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Friday, March 30, 2007

Vine Lace Cardigan

Last night I finished the fronts and back of the Vine Lace Cardigan. It desperately needs blocking and that will be the next thing it does. It's smoothed out a bit on the carpet in this picture so you can kind of see the shape, but as soon as I pick it up it bounces into a tiny little vest shaped thing. It weighs next to nothing so just for fun I put it on my scale and sure enough, what you see above is exactly 3 ounces. I have no idea how this is possible, but I'm sure it will be wonderful to wear all summer. Next up are the sleeves and I think I'm going to knit them flat so I can knit them both at once and get this all finished up. I will be putting in lifelines before I start the sleeve cap shaping in case I have to frog the sleeve caps for a better fit, but otherwise I don't anticipate any trouble.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Public Service Announcement from the Pink Lemon

Attention everyone! Do you have an adolescent canine living under your roof? (These are referred to as puppies in some circles.) They are cute right? With the waggy tails, and smiling faces, and the tongues that hang out sideways sometimes, and the ears that get turned wrong side out. They are a very cute addition to our families. They are also useful in keeping the cat well dampened (whatever happens, you DON'T want your cat to dry out) and amusing small boys. Despite all of the cuteness, and the helpful cat washing, and other things they bring to our homes (often quite literally), they are a threat to a popular family activity often partaken when the weather precludes any outside activities - that is, the puzzle. I give you Exhibit A: the 998 piece hot air balloon puzzle. (The second missing piece is in the green, yellow, and black balloon on the left.) I knew there was at least one missing piece when I pulled the pulpy cardboard out of Finn's mouth, but it had already lost all resemblance to a puzzle piece at that point. The second missing piece was a bonus and really quite unexpected. And just in case you think this is a one time thing:
I give you Exhibit B: the 999 piece seaside village puzzle. The exact time and method of the disappearance of this piece is unknown. We called in a CSI team, but they got distracted and started working on the puzzle instead of looking for the missing piece.

Let this be a warning to you all: Puppies and Puzzles just don't mix!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Flower Basket Shawl

Last night I drug out my poor little Flower Basket Shawl and got a bit more done on it. 7 rows to be exact. I now have a stitch count of 275 if I'm doing the math right, so it's bigger than the original design from IK. Looking at the ball of yarn (I started with only 2 ounces of merino/silk top), I'm pretty sure that I have enough for at least one more repeat of the basket pattern + enough for the edging pattern. I might have enough for two more basket repeats + the edging, but I don't know yet. I'd love to get this finished, there are so many shawls I'm really dying to get started on, but I'm trying to finish the Flower Basket first. I think if I seriously buckle down and just knit this, I can finish it up pretty quickly. If only there was more time in the day, and I wasn't distracted by every project that walks by!


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Finn has Fallen in Lurve!

We all know it will happen eventually. Every young dog will someday realize that there is a world beyond his Kongs and tennis balls. Of course we all just hope that it will happen later, rather than sooner, so we can keep our puppy a puppy for just a bit longer. Well, Finn is discovering the big wide world - and he likes it.

What happened? Well, it all started when I ordered some raw fleece from Homestead Wool and Gift Farm. They are a neat little farm in Wisconson that takes in sheep past their prime, or needing extra attention who wouldn't usually be able to find a home on a traditional farm. The sheep will be able to live out their lives at Homestead, playing happily with the other sheep and doing sheepy things. Its really a great idea and I love that sheep can have a place to go when they retire. Anyway, the sheep aren't coated, and from the looks of the fleece they do have lots of fun. (I'm not saying the fleece is filthy, but there is some dirt and VM that you don't see in a coated fleece. A year ago I couldn't tell you the difference between a coated fleece and an uncoated fleece - see, I'm learning!)

