December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

On/Off My Needles
Cast on new pr of toe-up socks for mom using stash yarn Knit Picks Comfy Fingering wt in the Merlin color way. Also footing Big Black Socks for Socks for Soldiers, and working on the Hermione socks for me, as well as the Shetland Pi shawl for mom.

Finished Objects - the green Austermann Step socks for mom.

On/Off My Spindle

Off - the super wash merino in the Treasure Chest color way. This was chain plied, and the first two skeins I've finished were sport wt yarn.  The other two skeins are drying and should also be sport weight.  I'll check the yardage when all is dry.

Treasure Chest closeup

On - for the SpinDoctor Breeds Challenge:

1) Falkland hand painted top from Crown Mountain Farms in the Purple Rain color way. This is a new breed for me, however if I didn't know it was Falkland, I'd have thought it was merino. At least it spins (drafts) just like the Treasure Chest merino I just finished. I'm powering through the spinning (worsted) and will chain ply it (because I need the practice - I have twist/overplying issues).

Falkland top

2) Corriedale from washed fleece.   This was six ounces of locks I got mid December from Country Wool to practice carding and combing, and the first non-commercially processed fiber I've worked with.  Very little VM.  The staple length is on average about three inches.  I've settled on carding.  I tried combing, but while it was long enough, it just felt too sproingy (a very technical term) for the combs.  Carded or combed it has a lot of neps and bumps and stuff, so I'm spinning semi-worsted from woolen prep (because I haven't got the hang of long draw yet) for a three-ply, which I'm hoping will cover the irregularities.  I think it's coming out fairly decent; what do you think? 

Corriedale 3ply

3) Romney from washed fleece. 
There's a lot more VM in this than I'm used to dealing with.  So I'm sorting through, hand picking what VM I can and making two piles: the clean enough to use right away, and what needs flicking first (I use dog slickers).  I tried combing to remove the VM, and while it did get rid of some, I needed to make so many passes to achieve it I was afraid I might damage the locks by overcombing.  Flicking seems to work better for the really VM laden locks and seems easier on the locks too. 
The fiber feels softer in the lock than it does when spun, but the finished two-ply feels softer than the singles.
I'm spinning semi-worsted from combed top and the carded comb waste. 
This is just a pic (and not a very good one at that - sorry) of the bag of fleece and some very uneven spinning.  I'm finding it much more difficult to keep my singles consistent when spinning from my prepped fiber than from the commercial top.   Just more things to learn and adapt to I guess.

Romney fleece (washed)

December 20, 2010

Christmas Knitting -Part 2

On/Off My Needles
The toe-up socks in the Dusk colorway (blue) are done. Just need to weave in the ends. The first sock in the Austermann Step yarn (green) is likewise done and the second sock is at the heel gusset. I'm sure they will be completed by Christmas too. The Shetland Pi shawl will probably not be done in time. I'm on Chart E. Even if I finish the knitting in time, I'll never get it blocked in time, so it will be a New Years present instead.

On/Off My Spindle
Mom got me a pair of Valkyrie mini combs for my birthday. I really tried to wait until my birthday to use them, but I just couldn't resist. Experimented with the Corriedale locks and also to blend alpaca with BFL top. Most interesting was the difference between the combed Corrie and the carded Corrie. Far fewer neps and much easier drafting with the combed Corrie. I made myself a little diz from a piece of a cardboard box that works fine. The combed alpaca and BFL come off the comb with the diz much easier than the Corriedale, but I'm assuming that's due to the differences in the wools themselves and not because I'm using a homemade diz.

Almost finished spinning the "Treasure Chest" colorway of superwash merino - probably about a third left to spin. And I'm more than halfway through chain plying what's already spun. I'm liking how this is coming out very much, both the colors, which are lovely, and the chain plying, which I think I'm getting better at. I should have gotten more of this!

