Saturday, April 28, 2007

Good Advice

Y’all don’t need to worry, I’m not being too hard on myself. Some of my teeny skeins just made me laugh with their assertive beginner-ness. Which is what I am, a beginner. But I want to improve, which is why I’ve been sampling, and trying different things, and sort of throwing some stuff on the bobbin just to see what will happen, and then looking at the results with a critical eye.

I got some great advice in the comments from Julie, also a spinner, who said
“I have to say, no matter how crummy my beginner yarn looked it seemed to go away when I knit with it for the most part.”

Last night, I started to swatch my teeny skeins, and then I couldn’t stop! Julie is absolutely right! How many times have we seen a yarn in a shop, in the skein, and been amazed at how it knit up? Well, it’s even more true for handspun. The crazy tight twisties just sort of blended in and would be good for something very dense and (thanks again Julie) that you don’t want to stretch. The way loose, barely holding together 2-ply of alpaca and Falkland knit into this soft fluffy textured fabric. Everybody just evened out and started to behave.

Never judge a book by its cover. Never judge a yarn in the skein.

All the photos are clickable and there are notes on the Flickr images about each yarn.

Ginormous Swatch
Ginormous Swatch

Swatch Right:
Ginormous Swatch - right
Left to Right: ISeeSpots Jacob/mohair, 3-ply, lt worsted; Kid Hollow BFL/mohair, 3-ply, lt worsted; Misty Mountain dyed Finn, 3-ply, worsted; Holly Spring Australian Top, 3-ply, worsted; Purple and Blue dyed roving, maybe corriedale, 3-ply, purple is DK, Blue is Aran wt; Wooly Wonka BFL, 3-ply, DK/lt worsted

Swatch Middle:
Ugly B4
Before, One ply each of Rivanna Alpacas superfine alpaca, and Misty Mountain Falkland, chunky/bulky wt. Ugg-lee.

Ginormous Swatch - middle
After, hmm, not bad.

Swatch Left:
Ginormous Swatch - left
Again Left to Right: Willow Wool Top, 3-ply, DK/lt worsted wt; Holly Spring Australian Top, 3-ply worsted wt & 2-ply bulky wt

Here are my observations on some of the fibers, and this will be very interesting, well for me at least :), to look back on with some spinning experience under my belt to see how my favorites may change.

Jacob/mohair 50/50 blend from ISeeSpots Farm: Very soft, easy to spin, knit up nicely, a fair amount of halo, would make a nice warm sweater or mittens. I really like the feel of this blend.

Kid Hollow Farm, BFL/mohair: Hand-dyed, multiple colors randomly carded together. I love this roving! I would not try to spin it fine and ply it again, but I am very happy with the DK/lt worsted skein of singles. Wonderful deep colors, little slubs, lots of sheen, and a little halo. This will probably become a scarf for me, but would make a lovely garment.

Misty Mountain Farm, hand-dyed Finn, sky blue: Very soft, easy to spin. I’ve spun bits of this on the drop spindle as a 2-ply laceweight, on the wheel as 2-ply and 3-ply. Though the subtle variations in color are enhanced by chain plying, I like the 2-ply better and have enough of this fiber to spin up as a fine 2-ply for another lacy scarf.

Holly Spring Homespun, hand-dyed Australian Top: This was the fiber I bought when I had my drop spindle lesson, and is the first fiber I ever spun with. It is easy to spin at a wide variety of weights from fingering to bulky. The fiber is fairly soft, knits well and blocks well (my lacy scarf was made of this.) Some of the colors in these sections are regrettable, but, here’s the thing.

Sidebar: Now I have to ‘fess up. The color combination in this roving just, well it isn’t to my taste, what I mean is, yuck. Purple, pink, turquoise, salmon, and where they meet, ummm. (Yes, I know, so why did I buy it? There wasn’t much choice in the shop that day, which isn’t usually the case, so no fault to them, but I wasn’t going home from my lesson without fiber, dammit!!) So, I kept practicing on the drop spindle and getting the orange next to the turquoise, and thinking HoJo. And, it wasn’t a good thing.

