Reflecting on My Summer Spinning Ramage

Photo of a soft, fluffy pile of cormo pencil roving

My summer of family fun was also filled with lots of spinning.  I was just in the mood for it and enjoying myself immensely.

First up was “Frothy,” a delicious, pink blend of Cormo, Border Leicester, Coopworth, and silk from Fiber Trends that I finished plying in early June.

“Frothy” called to me in the depths of winter and although I don’t think of myself as a pink girl, I couldn’t resist her siren song.  I’m so glad I didn’t.  This was fun to spin, fun to ply, and I keep looking at it and petting it and dreaming of what this 500+ yards of DK weight yarn will become.  Probably a shawl.

“Frothy” was spun up on the Majacraft Suzie Pro that I am fostering for a friend of a friend.  So I decided that the next project would be on my own Louet S15, who hadn’t been used all winter.  I chose another Fiber Trends roving that I picked up in February at the Spinner’s Flock Fleece Fair.  Called “Peacock,” it’s a blend of alpaca and wool in wild, but subdued colors, kind of like a tartan: burgundy, blue, orange, yellow.

Photo of fiber on a spindle

The alpaca in “Peacock” was too slippy for my mighty Louet S15, which kept ripping it out of my hands, making the the spinning No Fun.  After about of week, I did the big girl thing and switched tools, to my Schacht Hi-Lo spindle.  Now we are getting on.  Spindle projects are always slow going for me because it is not the project I reach for first.  Here in early October, the “Peacock” spindling is still ongoing, with no end in sight.

In mid-August I decided to clear out some leftover singles and practice my navajo plying.  I made quick work of Rambouillet leftovers and then took on the wheel-spun Peacock singles.  I’m happy with how these turned out although I struggled to get the n-ply going.

Then I started spinning the green glitter mohair batt (wool/mohair/silk noils/glitter).  This was one of those fibers I probably would have never bought for myself and I am so glad Julie destashed it in my direction because I learned a lot!  First, mohair is fun and easy to spin owing to its looooong staple length.  Second, a little bit of glitter (like angelina or firestar, not confetti) isn’t obnoxious at all; it just peeks out here and there.  Third, I might want to try making some blended batts of my own soon.  Just for the fun of it.

I spun this 8 oz up in about a week, which is pretty fast for my multicraftual self. It was so fun that it had my full attention — while watching Life on Mars with Matt in the evening (I like the UK original version better, but we ultimately watched both series).

About two weeks later — slowed down by the start of the school year, etc — I navajo plied the leftover singles.  That was a lot less successful (it’s worse in real life than in these pictures).  I’m not sure why, but maybe it needed more twist in the ply.  No tears though, this was just a practice with leftovers and gives me stuff to think about.

I also navajo plied (on the wheel) some leftovers from the yarn I spindle-spun for Julie as a thank you gift.  Also less successful, also done on the same night as the green glitter mohair n-ply so another theory I have is that I was just off my game that night.

This clearing out of leftovers was all in preparation to finish a years-old project.  I got this red and gray probably-Tunis from a local vendor when she closed up shop.  Red is not really my color so this was purely for the practice of spinning.  I started spinning it on an friend’s Ashford Traveler, even plied up two skeins of it, then wound the remaining singles on to cardboard tubes when the wheel went back to its owner.

 

 

I wound the singles on to my Louet bobbins, had some trouble with directionality and I think I had to ply that last skein the opposite way of what I normally do, but no worries, I am just making yarn, not winning prizes here.  One of the things I tried while spinning this fiber was playing around with blending the red and grey in some areas and separating the colors in other areas.  I am interested to see how that looks when knit up.  The wool is a bit scratchy, so it is definitely destined for outerwear.

Now I am working on spinning some dark grey cormo pencil roving.  This wool is very clean and smooth and soft.  So soft!  At first it was a bit of a challenge to spin on my mighty Louet S15.  I really like spinning on that wheel, but it has a powerful take up owing to its bobbin-led drive.  But I found that if I get just the right draw on the cormo, it’s not a fight.  I’m already halfway through!

What’s on your wheel or spindle?

The Gray Got to Me

Last year I started these socks:

The cuff of gray wool socks knit out of Paton's Kroy on double pointed needles

It was July.  It was my birthday, in fact.  I thought I was safe from the curse of knitting a gray project in winter.

Alas, I was overcommitted on projects and my work on these progressed very slowly.

Before I knew it, it was winter.  Have I complained enough about the long, cold, snowy winter of 2013-14?  Yeah, somewhere around the fifth snow day following the Winter Vacation of Vomit, I threw these socks in the bottom of a project bag, faintly promising myself I would come back to them when they stopped reminding me of sadness.

So I picked them back up again this summer, in August, and I knew I had to get them done QUICK because the long range forecasts for the upcoming winter are bad for Michigan.  You can read that as:

  1. I need some wool socks before the snow flies, and;
  2. I can’t be knitting anything gray when the snow flies.

I had the first, half-knit sock done in a week and the whole shebang done by the time school started.

But I did a thing to make them happy grey socks.  (Don’t get me wrong, I love Patons, but I am reexamining my relationship with neutrals.)  I took some leftover sock yarn from my Jaywalkers — knit in Conjoined Creations Flat Feet — and added in some brightly colored toes.  Yey!  Color = happiness!

Handknit gray wool socks

 

What do you think?

Next time I’ll do stripes.  I have more grey, white, and black Patons — and lots of colorful fingering weight yarns — and I have learned my lesson.

Gauge, you cruel mistress

Chickami is not working out.  The yarn I got specifically for this project, Elann Coto Canapone, is not knitting up at the advertised gauge for me, 19-20 sts/4 inches on US 5.  Instead I am getting 23 sts/4 inches on US 5 – and it is a good fabric that is not too firm or too loose so I don’t want to mess with that.  I thought I had taken into account my smaller gauge but, noooo… I apparently lied to myself about what 23/4*40=.

I’m spinning my wheels on what to do.  I might be able to scrounge up replacement yarn from my stash but… probably not.  I have a top’s worth of Dalegarn Svale to rip and reuse but that gauge is also probably too small.  The gauge of Classic Elite Flash is a bit too large but I also don’t think I have enough of that (and it’s discontinued).  And around and around my unhappy brain goes!

I’ve also spent an unreasonable amount of time searching for a tank pattern to replace this one and no go.  It’s just not a very popular gauge for patterns despite how nice and lightweight sport/DK yarns are.

Really, what I need to do is take the lovely simplicity of Chickami and rewrite it to fit this yarn.  But I am too mad at my failed project to take this step right now.  So I am going back to work on the Equinox Yoke Pullover and Chickami will have a time out.

Sadly, this means that there will be no new green cotton/hemp tank top for my birthday without a Christmas-in-July miracle.  I’ll survive somehow.  It will probably involve Woodchuck 802 and Season 3 of the Tudors.

Looking on the brighter side, omg, I love the Ultra Alpaca I’m using in the Equinox Pullover.  The color!  The softness!  The strength!  Berroco, you are genius.

Has anyone else been bitch slapped by the technical details lately?