Getting to Know You

Morning Sunrise

I’m in my new apartment and it is delightful. I’ve been spending the past two weeks getting sorted and organized in the new place.

I’m right across the road from Bass Rock, a park in Bracebridge right on the Muskoka River.

Bass Rock

Apparently the swimming is really good, but I haven’t been in yet.

Muskoka River

Also, the high water from our spring flooding is still evident in the really high flow of the river.

Not only have I been getting familiar with my new apartment (pics to come once the couch arrives) and neighborhood, I’ve also been getting comfortable with my new spinning wheel.

Claudia, my Ladybug, has been an absolute dream to spin on.  It’s like there was no learning curve to get the yarn I wanted from it, and in fact I have spun up two yarns in the past week.

Left: 2ply semi-woolen Aran weight - Shetland - dyeing by Northbound Knitting, color Pablo Honey. Right: 2 ply semi-worsted sport weight - blended batt of merino, BFL, bamboo, and angelina - dyeing by Bohoknitterchic.

Left: 2ply semi-woolen Aran weight – Shetland – dyeing by Northbound Knitting, color Pablo Honey. Right: 2 ply semi-worsted sport weight – blended batt of merino, BFL, bamboo, and angelina – dyeing by Bohoknitterchic.

The yarns turned out just the way I wanted them too and I’m really excited to actually make them into something. Because they have such similar undertone colors, and totally opposite textures, that they would make for a really interesting woven scarf. I’m not sure who wants to be the warp and who wants to be the weft, but they go together nicely.

My Ashford wheel has found her way to her new home.  One of the women in the Trillium Guild was looking for a more modern wheel to spin on because her heritage wheel is a little fragile.

So I’m getting settled in to my new spot and I’m enjoying the sound of spring peepers and my little deck from which I can see glimpses of the river and I can spend the evening reading or knitting and enjoying the wonder that is summer in Ontario.

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What do Rainbow Brite, 70s Appliances, an Easter Basket and the North Pole have in common?

A range of fibers and textures, Corriedale, Masham, Merino/Tencel, and Merino plyed Peruvian Highland Wool.

They are all handspun yarns.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I have a backlog of projects that need to get up on the blog, but I wanted to show off some of the yarns I have finished off recently.

The weekend before I started my new job I pretty well had the house to myself and a bunch of fluff that had been burning a hole in the bucket so I decided it was time to actually spin and ply my darling braids.

Spinning and watching the X-Files is a totally normal weekend activity, right?

The neat thing about spinning is that you can start with similar preps and even similar fibers you can come away with totally different yarns based on what your hands do: woolen or worsted, lace or bulky.  By starting with combed top (rather than batts) I was working on the worsted side of spinning and two yarns (Rainbow and 70s were done more semi-worsted with some loft, and the Easter and Christmas yarns were done in a true worsted style, lots of drape).

Singles all stacked up

Once you have the singles, then a whole other set of decisions, single, 2-ply, 3-ply or chain ply, loose ply or tight ply.  In this case I worked mostly with tight 2-plys because I don’t spin thin enough to make a 3-ply that comes any thinner than an Aran weight, and prefer knitting with fingering, sport and worsted, and tight because I just like the way they look and work better.

All, plied and ready for a bath.

So at the end of the weekend I had four yarns with distinct personalities (and having watched some of the most awesome S3 episodes of the X-Files).

On 2011 and Looking Back

Well, after yesterday’s look at how I did on my 2011 goals, I thought it would be good to run my numbers for 2011, and see how it stacked up to 2010.

2011 was a very different year than 2011.  I worked for one non-profit, spent 3 months unemployed (my contract ended), found another job with another non-profit (on a one year contract), started up a local fiber guild, helped my grandparents fix-up and sell their house.

The one thing that was like 2010, is that at the start of 2011 I had no idea where I would be at the end of the year.

So like last year I collated my numbers, the stats from 2010 are given in parentheses.

2011 by the Numbers:

  • 14 (23) miles of yarn acquired during the year
  • 22 (18) miles of yarn currently in my stash
  • 6.2 (4.5) miles of yarn knit/crocheted into projects
  •  2,771 (426) yards of handspun yarn
  •  6 (5.7) pounds of spinning fiber acquired
  • 12 (5) pounds of spinning fiber in stash
  • 6 (7) pairs of mittens
  • 5 (14) hats
  • 3 (6) shawls or stoles
  • 0 (3) scarves
  • 2 (2) bags
  • 2 (0) blankets
  • 6 (1) cowls
  • 3 (1) pairs of socks
  • 10 (0) dishclothes
  • 0 (1) baby sweaters
  • 100 (28) blog posts

Wow, the numbers are quite different from last year, but 2011 was quite different from 2010. It appears my stashing was less out of control than I thought it was and will be possible to get things really under control in 2012.