So anyway, I ordered 3# of Targhee and 3# of Polypay. I had decided to wash it myself, dye it, and then send it off to be turned into roving for spinning. Well, when I opened the box, I found not only 6# of raw fleece, but a lovely barnyarn smell. Ramius even woke up to check out my new barn in a box. After sorting through the Targhee and dividing it into washing bags, I carried it back downstairs to the laundry room. This is when Finn saw/smelled it for the first time. He inhaled deeply, his eyes glazed over, and a look of pure doggy euphoria came over his face. I put the washing bags in a laundry basket while I filled the washing machine with water and Finn shoved his head and upper body deep into the sheepy goodness. His tail was going 90 mph. He tried to gently kiss it through the washing bags. I asked him to leave it, imagining explaining to the vet why my city dog has a weird sheep disease. (I later realized that there are actual "sheep dogs" who play with sheep all day and presumably, they don't get weird sheep diseases.) He quit trying to kiss it so much, but he continued to try to climb in the basket and roll in it. I waited for the water to fill in the washer. He knew he wasn't supposed to roll in it, but he tried to roll sneakily, with just his head (imagine a big dog rolling his head around in washing bags filled with aromatic wool in a stealthy manner). I rolled my eyes and waited for the water to fill. When it finally filled all the way, I lifted Finn's head out of the basket, grabbed a bag of fleece and dropped it into the hot, soapy water. Then, I lifted Finn's head out of the basket, grabbed another bag of fleece and dropped it into the hot, soapy water. Then, I lifted - well, you get the point. He stood up and looked into the washer when I finally had the wool in there, watched me poke the bags gently under the water and went to have a lie down. Of course as soon as it was time to spin the wool out and change the water, he was right beside me, helping. Yes, Finn has fallen head over heels in love - with a barnyard.


Monday, March 26, 2007

I should have quite a bit of progress to show here...

...seeing as I haven't shown you anything since last Wednesday morning. Unfortunately, I came down with the flu too, so Caleb* and I sniffled and snuffled and moaned around the house all weekend, catching up on episodes of Justice League Unlimited (for those without little boys, Justice League is the much cooler name of what used to be the old Super Friends). I got a tiny bit of knitting done, but the amount of concentration it took to keep track of heel stitch made it very slow going. Finally Saturday night I felt hungry again (ya gotta love the weight loss possibilities of a good virus attack), and my knitting mojo slowly returned. Above you can see the second sock of the pink sock pair - it's 35 rounds shy of the toe decreases. If it had been any more complex than K2, P2 rib, it would not have been worked on at all.

In an effort to distract you from the pathetic state of my own simple socks, have you checked out Cookie A's new website with her wonderful sock patterns? Absolutely gorgeous designs! I bought several of the patterns so you'll probably be seeing them knit up here eventually. In other sock news, Alison is getting things set up for Sockapalooza 4 - see the sidebar of her blog for current Sockapalooza news. For those of you who didn't do Sockapaloooza last time, you sign up (signups are only for about a 24 hour period, so you have to pay attention and act fast) with your foot measurements, fiber and color preferences and your information goes to one person while you get another person's information and you have about 3 months to knit them a pair of socks. Its a lot of fun and you get a pair of socks and, if you're lucky maybe your own stitch pattern and some handspun, handdyed, self striping sock yarn - if you're lucky! Anyway, if you're interested, keep your eyes open for this - I'll be there!

*Caleb was put on Tamiflu when he first came down with it so by the time I started getting sick, he was starting to feel better. Most of the sniffling was being done by me as he was getting better and sassier. He's going back to school today!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Promise of Spring

The Promise of Spring is often what keeps us going in the last, cold, gray days of Winter. Knit your own Promise of Spring and no matter what the weather is doing outside, you will feel like the sun is shining on your knitting basket. Designed with easily wearable raglan shaping and tips for adjusting the fit to your own body, this sweater will surely be a favorite. Knit from the bottom up in the round, a simple lace edging highlights the lower edge of both sweater and sleeves. A solid stockinette body has just enough substance to ward off a chilly Spring breeze. Small flowers and budding branches adorn the yoke and the sleeves, which fall loosely to the elbows. By working in the round, there are no seams to sew, only a bit of grafting in the underarms. Charted lace designs and simple construction make this a good design for an adventurous beginner. Front Lace Detail

