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Thursday, August 29, 2019


I have another sweater quantity spinning project (honestly, there are several in the stash), but I decided to spin a single, 4 ounce braid using double drive as a kind of fibery palette cleanser.  The majority of my spinning has been done using Scotch Tension and that is definitely the system I'm most comfortable with.  For non spinners, there are three systems of spinning wheel mechanics that determine how the yarn is wound on to the bobbin once the twist is added.  Sometimes the bobbin pulls it on (Irish tension), sometimes the flyer wraps it onto the bobbin (Scotch Tension), and then there's double drive which I don't fully understand, but somehow the bobbin gets wound.  It could be more spinning magic.  I'm sure I've got a book upstairs that explains it, but I'm writing this without the benefit of caffeine (yet - there will definitely be caffeine, I'm just not there this morning), and wheel mechanics might make my head explode.

Anyway, once you get double drive set up properly, you don't have to make any adjustments to it as you fill the bobbin.  In Scotch tension, you have to adjust the tension on the brake band as the bobbin fills to counteract the inertia and slow the bobbin so your yarn can wind on.  This is one of those physics things - it takes more energy to stop a heavier thing that is in motion than it does to stop a lightweight thing.  (Pink Lemon physics lesson before caffeine!). It's not uncommon to have to make several adjustments over the course of filling a bobbin.  This isn't a super big deal and most spinners get a feel for their wheel and make the adjustments they need as they spin, but if you're spinning a large quantity of fiber and you want it to be consistent, using double drive can make your life easier.  Since I have two wheels that can be set up as double drive and plans for more sweater quantities of spinning, I thought it would be good to learn more about that system.  Just another trick in the toolbox.

So I started spinning a braid of 50% Merino/50% Mulberry Silk that was dyed as a gradient (Beesy Bee Fibers in Dark Crysalis).  I started with the gray end and there was definitely something off with my take up.  There's no brake band in double drive, so adjustments are made by increasing or decreasing tension on the drive band.
Dark Chrysalis
After the gray section, I spun the middle section that had gray and some colors.  While things are better, it still wasn't winding on with enough pull to avoid some tension issues, although the worst of the little pigtail twists are gone.
Dark Chrysalis
Finally, by the time I got into the colored section, I was getting somewhere in my adjustments and wind on was much better.  Spinning is moving smoothly now and I'm starting to get a feel for double drive.  I don't feel like I'm ready for a big project on double drive yet, but I might keep playing with smaller fiber amounts and get some more double drive practice under my belt.  It's definitely been a learning challenge, but I'm enjoying it!
Dark Chrysalis
(I'll give the spinning details when I get the yarn all plied and finished.  That seems like the logical place for all the technical stuff.)


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A Second Sleeve

Niamh pullover 
The blog post titles are getting super creative around here aren't they?  I did, in fact, finish the first sleeve of my Niamh pullover and start the second sleeve, so while it's not particularly inspired, the title is accurate.  This pullover is knit in lightweight yarn with a high number of stitches per inch, which is why it seems like it's taking forever , or maybe it just seems like it to me.  I'm pretty sure sleeves usually move faster than this though.  On the other hand, a lightweight wool pullover will be super useful around here when it's a little cooler.

I did actually get a good photo of the stripes this time, so you can see how well the sleeve stripes pair with the body stripes.  I don't exactly understand how it's working out, but I'm definitely impressed that it is.

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

A Sleeve

Niamh pullover 
I've finished the body of Niamh and started the first sleeve.  At this point, I haven't woven in any of the ends yet, but I have tried it on and I'm happy with the way it fits.  Since Fifi and I are similarly sized, you can kind of see the fit here.

The stripes are continuing on the sleeves, which I was expecting, but I was expecting them to change scale and be wider.  I'm not sure how this is happening, but the sleeve stripes are in the same size range as the body stripes.  I'm pretty sure this goes against all laws of physics and has crossed over into Magic.  Strange things are afoot on the circular needle?

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Cranberry Merino Yarn

Cranberry spinning 
It's all spun and plied!  I ended up with 1,224 yards of sport weight three ply yarn.  I was shooting for fingering weight, but it ended up a little bigger.  I think this was a slightly coarser merino than the Nube and I know I got less twist in it (which gives it a chance to floof up more).  Also, I didn't sample, I just kind of guessed.

It's not a big deal because I still have a sweater quantity, and I didn't have a specific pattern in mind to use for this yarn.  I'll knit a swatch and pick a pattern based on where things work out.