Also, biggest difference between 2010 and 2011 is the fact that I went through a serious knitting slump this summer and early fall, but I still managed to get more yarn used than the year before.  Doing some larger projects (including two crocheted blankets and two felted purses) made a big different in the “volume” of yarn used.

I enjoyed most of my projects this year, and I learned so much from each of them. I can’t wait to get started on my 2012 projects!

Get a closer look at all my projects from the year from checking out my Finished Objects tab  above or as a slideshow below.

FO: Mountain, Sea and Rainbow

 

My wheel hasn’t been seeing much attention recently.  Over the past few months I have finished a few different yarns.

Sea - Merino/Silk (50/50), n-ply worsted spun, 50gm, 60ish yds, worsted-ish weight

I have been trying different techniques, and I think I am starting to get a handle on chain-plying (also known as Navajo or N-plying).  I used this technique on the silk/merino blend I picked up a year ago from The Purple Sock in Coldwater.  It was a 50 gm combed top from Fleece Artist.  The color was amazing, but like with the purple top I got from them at the same time I found that the way it was packaged meant a whole bunch on both end were really felted before I even began.  Also, being dyed up in 50gm units, make it tough to actually get enough yardage to make anything.

Rainbows - Polwarth, 2 ply (fractal) semi-worsted, 4oz, 160yds, worsted-ish weight,

By contrast the combed top I got from Gale’s Art, an indie dyer from Georgia, (I love her stuff and have stashed quite a bit of it in the past year), came nicely packaged, easy to draft and a dream to spin. This one was a Polwarth, dyed up in a colorway called Spring Fever.  Gale keeps it around with her luscious BFLs (have some of those) and her Alpaca/Silks (which I don’t).  I found it was easy to spin a semi-woolen yarn, something I have not had much success with yet.  This one I tried a fractal plying technique.

I couldn’t find a good explanation of fractal plying, so I pieced the notion together from references on Ravelry and a variety of blogs.  Basically, when you have a combed top you make sure each bobbin has color changes at different rates.  This is accomplished by making thinner strips, which makes the color switches happen faster.  There are mathematical ways to do this, however I just split the roving until half was significantly thinner.

Mountains - Merino/Tencel, 2-ply (fractal) worsted spun, 4oz, 120yds, worsted-ish weight

I fractal plyed both the Corrie and the Merino/Tencel top I got from bohoknitterchic, and I found the color distribution worked better on the Corrie, however, it ended up giving a nice effect on the Merino/Tencel.

After having such a stickey, lofty fiber like the Corridale, I found the Merino/Tencel not as much fun to spin.  I spun it worsted to highlight the shine of the tencel in the top.  After trying different breeds I find myself drawn more towards the more rustic longer wools for spinning rather than soft, fluffy merino.  I like knitting with Merino, but I enjoy having a connection to the more rustic, sheepy heritage of spinning and yarn.

If you want to know more about sheep breeds and what that means for spinning and knitting check out The Knitter’s Book of Wool, it is a great resource that I have raved about before.  However, if like me you want to know more, check out the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. This resource is amazing and has more information about fleece bearing animals around the world that can be imagined.

After the craziness of the last few weeks I am hoping that Christmas (no Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada *pout*) will afford me some time to sit down at my wheel and get my hands on some fiber, because they are itching for it.

FO: TdF Stragglers

Four New Yarns

So, at the beginning of the Tour de Fleece I set out the batts and tops I wanted to spin, and after the three weeks of the tour I had finished two yarns.  Not deterred by missing the deadline so badly, I have continued to spin my TdF fluff queue and I am finally finished, almost a month after the last day of the tour.

Falling Leaves

50/50 Tussah Silk and SeaCell, 14wpi, worsted spun, 2-ply, 60yds, 50g.

The Fiber

The Yarn

Two Art Yarns

The Fiber, Already Dizzed

1. Corespun, 30 yds

The Corespun Yarn

2. Threadplyed Yarn, 100 yds

The Threadplyed Yarn

Fall Colors

100% BFL, chain plyed, aran weight, 100yds, 100gm

The Fiber

The Yarn

So I am finally “caught up” on my spinning. I find having a spinning queue is helpful, but I think I need to knit down some handspun before I can spin anymore.

