May 27, 2008

Yarny pride

I had heard so many horror stories about plying on the drop spindle, but since my (potential) wheel won't be arriving for a while I also didn't want to sit around with a pile of singles and not make any finished yarn!

So I gave it a try.

Here's the system I cooked up:

I had Alex (the husband) drill 1/2 inch holes in the tops of those two containers, filled the bottoms with coins for weight, and popped a center pull ball of single in each of them. (I spun up the leftover rolags on the drop spindle and wound it into two roughly equal balls.) I kept them nice and far apart on the floor so the singles wouldn't find each other before I wanted them to, and then ran them up and over my hand and arm. The only tangle (which was near disastrous) came from the outside strand of one of the balls catching on the center pull strand. I didn't notice until the double strand was at the top of my hand and by that point it had caused a hot mess. I'll have to figure out how to prevent that in the future.

And here's the result:

I obviously still have a lot to learn. Parts of my yarn are over plyed and over spun. A few parts of it are underspun. It definitely varies in thickness and I have a few slubby bits in there.

That said, I am unseemingly, immodestly proud of this yarn. This is fiber that I took from unwashed fleece to two ply yarn with just hand cards and a drop spindle, and I enjoyed every step of the process. Spinning = love. More, please!

May 25, 2008

Sedalia Fiber Festival

Yesterday my husband and I took a pleasant drive out to Big Island, VA for the small but fun Sedalia Fiber Festival. First things first: baby animals!!

Wouldn't be a fiber festival without fuzz on the hoof.

Now that I've had a teenietiny bit of spinning experience I noticed myself being drawn to different things than at last fall's Montpelier festival (except the baby animals, which have always been a draw). Which is probably how I ended up coming home with this:

That's four ounces each of undyed merino on the left and undyed corriedale on the right, from ISeeSpots Farm. I'd better get busy with that drop spindle!

Another treat of the festival was seeing how Ravelry is influencing the whole fiber community. As I was oggling the displays I spotted a yarn that looked mighty familiar:
It turns out that the woman behind Rock Creek Yarn has just recently gotten started dying yarn and I recognized her colorways from her Ravelry ad! She's super nice and enthusiastic and I eagerly brought home a skein of her gorgeous Simply Sock in the Sedona colorway. Yum.

I think this might end up being the first pair of socks for the Summer of Socks 2008.

May 24, 2008

First yarn!

Last night was the second (and final) installment of my spinning class and here's what I came home with:

Yes, it's bumpy, lumpy, thick, thin, and fluffy - but it's yarn! And I made it!

We made a bobbin full of new single at the beginning of class and then plied it together with what we made last week. I really enjoyed plying but also see why a tensioned lazy kate helps a LOT. My bobbins kept jumping of my (non-tensioned) lazy kate when I would stop pulling from them, and the ensuing tangle was pretty ugly. And I think that some of the over-plied sections of the yarn come from me pausing to sort out the bobbins and then adding more twist to an already plied section. D'oh! No excuse available for the under-plied sections though...

I bought the drop spindle from Barbara (who might be the kindest, most patient teacher in the world!) and plan on practicing more with the hope of eventually getting a wheel. So much fun!

May 23, 2008

Risky Business

The body of my norwegian sweater has been nagging at me. How could I make such a simple gauge mistake? I was extremely irritated that something I put so much work into would not fit because of my lack of attention. Irritated enough to rip back? Heck no! Remember how I feel about two color purling? That was enough to make me live, unhappily, with the sweater's finished measurements.

But really? It bugged me.

So today I did something desperate. Something risky. Something I never thought I'd do with a handknit.

I put the body of the sweater in the dryer.
(bum bum bum BUUUUUUUUUM!)

Wool in the dryer? Nooo! I was more nervous that the first time I steeked. I checked it every minute.
But guess what?

It shrank up perfectly!! The sweater will FIT!! Halleluiah for the dryer! And hopefully I'll have learned my lesson so I never have to do something so drastic again.

And now, to celebrate, here are some photos of the inside- postshrink.

May 22, 2008


Okay. I feel a little more down to earth after going out to Stony Mountain Fibers and spinning for a few hours. (love, love, love, LOVE spinning! Can't wait to go back tomorrow!) But I'm still head over heels for these sock yarns that came in the mail today.

I'm reposting the photo from the last post because I just can't get enough of this color!

This skein comes from Enchanted Knoll Farm in Maine, and the entrancing colorway is called Queen Mermaid. SWOON! The family at Enchanted Knoll run their farm on solar power and hand spin and dye their yarn. I seriously think it might be the most beautiful skein I've ever held in my hands. It's keeping me company at the computer right now.

This is Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Indian Summer, and the colors are a bit more intense in person. I'm venturing outside my normal colorzone with this one, but something about it drew me right in. The yarn has stronger contrast color changes than I normally go for, so I'll have to search out the right pattern for these.

Aaaaand I got more Smooshy. The spring tickle Hedgerow socks have been such a joy to knit - a lofty yarn and the color! Ooooh the color! I was hunting for a sockyarn for my mom (who had better not be reading - she knows it isn't allowed!) and this color is PERFECT for her. The folks at Dream in Color come up with the most perfectly descriptive names - this one is called Beach Fog and it's right on! So evocative.

And that's what came in the mail today. On Saturday I'm probably heading out to a small fiber festival so maybe I'll have more to share soon!


I have to run out the door so I can't post all about the stash enhancement that just arrived in the mail but I can't resist just one photo, even if it makes me late to spinning practice:

Two more skeins plus info on this one to come later. For now, just swim in that color.

