To my great satisfaction, I finished all the items as wished and got to send them off in time. They were well received.
A hat, made from handspun:
A scarf, with handspun and commercial yarn:
A handspun cowl:
That was so much fun.
I got beautiful yarn from the variegated merino:
I think the last photo looks as if it had been photoshopped to play a supporting role in “The Artist“, but it is nothing elso than the yarn in all its glory (and a colour photo of grey yarn 🙂 )
Given the yardage and the number of colour skeins, I decided to go for a tartan design. Now, I think tartan is one of those beauties which look often quite simple, but contain a number of well thought principles to get a pleasant overall effect.
I looked up some pages of tartan designs. I decided early on to put an off-centre grid in a big grey square, and the pink yarn gave the most contrast, plus it was the yarn I had the least yardage off, so it only could be used as an accent. I then thought that I wanted another rather large stripe to counterbalance all the grey, so the blue and violet had to be combined to get enough width, hugged by the two different oranges.
The resulting fabric was quite open, perfect for felting. I love the result and will use the fabric in combination with an old skirt I don’t wear any longer to sew a tunic.
The North Ronaldsay is plied and skeined; I’ll do one big soak session when I’ll have some more yarn ready. I subscribed to three clubs this year: two fibre clubs, one from Spunky Eclectic and one from FatCatKnits, and the Spunky Weaving Club. While waiting for the january arrivals, I’ll spin the november Mixed Blessings club: variegated grey merino, 5 oz undyed and 5 oz in beautiful bright colours of pink, violet, blue and orange.
There is a strange story connected to this fibre. The day it arrived in the mailbox, my son had a rather bizarre experience with one of his friends. This friend said some very unexpected things. It all worked out well in the end; I discussed with his parents and it was more a case of copying stupidly some mean children rather than being mean himself. It made me nevertheless live some tense moments; so when the package arrived, I just took the fibre, tore it apart and started spinning a big, fat, unorganized single while muttering about incomprehension and strange things. The yarn then got rudely n-plied and skeined away to be used or not. That was therapeutic spinning! The merino’s softness comforted me a lot, and the bright colours eased the dark thoughts.
Luckily this episode did not claim the whole 10 oz, so I can happily work on the rest now. I pulled the different colours apart and will spin them separately. I started with the pink one (that’s what I got the least of). I wanted to try a real 3-ply; so I span the whole fibre, weighed it, and (tried) to get three equal centre pull balls. Somewhere on the road my digital balance lost its balance, and there was quite a lot left over of one ball. So the pink is 3-ply and n-ply…
Will turn to the predrafted blue now!
Early this morning I could not find any more sleep, so I got up and n-plied yesterday’s single. My Joy spinning wheel has a built in Lazy Kate, which I used for my bobbin. Not a good idea with this yarn. As the single is fed at an angle, there is much abrasion and difficulty to get it from the bobbin. This puts much strain on the fibre, and the first meters, where I still had spun at ratio 8, did not survive this treatment and were torn apart systematically. I finished by putting them aside.
The resulting 3-ply is a little bit overspun, but this will be set after a good bath, I think. The yarn is not extremely soft, but it passed the neck-test nevertheless.
Then I started to spin the second batch. After drafting, I began at ratio 11, but the single had difficulties to take the fibre in; I had to help a lot. As I had heard of wool having a “sense”, as there are scales, and they open in one direction and close in the other, I finished by spinning from the other end. And, indeed, in went more smoothly.
Family life resumes now, as I have to pick up my daughter from her flute lesson.
I’d like to spin the fibre of a lot of different sheep breeds. There is a whole vocabulary of specifications to take account of and to get some sense from: staple length, crimp, micron count, guard hair, down hair, andsoonandwhatnotelse.
As in the beginning, I still like to not let too much theory influence my way of spinning, so I just get the wheel out, try to remember what worked and what went terribly wrong the previous times and start. There is a certain pertinence in making errors and then finding a way to avoid them. When there is such a wide field of possibilities, too much choice can kill the choice…
Today’s fibre is North Ronaldsay. I purchased it from Spunky Eclectic, a source for a variety of fibres. Additionally, I re-subscribed to her fibre club after a hiatus of about two years. I like the broad panel of wool I discovered this way. South African Fine is one of those happing findings.
When opening the ball of North Ronaldsay roving, the fibre seemed somehow flat, without bounce. I got 2 oz and began spinning right away.
To start, I predrafted to become acquainted with my new precious. Then I set my wheel on ratio 8, but very soon changed to ratio 11. Woolen spun, drafted occasionally when the fibre did not take enough in by itself.
One oz spun up:
It is amazing how much space this woolen spun roving takes up. With 1 oz my bobbin is 2/3 full, as for top prepared fibres this nearly equals the volume for 2 oz. The fibre, a natural colour, is slightly crimp, rather soft. Even the long guard hairs do not feel harsh.
The singles will be n-plied, I’d like to make some fingerless mittens from them.