Knit at 5 stitches per inch in KnitPicks Shine, (the designer hand dyed the yarn for the sweater shown here), this design could be worked in any worsted weight cotton or cotton blend for a comfortable sweater, easily wearable during the temperature shifts Spring is known for.
Sleeve Detail
Hem Detail
  • Finished Bust Sizes: 36" (40", 44", 48", 52")
  • Yarn Requirements: 770 (770, 880, 990, 990 yards)
  • Gauge: 20 stitches and 26 rows per 4 inches square


Please note that Georgina Bow Creations Patterns are separate from Pink Lemon Twist Patterns and the shopping carts cannot be combined. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this might cause.

If you have any questions for the designer, please feel free to contact her at GeorginaBowCreationsATYahooDOTcom


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

One Sock, Two Sock, Pink Sock, New Sock

I have finished my first pink sock and have started the second one! The next round of the new sock will be the turning round, just to give you an idea of where I am on the second sock. It should be fun to see how the pinks shade on the second sock and if any of the shading is similar to the first sock. Ah, the joys of handdyed yarn!

You've all seen me knit a sock before so I won't bore you with details. Instead I will give you a little teaser: tomorrow there will be a new Georgina Bow Creations pattern! Yes, that's right, Mom of the Pink Lemon (AKA the Pink Grapefruit) has a new pattern just in time for Spring and it will launch, right here, on this very blog, tomorrow!


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cotton Candy Yarn!

I finished up the 3 ply yarn from my Cotton Candy batts last night (from Franquemont Fibers - the link's in the sidebar). I have 240 yards of it. Since one bobbin ran out early (of course), I decided to two ply the remaining two bobbins so I'll actually get two different yarns out of this. I have no clue what I'll do with it, I'm waiting to wash this with the two ply so once they're washed I'll be able to see more about the yarn's true nature. (For non spinners, when you wash a finished yarn it both sets the twist and causes the fibers to bloom and relax. You don't really know how your yarn will look until it's washed.)

Not too much is going on around here today. Caleb got the flu, but luckily we caught it early enough that the Tamiflu medicine should help him feel better soon. In the meantime, we're just going to have a lazy day with lots of fluids.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Vine Lace Cardi

As you can see, its getting bigger! It measures 14 inches long now and I'm ready to divide for armholes. The original plan was to add raglan sleeves and knit the whole thing in as close to one piece as possible. I've never designed raglan shaping, so I pulled out Deborah Newton's Designing Knitwear.* In the section on raglan sleeves, she says something about raglan sleeves being some of the most difficult to design successfully. Being a sensible Pink Lemon who doesn't really know how her handspun will react to repeated froggings, I made a hasty retreat from the raglan battlefield and will now be making set in sleeves. But wait, you say, set in sleeves are also difficult what with the matching up of the armsceye and sleeve cap and the curves that must be carefully eased into place. Yes, dear reader, that's true, but the Pink Lemon has designed for set in sleeves before and while they are scary, Ms. Newton has a set of 7 or 8 rules for designing set in sleeves - and they work! Raglan sleeves have no set of rules - its like swimming with pirhanas. Set in sleeves are like swimming with baby pirhanas with no sense of direction - yeah, that's it.
So last night, along with my calculator of knitwear design, a bag of M&M's (have you seen the Easter one's? They have sheep!), and the ever helpful Finn doggy, I figured out armsceye shaping and most of the sleeve cap shaping. Usually Ramius is the one to help me with sweater design, but he was napping and Finn was pretty sure he could be helpful and he smelled food, so he volunteered for the job. (Yes, I am aware that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. He didn't get any.)
*Designing Knitwear is my favorite book about designing for knitting. It is full of helpful tips for all kinds of styles and shapes, if you can get past the sample garments - the book was published in the early 1990's, so you can imagine the kind of large shoulder pads and even larger drop sleeve measurements. The technical information in this book is timeless and useful for any style of knitwear design, IMHO.


