Monday, March 31, 2008

Abandonment....and some spinning

Setting knitting goals for myself worked well to get me to finish Celtic Dreams, but it is failing with the Morning Glories wrap. I am just not feeling the love at all anymore. One way I was working to make my knitting goals was to give each project its own night - so say on Tuesdays, I would always knit on Celtic Dreams after the kids went to bed. What I have found with Morning Glories is that on its designated night, I just don't knit. I'd rather NOT KNIT than knit on that right now, and it makes me feel awful - its a gorgeous pattern, kick ass yarn (if I do say so myself) and I just can't bear to even look at it anymore. So I am hereby giving myself permission to let it sit until A. The desire to work on it returns or B. I find something else to knit with the yarn, and frog it.

Despite (or perhaps because of) my ennui for the wrap, my spinning has been much more frequent. I finished the Pigeon Roof merino "Drift". My original plan was to do soft singles, but I didn't like the colors as singles. Once I realized that, I took what I'd already spun and sent it through the wheel again, adding more twist so I could change my plan to a 2ply - I like it much better this way:

I got about 350yds from 4oz - sportweight I'd guess, I never bother to measure WPI.

Next on the wheel is the last installment from Hello Yarn Fiber Club, called "Insect Wings". I've got 8oz that I've split into thirds, with a plan to make my first true 3ply (i.e not chain plied). I'm trying to keep it pretty fine so the end result isn't too bulky.

With the arrival of spring (I just looked out the window after I typed this, and its fucking snowing again!!) I'm getting strong creative urges that aren't sated by knitting and spinning, and might take out the dyepot and the drum carder soon and play with color and blending and making some batts. I'll be sure to share my results here.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Can You Do?

I'm all for charity knitting, but I tend get a little selfish with my knitting time, do don't do a lot of it. I prefer to help out with cash, as it is expedient and doesn't steal precious stitches away from me. So, when I hear that I can BUY YARN and help a charity at the time time, happy little bells ding in my head.

Local dyer extraordinaire Heather of Sereknity is dying up this gorgeous stuff in honor of an old friend who is doing wonderful work. You can read the whole story here but the nutshell is if you buy this yarn a whopping $10 from the sale goes to Can-Do: a hands on, help the people type of organization created by her old buddy.

I've seen this stuff knitted up, and its quite pretty. So, go buy yarn and make yourself feel like you're doing good in the world at the same time - a win win in my book.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Year in the Making

I am very pleased to announce that my Celtic Dreams is finished.

This has been my longest on the needles project to date, and my first aran ever. I have a ton more like this in my queue on Ravelry, but I must say, while it is not really difficult to knit per se, these suckers sure are time consuming. The yarn is Classic Elite Skye Tweed, and once washed up it is so soft and felty feeling. Its a little rough right out of the ball, but changes dramatically after a bath. Its also warm - like sweating the whole time I did my little solo photo shoot this morning, even though its cool in the house. All of the project details are in my notebook on Ravelry here. The only real mods I made were to spread the sleeve decreases out a bit further to avoid a really odd shaped arm.

The fact that I have completed this in mid-March pretty much guarantees that warm weather will rear its head here any day now, thus denying me the pleasure of wearing my hard work until the fall, so take heart fellow New Englanders, the end of winter is nigh.

Now I get to plot and plan my next sweater to hit the needles, after I get a few smaller projects out of the way. I have three options bopping around in my head, all of which will feel like instant gratifcation projects compared to this. I might let you guys choose whats next and have a little poll.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008


After all my pretty colors, I got a hankering for some naturally colored fibers. I pulled out the latest offering from WoolyWonka Fiber's Exotic Fiber Club, bison!

Staple Length? We don't need no steenkin' staple length!

I have never spun any down-type fibers before so this was a learning experience. I will share my top three tips for spinning bison/buffalo fiber with you:
  • remove all small children from the vicinity so that you can meet the next two requirements:
  • curse like a sailor throughout the whole process
  • start spinning and do not stop until the bobbin is done
I managed to eke out 120yds of 2ply from the 2 ounces I had.

It wasn't that bad to spin once I found a groove - just barely enough tension to begin to pull away, high ratio and long draw. My biggest problem was that I lost the groove every time I had to stop/start again. The finished skein runs the gamut from bulky weight to almost laceweight thanks to my lack of consistency. I did get more stable results towards the end and I always love having an excuse to blurt out obscenities in a long and constant stream, so overall I am pleased.

Next on the wheel is some merino from Pigeon Roof Studio colorway "Drift". The plan is to make softly spun singles for some future lace project.


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Fractal Results

Here's the finished skein fractal spun:

Its difficult to capture in photos but I think the end result is a different effect than if I just willy-nilly spun and plied. The way this roving was painted, one end was started off with a big lime green swath, and then alternated with the orange/yellow/pinks that are the predominant colors. The green never shows up again except in very small bursts.

So with the fractal method the whole front end of the skein has a base of green with all the other colors plied against it, then the background progresses through the long changes of the main colors.

I imagine this knitted up would provide some subtle striping, which is the goal of this technique, I think - it would help if I actually read the article - I can't believe I don't subscribe to SpinOff.

While plying this at spin night this week, I declared that I hated it now that it was plied, but it has grown on me, and I can see its prettiness now. Just not my normal colors I guess. I think I'd use this technique again, it is not really any extra work, assuming you're going to pre-draft in the first place. If I ever get around to knitting with this, I'll be sure to post about that as well.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Spinning Update

My latest to come off the wheel is "Frosted Forest" wool/soysilk from Hello Yarn Fiber Club, I believe its the December 07 installment. I went for doubles for these past few months, so I have 4oz total, about 520yds of my trademarked (not really) "fingersport" weight yarn. I'd been thinking a light and drapey scarf/shawl with this, but once I completed it, I started wondering if the fiber combo might make some silky socks? Who knows, I probably won't get around to knitting it for months, and my whims may have taken me elsewhere by then.

After finishing that, the time came to decide what to put on the wheel next. I love getting to choose new fiber, shopping the stash and having an excuse to pull out and rediscover things I haven't seen in a while. After seeing Rebekah's post about "fractal spinning" here, I thought the idea sounded really neat, so I was "shopping" for a good roving for that. I think I found it:

Spunky Eclectic BFL* colorway Pluto's Fire. I picked this up at last years SPA, deliberately departing my usual color preferences in an attempt to broaden my horizons. Here it is, ready for "fractal" method.

While I've not read the original article from Spin-Off that discusses the tecnique, Rebekah's explanation was plenty instructive. Basically, split your roving lengthwise in half. Spin one bobbin from one half, thus achieving long slow color changes along the length of the singles. For your 2nd bobbin, split the remaining half into quarters, and spin those, thus getting shorter more frequent color changes. Plied together, the idea is you have one single rapidly changing colors against the slow-change single. Like Rebekah, I'm skeptical that all this work actually makes a difference one said yarn is actually knit up, but it seems like a fun experiment. We shall see.

*BFL says the label, my hands and eyes say "No Way!" as I'm spinning it. More like corriedale, but not quite. Certainly not BFL though.