Just the quickest, shortest post here to announce that there are TONS of great yarns in my etsy shop and through December 6th, entering YARNOVERLOAD14 at checkout will get you 20% off orders of $30 or more.
Hmm, it’s spring now, isn’t it? No matter, the northern parts of the east coast are still mired in Ragnarok (probably), so the holiday knits I sent out a couple of weeks ago are still relevant to my family.
First, the non-knit crafty things though–
“Is that a trio of dinosaur print flannel jimbly-jambles,” you are asking yourself, I’m sure. And let me tell you, friend–it certainly is. I sewed all three in a span of three days near the end of January and I’m pretty pleased with myself. I recently learned that all seams have to be “finished” or your garment falls apart, which really might’ve been nice to know about ten years ago. Then instead of being incredibly frustrated with my abysmal sewing skills, I might have had a couple of encouraging successes, leading me to practice more, and, in this alternate reality, I would now be capable of inserting a cuff placket instead of a miserable failure at same. But never mind, that’s a story for another day.
In addition to belated holiday jammeroonis, I made a belated holiday point twill scarf for my dad (no finished object photos, sadly, as this item was given away before I had simultaneous light and time for picture-taking), a pair of handspun colorwork mittens for my mother-in-law, a tiny sweater for a brand-new nephew, and a cabled cowl for my dad’s girlfriend.
Let’s start with the least drama-fraught item. This is a newborn-size Welcome to the Flock, and I shall henceforth refer to it as “wee sheepies.”
As almost the entire planet is probably aware, I become incoherent with delight where sheep (and especially lambs) are involved.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for my colorwork in this instance.
Just look at those fuzzy little sheep tummies and try to ignore the mess around them, okay?
I probably made quite a few modifications, but I couldn’t say what they are. I was too busy gibbering about the wee sheepies to make notes.
Next up, Irish Vine mittens.
Funny thing about these mittens. I was knitting along on the first mitten, delighted to be working with cormo, which is a lovely wool, which I had combed and spun myself, endlessly entertained to watch the pattern emerge with each round. But there were doubts, too. The fabric seemed a little thin. It was a little open. All in all, it was looking just a little bit on the side of not-quite-big-enough.
No, I thought. No, this will be fine. It’s going to stretch when I wash it. I’ve followed the pattern, it’s going to be fine.
I kept knitting.
I grafted the top closed.
I started the thumb.
It felt wrong. Really wrong. I tried on the mitten.
My fingernails nearly stabbed through the top.
I made despairing noises. I sighed. I carefully ripped the whole mitten out.
And I restarted with the yarn held double.
It was a good decision. Colorwork in too-thin yarn on too-large needles is a pretty sad sight.
Of course, I could have saved myself a great deal of time and labor if I hadn’t knitted on in denial for several days.
Last, and with perhaps the most dramatic story of all, this Nennir cowl:
I started this shortly after the Winter 2012 issue of Knitty came out, using Malabrigo sock in “Playa.”
After finishing the first chart, I decided I didn’t like the hand of the fabric. Too loose, almost mushy (not to be confused with smooshy, which is a great characteristic in a knit); my stitches looked sloppy and the cables really weren’t showing well. This is a big issue I have with Malabrigo Sock–it’s soft as anything, but it’s well on the “heavy lace” side of “light fingering,” with little twist in either singles or plying. For something calling itself sock yarn, you’d walk holes through it in about two minutes. That’s usually a deal-breaker.
But this is a cowl, not socks, so I ripped it out, held the yarn double, and started again.
Then I ignored it for a while. And then a year had gone by since I bought the yarn, but I wasn’t worried, I had lots left.
But then I knitted and knitted and knitted and knitted and suddenly there was not so much yarn. I began knitting faster, to outrun the end of the yarn. (Did I mention how knitting in denial is a very bad idea? Knitting in denial backfires almost every single time. Avoid.)