When I decided to make the Wisteria Scarf, I pulled all the purple/pink/green sections out of the roving (leaving behind the icky, icky orange-ish bits), spun them up and there she is. After I got the wheel, I looked in the bag and thought, hmm the salmon-y/dreamsicle-y, chocolate-y, maroon-y colors don’t look so bad if I get the rest of the green-ish out. So, that's where the lovely orange mousse with chocolate sauce yarn came from yesterday.

And we’re back.
Purple and Blue dyed roving, maybe Romney or Corriedale, from Stony Mountain Fibers: I find this wool really hard to spin without overtwisting no matter how slow I try to go. I’ll have to keep working on this one. 'Cause I have 8oz of the blue left.

Wooly Wonka Fibers, Blue Faced Leicester, Pussy Willows: Very nice. The colors are subtle, the fiber is soft and easy to spin. I want to make some mitts for the husband with this, have about 3 ¾ oz left, and aim to spin a fingering or sport weight 2-ply. I’ve spun and swatched a 3-ply, and think the 2-ply will be a bit more comfortable.

We’re nearly done.

Rivanna River Farm, superfine alpaca roving, from Snowmass Snow Angel: Wow! OK, first, when there is a picture of the alpaca whose fiber you are spinning on the label, that’s cool. Second, this fiber practically spins itself. Who says soft slippery fibers are hard for newbies to spin? I’m going to have to get some more of this from DeeDee! I decided to try plying this with…

Misty Mountain Farm, undyed Falkland roving: Very soft, very easy to spin. Only sampled a little bit to ply with the alpaca, and will definitely want to spin more Falkland.

Mystery roving from a back corner of the shop: The little tag on the bag says Willow Wool. It seems to be combed top. It’s hand-dyed in deep reds, pinks, and a touch of pale blue. It is quite soft, very easy to spin very fine, and knit up it is wonderful. Even an overtwisted 3-ply is still soft when knit. Definitely need to find out from Mimi what this is, and where to get more!

Thanks for sticking with me. I hope it has been helpful for any spinning wannabe's. Any experienced spinners, please feel free to set me straight if I need it, that's why I'm putting this out there.

Saturday Sky: On the Ferry

On the ferry from Nevis to St Kitts
On the Ferry from Nevis to St Kitts, West Indies

Our sky here in Virginia has gone from blue back to gray. So, here's blue sky from the Caribbean.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Where’s Clint?

Or, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I’ve developed quite a collection of teeny tiny skeins playing with my new wheel. Since I had NEVER spun on a wheel before, I am learning to spin too, while getting to know Victoria’s capabilities and quirks. Most of the fiber I bought at Sedalia was only in two to three ounce amounts. I’ve been sampling tiny little bits to get a bunch of practice, but hopefully have some useable bits of fiber left for small projects like wristies, mitts and such. Mary suggested a Noro Transitions-ish skein of changing fibers in a continuous skein, and I admit I’m intrigued by that idea for some of the wools.

I could show you only my successes so far, but what fun would that be? Mistakes are lessons in this case. And since, apparently, I have no shame anymore when it comes to yarn, and by request (Mary!), all photos are clickable for a larger view, here are:

The Ugly:
spin 070426 ugly-1a

Oh, you’re a beginner, they’re not that ugly. No? Look closer.

spin 070426 ugly-2a
Ow, my eyes

Yes, the tags, the overtwist, the undertwist, the massive tangle plying technique, the giant clumps. Now you see why I started with small quantities. But wait.

The Bad:
spin 070426 bad-1a
Sometimes the treadling can get away from you, just a bit

Fortunately I taught myself chain-plying (or Navajo plying). Yeah, I know this is not Bad, I’m pretty impressed myself. But, you just don’t have to treadle so fast ALL THE TIME. This is some seriously overtwisted, overplied yarn.

