Tag Archives: polwarth

A Finger in Every Fire, Irons in Every Pie

I have a confession.

I have Too Many Things in progress. Too many things a-spinning, too many things on the needles, and let’s not talk about the sewing projects that I’m trying to, not ignore, but…yeah, ignore, actually.

And lots of those Too Many Things in question? So close to being finished. Just shamefully close. A few fingers and a billion ends on a pair of mitts. Some simple garter stitch. A bit of ribbing. Beads and plying. A little hemming.

I like making things, I like the planning and the process. I like having the finished objects in hand. I just don’t like wrapping things up: the tedious jobs like rewinding washed skeins and taking an accurate count of wraps per inch, or sewing in ends, picking up stitches, finishing seams; the jobs that go against my nature a little bit like writing item descriptions and setting prices for the shop. (The casual self-promotion, too. I’m a very uncomfortable capitalist.)

But I’m working on it. I’ve even taken pictures of some things–I’m trying to get my fiber stash photographed before I spin any of it, but it’s slow going trying to catch enough light on my north-facing balcony with days getting shorter (and as it cools off, Trillflower like to be out there to watch and smell and lounge and otherwise get underfoot).

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I’ve got three active knitting projects going right now. I won’t be able to photograph the Rock Island until I’m much farther along in the garter stitch body.

This sweater vest started out as a heavily-modified Hilja, but with all the modifications for gauge, I kind of stopped caring about pattern instructions around the neck shaping and made things up as I went. It needs ribbing at the arms and neck, and then it’ll be done. I’ve even seen to all of the ends so far. It fits well, with just enough ease to go nicely over a button-down shirt.

These are Little Cable Knee Highs, sort of, except I used my standard wedge toe and placed the gusset at the soles instead of the instep, and ignored the instructions for the heel turn because those yarn-overs really make no sense to me, and, you know what? It’s a pair of knee highs with little cables up the back and custom calf shaping. They’re a long-overdue gift for my mom (hi, mom!) in Knit Picks Capretta, which is lovely to work with and very reasonably priced.

I’ll have to untangle and wind the third ball soon, but I’m definitely going to have enough yarn. These are worked two at a time on one long circular needle, which is my current favorite method (although somewhat discouraging at times as it takes twice as long to see any decent progress). I like to wind two separate balls and then when the socks are big enough, I can tuck each ball into its sock and the whole thing is very portable.

In my last post, I mentioned a new fiber club and a new spindle coming into my possession. The August installment of the Enchanted Knoll Farm Happy Hooves Batt Club showed up at the beginning of August looking like this:

Now, in addition to the corespun also mentioned in my last post, it looks like this:

I wanted to make a fat singles art yarn with lots of cocoons, but after about 5 tries I changed my plans. Half of this will be strung with glass beads, then I’ll make a 2-ply gradient. It’s on hold for now though, because I finally started plying my “Tuscadero” spin.

I can’t believe how delicate and muted this is turning out. By the time I finished all the singles, I was sick of it, but I’m charmed again in the plying.

The spindle, a Jenkins Delight, is a wonderfully balanced, tiny, adorable Turkish number. It came with a sample of 50/50 merino/bamboo, which I started playing with immediately. In the car on the way to pick up vegetables.

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That sample, about 7 grams or a quarter of an ounce, turned into about 49 yards of light fingering weight 2-ply.

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Now it’s occupied with some cormo top I combed myself.

Big plans for this. Big secret plans.

Speaking of big plans, I also have big plans for the July 2013 Into the Whirled club fiber. It’s “Qarth” on Falkland.

I’m spinning it as a 2-ply laceweight gradient, to become a S[c]heherazade shawl. This colorway is magic. See those sort of dull tan-olive sections in the fiber? Well, that’s a deception. I started spinning, and it’s really strange.

It’s not dull or tan-olive at all. Here, a closer look:

I love it.

So I should have some finished things to show off soon.

 

Tour de Fleece: A Recap

So here it is, five days out from the end. I have a pound of yarn, a bobbin full of pretty singles waiting for some friends (oh, scratch that, it sounds like a trashy phone sex chat line ad) merino and silk waiting for its match, a partial bobbin of baby camel to keep them company, and–at long last–some numbers.

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But first, there was plying.

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A lot of plying, really.

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Almost too much plying.

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But then there was yarn from all that plying–the small skein to the left is for seaming. Yes, seaming. No, I’m not ill. I have not been replaced by some kind of terrifying alien who looks, sounds, and acts exactly like me but doesn’t hate seaming. I’ve just been coerced by stripes.

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Then there was a brief kitten interlude while I finished up the grey singles, in which I found WordPress’ iOS app to be virtually identical to its web interface. Then there was even more plying, though it didn’t go on quite so much as before.

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Then there was soaking–the water turned black–and snapping and beating skeins against the shower wall. This to calm some of the twist in my deliberately overplied skeins. The result is a slight loss of yardage, a nice bloom in the singles, and a very bouncy finished yarn. That’s 1,292 yards there, right on target at sport-DK weight. Major benefits of being five feet tall and living in northern California–that’s plenty of yarn for a sweater.

