April's Challenge them was "Celebrate". Once again I went out of the box to pick what I thought was the ultimate celebration song, Prince's "1999". Because, let's face it, New Year's 1999 has got to have been one of the biggest parties in a long time (and we must admire Prince's genius for engineering the resurgence of his career for a brief time with this song).
For this challenge I got to bring out my brand new (at the time) ITS Crafts spindle from Europe. It's dang gorgeous. It is exactly the same weight as my cherry Bosworth spindle (23g), but it feels so much more delicate. The whorl is topped with amboyna burl, and ringed with reclaimed brass shavings in epoxy. The shaft is walnut and is gently tapered for its entire length. I'm afraid to drop it. But it spins smoothly and long (as a rim-weighted spindle should do). The roving is unknown random top from my grab-bag in purple, pink, black and grey. Not shown here is the magenta angelina I picked up because for this challenge, I have a special request.
My daughter wants a hat. Specifically she wants a purple hat. With sparkles. For the first half of this yarn, I took 6-8" lengths of roving and carefully plucked and pulled it out flat. I then laid the angelina out over the top and rolled the whole thing up like a sparkly jelly-roll. I spun the first batch from the fold, wanting a lofty, soft yarn that would barber-poll. Only the purple got the sparkles. The black went in plain. I did what I think of as "long draw", although I'm not entirely certain that's accurate. Rather than pulling the fiber in with my fingers and following the twist up into my drafting zone, I hold my single further down and let the twist grab the fiber out of my hank as it wants to. I'm still not letting more twist up into the fiber until it looks like I'm not grabbing any more. Then I open my fingers to let what twist has built up jump into the higher single and drafting zone and then pinch it off again to pull out more.
This method resulted in a more blended single. The colors across the roving mingle more. The purple/pink side came out more uniform, and the black/grey became heathered. My daughter took one look at the resulting two-ply yarn and pronounced it "not sparkly enough!". So I began again.
This time I opted to spin worsted. I'm better at it and it goes faster. I took my purple roving and broke it again into 6-8" lengths and spread each one out into big, flat squares. To these I added a LOT of angelina and rolled them up like the first. Instead of spinning from the fold, I spun from the end. I was better able to control the spread of the angelina this way, since if I got a little thin at one point I could just grab a few more strands into my drafting zone, or a few less when it got a little thick. The black section had more white in it than grey and I was able to separate them so they would stripe rather than blend. When plying, it was fascinating to see the black and white line up versus the purple and pink, making one color or other pop out.
This yarn met my daughter's approval.
The hat was knit from the top-down, increasing every other row in six places. After finishing the crown, I knit a few rows and then switched to 2x2 ribbing. I bound off the edge with some of the pink-only strand (extra that I plied back on itself). And the very last bits of yarn I wound into a pom-pom for the top. The hat is big! It easily fits me. The woolen-spun yarn is at the bottom so it is especially warm around your ears. But the beauty of 2x2 rib is that it collapses on itself and this hat still fits my daughter. And... she loves it! The crown is quite sparkly and so is the pom-pom. By using the purple ply (with the angelina in it) doubled back on itself for the bind-off, there is a little extra sparkle around her face, and she doesn't seem disappointed at all (if she even notices) that the "less sparkly" skein was used as well.