Monday, April 28, 2008


When I was a child I had a pink canopy bed. As you can imagine, I outgrew that fashion statement. While I was certainly not a tomboy, I don't think I was ever a really girly girl, so it surprises me a bit that I had that frilly, pink furniture. Imagine how surprised I am that now, solidly ensconced in my 30's, I've rediscovered my inner pink. But this time it's not because of Barbie or My Little Pony, or cultural expectations of what a girl should be or like. I think I just like pink.

Pink Granite hank

That huge hank is a Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sheep 2 Shoe kit, in the Pink Granite colorway. (I live in the Granite State. This wasn't a Pink statement, I swear!) 6.9 oz., 508 yards, 3 ply, 16 wpi, sportweight. I spun it the way I've become most comfortable spinning, which is short draw worsted, with high twist.

Pink Granite niddy closeup

This was a big project for me, and I'm quite satisfied with the results. The kit recommends that you split the roving into three equal strips, so the colors will line up when you ply the singles. I know from experience that this is an almost impossible task for me, but I took inspiration from something else mentioned in the instructions. They said to break off smaller sections to spin with, presumably to make the spinning more manageable. What I decided to do was to break off sections before splitting the roving. The dye on the roving went white, pink, black, pink, and then back to white, and I tore off roving in the middle of the white sections, yielding just under an ounce each time. Then I split those smaller sections into thirds, and spun each third on a separate bobbin. This meant a lot of bobbin changes, but I felt it also gave me a better chance of evenly splitting the roving amongst the bobbins, since I could make up for uneven splitting in one round on subsequent rounds. If I were really smart, I would have kept track of the number of grams of roving each bobbin got per round, so I could truly even them out, instead of just estimating.

In the end, of course my bobbins ended up getting off kilter from each other. It's really hard to keep things even. But because there is more pink than black or white, there are sections even late in the plying where I had solid or quasi-solid strips of pink, which is nice. And I didn't end up with that much leftover after the shortest bobbin was exhausted -- 12 grams of leftovers in total, which I Navajo plied. (My next spinning project will be Navajo plied, so I'm taking every opportunity possible to practice that technique.)

I should also mention that I fit all 6.9 ounces onto one bobbin. Schacht Matchless bobbins are supposed to hold about 4 ounces, so I'm pretty astounded. The bobbin was bulging, but not so much that it interfered with the plying. I had been planning to ply about half, wind it onto the niddy noddy, and then ply the second half separately. But when the bobbin was nearing "full", I noticed how low the singles were, and decided to see how far I could push it. Impressively far is the answer!

The fiber was pleasant to work with, and came less compacted than any other fiber I've used, to date. I probably could have gotten away without predrafting at all, if I'd wanted. The black bits felt a bit dry, but overall this was my favorite merino spinning experience. My only complaint about the kit is that it was about an ounce short. An ounce may not sound like a lot, but those of you who spin know how much fiber an ounce really is. Now, I think that 7.5 of fiber, instead of the 8.5 that were supposed to be in the kit, is still a decent deal at the price they sell the kits for. (Even then, it's still comparable in price to what a lot of independent dyers charge.) I just wish they were more accurate in their weights, and wish I had that last ounce, in case I run out of yarn while knitting the knee high socks I have in mind for this yarn. But I'd still buy a kit from them again. It was a great spinning experience, and the dye job was just lovely.

I like my Pink Granite yarn better than the Pink Granite colorway of Socks That Rock. The subtlety you get from spinning the pre-dyed fiber if fabulous. A full range of pinks and purples, with delicate pinks where the pink meets the white, and with deep vampiric purples where the pink meets the black. I almost wish I Navajo plied all of it, just to keep those colors more pure. Here's another bobbin photo:

Francie and bobbins

You can also see the beginnings of a Francie sock in there. That's in STR lightweight, in the Rose Quartz colorway. I've loved that colorway for a long time, and am happy to finally have an excuse to use it. (The socks are for my mom, who requested them after seeing them on the blog.) More pink, and pinks that match the pinks in my handspun, to boot!

I've blogged a lot about spinning lately. And socks. Sock and spinning, spinning and socks. It feels like that's all I've worked on for a long time. The Autumn Color Cardigan is on hiatus (with all those colors, it can be a logistical nightmare to work on), and I've been feeling the need to work on something bigger than socks. Thanks to a leftover yarn swap with someone on Ravelry, I got to try some Reynolds Whiskey, and was happy to find that it will work with the sweater pattern I've had my eyes on. More on that after I cast on, but here's a peek at the yarn:

what you do with a yarnhole

Who can resist a yarn bellybutton? You know you want to stick your finger in! Notice the color? I had a couple of gift certificates for my LYS, and decided to pick up the yarn for the sweater this weekend. I was trying to choose between two colors, and when I asked K. for her opinion, she pointed out that the color above matched what I was wearing. The lovely ladies of Stash and Burn are so right. I chose the color I was wearing for a reason, so it must be fate. I had to buy that one. (I really loved the other color, too, but it was probably too dark for the patterning on the upcoming sweater.) I just hope I don't outgrow this pink phase too soon...