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Then, as planned, my Into The Whirled March 2013 classic club hopped onto the wheel. That’s “Tuscadero” on 80/20 merino/silk.

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The plan involves 8 ounces of that and 4 ounces of the baby camel previously seen on the supported spindle, obviously on a bobbin now. I expected it to be more difficult than it is, having had such trouble with merino on the Stella a few months ago, but the combination of baby camel cloud, Hitchhiker, and months more experience behind my hands is making it a pleasure.

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Of course, challenge day (July 18) demanded a little bit of a deviation from my big plans. That’s 28 feet of 2-ply cotton on my supported spindle. The last time I tried spinning cotton, I had no experience at all with supported spinning or cotton spinning. I was also working with sliver. It was extremely slippery and frustrating and I gave up quickly. For the challenge day, I got out my hand cards and put little bits of cotton on the teeth at the very edge, just to hold it while I rolled up a puni with a DPN. Much more successful than the last time, but from preparing the puni to plying, it was hours and hours of work.

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Tuscadero, on the other hand, moved fairly quickly, especially considering how very fine singles for 3-ply fingering weight yarns are.

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Unfortunately, fairly quickly is not quite quickly enough. Le Tour 2013 ended here, with about ¾ ounce left to spin on the first bobbin.

With Tour de Fleece over, the collections of bobbin shots will now stop, though the excitement will not. Look forward to beer-tastings, shiny pretty things, the backlog of finished objects, and more finished objects to add to the backlog in the coming weeks.

 

Tour de Fleece Days 6 through 12

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Turns out spinning a pound of fiber gets a little tedious after a while. Day 6 was more grey.

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The semi-solid isn’t a very interesting spin to look at but I finished the bobbin for the fractal on day 7.

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On day 8 the bobbins went out to have a peek at the sunshine.

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And then they all got rewound onto the Stella’s bobbins. Which look much less impressive than the Hitchhiker’s because they’re huge.

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Then I plied for about 8 hours.

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Day 9 started with winding off the plied yarn into a 5oz skein. A bit wild and curly there before its soak, and around 394 yards.

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Then I started the next bobbin–short repeats for the second skein.

Day 10 was a rest day. I used it to reset my sleep patterns. Sort of. I also sent a couple of packages out. The sparkly handspun has already arrived at its destination, the extremely belated Christmas gifts should soon. More on all of that after the Tour.

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On day 11, I started and finished the first bobbin for the semisolid sleeve skein and then started the last striping ply of the fractal.

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And on day 12 I finished the singles for the fractal. Plying for that will be on day 13 or 14.

This leaves me with another 2 ⅔  ounces of singles to spin. I anticipate being finished by day 16. If I finish nothing else this Tour, I’m pretty happy with this progress!

Tour de Fleece Days 3, 4, & 5

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Herself investigating the box that so vexed her earlier–I put her up on the perch and she couldn’t figure out how to get down. At the moment, she’s giving a twist tie to the Drowned God, which is much funnier, but I don’t have the light for a moving cat photo. And I don’t like to encourage her on the Drowned God front. Carpets end up soggy.

Twoflower is the Queen in this house, in case that wasn’t eminently clear. She still gets me to say the words.

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Monday was a pretty poor spinning day because Monday was Bottling Day. More on that shortly.

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Tuesday was a better spinning day, but I didn’t finish that bobbin until after midnight, hence the handful of fluff hanging off the flyer in the daily progress shot.

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Immediately after I finished the second bobbin of stripy singles, I started the semisolid grey–but just a bit.

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The bobbin in the foreground has much longer repeats of the grey and turquoise stripes–twice as long, in fact, because regular stripe patterns lend themselves handily to fractal spinning.

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The semisolid ply is moving right along with around an ounce and a half on the bobbin and two and a quarter left to spin. It’ll be done by Friday, I think, then all the little Hitchhiker bobbins will be rewound onto Stella bobbins for plying. The built-in lazy kate on the Hitchhiker only has two shafts, which won’t do for a 3-ply, and anyway I like to rewind my bobbins before plying to help even out the twist distribution and head off any problem areas caused by messy bobbin winding while spinning.

You may have noticed the wheel has “DON’T PANIC” painted on it in large, friendly letters. It’s not done yet; I need to repaint the dot over the I in something lighter, then mask off the lettering and give it a dark background. Inky blue-black, I should think.

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I’ve been working daily on the baby camel on the Russian supported spindle–often while reading–but for all the time I’ve given it, two or three hours, there’s only two grams on that little cop. I’m not happy with the singles diameter yet; I need it to come out to fingering weight, maybe light fingering at the finest, in a 3-ply with some merino/silk I’ve got lined up after the polwarth sweater spin. The easiest way to get thicker (…ish) singles seems to be a long draw–which is what something as short as camel down needs anyway–but I haven’t figured out how to draft while the spindle is spinning yet.