December 11, 2010

The Christmas Knitting Race is On

I’ve finally gotten around to checking out some new podcasts/videocasts and found a few that I like. Some, like The Knitmore Girls, Yarnspinners Tales and Fiber Beat have been around for a while. Others are new or relatively new, like The KnitWits Podcast, SpinDoctor podcast and The Knit Girllls. I’ve downloaded all their back epidsodes and have been diligently listening my way through them (only 102 to go). Added to my regular weekly lineup (Sticks and Strings, Round the Twist, Cast On, Craftlit, KnitPicks Podcast, Sweaters for Dragons) plus audiobooks, I’ve got plenty of material to listen to while spinning and knitting and/or commuting.

On/Off My Needles

Finished the second sock of the cotton purple marl socks I unearthed last month. They are SFS leisure socks I’ve been working on (on and off, mostly off) for two or three years (egad embarrassing much?). I believe the yarn is Opal cotton.

In November I partially frogged the Risata “Dusk” toe-up socks I’m making for Mom to change from a Cat Bordhi pattern to a simpler (and therefore hopefully faster – xmas is coming fast ya know) basic Wendy Johnson toe-up pattern. I’m up to the heel turn on the second sock and progressing nicely. This is the first toe-up sock pattern that I’ve actually completed a sock and had it fit. I’m very pleased and will be trying some more patts from her book.


Also cast on another pr of socks for Mom (also for xmas), this time cuff down in an Austermann Step yarn in woodsy colors. Nice self patterning yarn so just a plain vanilla sock. Almost finished with the first sock for this pair.

I’m just finishing Part IV of the Shetland Pi Shawl. At 576 stitches, it’s taking me about a half hour per round, a little less if it’s a plain knit round. Even so, I’m enjoying this project. I’d forgotten how much I like knitting lace patterns. Of course, now that I’m almost finished, I’ve been thinking: a) I should’ve used bigger needles, and b) how is the bamboo and silk content of the yarn going to affect blocking? Is it going to be big enough? I have plenty of yarn so I added one more pattern repeat for Part IV. Better too big than too small.

On/Off My Spindle

The Montana Targhee in the “Rivers of Belief” colorway from Crown Mountain Farms is done. Spongy is how I’d describe how it feels. It’s easy to spin and I’ll be adding Targhee to my list of “like to spin” breeds. I chain plied but kinda wished I’d stuck to a plain ole three-ply, mostly because I’m annoyed that I can’t chain ply suspended but have to park and ply. Anyway, it’s done. Just needs a good soak and twhack and then I’ll see what I’ve got by way of wpi and yardage.

The MBT Blendis all spun up but not all plied. Plying balls are done but I’ve been spinning them up on an as needed basis.

I’ve spun up all the “Rosewood” colorway but I haven’t finished plying. It’s merino top from Godiva Yarns at MySweetSpot2 that I’m doing as a 2ply. It was very nice to work with and the colors were lovely.

Rosewood 2ply

I bought some hand carders (Ashford) a couple of weeks ago and some washed Corriedale fleece to practice with. I keep watching online videos and I think I’m getting better. This is a picture of early rolags (rolled side to side instead of top to bottom) that I was using to practice spinning worsted. I have other rolags rolled the regular top to bottom that I’m using to practice spinning woolen on a different spindle. I want to see if I can tell the difference. I’m not seeing a difference in my singles but maybe I will after they’re plied and finished.

Corriedale hand carded

September 19, 2010

Fall's Here (well, almost)

Fall is almost officially here  and I can't wait.  It's my favorite season weatherwise, warm (but not too warm) days and cool nights, heavenly.   Makes me want to knit and spin 24/7.

Speaking of which, I’ve finished spinning the first half of the Merino/Bamboo/Tussah Silk blend in white that I’ll use for a shawl for Mom, and most of the first half is plied. And I’m slogging through the rest of it – it’s nice to spin, but I’m sick of white. I’d really like to the tackle the bump of Montana Targhee I just got, but I’m being good and just petting it.

This is close-up of two skeins of the MBT blend that just need finishing. I have one more skein to ply from the first half which I think will give me a total of between 850 and 950 yards of 2ply from approximately 8 ounces. Depending on how big I make the shawl (I may leave out a few pattern repeats) I may need to ply up a skein or two of the second half to finish the shawl. We’ll see.

