Friday, March 27, 2009
But unlike these first projects, my "Lady Violet" sock yarn from Drunkard's Dyelot roving is the first time I sat down and said, "I want to spin THIS way" and then did it. In between making the super-bulky and this first skein of 3-ply sock yarn, I worked my way through nearly eight ounces of plain brown wool, practicing drafting worsted and then woolen (not that I knew the difference at the time), and working towards thinner and thinner singles. I did it all on a 23 gram Bosworth spindle (instead of the big Ashford) starting with park-and-draft and graduating to suspended spinning. I spun bulky two-ply, DK-chain-ply, and fingering two-ply. I test-spun a small amount of my Drunkard's Dyelot roving and was able to get a fingering weight 3-ply (chain) and decided I was ready.
I had a golf-ball sized nugget of extra yarn. After winding my plies, I had two bobbins with singles remaining. I doubled one on itself and used that with the third to make this last bit of three-ply yarn. Still thinking about what to do with the big skein, I set about making myself a mini project. I'm so glad I did! The yarn knits up very nicely, but it's great to see the difference that handspun makes.
I still don't know what that will be, but I hope I can think of something lovely and perfect. And if I don't, I'm still going to end up with an awesome pair of socks.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Leyburns were on the high end of this (I think they already had around 400-450 projects) but that's still pretty low and they won the popular vote. Now Leyburns have 624 projects, and over 200 people signed up.
It's an interesting pattern and I've done one other sock by this designer before (both Leyburn socks and Anastasia socks can be found at pepperknit.com). I like that they are toe-up patterns, but don't like the provisional-cast-on toe (Judy Becker's "Magic Cast On" from Knitty is just as easy and much faster in my opinion). The stretched-float pattern is also fascinating and does a lot to break up the pooling that can happen with a hand-painted yarn. The Yarn Harlot did a stunning pair that was a lot of fun to read about. But I just couldn't leave the pattern alone. I tried to knit it as-written, but the toe was only the first thing to go.
After that, I looked at what everyone had already done, counted my stitches and figured I either needed to add three, or loose two stitches to make counts work out, and the pattern is purported to not have a whole lot of give in it. Because I really like socks that cling to my leg, I decided at the very least I wanted a little bit of ribbing right at the heel to keep it pulled in tight. After that, I decided to just keep the ribbing going the whole way. This gives you an interesting little problem.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I spent a lot of time debating how to spin this roving. I have been wanting color-repeats to match up. The very best way to do that is to chain ply (also known as Navajo plying). Some debate that this method is not as strong as a "true" three-ply yarn. Either way, I don't really enjoy chain plying. But it does mean you can keep your colors all together, rather than having them "barber-pole" and blend. I chain-plied a small amount of the roving and realized in addition to all this, the color repeats come out much shorter when chain-plying as well, since you condense the yarn by two-thirds. In the end, I opted for three-ply yarn to see how well I could keep each color section together that way. My logic was that if I really wanted the colors to stay together without blending at all, I ought to be dying the finished product and not the roving. Handspun yarn ought to blend. Or at least, that's how I feel about it right now!
I split the roving into thirds, and then each third in half again for spinning. This let me get a full two repeats of the colors in each third.
My yarn is 100 yards of fingering weight with three plies. My singles are not so heavy on twist as some earlier efforts, and I purposefully over-plied by just a little bit. This is supposed to make the yarn slightly more springy. It certainly is very squishy and soft! The colors even stayed together pretty well.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
When I came back a little later, I tried to remember all the different things I had done on the first. I had some notes, but they were a bit sketchy. Still, it's not like it was very difficult and so I jumped right in again, re-improvising in places. In the end, the two socks are extremely similar. But when I began knitting them, I didn't bother splitting the 2x2 rib when going from one DPN to the next. I just k2 and then p2 all the way around. When I got to the heel I then shifted all the needles one stitch over, so that the ribbing would be centered down the top of the foot. Only.. I didn't shift it the same way both times.
This is fine. They're socks for a child and that child (whoever it may be) is hardly going to care that a knit ridge goes down the top of one foot, and a purl trough goes down the top of the other. If they even notice. I notice, but mostly because it makes for a much nicer join at the heel, and a cleaner gusset one when I put the purls down the center. So that's good to know when I knit these for myself.
I love a non-painful learning experience.
Monday, March 9, 2009
I originally purchased alpaca without knowing much about it. I knew it felt silky-soft in the store and I loved the heathery appearance. It made a beautiful shrug. What I didn't understand is some of the various properties of alpaca. Normally it has very little crimp to the fiber, which means unlike most sheeps' wool, it doesn't have a lot of memory of its shape, and the cloth knit with it likes to drape. Over time it likes to stretch out under its own weight. It is also hollow at its core and incredibly warm. The first two properties can be offset somewhat by blending it with wool (I stranded my project with a laceweight merino). The hollow core means a pullover would be great--if I lived in Alaska. In the Pacific Northwest, not so awesome. I elected for the cardigan instead and embarked on a long process of modifying and innovating. But I've mentioned all that before!
There are parts of this sweater that make me think, "I could have done this a little differently." But when I look at the whole, it is a lovely, fashionable sweater. It is dreamily warm and looks fabulous with blue-jeans or dressier pants. I am extremely proud wearing it and love showing it off. And I appreciate every last bit of advice and help I received in creating it. I couldn't have done it without all my friends.