Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spinning again...

Since a few question arisen after my last post on spinning I thought I tell a bit more on that.
Though I knitted in most of my life, my interest in spinning only came in the last few years. Forever so long I did my best to repress the urge (who needs an other time, money and space consuming hobby??? Right?) But about a year or so ago I gave in and got a starter package. My first attempt were disastrous, the spindle was threwn into a corner more than a few times, but I kept on doing it. The first few weeks I did what many suggest, 10 minutes a day, every day. Te movement is really addictive, so many times I didn't stop at ten minutes and over the months my yarn became better, and it also became thinner. About this time I learned from my father that my grandmother was not only a knitter but she also spun, in fact she kept angora bunnies and spun their hair.
Anyway where I am now with spinning? I grew a nice collection of spindles, and fibers.
The last time I thought knitting the shetland triangle would be fun. Then me and my matchy, matchy naure got the better of me, and thought, what would be even more fun, knitting the shetland triangle from shetland wool... Naturally. Since I already had my eye on this the decision was made in about two minutes, the package came in about two weeks, and I started to spin the day it arrived.

And kept on spinning. The spindle has a story, I loved the look of it and the bigger than average whorl, but when the package finally arried it was broken, and it was clearly because of insufficent packaging. The seller promised me an other one right away, but it took more than two months for the replacement to get here. To top it all as pretty it is, I don't like the "handle" of it all that much. That might not be the fault of the spindle though...Maybe it was to big, to heavy for this project. Or maybe it is just this spindle and I are not suited to each other. Things like that happens. But I kept on spinning:

I halved the colored roving so the two half had the same color sections. For plying without a lazy Kate I did what Alice suggest in her blog. When I was done with one half I rolled it on a toilet paper roll. There was one moment when the spindle kept dropping, the spinned yarn falling apart. then I rolled what was on teh spindle and started again. I didn't had the same problem with teh second half---go figure.

When all the fiber was spun I took one from each half, and doubled them up. Alice suggest to make a centerpull ball, but that kept get stuck inside, so once again I used an other roll. First tought I am clever enough and can ply from the two balls. NOT worth it. The kinky yarn kept messing up. Much faster o do it before hand.Not to mention that at this point I could already see how I managed keeping the colors toogether.

I plied from there with my lovely star shaped spindle I bought from this etsy seller. I love it is big enough so I can ply the 100 gramms or so without having to break the yarn.

My dream of having a skeiner didn't realized yet, so I am using the legs of a stool to wind my yarns. Here you can see how much I could keep the colors toogether. I am not a machine, in fact even for a spinner I am pretty inexperenced, so even though the colors were the same in the fibers, there were places when two colors are spiralling into each other, but that also gives nice transitions between the colors.

And here is the final skein, before whacking it:

100 grams of shetland wool, about 700 meters of two ply.

As for answering some questions...
What fibers I like to spin with? Up to now my favourites to spin are the ones mixed with silk, Merino/silk, BFL/silk is my favourites. I have spin pure merino, and pure BFL, I didn't think spinning BFL was that much easier... No, it definetly didn't spin itself. This shetland is a bit to "rough" to my taste. Currently I am spinning some plain cream colored alpacca, and though it is silky, it is... just a bit too much to handle. Back in the beginning I had the luck to try a tiny bit of quivit, which wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Now I have some yak and silk, and camel and silk coming in the mail, I can't wait to try them.
Is spinning hard? To tell you the truth I don't know... Maybe it is in my genes, with a little practice it came pretty naturally to me. I don't think it is harder than knitting for that matter. It does need practice, and I found the ten minutes a day practice does have good effect.
Why do you spin with spindles rather than a spinning wheel? Though I did acquired two old spinning wheel (one of them is in working condition), I still prefer the spindle. I like the fact that I can just stuff it in my bag (or pocket) and the controll it gives me... or maybe I just didn't had enough practice with the wheels.
Do you use really need different spindles for different jobs? I've red at Abby's blog that it is not necessary, Andean spinners can spin almost anything with their spindle, I found it IS easier to spin fine yarns with a lighter spindle, medium yarns with medium wight spindles. And I found the big star shaped plying spindle most helpful.
Do you do your plying with a spindle too? Yes. Though I did plied some thing single on my wheel, but that was a commercial yarn. Plying with the wheel is definetly faster, but my wheel is old, the flyer is not smooth enough.
Is spinning your yarn cheaper than buying it? NO. Good fiber cost just as much as good yarn. Add to it the time one spends with it... NO I don't do it because it is cheaper or faster. (But after knitting it is nothing new).
Why do you spin then? Because knitting is not weird enough. (That is my standard answer). Seriously? I think it is in my blod. It fascinates me to no end to do something from scratch (that is why I bake bread too). Because when I spin something, even if I knit a pattern hundreds or thousands knit before I will have a totally unique result.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


to tell you all that this project:

has met it's ultimate fate:

the yarn is was too thin and I kept messing up the pattern, but that is more my fault than the pattern's which IS lovely and I WILL knit it sometimes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The attack of UFOs

I give up... I had all kinds of fun posts planned, but then my son got sick... then I caught from him. Or not, this might be my very own infection, nobody else to blame, only myself not getting rid of it fully the last time... Once again breathing is close to inpossible, not through my mouth nor through my nose... So when I was pottering around something to knit while watching some Dr Who with my sonI found all kinds of projects in progress. I always knew I am not for the simplicity, and I do not think less is more. To qoute Cassandra Danz for me "more is more".

So here is a kind of status report of what I have on the needles and spindles.

A semi-secret project, knitted for someone else almost ready. There is no agreement on who should blog about it first.

The Venezia sweater knitted from the Scottish wool. The body is don, and one sleeve needs one more repeat and cast off for the sleeve cap. Then an other sleeve and steeking, which at the moment seems very frightening.