MBT Blend 2ply

On the knitting front, I finished the first of the Risk socks but haven’t cast on the second sock yet.   I did cast on a new sock using the wool from the frogged Monkey sock. This time I’m going to try the Hermione Everyday sock pattern since it’s not a “fiddly” pattern. We’ll see how that goes.

I also cast on the Shetland Pi Shawl for the KAL using the MBT Blend I spun and size US3 (3.25mm) needles which gives me an approximate gauge of 7sts/inch on the plain knit sections.  I’m almost finished with part three of the pattern.  I’m liking this pattern much better than the Brandywine Shawl pattern I also started.n In fact, I’m considering frogging the Brandywine and using the wool for my own shawl pattern (yet to be written). Here’s my progress with the Pi shawl.  I need to hunt up longer needles to start part four though, or maybe just more needles. 

Shetland Pi Shawl KAL

I got a sampler pack of KnitPicks Comfy Sport which will be made into a lap blanket for Mom when she’s in her wheelchair. Originally was going to be a modified log cabin, but that will get pretty big pretty fast so maybe I’ll go with a patchwork design instead which would be easier to carry around while working. Don’t know. I’ll have to think about it some more.  

And I really have to finish what I've started (or at least some of what's OTN) before I start something new.  Really.  I mean it.   I do.  (yeah, right)

August 15, 2010

Night musings

When my leg acted up the other night and I couldn’t sleep, I wound up checking out YouTube videos on Navajo/chain plying, both wheel and spindle. There seem to be more videos for the wheel version, but there are some good ones on spindle plying. Enough that I could figure it out. On the grounds that if you don’t use a new skill right away you forget, I decided to chain ply the Fading Into Neutral Polwarth roving I’ve been spinning that week instead of making it a 2ply as originally planned. I considered trying the “ply on the fly” technique too, but decided that would break the rhythm you get into when spinning and plying separately.

All in all, I think I prefer regular 2 or 3ply, although I can see how chain plying would be useful depending on the type of colorway. This is the first yarn I’ve done that will require whacking as part of the finishing process. Two skeins and a bit gave me a total of about 318 yards at 18 wpi. Here’s the completed skeins and a closeup:

Fading Into Neutral Polwarth

Fading closeup

Right now I’m spinning up a Merino/Bamboo/Tussah Silk blend in white that I got months ago from Crown Mountain Farms. It is really slippery and easy to draft, almost too easy. It will be a 2ply that I will use to make Mom a shawl, and one for myself if there’s enough left over (I have a pound to spin and am hoping to get at least 800 yds of 2ply). My singles are at approx 40wpi+/- which seems to be just about my default spinning weight. Here’s my first plying ball that I’ll start plying tonight:

BMT Blend 2ply plying ball

On the knitting front, well I haven’t been knitting much of anything, except maybe the Risk socks. I'm about five inches down the foot of the first sock.

Risk sock

I’ll be taking it to bowling tomorrow so I should get another inch done. This week I'll have to set aside an hour or so during the day to knit and save the spinning for the evenings at the nursing home with Mom. That way maybe I'll get the majority of the sock knitting UFOs done by the end of August. Well, that's the plan....

August 1, 2010

TdF, UFOs, etc

Spinning: TdF is over and my spinning UFOs are no more. I managed to get all three of my UFOs spun, if not plied, by the end of the TdF, so I’m considering my goals met. I finished plying the Intentions roving a couple of days later (Wednesday, I think):

Intentions 2ply

But I ran out of oomph to finish skeining after plying both spindles worth, so I took pic while I had some light and there you go. Um, still not skeined.

Next up for spinning will be new fibers to try: a recently purchased Polwarth (which as I understand it is an Australian breed, a cross of Merino and Lincoln sheep), some alpaca I got from Queenknit, a merino/bamboo/silk blend, and some BFL (Blue Face Leicester).

The Polwarth is up first and will be a 2ply. It looked so pretty all braided up I almost hated to disturb it. The colorway is called Fading Into Neutral and is by Perchance to Spin.


I’m finding it not as easy to draft as the superwash merino I’ve been spinning, but it’s nice and I like it.

