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