Friday, March 16, 2007

And We're Off...

I started spinning the blue Merino/Silk top yesterday. Got it started with S twist with no problem (especially since I had so much trouble the other day) and I'm checking the wpi pretty frequently right now. I'm spinning the singles at 40 wpi but I have to be careful not to spin finer than that or the finished yarn might be too fine. You can see the shine from the silk on the yarn on the bobbin, but if you look at the ball of top that's sitting on the wheel's table below the bobbin, you can really see all the different colors that are in this top.

I would also like to mention now that since this will take a while to get all spun up (followed by the same thing in white), I will not bore you all to tears, but will only post updates on the Rosemarkie spinning once a week or less. I will be showing whatever smaller projects I'm spinning on the Majacraft, so there will still be spinning here.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you Monday and tell you all about the changes I've made in the Vine Lace Cardi.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Ruffled Pink Sock

Remember the pink yarn that Ramius modeled for us on Monday? It's becoming a sock! I decided that since it was so unapologetically pink, I would make the socks unapologetically girly. These are ruffled edge socks with a turn down cuff. You cast on twice as many stitches as you actually need to knit your sock and then purl for a few rows (you actually begin by working the sock wrong side out since there is a turn down cuff) until your ruffle is wide enough. Then you K2Tog all the way around. Start your ribbing on the next round and knit as established until its about the length you want for your turn down. Then K the next round for a turning round (this is the last round you actually work wrong side out). From here on, you're knitting your sock right side out and if you really want your ribbing to mesh smoothly, reverse it: if you worked the turn down as K2, P2, then after the turning round work the cuff as P2, K2. This way, when you fold the top over the cuff, the ribbing will "lock" together and sit still for you. This is also a great trick for turn back cuffs and brims on ribbed hats. At this point the ruffle is rolling a bit on the edges since its worked in stockinette but I really like the way it looks - it reminds me of anemones or mushrooms or something. I'm very excited about the way the yarn is looking. It has an ombre look as it shades from one pink to another - YEAH PINK SOCK!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cotton Candy

So now that I am looking in the face of an epic spinning project (to be followed by an epic knitting project), I will be spinning up smaller bits of fiber on my other wheel. (I made the decision to spin the cabled yarn on the Kromski and leave the Majacraft for spinning other things, that way I can ply anything on the big Majacraft plying set and not worry about interrupting the cabling goodness.)

Here is my first smaller project. I got these batts from Franquemont Fibers (there's a link in the sidebar) and they are just beautiful. Abby called them Cotton Candy but the color really reminds me of ballet slippers. They are Merino/Silk/Kid Mohair and I'm spinning them into a three ply. I haven't done very much 3 ply yarn and I might never have done it with three separate bobbins. (I have done a bit of Navajo plying but I can't remember if I've done it the other way.) I got 4 ounces of this and what you see below is actually the second bobbin of singles that I am just getting started on.
I don't have any definite plans for this yarn right now, I'm mostly spinning it to spin, but once its finished and I see what I get, hopefully it will speak to me.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Yes and No