Suddenly there was half a chart left and I was definitely, definitely certain that the yarn was faster than me.
No matter, I thought. I will go to the yarn store. I will purchase another skein. Surely they’re still dyeing this colorway. If I use one strand from the original and one from the new skein, they will totally blend and no one will ever notice.
I almost didn’t find any Malabrigo Sock at the yarn store. When I did manage to locate it, there were only four skeins in just three colorways.
I ended up with “Primavera.” It’s not really close, at all, but it was closer than the others; nothing else even resembled the right combination of color, fiber, diameter, and texture.
I held out hope, though. Held double with “Playa” and kept to the back when possible, it wasn’t a particularly jarring transition.
But then, ten rows before the end, I ran out of the original color completely. And that’s why the inch or so left of center looks like a different color. Fortunately the person it will be accessorizing wears her hair long enough to cover the weird part.
It is a comedy of errors, friends.
Where does the time go?
So, when last I posted, I alluded to a new member joining my fiber tools family. Meet Hulkling:
Hulkling is a 44″ 4-shaft/6-treadle jack loom with a weighted beater and welded steel frame.
I am a little bit in love. So you’ll forgive my lengthy silence, I hope.
So far, Hulkling and I have made: some waffle weave hot pads (no finished object photos: it’s winter, there’s no light, I’m lazy, pick your excuse) which have gone to live with my mom, a point twill scarf, and a rainbow crackle scarf–and I’ve just finished threading and sleying a warp for two snowflake twill scarves. After I weave that off, I’ve got plans for some curtains to let light into my weaving space and vague ideas about towels and an already-measured scarf warp.
Here’s the point twill scarf, using Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine sett at 16 ends per inch for the warp and handspun Wensleydale singles for weft (that’s ITW “Catskill Pines” from my very first post).
Here you can see the detail of the point twill a bit better. I wish I’d taken some photos when the weft yarn was brown to really show the pattern in the cloth. Or finished object photos. This scarf came out to a bit over 6 feet, plus fringes. I gave it to my dad for Christmas.
The green stuff on the bottom of the reed is acrylic paint. This loom came to me needing a little work, mostly cleaning, but that reed was pretty badly rusted. Mom ordered me a lovely new stainless steel reed as a Christmas gift; the paint was a temporary solution so I could weave while I waited for the new equipment.
Next on the loom was this:
The draft reminds me of snowflakes, although it’s not actually snowflake twill.
I’m told this structure can probably be considered a crackle weave. I wouldn’t call it something I “designed” as it appeared while I was playing with the settings in Fiberworks. I liked what the program had drawn in and just tweaked it for symmetry.
The warp is Cascade Heritage sock yarn sett at 14 ends per inch, and the weft is handspun superwash merino in Into The Whirled’s September 2013 club colorway “Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey.”
This one’s mine. I was preparing to visit my family in NY for a week at the beginning of January and didn’t have a scarf to my name. Of course, once I got there it was in the 40s and 50s nearly the whole time, and I was stuck inside with the worst cold I’ve had in many years. What an absurd winter.
Maybe I’ll get some photos of it all finished. It washed up beautifully, and it is unbelievably soft and absolutely stunning with my nice blue coat.
Sometime in the next few days, once I get into the weaving of the snowflake twill scarves on the loom now, I’ll make a post just about that project. I also have a couple of near-finished knits–ends to sew in, blocking to do–that need to be shown off, and a big skein of handspun awaiting rewinding and glamor shots.
My Kromski Harp arrived on October 25th, a day later and a part brokener than expected. One of the ratchets had been cracked in half when it was attached to its beam, making it entirely impossible to assemble, let alone use.
I called the Woolery the next day (Saturday), and they told me to email them a picture. On Monday, they emailed back saying they would pass it along to the Kromski distributor, who would send a replacement.