But it's not been all pink. I let loose and did some wild and craze experimenting with blue:


Doesn't look like my usual spinning, does it? The experimenting wasn't really the blue. It was the style of spinning. I gave some long draw woolen techniques a try, and while I have a very long way to go before I'll be comfortable using any of these techniques for a project, I learned a lot and started to get a feel for it. It was quite frustrating at times, and I do think I could benefit a whole lot from some hands-on instruction. But I also have a lot more of the blue/green batts to play with, so maybe I'll be able to improve enough on my own to feel confident in my longdraw abilities by the time I finish this blue bobbin. If anything, it was a humbling experience. So much of what I've been spinning has been the same thing over and over again. I've gotten pretty good at it, but that doesn't make me a good spinner. That just makes me good at one very specialized kind of spinning. I want to be a good spinner, overall, and these blue batts will get me closer to that goal.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Browns Of Spring

It's quite a shame that we seem to have skipped over mud season in New Hampshire this year, because it would have been the perfect name for my most recent completed yarn.

Zabet's yarn

If I were really clever, I would have thought of that name for it before I sent it to its recipient, so I could have made a fancy Mud Season label for it.

Zabet's yarn

What do pastels have to do with Spring, really? Spring is all about mud and dirt, with little hints of green and vibrant color poking through. This is the perfect Spring yarn. You just didn't know it until now!

I spun the yarn from merino roving I bought from Fibrespace Supplies. She has several collections of merino rovings in color groups. I've already spun up the rainbow roving, and have a collection of rose colored roving that I have fun plans for. This was spun from the forest colors, plied with a chocolate brown. There are 2 skeins, weighing about 180 grams in total, at just under 500 yards, for a 15.5(ish) wpi 2 ply sportweight yarn.

The best thing about spinning yarn for other people? They get to decide what to do with it. No pressure, eh?

I have managed to get a bit of knitting done in addition to all of the spinning. However, I haven't figured out, yet, how to rationalize black and blue as springtime colors. So there goes that theme:

Haida socks for Jules

Those are pretty plain socks, but I expect you to be all impressed at how big they are. I got an unexpectedly large amount of sock out of one skein of lightweight Socks That Rock, so if the pleasure of knitting socks to warm a friend's husband's feet wasn't enough, I now know how much sock I get get from STR. Good information to have! If you're curious, these socks are 64 sts around in 2x2 ribbing, 8 stitches/inch, 11 rows/inch, 6" leg (before heel flap, so 8" total height), 11" foot (an excess of foot, if you ask me -- what do they do with all that flesh?), and about 5 grams of yarn leftover when all was said and done. (And that was with a skein that was at least a few grams short from the beginning.)

I think that photo captures the colors fairly accurately. I was impressed with the colorway, as I've heard that some people had problems with black dye coming off on hands or in soak water with the Raven series. My hands were clean, and my soak water was clear. I'd certainly consider knitting with some of this stuff again.

The mega-socks haven't been my only Blue Moon Fiber Arts project as of late. I'm almost done with a Sheep 2 Shoe kit in the Pink Granite colorway. I have about 15-20 grams (out of 8.5 oz!) left to spin before plying, so I'll have a lot of information on that soon.

pink granite bobbin

What I'll say about it now is how strange it is that I chose this colorway, as I just finished knitting up a Raven colorway, and have started knitting socks in the Rose Quartz colorway. The Pink Granite roving has the black of the Ravens, as well as pinks that are exactly the same as the pinks in the Rose Quartz, making it quite strange to alternate between the knitting as the spinning, since the spinning is nowhere near ready to knit, yet I continuously feel as if I'm already knitting with it! I adore the pinks in the roving and in the Pink Quartz yarn (which I've been looking for an excuse to try for a long time), but one thing I'm learning during this spinning project is that I'll be reluctant to buy a Sheep 2 Shoe kit in a Raven colorway. For some reason, I just don't like spinning the black parts of the roving nearly as much as the rest of it. It feels harder to spin evenly (maybe because of the darkness), and feels dry. But more on that in a week or so (I hope), when I have some finished yarn to show you. I'm so excited to ply, and see what I get!

I've felt kind of uninspired regarding written expression lately, so apologies if this post seems dry or awkwardly worded. I just needed to push through and get something out, lest you (and I) think I fell in a deep, dark mud pit. So look at the pretty pictures and ignore the rest if necessary, okay?

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