This weekend I spun up 20 yards of the blue Merino/Silk top I was thinking of using for Rosemarkie. When I spun it, I just guesstimated the size I spun the white Merino/Kid Mohair last fall. It turned out to be a good thing that I was too lazy to run upstairs and get the skein of white, because the blue turned out a different size than the white, but its perfect for the project.
Here you can see the little swatch I knitted up. I didn't knit it in the round, I just broke the yarn at the end of every row so that each row is knitted - AS says this is OK in Celtic Knits. (That's why I have the fringe on the sides. You can also see the difference in size between the blue and white yarns in the fringe.) The swatch told me a couple of things: Cabled yarns do work in stranded color work types of designs if the yarns are the correct size and the white yarn is too small and firm for this project. See how the blue sections seem to almost melt together? That's the look I want. The blue yarn is squishier than the white yarn is so it squishes into the stitch space but then fluffs up against its neighboring stitches, making a soft but dense looking fabric. The white yarn isn't doing any fluffing and combined with the fact that its a bit smaller than the blue yarn, it isn't really filling its own stitch space either. It looks like to me that the white yarn needs smaller needles. In this swatch the white stitches just look too open and if there's one thing that can make stranded color work look tacky it's having the color that's being stranded behind show through - its like visible panty lines in knitting.

The verdict? I will spin up all 12 ounces (more than enough) of the blue Merino/Silk as a cabled yarn. (I've decided to stick with the cabling because the cabling will control pilling and it really shows off all the colors of the top, making a beautiful heathered yarn.) I will set aside the white Merino/Kid Mohair for a different project and I will order some white Merino/Silk in the same blend (80% Merino/20% Silk) and spin it the same way as the blue. I do love the crispness of the blue and white in the design and I think it will make a beautiful vest. Anything else I should be thinking about here?

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Monday, March 12, 2007

A Cat and Some Finished Pink Yarn

I got the pink GCNI/Mohair all plied up this weekend and ended up with 450 yards. Ramius modeled it for me, but he wouldn't look at the camera. What you can't see is that Finn is just off camera, waiting for me to turn my head so he can snarfle all over the cat. Ramius, being a sensible cat, has to keep an eye on him because there's nothing more pathetic than a cat who gets covered in dog spit just because he wasn't paying attention.
This yarn looks like sport weight, but I think it will knit up tighter than that because its a very fluffy yarn. I love all the different colors of pinks it has in it.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

100% More Vine Lace Cardi - Than Ever Before!

I've doubled what I had on the Vine Lace Cardi the other day. I'm really loving the way this is looking and the way it feels. Its going to be perfect for a light sweater this Spring and Summer. The color is actually a bit darker than it photographed here, so I will probably even be able to wear it into early Fall! I don't remember if I've mentioned how I spun the yarn lately, so I'll just mention it again for anyone who wasn't reading a year ago (which is around when I actually did the spinning). This is a basic two ply spun from batts I purchased at MDS$W in 2005. I first picked the green color, but they didn't have enough for a sweater. So I got some of the blue color and when I spun them, I spun them the same weight and plied them together. That's why the knitted fabric seems to shift a bit between a teal green and a soft royal blue. You could easily do this with any spinning fiber, just pick two analogous colors (colors next to each other on the color wheel) that are the same value (degree of lightness or darkness) and ply them together and you get this almost iridescent look. If you don't choose analogous colors or you choose one light and one dark, you'll get a barber pole effect on your yarn and your knitted fabric won't have the subtle color shifts, it will be more of a speckled look. There's nothing wrong with a speckled look, if that's what you want of course. The huge range of solid colored Merino and Corriedale tops that are available would give you a pretty great palette to play with.
Working on this cardi has gotten me thinking about yarn/pattern compatibility. The thing I have to constantly remind myself of in knitting is that just because I can get gauge with a particular yarn, doesn't mean that it should be used for a particular pattern. I'm a huge fan of changing yarns a pattern calls for. Sometimes my yarn changing habits don't work out. When I started knitting this yarn, I was doing the Grannie Smith cardi. It calls for Rowan's Kid Silk Haze. (I love Kid Silk Haze. I could wallow in it for hours, if I had any sitting around here to wallow in.) I have no Kid Silk Haze in my stash right now (my birthday is coming up though!) so I thought I would use my handspun which I was sure I could get gauge on. I did get gauge, but my handspun yarn was losing all its personality and it just didn't feel right. By switching to a different pattern (alright, its not really a pattern at all, its just me winging it) I was able to work with the yarn instead of in spite of it, and by not forcing it to become something it isn't, I'm getting much better results.
The point of all this is (yes, there is a point), I got to thinking last night about the Rosemarkie vest. I'm concerned that using a cabled yarn might not be right for it. If you look at traditional Fair Isle knitting, you'll see that the stitches kind of blend together. That is a combination of the knitter's skill with controlling tension on two yarns at once and the soft, fuzzy, 2 ply Shetland yarn. While I'm not concerned with the loss of fuzz by not using Shetland, I am concerned by the density and crispness of the cabled yarn. The yarns traditionally called for are light and squishy, so when they are knitted together, they expand against each other to create a cohesive fabric. This weekend I'm going to spin a tiny amount of blue cabled yarn and try a swatch with the white. My gut is telling me that just because I can get gauge with these yarns, that doesn't mean I'll like the way they look in a stranded knitting design. So once I get a swatch knitted up, I'll post it to the blog and we'll see what we think.
Have a great weekend.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

