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Posts Tagged ‘Yarn’

It’s amazing how fiber choice and spinning technique can change the appearance of your finished yarn.

Both of these yarns were dyed by the same dyer (Into the Whirled) in the same colorway (The Woods).

Both were spun from carded roving. But what a difference these other characteristics make:

                               Yarn 1                                      Yarn 2

Fiber                       Merino/SW Merino/Silk              Masham wool

Spinning style       Worsted                                    Semi-woolen (I think)

Plying                     Chain (3-ply)                             2-ply

Weight                    Fingering/sport                          Aran/bulky

The shine of the silk really comes through in yarn 1. All of the colors seem extra-vibrant.

In yarn 2, all of the colors seem warmer and more muted.

Fascinating, don’t you think?

* Disclaimer: I only spun yarn 1. Yarn 2 came to my happy hands from a fellow spinner who was cleaning out her stash.

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After several months of no spinning, I’m back with a vengeance. And before I’m allowed to spin any new singles, I’ve tasked myself with plying the singles I’ve already spun. I need to free up some bobbins. Perhaps not the most artistically inspiring mission statement. But sometimes pretty things spring from necessity.

First came this 2-ply blue merino. 886 yards. One strand of tonal blue. One strand of a more variegated fiber in ocean colors.

blue merino cropped

 

Next came this rainbow Corriedale from Gale’s Art. I spun these fine singles for a class last summer, then never used them. I split the roving into thin strips so I would have lots of short color repeats. I spun the singles chain-ply to retain the stripes. 606 yards.It looks vaguely Koigu-ish.

colored corriedale cropped

Last of all came this golden brown BFL/silk. The singles had been sitting on the bobbin for a long time waiting for inspiration to strike. But I’d never been able to find something else appropriate to ply with them. So I decided the best thing to do was to ply them with themselves (chain ply) and move on.

BFL silk cropped

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Tried a new experiment this week. I had a bunch of hand carded Corriedale left over from a previous spinning project. I decided to try spinning it worsted.

I know, I know. Why go to all that effort to card it by hand only to ruin it by spinning it the wrong way?

I don’t think I ruined it.

Right now a problem I have with my worsted spinning is keeping it from getting too dense. Sometimes a gal wants to knit a hat that won’t drown her if she falls into the lake.

I also wanted to see how spinning the same prepared fiber would behave with this other technique. Really see it, not just believe in the physics of it.

Here are my results.

2015/01/img_2693.jpg

Plump but not poofy three ply. Sturdy but not heavy. I wouldn’t knit socks with it. But a sweater would work. And in the aforementioned lake scenario I probably wouldn’t drown.

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It’s hard to conceal my ire. I was so proud of how this Reverb cardigan was turning out. The purple yarn was lovely. The pattern was easy to follow. I knew the cardigan would look super-hip on, and would go with most of my wardrobe. But the button band betrayed me.

I don’t have any experience with button bands. So far, I’ve managed to avoid knitting cardigans that require buttons. I pretended that I preferred the open look. But the truth is, I was afraid of the button band. And now I know I was right. Button bands are pure evil.

  • Button bands stretch unpredictably and throw off your measurements. 4 inches between button holes. Oops, looks like you have 5. 5 is ok right?
  • Button bands lull you into thinking five buttons will do…until you try on the cardigan and realize you really need seven.
  • Button bands keep you from appreciating your brand new very pretty cardigan because something is just slightly “off”.
  • Button bands are so hard to satisfy. Put the button too far to one side, and the whole thing stretches like a scallop. Which would be nice if that was something I wanted. An artistic statement, prehaps. But it’s NOT.
  • Button bands wait until you have the cardigan all blocked, with the ends woven in, to speak up and tell you something is wrong.
  • Button bands remind you that your stomach is not as flat and firm as your dress dummy’s stomach. They’re rude little buggers.

Stupid riggin’, friggin’ button band.

Here’s the cardigan. You can see the issues I’m talking about.

I guess it’s time to remove the button bands, reknit them, and do the finishing all over again.