I was antsy about it all week. On Thursday (Halloween), the new piece arrived, and within two hours the loom was assembled and within three I was winding a warp. On Friday, it looked like this:
A critical observer may note that the edges are a bit rough and a bit strange. Fear not, critical observer!
They got a little better when I was weaving without paying much attention.
Above, you can see just how wobbly the selvedges were at the beginning, and below, the slightly improved end. They look best around the middle, really, but I’ll show that when I unveil the washed and pressed results (it’s already done, I just need to take pictures).
The whole set-up, there. Note the very wide heddle and the very long stick shuttle on the right side. The upshot here is that I can definitely weave yardage on this baby. Downside? I am short, that stick shuttle is very long, and because I’m dragging it through the shed instead of throwing, it contributes to the strangeness of my selvedges.
No matter, the Husband Creature has offered to make me a fringe twister and some boat shuttles. We shall see how that goes. Might be good to have a model on hand to replicate, though.
From warping to cutting it off the loom, this whole thing took just 4 days.
Straight off the loom, the texture is odd: rough and stiff, in spite of the very soft warp (Knit Picks Stroll Fingering in Aurora Heather). The weft is handspun New Zealand Merino in the colorway “Fangorn” from Lanitium ex Machina, which at 23 microns is on the coarse end of the merino spectrum (but still at the fine end of the wool spectrum).
Since I don’t yet have a fringe twister, I used a binder clip attached to the leader on my Stella to twist my fringe. Here’s that set-up:
I’m already scheming about my next project. And, I don’t want to say too much yet because then I can’t do a dramatic reveal later, but tomorrow, I’m off to Chico to look at (and probably bring home) a potential new addition to my odd little fibery family.
The edges aren’t as pointy as I’d have liked, but I expected that, using bamboo instead of wool.
It’s soft and cozy and I adore it.
(Not trying to look “artistic” or anything like the model for the pattern, I swear! Trillian was headed out onto the balcony and I was greeting her.)
I also finished some yarn for my shop!
Just a quick peek for now, I’ll talk more about it in a later post. I have another bobbin already filled for a coordinating yarn, and at least one more to go. Once I’ve wrapped that up, I’ll talk about successes (and sad, disastrous failures) in making coils!
As promised, I’ve finished some things. First, there are things I finished for my shop:
This is the last 3 ounces of my first Happy Hooves shipment, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I was still feeling pretty impressed with myself a week after I finished it.
I split the batt in half and spun those halves end-to-end on one bobbin, then strung one half with beads, and plied from two ends of a center-pull ball. The colors wound up aligned almost perfectly with very little assistance on my part, and the result is soft, squishy, and bouncy with just the right amount of sparkle. 218 yards, worsted to aran weight.
Next up in shop stock is the October Happy Hooves batt, “Leaf Peeps,” on polwarth.
It showed up looking roughly like this:
And it went on doing so for a few days.
Just look at those sparkly bits. So sparkly!
But then I suddenly found that I’d finished that first bobbin of Qarth, and in the span of just over 24 hours it stopped looking like that, and suddenly looked like this instead:
I was consciously working on treadling more slowly and drafting more quickly so I didn’t accidentally let them get too thin or overspun.
For the most part, it worked pretty well, and after a soak and some violence against the side of the bathtub, these are some pretty well-behaved fingering weight singles.
538 yards here, soft and sparkly as can be…
…and looking pretty adorable snuggled up with our tiny pumpkin.
I also finally finished plying my ITW “Tuscadero” and baby camel spin, and after lots of time spent skeining and reskeining and counting, there are pictures to prove it!
It’s very feminine, but also nicely subdued.
I love it, but I’m also unbelievably happy to be done with it.
1,480 yards of fingering weight 3-ply can really cramp a person’s hand. I had some awful Plying Claw by the time I got through it all.
Seems Trillian likes this yarn too; she nuzzled at one skein several times, then curled up and used it as a pillow for a while.