New Spinning

Yesterday I started spinning the singles for the cabled yarn I'm going to make for my Rosemarkie vest. (Remember the Merino and Kid Mohair cabled yarn I did last Fall? I'll be using that for one color and this for the other color and thought that since one yarn was cabled, the other should be too. I should probably spin up just a bit of this so I can work a swatch to double check that this is going to work.) OK, so as you can see, I've just barely gotten started here. The important thing to remember when you're doing a planned cable yarn is that you spin your singles S twist, rather than Z twist. This way you end up with the final twist in your yarn S twist which works better for Western knitting styles. OK, so that's easy you say, just spin counter clockwise on your singles. Well, yes, it is easy, except that you need to have a leader* spun S twist or your leader will unspin, fall apart, and you'll never get anything actually spun. And if you are maybe having a conversation with your 6 year old son about who is the coolest Sith Lord ever, you might not be thinking clearly about which direction your leader is spun and which direction the singles you are attempting to spin are going, and why that might not work. All you know is that the wheel is turning, the bobbin is winding on, the leader is falling apart in your hands, Darth Maul has the best lightsaber ever, but he gets cut in half (and so does his light saber) in the first movie, Count Dooku gets to be in two movies, but his lightsaber has a funny handle (looks sort of ergonomically "Retired Sith Lord Lightsaber Handle - easy on the joints and arthritis friendly" to me), but Darth Vader, while he really celebrates the whole Dark Side package, in the end, when Luke smacks him upside the head, he comes to his senses, kills the Emperor, balances the force, and is forgiven for the stupid mistakes he made when he was younger, and really, since we've all made some stupid mistakes when we were younger (alright, no, I never joined the Dark Side, but you know what I mean), I think he's a Sith Lord we can all get behind. I did eventually, figure out what was going on with my leader issues, spun up a quick S twist leader with a spindle and as you can see above, I've started spinning.

In the comments yesterday, there was a great question about spinning sock yarn and the myth that handspun cannot hold up to socks. First of all, if you spin your sock yarn the same way you spin your shawl yarn, or your sweater yarn, no, it won't hold up. The beauty of handspinning is that I can spin my yarn to suit my purpose. For sock yarn I need a strong yarn that can take the wear and tear of being walked on and going into shoes. It needs to be a fairly fine yarn (anything over sport weight is too thick to wear with shoes, but thicker yarns do make great sleeping socks or slipper socks). There are several different ways I can get a yarn like this and I will use some or all of them, again depending on the exact end use I see for the socks.