But not now. Not today. Today I shake my fist at the universe.

Tomorrow I’ll take apart my cardigan.

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I said I wouldn’t overdo it this Christmas. You know, with the whole knitting thing. Last Christmas I made myself a little crazy and I swore I wasn’t going to do that to myself this year.

But somehow I can’t seem to stop myself from knitting hats. They’re so cute. They’re so quick. They’re like little woolly potato chips.  (Okay, that sounds pretty gross. Did anyone else just image an old sticky potato chip found in your cardigan pocket?)

It all started with my husband’s Christmas hat. He gets a new one every year.

Made from handspun yarn.

Made from handspun yarn.

 

I’m hoping this is going to be our “thing.” When he’s 80 he’s going to have a mountain of hats. He has this habit of not losing things. At some point, that may become a problem. Maybe senility will kick in and help us out with the hat problem.

  • Anyway, it started out with my husband’s Christmas hat.
  • Then I knitted a couple more because I had some scrap yarn in my stash that was just right for hats.
  • Then I decided to knit a hat for my niece. I knitted that hat like I was a jazz musician. Total improv cables. It turned out great.
  • Then I realized my new little nephew needed a hat too, so I cast one on. He may need multiple hats. Babies lose hats all the time, right?

This is a troubling hat trend.

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I was sorting my Ravelry projects page the other night and came to a startling realization: in the last few years I’ve knitted myself a LOT of sweaters. The hand-knit side of my winter wardrobe is getting pretty respectable. Without trying too hard, I could probably wear hand-knits every single day. This brings me to an important question: what should I do with my commercial sweaters?

I’m wearing my commercial woolens less and less often. I have a few favorites, and a few special-purpose items (like my Icebreaker winter running gear). But most of my mountain of winter woolens don’t get much wear anymore. Why wear the turtleneck you bought on sale at TJ Maxx when you can wear the similar, but much more special sweater you knitted while watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

Here’s the thing though: there’s a certain security in owning a set of sweaters I don’t care that much about. My hand knits are specialspecialspecial.  I wear them gently and wash them with care. My commercial sweaters…I don’t actively try to be destructive toward them…but if a cat snags a claw in them and make a hole, or if I get a molasses stain on the sleeve, it doesn’t matter so much. The only thing I have invested is money .

I’ve come to a critical, woolen juncture, just as many knitters have before me. There’s only so much storage space in my home for sweaters. If I want to go on knitting sweaters, I need to start getting rid of some. Stuff comes in, stuff goes out. Donate them, unravel them, whatever. They need to move along.

Am I ready to start jettisoning some of these commercial sweaters? Am I ready to depend on my knitting skills to outfit me for my real life?

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I’m so into stranded color work these days. No matter what, I’ve got to have at least one stranded project on the needles.

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a simple stranded mitten pattern on Ravelry called January Mittens. I decided this project would provide a good opportunity for me to experiment with a fibery phenomenon called yarn dominance. 

A few notes about yarn dominance: When you knit stranded color work (let’s assume we’re talking about just two colors), one yarn is always coming from above and one is always coming from below. The yarn coming from above has to travel just a little farther than the yarn coming from below and, as result, that “above” strand is just a little bit tighter. This tightness makes that stitch smaller and the yarn recedes into the background. The lightly looser strand coming from the bottom does not recede; its larger stitches stand out, loud and proud in the foreground.

Playing around with yarn dominance can make a big visual impact in your stranded color work.

Like this:

I knitted one mitten with the dark gray yarn held dominant, and one mitten with white yarn held dominant. Can you tell which is which? It’s subtle but it’s definitely there.

*     *     *    Veering off topic   *     *     *

In stranded color work, if one yarn is playing the dominant role, what role does the other one play? Submissive?

That makes my knitting seem so much more outre and exciting.

*     *     *     Veering back on topic     *     *     *

I’m having trouble deciding which mitten I like better. I might actually like the one with white yarn held dominant. Some of the details in the pattern jump out more when they’re not drawn so strongly. Veeeerrry interesting. 

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