Purple is Corriedale, Green is BFL/mohair, Blue is Corriedale again, Plum is mystery top, Sky Blue is Finn.

The Better:
spin 070426 better-1a
Aaaahhhh, relax

spin 070426 better-2a
Top and bottom are chain 3-ply, middle is 2-ply

Gray is Jacob/mohair sportweight, 3-ply, love this fuzzy soft yarn. Plum is mystery wool top fingering weight finally in a 2-ply that doesn't look like poop, I've got enough fiber for a small shoulder shawl. Sky Blue is Finn sportweight, 3-ply, really soft.

and The Good:
spin 070426 good-4a
This might not count since it was done on the spindle rather than the new wheel

Mystery wool roving, spun on Yost 3/4oz spindle, single, 30wpi (laceweight), 26yds.

spin 070426 good-1a
Orange and chocolate

Holly Spring Australian Wool Top, spun on Victoria, single, 11wpi (light worsted), 105yds.

spin 070426 good-3a
My Friday Yarn Pron for this week

Now this is some yarn that doesn’t embarrass me!
spin 070426 good-2a

Kid Hollow Farm, BFL/mohair blend, spun on Victoria, single , 12wpi (DK), 136yds.

Oh. My. So soft.

I think the next thing might be to spin up the 4oz of hand-dyed BFL from Wooly Wonka (but back on her etsy shop) in Pussy Willows. I’m thinking some fingerless mitts for the husband for his chilly new radio room.

Eye Candy Friday: Wee Sock

Tofutsie Sample Sock
A wee sample sock for the shop

SWTC Tofutsies
Color #723 50% wool, 25% Soysilk, 22.5% cotton, 2.5% Chitin

The Tofutsies feels quite soft and nice to knit. I used US0/2mm Sox Stix. Many knitters report having to go down at least a needle size to get a gauge they like. I stuck with my usual 2mm and he fabric was fine - not too dense, not too loose, a little cushy, and like it would make a nice summer sock. Some knitters have also complained that the yarn is splitty. Maybe it was the fairly blunt Sox Stix (OK, well as blunt as a US0 can be) but I had no trouble with splitting at all.

Mimi is planning to order some Tofutsies for the Shop, so come and get it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

You Spin Me Right Round

I got lots of fiber at Sedalia. Now, what else do I need? No, already got drop spindles and a tired arm.

Louet Victoria Spinning Wheel
My very first spinning wheel!

Meet Victoria. She’s a Louet folding wheel in Beech, double-treadle, scotch-tension, 6:1 to 12:1 ratios, and light as a feather.

Victoria closeup
A look under the hood

Went up to Stony Mountain Fibers yesterday afternoon. I had been looking online at folding wheels, and talked briefly with Barbara Gentry at Sedalia. I knew I was interested in a folding or traveling wheel. I was leaning toward double-treadle. And I had been looking online at the Kromski Sonata, Lendrum, and Ashford Joy, as well as the Victoria. While there I got to test drive all but the Lendrum, which Barbara doesn’t carry, and several models other than the folding wheels, including an Ashford Kiwi, Majacraft Little Gem, Louet S10DT, and Fricke S-160.

Considering I had never even tried spinning on a wheel before yesterday, I think I got a pretty good introduction. The shop was quiet, and Barbara patiently got me set up on each wheel and let me spin a while.

The final decision came down to the Sonata and Victoria, and small size and simpler style won the day. She really is tiny, 24” high and about 6 pounds, but feels quite steady while treadling.

Victoria glamour shot

I’ve got lots to learn!

Saturday Sky: Spring, April 21, 2007

saturday 070421
Those tiny tree leaves

Friday, April 20, 2007

Giant, All-purpose, Eye Candy, Walk with Me, Yarn Pron, UFO, Spinning, Cute Overload, Green Sock Extravaganza!