I finished the handspun cardigan:
It is the first time I used techniques that I learned when taking the “Perfect Sweater” class with Ysolda this summer. It got me a garment that is well fitting in the back, around the shoulders and has the perfect length. So much joy!
When discussing with Ysolda, I told her about my problems with armscythes that are too narrow and what I did until now to prevent this. Well, it seems that lengthening the armhole is not necesserily a good idea; I should rather widen the underarm. Furthermore she told me it could be helpful for me to chose my garment in function of the shoulder measurements, as I have rather broad ones. She said that a good fit at the shoulders really made a sweater keep in shape. That had me thinking about the shoulder type I prefer. And I realised, that raglan shoulders are perfect for me, and that i really don’t like round yokes.
This is Bibi, a very nice design I knit with Noro Matsuri. My shoulders are angular, and a rond yoke makes them poke out, which is not very flattering. Additionally, this results in sleeves which are distorted, again an effect I’m not very keen of.
This, on the other hand, shows those shoulders very nicely off:
There will be much more raglan in the future!
Moving was a very interesting experience. When our friends came over to help us and we started to fill the boxes (after the almost 70 boxes I already had packed, mainly with books), I had a weak moment and apologized once and for all for the state of our appartement. I really got to wonder why there were so much things. It took two days to move all the big affairs, and I spent two days cleaning, sorting out the last small bumps of our former live. There was a moment where I sincerely thought that it would never end. I sat on the floor in our former living room, several stacks of things nicely aligned (I could not get around to believe that those things could depress me so much), and felt like those women who get the impression that they will be pregnant forever, that the baby will never come out. I felt eternely pregnant with my past hording.
For the time being, we live with my parents-in-law, waiting for an appartment for them to be arranged, so that we can take their house full of stairs, hard on ageing knees. We chose this option, as it implies changing schools, and my daughter is in “college” now, so I wanted her to already be with those she will be frequenting later.
That means that we compressed our appartment into two rooms and a cellar. That did not lessen the crowded effect, as you can imagine. Some moments are rather difficult… One has to focus on the future in that case!
I have some things to keep me sane:
A new club from FatCatKnits, Mixed Fibre Blessings:
Once spun, it became this beauty:
For skeins 2-ply, one with both plies from the blue roving, two skeins with one ply from the green and one from the blue roving, and one skein with two green plies. One of these plies was finished with a bit of dark teal merino roving, as I wanted to finish the other bobbin completely.
I started to knit at once:
With all the packing that is going on, I achieved to finish spinning some yarn that I started while looking for new fibres to work with.
Merino was my go-to fibre in my debut times, but in recent days, I surprised myself by finding it annoying to spin with this easy fibre. There is no resistance when you draft it while spinning, a fact that made me un-appreciate silk after loving it for the fine singles I was able to work from it.
So I purchased a variety of sheep hair to get to know other qualities. Part of it was some Spunky Eclectic Targhee in the Tie Dye colourway. It’s a rather long fibre, which opposes a little more character while being drafted. To this I added Spunky Club from March 2011, Organic Merino in Little Periwinkle and a simple all black merino. The club fibre was purchased at a destash on Ravelry, at the moment I’m just member of the weaving club.
The yarn reminds me of church windows, so I called it “Vitrail”, which is french for “stained glass window”. Even my husband thought of it, too, when he saw it for the first time.
I count the tours I wind on the Niddy Noddy and then mark it on a plastic crochet ring, attaching the latter to the skein. After the bath I check the skein’s perimetre and calculate the yardage. I’ve got three skeins with roughly 600m of yarn. It’ll have to wait until autumn before being used, I think.
My most important WIP: boxes. (I’m at number 39 with boxes marked “books”. And it’s not finished yet 🙂 )
This will be a rather large scarf with all handspun yarn:
All the fibre comes from Spunky Eclectic again. It’s South African Fine in “Carribbean” and “Tahiti”, and Cultivated Silk Brick in “Neon Rainbow”.
The pattern I’ll use is the one from the april Weaving Club. The yarn which came with it wanted to be a sweater, so I ordered more of it. A beautiful, beautiful semi-solid teal. Nomnomnom!
… there has been mainly gift and accessories knitting.
At KnitNation, I had purchased some mulberry silk from Juno Fibre Arts:
I managed to spin it very, very fine and got about 270m of 2-ply from just 50g of fibre.
I designed a simple triangular shawl for my mother with it:
There is no evidence of the finished piece, as I forgot to take a picture…
Furthermore, I span the “Selfish” colourway from a Spunky Fibre Club installement. It will be used for a shawl for my MIL.
The biggest (and cutest) project went to friends, who welcomed a baby girl at the end of decembre. I discovered Woolly Thoughts and their mathematical knitting some time ago, and fell for this wonderful baby blanket (the border is plum, not black):
It was very well received 🙂
A hat was born as well:
When blocking it, I discovered that my head has the same size as our salad bowl 😉
There was a break from my knitting from stash, as Christmas brought some yarn and fibre enhancement. Showing off will have to wait for the next blog post 😉