FO: Warm Winter Wishes

With a year of spinning behind me now, it took a good friend to make me knit with the yarns I have made.  My good friend Tiff was in town for the Dragon Boat Festival back in June and she admired the yarn and when we made plans to go camping/adventuring this weekend, I knew I had to make it into something for her.

I think the bear really makes the cowl color just pop.

The yarn I made it out of was a batt I got from Diana the genius behind Fiber Fancy.  The batt was beautiful, and soft and fantastic, and the color was just so warm.

The Fiber

I spun it into a really soft, thick/thing single. It was my first attempt at woolenspun yarn, however, it was really inconsistent. So in the areas that are silky it is thread thin and in the more alpaca-y areas it is bulky, so the simple lace pattern actually highlights the yarn really well.

The Yarn

I have had this pattern in my queue forever, and it was a great knit.  And it is just so wonderfully warm and fuzzy, the alpaca makes it warm and it has a shedd-y halo that just makes you want to pull it on.

The Unfinished Object

By the time this post goes up the recipient will have it in her hands, and I hope she loves it as much as I do

The Finished Object

.

Project Name: Warm Winter Wishes

Pattern: Ptarmigan by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed

Recipient: Tiff, a good friend of mine

Yarn: Green Bean’s String, my handspun single made from a Fiber Fancy Batt, Winter Sunrise.

Modifications:

  • I stopped after row 20 of chart B so that I didn’t run out of yarn

New Skills:

  • None, although it is my first time knitting with my own handspun yarn.

Feedback: Nice pattern, and of course being a Brooklyn Tweed pattern, it is a great pattern and has beautiful photos and graphic design.

Re-Knit?: Possibly, however, it is a nice base for a new cowl design, the ratios are solid from cast on to bind off edge.

The back shows off how the blocking makes the handspun look so nice.

FO: Peaches, Theatre and Christmas

Peaches: Peachy Keen, DK (11 wpi), 55g, 70yd. Worsted Spun, Chain Plyed. My second chain plyed yarn.

Theatre: On Broadway, Sport (12wpi), 65g, 120yds. Worsted Spun, Two Ply. Was my first balanced yarn, needed very little blocking to hang straight.

Christmas: Orchid Christmas Twine, Worsted (9wpi), 40g, 40yd. Woolen spun, Chain Plyed. This is the inside of the orchid batt, and it was my first chain plyed yarn.

FO: Purple People Warmers

Two Purple Yarns, both 55g, which on is longer?

After getting so much spinning done when I first got my wheel, I haven’t been making much “yardage” so a couple of weeks ago I pulled out two fun, special, not-beginner top and batt and got spinning.

The yarn on the left, which I have been calling Purple People Seducer is a Merino/Silk Sliver from Fleece Artist out of Nova Scotia which I picked up at the Purple Sock in Coldwater back just before my birthday in October.

Nameless Fleece Artist Sliver

I went on to spin it as a firm single, using a short-forward (inchworm) draw.  I managed to get 130yds out of 55g or so.  It is a sport-ish yarn, but overall the single is really consistant and I am finding I am getting much better at spinning really consistnatly when using the short forward.

It was at this point, I knew it had to be a single

Up close and purple

The second skein is very different, it started out as a batt from Fiber Fancy called Orchid Surprise, when I bought the batts, I though it was Orchid Sunrise and unfortunately the surprise was a bit to surprising for me.

Orchid ...

... Surprise

Inside this beautiful purple batt, was mix of christmas red, green and gold.  Each one of these would compliment the purple, but for me the color was a bit overwhelming.  I dizzed the batt using my new Claydancer diz and orifice hook (which are both really beautiful and functional)

I love it when function and form make something really awesome

and spun, long-draw, some of the batt intact.

All the colors spun together, not to my taste

So I decided to peel apart the purple from the Christmas colors and I was left with about 55g of fiber which I dizzed and spun in to a quite lofty bulky weight 48yd skein.  The christmas yarn has been put to good use and you will be seeing it quite soon on the blog.

Orchid not so surprising

So two yarns, both 55g and purple, one a lofty, thinkthin, bulky, woolen spun, two-ply, the other a hard, silky, worsted spun, single.  They are both so beautiful in their differences.