Catching Up on Some Things

Stratton splint-3

First, a huge Thank You! to all who sent healing thoughts for our kitty Stratton. After giving us quite a scare, he is doing amazingly well. Cats seem to have a super immune system and ability to heal. Be glad I am sparing you the details of just how infected his foot and leg were. I will say that I have seen more cat pus and stuff that is supposed to be covered with fur than I really needed to. This morning I found Stratton on one side of the room, and his bandage on the other. He has become so adept at removing his own bandages that, today, after his second vet visit in as many days, we may get to go bandage free. Still waiting to see how much granulating and epithelializing occurs, or if skin grafts are in his near future.
Stratton splint-4
I’m going to suggest we not tell the Husband I posted this one.

A WIP you didn’t even know about:
FO!! Mimi asked me to knit a sample of the recent Knitters Review One-Skein Scarf for the shop, and it had to be done in time for her to take to Stitches Camp. Hurry! Gloomy day photos will have to do since the sun is out today, but the shawl left for Asheville yesterday.
One skein Shawl

One skein ArtYarns Silk Rhapsody, 100g-260yds, in a palest blue/silver colorway. I used all but about 10yds. Knit on US11’s rather than US13’s with three extra increase rows and one extra eyelet edging row. Finished size after blocking 72” x 32”.
One Skein Shawl - closeup

This yarn is like knitting with kittens. It’s very soft with one ply of silk and a smaller ply of kid mohair. The halo isn’t very pronounced while knitting, but it has fuzzed up a little with blocking.

Sedalia Fiber Festival:
If this small fiber festival ever gets a break from the weather gods, I think it will really do well. The scenery, even in the mist, wind and rain is gorgeous. Some great local and regional vendors were there. Plus, fiber-bloggers, live music and some yummy food made for a nice festival.
Sedalia2007 Mary
Blogger Mary in action, spinner extraordinaire Karen, stash builder Krista

Krista and I headed out early-ish (my bad for making us late), and even with getting turned around several times it only took about an hour and forty minutes to get there. There were alpacas, llamas, sheep, and teeny lambs. I was focusing on my new stash collecting category – spinning fiber. There was a lot of fiber in various forms, wonderful yarn, all sorts of hand-spun, hand-dyed, and hand-made goodies. I wanted to try small quantities of lots of different wools and blends to start getting a feel for what I want to spin, and how to spin it.
Sedalia2007 Fiber
Please click on the photo for the Flickr image with notes on each fiber

A beautiful, signed lightweight drop spindle for laceweight and silk.
Sedalia2007 Spindle
Signed Janet Yost, Wooden Ewe drop spindle, ¾ oz

Sedalia2007 Fiber Silk
Just Our Yarn hand-dyed silk.
Yes, it really is that bright and shiny!

Sedalia2007 Fiber Kid Hollow
Gorgeous, soft, Kid Hollow Farm blend of local mohair/border leicester
The photo really cannot do justice to the deep, rich colors.

And I leave you with a must-have fiber item.
Sedalia2007 angora bikini
Yes, we all really do need an angora bikini.

Got Yarn?
On the way home, we stopped in Bedford to thaw ourselves out at Yarn Theory, a very nice small yarn shop. Great sock yarn, some nice Claudia’s, laceweight. Did I mention sock yarn. Because, I’m not sure I have enough sock yarn.
Gems Pearl caribou-aqua-charcoal
Gems Pearl in Caribou, Aqua, Charcoal
No excuse not to knit those Nancy Bush patterns now!

UFO Challenge:
Last week, I undid the ends, attached my top-down cropped cardi knit of Noro Sakura to the ball winder, and returned it to stash. Plans are to eventually knit either Argosy or Y2Knit’s Feathers wrap. Eventually.

Picked up the forlorn second Amble Sock and decided to finish it and ignore the gauge issues.
Amble Sock Two
I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.

April Green Sock:
STILL knitting the first Madtini in LL Forest.

