Sunday, August 30, 2009

SAM 8 - August

You know how sometimes you get a yarn and it just takes your breath away because it's so beautiful? This was one of those.

It's from Painted Yarns, in the Fall Birches colourway. It was extra special because it will never be available again -- the artist who painted it has passed away. I really did just want to put it in a bowl on the coffee table and look at it and love it forever.

That's what I should have done.

These socks have been on and off the needles for probably two years, trying out many different patterns. Nothing really brought out the true beauty of the colours. In the end, just to get them done, I resorted to my standard, old 6x2 rib.

I kind of feel like I cheated on them and didn't really give them their due, and that bothers me, but it was time to call enough and just get them finished. August socks, you're done.

In spinning news, I finished up the second installment of the Fat Cat Knits Mixed Blessings. This was a colourway called Hombre, and I loved the colours in both of the segments.

Inspired by what some of the other people had done with this, I decided to try to make a yarn that progresses from light to dark. I divided it up and put it into three piles, the first with just the lighter colour, the second with both and the third with just the darker.

I pre-drafted different lengths together through a diz in order to really blend the colours and give them a more tweedy look.

This was my first time spinning Falkland, and I loved it. Softer than BFL, with more grab than merino, it came out wonderfully fluffy. Spindle spun, wheel plied, it ended up at 296 yards, 8-9 wpi.

I'm quite pleased with the finished yarn. I think it wants to be a scarf ... or something.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sacrificial Sheep

Actually, no real sheep were sacrificed, but I did a good number of some of their wool. I dug through the stash to find something to use while playing with the new wheel. Sorry for all the pictures, but I did want to document the learning curve.

First up was some plain wool of some sort or other that was just sitting in a bag, origin lost in ancient history.

Scary, eh? Just getting used to treadling and drafting at the same time, trying out all the different whorls, etc. I think the part that got the hardest workout was the orifice hook. :-) And no, I did not bother to try to ply it.

So, time to get serious and try to make, you know, yarn or something. I dug even deeper and found something that I wouldn't mind wasting. I'm not even sure why I bought this in the first place, but it was there, so I figured I'd use it. I apologize in advance for any retinal damage this causes.

Yes, the colours really are as bad as they appear. But it served the purpose. That's four ounces of merino, in baby blue and searing orange. The bobbin on the left was first and, as you can see, I could barely fit two ounces on it. After a quick query on the Schacht list on Ravelry, and I received some wonderful advice about how to fit more on a bobbin. A few adjustments, it was winding on much tighter. It was worth trying to ply.

I couldn't figure out why my singles kept breaking, but it turns out there's a learning curve to using a lazy kate too. Don't put the tension too high or SNAP! After much cursing, I got some some crappy two ply and an attempt at chain plying. Thank you very much, virulent orange wool -- you've served your purpose and I'm glad you're out of the stash and never to be seen again.

Attempt number 3 turned out much better. Again, something that I wouldn't mind if it didn't turn out well.

The bobbins wound much better with the proper tension. However, if I had paid attention before I ripped the wool apart for a three-ply, I would have noticed that even though it is '70s wallpaper colours, the top was nicely dyed in a wonderful striping pattern and would have been perfect for a chain ply. I didn't see that until it was too late, so I stayed with the three-ply.

All four ounces plied, with room on the bobbin to spare. It's BFL in the Connor colourway from Squoosh. I didn't take a pic of the top because I didn't really think it would turn out, but the listing is here for those who like to compare the raw wool with the finished product.

It ended up at 242 yards, 11 wpi, so not too bad for a beginner yarn. It would have been better chained to keep the colours separate rather than mixed in the ply, but c'est la vie.

I still need to work on the plying part, as some of it is a bit loose. If I were going to use it for socks, I'd try running it through the wheel again, but since I don't, I won't.

Now I just have to work on getting it thin enough for sock yarn.

But I really should be knitting on my August socks instead of playing around. Time for another dose of self-discipline, methinks.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August update

Whew, August is just speeding by. And then it slowed right down when summer finally arrived, with a boatload of heat and humidity. Or was that just me that slowed down? It's been a strange year.

I did manage to finish spinning a yarn I started back in July during the Tour de Fleece.

Yummy Australian Merino in the Thorny Devil colourway from Southern Cross Fibre. It probably won't surprise anyone that I again went for a three-ply sock yarn.

It ended up at 410 yards, 14 wpi, and should make some lovely, soft and warm socks.

And speaking of socks, I can't believe I still haven't finished my August socks for Sock-a-Month. I kind of got stalled and distracted. I finally decided to get rid of that old stationary bicycle that's been sitting in the corner for the last seven years. I only used it about four times in all that time, and I was getting tired of dusting it. But then I was left with an empty corner and, as they say, nature abhors a vacuum, so I had to fill it.

Yup, a spinning wheel! With curious cat shown, for scale. :-) I've played with it a bit, and as expected, my first bump was sort of disastrous, but we're slowly getting to know each other.

And because these things seem to be important to Ladybug people, here's the bug:

Monday, August 03, 2009

Goodbye, July.

I can't say I'm sad to see the end of July. It's been one of the coldest, wettest, grayest Julys on record. Here's hoping that summer finally comes in August. :-)

One fun thing that did happen in July, though, was the Tour de Fleece on Ravelry! I was too busy spinning to get any more knitting done this month, but I did manage to finish a few more yarns, plus try a couple of different fibres and techniques.

This was spun from a Luscious Ditty mini-batt from Spin, Knit and Life -- merino, silk and alpaca. My first successful yarn with silk, and first time using a Turkish spindle for more than just goofing around. The cool thing about a Turkish spindle is that when you're done, you just pull out the shaft and the legs of the spindle and you're left with a centre-pull ball and can ply with both ends of your single. It's not my favourite method, and I had a few problems with it towards the end, but it was good to try it.

I was feeling a bit brave after that, so I thought I'd try spinning just straight silk again for the Challenge Day.

Not so good. I think silk and I will agree to disagree for a while longer. :-)

I decided to carry on with trying a few more new techniques. A post or two ago, I showed a three-ply sock yarn that I made for the May/June All Spun Up Spin-a-long. It looked like this:

I had an extra four ounces of fibre, so I thought I'd try to recreate some of the yarns that other people had made. First, I played with chain plying. It's not as hard as I thought, as long as you take your time. It's a technique you can use to keep the colours more separate. I'm still not convinced that it's suitable for sock yarn, but I have to admit it's pretty. Maybe scarf material?

One of the yarns that really intrigued me was a thick and thin thread ply, so I figured, eh, why not try that?

It's actually kind of hard to do on a spindle, and the thread is slippery stuff to ply with. My thick parts ended up a little bit too thick, and I'd like to try it again going a bit thinner. I do like the look of it, but again, I'm not sure that I'd knit with it or what I'd make. It was interesting, though, to see the different effects you can get with the same fibre, just by spinning it differently.

After that, I figured it was time to get back to basics .. sock yarn. :-)

This is mixed BFL, again from All Spun Up.

I went for a standard three-ply.

It ended up at 410 yards. It should make some wonderful socks, and I loves it muchly. :-)

And that was the end of the Tour de Fleece. Whew!

I apparently have more of an ornery streak than I thought I did. Being forced to spin actually really made me want to knit, so I've been cranking away, trying to finish up my August socks. One's done, and the other is cast on. Maybe a finish by the end of the week?