Your first consideration should be fiber. What kind of wool are you going to use? Merino is soft but because of the fineness of the fibers, doesn't wear all that well. Wensleydale and Falkland were both suggested in the comments. I've never used either for socks so I can't personally recommend them, but they should both work well, with Wensleydale being the harder wearing of the two, but also probably coarser. (A lot of people swear by Blue Faced Leicester - BFL - for socks, again, I've never used it so I can't recommend it personally.) What I have used for socks is Romney, Gulf Coast Native Improved (GCNI), Border Leicester, and Coopworth. You'll notice that all of these wools are at least a medium grade and some are longwools. These wools, while not as soft as Merino, are strong and for the most part have a longer staple length. If you're concerned about softness, you could always blend a small amount of a softer wool with one of these more durable wool types. If you really want your socks to wear well, you want to add something to the wool. Commercial sock yarns tend to add nylon and while you can get nylon to spin with your wool, I prefer Mohair. Mohair wears like iron and can take the constant abrasion socks are subjected to. I use a Yearling Mohair - its stronger than Kid Mohair, but still soft - and have it blended in with the wools (15% mohair added by weight is what I use). Let me take a minute to discuss silk here. Yes, silk is strong. Silk is the strongest natural fiber. But this is strength in tensile weight (how much weight can you have pulling on it before it breaks), not abrasion strength. Socks are subjected to abrasion which silk doesn't deal with very well. This is why I don't usually add silk to socks.

OK, so you've got your fiber, now, think about how you're going to spin it. A three ply is stronger than a two ply, although I personally tend to do 2 ply sock yarn. Either way, you want a medium amount of twist - too little and yes, you'll have a soft, fluffy yarn but it won't be strong enough to knit tightly. Too much and the yarn will get coarse and wiry (this is particularly something to watch in the long wools). Finally, once its spun, the last thing you can do to determine whether or not your sock yarn will hold up is the knitting of the socks. I always knit my socks tightly. Its not always fun to work the gussets after the heel turn, but knitting them tightly increases the durability of the finished socks.

So, yes, you can spin your own sock yarn, and yes it can be quite durable. After all, mill spun yarns have been around a comparatively short time when you look at the history of yarn. People have been wearing socks for centuries and they certainly didn't have the time to be constantly darning them (although they did darn them when they wore out), so they would have spun the yarn to make it strong. Great question by the way Connie, thanks for the blog subject!

*A leader is a scrap piece of yarn tied around the bobbin of a spinning wheel that you use to start spinning. By allowing twist to build up in the leader, you can then place your unspun fiber near the end of the leader, they will spin together and as the twist enters your unspun fiber, it becomes a singles and then gets wound on the bobbin. To the best of my knowledge, you need a leader to spin singles on a spinning wheel, but you don't have to use one to spin on a spindle. With a spindle (since someone might ask), you just fold a bit of fiber back on itself, catch the fold on the hook and start spinning carefully. Once you have 12-18 inches, take it carefully off the hook and wrap it around the shaft of the spindle, making sure to overlap the end several times. Then bring it back up through the hook and spin as usual. I actually prefer to spin on spindles without leaders.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

More Spinning

I finished up the second bobbin of my handdyed GCNI/Mohair singles. I'll wait until later this week to ply it since I finished the first bobbin over a week ago. This is going to be some seriously fun sock yarn! I did not spin this yarn to be fingering weight, it's a sport weight. When I spin for socks, I purposely spin heavier than the average sock yarn for a couple of reasons: it gives me thicker socks to wear around the house and sleep in, and if I always spun fingering weight I might feel like I shouldn't buy sock yarn since I can spin it. There are just too many really great sock yarns out there for me to limit myself this way. At least that's the way I see it.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Change of Plans

Remember how a few weeks ago I started the lovely Grannie Smith Cardi with my handspun? Well, after knitting more than half of one front, I realized that while I was getting gauge, and the pattern was showing up well, the yarn just wasn't right for the pattern. There wasn't enough drape to the knitting, even with the weight of the hem. I was using US 1's (2.25mm) to get gauge and it was just too dense of a fabric. Washing and blocking should have given it more drape (this yarn really looked lovely in the washed gauge swatch), but I just didn't think it would be right. So I unravelled it, wound it back up and started Plan B. Above, you can see Plan B and its already feeling and acting much more like the fabric I was hoping this yarn would become.

