Sunday, July 27, 2008

Walking On The Sun

Walking on the Sun mosaic

superwash merino, dyed by Spunky Eclectic
104 grams 262 yards
17 wpi (untensioned), 23 wpi (tensioned)
plus a little bit of leftovers that I chain plied, not pictured

It's currently zipping along to California, to live with my friend Jen, who not only makes things with yarn, but who also makes music. (No, really, makes music. As in, dreams up wonderful things, then writes down notes that tell other people what to sing or play. Okay, it may be a bit more difficult and involved than I make it sound, but you get the picture. How cool is that!)

I have a few other things to show you guys, but I'm going to save them, and spread them out a bit. I've gone through a very long period of infrequent but very full blog posts, and am going to try out slightly (SLIGHTLY) more frequent but less full posts. Let's see how I like it!

I also feel like being a bit chatty today, so I'll try that out, too. Summer has really been wearing on me, for a variety of reasons, and I already have autumn on my mind. Aside from the normal stressful things about summer (namely that it's almost always too hot), some good stressful stuff (house buying!) and bad stressful stuff (health stuff) have me thinking a lot about life a few months from now, when the air will be crisp and cool, and the stressful stuff will be mostly behind me, leaving me to relax a bit more.

I have grand plans for the autumn and winter, few of which I'm sure will happen, because I always dream up more than I could do in the time-frame in which I want to do it. (It doesn't help that that time frame is often RIGHTNOW.) I have all of this great handspun that I am longing to see fulfill its destiny and turn into something other than stash drawer filler. (Really, all good yarns deserve to be more than stash drawer filler, don't they? One reason I don't stash a lot is because I find it mildly distressing to see all that great potential just sitting there, mostly hidden, not doing or being anything.) I have yarn for a sweater, and I long to knit a sweater. (RIGHTNOWRIGHTNOW of course!)

I'm also expanding my spinning horizons, and am working on my first longdraw project right now. And I have 8 oz. of washed corriedale, and a pair of hand carders on their way to me, in anticipation of taking my adventures in fiber one step closer to the sheep. Of course, the next step after that is buying a whole fleece, hand carding it, spinning it, and knitting up a sweater from it. And of course, that's probably a sweater I'd want to design.

And then there are the design ideas. I'm not actively working on anything right now (see above, re stress!), but have a few vague ideas I hope to get to eventually, and one thing that I just pitched to Amy Singer in an email, because I think it may be a good Knitty pattern. (Or set of patterns. But I shall say no more, in case she's interested!)

Basically, I want to be doing Big Things right now, but don't have the time or energy. But writing about them makes them all seem a bit more real, so thanks for indulging me. I also hope it gets you guys thinking about the Big Things you want to do, whether you plan to do them right away, this autumn, or even later. You don't have to spill the beans right now, but get thinking, because there may be a contest coming up for some handspun, and you just may have to divulge your deepest, darkest fiber fantasies and goals to me to enter. Just maybe. Stay tuned...

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Did I do that?

In today's episode of Bowerbird Blogs, Rebekkah is full of herself. Her head is the size of a moderately large watermelon (seedless), and she is simultaneously incredulous that she actually made those things, and extraordinarily proud of her accomplishments. (But in all silly seriousness, sometimes I think the gnomes invade my house at night and use their gnomy magics to turn everything I make into something a thousand times better.)

First up is my very first pair of handspun socks:

Macaw Sock Mosaic for blog

I couldn't be more pleased with them. I blogged about the yarn before, and if you click on the photo, you will find links to the original photos in Flickr, with details about the yarn. In short, it's a 3 ply merino fingering weight, dyed by The Arts At Eagles Find, which is a shop on Etsy. I attempted to get the colors to match up in the plies, for perfect striping, and while that didn't happen, I adore the results.

