spun up some alpaca fiber, which became the Winternet Scarf mentioned below.)

Cat’s Mittens – While hiking Mt. Adams in August, the topic of mittens came up (since we were all wearing mittens or gloves at various times above treeline due to chilly winds). I forget the exact course of the conversation, but it ended with me offering to knit some mittens for Cat. She’s an artist, and truly appreciates handknits, so I was glad to provide her hands with some toasty warmth for this coming winter!

Hiking socks for Devon – So, I’ve knit hiking socks for Lucy, and mittens for Cat. Of course I had to knit something for Devon, who is the fourth member of our core hiking group. I took photos of several skeins, and she picked the Crocus colorway of Knit One, Crochet Too’s Crock-O-Dye. After seeing how it was knitting up, I wanted a skein for myself – and luckily we still had some left (on sale!) in the Patternworks shop. This is my Fill-In-The-Blank Socks pattern, in plain stockinette.

In the past seven months, I’ve also finished a Winternet Scarf (which I had to reverse-engineer from the designer’s photos on Ravelry, since the pattern wasn’t available), knit from handspun alpaca and gifted to my friend Cyn during our girls’ weekend in July; a brioche cowl, gifted to my friend Tina on the same trip; and a pair of plain stockinette socks in Plymouth’s Forever Heathers self-striping yarn for myself, which I just haven’t gotten around to taking a photo of yet. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the scarf and cowl before I gifted them to Cyn and Tina.

Polwarth on the left, Alpaca on the right.

Something old(ish) and something new. The Polwarth fiber was from Mad Color Fiber Arts, purchased at NH Sheep & Wool Festival in 2015 (two years old). Colorway is Berry Patch. I used the larger skein to knit the hat, and the smaller skein became the ginormous pompom of the B to the Three hat. The black/grey Alpaca fiber was purchased from the Skye View Alpaca Farm booth at NH Sheep & Wool this year. I basically returned from the festival, then spun and plied the yarn the very next day! Super-fast spin. The larger skein became the body of the Winternet scarf, and the smaller skein became the tassels on each end.

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The Targhee has dried, and I. LOVE. IT.

TargheeFinished

  • Fiber: Spunky Eclectic Targhee in the Dark Matters colorway
  • Main Skein: 147 yards (105 grams), bulky weight, very thick-n-thin, 2-plied
  • Leftovers Skein: 11.5 yards (11 grams), bulky weight, Navajo-plied
  • Further details on Ravelry.

I’ve also made a little progress with the weaving:

KittyBlanketWeavingJust a little progress! That’s somewhere between 4″-5″.

It’s threaded at a sett of 5 ends per inch, which is really too wide. I would have been happier with something close to a balanced weave, but this is extremely weft-faced. You really don’t see the warp at all. I tried sampling some different treadlings – plain weave, basket weave, twill – but you really can’t see them, so I’m sticking with plain weave for the rest. I have a lot of handspun for the weft, but I have no more of the yarn I used for the warp, so I’ll just weave until I run out of yarn (or warp length) and see what I end up with!

When I first learned to weave, I always just wrapped the yarn the long way around the center of the stick shuttle – and of course, usually ended up with a shuttle that was hard to get through the shed until enough of the yarn had been taken off the shuttle and woven in. Now, more than 25 years later, I learned the method that you can sort of see in the photo above, which I learned while previewing Liz Gipson’s Life After Warping DVD at work. You wrap in figure-8’s on one side, then wrap the center for a while, then wrap in figure-8’s on the other side. It makes for a much flatter shuttle while still holding a lot of yarn!

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The recent addition of weaving to our product lineup at work, along with last weekend’s trip to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival have renewed my enthusiasm for other fiber crafts besides knitting. Of course, there’s spinning, which is one of my more recently adopted fibery pursuits.

Last night, I plied the Spunky Eclectic Targhee I spun last weekend. Here’s a quick shot I snapped while it was still damp and hanging in the laundry room to dry:

TargheePliedIt’s highly variable in thickness throughout the hank, but I do love it. While spinning the singles, and when I first started plying it, I was having some trouble with the yarn twisting onto itself as I was feeding it into the orifice to wind onto the bobbin. I usually try to have as little tension as possible when spinning, but when I finally upped the tension while plying I realized that right there was my problem – not enough tension. So there are some extra-twisty bits in here, but I’m okay with that. Final details to come once it’s completely dry – which it probably is by now, but I was distracted by something else today:

Weaving.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but weaving was my first serious foray into fiber arts, well before I ever learned to knit. While in college majoring in graphic design, I needed to take some art/craft electives. My classmate Kristine, who was a fine arts major specializing in crafts, took a weaving class and encouraged me to register for it as well. And it stuck. I took weaving classes from my sophomore through senior years, and even during a summer session between junior and senior year.