May 21, 2008


It's the mad dash to the birthday due-date here! The sleeve, thankfully, is going quicker than I expected. Add to that the inch I'm taking off in length to compensate for the width of the shoulders on the body and I think the sleeves will be done with time to put the whole sheband together and (re)block.

I love the ultra-traditional puff of the sleeve after the cuff. Just a few more inches of fleas and I'll be ready for the top pattern on the sleeve. Then, sleeve #2! Woo!

Want to hear about my heart dropping to the center of the earth? The other day I woke up to the sound of my dog chewing on something. In my morning daze I just managed to remember that the sweater body was blocking on the bathroom floor. And I had forgotten to shut the door behind me after a midnight trip. Noooooooooo!
The damage was minimal, thank goodness. Today I repaired it without even having to rip back- just a bit of duplicate stitche here and there, and some readjustment of tension. It could have been so, so much worse. Honestly it makes me queasy even thinking about it, so I won't.

The body is reblocking after a hot bath to try to shrink it up a bit (unsuccessful so far!) and you'd better believe I won't be forgetting to shut the door behind me!

May 19, 2008

Drop spindle experimentation

I'm starting to wonder whether I'm going to have to change the name of this blog to Vildish Knits and Spins. So far this process is puuuuuulling me away from my needles, but I don't know whether that's the novelty of it all or whether it'll have staying power. For now, I'm just enjoying the learning.

Today I washed my bit of fleece - a wholey unexciting process, but satisfying nonetheless. While it soaked I carded the washed fleece that Barbara gaves us and gave the drop spindle my first try. I have some learning to do, that's for sure!
But here's what I got:

As you can see I'm all over the place with the thickness and thinness, but I think I'm getting better. I hope. I had a really hard time keeping the twist out of the drafting zone and the resulting difficulty in drafting was the cause of most the big lumps in my single.

My next bit of homework is to card the fleece I washed today and after spinning with what I carded today I think I learned a few things about what to watch out for in carding.

Overall, I found drop spindle spinning to be less relaxing and more difficult than wheel spinning, but still a great experience that I'll be trying again for sure! (especially since wheels are so darned expensive!)

May 17, 2008


Yesterday my friend Shana and I took our first spinning class. What fun! Barbara at Stony Mountain Fibers is a great teacher and I'm so looking forward to next week!

Here I am, giving it my best beginner's shot. You can tell by the lumpy quality of the single that I have some learning to do. (ha! Understatement!)

Barbara sent us home with homework. We have a chunk of unwashed fleece that we are supposed to wash and card to get ready for spinning next week. She also sent us home with some washed fleece that we can card and practice spinning with a drop spindle.

Some pictures:

My curious dog:

Hand carders:

Vegetable matter. Pick, pick, pick.

If I do any drop spindle spinning you'll be hearing about that, too!

May 15, 2008

Body: done! (sort of)

Yesterday I cast off the body for my Dad's sweater and gave it a good wet blocking. When I spread it out on the towel and took the measuring tape to it, I got a nasty surprise: it was two inches longer than I expected! Oh no! Some of this was due to the yarn stretching while wet, and some of it was my own darned fault for not keeping better track of gauge. Argh.
After blocking, remeasuring, panicking, placing phone calls, remeasuring, checking the original email with secretly obtained measurements, etc. I think it's going to be okay. The length is within the range that his current sweaters are, and while the width is a bit over I think that'll be okay. It'll just be a large, outdoor, layering kind of sweater, which is appropriate for a ski sweater. Right? RIGHT??

Well, here it is. The lighting is funny and there's obviously still a lot of work to do on it (split neck lining, collar, SLEEVES!) but it's coming along! I think I'll be able to finish it in time.

May 13, 2008


An announcement:

I hate purling in two colors.

That is all.

May 11, 2008

Old habits die hard.

About seven months ago I figured out that I had accidentally knit Eastern style my whole life. It was a major revelation and now that I've relearned Western style I keep Eastern on the back burner for occasional combination knitting moments. So no major disaster, right?

Well, little chunks of my old ways keep popping up. I've been working on choosing a ribbing style for the split neck band on my Dad's sweater, and decided that my regular 1x1 just looked too sloppy. So I go to twisted rib. But I just can't make it back and forth! I keep ending up with untwisted or twisted in opposite direction stitches. Rargh!

And that's when the helpful Technique forum on Ravelry comes to the rescue. A closer look at my knitting showed that my ptbl stitches ended up with the wrong leg leading...

... I was still wrapping my ptbl stitches Eastern style! Aaaaaah!
My ribbing problem is now solved, but I can't help but wonder how many more times this little bit of my technique history will pop back up.

On the bright side, all this rigmarole has made me pay very close attention to how I knit, and I've learned a few things along the way. Hurray for that!

May 10, 2008

Busy bee

My semester is almost over, and then it will be the summer of knits! Summer of socks starts in June, so I'm going to try to get some big projects done by then. (Norwegian sweater, I'm looking at you.) I just ordered a pile of large addi circs. I had nothing in my collection over a size 7 and for some upcoming things I needed 8s, 9s, and 10s! I expect it will be a fun change of pace.

One of the upcoming projects will involve 6 balls of this beauty:
Classic Elite Princess, in a gorgeous dark teal/peacock color. It's taking serious restraint to keep from dropping everything and casting this on right now. Well, restraint and the fact that I don't have the right sized needles yet. Details!

I'm also planning some sock yarn stash enhancement in preparation for the Summer of Socks. I asked for advice on sock yarn in the Summer of Socks forum on Ravelry and got an overwhelming response. My shopping list is now out of control. I'll be knitting mostly Christmas present socks so it hardly even counts as stashing! Right??