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.