On the 6th, I got to go to Lambtown, the lamb festival in Dixon. I got to fuss on 3 different bunnies (they were all wonderful soft adorable sweeties), saw some of the sheepdog competition, and bought a little bit of yarn, for a future brand-new person in my extended family, and a little bit of fiber for an instant gratification spin.
The little bit of fiber was 2 ounces of mixed BFL in “Aegean” from Sincere Sheep, and so instant was the gratification that I did not manage to get pictures of the fiber before it was yarn.
206 yards of thick and thin singles, all spun up in one day.
I had originally intended to list this one in my shop too, but it ended up a little fuzzier than I’d have liked after its bath, so I’ve changed my plans somewhat. I’ll hold onto it for a while, and then when my big new purchase and I have gotten to know each other a little, it’ll be paired with some graphite Border Leicester and find its way into the shop in a new form.
So, what’s the big new purchase, then? A 32″ Kromski Harp rigid heddle loom. It’s supposed to arrive on Thursday, and I’m so excited I can barely sleep for thinking about weaving. Once I’ve figured out what I’m supposed to do, I’ll start spinning the aforementioned Border Leicester for a 2-ply warp yarn, and use those thick and thin singles as weft. I’ve also got some 8/2 tencel on the way, which I may play with on the loom a little bit, but my primary intent is to use it as plying thread for another try at spinning coils. Perhaps I’ll find myself with a couple of bobbins ready for some melodrama by the time the loom arrives.
The stash is beginning to overflow the bins. This is not a drill, I repeat: the stash is beginning to overflow the bins.
Sometimes club colorways are not quite the sort of thing I want to keep. Sometimes I want to make yarn that I don’t want to use. Sometimes these things pile up because I don’t want to try to write what is essentially ad copy for them.
Sometimes I have to suck it up and write.
Now I don’t really want to write more about the yarn. Let’s skip most of that.
I don’t know if anyone heard, but I kind of won August. I got to upsize my CSA box, yeah, but that’s just the start of it. I also inquired about being added to the waitlist for the Enchanted Knoll Farm Happy Hooves Batt Club, and LO! more memberships had just opened up. Then on the 30th I managed to snag a Jenkins Delight, which is just unspeakably adorable. I’ll show it off soon.
Last August I managed to get into the Into The Whirled fiber club–shortly after that, people were getting waitlisted. I am Pretty Good at August, it seems.
And Pretty Bad at September. Wow. Where’d all that September even go? I still haven’t finished the “Tuscadero”/baby camel spin from Tour de Fleece!
But I did finally get my shop up and running. Just in case you know anyone who might want to take some of this yarn off my hands.
I’ve been sitting on a few finished things. You know, that pile of yarn from my very first post? I was going to give each yarn a separate entry, which is why I’ve been putting it off–because that sounds more and more tedious every time I think about it.
So here’s what I’m going to do instead: All the yarns that will be staying here until I’ve transformed them from Finished Yarn Objects to Finished Wearable Objects, in chronological order, in one big mess of a post. This is going to be photo-heavy, so strap in your internets. When I finish what’s currently on my wheel and take some glamor shots, sometime next week, there will be a post for the things that won’t be staying with me.
First up is the February 2013 ITW Classic Club offering “Take it to the Bridge” on superwash merino. I started spinning it just before April began (I remember the time frame because my mom, aunt, cousin, and grandma were visiting San Francisco and the wheel, the husband person, and I all went down to see them), and I was dreading it. The last time I’d spun merino was a nightmare, and superwash is even slipperier. Worse, I am fairly certain that the fiber that came with my Stella was superwash merino, and that was a terrible thing to try in my first 6 ounces of spinning ever.
Imagine my shock when it was an absolute delight to spin every last bit of it. Just a few breaks in the singles when the wheel needed oil. Not too bad at all.
I started with 8 ounces, or two braids. I stripped each braid vertically in thirds, then spun each ply with a third from each braid, trying to make the joins between them blend together.