Yarn Pron:
Did I mention The Needle Lady received twenty-three (23) bags of Koigu the other day? Fifteen variegated and eight solids. MMMMmmmmm. And since I need more sock yarn like a hole in the head, I brought some home.
koigu blue-blue multi

Eye Candy Friday:
So, since the sun finally came out, and temps are at least up in the sixties today, I took Crazy Dog for a walk. We checked on the lilacs,
ecf 070420-1 lilac
They smell so good!

The wild deciduous azalea is juuust starting to bloom,
ecf 070420-2 azalea

Tracy enjoyed her walk very much! And thanks you for your patience.
Crazy Dog on a walk
Crazy old dog

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Back to Posting in a day or so

We took a trip to the emergency vet last night, and Stratton remains in the hospital with a severe infection that had apparently been progressing for several days under the splint. We'll know more this afternoon, but it's pretty bad. I'll post about our trip to the fiber festival in a day or so. But in the meantime, thanks to Krista for being such a fun travelling companion!

Stratton in the Kitty Pi
Stratton in the Kitty Pi

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Saturday Sky: Heron Haven

Heron Haven 070305
Sunset, Mathews County, VA
Not today's sky, but we had rain all day.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thank You!

I have not quite hit the three month mark with this blog and have been surprised at how quickly readers have found me, found something here of interest, and started leaving me some very nice comments. Being new to all this, I have not always been sure how to reply to comments or find a way to contact a commenter.

So, First, I want to say Welcome to my blog! Thank You for reading and commenting! Please feel free to ask questions and email me if you wish. I hope to inspire and encourage as I have found inspiration in other blogs.

Second, I added an email contact on my Blogger profile so when I comment to someone they don't just get that useless [] thing and if they click through to my profile they can reach me.

Third, this morning I installed Haloscan. So, I hope this doesn't completely goof up the comments, and if anyone has any hints I should know about, please do let me know. But I'm hoping that will allow me to better manage comments from here on out.

Happy Knitting and Spinning! I'll leave you with some yarn.
Yarn Yard Club April 2007
The Yarn Yard Yarn Club for April 2007

Eye Candy Friday: Lilac Blossoms at last!

Lilac Blossoms 070413
Last week snow, this week Spring

And since some of you miss the crazy dog, here she is caught in the act.
Tracy with milkbone
Click if you can't see the Milkbone

Tomorrow is the Sedalia Spring Fiber Festival. We're expecting a monsoon, but going anyway and looking forward to meeting some Richmond knitbloggers!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Pleased and Proud

Wisteria Scarf
Wisteria Scarf Done
I have completed my first knitting project using my own handspun yarn! My goal for this project was to spin enough 2-ply fingering weight yarn on the drop spindle to knit a lacy scarf, and I did. Which, considering I only learned to spin about a month ago, is very pleasing to me.

You’ve seen some of the spinning progress here, and the homemade lazy kate worked great.
homemade lazy kate
What it lacked in elegance, it made up for in function

There were only a few tangles and they were pretty minor. I had read about adding a CD to the underside of the spindle to add capacity for plying, and it did help. I was able to ply it all in one go with no trouble except a very tired arm. The yarn had a nice soak to set the twist, and in the morning, it’s siren call was too hard to resist.
wisteria skein

I knew I only had about 210 yds of fingering weight, and wanted to make a teeny shawl like my Swallowtail (which has been just the perfect size for a little warmth on my neck and shoulders).
Fingering Weight

I fiddled with a little chart to work out groups of eyelets flowing into an edging like Evelyn Clark’s Flower Basket or Shetland Triangle Shawls.
Wisteria chart

It knit up very quickly and was pinned out Sunday afternoon.
Wisteria Blocking-2

Wisteria Blocking-1

I used all the yarn.
Wisteria leftovers

Very Pleased.
spin 070407-6

Very Proud.
spin 070407-1

Additional project details here.