Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WiseSweater KAL - Back

Here's the first part of my sweater!

We're waiting for the "widget" that generates our pattern to be updated with the next portion. Since Sandi Wiseheart is having it programmed from scratch, it takes a bit of time. That's just fine. I have plenty of other Christmas knitting to work on and I'm sure that would find itself on the back burner if I had the temptation of more of this sweater to finish!

I really love the yarn, but I'm concerned I'll run short. I don't really want to cut the sleeves shorter than they have to be, but so far that is the obvious "fix" to not having enough yarn. Buying more may be problematic, since I bought the last ball from WEBS a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully they'll get the color back in if I need more. Hopefully the dyelots will be close enough it won't drive me crazy.

But most hopefully, I'll have just enough yarn to finish everything exactly the way I want.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

AVFKW - Pro-Verbial club

This is the first bobbin of "A Whale's Migratory Tale", the first offering from the Pro-Verbial Club from A Verb for Keeping Warm. Four total shipments will be offered (the choice was given to receive yarn or unspun, and of course, I like to spin my own) of a shawl pattern and a particular fiber base dyed by Kristine.

This fiber is Blue Face Leicester and tussah silk dyed with Indigo. The original yarn for the club was a two-ply with 400 yards. The shawl is a lovely, textural piece designed by Stephen West called Blue Whale (Ravelry link). For the sort of knit/purl textures Stephen was focusing on, I really like a three-ply yarn (Okay, I always prefer a three-ply yarn. It's a weakness of mine). The beauty of spinning it myself is that I can have a three-ply yarn if I want it!

I really wanted to stay consistent throughout this project, so I spun some undyed BFL/Silk from Textiles a Mano first. That came out much too thick, so I adjusted my single and then taped a bit of it to a notecard so that I could refer back to it throughout my time spinning. This worked great! The bobbin shown above was the first of three, but they all came out very, very similar.

As I worked, some of the first feedback came in on the shawl. At least one knitter ran short of yarn, and I know that handspun usually achieves less yardage than millspun yarn (especially since I'm working a three-ply instead of two). So in order to increase my yardage I decided to add in some of that oatmeal-colored BFL/silk blend. I purposefully divided the indigo-dyed fiber unevenly so that it would run out at different points, and as it ran out I simply switched over to spinning the other, undyed fiber.

Because of this, there is a lovely transition in the yarn where each ply of blue runs out and turns into oatmeal-brown BFL. There are hints of brown in the indigo-dyed fiber that tie it all together. And the transition also reminds me of the unique white patterning displayed on the underside of Humpback whale tails.

I'm chomping at the bit to get knitting on this one, but I really must finish up the last few Christmas projects, first.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sample, Sample, Sample

BFL/Silk - undyed
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Sampling is the Swatching of the spinning world. In order to spin yarn for a particular purpose, you need to figure out how to make the fiber conform to your needs. Thus, you sample. You spin some small amount of the fiber (hoping, of course, that you have plenty more to actually spin for your project) and see if what you create has the properties you want for the intended end-use.

This fiber, unfortunately, does not conform to my needs. I need light-fingering weight yarn. I spun sport, maybe DK. It's really pretty though and I'll enjoy using it eventually. The fiber is a BFL/silk blend that I picked up at Textiles a Mano. I spun it as a test for working with an indigo-dyed BFL/silk blend I have from a Fiber/Shawl club I'm in this year (The Pro-Verbial Club, from A Verb for Keeping Warm). We only have four ounces of a limited colorway to produce about 400 yards of yarn, and this sample isn't going to cut it.

Guess I'll just try again!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hless is More

AbbyBatts - Hless
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
500 yards more! For a three-ply yarn, that's a lot of spinning, but every moment was worth it. To prolong the enjoyment, the singles were spun on my Bosworth Cherry Midi spindle, but once that was complete I plied the entirety on my wheel. The spindle gives me a lot more fine control and good speed for creating the singles, but the wheel shines in the plying process.

This yarn was made from three AbbyBatts (a delectable treat I allow myself only on very rare occasion due to the high-but-totally-worth-it price of each batt). The final skein is just about four ounces and at that weight the yardage is excellent. It is firmly in the "fingering weight" class of yarn.

I suppose I could knit socks from this yarn, but that would be crazy! I'd like to design a specialty cowl and use beads I've picked up specifically to match this yarn. I have a general idea in my head but will have to start sketching out particulars sometime soon. Designing always makes the process go slower. I'm even tempted to knit the idea first in some commercially-spun yarn so as not to court disaster with my "precious" one-of-a-kind skein.

So there will be more installments of this particular saga, eventually.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

vSOAR - Fine Fibers

SOAR is the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat, held every year in (duh) Autumn. The location varies each year, shifting across the United States from West, to Central, to Eastern locations each year. This year, SOAR was in Wisconsin. Not only is that a bit too far to travel, I'm just not in a point in my life where I can pick up for a week and flit off to enjoy an idyllic week on my own, far from family and other responsibilities.

Luckily for me, I don't have to go. The Friends of AbbysYarns group on Ravelry decided to hold a "Virtual SOAR" where each of us would design our own three-day workshop, and continue on with other activities.

I decided to spin fine fibers. I had originally intended to spin my special sampler of cashmere, yak and guanaco fiber. But since I chickened out once again, I broke into a package of pure angora fiber.

vSOAR - Angora spinning
I started with a supported spindle. I expected things to go well, but ran into several difficulties. Despite the fact that I have spun quite a bit of cotton on this supported spindle, I couldn't get the angora to behave. It didn't want to even out as the cotton would. I also started to have a horrific allergic reaction just a couple of grams into spinning. So I did a little bit more on the wheel and threw in the towel.

The next day, after recovering from my allergies, I decided to try and get as much done as I could outside. I carded my remaining angora fiber into rolags with my hand-cards out on the back porch. And when that proved to be too cold, I moved into the garage. I ended up with angora all over me, but no allergic reaction. So far, so good. Rather than push it, I left the spinning for the next day.

vSOAR - Angora spinning
Finally I got to work on the wheel for a bit. Again I spun out in the garage. But this time I bundled up in a raincoat and threw an old jacket over my lap as well, so I wouldn't end up covered completely in fiber. It spun much more easily from the rolag, and by the end I felt really competent again.

I think in the future I would combine the angora with some wool fiber. This would stretch the angora, and still halo. But it would have more body and memory. Still, the skeins I spun are deliciously soft. I'm going to knit at least one small rabbit out of this yarn. I think it's a perfect project!