I found the contrast in the light and dark sections of the fiber a little too jarring for my tastes, so I wanted a lot of marling in the finished yarn.
I’m thrilled with the color play I got. I wound off two skeins of 510 yards each with a pretty even color mix between them, and 49 yards left over.
Look at that cute little thing! All a pretty solid fingering weight, overplied (this took about five days and I don’t want to talk about how my knees and ankles felt afterward) for bouncy, hard-wearing socks. Eventually. More photos on the corresponding Spinning Project page (new Ravelry feature, GREAT Ravelry feature, and there’s a Fiber Stash now too, so I’ll even start taking pictures of fiber before I start spinning!) because I got a little carried away.
Next up, Wensleydale. I’ve been wanting to try it almost since I first started spinning. I’m just drawn to the intense luster of those long, long locks. Shortly after the Hitchhiker arrived, I spotted this Wensleydale in “Catskill Pines” in the ITW shop and then a couple of days later it was in my hands and a couple of days after that it was yarn.
I’m not sure what happened, it’s all sort of a blur.
It’s about as tricky as everyone says. Too much twist and you’ve got a cheese wire on your hands. Too little and it falls apart. Of course, you can keep running it back and forth through the wheel until it’s just right, but then you might gouge out your eyes from sheer boredom, incur repetitive stress injuries in your hands and ankles, or accidentally make it go all fuzzy.
I don’t know why the camera registered that as blue, it’s more of a dark sprucey green. Anyway, it’s a lot finer than I intended, and a bit fuzzier, and it broke more than once, but I have 602 yards of laceweight…
…which I’m fairly sure will disintegrate if I try to knit with it. Not to worry, I have other plans for this. Secret plans. Manly plans.
Best not to dwell on half-failures, even kind of pretty and totally salvageable half-failures. Especially not when there are successes to discuss!
Take, for example, the January 2013 ITW Luxe Club “Sterrennacht.” First off, I’m not in the Luxe club because if I think too hard about how silk is produced I get really creeped out and have insect nightmares. So although it is very beautiful, and although I find it gives me an absurd yardage boost, I tend to avoid it. But it seems somehow right for a colorway based on Van Gogh’s The Starry Night to be silky and radiant, like, say, 50/30/20 alpaca/merino/silk.
I picked up the Luxe coordinate “Godric” in the February shop update (I got a classic coordinate too, “Call Box,” and if you aren’t detecting a reference you need to sit down and think about your life choices, especially the one where you’re living under a rock for some inexplicable reason), and then I sat around mooning over the club colorway on the same base until someone put it up for destash a couple months later and my dear friend Cory scooped it up for me while I gibbered about not really being able to justify the purchase. We have a system in which we casually enable each other interspersed with occasional active contributions to a beautiful wooly downfall.
I spun “Godric” onto one bobbin (less the little tuft that Trillian tried to eat, Trillian who is not the resident wool-eater), “Sterrennacht” onto another, and plied them together for 1,172 yards of heavy lace to light fingering weight yarn.
I’m going to turn it into a Celestarium, a beaded chart of the constellations visible in the Northern Hemisphere. Seems fitting. There’s a sister pattern for the Southern Hemisphere, but schemes for that are still nebulous at this time.
Last in today’s finished yarn parade is the April 2013 installment of the ITW Classic Club, “Sansa” on BFL. I love the choice of fiber on a literary level–BFL is soft and lustrous, with a very manageable staple length and strong enough to be hard-wearing, characteristics I also associate with Sansa Stark, who is beautiful, graceful, and courteous to a fault–and every bit a tough ol’ Stark for all of that.
Again, I’ve got 8 ounces. I was aiming for worsted weight, but it came out closer to DK. I have a chronic spinning-too-fine condition.
No preparation on this, I just spun each braid as it was and plied (and plied and plied and plied, it took a while), letting the colors fall where they would.
678 yards here, destined for a Herringbone Cowl.