So, what is Plan B? Its a Vine Lace* Cardi, knit on US 4's, circular needles. I'm making up the pattern as I go but I'm planning on knitting up to the armholes, knitting the arms, then finishing the whole thing together with raglan shaping. I think this will make it easier for me to deal with knitting from two balls at once. (I'm still knitting two rows from each ball of yarn, then switching. The little floats as I switch balls will be hidden when I pick up stitches along the front edges for the button bands.) I haven't done very much with raglan shaping and while I have a general understanding of how it works, I've never designed with it, so that should offer me a challenge when I get to it, or tip me right over the edge of sanity, depending on what else is going on that week.

Just a note, I updated the list of Fiber Enablers on my sidebar yesterday and added Franquemont Fibers - you'll be seeing some of Abby's beautiful spinning fibers later this week, and Blue Moon Fiber Arts, home of the highly desirable Socks That Rock yarn. I really can't tell you enough good things about either company's products - try them out sometime.

*Vine Lace is a simple 4 row pattern, easy to memorize, that gives you points at the lower edge and makes a lacy vertical stripe pattern when knitted. Who among us does not love the vertical stripe? Directions are in Barbara G. Walker's first book or, because its a traditional pattern that's been around forever, if you use your Google skills, you can find it on the Internets (I found a tea cozy, an afghan, and something that used it knitted in the round without putting any real effort into the search.)


Monday, March 05, 2007

Because All Good Things Will Come to an End, Eventually, Even When They Seem to Go On Forever.

Yes, that's right. I finally finished the plying on Opalessence! You can see a really bad picture of it here (sorry, just not motivated to get a better picture right now). It's still drying but I ended up with 2100 yards of a bouncy laceweight 2 ply. I think its fluffing up slightly larger than Zephyr and as the angora blooms it should get that wonderful soft focus look that angora is famous for. I'm planning on using it in a pattern written for Kid Silk Haze, but for now I'm going to admire it, pet it a bit, and let it dry. (The Opalessence is from The Woolen Rabbit.)

I also got the Frostrosen plied this weekend. Its hanging on the other end of the same hanger as Opalessence as it dries. I ended up with 1125 yards of Frostrosen. Its a slightly heavier weight than the Opalessence, but it doesn't have angora so it won't fluff up and bloom the way the Opalessence will. I think I'll also be able to use Frostrosen as a replacement for Kid Silk Haze. Those dots on the picture aren't dust, that's the sparkle from the Angelina Kary almost always adds to her batts. Its very subtle - you think you might have seen a sparkle, but before you can be sure, the yarn shifts, and you don't see the sparkle anymore. (The Frostrosen was a Kitchen Sink Batt from The Knotty Sheep.)

Both of these skeins are in the 6 ounce ballpark (there is slightly more than 6 ounces of the Frostrosen). The differences in length come primarily from the fiber content. If you remember, I spun both sets of singles to the same size, but Opalessence had more twist, where the Frostrosen was very softly spun. The Opalessence was plied with quite a bit of twist to balance the highly twisted singles and ended up a bouncy, twisty yarn. The Frostrosen plied much more quickly because it needed less twist to balance the singles. There is less twist visible in the yarn and it was able to fluff up a bit which is why it now looks like a larger yarn. The Opalessence, while being slightly less fiber by weight than the Frostrosen, is made of Merino, Angora, and silk - all very fine, lightweight fibers. The Frostrosen is made of corser wools (I don't have the list of breeds sitting here right now), so I didn't get quite as much yardage from it. Make sense?

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Look at the Dog!

Because I'm still plying the Opalessence. I'm about 1/3 of the way through, but I should have more time to spin today than I have the last couple of days.