Sunday, July 18, 2010

cool wool for a hot summer

Thanks for the wedding cheer, commenters! I did knit while on my honeymoon. The project was a plain ribbed pair of handspun socks, which I more than halfway finished before we got back. Now they're 100% done.

Blaze Honeymoon Socks

Blaze Socks

I wish I could have captured the colors better. Sometimes it's hard to really get good photos of reds and pinks, and it becomes especially difficult if there are a lot of other colors there to confuse the camera.

I spun the yarn from Southern Cross Fiber polwarth, in the Blaze colorway. I think I might have talked about this yarn in a previous post, though I apologize if I haven't. I decided to spin this using a variation on the fractal method. Fractal spinning, as I understand it, is usually a two ply technique. The basic idea is to split your fiber the long way, and spin one bobbin straight from one half of the fiber, and then to split the other half into thinner sections for the second bobbin. When you ply it, you kind of get stripes within stripes. It's a bit like controlled chaos, and is very pretty.

I prefer a 3 ply for my handspun sock yarns, so I had to alter the fractal technique. First of all, I just broke the length of wool top into thirds, instead of splitting it the long way. It's really difficult to evenly split wool top the long way, and it wasn't important enough to me to try. One third of the top was spun straight from an unsplit third. The other two thirds of the singles were split; One bobbin was from a section of top split the long way into approximate halves, and the last bit was split from a section split the long way into approximate thirds. I had planned to split the fiber for the last bobbin into quarters, but sometimes you just have to do what the wool dictates, and it definitely wanted to be thirds.

I really love this technique, and will likely use something like it again for my multicolor three ply yarns. It's kind of the best of both worlds, with larger blocks of color that contain a huge amount of variety and interest. And it works especially well with well crafted colorways, such as what David dyes. Plus, polwarth is great for socks, being fairly soft and very springy. I always get great yardage from it. In case you're wondering, David doesn't pay me to plug his shop. I just love his stuff. If you can catch an update, his colorways + the polwarth base = spinning heaven.

This next pair of socks requires a lot less explanation. They're from the Little Child's Sock pattern, by Nancy Bush, found in her book Knitting Vintage Socks. For those of you who don't know the book, many of the patterns sound like they're for kids, but are actually sized for adults. That's because the vintage patterns she adapted were knit with thinner yarn and needles than we usually use for socks nowadays. So yes, these socks are for me, even though it's been about 2.5 decades since I've been a little child.

Little Yellow Big Girl's Socks

I think I knit them pretty much according to pattern, though it's possible that I ignored the toe and/or heel instructions, to do my own thing. I often do that for socks, since I know what works best for my feet.

The yarn is Lorna's Laces, and the colorway is either Firefly or Dragonfly. I can't remember which is the proper name. It was a lovely gift from Chawne, who has taught me to properly appreciate yellow socks.

I hope to soon have more knitting to share with you. Knitting that isn't socks! I admit that I knit a lot of socks because they're easy. I've got them figured out, and can cast on with confidence, knowing that what I make will fit me and look good. Sweaters take a lot more worrying and figuring. And, obviously, a lot more time to knit. But I happen to have two handspun sweaters that are just about done. I mean, really really close. One needs to have its sleeve hems tacked down, a button attached, and a good bath. The other needs a bindoff on the collar, a few ends woven in, buttons attached, and a good bath and slight blocking of the sleeves. This is stuff I could do in a few hours worth of work, but you'll probably understand when I say that the weather hasn't exactly inspired me to finish wool sweaters. Though I should confess that I also have a big swatch drying, in preparation for my next handspun sweater. Yeah...

Handspun Oatmeal Merino

Handspun Oatmeal Merino

That's about 1200 yards of handspun worsted weight yarn. It was my first time spinning from a pin drafted fleece. In this case, it was a merino fleece. There's a very good chance that I will knit Laura Chau's Carter Cardigan with the yarn, though I will have to measure my swatches to be sure that the gauge will work. One of the sweaters that I almost have completed is also one of Laura's patterns. She designs really nice, classic and flattering sweaters, and her patterns are well written. So I really hope the gauge works out, because I look forward to working from her patterns again!

Since I've already fawned over a few fiber people whose work I love, I might as well add one more, to end the post. It's no surprise that I love Adrian of Hello Yarn's dyeing. It's hard to catch her shop updates, so I especially prize her fiber, and it took me a long time to figure out how I wanted to spin up this stuff:

Figgish Handspun

Figgish Handspun

Figgish Handspun

This handspun is from Shetland top, in her Figgish colorway. I have about 8 oz. of a heavy worsted, and I have no idea what I'll do with it. Which is fine, because it makes me happy just to look at it as-is.

I have purposely not talked about my biggest current project, which is spinning 40 oz. of top in 20 different colors for the Tour De Fleece. I think I'll wait until that's done, so I have something left to post about next time. I will say that it's going well, and that there is a growing pile of beautiful DK weight skeins sitting in my office.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


I got married! I wore this:

Clothilde Wedding Shawl

Clothilde Wedding Shawl

Clothilde, by Kristen Hanley Cardozo, knit in hand dyed (by me) Fiesta Yarns Baby Boom, originally a light gray.

It was beautiful and perfect. (The wedding, not just the shawl!)

Before all of that, I knit another shawl:

Handspun Prairie Rose Shawl

Handspun Prairie Rose Shawl

Prairie Rose Lace Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark, knit out of handspun merino/tencel yarn.

My current big project is a whole bunch of spinning:

Tour de Fleece spinning project.

Tour de Fleece spinning project.

I'm spinning 20 2 oz. skeins of 2 ply, from 2 almost solid wool blend samplers from Spunky Eclectic. I've been wanting to knit a colorful log cabin blanket for a while, and this seemed like a good way to do it. I'll spin up all the yarn, and then decide which colors I want to use, and where. You know me. You can be sure that there will be math and graph paper involved. It will be fun!

I have other exciting things going on, too, but I'll wait until they're in a better shape for photos before I share. For example, I have one awesome handspun sweater that is about 2" of collar, a good blocking, and 7 or 8 buttons away from being done. I could finish it this afternoon, but it's 80 degrees out, and my spinning wheel is calling to me.