When I decided last weekend that the unknown sample fiber that came with my spinning wheel would probably become a blanket for the kitty, it just made the most sense to weave it based on the yardage available – and it doesn’t hurt that weaving a sport-weight handspun yarn into a kitty blanket would be faster than knitting it. Plus, the added exposure to weaving products at work has made me want to weave again!

MysteryWoolThe handspun that will become a kitty blanket (just the top two skeins).

Today, I did a quick dig through my fingering-weight yarn stash, and found a blue-and-cream partial ball of sock yarn that was a left-over sample from work. After doing a little math to determine how far my handspun weft would go, I decided on a sett of 5 ends per inch and 150 warp ends for a 30″ warp width. I ran a little short with the left-over sock yarn and ended up with 131 warp ends. I discovered my more-than-20-year-old homemade raddle (a 40″-long 2×3 with finishing nails partially tapped in, spaced 1/2″ apart) had gone missing. After looking for it, I vaguely remembered that it may have broken either during our move to NH or sometime after while being stored in various places in the house during remodeling.

Raddle-less, I watched a quick video on YouTube to learn how to warp my loom front to back – I had only ever learned back to front. So the loom is now warped, and I have a header of waste yarn woven in, ready for me to begin weaving with my handspun.

LoomReadyToThreadView from the back of the loom with the reed threaded and ready to begin threading the heddles.

LoomBackWarpedLoom threaded and warp wound onto the back beam (yeah, I got some of the warp twisted when tying onto the back beam – oops).

LoomWarpedAt the front of the loom with a header of waste yarn woven in.

Loom details: It’s a Leclerc Artisat jack loom with 36″ weaving width and 4 harnesses. I bought it way back in 1991, my first big purchase that wasn’t a car. I saved up graduation/birthday/Christmas money and bought it within a year after graduating from college. I bought it used at a weaving/yarn shop in western New Jersey and I’m still amazed that Mom and I were able to fit it in a Jeep Cherokee to drive it home to my apartment. Even though I don’t weave much anymore (this will be my first weaving project in about SEVEN years!), I wouldn’t dare sell this loom – it would be too expensive to replace if I were to change my mind later. It’s been with me through three moves, from one apartment to another apartment to our first house and finally to our house in New Hampshire.

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Tornado of fiber!

Okay, so the Targhee won next up on the wheel. And a short 5 to 6 hours later, all 4 ounces have become two bobbins of singles.

TargheeSinglesFiber: Targhee combed top by Spunky Eclectic, Dark Matters colorway

Prep:

  • Undid the braid and broke it in half in the center.
  • Divided one half in half again by splitting lengthwise.
  • Spun the first half onto one bobbin. (Part-way through spinning the first quarter, the piece I was working with began dividing itself lengthwise, so I just split that part off and spun it in at the end of the first quarter.)
  • Divided the second half into thirds by splitting lengthwise.
  • Spun the second half onto the second bobbin.

This was my fastest spin ever! My goal was to just spin fast and not as thin as I usually do. I usually end up spinning so thinly that I end up with lace to fingering weight in a two-ply; with the sample fiber I finished plying last night, I set out to spin thicker and still ended up with sport weight for most of it.

The plan is to impatiently wait for these to rest, and then two-ply them for what I hope will be a skein of barber-poley goodness, hopefully worsted to aran weight. Could possibly become a hat… or maybe I’ll work it into the yoke of a colorwork sweater at some point. I so love these colors!

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Bought more fiber, that is.

Yesterday, as Katie and I made our way to the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival, I believe I said something to the effect of, “I’m not buying any fiber, since I haven’t been spinning enough.” So, of course, I bought fiber. But, in my defense, it’s fiber that’s not already represented in my stash.

NHSW2015Top: Doolally self-striping sock yarn from Mad Color Fiber Arts
Middle: Targhee fiber in Dark Matters colorway from Spunky Eclectic
Bottom: Organic Polwarth fiber in Berry Patch colorway from Mad Color Fiber Arts

LittleDFeltedBallI also picked up a felted ball cat toy for Little D. It has a bell inside, but the bell doesn’t ring right – so it sounds more like a rattle. She played with it a little after I rubbed some dried catnip on it… I think I need to put it in a baggie with some catnip for a few days to scent it a bit better.

