Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Wheel DOES Keep On Turning

Yes, yes - more spinning. It's really been a matter of catching up for me, and I haven't been feeling the knitting love of late. I suppose it's a matter of finding the spinning to be a bit more of a challenge - figuring out what type of yarn I would like to create, what type of yarn the fiber will allow itself to be, and thinking a bit about the process. For the most part, these yarns do not have a specific purpose set for them yet - there are no sweaters or hats or mittens or cowls that I am thinking about turning them into, just thinking more about the process of the yarn creation. Or at least thinking toward thinking about the creation process.

This is some wonderfully soft Australian Merino that David brought over on his visit this past October. It's beautifully dyed - completely saturated with color - and spun up wonderfully. I split the roving lengthwise a few times and spun it with some added twist in the hopes of it plumping up in both the plying process and the finishing process (more on that below), and it really did! It's infinitely squishable and lovely, and comes in at around 240 yards. The blues are slightly brighter than this picture - an almost cornflower blue, with the most subtle of greens.

I find that I alternate between a thicker 2-ply and thinner yarn - the finer stuff takes a lot more time, and by the end of it I feel I deserve a little break. I purchased this Superwash Merino roving from KnitterlyThings some time ago, and it was begging to be a 3-ply sock-weight yarn. The superwash definitely added to that! The colorway is "Dancing", and it was an out-of-control explosion of reds and oranges, with splashes of pretty much every other color imaginable.

I split the roving strip in half in the hopes of NOT maintaining color transitions and striping. I then split each half again a number of times - some long strips, some into smaller pieces, some into clumps - and jumbled it all up into 3 approximate piles. I then spun one bobbin from each of those piles, fairly high twist, and hoped that they would all end up fairly even. Those 3 bobbins were then all plied together, and I was left with only a few yards on one bobbin. The total yardage on this skein is 300 yards.

My finishing process is pretty simple: For these yarns, I wanted them to plump up a bit. I first soaked each skein in a very very hot water soak, with a dash of soap. I left that to sit for about 20 minutes. I drained the water out of the sink, squeezed the excess water out of the yarn, then soaked it again in very cold water. Rinse, drain, repeat. Then I gave the yarn a sharp snap and whacked it a couple of times, and left it on a hook to dry.

My main knitting right now is Work Knitting, so I can't show it. I CAN say that it is a fair isle bag, knit flat, leaving about...7787892346 ends to weave in. GROSS. It's currently the bane of my existence, and why I have been procrastinating through spinning.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

I'm trying to make the fiber stash seem a bit more...."reasonable". This here is the "Cairns" colorway from ComeInSpinner - it's a wonderfully plump Australian Merino, and comes in around 230 yards. It was wonderful to spin - I put in a bit of extra twist in the hopes of it plumping more, and it worked out just fine. The colors are just so rich!

I'm working on being more thoughtful in my spinning, so that I am not just showing you something and talking about the yardage and fiber content. I'm working on my organizational skills and note-taking, and working toward a more consistent & thought-out method of spinning. Even, dare I say, spinning for a PURPOSE. We'll see how it works out. Bear with me, okay?

The snow has helped my spinning spree, but the spinning spree has definitely hampered my knitting progress! Pictures soon (I swear!) of EZ's Seamless Hybrid in progress, and perhaps even a second pair of Fiddlehead Mittens. The original pair of Fiddleheads in this house has seen extensive wear this season, with our current (and supposedly going up tonight!) tally of eleventy-billion inches of snow. They are wearing wonderfully, though, but a second pair would be nice. I'm thinking an angora/merino blend for the interiors.

So! More thought, more pictures, more progress? One can only hope ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

And So It Begins.......

I've been hoping to really follow my spinning adventures a bit more in depth - tracking my progress and process and exploring my methods and techniques. I'll begin with this lovely wool.

This is some lovely hand-painted Finn, dyed by HelloYarn, in the "Bruised" colorway. This is a plump 2-ply, yielding about 420 yards, at about 15wpi or so. This wool *literally* spun itself - I split the roving into 4 similar weight strips with minimal pre-drafting. To set the twist, I soaked the wool in a piping hot bowl of water with a dash of woolwash for about 40 minutes (I admit, I forgot about it), then gave it a shock of cold and left it to hang dry. It was balanced right from the get-go! Shortly after I learned how to spin, I joined 2 Fiber-of-the-Month clubs. I thought it would be the best way to try out new fibers and new colors. I've found it to be a wonderful chance to try out new things, and I look forward to my fiber shipments every month.

The above image is for the December installment of the Spunky Eclectic club - in the colorway "Champagne". I split this roving into 2 strips and spun them up fairly thin. As singles I found them to be fairly muddied and boring; I was afraid this would worsen with plying. But it didn't! the plying seemed to really open up the colors and give it some body and life and sparkle. This is about 360 yards.

I'm desperately trying to do some catching up with the fiber piles around here, so I've been aggressive about spinning every day. I'll be cleaning out the bins of handspun as well and posting some on etsy.