All the details:
  • Ashland Bay Merino Multis in Cranberry from years ago.  I bought it when we were in Virginia.  Ashland Bay doesn't even do these anymore, the colorways are still available through another company.
  • I started with 442g of fiber (0.97 pounds)  I don't have finished weight yet because the skeins aren't 100% dry,
  • Light predrafting to loosen the compacted fibers.
  • Spun worsted with a short forward draw on my Schacht Flatiron using the Medium whorl and the larger groove (10.4:1) on Scotch Tension
  • Plied using the same wheel and whorl, but on the smaller groove (14.4:1) and Irish Tension

I'm happy with the finished yarn and I love the colors.  I'll wait until it's all dry but I will be knitting up a swatch to check both gauge and softness.  It sounds like a funny thing to worry about with Merino, but I'm not sure if it's next to skin soft, so this might be a cardigan.

For my next sweater quantity of spinning, I will definitely be sampling.  For one thing, I think it will help me become a better spinner, but also I have a particular pattern in mind for the next big project and I'll need to hit gauge.  I'm going to spin a little project first though, just for fun!


Thursday, August 15, 2019


Cranberry spinning 
I've finished spinning the Cranberry Merino singles!  All six bobbins are done, and I'm ready to ply!  I started spinning these singles on July 17 and finished yesterday, August 14.  There was a pound of fiber at the beginning.

I'll be making a traditional three plied yarn and in order to redistribute any unevenness in my spinning, I will be plying bobbins 1, 3, and 5 together and bobbins 2, 4, and 6 together.  Any leftover singles will all be plied together until I have fewer than three bobbins left and then I'll chain ply the last bits.  The chain plied skein will only be used in the knitted project if I completely run out of the other yarn because of the differences in the way chain plying works with color versus a traditional three ply.  I'm expecting plying to take several days, but I plan on starting later today.  I'll be using Irish tension to ply because that has a stronger draw in and will wrap the bobbin more firmly (in other words, I'll be able to pack more yarn on each bobbin).

I can't wait to see how much yardage I have!


Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Niamh pullover in handspun 
I've been working on the lower body of my Niamh pullover in handspun.  It's a good thing I like stockinette stitch!  I've gone several more inches since I last showed it to you and the stripes just keep happening.  I love seeing them appear and disappear and the way they're very clearly stripes, but they still blend with each other.  I decided not to worry about alternating skeins as I knit and I've just been ending and starting skeins as I felt like it.  All three skeins of this yarn are in the sweater so far, but it's impossible to tell where the changes are because it all stripes.  Yes, I'm a little amused at the stripes.

In spinning news, I'm working on the sixth and final bobbin of the Cranberry Merino singles!


Thursday, August 08, 2019

Still Spinning

Cranberry spinning 
I've finished the fourth bobbin of my Cranberry Merino singles.  This puts me at 2/3 finished.  I slowed down a bit after Tour de Fleece, but I'm still planning on getting the singles spun and all the yarn plied by the end of the month.

In knitting news, I'm still knitting along on the body of my Niamh pullover.  It's a good thing I like stockinette stitch!

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, August 06, 2019

A Handspun Pullover!

As soon as I finished spinning the Aguas/Aguas/Zarzamora yarn and figured the yardage, I knew I wanted to knit a pullover with it.  Specifically, the Niamh pullover.  I even knit a gauge swatch and washed it and everything!  Then, once I finished Peasy, I finished winding the handspun skeins and cast on!
Niamh pullover in handspun
I decided to make it a bit oversized since I had the yardage to do that, so I'm knitting the M1 size.  I've never done a sweater with the Contiguous Set In Sleeve technique, but I really like it!  If you don't know what it is (I didn't until 10 minutes ago), you can knit a top down sweater in the round (kind of like a raglan, but the shaping happens in different places) and end up with a set in sleeve shape.  I'm past the upper body and sleeve shaping at this point, sleeve stitches are waiting on holders, and I'm knitting the lower section of the body.  Also, I'm getting some really fun stripes!  I realize that I will probably get wider stripes on the sleeves, but I got stripes on my gauge swatch and they were about the same size as what's showing up on the sweater.  I have no idea how that worked.  Magic yarn?  I don't even care what the stripes do, I'm just having fun knitting with my handspun!

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Thursday, August 01, 2019

Peasy Cardigan

Peasy cardigan 
It's all finished!  The Peasy Cardigan is knit in Malabrigo Arroyo in Reflecting Pool.  I knit it as the pattern directed except for the sleeves - I did gradual decreases on the sleeves to taper them with my arm.  I finished it with black shell buttons.

This was a fun project and really worked up pretty quickly.  Even with all the spinning I've been doing, I started and finished it in under a month.  I think it will be a nice, light cardigan for the cooler days that I hope are coming.  Eventually.

Have a great weekend!  In the meantime, I've cast on another sweater in handspun!