The pattern is a non-pattern. 64 stitches, 2x2 ribbing, plain old slip stitch heelflap and gusset shaping, with a flat toe. It's my standard, basic sock pattern, and I think it was perfect for the yarn. The yarn is incredibly bouncy, and these socks hug my feet like no other socks I've knit before. They completely justify my habit of falling back on comfort spinning from time to time, which for me is spinning yarn exactly like the yarn I spun for these socks. (Not that comfort spinning is bad, but I like to use my crafts as an opportunity to learn and grow, in addition to relaxation and plain old enjoyment. But the comfort zone, and doing what I already know how to do with ease, can feel so good sometimes.)

Out of curiosity, is there any need or desire out there for a free writeup of my basic sock pattern? I know that there are tons of basic sock patterns out there, many mostly the same, but all of them probably slightly different. I don't know that my writeup of this sock "pattern" would add much to the mix, but I really like what I do, and if there is a desire for it, I could easily write up something for free download. Let me know in the comments if you're interested, and I'll add it to my to-do list. (And if there is no interest, just count this as part of the theme of this post: me being a bit too full of myself!)

Next in this tour of my inflated ego are the socks I knit for my mom:

Francies for Mom

They're not handspun, but they are my own pattern. I had hopes of giving handspun socks to my mom, but the yarn I originally had designated turned out to be too thick, so I went with millspun yarn instead. It's Socks That Rock lightweight, though I forget the name of the colorway. It works as a great substitute for the Smooshy, which is what the Francie pattern was originally designed with. My mom says they fit like a glove (or a sock!), so I'm quite pleased.

Another thing I'm proud of are my first successful laceweight singles:

1994 merino tence laceweight mosaic

This is 50/50 merino/tencel blend in the 1994 colorway, from Muzzlepuffs on Etsy. I learned that the trick (for me) when it comes to laceweight singles is to use a larger (slower) whorl than I'd use for similarly sized singles that I'd ply. Plying undoes some of the twist in the singles, so for a yarn that isn't going to be plied, you want something with less twist in it, to keep it under control. I have a potential disaster of a yarn that I may still be able to fix, and which I hope to eventually blog about. That yarn is overspun, but was a good learning experience in making this yarn.

I absolutely adored spinning this blend. I often find that I can't spin for a long period of time, because I'm prone to getting "yarn burn" in my fingertips. It just hurts to have the fiber running through my fingers for an extended period of time. I take frequent breaks, even with super soft merinos, but I could spin for a really long time with this blend. It just slipped through my fingers like magic. This yarn is going to be a small shawl for a friend, and I adored spinning this blend so much that I immediately went out and bought 8 oz. of another similar blend in pinks and reds, so I can spin for a full sized shawl for myself.

The yarn above is 108 grams, 816 yards, and about 32 wpi. I find it really difficult and tedious to do wpi counts for yarn this thin. And really, for yarns like this I don't think it's important. I mostly know that it's really thin, and that I'll determine needle size by swatching until I like the density I'm getting in stockinette. I've already started the shawl, but will post more about that in the future.

As an aside, I think the colorway name the dyer gave to the roving (1994) is absolutely perfect. I don't remember the exact wording of her reasoning, but I think she chose the name because the colors reminded her of the year 1994. I totally get it. They also remind me of 1994, and I'm not completely sure why. I don't know that I wore those colors all that much when I was 17, but it just fits. Are the dyer and I both on the same weird brain wave, or does that yarn remind anyone else of 1994? I'm really curious.

So that's the update on the stuff I've made recently that I'm overly proud of. I have a couple of handspun projects on the needles, but I'll wait until I have some updated photos of those to post about them here. But I have one more thing to be incredibly proud of. I have some awesome friends. Look at what Syne sent me:

Handspun from Syne

That's her own hand-dyed handspun, one ply silk and one ply baby camel down. I'm not sure how much there is, but one of these days I'm going to re-skein it using a niddy noddy, so I can get a good count. I could only do a halfway decent job in capturing the richness and beauty of the colors in that photo. It's truly spectacular yarn. Syne has quite the talent for color, and I almost feel that I don't even need to knit up the yarn, because just staring at it as-is makes me incredibly happy.

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