Thursday, November 11

When stealth knitting has a deadline

This will be a rather detail-less post but I wanted to get something up. I know it's been quiet around here and for good reason. I bought a ton of fiber recently (more on that in an upcoming post) and once here I went to town. In five days I took 1 lb of fiber and spun it and knit it. I'll have more details tomorrow after the intended gets it but for now here are a couple pics to tide you over.
The fiber is a merino top (colorway: Forest) from Alpaca Direct. I was very happy with it. Spins well and the colors are nicely saturated. More to come!

Wednesday, November 3

Musings on unexpected results

The finished yarn from yesterday's post was not intended to go beyond a test spin. The wheel has been neglected as of late and has been in pieces for months. I have been itching to get it up and going for some time now and I finally got over my laziness and did it. Note to self: Do not take it apart EVER again. Not worth it. It wasn't difficult to assemble by any means but all my settings are/were off. After a day of tweaking I got busy and prepped some fiber.

This was a process. See the green there? Unknown, randomly dyed wool. See the issues with it? It was thick with lanolin. Not a problem since I can wash it out. I waited until after it was spun knowing the manhandling it was about to receive would help with that. Due to the amount of lanolin in it this was a sticky clump. It pulled apart easily but it was clingy to itself. Imagine pulling apart a peanut butter sandwich. Connected to itself but not. It also had second cuts in it. Not a problem seeing as most of my non-commerical fiber does and I'm used to it but this has been processed once before. In a very basic way but it has been done. As a result this has turned the end pieces of the cut (I'm assuming based on how they spun) into balls worthy of a sweater shaver. Add in my quirky blue and it was a fun night (no sarcasm). The blue is some of my free cycle fleece, dyed with Ashford one pot dyes last year. As you can see mine is loaded with kinky and curly pieces (some of which include 2nd cuts). Also, vegetable matter. Luckily this was not a repeat of the fleece-that-shall-not-be-mentioned and it was easily removed.

How did I make my bats? I grabbed a chunk of the green and a chunk of the blue (which needed some picking and fluffing to make it through my drum carder) and sent them on through. Once my large drum was filled I removed the bat and worked it another couple times. If a piece was noticeably not working in (i.e. a second) I'd simply pull it off/out and toss it. By the time I was done I only had a small handful of fluff not worth writing home about. Spinning the blended bat was interesting. The wool is not from the same sheep. Two different textures makes that very clear. Despite being covered in lanolin the green was very dry and had no silkiness to it. The resulting yarn is hearty and tweedy. The single made from the blended bat turned out a nice mellow blue. In fact it made me think of ocean water in the fall time. That blueish grey color you can get on an overcast day. Cheesy and poetic but there you have it. Once plied however the blue single swallowed any blue in the blended one and it was now a mild green color. Sage-y if you will. Tweedy and rustic it makes me think of places like New York. Places, I'd like to add, I've never been but that's the feel it gives. Because I didn't bother to work out the second cut fluff from the green the yarn has slabs in it. As I was spinning I wasn't sure I would like that but in the end they behaved nicely and add to the rustic quality.

Is this yarn something to take home and rub all over yourself? No. Not at all. Is this a yarn that could be worn and used and abused as an item of usefulness? Absolutely. I think, just from the experience of having knit it already, it also has the potential to submit and be broken into an item of comfort. Will its scratchiness (notice I said scratchy and not itchy....there is a difference) or utilitarian aspect go away completely? Probably not. It will however mold itself into something that makes you think of home eventually. It's a heavy load for a yarn to carry but it screams that to me as I ponder it. Who knew yarn would scream at ya'? I feel the need to share that this is a scratchy yarn. It isn't like the itchy most folks think of when they think of wool. I've had that kind before. This is a dry and brisk scratchy*. I rather like it actually.

Yes, the yarn is scratchy. No, the cowl is not. No worries. I've managed to work with the yarn and there will be no scratchiness going to town on your neck. :) It's all about working with what you have and what I have rocks.

Tuesday, November 2

From sheep to spun: A yarn FO

**More details to follow. Some of these pictures blow in terms of quality. Night time spinning/eagerness is not conducive to step by step picture taking.**