Finally finished spiining the extra roving of the turqoise merino silk, and now I have enough for a good sized shawl.

The day the spring/summer issue of knitty came out I ordered some pure silk yarn for the summit wrap, which arrived last weekend. Really fun pattern, I always knew how to knit backwards, but this gives me the perfect time to practice my skills. Knowing how to knit english style is also handy for knitting backwards as well as for knitting fair isle.

New spinning, 100 gramms of this shetland. I hope I can spin enough for a shetland triangle.

As I advancing on the fair isle, I am dreaming of drawing/designing my own. The yarn just arrived from Scotland will be perfect for the idea I have:

With spring in the air I get the hankering of knitting some lace:

Who know why is that it is spring and summer when I feel like knitting lace? As soon as fall comes I abandon them. Just like this thing I dug out over the weekend with plans to finish it:

And of course the project I have in my bag, as a no brainer... It is a malabrigo lace bought before the time I realized that yarns with contrasting colors and lace doesn't really go toogether. I planned this for the travelling rose pattern, but they killed each other, so I had to go for something much sipler... Still it would go well with my red jacket, once I manage to finish it.

Is this crazy? (And I didn't counted for the numerous socks I have around... since I am not a sock knitter they don't count, right?).
What about you? Do you knit on only one thing at the time, or have many things around?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Walk on silk

A little more than a year ago a friend I never met sent me a "yarn therapy" to put balm (umm cashmeere) on my wounded, freshly single soul. In the package there was a card, one of the loveliest notes I ever received, and a ball of silk garden sock yarn, of which the card said
"You have earned the freedom to walk on silk.Whether or not you choose to knit socks out of the silk-know that you have the freedom to use the finest of fibers anyway you choose.Knit with courage and freedom. Make items that bring smile to your heart when you see them. And hopefully living life will mirror your knitting."
Ever since I keep that ball of silk garden as a treasure, thinking that it is just too pretty to knit into a pair of sock. Over the months since, I acquired more balls in different colors, thinking, now no matter what I WILL KNIT these into a pair of sock, then when it comes I think it is just too pretty... Then I remind me what Teal said in her letter, that I deserve it...So when a couple of months ago I received yet an other ball of it, I inmediately cast on... and knitted... and knitted... and knitted...

It is true. One CAN knit a pair of knee high socks from just one ball of Noro sock yarn. Ok, I have relatively small feet, but still, it is a wonder isn't it? Especially because the yarn is thicker than the usual sock things.

Knitted them toe up, my usual 2 x 2 rib, alternating two end of the ball in every third row. I rather like that they are "only" fraternal twins"...When I saw, that indeed it will be longer than regular socks, I added some increases and decreases to shape for calves.

As I said, the yarn is thicker than regular sock yarn, I used 3 mm needles, and ast on 24 stitches for short row toes (that means 48 stitches around the feet). For once I used reversed flap heels.

I was pretty close to giving it away, as my dear friend came to visit and liked it so much (even though it was still wet...BTW the yarn does softens and blooms with washing. But be careful, it can also felt).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Center pull ball

My mother thaught me if I pull the inner thread out of a skein/ball and knit with that I will not I have to keep turning the skein, and I will not have to deal with the skein rolling away. She also thaught me how to roll a skein into a ball without the "modern gadgets" of a swift and a ball winder, but she only ever done regular balls. So when I started to discover knitting on the internet I inmediatly fell in love with the ball winders, but of course they were too expensive for me. I needed the money for more important things, like yarn... which often came in skeins and I kept hankering after those center pull balls... and ball winders... until I found out how can one wind a center pull ball with only their own two hands. I was surprised to find out it is rather simple, and keep wondering why my mom, and grandma never figured this out. I actually love winding balls ever since. Just ask the girls in my knitting class ;-))) And of course this is one of the first thing I show in my class.
Start with a longer tail. All through you have to watch that this tail is still free (I sometimes tuck it into my sweater to keep it out of the way).

Then make a butterfly between your thumb and pinkie:

Keep until... you feel it is enough.. you don't have to make it too thick, just:

Then holding the butterflx with your fingers start to roll in such a way that your fingers holding the butterfly are inside the yarn you are rolling:

After a bit pull out your finger, hold this new circle at an angle to the butterfly, turning the whole thing a bit and roll an other few circle with your fingers inside:

Keep repeating until the ball is almost solid, but take care that the "ears" of the butterfly are free at the top and the bottom of the ball as well as end of the yarn.

Now you keep rolling at an ange, leaving only the tip of your fingers inside to keep the yarn loos enough. After a few rolls/circles turn it a little bit.

Roll a few rounds, turn, roll a few rounds, turn.... and on... until you have a few meters left which I wound across the ball and secure the end under.

When you start knitting pull the end you started with and the initial butterfly. The rest should flow freely afterwards.
You can also look up videos on you tube, just type in "how to wind a center pull ball"

Friday, April 2, 2010

Handspun yarn

I've bought this fiber in January.. I guess I got enchanted by its name, I wonder why :-)))
When it arrived I was kind of dissapointed becaues on Etsy it looked more reddish, and rusty, while in reality it has more pinkinsh mauvish colors, and lots of greens. I still spun it much faster than many of the fibers I have, and here it is winded on the feet of a stool (as a temporary winder, buying a switft of some kind is in my close future I think). It does show though how it would self-stripe...kind of.

And in the skein:

It is about 105 gramms, 540 meters, thicker lace/ light fingering weight BFL.

Trying to get the colors right in bright sunlight...:

I like the yarn, but I am not as happy about the colors... probably will be knitted into a present.
The yardage would be enough for a medium sized shawl... any suggestions?