Tuesday, April 24, 2007

one big tube

Autumn Color Cardigan, April 24, 2007

My needles are liberated. I love the moment when you finish binding off, or, as in this case, putting stitches on holders. Free needles! They get to breathe, after days or weeks or months smothered in wool. It's a grand feeling.

The sweater obviously isn't done, but I've reached a real milestone here. I've completed the bottom part of the body, up to the armpits. My next step is to knit 2 sleeves. Then the sleeves will be joined with the body, for some in-the-round set in sleeve shaping, to go along with the yoke.

I was asked about both spit splicing and evenness in the comments on my last post. First of all, my fabric isn't perfectly even. That's what blocking is for. Secondly, I think the only way to become confident in your stranded colorwork skills (and happy with the products) is experience. My skills have certainly improved a whole lot over the past couple of years. As for spit splicing, there is a nice illustrated explanation here. For the record, I use water, not spit. That way I can eat chocolate while knitting. I also found that sucking on the wool (because there's no way I'd have the stomach to spit onto it) resulted in fibers in my mouth. A little cup of water is really the way to go, in my book.

And how about something completely different? Vastly, wildly different. For me, at least. This weekend, I walked down to my local bookstore, and bought a copy of Spinning in the Old Way.

I swear, it's not because it's trendy. It's because a co-worker has a farm, and has offered me a fleece. And even though I don't know how to spin, if someone is going to offer me a fleece, I'm going to accept it. Spinning is one of those things I knew I eventually wanted to learn how to do, because it will bring me one step closer to making things from scratch. And starting from a fleece, as opposed to pre-dyed and processed roving, is the way I envisioned I'd start. I didn't expect it to happen so soon, but now that the opportunity is here, I'm getting quite excited about it. A couple of friends recommended Spinning in the Old Way to me when I mentioned this new potential undertaking, and as they both know my personality and crafting style pretty well, I took that as a sign that this was the book for me. I've skimmed through the entire book and closely read the first half, and am about ready to declare my devotion to top-whorl spindling, though I have yet to lay my hands on a spindle. Or fiber.

While I wait for my fleece and read up on spinning, I have some planning and preparation to do. I've already received excellent instructions on how to wash the fleece, and am in the process of deciding between using a drum carder (which I'll probably be able to borrow from another co-worker, as I obviously work for the best employer in the nation), or trying to track down (or *gulp* buy) cards for hand carding. I'm leaning towards hand carding, and would commit to it full force if it weren't for the necessary expense of buying the equipment. (If you really want to alleviate my anxiety over this, feel free to buy 10 or 15 copies of the hat pattern. That should cover it. She says with a wry smile.)

Despite my desire to do things from scratch, with a raw fleece, I expect to buy a drop spindle and some prepared fiber to start out with. I don't expect to become an expert spinner right away, but I'd prefer that my first spinning experience isn't with the fiber that I slaved over to prepare. Plus, if the fleece thing doesn't work out, Gibson-Roberts' book has gotten me so excited about all of the geeky, scientific aspects of spinning that there is no turning back now. The mere prospect of a fleece has bootstrapped me into a spinner. So this is going to happen, one way or another. And now I have a really good reason to try to make it to the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival next month. I'm hoping there will be some good deals on locally made spindles, cards, and fiber. I'm just bursting to learn these new skills.

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Blogger Theresa said...

That's super-impressive. Gorgeous.

4/24/2007 7:53 PM  
Blogger Elinor said...

Wow. I think that's up there in the blogosphere hall of fame knits. It looks fantastic!

4/24/2007 8:08 PM  
Blogger Romi said...

Wow! It takes my breath away! The colors sing arias to me! I love it. :)

4/24/2007 8:25 PM  
Blogger Angelika said...

I have to admit the pink bugged me a bit at first, but now I see where it fits in just perfect.

4/24/2007 9:54 PM  
Blogger Kit said...

I like the vibrant colors offset with the band of cooler colors.

And I like spinning and now I kind of want a spinning wheel but I'm strapped for space. But drop spindles sure are nice and fun to work with.

4/24/2007 10:07 PM  
Blogger Melissa Van Oort said...

It's beautiful! The colors work so well together.

4/25/2007 8:12 AM  
Blogger Miss Bea said...

Absolutely stunning! A masterpiece in progress.

NH Sheep and Wool will be my first fiber festival experience, I'm very excited. My checkbook on the other hand, will be off in a corner somewhere shivering in fear...


4/25/2007 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, that sweater. It's a killer.

I think you'll like spinning, especially for the geeky science bits. Once you get going, another book that will give you that feeling is Alden Amos' Big Book of Handspinning. Some people consider it a bit much, but I find myself totally charmed by a fiber book that contains equations.

4/25/2007 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoy your new obsession! It sounds as though you're approaching it very thoughtfully.

As others have said, the sweater looks fantastic.

4/25/2007 12:54 PM  
Blogger Moiface said...

I agree. The sweater is looking fan-freekin'-tastic!

4/25/2007 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sweater looks great.

Trendy! It just warms my heart that spinning is considered trendy.

4/25/2007 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I Googled "symphonic knitting" and found your site (I'm listening to a Beethoven CD and writing about "process vs. production knitting"). Anyway, your J&S sweater project is AMAZING! I will be returning to your blog often!
Ray Whiting

4/26/2007 7:09 AM  
Blogger Jamisyn said...

Welcome to the world of spinning! I am sure you will enjoy it. I find it way more relaxing than knitting. Remember, practice always makes perfect. When I started spinning, I was told to practice at least fifteen minutes a day. Now I create beautiful and consistent yarns that I LOVE to knit with. Good luck!

4/26/2007 9:45 AM  
Blogger Jessie Blum @ Eclectic Unions said...

Beautiful. The colors really shine in the pattern. I can't wait to see the sleeves!

4/28/2007 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love those colors!!! Can't wait to see what's next.

4/28/2007 9:50 PM  
Blogger Ilix said...

lovley sweater base!
Just wanted to throw in my thoughts.... I am also the happy recipient of free fleece! YAY! I have found that washing it is easy, time consuming, and nessacary! I would also encourage you to consider dyeing it with koolaid or Wilton cake dyes. The colours are brilliant! Have fun, can't wait to see.

4/29/2007 1:25 AM  
Blogger Christy said...

Definitely a great milestone. I really want to try my hand at spinning this summer; I plan to get a drop spindle at roving at a fiber festival in June.

4/29/2007 12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find myself coming back to this post repeatedly just to look and marvel. Holy moo. That's just spectacular.

5/16/2007 11:02 PM  

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