There’s got to be a better way to do it, but my hands haven’t sorted it out yet. And, bonus: if I’ve been spinning too fine for the last two grams, it’s only two grams of about 113. Plenty of fiber left to work on it.

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And here we have some of the results of Bottling Day. Turns out being a one-woman bottling party for five gallons of beer cuts into the spinning time by a few hours. Designing the labels on Tuesday took considerably less time, though my printing assistant let the printer resize them.

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I’m sure there’s a better way to affix labels than my rejected-printer-paper-and-magic-tape method but I don’t know what that is either. I want them to come off as easily as they go on so the bottles only need a quick wash before they’re ready to be sanitized and reused. I know Northern Brewery sells reusable labels but their usefulness appears to hinge on making the same beers a number of times greater than one.

Which is silly, why do that when you can do science?

Tomorrow we’re going to try our first all-grain brew instead of basking in the blinding light of our freedom (or, as a facet thereof).

More on that tomorrow if I can get the light. And more on the Navelgazer Wheat and Raspberry Wheat Ales in a couple weeks, after bottle-conditioning.

A shiny gold star for anyone who works out the jokes in the beer name without having been explained the thing.*

*the gold star is figurative

Tour de Fleece Day 2

 

Whew! A busy second day. Here’s what I reported just before midnight :SONY DSC The spindle holds about 20 minutes of spinning from day 1, and close to an hour for day 2. Baby camel is such a pleasure to spin–easier than I expected and so soft. I’m still new to this supported spinning lark though, so the singles diameter is inconsistent, and thinner than I’d like. The bobbin on my Hitchhiker here showing about 2/3 of the first ply of my first full-sized skein for this year’s Tour.

After the pre-midnight photos…

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There was food. In case anyone was worried about my eating habits while I’m absorbed in spinning (hi mom!). Chesapeake tempeh cakes with fried red potatoes and lettuce from the last couple weeks of CSA boxes. Lately we’re getting more lettuce than I can reasonably eat, so I end up unceremoniously stuffing it into my face just before it goes off.

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Trillian was cuddled up on the back of the couch when I returned from taking pictures of my dinner.

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So, naturally, I snuggled the last pre-Tour skein up next to her.

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And she sniffed and snuggled it.

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And watched me watching her hold on to it.

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But she was SO sleepy, and she can never manage to be as excited about yarn as Twoflower is. I stopped taking pictures and put the yarn away. (I replaced it with tummy rubs, she loves the tummy rubs.) More on that later, when it’s washed.

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Then I finished up the bobbin. There it is with tomorrow’s work behind it. And Dog.

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Rather pleased with these singl–

–oh, I’m sorry, were you alarmed by Dog’s face?

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Yeah, well, me too. I’ll sew him up before I start spinning tomorrow.

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Tour de Fleece Day 1

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It’s Tour de Fleece! Tour de Fleece Tour de Fleece Tour de Fleece TOUR DE FLEECE!!!
Some people look forward to the winter holidays. Some love their birthdays.

And some are baby-eating heathen-type fiber people. And for us?

Well.

It’s Tour de Fleece!!!

So, Kitt, whatcha got on the first day of Le Tour?

Pictured above, a pair of mini-skeins (twisted together ’cause they were so lonely); those darling things are 33.5 and 39 yards of fractally-spun 3-ply, DK, Pamukkale and Twenty-Five Dot Nine (grey) coordinate on polwarth from the Into the Whirled August 2012 classic fiber club–my very first club shipment. A bit less than an ounce up there. Those wee things are destined for the front of a v-neck sweater. It’s possible there’s a slightly obsessive human directing these things.

The remaining eleven ounces are here, all split up and ready to spin:

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I haven’t spun regular polwarth since last year’s Tour, and I’d nearly forgotten how astoundingly lovely it is to spin.

Perhaps it wasn’t quite so lovely previously; Cris’ fibers have spoiled me for everything in my local yarn shop and a good portion of internet things as well.

There’s another braid of the coordinate for sleeves (probably not full-length). It seemed more expedient than trying to split up the fractal for sleeve stripes to match both the body striping (in color and width) and each other. The obsessive human does have her limits.

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Of course, I did have some jealous paws about. Twoflower decided–wisely–that she could be more helpful if she sat to the side and guarded the fluff than she would be in my lap.
Just don’t mention that she needs to guard that fiber from herself.

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She’s very proud of her usefulness in this advisory capacity.
And there was an incident with some yarn a few days ago. It wasn’t pretty. Suffice it to say, it’s not a subject for polite blogging. Or casually vulgar blogging.

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And, well, she might have learned a lesson. Not a big lesson, of course, not Twoflower, not my little wool fiend.

But maybe just enough of a lesson to be just a little bit helpful.

Now, I’ve got to see a spindle about some baby camel before I see some sheets about vivid hallucinations.

(Note to self: try blogging Day 2 before 4:30am on Day 3?)