Additional purchases were a Mother’s Day present for Mom, and a big bottle of Eucalan.

While there, we had a small meet-up of NH Knits podcast listeners, along with Sarah from the Fiber Trek podcast and Jen from the Uncreative Crafter podcast. It was great to put faces to voices and Ravelry names! Plus, several of us swapped sock yarn leftovers for our sock yarn blankets.

Now that my fiber stash has grown just a wee bit, I feel the need to do some more spinning. (Especially since the warm weather has arrived, but it’s not super-hot and humid yet.) So last night, I finally finished plying the last of the sample fiber that came with my spinning wheel, washed it and hung it to dry. It finished drying outside on the washline this morning.

MysteryWoolI don’t know what it is, as it was unlabeled. They told me when I bought the wheel, but I didn’t write it down and didn’t remember it!
Top: 459 yards (121 grams) 2-ply – about sport weight
Middle: 244 yards (67 grams) 2-ply – about sport weight
Bottom: 82 yards (40 grams) Navajo-ply – about worsted weight (just barely – it’s very dense)

I started with two bumps of fiber; one grey, one navy. I alternated the two colors as I was spinning, pulling off a 6 to 10-inch chunk of fiber and spinning it before switching to the other color. I spun onto two bobbins and two-plied; however, one of the bobbins had significantly more yardage on it, which yielded the Navajo-plied leftovers.

Now that that’s done, it’s time to start a new spinning project – and I think it will be the Targhee I just bought at the festival.

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Last weekend was the NH Sheep and Wool Festival. I went with one mission: to try out some spinning wheels and hopefully decide which one I wanted to buy. I wasn’t sure if I would actually buy one while I was there, not knowing for sure if the vendors selling them would actually have any on hand to sell. At one booth, I tried a Lendrum wheel. It was a good wheel and seemed to spin pretty easily. At another booth, I tried an Ashford wheel (the Joy model, I think, which is a compact, portable wheel). That one seemed too small; I kept hunching over. I was thrilled to see at least 5 wheels on display (and ready for trying out) at The Elegant Ewe booth. I tried a Kromski Sonata and immediately loved it. First off, it’s a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Second, although it’s a portable wheel, it’s not miniature. Still lightweight and easy to set up, take down, and carry around, though.

I immediately bought it! Fortunately, the wheel also came with samples of various types of fiber in assorted colors (4 different ones, 1 oz. each I think), along with a small niddy-noddy. That fiber assortment has come in handy for learning to use the wheel, so I don’t have to dip into my fiber stash. I’ve already finished spinning one of the balls of fiber that came with the wheel. Took me between 5-6 hours to spin the singles.

Wheel&Kitty

Here’s a glimpse of the wheel… and the Little Diva on my lap.

My friend and coworker Becky, an experienced spinner, was a big help in shopping for my new wheel and pointed out what to look for. In fact, while I was trying out the Ashford wheel, she asked me how the height of it felt – and until that point I hadn’t realized how hunched over I was!

After buying the wheel and taking it out to my car, I wasn’t as interested in shopping for fiber and yarn as I usually am. I just wanted to get home and spin! Plus, I couldn’t stay at the festival as long as I would have liked, so I wasn’t able to get around to all the booths I usually do. I did buy 4 oz. of beautiful, multicolored silk/merino roving, though!

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More spinning…

This was definitely the fastest I’ve spun fiber on a drop spindle so far. I’m not sure if it’s because of the fiber (100% alpaca), or because I was spinning slightly heavier this time (about a fingering-weight single). Or maybe I’m just getting faster with my spinning? Took me a total of 6 days, spinning between 1 to 3 hours per day (I think). I just finished the second spindleful last night, so I’ll let it rest another day or two before plying it.

Here’s how it looked at the start:

DSC_0199crop

(It’s the fiber all the way in the front there — violet and black alpaca.)

Each hank weighed two ounces. I rolled each into a ball, and without predrafting any of it, began spinning:

0407131952

Hard to see the color in this quickie cell phone pic — sometimes it looks more charcoal but in natural light you really see the violet.

Here are the finished singles:

DSC_0102_edited-1_72

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