On the Needles: way too much, as usual. Socks, of course: Monkey and Glynis (from Cookie A), toe up in Dusk colorway (Cat Bordhi patt), Tucson Nights (my fair isle patt), my standard basic sock in Risk colorway, and footing BBS for SFS; a couple of caps; a sweater or two (that I haven’t touched in ages); pillow cover (in knitted Ohio Star patt, mine), and about another half dozen out of sight/out of mind projects. And I’m getting ready to cast on a couple of shawls for Mom (and maybe one for me). Problem is, I’m just not feeling the love for too many of any of these projects right now. I know it’s blasphemy, but I think I’d rather be spinning. For now, I will concentrate on finishing the BBS, Risk & Dusk socks while I contemplate frogging the Monkey and Glynis socks and what pattern (mine or someone else’s) to cast on for the first shawl.

July 22, 2010

Tour de Fleece Part 2

Little late on the TdF update, I know. Got KO'd by a migraine & vertigo for a couple of days, and well, you know how it goes. But I'm still plugging away on the spinning UFOs. I've plied most of the Cold as Ice with only a little bit left to go. So far I have two skeins of 2ply (415 yds total) at a prewash average wpi of 19. Probably get another 50 yds or so out of what's left to ply.

Cold as Ice 2ply

Next up is the Intentions roving which will be another 2ply. I already have one ball of 2 singles waiting to be plied, as well as one "bobbin" of singles waiting for a mate (which I'll spin tonight).

Intentions roving TdF

My challenge for the TdF was to learn to n-ply which I'm probably not going to get to during the TdF, but I'll get to it, in a week or so, maybe. I'd be learning just so I know how and not necessarily because I'll use it. It seems more trouble than it's worth to me, and I'm not a stickler on keeping colorways intact. I kinda like the way the colors on predyed roving when handspun blend together.

July 10, 2010

Tour de Fleece

Okay, Steph, see I'm blogging.

This is my first Tour de Fleece and with all the heat we've had here in NYC I haven't gotten as much done as I'd planned, but I'm still spinning, plying, or doing something connected every day. My goals originally were to finish spinning my UFOs of which I had three in progress: Little Fish colorway from Enchanted Knoll Farms (superwash merino); Cold As Ice colorway (superwash merino) from Crown Mountain Farms; and my most recently started "Connections" colorway from LnV Intentions. When I finished them I would reward myself by starting something new - probably the new (to me) Polworth I got.

Of course, with the way the powers that be like to play with us, as soon as I signed up for the TdF and made all these plans, I was hit by a van while crossing the street (hit & run, the bum) and messed up my wrists (among other things). Fortunately, nothing was broken; I was VERY lucky. But I wasn't sure when my wrists would be healed enough for me to spin, so I adjusted my goals to completing just the two oldest UFOs in case I couldn't start until the 2nd week.

I healed quicker than I thought and was able to start on the first day with everyone else. Here's my Day 8 summary of the first week's progress.

First up was Little Fish of which I only had about an ounce left to spin (I have no idea why I stopped there). Little Fish is pretty shades of blue with a dab of sea green:


But the spindle I needed to finish Little Fish with was already occupied with Intentions, so first I had to finish that, which I did, Day 1:

Tdf day 1 intentions

Day 2's progress:

TdF day2 So far

Days 3&4 were oh so hot, but I finished spinning on 3 and plying on 4, and this is the result:

Little Fish 2ply

It's about 187 yards of 2ply. It hasn't been washed yet so I haven't checked the wpi, but it looks like fingering weight (that's a nickel coin not a quarter). I think the earlier skeins fluffed up a lot so it might end up as heavy fingering or dk. We'll see. One UFO down.

Days 5, 6 and 7 have been all about the Cold as Ice. I have about 6-7 ounces to work with including some singles. This will also be a 2ply. I'm starting with this:

Cold As Ice

And as of this morning I have this done:

Cold as Ice in progress days 6&7

I'm spinning on average about an hour and a half a day, sometimes more, so we'll see how far I can get by Wednesday.